Defining the Church

Just What is a True New Testament Church Like?

Hebrews 10:25
RealAudio     MP3

DATE: 8 Jan, 2006 AM

PLACE: BBC Ballincollig


I.         Introduction (Matthew 16:18)


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.        Of those who go, most ask, Who wastes more than 45 minutes at church anymore? People don’t normally go to a church and spend and hour and a half in the morning, and then again Sunday evening, and then two hours again on Wednesday!!!

3.        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.       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!”

G.       The question for everyone in this room is not, “Do you go to Church?” But ... “Are you an integral part of the Church?”

H.      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


I.         Let me give you the outline for today’s study:


1.        A Church is an Assembly – a gathering together

2.        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

3.        A Church is Adaptive – strangers and pilgrims

4.        A Church is Active – Purposed, Focused, Working – Faith without Works is Dead!


II.       Message - Defining a Church – What is a Church?


A.      A Church is An Assembly – a gathering together (Heb 10:25; 2Thes 2:1; Mt 18:20; 1Cor 5:4)


1.        Congregating, Assembling, to Draw Close


a.        Congregation is the Old Testament word – congregate - to bring into one place

b.       New Testament word is Church – a group of people who have been “called out” of the world, to a gathering of those people together to hear the preaching of the word of God, and yield their lives afresh to glorifying Jesus’ name!


2.        This is probably the most important part to settle in your minds…


a.        Everyone today is willing to become part of some mystical invisible “church,” but not become members of a local Church.

b.       Every church in the Bible is a local group of baptized believers in Jesus Christ who gather together to fulfil the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19,20

c.        Christians who don’t assemble together are not really Christians – they may be saved, but they are not like Christ – He gathered people around Him, and expect us to gather together with Him too


3.        To Assemble Together means that People:


a.        Come together (Heb 10:25) not as hermits, where we are alone and away from absolutely everybody, but come to BE together – a fellowship


1)       To be together – just to be together – how wonderful!

2)       To be a team – more about this in another study

3)       To be a testing ground – also mor about this in another study – but suffice it to say, THIS is where a Christian learns how to love and live the Christian life – among family, before going out into the world!


b.       Come together, apart from the world – as often as possible!


1)       This is not a disco - don’t bring the world in here - doesn’t belong

2)       It is not a shopping mall, or a coffee shop

3)       This is not a school or a gymnasium

4)       It is a little bit of heaven on earth!!! A place where you bring all your burdens, fears, sorrows, and place them at the feet of Saviour and rejoice in His grace, and love, and fellowship


c.        Come to grow and mature (Acts 11:26)


1)       Come as you are, and leave as He is the Church’s Welcome!


a)       A constant change is supposed to be going on in your life! No change = no life!

b)       This is the assembling process – where God takes us and fits us together into a single body of believers that learn how to work together as a team, and accomplish God’s will TOGETHER!


2)       You grow and mature as a Christian through:


a)       Through Preaching first – exhorting, rebuking, commanding, directing, pleading, urging – heavy emphasis on affecting the heart

b)       Through Teaching – line upon line, step by step, thought by thought, reasonableness, carefulness, plainness of speech, learning the whole counsel of God

c)       Through Surrender – yielding

d)       Through Worship – the end result of meeting with Christ Jesus


(i)       That’s why we sing together – not just have special singing

(ii)     That’s why we pray together

(iii)    That’s why we come to HEAR from the Holy Spirit, not just the voice of the preacher


d.       Come to Worship with Jesus (2Thes 2:1)


1)       A believer gathers together with other believers NOT because of the believers, NOT because of the building, NOT because of the preacher, NOT because of the entertainment, NOT because of the good feeling you want to get

2)       It is supposed to be only because of the Lord Jesus Christ

3)       Because we love Him, and want to be with Him like He is here in a special way that he is not in your life in any other way (Mt 18:20). If you miss Church, you will miss His presence (Jn 20:19-21, 24) just as Thomas did!


4.        So, we assemble to enable us to meet with Jesus, and let Jesus speak to us, heal us, transform us, change us, and encourage us as His people


B.       A Church is An Anchor (1Tim 3:15) – a Church is 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, and persecutions, etc.  Storms come, and pressures increase, and the world shifts focus – but a Church stays on course – How?


1.        Anchored in God’s Word – Bible Doctrine over personal experiences

2.        Anchored in God’s Grace – Love for each other and a lost world no matter WHAT they may say or do to us

3.        Anchored in God’s Plan – Keeping doing what Jesus said needs to be done, faithfully, daily, consistently


C.       A Church is Adaptive – strangers and pilgrims (Heb 11:13)


1.        Adapting to the Will of God


a.        Sometimes permanent in location - Sometimes, on the move

b.       Sometimes dwelling peaceably in times of peace – Sometimes, dwelling fearfully in times of persecution (the upper room, Acts)


2.        Adapting to Where We Are


a.        The Church here in Ballincollig ought to have the flavour of Ballincollig, and Cork – some of its culture

b.       The Church in Mallow ought to have some things that are distinctive to Mallow

c.        We want to reach THESE people

d.       We don’t ever change the truth, or the Bible – but we do adapt ourselves to where we are


1)       Adapt to the Culture

2)       Adapt to the Spirituality – maybe need to rebuke the spirit of the area, and the religion, and especially the sins of the area

3)       Adapt to the Needs – maybe need to feed them before you can preach to them


3.        We are Always Adapting to Get Our Job Done


a.        Learning the language of an area

b.       Learning the culture

c.        Learning how to convey the truth to these people

d.       Learning how to better show God’s love and care


D.      A Church is Active (1Pet 2:5) – Purposed, Focused, Busy Working –


1.        Being a part of Church is not only a routine, or something we just do because that’s what we have always done…

2.        But coming together as a Church ought to be an act of love – it is not wrong to LOVE to come out to church (to some it seems weird) – to meet in season and out of season – to care about the other believers and seek to minister to them

3.        We are supposed to be living-out what we believe on the inside – that is Christianity in action

4.        We are called to actively SHINE, influence our dark world

5.        We are called to actively turn our world upside down – not let if self destruct

6.        It has been said, "The Church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners." (Acts 2:47)


a.        Do you believe the Church should be reaching the world for Christ? If you say yes, then . . .

b.       What are the boundaries of your compassion? The limits you will go?

c.        How far does your love stretch? To the unlovely, the sinner?

d.       How big is your vision? Cork, Killarney, Katmandu?

e.        With statements like … "For God so loved the world … Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel" … how can we sit around and not go?

f.         Jesus said in Mark 16:15, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

g.       He didn't say "Go only to those who appeal to you, who you like, or who you can personally relate to" or "Go only to a particular area."

h.       No! Colossians 1:28 says, “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”


7.        Faith without Works is Dead!

8.        Oh that we were to catch on fire on a Sunday, and burn bright still on Monday, and Tuesday and Wednesday!


III.     Conclusion


A.      Our being a part of this church is so that we can actively affect our world – we can’t do it alone (and it won’t be done alone). We have to do it together AS a church, as a group of believers, and we have to do for the Lord, and not for any one else, or any other reason!

B.       This morning, we have learned just what Christianity is all about, and what a Church really is. They go hand-in-hand (Christianity and a Church).

C.       Today we have learned that:


1.        A Church is an Assembly – a gathering together

2.        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

3.        A Church is Adaptive – strangers and pilgrims

4.        A Church is Active – Purposed, Focused, Working – Faith without Works is Dead!


D.      What’s on the menu for next week, and the following weeks


1.        Why a Church is So Important to the Life of a Christian

2.        The Order in a Church

3.        The Gifts of the Spirit to the Church – a hot message

4.        The Enemies of a Church – an even hotter message


E.       This is going to be a practical series of messages – don’t miss any of them, and work HARD at bringing folks out

F.       Let me invite you, if you are not a member of this local, Bible believing Baptist Church, to become a member of our church – talk to me today!


Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church