INTRO: Church is not an unknown word. But the true meaning of church, its scriptural significance, may be far less known than you would imagine. To most of the world church is represented by buildings - ornate and simple - which dot the landscape of cities everywhere. To many, many people, organizations and the media church is Catholicism with its papal office. To others church may refer to the denominational picture which grew out of the historical reformation movement. Confusion rather than clarity surrounds church! It there some way to clarify? Is there sound doctrine about the church? Indeed, there is.
I. SOME BASIC BIBLICAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE CHURCH...
A. The church was promised by Jesus Christ
1. Mt 16:18 - ..I will build my church..
2. the Old Testament had prophesied the Messianic kingdom
3. Isa 2:2,3 - throughout this great book, Isaiah reminds over and again of the coming Messiah, His kingdom, that all nations would flow into it
4. what Jesus promised is not what most people understand by church
B. Jesus, the Son of God, is the foundation of the church
1. Mt 16:16-18 - ..Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God..
2. 1 Cor 3:11 - the true foundation
3. but does the world, has the world, acknowledged in practice this fact?
4. churches everywhere are built on ideas, ideals, viewpoints, personalities ... and the confusion of the present is the result
C. Jesus reigns over His church
1. Mt 16:18 - ..my church..
2. Eph 1:22 - ..head over all thing to the church..
3. once again, however, this is not what we see in practice ... churches are reigned over by councils, conferences, organizations, men
4. the result? the very evident division, confusion
D. The church is the body of Christ
1. Col 1:18 - ..he is the head of the body, the church..
2. as a body, it has many members
3. so, 1 Cor 12:18,27 - clearly, individual Christians comprise the body
4. a necessary aside? according to scripture, it is not various denominations which comprise the body of Christ ... it is individual Christians!
E. There is only one body of Christ ... or, church
1. Eph 4:4 - ..there is one body..
2. 1 Cor 12:13 - ..baptized into one body..
3. here is a Biblical truth and fact which, when stated, seems to create hurt and/or opposition
4. but it is nevertheless truth ... it is a truth which demands an honest and careful examination in view of the confusion which does exist about church
F. The church is constituted by a pattern revealed in scripture
1. here is the basis for the careful examination which I have mentioned
2. 1 Tim 3:14,15 - written instructions about the church
3. 2 Tim 1:13 - a pattern of sound words
4. to what extent is this Biblical pattern observed in the religious world? only a casual comparison of church groups with scripture will indicate there is little practical concern for the pattern - how can we be His church if we do not follow His pattern?
II. THE CHURCH ... AND THE SAVED?
A. Question? Can I be saved apart from the church?
1. here is a question people seem to be asking by their conduct
2. religion ... without the church
3. or, religion ... and any church
B. Note the following texts carefully:
1. Acts 2:42 - the saved are added by the Lord to the church
2. 1 Cor 12:13 - we are baptized into the body, the church
3. 1 Cor 12:18 - God sets us into the body, the church
4. 1 Cor 11:2 - ordinances - those in the body were to keep certain ordinances ... a body relationship is specified - there are specific things relating to the body which must be observed (immediately in this text we read about the Lords supper)
5. one cannot be saved apart from the body, the church - the body involves certain revealed elements (organization, worship, mission, etc.) to which we must conform
CLOSE: I urge careful examination of the scriptures as we seek to clarify church. The human tendency is to be satisfied with the status quo - and to go along with the some religion is better than no religion view. But sound doctrine about the church challenges the validity of that view and our human apathy.
Cecil A. Hutson
08 June 2003
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)