This is where we start today, here’s the big idea – I don’t think you should ever go to church.

There’s nothing in the Bible about going to church; going to church is a bad idea.

 

– but some of the alternatives aren’t great either!

– “I like Jesus, I just don’t like the Church”

– also, “I’m not religious, I’m about relationship”

– and, “I just don’t think the church is important to be a Christian”

 

So, if we’re going to talk about the church, we need to know what the Bible says about church?

 

– The word church in the Bible comes from the Greek word ecclesia, which means a called out company or assembly. Wherever it is used in the Bible it refers to people. It can be a bunch of people (Acts 19:30-41), the children of Israel (Acts 7:38), and the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 5:25, 32).

 

– We see the word church used three different ways: First, as the body of Christ, the church is often defined as a local assembly or group of believers (1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1-2). Second, it is defined as the body of individual living believers (1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13). Finally, it is defined as the universal group of all people who have trusted Christ through the ages (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 5:23-27).

 

What is the truth, and why is it so much better? (ripped off from John Macarthur)

  1. the church is it’s the only institution Jesus ever builds and promises to bless.

– Matt 16 Jesus says ‘I will build my church’.

– This is His only plan for the world.. it’s you guys.

 

  1. The church is Jesus’ only plan, and His plan can’t fail

– Matt 16 again “and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.”

– Hades is referring to death, and so Jesus is saying “not even death can stop the church”

– in fact, in a lot of cases when Christians died and faced persecution, the church grew all the faster!

 

  1. The church is God’s most precious possession on earth

– in Acts 20:28 we read this.  “Be on guard for yourselves – ” talking to the elders at the church at Ephesus.  “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God Which He purchased with His own blood.”

 

Peter later also says, “You were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver and gold from your former manner of life, but with the precious blood of the Lamb, spotless and without blemish.”  God has paid the unfathomable price.

 

 

So, what ISN’T the Church?

 

‘where 2 or 3 are gathered’

– people use this verse (Matt 18:20)

 

– but if you’re a fan of reading things in context, let’s see what this verse is talking about…

 

From v.15 – “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

 

– Jesus isn’t talking about what constitutes a church at all..

– He’s not saying

– He’s showing how to restore someone caught in sin within the context of living as the church… then He promises to aid you in dealing wisely with that person.

– Here’s why the truth is better: Jesus is ALWAYS with you.. it doesn’t require 2 or 3 people to gather.

– He has promised to NEVER leave you, NEVER forsake you.

 

 

So here’s the big idea for the day – The church isn’t a building! We don’t ‘go to church’ because:

 

We are the church!

 

– I know you acknowledge the difference at one level, but few really are living in this reality! It’s such great news!

 

Here’s more from the Bible on the Church:

 

– Colossians 1:18 He is also head of the bodythe church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

– Colossians 1:24 in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church,

– Ephesians 5:29-30 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.

– 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 “so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” v.27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.

– Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.

– Ephesians 4:15-16 speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

– Romans 12:4-5 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

 

– the church is the place to believe, belong, become, and be strong – being members of the body is the only place to do that!

– we’ve looked at this before, what a gruesome thing it is to be dismembered… Christian, it’s the same weight behind being a member of the body if Christ.

– you have a place to grow in your faith, to truely belong, to develop your gifts, and to walk side by side with others as we go about Kingdom business.

 

Tim Keller – “In the body, church growth that does not benefit the rest of the Body is not biblical.
In the human body, cells that only benefit themselves are called cancer.”

 

Mark Dever – “If the church is a building, then we must be bricks in it; if the church is a body, then we are its members; if the church is the household of faith, it presumes we are part of that household. Sheep are in a flock and branches are on a vine. Biblically, if one is a Christian, he must be a member of a church” (Nine Marks of a Healthy Church).

 

The 9 Marks of a Healthy Church (per Dever)

I.Preaching

II.Biblical Theology

III.The Gospel

IV.Conversion

V.Evangelism

VI.Membership

VII.Discipline

VIII.Discipleship

IX.Leadership

 

– ‘i’m going to church today’ makes as much sense as saying ‘i’m going to family today’, or ‘i’m going to sports team today’

– The only time you can attend a church, or ‘go to church’ is when you don’t belong to the church… when you’re not a member of the body.

 

 

– Going to church means rocking up when a service starts

– Being the church means preparing your hearts before we meet together

 

– Going to church means coming for the formal hour and a half service as a duty

– Being the church means enjoying fellowship with each other outside those times

 

– Going to church means meeting together is another option in a list of options, and Subject To A Better Offer

– Being the church means we’re not the whole body without you here

 

– Going to church means checking the box on a Sunday

– Being the church means life giving relationships and mission throughout the week

 

– Going to church means noticing a problem and complaining

– Being the church means noticing a problem and finding a solution

 

– Going to church means you attend an organisation & consume it’s goods and services

– Being the church means you belong to a family

 

– Going to church means expecting to be served, and that everyone else will make it happen

– Being the church means looking for opportunities to serve

 

– Going to church means you approach church as a consumer

– Being the church means you approach the body as a contributor

 

– Going to church means leaving your coffee cup/chewing gum/drink bottle/dinner rubbish lying around where we meet; leaving it for your brother or sister in Christ to put it in the bin for you 😉

– Being the church means treating our shared resources like they’re our shared resources.

 

– Going to church means chucking whatever loose change you happen to have on you at the time in the box

– Being the church means taking responsibility for your community financially.

 

– Going to church means wanting to shape the community to fit you (or find one that does)

– Being the church means having relationships/teaching/accountability/belonging shape you

 

– Going to church focuses on a certain repertoire of songs, style of sermon, feeling you get

– Being the church means coming to pour yourself out in worship, and be filled with joy

 

– Going to church is delegating your spiritual maturity & discipleship to an organisation

– Being the church is about each member individually pursuing Jesus

 

– Going to church is outsourcing your acts of righteousness/care of others to a pastor/mercy team/etc

– Being the church means actively taking care of others

 

– Going to church is ‘it’s about me’

– Being the church is ‘it’s about us in Him’

 

Being the church is about the people, not the steeple.

 

you might say this is all semantics, and does it really matter, we’re saying the same thing.

– No, I don’t think we are, and Yes, words are really important here… because when we say ‘i’m going to church’, or ‘I go to church’, we’re constantly reaffirming that the church is a building. It may feel cumbersome to say ‘I meet with the church’, or ‘I’m getting together with my church family’ or something like that, but it speaks belonging into the conversation! It shows what the church really is! It’s revolutionary!

 

 

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You NEED to be a part of the church to be a Christian:

  • How will you fulfil the law of Christ in Gal 6:2 without being a part of the body?
  • How will people know you belong to Jesus if you can’t love one another in the body? (John 13:34-35)
  • Individual, self-absorbed Christianity is directly contrary to the Bible’s command “not to give up meeting together” (Hebrews 10:25). In fact, considering all the “one another” language in Scripture (Galatians 5:13-26; Colossians 3:9-16; etc), it is impossible to live out the gospel without connection to a believing community. And noncommittal behavior usually masks the deeper sins of laziness or selfishness (Prov. 13:4; Gal. 5:13).
  • Hebrews 13:17: Obey 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. As we have already observed, the only group of leaders in Scripture who are responsible to “give an account” for leading God’s people are the pastors/elders/overseers in a local church. If you are not a local church member, how can you obey this command? What body of elders are you submitted to? As mentioned above, elders are not accountable for every person who darkens the door of the church, but only for those who have formally committed themselves to the church.
  • Matthew 18:17: If [the unrepentant person] refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. The last step in confronting an errant Christian’s sin is to “tell it to the church.” If you are not a member of a local church, how can you obey this command? What “church” would you involve in the process?
  • 1 Timothy 5:17-18: Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” God commands Christians to give generously so that “the elders who rule well” can be freed up to exercise their God-given calling. If you are not a member of a local church, how can you fulfill this command? What pastors and elders are you supporting with your financial giving?

 

 

That’s what the church is, what does the Church look like?

 

– Jesus gives a picture in Matt 9 – He was at Matthew’s house, and someone asked Him why He spent time with sinners… he replied “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

This is who we are… Faulty people who acknowledge we needed a Saviour; working together to build relationships, help those in need, and to glorify God by growing into the likeness of Christ and sharing His love with others.

 

– “I like Jesus, I just don’t like the Church” – Just shows that you think the church should be a place for the healthy… how can you love Jesus and not His Bride?

– also, “I’m not religious, I’m about relationship” – shows that you don’t know what true religion is

– and, “I just don’t think the church is important to be a Christian” – shows you don’t understand why Jesus is building His church, and that you ARE a member of His body, just a dismembered one.

 

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