The Church

October 19, 2014   Ephesians 4:7 – 16    The Church 

 

     Why would God go to all the trouble to endure our bad choices and our flagrant sinning in order to have relationship with us? Hear the story of the lost son from the modern setting as told by Philip Yancey in his book What’s so Amazing about Grace.  Yancey tells the story of a prodigal daughter who grows up in Traverse City, Michigan. Disgusted with her old fashioned parents who overreact to her nose ring, the music she listens to, the length of her skirts, she runs away. She ends up in Detroit where she meets a man who drives the biggest car she’s ever seen. The man with the big car – she calls him “Boss” – recognizes that since she’s underage, men would pay premium for her. So she goes to work for him. Things are good for a while. Life is good. But she gets sick for a few days, and it amazes her how quickly the boss turns mean. Before she knows it, she’s out on the street without a penny to her name. She still turns a couple of tricks a night, and all the money goes to support her drug habit.  

     One night while sleeping on the metal grates of the city, she began to feel less like a woman of the world and more like a little girl. She begins to whimper. “God, why did I leave? My dog back home eats better than I do now.” She knows that more than anything in the world, she wants to go home. Three straight calls home get three straight connections with the answering machine. Finally she leaves a message. “Mom, dad, it’s me. I was wondering about maybe coming home. I’m catching a bus up your way, and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow. If you’re not there, I‘ll understand.” During the seven hour bus ride, she’s preparing a speech for her father. And when the bus comes to a stop in the Traverse City station, the driver announces the fifteen-minute stop. Fifteen minutes to decide her life.  

     She walks into the terminal not knowing what to expect. But not one of the thousand scenes that have played out in her mind prepares her for what she sees. There in the bus terminal in Traverse City, Michigan, stands a group of forty brothers and sisters and great-aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandmother and a great-grandmother to boot. They’re all wearing goofy party hats and blowing noise-makers, and taped across the entire wall of the terminal is a computer-generated banner that reads – Welcome Home!   Out of the crowd of well-wishers breaks her dad. She stares out through the tears quivering in her eyes and begins her memorized speech. He interrupts her. “Hush, child. We’ve got no time for that. No time for apologies. We’ll be late. A big party is waiting for you at home.”

     This story speaks so much of grace.  It reminds us of the prodigal son that we see in Luke 15.   It reminds us of man’s bent to sin and rebel and our brokenness.   That family represents the true church of Jesus Christ.  We are born with a sin nature that is against God’s holiness.  We are born in sin.  Sin passed from Adam to all men.    We are not born in the family of God.   Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life no man can come to the father but by me.  Jesus is the only way for anyone to get to heaven and to God.   There are not many roads that lead to heaven.   Acts 4:12 there is no other name that people can be saved by under heaven.   Allah will not get you to heaven.   Christ in us is the hope; of glory.   Jesus is the answer for our sin.  He is the only way for a person to have eternal life. 

      God extends grace to us through the life and death of Jesus and there is no church and no body of Christ without Jesus and salvation.    The Christian has experienced grace.  We understand that God and Jesus experienced a huge amount of suffering and pain as Jesus took the sin of the world upon himself – Jesus took your sin and my sin.    When we repent and receive Jesus into our life God gives us mercy and gives us grace.   The church is an example of God’s grace.  The church is an example of God’s mercy.   Some churches may not be but the true church is.   When we receive Jesus God’s precious grace is extended to us.   We become a new creation the old has passed away and the new has come.   We become a child of God.   We have a new power within us to live a godly life.   Because God is gracious he allows us to choose him or to choose living our lives for our self.   John 1:12 tells us yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name he gave the right to become children of God.  

    In verse7 we see the word grace.  There is no Christian, no church and no body of Christ without grace.   For by grace you have been saved through faith.   In this passage we see that God gave gifts to men.  Out of his grace he blesses each Christian with at least 1 spiritual gift.    He is the one who empowered men to serve.   He is the one who called some to be evangelists, some to apostles, some to be prophets, some, to be pastors and teachers.  I personally believe that all of these gifts are valid today.  Many do not believe that the gift of apostle and prophet is valid today.   The apostles today may not be as gifted the same as the apostles that we see in the New Testament.  I believe that gift is needed today and those that are gifted serve over several churches and perhaps even cities or countries.   I believe the gift of prophecy is given by God today and it is good for the church.   Sometimes God will give a special word to a person and then tell them to share that with someone else or to a church.   I know a church where a person during a certain point of the service can stand up and say this is what I feel God is saying to us.   If any of you ever feel that God has given you a word for the church let Bill and I know and if we feel led by the Lord we will make room for that word.    The church can listen to it and pray and ask God to confirm it to them.  It could be a word for some people in the church or for the whole church.  There are 2 lists of gifts in I Corinthians 12 and a list of gifts in Romans 12.   Also these gifts are like offices or positions in the body. 

     God has gifted each body with the gifts that He wants each group to have.   This church body is gifted.   This passage discusses the body pulling together so that all may come to maturity.  We are not supposed to remain Christian babies.   A 21 year old acting like a 1 year old is out of place.  How do we grow by the word of God, prayer, walking in obedience and serving.    There is blessing and peace as the church pulls together.  There is order and growth.   Christian maturity is taking place in this passage.   People are growing in service and faith.   They are growing in the walk with the Lord.  It does not mean that there are not issues.  If you look at the book of Acts where the first century church exploded you can see a number of issues that the church had to deal with.   Some of the problems were external and some were internal.   There was persecution. 

       Every Christian has a gift.  Each Christian in this church has at least 1 spiritual gift.  It is our joy and responsibility to use our gifts.  Gifts are given so we can serve.  Gifts are given to you so that you can bless others.   Every Christian has at least 1 gift that they can use for the glory of God.    That means that every Christian is a minister.   If you are saved you are a minister.    We can feel the presence and joy of the Lord as we use our gift.  It is a blessing to use our gift.    Wayne Cordeiro tells of a receptionist from his church who has found a “little slice of heaven on earth” around God’s people:  He found out she worked her “day job” six days a week, and volunteered to be a receptionist at the church building her one day off.    He says:  “Why do you come here and do this?” He asked. “Being here is like a breath of fresh air,” she replied.   “Don’t you want to take a day off?”   “This IS a day off,” she responded. “It fills my soul.”  What a joy and blessing to know your spiritual gift and to use it.  It is a blessing when pull together in unity to create something that is far greater than they could do on their own.  It is neat when Christians pull together to glorify God and build his kingdom.  It is all about Jesus and not us.  

       The body of Christ or the church is a family.  We are brothers and sisters in this church.  We are members of the same family.  We all have one father.   We all have the same faith even though we may have different beliefs and ideas about things in the bible.  We have one rule book the bible.  God has put us together for a reason.  We can learn and grow together.  As someone has said. Similarly, we have many more reasons to honor one another than to dishonor one another.   We have the same owner!   The same Father is cheering us on from the press box.   We have the same Savior who scouted us and forgave us.    We have the same Spirit within, the same playbook, the same purpose and we are going to same place when life is over.  We are family.  Some have not officially joined this church yet and it is a step of faith to join.  It is a privilege to be a church member and to serve.   How do you see this church?   How does God see his church?  Do you love this church and desire to serve in this church?    Jesus loves his church.  Jesus died for Christians and for his church.  His church is beautiful.  Satan hates the body of Christ.  I know this church has been cursed by a few people.  In Genesis 12 God told Abraham that I will curse those that curse you.    I know that Satan hates this church because we share the gospel.  This church is loved and has been blessed by the Father.   I know this church is in a war and this world is at war with darkness and light the kingdom of God and the prince of this world.    

     Read article on a church visit. 

     The body of Christ which is the church is supernatural and eternal.  It is empowered by the living God.   Though often cursed in the world its beauty is beyond anything in this world.  The church is ever in God’s eye and upon his heart.   The church is empowered by the Holy Spirit and endued with gifts.   The church is made up of redeemed saints.   Yes I said saints.   We are saints and that does not mean that we are perfect.  When Paul wrote letters to the churches in the New Testament he often called them saints.  The church is the light of the world.  The church is one place in the world where truth can be found.  The church is the place of prayer.   The church is a hospital.   It is a place of grace and mercy for lost people.   It is a place of compassion.   In the true church of Jesus Christ encouragement and blessing will be found.   The church is the place where those who are slaves to sin can be set free.  It is a place of physical healing and spiritual healing.  It is the place where families can be united and drawn together.   It is the place where Christ is the head and lord.  Jesus is the pastor/leader of every true church of His.  The church is a place of blessing and peace.   It is the place where hungry souls can be fed.   The true church is a blessing.   It is a place where people serve and give.   The church is supported by its people and by the Holy Spirit.   It is the place that God has ordained to care for people from conception, birth to the grave.   I believe that the church stands head and shoulders above all other organizations.  The body of Christ the church is not perfect but is being perfected and is growing in Christ like.   Jesus has been called the lily of the valley and so is his church.    This church is lovely.   This church is blessed.  It is a great privilege to minister and serve in this church and in the harvest field.