Summary: The church is to be unified on all fronts in order to be what God has called us to be.
March 6, 2011
Text: Philippians 2:1-11
Subject: The Body of Christ
Title: This Is What We Were Meant To Be
I did a sermon series here back in 2003 about Looking for the Perfect Church. The first sermon in the series was about how Jonah heard the word of God and ran from it because he didn’t think that the Ninevites deserved to hear the word of God and have the opportunity to be saved. He thought he knew what the perfect church would look like. Do we know what the perfect church will look like? Well, we can if we look at the church that is in heaven with the Lord. Revelation 19 Tells us that the perfect church worships God for His very nature (verse 1), is the bride of Christ made clean by His blood (verse 7), recognizes His words as true (verse 9), and follows Him into battle (verse 14).
Now, we are somewhere in between Jonah and the eternal kingdom of God, and we are not perfect yet, but the Lord has told us throughout the NT what kind of church He wants us to be. Someone once said, “There are four main bones in every organization (including the church). The wish-bones: Wishing somebody would do something about the problem. The jaw-bones: Doing all the talking but very little else. The knuckle-bones: Those who knock everything. The back-bones: Those who carry the brunt of the load and do most of the work.
Bits & Pieces, October 15, 1992, pp. 16-17.
Now, before we really get into our passage today I want to remind you that Jesus said the He was the one who would build His church. And He is doing through a people that are empowered by His Spirit and who are willing to each do their part for the kingdom. In this church there is a body, each of whom are called to be witnesses to the grace of God. There are deacons who are called to oversee the day-to-day operations of the church – these are men filled with the Holy Spirit and of good report that you have chosen to that position – and there is a pastor who is supposed to devote himself to prayer and to the word so that he can as Ephesians 4 says, “prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Each one of us in our individual roles must continually be sensitive to the Spirit in order to be effective in our calling.
Our passage in Philippians 2 today helps us to understand that everyone in the church must be unified in purpose in order to be the true church of Jesus Christ. No personal agendas. No unbiblical thinking. Nothing but Jesus Christ and His word for us.
We can be the Unified church of Jesus Christ if we look at these four things;
1. Unity comes from understanding the benefits from being connected to a church.
2. Unity comes from being obedient to the commands given the church.
3. Unity comes from having right attitudes in the church.
4. Unity comes from being in agreement with God about the church.
Lord, open the eyes of our understanding that we may be the church You have called us to be.
I. UNITY COMES FROM UNDERSTANDING THE BENEFITS OF BEING WITH A CHURCH… Look at verse 1 with me. Can you see the things that are listed there that come from being connected to the body of Christ? 1) encouragement… United with Christ – being in Him… The gift of encouragement or exhortation is one of the gifts of the Spirit mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12. However, you do not have to have the gift of encouragement in order to be an encourager. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 Therefore encourage each other with these words. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone… What do you think God wants us to do? Forty thousand fans were on hand in the Oakland stadium when Rickey Henderson tied Lou Brock’s career stolen base record. According to USA Today Lou, who had left baseball in 1979, had followed Henderson’s career and was excited about his success. Realizing that Rickey would set a new record, Brock said, "I’ll be there. Do you think I’m going to miss it now? Rickey did in 12 years what took me 19. He’s amazing." The real success stories in life are with people who can rejoice in the successes of others. What Lou Brock did in cheering on Rickey Henderson should be a way of life in the family of God. Few circumstances give us a better opportunity to exhibit God’s grace than when someone succeeds and surpasses us in an area of our own strength and reputation. Our Daily Bread, June 19, 1994. 2) Comfort – Who is it that dwells in believers? It’s the Holy Spirit – the Comforter. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 3) Fellowship…with the Spirit. The word “fellowship” is the Gr. Koininia and it means “partnership” or “participation”. If we have a partnership with the Spirit shouldn’t that same fellowship be extended to others who have the same Spirit? Fellowship in the N.T. basically means sharing and self-sacrifice with other believers. J.R. McRay has written, "Fellowship in the early church was not based on uniformity of thought and practice, except where limits of immorality or rejection of the confession of Christ were involved." 4) Tenderness… This is not just a feeling you have but it is an action that you do. It is your choice. 5) Compassion… Many times in the gospels we read the statement, “and Jesus was moved with compassion…” Paul uses this term four times: (1) to describe God’s character and (2) to describe how Christians ought to treat each other. God desires to produce His character (image) in His children. The restoration of God’s image lost in the Fall is the purpose of Jesus’ coming.