There‘s a story I came across that hear more than I care to [even more so today]......and I find it hurtful and unkind as a Christian. It’s a story about a guy named Tim, who was really critical about the church and the people who attend it.“Tim was complaining to someone about the Christian church, when suddenly an image flashed in his mind of a bride and a groom on their wedding day. In that mental image He said “I walked up to the groom and said to him, Your bride sure is ugly." Now no one would ever do that because no matter how unattractive I may personally find a bride, to the groom that bride is wonderful, she’s radiant and beautiful. Then Lord spoke to my heart and said, "Tim, every time you criticize my church you’re telling me, that my bride is ugly." We must never do that! The church is amazing institution that God has designed and orchestrated for the past 2000 years! I love the church and I will defend her until my last dying breath! Why? She is worth fighting for! Jesus seemed to think so and this is my passion for the church and it should be yours as well. Remember what Paul wrote! “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” Eph 5:25. It's passages like this that makes me love the church....What's amazing is that the church will always outlive and outlast every other organization on earth......that’s why Jesus said “I will build my church” meaning this will take form in the future after His death burial and resurrection.........and here we are today! As J C Ryle said “Forever let us thank God that the building of the one true Church is laid on the shoulders of One who is mighty. Let us bless God that it does not rest upon man. Let us bless God that it does not depend on missionaries, ministers, or committees. Christ is the almighty Builder. He will carry on His work, though nations and visible Churches do not know their duty. Christ will never fail. That which He has undertaken He will certainly accomplish! See, we have to understand that it’s not the wood or the nails...the concrete foundation that makes the church......it’s each and every one that has been called by His marvellous grace make up the church. So when you look at the person sitting beside you........they are the church if they believed upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is what makes the church so unique...it’s made up of different people who were lost at different times and had different circumstances of life. Some grew up in.....
• Christian homes
• None Christian homes
• Broken homes
• Happy homes
• Poor homes
• Rich homes
• Loving homes
• Unloving homes
• Abusive homes
• Non-Abusive homes
Some of us have grown up in an environment where we were.....
• Raised by grandparents
• Dropped out of school
• Lived on the streets
• Involved in drugs and alcohol
• Stealing and reckless living
• Pornography and pre-marital relations
We all come from different walks of life....but the things we all have in common......no matter where you’re from is that we are all...
• Wretched sinners!
• Depraved human beings!
• Lost and without a hope and a prayer!
• Unable to save ourselves!
But! The beauty of that is the unfailing love of Jesus Christ, found in the Gospel. Rom 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Spurgeon said “The church is not perfect, but woe to the man who finds pleasure in pointing out her imperfections. Christ loved his church, and let us do the same. I have no doubt that the Lord can see more fault in his church than I can; and I have equal confidence that he sees no fault at all. Because he covers her faults with his own love—that love which covers a multitude of sins; and he removes all her defilement with that precious blood which washes away all the transgressions of his people.”
That’s exactly what we are! A group of lost people who desperately need to found like the missing sock that comes out of the drier....Two went in and only one comes out! Jesus has from the beginning of the church age until now has never stopped looking for lost people. In Luke 15 Jesus tells a simple story of what that looks like....He says “.. what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? The church is full of these kinds of stories! That’s what makes the church so unique! The church is full of people who were lost but now they’re found by His wonderful grace. As Paul said “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Rom 7:24-25. We come to closing part of Paul’s letter as he gives his final strokes of the pen by reminding the church that.....God has put different people in your lives and into the church for the purpose of our joy as we grow into the image of the Son. The church is filled with saved sinners!......The church is filled with people like you and me! See! The church is a special place with special people!........
1. THE CHURCH IS FILLED WITH FAITHFUL SERVANTS AND MINSTERS OF THE WORD OF GOD (V7)
Tychicus is a prime example of this......he willing travelled with Paul to show his servants heart. He willing went despite the fact they would or might take him away from family, friends and personal pleasures in life. This what the church is filled with....a group of people who are concerned and are willing to give or serve at any cost, even it leads to imprisonment or death! Listen to what John wrote in his first epistle.....which is a prime example of a servant’s heart. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” 1 John 3:16. Selflessly seeking the interest of others over yourself and while doing this they seek nothing in return! That’s what the church is filled with!
2. THE CHURCH IS FILLED WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN FOR THEIR SINFUL PASTS (V9)
Onesimus was a prime example of a man who was forgiven.....which is what the Gospel is truly about saving sinners who have sinned. A runaway slaves who was lost but now is found...as Paul says “is one of you” What does that mean? He is born again by the grace mercy found in the Gospel. Paul describes him as a “faithful and beloved brother” In his letter to Philemon [which is where the Colosse church resides]....he says this about Onesimus! Philemon v10-v16 “I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother--especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.” That’s what the church is filled with people who have been forgiven for their past, present and future sins.....A church that embraces forgiven sinners with open arms no matter what he or she has done in the past!
3. THE CHURCH IS FILLED WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE SYMPATHETIC HEARTS FOR THE BODY OF CHRIST (V10)
Aristarchus was a man who has given up his own freedom to minister to Paul’s needs. Ministering to one another! We don’t do studies and meeting for our health! We do it so that we can grow together! Ministering to the needs of those who need inside the church. Whether it’s done through the avenues of prayer or just simply giving a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear! The Lord’s work in the church would never be done if it wasn’t for others who took the time to get involved by ministering to the needs of others. Remember what Paul wrote to the church at Philippi? “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Phil 2:4. This is what the church is filled with! Willing to humbly bear the hardships with other in order that they may encourage or help the church in any way.
4. THE CHURCH IS FILLED WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE SURPRISING FUTURES (V10)
John Mark the very one who Paul had a problem with during his first missionary journey...which I’m sure spread throughout the land! Paul wanted them to know that the problem that he had with this man of God was already hashed out between him and John Mark. Paul said that he was counted as worthy for the ministry! And he wanted the church to know this! Even in the other letter that Tychicus was returning with [which was the letter to Philemon] Paul said.....“Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. Philemon v23-v24. In Paul’s last letter to Timothy he said these words about John Mark! “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.” 2 Tim 4:11. This is the many stories you find in the church....the unlikely people that you never thought would amount to anything are the most useful people in the church. It’s that person outside the church who says “I can’t believe the difference I see in him or her....I never saw that coming.” The church is filled with people just like that! We were created to do great things for the Kingdom of God here in Moosehorn! Whether it’s helping out in Sunday school classroom to speaking to unreached people of the North!.......The church is filled with surprises all He asks us is to be ready! As Isaiah said “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." Isa 6:8. If God can take a sinner like Paul a murderer of the Gospel and transform his life for the good of the Gospel.......Then there is hope for each and every one of us here in this chapel! The future of the church is filled with surprises.
5. THE CHURCH IS FILLED WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE A STRONG COMMITMENT TO THE PEOPLE INSIDE. (V11)
Jesus who is called Justus appear only in this passage of scripture as being a great comfort and encouragement to Paul. Justus was willing to take a stand alongside Paul for Jesus Christ no matter what the cost. There is nothing more comforting to see come along side one another in the church. Whether it’s through prayer....friendship.....our a listening ear! The church is filled with kinds of people and this is something that makes me love the church more each and every day....Hearing of the love for one another through commitment is a powerful thing and foundation in the church. What does kind of commitment look like? “taking up cross and never looking back” Standing with the church through the good times and the bad! It’s not retreating and fleeing to the mountains to find shelter. Standing strong under the supervision of His sustaining grace in times of struggles and circumstance. Commitment goes all the way to the end! I’m committed to this church and the people around me!
6. THE CHURCH IS FILLED WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE A PASSION FOR THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL (V12)
Epaphras who was the founder of this church passions where for the church to mature in understanding to God’s truth. Labouring for the church through the word and prayer.....this is what the church is filled with. This is my passion and the responsibility of the church...we must always be passionate when it comes to the scriptures and the prayer for the saints....This is God’s breathed out words to you and me! And we need to handle it with joy and care every single day. Why? For the reason Paul mentions here in this letter! (v12) “that you may stand perfect and complete [satisfied] in all the will of God.” Obedience to God’s word is the only way the church will ever grow! That’s what the church is filled with devoted slaves to the Master serving the church with a passion for truth.
7. THE CHURCH IS FILLED WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE DIFFERENT TALENTS TO SERVE THE LOCAL BODY (V14A)
Luke who was a gifted physician who had a wonderful talent to help those that ill and need treatment. We may not have doctors here but we have different people in the church who care for the needs of others...for example!Taking someone else’s wretched little sinner and teach them about the love of Jesus. Walking on the streets ministering to people as they pass by with the Gospel. Faithful prayer warrior who pray for the pastor and the body of the local church. People who clean up after others to make the church a clean and safe environment. People with musical talent to help the worship of those who can’t sing or know the song. People who greet others by welcoming them into the church. People behind the scenes that work diligently so that everything runs like well oiled machine....serving others! This is what the church is filled with different people with different talents to use for the purpose of the church....which in returns glorifies God for His goodness for bringing us together .
The church is a beautiful thing to be identified with! Never be ashamed of the church. Why? Because Christ has established it with His blood and sustains it with His sovereign grace. And if your ashamed of the church..... then you’re ashamed of Jesus who loves the church and gave himself up for her. So my Sunday question goes as follows........Do you love the local church? Because the church is filled with.....
• Imperfect people
• Full of misfits
• They are filled with fallen people
• Broken over sin
• Concerned about their eternal state
• Lost but found in the beautiful embrace of the Gospel!
Can you love a church like this? Because I do, so does Paul and most of all Jesus does! Let me close with this final statement! Spurgeon said “The elect church is the favourite of heaven, the treasure of Christ, the crown of His head, the bracelet of His arm, the breastplate of His heart, the very centre and core of His love.” Embrace the church with a Christ like love and give Christ the glory in it!