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I Will Treasure My Church Membership as a Gift

Posted on October 21, 2018

I Will Treasure Church Membership As a Gift

Matthew 16:13 – 20

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Introduction: Growing up on the Atlantic Coast, I spent long hours working on intricate sand castles; whole cities would appear beneath my hands. One year, for several days in a row, I was accosted by bullies who smashed my creations. Finally, I tried an experiment: I placed cinder blocks, rocks, and chunks of concrete in the base of my castles. Then I built the sand kingdoms on top of the rocks. When the local toughs appeared (and I disappeared), their bare feet suddenly met their match.

Many people see the church in grave peril from a variety of dangers: secularism, politics, heresies, or plain old sin. They forget that the church is built upon a Rock (Mt. 16:16), over which the gates of hell itself shall not prevail. - Gregory P. Elder.

Quote: Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man. – Dwight L. Moody

Quote: The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of. Our attention would have been on God. - C.S. Lewis

Quote: “Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, there a church of God exists, even if it swarms with many faults.”- John Calvin

Illustration: Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research wanted to know what Americans “believe about God, salvation, ethics, and the Bible.” Overall, US adults appear to have a superficial attachment to well-known Christian beliefs,” stated the ministry. “For example, a majority agreed that Jesus died on the cross for sin and that he rose from the dead. “However, they rejected the Bible’s teaching on (1) the gravity of man’s sin, (2) the importance of the church’s gathering together for worship, and (3) the Holy Spirit,” stated Ligonier.

For example: More than two-thirds (69%) of Americans disagree that the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation—and 58 percent strongly disagree. Ligonier finds this “alarming.”

A majority of US adults (58%) said that worshiping alone or with one’s family is a valid replacement for regularly attending church. Only 30 percent disagree.

A majority of US adults (59%) say that the Holy Spirit is a force, not a personal being.

Ligonier cites relativism for such a “casual outlook.” In the survey, 6 in 10 Americans agree that “religious belief is a matter of personal opinion [and] not about objective truth”—and 1 in 3 evangelicals (32%) say the same.

Transition: That is why the church is so important, so relevant and so necessary to implant the absolute truths of scripture and a biblical worldview in their lives when they are young. I am working along with Jeremy Jones and our elders to have more of a presence for our church online. The way people grow in Christ has changed with the internet.

Review

I Will Be a Functioning Church Member

I Will Be a Unifying Church Member

I Will Not Let My Church Be about My Preferences and Desires

I Will Pray for My Church Leaders

I Will Lead My Family to be Healthy Church Members

Purpose: Every Christ Follower should so appreciate and cherish the gift of the church they should support it with their commitment and share it with others who need Christ

Transition: Let’s look at our sixth study from the book “I Am a Church Member”.

Church membership is a gift to be cherished – Ephesians 5:25 – 27

Ephesians 5:25 – 27

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

  • According to John Piper’s take on these verses concerning the church, he says “How did he love the church? Verse 25 says he “gave himself up for her.” But why? Verse 26 says, “that he might sanctify” and cleanse her. But why did he want to do that? Verse 27 answers, “that he might present the church to himself in splendor!”
  • Ah! There it is! “For the joy that was set before him [he] endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). What joy? The joy of marriage to his bride, the church. The joy of presenting the church to himself in blood-bought splendor.
  • Jesus does not intend to have a dirty and unholy wife. Therefore, he was willing to die to sanctify and cleanse his betrothed so he could present to himself a wife “in splendor.” He gained the desire of his heart by giving himself up in suffering for the good of his bride”
  • He is committed to the end to bring the church to heaven, mature, holy, and clean at the rapture and His imminent return
  • To be a member of this all-inclusive group based on whoever will come is an amazing privilege

Illustration: In a recent book entitled “The Way Back: How Christians Blew Our Credibility and How We Get It Back”, Phil Cooke and Jonathan Bock ask significant questions:

“Why did the Early Church succeed where we are failing? How did they transform the Western world in such a relatively short time? They did it because they did things that baffled the Romans. The Early Church didn't picket, they didn't boycott, and they didn't gripe about what was going on in their culture. They just did things that astonished the Romans. They took in their abandoned babies. They helped their sick and wounded. They restored dignity to the slaves. They were willing to die for what they believed. After a while, their actions so softened the hearts of the Romans that they wanted to know more about who these Christians were and who was the God they represented.”

Without confrontation, protest, or debate, love did its work.

How much do you love the church?

  • The church is here for you much like a loving family member
  • We serve you when you are sick or just in need of prayer
  • We serve you when you are discouraged and need lifting up
  • We serve you through providing ways to grow in your faith
  • We serve you when you have financial needs
  • We serve you by providing worship opportunities
  • We serve you by being light in our community and making an impact on your friends who you bring to church.
  • May you pause and think in this month of October how grateful you are for your church and the loving, caring body of believers you are surrounded with
  • Imagine for a moment what it would be like to NOT have a loving, caring, church family like we have here at Pleasant View Baptist Church

Application: Do you view church membership as a gift to be cherished?

Transition: May you and I appreciate the wonderful gifts of people that surround you and I with unconditional love. May we not take it for granted

Church membership creates a desire to serve out of gratitude – Psalm 100:2; I Peter 4:10 – 11

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 3 Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

I Peter 4:10 – 11

10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

  • Serve the Lord by serving others gladly – Psalm 100:2
  • Be good stewards of God’s grace since the gifts you have to serve were given from God
    • The Greek Word for gifts and spiritual joy are from the same root word “chara”
    • Gifts given bring joy
    • We are to give to others through the gift of grace that has been given to us.

Ephesians 4:7 – 8

7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”

Acts 20:35

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

  • As I have said many, many times God gives so we can be a conduit of His grace and love to others.
  • Our motivation to serve is based on what Christ has done for us. Out of gratitude and love

Illustration: Bill Broadhurst was a great runner and he entered a 10k race in Omahu, a race that Bill Rodgers would win in less than 30 minutes.

Bill Broadhurst had a handicap, he was paralyzed on his entire left side from an aneurism early in life. But he still loved to run and for him to be in the same race as his hero Bill Rodgers was the greatest thing he could imagine.

The banners had been taken down, the traffic had begun to flow on the roads, there was nothing left that would tell you that a race had been run.

Except one man Bill Broadhurst who was still running the race. 2 hours ago Bill Rodgers had finished the race and now Bill Broadhurst was nearing the place where the finish line was. A couple of kids on bikes road beside him and said "hey mister are you still running the race, it’s been over for hours, someone’s already finished first and won, why don’t you quit, the race is over!"

Broadhurst replied, "I can’t, I have to make it to my hero at the end of the line". And he kept on running.

As he approached the place where he knew the finish line would be, Bill Rodgers and about 30 people stepped out from an alley and they placed a banner up and strung a ribbon across the road. And Bill Broadhurst stumbled across the finish line. And there stood his hero, Bill Rodgers who took off the ribbon from his neck and placed it around the neck of Broadhurst, and he said, "you are winner because you never quit".

Brothers and sisters don’t quit, keep running. Your hero Jesus Christ is at the finish line waiting to give YOU the victor’s crown of life.

And we Christians need to keep running the race.

Jesus is at the finish line waiting for you...He wants to place the golden crown of life on your head... LET’S GO FOR THE GOLD!

Application: Are you serving the Lord and others out of a heart of love and gratitude?

Transition: What is another privilege we treasure as church members?

Church membership is to be encouraged and shared with others- Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19 – 20

Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Quote: “The church is the only cooperative society in the world that exists for the benefit of its non-members.”  - William Temple

  • REACH initiative / Scott Community College Christian Fellowship

Matthew 28:19 – 20

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

  • God’s plan for spreading His kingdom work and growing His children into maturity is found in this passage of scripture
    • As someone goes and shares Christ, he is creating new disciples for Christ
    • Then that new disciple of Christ gets baptized as his or her identifying with Christ and making it public
    • Then this new disciple continues on through personal growth and the church’s helping him / her to grow to become more like Christ
    • So, in turn this disciple will help make other disciples.
    • That is God’s ONLY plan to perpetuate and grow the church.
    • He does that through local franchises we call church families throughout all time, all cultures and all throughout the world.
      • We can look at our church as we would a glass half full or a glass half empty
        • God has promised to do greater works through us. – John 14:12
        • He said call unto me and I will show you great and mighty things – Jeremiah 33:3
        • He said He could do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or think – Ephesians 3:20 – 21
        • According to James 4, we have not because we ask not.
        • But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” – I Corinthians 12:9
        • I believe this church is one of the best kept secrets of churches in our area. We have a lot to offer for a church our size
        • Do we get excited about our church? Excited enough to tell others, invite them and share the benefits of our church and what we have to offer?
        • Look around at all the empty seats that God wants to use us to fill. Who have you invited to church recently?
        • We have so much potential for spiritual and people growth if we would be intentional in our prayers for God to help us join in how He is working in the lives of others around us

Illustration: Brian Bill / Couple at HyVee parking lot. God wants us to be intentional because someone’s eternity could depend on us talking with them.

  • We should be so glad to be a part of God’s family that we would want to share this blessing with others who do not know Christ or do not have a church family.

Family of God

I'm so glad I'm a part of the Family of God,

I've been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood!

Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,

For I'm part of the family,

The Family of God.

 Composed by Bill Gaither

Application: What stands in your way of becoming a member of Pleasant View Baptist Church?

Key Thought: Now is the time to be the church member God wants you to be…. fully committed to Him and His local church family.

  • Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of the greatest institution God created and placed on this earth?
    • Jesus died for it and gave His all
    • It is the ONLY hope for the world
    • For some it is a matter of commitment
      • To get baptized
      • To go through the class – November 12th is the next chance to take the class in order to join the church.
      • To commit your time and talent and treasure of which most of you are already doing that
        • You are not a second-class citizen if you do not join
        • It does give you more possibility of involvement in leadership and have a vote in our meetings along with accountability and other benefits
        • Our church and The Universal Church need workers and leaders for the harvest

Matthew 9:36 – 38

36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Ask not what your church can do for you, but ask what you can do for your church

Pledge

This membership is a gift. When I received the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, I became a part of the body of Christ. I soon thereafter identified with a local body and was baptized. And now I am humbled and honored to serve and to love others in our church. I pray that I will never take my membership for granted, but see it as a gift and an opportunity to serve others and to be a part of something so much greater than any one person or member.

Illustration: When it was built for an international exposition in the 19th century, the structure was called monstrous by the citizens of the city, who demanded it be torn down as soon as the exposition was over. Yet from the moment its architect first conceived it, he took pride in it and loyally defended it from those who wished to destroy it. He knew it was destined for greatness. Today it is one of the architectural wonders of the modern world and stands as the primary landmark of Paris, France. The architect, of course, was Alexandre Gustave Eiffel. His famous tower was built in in 1889.

 In the same way we are struck by Jesus' loyalty to another structure--the church--which he entrusted to an unlikely band of disciples, whom he defended, prayed for, and prepared to spread the gospel. To outsiders they (and we) must seem like incapable blunderers.

Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

 But Jesus, the architect of the church, knows this structure is destined for greatness when he returns.  - John Berstecher.

Prayer for our Church and Church Family

Challenge

Video: Now is Our Time