What Does It Mean To Be The Church?

Sermon Titled “In Search Of Church:How Does God Build A Body?” (Acts 2:40-47) – Sunday 5th January, 2014

  • Acts 2:42-47 The Fellowship of the Believers42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

At the start of any new year, it’s customary for many to re-evaluate their lives and set new goals or redefine their purpose in life. It makes sense then, that Pastor Reimer would start off 2014 by asking the members at Koza Baptist Church to consider who we are as a church, and what we are called to do to BE the church.

With that as the key focus of last week’s sermon, Pastor Reimer began by describing who exactly fills up the seats in our church building each week. “If we are truly BEING the church,” he said, “then we will have a variety of people at Koza,” including:

  1. Seekers – unbelievers who are interested, even atheists.
  2. New believers – spiritual “infants”
  3. Maturing believers – growing in their faith
  4. Seasoned saints – spiritually mature, and loving
  5. Hurting people – sick, sad, lonely, angry
  6. Addicts – legitimately struggling with various types of addictions
  7. Emotionally damaged – struggling with relationship issues (divorced, depressed, desperate)

As a whole, all of the above groups of people (excluding the first group, those who are still unbelievers), add up to one and the same – that is, a group of rescued sinners, all of whom have found hope and purpose in Jesus Christ and who are committed to following Him. And that does not mean that because these groups of people have made a commitment to pursue a more “righteous” life, that they are now perfect. Romans 3:23 says that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and even after we have chosen to follow Christ and obey the gospel, we are instructed to confess our sins (because we will inevitably continue to make mistakes) and ask for forgiveness (1 John 1:7-10).

What sets the church apart, however, is despite the fact that we are still very imperfect, we now live under a guiding framework of language and actions based on covenant love versus contractual love. Look at the definitions below, and see how they differ:

  • With a contract, if one agreeing party does something in violation of the contract then it is considered broken. The whole contract becomes null and void. Basically the signers of a contract agree to hold up their ends as long as the other signatories hold up theirs too.
  • With a covenant, both parties agree to hold up their ends regardless of whether the other party keeps their part of the agreement. A violation of a covenant by one party doesn’t matter as far as the other party’s responsibility to continue to do what they agreed to do.

So what does this ultimately mean? In Ephesians 5, Paul gives us instructions on how we should live, as followers of Christ, willing to abide by covenant (not contractual) conditions. Ephesians 5:1 says, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Christ is our example; He came to serve, not to be served, and we are called to do the same.

Douglas Spanner, in Biblical Creation and The Theory of Creation, helps us to better understand the concept of covenant living – he says, “The Bible as a whole is fundamentally about relationships. The very names Old ‘Covenant’ and New ‘Covenant’ should make this clear.” The New Testament for example, contains numerous references to the building of relationships and how we should work towards getting along with “one another.” The following are just a few examples:

  • love one another – John 13:35
  • honor one another above yourselves – Romans 12:10
  • serve one another – Galatians 5:13
  • care for one another – 1 Corinthians 12:25
  • teach one another – Colossians 3:16
  • be kind and compassionate to one another – Ephesians 4:32
  • forgive one another – Ephesians 4:2
  • accept one another – Romans 15:7
  • live in harmony with one another – Romans 12:16
  • build up one another – Romans 14:19
  • be patient with one another – Colossians 3:13

We can go to church and we can call ourselves Christians, but if we don’t do the things above then we are not being the church and we are not following Christ.

One last but very important question that Pastor Reimer asked, is if church membership matters? He believes it does, and he shared six very valid reasons why:

Source: Kevin De Young

  1. Your commitment to following Christ is made visible (public)
  2. Your commitment makes a powerful statement in a low-commitment culture
  3. We have a tendency in this day and age to be overly independent – often convincing ourselves that we don’t need anyone!
  4. Church membership keeps us accountable
  5. Church membership also helps the pastor and trustees to be more faithful (there is a more pressing need for them to set a good example and do what’s right)
  6. Joining the church provides an opportunity for you to make more promises – to get more plugged in and make more of a commitment to serve in one or more areas of ministry

Let me leave you with a statement made by Rick Pirtle, lead pastor at Journey Community Church:

  • “The mission is not the church’s. It is the Missio Dei, or mission of God, that we are called to be part of. From Genesis to Revelation, God is seen clearly on a pursuit to redeem humankind from the bondage of sin and death. The pursuit of this mission must take us beyond the walls of our church buildings out into the places where people live and work.”

be the church

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