THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 12-2-01
LESSON TITLE: THE IMPORTANCE OF THE LORD'S CHURCH
What a privilege we have this morning to join together in the study of God's Living Word. We are happy you have chosen to be with us today and are excited about this opportunity we have together to glorify our creator. May we each do our part to make this time acceptable in His sight and according to His Will. Now, let's approach our Father's throne in prayer.
We have spent several months now introducing you to the congregations which help to support this great work of our Lord. Because of their diligence we are able to worship with you every Sunday morning free of appeals for money or requests for donations as many Television ministries do. Your friends and neighbors in these area churches of Christ help with this work to give you the opportunity to know more about God and to give glory and praise to His precious name.
Today I would like to end our introductions of those who help with this program by mentioning the Kansas Expressway church of Christ, of which I am the minister of. It was this congregation who accepted the challenge in April of 1970 to begin this ministry for our Lord. Over 30 years later the Kansas Expressway family is still behind this good work and is responsible for supporting over 50% of the financial obligation which is necessary to be with you each Lord's Day.
We are a congregation simply trying to preach the simple message of Jesus Christ. And we welcome you to visit with us at any opportunity you might have. In fact, this morning we will assemble together for a Bible study at 9:30. This is followed by a worship services which begins at 10:30 a.m. On Sunday Evenings at 6:00 we again gather to worship and praise our God. During the week, we also come together to study God's Word, beginning at 7:00 on Wednesday evenings. I hope you will be able to visit with us very soon.
If you have any questions or need further information about our congregation, please feel free to contact me. As always, our contact information will be given at the end of the program.
It's now time to start our praise through song. Won't you join in the first hymn of the morning, as we together sing, "Power in the Blood!"
(SONG # 1)
When you consider all that God has done for us it is really hard to believe. How difficult it is to comprehend such a magnificent and wondrous God, doing so much for such small and insignificant people. All of this is further compounded in the fact that we are not really worthy of anything, especially when you consider how often we do that which is contrary to His Will.
However, despite all of these facts, God does love us and has done so much for us. Even today, we are all being blessed beyond understanding, but a God who not only gives us all, but who also created us all.
When I think about all God has done and is doing for us, one of the things that stands out foremost in my mind is that fact that He gave His own Son to die on the cross for me. An opportunity to be called out of darkness and into the light. An opportunity to be called a Child of God.
Did you hear what I just said, "why did He do it?" Again the answer is simple, for you and me! Jesus put it best in John 3:16, when He said, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
Now as we think of all God has done and why He is so worthy of our honor and praise - let me ask another question, "What was the significance of Christ shedding His blood for us?" Well, Paul sums it up well in Acts 20:28, there it says, "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." Here we have clarified for us that the blood of Christ, purchased the Church! So let me ask you, "Just how important is the Church of our Lord!"
Today we will begin a new series of study concerning the Lord's Church to understand just how important the church is to the follower of God today! This morning, our specific lesson will deal with the "Importance of the Lord's Church!" So stay with us and in a few minutes I will return with this study from God's Word. Now it's time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, "This is My Fathers World."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
Thank you so much for continuing with us this morning. We appreciate you being with us as we again study from God's word and we're excited this morning because we're beginning this series of studies concerning the church. In fact, the reason that we decided to do a series on the church is that it has been probably about a little over two years since we had a pretty lengthy study on the church and recently we've got a lot of requests once again that we might have transcripts and some information concerning the church and what it is about and maybe some concepts that relate to it and how to get into the church and many of the requirements that we read in the Bible that are so important to understand that again stress to us really what the Lord's church is all about. So today we want to begin by looking at the Lord's church and seeing together exactly what it is all about to us.
When you think about your life, what is something that is important to you? If you think for just a moment, there are many things that might pop into your mind. Maybe it's a husband or a wife. It might just be a girlfriend or a boyfriend that you're dating or hoping to marry someday. It might be a brother or a sister. It might be someone very close to you who is a friend, a neighbor. It might be a child. Maybe even an infant that you just had or you are going to have. Well there are so many things that are special and very precious in this life, especially relationships and there are many things in this life really of a physical nature that sometimes are special to us, maybe something that was given down through our family for generations. Maybe a family heirloom or some type of a gun for the guys or some type of a piece of jewelry for the ladies. Well so many things can be important in life. Then I might ask you what makes these things important? Well that's the question we want to answer today in relationship to the church. We all know that the church exists, at least the Bible talks about the church, and then in fact as we all know that the church then exists or at least the Bible talks about it, what is it all about? Why is it important? Or we might even ask the question "Is it important?" And I ask that question in light of the many today in many religious circles who really claim that the church doesn't matter at all, that it really doesn't matter if you are a part of the church. They might claim that even just because you are a good person that that's all that matters to God or if you just love God whether you go to any type of services or to any type of assemblies of the church really doesn't matter, many might proclaim. Then there might be others that also might actually claim that it really doesn't matter what type of a church that you go to. Well, there are several issues that we want to look at to answer these questions this morning. All of them are going to be based where they should be and that is God's word. There is only one place that we can find the answers that God gives and that's in His word, the Bible.
So this morning as we look at the church, let's first consider what was it all about in prophecy. I think the church is important because it was prophesied about. It wasn't some type of an after thought or something that had never been considered by God. But actually as we look into the Bible, we see that it was something planned. You might say, "Well, when is the first mention of really the church or things pertaining thereto in the scripture?" You might go all of the way back to the very beginning to the book of Genesis with the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. You might remember there in the garden after they had been created, they were approached by the serpent and eventually did sin by eating the fruit which God had forbid them to eat because it was of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. After eating, their eyes were opened. They saw all things and they knew between right and wrong and we know that after that there was punishments that were given out by God and we see these punishments in chapter 3 of the book of Genesis. In verse 15, you begin to see there the curse that actually was put on the serpent and the woman. In fact, if you go back in verse 14, you see the one specifically placed on the serpent. But in verse 15, it says, "I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel." Now this was the first discussion about this seed of woman, this soul to speak, seed that would come someday and obviously it referring to that outcome of Jesus Christ, that one that would be some type of a crushing blow on the head. Now if I was going to say that I was fighting with someone or in a major battle with someone, would I rather hurt their foot or their heel, or would I rather crush their head? Well, in the sense of what is being discussed here, the crushing blow to the head by Christ or the seed of woman would be much greater than the crushing blow of the heel that could really be recovered from, that Satan would give at some point to this seed. Now what was that point that he hurt the heel? Well, it was when he put him in the grave. We can see that again through prophecy as we continue to look through the fulfillment there in the New Testament. When he put him in the grave, he somehow had a small victory, bruising the heel of Christ. But then when Christ rose from the grave, what did He do? He crushed that blow that Satan had made. He really alleviated it. He put it aside. He was able to overcome it greatly by showing that even He, Christ Jesus, had the power over death.
Well, we can go on and we can find that throughout scripture not only here in this verse here in Genesis but throughout scripture again in the Old Testament, prophecy confirms these things which lead up to Christ and the Kingdom. And because of time we won't be able to get deeply into all of these, but I will mention several of them.
Another is Abraham that we find very early on in the story there found in Genesis. In fact, in Genesis chapter 12, we find there that it is where God actually cries out to this man, this man who was in many ways striving to do His will. He says, "Look, take up your family. Take all your things and go to a country that I will show you," as He says there in verse 1. But notice what He goes on to say in verse 2, He says that "I will make you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse him who curses you, and in you all of the families of the earth shall be blessed." In these verses here as we read them especially and primarily in verses 2 and 3 the concept of a blessing. Blessing who? All nations. In fact, He goes on to say "Blessing all nations and families" of what? Of the earth. How was it that Abraham would someday bless all nations and families? Because we find out that through his seed that Christ came. In other words, through his generations, through the controlled generations of Christ as God had providentially arranged that Christ eventually came from the seed of Abraham. Well, we have that clearly confirmed for us in the book of Galatians, chapter 3 and verse 29 where it says, "If we are of Christ, then we are of Abraham's seed." You see, we are of that lineage that Christ came, that good and pure lineage that Jesus Christ was of.
Not only that but as we know Abraham's promise was given to Isaac. Isaac then had a son named and Jacob received the promise. Then after that, we read there in Genesis chapter 49 and verse 10 where at the death bed of Jacob, he then passed on the blessing to his son, Judah. Not the eldest son because the eldest son had not done many things properly and according to God's will, but Judah was the son chosen that would carry on the lineage that eventually the house of David and the house of Christ would come from again through that lineage.
Furthermore, we might also notice that David that we just mentioned came from that same lineage of Christ. There in 2 Samuel, chapter 7 and verse 12, we have given to us there this lineage again that truly shows us who Christ is, the royalty, the blood that he came from was one again that was confirmed in scripture and prophecy according to what God had planned eternally before even creation had taken place. In fact, in 2 Samuel chapter 7 and verse 12, read with me. It says, "When your days are fulfilled, and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you who will come from your body and I will establish His kingdom." Here we have a discussion about a kingdom being established for someone of his seed, that is the seed of David. We'll get there in a little bit and we'll see that that comes to fruition actually in the book of Acts.
Not only there but many other places because of time that we'll be able to look at, but I'm trying to mention them so that you might be able to look them up on your own time. But we might also consider there in the book of Isaiah the great prophet who there in Isaiah chapter 2, verses 2 and 3 talks about the coming of a new kingdom, the coming of a new house of the Lord that would start in the city of Jerusalem as he clarifies for us there in verse 3. Again, those things that came to pass there in New Testament times.
Jeremiah was also told of a new covenant there in Jeremiah 31, verses 31 and following. He said, "Because there had been fault found with the first covenant," again with the fault being in the man not being able to follow it, " but because there was a fault there was a need for a second covenant." He said, "There will be someday a covenant that I will make and an agreement that I will make with those of the house of Israel and Judah." In other words, those that are followers of God. Then if you'll go on with me down to around verse 34, we see that it actually clarifies and tells us there that this covenant was different because it would be not only for forgiving of sins but of forgetting. He says, "I will forgive their sins and remember them no more." Just again as we have clarified for us in the New Testament there in the book of Hebrews. So in all these things, we see that prophecy clearly shows us that yes, Jesus Christ was from the lineage that God had planned from the very beginning, and He came down through the generations just as God had designed. That's why Daniel prophesied in Daniel chapter 2 and verse 44 that it again was through the "hands of Christ or the eternal one that would come and set up that kingdom again, that house that would last forever, that nothing would ever be able to destroy it."
Now as we go over to the New Testament times, we can quickly see once again that there were many in New Testament times that also did the very same, talking about this coming of the kingdom. As we look at that, we might first see that John the Baptist was one responsible for that for the most part as he was the one sent to prepare the way for Christ and the coming of the kingdom. In fact, if you look there in the book of Matthew chapter 3, verses 1 and 2, we find there that John the Baptist came and he came preaching. What was he preaching? It said there that "he was preaching repentance and the need to be...," what? "To be in the kingdom. The kingdom coming." Repentance and the kingdom. So those two things again show us clearly that John the Baptist spoke about the kingdom. And Jesus Christ Himself talked about this coming of a kingdom.
In fact, there is several places that we could look that would show us this. But one is primarily mentioned there in Mark chapter 9 and verse 1 where he was speaking to many disciples and he said, "Some of you will not taste of death until the kingdom comes with power." So here again the kingdom was coming. It was very soon it seems according to what prophecy said. So the church is important. The kingdom is important because prophecy says that it was coming.
Another reason the church or the kingdom is important is because it was important enough to be established. We again find that clearly represented to us in scripture. In fact we can go back several places. We've already mentioned there that Christ and John talked about this coming of the kingdom. But we could go to several different places to understand again that yes, this was something that was planned from the beginning. In fact, if you look with me in the book of Acts chapter 1, verses 3 through 6, we see there that it was where Christ was talking to His disciples, mainly apostles once again here, and He was talking about how they should go to Jerusalem and wait for the coming with power. The same power talked about back in the book of John that was discussed there. The same power talked about in Luke 24 and 49 where it said there that "they should go to Jerusalem where the power would come that would teach them all things that they had need or all they had knowledge of to do the work of the Lord." We see that continuing on because in Acts chapter 2, verses 1 through 4, it all comes about and the power comes. Then further on in chapter 2, we see that even the fulfillment of the prophecy we were talking about, about the throne of David just a moment ago as there in verses 29 through 36 that Peter was talking about this throne and how that the throne had been replaced by someone much greater and better, that being Jesus Christ, not only Lord but Christ. Christ there again referring to the son of the Living God.
In all of this then we see that they believed. They heard. They believed and they responded by saying, "What must we do?" And they were told to repent and be baptized. It was then in verse 47 of chapter 2, again the book of Acts, that we read that the Lord was adding to the church daily. That's the same word there "Ecclesia" or "the called out" that again adding to the church that many say has not been established. Well there might be also some in this world that would say, "Well, the church and the kingdom are two different things. Ray, you've been talking about the coming of the kingdom in the old law and you've been talking about the church here having come to fruition through the prophecies and things of scripture."
I want you to turn to one verse that's almost impossible to refute in relationship to these things. In Colossians chapter 1, and you might notice there the discussion is to Christians again, the church at Colossi. In verse 13, he says that "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of His dear son." He's talking about something that was happening at that time. He has taken us out of darkness and put us into the kingdom. The kingdom exists there according to this verse. Now in verse 18 notice what He goes on to say. "And He is the head of the body, the church who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead that He might have preeminence in all things." Here again, the kingdom mentioned in verse 13, the context continuing about the same institution set up by God. Then He mentions the body and the church.
How can someone claim that the church is not in existence today and that it's not important once again when in Ephesians chapter 5, verses 22 and 23 that it says there that "Christ died for it, that He is the head of it, that He is the Savior of the body." How could something not be important that as we read earlier in our introduction there in Acts chapter 20 and verse 28 that "Jesus Christ gave His own blood for?" I don't know. I think you would have to give me an answer for that and I think some can't answer that because it is clear that scripture again shows us that this be the case as we also continue looking at scripture. We find that the Bible tells us that as Christians, we must also understand that the church is important because the church is something that will be delivered back to the Father.
If you'll look with me in Colossians 15, verses 24 through 26, you'll find there that "someday when the Lord comes again, He will take that kingdom and He will deliver it. That one that bears the name, that no other name or salvation is found in," Acts 4 and verse 12. So in all this, I hope we see that the kingdom that was prophesied about, the church, these things that there Jesus spoke about in Matthew 16:16-18 that "I will build My church and I will give you the keys to the kingdom." These words again synonymous, working together to show us about the institution that the Lord God in heaven established. Why? So that we might be saved. So that we might find the salvation under the head Jesus Christ who shed His own blood for us. So that we might be called Christians and be able to strive to live according to the will that God has established for us in His word, the Bible.
(SONG # 3 - "Walking alone at Eve!")
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. I hope and trust, that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. Let me also invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.
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May the whole world come to a greater appreciation and learn to acknowledge the true importance of the Lord's blood bought institution - His Church!