SERMON RECAP. Sunday we talked about ecclesiology.That's the study, or doctrine, of the church. This word comes from the Greek word "ecclesia" which speaks of the assembly of called-out ones. The Church is made up of believers who have been called out by God from the world to serve Him.
The New Testament speaks of the Church in 2 different ways. Sometimes a text will refer to the universal Church, that global community of Christ-following people on earth and in Heaven. Our departed saved loved ones are still a part with us of the body of Christ. We are also connected and related to believers in Jesus that we have never met all over the world. At other times, New Testament passages mention local churches. These are specific portions or expressions of the true, worldwide Church that meet in particular places and are microcosms of the universal Church. Riverside Baptist is a local church as was the congregation in Jerusalem or Antioch or Corinth.
Well...my message attempted to answer the basic question, "whose church is it, anyway?". Who does the church belong to?
We looked at a lot of scripture verses. We examined Acts 20:28, 2:47, 9:4, and saw the tie between 1:8 and 8:1. We considered Matthew 16:18 and I Corinthians 3:16-17 and Colossians 1:18 and Ephesians 1:22. I Peter 2:5 was discuused, too. I offered some conclusions.
For starters, it's obvious that the Church belongs to Christ. Pastors or deacons or SS teachers don't own it. Neither do denominations. It's not even the possession of the members. If that's true, then everything we do "ecclesiastically" should be done to advance His kingdom. We're not to be a religious country club that seeks its own comfort and makes its own rules We're to seek His will, not our own preferences. Our vision and goals and strategies should be developed as we pray, search the scriptures, and consult about what will honor Him. When we think we own and control the church and wrap our fingers too tightly around it we're inviting the Lord's discipline.
We nailed down the truth that the Church is a building but not of brick and mortar. The Church is a building of people. We are "living stones" being constructed into a spiritual temple. The Old Testament temple, a literal, physical edifice, foreshadowed and pictured Jesus and also God's people. God dwells in us now. For the first 300 years of Christian history, congregations didn't even have their own facilities. They met in homes and caves and on riverbanks. Today local assemblies do have meeting places, but getting overly attached to them and somehow equating them with the church is totally foreign to the biblical understanding
of what church is. This insight has particular relevance to us right now as we begin the process of possibly disengaging from this property and moving elsewhere. A familiar, much-loved and enjoyed facility may be vacated and left, but the people of Riverside would go on and go forward to new opportunities and experiences as the people of God on mission for Him.
Ultimately the Church of Jesus Christ will be victorious. He said that He would build His Church and that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. Over the centuries the global Church has faced poverty, wealth, scandals, failures, successes and weaknesses, but in the end it will triumph. Our own congregation has had very high times and some very low moments. But we're in this together under the lordship of Christ. As we seek His pleasure He will guide us. As we link arms, put our personal desires aside, and take scary steps of faith, God will reveal to us what's next.
HALLOWEEN. October 31 falls on a Wednesday this year. After discussion, it was the consensus of our Midweek fellowship crowd recently that we not schedule any activities here that night but rather encourage our folks to stay home and meet and greet the families of trick-or-treaters in our neighborhoods. We don't really have the money or the manpower this year to put on a "trunk-or treat" or "harvest fest" event as we do at times. I know that it sounds all pious and spiritual to say "we're not gonna close church just because of Halloween, and hey, isn't that evening the Devil's night, anyway?" but there's another way to look at it. Maybe it's the more spiritual thing to be out there, at home in our communities, as salt and light in the midst of darkness, warmly welcoming folks and perhaps beginning friendships, and maybe inviting people to church. At our place, all the lights will be on! We're gonna make the unspoken point that we're people of the light. Being kind, gracious, friendly neighbors surely is part of the lifestyle that Christ calls us to live, isn't it?