Who is the Church of Jesus Christ?
A little History of the Church
A little History of the Church
Good morning. I hope that you all have a good week. It has been an interesting one that has presented a lot of challenges. It is very fitting that the week after I talked about the 24/7 news cycle that we are presented another crazy week in the news. Yet the truth remains. The truth that God is faithful and his ruler over all. We need to turn to Him for source of comfort, truth, and guidance.
Let us begin this morning with prayer.
One of the challenges we must face when we discuss the Church (again speaking about the Church Universal) is the nature of how did we get here? Why are we sitting in this church and how has that formed the question who makes up the Church. If you talk to some people they will on consider their specific denomination as the Church. Others accept some but not all. There is a deep rooted history in the how the Church has gotten to this point that we can’t begin to cover completely this morning. Yet how did we get from this passage of scripture in Acts
26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
To sitting in a Wesleyan Church in Bloomington Indiana.
The reality is that we can’t cover everything that has lead to this but lets see if we can do the cliff notes version. If you go back to even the scriptures we see that there was different lines of thought. This can be traced and studied through all of the letter written by Paul and the other disciples. Slight variations and differences as they approached different cultures and settings of new churches. Yet, the Gospel message remained the same no matter where it was. Then the Church grew and more variations started to show up. Differences in thought about the church and what the church was and believed in came into existence. Our theology was being formed well before we had any idea of what it is. This was born out in various councils that gathered together the different points of view and thought and attempted to get everyone on the same page. Yet, they weren’t always successful. We still split and separated and approached worshiping God differently. Through Hundereds of Years you see there are multiple schisms, and sects that have arisen out of the belief in Jesus Christ.
So how do we know who the church is? Which one is right?
What if i Said all of them. What if i said None of them? Is it the reality that the Institution of the Church built over the generations probably all have some things right. Yet, I feel in my heart of hearts. Meaning I don’t have actual evidence for this right this minute. That if we are Honest we have some things wrong as well that our other brothers and sisters have right.
Insert slide of denominations.
What does this mean for us? How is this answering the question of who the church is? That is where we turn to look at some of the core beliefs that we should share.
The Important Things: Shared Beliefs
The Important Things: Shared Beliefs
The reality is that as different as we are we have many shared beliefs that make up the very make up of what it means to be a Christian. A Christ follower and i think that is the first key for us.
Faith in Jesus death and Resurrection
22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
We must begin with faith in who Jesus was and is. That he came died on a Cross for all. That through his ressurection we gain access to God. This is a core belief that we can not forsake. It is impossible for us to reperesent Christ with out this core belief. Now it should be noted that there are a variety of theological points of view on what happens at this moment but that is another topic. The reality is that we must first believe.
2. We are to be set apart from this world
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
This passage gives us a lot of different names for the church. We get to see a bunch of references back to the OT and Peter draws upon this in talking about the Church. All these names though draw us to a conclusion that we are to be set apart that we are something different. Our faith recognizes that to follow after God marks a fundamental change in who we are as individuals and as a society. That is absolutely essential in our faith. That we must change and move forward as a people of God.
3. The forgiveness of Sins
6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
We talked about faith and that we are a people set apart. The reality is that is born out of our freedom from sin. That we have been forgiven of our sins through our belief in the death of Jesus. This idea plays out differently across the denominations but the reality is that we beleive that God forgives us of our sins and that is an essential belief that we must maintain.
4. Gathering together
The Church isn’t the church without the gathering of believers. While this can look differently these days through online church and other ways we can approach church the turth remains.
20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
We must gather together for worship and building of the church. It is absolutely essential. No one can achieve the true intention of what Jesus called the Church to be alone.
The Wesleyan Church: Article of Religion
We believe that the Christian Church is the entire body of believers in Jesus Christ, who is the founder and only Head of the Church. The Church includes both those believers who have gone to be with the Lord and those who remain on the earth, having renounced the world, the flesh and the devil, and having dedicated themselves to the work which Christ committed unto His church until He comes. The Church on earth is to preach the pure Word of God, properly administer the sacraments according to Christ’s instructions, and live in obedience to all that Christ commands. A local church is a body of believers formally organized on gospel principles, meeting regularly for the purposes of evangelism, nurture, fellowship and worship. The Wesleyan Church is a denomination consisting of those members within district conferences and local churches who, as members of the body of Christ, hold the faith set forth in these Articles of Religion and acknowledge the ecclesiastical authority of its governing bodies.
We beleive we are a part of hat larger body of believers that makes up the chruch. WE are just one small entity of that bigger whole that makes up the church.
Yet, I feel like we still haven’t answered the question of who is the church.
One Body Many Parts
One Body Many Parts
The Church is the Body of Christ. At the end of the day we can look to the church as the body of Christ. This is where we need to look when we ask the question of who the church is. I didn’t mean to decieve you i just realized that we follow this path too often when we define the question of who is the church. We look to our institutions first instead of to Christ first.
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
The truth is that there is increidble diversity within the Church. The Church is made up of so many different people and experiences that it is amazing to think that we even share anything in common yet it is is in our diversity that we can find unity and we can celebrate it. Look back and think about it. What if we all thought the same way would it really be better? If every single one of our thoughts was perfectly aligned as Christians. What would happen if we were wrong. We interpreted something wrong? Now we are all wrong. The church is a beautiful masterpiece of the creator just like the human body.
This is what makes the church so amazing. We can think differently we can approach things differently and we can celebrate it together. The truth comes is that we rely on christ to be the center of who we are. That he is the focus of the body, that he is the head and we trust in him to guide and walk with us in this world.
Your Big Toe
Your Big Toe
The passage we read talks about diffrent parts of the body and how they have an impact on each other. We can see the value of an eye, ears, even our stomach, or heart, but have you ever thought about your Big toe? Think about it for a moment. Your Big toe is an essential but often unthought of part of your body. It is the first point that you contact the ground. When you wake or start to stretch or figure out if you hurt yourself you wiggle your toes, particularly your Big toe. It helps us balance and stand the way that we do. This ugly giant toe is essential to who we are. Yet, we don’t think about it often. It just goes to show you that even the most random parts that don’t seem to have a lot of value are essential to the make up of our body.
The church is exactly like this. We are diverse we are unique. We are one body but many parts. Each having our own unique abilities and gifts that helps us make up who the church is. If we accept this understanding of who the church is we see that the idea of not being a part of the church is essentially foolishness. We must remain a part of the Body because apart we are dead.