The very day of the resurrection, the disciples of Jesus were afraid to go out in public or even talk about Jesus to someone. They were overpowered by fear and John tells us that the evening of the first day of the week (the evening when Jesus rose from the dead) they were still hiding behind locked doors. They were afraid of the Jews responsible for the death of Jesus. What could possibly change their mood? Their attitude?
The church was Jesus’ idea; he is her founder. Jesus said he would build it. He bought it with his own blood and promised that it will transcend time. The apostles proclaimed Jesus as Lord and Messiah and people received the message and were baptized into Christ, then they were added to the number of followers. This is how the church began in the first century. Two months after the death of Jesus, the church was established. The church is the gathering of those who profess faith in Jesus.
You and I face challenges in every area of our lives. As long as you live, you will have to battle against things in order to accomplish your goals. You will come against obstacles, barriers on your way to accomplishing your goals. In the Christian race you are running, you will be challenged to quit. Growing in Christ is no walk in the park, it requires determination and hard work. The church of Christ will face a great many challenges in her attempts to fulfill Christ’s mission.
Our church is going through the election of elders and ministry leaders. Which get appointed every three years. In most evangelical churches today, you hear the word elders to refer to the leadership of the church. It’s clear to me that there are still people who don’t understand the role or function of elders. We made a pamphlet to guide you and remind you of the biblical qualifications for elders. The Bible also tells us what they did, and we will be looking at a passage in which there are three words to help us understand the biblical functions of elders.
The church was Jesus’ idea; he is her founder. Jesus said he would build it. He bought it by his own blood and promised that it will transcend time. Last week we talked about how the church began at the preaching of the apostles in Jerusalem. The proclaimed Jesus as Lord and Messiah and people accepted this message and were baptized into Christ, then they were added to the number of followers. The church is the gathering of those who profess faith in Jesus. Christ’s church is made up of local congregations throughout the world. Have you ever wondered what it means to be member of Christ’s church?
You can be very religious and not know what or who you worship. There are lots of people in our world today who worship something or someone, but they don’t quite know the object of their worship. Then you have people whose gods are made up, they want their gods to conform to their desires. Their gods need to fit in their preconceived notions for them to believe in them. You may have a form of religion and even practice it, but still not know God.
Sometimes, you hear people label churches as contemporary, traditional, purpose-driven; seeker sensitive; fellowship or service driven, charismatic and so forth. People label churches based on what they see happening in those communities. All these labels don’t matter for a church if the community is not centered on Jesus. If you’d like to know what a Christ-centered church looks like, just take a look at the Antioch church in the first century.
How does the Bible identify Christians? There are marks or behavioral traits that identified the followers of Jesus.
We have been looking at these marks: Brotherly love (John 12:35) By this people will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.
As individuals, what we do or choose not to do sends messages to people regarding our passion, values and commitment.
This is why we read in the Bible we must be careful how we live. Ephe.5:15 Be very careful, then how you live-not as unwise but wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
The Bible highlights marks or signs that identify those who were true followers of Jesus. The first one we talked about two weeks ago is brotherly love, love among your church family. Jesus said the world will know you are my disciples if you love one another.
Last week we talked about the Great Commission, the mission Jesus left to his followers-to go and make disciples of all nations. We find these instructions on Matt. 28:18-20. Last week we learned that this mission is global because it includes all nations on earth. Jesus wants his disciples to make disciples of all ethnic groups on earth. All people matter to God.
WE discussed the fact that every disciple in the Bible was baptized. Jesus commanded to baptize those who were to follow him as disciples. It was a great joy last week when right after the service, we have two believers of Jesus committed to be baptized. It was a great Sunday for the kingdom of God when people commit to doing what Jesus commanded.
Growth is a wonderful thing but with it comes great challenges. We discussed this last week how the church faced challenges in the first century, but these challenges were great opportunities for them to continue growing in their faith. New ministry were being developed and ministry leaders put in place to serve in those ministries. In most churches today, you hear the word elders when referring to the leadership of the church. A lot of people may not have a clear understanding of who these people are.
The church began at the preaching of the apostles and as time progressed you will also hear the word elders for those in the leadership of the church.
A new year has begun and with it, new challengers. You will be challenged in many areas. Your faith and convictions will continue to be challenged. This is a year in which you will have to make a decision regarding who you would like to see as president of this nation. You will face challenges as individuals and we will face challenges as a church. It doesn’t matter the ministry or service you may be involved in, you will face big challenges. If you start working for God and expect it to be a walk in the park, you will be surprised. Every service or ministry has its challenges but the Bible gives us guidance in how we can overcome such challenges.