Summary: A Christian not belonging to a local church is a disobeying Christian and there will be consequences.
Have you heard what’s coming to Milwaukee in January 2010? The Dead Sea Scrolls will be on exhibit at the Milwaukee Museum! How awesome is that, as we have been talking about defending our faith! We can see in person one of the greatest evidences of the Word of God!
The writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls were meticulously committed to God, God’s Word, and the Fellowship of Believers! Now, if the world is still here in 2000 years, I wonder what people will say about us Christians? This is the reason we went through a series in Apologetics, Defending our Christian Faith!
We finish today this Apologetics Message Series by answering the question, Why belong to a Church?
Of course before we can answer that question, we need to define what church is. There can be many definitions but the church we need to talk about is what God calls a church. And even in the Bible, there are 2 definitions for church. How does God define church?
If you do a word search for church in the Bible, you will not find it in the Old Testament. Now of course, Believers of God during Old Testament times gathered together on a regular basis and that gathering can be called church. But the clue to understanding church is what Jesus Christ said about church. Let us start with me Matthew 16:13-18……
Jesus is building the church based on people’s faith.
Now, some claim that Jesus is building the church directly from Peter. Let’s take a closer look at the passage.
Jesus did say in v18, “on this rock, I will build my church!”
What can we learn from this statement?
First of all, who’s church is it? Jesus said, “I will build MY church!” The church is not Peter’s, it is Jesus’!
Secondly what is the rock that the church is built on? Yes, Peter’s name meant rock, but if the church is built on Peter, the church would never be built! Why? Look at v23 of Matthew 16………..
It also helps to check the original words for Peter and rock. The original Greek word for Peter is petros (a stone) but the Greek word for rock in v18 is petra (meaning a large rock).
Peter gave the right answer about Jesus; that Jesus is the Christ, in other words the Messiah, the Savior and God! But where did the right answer come from? Look again at v17….
Peter did not come up with the right answer on his own!
Jesus is building the church based on people’s faith on the large rock, who is Jesus Himself. Turn to 1 Peter 2:4-8……
God through Peter described the church! The church starts with the Living Stone, the Precious Cornerstone, the Capstone, the Rock, who is Jesus Christ. Believers of Jesus Christ become living stones themselves being built up to a spiritual house! And so, the church is built on Christ but is being built with new living stones, the Believers of Christ. Look again at v7-8 of 1 Peter 2……………
Is Jesus precious to you personally? In other words, are you truly professing that you can not live your life without Jesus Christ? If you reject Christ, you will stumble and fall and will not be a part of God’s House. Like Peter, if you confess that Jesus Christ is your only Savior and God, then you are part of the church.
There is the church that Jesus is building which will be His Bride for eternity! Why belong to this church of Jesus? If you are not part of Jesus’ church, you will be separated from God for eternity! Let’s take a moment right now to believe in Jesus Christ with our hearts. If you’ve never truly accepted Jesus Christ as your only Savior and God, now is the time to do it. Let us pray quietly for a moment about our personal relationship with Jesus Christ……….
The church of Jesus Christ will be complete in the future when Jesus completes His judgment of wickedness on earth. In the meantime, Jesus continues to build His church and He calls His believers to be in a church on earth.
Jesus Christ calls His believers to assemble on earth and this assembly is also called the church. Jesus talks about building His church in Matthew 16; then in Matthew 18, Jesus talks about a group on earth called the church. Look at Matthew 18:15-17... Turn to Acts 8:1-3... In Acts 13:1 we read, In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers.
Acts 14:23-24, Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord……….
And so, a church is also defined by God as a group of Believers at a specific location. We are called All Nations Bible Church but we could also be called the church in South Milwaukee or a church in Milwaukee.