John Carter – March 10, 2013 – Topical
The Christian Church and Youthful Ideals – An Introduction to
the Church and a cHurch Plant
16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
This passage is our launching ground as we look into the purpose of the catholic (universal) Church. Our goal will be to sample the glories of the Church rather than dig deep into every room of this building. Just like at the ice cream store we only get a scoop or two of the whole bucket of ice cream. And often this leaves us wanting more! In a similar manner we only will taste of the Church and the many riches she has to offer. However, since we will only get a scoop or two it will be enough to give us a sample, but it will still leave us wanting more.
Most believers understand that the universal Church is made up of local churches. And those local churches are believers gathering together under the banner of Christ and with a bond of unity. American thinking and our English language betrays this reality. In English we asking, ”what church do you go to?” But that would be like asking, “what family do you go to?” It is an error to believe that the universal Church and especially the local cHurch is a building. The Church is not and never was a building. It is not inconsistent to use building language in association with the Church, but it misses the point if we begin to speak of a physical building as if it truly were a cHurch. The Church is the Bride of Christ, a body of believers who confess Jesus Christ as Lord.
In the Beginning Christ laid the foundation for a pure catholic (universal) Church. Ever since then man has been trying to keep a pure Church. Although on this side of Christ’s return we will never see a pure Church we should not stop from striving for that end.
In striving towards that end of pure Church requires that we look at the purpose of the Church, the theology of the Church, the liturgy of the Church, the daily life of the Church. The long-term ideal of this group is the realization of another local cHurch. But that goal must be in unity with what the Church is supposed to be and do.
First and foremost The Church is to make disciples not converts. Becoming a convert is like pinning a house you like on Pinterest. Becoming a disciple is going out and buying that house. Anyone can like a house and the many different reason to like a house. But to buy that house is to commit yourself to that house. Both the privileges and the responsibilities.
Making converts is easy. Being a convert is easier. But only being a convert is a road that will lead to destruction. Being a disciple is hard. Making disciples is harder. This is why going and making disciples is best done in the context of a local cHurch.
16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19 Go therefore andmake disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Through very last words of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Jesus the Church is given 3 commands to follow while going. (1) Make disciples of all nations, (2) Baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and (3) teach (the disciples) the commands of Christ. This is the purpose of the catholic Church and the local cHurch. Christian, you are to form your life around this command. Unbeliever, it is my intention that you understand the commands of Christ that are mentioned here in this passage.
The purpose of the Church is “to Glorify God and to make disciples who teach the gospel and live in response to the gospel.”
But why should the Church make Disciples. What is the goal? The Church is to make disciples but for the Glory of God. Many cHurches around the world would respond in a positive manner to this purpose and goal. But because of diverse yet orthodox (biblical) doctrines there is a segmenting of local and global cHurches into denominations. Right theology determines whether or not God is glorified. But new cHurches are never an opportunity to ‘do church right’. That is a horrible reason to begin any cHurch. Because with that mindset instead of looking at Christ the new cHurch will be too busy looking at other cHurches. This is the equivalent of trying to win a foot race by spending the entire race watching the other competitors rather than looking at the finish line. Races are not won by looking at the competitors. Races are won by looking towards the prize! And that prize is the Glory of God.
In light of the purpose of the universal Church the theological center of the Church, the way God gets the glory, is the gospel. The gospel is the culmination of four major events (Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration). The gospel message is about the Kingdom of God. And the gospel centers around the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ our Lord. It is through preaching (formal and informal) that people hear the gospel, And it is through discipleship that people are able learn to live in accordance to the gospel. Discipleship is believers investing in others people’s lives to teach what the gospel is and how to live in response to the gospel. We first disciple for the result of repentance and salvation. And then we disciple for the result of sanctification. Both salvation and sanctification are the result of God sovereignly choosing you and you freely accepting God’s gift of eternal life and forgiveness. This is the orthodox (common/biblical) view of the Church. And as believers we are to hold to this understanding of the gospel in unity.
4 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
2 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
The Church should never avoid difficult passages and doctrines to attain unity. Rather because of our unity in Christ our discussions ought to be kind and void of any derogatory remarks. We are to purposefully make disciples of Christ with our unity and our ‘faith of the gospel’ always being evident in our lives. At the same time the Church must guard against unorthodox views through one of two ways. Through long-term discipleship, as we teach ‘all that Christ has commanded’ us, or if necessary, Church discipline. This is why we have the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Chalcedonian Creed. We protect the truth and guard against false teaching.
The purpose and theology of the Church are foundational but abstract concepts. As we continue is this dissection of the Church we must look at what the implications are for the Church specifically in the Church’s liturgy (form of worship) and its daily life.
There are many corporate worship practices that can be found in the DNA of the early Church.
And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen.
-Justin Martyr, Middle 2nd Century
We assemble to read our sacred writings…with the sacred words we nourish our faith, we animate our hope, we make our confidence more steadfast, and no less by inculcations of God’s precepts we confirm good habits. In the same place also exhortations are made, rebukes and sacred censures are administered…
-Tertullian, End 2nd Century
This two accounts of the early Church’s liturgy is valuable in that it shows us what they found most important. In a brief survey of the New Testament there is a list activities that were done and, should be done today, in a corporate gatherings of the New Testament Church.
- Public Reading of the Bible – 1 Timothy 4:13
- If the Bible is truly God’s word then it must take a primary role in the Church’s life
- Preaching/Teaching(Exhortation) – 1 Timothy 4:13, 2 Timothy 3:16-2:2, Romans 10:11-15
- Preaching is for the salvation of the unbeliever and the edification of the believer
- Prayer – Ephesians 6:18-20, Colossians 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:17
- Without Prayer the Church is dead
- Confession – 1 John 1:9; 4:2,15
- We confess Christ, We confess our sin (Apostles’Creed)
- Communion – 1 Corinthians 11:26
- This is our corporate remembrance of Christ in the proclamation of his death
- Baptism – Matthew 28:19
- This is our corporate remembrance of Christ and the proclamation of his resurrection
- Singing(Music) – Ephesians 5:18-19, Colossians 3:16
- Longest book of the Bible is a collection of songs. 30% are laments. Deal with it.
- Tithes/Offerings – 1 Timothy 5:17-19, 1 Corinthian 16:1-4, 2 Corinthian 8
- We provide for our leaders, we provide for our poor.
- Individual Spiritual Gifting’s/Love/Deeds – Peter 4:10, 1 Corinthians 13:13
- Formative/Corrective Discipline – 1 Timothy 5:20
These liturgical forms preach the gospel. It is through these corporate acts of worship that the Church’s purpose and theology is made visible for the edification of the believer, the instruction towards salvation for the unbeliever and for the glory of God. But these activities are not the always the daily life of the Church. The daily life of the Church most definitely incorporates these elements but in a much more organic fashion.
IV. Daily Life
The daily life of the Church could best be summarized in Acts 2:42.
42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Devoted to the Apostles Teaching – Acts 2:42
–Teachings on the Old Testament. (Justin Martyr quote)
Fellowship/Community (See Individual Spiritual Gifting’s/Love/Deeds) – Acts 2:42
–Ministry, serving, submitting to, loving, caring for, invested in,
Eating Together – Acts 2:42
–Bologna sandwiches in each other’s homes
Prayer – Acts 2:42
–‘I’ll pray for you’ is a cope out for, ‘let’s pray right now’.
Individual Spiritual Gifting’s/Love/Deeds – Peter 4:10, 1 Corinthians 13:13
Formative/Corrective Discipline – 1 Timothy 5:20
There could be endless discussion about what the Daily life of the Church looks like, but our intention here is to only taste. Believer, it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that you are to live out the realities of the daily life of the Church. Our physical strength will leave us burnt out and ticked off if we try to love each other through our own self-will and determination.
The way an astronaut sees the details of the Grand Canyon from the space station is the same way we have studied the Purpose, Theology, Liturgy, and Daily life of the Church. The Church is to continually make disciples, remain faithful to the gospel, seek the Glory of God, and pursue unity.
Even if we all forever go our separate ways tonight our purpose as members of the catholic Church remains the same. When we engage in conversations with believers and unbelievers around the world our theology is remain unified and orthodox. As we gather to worship the Holy and Living God our liturgy will remain fundamentally the same. And the daily life of the Church will always flourish in an environment where believers come together out of a love for each other and a love for their Savior.
But it is my desire and prayer that we do not all go separate ways tonight. Rather I plead with the unbeliever to turn to Christ and to become one with the body of Christ. For there is no other place that will satisfy your soul and mend your broken heart. It was true what Dorothy said, “There is no place like home.” But there are no red ruby slippers to click together to go home. There is only the need to repent and believe that Jesus is the Christ who forgives people of their sins. Then come and join the body of Christ.
For the believer my exhortation is that your submit yourselves to a local cHurch. There is the possibility and hope that this gathering is the beginning of an established cHurch in the Valley. Now, if the Lord wills that this gathering becomes an established cHurch in the valley, Praise God! If not, Praise God! Either way, there is no expectation that just because you come every week that you are committing yourself to the potential cHurch plant. However, if you are a believer, when is the last time your regularly participated in these corporate forms of worship? If you have no place to do this come here every Sunday and we will gather to do what the Church has the privilege to do.
Sundays will be a time of worship not just for the individual believers but also for the family. Our American culture has taught us to put children in the closet while the adults go and worship God, but who are we to deny the Children to come to Jesus. If Jesus openly rebuked the 12 disciples for sending the children away how much more will he rebuke us for doing the same? This is not to say that children being present won’t pose certain difficulties, especially in such a small space, But it is to say, the best way to teach our children how to worship the Holy and Living God, is to show them.
Finally, coming together to worship every Sunday is not the purpose for the Church to exist. The purpose for the church to exist is to make disciples! Sundays are simply a catalyst for making disciples and therefore being faithful to final command of Christ. Believer, when we do not obey the command of Christ to make disciples then we are personally engaging in the expedited sending of people to hell. We are either fervently participating in the rescue effort or we are doing what the Egyptians did and are throwing babies into the Nile to drown in the flood waters or be eaten alive. There is no middle ground.
 Justyn Martyr, Chapter LXVII, in Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. I, p. 186.
 Tertullian, Chapter XXXIX, in Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III, p. 46.
 Robert Plummer, 40 Questions, p. 249; Bruce K. Waltke, An OT Theology, p. 876
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