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The Church - Your Family?
Text: Ephesians 2:11-19
Thesis: To show that the church is a family, and that Christians should value those relationships we have in the church.
Imagine that you're sitting at your desk, struggling with the mountain of bills before you.
        wonder how you're going to get by.
At that moment, you receive a telephone call.
        man introduces himself, saying he has been doing investigations into his genealogy, and
        has discovered that he is your uncle.
Furthermore, this man is fabulously wealthy, and he
        wants to do something for you!  Can you believe your good fortune?!
Most of us, upon hearing that kind of story, will say, "Yeah, that's nice, but it's only a dream.
That would never really happen."
And perhaps it won't - in that way.
But for many Christians, there is a rich family nearby - that they're not even aware of.
        do not understand the will of God regarding the church, and so they have viewed the
        church merely as a place where people come on Sunday to worship.
What riches we miss if we fail to see the church as our family!
Is The Church Really A Family?
A.    Eph.
3:14,15 - If we search the New Testament using a standard translation, this may be the only passage which uses the word "family" in speaking of the church.
Some may not be convinced by this one occurrence that the church is meant to be our family.
B.     An abundance of evidence that the church is a family:
/**/The church as the household of God:/*
a.       "Household" is a word found 26 times in the New Testament, and it refers to all who live within a person's house - usually pointing specifically to the family.
b.      Eph.
2:19 - Paul told the Ephesians (who were Gentiles) that they were no longer strangers to God's covenant, but "members of the household of God".
c.       Gal.
6:10 - Paul urged Christians to do good to all, but to give special emphasis to doing good things for those who are of the "household of faith".
d.      Think of children who are adopted.
At one point, they are total strangers; but after the adoption, they are now part of the family.
That's the idea for Christians.
Having been adopted by God, we are now part of the household of God.
2.      */The church as a family of brethren:/*
The word "brethren" is found 191 times in the NKJV New Testament.
Many of those have a Jewish flavor; since Israelites were related to one another through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, they were actually brethren.
But the word was also adopted by the early church.
b.      Acts 15:36 - Paul and Barnabas visited many cities as they preached the gospel.
Paul's view of these new converts is shown when he refers to them as his brethren.
Unknown to him one day; dear brethren after becoming Christians!
c.       Heb.
2:11 - How did we come to be brethren?
Because there is One who sanctified us; we were born into God's family because of His sacrifice.
Therefore we have a common Brother, and all of us are now family.
d.      Philemon 15,16 - An amazing example is found here, where Onesimus, a slave, has become a Christian.
He is being sent back to Philemon, but not just as his slave, but as his brother.
That's what happens in Christ!
C.     Mat.
19:29 - Jesus sums up the point: When we leave all to follow Christ, we receive an abundance of blessings.
A new family is one of the greatest of these blessings!
Yes, the church really is a family, and we must learn to view it in this way.
Why We Should Value The Church As Our Family
A.    Think again about the man on the phone who claims to be your uncle.
If that's the only time you hear from him, the relationship will mean little.
But if he begins calling you often to show that he genuinely cares; if he sends financial help now and then; if he demonstrates an interest in you, then you'll value your new-found relationship.
B.     Reasons to value our family in Christ:
/**/In this family are people who welcome us:/*
a.       Acts 28:13-15 - For Paul, this was a trying time.
He was a prisoner, being sent to Rome to stand before Caesar.
The stops along the way were places he had never been before.
But observe that in both places mentioned, brethren received him, and made his stay as comfortable as possible.
b.      3 Jn. 5-8 - This is just as God desires for every Christian.
Even though we have never met, because we are Christians there is immediately a bond between us.
And we will do all we can to help one another, whatever that need may be.
2.      */In this family are people who protect:/*
a.       Acts 9:29,30 - After Paul was converted to Christ, he began preaching so boldly that the Jews tried to kill him.
Had it not been for the intervention of his new family, his ministry would have been extremely brief!
b.      Gal.
6:1,2 - Christians today are surrounded by many dangers, including those that are spiritual.
Who will help us when we've fallen into Satan's snare?
If we have brethren in Christ, they will come to our rescue!
3.      */In this family are people of peace:/*
a.       Gen.
13:8 - Abraham sounded the tone for this idea.
He urged his nephew to do what was needed to put an end to their strife - "for we are brethren".
b.      1 Tim.
5:1,2 - There are times in God's family (as there are in any earthly family) when someone needs to be corrected.
But note the manner in which this is to be done: With tenderness and love, with every attempt to maintain the family connections.
We are careful not to disrupt what the Lord has put in place.
4.      */In this family are people of agape love:/*
a.       "Agape" love is the hallmark of Christianity.
Jesus showed what it is, and that is the same love that His followers are to imitate.
It is committed to doing good for others, though we've never before met.
b.      1 Jn. 3:16 - The example of Jesus moves us to show love to our brethren.
A Christian who does not love his brethren is still a babe in Christ.
c.       1 Pet.
1:22 - Those who are trying to purify their souls so they will be acceptable to God must also set their minds on loving their brethren fervently.
C.     There is no church on earth where every Christian practices these traits of spiritual brotherhood perfectly.
But in very few churches will no one like this be found!
And nowhere else on earth will you find these characteristics.
Only among God's people!
If this church is my family, then:
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