Introduction: Today we are starting a series on the church. We’ll be taking a break from the gospel of Mark for a few weeks in order to focus our attention on some vital truths about who we are as the body of Christ.
The truths that we are going to be considering are not entirely separated from the gospel of Mark. Rather they come out of Mark, and for the next few weeks we are simply going to dig deeper into those truths. For example; over the last few weeks we have been focusing on Jesus as the suffering Messiah. Last week, Pastor TC drew our attention to a very essential truth that if we have a wrong view of Messiahship, then we will most certainly have a wrong view of discipleship. To say it another way, if we have a messed up Christology, we will certainly have a messed up ecclesiology. If our understanding of the identity of Jesus is incomplete, we will have an incomplete understanding of the identity of the church. If we are lacking in our faith the way of Christ, we will be lacking in the church to know how and why we should function like Christ. One of the goals of this series is to explore the implications that Jesus’ true messiahship has on those who belong to Christ.
For example: After Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ in Matthew 16:18 Jesus says this… We recognize the significance of Jesus’ statement because He means that on the declaration of Himself as the Messiah, on that essential truth, he is going to build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Series Overview: Pastoraly, it has been on mind for while that we need further clarity from God’s word about what it means to be His church. This series comes at a good point since we are half way through the gospel of Mark, its a good time for a little break. With this in mind, Our theme text is going to be Ephesians 4:1-16. Turn with me now and lets read it together.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
The way I hope to approach this series is basically in three layers. First , I want to explore the truth that Jesus is the head of the church. Then, we’ll be looking at what it means to be members of His body. And then lastly, discover some of the unique roles we have within the body of Christ. At each point I want to dig into the themes of authority, responsibility, and joy and discover how those key areas develop our function as Christ’s church.
Transition: Today we are going to turn to Matthew 28:16-20 and focus on Jesus, the head of the church. Three truths to notice about Jesus’ headship of the church.
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus, the Head.
Jesus, the Head.
I. As the head of the church, Jesus has all authority. (28:18)
a. His authority removes our doubts.
b. A problem we have with authority. Viewing it with negative abuse of power.
c. Illustration: See Philippians 2
d. Point: If we belong to Christ we have given over the rights to direct our own lives. Since He is the messiah… to follow Him means we die to our authority and live for His. So, to be a part of His body the church in which Christ is the head has major implications. First of which, my opinions do not get the same level of influence that the word of Christ does. My individual perspectives and preferences may hold some significance, but they all must be submitted to the authority of Christ. Our first concern should never be for my own interests, but for those of others. How well am I living out Philippians 2:3-5 ?
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
II. As the head of the church, Jesus delegates responsibility. (28:19)
a. Notice that Jesus commissions His disciples, and by extension the entire church, to Go and make disciples. (28:19)
b. Again, we do not have the privilege of setting our own agenda. My individual, or even collective ideas cannot hold the same authority as Jesus’ clear commission.
c. The responsibility to make disciples has been delegated to His church.
d. We have an authoritative mission to accomplish, as Christ’s representatives on earth.
e. We find in II Cor 5:17-20 descriptions to the church at Corinth as to the specific way that responsibility has been delegated.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
III. As the head of the church, Jesus defines joy. (28:20b)
How do we know when we are functioning as a healthy body of Christ? Jesus’ promise of His presence defines true success as a church. The same goal of heaven is the same kingdom reality we should hope for now. To be with Christ.
From the Ephesians 4 text we see clearly that the goal of growth for the church is that we would all attain the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to the measure of maturity that is seen in the fulness of Christ. When the whole body is working properly we will grow so that we are built up in love. This is the great joy of being a part of the body of Christ.
However, it also requires us to submit our notions of joy and success at the foot of the cross. Hebrews 12:1-2 says … This verse is helpful to us because far more often than not, our definitions of joy are quite opposite than those of the head of the church.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Closing: Why is it so important to have a preaching series on the church? Read you a segment out of “A Theology for the church” pg. 603. “the church should be regarded as important to Christians because of it’s importance to Christ. Christ founded the church, purchased it with His blood, and intimately identifies himself with it. The church is the body of Christ, the dwelling place of His Spirit, and the chief instrument for glorifying God in the world. Finally, the church is God’s instrument for bringing both the gospel to the nations and a great host of redeemed humanity to himself.”
I Corinthians 3:11 tells us that… Again, Ephesians 2:19-21 Listening to the churches one foundation.
For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
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.
Closing: Jesus is the head of the church. Because that is true he has all authority to delegate responsibility and define joy for those who are a part of His body.