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Why Should I Join a Church?

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

Bruce Demerest in his book, Who is Jesus, wrote this on page 39, "After the first American astronaut landed in the moon, the president of the United states praised the wonder of modern science, "The planting of human feet on the moon," he said, "is the greatest moment in human history."

Later Evangelist Billy Graham set matters straight, "With all due respect," He said, "The greatest moment in human history was not when man set foot on the moon, but when the infinite and eternal God set foot on the earth in Jesus of Nazareth." The President indeed had the enthusiasm, but the evangelist knew the truth."

Would you stand with me as we read John 1:1-18?

J.I. Packer in his book, Knowing God wrote this, "It is here in the thing that happened the very first Christmas, that the profoundest and most unfathomable depths of the Christian revelation lieÖ.God became a man; the Son of God became a Jew; the Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, unable to do more than lie, stare, wiggle, make noises, needing to be fed and changed and taught to speak like any other child. And there was no illusion or deception in this. The babyhood of the Son of God was a reality. The more you think about it the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the incarnation."

Over the years I have preached a lot of Christmas sermons. The Bible is full of Christmas lessons. But to my mind nothing is as profound as this one that we just read. God became a man and walked among us. The word incarnate means, in the flesh. God came to us in the flesh. Two weeks ago we briefly went over some of the reasons that Jesus Himself gave for His coming to earth. He came to seek to and to save, to serve and give His life as a ransom for many, to give sight to the blind, to do the Fatherís will, to give life and that more abundant and there is more. But John reminds us here in a few brief words, of one of the primary reasons that Jesus came. Write this down, "He came to make the invisible God visible." He answers the question, what is God like? (v. 18) He is like Jesus. Paul says in his letter to the Colossians that in Christ dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9 cp. 1:15-19) He is the image, the exact representation of God so also says Hebrews 1:1-3 He is the icon or the exact image of God.

Before Jesus, God had communicated Himself in His Laws and prophets words, and in the temple where His presence was behind a veil. But in Jesus, the veil is removed and we see God in a man whose name is Jesus. In Jesus we see Godís Grace and Godís truth. In Jesus we see Godís Holiness and Godís Love manifested. In Jesus we see Godís compassion for the hurting, His longing for the sinner to repent and come home, His concern for the poor and homeless, and helpless, and hopeless. Jesusí ministry was to show people what God is like so they would know Him. Listen to John 17:3-4.

This is part of the message that we celebrate every Christmas. But what does this have to do with our series Re-Thinking Church? The answer is, much in every way. After Jesus died and rose again and ascended into Heaven, He sent His Holy Spirit to live in us who have repented of our sins and received Him as our Savior and Lord. Listen, God is now incarnate in His Children; that is, in us, and He is not isolated to one country or point in time. As His children are all over the world, the world should be able to see the invisible God in us. Jesus is in His Church to make the invisible God visible. Read John 17:18-23 cp. 14:23.

Listen, God rescues helpless sinners, He then forgives them and comes to live in them and makes them part of his family, He then gifts them with abilities to minister to each other and the lost of this world. As they selflessly minister to each other in love, the world sees God in them; that is, in us! Thatís what the world saw in the first church in the book of Acts and that is one of the contributing reasons that the church grew so rapidly. Godís people in whom dwelt the Holy Spirit loved and lived as Jesus and the world saw God in the church. Listen to me carefully; we donít need a new gimmick or some magic music or a new program to grow a church. What we need is simply for Godís people, for you, to live and love each other as Jesus loved us and to care about the lost, lonely, helpless, and hopeless people in the world. Word will get out and the world will want what we have because we will be making the invisible God visible. We canít do that by simply coming and sitting and listening for 2 hours a week and then leaving.

I am preaching this last sermon in this series because it is time for us to officially form our church. Your leadership team is working on a Church covenant for us to start our charter membership. I hope that shortly after the 1st that we will have it finalized. The purpose of this series has been to show you what we believe the Bible meant when our Lord said He would build His church. We tried to strip away the veneer of 2000 years of traditions and look into the New Testament, especially in Acts, to see what the church should be. If you havenít been here the whole time you can read them on line @ Emmitsburgcommunitybiblechurch.com.

So letís consider why should you consider joining this church or any local church? The last 30 years or so have been characterized as an age of non-commitment. Often I will hear remarks like, "I donít have to go to church to be a Christian," or, "You donít have to go to church to go to heaven," or, "I donít want to commit to any one church." There are a lot of other things I have heard as well like how there are a lot of hypocrites in the church, etc. The truth is that to be a Christian means that I am to be an active part of a local church, and if I am not then it means that I am being disobedient to Jesus, and itís as simple as that.

Review Definition of Church Ė The Church is a special unique group of people bonded together by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of ministering to each other and the world as Jesus Christ.

Why Join a Church?

  1. Because of the very Definition of the word, church (ekklesia) means, a called out company, not individuals. You can not be a Christian without being part of this company. God isnít saving or calling lone rangers. When He rescues you He unites you to a family. Look at 1 Cor. 12:12-27.
     
  2. To Show Jesus to a Dark World Ė By showing Unity and Love in Community. The world has a messed up view of love. It thinks of love as what one receives. But Jesus demonstrated that love is what someone gives without thought of what one will receive. It is given simply to benefit the recipient. Godís love was demonstrated by the fact that He gave us Jesus, who gave His life, to give us life, and His Holy Spirit, and Grace, and Peace, and more. Jesus said that when we love each other like that all men will see that we are His disciples (John 13:34-35). That kind of love is seen in community with other disciples. It occurs when we wash each others feet, and serve each other selflessly. See also John 17:20-23 and 1 Cor. 10:16-17.
     
  3. To Use Your Spirit given Gift to minister as Jesus. (1 Peter 4:10-11) You have heard this many times over he last few weeks, but every one of you that have been saved and adopted into Godís family have been given the ability to minister grace to others. Thatís why all of those, Ďone another,í verses are in the New Testament. God wants to minister through you with his grace to build each other up. In fact Hebrews 10:24-25 reminds us to constantly be building each other up and encouraging each other, thatís why we shouldnít forsake the assembling of ourselves together with the Church. Every time you are absent, you miss the chance to be encouraged or to encourage someone that needs you. Remember when we looked at Acts 2:41ff? The first church was devoted to fellowship, or sharing their lives with other.
     
  4. Because God Called us to be Under the Leadership of Shepherds (Heb. 13:17; Eph. 4;11-12; 1 Peter 2:13). God called us to be under the leadership of Pastors and Elders who will teach us Godís word and will and show us how to minister to each other and this world. The Church is like a flock of sheep. God never intended any of us to be strays or mavericks, but to be part of the flock for our protection and spiritual growth. As a Church grows up under sound teaching, Paul says in Ephesians 4:11-16, that we will look like Jesus.
     
  5. To reach the world with the Gospel of Grace, Forgiveness, and Eternal Life. God wants the world to hear the Good news of His Grace. Thatís why He sent Jesus (John 3:16). Jesus came to give His life so we could have life and He lived His life to communicate that message. We, as His children, have been saved to communicate that same message. Cp. the Great commission of Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8 with Acts 26:18 and 1 Peter 2:9. It was to the church that the great commission was given to go into the whole world, beginning with our community to share the gospel. Christians are to pray together for the laborers, and for leaders, and for the lost. Christians pool their resources through the Church to support missionaries and provide for the poor. The Church ordains and sends out Missionaries as in Acts 13:1-3. The local church plans, prays, seeks ways to reach the lost for Jesus.
     
  6. God wants us to be members of a local church for accountability. That is; in a church of brothers and sisters that care, I will be encouraged to live a life that is Holy to God if/and when I should begin to slip, my brothers and sisters will warn, admonish and encourage me to be remain Holy or will help to restore me when I fail.

While there may be more reasons, these are sufficient to show us that God has a plan and a purpose for His Church. There to be no lone rangers, no rocks or islands in Christianity (Simon and Garfunkel, "I am a rock, I am an island, I touch no one and no one touches me"). Church is to be a community and every believer is to be a necessary part of that community. When we donít join church we isolate ourselves and we donít accomplish the purposes of God for His children which is to be like Jesus and to make the invisible God visible. If I do not unite with a local church then Jesus is not Lord of my life and I am just disobedient and selfish. He said, "If you love me, keep my commandments," (John 14:15) and, "He who does not love me does not keep my words," (14:24). If you love Jesus you will love His church and be part of it. The Church is His plan, His design, His dream, His goal, and His purpose for every one of His Children.

Itís time. Itís time to connect. Itís time to start looking out for each otherís interests. Itís time to start reaching out into the community and the world with the Gospel of Jesus. We will be starting small groups to meet, and grow together, and to use to reach our community for Jesus.

Are you ready to serve God by serving and loving His church?

Are you ready to make the invisible God visible to a world that needs to know Him and a world that He wants to know Him?

Are you ready to do something significant with your life and not just expect others to satisfy you?

Are you ready to join with other believers to start a life of significance?

Do you know Jesus Christ personally? Would you like to meet Him today? I would like very much to introduce you to Him. He is just waiting for you to open your heart and invite Him in. Will you do that today? He very much wants you to know Him personally and intimately. He already knows you and loves you anyway.

Letís pray

Communion is a time to

  • Look back and remember that God came in the flesh to die for our sins and give us life and grace
  • Look inside and remember the promises that He has given us in the new Covenant, including His personal presence so we could make the invisible God visible.
  • Look up and remember that He is coming again, but until He does we have work to do.
  • Look around and remember that we were saved to be connected to a community (1 Cor. 10:16-17).

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman