Summary: What is the church and how do YOU fit in?
You and the Church
November 5, 2017
TEXT: Acts 20:28 – “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
I want to share some staggering statistics about church. Since 2000, about 4000 churches in America have closed the doors each year, while only 1000 new churches were started each year—a net loss of 3000 per year. If those statistics are still true, and that’s an old study from 2007, that’s a net loss of about 80,000 churches! At the turn of the 1900’s there were 27 churches to every 10,000 people, but at the start of this millennium, there were only 11 churches to every 10,000 people. And that’s not all: every year, 2.7 million church members drop into inactivity.
This leaves us with some important questions: Is the church really important? What does the Bible say about the church? Can you live the Christian life successfully without the church? And What can I do to help the church?
Our text tells us that Paul had gathered the leaders of the church at Ephesus together for parting words before he left them on their own. Notice his words at the end of our text: He tells them to “…feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
This passage tells us something very important about the church, and that’s what I want to talk to you about today.
Please note with me four important things about the church and you:
I. FIRST, NOTICE WITH ME THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CHURCH.
Paul refers to the church of Ephesians as “…the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” We normally think of Christ’s work on the cross as an individual transaction: He died for ME, and YOU and every individual believer. But since we all collectively make the church, it may be properly said that Christ died for the church.
That ought to tell you something: It ought to tell you that the church is very important; that it is precious to Jesus, that it is something that is VITAL and significant. Anything Christ paid for with His blood is INFINITELY VALUABLE!
Illus. – Suppose you bought a brand new Lamborghini Veneno. One of them babies is valued at 4 MILLION DOLLARS brand new. So, let’s say you just bought a brand new one, and before you could even get insurance for it, someone took a sledge hammer and demolished it. It would make your blood boil, wouldn’t it! Why?—Because you had paid dearly for it.
Don’t you think Jesus thinks more of the church, which He gave HIS LIFE for, than we would for any car, or ALL the vehicles on earth?
Brethren, we ought to value something so dearly paid for by our Lord. I preached a sermon once titled, “The Church Is Worthy”—and it IS! Not because of who’s in it!—Why, it’s made up of the vilest of sinners! No, the church isn’t worthy because of its make-up, but because it’s bought with a price—the price of the precious blood of Jesus Christ. And folks, if it’s worthy enough for Jesus to shed his precious blood for, it ought to be important to us and worthy of some things from us!
II…NEXT, WHAT IS THE EMPHASIS IN THE BIBLE CONCERNING NEW TESTAMENT AGE CHURCH?
A. The word church is the translation of the Greek word ekklesía, which means “a called out assembly.”
The Bible uses the word in two ways.
1) First, it is used of the whole company of the redeemed throughout the New Testament age and is synonymous with the term “the Body of Christ.”
This is what theologians call “the universal church,” also called “the invisible church.” There are a few verses which indisputably speak of “the church” in this way.
2) The second way ekklesía is used is in the New Testament is when referring to visible, individual, local gatherings of believers in physical, earthly locations, such as this church you are in this morning.
This is what we mean by “the local church,” or “the visible church.” A local church is a visible, physical assembly of saved, baptized believers covenanted together to serve God according to God’s commands. You might say it is a subset of the universal church, or a local affiliate of it.
Both the universal concept of the church as well as the local concept of the church are scriptural, but which one is the predominant emphasis in the New Testament?
The following chart shows how ekklesía is used throughout the New Testament:
[This sermon was in table form in the original.]