May 1, 2022
MARK 5: THE SPIRIT UNITED CHURCH
This morning we continue our sermon series on the 8 Marks of the Church. So far we have looked at the Spirit-filled Church, the Son-confessing Church, the Scripture-keeping Church and the Sacrament Observing Church. Each week we have been focusing on a myth about the church which is perpetuated by the world wanting to twist what the church is, what it has to say and what its purpose is. And by Satan who wants to weaken the church and make it ineffective. We need to be aware of these myths and be united together with the Holy Spirit to continually strengthen the church.
Each week we have talked about an urban legend which are misguided, dangerous or both and the same goes for the myths about the church. Who remembers throwing rice at a newly married couple? You may remember then that the practice was stopped because birds would eat the rice left on the ground and sometime later the rice would expand and the birds would explode. How many people believe that rice is dangerous for birds? How many people believe rice is not dangerous for birds? For some reason, people just can’t get enough of urban legends about food causing living creatures to explode. For years, couples planning their wedding have been warned about not throwing rice at the ceremony because birds will be tempted to eat it, causing them to blow up. Now that can’t actually happen. Rice, whether it’s cooked or uncooked, poses no threat to birds. But Connecticut state legislator Mae Schmidle tried to introduce a bill in 1985 that would ban rice-throwing. She called the bill “An Act Prohibiting the Use of Uncooked Rice at Nuptial Affairs” and insisted birds can’t digest uncooked rice. Schmidle said ministers had told her they found dead birds after weddings, victimized by innocent rice celebrations. This myth was repeated in Ann Landers’ advice column. In 2002, a project conducted by a biology professor at the University of Kentucky tested this theory and found that while rice expands in size by 33 percent when soaked, birdseed expands by 40 percent. Since your bird feeder isn’t surrounded by detonated birds, rice is probably fine. The professor even fed rice to birds and noted no adverse effects.
Today’s mark of the church is the Spirit United Church and the myth is “you can be united by any vision in your church and be a healthy church.” This myth can be dangerous because it can cause professing children of God to be united around a vision for the family of God that is not in line with God’s vision, and it can lead the family of God into a lesser vision than He has for them as their good Father. Also, the vision for the church is made effective by the Holy Spirit and if Satan can get the church to believe that any man-made vision will do then the Holy Spirit is taken out of the equation making the church even weaker and less effective. We know this is a myth because Jesus said a clear mark of a healthy church would be a church filled with people who are united together by the Holy Spirit around the mission that God has given.
Before we study this 5th Mark of the Church, let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we come humbly before you asking to fill us with your Holy Spirit, uniting us together as your church. Unite us to be your witnesses in the world as we pursue, grow and multiply disciples. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Each week we have been looking at the different marks of the church and studying the scriptures about what Jesus taught, the Early Church taught and what the Apostles taught about each one. Let’s first look at what Jesus taught about the Spirit United Church in Acts 1:6-8. This is what God’s Word says, “Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
It is interesting that the disciples thought they knew what their mission was going to be. Like most of the Jewish people, the disciples still believed that the Messiah would usher in the Kingdom of God and that it would be realized by Israel conquering its enemies and being restored to the national prominence it felt was due them by being God’s chosen people. The disciples were probably thinking of the positions of authority that Jesus would give each one in that kingdom. Notice that Jesus doesn’t answer their question but tells his disciples (and I am paraphrasing), “It’s none of your business.” “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” The Greek word for “time” is chronos and the word for “dates” or some versions say “seasons” is kairos. Chronos denotes a duration of time. Kairos is event-oriented time. Chronos marks quanity and kairos marks quality. Jesus wants them to understand that the purposes of God for the world is none of their concern. All time is under God’s authority and his timing is always perfect. Ogilvie says what he senses Jesus saying to the disciples and to us is that the power of the Holy Spirit will be entrusted to people who can accept God’s authority over time.
Jesus then tells his disciples two things. One, they would receive power but not the political power they were thinking of. It would be the same supernatural power that Jesus exhibited while he was on the earth and it would be given to them for a very special purpose. This was the far greater power of the Holy Spirit and it would unite them as they fulfilled that purpose. Zechariah 4:6b says, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Just as Jesus had been anointed by the Holy Spirit at his baptism his disciples would be similarly anointed to be his witnesses in the world. These ordinary men would do extraordinary things and even greater things than Jesus did while he was on the earth. The Holy Spirit would make their preaching effective, people would be converted and the Kingdom of God would grow exponentially. Wiersbe states, “The ministry of the Holy Spirit is not a luxury it is an absolute necessity.” We can’t fulfill the mission God has given us without the Holy Spirit.
Second, he tells them that they would be his witnesses. What were they going to be witnesses of? They were going to be witnesses to what they saw and heard while with Jesus. They were to be witnesses to who he was and what he came to earth to do. They were to be witnesses to the good news that Jesus Christ came to save the world from their sins. The Greek word for witness is “martus” which means to avow what one has seen, heard or knows. Our word, martyr, comes from the same root, denoting someone who bears testimony for another person, or some cause, with his death. The disciples were going to witness to what they saw and heard from Jesus and they would bear that testimony to the world even if it meant their death. And we know that all of the disciples except for John died a martyr’s death. Lastly, God’s mission for the disciples was going to be organized and global. They would be his “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
What does this passage mean for us? One, we will be effective witnesses if we witness to our personal experience with Jesus. We can only witness about what Jesus has done for us and our own personal salvation. Two, this witness is a witness of deeds more than words. There was a story in Barclay’s commentary about David Livingstone who was a missionary and explorer in Central Africa. Journalist/explorer H.M. Stanley, who was famous for his search of David Livingstone, said, “If I had been with him any longer I would have been compelled to be a Christian and he never spoke to me about it at all.” The sheer weight of the witness of David Livingstone’s life was irresistible. Could that be said of you or of me? Third, to be a witness means to be loyal no matter the cost even if it means our death. For us it probably means being willing to die to ourselves and give up control of our agenda and our purposes for our lives. But we must be willing to die for the faith if it comes to that.
Four, who are we to be witnesses to and where are we to be witnesses at? Who has the Lord put on your heart to share his good news with and introduce to him? Who in your life may miss out on the abundant life they can have on this earth and the eternal life they can have in heaven if you are silent? We need to be on the lookout for those who need to hear the good news of Jesus. If we have eyes to see and ears to hear God will show us who we need to be witnesses to. We are to be witnesses where God has placed us, starting at where we live, work, play and learn. Our mission to pursue, grow and multiply disciples starts with the most intimate relationships where people really know us and can observe our life and witness. But it also means our nation and the world. We are called to be his witnesses and it is important that we are conduits or channels of Holy Spirit power not reservoirs or holding tanks.
Next, let’s look at what the Early Church taught about the Spirit United Church found in Acts 4:32-35. This is what God’s Word says, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”
In this passage we see both the supernatural and the practical implications of being a Spirit United Church. Imagine this scene: The church was born of people from all walks of life, who were from different countries and spoke different languages. The only way that the early church could function with the kind of unity that was of one heart and one mind was because of the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the only one who could bind the hearts and minds of those new Christians together. There is no way this can be done through human effort. When our hearts and minds are truly transformed by Jesus Christ then the Holy Spirit can make us one unified to fulfill the Great Commission to pursue, grow and multiply disciples. I find it telling that right before our passage we see that the apostles and all the believers were praying and then we are told they were of one heart and mind. If we are truly praying for each other and each other’s needs, disunity can never find a foothold in the church.
This unity of heart and mind was because of the common bond found in Christ. They had been shown grace and mercy by Jesus as he died on the cross for their sins and rose again. They had also been and would continue to be persecuted for their faith in Jesus. Through their struggles in the faith they came to truly know and understand each other’s hearts, minds, goals, desires and personal struggles. The Holy Spirit worked in the lives of these people who were so different from each other and removed all selfishness and self-centeredness from their hearts so they would be unhindered to do the work that they were called to do.
The practical implications of the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit was a generosity which flowed out of a love for one another. They realized that their possessions were not their own but were God’s to be used any way he saw fit. They were stewards not owners of what God had given them. They sold their possessions so the community could help anyone who was in need and scripture says there were no needy people among them. Barclay says we can note two things in this passage. “One, they had an intense sense of responsibility for each other. It seemed unthinkable to them that anyone could have too much and someone else could have too little. Two, this awoke in them a real desire to share all they had and it was utterly spontaneous.”
The Early Church was united, unselfish and unafraid. Their prayer in verse 24 was answered as they were given power to testify to the resurrection of their Lord and Savior. They knew their identity and exactly what God expected from them. As believers draw closer to God and to each other and are of one heart and mind through the Holy Spirit they became a powerful force proclaiming the good news of Jesus with boldness. God’s people allowed God’s Spirit to make them one in heart and mind. There was an unlimited commitment to Christ and to each other and it was expressed by unrestrained loyalty to one another.
How can we tell if Idaville Church is filled with the Spirit and is of one heart and one mind? First, we will truly want to know and care about what is happening in each other’s lives. We will want to know and care about each other’s burdens, struggles and needs. We will pray for each other and we will know when and how to help in a specific or tangible way. Like the early church who valued each other more than they valued possessions, we will truly value one another above the things of the world. We will see the Holy Spirit work in us to remove selfishness and self-centeredness from our hearts. Second, we will be unified by the Holy Spirit to accomplish our God-given mission to pursue, grow and multiply disciples. This happens when we boldly proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ where we live, work, play and learn. If we are a Spirit United church, the Holy Spirit will be at work daily in our lives. We will see the evidence of that as we are filled with the Spirit, as we confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior, as we keep and obey God’s Word and as we observe the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion.
Next, let’s look at what the Apostles taught about the Spirit United Church in Ephesians 4:4-6. This is what God’s Word says, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Paul spends the first three chapters of Ephesians laying the doctrinal foundation of Christianity. Then in chapter 4 he begins discussing spiritual unity. He did it this way because our unity must be built on the solid foundation of God, the Father, Jesus, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Our unity must be built on the truths of God’s Word first and then it grows when we love one another and work together to live out the Great Commission.
Paul relates seven basic spiritual realities that unite all true Christians. First, there is one body. We are many parts, in many places, speaking different languages and having different cultures but we are one body. We see this in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. Christ is the head and the church is the body. There must be unity for the work of the church to be accomplished and this unity is founded on a common love for Jesus and for each other. Second, there is one Spirit. The Greek word, “pneuma” means spirit and breath. Just like a human body is dead without breath, the church would be dead without the Holy Spirit. Third, there is one hope. We are all called to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to a lost world. We all have the same goal which is a world redeemed in Christ and this is accomplished as we pursue, grow and multiply disciples. Four, there is one Lord. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except through Him. Christ died and rose again for the entire world and for the church and he is the only one we should be worshiping and obeying. The Greek word for “Lord” is “kurios” which means “master” and was the title of the Roman Emperor. Paul is saying that Christians are united together because they are Jesus’ possession and are in the service of one master and king.
Next, there is one faith. Romans 10:9 says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that Jesus raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Our faith is in Jesus Christ alone and no one or anything else. This confession identifies and unifies the church. Next, there is one baptism. In the early church baptism was a public confession of faith. Membership in the church comes through baptism and identifies a person as belonging to Christ. Baptism is the unifying mark of all believers. Lastly, there is one God and he is our Father. As Christians we are all God’s children in the same family, worshiping, loving and serving the same Father, and because of this we should be able to walk together in unity. Paul ends with three statements about God. God is over all meaning that he is in control of all things. God is through all meaning he created the world and is still actively and powerfully working in the world and in us guiding, directing, sustaining, upholding and loving. And God is in all which talks about the presence of God being in his children. It means we live in a God created, controlled, sustained and filled world.
So, we not only see this mark proclaimed to us through teaching, but through the picture or the metaphor of the Household of God in Ephesians 2:19-22. This is what God’s Word says, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
Paul gives us a picture of a building made with stones. This building is made of people who used to be strangers and foreigners but now are citizens and members of God’s household. The foundation of this building is the apostles and prophets and the chief cornerstone is none other than Jesus Christ, himself. The key of course to this building is Jesus Christ because he is the one who gives life and through his Spirit comes unity in the household of God. All the pieces of this building join together and rise to become a holy temple in the Lord. This living temple is holy, set apart for God and made to glorify the Lord. In this temple God is worshiped and receives glory, honor, and praise. Christ dwells in the hearts of his people and the heart is the basic worship place in God’s kingdom on earth. This is important because if you are just coming to this building on a Sunday morning and going through the motions and not worshiping God in your heart, your worship will be weak and meaningless. Barclay says, “The church will only realize her unity when she realizes that she exists to give a home and a dwelling place where the Spirit of Christ can dwell and where all people who love Christ can meet in that Spirit.”
This leads us to the question: How will we know if this mark of The Church marks Idaville Church? First, our church will feel like a loving family. The household of God, with God as Father is a place where loving one another is a dominant feature. Next, our church will look like a good marriage. Ephesians 5:31-32 talks about two becoming one and that is what the church and Christ should be, united as one. Next, our church will feel like a healthy body. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 talks about being one body with many parts unified by one Spirit. There is unity and diversity in the Body of Christ. Next, our church will look like a united nation. 1 Peter 2:9 talks about us being a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and God’s special possession. We are called by God and set apart to do his will in the world. Lastly, our church will have theological, philosophical, relational & missional unity. We will be unified together in every way.
Our desire as a body of believers is to have a church filled with people who are united together by the Holy Spirit around the mission that God has given the church in the world. Looking back at the survey questions pertaining to this mark all five questions were in the most difficult for us. The second most difficult of all the questions for us as a church was the people in our church know their specific role in helping to accomplish the mission and vision of our church and desire to do so. The third most difficult question was whether the people in our church know the mission and vision of our church and are fully supportive of it. The seventh most difficult question was whether the people in our church know the core values of our church and consistently live out those values with each other and those outside our church. The ninth most difficult question was it is clear that our church is united by the Spirit of God and not just good ideas. And lastly, the seventeenth most difficult question for us as a church was the leaders of our church are clearly united by the Spirit as they lead our church.
So let me start with knowing the mission and vision of Idaville Church. Our mission to pursue, grow and multiply disciples is in many different places to remind us of it. It is on the banners up here. It is on the front of your bulletin and on page 3 of the 2022 Yearbook among other places. The vision “We are preparing for company” is new for 2022 and came out of the Board’s Dream Retreat. You can find it on the top of the front page of the bulletin and also on page 3 of the Yearbook. Our Core Values are also new this year and came out of the Board’s Dream Retreat. You can find them on the front of your bulletin. We will brainstorm other places in the church building to put them so we can all be reminded of them.
How can we live these core values out with each other and those outside the church? I would suggest we could all pick one or two and be intentional about living them out in our daily lives. One that I would suggest is number 2: We are a family that is loving, caring and welcoming. This will go a long way in living out our 2022 theme of “Love One Another.” It would also fulfill our vision of “we are preparing for company” and being ready when company shows up to Idaville Church. Another one would be number 4: We are a church that reaches out, spreading God’s Word, God’s glory and God’s promises to those who do not know them. We can live this out with those who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. That brings us to our first next step on the back of your communication card: Pick one or two of our Core Values and live them out in our church and outside of our church.
Next, knowing our specific role in helping to accomplish the mission and vision of our church and desire to do so. First, I hope we all have a desire to live out God’s mission for the church to pursue, grow and multiply disciples. The vision “we are preparing for company” is the way we want to act as a body of believers in order to accomplish the mission. Our themes of Unity, Holiness, and Love One Another, are ways we can live out that vision. If we are unified, pursuing holiness and loving one another we will be prepared for company and will be better equipped to accomplish the mission. The best way that we can know our specific roles is by taking the Spiritual Gifts Survey and then serving in the ways God has gifted you. Again, one of our goals this year is a 20% increase in volunteers on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening but it can also include serving at other times and events outside those days. That brings us to the second next step which is to Take the Spiritual Gift Survey if I haven’t already done so in the past quarter. You can see me to get your survey. If you took your survey home to complete, please bring them back when you are finished filling them out so I can record your results. I will then give them back to you to keep.
The last two questions talked about it being clear that our church is united by the Spirit and that the leaders of our church are clearly united by the Spirit as they lead our church. This is something we all need to evaluate for ourselves by searching our hearts to see if we are Spirit United people. As we become more and more a Spirit United people we will then become a Spirit United Church that is united together by the Holy Spirit around the mission that God has given the church. That is what I want for myself and for Idaville Church and I hope you do too. That brings us to the last next step this morning to Search my heart to see if I am united with the Spirit of God around God’s mission for the Church.
As Gene and Roxey come to lead us in a final song, let’s pray: Heavenly Father, as we leave your house to go out into the world, help us to be more loving and united together as one, as we are to be united with you. Help us to be a healthy body unified by your Spirit and help us to be a united nation, holy and set apart to do your will in the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
I AM A CHURCH MEMBER
Modeling Church Members
Show video interview of Candace Cameron Bure concerning a small section in her book, Balancing It All, about submission to her husband. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyoeCnbe_TA]
Our situation is the same
Judy and I are communicating all the time about finances, the boys, other major and minor decisions that need to be made
When the final decision needs to be made about a major purchase or life change, then Judy looks to me to make that decision as the leader of the household
Fortunately I’m not making that decision in a vacuum – I know her thoughts and feelings about it
When I accepted the State Director position with Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) in Ohio, Judy and I prayed about it together and talked through what that would look like – but when the decision had to be made, Judy accepted God’s leading in my life
When we moved to Missouri to work at the headquarters of CEF and then when we moved to California to work with Every Generation Ministries (EGM), Judy and I prayed together about these two significant moves, and again she rested in God’s leading in my life
When Idaville Church (IUB) called us to serve here, Judy and I prayed together and discussed the logistics of the move and God’s leading and we trusted in God’s leading for my life
God has blessed our family through this model
There is one scripture that most men know by heart whether they are Christians or not
It’s Ephesians 5:22a, Wives, submit to your husbands . . .”
With men who are not Christians they use this as God’s law for their wives to be submissive to them no matter what
They become dictators and the wife has no say whatsoever
In some Christian homes, this passage of scripture has been misinterpreted and only certain parts of it are quoted in order to accomplish the same thing – for women to be obedient to their husband’s every wish and command
This is not done out of love
The rest of Ephesians 5:22 says, as to the Lord
The Lord is talking to women through Paul
Ephesians 5:25 then addresses husbands, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . .
If both the husband and wife are acting as Jesus Christ did, then love will rule the day
The wife will willing submit to her husband, because she knows that he loves her like Christ loved the church
The husband will love his wife, because he feels respected by his wife as she submits to him
It’s a mutual give and take
Embracing the cultural norms theologically
In the passage of scripture we’re going to look at today Paul does not reject the cultural norms of the 1st Century, but rather teaches a Christ-like perspective for household codes
It’s amazing how he is able to accomplish this
It only comes from the Holy Spirit of God and a desire to love and serve Jesus Christ and learn from His modeling
Paul is going to be talking about household codes for husbands and wives
He will be encouraging husbands to think differently about their role as the head and leader of the family, now that they are followers of Jesus Christ
He is encouraging them to model something different than the Greco-Roman world, considered the norm
As church members, you and I have a responsibility to model and lead our families to be healthy church members
We’ll see that whether your whole family are believers and attend church, or you’re the only one who is a believer and attends church, you have a responsibility before God
If you’re single, you also have a responsibility before God
Paul is using the analogy of marriage to communicate about the church
BIG IDEA – Leave a legacy of love for the church.
GOD (Ephesians 5:22-6:4)
Background – wives
Wives and women in general were not highly regarded in the Greco-Roman world
They could not testify in a court of law
They were minimally educated
They could not adopt children or make a contract
They could not own property or inherit anything
They were expected to adopt the religion of their husband when they got married
They were under the authority of their father, husband, or another male relative’s authority all their lives
Wives and women today
We’re not too far off from this in our culture today
There are still “glass ceilings” for women
There is still unequal pay
Wives are being abused (physically, emotionally, mentally, and verbally)
Women are being raped and sold into sexual slavery all over the world
Did you realize that one of the largest sex rings involving young girls and women, from the US and other countries, is centered around the venue where the Super Bowl is played
Men who exploit girls and women will be filtering them into the Minneapolis area as the Big Game gets close
Paul speaks into a culture that is dealing with these issues in the family and he shares with them the Christ-like way of love – unconditional/sacrificial love – the most excellent way (1 Cor. 13:1)
Ephesians 5:21, Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Husband and wives (vv. 22-33)
Paul teaches two principles here
Connection with Christ
Submission of wives (vv. 22-24)
Paul addresses the cultural norm – wives submit to your husbands
This was the normal Greco-Roman expectation
Unfortunately it could mean, with or without love
The wife could submit out of obligation
He takes it a step further and teaches them to do it in a Christ-like way – as to the Lord
“W. O. Carver has observed that subjection is to be ‘voluntary, personal, and having full ethical value for the one who subjects himself/herself and for others whom he/she serves in spiritual surrender.’” [Beacon Bible Commentary, 239]
As a submissive wife, you should be doing it out of your love for Jesus Christ and not out of obligation to your husband
From creation on down God instituted the role of “head of the household” to the husband and father
As husbands you have to take this role seriously, just as Jesus takes His role, as head of the church, seriously
The church is Christ’s body and He takes care of it
Paul states that Christ is the Savior of His body, the church
Christ has such an incredible love for the church and for human beings in general that He willingly came from heaven to earth to die on a cross to bring salvation to those who are imprisoned by sin
Romans 5:8, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
He sacrificed His rights and privileges in order to provide protection for you from the penalty of sin
Through the Holy Spirit of God living in you, you have the power to defeat sin in your life
You and I should follow Christ’s example of submitting His will to the Father
When you submit to God, you become more willing to obey His command to submit to others, to subordinate your rights to theirs
As church members, you and I are the bride of Christ and we need to submit to His headship
Husband is not a savior
It’s easy to see that the husband doesn’t have any redemptive ability to save his wife from the penalty of sin
You can be your wife’s protector and provider just like Christ
Christ protected you and me from the penalty of sin
He provided a way for you and me to be saved
Guys you know the quickest way to your wife’s heart is to do something selfless without being asked
It’s talking about a man here, “Any sacrifice and self-giving that create a sense of well-being and security will normally evoke free and loving submission from his wife.” [BBC, 240]
“Paul redefines being head as having responsibility to love, to give oneself, and to nurture. A priority is placed on the husband, but, contrary to ancient society, it is for the benefit of the wife.” [Snodgrass, 295]
Church submits to Christ
As church members, you should be giving first place to your devotion and service to Christ
You and I should be serving each other and Christ out of love and not obligation, just as a wife should submit to her husband out of love for Christ and not obligation or pressure
Perhaps you’re serving here at IUB out of obligation or pressure and not love – perhaps you’re not serving at all
It’s important for that attitude to change
Perhaps what needs to change is your understanding and perspective of who the head of the church is
It’s not the pastor, it’s not the board members, or the commission chair people – it’s Jesus Christ
God has appointed those individuals to positions of leadership and He speaks to and through them
They are there to help the church find the purposes of Christ [Snodgrass, 317]
The reason you may be struggling today is that you aren’t submitting to Christ’s headship as you should
If you’re not a follower of Jesus Christ, you haven’t submitted to His headship in your life at all
You serve at the church because you think it’s the right thing to do, but it’s not out of love for Jesus Christ
You’re hopeful that your service will counter balance all the bad you’re doing
This is a works mentality and it doesn’t result in entrance into heaven
You have to submit to Christ’s headship in your life – repent of your sins and turn to Him
Ephesians 2:8-9, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.
My Next Step Today Is To: Stop trying to work my way to heaven and accept God’s gracious gift of salvation through believing in Jesus Christ by faith.
Perhaps you’re not submitting to Christ’s headship in this church through His chosen leaders
We’ve been learning about this through the book I Am A Church Member
Perhaps you’ve fallen prey to the misconception that the church is here to serve you and to meet all of your preferences
When that doesn’t happen you’ve given in to the temptation of gossiping and speaking negatively about those in the church who believe differently than you
You’ve stopped praying for the leadership of the church and for those who believe differently
You’ve stopped serving at the church, because you don’t like the direction the church is going
Maybe you’ve even stopped giving
This is not modeling for your family how to be a healthy church member
It doesn’t show a submission to the headship of Christ
“A greater sense that Christ leads the church, joined with mutual submission in finding his purposes, will move the church past many of its current problems.” [Snodgrass, 317]
My Next Step Today Is To: Confess to God that I’ve been fighting against His will for IUB and have not been submitting to the headship of Christ.
Lord willing, on February 4, 2018, you will be receiving a comprehensive document concerning the G.R.O.W. capital campaign that will outline the vision God has given the leadership of the church to expand
Each Sunday in February, you will hear a short devotional from different leaders concerning growth and faith
We’ll have our regular quarterly Mission Possible Meeting on March 4, 2018 where we will field your questions
Then on March 25, 2018 we will have a special Commitment Sunday where you will be able to make a faith promise commitment to the G.R.O.W. campaign
God is asking us, as a congregation, to take another step of faith – will we follow?
Love of husbands (vv. 25-33)
Paul is talking about an unconditional love, a sacrificial love
This was definitely antithetical to the cultural norm of the day
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband (Eph. 5:33)
This is the principle of mutual submission that Paul is trying to communicate to the Ephesian believers
“Rather than being guided by self-interests, the husband is asked to place the well-being of his wife first and to give himself to caring for her.” [Snodgrass, 296]
He does this because of his connection to Christ – it’s transformed him into who God desires him to be as a husband to his wife
Christ has an unconditional love for the church
Christ sacrificed Himself for the church so she would be holy and blameless
Follow Christ’s example of unconditional love
Be willing to sacrifice for your wife
Paul says he is talking about Christ and the church
Church member’s responsibilities
Love the church unconditionally
Be willing to sacrifice for the church
Take care of the church like you would your own body – feed it and care for it out of love for Christ, the Head
Leave a legacy of love for the church
We do that by praying together for the church
By worshiping together in the church
By serving together in the church
Asking Christ to help us fall deeper in love with the church
All believers and attend church
If your whole family are believers and attend church, you still have a responsibility to lead and model love for the church
This is done by having your family pray together for the church as a whole and the leadership of the church
Last week we looked at areas where you can pray for the pastor, board members, commission chair people, and teachers
Spiritual protection; Protection from moral failure
Preaching/teaching the Word; Their families
Encouragement; Physical strength; Courage
What you model for your spouse and children is what they will do
If you are enthusiastic and find joy in serving the church, that’s what your spouse and children will do
If you’re apathetic and angry about church, then your spouse and children will be too
Fall deeply in love with the bride of Christ
This means to love the church and its members no matter what
You are going to encounter disagreeable people – no one is perfect
So, you’re not always going to agree, but you must always love
Only believer and attend church
If you are the only believer in your immediate family, you still have a responsibility to model love for the church
You are a testimony of Christ to the unbelieving spouse and any children in the family
1 Corinthians 7:14a, For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband.
God has given you an incredible mission field – your family
You’re love for the church is being watched by your spouse and children
How you pray for the church and its leaders will be how they pray for the church
How you love the church will be how they love the church
How often you attend church and how you worship at church will be how often they attend church and how they worship at church
Perhaps you’re here today and you’re single
You have the responsibility to model prayer, worship, and love for the church with your extended family, friends and neighbors
They are watching how you pray for the church and its leaders
They are watching how often you attend church
They are watching how you worship at church
They are watching how you love church and the people of the church
When we model love for the church and the people of the church then the community around us will notice that
It can be the catalyst that changes their mind about church
We’ve all heard individuals say that they will never set foot in a church again, because of things they’ve seen and heard coming out of the church
They’ve seen and heard hatred coming out of the church
They’ve heard gossip from those within the church about other church members
They’ve experienced disunity and criticism coming out of the church
It’s no wonder they don’t want to be a part of the church, especially when they experience that at work or in their home
We have to model something different
We have to model Christ to the world!
Leave a legacy of love for the church
What kind of legacy do you want to leave?
“His name was Bob.
He died a few years ago, but, if he influenced just a few people like he influenced me, this relatively unknown and quiet man changed the world.
Bob always seemed to be at the church. I understand that some people show up at church every time the doors are open out of guilt or legalistic obligation. Not Bob. He was always joyous, always serving, always kind. You could just tell he loved serving the church.
The same could be said about Bob’s wife and two sons. They too seemed to love the church and to find joy in serving. The whole family was, well, different. But different in a good kind of way, if you know what I mean.
I was a young businessman in my early twenties. I had been married for three years and had just become a dad. Fatherhood hit me like a ton of bricks. I wanted to be a good husband and a good dad. And that meant getting involved at church. Really involved.
I didn’t know it at the time, but Bob was watching me. He was concerned for me. He loved my youthful enthusiasm, but he knew what was coming. The more I got involved, the more I would see the imperfections of the church, the pastor, the staff, and other church members. Bob had seen the pattern repeatedly. Get excited about church. Get more involved. Discover the imperfections of the church. Get discouraged about the church. Leave the church.
Bob took me under his wing. When I would begin to get angry, frustrated, or discouraged about something at the church, he would talk to me. He would explain that no church is perfect. No pastor is perfect. No church member is perfect. And he would gently remind me that I was not close to perfect either.
He told me that we were to find joy in serving the church and those in the church. We were not a part of the church to see what we could get out of it. We were part of the church to serve and care for others. Our perspective should always be on giving, not receiving. And if someone did something that disappointed or frustrated us, that was God’s way of telling us to pray for that person.
Bob told me that we could never have the perfection of Christ but that we could strive to be more like Him. He reminded me that Christ died on the cross for people who rebelled against Him. We should be able, therefore, to love the seemingly unlovable at our church.
Through Bob’s patient biblical teaching, I learned to love the local church. I learned to love the people despite their imperfections. Bob would teach me to look at the ‘log’ in my eye (my own imperfections) before I judged the ‘speck’ in other’s eyes (Matt. 7:3-5).
I wish my own parents had taught me how to love the local church. But Bob was a good spiritual father to me.
By the way, Bob’s two sons are grown men now. And it’s no surprise. They are serving and loving their local churches just like their dad.
After all, he taught them well.”
[Thom Rainer, I Am A Church Member, 55-57]
The Fifth Pledge
I will lead my family to be good members of this church as well. We will pray together for our church. We will worship together in our church. We will serve together in our church. And we will ask Christ to help us fall deeper in love with this church because He gave His life for her.