Just What is a True New Testament Church Like?
I. Introduction (Matthew 16:18) – Just WHAT is Christ’s Church?
A. There is a lot of confusion about what a Church is, and whether it is important to society today or not. In a general sense, Christianity was a pillar of society in the past, and had a lot of influence in people’s lives. Brought them hope, and confidence, and rest in God. But due to abuse, and corruption, most churches and denominations have taken a back seat to societies’ way of living. People think of a church only as a building or cathedral. People only go there to visit and take pictures of the pretty stain-glass windows. That’s not what God thinks a Church is.
B. To most people Christianity is ridiculed, laughed-at, ignored
1. Church attendance in Ireland is down to 50% of the population
2. People have learned to mock Christianity through TV programmes and movies like the Simpsons, the Life of Brian, Saved, and on and on
C. But I am here to tell you that this thing called Christianity, and Church itself is not something that can be overlooked
1. It is the only organisation on this planet that Jesus actually delights to call His bride!
2. It is the only group of people that are headed for a real place called heaven
3. It is the only group of sinners on this planet that I would give my life to be a blessing to!
D. Too many people don’t care about going to a Bible believing church, and making church a priority, and making sure that when they move, there is a good church there before they go. There are so many only want a church to marry them and bury them. So the darkness of this world, only grows darker.
E. It’s important for Christians to turn that trend around!
F. This morning I want to challenge Christians to dedicate themselves to greater service to the Lord and to truly experience the joy of their salvation. The Lord promised this joy to all believers who live faithfully and, live fruitful lives as a testimony to the grace of God. Many Christians appear to have little joy or satisfaction in their lives, and I believe one cause is a lack of understanding of Christ's program for believers, which is the local church. Often believers neglect the very support that God provides through the fellowship, ministry and worship in a local, Bible believing Baptist church. My purpose is not to scold, but to show from God's word the importance of the local church in the life of the believer. If you are having trouble in this area, please stay with me to the end. It just might change your life.
G. We are going to do just that over the next few months, with an emphasis on learning “How to Behave in the House of God!”
H. The question for everyone in this room is not, “Do you go to Church?” But ... “Are you an integral part of the Church?”
I. This morning, we need to first decide just what Christianity is all about, and what a Church really is. They go hand-in-hand (Christianity and a Church).
1. We have far too long decided that we want all of Jesus, but very little of the Church. But that is not God's design.
2. Jesus loves the Church and expects us to love it too! Ephesians 5:25-27
3. Many people want to be saved from hell, but don’t want to bind themselves in loyalty to a church.
4. The same goes for modern relationships. Most want sex, but without the commitment of marriage.
5. You know that marriage and the Church are reflections of each other don’t you? It’s called the great mystery of Ephesians 5
II. Review – What We Have learned So Far:
A. A Church is an Assembly – a gathering together
B. A Church is an Anchor – supposed to be unchanging, stable, unmoveable – not always going after new things, and excitement, and entertainments, and not to be easily swayed or fearful of life’s events, etc
C. A Church is Adaptive – strangers and pilgrims
D. A Church is Active – Purposed, Focused, Working – Faith without Works is Dead!
A. A Church is an ‘Assembling Place’ (Heb 10:25)
1. More than just believers getting together as a group – an assembly of believers…
2. A Bible believing Church puts people back together - assembles people (1Cor 12:18)
a. Broken lives, messed up minds, loneliness, lost souls
b. Through introducing people to faith in Jesus Christ, and proving the God of heaven still cares
3. Through the ministry of the word of God (preaching), and prayer (Acts 6:4)
a. Puts marriages back together – we hate divorces and separations and adultery, and fornication, and ANYTHING that breaks up a home! And we do everything in our power to bring homes back together
b. Makes enemies face each other and reconcile, by the grace of God! We don’t encourage anger, bitterness, long-standing arguments, and feuds to go on and on!
c. Puts people in the right direction – helps them find God’s will!
4. People who come to this church need to go away knowing they have been helped, lifted, loved, and rebuked if necessary
5. It is a place people become glued together as a visible family, representing the spiritual family of God
6. To say you are a child of God (Gal 3:26) requires that you meet with the family of God regularly (Eph 2:19-21)
7. God assembles us together so that we can accomplish His will through our lives. It’s called pulling together – and it works!
a. A true, New Testament, Bible Believing Baptist Church makes sure everyone attending is Growing, integrating, and becoming part of the strength of that church (Eph 4:16)
b. If we don’t glue together, we will fail (Luke 11:23)
B. A Church is All-Important (Acts 2:47) - Needed/Foundational to Living for God
1. Most Bible believing churches schedule at least three meetings a week; however, in most churches only about half or less of the people attends services regularly.
a. Of the number who do attend services on a regular basis, most of these only attend Sunday Morning meetings.
b. Generally, attendance on Sunday night, and at mid-week meetings is poor. Because so few attend, many churches have abandoning all but their Sunday morning services.
2. Someone jokingly remarked "Those that attend Sunday morning love the preacher. Those that attend Sunday night love the church, and those that attend midweek Bible Study love the Lord!" I believe the statement correctly reflects the real reason why many people attend their church. Loving the preacher or loving the church will motivate some to attend the more popular services, but if one truly loves the Lord, he will support all that his church does.
3. The Church, no matter where it is meeting, is all important
a. It is to Jesus – we are His bride
b. It is to the sinner – to come and hear some good news
c. It is to the Christian – to keep us right with God
4. Part of the foundation of any society is a bunch of local, Bible Believing Baptist Churches – just as desperately necessary as the Family is, and the government
a. Without local, evangelistic, sin-hating, God fearing, Bible loving, Christian churches, the world is only a dark place (Philp 2:15)
b. What would the world be like without the Gospel? Tribulation
1) Lenin offered no hope
2) Stalin offered no hope
3) Hitler offered no hope
5. A taste of heaven here on earth!
C. A Church is All About Jesus (Jn 12:32; Gal 3:1)
1. Churches have made their reason for existence to meet:
a. The needs of the poor
b. The injustices in the world
c. The ecological needs of our planet
2. Some churches have made PEOPLE and their happiness their purpose
3. But this place, these people called the Church, are gathered together to do ONE thing – lift up and praise and honour and obey the Lord Jesus!
4. In other words, this place is all about
a. His word – from Genesis 1:1 all the way through to Rev 22:21
b. His coming – fulfilled prophecies
c. His life – perfect and awesome - couldn’t ask for more interesting reading than of the way Jesus lived, and how He loved (forget Theresa, John Paul, the Dali Lama, Bill Gates, etc)!
d. His teaching – such life changing truth! Plato, Socrates, Nietzsche, Darwin are all dry as toast compared to the living water of the words that flowed from the mouth of Jesus Christ (Luke 4:22)
e. His death – the cross (1Cor 2:2)
f. His resurrection – complete and absolute victory over death and hell
g. His will – nothing better than to discover God’s will for your life, and then to live it!
h. His Soon Coming – What a great thought! It could be today!
5. If there is any other reason why you came to church (the music, the people, the food, the chairs, the lighting, the singing, the atmosphere), then you came for the wrong reason!!!
D. A Church is Authorized (Mt 21:23-27)
1. To Preach – the world is busy trying to find the truth – we found it (Jn 14:6)
2. To Pray (Heb 4:16)
3. To Examine – test the spirits, make sure everyone operates by the Book – search the Scriptures if something is so (Rev 2:1,2)
4. To Baptize – checks to see if someone really is a believer, and then commits itself to helping that new believer grow in grace
5. To Deputize – send out people who are called of God, to do the work of God (Acts 13) starting more churches – churches start churches
E. A Church is Temporary (1Thes 4:14-17) – We Have a Short Time to Do What We Are Supposed to Do
1. Grow up
2. Glorify the Lord
3. Go out
4. Give of ourselves – living sacrifices
5. Gather together more souls
6. Reach Our generation!!!
7. All before the trumpet sounds!
A. Allow the Lord to assemble your life through the ministries of this church
B. Make Church All-Important
C. Make sure Church is always only About Jesus
D. Remember that our Church is Authorized – God ordained
E. Remember also, that our Church is only Temporary! Heaven is eternal!
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Ireland