Today is January 7, 2007 and we welcome you to our first Living Word program of this exciting new year. We thank you for choosing to be with us today for this time of offering and encouragement, as we participate in the things of God.

This program has always been committed to doing what God wants, in the way He wants. We accomplish this by collectively singing songs of praise to glorify His name. We also study from His Word, to learn what He wants of us. And we further, approach His throne in prayer, so that we may talk to our Creator! So, at this time, let's humbly bow our heads before our God.


How exciting it must have been for Israel to receive the wondrous promise in the land of Canaan. Today, we have a similar promise from God, which will be ours if we endure to the end. So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing about the glorious promised land. The name of the song, "To Canaan's Land I'm On My Way."

(SONG # 1)


Now that the crazy holiday rush is over, I hope we have all sat down, taken a deep breath and considered some of the new goals that we want to accomplish this new year. I think that often we plan to fail, mostly, because we fail to plan. In other words, we can't expect something good or great to come out from nothing. Obviously, it takes a lot of planning, patience, time, effort, and commitment to accomplish anything worthwhile in this life. As we all know there isn't anything in this life worth having that comes completely free.

So, let's take a few moments this morning and talk about our need to be better planners! Some have often misunderstood or taken out of context different passages in the Bible which deal with planning. In fact, many like to quote the verse found in Matthew 6:34. There Jesus said, "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." In this verse, is Jesus saying don't plan or set goals in this life? Certainly not. What he is trying to say is that we don't focus and worry so much about what will happen tomorrow that we forget to do the things which we need to today.

Another verse which might help us to understand what God truly wants is found in Luke 14:28-29. Here again, we have recorded the words of Christ, as He said, "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it; lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him." This verse helps us to see that Jesus knew it was necessary to consider tomorrow and the things concerning it - if we are to be good stewards of what He has asked us to do.

Now, in the same text, go back to verse 27 with me, where Jesus said, "And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." So, Jesus was trying to say that part of bearing our cross and following Him is in finding out what He wants and planning to do it. You and I both know, that if we are going to be able to accomplish anything in any part of life - again, it requires good planning and execution of what we determine to be the goal.

So, consider today whether you have made the goals and plans necessary to accomplish great things for your Jesus. If not, then why not begin today taking the time to find out what Jesus wants. Then we can obey His Will and follow His Word, by executing those plans and goals which help us to accomplish it.

Today I will be speaking on the topic of the church. Our study of the morning will deal with, "The Church Established and Founded!" This is our next lesson in the series we are studying which is called "I Will Build My Church." So, please continue with us this morning, and after our next song together I will return with this study from God's Word. The name of the next selection is, "Lord, We Come Before Thee Now."

(SONG # 2)


Speaker: Ray Sullins

Thank you for continuing with us this morning as we continue our series which is based on a question that Jesus actually gave and then also a great answer. You might remember when He asked Peter there in Matthew 16 who he was and Jesus said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God." In response to that, after stating that certainly the Father had revealed it to him, in verse 18, Jesus made this statement, "I will build My church." We've been looking together at the concept of the church and how that in prophecy it was delivered unto man and how that it did come to fruition as we will as well confirm this day.

I want you to notice again there from Matthew 16 and verse 18 what was stated in relationship to the church, how that it says that "The gates of Hell would not prevail against it. Evil could not destroy it." The same concept that is presented over in the book of Hebrews chapter 12 and verse 28 when it speaks of "the kingdom that we have received that cannot be shaken." It cannot be destroyed. That's the kingdom of God that we then are brought to really a clear understanding of in Acts chapter 2 when it says that, "They were waiting in Jerusalem and the Holy Spirit came just as promised. Upon the apostles and cloven tongues of fire and they spoke in languages that all who were present could understand, and that day, 3,000 individuals, (3,000 souls) responded to the precious gospel of Jesus Christ, and when they responded," it says in verse 38 that, "they repented and were baptized." But then the verse that we looked at last time in our discussion is there in verse 47. What was the response, the results we might say, of those who obeyed the gospel in action and showed their faith through repentance and baptism? Verse 47 says, "They were praising God and having favor with all the people and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."

How wonderful it is to know that this kingdom or church that God spoke of in prophecy, that came to fruition here in Acts chapter 2 and was established and accomplished according to His Will is now an institution that the saved make up, the church, the people, those who are of Christ Jesus. And so today, we not only need to understand the fact that the church is established as God has stated, that we are added to it and are made a part of the assembly or the called out by God, but that also we are those who are in the church that bears great significance. Why? It was founded on the greatest thing that it ever could have been founded on of an earthly nature, yet a divine nature, Jesus Christ.

You might recall with me what the Bible speaks of in relationship to the church. Acts chapter 20 and verse 28 speaks of a church that was purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ. Well, I would say that if the church was purchased with the very blood that Jesus shed, it bears great significance and in fact we know that it is the blood of Christ that not only gives us remission of sins but also purchases the church. Therefore, we are put in the church as the saved. The church purchased with the blood. What does that say about us? That we are of great value as well. We are precious and significant for we have been founded on Jesus Christ our Lord.

I want you to look now with me at several verses and passages in scripture that help us to understand that our foundation, our firm foundation, our strong and mighty foundation is in Jesus Christ the Lord, the one who was willing to come to this earth, to leave His divinity, to suffer and to die and to be able to give us that opportunity to not only be a part of that church as the family of God, as a child of God, but to also bear the great rewards and the great blessings that are involved therein.

I want you to notice with me then back in the book of Psalms in the 118th Psalm specifically. We find there something that is stated again in a prophetic sense that we also find confirmed for us in the New Testament. Again, how interesting to note that all we learn and we have now understood about the church has been prophesied and spoken of and those of old had longed for and waited for that opportunity, that day that they might be a part of what? The church. Notice with me there in Psalm 118. We're going to again in Psalms look at verse 22. It says, "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone." Think about that for a moment. It speaks of a stone, a prophetic concept here, of something here that is going to happen, an everlasting promise that is going to be fulfilled, an opportunity that will be given to individuals that is based on what? Something built, but something rejected, something as he well says that eventually becomes what? The chief cornerstone.

I want you to think about that great promise that was fulfilled through Jesus Christ, the promise again going all the way back to Abraham that "through your seed all nations will be blessed." That promise that continues there in Galatians 3 and is proven to us that it was the seed, Jesus Christ, that came from woman, that was able to not only demonstrate that opportunity that we would have to be the church, but also that eventually would crush Satan in the blow that He rose from the grave on the 3rd day after shedding His blood and giving us that opportunity of salvation.

If you'll notice there, it speaks of these things in the book of Psalms. It speaks there about that chief cornerstone and then in the idea of that chief cornerstone, it also speaks about someone rejected. What would that mean? When we think about in the days of Jesus, who was it that rejected Christ? We see especially primarily many of the leaders of the Jews, those who should have been most receptive and ready to receive Christ were the very ones who rejected Him. Why? Well, many did not believe He was the Christ for He had not come and set up and earthly kingdom. You and I know Jesus set up a kingdom, that's the kingdom we're talking about, but it was the church and it was a spiritual kingdom, one that is inside of all of us, one that we make up, not that is physical in nature, not of flesh and blood as we read there in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. We are of that kingdom and that is what is being spoken of here, but the Jews could not see it. They wanted an earthly king, an earthly kingdom that would rule physically the world and that they therefore would be over the world as a race. That's not what Jesus had in mind because that is not what the Father had in mind as well.

I want you to turn over with me to the book of Ephesians. In Ephesians chapter 2, we see several things that are stated there in the book of Ephesians chapter 2 that show the reiteration of this prophecy but then the fulfillment of this prophecy as Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone. If you'll look in verse 19 beginning of chapter 2 in the book of Ephesians. Here is what Paul states, the inspired writer. "Now therefore, they are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God." At one point, whether we were Jew or Gentile, whether we were anyone, if we were not of God, we were strangers. Primarily though, talking about those who were Gentile and who were not of the Jewish race. But now he says that no longer is that true. We are all fellow citizens. We are all saints, all in the household of God. But now hear verse 20. "Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone." That same cornerstone that we learned back in the book of Psalms that would be what? Rejected! The same cornerstone that Jesus first went to, His brethren, the Jews, the same cornerstone who was established yet they did not receive. After rejecting Him though, it says here that He still remained the chief cornerstone. Who? Jesus Christ Himself. The church was built on Christ. Why? Because He was the one who was head. He was the one who shed His blood. He was the one who purchased it with His own blood. Therefore as the writer in Ephesians says, "Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body," verses 23-25. And why? Because He is the one who paid the price. He is the one who made the sacrifice. So He was established as the chief cornerstone, the foundation in that building, that stone that all others are aligned by to see that it is secured and to see that it is built properly and evenly and rightly.

Now if you'll notice here in this text, as Jesus is the chief cornerstone, there are also the prophets. Who were the prophets? Well we've read from men like Isaiah, men there like Daniel, men and individuals such as Jeremiah. We've read even today from those from scriptures that remind us that we are of God such as David and the prophecies that there are really given in relationship to the church and the fulfillment of it. But as we look here, it states that those prophets are a part of that. So Jesus and the prophets, and the apostles also are lined up and all of these make that foundation. Why the apostles? They were the ones as we read back there in the book of Matthew 16 such as Peter that were given the keys to the kingdom. Why? John 14 tells us that they were of God. They were given the helper, the Holy Spirit. And there in chapter 15 and 16, it says, "That Holy Spirit, the helper, the comforter was given that they might remember all things and that they might be guided in all things." Now think about that. Certainly then if the Holy Spirit was guiding and teaching and leading them in all things, then that is why they would have the keys. The things they bound were according to the Father and given by the Father. The things they loosed were then loosed by the Father or they are loosed according to what the Holy Spirit had revealed. So these things show us that Jesus then is that foundation. He spoke the Will of the Father through the Holy Spirit. He guided the prophets and the apostles and all of these make up the foundation that are striving to accomplish the Will of the Father that Jesus Christ would come and be that chief cornerstone.

Turn back if you will to the book of Corinthians in 1 Corinthians chapter 3. We again see a similar concept in verse 11 given there as it states for us that, "For no other foundation has been given or can be laid than that which laid." God has laid a foundation. No other foundation can be given or laid except what? Then it states this. "Jesus Christ our Lord." The foundation, the cornerstone is Jesus Christ our Lord, the perfect sacrifice.

We would like to end this morning by turning to the book of Matthew chapter 7. There is a passage there we want to consider together and look at because it speaks of these very things and it gives us a good idea of what they mean to us. In Matthew 7 there beginning, if you'll notice about verse 24, the Bible says, "Therefore, whoever hears these saying of mine and does them, I will liken into a wise man who will build his house on the rock. The rains will descend. The floods will come and the winds will blow and beat on the house, but it is on the foundation of rock and it will not be shaken." That foundation, Jesus Christ, the church. It will not be shaken. It will not be blown. It will not be destroyed. But now hear verse 26. "But everyone who hears these sayings of mine and does not do them," He says, "I will liken to a foolish man who has built his house on the sand. So the same rains will come, the floods, and the winds will blow and they will beat on the house and..." What is the result? The house will fall and great is the fall! You see, we have a foundation and now we learn about even more the great importance of that foundation for if we are not on that firm and solid foundation of Jesus Christ, we cannot withstand the devil. We cannot withstand the problems and the trials and evils of this life. We will fall and succumb to those things that Satan throws at us. We will be destroyed and lose our souls. But what's greater than that? The foundation of Christ. If we hear and do what He has stated, we are like what? The wise man and when all of that comes and it hits us hard, guess what happens. We remain strong. We remain firm. We remain blessed. And we remain rewarded with the promise of Heaven. And we know that mansion is made ready and that we will receive it and have those things that He has spoken of. Why? We are a part of the family of God. We are a part of the church. We are a part of that which was built by God. I will build My Church. We are a part of that which is founded on Christ, that chief cornerstone, that foundation which is laid that no other man can lay except the Father alone and determine it be Jesus Christ.

You see, are we responding to all that? Are we understanding the prophecy and knowing that we are a part of it and that we are a part of the church which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ established that we might be added to it (Acts 2:47) and that we might be translated out of darkness and put into the kingdom, the church of His dear Son (Colossians chapter 1). Are we a part of that body? Are we a part of the institution of the saved that is founded on the name of Jesus? I pray that we are. But if you are not today, do what God has asked you just as they did in Acts 2:38. Confess His name that He is the Christ. They were pricked and cut to the heart when they realized it. Repent and turn from your sin and be buried with your Lord and Savior in baptism. Then what will happen in your life? You will be added by God to His church and you will live eternally with Him in Heaven someday.



Again, let me thank you for choosing to be with us this morning. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.

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May we all learn more about the wondrous church of our lord, that we might appreciate it more and do more to further its glorious cause!