INTRO: An old and favorite hymn which speaks of the church says it is the apple of Thine eye. That old expression describes Gods feelings about the church. A modern, secular, Biblically, illiterate world would wonder, Why? Why is the church that important to God? From the way in which some treat the church and their relationship to it we might wonder if the folks of the world are alone in their not comprehending why God so values the church. Reflect a bit with me.
I. CHURCH CERTAINLY PERMEATES THE NEW TESTAMENT
A. How could one read without seeing church?
B. How could one miss the importance of church?
C. How could one read ... and still see no relevance of church to his own life?
D. If nothing else, the letters to seven churches in Revelation should arrest our attention!
II. THE CHURCH IS CERTAINLY IMPORTANT TO JESUS
A. Mt 16:18 He built it!
1. on the foundation that He is the Christ (1 Cor 3:11)
2. by His design; for His purpose; for His people (Heb 3:6)
B. Acts 20:28 He bought it
1. the greater the price, the greater the importance
2. the price? His own blood - His life (Eph 5:25)
C. Col 1:24 It is His body
1. note Eph 5:29 ones body is important to Him
2. thus, Jesus cares for, nourishes the church
D. Col 1:8 He is the head of the body/church
1. a head without a body, or a body without a head is just one thing ... dead
2. so, as the head, Jesus is vitally concerned about the body
III. THE CHURCH IS CERTAINLY IMPORTANT TO GOD
A. Rom 8:32 He gave His own Son to bring it into existence
1. note 1 Pet 1:18,19 silver and gold are valuable
2. but precious metals could not accomplish Gods purpose ... something so much more precious was required ... the death of His Son!
B. Eph 3:8-13 He foreordained it
1. the church is absolutely no accident; no quirk of fate; no substitute for something else
2. it is an integral part of Gods eternal purpose
C. Eph 3:10 It demonstrates the vast wisdom of God
1. to the unseen world the church makes clearly known the multifaceted wisdom of God
2. exactly what all this means I do not know - but I know angels are interested - Lk 15:7,10 and 1 Pet 1:12 ...
3. (perhaps we need to think more of the ways in which His wisdom is demonstrated in the church!)
D. Eph 3:20,21 It glorifies God
1. I suggest that it glorifies God by being submissive to His will (Mt 6:10)
2. contrast: does our behavior detract from Gods glory? do we think of Him first in our decisions, choices?
IV. THE CHURCH IS IMPORTANT TO YOU AND ME
A. Acts 2:47 The Lord adds the saved to the church
1. note Gal 6:10 and household of faith
2. our identity as Christians is in relationship to the church ... we are not floaters; not orphans (Eph 2:19)
B. 1 Cor 12:18,20 God sets us into the body (church)
1. without the church wed be lifeless limbs, organs ... just dead body parts
2. inherent in this idea is life and function (so, Eph 4:16)
CLOSE: The church deserves our affection, or attention, our concern. Can God count on us to honor the apple of His eye?
Cecil A. Hutson
20 May 2001
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)