Three More Truths God Wants Us To Know About the C

Steve Viars February 8, 1992

- studying Basic Bible truths
- these last couple of weeks we've looked at God's Provision
  Through The Local Church

- we've talked about some very important concepts the last
   couple of weeks
- we've talked about:
    1) Why this study is important - and how that the local
       church is one of the Lord's primary provisions for our
       growth and service.
          - salvation itself, of course, doesn't come through
            the church.
          - salvation is an individual relationship with God
            through His Son
          - but once that decision is made, the Lord has
            given the church to help us grow.

    2) We've talked about "what the church is."
       - the Bible uses the term in 2 ways, "universal"
         church and "local church."
       - the universal church is made up of all believers in
         Jesus Christ from the day  of Pentecost to the
         rapture.
       - as soon as a person is saved, he/she is baptized by
         the Holy Spirit and brought into the universal
         church.

       - usually when the Bible talks about the church, the
         Lord is speaking about local churches.
       - a local church is a "body of baptized believers
         convening together for worship, growth, fellowship,
         service, and to carry out the commission given by
         its head, Jesus Christ."

- last week we began looking at some truths the Lord wants
   us to know about the church.
    1) INPUT - When did the church begin?  (day of Pentecost)
       INPUT - what chapter in the Bible? (Acts 2)
       INPUT - when had that been predicted? (Acts 1)
       INPUT - what do you remember about the "nature" of
           that prediction and what point did we major on as
           a result?
             - Jesus predicted that there would be a great
               working of the Holy Spirit (fulfillment of
               Joel 2)
             - point - the local church is spiritual
                business.

    2) The foundation and the Head of the church is Jesus
         Christ.

    3) The Local church has an organized membership.

- this morning, I'd like us to study three more truths the
    Lord wants us to know about His church

- the first one, in some ways, is a continuation of what we
   ended with last week


I. Steps That Precede Local Church Membership

    - last week we saw that the Lord wants every person who
      has been saved to be baptized and to be a member of a
      local Bible-believing church.
        - we studied several biblical reasons why that's so.
        - the Bible just doesn't recognize a person who says
           they're a believer but who isn't a member of a
           church.

    - now, let's push that a step further by talking about
      the requirements for church membership.

    INPUT - A very important question that we're going to be
       asking about each of these points this morning is:

       How should we determine the answer to this question?
            (by studying the model of churches in the NT and
             what the Lord revealed through the epistles)

    Acts 2:37-41, 47

    A. Conviction

        - v. 37 - when they header this they were pricked in
              their heart...

    B. Repentance and Faith

        - "then they that gladly received his word"

    C. Baptism

        INPUT - why is it important that a church do
           everything it can to insure that those coming into
           the membership are saved?

             - it's the way it was done in the NT church

             - otherwise, the church over time will be
               populated with unbelievers.
                INPUT - why would that be so bad?
                        - would mar the testimony of the
                          church.
                        - would insure that over time the
                          church will go astray because of
                          congregational government.

        INPUT - why is it important that the church body
                hears the testimonies of those coming into
                the church?  (like we do on Sunday nights)
                  - couldn't vote unless you knew the person
                    professed to be saved and baptized.

        INPUT - why no "no" votes?

 

- point is - membership in a local church is a very serious
    matter to the Lord.

    - The Lord is pleased when we view it as a great
       privilege and an important responsibility.

    - cf. coming home on Thanksgiving break

      - cf. Sharon's opportunity to attend a different one
            instead of staying at our church and working with
             youth.

INPUT - What are some things that we can be doing now to
        build those kinds of convictions into our children?

II. Local Churches Have Distinct Purposes

    - INPUT - How should we determine what our church should
              be doing?  (our purposes)
               (study the example of the early church and the
                Lord's instructions in the epistles)

    - there's a lot of discussion about this issue (in fact,
        it was even the subject of some discussion in our
        local paper this week - we'll mention that a little
        later)

    - INPUT - why is it important that we study it together?

          (it will affect what we do in our services, what we
            major on in preaching and teaching, what programs
            we have and don't have)

- there's different ways we could organize this material, but
   I think it's best to study:
    - our purpose as we "come together"
    - our purpose as we "go out"

- it seems to me that it's at that very point that the
    confusion comes in (on this matter of our purpose)

- Let me ask you to think about some questions (relating to
    out purposes)

     1) Does the church have the same purpose when it comes
        together as when it "goes out?"
     2) Is it possible to get those purposes confused, or
         even reversed?
     3) What will happen if a church hasn't thoroughly and
          biblically thought through its purpose?

    A. The Church's Purpose As We Meet Together

        1. perfecting the saints through studying God's Word

            - Eph. 4:12 - for the perfecting of the saints

            - Acts 2:42 - "continually devoting themselves to
                 the apostles teaching."

            - Matt. 28:20 - teaching (to observe)

        2. worship

            - John 4:24 - they that worship Him must worship
                Him in Spirit and in truth

                - not that worship can only take place in a
                  church service, but surely our services are
                  to seek to bring honor and glory to the
                  Lord in all aspects

        3. fellowship

            - I John 1:3

            - Acts 2:42 - "continually devoting
                 themselves...to fellowship."

            - not the way we often think of fellowship
              (sloppy Joes and cookies after the evening
               service)
             - building relationships to help one another
                grow

        4. observing the ordinances

            - Acts 2:42 - "breaking of bread"

        5. prayer

            - Acts 2:42

        6. baptizing - Matt. 28:19


- now, let's talk about some applications of this 1) while
  there may be some variation in the ways these purposes are
  achieved - we have no right to deviate from these primary
  purposes of the church services.

     cf. new movement today
       - Sunday morning - purpose is evangelism
           - do everything you can for the "seekers"
           - don't make the church look like a church
           - don't sing songs
           - very little or no Bible
           - "slip" the gospel in where you can
           - the church for the 90's

       - most of these churches don't have a service on
          Sunday evening (or if they do, they're very poorly
          attended)
       - meet together on Wednesdays (or in home Bible
         studies) for instruction

        - lot of "catch-phrases" to go with the movement
        - "non-traditional,"  "alternative church services"

        - but the bottom line is - the primary purpose for
          the church services (when the church comes
          together) is not evangelism
        - we'll talk about where evangelism fits in in a
          moment

        - we have to let the Scripture determine our purposes
          for coming together

        - now there's some flexibility within those
          guidelines
        - we're not saying that if a church doesn't begin
          with an opener by the choir, have a congregational
          hymn (standing), have someone lead in prayer--that
          that’s wrong
        - there's freedom within the parameters we've
          mentioned

        - but we can't change the purpose

- (develop - importance of faithfulness to the services)


    B. The church's purpose as we go out

        (not necessarily in order)

        1. do the work of the ministry

            Eph. 4:12

            - some Christians have the same view toward
              church as they do toward NFL Football (Sunday
              is game day)


        2. edifying the body of Christ

            Eph. 4:12

            - looking for concrete ways to build up fellow
               believers in their faith during the week

        3. mutual helpfulness

            Acts 2:44-46

        4. praising God

           Acts 2:47

        5. favor with others

            Acts 2:47 - "having favor with all the people"

        6. evangelism

            Acts 2:47 - "such as should be saved"

        7. making disciples

            Matt. 28:19

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video