Summary: We need to have a scriptural understanding about the chruch. But just as important, our belief should be followed by action.
"When the roll is called up yonder, when the roll is called up yonder, when the roll is called up yonder–, when the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there."
We like to think about our future home called heaven. But what about the earthly institution called "The Church?" If the roll were called down yonder on a given Sunday would you be there?
Last week we concluded a series on relationships by looking at relationships within the church. We used the acrostic C.H.U.R.C.H. to describe what relationships within the body of Christ should be like:
>Christlike–we should relate to one another in the same way that Jesus relates to us. If we could just learn to do that, then many of our problems would be solved.
>House to House–we should share more than “Sunday only” relationships; we should reach out to one another through out the week.
>United–as the body of Christ we are to be joined together by love; we are to be one.
>Redemptive–when the world sees how we relate towards each other within the church, they should be drawn to Jesus.
>Compassionate–in the same way we cannot ignore pain in our physical body, we cannot ignore a brother or sister in need. We share their pain. Then love moves us to action.
>Helpful–God has freely given to us, therefore we can freely share with those in need. More of God’s grace can flow through an open hand willing to share than a clenched fist holding on to all that God has given.
These characteristics should set our relationships within the church apart from those in the world. We need to know how to relate to one another–within the church; within our families; with our friends and acquaintances. But equally important, we need to know what the church is all about; why do we have church anyway?
What do you believe about the Church of Jesus Christ? What is its purpose, vision and mission? Over the next several weeks we are going to explore the church–the body of Christ–of which we are all apart. (Well at this point anyway we are going to assume that we are all apart of the church. The reality is that you may be a regular attender or even a member of Praise A/G, but that does not guarantee that you are a part of the church.)
Ephesians 3:8-11 . . .10His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What is Paul saying to us today? God has a plan for the church–a plan for our church. The church is not some divine accident. God has a purpose for each of us within the church. His plan had been kept hidden known only to God, but now His eternal purposes have been completed through Jesus Christ our Lord, and God’s intention is that through the church His great wisdom will be made known. God’s purpose is made known as the gospel is preached to all men; His purpose is even declared in the heavens through us–His Church.
What is the church? The word church, also translated assembly, comes from the Greek word “ ekklhsia ” which literally means “a calling out;” it is a meeting of people who have been “called out” or “summoned togther.” In the New Testament “ ekklhsia ” refers to the congregation of God’s people who have been called out or separated from the world into His kingdom.
When we think of the church in terms of individuals being called out from the world, the question we should ask is not “What church do you attend?” but “Have you answered God’s call to be a part of His Church?”
Someone has defined it as, "The Church is the
Body of Christ, the habitation of God through the Spirit, with divine appointments for the fulfillment of her great commission. Each believer, born of the Spirit is an integral part." (Richard Dresselhaus –– San Diego First Assembly of God)
By this definition the question for us today is not “Do you go to Church,” but “Are you that integral part of the Church?”
The church is not made up of bricks and mortar, but people. When we talk about the Church, we are not talking about buildings; we are talking about you and me–it is people who make up the church. Are you a part of God’s Church in which He lives by His Spirit?
We need a better understanding what God’s purpose and plan is for the church. What we believe about the church is irrelevant if our belief is not based in scripture. What we need today is belief and practice of the Church that grows out of God’s heart and not out of the world. Remember what Paul said in Ephesians 3–God’s great wisdom cannot be made known through the church in man’s way; God’s plan can only be accomplished God’s way.