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.
Go For The Greater Challenge Acts 1:8
“Ministry is messy” those were the words of my professor and adviser Dr. J.K. Jones during my ordination sermon. He wanted me to remember that serving God has its challenges. It’s messy. It doesn’t matter the ministry or service you may be involved in, you will face big challenges. One of the reasons I didn’t want to become a preacher like my father was because I saw firsthand what he went through. If you start working for God and expect it to be a walk in the park, you are in for a big surprise. Every service or ministry has its challenges but the Bible gives us guidance in how we can overcome such challenges.
It seems to me that there are lots of people who have not idea who God really is; the God that Scripture talks about. There may be a lot of people worshiping the Lord and not know who he is. You can be very religious and still not know God. You could have been raised in the church or a particular religion and do religious duties and still not know the one you claim to worship. The Bible tells us that you can be religious and still not know God and therefore not make it to heaven. Religion won’t get you there.