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What Makes a Church So-o-o Good?
The genuine Christian and the genuine local church
Tough Stuff–part 1
This summer we are headed back to a favorite FBC series–Tough Stuff. As a church, we enjoy teaching on truths rarely heard from any pulpit, yet truths clearly taught in God’s Word. This summer we’ll teach on Christian liberty, the six literal 24-hour day creation, homosexuality, Calvinism, why the sign gifts have ceased, church discipline, idolatry and porn, hard work, and one more–next week.
Take on the challenge this summer to not only be here to hear and heed God’s Word, but to learn to teach these truths. We are teaching on issues this summer that your students struggle with, your family has questions about, and your Christian friends wonder what God’s Word really says about. Make it your goal to be able to walk through the Scriptures on these issues with your children and your friends of a different persuasion.
You need to be equipped so you can not only defend, but stand up and teach others what God’s Word says. To do that, we’ll have detailed outlines for you, specific books at the book table, and theology mentors to meet with over these truths on Sunday and even later.
Next week we will teach God’s Word on singleness. Too many marrieds, singles, parents and grandparents have a distorted view of singleness, and very few understand God’s Word on singleness. It is crucial we know God’s thinking on singleness. If you are one who says to every single, “You need to be married,” you don’t understand singleness.
Singles, if you are learning Christian pick-up lines like, “Hi, my name is Will–God’s will.” Or, “I was reading the book of Numbers the other day, and realized I didn’t have yours,” then you don’t understand singleness from God’s heart. Be here next week–you’ll be shocked and encouraged.
Today, as we launch into this series, every year without fail, as elders we talk about where we’re at as a church. We compare our church with the Word and seek to discover our current strengths and weaknesses, areas we need to grow in. We also attempt to discover the uniqueness of our church as compared to other churches. What are the truths we emphasize that you don’t normally see in other churches?
I’m certain you’re aware of our New Visitor Coffee. At that time we talk over the uniqueness of our church, as compared to churches our new visitors may have come from. We try to make certain new people know what they are getting into as they seek to be a part of our church. We want them to know up front what our church truly values, and what we are like.
There are too many truths and practices we hold with conviction to cover them in one sermon. Truths like:
Glorifying God not only means displaying His character and obeying His Word, but also maintaining relationships in marriage, parenting and with each other that reflect the Trinity.
All believers love God first above all, and first in all things.
Every true Christian is known by their sacrificial love for other Christians.
All genuine Christians are baptized by immersion.
Believers are to live in the Spirit, and manifest the fruit of the Spirit towards each other–otherwise they are in the flesh.
Your first response when you’re sinned against by a brother or sister in Christ is to cover that sin with love, knowing you are just as much a sinner, if not worse, than they are. Let it go!
When sin can’t be covered by love, where it is a constant issue in your heart, then you lovingly, privately confront the person first.
True discipleship is an intentional relationship for the purpose of growth in Christ. These relationships occur on Sundays, gatherings in small groups, and with two or three–rarely is it one on one.
The church is to train men for ministry.
We live by Christ’s righteousness and not our own.
Parenting is discipling your children to come to Christ and to follow Christ by living under the authority of God’s Word.
We hold doctrine dogmatically, but give grace to others who disagree as they work to embrace our dogmatic position.
Christ hates it when we mess with His sheep for our purposes.
Living the same everywhere we go, in public and in private, at church and at home, is what creates a life of integrity.
Healthy churches don’t care much about programs, but really care about Christ working in the hearts of others.
Don’t define your Christian life by the exercise of preferences, but willingly give up preferences in order to preach Christ.
Humility is understanding you are nothing and Christ is everything.
Love Heaven more than Hemet–love Heaven more than the beach or mountains or your home or your hometown.
Change takes time–allow for growth, but never be passive about intentionally pursuing maturity in Christ, or dealing with your own sin.
Men minister to men and women ministry to women and couples minister to couples.
Those are just a few–but today I want to focus on an inevitable drift, a strong current away from God’s design. What am I talking about? Less and less Christians understand their required and normal commitment to the local church. Fewer believers understand the Lord’s expectation for their direct involvement in a local church. Why is that?
We live in a society of independent lone rangers. Most large churches are designed to appeal to spectators, not build into participants and worship Christ above all. Our society doesn’t think corporately or community anymore. They think my rights, individualism, and entitlement–what’s in it for me? Not what God wants, God expects and what God designed.
Preaching of the Bible in churches has moved away from word by word exegesis to fancy series and topics, leaving the crucial elements of God’s design for the church and the community factor overlooked. So passages like Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and the clear doctrine of the Church are overlooked or considered secondary.
Part of the problem is, when you read the New Testament in English, you can’t see that most of the references to “you” in the Greek are plural, not singular. And because our thinking is so much on me, we forget that most of the New Testament was written to churches and not individual people. In fact, the New Testament is not primarily about I and me, but us and we.
Spiritual warfare is primarily a corporate effort.
Spiritual growth occurs primarily in a corporate environment.
Spiritual health is strengthened best in a local church.
Spiritual leadership is given by a team of elders, not a senior pastor.
Spiritual families are grown best networked in a church community.
We’ve lost the priority of community, of a body working together. So what does God require of a believer concerning the church? What does FBC pursue with a passion–what makes us unique? We are trying to cultivate, pursue, and embrace . . .
#1 A CORPORATE society of God’s people
In the midst of Self magazine, taking selfies, and my rights comes the Lord Jesus Christ–who saves us out of a world bent against Him, into a society of people who love Him more than life. The moment you’re saved, you’re immersed into the body of Christ. You are born again in order to function in a community.
You are to think of yourself as part of a whole. When you were unsaved, you thought of yourself as an independent, isolated, captain of your own soul. But as a Christian, you are now a body part, needing the other parts to survive, and the other parts needing you to function to be in good health. Do you have a corporate mentality?
When you make decisions, does your church enter into your thinking? When you plan your life, is it just about what Christ wants, or is there actually thought given to how it might affect your church? In our day, most Christian students think about sports, girls, guys, events or grades for college, but not their church. Most young marrieds think about their income, children, home, cars and weekends away, but not their church. Most older marrieds think about retirement, kids, grandkids and where they will live, but not their church.
I hear it all the time–I hear people who have attended FBC for years say, “I like this church.” Friends, it’s not this church–it is YOUR church! You are a part of it, you belong to it, you are interconnected to it, immersed in it, bound to it. I hear, “I CAME to church.” No, you ARE the church. We just happen to gather together today. The church came together. The location is not the church, YOU are the body of Christ, the physical manifestation of Christ on this planet.
The New Testament teaches when God saves you, you are immediately made a part of a new society of Christ followers, a community you are interconnected to because of what Christ did in transforming you. You no longer have a defiant, self-focused, what’s in it for me heart, but a heart that belongs to Christ and to His bride. Romans 12:4 to 5, “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”
First Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.” Your liver can’t survive outside your body–it’s interconnected to your body and desperately needs the rest of your body to survive, and your body desperately needs the liver to survive. You need your liver and your liver needs you.
Healthy Christians and healthy churches are filled with believers who have a corporate mentality. They accept the blessing and responsibility of fully functioning in a local church. Yes, believers need preaching. Yes, believers are commanded to gather for worship every week. Yes, believers must come to church, but a corporate mentality is not merely church attendance.
A corporate commitment is in interpersonal relationships, sharing one anothers, giving in ministry, building into others, and fellowshipping with Christians regularly. It means you are roped to other believers for your survival. You are roped to other Christians like mountain climbers are roped together for safety. There’re over twenty-five commands you cannot obey by merely attending church–you must be networked, and be a part of . . .
#2 A community cultivating healthy RELATIONSHIPS
Part of how you determine a healthy church and an unhealthy church is to evaluate the relationship of the congregation to the pastor-teacher. Unhealthy churches are made up of people who only know the senior pastor, or one guy in leadership–someone they can call when they’re in trouble. But they’re not relationally connected to each other.
This is a violation of Christ’s design for leadership in the New Testament, and it is a violation of Christ’s design for the believers in the church. God designed the church to be led by a plurality of elders– not one pastor, not one leader, and not one paid professional. The teaching pastor is supposed to equip others to do ministry.
And God designed the church to be filled with people who are relationally connected to each other. That is why there’re over forty commands and exhortations in the New Testament to be connected to each other. You know them–the question is, do you do them? Love one another, serve one another, build up one another, care for one another, be kind to one another, be subject to one another, comfort one another, encourage one another, stimulate one another.
You can’t please Christ, submit to those exhortations, or obey those commands by showing up late on Sunday, then running for the exit after the service is over. It’s much more than getting to know a select few. Or even the right persons, the people of influence, or the pastors. It is building relationship with others in the common cause of building into each other, knowing each other, serving each other, loving each other so that we all become more like Christ.
The healthy church is even more than one anothers–a healthy church is made up of people who build relationships with some in the body for the purpose of growth. This is what the New Testament calls discipleship. (Not meeting someone at Denny’s where they work really hard to make certain everything on the menu tastes exactly like scrambled eggs–then going through a book one on one.) Discipleship is building intentional relationships with each other for the purpose of growth in Christ. Intentional relationships–and what is so awesome is, the Lord intended that the entire church is to be committed to this process.
Discipleship is to be a part of every Christian’s life, and in every Christian relationship. Husbands disciple their wives as they Ephesians 5:26, “so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” Parents disciple their children as they saturate their lives with the Word, like Timothy’s mom did, 2 Timothy 3:15, “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Older women disciple younger women, Titus 2:4, “so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children.” Younger men are discipled by older men, 1 Peter 5:5, “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders.” Are you getting it? You are to be in relationship with others, many others, in your local church.
“But,” you say, “relationships are messy.” Yes they are. “I have been hurt before.” That’s how you learn to forgive. “But that children’s teacher or youth leader doesn’t understand my little Rupert,” and I say welcome to a growth opportunity. “But they hurt me.” Welcome to the club—yes Jesus said trials are part of what He uses to grow you.
Listen friends, the world acts that way–they can’t get along. But we have God Himself living inside of us, empowering us—and we have God’s powerful Word showing us what to do. Do you realize the two major ways we are a witness to this world is our love for each other, and our unity with each other?
“But Chris, I just don’t have time for that many relationships.” Listen friends, you can only know 200 people anyway, so pick your 200 and get on with the love, unity, one another-ing and discipleship. Join an RMG and be faithful to it. Join a ministry and be faithful to it. Become a member and function like it.
At FBC, you don’t have to be a paid employee to lead a ministry. Our children’s pastor, junior high pastor, college pastor, singles’ pastor, RMG pastor leaders, equipping class leader and teachers, our women’s ministry leaders, outreach, shepherding, teaching levels, and our missions pastor/leader and more are all lay, non-paid.
In fact, our relationships do not stop at discipleship. Those with a heart to serve Christ in the fullest possible way are to be trained–the New Testament commands the leaders of every healthy church to train its men. Second Timothy 2:2, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
Training involves intense study of the Word, doctrine and practical theology. It involves training in shepherding and leadership, which includes developing life on life skills, personal transparency, exposing sinful bents, developing a discipline in the use of money, in the use of time, development of character and gifts, and the strengthening of weaknesses and so much more, so that each man can be as fruitful to God’s glory as possible.
In light of that, how can anyone show up late before church, and run for the parking lot after church? If you’re just here for the sermon or our outstanding praise–if that is what you continue to plan on doing at FBC, then let us help you find another church. One that is okay with that. Hear me–we’re not okay with that approach, because God is not okay with that approach. It may be normal, but it is not God’s will.
Before you get too hurt, know that there is one exception. If you’re here recovering from some church mess–a church hurt, or you haven’t been to church in a long time. Then for you, you come, you drink in God’s Word and be refreshed in heart. We want to be a safe place for you. For a season, you come and just be ministered to–okay? We mean it. But eventually, like any good hospital, we want you to get healthy, get out of your sickbed and start to serve and give yourself away.
Healthy churches build Spirit-filled relationships. Sure we offend each other, yet love covers a multitude of sins. Sometimes we carefully, graciously, patiently confront each other, but that too is part of being a saint who still sins on this planet–we are not home yet. And when we get healthy, we become . . .
#3 A Body where each part functions in SERVICE
Today’s Church has embraced false doctrine. Many believe you can be a Christian, but live for the world. First John 2:15b, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Many believe you can attend church occasionally, but live for yourself and still have confidence you are born again. Second Corinthians 5:15, “He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”
Many believe they can live carnally in the flesh, have little love for Christ, attend church when it’s convenient, give when they have leftovers, and still be confident they’re saved. Revelation 2:4 and 5, “’But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I … will remove your lampstand …—unless you repent.’” Revelation 3:16, “’because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.’”
True believers are those who know Christ–they are those who follow Christ, and they are the ones who obey Christ. John 10:27, “’My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.’” First John 2:4, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
There is no carnal Christian. It’s true, believers can act in the flesh–but they can’t live there and have assurance of salvation. There are only two biblical options for those who are living in a pattern of unrepentant sin—only two possibilities, only two.
1) They are Deceived awaiting certain Damnation
2) They are Disobedient awaiting certain Discipline–that’s it
That is not a hard truth, that is not harsh–it is biblical truth. Where it gets difficult, and where you have to wrestle is this. Those who are living an ongoing lifestyle of intentional sin–sins of commission in defiance of clear Scripture . . . pre-marital sex, adultery, gossip, slander, divisiveness. That’s easy to call. Those claiming to be Christians who live that way are either not saved, or God’s gonna spank ‘em hard. Either way, they have no assurance.
But those claiming Christ who are committing ongoing, intentional sins of omission, where they are not doing what God commands–like not exercising faithful service to their local church, like not giving sacrificially and faithfully to their local church, like not loving others (acts of sacrifice) regularly in the local church.
Not doing those actions God commands–they omit them, ignore them, excuse them, the sins of omission . . . what does that mean when it’s a lifestyle? I don’t have an answer. For some, they desperately want to but genuinely can’t. But what about those who can but make excuses? I don’t know.
Here’s the issue–God commands every Christian, every believer, every saved husband, wife, and student who are genuinely born again to faithfully serve each other in the local church. First Corinthians 12:7, “to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” Romans 12:6, “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly.” First Peter 4:10, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
For your joy and His glory, at the moment of your salvation God gifted you for service within the local church. Your giftedness is for you to serve believers in a local church. And as you mature, it is not something you do weekly, it truly becomes who you are. I’m a pastor-teacher, preacher, trainer–not merely on Sunday, but 24/7, cause that is what He made me to be.
I love the Training Center, because our number one goal is not to make the men into something, but to help them discover what God already designed them to be before the foundation of the world, then challenge them to give their lives to pursuing His plan for them. Are you faithfully serving your local church? It is what grows you and matures others in the church. Is it time for some of you to take off the bib of being served, and put on the apron of serving others?
Sure, attend an RMG but serve there, or serve in a ministry. Seek to discover your purpose on this planet. Have you read these two verses? Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Acts 13:36, “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay.”
What are the good works God planned for you before the world began? And what’s your purpose in this generation? Go for it, then go home. There is no spiritual gift of provider, nor a gift of mother. There is some service God has called you to in His local church. What makes a church so-o-o good is when each member serves in the way God designed them.
You say, “How do I find that out?” Start serving, and start asking people around you. Remember, if you think you are a leader, just look behind you–if no one is following you, you are only taking a walk. You’re not a leader. If you think you are gifted with compassion, but when you go to the hospital to visit someone and they want to die after you leave–you are not gifted with compassion. It’s pretty simple–God wants to direct you and work through you, but you have to start with a heart of service and humility, and God will guide you. We are also to become . . .
#4 A family so committed to Christ’s plan, they GIVE
So much of how a Christian treats the local church is a clear indicator of their heart towards Christ. It is pretty simple–if you don’t love Jean, you don’t love me. If you don’t love the bride, how can you love the groom? How can you say your heart is passionate about Christ when you do not faithfully and sacrificially give to His purposes?
Oh no, why mention money? Cause money is an X-ray of your true spiritual condition, and an exposure of your heart. Our church has wonderful givers–we function under our budget, we have never had to let someone go cause of finances. But regardless, God has some things to say in His Word about giving. What does God say about your money?
Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” How you use your treasure tells you about your heart. And if you see genuine sacrifice from your budget and faithfulness in your giving, that is a good spiritual sign of your heart. But if you see leftover giving from your budget and inconsistency in your giving, that is a bad spiritual sign of your heart.
God calls you to give financially to your local church–not merely to your relatives the missionaries, not merely to a student for camp or short-term team once a year, not merely to a person in need or giving to earthquake victims. But God calls you to faithfully, sacrificially give a known percentage of your income regularly to your local church. That is normal, regular, biblical Christianity.
First Corinthians 16:1 and 2, “Now concerning the collection for the saints … 2 On the first day of every week [regularly] each one of you [every family, every single] is to put aside and save, [plan for it, budget it] as he may prosper [a percentage of what you earn].” Thankfully we have amazing elders who are generous yet conservative, seeking to minister under our budget, put all we receive over the budget into our future facility.
We have some wonderful givers in our church family, and as we have matured there has been an increase of giving. But you need to know, we are planning to build a home base on our property, Lord willing. We are going to be planting more churches. We are planning on sending out more missionaries to establish churches. We keep our giving focused on Christ’s priorities. (We don’t have a bell choir.)
Where are you with your finances? Do you have a budget so you know how you spend the Lord’s money? Are you getting help to get out of credit card debt? There is help here. Are you stopping the insanity with your students, sending them away to a school where they will rack up twenty to eighty thousand dollars in debt? STOP IT, parents, and STOP IT, high schoolers–what a mistake. No one cares where you went to college when you are thirty.
Then you send them away with little concern about a local church, as if healthy churches were everywhere today–they are not. “So here you go, girl, $90,000 in debt, a secular school where they undermine your faith, and no church to be a part of–we love you!” STOP the insanity–stay here, go cheap. Stop sinking your children in debt–stop it. Don’t you understand what you’re doing? But they want to go?
There are incredible people at our church who can’t go on the mission field because they are still in debt. There are amazing people in our church who can’t go to seminary because they have to first pay off their student loans. And there are people at our church that have a hard time really giving to Christ’s purpose because they’re paying off school loans as young couples–you are hindering the work of God. STOP IT.
So are you giving faithfully, sacrificially to your local church? If you think you are, then take this challenge. Do the math–find out what percentage you are truly giving. Paul says, “As he may prosper.” Sacrificially giving doesn’t mean you starve or can’t pay bills, but it means you are a steward of the Lord’s money, and a generous portion of it goes to the Lord’s Church.
Average giving to the local church today is around one percent. Can you say you genuinely love Jesus giving one percent? Do you want to give to His purposes? Pray about that as a single. Talk and pray about it as a couple—pray. JC Penney built his company by giving 90% of the profits to the Lord’s work and 10% back into the company. What does your financial giving reveal about your heart?
#5 A congregation SUBMISSIVE to a team of elders
You have, you are, and all the elders thank the Lord for you! We have sought to be understanding parents to this church family. We have sought to lead gently as fathers, not as dictators. We have sought to be examples, as fragile and frail as we are. And you have loved us, supported us, put up with us.
Some members have left or were disciplined and have not been happy with us, but just once in nine years–just once in all that time have I personally experienced any real hurtful slander. That is amazing. No church is perfect, but you are batting 900%. Thank you for that–I love this church family with all my heart.
You have supported this warped, sarcastic, wife-loving, kid-adoring, grandson-idolizing pastor-teacher, trainer. And I can’t thank you enough for your grace with all my many imperfections, weaknesses and sins. I know I don’t deserve your kindness. You might not know–a big part of the reason our family is so accepting of me personally is that they know that I am not in charge. I don’t control the direction of FBC–I don’t make all the decisions. Don’t be coy, I know that’s why you are so-o-o accepting.
You see I have, and our elders have, such a passion that Christ would be the actual, functional Head of this church–that He would be our senior pastor, and that we make all our doctrinal and directional decisions in unanimity. We’re seeking the one will of Christ for our church. And because our church knows that, they are much more supportive of me.
We know that unanimity is not a guarantee we are always going to get it right, and we know we have and will make mistakes–but we desperately, more than life itself, want Christ to lead FBC. So we seek to have the Holy Spirit of God bring us to a unanimous decision on doctrine and direction. And we trust each other to always want what Christ wants more than what we want.
I have never been a part of a church where Christ’s will was more sought than FBC. We keep praying we won’t mess it up. And hopefully, if the Lord continues to protect us and give us abundant grace, then we can call you as God’s family to continue to Hebrews 13:7 and 17, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”
#6 A group of one heart and one minded MEMBERS
For some, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. This is the stick in many believers’ craw. For a few, membership is a deal-breaker. Let’s be clear–all true believers are members of Christ’s body. But let’s also be just as clear, all true believers are to function one heart and one mind in the doctrine and direction of a local church. We are to move ahead in unity, therefore there has to be a system in place to determine if someone is one heart and one mind.
There has to be a way to discover who is one heart/one mind. There has to be a method to guarantee your children and students are being ministered to by those who are genuinely saved and who are one heart/one mind with the church, as best as we can determine. I would rather not call it membership, cause you already are–I’d prefer to call it one heart/one mind. But no matter what you call it, the intension of our elders is to establish a church that pleases Christ.
John 17:11b, “that they may be one even as we are.” Or like Paul desires in Philippians 2:2, “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” You join a bank, or agree with a secular loan company to buy a house or buy a car. You will align yourself with a little league team, karate class, or dance team, or join a booster club at school.
Some of you are part of a neighborhood watch, or an HOA. Even worse, some of you are part of Amway. Every single one of those is going to end–it’ll burn, it’s temporary. But you won’t join the church–align yourself with the Bride of Christ, be one heart and one mind with God’s people, moving in the same direction in unity for His glory.
You won’t put yourself under an eldership that seeks to follow God’s Word alone and honor Christ alone? You won’t commit to that which is eternal? You can serve at FBC without being a member, but you can’t shepherd people, teach people, disciple people without being a member, because as elders we need to protect our body from wolves. We need to make certain someone isn’t here to harm or divide.
So we require all those who minister to people with God’s Word, either one on one or in a group setting, must be members–one heart and one mind with us. It is not a program, it is not extra-biblical, it is a simple method of making sure as best as we humanly can, that those who are put in places of influence and instruction are genuinely saved and are one heart/one mind with the doctrine and direction of our church.
It is time for you to be a member. Listen to five messages on the website, fill out some forms, get interviewed by an approved leader, and you are an official part of the family with all the privileges and benefits of members—like members’ meetings, full disclosure, trust, a greater freedom to begin ministry, early sign-ups, Disney fast pass (NO–but close). Do not let anything keep you from becoming a member of FBC.
A We’re not trying to be a big church, but a HEALTHY church
We are seeking to reach the lost, be a hospital for the hurting, shepherd the weak, but mainly we are focusing on training you to be equipped, trained, discipled, shepherded, taught, and matured. We focus on the depth of the ministry, we trust the Lord to take care of the breadth. Pastor-teachers equip you, and you do the work of ministry.
We want you stable, and not tossed to and fro.
We’re laboring for you to come to Christ or become like Christ.
We desire for you to grow from a child, to a young person, to a mature Christian adult in the faith.
B We are calling you to repent of SPECTATOR Christianity
Whatever is keeping you from . . .
serving is not God’s will
sacrificial giving is not God’s will
faithful attendance to corporate worship is not God’s will
discipleship relationships is not God’s will
Repent of being a spectator, or stop calling yourself a Christian. There is no such thing as a Christian who is not personally connected to a local church under an eldership.
C We are calling you to submit to CHRIST first above all
If you are struggling with your relationship with the Bride, it is an indication you are struggling in your relationship with the Groom, since the Bride and Groom are one. Those who know Christ love His Church–with all its imperfect people, it is still God’s perfect plan. And if you have the Spirit of Christ living in you, then you are going to want to be a part of His work in the Church to itself in ministry, and together to the world in mission.
If giving, discipleship, one another-ing, membership and submission are deal breakers for you, it may mean you’re not on the team yet. You may not be a child of God, born again, with a heart that wants to obey God’s Word–turn from your sin to follow Christ. Turn from your self-reliance to depend completely on Christ.
D We are calling you to LOVE the church like Christ does
Because so many churches are unbiblical, I understand why so many are cynical towards the Church. But Christian, it is the Bride of Christ, the sheep of the Master, the bricks in His building. It is His–you are His. He died for you, He died for His Church. His Church is a gift of the Father to worship the Son forever.
How can we not love the Church? It’s time for you to move from liking the Church to being a fan, to actually glorying in Christ’s perfect plan–loving what He loves. And friends, Christ loves His Bride. There is so much more to say. That’s what the pastor says when he runs out of material. I could go on and on. So let’s pray.