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Oct 16, 2022

The Church

The Church

Passage: Matthew 16:13-18

Speaker: Matt Petty

Series: Stand Alone Message

Category: Sunday Sermons

Keywords: pastor, church, worship, faith, jesus, sunday, god, ministry, sermon, christian, bible, gospel, hope, grace, preaching, holy spirit, spirit, believe, spirituality, religion, jesus christ, the bible, lord, christianity, holy, catholic, bible study, moral, common ground, explore, local church, personal growth, live music, go to church, bible teaching, livestream, burnt hickory baptist church, burnt hickory worship, belonging to church, interesting facts

God’s heart is not for you just to attend church, its for you to belong to and be with the church. This week, we look at what it means to be a member of a church through the lens of scripture. The Greek word for church is Ekklesia, which derives from Ek – out of and Kaleo – to call, which translates to the called-out body. We are to live together as a called-out community. The bible shows us that God speaks to and through the church and we are the hope to the world as we carry the gospel. Not only is church important for you, but it also holds the power to impact the world and generations to come. Would you want to belong to a church made up of people with your current level of belonging? Are you actively belonging to a church? If not, plant yourself in a local church, and participate and belong. We’d love to connect with you and get you plugged into a local church near you or with us. Take the next step in discovering membership –

We moved to Georgia after my husband retired from the Army after 30 years. Our son lives here with his family and our grandkids. It felt like we were supposed to be here, and it made it easier moving here to have a church and other people to get comfortable. I came here to visit with Tiffany and just fell in love with the preaching, with the worship, first of all. And then she took me to the life group, and I just knew like there was just something in my spirit that connected with those people. And I knew from that day forward that this was going to be my church home. It's like when you go to a certain place and you just automatically feel love, you feel home. That's what it felt like.

I am a widow and I have a young daughter and people have just poured in. And I mean, I'm a stranger. I've only been here for a year, but people have been so generous to meet every single need and have just given freely. And it wasn't even a question of, Oh, you're the new girl. It was, Oh, you're Heather. And I got to be just Heather. And I found my identity here. I felt the need that we do and not just be a part of the church, but to serve the community. And that's all part of our love for children just in general is second nature. So those positions needed to be filled. So, it was just nothing for us to just step right into it and just fill that need with the church. With the church had at that time. So, our yes is our yes. So, I think when you become a member of a church, it's a commitment you're committing to the church that you are going to be a part of it. And it's not just them giving to you, it's what can you give to the church. God gifted us each with such a spiritual ability, a spiritual gift, something that this church can use. And that's my prayer, is that, you know, yes, I've been given so much through coming to Hickory, but as a member, because I signed that commitment and I am now a member, now I get to give back to this community To be a part of something that's bigger and knowing that you just had just a little bitty part of that is just it does my heart good. So come on. Be a part of this amazing family because if you're not, you are missing out. You are truly missing.

Like I said, I'm a single mom. I didn't have somebody beside me. Like I had to make the decision for myself and for my family that this was going to be our church home for me and my daughter. But at the end of the day, like, I knew that was a commitment that I needed to make. And so, I challenge you that if you're sitting out there and this is what you've been thinking about, you've been wavering on it, just take that step of faith and God will bless it. I don't know how, I don't know when, but I promise you that God will bless that step of commitment in that step of faith, and he will walk side by side with you as you take this step, as you commit to this church and as you become a member of Hickory and join this family.

Well, good morning church. I hope you have had an incredible week this week. And definitely, just as we have already said once this morning, I want to invite you as soon as this service is over to join us out on the front lawn to talk trash about teams and those kinds of things. That'll be the most loving afternoon and the most hated afternoon in the whole history of this church. Well, look, I know the last couple of weeks we've been in a series that we're just calling Wisdom from the Master, where we're walking through the Book of Luke and looking at some of Jesus's teachings that really press into our soul and help us walk out our faith. Well, this week, kind of being the week that we focus on the church every year, I'm going to pause that series. Okay. So, for those of you that are type A, don't worry, I know you're reading the program. We will get there. We're going to be back with you next week in Luke, I promise, is still going to be relevant. But I just feel the need once or twice a year to talk about what is the church. Why do we have the church? What is this thing called the church? And what is my response, that's what we're asking today, to the church? And here's my proposition to you. At the end of today's service, I am going to ask everybody in this room to evaluate what your commitment to the church looks like. What does it look like? What is it entail? How are you walking in relationship to the body of Christ, to the church?

Now, when I say the word church, I realize what that does in a lot of people's minds. You see, anytime I stand up here, there has to be some things in my mind. There has to be some ideas. And when I teach people communication, when I walk with other staff or whatever, one of the things that you have to realize any time you're in front of a group of people is that there's so many pockets of people in the room. There are so many different categories of people. There are from the most absolute wise to the Hey, I don't know, I just saw a lot of tents on the front lawn and pull in. I mean, we've got all of that in the room. And when you say this idea of church, it is especially true in that, because here's what I know. All right. Let me get into your head just for a minute. When I say the word church, there are buckets of people in this room. There are some of you. That church has been an absolute staple of your life. I'm talking for like 40 years, 50 years, 60 years. The body of Christ has been part of who you are. It's been a part of your journey, part of your spiritual walk. But I also realize that for some of you, you're new to this thing. Like you have just discovered what it looks like to walk with the church family, to have a group of people around you, to be pressing into a common direction. And I just want to say, man, we're excited that you're here. We're excited that you've jumped into this. But I also know there's many or others of you that the reality is there's been a part of your life or a portion of your life and time that you got burned by the church, not necessarily by the whole church, but maybe by somebody in the church. You got burned or you got betrayed or it left a stain in your mind of what the church is. And you've battled with that for years, and you're just now to the point to where you're like, You know what? I'll go give that another shot. There's a group of you that that are pretty skeptical when you hear the word church, you're kind of a skeptic. You're kind of like, you know what, I've heard that in the news, or I've seen the reports, or I know what's going on. I'm skeptical about this whole church thing. In fact, there's some of you that have been taught to keep the church at arm's length. You really have. And I and I, I really, I feel that. Okay. I know that's there.

There's some of you that the truth is you're just kind of indifferent. It doesn't really make a difference to you. Yeah, you're here. But the reality is you're here because it just makes the rest of the weekend a little more peaceful in your house for you. It's just a little easier to get along with him or a little easier to get along with her. I also understand that the reality is there's this idea of this consumerism that has kind of crept into the church a little bit, where church is just all about, Hey, meet my needs, do what I want, do what I need, meet my family's needs, my preferences with no accountability, no responsibility. So, here's the deal. When you add all of those things together, there is many people, when they hear the word church, when they see the word church, there's many people that results in this low commitment, lack of relationship, kind of lackluster and no zeal when it comes to what is the church and what is it for.

So, here's what I want to do today. I want to lovingly point out today that none of that is God's design for church. I want to lovingly point out today that God's design for church is for you and me to be the church, for us to be the church. In fact, I want to put my whole thesis out to begin with. For those of you that are English people, you're like, Yes, that sets the tone. For those of you that are not English people, you're like, what's the thesis? That's okay. We'll all meet in the middle. All right, here's the principle. I want you to write down. Kind of start the morning. Here it is. God's heart for you is not just to attend church. It's for you to belong and to be the church. All right. Let me say it again, because this there's a lot to unpack in this statement. God's heart for you is not just to attend church. His heart for you is to belong and be the church. Now, what does that mean? That means this. That means that church is not a spectator sport. The church is not a spectator activity. Church is not like a Saturday afternoon, saddled up on the couch with some hot wings watching the game. That's what it means. Church is not this idea that I just see it happening when I get around to it and the conditions are right. Why? Because the reality is, is you don't just come to the church. Listen, you are the church. And I know this is blowing your mind, some of you that are new to this game. You're like, Well, I thought the church was Burnt Hickory. Yes, it is. But you are the church. So, here's the deal. Think about it logically. The church is a place that we come to called Burnt Hickory. But that is not anything compared to the church being the body of believers in the church. So, here's the thing. You're the church. I'm the church. We are all part of the church. And it's not a spectator sport. It's built on Jesus and us serving Jesus. Matthew Chapter 16 in the Bible is the first time in the New Testament that Jesus mentions the Word church. It's the first mention, and there's this thing called a law of first mentioned, that any time in the Bible something is mentioned first, we use that as a translative idea that helps set the tone for what something is. And I want to just show you how Jesus defines church. What does Jesus say about church?

Because if Jesus says something about church, we should probably pay attention to it. Matthew Chapter 16, verse 13 says this I'm going to unpack it a little bit, says when Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, now pause there just for a minute. Okay. We're kind of up north in the Bible land. All right, we're at the Jordan River. Flows right by the spot. Jesus would have been standing in front of this incredibly big rock face. If you go to Israel with us on any of our next trips, you will literally stand in this spot and watch what Jesus was talking about. Man, it just so comes alive when he does this. He stands at this rock face, and he is pointing towards on his left-hand side, there is a literally like huge crevasse. It's a big hole in the rock that was seen as a portal to the demonic forces. It was a Roman god's portal where they actually sacrifice people. They would sacrifice to the Roman gods. So, Jesus is standing in front of this huge rock with his believers. He's looking at this portal and watch what Jesus does. When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, Who do people say that the son of man is? They replied, Well, some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. But what about you? He asked. Who do you say that I am? Now, we teach this for a lot of different things, but listen to what happens here. Simon Peter answered, You are the Messiah, the son of the living God. Jesus replied, Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my father in heaven. Watch verse 18. Here's how it ties all together. And I tell you that you are Peter. And on this rock, I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. So, Jesus is standing at this huge rock face, right? He's standing at this hole in the ground that was looked at as a gate to the demonic world.

And he's looking and he's like, Peter, who do you say that I am? Peter's like, You are the Messiah. You're the one we've been looking for. You're the one that's going to deliver us. You're the one that's going to redeem us from our sins. Jesus looks back at him. He goes, You are right. Yes, Peter, that's what I am. And look, this is when he names him Peter, which ironically means small rock. I love the wordplay. He goes, Yes, Jesus looks back at Peter says, Listen, I am the big rock, I am the foundation rock. And you, Peter, you're a small rock that's going to build on my big rock. And we will overcome this pit of hell right here. And what does he call it? He says on this rock, I will build my church. My church. Now, does he mean at that location? No. He says, Jesus, that on the principle that I am the Messiah, and you are the small little stones building on who I am. I am building the church. Now, what does church mean? We've said this before but let me give you the absolute foundational meaning. The church, the word church in Greek is the word Ekklesia. It's the word Ekklesia. Its two are just a compound word Ek, meaning called out. So, if you're like, oh man, we're in Spanish, we don't want to do this, just hang on with me. I just for a minute. Ek means called out and Kaleo means to call. So out of to call. Now every other language in the world is opposite of English. I don't know why we did this. Probably because we're rebels, and we rebelled. Right. But here's what this really means. When you see the word church. Any time you see the word church, don't think steeple, don't think building. Don't think place think this the called-out body that's what church means. That is the Ek Kaleo, the called-out body. Now, when you see this, I want us to follow the logic in this to get some clarity. Do we gather at a place called Burnt Hickory? Yes. Is Burnt Hickory the church? Yes. But more than that, more importantly than that, listen to this. It is less about a place and more about a called-out body of believers with a common confession that Jesus is the Messiah, that's church. That's what church is. That's what makes church so much more important than one morning of the week that we get up to and go to church.

Do we go to church? Yes, I get that. But are we the church? Yes, even more so. And we see this all over the New Testament. In fact, listen to what Paul says about it in verse Corinthians. Paul says this Paul... It's the intro. We always skip the intro but listen to it. Watch. Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God and our brother Sosthenes, to the Church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called by His Holy people together with those everywhere, who call in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. Watch what He says. Grace and peace to you from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. How does Paul describe the church? Look what he says. He says they're gathered where it's gathered in Corinth. And this specifically, they're sanctified. That means they're being called out. They're being set free from sin. They are called. And what does it say? They're part of a larger global body of Christ. So, Paul is saying that we have this common confession under Jesus. And his common confession is that he is the Messiah. And as a result of that, we live our lives in common unity together. Pressing into this message, he says it also to the Thessalonians in first Thessalonians. Watch what it says. Paul, Silas and Timothy to the church, the called-out body, right Ekklesia, of the Thessalonians and God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. He says, We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father the work that you produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, your endurance, inspired by the hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. What does Paul do? He is describing the church. How is it described? It is like, Hey, we come, we sit, and we soak. No, what are they doing? They're working together. The faithful people that are called out, they're loving, they're enduring, they're hopeful. This is what we're seeing as the church.

I'm trying my best to reshape your paradigm of what church is. Is church a gathering? Yes, but more so than that, it is a common confession of people who are called out of darkness, moving in a direction together to represent Christ so that the gates of Hades will not prevail. So much of the Book of Acts. Right. We've been talking about Luke lately. This is his other book he wrote Acts as well. So much of the Book of Acts describes the called-out church. And I get it. I get it. Chances are if you're here, you agree with everything I have said so far. I mean, you agree with it. I mean, there's not a lot of controversial language in what I've said. The church is the called-out body of Christ. But here's where it gets personal. All right. I'm going to tell you, I'm about to get up in your business. Here's where it gets personal, because when you see the church as the called-out body of Christ, here's what it is. It is assumed in the New Testament that all believers belong, and all believers regularly assemble in the local body of Christ. It's assumed, in fact, I want you to write this principle down. Then we're going to kind of process through it. Here it is. Here's the principles. It's a little bit in our face. Here it is. There is no such thing in the New Testament. As a believer that exists in an independent lifestyle that is not fully active in a local church. There is no such thing. Well, yes, there is Matt. Okay, deal. Show me. Show me. And then we'll decide who buys lunch. Right? Show me.

There is no such thing in the New Testament as a local, but there's no such thing as a believer that associates outside the church and still fulfills their role in Christ. All believers listen to me closely, in Scripture we're assumed to be part of a church. They're assumed to be part of the called-out groups of people who represented Jesus. This is why there is no clear command in Scripture that says be a part of a church. You do realize there's not one there. There's not anywhere, but there's also not a command in scripture. It says, Don't jump off the building. We don't need it because it was assumed if you were in Christ, you were in the church because you are the church. In fact, let's just take the New Testament for a minute, think through this with for me, just for a second. The New Testament was written during this time, and who was it written to? Who was it written to? Revelation two and three? Remember that one who's it written to? It was written to the five churches of Asia. Every letter in the New Testament. The Gospels will give them a little bit of grace because the church wasn't established until Acts. Right? The Gospels. But all the letters. Who are they written to? Every letter is written to either the church or the leader of a church. Why? Why is that? It's because that's where the believers were. That's where the body of Christ is. Why? Because the church mattered. In fact, it matters so much. Look at this. In Acts 20:28, it says this. He's talking to people like me who are overseers of churches. He says, Keep watch over yourselves and over the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you an overseer. Watch what he says. Be shepherds of the Church of God, which he bought with his own blood. Which He bought. Matt, the church doesn't matter.

Well, it mattered to Jesus. He bought it with his blood. So, the shepherds like myself. Pastors were called to watch the church, to shepherd the church that Jesus has purchased with his blood. I want you to see the two sides of this thing. Jesus absolutely desires you to be part of the church. He does. But on the other side of that, here's where Satan wants you. Satan wants to divide you, to call you off of the church, and he wants you to operate in an individualistic spirituality. When you have no one else around you, you have no common direction. You have no common confession, and you feel like you can do it on your own. That's what he wants. And the battle is so real, is it not? Every single week when we gather together, the battle is real. So, here's what I want you to do. I want to give you a couple of things that the Bible teaches about the church. About church. That can kind of help you out. Why? Because Jesus loves the church.

Here it is. Number one, I want you to see this. The God speaks to the church. Speaks to the church. We see this all through scripture. We see this all through history. We've already seen this. He speaks to his bride. He loves his bride. But number two, these are quick hitting. Number two, not only he speaks to the church. He speaks through the church. God speaks through the church. What, how does he do that? He speaks through gifted. He speaks through talents. He speaks through the gifts, the spiritual gifts of people that just lead your LifeGroups. Of people who lead your Bible studies, the people who do things just like I'm doing. We're all over the world right now. You've got people who are taking the Word of God, who are opening it, who are dividing it, who are discussing it together, and who are pointing out spiritual principles so that as the called-out Body of Christ, we can move to operate in this world. Now, here's what I get a lot of times, though. Well, Matt, I can do that on my own. I mean, come on Matt, there's podcasts, and there's websites, and there's books, and there's preaching online, and there's worship online. And all of this stuff is online. To which I would say, yes, it is. And you do need to be taking advantage of all of that. But I'll say this, it's not church. That's not church. That's not being part of the called-out body. Can I tell you why? Here's why. Because if you are only independently searching and feeding yourself, here's what's going to happen. You're going to skip the stuff that gets up in your crawl. I promise you it's going to happen. Here's how it goes in my life a lot of times. I'm reading something in the Bible, and I know it's something that needs to be all up in my business and what do I do? Because I don't want to deal with it. What do I do? Skip it. I don't want to listen to that podcast. That's going to get up in my business right there. Right. And it's what we do. That's how God has called us to belong to the church so that we can hear the full counsel of God. So, we can hear messages that God puts on people like my heart. That gets all up in our business, something I need to hear and not just something I need to skip.

God speaks through the church but watch this. The church is the hope of the world. Number three, the church is the hope of the world. You see just kind of popping in and out, is not belonging to the body. Here's what I want you to see in this. The church is active. The church is moving. The church is a light to the dark. And this is this is so logical. This is so logical. Don't think biblical here. Think logic just for me for just a second. Here's how it works when someone sits and hears the Word of God divided over them. If Christ is in their life, the Holy Spirit is operating in their life, it begins to push them in a direction that begins to speak into a dark world. Now, when you speak into a dark world, that is a tough spot to be. Amen. It is not an easy spot to be, but what the church does is it comes behind you and shows that there is a common confession. There is a group of people, there are so many people around you that share the same feeling that you know, that you are able to take a step of faith because, yes, God is with you. The Holy Spirit is inside of you. Jesus is your Lord, and you got a whole lot of homies that are walking with you. That's what it means. It means that we're not alone. It means we're not walking alone. Teenagers listening to me just for a second. That's why it's so important for your best friends to have a common confession that you have, because it pushes you in that direction. I'm not saying don't be friends with lost people. We got to be friends with lost people because we bring them into the common confession. But your best people have to be people with a common confession that is pushing you, because that's the hope that you can keep walking in. Listen, you've got to belong to move into action. That's what this means. So, here's what culture tells us. Culture says, yeah, go to church, come to church, be entertained, be ministered to. Check the box and say You're done. But here's what Jesus says. Jesus says, Belong to the church, be active in a church, be known in the church. Now, we haven't spent a lot of time on this, be known in the church, but we need to. Here's why. Just like there is not an independent believer that is not associated with the body of Christ in the New Testament.

Here's something else I want to point out. There are not people in the New Testament that are part of a church and not known. And not known. You say Mat, how would you be part of a church and not known? Glad you asked. Here's how You slip in and out. You come when it's convenient. You get here when after it starts you leave before it's over. And you never jump into a group because you never want accountability. You never want anybody to walk with you. You never want anybody to know if you're there or not there. And you want to have it your way. You can't find it in Scripture. Listen, there is not anonymous or unknown believers in the Church of the New Testament, and that's our model. You say Matt, where do you find that? Okay, watch. We'll go through a couple of them. When Peter preached at Pentecost in Acts chapter two, listen to what he said. In Acts 2:41 it says this, those who accepted his message were baptized and about 3000 of them were added to their number that day. What does that mean? They were added to the church. That means they belong to the church. They were active in the church. People knew, Hey, those people weren't here yesterday, but they are here today. They are new. They're now part of the family. Here, let me give you another one. The disciples, they were healing people. They were ministering in Jesus's name. And in Acts 5:14 watch what it says. It says, nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. What does that mean? That means somebody had a list. I mean, somebody had a role. Somebody had a, hey Susie. Yeah? You're in with us now. Let's do this together. Hey, Joe. Hey. Welcome to the family. We are now in a common way. We are walking together. We are doing this together. You are now part of us, and we are part of you. And this common confession of this Ekklesia, this called-out body is going to take us together.

Another one after Stephen's death, Acts 11:24. It says this. He was a good man for the Holy Spirit and faith. And a great number of people were added to the Lord, swapped up the language a little bit, but it shows us to be added to the Lord is to be added to the church. To be added to the church is to be added to the Lord. Because it is the called-out body of Christ. Listen to this last one. This is the one that scares me the worst. The writer Hebrews says this in Hebrews 13:17. It's talking to people like me, leaders of the church, he says, Have confidence in your leaders. That's hard anyway, right? And submit to their authority because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Let me just ask you and I know this is getting into logic and reasoning, but how in the world is a leader of a congregation or leaders of a body of Christ going to give an account for God for people who are just casually dating the church and not actively belonging in the church? You can't. You can't. This is why some of us have slipped into a mode that is not biblically minded church. It's not it's an event. It's an event. All this is to say is that biblically minded people cannot remain anonymous, cannot remain casual, cannot remain superficial, and call themselves independent Christians and still claim the power of Jesus. It does not work according to Scripture.

It doesn't work. I just don't see it in Scripture. But its what culture is trying to tell us, isn't it? It's what it tells us. Well, here is what culture tells us. Culture tells us, Hey, listen, don't. Don't commit to the church. Just date the church. Keep your options open. Go to all the churches. Go to church when nothing else is going on, when it's convenient, when nothing else is happening, don't belong. Just be in and out. But that doesn't work. It can't work by definition. Why? Because you are the church. You get this right? You're the church. Oh, this is going to get me in trouble. I'm done. Here it is. Write this question down. Would I want to be a part of a church if it was made up mostly of people with my level of belonging? Would I? Or let me just put a little P.S. by that. Could that church even exist? Would that church even operate as a great commission hub? Look, to some of you, you're like, Yeah, Matt, I, I would want to be a part of a church like that because I am planted, I am here, I am loved, I am part of the family. I am accountable, I'm active, I'm being natured, I'm being cared for, I'm being disciple. I am honoring God, to which I just kind of just encourage you for a minute. We have so many people in this faith family that that's where you live and that's where you operate. And I'm going to tell you that that's why God blesses this place, because there's so many of you and I want you to leave today being encouraged.

If you are here, if you're part and you're called out and you're walking and you're being discipled and you're in a group and you’re pressing into Jesus, be encouraged because yes, Matt, I would love to be in a church like that if everybody had my level of commitment. But for a lot of us, this would be a pretty rough place. And I know it feels like I'm stepping up in your business a little bit, and I am. Be a pretty rough place because a lot of us, that's just something we just attend. It's just something we just happen into. Listen, Jesus desires so much more for you because you're part of the called-out body. But hear me, Satan doesn't. Satan wants to call you. He wants to take you off. He wants to make you independent. He wants you to doubt the church. Look, I. I got it, man. Churches aren't perfect at all. You know why? Because they're made up of people like us, and it's never going to be perfect. Why? Because we're all sinners. Listen, I get it. Churches sometimes blow it. People in churches sometimes blow it. But I'll tell you this. It's the best thing going. And that's the hope of the world. And it's all we got. So, let's put our faces to the ground and realize we are the called-out body. But Satan doesn't want you to be a part of it. He doesn't. Let me give you five foundational truths that can help you battle Satan this week when he wants to call you away from being part of the call out. Number one is this, realize this. Jesus started the church. You do realize this, right? Jesus started the church. The church wasn't started by four men in a pub somewhere in North Jerusalem one day. It wasn't. The church wasn't started by guys who were like, Hey, how can we take up everyone's Sundays? Hey, here we go. No, Jesus started the church. Men didn't dream it up and saw this thing happen. Even a half reading of the New Testament shows us that Jesus started the church. Matthew 16:18. We just read it right. I Jesus said, will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. You do know that Jesus only started one organization on this planet, and it was the church. It wasn't your sports team. It wasn't your PTA, it wasn't your job, it wasn't your family. It was the church. And he loved it so much. Number two, he didn't just start it. Jesus loves the church. He loves the church. But Matt, the church is broken. I get that.

But he loves us through our brokenness, and he loves us so much, he doesn't want us to stay that way. Jesus loves the church. How do we know that? Ephesians 5:25. Let me give you the reference. Husbands love your wives. Amen. Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church. Watch this, He gave himself up for her. You do realize Jesus didn't just start the church? Jesus died for the church. He died for the church. Think about it. Jesus didn't die for your sports team. He didn't die for your PTA. He didn't die for your band. He didn't die for your company. Yes, the people in it. All right. Semantics. I get that he did. But organizationally speaking, he died for the church. Why? Because it's his Bride. He died for his Bride the church. And look, you want to get on my bad side? Here's the deal. You can say whatever want to about me. I don't care. Some of you know me well enough to know. I really. I don't care. You want to get on my bad side, say something about my bride. But that's what Jesus is saying right here. The church is the Bride. So, we can't be flippant about the church that Jesus loves. I know it is so cool or so rebellious right now to say stuff like, Well, I'm spiritual and I love God. I just don't love the church. I don't love the people of God. That's so insulting to God.

How in the world can you love a God that you cannot see but not love the people of God that He has already saved? You can't. You can't do it. Which leads me to number three. I know it's a little bit controversial. Jesus started the church. Jesus loves the church. I stand by the scripturally, number three. Not actively belonging to a church, is proof that something is wrong with you spiritually. Something's wrong spiritually. Most of the New Testament is showing how God worked through his people. The called out Ekklesia, the church. And I won't fill this one, this point up with verses because I mean, really, quite frankly, you would have to get rid of about half of the New Testament to argue that the church is this man-made parenthetical, made up organization that's out there. You can't do it. If you want to get rid of church, you have to get rid of Jesus. Choose a team. That's what the Bible says. I get I get it. I get it. There are circumstances in people's lives like being sick and being homebound and those kinds of things that keep people from the church. And there is grace in that, and we are so glad that we provide opportunities for those people. But here's the deal. Able bodied people need to be part of the church, need to be a part of this called-out Ekklesia, because the Bible has no concept of independent Lone Ranger Christians. We've already said that. First John 2:19. Listen to what the elder John said. He gets even more specific. He says these people left our churches. That doesn't mean they went down to the church down the road. That just means they don't go. All right. That's what it means. These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us. Otherwise, they would have stayed with us. Watch. When they left, it proved they did not belong to us. And that's scary language, isn't it?

It says that we're built so much in this interlocking dependency as the body of Christ that we cannot expect God to work in our lives unless we are attached to the body of Christ to the church. We cannot know God as close as God wants us to know without the local body being around us, pressing us in. So, here's what I just want to say. Every believer should be actively part of a church, actively. And here's one thing to say if you're attending here, for those of you, it's your first week, second week, maybe third week. Pause for a minute, take a breath here. I need to talk to some home folk from a minute. If you're attending here and it's been a minute, you need to plant yourself in this church. You need to. You need to figure out if this is your home or not. If it's not your home, then hallelujah, not hallelujah, that's a bad one. But if this is not your home, bad choice of words. If this is not your home. I get it. I get it. That is great. There are fabulous churches in this community. Here's what I need to tell you. Find one. Find one. And plant yourself there. Plant yourself there. Here's what's happened in this. And we've talked about this before. We have somehow become church connoisseurs. You know what I mean by that? It's like Piccadilly Church. You just take what you want from the one you want, right? Well, we like the worship over there, but we like the preaching over there. We like the women's ministry over there, man, that kid's ministry over there, that is awesome. No, you cannot belong and make a difference if you are hopping from one to the other. And secondly, here's what's happening to you. You will go to this one on week one. You will go to this one on week two. But on week three, you're going to be tired. You're going to just stay at home and watch online and not really care week for you at grandma's house. Week five you're at a sports team and before you know it, so much has passed. You're just going I just don't feel like we belong there. And you're right because you haven't belonged. But what Jesus is saying in all of this is to be part of the Ekklesia. And plant in a body.

It's not a good thing to hop around. Why? Because number four, church is not just a place to attend. It's a place to participate and belong. Belong. That's such a radical word when it comes to church, because there are so many churches that are just a weekend event, and they send you off into the world. That's not church. Churches are a called-out body with a common confession this doing live together encouraging each other, discipling each other and pressing into life with each other. That's why we use the language around here so much that this is a family. This is a family. And when one part of the family hurts, the rest of the part of the family hurts. When one part of the family falls, the rest of us shake our heads a little bit, but we help them up and get them back on track. When one part of the family's just a little bit crazy, we apologize a lot for him, but we try to bring them along with us. Is this church perfect? No. Look at your leader. I promise you. But I'm going to tell you this. It's God's. It's His body. Find some accountability. Use your gifts here. Find a way you can be discipled here. Find a way that you can be here consistently to have a consistent theology of what this word says. And look, I'm talking to all of us. Quit just being a spectator and jump into belonging, jump into what God wants you to be. A functioning belonging part that is actively in this place, be a part of a church. Either this one or somewhere else. Is it perfect? No. But it's the best thing the world's got right now.

Which leads me to number five. Church is not only important for you, but it holds the power to impact the world and the generations to come. Let me say two things about this. Number one, parents you are showing your kids what commitment to church looks like. That's some pressure right there. What being part of the called-out body looks like. Number two, the church is the number one fulfiller of the great commission according to Scripture. So, church now do I love all the other organizations that are Christian on this planet? Absolutely. I love them. We support them. There are so many para-church organizations and they're fabulous, but they ain't the Bride of Christ. They're not. The Bride of Christ matters. So, here's what I'm saying. Everybody needs the church, and the church needs everybody. So, what's my response to this? It's your last blank. Here's my response. It's to plant myself in the local church and belong. That's my response. To plant myself in the local church and belong. What does it mean to plant yourself? It means that you literally become part of your surroundings. That is what plant means. Plant and belong. It's God's highest calling for an organization on this planet. And we are the Ekklesia. Let me close with this verse. Psalm 92:12 says this. It says the righteous will flourish like a palm tree. They will grow like the cedar of Lebanon.

Now, we don't use that word. We don't use the word flourish a lot. But here's what that means. When something flourishes, that means that it's healthy, is growing. It has vitality, I guess is a word you could use. And the symbol here is incredible. Why? Because it talks about the palm and the cedar both of those are evergreens. They're not losing their leaves at this time of year. They are always growing. They are always healthy. They are always green. The palm is a sign of victory. Remember when Jesus rode into Jerusalem? They put palm branches in front of him because he was the Messiah. We're rolling back around to that right? He's the Messiah. He's victorious. The cedar represents strength in honor. So, when you put victorious and strength together, it's describing those that are planted in the Lord. Look at the righteous will flourish. Psalm 92:12. The righteous will flourish like a palm tree. They will grow like a cedar of Lebanon. Here's how planted in the house of the Lord. They will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit at old age. Amen? They will stay fresh and green, proclaiming the Lord is upright, He is my rock and there is no wickedness in him. What does it say? Those that are planted in the house of the Lord will be fulfilled, will flourish, will have honor, will be filled with joy. Listen, can I just let you in a little secret of how my week runs most of the time? Most of the people that I deal with on a regular basis when you ask them to describe themselves has nothing to do with flourishing and health. A whole lot of times it has to do with withering alone, relationally struggling and just barely making it. How does God say You can flip that script right now? He says. You can plant yourself. It's a promise of the Lord. You can plant yourself. What does it mean to plant yourself? It means you actively belong with a common confession. Building on the statement that Jesus is the Messiah and I'm a small rock jumping under the huge foundation of Jesus. So, here's the challenge this morning, I told you we were going to come to it right here.

I want you to rethink what church looks like to you. Jumping into an invitation moment. Here's the plan. Number one, some of you need to give your life to Jesus today. Just quite frankly, you need to give your life to Jesus. He's been dealing with you. He's been speaking. The Holy Spirit is prompting you, and you can't be a part of the called-out until you are called. Until you answer the call. Stepping into a relationship with Jesus. Some of you, in just a second, when I pray you need to step out from whatever seat that you're in. You need to walk right over here to this Next Steps banner. And you just need to look me in the face and say, Hey, Matt, I need Jesus today. What do I do? Man, I'd love to talk to you. If you're online, if you'll just send the Next Steps request out. We'll follow up with you as fast as possible. Some of you, you know Jesus. But boy have you just been casually dating us for a while? Listen, it's time to DTR. It's time to determine the relationship today. Melissa told me one time, am I the one? I was like, you have the qualities of the one. It didn't work out so well. But then we got to be together a week later, a couple of days later, and then we were engaged not too long. Some of you need to step up today and just say, Listen, I need to join this church and be part of the called-out body. I need to sign that line so there's some accountability. I'm going to be standing right over here. I'll have some other people with me, man. It's time for some of you to come on. Some of you today just need to go. Hey, I'm a member here, but, man, I have really just been playing a backseat role, and I need Jesus to help me move.

Lord move in this moment, Jesus Speak to our hearts. God allow so many of us today to come make decisions that proclaim your name. Thank you, Lord Jesus, in your name.

Amen. Amen.

Stand with me if you need to move, come on. Meet me over here in the corner.

Follow Along with the Message

The Church

October 16, 2022

PRINCIPLE: God’s heart is not for you to just attend church; it’s for you to to and the church.

Matthew 16:13–18
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
1 Corinthians 1:1–3
1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:1
Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

PRINCIPLE: There is no such thing in the New Testament as a believer that exists in some sort of random, independent, and free-floating lifestyle that is not fully in a local church.

Acts 20:28
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

The Bible Teaches Us

1. God to the Church.

2. God speaks the Church.

3. The Church is the of the world.

Acts 2:41
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Acts 5:14
Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.
Acts 11:24
He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were added to the Lord.
Hebrews 13:17
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account.

QUESTION: Would I want to be a part of a church if it was made up mostly of people with my level of ?

5 Foundational Truths

1. Jesus the Church.

Matthew 16:18
…I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

2. Jesus the Church.

Ephesians 5:25
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

3. Not actively belonging to a church is that something is wrong with you spiritually.

1 John 2:19 (NLT)
These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.

4. Church is not just a place to ; it’s a place to participate and belong.

5. Not only is church important for you, it holds the power to impact the world and to come.

What is my response to all of this?

myself in the local church and .

Psalm 92:12–15
12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; 13 planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, 15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.

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