Summary: The eleventh article of faith of the Church of the Nazarene.
This morning, we are going to move to our eleventh Article of Faith, which is:
XI. The Church
Here is the description of this 11th tenet of our faith:
We believe in the Church, the community that confesses Jesus Christ as Lord, the covenant people of God made new in Christ, the Body of Christ called together by the Holy Spirit through the Word. God calls the Church to express its life in the unity and fellowship of the Spirit; in worship through the preaching of the Word, observance of the sacraments, and ministry in His name; by obedience to Christ, holy living, and mutual accountability. The mission of the Church in the world is to share in the redemptive and reconciling ministry of Christ in the power of the Spirit. The Church fulfills its mission by making disciples through evangelism, education, showing compassion, working for justice, and bearing witness to the kingdom of God. The Church is a historical reality that organizes itself in culturally conditioned forms, exists both as local congregations and as a universal body, and also sets apart persons called of God for specific ministries. God calls the Church to live under His rule in anticipation of the consummation at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God has always had a people. His people. It began the day that He chose Abram from the myriads of people that lived on the earth at the time. He made the covenant with Abram, whose name meant High Father, and changed his name to Abraham, which means Father of Multitudes. The Hebrews, the direct descendants of Abraham, his son Isaac, and his grandson Jacob, became God’s chosen people. God continuously restated His covenant with each generation of Abraham’s offspring, and renewed it again when Moses led the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt toward the promised land of Canaan. God has always had a people.
God also told Abraham that by his offspring, all nations would be blessed. That blessing came through Jesus Christ and all of those that have accepted Jesus as their Savior are those that have been blessed because of Abraham’s obedience. These people, as a group, are called ‘His church.’ This is the church universal. The first time that the church is mentioned is in Matthew 16:18. Peter has just spoken the revelation that Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah. Jesus replied:
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
When I first came here to CCCN, just over one year ago, I told you that it was not my job to build the church. That is Jesus’ job. He said that it is His church and He will build it.
The church universal is also called the Body of Christ, in the NT. The Apostle Paul was explaining to the Christians in Rome, the way that the church is supposed to work (Romans 12:5):
so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.
As Paul goes on to describe the way that the church is supposed to operate, he talks about each of us using our skills to enable the church to function at its optimum level. As pastors, we tend to use this passage of scripture to describe the operation of the local church. While it is true that each local congregation of local churches should utilize the skills of its members and each member should use their skill to further the work of the local church, I believe that this formula can be used on the church universal as well.