I want to take a little time to talk about the church.
Specifically, we are going to be looking to the Bible for guidance about what we are supposed to be doing as a church.
But, I guess, as we start, I feel like, before we get talking too much about our plans for the church or your responsibilities within the church, that it would be important we take a step back, and ask why we should work so hard at thinking biblically about the local church?
Because, for me, it’s clear.
There’s hardly anything more important than the local church.
There’s hardly thing more important you can give your life and energy and time and commitment to than the local church.
If being spiritually healthy matters to you, the local church matters to you.
If Jesus matters to you, the local church matters to you.
I know I have heard it said the church is the main way God is accomplishing His plan here on earth right now, and I agree, and yet with all that said, the reality is there are still a lot of people who call themselves Christians who don’t really think of the local church as that important at all.
And that’s obvious because there are all kinds of people who say they are Christians who aren’t even part of a local church.
I mean, they’ll show up at a worship service once a year.And if you ask them, I’m sure they have got a million different reason why they are not part of the church. But at the end of the day, they are not reasons really. They are excuses. They just don’t think of the local church as something that matters that much. And their life proves it.
And they are not alone either.
Because, there are lots of others who are going to places they call church. And they are there every Sunday. So they are little different. But it’s obvious, they don’t think this question really matters either. Because, even though the place they are going to has immoral leaders and even though the worship service is a circus and even though there’s not much of a concern for holiness and even though the Word of God’s not really being preached.
They are still going. And they are not doing anything. And it’s not something urgent to them.
The local church. What it does. How it functions. They kind of think it doesn’t matter.
And even us, you know. If I take it a step further. I don’t want to assume. Really being a vital part of a local church, is going to take a lot of work. It’s not always going to be easy. And there may be times when you just want to sit on the side. And it may be you know, you kind of think all this talk about the local church is a little bit much, you are trying to figure out why is this so important and so I don’t want to assume.
Because it is important, the local church. And not just to me. And to other pastors.
But to God.
The way a local church functions is important to God and one way we know it is important to God is because He actually wrote books of the Bible about it.
1 Timothy is an example of how seriously God takes the local church. It’s all about life in the local church. Almost every chapter. Chapter 2 is about the worship services of the local church. And the roles of men and women within the church. Chapter 3, the leadership of the local church. Elders and deacons. And in chapter 4, the role of spiritual leaders within the church. What should spiritual leaders should do.And then chapter 5, you can see, it says at the top, at least in my Bible, instructions for the church.
So throughout this letter, Paul’s giving all kinds of details about how the church is supposed to function, and in fact, we know we are not just seeing things that aren’t there, because as we look down at 1 Timothy chapter 3, verses 14 and 15, we see Paul himself says that is the very reason he wrote.
“I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church…”
Apparently, Paul had left Timothy behind with the church in Ephesus.
We see in verse 3 of chapter 1.
“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus…”
And Timothy, you remember, was one of Paul’s closest friends. He was someone Paul had mentored in the ministry. And he had left him at Ephesus where there were certain problems within the church. And as he says here, in chapter 3, he wanted to come and be with Timothy and even spend some time there with him and the church.
But he wasn’t sure he was going to be able to get there as soon as he wanted.
Even as an apostle, you know, he wasn’t in charge of his own life, he was submissive to God’s agenda, and so while if you had asked him what he wanted to do, he might have said he wanted to go to Ephesus to be with Timothy, he wasn’t going to hold on to that too tightly, if God made it clear he was supposed to go somewhere else. And so, because he doesn’t know what’s going to happen next, he doesn’t want to leave him in this difficult spot, not knowing what to do, and so Paul says he wrote this letter, I am writing these things, so that if I delay, if I can’t come, you may know how one ought to behave in the church which means, all this stuff he’s talking about with Timothy, about how the local church is supposed to function, how we are supposed to behave in the church, was important.
It couldn’t wait.
It was urgent.
And one of the things I love about these verses is that Paul clearly explains why.
This is almost like a pause in the middle of this letter.
And Paul’s like this is what I am writing about and this is why it matters.
This is why the local church is important.
The first reason is because of what the church is.
The second is because of what the church does.
Which we’ll look at next time!