Program Air Date - 12-21-03



Happy holidays to you and yours, and welcome to the Living Word Program on this wondrous Lord's Day morning! Can you believe it, another year has flown by and it's time again for that special time of the year when we are able to get together with family and friends and show fellowship and love toward one another. I am so happy that you have chosen to join us this day and to give this time of worship to God. For without God none of us would even be here, have what we have, or enjoy special time like these. So this morning lets commit this time of offering completely to Him and thus prove our true love for Him and obedience to His precious will. Now with these things in mind, may we all bow our heads and approach His throne of grace in prayer!


Our first song this morning deals with a great victory we have through Jesus Christ. So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "Faith Is A Victory!"

(SONG # 1)


As I said a moment ago, isn't it a wonderful and joyful time of the year? I just love to go around and see the joy, excitement and enthusiasm of the season. We all hear laughter, songs and continuous chatter about all the activities and special plans for the holiday. And so, we as well buckle up, push forward and dive in head first. If you like me, all of this is a lot of fun and really exciting, but at the end of the day I am almost completely wiped out.

I know my kids are about to bounce off the ceiling thinking about all the food, candy, presents and especially Santa Clause. Although I think they have it all figured out by now, this doesn't damper the excitement in their big smiles or the glitter in their sparkling eyes. Oh, how wondrous their joy and excitement is to me as a parent - who quickly remembers the similar joy and excitement of younger years.

Brethren and friends, nothing comes to my mind more at this time of the year, than just how good we've all got it. We have our health, our ability to provide for our own, and our time to be together and show our love and care for each other in this life. Yes, our God has truly blessed us with so many things in this life - both spiritual and physical. In this country, I just don't think we realize how great things are or how blessed we truly are with the things of this life.

But consider why this is all possible? Why do we have so must in this life? There is only one answer to this important question - GOD! How truly blessed we are to have a God who not only created us, but has placed us in a country and culture that is so well blessed and provided for. If you don't think this is true, you need to have a look around the world, you need to travel abroad at least one time - and then you will truly know the hardship and plight of most of the "real" world.

Again, I mention all of this to just remind us that in the hustle and bustle of the season may we never forget God! It is only because of Him that we are who we are, that we have what we have, and that we are able to do what we want to do. Oh, how great and wonderful our God is.

Today we will be beginning a new series of study which is of the utmost important, as we look toward a new year. In fact, If I were to ask you, "Just what does the Bible confirm to us about the Church of our Lord?" What would your answer be? This morning, we will start a series entitle, "The Church Which Jesus Built!" And our first lesson concerning this topic is: "Christ Is The Founder And Head Of His Church!"

So please stay with us this morning and after our next song together, I will return and lead us in our main thoughts of the day. But for now let's join together in our second song of the morning. The name of this hymn, "There's Not A Friend."

(SONG # 2)


Speaker: Ray Sullins

In Matthew chapter 16 and verse 18, we find that Jesus boldly proclaimed, "I will build My church."

We're going to begin a new series of study today that will focus primarily on the church that Jesus built. And we engage in this study because it is of the utmost importance to understand the connection of Christ, whom we all love and follow and care for as followers of God and as those interested in the things that God has to say, and really the connection that the church has to Christ and we have this connection because there are so many confusing ideas that are presented today in the religious world, as far as what the church, how it relates to Christ and really the importance that it plays in relationship to a follower, whether they have to be in a church, whether one church is as good as another church. There are so many questions that really stand out in our minds as we really consider the statement that Christ made, "I will build My church."

If you'll notice there in Matthew chapter 16 when He made this bold proclamation, it was to His disciples and there had been a confession just made by Peter himself when He had been asking the disciples, "Who is it that man says that I am? Who do you think that I am?" And Peter there said in chapter 16 and verse 16, "You are the Christ." He says, "You are the son of God." Oh obviously here Jesus was excited about that proclamation because there in verse 17 He goes on to say, "I know you couldn't have known that yourself. It had to have been the Father in heaven alone who showed you these things. God has told you who I am, that I am the son of God, that I am the Christ." So boldly here, Jesus then says in verse 18, "And I say to you that you are Peter," Peter just making the great confession that Jesus was the Christ, the true son of God, and then He says, "I will build My church. And therefore furthermore the gates of Hell would not prevail against that church." You see there the church was talked about being established, about coming to fruition and about how important it and let me first introduce it because it was going to be built by Christ Himself. He didn't say that someone else would build it or that you would build it, Peter, or that some other disciples would build it someday. He said, "I will build it." Now if the Lord Himself, that is the son of God, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, felt the need to build a church then certainly you and I as well should see the great significance in building that church.

I want you also to notice with me over in the book of Ephesians in Ephesians chapter 2 where we find another good reference to the things that we're talking about this morning. There are a lot of scriptures that I will make mention to this morning, but because of time and the shortness of our program we usually are not able to read all of them so please jot them down as you can. But in Ephesians chapter 2 and verse 19, the Bible says, "Therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God." It talks about a house of God, a place of God, an assembly of God.

Notice in verse 20 what it says, "Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone." Here we see that it talks about an institution, a church, something having been established that was built. Who built it? Jesus said, "I will build it." Here we see that it was built by Him on the things that the prophets had spoken about, the prophesies that the church would come, the kingdom would come, that the Christ the Messiah would come and the concept of what the apostles, as well, did who came after Him and established those things that would be according to the Will of the Father through the son first and eventually through the Holy Spirit as He guided them in all things.

So when we look to the Bible and we talk about the church, it is important that we try to decide and determine what is the church all about. When I see on every corner every different kind of religion claiming to be the church, what is the church really about? Is it possible that everyone be different and be contrary to one another and teach different things and that everyone is right at the same time? Surely is it something that is acceptable by God that we can somehow just believe that there is a God and then we can do anything that we want in our own way? Is this the essence of what we find in scripture? Is this what the Bible teaches? Well, certainly not, because the Lord's prayer over and over and over again was that His people be unified.

Even in the book of 1 Corinthians chapter 14 and verse 33, we read there that God is not the author of confusion, He's the author of peace. He brings peace and unity.

Ephesians chapter 4 deals with how that we must endeavor to keep the spirit and the unity and the peace of God. And how? By keeping the ones. One of those things not only being the one God, the one Father, the one Son, and the one Lord, but there's the concept of even the one faith in God. So we see here a unity, something that is essential for us all to believe in.

In John 17 beginning in verse 17, Jesus there prayed that the believers be unified just as the Father and the Son were one. If I were to ask you if Jesus believed something, would you believe that the same thing would be believed by the Father? Certainly. If I were to say that the Father proclaims and believes a certain thing, would you say that they are unified, that is the Son and the Father also on that thing? Sure you would. But then when I turn around and I say that we, you or I, teach something different, are contrary to what the Father and Son say in scripture and God accepts that, we say, "Oh that's okay." Well that doesn't even make sense because God wants unity. He wants fellowship based on the fact that we are all in the light, not darkness, not things contrary to the Will of God, but equal to the Will of God and we thus have fellowship as John said with God because He is in the light and because you are in the light and I am in the light, we thus have fellowship one with another. You see, our fellowship, our unity is always based on a common belief, a common concept, common goals, common ideas, common scriptures, common things that surely are again presented through scripture and from the Word of God, not on division, not on being able to get along although we don't agree, but on the fact that we strive to study the Word of God and understand the same because it preaches the same as you read it and as I read it. When I read a scripture and it tells me to believe and be baptized, it shouldn't be difficult to understand. I need to believe and I need to be baptized. Certainly there are other things. Repentance is necessary. Confession. Certainly those things are necessary as we read the bigger picture. But yes, when we read it, we accept it and if we would simply accept the way God said these things to be true then we would find ourselves in a much better condition, a much more unified situation, a situation that Christ wanted where there would be no division in His church.

There in the book of Ephesians as well we begin to see the great characteristics that are laid out for us about this Jesus in relationship to the church and really why it is that He is the only fit builder and founder of the church. You might notice there in chapter 5 and verse 23 where it talks about the husband being the head of the wife and then it goes on to say, "as Christ is head of the church." What is Christ head of? The church. Who better than the one who died for it? We'll talk about that more in just a moment. The one who loved it enough to build it as we've discussed. Not only is He the builder, as it says here, the head, but he is the savior of the body. How is He the savior? He gave His blood. He gave His blood. In fact, if you want to look at Acts chapter 20 and verse 28, it says there that "Christ purchased the church with His blood." Let me ask you a question. If Christ purchased the church with His blood and gave His own blood for the church and set it on the cross for the purchasing of the church, you tell me how important the church is. I would say it is of the utmost importance because here we find a church whom the savior, the son of God, God Himself is head of. He built, He founded a church that He purchased with His own blood, a church that He is referred to as being the king of, "the king over His kingdom," there we find in Matthew 16 again in verses 18-19. "A church that He is the husband of as it is the bridegroom," as it is referred to as in 2 Corinthians chapter 11, verses 1-2. And a church that truly He is the shepherd of as we are His flock. As He is the head, we are the body. And as the body there in 1 Corinthians, we are members in particular. We all have our own functions, but yet we are of the same body, the same goal. If I have a hand, what will that hand have to do to accomplish goals? Work together. Be unified. I have one head, one mind working from the same concept. That hand writes. That hand waves. That hand does whatever gesture or whatever thing that I might need it to do for me to work or for me to accomplish the goals in life. But what is it that makes it do it? The one mind. The unified mind. If my finger and my thumb do not agree, how am I going to write? Well I might can do it but it's not going to be very easy. Does that represent unity? Certainly not. It represents division. The church is based on a head, Jesus Christ, that shows us as the builder, the owner, the possessor, the savior, the founder, the one who gave His own blood and purchased the church with it that it is all about Christ and He needs to be the central point. If we can agree with Christ, then there is no reason why we can't agree with each other because once I've agreed with Christ and obeyed and accepted His Will, then you and I are going to be following and accepting the very same thing.

But not only do we find that the church is in this situation because of the great position that Christ has and rightfully so, but how can one be saved outside of the church? How can people say that the church is insignificant when the Bible itself tells us that when one is saved that they're added to the church? I would suggest that you read Acts chapter 2, verse 47. Those that were being saved were put in the church. If the saved are in the church, how can it be insignificant? If they're in the body of which Christ is the head, how could it be something that doesn't matter whatsoever? If all spiritual blessings are in Christ and the Bible tells me in Galatians 3:26-27 that "to be a child of God, I must put on Christ through baptism," how on earth can I have the spiritual blessings in Christ unless I have put Him on through baptism and thus been obedient, be saved and added to the church? How again can I be a part of an institution that is insignificant, that Christ has shed His own blood for, that He has saved, that the Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians once again that "someday He will deliver back to the Father at the end of time."

Well certainly then again we find the significance of the church and how the church was not an afterthought because even in the book of Ephesians chapter 3 beginning in verse 10 we find that according to God's eternal purpose that it was His decision that He would build the church, but the work of the church would be made to be making known the manifold wisdom of God. You see, even before the world began, in the mind of God was the church. Now how could the church be insignificant when it was in the mind of God before He even created the world or Adam & Eve or even me or you? You see, the church is significant. It's important. Why? Because redemption is found in it. The redemption, the blood of Christ, that shed blood that will wash away our sins, that purchased the church is very, very closely related and it shows us then as we are washed in the blood of Christ and become a child of God and then we are placed in this institution purchased with that same blood that the church is made up of the what? The saved. The saved. The people who are in it.

You know, the church is not the building. The church is not a facility that we meet in, a location that we go to. The church is the people, those who have been obedient to the things of God and thus done what He has asked them to do. And in doing so then, being obedient to God that is, then we've proven ourselves to be worthy, to be part of the universal church as this concept often talks about. "The churches of Christ salute you," Romans 16:16. The concept of the individual churches that Paul addressed in different letters, how that the church always was used to the people, the members, those who are the called out, the saved of God and they were referred to as those who were sons and heirs, fellow heirs with Christ of the promises of God. And why? Because they had obeyed Christ. They had received the washing through the blood and they have been added to this church, this body, this institution that surely was planned and ordained by God.

I might also add as evidence in Colossians chapter 1, verse 13 talks about how that we were taken out of darkness and translated or conveyed, put into the kingdom of His dear son, but notice what this kingdom is further called in verse 18 of again Colossians 1, and it says, "He is the head of the body," and there it says, "the church." He is the head. "Christ is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead that in all things He might have preeminence. All authority and power was given to Christ," Matthew 28:18. And here we see that it was He who as Christ the son of God was put as head of the body (as we've already looked at in Ephesians 5) and placed over the same as called here "the church." He says, "I will build My church," Matthew 16:18. He says, "I will give you the keys to the kingdom."

Brethren, the reality is as followers, as Christians, as those who love God, we must focus on His church, the church that He built. When I try to decide what is it that Christ built? What is this church? And I look to the builder and the foundation and the savior and I see the great importance of the church, how much more then would I want to know about this precious body, this precious body that I have to be a part of to be saved and also be a part of in order that it be delivered back to the Father someday as those who are saved?

My question to you: Have you done what is necessary for the Lord to place you in the church? Read Acts chapter 2. It will tell you what you must do. But if you have not, get your life right because only salvation can be found in the name of Jesus and in His body which we know to be the church.

(SONG # 3 - "Savior From Old Galilee!")


Thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in giving this time to God. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God!

But for now let me ask you if you have any questions or comments about today's lesson? Maybe, you would like a free transcript or a cassette tape of this program? Possibly, we could assist you with free Bible materials or correspondence courses? No matter what your need is, please contact us at the following address:

The Living Word 2540 N. Kansas Expressway Springfield, Mo. 65803

Many of these items are available on our website:

Or if you prefer, you may call us at: (417)869-2284

How glorious it is to know that Jesus Christ was willing to build and establish His church, so that in all things the will of God could be done - and furthermore, so that we might find true salvation through His wondrous name!

(Program closing)