God's Church is One Church

God's Church Is  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:22
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Let’s Talk About God’s Church

Because after all,
Our sign says “Inter-Community Church of God.”
Connected with Association of the Church of God in Southern California and Southern Nevada
Take part in the activities of the Interstate Association of the Church of God
And the National Association of the Church of God,
And, for identity and for basic purposes of identity and shared understandings, we participants in the General Assembly of the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana), which has a 125 year-history in various locations.
And for the time being, we do not expect Anderson, Indiana to host our annual or, now, semiannual General Assembly meeting again for logistical reasons.
For organizational purposes, as well as to multiply the work of the local church, to train and support and send missionaries, and manage or oversee some important ministries for children and orphans around the world, we are contributors to Church of God Ministries, which is the top rung of our legal identity.
There is just a little bit of Church of God in those associations and identities. That is because we share a common vision, serve a common understanding of the church and of the Bible, and we wish to have a significant impact in our local communities and in our region, our nation, and our world.
We can’t really say we are the Church of God Reformation Movement “with general offices in Anderson, Indiana” anymore. Our primary university and graduate School of Theology is still Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana. The zip code for Church of God Ministries is still technically Anderson, IN, but is a unique zip code for our university and our offices.
The offices are are in a building that sits well out of Anderson, but is still in north-central Indiana, a bit north of Indianapolis
Now I just took the first 3 or 4 minutes of the time for the message and didn’t say anything about the Church of God, I only talked about the various connections we share as congregations and local church bodies who are part of our tribe, as our General Director Jim Lyon calls us, of the Church of God.
For the month of September, I am using the theme “God’s Church Is” and we are starting today with the first focus we need to know, that is that God’s Church is One Church. Our understanding of the church is that it is the Body of Christ and so it cannot be divided in reality. We’ll be talking about that and why it is important today.
Next week, September 11, we’ll look at God’s Church is Bible Centered. Then, on September 18, God’s Church is Called to Holiness, and we’ll round it out on September 25 with God’s Church Lives in God’s Kingdom Now.
Those for topics are not going to exhaust the reasons why we gladly take up the name “Church of God” and why the name is not a matter for pride but a matter of fact, as it is the way the Bible describes the Body of Christ gathered together in any particular place.
Before we dive into the details of why we can say that God’s Church is Truly One Church, lets look at a short passage that has our basic description of why...

God’s Church is One Church

and it is first described in Acts chapter 2, as the day of Pentecost saw the power of the Holy Spirit descend upon some 120 disciples of Jesus Christ who were praying and waiting for the power from on high to come upon them as Jesus promised.
Here in Jerusalem, 50 days after the day of Passover for which Jesus was crucified as our Passover Lamb, the Church of the Living God was birthed by the Power of the Holy Spirit.
Probably about the year 33, at the spring harvest, when thousands of Jewish pilgrims were streaming into Jerusalem to present their offerings of first-fruits at the Temple.
First-fruits is the commanded feast from the Old Testament. The scribes and priests had established that it was to take place 50 days after Passover, so people would know when to gather. Pentecost is a word that just means “50th Day.” Not really very exciting as the title for a holiday, but we don’t do any better. This is “Labor Day weekend.” Every mom out there cringes at what that might actually mean. And a smaller percentage of workers are unionized these days, and they rarely put on parades anymore.
We have “Thanksgiving” which is just a normal word, and Christmas which just means a Mass on Christ's day in English. For Catholics, Mass means the central celebration of the Lord’s Supper in gathered worship. But the word Mass itself comes merely from the last words of the Latin liturgy, which are an “amen” of sorts: “Dismissed. It’s finished.” Anybody who feels a little bit “done” with everything that’s been added on to how we do Christmas can understand how “Christ’s Day is finished, now go home” might feel, but we wouldn’t actually say that, would we?
New years day, yeah, we really know how to make a holiday sound exciting.
Anyway, back to Pentecost. On that day the Church of God in Christ Jesus was born. At first the word Church wasn’t applied to them. They were just a gathering, a fellowship of believers in Jesus as the Christ. “Church” is our translation of a Greek word “Ecclesia” which means “those who are called to a meeting.” So much easier to say “Church” I think, to speak of those whom the Holy Spirit has called out of the world as sinners to be gathered among those who are made saints by the saving sacrifice of Jesus. We’ll talk about how that should look for us in a couple weeks.

God’s Church Gets a God Start

On that first day, following the rousing sermon of Peter (and the other apostles, too—read Acts 2:14 yourself), Acts 2:41 says 3,000 believers were added.
From 12 to 120 to 3000 in 7 weeks. Pretty amazing, really, and it HAD to be God doing it.
This new fellowship was pretty exciting and intense, with teaching and meals and prayers and miracles, people losing their selfishness and sharing their wealth.
Here’s what we read in Acts 2:46-47, this in New King James Version just because the King James uses the word “church” in verse 47:
Acts 2:46–47 NKJV
46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
When you suddenly get that size of a fellowship, what are you going to do? You see what they did:

Every Day Together In the Temple

Which makes sense, there wasn’t any place else that would both accommodate that many and remind them of the sacrifice for sin that is completed in Jesus Christ.

Sharing Meals in Their Homes

They were also meeting house-to-house, having fellowship meals with thankful hearts and simple faith, and

Praising God

Which is the core reason to come together as believers, to lift your voice in praise to the one who loves you so much he sent his one and only Son as your savior. I expect they were making a lifestyle of praise. And, a little surprisingly,

Being Good Citizens

“finding favor with all the people” which doesn’t even sound like they were following the teacher with the most radical faith that the world has ever known. That would change in a bit when they started to turn the world on its ear with their radical faith in a radical savior.

God Keeps the Role Call

because we read one of our primary beliefs in the church of God about membership in God’s Church here at the close of Acts 2:47 “47b Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”
Only God can tell you how many members are in His church. It’s not our head count, it’s not our lists of voting members, it’s not our families coming together in one place once a week, or once a month, or so.
No, the membership of God’s Church happens like this:
1. You hear the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus’ forgiveness and saving grace.
2. You believe in Jesus Christ as your savior, then, “BANG!” God adds you to his church.

God knows who is saved.

Only saved people are in God’s Church.

All the saved people are in God’s Church

That is already the basic outline of what the Bible tells us the church is.
But since we always act on the human level, our gatherings are not quite so homogenous as we would like to think.
Not everyone has had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
Not everyone has stayed faithful to the commands of God.
Not everyone is interested in doing things differently than they would do it. That means that because of sin and selfishness among believers, and others who aren’t sincere in their faith,

The Modern Church is Fractured

With as many as 40,000 Christian group identities in the world. And this is not God’s design. People are good at finding what defines them as different from someone else, and we are good at looking down on anyone who doesn’t believe the same way we believe, or doesn’t have the same standards as we have, or does church or church music or other such thing.
Sometimes it feels like a life-and-death struggle for the souls of people, other times its about if its OK to serve coffee at church, or to eat meat, or to be a pacifist, or whatever.

How did church get like this?

People are so good at alienating themselves from others with name-calling, mistrust, gossip, grudges, preferences and downright racism. “If you are not just like me, and nice about it, you are not one of us.”

Jesus Knew We Would Struggle

in fact, Jesus began to pray for his disciples to keep on track with unity in that prayer from the upper room for his followers, including us.
John 17:20–21 CSB
20 “I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. 21 May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me.

Jesus Prayed for Unity: That We Be One

Based in the unity of the Father and Son

To be One in Jesus as His disciples.

John 17:22–23 CSB
22 I have given them the glory you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me, so that they may be made completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me.
Be one based on the Glory of God

To be perfectly one

Is the work of God in us

Have You Seen the Church?

Unity Is Worth the Effort

Ephesians 4:1–3 CSB
1 Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

The “Ones” of Our Faith

Ephesians 4:4–6 CSB
4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling—5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
One Body
One Spirit
One Hope
One Lord
One Faith
One Baptism
One God and Father

The Body of Christ is Singular

which is the primary thought of what the church is like in the mind of Paul, who tells us in Ephesians
The gifts of leadership, apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers, are given the task of building up the body of Christ so it can be what God intends.
Paul says all this leadership is given to the church
Ephesians 4:12–13 CSB
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.
We want to be equipped, do the the work of ministry, exercising for strength in the body of Christ,
Looking forward to
Knowledge of Jesus Christ
Maturity measured by all the Jesus Christ is.
How are you all doing, how are we doing, how is the church doing with that?
We have faced some of our strongest challenges to unity in the past few years.
Fellowship has been damaged, hearts have been broken, progress has been reversed, racism is trying to divide us, but we must put aside everything that is not from God to be all that God wants us to be.
Division is the outcome of hate. But. . .

Unity is the Outcome of Love

To the Disciples in the Upper Room, Jesus said:
John 13:34–35 CSB
34 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Over and over I have shared this command. Why? Because love is the heart of God. Love is the action of Jesus Christ, right through the Cross. And love is the command given to us, His Church.
Love one another. Just as I have loved you, love one another. Everyone else will notice and know whose you are.
If love is not our hallmark, unity can’t be what we present to others. Love is the modifying force, love is the heavenly command, love is what forms us as belonging to Jesus.
Colossians 3:14 CSB
14 Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
Where there is love, there is peace. And that is the Peace of Christ.
Paul goes on to tell us in Colossians 3, we find that we will find...

The Peace of Christ And The One Body

We are not naturally peaceful, rather we are selfish. We are not naturally agreeable, rather we want our own way. We are competitive, rude, rash, and full of personal pride. I talked about being peacemakers a few weeks ago.
The Bible tells us that must be a feature of our relationships in fellowship with one another:
Colossians 3:15 ESV
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
In the One Body of Christ, we can only make it work through the miracles of the love of God in us and the love of Christ practiced by seeking the Peace of Christ in our fellowships.
Peace, not battles. Peace is ruined by blind ambition, by grasping at position and personal rights, and most specially by gossip and backbiting. The message is not about that this morning. Peace is the managing philosophy of what we are to bring about in our oneness.
The church is made up of every saved individual, everyone who has been washed of their sins by the sacrifice of Christ, who are living as saints because of the Holy Spirit within and the Children of God without.
The closer together we live, the harder it is to let peace rule. It’s easy to love and think nice thoughts about others if you don’t have to put up with them. But in the church, we are to be creators of peace, examples of love, and identified as disciples of Christ. Miss any of that and unity in close fellowship will not be gained.

Unity is Not Unanimity

1 Corinthians 12:12 CSB
12 For just as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:18 CSB
18 But as it is, God has arranged each one of the parts in the body just as he wanted.
1 Corinthians 12:20 CSB
20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
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