Why Does the Church Matter?
I greet you in the wonderful name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Today is Day 17 of lockdown. If he thought you were developing cabin fever, our state president announced that lockdowns now going to go on until the end of April, at least. Our prayers are with you. Please be praying for me too?
The truth is that life has changed, and the world has changed. Maybe your circumstances have changed. I can certainly say that churches circumstances have changed. Be in prayer for one another, even as we are in prayer for you. Phone a friend of this period, speak to the people that you know, maybe find someone you don't know and just check up and see how they are doing. Pay special attention to the old and the venerable that they might know the love of Christ through you at this time.
Over the last two Sundays, we've looked at what the church is. We first looked at, what is the church? Secondly, we looked at what is a healthy Church. Today is Easter – the Sunday in the year we celebrate and remember that Jesus Christ rose from the grave, and we do that with much excitement. Today I want to look at why does the church matter?
Let’s just recap on what we did in the first and second Sunday. On the first Sunday of lockdown, we looked at what is the church? We drew from Acts chapter 2:41, where we read “So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand people were added to them.” What were they added to? Well, they were added to the local church in Jerusalem. We drew a definition from Jonathan Leeman, that “A local church is a group of Christians, who regularly gather in Christ's name, to officially affirm and oversee one another's membership in Jesus Christ and his kingdom, through gospel preaching and gospel ordinances.” And that was week 1.
In week 2, we moved on to the question, ‘What does a healthy Church look like?’ We continued to investigate the answer to that question from Acts 2. Primarily, we looked at Acts 2:42-47. In the end, we drew principles from that text. A healthy church is a Biblical Teaching Church, a Fervent Worshipping Church, a Loving Fellowshipping Church and a Passionate Evangelizing Church.
Title: Why the Church Matters
This morning, I want us to use Acts 20:28 as a springboard to talk about why the church matters. Why the church matters to God, why the church matters to Jesus Christ, why the church should matter to you as a Believer and why the church matters to the world.
In order to understand Acts 20:28, let's just consider the chapter as a whole. In chapter 20 of the book of Acts, we have Paul the Apostle heading towards what he believes will be his ultimate death. On the way, he stops off at a port city in Asia Minor and calls the Elders of the city of Ephesus, a city which he served for many years. He calls them to himself because he wants to commission them. He wants to commission them to the task which they have been set to, and that's the shepherding of God's church. And in order to commission them, in order to point into what a good shepherd looks like, he points to his own life - in gospel-centred life and he points to the message of the Gospel the gospel, which he had proclaimed to them.
Let's take a look at Acts 20:25 and following. Paul says to these Elders, “And now I know that none of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will ever see me again. Therefore I declare to you this day that I'm innocent of the blood of all of you, because I did not avoid declaring to you the whole plan of God. Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd the Church of God, which he purchased with his own blood. I know that after my departure Savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Men will rise up even from your own number and distort the truth to lure the disciples into following them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night for three years I never stopped warning each one of you with tears.
1. The Church Matters because God Owns Her
Why does the church matter? The church matters because God owns her. Our text this morning says, “Be on God for yourselves, and for all the flock that the Holy Spirit has appointed you to as overseer, to shepherd the Church of God. The Church is his possession. It is the apple of his eye. It is his treasure. He owns her and therefore the church matters! Why does the church matter? The church matters because Jesus Christ bought her. We read in our text, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd the Church of God, which he purchased with his own blood.”
Jesus died that the church might be reconciled to God. His blood was shed that the church might be ransomed. Jesus' body was broken, that the church might be redeemed. Friends, the Church was bought at an incredibly high and infinite price. The world will say that that says something about our intrinsic value, and it doesn’t. It says something about the Holiness, righteousness and justice of God. God's holy standard is infinitely higher than we could ever imagine. He’s separated from sin and he’s separated from sinners in a way that we will never truly understand. God's righteous standard is absolute perfection, in a way that we can never live out. God's justice demands that the price be paid and his holiness and his righteousness be met. The only way that that could happen, was for Jesus Christ to pierce through time, space and matter and to be born as a babe in Bethlehem, to live a perfect life and to die a substitutionary death on a cross. The pleasing the wrath of God for sinners like you and like me, Jesus‘ blood had to be shed because God is holy, righteous, and just.
2. The Church Matters because the Holy Spirit has Appointed Leaders over Her
Acts 20:28 reads, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers of,” The Holy Spirit himself, working with the Trinity - The Father and the Son, taking care of the church in preparing her that she might be made ready for when Christ appears - the bride for the bridegroom. Why does the church matter?
3. The Church Matters because it Matters to you and me personally
Acts 20:28 says, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock.” That's the Sheep. Even the leadership of the church, the biblical leadership of the church aren’t just shepherds. They serve from amongst the flock. We are sheep! And we need one another! We need one another for care! We need one another for spiritual growth! We need one another to seek the accountability from one another! We need one another so that we can submit spiritually to leaders that God places over us! We need one another for biblical church discipline, that we might be called to correction and grow in Grace as God extends his mercy to us, through his people! We need the church!
The text before us is, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd the Church of God, which he purchased with his own blood.” It was necessary for God to purchase the church. It was necessary for Jesus Christ to lay down his life for his bride. His bride is made up of every tribe and tongue and nation. If we were in Crystal Park Baptist Church right now, I'd encourage you to look at the people to the left and to the right of you and take a look at the full box of smarties - every single colour of the rainbow that's represented. The reason why I do that is because I get so excited when I see the Church of God and how diverse we are. But in all of our diversity, we have one thing in common. Each and every single one of us is a sinner has fallen short of the glory of God and needed to be ransomed. The price needed to be paid to God for our Salvation. Because of his Holiness, justice, and righteousness. The reality is God saved us from himself - from his wrath. God saved us by himself - by Jesus Christ his Son. God ultimately saves us for himself - for his eternal Glory's sake.
We needed to be redeemed. That idea is the idea of being bought out of something. Because we were sinners - slaves to sin. The idea is being at a slave market. A person in slavery and then somebody putting down money and buying them out of slavery, and giving them their freedom. We have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Jesus Christ's blood bought us out of the slave market of sin, the slave market of this world.
The world needs salvation. The world is enslaved to sin. They need the church to make loud proclamation of the Gospel message that Jesus died for all men that they might live, then he rose from the grave and ascended into heaven and that one day he's coming again to judge the living and the dead, for this brief moment in time, we can repent and turn away from our sins and put our faith and our trust in him and we will live, be redeemed, be ransomed by the blood of the Lamb!
4. The Church Matter to the World because world is Dying without her.
The world needs to church to make bold proclamation to all the ends of the earth. Jesus Christ in his Great Commission said, “Go into the world and make disciples of all men, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all which I have commanded you.” That is the function of the church. And so, the church matters to the world. The church matters because God owns a the church matters because Jesus Christ brought to the church mattered because the Holy Spirit has appointed leaders over the church matters to you and to me believer because we grow within her and the church matters to the world because the world is dying without her.
Friends, the church needs to rise up and proclaim the gospel message. That means that you and I need to rise up. We need to proclaim God's Word to our family, our friends, our neighbours, our co-workers, to the people that we got to school with, to University students. We need to Proclaim God's word in our streets and in our homes that Jesus Christ might be glorified in our lives, even as he will be glorified forever in the life to come. The church matters! That's the message of Acts 20:28 and it’s to that healthy church picture from last week that I'm looking forward to returning to. As we hear the gospel message proclaimed from her Pulpit.
How do we go about applying this text?
We love the things that God loves. He loves his church. And so, we hunger for her! We hunger to return to her! We hunger to sit under Biblical Teaching proclaimed from the pulpit. We hunger to gather together, worship god with songs and hymns and spiritual songs and giving to God's glory. We hunger to see the ordinance performed, communion, as well as baptisms. We hunger for Fellowship, that we might exercise the one another's together, that we might love one another, and greet one another even with holy kisses after coronavirus is gone. We hunger to serve one another and another, and lift one another and carry another's burdens. We hunger for the Passionate Evangelism, which God uses his church to perform that a watching world might be added to our number, even daily in God's good pleasure.
This Easter, I hope that you remember the church that Jesus Christ bought with his very own blood.
Let's closing a word of Prayer.
Father God in heaven, we do thank you for the church. We recognize LORD God that you own her. Lord, Jesus Christ that you bought her, Holy Spirit that you strengthen her, and empower her and appoint leaders over her. We recognize our need for her and we see the world's need for her. LORD God, we do ask even as the church at Crystal Park Baptist Church that we would glorify you in this life, even as we will praise you without end in the life to come. This Easter LORD God, we pray that the profession of Jesus Christ, his death for sin, his resurrection in victory over death and over this world, and over the evil one, that repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed faithfully from our pulpit and faithfully from pulpits of churches all over our city, to your eternal praise and glory. This we are asked in the blessed name of Jesus Chris, who is our Lord and our Saviour. Amen.
May the Lord bless you this day.