Community Bible Chapel Podcast
1/27/19 The Joy of Community
Have you ever thought about your faith?
-I don’t mean the nuts and bolts of the Gospel.
-Where our sin has separated us from God and He came to pay the price for our sin so that our sin could be forgiven through faith in Him.
-That is all super important and we never want to lose track of that, but there is another aspect of it that I believe the church of today has lost sight of.
-Through faith in Jesus Christ, you and I are saved from our personal autonomy where we think that we call the shots.
-And we are saved into the Body of Christ.
-I believe that some of our thinking in this area has lead the church of today to lose its way.
We have been considering our theme for the year: “The joy of the Lord is our strength”
-And today, I want to extend our gaze to consider the joy of community – specifically, God’s community, or the community of the church.
I invite you to join me in Acts 2 this morning as we look at the church and use this as a template for our church.
-Peter stands up in the temple and begins to preach the Gospel to the Jews gathered there.
-He covers Israel’s history and concludes with their need to trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins.
-He calls on them to repent, trust in Jesus, and be baptized.
Luke, then gives us some commentary on what happened.
Now, this passage speaks to what happens as a result of the Gospel.
Three things . . . .
Come out of the world v. 40
-Peter warns and pleads with the people to come out of the world.
-When we think of the world Biblically, we are speaking of the philosophies and desires that come from the world and are opposed to God.
-Culture tends to follow the philosophies that drive the world.
-Certainly, we are talking about Satan and his influence on this world.
-In a Biblical sense – we are talking about the corruption caused by sin.
-And that corruption has broken this world and left it in desperate need of being redeemed.
-But it’s not that it’s all “out there”, it’s also right in our own hearts.
-Human sin has caused us to interpret life without considering God. Gen. 3
-We have gone our own way and followed our own hearts desires.
-As Jer. 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”
-So, not only is the world broken, but we are as well.
-Beyond any hope that we can fix it ourselves.
-Peter is calling us out from this broken existence.
-But if all we do is forsake the world, we will fall way short of the joy that God has for us.
-The key is not just to be called out of this broken world, but what we are called into.
Added into the community of the local church v. 41
-Those who trusted in Christ didn’t just leave the world and be added to the universal church, but they were added to the local church.
-Peterson’s paraphrase, The Message puts it like this:
“That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up.”
-They joined the local community of believers at the church in Jerusalem.-Ryan and Kimmy are great examples of that – they checked out our church to see if they could grow here and they joined so they might grow in every way that God might want them to grow.
-Called out to be added in to His church – that’s membership.
-Now, some people would rather stay in the world because they have had bad experiences in the church – sad.
Members with benefits
Here are two out of a bunch I could speak of.
-Membership is a commitment that you will stand with the Body of believers in that church.
-You are committing to being there for them.
-There will be meals made, financial gifts made, prayer with, Biblical counsel given.
-Doing what is best for them, no matter the cost to me – that’s the love of Christ living through me.
-And that is what we are committing to.
-Membership is also a commitment from all the other members to you.
-You have their commitment to being there for you.
-There has been meals made, financial gifts given, prayer with, Biblical counsel given, firewood, building projects, cars given, time spent and tears shed.
-Just to name a few!
-That is the commitment they are making to you.
-I have been on both sides of that commitment over the years and I give you testimony that membership in the local church is a joy like nothing else this world has to offer.
-Mutual commitment to mutual growth in Christ.
-I Peter 5:2-3 urges pastors to shepherd those “under your care”.
-That speaks of the care of members.
-Jesus lays out how to care for a sinning brother or sister through lovingly coming alongside them when they are in sin in Matt. 18.-Membership in the local body places the members in the flock of the local Elders and Deacons.
-As members you have elders who will care for you, pray for you, and personally care and counsel you.
-They are not medaling – but members have asked to have that kind of oversight because they are aware of the depth of their sin and understand they need that.
-As I raised my sons, one of the hardest things as a parent was to help my boys understand the depth of their sinful hearts.
-They would laugh and say they could handle it – they were men!
-That is the attitude that creates a toxic male.
-Over time they realized what the Scripture says – that our hearts are sinful and hard to control – we need the help of Jesus and His Spirit.
–We need to place ourselves under authority who will help us with our hearts, and keep us growing.
-And I’ve been on both sides of that as well – it has been so valuable in my life and growth in Christ to have someone come to me and speak truth to me.
-We could go on with many other benefits to membership, but those are the two important ones.
Not only are we called out of the world and into the community of the local church, but to truly grow in all the ways God has for us, we need another step that Luke goes on to describe.
Now, that sounds like a community that loves to be together.
Devoted to the community of the church
-The passage lists teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer.
-The Apostles did miracles, they shared all their stuff, met together daily, and ate together in their homes.
-Now, I’m going to sum those up in three ways for us to consider today for our devotion to God in His community and I will also speak to some of the ways that “life groups” will help us to achieve the goals we have as a church = to disciple and mature the Body.
-This is a no brainer: In order to be devoted you have to be present.
-As an example, there are weeks at church when something special happens.
-We don’t schedule something awesome – God just does it. -Actually, we plan for that every week, but there are weeks when God just super-charges it.
-The problem is that I can’t send out an email telling you which weeks those are going to be.
-Actually, the weeks I think are going to be great – aren’t.
-And the weeks that I go into with fear and trepidation because nothing seems to be connecting or working right, are the weeks that God uses as huge catapults to grow people’s faith. Go figure.
-Ya just gotta be in the community every week.
-On top of that, when you are present, the gifts the Holy Spirit has given to you are present.
-And obviously, when you are not present, the gifts God has given the Body are lacking because your gift is absent.
-When you are not here, the rest of the Body suffers.
-Life groups will help us in that some of our gifts are less visible in the large group and really come into their own in a life group setting.
-We notice in this passage that they met in the temple – large group and in homes – small group.
-And God gifts his church for both settings.
But being present is not really enough, you also have to . . . .
-Now, there are lots of ways to participate, but let’s consider how God has participated with us.
-John 1:18 “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”
-God came to reveal Himself to us.
-To participate with us – so we might know Him.
-He shared his heart, his mission, his life with us.
-To fully know God is to fully love God.
-In a similar way, to be more like Jesus only participate with others when they know us.-Very few people are thinking about making their true self known when they come to church.
-But that’s what Jesus did.
-Our pride temps us to paste on the smile and hope nobody asks how we are really doing.
-We tend to stay in the shadowy recesses of the church – invisible to all.
-And don’t be fooled, you can do that right in front of everyone.
-Hiding who we really are and not participating in the Body.
-So deep fellowship and growth are sacrificed in our cover up.
-Now, that is understandably hard to do in on Sunday morning.
-That is one of the reasons we desire that you all get involved in a life group.
-In the context of a smaller community of the church, we will all be able to reveal ourselves to a group of people that I get to know more fully and where we can care for each other much more efficiently.
-Let me just toss this out there as an example.
-When there is a marriage that ends in a divorce, most in the church don’t know how to respond as a whole.
-We see them on Sunday and don’t know them well, it’s awkward for us and for them.
-We don’t know what to say, they don’t know what to say.
-It’s uncomfortable and what usually happens is they end up leaving.
-That is one of the saddest things about being in ministry to me – we struggle to help hurting people.
-We have to do a better job of helping struggling brothers and sisters as a whole.
-Now, when that happens in a small community, where there is time to get together and talk and cry and pray together, it’s a much different scenario that has a greater opportunity to end much better.
-In a life group, we are forced to participate together, it’s much easier to reveal your true self and it’s also much harder to hide your true self.
-I understand that that might scare some away, but it’s really where true and deep discipleship gets done.
-That’s how Jesus did it.
-Where the capacity of the Body of Christ can be experienced in all its fullness.
-Primarily, life groups are a means to growing in Christ.
-Certainly, lots of other things will happen in a life group, but the goal is spiritual growth, which is the same goal for the church as a whole.
-By the way, discipleship is a large term that has nothing to do with memorizing a bunch of verses or spending a certain amount of time in the Bible.
-Simply put – discipleship is learning how to live as a follower of Jesus.
-Now the spiritual disciplines of Bible study and memorization are important, but by themselves, they will leave us short of our discipleship.
-Eph 4:11-13 spells the mission of the church, which is the same for life groups.
The goal of discipleship: “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
-That is pretty straight forward.
-There are certainly many ways to accomplish discipleship.- I speak to the “one anothering” passages all the time because they are really what makes a church healthy and leads us to maturity – living as a follower of Jesus.
-It’s not the music, the programs, or the pastor that makes a healthy church, it’s how the Body serves one another that matures it.
-Now, there are times when we can do the “one anothering” in the full gathering of the church, but the opportunity to “one another” ministry greatly increases when we get closer to people.
-That’s one reason why life groups will help us as individuals and as a church to grow more mature in the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
-Just to be clear – Life groups are a part of a church, they are not a substitute for the church.
We have come out of the world, been added to the church, but the real question of our growth in Christ is answered in our devotion with the Body.
-As we have been learning, our joy comes from the Lord, participating in His Body becomes a part of that joy the Church of the Living God is where God