What We Believe: The Church, Part Three (041223)

What We Believe  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  33:48
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Announcements

Deacon’s Meeting this Saturday morning at 8:30 AM
Be back in your place with your Connection Group on Sunday at 9:45 AM. I will be “re-doing” a couple of my Starting Point classes over the next couple of weeks. I will be back in the JOY Connection Group on Sunday, April 30.
All Staff Meeting this Sunday night at 7:15 PM
Sign up for the Community Barbecue on Saturday, June 3, 2023
Sign up for Neighborhood Bible Time

What we believe about the church.

Why is it important?

There was chaos over the weekend in the Inner Harbor section of Baltimore. Video, which you can watch below, shows more than 200 teenagers brawling in the streets. At least two people were shot.
What’s even more shocking is that the gunfire and fighting happened in the presence of police officers.
“Either they don’t care about consequences, they don’t believe the consequences and they have no respect for human life or the sanctity of life or authority — to pull off that brazen, cowardly act right there in the presence of police officers,” police commissioner Michael Harrison told television station WBAL.
This, along with Psalm chapter 78 reveals why it is so important that we know what we believe and that we pass it along to the next generation.
Psalm 78:4 KJV 1900
We will not hide them from their children, Shewing to the generation to come The praises of the Lord, and his strength, And his wonderful works that he hath done.
Psalm 78:6–8 KJV 1900
That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; Who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep his commandments: And might not be as their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation; A generation that set not their heart aright, And whose spirit was not stedfast with God.
This is also why our youth outreach - Neighborhood Bible Time & Teen Extreme - are so important. Please sign up to volunteer.

What we believe about the church.

Turn to and read Acts 2:41-42. Pray.
The past two weeks, I have taken the time to answer this question:
Is the Church Universal & Invisible or Local & Visible?
I have answered that question in two ways:
#1 - The Bible very clearly teaches that the church is local & visible.
#2 - The Church - Universal & Invisible - is a teaching that has come through tradition.
Mark 7:13 KJV 1900
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
I’m not going to take the time to review this; you’ll need to go back and either watch or listen to last week’s message.
But, what has this led to? Simply put it has led to confusion and a watering down of Biblical truth.
The teaching that the Church is universal & invisible has led to two, very serious problems:
Confusion
People simply don’t know which church they should attend or which church is “telling the truth.”
People in this category then choose a church based upon either tradition (which church they were raised in) or based upon preference (music, Bible version, style of worship, size, programs, etc.)
The teaching that the Church is universal & invisible has also led to:
Watering Down of Doctrine
If people aren’t confused about which church to attend, they many times go the complete opposite direction and say that it doesn’t matter what church you belong to.
This leads to ecumenism which is:
"a movement promoting unity between different Christian churches and groups by diminishing, changing, or ignoring the very words of God."
Alter, James; Robertson II, Dolton. Why Baptist?: The Significance Of Baptist Principles In An Ecumenical Age . Ancient Baptist Press. Kindle Edition.
An example of that, here in Charlotte, would be...
FORCLT
Whose mission is “Uniting the Church; Transforming the City.”
As you look at their board, you will see that there are representatives from churches/denominations all over the Charlotte area.
As I have continued to think about, though, I believe that I have identified one additional problem related to the teaching that the Church is Universal & Invisible…Not only has it caused Confusion and a Watering Down of Doctrine but it has also caused a...
De-Emphasis on the Local Church
The thinking would be: “Since the Church is Universal & Invisible, then the local and visible church is not important; it’s not needed.”
Dr. John Halsey, who is now with the Lord, wrote:
Many fail to recognize the nature and importance of the church, spending their efforts instead on Bible classes or in following radio and television preachers.
An example of that, here in Charlotte, would be...
The Movement Foundation
Whose mission is “Bringing Life, Light, and Hope to Communities.”
(The Movement Foundation is connected with FORCLT.)
From their website:
Our projects are intentionally designed to be self-sustaining, which is why our schools, health clinics and housing projects can flourish without ongoing fundraising.
We partner with other businesses and not-for-profit organizations because the challenges facing society are too big to face alone, but we believe that we can achieve great things when we work together.
Although this organization is associated with FORCLT, an organization committed to uniting the church, this organization (Movement) makes no mention - at all - of the church
While I’m not seeking to take anything away from helping people with education, health care and housing; this de-emphasis of the local church has also gone hand in hand with a social gospel mentality.
We also want to bring life, light, and hope to our community but those can only be found through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ not through education, health care or housing.
So, I would argue that the teaching of a universal & invisible church leads to confusion, a watering down of doctrine, and a de-emphasis on the local church.
Now…moving on to what our doctrinal statement actually states about the church:
We believe that the local New Testament church is composed of regenerated, baptized believers, voluntarily united together for the purpose of worship, edification, ordinances, fellowship and service;
We see this very plainly in Acts chapter 2.
Acts 2:41–42 KJV 1900
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
The local New Testament church is composed of regenerated, baptized believers...
Acts 2:41 (KJV 1900)
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized...
Acts 2:41 (KJV 1900)
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized:
Local church membership is exclusionary.
It is restricted to individuals who give credible testimony of salvation in Jesus Christ and who have publically identified themselves with Christ in believer’s baptism by immersion following their salvation.
You may say, “That’s obvious!
However in “Christianity” at large that is not so obvious and actually is quite an important statement.
Why?
Protestant churches practice a hereditary membership. Children of members at their baptism become covenant members of that church.
Alter, James; Robertson II, Dolton. Why Baptist?: The Significance Of Baptist Principles In An Ecumenical Age . Ancient Baptist Press. Kindle Edition.
Last week, we received the following question:
I have a question. The Bible says that if a child’s parents believe in God, they they will go to Heaven. However, what if the child’s parents don’t believe in God? What happens to their children?
Something, that most of us here, take for granted and which seems obvious to us is something which we ought not take for granted and which is not obvious to most.
But, I would ask, “Why is it obvious to us? Why do we take it for granted?”
Because, either 1) we have been taught, from God’s Word, that the local church is made up of those who are saved and have been scripturally baptized or 2) we, through our own study of God’s Word, have come to understand and believe that the local church is made up of those who are saved and have been scripturally baptized.
Either way, we have based our belief on the infallible, inerrant Word of God not upon tradition.
The local New Testament church is composed of regenerated, baptized believers...
I would also like to touch on the matter of baptism and, while I could preach an entire message just on baptism, I simply want to make two points.
#1 - Baptism comes after salvation.
Acts 2:41 (KJV 1900)
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized:
Notice the order: They received the Word of God - they were saved - then they were baptized.
Scriptural baptism takes place after an individual has put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
Acts 8:36–38 (KJV 1900)
And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
As a side note:
According to the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, in 2022, the top five best-selling translations were:
New International Version
English Standard Version
New Living Translation
King James Version
Christian Standard Bible
The NIV does not contain Acts 8:37.
The ESV does not contain Acts 8:37.
The NLT does not contain Acts 8:37.
The CSB does not contain Acts 8:37.
Of the top five best-selling translations...
Only the KJV contains Acts 8:37!
Acts 8:37 KJV 1900
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Which gives the Scripturally qualification for baptism!
This would mean that infant baptism is not Scriptural!
#1 - Baptism comes after salvation.
Then...
#2 - Baptism is by immersion.

βαπτίζω (baptizō). vb. to immerse. Expresses the action of immersing something or someone into liquid (usually water).

The Greek Word - which was chosen by God! - means to immerse.
Immerse, according to the dictionary, means:

IMMERSE, v. t. immers´. [L. immersus, from immergo; in and mergo, to plunge.]

1. To put under water or’ other fluid; to plunge; to dip.

2. To sink or cover deep; to cover wholly; as, to be immersed in a wood. Dryden.

3. To plunge; to overwhelm; to involve; to engage deeply; as, to immerse in business or cares.

This would mean that sprinkling is not a Scriptural means of baptism.
So, the two points about baptism, that I would like to emphasize are:
#1 - Baptism comes after salvation.
#2 - Baptism is by immersion.
We will stop there for tonight and pick it back up next Wednesday.

Prayer Requests

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Neighborhood Bible Time & Teen Extreme!
June 25-30, 2023
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According to 1 Timothy 2:1-2 we should pray that they govern in such a way as to allow us to lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
President Joe Biden
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