What is the first thing that comes to mind. • Jesus • Church • Denomination
It all begins with how we think. How we think affects our attitude. Our attitude affects our behaviors. How we behave determines our future.
Go and get married; your wife will be unfaithful, and your children will be just like her. (Hosea 1:2-3)
Why would God ask Hosea to marry such a tarnished and imperfect person who seemed so destitute of any moral values?
In the same way my people have left me and become unfaithful." So Hosea married a woman named Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim.”(Hosea 1:2-3)
The Nation is just like Gomer What was God’s response to this problem?
"Go again and show your love for a woman who is committing adultery with a lover. You must love her just as I still love the people of Israel, even though they turn to other gods and like to take offerings of raisins to idols." Hosea 3:1
Why does God love Israel like that? They are his chosen means of blessing for the world. “through you I will bless all the nations.” Gen 12:3
The church = Israel. Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church--a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.” Eph 5:25-27
Why does Jesus lovethe church this way? The church is God’s chosen means of bringing blessing and salvation to a desperate world.
Can we love Jesus and despise the church? “Saul tried to destroy the church.” Acts 8:3 As Saul was coming near the city of Damascus, suddenly a light from the sky flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?" "Who are you, Lord?" he asked. "I am Jesus, whom you persecute," the voice said.” Act 9:3-5
Any wrong done to the church is a wrong done to Christ. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and to the church.” Eph 5:31-32
What is the church? The church is a group of imperfect people gathered together by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of growing, sharing and teaching a world about the grace and love of our Savior.
I. Understanding Our Culture A. Many are highly skeptical of organized religion. B. George Gallup says over 40 million Americans have faith without fellowship.
C. Our call as church leaders is to teach our generation it is God’s will that they embrace, fall in love with, and give themselves up for that imperfect group of people Christ gave Himself up for-- the Church!
II. Understanding God’s Solution A. The solution for this “culture” problem regarding commitment to Christ’s Church, as for any problem within the church, is correct teaching from the word of God. (Matt 22:29)
Matthew 22:29 “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” -- Jesus
B. Both Jesus and God are perfect. The Church, the physical expression of Jesus in the world today, is not perfect! It is important that we teach, this is NOT a surprise nor a discouragement to God!
C. Jesus knew His church would be imperfect when He planted and refocused the very first one in Jerusalem! 1. The treasurer was stealing. (John 12:6) 2. One of them betrayed Him. (Luke 22:47-48) 3. When needed, they all slept. (Matt 26:40) 4. The “board” deserted Him...(Matt 26:55-56) 5. The key leader disowned Him .(Matt 26:75)
D. If this happened to Jesus as the leader, we can certainly expect there will be many kinds of problems that every new or refocused church will have because of imperfect people.
E. Yet even though they hurt Him, Christ gave Himself up for this group of imperfect people! His Church! (Ephesians 5:26)
F. He did so because He knew THE ONLY WAY that local churches would become healthy all over the world, is by people following His example and giving themselves up for the Church.
III. Understanding Christ’s Sacrifice A. Salvation is an individual choice we make, but God’s Word teaches that Jesus sacrificed Himself for more than just my individual sin.
B. Jesus died for the Church, for He realized that only as I, as a Christian, walk in harmony with God’s Church, can I be “made holy and blameless” by God’s word as I should. (Ephesians 5:26-27)
C. When I fall in love with the Church, I am falling in love with the institution God has chosen to bring salvation to the world, and the vehicle God has chosen to use to prepare me to meet Him!
D. “His intent was that now, through the Church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known…” (Ephesians 3:10)