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Coming to Grips with Why the Church Exists

posted Sep 29, 2014, 7:06 AM by Website Administrator   [ updated Sep 29, 2014, 7:06 AM ]
September 7, 2014
Key Passage: Ephesians 3:7-13

“Coming to Grips with Why the Church Exists”

Ever heard someone say, “I don’t have to go to a church to be a Christian?”  I used to say that, in part because growing up, the look and feel of the churches I went to formed a place of fellowship for me as well as the foundation for confusion and paradox.  For instance, how could people who love each other turn on each other so quickly?  How could people who profess to care about God’s Word not have a clue what it actually says?  How could people who care so much about the goings on in the church not give a rip about the dying world outside its doors, and how could people who did care about the sin lives of others have no regard for their own sin?  As a result, I kicked church to the curb from the time I was 18 until Lynn began to drag me back at age 26.   In fact, it wasn’t until I was 30 that I was actually saved.  That’s when I began to understand why the church exists – not to “meet my needs,” but as the primary source for reflecting Christ to the world.  Just as Jesus revealed God in human flesh, the church is to reveal Christ to our communities.  Today’s passages shows us what the “church” should really look like … especially when it comes to sharing with and caring for a dying world. 

Ephesians 3:7-13 Why the Church Exists

God’s eternal purpose is to make known his wisdom, in fact, his Son, through the church … John 
Piper once said, “We don’t usually hit targets we’re not aiming at – and the target for the church is to demonstrate to the evil powers of the cosmos that God has been wise in sending his Son to die that we might have hope and be unified in one body … the church.”  Frankly, when the church fails, or better yet, when we fail the church, we send this message to the world: God’s purpose is failing; he wasn’t wise, he was foolish.

Acts 2:42-47 Marks of the first church in existence … what a “real” church should look like:

1. Absolutely committed to the Word of God and absolute truth. Most churches today rely on a “feel good” message to appease people and grow membership.  The first church didn’t give a rip about numbers - they were totally committed to studying, discussing, and sharing God’s truth.

2. Absolutely committed to worshipping and praying together.  The idea that one can be a follower of Christ and not be committed to getting together with other Christians was completely foreign.

3. Absolutely committed to evangelism – sharing God’s Word in order to bring others to Christ.

4. Absolutely committed to taking care of the “least of these.”  That said, “social activism Christianity” without the first three just makes this a better place to go to hell from …

Why do we need to be fully committed to our church?

A. Church moves us out of self-centered isolation 1 Corinthians 12:25-26
B. Church helps us develop spiritual muscle Ephesians 4:14-16
C. Church keeps us united and with hope   Hebrews 3:12-13

Q:  Are you an attender, or a member?  Attenders are spectators from the sidelines; members get
      involved in ministry.  Attenders are consumers; members are contributors.  Attenders want 
      the benefits of a church without sharing the responsibility.  They’re like couples who want to
      to live together without committing to a marriage. We can’t be devoted to the Head, who is 
     Christ, and at the same time cut ourselves off from the body, His church.

Q:  Agree / Disagree: The American church has become irrelevant b/c it’s doctrinally anemic?
Q:   In our church, which should take precedence: truth our love?

Bottom Line: Most Christians don’t fully commit themselves to the church because, at heart, we’re narcissistic (e.g., “what’s in it for me?”).  The church is, literally, the instrument God uses to reveal His Son to the world.  It’s not about us in the least, and as such, we should respond by committing ourselves to it and praying for God to use us mightily through it.