2015-3-08 The Church & Our Responsibilities

HEBREWS 10:19-25                                                                                 MARCH 8, 2015


Whenever the topic of church is brought up in a conversation it will not be long before someone will mention the presence of hypocrites. In the parable of the wheat and the tares Jesus indicated that the church would have both saved and non-saved within it. Matthew 13:27-30 (NIV) 27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.”The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'”  For Christians to have a biblical worldview we must understand the role of the church and how the church operates in the world.

“The Church father, Augustine, taught that the church is always a “mixed body”.” (Truths We Confess, volume 3 page 44) The church can also be described as the church visible and the church invisible. The church visible are all those who attend a church. The church invisible is made up of only those who truly believe.  In this world we cannot distinguish between the two. Only God sees the heart and knows those who have been truly called to faith.

The word church comes from the Greek word “kyrios”, which means “Lord”, the title given to Jesus. The church consists of those who belong to the LORD. The Greek word, ekklesia, which is commonly translated as “church”, means literally “those who are called out of the world”. ”.” (Truths We Confess, volume 3 page 45) We are called out of the world by God and we belong to the LORD.

The church visible is also catholic, meaning universal. We used to use the term catholic when we recited the Apostle’s Creed. But so many people confused the term catholic with the Roman Catholic Church that we substituted the term with universal. “We believe in one universal Church.” The church is not restricted to any one nation. All those who profess Jesus Christ are our brothers and sisters in the LORD.

We are united to Christ and to one another. Ephesians 3:16-18 (NIV) 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” Jesus Christ is the head of the church. Colossians 1:18 (NIV) 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”

We belong to Christ who died, rose again, and ascended to the right hand of the Father. In Christ we are automatically a part of the church. In the United States some believers are ignoring the visible church and are seeking to be an independent Christian because they do not like the way churches operate. This is a problem because there is no such thing as an independent Christian according to Scripture. This is why the author of Hebrews wrote his warning. Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV) 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” We need to worship Christ each week and we need to support one another. Christ did not call us to faith in him and then tell us to isolate ourselves from other believers.

Being a part of the church is not optional. In speaking of the different spiritual gifts given to believers Paul told the Corinthians of their connection to one another. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (NIV) 4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. We are united to one another in Christ and we are to support each other. “Our love for Christ and his love for us overcomes our tensions and conflicts with one another.” (R.C. Sproul, Truths We Confess, V. 3, page 65) When one part of the body of Christ suffers, we all suffer. At this time the persecution of the church has never been greater. This is why we have a minute for missions during worship so that we are reminded of our connections to our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world. We are one in Christ!

An essential part of the life of a Christian is worship of God. From the very beginning of the Church believers have worshiped together. Acts 2:42 (NIV) 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) “24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”The people of God have always met to worship the Lord. Isaiah 2:3 (NIV) 3 Many  people’s will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”

A man had been faithful in worshipping with other believers for many years. Then he became lazy and stopped coming to the services. The pastor was concerned for his spiritual welfare, so one day he visited him at his home. The man invited the pastor in and offered him a chair by the fire. For several minutes they sat in silence and watched the burning embers. Then, taking the tongs, the pastor removed a hot coal and laid it by itself on the hearth. As it began to cool, its red glow soon faded. The man, who had been expecting a verbal reprimand, quickly caught the message. The next Sunday he was back in worship.

Paul encouraged the church to remember who we belong to and how we are to live. Ephesians 4:1-6 (NIV) 1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to one hope when you were called– 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

1 Thessalonians 5:14-18 (NIV) 14 And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. 16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Do not allow Satan to get us sidetracked into thinking we don’t need to go to church. We are united to Christ and to one another.

To God be the glory!

Let us pray.

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