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Challenges Facing the Church

Beyond Suffering  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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What are the key challenges facing the contemporary church, and how do they affect our ability to minister to the disabled and suffering? Before we can effectively function as the Church in the world, we need to know what the Church is biblically and what God requires of it?

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Shifting Worldviews

In Chuck Colson’s essay, Love, Life and Worldview, he describes two cultural phenomena, one in the Church and one in secular/naturalist culture.
Colson says that a worldview answers four fundamental questions:
Where did we come from?
Why is there sin and suffering in the world?
Is there an answer; is there a way out?
What is my purpose, or why am I here?
In the Church, there is the belief that God does not relate to the world purely through his church but that he independently interacts with people in such a way that one can say that he or she has a relationship with Jesus apart from the work and influence of the Body of Christ.
Vocabulary word: ecclesiology or the study of the church, its nature, its internal duties, it’s external (to the world) duties, and its governance.
In our culture, the continued shift toward secular-naturalism has a growing worldview that, there being no God, humans are simply members of the animal kingdom with no special hierarchical rights. Denying that men and women were made in God’s image, there is no inherent dignity of humanity. The logical conclusion of this philosophy is a return to the horrors of eugenics that were briefly extinguished after Hitler’s holocaust. But the same philosophy of Hitler—the greatest good for the greatest number—is widely accepted now in the United States. In other words, removing the weeds, as imagined by Margaret Sanger, will enable the garden to flourish.
Why is the “me and Jesus” perspective described by Chuck Colson unbiblical and how does it affect the church’s ability to minister to the disabled?
First, ecclesiology (the theology of the Church) teaches us that, as Christ’s bride, we are to demonstrate who God is and what he does. The Church is God’s primary mechanism by which he shows his nature to the world and interacts with the world.
The me-and-Jesus perspective causes us to “think we’re in good shape. Jesus is taking care of me, and I’ve got a great relationship with Jesus.” But Jesus is “the source of all truth, all understanding about all of life. We Christians have got to get active.” We need to be the Church in the world and, together, combat the worldview that debases human life to the point where those on the fringes of so-called society are deemed worthless and cast aside.

What is the biblical nature of the church?

1. The People of God.

Matthew 5:14 NASB95
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;

2. The Body of Christ

1 Corinthians 12:27 NASB95
Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.

3. Temple of the Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 12:13 NASB95
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
1 Corinthians 3:16–17 NASB95
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.
1 cor 3
1 Corinthians 6:19 NASB95
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
Ephesians 2:21–22 NASB95
in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
Acts 17:28 NASB95
for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’
What does it mean “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?” Who is you? (see Attachment 1)
What do the verses above indicate about our obligations to each other and to the world?

What are the biblical functions of the Church?

1. Worship (ministry to God)

heart attitude
Matthew 5:23–24 NASB95
“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
mat
Romans 12:1–2 NASB95
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
1 Timothy 2:10 NASB95
but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.
1 Timothy 5:4 NASB95
but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.
1 tim
b. corporate
1 Corinthians 14:26 NASB95
What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
6
Ephesians 5:19 NASB95
speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;
Colossians 3:16 NASB95
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

2. Instruction (ministry to the Church)

b. early Church model
Acts 2:42 NASB95
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
acts 2 42
Acts 5:28 NASB95
saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
Acts 18:11 NASB95
And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
b. correct doctrines
1 Timothy 1:3 NASB95
As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,
Acts 5:28 NASB95
saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”

3. Edification (ministry to the Church)

a. fellowship
Acts 2:42 NASB95
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
1 John 1:7 NASB95
but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
b. prayer (example of corporate prayer and its effects)
Acts 4:24–31 NASB95
And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said, Why did the Gentiles rage, And the peoples devise futile things? The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.’ “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.
Acts 4:24 NASB95
And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them,
c. intra-church ministry
Romans 12:3–8 NASB95
For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
d. supporting ministry
Romans 15:26 NASB95
For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.
2 Corinthians 9:13 NASB95
Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all,

4. Evangelism (ministry to the World)

Acts 8:4 NASB95
Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.
Acts 11:19–20 NASB95
So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus.

5. Organization (ministry to the Church)

Acts 14:23 NASB95
When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Titus 1:5 NASB95
For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you,

6. Ordinances (ministry to the Church)

Acts 2:41 NASB95
So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.
1 Corinthians 11:23–24 NASB95
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
1 dcor

7. Mercy (ministry to the World)

Luke 6:35–36 NASB95
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Given the seven functions of the Church, how are we, personally, doing? Where can we improve?
In the skit script in Appendix B of the reading, if you were Pastor Pickle, how would you respond to Brother Thorn’s and Sister Tiffany’s complaint?

What exactly is fellowship, or koinonia in the New Testament? (see Attachment 2)

1. Unity and bond between believers

a. unity

1 John 1:3 NASB95
what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:16 NASB95
Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?
Philemon 6 NASB95
and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake.
Acts 2:42 NASB95
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
ph
1 John 1:7 NASB95
but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

b. community

2 Corinthians 8:4 NASB95
begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints,
Galatians 6:2 NASB95
Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

2. Unity with Christ

3. Unity between the Trinity and the Church

4. Partnership in the Gospel

Galatians 2:9 NASB95
and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.
2 Corinthians 8:23 NASB95
As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brethren, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ.
Philippians 1:3–5 NASB95
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.
The use of participation in is koinonia.
Let’s do some koinonia now!
Next Time . . . Where is the Church Today?
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