Summary: When churches forget who they are and what is their purpose they quickly sink into a sea a of insignificance with no effectiveness and no power.
Series: Being the Body
WHAT IS THE CHURCH?
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
I have discovered through the years that one of the most important aspects, if not the most, of success is “IDENTITY” (knowing who you are and what is your purpose). Without is a certain formula for failure.
-Businesses that lose their identity will soon disappear
-Athletic Teams that lose..... soon find themselves with losing seasons
-Individuals that lose... live miserable lives
Churches are no different. When churches forget who they are and what is their purpose they quickly sink into a sea a of insignificance with no effectiveness and no power. Sadly, this is what has happened in many of our churches today and our society is paying the price. We are in a crisis situation. We must stop, examine and regain our identity.
I. THE DEFINITION OF THE CHURCH
“Church” (ekkleesia, a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place; an assembly)
(from Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
(Michael G. Moriarty) In evangelical individualism people think of their personal relationship with God in isolation (““Just me and Jesus””) and forge their destiny apart from any church authority. While holding relatively low opinions of history, traditions, and the church, they turn to the experiences of self and isolate themselves from their brothers and sisters in the faith. True spirituality is perverted as it becomes a quest for inner stimulation rather than growth in biblical knowledge and the application of truth in community. Healthy Christians do not live in isolation. The Perfect 10: The Blessings of Following God’’s Commandments in a Post Modern World, pp. 52-53
Yet membership in a confessing body is fundamental to the faithful Christian life. Failure to do so defies the explicit warning not to forsake "our assembling together." His understanding of this prompted Martin Luther to say, "Apart from the church, salvation is impossible." Not that the church provides salvation; God does. But because the "saved" one can’’t fulfill what it means to be a Christian apart from the church, membership becomes the indispensable mark of salvation. "So highly does the Lord esteem the communion of His church," Calvin wrote," that He considers everyone a traitor and apostate from religion who perversely withdraws himself from any Christian society which preserves the true ministry of the word and sacraments." Charles W. Colson, The Body, 1992, Word Publishing, p. 70.
(Heb 10:25) Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
II. THE FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH
Not Social Activities
Not the Preacher
Not the Music
It is a Steadfast Belief that ....
Jesus Christ is Christ, the Son of the Living God
(Isa 28:16) Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
(Eph 2:19 20) Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
—Jesus is My God
Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God
– Jesus is My Savior and Redeemer
Jesus Christ is the Only Way to the Father
– Jesus is My Way, Truth and Life
Preaching Today Illustration
Jeremy Bowen, the presenter of a new British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) documentary on Jesus stated, "The important thing is not what he was or what he wasn’t——the important things is what people believe him to have been. A massive world wide religion, numbering more than two billion people follows his memory——that’s pretty remarkable, 2,000 years on."
Bowen couldn’t be more wrong. Who Jesus is and what he did is the foundation of our faith.
Citation: Alan Wilson, Nyon, Switzerland; source: Alex Webb, "Looking for the Historical Jesus," BBC News Online, (3-26-01 column
III. THE MASTER OF THE CHURCH
Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Col 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
IV. THE CALL OF THE CHURCH
(Matt 5:13 14) 13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.