In this series, we are laying the foundation for church membership at Gospel City Church. We're starting with the question, “What is the Church?” because we cannot talk about membership in the Church until we have a good understanding of what the Church is!
There's this really small regret that I have that I want to share with you. This regret I have is connected to the three-part sermon series that we did a couple of months ago, right before we began our study through the Book of Revelation. I have a slight regret over the name that I chose for that series. We called that series Who Is Gospel City Church. Now I want to be clear, I don't have any regrets about what we talked about in that series because in that series we learn that Gospel City Church believes the Bible, we love Jesus, and we love people, and we make disciples.
I don't regret sharing any of that with you, but I want you to notice that these are all things that we do as a Church. But what we do as a Church doesn't get to the heart of the question of who we are as a Church. Who is Gospel City Church? Who are the people, the Amen, the faces, the stories, the lives of those who are a part of this Church? Should we be able to identify those who are part of the Church or not?
How can we tell if someone's a part of the Church or not? Is there a way we can know? Is it even possible to know such a thing? Is it important that we're able to distinguish between those who are part of the Church and those who aren't? Or does it not matter who is Gospel City Church?
That's the question I asked in the title of our previous sermon series, but it's the question that I want to answer in this series. Now, I'd love to call this new sermon series Who Is Gospel City Church, but we can't use that name for this series because regrettably, it's already been taken. So instead, we're calling this new series We Are the Church, and this three week series is all about something called Church membership. Now I know that anytime the phrase Church membership is mentioned in a group setting, it will ignite a variety of responses.
There are going to be some people who get excited when they hear the phrase Church membership, and there will be some who don't get quite as excited.
To put it mildly, there are some who will have their curiosity aroused because they've never heard the phrase before and they know nothing about the topic. And then there are some who couldn't care less one way or the other. They are bored before we even get started talking about it. Church membership is important, though, because when done correctly, it enables a local Church to know who the Amen and women are who make up the Church. By the time we're done this series, you should be able to see how important it is that we know who it is that makes up a local Church.
And when we're done in three weeks, if things go according to plan, we should have an on ramp in place to begin practicing Church membership here in Gospel City. Now, each week in this series, we're gonna look at a different aspect of Church membership. Next week, we're gonna tackle the questions, what is Church membership? And is the practice of it biblical? In our third message, we're gonna look at how we're gonna roll out Church membership here at Gospel City because every Church practices Church membership a little bit different.
So we're gonna look at how we're gonna walk it out here as a Church. But tonight, we're kicking things off by answering a foundational question to this discussion about Church membership. And the question is this, what is the Church? We need to talk about what the Church is before we talk about membership in the Church. Because how can we talk about membership in the Church if we don't even know what the Church is?
What is the Church? Now, I don't want to insult anyone's intelligence with this question, but I am convinced as a whole, Christians have a very weak grasp of what the Church is and how precious she is. If you and I were to take a poll of 100 random people and ask them the question, what is the Church? Do you think everyone would give you the same answer? I think you'd get a mixed bag of positive and not so positive answers.
Here are some of the things that you might hear. If you ask people what they think the Church is, it's a nice group of people. It's a meeting where people can hear encouraging songs and a motivational speaker. Once a week, the Church does some good things in the world. Or if the people who go to Church found what works for them, then I'm happy for them.
Or it's a group of weak minded people that can't help themselves. Or you might hear something like this. It's a group of people who are brainwashed, nerds, bigots, non intellectuals, a political machine, outdated, living in the Stone Age, antiscience, anti, fun, money hungry, abusive, intolerant pushy. These are some ways a person might answer the question, what is the Church? There is so much confusion about what the Church is, and that can't be because the Church is too important for people to be confused about.
That's why we have to talk about it. So if this message is a tune up for you, because you already know some of the things I'm going to share with you, hang with me and let the Holy Spirit drive these truths even deeper into your heart. But if you're hearing some of these things about the Church for the very first time, hold on. Because what you're going to hear about the Church has the potential to change the trajectory of your life forever. And that is not an exaggeration.
So if you have your Bible with you and I hope you do turn with me to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 16, verse 18, this one verse is going to be base camp for this message. In this verses, we encounter the very first time that the word Church comes up in the New Testament. And it's one of only two times that Jesus is recorded using the word Church in the Gospels. Both times are found in the Book of Matthew. The other one he uses it.
The other time he uses it comes up later in chapter 18. In Matthew 16, Jesus and his disciples are in a place called Caesarea Philippi, and Jesus has just asked them a pivotal question. In verses 13, Jesus asked his disciples, who do people say that the Son of Man is? Verses 14, they replied, Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. Verses 15, but you he asked them, who do you say that I am?
Verses 16, Simon Peter answered, you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Peter is saying to Jesus, basically, these words, you Jesus are the promised Savior we've been waiting for, and you are God. Verses 17, Jesus responded, Blessed are you, Simon, Son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you. But my Father in heaven. And verse 18, And I also say to you that you are Peter and on this rock, okay, here it is.
I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it there. It is the first time that Jesus mentions the Church. You can see in Jesus' own words that whatever this Church is that he's talking about, at the very least, we know two things about it from this verses. Number one, it's something that he says he will build. And two, it is something that belongs to him.
He says it's his Church. Let's take a closer look at this word Church. This next little part is going to be for the Bible nerds out there. The Greek word used for Church in the New Testament is the Greek word Acacia. Else is a compound of two Greek words, EC and Cleo, which means out of from, buy or away from, and kale, which means to call.
And when you put these two words together, you get a word that means and an assembly of the called out ones. And so when Jesus said, I will build my Church, I will build my case, he was saying, I will build my assembly of the called out ones. I think it's interesting to note that the Greeks didn't originally use the word as in the way that we use it today. The word Elac. It wasn't originally created with the intent of describing the Church that Jesus is talking about.
In Matthew 16, the word CLA was already in circulation and commonly used in the Greek language to describe any assembly of called out ones of any kind, not just a religious group. We can see an example of how Lacia was used this way. In the book of Acts, in Acts chapter 19, a riot begins to form because the Apostle Paul is calling people to turn away from idle worship and turned to the worship of the one true living God. Instead, people started to repent, and therefore they stopped buying idols to worship.
This didn't make the idle making Union too happy in Ephesus, and they gathered together the voice their displeasure.
Acts chapter 19, verses 32 says, Some were shouting one thing and some another because the assembly there's, our word, Acacia was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. Amen. Chapter 19 down in verses 39, it says, but if you see anything further, it must be decided in a legal assembly. There's a word again, a legal case. In these two instances, Lac is not referring to the Church that Jesus is referring to in Matthew chapter 16, verse 18, but instead it referred to a group that had gathered together to riot.
This means that there can be different kinds of churches, because a Church, by definition, is just an assembly of called out ones. It doesn't necessarily have to be a religious gathering or a Holy gathering to be a Church. In the strictest sense of the word. There is such a thing as the Church of Satan. There's also a Church made up of atheists called the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and strictly according to the definition of the word.
Elysia. These are technically churches, their assemblies of called out ones. They're just not the Church that Jesus is talking about in Matthew 16. So for the sake of clarity, from here on out, I'm going to refer to the Church that we're interested in learning about as Jesus' Church. The one he said he's going to build, the one that he said belongs to him.
Jesus' Church is an Alicia is an assembly of called out ones called out of what? And called into what if Jesus has his own group of people known as the called out ones? It implies the existence of at least two separate groups of people. There has to be one group of people that his Church used to be a part of, a group that they were called from out of and another group of people that they are now a part of, the one that they were called in to.
Here's an example of being called out of one group and into another.
Imagine a bunch of neighborhood kids playing together outside when some of them hear their mom's voice in the distance. Suzy, Timmy Carl, Supper's ready. Those specific kids are called to come in from out of their groups of friends outside and into their home with a group of people around the dinner table. Now, all the kids in the neighborhood didn't come in just those who were a part of the home. And when they're eating supper around the table, are they outside playing anymore?
No, they're inside now. They were called from out of one group and into another. Here's another example, imagine being drafted into the armed forces. You're called from out of normal civilian life and you're called into service to your country. Once you've been enlisted, you don't go back to work on Monday and report to your former employer.
Now you report to your commanding officer. You've been called out of the group of people who live the normal civilian life. And you're called into a new group of people, a group that's been designated with the task of defending your country, called from out of one group and called into another group called out ones. And that Glacia. And so what group of people was Jesus' Church called out of?
And what group was it called in two? Here's a fun fact, did you know that there are really only two groups of people in the world today? This is actually going to be the first filling on your outline. There are really only two distinct groups of people in the world today. Now, you wouldn't think there are only two groups based on the number of ways people are divided up in our world.
In our world today, people are divided up into different group space on all kinds of things. We're divided up based upon things like the color of our skin, the language that we speak, the culture, our family is a part of the religion we practice or don't practice. Whether we are rich or poor, our social status, whether we're cool or not, the level of education we have, what sports team we cheer for our age, whether we're old or young, our sex, whether we're male or female, what sex we're attracted to or political affiliation, whether we vote Liberal or conservative, our experience with drugs or lack thereof.
Are we an addict or a Normy? Our opinion on covid 19 divides us whether we've gotten the vaccine or not divides us, and the list could go on.
You thought they were distinct groups in high school jocks, nerds previs. Our world has put the idea of distinct groups on steroids. There is division everywhere, but in God's eyes, there are only two groups of people in the world today. And for the sake of simplicity, we're going to call these groups Group one and Group two. Here are some of the descriptors the Bible uses for those who are in Group one.
And you'll be able to see this on your outline. In Group one, we have citizens of heaven, siblings in the family of God, those filled with the Holy Spirit, spiritually alive, friends with God, those who walk in the truth and according to the truth, those who have spiritual light, the salt of the Earth and the lights of the world, those who love God and live for God. That's Group one. And here are some of the ways the Bible describes. Those in Group two also can be found on your outline, people in this group are outside of God's Kingdom.
Spiritual orphans outside the family of God. Those who do not have the Holy Spirit living inside them. Spiritually dead enemies of God Unforgiven trespassers, lawbreakers, those who believe the lie and live according to it, who walk in darkness, who follow the Prince of the power of the air. That's Group two. At the most basic and fundamental level, these are the only two groups of people that a person could be a part of in our world today.
There are no other groups Besides these two. Forget about the ways that our world divide people into groups. Forget about the way that you might divide people into groups. There are only two groups of people in God's eyes. Here's another fun fact, 99.99,999,999,999% of all people who have ever lived and 100% of the people who were alive today have all started out their life from inside the same group.
Everyone who has ever lived, except for three people, have started off their lives in group number two, the group that doesn't know God and doesn't love God. Here's the next villain on your outline, only three people have ever started off their life inside group one. Only three. Do you know who these three people are? Well, the first two were literally the very first two.
Adam and Eve. They started in group one. Adam and Eve were created by God and placed into a sinless world, a world that had no brokenness, no pain, no regret, no death, no separation between creation and Creator. They were brought forth into a world that hadn't yet been tainted by the effects of sin. Group two didn't even exist.
When Adam and Eve were made, there was only group one. And in the beginning they were the only two who were in the group. Because in the beginning they were the only two people on the planet. But what did they do? They jumped ship.
They crawled into group number two. They sinned against God by disobeying the only prohibition he gave them. They ate of the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. And when they did this, sin came into the universe for the very first time. That sin affected Adam and Eve.
It separated them from the life they enjoyed walking, an unbroken fellowship with God. Genesis three, It says that after they sinned, they hid themselves from God. Or at least they tried to. They spiritually died. And when they ate the fruit, they pioneered a second group of people that hadn't existed before then.
Adam and Eve for the founding members of group two. But get this, their sin didn't affect them only when they sinned. They hadn't had any kids yet. And when they began to have kids, their kids inherited the sinful nature that their parents chose for themselves. Adam and Eve's kids were born directly into group number two.
And everyone who has been born into the human race since then was born directly into group two as well, with one giant exception that we're going to see in a second. Romans five, verses twelve says this, Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, Adam and death through sin. In this way, death spread to all people because all sinned throwout every generation. Since the debacle in the Garden of Eden, sin has been passed on from parents to children, from one generation to the next. Sinned that can be traced back all the way to Adam and Eve.
Sin is what places people in Group two, and it sin left undealt with that would keep us in group two now and forever. Adam and Eve were the first two people born into group one. But do you know who the third person was? Jesus started out in Group one. Jesus was born directly into group one.
He was able to start off in this group because of the kind of way that he was born. And this is why the way that Jesus was physically born is so important. Jesus was born of a Virgin. Jesus bypassed the natural order of being born because he wasn't born as the byproduct of a physical Union between a human father and a human mother. The Bible tells us that Jesus was conceived in Mary's wound by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This means that Jesus didn't inherit Adam's sin the way that you and I did. Jesus was born without sin right into group one. But unlike Adam and Eve, Jesus went on to live his entire life without sinning. From the womb to the tomb. Jesus was sin lessly perfect in his actions, in his thoughts and in his heart.
Jesus never spent any time in group two, not even for a millisecond. He never even dipped his baby toe into group two. He was a Group one guy all the way from beginning to end, and he was the only one to ever do it for the duration of his entire life. So only three people ever started off their human experience in group one. Only three people ever began their life was no sin.
Adam and Eve's experience in Group one was short lived. But Jesus experience in Group one was absolute, unbroken, and eternal. And the rest of us, we were all born into Group two. At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, Well, if everyone who is born today is born into Group two, how in the heck do we get over into group one? If that's somewhere we want to be, that's the eternally significant question that we need to answer.
How does a person get called out of group two and called into group one? How do we make the switch? We don't transfer groups. Just because we want to wishful thinking doesn't move us from one group to the other. Trying hard to be a good person doesn't get you over into Group one either.
You can stop swearing. Stop using drugs. Stop watching porn. You could spend your whole life donating money to the Girl Scouts. You could be a blood donor and an organ donor.
You could volunteer to be a big brother or a big sister to a kid who needs one. You could become religious memorize the Bible, become a Monk, take special vows. You could try whatever you can think of, and none of it would cut it. No matter what you do, you will never be able to move yourself from group two over to group one. So how do people move from one group to the other, then?
Well, what's the impossible barrier that exists? What's the infinite chasm that separates both groups that needs to be overcome. If we're going to make the switch again, why are people in Group two? It's sin. People are in Group two because of sin.
And if it's sin that keeps us stuck in Group two, then it's our sin that has to be overcome. If we're gonna switch groups, our sin keeps us from a relationship with God in this life and have left undealt with it will keep us separated from God forever in eternity. The world needs it. Sinned dealt with. We need it removed from us.
If we're going to transfer from Group two over to group one, there's no other way unless our sin is dealt with. And here's the good news. That's exactly what Jesus sinless perfect life made possible for every single one of us. After living in his entire earthly life inside of group one, Jesus didn't go straight back to heaven from where he came. He made a detour before he went back to heaven.
Where did he go? Well, Jesus went to the cross when Jesus was crucified. The Bible tells us that God took all of the sin of all humanity for all time. All our wickedness, all our disobedience to God, all our trespasses, all of our shortcomings, all our guilt, all of our shame, all the regrets, everything that keeps us in Group two. And all of it.
Every last drop of sin was placed upon the sinless lamb of God. Jesus took our sin. And when it was placed on him, the Father crushed him in our place. Listen to this portrait that the Prophet Hosea paints for us concerning what took place on the cross. Isaiah Chapter 53, verses four to eight, reads like this, yet he Messiah himself bore our sickness, and he carried our pains.
But we in turn regarded him stricken, struck down by God and afflicted. But he was pierced because of our rebellion. Crushed because of our iniquities. The punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by his wounds. We all went astray like sheep.
We all have turned to our own way. And the Lord has punished Him for the inequity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted. Yet he did not open his mouth like a lamb. Led to the slaughter.
And like a sheep silent before her Shears, he did not open his mouth. He was taken away because of oppression and judgment and who considered his fate. But he was cut off from the land of the living. He was struck because of my people's rebellion. God the Father punished God the Son, because the Son took upon himself everything that all of us revels should be rightly punished for.
Jesus took it all, and Jesus paid for it all with his perfect life. Amen. Afternoon was finished. He gave up his spirit and he died. His body was taken up the cross, and he was buried in a tomb.
And then on the third day, he rose from the dead, making a way for sinful humanity for everyone inside of group two to have their sins forgiven. Jesus is paid for all of our sins. The work is finished. How do we get the finished work of Jesus death and resurrection applied to our life? How do we get to have the benefit of it?
How do we get called into group one because of what Jesus did? Well, the Bible tells us, and this is great. All you have to do. I belief you're called to come into Group one through simply believing on Jesus. Listen to John chapter three, verses 16.
For God loved the world in this way. He gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish in group two, but have eternal life in group one. That's so amazing. All a person needs to do belief. But we need to distinguish between a couple of different kinds of belief.
There's a kind of belief in Jesus that actually doesn't move a person from group two into group one. And there's a kind of belief that does. Let's take a look at the belief that doesn't save anyone. Someone might say, what do you want me to believe? That Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross for my sins, was buried and then rose again.
You want me to believe that? Sure. Find me up. I believe that. And then from that moment on, this person lives their life completely unchanged.
They continue to live exactly the same way they've been living their entire life inside of group two. The only difference now, now they say they believe in Jesus. The problem we need to be aware of with a belief like that is this is that when a person just believes the facts about Jesus, it's possible to say that you believe, but nothing actually happens in your life. There's no transfer from out of one group to the other. Another problem with a belief like that is this, demons believe the facts about Jesus.
James 219 as you believe that God is one good, even the demons belief and they shut her. The demons believe Jesus is the Son of God. They believe Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world. They believe Jesus was buried and they believe Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. The demons believe all of that.
Do you think demons are saved? I can assure you that they are not. And so what marks the kind of belief that saves someone into Jesus group of called out ones? A belief that saves is a belief that's marked marked by four things. Number one, confession.
You need to actually believe you're a sinner and say so if you mean it, and tell God that's what confession is all we're doing when we confess our sinfulness to God is that we're agreeing with what God has said about our lives. We've sinned against Him, and we don't need anyone to twist our arm into believing this about ourselves. We believe we're sinners because God has shown us our sin and we see it clearly. Jesus captured this concept for us in the story he told in Luke's Gospel, Luke Chapter 18, Starting to verse ten, Jesus says this, two Amen went up to the temple to pray one of Pharisee and the other attack collector.
The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself.
God, I thank you that I'm not like other people, greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week I give a 10th of everything I get. But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his chest and saying, God have mercy on me, a sinned. I tell you this one went down to his house, justified rather than the other, because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled. But the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
A belief that saves is a belief that confesses one's own sinfulness. Number two, Repentance You need to believe that the way you're living inside of group two is displeasing to God and therefore you turn from it. He's not happy with the way that you're going in your life because you believe that you turn from living that way. You change course, you turn from walking away from Jesus and you turn your life and you position your life toward Him. That's called repentance.
And this is what Jesus preached. Mark Chapter one, Verses 15, Jesus said, the time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news. A belief that saves is a belief that repents of one's old way of living. Number three is exclusive belief.
You need to believe that Jesus did the only thing that could ever make you right with God. And apart from Jesus, there is no way that we could be made right with God. Confessing your sins and repenting from your sins does not remove your sins. Only by believing in Jesus and what he did on the cross. Does that believe he died for you?
Believe he rose for you? Believe he traded his life on the cross for yours. Believe that Jesus did everything that was necessary for you to be made right with God. You could do nothing to make yourself right with God. Jesus did it all.
Belief in Jesus is not a way to be saved. Belief in Jesus is the only thing that can save you that is believing exclusively in Jesus. And this is what Jesus told his disciples. In John chapter 14, verses six, Jesus told him, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
A belief that saves the belief that trusts exclusively only in Jesus and what he did on the cross. And then number four, surrender. You need to believe that God wants your life, all of it, and you need to give it to Him. At this point, you've confessed your synagogue. You've repented.
You've believed in Christ's finished work. Now what do you do? Do you go back to living the kind of life that you were living before when you were in group two? No, that wouldn't make any sense, would it? Go back to the life that God saved you from?
No. From now on, you turn your life over to follow Jesus and His will for your life. You submit the sum total of your will and your life over to His care and control. This is called surrender. We surrender our life to the Lordship of Jesus.
This doesn't mean your life will become perfect overnight. Far from it, you will make mistakes as you follow Him in this new life. But you've made up your mind to get give Him all of your life, every area of it. You believe God's way to live is better than your way to live. You believe because you believe this, you turn your entire life over to Christ.
Jesus said this in Matthew chapter 16, verses 24 and 25. Jesus said to his disciples, if anyone wants to follow after me, let Him deny Himself, take up His cross and follow me, for whoever wants to save His life will lose it. But whoever loses His life because of me, we'll find it. A belief that saves is a belief that God is calling us to turn everything in our life over to Him. Put these four things together without neglecting any of them.
And you have a belief that saves. A belief that saves as a belief that's marked by confession, repentance, exclusive belief and surrender. Those who respond to Jesus call this way are transferred from out of Group two and into group one. What happens to a person when they believe like this? While their sins are forgiven and their sins are completely removed, their heart is cleansed and their life is redeemed, they are spiritually born again to new life.
They are adopted into the family of God. They are filled with the very presence of God Himself. When the Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside of them, they're changed in an instant, they're transferred from group two to group one in the twinkling of an eye. And now there is nothing that separates them from God anymore. Jesus took care of that because Jesus took care of our sins.
These are the people who are a part of Jesus' Church. This is the group of the call out ones Jesus is talking about in Matthew chapter 16, verse 18. None of us deserve to be in this group. We're only here because of Jesus. And if we understand how we ended up in this group, it will make us the most humble and most joyfilled people on the planet.
We've been called out of the group that doesn't know God and into the group that has a personal relationship with Him. We are his Acacia. What a group of people. Everyone is called to come into this group. But not everyone answers the call, most rejected for a variety of reasons, but those who do believe are given the right to be called children of God.
This good news of Jesus has traveled distant lands, and millions of people have heard it and many have received it. There are people scattered all over the world who are part of Jesus' Church from Poland to Papa, New Guinea to Portugal and even right here in Pork Quitam and everywhere in between. This is my Church, Jesus says. My assembly of called out ones called out one. This is the first part of the definition of the word case that we need to look at.
But there's a second part of the word "ekklesia" that we need to grasp, by definition. An "ekklesia" is an assembly of called out ones, not individual called out ones scattered all over the place. The Church is an assembly. Jesus' Church is an assembly of Christians, not just random Christians scattered all over the face of the Earth. Being gathered together is a core aspect of what the definition of Jesus' Church is.
Its identity isn't being together. The Bible says that each Christian is an individual living stone that is a part of one spiritual building. This says, each one of us is an individual body part connected together to form one spiritual body. We are told that each of us is an individual brother or sister in one spiritual family. A single stone isn't a building.
A single body part isn't a body. A single sibling isn't a family, and a single Christian isn't a Church together. We make up the Elysia that is Jesus' Church. It's only in the act of our being together that is possible for us to obey many of the commands that are found in the New Testament in order to obey the Word of God, which is what we sign up for. When we surrender all of our life over to Christ, we have to be together with other Christians in a meaningful way.
The phrase one another occurs 100 times in the New Testament approximately 59 of those occurrences are specific commands. Teaching us how and how not to relate to one another. Obedience to those commands is imperative. It forms the basis for all true Christian community and has a direct impact on our witness to the world. Listen to that.
Read these one other commands to you from the New Testament. Love one another. This one comes at least 16 times. Be devoted to one another. Honor one another above yourselves.
Live in harmony with one another. Build up one another. Be like minded towards one another. Accept one another. Admonish one another.
Greet one another. Care for one another. Serve one another. Bear one another's burdens. Forgive one another.
Be patient with one another. Be kind and compassionate to one another. Speak to one another with Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Submit to one another. Consider others better than yourselves.
Look to the interests of one another. Bear with one another. Teach one another. Comfort one another another. Encourage one another.
Exhort one another. Stir up, which means provoke or stimulate one another to love and good works. Show hospitality to one another. Employ the gifts that God has given us for the benefit of one another. Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.
Pray for one another. Confess your faults to one another. Do not lie to one another. Stop passing judgment on one another. If you keep on biting and devouring each other, you'll be destroyed by each other.
Let us not become conceded, provoking and envying each other. Do not slander one another. Don't grumble against each other. We do all these things because in a real sense, we are members of one another. This means that no Christian can rightly say these words.
I don't need the Church. All I need is Jesus and my Bible and I'm good to go. But how could we obey these one another commands? If we are never actually with one another, it would be impossible. And so let's get practical.
How is this possible? How does Jesus Church, which contains millions of Christians scattered all across the globe, gather together in an assembly to be his Church? I guess we could rent a football Stadium where we could put on a gathering like a Woodstock. Like a Christian Woodstock and gather tens of thousands of Christians from every nation, tribe, language and people. And we can worship King Jesus together in the same place at the same time.
That would be awesome. It would be a logistical nightmare, but it would be awesome. Even if you could pull off a huge gathering like that once, it would be nearly impossible to do it on a recurring basis. And even if we could pull something like that off, we wouldn't come even close to gathering every Christian in the world together for one event. So how could this large worldwide group of people called Jesus' Church gather together on a regular basis to be with one another?
The problem is an easy one to solve if we simply know that there are two main ways. The word CLA is used when describing Jesus' Church in the New Testament. One way Ella is used when it's referring to Jesus' Church is when it's used to describe the Church universal. This is the way we've been talking about it up till now. Jesus Church is made of every believer alive on the planet, along with every Christian who has already gone to be with the Lord.
This is the way that Jesus is talking about the Church in Matthew chapter 16, verse 18. When Jesus says the word Church here, he's talking about the universal Church, which consists of all true believers in Christ on Earth and in heaven, past, present and future. But there's a second way. Llc is used in the New Testament to describe Jesus Church. Sometimes EAC is used to refer to something we call the local Church.
Of the 114 times Lacia is used in the New Testament. 90 of them refer to the local Church. Here's an example, Paul writing to the Church in Corinth in First Corinthians, chapter four, verses 17. That's why I sent you, Timothy, my beloved and faithful child and the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere, in every in every Church. In every case, there are lots of little churches that belong to Jesus all over the world, and together we are His Church.
And it's in these smaller pockets of believers gathered together where we can be the Church where we live out the commands of the one to whom the Church belongs. Jesus is in the context of the local Church, where we know who our one and others are. Here's a question for you, Have you ever considered what it is that makes a group of Christians a local Church as opposed to just being any other random group of people who gather together? What marks it is a Church, a Church?
As long as a group of people have a building with a sign out front that says Church is a Church, a Church, as long as a group of people just decides to call themselves Jesus' Church, does it matter what a Church does for it to be rightly recognized as Jesus' Church?
Or does anything go? How can we tell if a group of people as a local Church or not? There are lots of different groups of people in the world who gather together on a regular basis? How do we distinguish a local Church from any other groups of people who gather together because all groups have markers that define them? For example, if you're a member of a local fitness club, you can't come to the gym and try to sell cigarettes and fast food to the people who are trying to work out.
If you're a member of a local biker gang, you probably can't be an officer of the law or someone who hates motorcycles. If you're a member of a particular political party, you probably can't hold political views that align with the opposing party. Local groups of people are distinguished by particular beliefs and practices, and this is no different for Jesus' Church. So what distinguishes the local Church from any other group of people that gather together? Well, I would he find a local Church like this?
You could find this definition on your outline. A local Church is a group of baptized believers who meet regularly to worship God through Jesus Christ, to be exhorted from the Word of God and to celebrate the Lord's Supper under the guidance of duly appointed leaders. According to this definition, there are at least seven qualifications if a group wants to be a Church in the New Testament sense. Number one, the people must give evidence to their believers that they trust Jesus, a Savior and Lord. The new test, Amen makes it clear that we are adopted into the family of God through faith in Jesus.
To the people must be baptized. Jesus commanded in Matthew chapter 28, verses 19, that the way to make disciples was by baptizing them and teaching them. This was the uniform practice in the early Church. Number three, There must be regular assembling. A group of people who came together say once a year could not rightly be called a local Church because there are essential activities of the Church which lose their meaning when not done corporately.
Therefore, Hebrews 1025 commands us not to neglect to meet together. Number four, among these meetings, there must be gatherings for worship. This follows inevitably from the ultimate value placed on Jesus Christ, who calls us together and from our relationship to God through him. The Church is destined to live to the praise of God's glory. Therefore, it would contradict our nature not to assemble for worship.
Five Our meetings must include exhortation from the Word of God. First, Peter 123 tells us that we were born again through the living and abiding Word of God. And Matthew four four says that our life in Christ is preserved not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. The shepherds of the Church are the provision God has made for feeding his sheep. Therefore, we strive to be the Church where the Word of God.
We strive sorry not to be the Church where the Word of God is neglected. Number six, along with worship and exhortation, we must celebrate the Lord's Supper in order to be the Church in places like Luke, chapter 22, verses 19, and one, Corinthians 1124, we are commanded to do this in remembrance of Christ neglecting. This ordinance might seem inconsequential at first, but I think a Church will bleed to death through that amputation. Number seven, and finally, all of this should take place with the guidance of duly appointed leaders.
We see that Paul appointed elders in all the churches.
In Acts chapter 14, verses 23, he gave instruction about the qualifications of Deacons and elders in one Timothy three, an Titus one, and he said that Christ had given pastor teachers to the Church to equip the Saints from Ministry. In Ephesians chapter four, verses one and twelve, there have always been disagreements about what to call these leaders and how to organize them, but that they should be present in the group in order for that group to be a Church. Historic Christianity has always affirmed it seems that these seven things are the minimum of what it takes to make a local Church a local Church is a group of believers who have been baptized who meet regularly to worship God through Jesus Christ, to be exerted from the Word of God, to celebrate the Lord's Supper under the guidance of duly appointed leaders.
With this definition, we should be able to determine what groups are and are not churches that belong to Jesus. For example, campus Crusade, Amen in of our city chapters, Navigator groups, Bible Study fellowships, Young Life and Youth for Christ clubs, Recovery meetings.
These are not local churches, and the reason this is important to see is so that no Christian will content himself or herself with participation in any of these groups or others like them while neglecting the regular life of the local Church. These other groups have tremendous value in working alongside and in harmony with the Church, but they can never replace the local Church. So there is this single giant universal Church consisting of all believers in Jesus everywhere, and we can't meet together with every single Christian on the planet on a regular basis.
But we can meet with a smaller group of believers who live in the same area as we do. Believers who are gathered together regularly in the same vicinity make it possible to be called out ones who assemble together.
This happens in the local Church. This is what Gospel City Church is. Gospel City Church is a local Church. Christians don't have to be together literally every second of every day in order to be rightly called Jesus' Church. You don't cease to be a part of the Church when you go on vacation or when you're sick or when you can attend a weekend Church service.
You don't cease to be a part of the Church in the seconds, minutes, hours, and days between the times you gather together for a Church service or any other Church gathering. We don't flip flop throughout our days back and forth in the Church. When we're together and not in the Church anymore, when we're apart, we're not in and out. We are a part of Jesus' Church is part of our identity at the core of who we are as Christians, but know that our togetherness is paramount to our being.
Jesus assembly of the called out ones.
Do you think that Jesus' Church is a big deal? Do you think it's important? What kind of value do you personally place on his Church? How do you treat His Church? Or here's a more important question, how do you think God values his Church?
This group of his called out ones that he is building? Well before you form an answer in your heart or in your mind, here are some other questions to consider that I have a feeling might impact your answer. How would you feel if someone constantly spray painted hate speech on the walls of where you lived? How would you feel if someone if you came home one day and all the windows in your house were broken and your house was set on fire? How would you feel if someone constantly told you that they hated how your body looked?
How would you feel if someone constantly abused your body? How would you feel if someone continuously made fun of your family or never stop finding flaws in your family? How would you feel if someone threatened your family or attack your family if you're married? How would you feel if someone spoke disparagingly of your husband or wife? How would you feel if someone touched your spouse inappropriately?
How would you want someone to treat your home, your body, your family, and your spouse? Think about those questions seriously, because if you can answer those questions thoughtfully and honestly, then you have the beginnings of being able to appreciate just how valuable the Church is to God. Here's the next feeling on your outline. Jesus' Church is God's home on Earth. Jesus Church is God's home on Earth.
God is everywhere at all times because, well, he is God and that's one of the perks. But he chooses to dwell in a special way, a personal way on Earth. God's home on Earth is on the inside of every called out one God dwells in Christians. Writing to the Church at core, the Apostle Paul says, don't you yourselves know that you are God's temple and that the Spirit of God lives in you? And writing to the Church at Ephesus, Paul also says, So then you're no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the Saints and members of God's household built on the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ himself as the cornerstone in Him, the whole building being put together grows into a Holy temple in the Lord.
In Him you also are being built together for God's dwelling in the Spirit to hear all that language of home. In these verses, building Holy temple, God's dwelling and the Apostles. John recorded Jesus saying these words to his disciples in the upper room before he was crucified. John Chapter 14, verse 23, Jesus answered, if anyone loves me, he will keep my word, my Father will love Him, and we will come to Him and make our home with Him. The moment a person becomes a Christian, the moment a person is called out of Group two and into Group one, the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit comes and fills that person's life.
God lives in a special way inside each of the people who are in his Church. We are His home on Earth. This is a mystical reality about the nature of the Church, and it's not even the only mystical reality. The Bible also teaches this, and this is your next fillin. Jesus' Church is Jesus' body.
Jesus' Church is Jesus' body. When you consider the human anatomy, you realize that every part of our body is connected to every other part. In some way, there are many parts of the body, and yet there is only one body. Though the number of those who are part of Jesus Church are many, we too are only one single body, all of us connected together. And this body is the body of Jesus.
The Apostle Paul again to the Corinthians in chapter twelve of his first letter to them, for just as the body is one and has many parts and all the parts of the body, though many are one body, so also is Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves are free, and we were all given one Spirit to drink. Indeed, the body is not one part, but many. Now you are the body of Christ and individual members of it.
In cautions 124, Paul says, Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you and I'm completing in my flesh what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for His body.
That is the Church. How valuable is the Church? Well, how valuable do you think Christ's body is? Have you ever watched the movie The Passion of the Christ? Doesn't your stomach turn within you when you see the scenes of Jesus body being tortured according to God?
In a mystical and real way, the Church is the body of Christ on Earth. Your next feeling is this, Jesus Church is God's family. Jesus' Church is God's family. The primary way that believers in Jesus are referred to in the Bible is with familial terms. We are called brothers and sisters in Christ God the Father is our heavenly Father.
Jesus, the Son of God, is our big brother, and we are God's children. The Church is one big worldwide family. The Bible articulates two ways that we were brought into the family of God by new birth and by adoption. John 33, Jesus replied, Truly, I tell you, unless someone is born again, born spiritually, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. When we believe the gospel, we were spiritually born and new into God's family.
A brand new little baby Christian fusions on five. Paul says, he predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself according to the good pleasure of his will. This picture of adoption is so sweet. We were spiritual orphans outside the family of God. When he called us, he chose us.
He paid for us and he brought us in God adopted us spiritual birth and spiritual adoption into His family. The Church is not like a family. The Church is a family. God's family. Think about it again.
How do you feel about your family? Do you love them? How do you think God feels about His family? Your next filling. Jesus is Church is His bride.
Jesus is Church is His bride. Did you know that the biblical institution of marriage transcends the personal happiness of those who are married and of those who are not? Did you know that you are not the main point of your marriage someone else's and it's not your spouse? Did you know that marriage is supposed to paint a picture for the world of a much greater reality? Marriage is supposed to paint a picture to the world of the relationship that exists between Jesus and his bride.
His Church. His Ecclesia, Paul and Ephesians, chapter five, starting to verse 22, says this, Wives submit to your husband is to the Lord because the husband is the head of the wife. Listen to this. As Christ is the head of the Church, he is the Savior of the body. Now, as the Church submits to Christ, so also wiser are to submit to their husbands and everything.
Husbands love your wives. Just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for her to make her Holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the Word. He did this to present the Church to himself in splendor without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but Holy and blameless. In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, for no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the Church.
Since we are members of his body. For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. Speaking of marriage, now listen to this. This mystery is profound. This mystery of marriage is profound.
But I am talking about Christ and the Church. Jesus Church is His bride. The institution of marriage exists to show the world what the Church is and how she is to relate to her husband who is Christ. I know this, if you say you like me and want to be my friend, but then you constantly go around and tell everyone how terrible my wife is and what a loser she is and that you never want to spend any time with me when she's around. Then just guess what home.
You and I were not friends. And if a person claims to belong to Jesus and yet disrespect the Church by their words and or their actions, I would question the nature and or validity of their belief in Jesus. So what kind of value does God place on His Church? How valuable is the home of Jesus? The body of Jesus, the family of Jesus and the bride of Jesus.
Literally priceless items value depends on how much someone is willing to pay for it. And what did God pay so that he could call sinners into his Church? Well, he gave up himself. It cost him his life. Other than his own glory, there is nothing more precious to God than his Church, and therefore Christians should view the Church with the same kind of reverence.
This brings us now full circle to some of the questions I asked on the front end of this message. How do we know who is a part of Jesus's Elicia his Church? Should we be able to know, or is that just a personal decision that someone makes and then keep secret to themselves for the rest of their life? Is there a way to know who is a part of Jesus' Church? Well, there isn't a way to know with absolute certainty, because only God searches the depths of a human heart and knows what's there.
Sometimes we will think that a person is a part of Jesus' Church, but they actually aren't. Other times, we will think that a person isn't a part of Jesus' Church, but they actually are. Only God knows perfectly those who are a part of this universal Church across the world. But I will argue that Christians can and should have a way to identify and recognize those who are part of the local Church. That's one of the purposes of Church membership.
And this idea of Church membership is what we're going to explore together over the next couple of weeks. Next week, what is Church membership? And is it biblical? The week after that, we're going to take a look at how we're going to roll out Church membership at Gospel City Church right before I wrap this up. And we're right there.
There's one final question that I have to ask at the end of a message like this, Are you a part of Jesus' Church? Are you in group one? Have you been transferred out of group to the group that doesn't belong to God and into the group that does? I want to make it very clear to everyone that you don't need to be a Christian to ever come and join us for any of our Church services at Gospel City Church. We want everyone to come and experience what it's like to be Amen Jesus Church.
But if you want to belong to Jesus and be a part of his Church, then I'm going to invite you to pray this prayer with me. And you can pray this form of prayer if you're already a Christian not to get saved again. This is the kind of prayer that should Mark a Christian's life forever, not just the day they were saved. And so if you want to recommit your life to the Lord, pray this prayer with me. But if you want to give your life to Jesus for the first time.
Make these words your own words. Let's pray together. God, I confess I'm a sinner. It's true. I've broken your commands more ways than I can count.
And if I got what I deserve from you than I would be punished in health forever for my sins. But, God, I repent. The way I'm living apart from you is not pleasing to you or good for me. I'm rejecting that way of life, and I'm turning to you instead. God, I trust in you alone.
I could never make myself good enough for you. My sin ruined me beyond human recovery. But I believe that what Jesus did on the cross for me was enough. I believe his life, death and resurrection is the only thing that can make me right in your eyes. God, I believe that.
Jesus, I surrender here's my life, all of it. Take it and use it however you want. I'm yours now show me how you want to live. Amen.