Faithlife Sermons

Love the things of the Church

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This message is intended to instruct youth on the importance of making both and information and formal commitment to a local body of Christ. This plays off Pastor Jeremy's sermon entitled, "Charge to the Graduates" and encourages youth to stay in church

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The case for commitment

I gave a charge last week to the graduates. Simply put that charge was to not love the things of the world.
It seemed fitting to me that I should follow up that charge with a sermon this evening that is the opposite.
So tonight’s charge is do love the things of the Church.
And to be clear, the way in which people demonstrate that they love the things of the church is through a topic that perhaps isn’t communicated very consistently,
And that is membership. The path to loving the things of the church is through one’s membership to a local church.
But is exceptionally important.
Part of the reason I believe that far too many youth walk away from church is because there was not an established commitment to the church
That was greater than just attending a church out of tradition, attending a church for the sake of biological family, or attending a church because you didn’t know to do anything else.
Those aren’t strong foundations within a church that keep youth within a church.
The number foundation for youth to stay in the church is of course the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
But here’s the thing. A youth who knows the Gospel is going to recognize the Gospel where it is preached and is going to commit to the place where the Gospel is proclaimed.
So the topic that demonstrates someone’s love for the church and the things of the church is the topic of membership.
If you love the church and the things of the church you will most likely make a commitment to the church.
I say the church, but it’s important to know that there is the church universal, made up of believers of all time
And there is the local church which is the visible expression of the church universal.
So really when I say love the church and the things of the church and make a commitment to what you love, that is also demonstrated by commitment to a local church.
Which does not mean that there is no involvement with other like-minded churches. It just means that there has been a decision made where someone recognizes a local church as their home church.
Some who reject membership do so by saying it’s unBiblical. There are no passages of Scripture that support membership.
And interestingly enough, many who hold to membership hold to it as something that is explicitly mentioned in Scripture,
And there are various good reason that can cause someone to pick another church as their home church. But that’s outside the scope of our message tonight.
But that we’re free to do membership.
Our message is to make a commitment to a local church.
While other’s believe it is Biblically taught.
Why should you make a commitment to a local church? Well notice the two sided aspect of a commitment to the local church:
So I want to start with a basic understanding of the issues and clarify something about membership:
So let’s examine some Biblical concepts of making a commitment to a local church and demonstrating your love for the church and the things of the church.
(ESV)
(ESV)
46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
1). The music is the best.
When people object to membership they are objecting to formal membership.
The reason to make a commitment to a local church is because the local church has leaders within it that have a specific responsibility to you.
And in fact they are held accountable by God to do this very activity.
Knowing that God is the one who is watching and employing pastors within a church is a significant motivation to do this activity constantly.
And what are they supposed to do from our passage? They are supposed to guard your souls.
If we tie in last week with this passage, here’s a reason not to love the world, it’s because the world wants to devour your soul.
It is spiritually dangerous in the world. There’s a reason we are called sheep, there’s a reason pastors are referred to as shepherds,
It’s because there is spiritual trouble in the world desiring to take advantage of you for their own personal gain.
And we’re not talking materialistically we’re talking spiritually, that you could experience spiritual ruin and misery in the world without this.
Why should I love the church and the things of the church and commit to the church? It’s because the church forms a protective function in your life.
says obey and submit to. It’s interesting because these two words have a wide range of meaning.
Obey even means to depend on and trust in. It was used as a primary word in the LXX for faith.
Be persuaded by. It’s in the middle voice which basically means persuade yourself of your leaders.
Or more literally to obey them. Submit refers to withdrawing away to, retiring in, resting in, submitting to, your leaders.
Implied in that is a commitment to a church where faithful leaders are doing this.
Leaders that ἀγρυπνέω have a vigilant awareness of threatening danger against your soul.
They are concerned for and look after and care for your soul.
Which means that if leaders are appointed to do this that you’re not equipped on your own to watch out for your own soul.
There is no such thing as loan wolf, rogue Christianity. That’s the most dangerous way a Christian could live.
There is no “Jesus and me” because Jesus placed your protected in the midst of his local congregations.
There’s no “Bible and me” because the Bible is telling you where to go to be protected.
There’s a commitment that is necessary to a church for the purposes of protection.
But’s there’s another level of commitment that is expressed in . It is expresses something that you also make a commitment to in order to have a good experience at your church.
You not only make a commitment to be protected by leaders but you make a commitment to be profited by the leaders protection.
And the way you do that is by making sure that the leaders lead you with joy.
And the way you make sure that leaders have joy, is by not complaining.
It doesn’t say that you can’t voice concerns. But it does say that you prevent yourself from being annoyed by your leadership.
And what does that reveal? What is revealed by someone who make a commitment to make their leadership’s service a joy to them?
It reveals that they love the church and the things of the church.
This a positive instruction, it’s something you something to do in terms of making a commitment.
But Hebrews also has a negative instruction, tell you something not to do when it comes to commitment.
(ESV)
Formal membership is where people do something publically that clearly indicates to others that they are members.
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
It’s a specific form of public communication regarding one’s status in a local church.
What this text communicates is probably one of the most difficult concepts to teach with respect to commitment to a local congregation.
Even stronger than the privi
The difficulty might be missed in just simply focusing on the prohibition of failing to meet together as a congregation.
If that’s all you see then it seems very legalistic. It seems problematic.
It highly emphasizes commitment to a local meeting. It incorporates two aspects:
Often times that looks like a class, or signing a membership document, or in our case going through an interview process and standing and being recognized.
Because the idea of neglecting to meet abandoning.
One’s total commitment
One’s attendance.
It reveals that there are some who don’t take the proper care that is necessary to make sure that they regularly meet together as a church.
And because concept carries the understanding of forsaking or abandoning the regular meeting of a church.
Here’s what I simply say:
If there are activities in your life that you value more than meeting with the church you will not have a reason to continue meeting,
and you will abandon at the first chance you get.
You won’t look back.
And you will be quick to notice that there are no passages of Scripture that refer explicitly to any of those processes.
And I’m sure it isn’t hard to find extra-ecclesial activities that are fun and enjoyable that are more enjoyable that gathering as a church.
If that’s the case, then you are loving the world and the things in the world.
Notice the instruction that the Author to the Hebrews gave prior to instructing us not to abandon the meeting:
He said in Let us “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised in faithful”.
Which does mean that there are no passages prohibiting those processes.
This is the motivation for doing verse 24 and 25.
That’s the reason you are able to do stir each other up to love and good deeds and to not neglect the gathering.
Informal membership is simply where someone makes a commitment to attend a church.
Is because you’re convinced that Christ is faithful to save you. It’s a Gospel motivation.
Your faith rests on the faithful of Jesus. Faith is knowing that God is faithful to be or do what He promised to be or do in your life for you salvation.
No one with fake faith will want to stay in the church.
So when you have that motivation down, you are capable of not neglecting the gathering because the gathering has gathered for the purposes of worshipping the Faithful one.
He then says that we should be constantly thinking about how to provoke each other to love and good deeds.
And you should rightly ask, “what’s at least one way that I can provoke each other to love and good deeds?”
Well verse 25 gives us two ways. The second way is to encourage each other, and to grow in encouraging each other even more until the final day.
That means even though we can have legitimate reasons for leaving a church and joining another the commitment we make to attending a church is either until we die or the Lord returns.
And encouragement is far more than just telling someone, “You can do it”
It’s lifted them up and walking with them in a constant commitment to one another for each other’s benefit.
The first way that we can stir each other up is to not neglect to meet.
But there is no express public communication of a person’s intention to be a member.
It stirs us up to love when we demonstrate to each other that we are commited to gathering together with each other.
(ESV)
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
Commitment to a local church is real commitment. It requires a greater level of commitment than just church attendance.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
There’s an attitude present in the early church that they weren’t just picking churches but that they were joining something real.
So here’s the thing: anytime someone makes a commitment to attend a church they have engaged in membership.
or let your Holy One see corruption.
Their commitment extended beyond the gathering and beyond a designated meeting place.
There weren’t just home churches in the 1st century, Temples and Synagogues were meeting places for Christians.
But again their commitment extended beyond local churches and into each other’s lives.
The fact is that if you don’t love the church and the things in the church you won’t make a commitment to the church.
And if you love the things of the world and the world you are going to make a commitment to the things of the world.
And I want to encourage you in something as well. One of the concepts that coincides with the understanding of commitment is church membership.
Church membership has two expressions: formal and informal.
There’s tons of controversy over formal membership. Some people believe that the ideas that churches have put into place for formal membership are unBiblical.
And in fact are violating Biblical principles. Here’s the thing. Membership is an absolute essential expression of one’s commitment to a church.
And everyone believes in membership. The moment you make a commitment to a local church you’ve become a member.
It’s just wether or not you’ve made a public form of communication of your membership.
That’s what a formal membership is. It’s a public communication of your intentions to remain with a local congregation unless God calls you elsewhere.
And here’s the thing. While it’s true that Bible does not lay out the formal concept of membership, whether it’s taking a class, signing a paper, or standing on Sunday.
But think about it on the basis of what we just learned. If you love the church and the things in the church why wouldn’t you want to make it publically known?
Your baptism made it publically known that you’re a Christian.
And think about commitment with marriage, does it make any sense that you would say, “I do” but you wouldn’t want that to be publically known?
So why wouldn’t you want to communicate it to your church and even to those in your life that you are formally commited to a local church?
Regardless of that, there is a clear Biblical precedence for committing yourself to a local congregation for your own protection, and for your own benefit and because you love the church and the things in the church.
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