BIG IDEA OF THIS SERMON SERIES: What’s the big deal with Church? What constitutes a local Church? What does it mean to be the Church? What is the purpose and mission of the Church? As Christians, we must wrestle with what it means to be the church, not just with our ideas of it. To be faithful to Jesus, we must gather our answers for these questions from the Bible and operate by what he says about his Church. In this sermon series, Pastor Brett will spend 12 weeks biblically exploring what the church is, why it exists, and what it means for us.
BIG IDEA OF JESUS SAVES HIS CHURCH: Jesus is alive. Simple, yet miraculous and life-giving for his church. Jesus’ church is made up of all those whom he has saved. He lived for his church’s righteousness, died for his church’s sin, and resurrected to eternal life for his church’s salvation, according to God’s definite plan (Acts 2:22-24). Jesus lives to save his church. The call goes out to all: repent (turn) from sin to Jesus for salvation. Jesus saves the religious from their sin of religion, he saves the rebellious from their sin of rebellion, and he saves the ravenous from their sin of ravaging when they turn to him. All those who come to him through repentance and faith are saved from sin and death to freedom and life in Jesus and given power by the Holy Spirit who comes to live inside them. Christians are forgiven in Jesus and given power by the Holy Spirit to live a new life- repenting from sin to Jesus for all their days, witnessing in word and deed about the resurrected and saving Jesus, and calling people to repent and believe on Jesus for salvation. Furthermore, when Jesus saves someone he saves them into his church. The church is likened to a flock of sheep, not lone wolves. We are sheep, Jesus is our Chief Shepherd, and sheep go in a flock.
BIG IDEA OF JESUS BUILDS HIS CHURCH: Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Jesus saves His church and gives them grace to live a new life, for his glory, empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Jesus started building His church 7,000 miles from Oklahoma, around 2,000 years ago as we see in the book of Acts, and He is still building it the same way today. Jesus builds His church with regenerated members and called and qualified leaders. In obedience to the Bible, they gather regularly for preaching and worship, scatter regularly for Bible study, meals, and prayer, they are united in the gospel by the Holy Spirit, they observe the sacraments of communion and baptism, and they are serious about holiness. Furthermore, they live as missionaries to the world by being serious about the Great Commandment (to love God and man) and the Great Commission (to make disciples of all nations), for God’s glory and their joy.
BIG IDEA OF JESUS LOVES HIS CHURCH: The Apostle John was keenly aware of the love of Jesus. John walked with Jesus, was taught by Jesus, stood near the cross while Jesus’ was crucified for sin, and was an eyewitness to Jesus’ resurrection for salvation. The word that John uses for love is the greek verb Agape, which means, “Seeking the good of someone else, no matter the cost.” John is showing us that Jesus seeks his church’s good no matter the cost, and that we should love his church in the same way. John points us to 4 distinct things about Jesus’ love for his church in 1 John 3:14-18, (1) Jesus’ love lives in his church. (2) Hate lives in those that are still dead in sin. Hating the brothers (the church), is murder. (3) Jesus loves his church and showed it most evidently on the cross, dying for their sin so that, through trusting in Jesus, they may be forgiven, made righteous, and adopted into God’s family. Finally, (4) Jesus’ church loves each other like Jesus has loved them, selflessly and practically.
BIG IDEA OF JESUS LEADS HIS CHURCH: Jesus saves his church, builds his church, loves his church, and leads his church. But how does he lead it? Jesus says that the church is like a flock of sheep, and that he is the Good Shepherd that lays down his life for the sheep1. Jesus is the ultimate authority and Head of the church2, the Apostle who plants a church3, the Leader who builds the church4, the Senior Pastor of the church5, and it is ultimately Jesus who closes the doors of churches when they have become faithless or fruitless6. Jesus is our Senior Pastor! That’s good news because Jesus is sovereign and he loves us. (1 John 10:14-15, 2Eph 1:9, 3Heb 3:1, 4Matt 16:18, 51 Peter 5:4, 6Rev 2:5)
Jesus then calls1, qualifies2, and raises up3 godly men4 to be Pastors that love both Jesus and the church. As they follow Jesus, Pastors are to lead by feeding the flock, guiding the flock, protecting the flock from false teachings, false teachers, and false beliefs, and are ultimately the ones that are held accountable to Jesus for the health of the flock. In 1 Peter 5:1-15, the Apostle Peter tells us that Pastors are to lead willingly, not under compulsion; eagerly, not for shameful gain; by example, not by domineering; and finally, Pastors are to lead for Jesus, not for themselves or for the praise or reward of man. Jesus is the Pastor’s rewarder and is himself the reward5! Pastors are to humbly lead the church to Jesus and for Jesus by the preaching and application of the Word of God, and church members are to humbly submit to and follow the leadership of their Pastors for their joy and God’s great glory. (1 Acts 20:28, 21 Tim 3:1-7, 31 Peter 5:5, 41 Tim 2:11-3:7, 51 Peter 5:4).
BIG IDEA OF JESUS SERVES HIS CHURCH: How can you tell if someone truly loves you? If they serve you. Jesus says that Deacons are lead-sevants in his church that are qualified and then appointed by Pastors to serve alongside them to love, lead, feed, and protect the flock. Deacons serve alongside the Pastors in order that the Pastors may focus on studying the Word and prayer. Though Deacons are lead-servants, all those who are in Christ are servants of Jesus, of his church, and of the entire world (Mark 10:42-44). In Mark 10:42-44, Jesus is saying in effect, “Do you want to be great? Serve. Do you want to leave a legacy? Serve. Look at me! I’m the only one that truly deserves to be served, yet I am serving you by living, dying, and resurrecting in your place as your substitute. The only way you will be freed from your sin and made righteous is by my serving you, so that’s what I’m doing.” How will the world know that we love them? If we serve them. How will our husbands or wives know that our “I love you”‘s are more than flattery and lip service? If we serve them. How will our coworkers know that we truly love them and care about them? If we serve them. The gospel message will be more receptive in people’s ears off-the-bat if people know that we actually love and care about them.
While we are freed from sin, called, and commanded to serve, we do not find our hope and identity in our service to Jesus and others. We find our hope and identity in Jesus’ service to us. Jesus is the true and better servant that “came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus didn’t come to merely show us how to live; Jesus came to die for our sin so that we may have life. This sets Jesus apart from the founders of any other major world Religion. Every Religion is essentially teaching you how to scale the mountain of god, but Jesus is the righteous One that came down the mountain to throw us on his back and carry us up by his own strength. This is the gospel. At the heart of Religion is advice. At the heart of Christianity is news that brings joy (gospel). Religion says, “repent and do better!” The Gospel says, “Repent, and believe that because of Jesus, ‘It is finished!'”