Friday, May 21, 2010

Sermon on the Church

Below are some excerpts from a sermon I preached last year on the Church. These will probably be spread over a few posts to avoid reader fatigue.

Belonging to the Church (Sermon #1)
1 Peter 2:4-8

In the passage that we’re looking at today, the Word of God has some instruction for us about the Church.

A couple of preliminary comments before we dive into our text:

First, a word about the definition of “church” –
--When we use the word “church” we are often referring to a building: “Our meeting will be held at the church.”
--Or sometimes we mean the worship service. “I go to church every Sunday.”
--But in the Bible, the word “church” never refers to a building or a worship service. It always refers to a people, whether the whole people of God, or a body of believers in a particular community.

18And he is the head of the body, the church ... Col. 1:18 (NIV)

17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church … Matt. 18:17 (NIV)

5So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. Acts 12:5 (NIV)

2To the church of God in Corinth, … 1 Cor. 1:2 (NIV)

Second, a word about the reputation of the church –
--Peter is writing to a group of believers who are “scattered throughout” the world, as he put it, and they were suffering.
--Little regard for the Church
--Believers persecuted … by government, their local communities, even by their own families.
--The Church had a bad rap in many areas of the known world in that day.

The same is true today. The Church has a bad rap around the world, and many of the rulers of the world do their best to keep the Church down, whether through propaganda or outright persecution.

The Church also gets a bad rap in our own country.
Ø Some see it as weak and ineffective, while others see it as a powerful political monster that will eventually take over the political arena and foist an unenlightened vision and a strait-jacket morality on the American people.
Ø The Church is seen as scientifically backward and anti-intellectual.
Ø It is seen hypocritical.
Ø It is seen as greedy and power-hungry, unloving and uncaring.
Ø And we constantly hear cries from some radio preachers—not all— how the local churches are not doing their job—they should be preaching against this and this and this and this and that.

“The Church? Pshaw! Who wants to belong to something like that!?”

I think part of what Peter is trying to do here in his discussion about the Church is remind his readers that it is a good thing to belong to the Church; it is a glorious, wonderful thing.

I think it’s the same thing the Lord Jesus would have you know today as we look at this text: It is a very good thing to belong to the Church.
Ø The world around us would have you believe that being a part of the Church is a waste of time. But as we’ll see next week, in fact, the opposite is true. Those who don’t belong to the Church will have wasted their time.
Ø No, the Scriptures here show us that to belong to the Church is a very good thing.
Ø It may not look like much to the untrained eye, but to the eye of faith, the Church is the very Bride of Christ, and she alone, of all the institutions and organizations that exist and thrive throughout the world, she alone will never close her doors. She alone will never fold or collapse or fall or be destroyed.

Disclaimer: I am NOT talking about church membership. I am NOT talking about joining this church.

(The next post will get into the exposition of the 1 Peter text.)

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