Tuesday, November 17, 2015

We Are the Body of Christ

Part 4 of We Are the Church

Text: Romans 12:3-8

You can listen to this sermon here.

"For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another" (Rom. 12:4-5). 

Church Is Not Optional

We’re sometimes guilty of downplaying our Christian duties. It’s sometimes said, “You don’t need to go to church to be a Christian.” It’s true that we aren’t saved by going to church, but there’s a clear statement in Scripture that says Christians must meet together: “not neglecting to meet together” (Heb. 10:25). So church isn’t optional.

Watching a church service on TV or the internet is not an acceptable substitute for being a part of a church. The Christian life is meant to be lived alongside other Christians.

Like Parts of a Body

The apostle Paul writes that the church is like a body, and the members of the church are like parts of a body. How are church members like parts of a body? 

1. As all the parts of a body are joined together to make one body, we all are joined together to make one church. 

Paul writes, “We, though many, are one body” (v. 5). We are joined together as one body because we are “in Christ” (v. 5). Faith in Christ unites us not only to Christ, but to one another. But when any group of people get together—even Christians—disagreements happen. We naturally have self-centered hearts. Paul writes, “I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (v. 3). It’s not all about “me.” The cure for self-centeredness is to remember the gospel—that God saves us by his grace through the death of Christ.

When Paul writes about the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11, he quotes Jesus saying, “This is my body” (1 Cor. 11:24). He then adds, “Anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Cor. 11:29). The “body” in v. 29 is often interpreted as the church (i.e., the body of Christ). When we partake of the Lord’s Supper we are to remember Christ’s death for us and we are also to remember that we are to act like Christ within the church (something the Corinthians weren’t doing).

When you start to look down on others, remember the gospel. When you become consumed with your own needs and problems, remember the gospel. When the concerns of others don’t matter to you, remember the gospel. When you are struggling to forgive, remember the gospel. When you start complaining about other people, remember the gospel.

2. As all the parts of a body have different abilities, we all have different spiritual gifts. 

Paul writes that we have “gifts that differ according to the grace given to us” (v. 6). A spiritual gift is a God-given ability to be used to help others. The apostle Peter writes, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another” (1 Peter 4:10). We must have the heart of a servant, not the heart of a consumer. We shouldn’t really use the term “church shopping.” Don’t ask, “What can I get?” Ask, “What can I give?”

Paul adds, “Let us use [our gifts]” (v. 6). Paul said to Timothy, “Do not neglect the gift you have” (1 Tim. 4:14; cf. 2 Tim. 1:6). You might say, “But I don’t know what my gift is!” Just do something. Eventually you’ll discover your gift(s).

3. As a body has one head, we all have one head: Christ. 

Many times there are power struggles within churches. This kind of behaviour is totally opposed to how we are to behave as Christians. The one who is our leader is Christ: “he is the head of the body, the church” (Col. 1:18). The church is Christ’s church. He’s the one in charge. We follow him. And how does he want us to interact with one another? With humility and love.

We're Better Together

We might sometimes think that we’d be happier if we were on our own and not part of a church. But how could we use our gifts if we were on our own? And how could we benefit from others using their gifts?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

We Are the Bride of Christ

Part 3 of We Are the Church

Text: Revelation 19:6-8

You can listen to this sermon here.

“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). 

The Big Day! 

We call a wedding day “the big day,” and Canadians spend a lot of money to celebrate the big day.

  • The average cost of a Canadian wedding (including the honeymoon) is $31,110. 
  • The average cost of a bridal gown is $1,716. 
  • The average cost of being a bridesmaid is $1,695. 
  • A destination wedding costs guests $1,500…and that doesn’t include the gift. 
  • The average cost of a wedding gift is $109; however, if the couple is close family, the price almost doubles to $200. [1]

There’s a wedding day coming for the church: “The marriage of the Lamb has come” (Rev. 19:7). The “Lamb” is Christ, and “his Bride” is the church. Why is the church called the bride of Christ?

Here Comes the Bride

Sometimes a metaphor can be taken too far. The church is not like a bride in every way. We are called the bride of Christ for two reasons.

1. The church is loved by Christ. 

Christ is “the Lamb who was slain” (Rev. 5:12). When a man loves a woman, he is willing to make sacrifices for her (e.g., time, comfort). The sacrifice that Christ made for the church was his life. The apostle Paul writes, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25; cf. 5:2). There is no word that adequately describes the degree to which Christ loves his bride.

2. The church is to bring joy to Christ. 

The church is to be like a beautiful bride. One of the greatest joys in a man’s life is seeing his beautiful bride on their wedding day. Revelation 19:8 says, “It was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure.” The fine line is interpreted for us: “the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” Paul states that Christ died for the church so “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:26-27). [2] The beauty of the church is her righteousness and holiness.

Is Your Life Bringing Joy to Christ?

Paul writes to the church in Corinth, “I feel a divine jealousy for you, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:2-3). We desire to have “a sincere and pure devotion to Christ,” but we are often more devoted to other people or things. Thankfully, Christ doesn’t abandon us. He will keep his marriage covenant. But how can we be unfaithful to the one who died for us?

Is your life bringing joy to Christ?

[1] http://www.slice.ca/weddings/photos/canadian-wedding-facts/#!aaf4a67218ebe47626fbc7eb67064a67
[2] There is probably a link between Ephesians 5:27-27 and Ezekiel 16:1-14.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

We Are the Temple of the Holy Spirit

Part 2 of We Are the Church

Text: 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

You can listen to this sermon here.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple (1 Cor. 3:16-17).

God Is With Us 

First Corinthians was a letter written by the apostle Paul to a church located in the city of Corinth. Paul tells these believers, “You are God’s temple” (1 Cor. 3:16). In the original Greek, “you” is plural. Paul is saying that the church is “God’s temple.”

Why is the church called a temple? Before the tabernacle (the predecessor of the temple) was built, God said, “Let [the Israelites] make me a sanctuary [i.e., the Most Holy Place], that I may dwell in their midst” (Exod. 25:8). Why was the tabernacle built? It was built so that God could “dwell in [the Israelites’] midst.” In 2 Corinthians 6:16, Paul writes, “We are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’”

God dwells in the midst of the church.

Paul writes, “God’s Spirit dwells in you” (1 Cor. 3:16). The church “is [God’s] temple; his Spirit dwells in the church, in each local church.”

Never Alone 

Have you ever walked alone in a forest at night? Everything is scarier when you’re alone in the dark. But as a church and as individual Christians, we are never alone. God is with us. Many times in the Bible God gives the promise of his presence to people who are afraid: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10).

God’s presence gives us courage in the face of danger. 

Paul says that there are people in this world (sometimes even in the church!) who want to destroy us (“If anyone destroys God’s temple,” v. 17). How will God deal with a person who destroys a church? “God will destroy [i.e., eternally condemn] him” (v. 17).

The Walk of Faith

There’s coming a day when God’s people will be with God forever in heaven and there will be no reason to ever be afraid: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Rev. 21:3). The heavenly city will not have a temple “for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb” (Rev. 21:22). Until then, we—the church—are God’s temple. God is with us. We can’t see him, but he dwells in our midst.

At our church youth group, we had a challenge called “The Walk of Fear.” It was scary because they had to do the walk alone in the dark, not knowing what would happen. We are not to do the walk of fear; we are to do the walk of faith. In every situation, God is with us to give us the courage and strength to face any danger.