Thinking Biblically About Members

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A Church That Functions Biblically  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  45:39
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Your leg does not come off.
That’s the sad news my parents had to deliver to my brother as he tugged at his lower leg, trying to remove it.
You see we had visited our great aunt and uncle, and after showing us around their property we went inside and Auntie Zoe took off her leg.
She had a prosthetic that was a fairly early model and it didn’t fit well.
The result was that most of the time, if she was sitting down, she would take it off.
My brother had seen her take her leg off and looked at it sitting there, looked at his leg and tried to take his off too.
Auntie Zoe had a fake leg because part of her body was not working correctly.
The result was discomfort, pain, and irritation.
Scripture compares believers to a body.
When part of a body is not functioning correctly, there is discomfort, pain, and irritation.
No matter how healthy other parts of the body are, they suffer when any other part is not functioning well.
For the body of Christ to be healthy, all its parts need to function well.
Over the last few weeks we have talked about church leadership.
We need healthy elders and healthy deacons.
Having healthy leaders is essential to the health of the church.
However, without anyone to lead, there is no purpose for leaders.
Christ desires His church to be healthy.
A healthy church requires healthy leaders who raise up healthy members.
Healthy members are not formed entirely by healthy leaders.
A healthy member is someone who knows how to feed themselves and grow.
For the body of Christ to truly be healthy, all of its parts must be healthy.
We are in the last message of our mini series titled “A Church That Functions Biblically.”
We started with “Thinking Biblically About Elders.”
Last week we examined “Thinking Biblically About Deacons.”
Today we look at “Thinking Biblically About Members.”
Healthy members are necessary for the local church.
If we do not have healthy members, we do not have a healthy church.
There are three requirements that must be met to have a healthy church member.
This is not automatic. It does not just happen. Three requirements must be met.
Where there are healthy members there will be a healthy church.
This is the goal. Healthy leaders, healthy members, and a healthy church.
Three requirements that must be met to have a healthy church member.
Requirement #1…

1. A Healthy Church Member Is Spiritually Alive v. 22

I love archaeology.
When discoveries are made about ancient civilizations and ancient peoples I am always engaged and fascinated.
One of my areas of interest is mummies.
The efforts ancient cultures went to in the preservation of the dead is incredible to me.
In several stories I have read about the discovery of mummies there is mention of how well preserved they were.
Some discoveries were even mistaken for modern missing people until further examination revealed their age.
What I have never read in all the discoveries is anyone mistaking a mummy for a living person.
Why not?
Because death and life are dramatically different things.
This reality holds true when we speak of spiritual death and life as well.
Spiritual life is dramatically different than spiritual death.
As we consider being spiritually alive, there are two vital truths we must grasp.
Truth #1…

a. Life comes through faith in Christ

This is where our journey as followers of Jesus, as church members has to start.
With salvation.
Ephesians 4:22 says
Ephesians 4:22 NKJV
22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,
How do we do that?
We cannot put off the old man until we have a new man!
How do we get a new nature?
Let’s talk about that for a minute.
When we ask people how to get to heaven, most of them say something like, “be a good person.”
Maybe some of us here used to think that way.
We be good and then our works are placed on a scale and if our good outweighs the bad, we get to go to heaven.
Scripture reveals a huge problem with that thinking.
Isaiah 64:6
Isaiah 64:6 NKJV
6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.
Even when we do things we think are righteous, they are corrupted by our sinful nature.
Romans 3:10-12
Romans 3:10–12 NKJV
10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”
No one is righteous!
We do not seek God!
We turn aside and no one does good.
Go with me to Titus 3:3-7.
Titus 3:3-7
Titus 3:3–7 NKJV
3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
V. 3 describes what we were.
All of us were like that.
No matter how much we might try to be good, we were self-serving, self-loving, and selfish.
But through the kindness and love of God our Savior we are changed!
It isn’t about works of righteousness! It is about His mercy!
It is about the regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit that comes through faith in Christ!
When we trust in Him, we are justified by His grace.
We are declared righteous because of the grace of God.
Then we have the confident expectation of eternal life.
If we want to be healthy church members, this is where it starts.
It starts with the gospel.
We put off our old behavior.
We put off the old man with his corruption and lust.
It is only as we place our faith in Jesus Christ that we have life.
Repeat - read aloud
To have healthy church members.
Salvation is required.
This is the bottom line.
This is the foundation, we cannot be healthy if we are dead!
Those who are apart from Christ are Spiritually dead.
It is therefore impossible to be healthy.
Our first step in the journey to Spiritual health is to become alive in Christ.
There are two truths about spiritual life we need to grasp.
Truth #1: Life comes through faith in Christ.
Truth #2…

b. Life leads us to walk in obedience

If we are to be healthy church members, we must walk in obedience to the Lord.
There are two things that are commanded for every believer.
For the first one we go to Matthew 28:19.
Matthew 28:19
Matthew 28:19 NKJV
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
The command is to make disciples.
Part of how we do that is to baptize.
All through the book of Acts baptism is seen as the first step of obedience after salvation.
Baptism does not save you, Scripture is clear on this point.
However, baptism does indicate a desire and willingness to walk with the Lord.
It is a public declaration of faith in Christ.
Baptism is how we identify with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
It is a command by God for every believer.
We are to be baptized.
The second command we are to obey is found in Luke 22:19-20.
Luke 22:19-20
Luke 22:19–20 NKJV
19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.
Every month we read the passage in 1 Corinthians 11 where Paul reiterates this command.
We are to take communion in remembrance of Jesus.
There is no time-frame mandated in Scripture.
We are not told how often or seldom this is to be observed.
Some churches do it weekly, some once or twice a year, we have chosen to do it monthly.
The frequency isn’t the issue.
The issue is this.
We must participate in the remembrance of Jesus through the bread and juice.
This is commanded.
1 Corinthians 11:26
1 Corinthians 11:26 NKJV
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
This is what we are doing in communion, we are proclaiming the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
These are not optional things for believers.
We must be baptised through immersion in water, and we must participate in Communion or the Lord’s Supper.
Obedience to Christ begins with baptism and communion.
Repeat - read aloud
All of us are called to this obedience.
Will we obey God and follow Him in these things?
This is where a healthy church member must begin.
First with salvation, second with obedience in baptism and communion.
Once these things are in place, we can move on in our walk with Christ.
Three requirements that must be met to have a healthy church member.
Requirement #1: A Healthy Church Member Is Spiritually Alive.
Requirement #2…

2. A Healthy Church Member Is Growing v. 23

Growth is essential for health.
In plants, animals, and humans alike, growth is expected.
When we don’t see growth it is a warning sign that something is wrong.
Growth happens as we recognize our need to be shaped and fashioned and submit ourselves to the potter.
CLAY video
God is in the process of changing us and growing us.
He is transforming us into His image and glory!
If we are to be healthy, we must grow.
However, growth doesn’t just happen.
There are two necessary elements for growth.
Element #1…

a. Growth requires food

Ephesians 4:23 NKJV
23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,
Every believer is to put off the old and then be renewed in our minds.
How do we renew our minds?
Through the Word of God.
Ephesians 5:26 says this
Ephesians 5:26
Ephesians 5:26 NKJV
26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,
The Word of God cleanses us.
Psalm 119:9-11 agrees with Ephesians 5. Go there please.
Psalm 119:9-11
Psalm 119:9–11 NKJV
9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. 10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! 11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
Obedience to the Word of God cleanses us!
When we hide God’s Word in our heart it helps us not to sin.
This process of renewing our minds through the Word of God is growth or sanctification.
The Word of God is the necessary ingredient for our growth.
Look at 1 Peter 2:2.
1 Peter 2:2
1 Peter 2:2 NKJV
2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,
How does a newborn desire milk?
With every single one of our children, there is a moment that stands out in my mind.
It’s sometime during the second week of their life outside the womb and I am awakened in the middle of the night by their cries.
Jess has them out of their bed and is getting ready to feed them.
As she gets everything ready from the child in her arms comes cries of panicked desperation!
That child is convinced that if it does not get some milk, right now, it is going to die!
That is the passion we are to have for the Word of God!
We are to long for, and seek after, the Word of God with the panicked desperation of a newborn!
If we don’t get the pure milk of God’s Word, we are going to die!
Do we long for the Word of God like that?
This is how we grow.
With the proper food.
A believer grows through a regular diet of Scripture.
Repeat - read aloud
If life is overwhelming you, if difficulties seem insurmountable, you cannot handle what is coming; maybe you have been starving yourself.
Anyone else get a little hangry if they haven’t eaten?
The same thing happens spiritually.
Our ability to handle life is enhanced by the Word of God.
There are two necessary elements for growth.
Element #1: Growth requires food.
Element #2…

b. Growth requires exercise

One of the interesting things about babies is how God has designed their bodies to know when to bulk up.
Typically, a baby will start putting on weight right before they start crawling.
Because as soon as they are mobile, they start burning off that weight to grow and fuel their constant movement.
Spiritually speaking, we take in food through personal time in the Word, Bible studies, Sunday morning, etc.
What we are supposed to do is then take that food and use it as energy as begin putting the Word into practice.
Go with me to Hebrews 5:12-14.
Hebrews 5:12-14
Hebrews 5:12–14 NKJV
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Notice the expected pattern here.
Take in the Word of God, put it into practice, teach it to others.
A baby is not expected to only ever and always drink milk.
There is an expectation of the baby to grow teeth and move on to harder things.
Again, this is true spiritually.
We move past the easily digested truths of Scripture and get into the difficult things!
We are to exercise our senses to discern between good and evil.
We must put the Word of God into practice.
Move past the easy truths, get into the deep things of God!
When we do, we have another area of exercise.
2 Timothy 2:2
2 Timothy 2:2 NKJV
2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
We are to take the truth that we learn and teach it to others.
This is how we grow. This is how we exercise the Word of God.
This is what a healthy church member does.
A healthy church member feeds on the Word of God and then goes out to feed others.
Is this what we are doing?
A believer grows through obeying the Word and teaching it to others.
This is not optional.
Is this what we are doing?
We cannot be healthy apart from knowing the Word, obeying the Word, and communicating the Word.
Three requirements that must be met to have a healthy church member.
Requirement #1: A Healthy Church Member Is Spiritually Alive.
Requirement #2: A Healthy Church Member Is Growing
Requirement #3…

3. A Healthy Church Member Is Serving v. 24

Let’s go back for a minute to the illustration of a body.
This is what I picture the body of Christ like.
Each of us has a part to play.
Each of us is a vital piece of the body.
If one piece is out of place, if one piece isn’t working, the entire body is affected.
As we have studied 1 Corinthians a truth has come up multiple times.
Every believer has been gifted by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of the body of Christ.
With our gifts, talents, and abilities come a responsibility to serve the body of Christ.
There are two lessons we need to know about service.
Lesson #1…

a. We serve where we are gifted

This lesson comes with a requirement.
Know your gift.
Over the past several months we have been examining Spiritual Gifts in Sunday School.
The goal is for everyone here at Grace Church to know what gift they have and how to use it.
Scripture gives us 4 lists of Spiritual gifts.
As we have learned, some of these gifts ceased with the death of the Apostles and the completion of Scripture.
Otherwise, you have one of these gifts.
Your responsibility is to learn what your gift is and use it to benefit the church.
We are not going to look at all of these Scripture passages, but I do want to look at Romans 12:6-8.
Romans 12:6-8
Romans 12:6–8 NKJV
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Use the gift you have where you are.
God has gifted, called, and placed you deliberately.
Serve Him.
I am going to speak more bluntly than I probably have in the past.
Failure to use your gift to serve the church is sin.
Coming to church, sitting through a service, being fed, and going home does not meet our responsibility as believers in Jesus Christ.
Go with me to Hebrews 10:24-25.
Hebrews 10:24-25
Hebrews 10:24–25 NKJV
24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
According to v. 24, our task as brothers and sisters in Christ is to…
1 - Consider one another.
Careful thought and consideration.
This has a focus.
What is the focus? To…
2 - Stir up love and good works.
“Stir up” is literally to provoke.
We are never supposed to get comfortable.
If I see you get comfortable, I’m supposed to stir you up, if you see me getting comfortable, you are required to do the same.
The responsibility of believers is love and good works.
Love = emotion or feeling.
Good works = action.
We are to engage with our brothers and sisters in Christ with all of our being; mind, will, and emotions.
This occurs as we…
3 - Assemble together.
“Church” is the Greek word ecclesia.
It means assembly.
We are the church as we gather together in obedience to Christ to work at His direction.
Forsake = desert.
Don’t abandon the body of Christ!
Assemble. As we do…
4 - Exhort one another.
Exhort means to earnestly support or encourage.
We support and encourage one another to the love and good works already mentioned.
5 - Do all of these things more often as Christ’s return approaches.
These are commands for every believer.
It is never okay to sit and do nothing.
Again, I’m going to be blunt.
Disconnection from the body of Christ is sin.
Sometimes we get it into our heads that it is the responsibility of others to invite us over or invite us out.
It’s not.
We wait for others to make the first move.
That is not Biblical.
To sum up.
Each of us has a gift given to us by the Holy Spirit.
One day we will stand before Christ and give an account of how we have used it.
Don’t stand there and have nothing to say.
Every child of God is gifted to serve the body of Christ.
Repeat - read aloud
Do it.
No excuses.
No ands, buts, or ifs.
No procrastinating.
Use your gift for the glory of Christ and the good of the church.
There are two lessons we need to know about service.
Lesson #1: We serve where we are gifted.
Lesson #2…