the Church

SERMON LEFTOVERS 2.13.17

 What are we building?                    

 

1 Corinthians 3:10-23

Throughout chapters 1-3, Paul is leading the church to reassess how they are thinking about wisdom and applying it

 

Christ is the only lasting foundation (v11)

1.  There is no other Creator – who invented life and sustains it

‚2.  There is other Savior:  he takes our guilt – by paying full price for it

ƒ3.  There is other Lord:  no one else rules over eternity, he alone judges time

 

Paul wants us to consider how we build on Christ (v10)

The context of what is being built is the Church

But who is doing the work, is communal.

These verses are more than how we live as individuals, v16 affirms that vs 10-15 is speaking about the Church, not just individuals

What are the implications of this word picture?

(1)  Our spiritual health is part of the health of our church  

(2)  We all have responsibility for the health of our church (12:12-25)

(3)  We can be spiritual craftsmen, or we can be poor builders

Paul’s focus is not our abilities, but the materials we use, which is the wisdom we use

Paul describes reward and loss so we will take this matter seriously (vs 14-15)

The “loss” is not wrath or punishment – in Christ we are justified fully and forever

Our work is judged according to how it followed God’s Word

Loss is to stand before Christ knowing we wasted and misused life in half-heartedness

What is the “reward”?  Bible doesn’t teach class distinction in heaven

In Matthew 25:21, the master tells faithful ones, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’

Our motivation is that we love Christ, and want to honor him

As Christians, we need clarity on reward, loss, priorities – and wisdom

If none of this stirs your heart at all, you need to ask, Does God have your heart?

Paul takes his warnings a step further (vs 16-17)

Beware of tearing down the church

Divisiveness is Paul’s immediate concern (we can disagree without disharmony)

The world’s way:  hold offenses, justify our attitudes, and spread them

The biblical responses:  forgive them, pray for them, thank God for them, love and bless them

 

Paul brings a couple of conclusions

1.  Be willing to live foolishly in the eyes of the world (vs 18-20)

v18 asks, are you willing to “become a fool”?  This means to live foolishly in the worlds eyes, because their sense of wisdom is upside down

2.  Be content in a lifestyle of humility (vs 21-23)

v21 and 23 tells us that “All things are ours”. This is because everything is in God’s hands and in Christ, we are ‘heirs’ to the riches of God’s grace

We don’t need to live trying to get ahead – in Christ, we are!

We don’t need to be anxious about being accepted – in Christ, we are!

No one who lives wholeheartedly for God is a fool

SERMON LEFTOVERS 11.28.16

 Members Care for Their Church

by Eric Huber

The Bible established two offices for the church – elder and deacon. 

Elders are called by God to teach, lead and protect the church and her members through the ministry of the Word. 

Deacons are responsible to ensure proper care is provided to those who are most vulnerable in the church – the sick, the elderly, and the widow.  Deacons are to work alongside the elders to ensure a gospel-centered ministry in the church of both word and deed. 

These are complementary offices in the shepherding of the local church.

Elders and deacons do not do all the work in the church. 

Together, they equip and mobilize the church for ministry.  God calls every believer to commit to some local church in order that we all would experience church life as shared ministry together as we care for one another.

Members of the local church are to be equipped for ministry (Eph. 4:11-16). 

As a church, we build ourselves up in love as Christ works to grow us through our life together.  We grow only as each part is working properly in the context of our shared life together as our leaders equip us for one-another ministry.

We are each gifted for ministry.

God also gives us spiritual gifts for our one-another ministry. 1 Cor. 12:7 tells us, “To each is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”  God gives spiritual gifts not primarily for our personal benefit, but for the benefit of others. They are given for the common good – our life shared together.

God gifts and empowers each of us to serve one another.  When we do not use our gifts for life in the church, then our shared life together is impoverished.

We are also to be obedient for ministry. 

God calls us to submit to and obey the leaders in whom God has entrusted our spiritual care (Heb 13:17).  Those leaders will give an account to God for how well they cared for us as they lead us to fulfill the biblical picture of life together in the church. 

Now, that does not mean that we cannot disagree on how things should be done.  We can, but God instructs us to follow their leadership as they seek to follow Christ.

We are gifted for ministry, and we are to be equipped and obedient for ministry. 

Finally, we are to be involved for ministry. 

We cannot receive or give the care and encouragement God wants for us if we are not living in community with the other members of our local church.  We are a spiritual family called to love and serve one another, which requires knowing one another. 

It can be scary to be vulnerable with others, but the pay-off is greater because God has promised to work in our shared life together. 

May God’s Spirit enable us to see, understand, and live out the truth of the local church as Christ’s loving Kingdom on earth.

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 10.17.24

Love the church God established

 

Ephesians 4:1-16

 

God established his Church in loving unity (vs 1-7)

The bonds of our unity are rather extraordinary

1.  The unity of the Church is Trinitarian (v4 one Spirit, v5 one Lord, v6 one Father)

God is a Triune being, and each member is ever working in every believer

God’s greatest intention for us is that we share this unity (John 17:20-23)

2.  The unity of the church flows out of the gospel (v5 one faith, one baptism)

3.  The unity of the church flows into eternity (v4 one body, one hope)

The Church is a forever family

We are all part of the same covenant kingdom

So why do churches often struggle with unity?

(1)  Satan hates God, so he is relentless in attacking the church which is precious to God

(2)  People in the church don’t always understand their own identity. Instead they look at church life through culture rather than Scripture

The application of our unity is in vs 1-3

Paul urges us to live according to the realities of our unity

This requires us to see these realities when we see one another

 

God established structure for his Church

God has given specific practices for every church:

(1)  The church is to gather regularly to be under the ministry of the Word

(2)  The church is to practice community

(3)  The church is to practice the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper

(4)  The church is to protect against sin through church discipline

And in Ephesians 4 we are told God gives leaders to his church (vs 11-12)

Leaders are given by God to organize and lead local churches, so that the practices God has given to the church are maintained

In this passage the emphasis is on their responsibility to “equip” the members of the church

An implication of God’s structure is the importance of membership

The church is not just universal (all believers everywhere), the church is local (specific congregations)

Without the commitment of membership, which church are we responsible to?  

Without the commitment of membership, how do pastors fully know who is under their care?

 

God established the purpose of his Church (vs 13-14)

The great purpose of the church is to make mature Disciples of Christ

We proclaim the gospel to bring people into the church    

We press toward Christ-like maturity, so we actually look like him

God’s purpose must shape how we shape practices of church life

So an important question churches must continually ask: Do our practices bear this fruit?  

 

God established engagement for his Church (vs 15-16)

The existence of church leaders doesn’t minimize the role of church members

v16 the church is held together by “every joint”

v16 the church grows when “each part” is working properly

Churches cannot be healthy unless their members are engaged

This doesn’t mean random volunteering, but a commitment to the life of your church 

v16 also states that members most “work properly”, which means the characteristic of our involvement is not a matter of personal opinion, it is to be shaped by Scripture

A church that places the weight of ministry on its leaders will have a very limited ministry

So it is important that members have clarity about the doctrines of church, otherwise their involvement will be directed by opinion rather than Scripture

When it comes to church life, it is meant to be our life

WHAT IS TRUE EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANITY?

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J.C. Ryle was a pastor and bishop in the Anglican Church during the second half of the 19th century. He served during a time when that church as a whole had lost sight of the gospel and was falling into widespread liberalism.

Ryle was determined to keep the gospel as his central focus, but sadly much of the church around him not only didn’t care – they ridiculed him and called his beliefs “dangerous”. How blind his critics were, for the greatest danger in life is to deny or ignore the gospel truths he sought to keep clear!

As he tirelessly fought the religious trends around him, Ryle identified what he called the “5 leading features of evangelical Christianity”.

1.  The absolute supremacy of Holy Scripture as the only rule of faith and practice.

2.  The depth and prominence it assigns to the doctrine of human sinfulness and corruption.

3.  The paramount importance it attaches to the work and office of the Lord Jesus Christ.

4.  The high place it assigns to the inward work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of man.

5.  The importance it attaches to the outward and visible work of the Holy Spirit in the life of man. True grace will always make itself manifest in conduct.

The title of “Evangelical Christian” is used broadly in the church today, but in many cases the implications of this title are watered down so much it becomes meaningless.

The church in every generation needs to seriously ponder and aggressively protect what it means to be a true biblical / gospel-centered Christian! This means Ryle’s ‘5 signs’ remain valuable reminders and guides to us.

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 1.04.16

‘Rejoicing Over God’s People’

Philippians 1:1-11

Philippians is one of Paul’s prison letters, written to a church which faithfully supported him. The tone and content of this letter indicate this was a healthy church

Paul Shares Why He Is Thankful For This Church (vs 3-8)

Paul is thankful for their “partnership” in ministry (v5)

  • v19 the Philippian Church prayed for Paul 
  • 2:25 they were involved in Paul’s ministry, sending Epaphroditus to serve with him
  • 4:14 their hearts were with Paul, ‘sharing his trouble’  
  • 4:15 they gave faithfully to his ministry

This was a church deeply committed to gospel mission

God established the Church to be a place where we grow together, and where we fulfill mission together

The Philippians recognized these truths, which resulted in their being part of meaningful ministry

If we have the fruit of the gospel, how can we not partner in gospel work?

Gospel work is our comprehensive job. It’s who we are in what we do

Paul is thankful for God’s ongoing “work” in them (v6)

This “work” is God making us a people fit to spend eternity with him

This “completeness” will be according to God’s standards, not ours

We could never accomplish such thing! It has to be God’s work

Because this outcome is “sure”:

We can find fresh joy in our striving

We can find fresh patience for fellow-believers, because this completion will be true for them too

 Confidence in our “completion” is part of our motivation for mission

vs 6 & 10 remind us “the day of the Lord” is coming! 

v6 assures us, we will be completed for it

 The Bible ends with the book of Revelation to help us keep in mind life’s trajectories (for the faithful and the faithless)

 Paul’s thankfulness results in a heart filled with “affection” (v8)

Paul declares “it is right” that he has joy and thankfulness for the Philippians

This is because they shared the gospel, they shared Christ, and they shared in ministry

These wondrous realities should dominate how we interact as a church

 

Paul Shares How He Prays For This Church (vs 9-11)

1. Paul prays that their love will keep growing (v9)

We cannot mature unless our love for God and others is growing

Love is the fulfillment of the great commandment

Love is the great motivator for all that should and should not be in our lives

Paul mentions two ingredients that growing love requires

Knowledge“:  in some ways love comes naturally, but we have many distortions about love. Our love is mixed with emotions, expectations and selfishness. We need knowledge about love

Discernment“:  This is knowing how to apply love in life’s situations. When our children frustrate us, or a co-worker misuses us, love will always lead us to be gospel focused

2.  Paul prays for their growth in godliness (vs 10-11)

God’s desire for us, is character fit for eternal communion with him

Our intentions for one another, should have the same agenda

 

Be Influenced by Paul’s Heart For the Philippians

(1)  Consider how we think about fellow church members

Guard against seeing them without the eyes of the gospel

Do we primarily see fellow members for their weakness and offenses against us?

Do we see one another as people that merely pass through our lives?

 Instead, Paul saw fellow believers through the gospel

v7 fellow believers are partakers with us in grace (they are people of v6)

We should see one another as our forever family with Christ

(2)  Commit to being prayerful for your church – which means the people in it

We need those prayers for ourselves

We need the attitude and heart that comes when we pray for them

If this is not your habit please begin to pray for your church!

(3)  Share Paul’s joy over the church

This joy is not due to perfect circumstances or perfect people; it is joy over the progress of gospel victory

Each believer represents wondrous works of God

Each believer is becoming a person of Christ-like beauty

 If Christ takes joy over the church, so should we (Isaiah 62:3-5)

 Love the Church, love your church, and love each other

SERMON LEFTOVERS 11.16.15

Life Together

Acts 2:42-47

This passage has much to teach us about being the Church. We will examine five 5 dominant themes concerning “Life Together”

 

1. Commitment to the Disciplines of Being Mature Disciples (v42)

We usually think of spiritual disciplines on a personal level such as Bible reading and prayer

These are vital, but those listed here are corporate disciplines that the church was “devoted” to

(1) The members were under the Apostle’s teaching

They were being ‘equipped’ as we saw last week in Ephesians 4:11-14

When the whole body is hearing together the teaching becomes shared truths

The members help each other remember them, dig into them and apply them

(2) The members were committed to “the” fellowship

The context is that it was the fellowship of worship gatherings

The entire experience that takes place when gathered is deepened

We easily experience this in worship, yet the reality is that the Holy Spirit is doing this in all aspects of our gathering

(3) The members were committed to breaking bread (Lord’s Supper)

The Lord’s Supper is primarily a corporate celebration

It helps us affirm Ephesians 4, which tells us we have “one body . . one hope . . one Lord, one faith”

(4) The members were committed to “the” prayers

This again is describing organized times of prayers

Prayer affirms that we are dependent on the Holy Spirit

Prayer “together” helps us to keep focused on Christ’s agenda rather than to our many agenda’s

In these disciplines, we see that the church was led by the Holy Spirit, who was devoted to growing them in the context of community

 

2. They Experienced Wonder Over the Greatness of God (v43)

The realities of our life in Christ are the same regardless of how we feel, but when we have a sense of God, we are better at being steadfast

Awe of God also encourages us to push forward in our mission

Satan continually attacks our perspective about God

Biblical Community reinforces our sense of God, because He is displayed in it

We experience the blessing of the Holy Spirit working through each other’s gifting

We see God’s activity in one another (v43 the apostles works)
And we have it affirmed in us from others

3. They Cared for One Another (vs 44-45)

This was far from casual or mere friendly church engagement

The members of the body were taking responsibility for their role

The care given was what people could do, for those they could serve

People gave intentionally from what they had, rather than from their leftovers

We have different gifts and resources, but we should share a similar commitment

What would be the quality of care at your church if everyone had your involvement?

How effective would the ministry of your church be if everyone served like you?

How well could your church go forward if everyone had your approach to generosity?

4. They Shared Life Together (v46)

They were together in worship (the Temple) and in their ‘homes’

They shared time and life together

We don’t necessarily need to do new things to be together, we can try to be together in what we already do

Christ whom they served, had brought them together in his kingdom

Fellow church members are not part of a life segment, like the circle of friends we know in our kid’s soccer league

The church is our ‘forever family’; these are the closest human connections we will ever have

Biblical community is community based on biblical characterlove, patience, forgiveness, humility, gentleness and reconciliation

However, biblical community is also something much deeper and amazing

Biblical community is part of the supernatural union we have in Christ (John 17:20-23)

What Jesus prayed is beyond our comprehension, and our present experience

But we must get this – because it is God’s mission for us

This realization should radically affect how we approach church life

It should affect our commitment to this body that the Holy Spirit wonderfully formed us into

It should affect our unity which overshadows the fact that we will disagree and fail each other

 

5. The Result is That This Church Had An Impact (v47)

The context of v47 is that God used all we read in vs 42-46 to bring rich fruit

People were forever changed and God was eternally pleased

Let’s seek to become the church Christ made us to be

HOW I LOVE HER

 

“I Love the Church” is how John MacArthur opens this wonderful article.

His first reason for loving the Church is because “the Church is being built by the Lord Himself”.

My heart is in full agreement with MacArthur in this enthusiasm for the Church.

Actually, how can any believer not love the Church – when Christ gave his life to win her?

How can we not love the Church when our Heavenly Father “gave” its members to Christ (John 17:2, 6, 9 & 24)?

How can we not love those who are called the “beloved” of God?

How can we not love the Church which God raised up for His glory and our good?

How can we not love the Church which has the Holy Spirit living and active in its midst?

How can we not love the Church which is made up of our eternal family of brothers and sisters?

How can we not love the Church which is being made beautiful in righteousness?

How can we not love the Church which will be glorified forever?

How can we not love the Church which is called the Bride of Christ?

How can we not love the Church when we are commanded to love even our enemies?

Yes, it is not only possible – it is inevitable that someone in the church will disappoint you, for we all remain far from complete in our sanctification. And not all who attend church are part of the true Church.

For the same reasons, it is even possible that you may have been greatly misused by your local church. But as those who love Christ, we are without excuse if we fail to give ourselves in love for the Church.

Those who leave the church and declare they can love God without it – are biblically wrong. They have to build a Frankenstein out of the New Testament to conjure up that claim.

God is wondrously good in all His plans and in all He does! As John MacArthur points out “the Church is being built by the Lord Himself”, not to mention it is also being built FOR the Lord Himself!

Did you catch that last amazing phrase? The Church is above all else for God. That reality in itself makes the Church a work of beauty.

If we cannot find love for this precious work of God, then the ugliness is in our own hardened heart.

Why do you love the Church? Share your thoughts with us in the “comments” section

WHAT DO THE CHURCHES IN OUR AREA THINK?

 

In recent weeks I have attended two gatherings of local pastors. Except for me, each was attended by a different group of church leaders.

It should not be surprising that the topic of gay marriage and gender identity was brought up each time and became the prominent focus of discussion.

As the discussions began, I wondered inside how unified would these pastors be in their perspectives?

In both cases I rejoiced in what I heard! These servants of God stood firmly rooted in the unchangeable truth of God’s Word, while being deeply concerned with expressing the wonders of God’s grace.

Here are themes that were brought up and received with unity and conviction:

The Bible clearly teaches homosexuality is sin

All sexual activity outside of a biblically defined marriage is also sinful

All sin is wrong and should be treated seriously

The church must remain clear minded in its teaching on sin

When Christians mock those we disagree with, we are failing to uphold the gospel

Churches should not pick on gender identity sin as if other sins are not also wretched

We must love those caught in gender identity sin

We must work hard to express care for those who are struggling with gender identity

However, in our desire to show grace, we must not allow compromise with homosexual relationships in our churches

We are not judging people when we declare God’s word and identify his view of sin to them

Our churches need to work on having a culture of care for all sinners and not shun those who are distasteful to us, or who make us uncomfortable

We are called by God to be reaching out with the gospel into the lives of all people around us

God has never been more or less sovereign

We should remain fully confident in God’s present and faithful work among us

We need to guard against enemies of the gospel using ‘anti discrimination’ laws to persecute the church

There is no better, safer or grander place to stand than in the truth of the gospel

To our sorrow, there are clergy in our region and beyond claiming to be shepherds of God’s people who are revealing that they are actually wolves.

However, we should be encouraged that the beating heart of the evangelistic churches around us is firming rooted in the clear gospel of Jesus Christ!

 

WHAT DOES SATAN WANT?

What does Satan want for your church?

He uses cunning and strategy, and his main weapon is deceit. Jesus warns us that, “there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44)

But with the Apostle Paul, we can say that “we are not ignorant of his designs” (1 Corinthians 2:11).

We should easily recognize these strategies of Satan who hates Christ and wants to harm his Church:

Satan wants us to be impatient with other believers

Satan wants us filled with frustration for the people of our church

Satan wants us to think that our differences with other believers are greater than our bonds in Christ

He doesn’t want us to read Ephesians 4:4-6

“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Satan wants us to argue with as fellow church members as possible.

Satan wants us to gossip about the weakness of fellow believers

Satan wants us to give up on one another instead of keep “bearing with one another”

He really doesn’t want us to read any of Ephesians 4

“Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (vs 1-3)

Satan wants us to attack the failures that we see in fellow believers

Satan wants us to live disconnected from other church members

Satan wants us to ignore the hurts of fellow believers

He doesn’t want us to read 1 Corinthians 12:24-26

“God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”

Satan wants us to believe the worst about people in our church

Satan wants us to think that we have loved enough, and to think that we are justified in giving up on loving them more

He doesn’t want us to read 1 Corinthians 13:7-8 

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends”

Satan wants us to forget that God deeply loves every believer – that Jesus died for every believer – and that the Holy Spirit lives in every believer

We know what Satan wants – what do you think God wants?

SERMON LEFTOVERS 2.23.15

“The Bride of Christ”  

Revelation 19:6-8

We continue in our series on knowing our identity in Christ

We are a people deeply loved by Christ

A bride is the picture of someone who is beloved

The day of a bride’s engagement and marriage are filled with love language

The Bible uses this picture as powerful declaration of Christ’s love for us

A bride is someone chosen to receive this love

We deeply love our children, but we don’t choose them as we do our spouse

Every believer is a gift of love from the Father to the Son 

I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me (John 17:6)

A bride is chosen for a life shared 

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world (John 17:24)

There is nothing abstract about this display of love for us

Do you see God’s love through the realities of the Cross and the Marriage of the Lamb?

We have two obstacles in appreciating how deeply we are loved

#1  We are not amazed enough that Christ would love us

We are naturally self-centered and we live in a culture of entitlement

We also have a weak sense of God’s holiness (which is His leading attribute)

It should amaze us that we who are limited, often foolish and rebellious, are so loved by the holy, transcendent and perfect God

#2  We cannot grasp the full extent of this love (Ephesians 3:17-19)

There is nothing like it in our hearts or in our earthly experience

It is like the distances between stars, or the size of an atom – the descriptions are just words

  • We need grace to comprehend this love
  • We need to meditate on it
  • We need to praise him for it

We are being made a people of beauty (Revelation 21:2)

Revelation 19 tells us this beauty is our righteousness

Righteousness is beauty, because it is true, pure and like Christ

God is not impressed with our successes, but He loves our righteousness~

  • This is what we were created to be
  • This is what we were saved to be
  • This is what matters most to God

Everything that God does in our lives is bringing us to this glorious result (Rev 21:9-11)

I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb . . having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel

We may not see this clearly in ourselves, but God sees it through the eyes of his commitment and sovereignty

God is working on our perfect character in every blessing, hardship and dry season

Our identity as the Bride of Christ declares what we are becoming

We should be people of anticipation

The picture of a bride represents a mood of joyful anticipation

We should be a joyful people, because our reasons for joy are always greater than even our valid reasons for discouragement

However, until the Marriage Feast of the Lamb, we don’t have only joy

We are in the quarry, the place to be chiseled and shaped

But the chiseling of our lives is preparing us for the marriage feast

We should be a people ever looking ahead; looking forward to when we see Jesus and are made like him

This world is not where Revelation 19 is fulfilled; this is not our place of rest

The world has many shiny things it offers, but all will eventually rust or fail

Even the eternal blessings that we begin to enjoy here, are all muted now

Mixed in everything here, is our weakness and the world’s malignancy

We have anticipation, because Revelation 19 will be accurate history

Now we look with eyes of faith, because we can trust the Triune God

Let your mind soar with anticipation

  • That is what faith does
  • That is what God deserves

We should be a people of commitment

We see the commitment Christ has to us in the promised “marriage of the Lamb”

Christ sacrificed himself so the Church could be his bride

And the Holy Spirit is ever working so we will be clothed in righteousness

What is our commitment to Christ?

In biblical times, a major feature of the wedding day, was the bride leaving her parents home for that of her husband

Are you trying to have a relationship with Christ while staying in your old life?

The Bible often describes our turning from God as adultery, because this is how it feels to him

We are the Bride of Christ; what does He deserve from you? 

The answer is easy – all that you are!