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A Baptist and His Church

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LIFE AS A BAPTIST

A BAPTIST AND HIS CHURCH

ACTS 2:37-47

6-11-06

GLC                                                                GRBC

 

 

     Having just concluded our series in the book of Acts, I wanted to follow up that study with a message on the importance and meaning of church membership.

Church membership has lost its meaning for many people.  Some people have even suggested that we are moving into an “un-churched” age of Christianity.  In other words, there are people who don’t see the importance of church attendance and membership. 

Some believe that can they stay at home and watch services on television and in doing so fulfill their obligation to God.  Others may attend a home Bible study and believe that it is enough, i.e. they don’t need to be affiliated with a local church.  Still others will attend a local fellowship but never officially join the membership. Why is that?  

Well, some people want the anonymity. They don’t want to get too connected or be too obligated to any one fellowship. In all honesty, it makes it much easier to leave when you want to.  Then there are others who just don’t understand the nature and the importance of the local church.  They have been told by some Para-church organizations, and some inter and non-denominational organizations that the local church is of secondary importance. They say, “ What is really important is the “True Church.” 

    In this final message of this series, I hope to correct any misunderstandings you may have about the local church, and encourage all those who are members, and those considering membership. So, let’s examine three elements concerning A Baptist and His Church.

I. UNDERSTAND ITS NATURE

    A. What the Church Is Not

1. The church is not a social club, although it is a     

     social place.

        2. It does not provide salvation.  It only proclaims

            how salvation can be obtained.

AMP:/ Some people believe that they can be saved by association, I.e. by being associated with Christians and attending church.

3. Another thing that needs to be made clear is that  

    the church is not the kingdom of God, although

    the kingdom of God is present within the

    church.

AMP:/ What is the kingdom of God?  “It is the realm of salvation into which men enter by trustful childlike commitment to Jesus Christ.” It is the rule and reign of God.  The Scriptures tell us several things about the kingdom of God:

The kingdom of God is spiritual:

John 3:3 (NKJV) 3Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

The kingdom of God is invisible:

Luke 17:20 (NKJV) 20Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; (it is not material)

The kingdom of God is internal:

Luke 17:21 (NKJV) 21nor will they say, £‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

The kingdom of God is universal:

Matthew 6:10 (NKJV) 10   Your kingdom come.

Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

The kingdom of God is eternal:

2 Peter 1:11 (NKJV) 11for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    B. What the Church Is

        1. The BF&M(2000)puts it this way:  “A New

            Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an

            autonomous local congregation of baptized

            believers associated by covenant in the faith and           fellowship of the Gospel; observing the two

            ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws,

            exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges            

    invested in them by His Word, and seeking to                    extend the gospel to the ends of the earth.”

        2.  “Church” in the Gk. is ekklesia, which means “a

              called-out group.” The church is not a social

              club; it is a spiritual organism, an organization

              composed of people whom God has “called

              out of darkness into His marvelous light”

AMP:/  The word “church appears over 110 times in the N.T. ---- 92 times is refers to the local church. E.g. the church at Ephesus,    the church at Philippi, the church of Galatia, etc.  The other 20 plus times it is used in an abstract sense, like the (American Home, or the American Family).   

Ephesians 1:22 (NKJV) 22And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,

 The Bible speaks of the church as the Body of Christ, which includes all of the redeemed of all of the ages, believers from every tribe, tongue and nation.

   

        3. The church is an organism, vitally connected to

            Jesus Christ as the Head. But it is also an

            organization, an assembly of “like minded

            people acting under the Lordship of Christ.

AMP: /  What is the church to do?

It is commissioned to preach the gospel.

Matthew 28:19- 20 (NKJV) 19Go £therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” £Amen

It is to administer the ordinances:

Acts 2:42- 44 (NKJV) 42And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common,

It is to carry out mission work:

Acts 13:2-4 (NKJV) 2As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

4So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

It has pastors and deacons to provide spiritual leadership:

Ephesians 4:11- 12 (NKJV) 11And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

Hebrews 13:17 (NKJV) 17Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

But you must not only understand its nature you SHOULD. . .

II. UNITE WITH ITS FELLOWSHIP

    A. How Do You Unite?

        1. Personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and

            Savior.

        2. They are baptized, as an expression of their faith

            and a testimony to the community of their

            identity in Christ.

AMP:/ Acts 10:36-48  (The way the church receives members.)

    B. Why Do You Unite?

        1. Uniting with a local church is an expression of

             belonging.

        2. It provides opportunities for you to unite with

            others and be encouraged in your walk with God   

            and encourage others.

          

Hebrews 10:25 (NKJV) 25not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

        3. It places you under the discipline of the Word of

            God and gifted leaders.


Acts 2:42 (NKJV) 42And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Acts 5:42 (NKJV) 42And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

    

     4. In 1 Cor. 12, Paul says that you are incomplete without the              body, and the body is incomplete without you.

AMP: It is taught by the example of the early church.  Wherever Paul went, he organized Christians into local churches.

Acts 15:41 (NKJV) 41And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

APPL:/  In the O.T. God always had a place for corporate worship --- in the N.T.  it is at the local church.  This does not exclude individual worship.

 

Do people join for other reasons?  Sure.  “A lot of people want the benefits of the church but refuse to be a benefit to the church.”

“I often visit newcomers in town and find them to be church shopping.  They want to know what they can get out of church. Churches are one more consumer commodity.  Worship services are not a place for us to serve God and neighbor but a place where people expect to purchase the best:  inspiring worship, good music, moving sermons, quality child care.  As if we buy God and not vice versa.”

Arthur Boers in The Other Side (May/June 1989). Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 11.

 

 

 

 

C. Where Do You Unite?

   1. Where you live!

   2. With a church that preaches and practices the Gospel.

   3. With a church that you identify with in doctrine and duty.

 

AMP: Today, people are moving all the time.  What about them?  When you moved did you move your bank account, your mailing address, your family, your dog?  Why not move your church membership!

 

APPL:  Apollos moved his membership:

 

 

Once you Understand Its Nature, and then Unite With Its Fellowship, you must. . .

 

III. UNDERTAKE ITS MISSION

   The mission of the church is clear

   A. It Is To Be Going

      1. “GO” is the first word in the marching orders of the Great               Commission.

      2. In the process of Going, we are to be making disciples.

 

AMP: The going and the making do not happen by accident. It must be intentional, planned, and carried out.

 

 

 

 

 

   B.  It Is To Be Serving

      1. Its members serve by using their spiritual gifts.

      2. Someone has said, “We are saved to serve.”  That’s true.

      3. You can serve in the various ministries, help on the various               mission projects, give of your finances to underwrite the cost            of the church’s ministry.

  

AMP:

 General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, was asked the secret of his amazing Christian life. Booth answered, "I told the Lord that he could have all that there is of William Booth."

 

Conclusion:

Joining a local church is more than adding your name to a membership list. It is indicating your desire to be involved in its life.  You are becoming part of a family, and therefore are entitled to all the privileges associated with the family life, and assuming the responsibility of helping that family work.

A Christian outside a church is like an athlete without a team.

If you are not a church member, I would ask you to prayerfully consider what you are going to do.  If this is where you need to make your home, come and tell me today.

If you are a church member, I ask you to prayerfully consider your role and responsibility in the church.   Spurgeon said, ”I believe a very large majority of churchgoers are merely unthinking, slumbering worshipers of an unknown God.”

Charles H. Spurgeon in Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 11.  Christianity Today, Vol. 40, no. 1.

 

Does that describe your church going?  If so, ask God to wake you out of your slumber, and to make you the “church member” you need to be for His glory.

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