Defining the Church - NCC 48

New City Catechism  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  21:20
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I read this week of the Members of Northend Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Seattle received a special announcement in the mail, listing the many things that would be done for them at church on the following “no-excuse-to-stay-home Sunday.”
According to the pastor, cots would be available for those who say Sunday is their only day to sleep. Eye drops would be supplied for those who have red eyes from watching late Saturday-night TV shows. There would be steel helmets for those who say the roof would cave in if they ever went to church, blankets for persons who think the church is too cold, fans for those who say it is too hot, scorecards for those wishing to list all the hypocrites present, TV dinners for those who can’t go to church and also cook dinner. Finally, the sanctuary would be decorated with Christmas poinsettias and Easter lilies for those who have never seen the church without them.
Well, I am thankful you are here tonight, and I am thankful we didn’t have to send out such a letter for you to be here.
Tonight we are looking at a crucial question in our NCC - we’ve come to week 48 and find this question:
Question 48 What is the church?
A community elected for eternal life and united by faith, who love, follow, learn from, and worship God together.
Turn with me tonight to 2 Thessalonians 2:13 as we strive to study God’s Word tonight and solidify our understanding of why we answer this question this way.
This second epistle to believers in Thessalonica is thought to have been written just after the first.
There were three principal reasons for another Letter, so soon after the first.
The saints were being persecuted and needed to be encouraged (chap. 1).
They were being misled as to the Day of the Lord and needed to be enlightened (chap. 2).
Some were living in idleness in view of the Lord’s Return and needed to be corrected (chap. 3).
We find Paul’s understanding of the church here in 2:13:
2 Thessalonians 2:13 NKJV
13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth,
In the first twelve verses, Paul described the doom of the Antichrist and his followers. Now he turns to the Thessalonian Christians and thinks of their calling and destiny by way of contrast. As he does so, he expresses thanks to God for these brethren beloved by the Lord, and proceeds to give a summary of their salvation—past, present, and future.
God Chose You

Paul reassures the Thessalonians that, in contrast to unbelievers (vv. 10–12), they have accepted God’s call and so have demonstrated that they were elected by God to be saved when Jesus returns.

The Bible clearly teaches that God chooses men to salvation, and that men are lost through their own deliberate choice to reject Him.
The truth of the matter is that apart from God’s intervention, all would be lost.
Scripture teaches that God desires all to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9).
1 Timothy 2:4 NKJV
4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
2 Peter 3:9 NKJV
9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
However, the Bible does not teach “Universalism,” the theory that all will eventually be saved.
So these believers were elect - they are chosen by God. It was not their initial goodness or merit - but God’s good favor from the foundation of the world.
Ephesians 1:4 NKJV
4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,
Then we see this choice was initiated:
Through the Sanctification of the Spirit

The sanctification he referred to was not the process by which a Christian grows in Christlikeness, but the initial work of grace in which the Spirit works in a believer and makes him God’s possession.

Here we have the Holy Spirit’s pre-conversion work. He sets individuals apart to God from the world, convicts them of sin, and points them to Christ.
Someone has well said, “If it had not been for Christ, there would have been no feast; if it had not been for the Holy Spirit, there would have been no guests!”
So, God Chose You Through the Sanctification of the Spirit which made possible:
Belief in the Truth
While Some people can see only God’s election, and they imply that man can do nothing about it. Others overemphasize man’s part, and neglect God’s sovereign choice. The truth lies in both extremes. Election and human responsibility are both Bible doctrines, and it is best to believe and teach both, even if we can’t understand the antinomy of how both can be true.
God initially chose Israel as His people (Amos 3:2) while also choosing individuals like David (2 Sam 7:8–16) for special purposes. God’s chosen people now include both Jews and Gentiles—therefore salvation is available to all who believe.
So, to these Thessalonians, Paul teaches some crucial truth for followers of Christ to consider:
You are chosen. God placed His grace on you - and you are not your own. You belong to Him!
The Spirit has done a transforming work in you. You don’t need to worry about your ability to keep up with God - striving to earn His favor as if He is temperamental. His love was placed on you before the foundation of the world and you have been changed.
Strive to continually base your belief on the Truth of the Gospel. At conversion, you believed that God’s Word was true and that Jesus was sufficient. Continually believe that truth. You needed the Gospel for salvation, but you will need to refresh yourself with the truth to inspire continued dependance.
So what is the church?
A community elected for eternal life and united by faith, who love, follow, learn from, and worship God together.
A community (a group of people)
who is Elected - chosen by God for eternal life and
Who are united by faith
Who love, follow, learn from, and worship God together.
To help solidify our understanding I found this helpful video:
I’m thankful to be the church. and the family that God has assembled here at fellowship.
Let’s sing Family of God as we plan to dismiss.
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