THIS IS THE CHURCH
A sacrificial believer will discover his or her place in the body of Christ as we seek to build it into a unified body. The Church exists to bring people together, so they can work together for the glory of God and the proclamation of the gospel. The work of Jesus Christ in the world is in the hands of those who belong to Him. This is why Jesus said to the disciples. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matt 28:18-20. The make-up of the church is the most unique institution ever created. It’s a place that has multiple opinions, backgrounds, language, ethnicity, personal faults, and baggage. But the church is one place that sets all those things aside for the greater joy, as we prepare for the Kingdom that is yet to come. This make-up, the church, walks, and lives, together in unity for the one purpose, “To make much of God” in a broken and sinful world system.
The church will always outlive and outlast every
other organization on earth.
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!
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!”
It’s all about His amazing grace that brought each us who believe by faith in the Gospel, to be used for His glory in the church. 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.....
None Christian homes
Some of us grew 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
Domestic Violence and abused
We all could tell a different story, but we are also, not products of our environment or our upbringing. We are sinners who desperately need to be reconciled back to God. The beauty of that is the unfailing love of Jesus Christ, found in the Gospel. “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom 5:8
The Church is an institution of lost and found people, working
and doing life together for the glories of His name.
Calvary Baptist is a group of lost people who desperately needed to be found like the missing sock that comes out of the drier. Two went in and only one comes out! The church is amazing institution but it does have its fair share of hic-ups and road rash. So, Paul gives a gentle warning to the church to proceed carefully. (v3)
“a measure of faith God has assigned”
God grants and gives the correct measure or amount of the spiritual gifts to be used in the body of Christ. This is where the church fails to be patient in displaying these gifts to keep the church strong and united. We fail to walk in humility, but in pride. We are not be overestimating our abilities and gifts. We easily look sideways and think others should be more like me, and that is a problem in and out of itself. We are to emulate Christ not self, and we are to allow God to do His sanctifying work in other believers. We are to take each other where were at, and leave the rest in a holy God who knows what He is doing. Everyone professing, and believing child of God, will not be the same as it relates to their spiritual growth. We know this is true when Jesus said in His parable of the seeds and soil. “As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty." Matt 13:1-23
Onesimus wasn’t useful for anything until after Paul spent some time with this runaway slave and sent him back to Philemon. “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 bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.” Philemon 1:1-16
John Mark was no good for anything according to Paul until later on he told Timothy that Mark is useful for the ministry. “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.” 2 Tim 4:11
In Act 15 Paul wanted nothing to do with John Mark, so Barnabas took him along, and now we see Paul has learned that John Mark was vital to the ministry. Paul’s heart towards Mark has changed. Why? Is it because Mark as grown? Yes , It’s also because Paul was growing as well during this time of separation as well. Everyone in the church is not supposed to be like me and you. This demonstrates that everyone grows at different levels and that we need to stop putting expectations on one another. Because when those expectations don’t happen according to you, or me, we tend to become insensitive and embittered towards others in the family of God. We tend to gossip, and speak ill will of each other, to make ourselves feel more spiritual than we really are. Charles 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.”
One elderly man said in country church meeting! “Almost everyone has told us what is wrong with the Church... I believe the Church is right. And as a Church member I want to tell what I think is right with the Church. He went on to say…..”I think the Church is right because it has taught me about Jesus Christ and Him crucified... My Church has taught me about the Bible. My Church has given me faith. It has taught me how to pray. The Church has taught me to appreciate all the good things which have been showered upon me. In my early youth I believed that food and clothing and the luxuries of life were mine because I was alive. Now I know that God has given me these things because of His love.”
The Church has helped us find peace so that we could say, “I am content whatever my state may be.”
The Church has continually influenced our lives and flawed as it is at times, she always points in the right direction….vertically to Him and His glory!
The Church has given you and me friends, real friends. When all other friends disown us, for the world system, and worldly pleasures, the Church continued to welcome me.
We all could say, “As I look back I see the wonderful and many things it has done for others, countless thousands who have faith and hope and life today because of the Church.”
The church is made up of born again believers who
display and have different gifts.
The church is where we use the gifts given by God for the purpose to produce spiritual awareness and growth as we await the kingdom that is yet to come. (v4-v8) Every person in the makeup of the church plays an important part. Whether it’s obvious roles, important roles and unnoticed roles. Just as the human body works in-sync with each other to keep us functioning every moment of every day.
Prophecy…..this is not a special revelatory gift where you are hearing from God today. This word in the Greek means “the gift of preaching or proclaiming the Word of God.” This would be the gift of public speaking, mainly a spokesperson to God’s people. Peter said, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11. What a fearful privilege I have as a pastor, who holds and herald God’s Word to God’s people. I do this with a heavenly promise; thought the worlddismisses this as they are lost in sin…. it is not proclaimed in vain. As Paul said, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Cor 15:58
Serving……. is where we get the Greek word for “deacon” those who serve;
here it’s being used in church as considered the gifts of helps. It’s a similar charge Paul gave the elders to help the weak. “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" Acts 20:35. This is practical help as we seek to care for one another in the body of Christ. It’s stepping up and even if it means taking you out of your comfort level because you love to serve God and His bride.
Teaching…….is pretty straight forward, “the ability to teach” It’s a special ability to interpret and present God’s truth understandably. This includes Sunday school, DVBS, Bible Study, and any other function where teaching is required. The early church was characterized by teaching. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Acts 2:42
Exhortation…..is a broadly used word, but here it literally means of “calling someone to one’s side” Here in the text of Scripture it’s coming alongside to help or be a comforter. Paul is saying this gift advises, pleads, encourages, warns and strengthens. This is demonstrated in midst of suffering whether spiritual of physical. It’s coming alongside giving help in whatever way it’s needed. Sometimes the gift of exhortation is just to walk alongside as that person grieves, is discouraged, frustrated. This is why the Hebrew writer wrote, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Heb 10:23-25
Generosity…..it carries the idea of sincere, heartfelt giving, which is untainted by affection, or an hidden motive. This believer, who gives with liberty, gives of himself, not for himself, as we see in Ananias and Sapphira. It’s not expecting anything in return, nor having their name plastered on Facebook, to show how generous they are. This gift seeks not the approval of men or the need of recognition. They do all this for the glory of God because it has its role in our active worship of Him. “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.” 2 Cor 8:1-7. And we also know this brings about trust and unity. “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 2:44-47
Leader….. This means standing before others. In the New Testament it is never used of governmental rulers but the headship in the family and in the church. To lead is “to guide” as a pilot steers the plane, this clearly belongs to the role of eldership. It also has its form in other departments within the church body. Sunday school, Trustees, Youth, etc.
Without a proper gift of leadership the plane
will never get off the ground.
Paul addressed the Corinthian church and there is no mention of leaders, which demonstrates the serious moral and spiritual problems they had. The absence of leaders results in everyone dong what is, “right in their own eyes.” And that doesn’t usual work out so good according to the Book of Judges. “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25
Mercy……..this cares the idea of actively demonstrating sympathy for someone else. It’s a special sensitivity to suffering and sorrow, the ability to notice misery and distress that may go unnoticed by others. It’s a desire not to solve the issue but to help elevate the problem. This gift is most evident in hospital visitation, jail ministry, serving others who are less fortunate, caring for those who are suffering and sorrow. They do this with cheerfulness, and what a difference that makes for the sorrowful, as you’re going though seasons suffering and sorrow. A genuine cheerful believer, standing with you, can make all the difference as you go through a grey day or season. This also includes wrong decisions, a physical concern, or a spiritual dryness. It’s receiving God’s mercy from a heart glad to give it. “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
These gifts are never to be used out of jealousy, resentment, shame or obligation. Because! The church does have rebellious cells and some are nonthreatening, not destroying the church…their just users.
John MacArthur said this about these types of people in the church, “They become fatter and fatter, always taking in, seldom giving out. The focus of their whole existence is self-service. Their creed is: “I will get all I can from God and all I can from the church.” To disregard these gifts and one another is to disdain God’s sovereign grace for His church. These entire different gifts are what make the church unique because they have one goal, one main focal point. And that is God would be magnified by our living sacrifices, our active worship.
As believers we are all interrelated
in a spiritual unity.
The church is a beautiful thing to be identified with! So never be ashamed of the church and the gifts He has given you. This is what makes up the church as we walk together in communion, “oneness of the saints.” This is why each of us has been given a measure of grace as the local church. As Paul said, “to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.” Eph 3:21