Sermon preached on Sunday, February 9, 2014 at Garden Valley Chapel during our morning worship service based on Selected Scripture.
Anyone that knows me knows that I have profound love for the church – “the church of God” (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor 1:2).
I could never imagine divorcing myself from the church. I have come to love the church so, so much so that I cannot see my life outside the church.
This was not always the case. I use to have a disdain for the church because it only taught me the do’s and don’ts – when to stand up/to sit down, when to say something/not to say something, and when to ring a bell.
That was not the “church of God” because I knew not of the good news of salvation in Christ. It was when I first heard the Gospel of Christ that I truly responded in faith and my life has never been the same.
I then began a love affair with Christ and His bride – the church.
For it is in the church that I became a follower of Christ and was baptized. It was in the church that I was discipled/tutored to follow after Christ. It was in the church that the Lord called me to His service.
It is in the church where I have ministered these last 20 years of my life. First at Sunrise Baptist Church, then at Grace Baptist, then at Grace Community Church, then at New Hope and now at Garden Valley Chapel.
For some, they have only known one church I am most grateful to the Lord for His grace and faithfulness on their behalf. Though for most of us we have known more than one local church that we have called our home church.
Yet the beautiful truth is that we will all be gathered into one local assembly for all eternity and sing a “new song” (Ps 33:3) of redemption.
Don’t you look forward to singing with all the angels the great hymn of praise as stated in Rev 5:13 –
13 …“To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”
And so I love the church and am committed to her and I want to see the church be all that God wants her to be.
He does not want a bride that is soiled with sin, but is cleansed from sin. It is to this Bride that God will grant “the right to the tree of life” and enter His Holy City for all eternity (Rev 22:14).
Frankly, I do not understand the attitudes that have filled people’s hearts as it relates to the church.
“Can we have a shorter service today? Today is Superbowl Sunday and I have friends coming over.”
“I prefer going to the Friday night service because that leaves my Saturday and Sunday open.”
“I like watching my favorite preacher on TV because in that way I don’t have to leave the comfort of my own home.”
“I want to go to a larger church because then I won’t have people asking me about my personal life.”
It is inconceivable that people who call themselves lovers of Christ absolutely display a lack of love for His Church.
I remember going to Honduras and inspired by the absolute love that believers have for the church. They come every time its doors are open and will even come up with reasons to meet some more.
They greet each other with a “holy kiss” (Rom 16:16; 1 Thess 5:26) and their love for one another is alluring and serve as a witness for all to see.
*A healthy church is one marked by genuine, biblical love among the saints. A love deficiency weakens a church.
Now there was a time in the history of the church when salvation meant union with the visible gathered body of Christ.
The emphasis today is on a “personal relationship” with Christ that church does not matter anymore. “Church is secondary and I can live my Christian walk without ever stepping foot in a church.”
And so they are o.k. with church hopping because after all it is my “personal relationship” with Christ that matters – so the thinking goes.
Becoming involved in a local church is really at the bottom of their priority list. “The church may be gathering tonight but I do not have to be there…I saw them already this morning.”
In doing so people miss out on communion, on true and genuine fellowship, and even those special moments in the life of the church where baptism takes place – a picture of one’s union with Christ.
With regards to communion, we may fail at times, to emphasize the corporate cleansing that is needed as the body of Christ.
We may be guilty of individualizing our time in communion without realizing that it is about the corporate purity of the church as well and the union it has to Christ and to one another.
Sometimes there is a lack of unity in the church and yet people still partake of the Lord’s Table. They may have a beef with a brother, but it does not faze them one bit when they come before God’s Table where the Gospel, Christ’s sacrificial death is remembered and celebrated. And this grieves the Holy Spirit.
Yet what we ought to do is go to our brother, confess our sin, and then because of being purified by the blood of Christ, having received forgiveness from God and our brother/neighbor, join in song with the psalmist, “how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity” (Ps 133:1).
Another factor in the attitudes that have filled people’s hearts as it relates to the church is the increase of ministries outside the church.
Many of you may not realize this, but the pendulum of influence and power has shifted away from the church gone to para-church ministries.
They are the leaders who are redefining Christianity today. The church has stopped being the spokesman for Christ and it has been entrusted to these para-church ministries.
They now do the talking and the people do the listening.
No wonder people have a low commitment to the church, their attention is given to all the talk radios and all the mass mailing that highlights these “para-church” ministries. Send your donation here, or here, or here.
Now to be perfectly clear, there is nothing wrong with coming alongside the church to be of help to the church, but it is wrong to take over.
What is really sad is that these organizations have no accountability and are indifferent to the church.
For example there are organizations that endeavor to bring the gospel to youth, but they become so busy winning them to Christ that they forget all together about the importance of a love for the church.
Christ loves the church, why would you not introduce them to the church?
It is for this reason that I want to address the importance of having and developing a love and commitment for the church.
Can I be so bold so as to try to persuade you to a love and commitment for the church – more specifically for Garden Valley Chapel?
Having a love and commitment for the church requires that you consider the following:
(They give the biblical rationale why commitment to the local church is of elevated importance and the reason why being committed to a local church is a part of God’s will for your life.)
Consider the Biblical Pattern
Consider Genuine Fellowship
Consider Spiritual Authority
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