1. Nature of Church – Proper View of God
Nature of the Church- Proper View of God
Introduction: Theme is the “Local Church and Mission:” John MacArthur pictures the church as human body- focusing on three dynamics: 1) Skeletal structure 2) Internal Organs 3) Muscles
1) Skeletal structure are those truths and aspects that must be set in stone.
- Unbreakable (hills we are willing to die on).
- Backbone and strength of the church
- Nonnegotiable. If you break one of these, at best your limp- at worse you are not a true church. Essential for a Biblical/ Healthy Church
2) Internal Organs: internal workings/ keep the body alive/ life inside the church
- Levels of maturity/ different backgrounds/ learning/ striving together
- Attitudes/ Christ-like character being formed/ selflessness developed
- Submission to Christ
3) Muscles: Graces given for movement- the advancing of His kingdom in this world.
- Teaching and preaching, prayer, evangelism and missions
- Sending of missionaries/ training of elders/ church planting
- Focus is going to be on the skeletal structure and muscles- due to lack of time. But this does not mean that internal workings are less important. Must have people who are regenerate.
- I see many mistakes in Christianity and India: Emphasis on the external muscles without the skeletal or ...
- Excited to win the lost for Christ- evangelism the focus- the church is neglected (no structure). Churches whose goal is to get them to church- that is it.
- Focus on church planters- not pastors. Men who preach, but do not lay down their lives and care for the flock. It is a profession.
- Focus is on sending- not digging deep. The need dictates the reaction- not call.
- See the Need: churches form training programs, give a certificate- and release to go plant a church. They preach a weak gospel, few are interested, they speak of how God can help them/ form a gathering/ preach the importance of evangelism/ appoint a weak man/ call it a church/ write home about it/ “one church planted”/ then off to do it again.
- They are not churches/ weak/ full of problems/ will not last/ does more damage.
- They are more Hindu and Christian. This is a problem.
It is easy to grow weeds, but it takes time to grow an oak that will last for generations.
- Before your church is involved in planting (before talking about the mission)- it has to be established. Biblical church with a correct skeletal structure- B. Elders, Biblical preaching, Biblical Gospel, sending out Biblical men, who have a submissive heart, and Biblical muscles.
- To get involved with missions without the model of a healthy church- will cause a mess.
- Focus is on the local church. First, like to briefly look at how the church is described.
- The church is spoken of in two ways in the Scriptures: Universal, and Local.
- Matt. 16:18: told Peter, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail..”
Universal Church: Those who have been called out and redeemed by God in all of time.
- The Letters from the Apostle Paul/ Christ to the 7 churches in Rev. – writing to local gatherings.
Local Church: People that meet together/ in covenant with one another/ in specific location.
- I belong to a local church/ you/ we both belong to the church universal (if you are born…)
-There are Word-Pictures in the Scriptures that help describe the church to us. One author estimates 96 images used to describe the church.
- Teaches us not one image can fully describe the church. Each looks at different perspective
1) God’s People: The OT story line is how God called forth a people through whom the whole world would be blessed.
- Gen. 12:1-3: The story of Abraham/ tells him to go to another land/ that He would make him a great nation/ in him all the families of the earth would be blessed.
- Ex. 19:5: Children of Israel just came out of Egypt/ they are brought to Sinai/they are now a large people group/ God tells Moses “if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”
- They are a people called out among all the peoples- A Holy Nation/ Kingdom of Priests (if they keep the covenant)- This was God’s design. Through them, all of the nations should be blessed. How? By there relationship, they testify to the world the Lord.
- Testified throughout the OT: Promise: they would be His, He would be their God.
- NEW Testament: Matt. 1:21: Announcement of the birth to Joseph.
- Declares He will save HIS people from their sins. Immediately, we expect this to refer specifically to Israel. Instead we see the mystery being revealed- of the wall being torn down and one people united under Christ.
- 1 Pet. 2:9: Quotes Exodus 19. He shows that Israel stumbled at Christ- and they that are the “A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION”- They, just like those who came out of Egypt, are the PEOPLE of God.
- There is only ONE people of the Lord/ Not two. They stretch from the Old to New to now.
- They are the people called out to the Lord. A Holy Nation, God’s possession.
- Gal. 3:29: “if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” The people God promised Abraham that day- has those of his sons, those found in OT, and New Testament people found in Christ. Those who share the same faith- as Heb 11...
2) Word-Picture: Bride of Christ. This is not a new illustration either.
- Is. 54:5: God refers to Himself as their Maker, Redeemer, and Husband. Term of intimacy.
- A picture of mutual love/ care/ respect/ picture of tender mercy, and a cherishing hand.
- Hosea 2:14-20: Prophecy of the restoration of God’s people: see a beautiful picture.
- God alluring her away from the world/ speaking kindly/ He washes her of her idolatry/ makes a covenant with her/ protects her, as she lies down in safety.
- V.19: What a promise! 3 times in these 2 verses we see betrothal. “I will betroth you to Me forever”- in loving kindness, compassion, faithfulness- Then you will know the Lord!
- NT: we see this. Christ refers to Himself as the Bridegroom (Mark 2:19-20). If He is the Bridegroom, who is the bride?
- Eph. 5:25-32: Teaching on marriage/ husbands to love their wives/ wives to submit to her husband/ Why? Because this reflects a greater reality- Christ and His church.
- He is the One who is betrothed with God’s people. Speaks tenderly- cherishes her- washed her in the Word and removed the idols from her. Will never leave her.
- The church is His bride. He loves her, laid down His life for her. Hopeful/ glorious picture.
3) The Flock of God:
- Ps. 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd”- Leads and cares for those who are in need. He protects/ cares for/ provides for their needs. Never to leave them. Provides confidence.
NT: John 10:14: Christ said, “I am the Good Shepherd” He knows His sheep, He cares for them, He protects them, he owns them- Other sheep, will be brought in- and their will be one flock under One Shepherd.
- 1 Peter 5:4: calls Christ the Chief Shepherd. Shows He is the Shepherd of the OT- the same. There is only one people of God- they are his sheep. They are His possession.
- He will guide, protect, lead them. Never leave them.
4) The Temple of God:
- In the OT, the temple is the place where the presence of God dwelled. God lived among his people. The Holy of Holy was the throne of God on the earth. The Promise/ Great Reality was: He would be with His people, He would rule His people.
- Christ shows up- Emmanuel (God with us). John tells us that He tabernacle’d among us.
- However, we read in 1 Cor. 6:19 that the individual Christian is the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
- 1 Cor. 3:9, Paul tells them that they collectively are God’s building
- Eph. 2:19-22- makes it clear. The Temple that was in the midst of the people of Israel, now strangers and foreigners are fellow citizens of God’s household.
- Foundation laid by the prophets and Apostles/ Jesus Chief Cornerstone/ God building this Holy Temple unto the Lord. The presence of God- now in His people.
5) The Body of Christ: 1 Cor. 12:27 “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually” Echoed in Rom 12, an Eph 4.
- Speaks of connection with Christ/ knit together as one people/ common life/ common goal/ common purpose/ common desire/ work together, function to accomplish what the Lord has called you to accomplish.
- These are some of the pictures we see (there are more)- These help us understand the nature of the church. God’s people, The Bride of Christ, the sheep of the Shepherd, the Temple of God, and Body of Christ.
- Why labor and look at these pictures? Because if we are going to talk about the church, we must have a proper view of her.
- I want to ask you? How do you view the church? When you hear these pictures, what do you think of? Does your heart sing for joy?
- I will say this, your attitude towards the church reflects your attitude towards God.
- Why say this? Because each of these illustrations picture your relationship to God in Christ. This is how the church is defined, by her relationship to God. If you have a small view of God, you will have a small view of the church.
- This is one of those skeletal structures that must be in a health church- A High View of God.
- If you do not have this, your church will not survive. If not, you are not a Biblical church. It will be weak/ no matter if it has 10,000 members. If you are going to be a biblical church you must have high view of God.
- Focus of your ministry and life must be: KNOWING and GLORIFYING God. This is why you were created- the purpose man, the goal of the church, why you were called. Every aspect of church should move towards this. Missions has this as the goal. The Christians great joy.
- If you do not have a healthy view of God, all of your other doctrines are diseased. They will not be properly understood. Every truth rests on the foundation of the Person and character of God. - Skipping the foundation will lead to disaster.
- God-> Man-> Sin-> Christ-> Salvation-> Church-> Missions-> Last Things
- Must have the right order; This is the order the Scriptures present these truths.
- Amazing how different people see the same object through different eyes:
- Example: a ring that is dirty/ half broken. Precious to one- because of background.
- Go into one church, and there is warmth, another is cold. Trace it back…
- Results if you skip the foundation: Misunderstanding/ small view of church/ salvation/ Christ- common view
- Point of the 2nd commandment- do not take the Lord’s name in vain. That is to treat it casually. To use it as if it is common.
- Every doctrine is affected by your view of God. Yet most people assume they know who God is- naturally think we know Him- Great deception. Most people have a God that looks just like man.
- Ps. 50:21: one of the condemnations God had against Israel, “You thought that I was just like you.” He is not like us. He is altogether different. He is three times Holy. Yet He has revealed Himself in His Word.
- In order to have a High View of God, you must know Him. Seek Him. Go to the source (Word of God) w/ a humble/ childlike heart/ obedient heart.
- May take changing the way you read it… Our natural tendency in read God’s Word is to say “How does this passage help me?” We need to read God’s Word and ask “What does this teach me about Christ?”
- That should be the focus- knowing and glorifying Him. If you have a small view of God, you do not have a healthy church/ if you do not have a healthy church/ you are not doing this world any good. You doing more damage than good.
- Jer. 9:23-24: This is the reality of the believer. His boast is in the Lord- that He UNDERSTANDS and KNOWS Him. Grand Jewel of life. His greatness unsearchable (Ps. 145:3). He is the believer’s reward. We can KNOW HIM. The door is open in Christ!
- THIS IS WHY Paul could pray for the church in Eph. 1:17, Col. 1:10, “they be filled with the knowledge of God” “Increasing in our knowledge of Him”- It is where all things flow from.
- Peter could write in 2 Pet. 1:13, - “Grace and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God.
“everything pertaining to life and godliness” How? Through the true knowledge of Him!
- This is the backbone of the local church- if it is missing it all falls. One Great Request- Request of Moses- SHOW US YOUR GLORY -SHOWS US HIM! SHOWS US CHRIST!
- When you see the grand glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and you hear of the church being His Beloved Bride, you realize that the church is not something small. She is not working behind the curtain in God’s eyes. She is beautiful to the Lord. She demands His focus.
- She is the most important thing on this earth. The most powerful thing on this earth. She carries with her the power of God in the gospel message. The gates of Hell cannot stop her.
- Yes, she suffers- put to death, but testimony of her true strength- having escaped this world.
- Importance of cultivating a high view of God.
- Not just a God who gives/ not focused on His hand/ But seeking His face/ Seeking the Giver.
-You must have a High View of God to see all things properly.