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Finding Truth - The Truth About Church

Part II - The truth about The church

Our series verse is Proverbs 23:23(KJV) “Buy the truth, and sell it not; and also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding”

I Peter 2:5(NLT)

  • And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests.[a] Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.

INTRO

  • What is “The Church”
    • First mentioned, by Jesus, in Matt 22:18
      • “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’),[f] and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell[g] will not conquer it.”
    • The “Rock” that Jesus is referring to is Peter’s answer to a question, Not Peter himself.
      • The question that Jesus asked Peter in Verse  15  was -“But who do you say I am”
      • Peter Said “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”.
      • Jesus would build His church of the power of truth in that statement….
    • Church - In the Greek, the word Is ekklesia – its literal meaning is “a called-out assembly”.
      • It’s used 114 times in the New Testament
  • The word ekklesia was used to describe other types of assemblies during this time period. 
  • So, not to be confused…Jesus says, very specifically, that “upon this rock, I will build MY church”.
    • Something NEW
      • In HIS Church – He would unite Jew and Gentile
      • In HIS Church – There would be a NEW Temple and NEW Body
        • Eph 2:14-16 - 14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.
      • In HIS Church….Who we are and Who we were doesn’t matter:
        • Gal 3:28 - 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
      • In HIS Church – He is Leader and Builder
        • Eph 1:22 - God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church.
      • In HIS Church – He is Supreme
        • Col 1:18 - Christ is also the head of the church,
        •     Which is his body.
        • He is the beginning,
        •     Supreme over all who rise from the dead.[f]
        •     So he is first in everything.
      • In HIS Church – He, Jesus,  is the Cornerstone
        • Ephesians 2:20  So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.
        • In the Old Testament God would dwell with us by literally walking with us.
        • Sin came in between us, then God chose to dwell in a Tabernacle of His design.  Where only a select group of people could actually enter into His presence.
        • Today, God does not dwell in man-made buildings.  He is in the heart of those who believe in His son, Jesus.
        • Cornerstone - A Cornerstone is the very first stone to be set and its purpose is to serve as a reference point for all other stones that are laid at either side of it.
          • How to build a deck. (batter boards)
          • It’s critical
          • It joins two opposing sides together
          • This is a perfect description of Jesus and how he changed it up by saying that His gathering (His Church) is for all…Jew and Gentile. 
  • Who are ‘We’ in the Church?
    • We are “living stones”
      • I Peter 2:5 - 5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests.[a] Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.
      • We are living stones 
        • God is rebuilding his Temple  with Christ as the Cornerstone
        • As we follow Christ, and bring others to Christ, we become part of the temple…figuratively as ‘stones’ and literally as priests.
      • We are His holy priests
      • Before Christ, only those who were descendants of the tribe of Levi could enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple.
      • Now, with Christ, each one of us has the privilege of coming in to God’s presence.
        • Not by our own worth
        • Christ is the mediator
      •  We need to live a life knowing that we are His holy priests
        • Words are powerful.
          • What you say is what you become
          • We need to claim who God says we are
            • We are his Holy priests
            • And we need to act like it 
      • We offer Sacrifices
        • Not as they once did
          • Animal Sacrifices
        • Spiritual – What does that look like?
          • Give our bodies – Romans 12:1-2
            • And so, dear brothers and sisters,[a] I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.[b] Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
          • Choices
            • Laying down we may want or what we think we need for what we KNOW God wants.
  • So now we know what a church is and who we are in the church…so what is the church supposed to do?

 Mathew 28:18-20

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[a] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

  • Our mission in Front Royal: Train Children, Restore Families, Be a light in our Community
    • Everything thing that we set out to do as a church should line up with our mission
    • So many things that we all probably feel we need to do…but the truth is
      • We can’t do them all
        • Body of Christ (the church) is made of MANY members…for a reason.
        • Your skills, my skills, our skills
      • Good news is  - we don’t have to do Everything…but We need to do a few things well instead of many things poorly
        • Many people have great ideas on what we can do as a church.
        • I hear them, pray about them.
        • Keep them coming
        • Thankfully, the impact we can have on our Mission is NOT relative to our size. 
        • In order to fulfill our mission we need Vision.
          • As a pastor, one of the responsibilities I have is to cast Vision. 
            • Make it clear
            • Constantly talk about
            • I will be doing more of this
        • Some things that we have envisioned early on has been brought about through prayer, effort, and Gods grace.  I would like to share some of these things:
          • We had a Vision for Salvation
            • We have seen many come to know Christ for the first time, and many others re-commit their lives to Christ.
          • We had a Vision for Serving
            • In the beginning, just about every ministry area was being led by the folks in Winchester – thank God for them
              • Now – ALL areas are covered from this church.
          • We had a Vision for Community
            • We have impacted lives of children and adults
            • Backpack program
            • Hospital visits
            • Nursing home visits
            • Participation in Community activities like National Night Out and Festival of Leaves
          • We had a Vision for Growth
            • Since we started our Sunday services, we went from on average of 20 per week on Saturdays to 60 per week on Sundays.
            • We continue to have new visitors almost every other week.
          • We had a Vision for children and families
            • We invested in building additional classrooms late last year in anticipation of growth in children and families.
            • Prior to starting Sunday services in Oct of last year, we had a handful of children and teens in our services
            • Today they make up almost ½ of our congregation.
          • We had a Vision for Student Ministry
            • We recently started our Student Ministry which meets on Wednesday night.
          • We had a vision for Membership
            • We have seen our first group of Royal Oak Church become members of the Church of God.
          • We had a Vision for finances
            • As a startup campus, we were partially supported, financially, from the Winchester campus and from the State Offices.
            • Today – we are no longer receiving funds from the State Offices and this year, we are on pace to be able to support ourselves and our mission financially.
            • Not bad for a church that started just 2 years ago…but we have a lot to do and we will never stop doing God’s work here in Front Royal, Virginia.
      • The way we do this is to focus on a few things and do them with excellence.
        • We are not alone here. There are other church’s and together we make up THE church
        • If all the church’s in this community focused on doing a few things well instead of trying to do everything at once, we would have a huge impact in this community in a very short period of time.
  • Over the next couple of weeks, I will be talking about our vision for this church.  By the leading of the Holy Spirit, God put us here for this time, for this season.  There is work to be done and we need to partner together to get it done.
  • I’m thankful for what we have accomplished so far, and I’m excited for what we have yet to do.

Challenge

Finally

  • The church that we know is struggling
    •  Our culture is shifting away from church and, instead, focuses inward on ourselves.
      • From a recent pod cast I listened to from Carey Nieuwhof
        • The Word “Extremist”
        • What we think an Extremist looks like 
        • A subtle change in definition
          • Violent Extremist
          • Social Extremist 
      • From Barna Research: 60% of adults believe that you are a social extremist if you try to convert others to believe in your faith.
  • The view of the church has shifted.
    • There is feeling that the church, as the world sees it, has failed – and in some ways it has.
      • Fire and brimstone messages do not work.
        • 2 Timothy 2:23-26
        • 23 Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. 26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.
      • Harsh / Angry words are spewed across social media when we, the church, feel an injustice.
        • We attack instead of pray
        • Yes, some things can really get us riled up….but the way we respond will either be a light to the  world or show no discernible difference to the hate that is already out there.
        • Are we being salt and light?
    • Talk about bringing a sacrifice
      • When you see something that makes you so angry that you, in turn, respond in anger….that’s not a sacrifice.
      • If, instead, you respond with love (in the form of encouragement or truth “in love”), then you are presenting yourself as a sacrifice by giving up your “right” to  anger and, instead, be the light and salt that the world needs instead of making yourself feel better for 5 min.
      • Yes you would feel better but, giving that up as a sacrifice and reaching out to praying for those that are attacking you, or our God, or our church will have accomplished much more in the Kingdom.
      • You show light…people see it
  • People are choosing to turn inwardly and ask “what is best for me”
    • It’s no surprise…it’s all about “me” and what I want.
      • I don’t need authority…I just need to do what I feel I should do
      • They are giving in to twisted truths by the master of lies and deceit.
      • It WILL come crashing down
      • And the church needs to be there when it does
        • NOT to say “ I told you so”
        • Just to say…you are welcome here.  You are a child of God.
        • You are in the right place
        • We call these moments Revival – People will be yearning for truth because they bought in to a lie and were almost destroyed by it.
        • We, as the church, need to be ready to stand and deliver the truth in love and welcome them in.
  • We are literally all in this together…living stones who are being placed around the perfect cornerstone. 

My challenge to you, and to myself:

Be a light when it’s easier to just be noise

Be salt when it’s easier to just blend in.

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