Faithlife Sermons

Engage - Through Belonging

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Good Morning and Happy Fathers Day!
We are in a sermon series entitled Engage…
Over the last few weeks we have have talking about Engaging — Joining God on mission… becoming a contagious community… Engaging in friendship through neighboring…This morning we are going to be looking at how we can intentionally engage --- Through belonging…
A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO Pam and I helped this guy with his dead battery. We took out our jumper cables… and connected it to his car battery and nothing happened... After a few attempts there was still nothing… then on closer inspection - we discovered that the problem was not the jump leads but the connection on his battery terminal that was loose. So it didn’t matter how many times applied the jump leads…to the battery nothing worked.… Nothing would work or could work because that is not how it was designed… It had to be connected to the terminal to work.
When it comes to the local Church… you can have all the correct elements… a nice building… Leadership.... various ministries operating … Biblical teaching....But.... unless there is a connection to Christ (vertical) and the (horizontal) connection to the Community….. something is going to be lacking…Simply going to be lacking in power...
One of the Great metaphors of the Church in the Bible is that of the Household or Family the family of God…
The idea of family is derived from the Fatherhood of God… Fatherhood speaks of God’s paternal relationship to Jesus Christ, and his relationship to his creation God’s fatherly relationship to his creation, and especially to believers as the “children of God.” In Ephesians 3:14 ---tells us that all things flow from his Fatherhood...
Ephesians 3:14–15 ESV
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
The “whole family of believers … derives its name” (3:14) from God the Father. That name is “family,” and from God’s name as Father we learn that we are children together. We are brothers and sisters now in the loving, intimate context of a home.
One of the ways that we can intentionally engage in the local church is through membership…
Now we have to clarify membership… because we have this wrong mental picture of membership.. membership often brings to mind images of privilege of joining a club. Costco members get access to deals… If you pay your membership dues you get something…
The Bible does not directly deal with Church Membership… There is no verse of scripture that is going to tell you to go through membership class or to join a church… just like there is no verse that God as a trinity…
Membership is not stated in scripture but implicitly implied ... For example… in the book of Acts where the church is growing…We are told that believers were “added” to the church. Believers were numbered and accounted for. They belonged to the community of the Church that is invisible but also to a local body.
In the book of Ephesians Paul talks about a mystery that was previously hidden and has now been revealed …God’s plan to reconcile all things to himself.. That is to reconcile people to God and to reconcile people to people…God relates to this new group of people as a household....
Ephesians 2:18–22 ESV
For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
T/s Why is it important to belong to the local Church...

1. Experience the Miracle of God in Community

Paul has been talking about the expansion of New Community of Faith through the inclusion of the Gentile Believers.. Paul tells the Ephesians that that at one time as Gentiles they were outside of Covenant… They were Separated from Christ and alienated from the common wealth of Israel… Strangers to Covenant and the Promise..
Paul Sums it up… that before Christ… the Gentile world had“ no hope and without God in the world”… but this is no longer the case because we have been brought near by the blood of Christ.... and he himself became our peace… who took down the wall of Separation…
We now access through Faith in Christ into the grace of God… no longer aliens but members of the house hold of God…
Paul says that BC the Gentile world was without God in the world; now they have God in the world. And so the reconciliation has not only impacted their relationship to Israel and to Jews, it’s impacted their relationship to God.
When you think about the church in the first Century… it was a radical idea… You have different cultures and ethnic groups that would never normally socialize with each other… Jews, Romans, Greeks, Samaritans…
The Greeks despised those who lived outside of their cities, calling them ethnē (pagans),.... likewise the Jews called the Gentiles the uncircumcision those who did not have the mark of Covenant...
It is something that we can easily over look…is the diversity of the early church.. It is a misconception to think that the church needs to look like us..
The miracle in the early Church is the transformation that happened in these people that changed the way they related to one another. God brought together people who formerly were estranged from one another and could not get along… into a new community.
What brings us to Together is the Fatherhood of God… Through Christ we have access to One Spirit and to the Father. Christ made a way for us to access through the Spirit to the Father.
Access - prŏsagōgē a way of approach to someone…it’s an introduction to the Father. Christs death removed all the barriers so that a believer can draw near by the HS to the throne of grace with Confidence.
This is important… because at the moment of conversion… what happens is that se receive the spirit of God… Romans 8 tells us that we received the spirit of Adoption as sons, “ by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,”
Romans 8:16 ESV
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
Because of Christ our relationship to Him and his people has changed.. we have gone from
a. No longer Separated but an Joined together..
There should be no such thing as a stranger and an alien in the body of Christ… Church is the place of Community — where we know and are known…
Now joining - simply means - we are going to join hands together… with what God is already doing among and through this community of Faith…
We are Partaker together in
Share in Citizenship - America has been called the great melting pot… you have representation of every culture in the world… The process of Citizenship in the US takes about 10 years -it isn’t an easy process and is costly … If you have US citizenship you are envy of the rest of the World… Pauls audience understood Citizen ship… Paul himself had pulled the Citizen card when he was being flogged in Ephesus....
In Christ we have Fellow Citizenship… there are no second class citizenship… whether you are American, British, Asian, African… We are Fellow Citizen..
Members of God’s family.. household can mean one big building and it can mean several smaller rooms… Church is made up of many Ethnic groups and churches - But we are all part of the Fathers House...
Just like any family We all share the same History — we have the same story… Church is built upon Foundation Apostles and traced all the way back to Christ --- And we are all being build into Spiritual temple..
A few years ago we travelled to New York City and got the opportunity to go down to Ground Zero… When I was in college I had the opportunity to go to the top of the twin towers… feelings of emotions as looked at the two cavities that reminded us of that fateful day… The Milennial building is the most beautiful building I have ever seen… It is amazing tribute to the those who fallen...
Paul points to this spiritual building… Christ destroyed the walls that brought separation… and he built another building .... in its stead a spiritual temple...
to be built upon v. — to be or become further constructed (upon something which is already somewhat established).... This idea of a household of FAITH can be traced back to the apostle and to Christ... the cornerstone of the building...
In Christ the whole structure -- Peter talks about living stones... this building is Alive...being joined into a spiritual building a dwelling place for God.
T/S the revelation mystery of the Mirracle of this New community leads PaU.K. into prayer and praise for the Church...
Ephesians 3:14–20 ESV
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
T/s Why is it important to belong to the local Church...?
1. Experience the miracle of God in Community

2. Experience the Power of God in Community.

Prayer expresses our desires and hopes.. Paul pours out his soul to God… what his hope is for this New Community of Faith..
Paul’s prays that God would open the eyes the believers that they might be enlightened by the Holy Spirit to know the implications of God’s call to them, the wealth of his inheritance (Riches of His Glory) which awaits them in heaven and above all the surpassing greatness of his power which is available for them meanwhile. Again it is this tension that comes up in scripture… the “Now and Not yet.”
This is where prayer in a church is so important… You can point someone where there is living water… you can point them to the bread of life… but only the Spirit can enlighten their eyes...
1. Strengthened in the inner Being..
2. Grow in their Faith - Christ dwell in their hearts through faith (saving faith) and continuing in the journey of being rooted and grounded in love.
Theologian John Stott describes Pauls prayer as staircase by which he climbs higher and higher in his aspiration for his readers. His prayer-staircase has four steps, whose key words are ‘strength’, ‘love’, ‘knowledge’ and ‘fullness
The Message of Ephesians 2. The Substance of His Prayer (Verses 16b–19)

apostle’s petition as a staircase by which he climbs higher and higher in his aspiration for his readers. His prayer-staircase has four steps, whose key words are ‘strength’, ‘love’, ‘knowledge’ and ‘fullness

Paul is not praying for individuals… He is praying for the community… Because God works through Community of Faith.. look at verse 18 that you might comprehend (grasp intellectually) with all the Saints...
The verb “grasp” (katalambanō) is a military term used for attaining and capturing a goal. It refers to the complex process of overcoming obstacles to reach an objective and achieve victory. Paul wants the Ephesians to grasp. The four dimensions of Divine love..
Length of Christs love
Hight of Christs love
Depth of Christs love
Width of Christ’s love
We might know the fulness of God love that surpasses knowledge!
Paul’s point is that we must continue to expand our understanding and our experience (true knowledge includes experience) so that we may more deeply live out that love every day of our earthly existence
How does this happen? How does that happen… Paul gives us a clue…

18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints

How do we Understand Divine love more fully… it is through The community of Saints..
The community of Saints are those who have been joined together and in the process of being built up into a spiritual house..
Optimal growth occurs when we join with others -
The isolated Christian can know something of the love of Jesus. But his grasp of it is bound to be limited by his limited experience.
It needs the whole people of God to understand the whole love of God, all the saints together, Jews and Gentiles, men and women, young and old, black and white, with all their varied backgrounds and experiences…
The heart of Christian development has long been a relationship between someone who has something to learn and someone who has something to share. In the context of such a relationship, a synergy develops that accelerates and enhances growth. Synergy is the energy or force that is generated through the working together of various parts or processes. For example, two horses can pull about nine thousand pounds, but through the power created by adding more horses, four horses can pull more than thirty thousand pounds. This is the essence of synergy.
In his classic economics text, The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith wrote that ten people working individually can produce twenty pins a day, but ten people working together can produce forty-eight thousand pins a day. The point is simple: When we start developing key relationships in our lives or add people to help us in life, the impact is phenomenal...
T/s The best way to deal with our own
Ephesians 4:1–6 ESV
1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
1. Experience the miracle of God in Community
2. Experience the Power of God in Community.

3. Experience Personal Growth in Community.

Lets be honest with each other… Community can be hard... It is a miracle and it is where we Experience the power of God… Sometimes church community can confuse us and leave us hurt…and it can leave us feeling a little vulnerable..
Brene Brown a researcher at the University of Houston…
“I spent a lot o f year trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and band. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fulness of those important experiences that that wrought with uncertainty, love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity”
Think this is one of those huge issues of not wanting to belong because it makes us vulnerable…
The Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who was martyred for resisting the Nazi regime, wrote a classic on fellowship, Life Together.
He suggests that...
“Disillusionment with our local church is a good thing because it destroys our false expectations of perfection. The sooner we give up the illusion that a church must be perfect in order to love it, the sooner we quit pretending and start admitting we’re all imperfect and need grace. This is the beginning of real community.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Paul tells us that part of our calling is to community.. Paul is writing from Prison… and he is urging Believers… To Walk Worthy of the Calling… and it is in context of functioning as One body…
The reason we need to belong to the local church is really for our own Growth.... There are areas in our lives where we will never grow in without Community… Community means that I have to table my self interests...
Live in Community it takes...
a. Practicing Humility and Gentleness
Greco-Roman practices of the day, which exemplified the belief that “meekness is weakness” and that the highest qualities are proven by self-serving success. Humility demands a life directed toward others rather than toward self-aggrandizement. The other word Paul uses, “gentleness,” describes the way in which a life of humility treats others: with kindness and concern
b. Practicing Patience - by bearing with one another
Patience. The Greek term (makrothymia) literally means “a long time before one gets angry.” It means having a long fuse, it is often translated “long-suffering” and describes the manner in which God puts up with sinful humanity. Indeed, he is described as being “slow to anger”
One of the core aspects of love is patience
1 Corinthians 13:4 ESV
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
Bearing with one another in love. In one sense this further defines patience, describing how patience works itself out in our social interactions within the church
3. Practicing Building Relationships
Eager to maintain Unity of Spirit bond of peace
Ephesians: Verse by Verse Four Sets of Qualities Produce Unity (4:2–3)

Paul begins with a strong admonition: “make every effort,” meaning that the Ephesian believers need to work very hard, exercising diligence to accomplish the task. This is so important that it will require everything they’ve got.

Why Because this your Calling..
Ephesians: Verse by Verse Four Sets of Qualities Produce Unity (4:2–3)

The unity of the saints is critical to God’s plan and exists as a primary result of Christ’s reconciling work on the cross (Eph 2:11–22). When each of us is reconciled to God through Christ, we are of necessity also reconciled to one another. Paul’s point here is that we have to work that out in our daily relationships and through a cooperative spirit within the church.

Calling outlined verse 4 that we
--- Called into One Body, hope, Lord, faith, Baptism, One Father
Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian, pastor, and martyr (1906–1945)
We have been talking about engaging.. Partnership in the Gospel.. Joining with God in his mission in this local Church which is part of much bigger plan…
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