What is the Church, Who are the Church? (Ecclesiology) (Acts 2:42-47; Romans 1:16-17; 15:20; Col. 1:15-20)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, February 11, 2018
I know many churches with fog machines in their worship service. I don’t know their purpose, but I really do not agree and I would be entirely, unreservedly opposed to a fog machine in our worship. I know of churches that begin their worship service with Beatles songs. I don’t know their purpose, actually I do. They are so intent on reaching the lost, and that is a good thing, but instead they sing songs written by a pot smoking band that do not glorify God. I do not agree with that either. A. W. Tozer has said that we were created to worship and so I would also say why would we compromise worship on our Sunday morning gathering. I would also say why when the whole body of Christ comes together some make it more about a pop concert than glorifying the King of Kings. I know why these churches do it. I respect their motivation, they wish to reach more people with the Gospel. They think if they start with a Beatles song and turn the sanctuary into a stadium people will feel more comfortable and be more receptive to the message. However, if we compromise Christianity in order to reach people we should expect that we are compromising discipleship. If we compromise worship in order to reach people we are falsifying Christianity in order to reach people. If we compromise worship in order to reach people we are being disingenuous and we are lacking integrity by misrepresenting Christianity and the claims of Christ from the very beginning. Therefore, people could think they are committing to Christianity, but they are not. They are committing to a pop culture skewed view of Christianity which is NOT Biblical Christianity. This is what happens when we make our worship service our evangelism outreach. This is grave danger. This can lead to major problems in a church. If we compromise worship in order to reach people then we ought not be surprised when they really do not know worship themselves.
As you know, I am in a sermon series on the Study of God. So, now we come to the study of God’s church. We are talking about the church today and I want to say my theme and application:
You are called to worship, but the church as a whole is called to evangelism and discipleship to bring people into a RIGHT relationship with God so that they can worship.
Don’t forget evangelism, as that is sin, but don’t compromise worship which we are called to do.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
- What is the church?
- If you notice the passage above, Jesus is the Head of the church. We also see this in Ephesians 1:22-23.
- The church is called the bride of Christ.
- We see this in Eph. 5:22-25 but mostly in Rev. 19:7-8: Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” 8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright andclean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
- We see the idea in Rev. 20:1-6 as well.
- The church is the bride of Christ.
- There are many metaphors of the church too many to name. But the church is the body of believers who are called out of the world to serve Jesus.
- God has not called us to live the Christian life alone, but to be networked together.
- We are a community.
- Who are the church?
- Listen, every believer in Jesus Christ is part of the church.
- Please take your pointer finger and point to the sky and now point at your self and say, “I am the church.”
- If you are a believer in Christ, you are the church.
- Purposes of the church
- I want to talk about 5 purposes of the church. Ultimately, I believe if every Christian is a disciple that should lead to evangelism, worship, ministry and fellowship, but we all fail. So, every one of us must evaluate how we are doing. How are you doing with evangelism? How many times have you shared your faith? How are you doing as a disciple? Are you living like Jesus? Are you trying? How are you doing with worship? Do you worship Jesus? How about ministry? Are you serving? How about fellowship? Are you connected to the body? Every believer is to be involved in those 5 areas of evangelism, discipleship, worship, ministry and fellowship. But what about the church. The church must mobilize the people for these tasks.
- Ultimately, I do believe we are created to worship God and DISCIPLESHIP teaches us that.
- But that is the Christian. Ultimately, I believe the church is God’s military organization to evangelize, but also to support one another as we share the Gospel and live the Christian life.
- The church is called to evangelism.
- Let’s read Acts 2:42-47: 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they beganselling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
- In that passage we see all 5 purposes of the church. The are devoting themselves to teaching. They are worshipping. They are ministering. Verse 47 says the Lord is adding to their number.
- There are many churches that must apologize. We must apologize for neglecting evangelism, and this is a sin of omission. Or, we must apologize for compromising worship with a goal of evangelism.
- We do not compromise our worship for evangelism. We include evangelism in all of our ministries. If we are about evangelism throughout the week then we simply keep worship the same.
- The whole book of Acts is about church planting and spreading the Gospel.
- The whole New Testament is about spreading the Gospel.
- Romans 1:16-17: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous manshall live by faith.”
- Romans 15:20: And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation…
- the New Testament is all about the spread of the Gospel. Are you? Are we?
- People do not care about our Gospel because we do not care enough to share it?
- But the purpose of our Sunday morning worship gathering is not evangelism. Don’t get me wrong, I will share the Gospel wherever the people are, but that is not the purpose.
- You are called to evangelism and the church is called to mobilize, encourage and equip you to share the Gospel so that there are more worshippers.
- Furthermore, the church as a community should have more invitational evangelism opportunities. I am looking into Celebrate Recovery which would be a Christian based recovery group in order to help people in the community. This building should be full of good, God honoring community, need meeting events throughout the week. Fill up the building with Christian classes for parents and children. Fill up the building with Christian counseling. But remember, you are the church and where you go you are to infect people with Jesus. BE CONTAGIOUS!
- Generally we do not care enough to live it. The church is called to discipleship.
- The church is called to Discipleship.
- Don’t forget that disciples worship. Disciples minister. Disciples fellowship. Disciples make disciples. True disciples share the Gospel.
- Jesus has not called us to be fans but to be followers of Jesus.
- There are so many Scriptures about this.
- Luke 9:23: And He was saying to themall, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me…”
- The church is called to Worship.
- I talked about compromising worship in order to reach people.
- Think about it, compromising worship for evangelism is like compromising your entire view of purity in order to find a spouse.
- Think about it, Christians have been doing that for at least sixty years. Christians, even parents, would rather their children graduate from college than remain sexually pure. College is way more important to the Christian parent than sexual purity. Christian children are raised with a certain view of purity and then throw it out on the first date. So, why are we surprised when we do the same thing with worship. We have a Bible view and we throw it out with the goal of marrying more people.
- The worship service is for the groom. The worship service is not for you, it is for Jesus.
- BUT the rest of the week, the rest of the ministry, is about reaching more people with the Gospel so they can join us in worshipping Jesus AND help reach other people to also worship Jesus.
- See Col. 3:15-17: Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
- Look at Rev. 4:8-11: And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”
9 And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”
- The Church is called to Ministry.
- We are called to lovingly serve other people. See Phil. 2:3-11. Even this should have an evangelism goal.
- The church is called to Fellowship.
- We are to live in community.
- We are to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2), etc.
I started this sermon talking about churches that I believe compromise worship with the idea of evangelism. BUT remember, it is also a sin to neglect to share the Gospel. Neglecting to share the Gospel compromises worship because in neglecting evangelism we have less worshippers.
Who are the church? YOU are.
What is the church? The body and bride of Christ.
What are we called to do?
You are called to worship Jesus.
We are called to evangelism, discipleship, worship, ministry and fellowship.
Do you know Christ?
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)