This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday January 12th, 2020.
Last week we began our new series titled “Neighborhoods and Nations”. This five week series is designed to help us look at and talk about the calling God has placed on us individually and as a church and how we can effectively be a neighborhood church for the nations. As I mentioned last Sunday, West Bradenton Southside’s primary objective is to be “A church who glorifies God in all we do.” Today as we continue, I will talk specifically about Church. I will talk about what Church is and what the church is not, how the church is a local and global organization, what a God glorifying church looks like, and conclude with three reasons why Jesus established the Church.
God’s Church is not a place.
Church≠ Building + Clergy + Program. The church is not an organization or a building with the Pastor as the CEO, the members as the employees and the product as clever gimmicks, and a plethora of programs designed to keep members busy and happy. The church is not designed for consumerism where the job of church leadership is to craft and create a program or experience for people to consume and be entertained in the name of Jesus. This quote from Pastor John MacArthur says it perfectly, “So, when you look for a church, look for a church where preaching centers on God, on His Glory, and not you. Where God is constantly being exalted. Look for a church that exalts Christ, not where they sneak him in here and there.”
The Church is a people
Church = Body (people) + Mission (our objective) + Kingdom (God’s plan)
The Bible is specific in telling us the Church is THE BODY of Christ (His people) and this body (believers) is intended to glorify God and bring the Gospel message locally and to all nations.
(Read I Corinthians 12:12 – 27)
The Apostle Paul wrote his epistle to the Corinthians and in this passage, he describes the body of Christ, or the Church body, as a living organism (singular) made up of many individual parts (plural). Paul uses the human body as an analogy to show how the Church body should function the same way as our own physical bodies. Our bodies have many parts (or members) and they have specific functions. The eyes are for seeing, the ears are for hearing and the nose is for smelling etc. Likewise, the Church (body of Christ) has many parts and each part has a specific function. In verse 17b Paul writes, “God arranged the members of the body, each one of them, as he chose.” And he writes in verse 27, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” Let’s pause for a moment. What does Paul mean when he writes, “God has arranged the members as he chooses” and “You are the body of Christ.”? Paul says that the Church is made up of people. When I speak of members of individuals, I am not merely speaking of people who have attended a membership class or have a little piece of paper that says they are members of such and such church. I am referring to individuals who are born again believers in Jesus Christ and have an active role in the Church body. The word “member” in this passage is derived from the Greek word Melos which is translated as someone who is part of a larger unit. If you are a believer, then you are part of a larger unit called the body of Christ whether you have a certificate or not.
The Church is both local and global
When we talk about the church, we are not talking about an organization, but we are talking about a large living organism. It is believed that there are over 2 billion Christians on this planet. Now this includes people who would identify themselves as Christian. This is the whole of Christianity… all denominations. Since we live in the United States, I think we sometimes unintentionally forget that the church is both a local and global organism. We must be willing to look past the truth that the church exists beyond the West and English-speaking people. We see the expansion of Christianity throughout the globe from Roman governed Israel to Europe. From Asia to the Middle East. From South and Central America to North America and beyond. When we look at the whole of Christian history can see how God has moved across the globe among the family of Christian believers. Thus, the church is universal in the sense that there are Christians all over the world and the way people worship varies from region to region, country to country and culture to culture. However, the universal church is made up of a conglomeration of local churches.
While it is important for the church to have a global mindset, we must also acknowledge and understand the importance of the local church as well. The New Testament continually emphasizes the importance of local congregations. We read this is Hebrews 10:24 – 25, “And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, 25 not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.”
What Does a God Glorifying Church Look Like?
There is no such thing as a perfect church, congregation or pastor. The only perfect thing about the church the is the Head; who is Jesus Christ. Since both sinners and redeemed sinners make up the she will always be imperfect. So, the best we can do is look at the early church as our model and example so we can glean insights and characteristics as to what a God glorifying church should look like.
Read Acts 2:42 – 47
There are four characteristics I found in this passage that hopefully and prayerfully will inspire us as a church and as individuals to become the God glorifying church that God wants us to be.
Three Reasons Why Jesus Established the Church
Jesus did not establish the church because He needed us finish the work that He started. He did not establish the church for His people to have a place to go on Sundays, and He did not establish the church because He needed an institutional organization to keep His people in line. He established His church for a much bigger picture. Here are three reasons He established His Church.
Now the church, which has been granted the life of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, is called to display the character and glory of God to all the universe, testifying in word and action to his great wisdom and work of salvation.
Friend, what are you looking for in a church? Good music? A happening atmosphere? A traditional order of service? How about:
A group of pardoned rebels…
Whom God wants to use to display his glory…
Before all the heavenly host…
Because they tell the truth about him…
And look increasingly just like him – holy, loving, united?”
 Three Reasons… taken and adapted from Dever, Mark Built Upon the Rock: The Church. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012 p. 42 -43
 Dever, Mark: What Is A Healthy Church? Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2007, p. 48
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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