“THE MEASURE OF A STRONG CHURCH”
This is not meant to be a long message and I pray I can keep it that way. Everyone has thing to do and places to be as well as Dinner to eat right. Woodrow Wilson said “In the Lord’s Prayer, the first petition is for daily bread. No one can worship God or love his neighbor on an empty stomach.”· If we are not just called to go to Church But Be the Church then what is the measure of a strong Church? Short recap of the measure of a strong Christian (1 Samuel)
1. The practice of assembling with a church is important – He 10:24-25
a. Naturally, we hope the congregation we assemble with is a strong Church. But that may not always be the case.
1) In NT times, there were many good congregations
2. So, what then is the “measure” of a strong church? How does Church measure up in our mind and thoughts?
a. Some might consider it on the basis of:
1) The building (or lack thereof)
2) The number of programs, classes, etc.
3) How smoothly it runs as an organization, with its committees, departments, etc. — But a congregation can have all these things and still be dead!
b. I suggest a better measure is to be found when we think of the church in terms used in the Bible to describe it…
1) Such as “body,” “family,” “temple,” “kingdom,” “bride”
2) Granted, these are terms used to describe the UNIVERSAL church; but I believe these figures of speech can help us to properly measure the strength of a LOCAL congregation [In other words, a “strong” church is one that…]
I. FUNCTIONS LIKE A Living “BODY”
A. THE CHURCH IS THE BODY OF CHRIST – 1Co 12:27
1. In other words it like a living organism, rather than simply an organization.
2. You see you can have organization, but still not have LIFE! The Bible says “He is the way the truth and the LIFE”! And if we are in Christ and Christ is in us, then should we be the living Organism?
a. Ex. A dead body. – But the body can also have connected parts even if it’s dead… There has to be Life for the Body of Christ to move and function. And it’s not just the Pastor or Preacher, or teacher…
b. “the foot bone’s connected to the leg bone…” A dead body can just as easily be said of a corpse as with a living body! The connection is there. But is there blood flowing and is there signs of Life?
B. A STRONG CHURCH UNDERSTANDS THAT THE BODY OF CHRIST HAS MANY FUNCTIONING MEMBERS…
1. Not all have the same function, but whatever it is that we are called to do we should do it cheerfully and take the responsibility seriously and diligently. – Ro 12:3-8
C. THE BODY MUST HAVE MEMBERS WHO FULFILL THEIR FUNCTION!
1. Growth occurs when “every part does its share” – Ep 4:15-16
2. We understand that a chain is as strong as its weakest link (Example Here: Chain) CORD: Ecclesiastes 4:12
3. So a body’s strength is affected by weak and inactive members!
a. Injury or physical handicaps limit the ability of the body to perform.
b. Strong members may try to help out, but then that limits what other work they would normally do… Example: my Knee. [How each of us functions as a member of the body affects the strengthof the congregation! We should all be walking in our strengths so that the Church does not suffer…. A strong church is also one which…]
II. LOVES LIKE A “FAMILY”
A. THE CHURCH IS THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD – 1Timothy 3:15
1. I.e., it is the “family” of God
2. Do we think of each other as “family”?
3. We should, in light of 1Timothy 5:1-2
B. A STRONG FAMILY IS ONE WHERE THERE IS…
1. Concern for one another
2. Care for each other
C. AND TO DEVELOP A STRONG SENSE OF FAMILY IT REQUIRES…
1. A willingness to get to know one another.
2. Taking advantage of opportunities to spend time together.· But as congregations grow, it can become harder to maintain a sense of family… (But how well we love one another will be a true measure of the Strength of this church! George Washington said: “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life, you will have been all of these.” If the Church doesn’t get involved in each others life and have the understanding of what strength each one has. How can we expect each other to walk in our callings and do the will of God? A strong church will also be one that…]
III. PRAISES LIKE A “TEMPLE”
A. TEMPLES OF OLD WERE BUILT TO GLORIFY THE BEING TO WHICH THEY WERE DEDICATED…
1. The design of the structure itself was designed to praise
2. The sacrifices and services rendered in the worship also.
B. THE CHURCH IS GOD’S TEMPLE TODAY – 1Co 3:16-17
1. We are both the “temple” and the “priests” who offer “spiritual sacrifices” – 1Pe 2:5
2. Our purpose: is to proclaim the praises of God – 1Pe 2:9-10
C. HOW DO WE OFFER SACRIFICES AND PRAISE TO GOD?
1. By lifting our VOICES in song and prayer – He 13:15
2. By doing GOOD DEEDS – He 13:16
3. By offering OURSELVES as living sacrifices – Ro 12:1-2 · How each of us praises God with our voices, body and service is a true measure of the church, and we need to be careful not to displease the name of the God we serve. ( Mal 1:6-8). And then consider that a strong church is one that…]
IV. SUBMITS LIKE A “KINGDOM”
A. AS THE CHURCH, WE ARE PRIVILEGED TO BE IN THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST
1. As were the Colossians – Col 1:13
2. As was John the apostle who had the vision in: – Re 1:9
B. A KINGDOM SUGGESTS A KING, TO WHICH SUBJECTS SUBMIT ALLEGIANCE AND OBEDIENCE…
1. Unfortunately, many churches are more like the kingdom of England.
a. Where the king (or queen) is only a symbolical figure head
b. The true decision-making power is in parliament.
2. But a strong church is one in which the citizens (members) Submit to Christ as King in reality – Col 3:17; · Read –Ac 2:36 Everyone wants a Savoir but most don’t want a Lord! · Jesus Christ has to be the Headship of every Christian and church
a. Where things are done as He directs, by His authority
b. Where we follow His commands, and not make up our own rulesHIS will be done… [How each person submits to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is a truemeasure of any congregation. Finally, a strong church is one that is…]
V. PURE AS A “BRIDE”
A. PAUL THOUGHT OF THE CHURCH AS A BRIDE – 2Corinthians 11:1-2
1. One that he had betrothed to Christ
2. One that has a responsibility to be pure and holy.
B. CHRIST THINKS OF THE CHURCH IN THE SAME WAY – Ep 5:25-29
1. He offered Himself to enable her (Church) to be pure and holy.
2. Jesus did this out of His great love for the Church!
C. JOHN WAS TOLD OF THE FUTURE MARRIAGE – Re 19:6-9
1. Note that bride “has made herself ready”
2. And that She was adorned by the righteous acts of the saints
D. AS THE BRIDE, AWAITING MARRIAGE, WE MUST MAINTAIN OUR PURITY AND ADORNMENT!
1. By being cleansed through the blood of Christ…
b. Then in confessing our sins – 1Jn 1:9
2. And that We are also to maintain our purity… How?
a. By our “righteous acts” – Re 19:8
b. By avoiding unrighteous deeds – cf. Ep 5:3-5
1.“The Measure Of A Strong Church”, is one that…
a. Functions like a BODY
b. Loves like a FAMILY
c. Praises like a TEMPLE
d. Submits like a KINGDOM
e. Is pure as a BRIDE
2. How each person does his or her part will have an effect on the measure of every church… · We may have the best organization, and all the outwards signs of a strong congregation, but could still be just like the church at Sardis (“you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.”)Re 3:1 · So, what kind of Church do we really want to truly have?