A Christian brother and I went to eat while attending a college lectureship. We were joking with the waitress who seemed rather frustrated with the crowd. We inquired about her religion and she answered: “I quit attending a church because I serve so many impatient Christians.” This hit me hard so I observed the customers. They were rude and demanding. This taught me a great lesson. Nine thousand Christians had assembled to fellowship; our giants were there to lecture; the lectures were powerful enough to convert any sinner; many new programs, missions, and plans were announced. But this lady didn’t hear those sermons. She just saw 9,000 people whose religion had not made them courteous and kind. She saw 9,000 demanding, rude, loud, overbearing people! And if this was Christianity, she didn’t want any part of it. Perhaps this was just her excuse and if so God will judge! But I’m persuaded that more people are saved or lost by trivial courtesies than by good or bad sermons.
The best sermon cannot touch the man whose heart has been touched by the Christian who doesn’t care about people and their feelings. It really is the “little things in life that count.” It is the smile, the thought, the pleasant word, the patience, the name, the handshake. Trivialities can become tragedies–the frown, the hard statement, the impatience, the rudeness. Christians be thoughtful, courteous and kind. CHRISTIANS BE CAREFUL! God is watching! Children are watching! Friends are watching! Total strangers are watching!
“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful in much; and he that is unjust in the least is also unjust in much” [Luke 16:10].
“ I saw him in the church building for the first time on Wednesday. He was in his mid-70′s with thinning silver hair and a neat brown suit. Many times in the past I had invited him to come. Several other Christian friends had talked to him about the Lord and had tried to share the good news with him.
He was well respected, honest, a man of good character. He acted much like a Christian would act, but he never came to church or became a Christian. After I got to know him well and we had talked about a wide range of subjects I asked him if he had ever been to a worship service.
He hesitated. Then with a twisted grimace told me of an experience he had as a boy. He was raised in a large family. His parents survived the depression but they struggled to provide food and clothing for the family.
When he was around ten years old a friend invited him to go to services with his family.
He went – the Sunday School class was great. The songs were fun to sing and the stories, oh the great Bible stories, were exciting to hear. He had never heard anyone read from the Bible before. As class ended the teacher pulled him aside and said, “Son, please don’t come again dressed as you are now. We want to look our best when we come into God’s house.”
He looked down at his old hand me down overalls that were certainly worn and tattered. He thought about that for a moment and said softly, “No ma’am I won’t ever.” Then he looked at me the author wrote and said, “And you know what. I never did.” It was clear that he was done with that conversation.
The author reflected, I am sure that the Sunday School teacher meant well and in fact was representing the feeling of the majority of the folks in that congregation. But what if, what if she had put her arms around the dirty little boy in the ragged overalls and said, “Son, I am thrilled that you came this morning and I hope you will come every chance you get to hear more about Jesus because he loves you so much.” Moreover what if she would have talked with the preacher or her friends in the church and mobilized a full blown outreach effort to help this family make ends meet.
The story ended like this: Yes I saw him in the meeting house for the first time on Wednesday and I cried as I looked at the immaculately dressed old gentleman lying there in his casket. He was looking his best. But all I could think of were those words of an impressionable little ten-year-old boy echoing in my mind, “No ma’am I won’t ever.”
My work as a preacher has allowed me to hear many interesting things over the years, but a man recently said something to me that was definitely unique. He said his wife likes to attend a certain religious group in my area because of the “gyrations” associated with this faith.
I have heard of people selecting a place of worship based on location, size, beliefs, and even politics. Selecting a group because of divinely inspired gyrations (this is the claim) is certainly new. Unfortunately this is not God’s criteria for selecting a religious faith.
“Truth” exists and “truth frees” (Jn. 8:32). Gyrations may make people feel good – and perhaps burn some calories – but they and the other things commonly used to evaluate religion are false standards.
Romans 6:13 tells us our body is an instrument, and we choose to use it for righteousness or unrighteousness. The Greek word translated “instrument” there means tool or weapon. What kind of tool or weapon are you? Are you an instrument God holds in His hand to do His will?
Are you a battering ram? The ancients would use a log or some other hard object to break down a wall or door. Have we filled our hearts with the Word to the degree that we can, speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), break down barriers keeping the honest-hearted from God?
Are you a crowbar? Crowbars pry objects apart. There are things we should separate from our thinking and lifestyle. Are we trying to pull away from worldliness (cf. Jas. 4:4)?
Are you a chisel? This is a tool that does meticulous, detail work. Its blade carves or cuts hard materials. Do we have the tenacity and trust needed to use God’s Word and benefit from His providence to remake our lives into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18)?
Are you a level? We live in not only a dishonest world, but a corrupt world. So many call good evil and evil good (cf. Isa. 5:20). Can people find in us a reliable standard of right and wrong, as we reflect the principles of God’s Word? Levels are used to determine whether something is true and as it ought to be.
Are you a plane?
The plane makes rough surfaces smooth by repetitiously moving it back and forth across the surface. All four gospels (Mt. 3:3; Mk. 1:3; Lk. 3:4; Jn. 1:23) speak of John the immerser’s work as making ready the path of the Lord, making His paths straight. We are not a forerunner of Jesus; we follow in His steps (cf. 1 Pt. 2:21). As we do follow Him, we are going to forge a path safe for others to follow (cf. 1 Co. 11:1).
Are you a magnet? A magnet is an object that draws and holds another object disposed toward such attraction. Magnets can be used as tools themselves, but are often made a part of other tools (like hammers and screwdrivers). By living like Jesus, you will draw people to Him.
Paul likes the word found in Romans 6:13 when talking to the Corinthians. He mentions “weapons” of righteousness (2 Co. 6:7) and the “weapons” of our warfare (2 Co. 10:4). In both cases, the tools or weapons are spiritual and figurative, yet with them we can help shape and build up those around us.
One of the most interesting observations one makes as he studies the Bible is God’s “consistency.” For example: God has always placed water between His people and the people of the World. Flood waters between Noah and the people of the world; the waters of the Red Sea between His people and the Egyptians; the waters of the Jordan River was all that separated His people from the Promised Land; and today, the waters of baptism. Consider the number “3.” There are three dispensations: Patriarchal, Mosaic, and the Christian dispensation, which is the last (Hebrews 9:26); there is the Godhead consisting of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; man consists of the body, soul and spirit. Also, 50 days after being set free from Egyptian bondage, the Law of Moses was given, and 50 days after the Resurrection, when we were set free from the bondage of sin, the Law of Christ was given. When we are aware of God’s consistency, we can learn a great deal about how God works.
Consider the Ark of Noah, and the church built by Christ. Noah’s ark was made of one material, gopher wood. Christ church is made of one material, living stones (1Peter 2:5). There was only one door into the Ark, and only one door into the church (John 10:9). In the flood that destroyed the world, only one family was saved, Noah’s family. In the fire that will one day destroy the world, only one family will be saved, Christ’s family, His church (1Timothy 3:15).
It is most important to understand that all those saved in Noah’s day were in the Ark. Likewise, all those who shall be saved in the final destruction of this earth (2Peter 3:10), will be in the Lord’s church.
God told Noah that if he wanted to be saved, he would have to get into the Ark and stay there. Likewise, we have to get into the Lord’s church and stay there. The only way to get into the Lord’s church is for God to add you to it (Acts 2:47). He will do that when you hear His word, believe it, and obey it (Acts 2:38-41).
No doubt you have heard preachers close their sermons with something like, “Come to the altar and be saved. You don’t need to be a member of any church to be saved. Being a part of a church has nothing to do with being saved!”
That’s a frightening statement to make, because the Scriptures tell us that Jesus is the Savior of His Body, and His Body is His Church! (Eph. 5:23 – Col. 1:18).
1. Acts 20:28 tells us that the Lord’s church was purchased with His BLOOD. Can something that was purchased with the Blood of Christ actually be unimportant?
2. In Acts 2:47, we are told that all the saved were added to the church (KJV). Should people believe preachers that are saying that the institution to which all the saved belong has nothing to do with salvation?
3. Christ gave Himself for His church (Eph. 5:25). What kind of spiritual insanity would teach people that the church for which Christ “gave Himself” is unnecessary?
4. Jesus promised to build His church (Matt. 16:18). Why would Jesus build something unimportant?
5. Should something that was the specific subject of thousands of years of prophecy be considered “unimportant?”
Why is the church important? Why did Jesus build His church? There are two main reasons, but first and foremost is for the FELLOWSHIP OF BELIEVERS. People are by nature social beings. They want to be a part of a group. Even God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Gen. 2:18). Man was not created to live alone, he was created to live in fellowship, and the church partially fulfills this need.
The NT speaks much concerning the fellowship of believers: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the FELLOWSHIP, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:32). “If we walk in the light…we have FELLOWSHIP with one another…” (1Jn 1:7).
This Christian fellowship is vital for our spiritual lives. Part of this fellowship involves encouraging one another to live right before God. “Exhort one another every day…that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13). How many times do we feel like throwing up our hands and quitting? How many times do we think “I just can’t live like God expects me to live anymore?” Encouragement through fellowship can help to alleviate this attitude. Paul writes, “Brethren, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness…” (Gal. 6:1-2). It’s sad, but it seems when we need help “spiritually” the last place we go is to our brethren! Yet this is one of the reasons for the establishment of the church.
The church must be a place of love. “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35). “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God…” (1Jn 4:7). This world is a cold place, and the church must be a place where people can “escape the cold.” The church must be a place where people are loved, where one’s concerns and fears can be expressed, and where one doesn’t have to pretend to be something he isn’t.
This type of fellowship will attract unbelievers. So many in this world care only for themselves; they will trample upon anyone who gets in their way. But Christians are to look at one another differently. They are to put the needs of others in front of themselves, and for many in this world, that would be a welcome change. Where are we going to turn when difficult times come? If we cannot turn to those whom we know genuinely love us and are concerned about us, where do we go?
The church serves a valuable service to its members – – the FELLOWSHIP of believers. If you view the church simply as a “necessary inconvience” then it’s apparent that you do not understand what the Lord’s church is, and that is reason for concern. You can provide a valuable service to the church simply by fellowshipping with your brethren, both in and out of the assembly. The church IS important!
1) 1 Cor. 2:13 says God has used “spiritual terms” to communicate “spiritual truths.”
2) If we are going to know God and know what is right, there are some words we need to know.
3) One of the words on God’s vocabulary list is the word “church.”
4) This is the word we want to think about this morning. What is the church?
5) The church is a “spiritual body.”
a) The world often understands the word “church” as a physical structure.
b) People “go to church” to worship.
6) The church is not a place where go; the church is a body of people.
7) The church is a group of people that is closely connected to Jesus Christ.
a) One might think that if Jesus is the head of the church, there will not be any problems.
b) If the head (Christ) is perfect, will not the body (the church) be perfect? No.
c) In 1 Cor. 11:18 Paul said the Corinthians were gathering “in the church.”
8) Archaeology suggests that church buildings as we know them were built about 100 years after Acts 2.
9) As we look at Corinth, we see the word “church” being used in the sense of a local congregation.
10) There was the church at Thessalonica, the churches of Galatia, the church at Philippi, etc.
11) In addition to describing a local congregation, the word “church” is used in some other ways.
a) Sometimes this term describes all the saved.
b) Listen to what Paul said in Eph. 5:23 – READ
c) Jesus is the “savior of the church.”
12) This point is not well understood by the world.
a) The world often struggles with knowing who is in the church and who is not.
b) At funerals it is common to hear a preacher to speak of a non-religious person in a favorable way.
c) Eph. 5 tells us that Jesus is the savior of the church (those who are in Jesus’ spiritual body).
13) Someone might say, “How do I come to Christ and this thing called the church?
14) We first have to be taught.
a) This is what we see in Acts 2, a place that mentions the church.
b) Acts 2:22.
c) Peter said, “hear these words.” What words, Peter? “Jesus of Nazareth.”
15) A time came when Jesus died – verse 23 – READ
a) Acts 20:28 adds that Christ “purchased the church with His blood.”
b) In Acts 20 church and Christ go together, just as we find in Acts 2.
16) Verse 32 in this chapter – READ
17) Jesus has been “raised up.” What is the Lord doing now since He is no longer in the grave?
18) We heard one of His activities earlier from Eph. 5 – He is now the head of His church.
19) This information was shocking news for these people on the Day of Pentecost.
20) Verse 37 – READ
21) Earlier it was noted how we must come to Christ. Verse 38 – READ
22) These people wanted to do what was right – let’s see what these believers did – verse 41 – READ
23) Christ was preached; do we see the church in this chapter?
24) Verse 47 – READ
25) The “Lord” (Jesus) “added to them.”
26) What would Jesus be adding people to? What institution is Jesus in charge of?
27) We have already answered this question from Eph. 5—it is the church.