Faithlife
Faithlife

In Every Place & Time

1 Corinthians 1:1-3  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Notes & Transcripts

Introduction

If I were to ask you how many churches there are in Gosport, your answer would be what? Four? There is the Methodist Church, the Christian Church, the Baptist Church and the Lighthouse Fellowship Church. Right? Well how then do we interpret Paul’s words to the church at Ephesus when he writes: “There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (, NIV84) Do you hear the number four in there anywhere?
By the time Paul wrote this letter to the church in Corinth, sometime around 55 AD or some 20 years after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, there would have been many churches throughout Judea, Samaria and Asia. Paul himself responsible for most of the churches in Asia. But those aren’t really churches, are they. They were small communities of faith or congregations where believers in Christ gathered together for a purpose.

The meaning of the word Church

The word Paul used was the Greek word “ἐκκλησία” or “called out ones;” an assembly of believers in Christ Jesus. I am not sure when the word church was first used as a translation of ἐκκλησία, but I wish they hadn’t done it, because it has created a improper perception of who we are as the church. The best way to translate Paul’s statement in is “to God’s people living in Corinth.”
When you think of the word church, your mind automatically creates this vision of a place, a building with walls, a roof, doors and windows. We are the church at 7th and North. But the ἐκκλησία that Paul is referring to is not a place with an address. It is a group of people who believe and follow Jesus. There were no church buildings in 55 AD. The believers met in believer’s homes like Chloe or Priscilla and Aquila’s place. They might have met in someone’s grassy pasture or if they had a good relationship with the Jews, they might have even met in a synagogue on Sunday morning. But they didn’t meet in the church. They were the church.

A Look at Our self

Well, you might be asking yourself, “Self. Why is he bringing up all this stuff? We know all this stuff.” Right? Well, we may know it, but we sure don’t live like it. What do I mean by that? Our focus is too much on what happens within these four walls and not on what we are doing outside these walls. And I am as guilty as anyone.
Our evangelism is focus on what happens within these walls. We think in terms of inviting people to our worship services so they might hear the gospel, experience the presence and love of God and become Christians. I think I have told you before what my professor of preaching told us once. There is one place we preach the gospel where it was never preached in the first century; the church! They preached the gospel on the street corner, on the highways and byways, during their daily walk of life.
Our service is focused upon what happens within these four walls. We contribute to many worthy causes outside the church, the food pantries, the WRE program, Youth for Christ, but we serve them by having fundraising events within our building and give the money to them to use. That not bad. That’s good. But what would happen if we didn’t have these four walls. Would our service cease to exist?
It wasn’t Paul’s intention that Christians in Corinth be the only ones that read this letter, but that his letters to all the Christian communities be share with one another. The subjects he dealt with might be specific to a certain church, but all the churches shared much the same challenges and temptations. Paul considered each congregation a part of the larger Christian community, as is evident through his greeting here. He referred to them as “those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours.”
I met a little short black lady a couple of years ago at Course of Study who was a pastor. She asked me where I was appointed. I told her all about the church here and Gosport and how great the people were. Then I asked her, “Where are you appointed?” She said, well we don’t have a building right now. We are a church without walls. We gather at inner city missions, food pantries, sometimes in the park.” She said they weren’t sure they wanted a building. What a novel idea. A church without walls.

The True Church

Paul described the church like this: “Those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That is the church. Its not our small gathering of believers within these four walls this morning. It is not the largest gathering of Methodist believers on the US, the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. It’s not even the church with the largest attendance, Yoido Full Gospel Church of Seoul Korea, with 480,000 in all its locations. It is “all those, in every place who call upon the name of the Lord.”
We need to re-frame our perspective of the church. We need to understand that we are a part of something much larger than any one congregation of believers. We are a part of a global body of of believers in Jesus Christ. And how we see ourselves determines how we worship and serve our Lord and the community around us.
I leave you with a short, rather humorous video. This guy is rather funny, but he gets to the point of just how big we are.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6TGxKvSqH8
We have lost that perception today. I don’t know when or where it started, but I think calling our congregation here in Gosport a church or saying that we have four churches in Gosport is a big mistake. The word in the New Testament translated as church is “ekklesia” or “called out ones.” The “called out ones” can gather together in an assembly, but the minute we use the word “church” we instinctively put walls up, and a roof with doors and windows.
We have lost that perception today. I don’t know when or where it started, but I think calling our congregation here in Gosport a church or saying that we have four churches in Gosport is a big mistake. The word in the New Testament translated as church is “ekklesia” or “called out ones.” The “called out ones” can gather together in an assembly, but the minute we use the word “church” we instinctively put walls up, and a roof with doors and windows.
Are those walls, doors, and windows there to keep people in or out? I would say to keep people out. We put a name above the door which says what kind of people are inside, right? Methodist walk through these doors, and all are welcome. A “church goer” moves into a town or city and as soon as they are settled in, they get out the newspaper and start looking for a list of “names over the doors” to choose where they will attend.

I don’t think that is how Christ intended it to be.

In the 17th Chapter of John, we read Jesus prayer to his Father before being arrested. He prayed for himself, then he prayed for his immediate disciples that were with him, and then he prayed for us. He said, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (, NIV84)
We have lost that sense of “oneness,” that sense of unity. We see ourselves as many different churches competing against one another instead of the one church meeting in various places to worship and do the work of the “one church.” I saw a rather funny video last week that might express the way it ought to be.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6TGxKvSqH8
Are those walls, doors, and windows there to keep people in or out? I would say to keep people out. We put a name above the door which says what kind of people are inside, right? Methodist walk through these doors, and all are welcome. A “church goer” moves into a town or city and as soon as they are settled in, they get out the newspaper and start looking for a list of “names over the doors” to choose where they will attend.

I don’t think that is how Christ intended it to be.

In the 17th Chapter of John, we read Jesus prayer to his Father before being arrested. He prayed for himself, then he prayed for his immediate disciples that were with him, and then he prayed for us. He said, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (, NIV84)
We have lost that sense of “oneness,” that sense of unity. We see ourselves as many different churches competing against one another instead of the one church meeting in various places to worship and do the work of the “one church.” I saw a rather funny video last week that might express the way it ought to be.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6TGxKvSqH8
So is the church a global enterprise or is it a local enterprise? It is both. Each congregation here in Gosport is a part of the church. Each one with the mission to make disciples for the transformation of the word. We are kingdom builders, not church builders. We are kingdom builders, not church growers. And everything we do should be for that goal: kingdom building, making disciples. We are not supposed to be in the business of growing our congregation. We are supposed to be in the business of growing the kingdom of God. If our congregation grows, Praise the Lord! But we need to stop measuring our success or failure based upon whether people come to our church. We are a part of something much bigger than that.
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