The U R Church
Here in our text we find the founding of what we know today as the local New Testament church and tonight with this passage of scripture we begin an exciting new series of messages on the Church that will last at least until August. The church and what it is and its purpose have, I believe been lost over the years. Many people from many different backgrounds have ideas on what the church is, some right, some almost right, and some just outright wrong!
With this series of messages and this introduction message especially, we will see from the Bible and from God just what the church is and what the church’s purpose is. Before we do that however, we must answer some important questions.
What is the foundation of the church?
The foundation of the local church is found right here in our text and that foundation is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself! The church’s one foundation is Christ and Christ alone! This is very important for us to know because there are some, the Catholic Church being the main culprit that will take this verse and teach that the Lord Jesus Christ founded His church upon Peter, a man thus making Peter the first Pope! This is a false teaching and one that can be easily disproved if only the Catholic Church and its leaders for do some study into it!
Notice that Jesus says thou art Peter, petros, little rock. Upon this rock, NOT Peter, petra, big rock! Christ never said He would build His church upon a man! Man is fallible, God is infallible and we must know this or else we’ll get sucked into the man and not the God man, the Lord Jesus Christ! No man, however great you may think him to be does not take the place of Christ as head of the church! Yes, God has given us under shepherds and we’re to follow them as long as they are following Christ! But the minute a man starts putting himself above God, you better get yourself as far away as possible because what you’re being taught is against God and this Book! The church’s one foundation is Christ and Christ alone! We’ll see more of that later on.
What the church is not?
In order to fully understand this series of messages, we must first know what the church is not since there are so many definitions and ideas out there as to what the church is. And with all of the different denominations that have so many differences when it comes to their doctrine, one can get lost in the shuffle of what a true Biblical local church is. So first, what the church is not;
– The church is not a building
While we use terms like cathedral, auditorium, worship center, temple, and church, this does not define the church but rather describes the meeting place of the church. The church is MICH more than a physical structure. It’s important for us realize this because quite frankly there is too much building worship that goes on amongst Christians today when the worship should be directed to God almighty Himself!
This building that we meet in, while nice, and yes while we should seek to keep it maintained and act in it as if it were our own home, is not the church! And therefore it does not merit any worship! To do so would be a form of idolatry. There is nothing holy about a building, the building is not God, and the building did not die for our sins! The church is not this building, rather the meeting place of the local church known as Lighthouse Independent Baptist Church!
What is the church?
Now that we have seen what the church is not, the question becomes, what is the church? Simply this; a New Testament church is a local assembly of born again, baptized believers united in organization to meet together for worship, prayer, fellowship, teaching, observing the two church ordinances, and to actively engage in carrying out the Great Commission!
Acts 2:41 and 42. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Acts 4:32 and 33. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
Acts 11:26. And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
I Corinthians 11:2. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
Simply put folks if you are saved here tonight, know Christ as your Saviour, know that Heaven is your home, and call Lighthouse Independent Baptist Church your church home, than folks, you are (U R) the church! You are (U R) the church!
So, now that we have seen that you are (U R) the church, another question arises and that is what is expected of you as members of the church of Christ and this local church known as Lighthouse Independent Baptist Church?
Before seeing that, there is something very important for us to note. And that is that no one member is greater, better, or more important than any other member of this church! We are not here to compete with one another! Everyone that has a part in this church is just as important as the next person! Whatever job it is that you do, it is needed and important to the function of this church! Remember that God is no respecter of persons and that we are members one of another! We’re in this together and each member is needed and is important to this church!
Just like an orchestra or choir, if one person is missing from their spot, it affects the entire performance of that orchestra or choir. Just like a car that is missing its fuel pump or engine, it can’t run! The same is true of the church, if you have a part in this church and you’re not here or you don’t do your job in the church, it affects the entire function and flow of the church no matter how big or how small the job or task may seem! Again, each member is needed and is important to this church! Don’t ever forget that!
Acts 10:34. Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
Romans 12:3-8. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
I Corinthians 12:12-31
Back to our question, now that we have seen that you are (U R) the church, what is expected of you as members of the church of Christ and this local church known as Lighthouse Independent Baptist Church?
1. Your Faithfulness Is Needed
Faithfulness to what you ask? Your faithfulness to the services of this church.
Hebrews 10:23-29. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
When the doors of the church are open, God and His church must take priority! If you’re too busy to get to church for three services per week, you’re too busy! God and His church should always take priority over whatever you may be doing if at all possible! Now listen, I understand those that have to work and those that are sick but folks if you can be here, BE HERE! Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and any special meetings/services we may be having.
Folks, I know it may not seem like that big of a deal to you but notice verse 25 of Hebrews 10 and the big deal it is to God – SO MUCH THE MORE – not so much the less! We are given a clear instruction by God that we are to be having more church, not less! Your faithfulness to the services of this church is needed.
2. Your Involvement Is Needed
Folks, did you know that coming to church is not a spectator’s sport? And contrary to what some would have you believe, coming to church does not mean coming to sit, soak, and sour getting nothing out of the services! Listen folks, your involvement is needed! How?
First, it starts at home even before you leave and start your trip here. You must do your best with the Lord’s help to have a good spirit! Make sure your heart is right, ready to receive what God has for you! Don’t come to church with a spirit that’s ready to point out all that went wrong today or to complain about something. Don’t have that kind of a spirit coming to God’s house!
Secondly, once you get here, have a smile on your face, a jump in your step. You say, well I had a bad week, that’s okay; you’re in church, ready to meet with God and worship God! Ready to fellowship with fellow believers in Christ! Show some excitement and joy, its okay, really!
Thirdly, once the service begins, get involved in the service! Sing! You say, I can’t sing, that’s okay! Nowhere in the Bible does it say you need to know how to sing, it just says make a joyful noise! When you’re singing, O! Say, but I’m Glad, for the love of God look like you’re really happy and glad for what Christ has done for you!
When it comes time for the offering, give and do so cheerfully! When it come times for Bruce to play the offering, say amen, encourage him, let him know you’re thankful for his ministry to us!
When the choir to sing or for a solo, duet, or any other kind of special music, again say amen, encourage the folks ministering to us, let them know you’re thankful for their ministry to us!
When it comes time for the preaching, say amen, encourage the preacher! Its okay folks, we won’t get mad because church should not be dead!
Fourthly, get involved with first time visitors when you see them. Make each one feel welcome and at home! No visitor should ever sit alone, get to them, and get to know them. Make sure when visitors come in those doors that they know they are coming into a friendly, warm, and welcoming church!
Fifth, get involved with each other! We should not just come to church to get in and get out, stay, take the time to find out what is happening with your other brothers and sisters in Christ here at Lighthouse! Folks, “how are you doing?” on Sunday morning should not be the extent of your conversation with your church family! Get involved with one another!
Sixth, when a need is announced or you see a need, get involved and seek to meet that need! You see something that needs to be done, get it done! Classes, ministries, books, Bible helps that are made available to you, take advantage of them and what your church offers you!
And finally under this point of getting involved, above all else with whatever it is that you’re involved with here at Lighthouse, do it joyfully, with the right heart and spirit! Your involvement is needed.
3. Your Support Is Needed
There are two ways in which you can support your church.
First is financially so that the church can keep running, seeing lives changed, and souls saved as a result of this church’s ministry to this city and beyond. Your support financially is needed for faith promise and to keep the missionaries on the field reaching foreign lands for Christ! Your support financially is needed.
Malachi 3:10. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
I Corinthians 16:2. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
The second way to support your church and perhaps even more important than your support financially is your support prayerfully! Listen folks, your pastor, deacons, and leadership need your prayers daily! For family, church, work, health, and the list goes on and on!
You can give all the money you want but if you’re not praying for this church, this church will fail! The leadership of this church will fail! Because they face an enemy that doesn’t care about how much money is given and that is the devil. All the devil wants to see is the pastor, deacons, and leadership fall and fail and as a result seeing the church fall and fail! Your support prayerfully is needed!
1 Thessalonians 5:17. Pray without ceasing
Luke 18:1. And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
James 5:16. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
4. Your Faithful Labor Is Needed
Folks, there is much to do both within the church, jobs and projects that need to be done, and without, soul winning, witnessing, handing out tracts, and getting the Gospel to a loss and dying world! Yet one person, two, or even three can’t do all that needs to be alone and that is where you and your faithful labor are needed! And notice I said faithful labor is needed, not slothful, and lazy; get half the job done labor but 110 % faithful labor!
Matthew 9:37-38. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; ray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
Your faithful labor is needed.
Also may I say if you’re not currently doing something in the church, get to it! You know the needs here, don’t be one of these people who have to wait to be asked to get involved and help, just get involved and help! Get the job done!
May I go even a step further and say, don’t be one to just sick, soak, and sour in a church pew for all of your Christian life! God did not send His son to save you so that you could sit, soak, and sour! Jesus Christ, our Lord did not suffer, bleed, and die on a cross to save you to sit, soak, and sour! No, rather He saved you to serve Him both in the church and out of the church getting the Gospel to those that are lost just like you were! Your faithful labor is needed.
As we close this message, I began thinking why is our faithfulness, involvement, support, and labor needed. I found two verses that sum up both our purpose as a church and why it is we are to do what we do pretty well.
Ephesians 3:21. Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Our faithfulness, involvement, support, and labor is needed so that Christ gets the glory and we as a church have a testimony that is glorious, with no spots, no wrinkles, holy, and without blemish! This is why faithfulness, involvement, support, and labor is needed from you!
Yes, you are (U R) the church! But with that comes some expectations and some great responsibilities! There is a quote that says, with great power comes great responsibility. How true that is of the church! See folks, the church has great power, power to see souls saved and lives changed! That also happens to be our priority, purpose, and responsibility! To see souls saved, lives changed, to preach and teach this precious Book so that people may apply what they have heard and learned to their lives and grow closer to God!
Sadly, most churches, not all, but most in this day and age have forsaken and given up their priority, purpose, and responsibility and because of that they have lost their power, and our nation and world is suffering because of it!
See folks, when you forsake the responsibility God has given you, you lose any power that you had to make a difference! And that is what the churches have done! They’ve given up their priority, purpose, preeminence, and responsibility for your best life now and purpose driven type of preaching! But that is not our priority, purpose, preeminence, or responsibility as a church!
Our priority is to see souls saved and their lives changed as a result of the teaching and preaching of the Word of God! Our purpose is that, to preach and teach this Book, not our opinion or the teachings of man but this Book and this Book alone. Jesus Christ is to be and have our preeminence in all that we do! If we remember this, we’ll not forsake our responsibility and we’ll not lose our power!
As we close here tonight, may I encourage each of you to do your part to make sure this church never forsakes its priority, purpose, preeminence, and responsibility losing our power in the process! Yes, you are (U R) the church! Without U R, there can be no church! May I go even a step further and say that you are (U R) the future of the church! Without U R, there can be no future for the church, no future for Lighthouse! Do your part by being faithful, supporting, and laboring for the church that God has placed you in!