INTRO: In over forty years of a preaching life it has not been unusual for me to be asked a variety of questions or to have had people request all sorts of information. Each of these questions or requests has provided an open door of opportunity. One such request which has occurred from time to time in conversation is this one. Tell me about your church. For the few minutes we have together this morning I would like to do just that.
I FIRST, I NEED TO SAY THE CHURCH IS NOT MINE
A. Mt 16:18 - The church belongs to Jesus Christ (the Lords church)
1. Col 1:18 - He is its head ... it is His body
2. I try to be very careful about my church, our church expressions
B. You want to know about the church to which I belong? Right?
1. I belong to the church described in the New Testament - vital point!
2. this church predates the denominational scheme of things and has its roots in the first century - it is often described as the church (Eph 3:10)
II THE CHURCH FOLLOWS THE PATTERN OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
A. The New Testament is the authoritative standard for the church
1. N.T. provides the necessary information for constituting the church
2. passages to note: 1 Cor 4:17 - 1 Cor 16:1 - 1 Tim 3:15 - Jude 3
3. such passages help us know the use of N.T. writings
B. 2 Tim 1:13 - Holding fast to the pattern is a must for the church
1. in all matters relating to the beliefs, practices of the church hold fast
2. yes, this requires careful study and consideration of the scriptures
3. but if we are to be the church defined in the N.T., we must discover and follow the pattern for the defined church ... otherwise, we cannot be the same church as the one described in scripture
III WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ELEMENTS OF THE PATTERN?
A. What about the names for the church and her members?
1. there are numerous names in scripture which refer to the church
2. Acts 20:28 - Heb 12:23 - Rom 16:16 - Eph 3:21
3. no name is a denominating, or proper, name ... only one church then
4. Acts 11:26 - Rom 1:7 - scriptural names for members, disciples
B. How one enters the church is a very important part of the pattern
1. 1 Cor 12:13 - baptized into one body (recall, body & church the same)
2. Acts 2:37-41 gives us a very clear picture of how people were entering
3. so, those who were baptized were believers, were penitent
4. the action of baptism? Rom 6:4 & Col 2:12 (Gr. word means?)
C. And you would certainly want to know about the worship of the church
1. Acts 20:7 & 1 Cor 16:2 - day of special observance is the 1st day
2. from the two passages just noted we see a weekly observance of the Lords supper, of the giving of ones money for the Lords work, of preaching (edifying of the body)
3. Eph 5:19 & Heb 13:15 - in assemblies of the church members sang
4. 1 Tim 2:8 - and in assemblies there would be prayers
D. How the church is organized is also a matter of pattern concern
1. Col 1:18 - Jesus is clearly the Head of the church
2. Acts 14:21-23 & Titus 1:5 - there were elders in each congregation
3. Phil 1:1 - refers to bishops and deacons - bishops & elders are one and the same office - deacons are special servants
4. 1 Tim 3:1-13 - qualifications which are also part of inspired pattern
E. Even the mission of the church is revealed in scripture
1. Acts 11:27-30 - the church has a benevolence mission
2. Mt 28:19 - the church has an evangelistic mission
3. Mt 28:20 - the church has an edifying mission
4. an aside just here ... the church does not have entertainment mission
CLOSE: I hope that with this brief introduction you can appreciate that the church to which I belong desires only to be the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Following the scriptural pattern for the church is the only way we can be the church the Lord said He would build.
Cecil A. Hutson
30 May 2004
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)