Summary: A sermon reminding us how much we need the church to enhance our growth for the Lord and to enhance the harvest for His kingdom.
There is a golf course in Phoenix, Arizona. They cater to you as if you were a king. It is not open to just anyone, though. Before you can play that course, you have to become a member.
There is a big store in Tulsa called SAM’S CLUB that has just about everything you can desire, and it is all priced at a discount. It is not open to just anyone, though. Before you can buy things there, you have to become a member.
Diana and I have a car financed through a credit union. Rates are lower there than just about anywhere else, but before you can use their cheaper services, you must become a member.
The common denominator in all those places I just mentioned is that you must first join them as a member before you can receive any benefits from them.
People don’t have a problem with joining most places because we are not solitary beings. We need other people. We need to feel like we belong with our own kind. Little kids like to play baseball, and they go through this ritual of choosing up sides. Have you ever been in that situation, and they didn’t choose you right away?
What happens is that they start choosing others, and you are not chosen yet. Then, pretty soon, you start feeling really embarrassed and then after a couple more choices and you are still standing there like leper, you start getting mad. Why do you feel mad? You feel angry because you feel rejected by your own kind.
Then, what happens when you finally get picked? Your heart soars and your frown turns upside down! You become happy once again, and you think it’s because you can now play ball, but in reality it is because you are now a part of the group.
We should also know that every time you join anything, there is always some kind of a commitment that you must make to that organization. Sometimes, your commitment may be money, paid in dues. Other times, your commitment may be the giving up of your time. There will always be a certain amount of commitment you must be willing to make before you can join anything.
This morning, we are going to be talking about committing yourself to the church. This might surprise you but most people do not understand why they need a church. Unlike the places I mentioned earlier, you do not have to join the church to derive certain benefits from it, but you do need the church if you want to succeed as a Christian.
There are three points I want to discuss this morning. The first point is –
1. ARE CHURCHES ACTUALLY SANCTIONED BY GOD?
In ACTS 14:21 it says that Paul and Barnabas preached the good news and won a large number of disciples. In verse 23, it says they appointed elders for that church.
In EPHESIANS 2:21, we read:
’We who believe are carefully joined together, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.’
Paul and Timothy were in the business of planting churches. There were many churches that started in that time period, and as different as they were from one another, they all had one thing in common: They all had members who celebrated and worshiped Jesus.
James, the brother of Jesus, was the first bishop of the church in Jerusalem, which members numbered in the thousands. There were smaller churches like the churches in Thessalonica, Colosse and Myrna that were held in people’s homes, just like many of our Small Groups, or home churches do today.
In the Old Testament, in 1 KINGS 6, it gives the extraordinary details of how the Temple was built so they could have a church to worship God in. There are many other places in the Bible, which also show God has indeed ordained the church for His people to come together and worship Him.
2. IS BEING A MEMBER OF A CHURCH SANCTIONED BY GOD?
In HEBREWS 10:25, it tells us to not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, then it tells us to encourage one another.
In 1 CORINTHIANS 12:12,13, we find that the body of the church is made up of many individuals. It says that both Greek and Jew were baptized into one body. Not only does that show that individual people join the group as members, but that the church accepts everyone, no matter their status, race or sex. There are only two requirements a person must have before the church can accept him into its membership: The person must be a professed believer in Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, and the person must have been fully baptized in water or is willing to be baptized by full immersion in water for the redemption of sin.