Program Air Date - 12-30-01



Again let me say Happy Holidays to each of you. I hope you had a wonderful and exciting week and I hope you have a great New Year, which is just around the corner.

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.

In life there are few ties that are as strong or precious as that of Christians. If we are living like we should and loving our brethren the bond we share in Christ really brings us close together. This morning we want to start with a song which reminds us of that strong Christian bond we share in Jesus Christ. Won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we together sing, "Blest Be The Tie That Binds!"
(SONG # 1)


Can you believe it - 2002 begins in just two days. It seems like only yesterday that we were all panicking and worrying about the coming of a new Millenium. And now we are ready to celebrate another completed year in that new Millenium.

This is a great time of year when we all begin to look back at the previous year and consider what a good job we did living it. We often compare the past year with those before to see if we are moving forward as we should or to see if we are heading downward. I hope that today you are able to look back and smile knowing that you lived life to the fullest and made the most of every day.

But let me clarify that I am not just talking about the type of life we lived in a secular way - but also I ask the question, "how did you live for God." Did you grow spiritually over the past year or did you weaken" Did you get more involved in church or less? Are you giving God more time and effort today, or are you less involved in His service? These are important questions which we all need to consider.

If you feel that you have not improved spiritually for God during past year, I might ask why not? Have you been more consumed with self than God? Are you more interested in what you can get for yourself than what you can give to God? If any of these be the case, it's time to change and make some altering New Year's resolutions.

Why not start this new year off right by getting back in touch with God. He is always there with open arms waiting for you, if you will only change what you are doing that is wrong and get back to doing things His way. Have you forgotten all that God has done for you? Are you no longer interested in His blessings while on this earth or in the final eternal reward of heaven? I hope you will choose today to get things right with your God, because it could very well determine where you spend your eternity. Notice the words of our Lord recorded for us in 2 Corinthians 6:2, "In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you. 'Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.'" Please don't wait until it's too late!

Today we will again study God's Word by focusing on things related to the Lord's Church. This morning our specific topic will be "Salvation and 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, "Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary."
(SONG # 2)


Speaker: Ray Sullins

Thanks for staying with us this morning as we again have the opportunity to look into pages of God's word. It's always exciting to be able to begin new studies and over the past many weeks we've been looking at the Lord's church and finding out a lot of good information and I hope already you've been able to see that our lessons really in many ways begin to overlap because when you start looking at so many of the different aspects of the Lord's church, they are so interrelated. They are intertwined. They are together. In fact, so far we've been able to look at the importance of the Lord's church and to establish that the church and the kingdom are the same and we'll mention that in a moment a little bit more detailed again. But besides that, we've been able to look at the worship of the church and understanding what God has designed for worship as He laid out the pattern of worship and we've been able to look at the autonomy of the church and the fact that the autonomy or churches or individual groups are single in their governing sense. In other words, there is only one head and then each church answers to that head, again Jesus Christ who is in heaven. We also looked at the concept of the organization of the church where we again laid out many of these concepts but at that point we also got a bit deeper into understanding the positions in the church, such as the concept of all the members, the idea of elders being over the church as spiritual shepherds, the concept of deacons who are special servants who are appointed for special works, and evangelists who are actually ministers who go out and proclaim the gospel in a public way for the sake of the Christians or on behalf of Christians and to Christians, even teachers, Bible classes that we often have. We have many teachers who fill those as well as the concept who might go out and teach the things of Jesus Christ. So again, we can continue on looking at many of these good things that deal with the Lord's church because what more important thing can we talk about than something that we've been discussing which is truly from God and been given by Him? And as we develop very clearly in our first lesson, what could be more important than something that Jesus Christ gave His own blood for? That's the reason He died, to purchase the church, Acts 20 and verse 28.

So this morning we want to look at the Lord's church in connection with salvation. We're not going to look at exactly what it takes to be saved primarily today although we might mention that briefly. But really our primary emphasis today is the importance that the Lord's church plays in salvation. And the reason that we ask this question and we really try to develop it a bit further is because of the concept that so many in the religious world today claim that really the church is not important in salvation, that really you don't have to be in the Lord's church but again rather you can just believe in God or be a good person. A lot of these things have lead to the error, the concept that again maybe you don't have to be in the church, again, that important church that we've already clarified fully that the Lord gave His own blood for and that the Lord really has proven is very much worthy to be a part of. In fact, in Acts 2 and 47 where we are clearly told that we are added to the church. If God adds us to the church, I would say it's very important that the church not only exist but that we be a part of it because when we are obedient to Him, He adds us to that body of His son.

But let's continue to develop that by looking at a little bit more about salvation in the church. Really to understand this in the Lord's church, we might again need to again just look a little bit deeper at what the church is. The church is not a facility. I think sometimes one of the biggest errors that we have in connection to the concept of the church is saying that "well, the church is where our building is." Somebody might say, "Well, where do you go to church?" They say, "Well, I go to 2540 North Kansas Expressway." Well, that's not the church. As we have clarified the church is the people or rather are the people, the called out of God, the many individuals who have come out of darkness in to the marvelous light of His dear son, Colossians chapter 1 and verse 13. So the church is full of the called out, those who have left serving sin and Satan to serve primarily God and to do His will. That's the church and that's what makes up the church. You and I as followers of God, obedient children who have done what it takes to be saved, we are the ones again who are His church.

So as we understand that, we must understand what His church is all about. Perhaps one of the best things in understanding that would be found in the book of Ephesians because the book of Ephesians as Paul wrote to this church, he clarified very well what the church was all about and really what the Christian, again, remembering the Christian is that which makes up the church, what the Christian is all about.

I want to look first of all in the chapter number 5 which is found again in the book of Ephesians and if you'll look there with me, we want to read several verses beginning in verse 1 there as he begins to say this, "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children and walk in love as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God." Here, we have the concept of a Christian, an imitator of who? Of God. You see, if we are to be Christ-like or a Christian, we are to be an imitator of Christ just as Peter said we are to step in those footsteps that He left as an example. Well you see that's a Christian. In fact, it says here, "And walk in love as Christ has shown love." Now we know Christ showed us love because He died for us and we know the Bible also tells us that we return our love or show our love by keeping His commandments as we read clearly again in scripture as it helps us to understand in John 14 and 15, Jesus said, "if you love me, you'll keep my commandments." But it goes on there then to give a warning. After it says a Christian is one who loves Christ and walks in Christ and is an imitator of God. Then he says there in verse 3 something about sin. "But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you as it is fitting for the saints. Neither filthiness or foolish talking or jesting which are not fitting but rather giving thanks for this you know that no fornicator, unclean person or covetous man who is an idolater has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Here again, that concept the one walking in Christ, imitating Christ, loving Him, showing that love by obedience, again is the one who is in the kingdom. Here it says the one involved in sin, and the one who sins and thus rejects God as it says there in verse 5 does not have an inheritance in that kingdom. That kingdom again friends that we have cleared up very well. That is the kingdom of God. That kingdom that was talked about in prophecy as we looked at in our first lesson. The kingdom that was confirmed for us again in Matthew chapter 16, verses 16 through 18 where Christ was talking about the confession of Peter that He was the son of God, where He was talking about I will build my church and then He said, "Peter I'll give you the keys to that kingdom." It's the same kingdom that we're talking about here, the same kingdom that in Colossians chapter 1 and verse 13 where Paul said, "The kingdom that we're taken out of darkness and translated into the kingdom of His dear son." That same chapter there, Colossians 1 and verse 18, that is referred to as the body which is the church. There again is the kingdom that is being spoken of here. If we are imitators of God, followers showing love through obedience, we are in that kingdom. If we reject God through sin and follow in sin and doing that which is contrary, then we will not inherit, as it says here, the kingdom of God. Then he goes on in verse 6 to say, "Let no one despise you with empty words for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore, do not be partakers with them." You see, there are two types of individuals-the sons of disobedience and the sons of what? The sons of God.

We must choose and most of us have chosen to follow God, thankfully I say, at least who watch this program most likely. We are striving to do what God has asked us to do. But here we find if we do not, we cannot be in the kingdom even though many today claim that it's not necessary to be in the church or in the kingdom to be saved. Here it says that "if you're a sinner, you can't be in the church. You can't be in the kingdom."

If we'll continue on though and look at some other concepts, we know that the Lord our God in Heaven always wanted the church to be something that was a part of His plan. In fact, the church and its plans and concepts really were planned before even the world began as we even further find in Ephesians chapter 3, verses 10 and 11. The concept that really was the manifold wisdom of God and really the purpose of the church to present that wisdom that God had given to the church through revelation. It is the church's responsibility and He made that decision long before He created the first thing of this earth or that is contained therein or here in the earth that is. So again, as Christians we need to clearly understand that as the Lord's church, as people who are followers of God that we have a great mission, a great work to do in striving to be like God, like Christ and staying away from being contrary to His will, again sons of disobedience.

We can also confirm that not only do we know that the church, the Lord's church is important because of what we've already said and the concepts of what God has told us through scripture but we also find it to be important in salvation and again that is why we really want to focus our thoughts and really what we want to focus our thoughts on this morning as we truly understand together what it is all about to believe that the Lord's church is important because of that very fact.

Well we might start then again in the book of Ephesians. As we have just established in chapter 5 of Ephesians about the church and about really the person Christ, the individual who lived on the earth, the being that was actually the son of God who died for us, how that we must imitate Him and imitate God and love Him through our obedience and such so that we might be inheriting the kingdom of God. Then we find also that very same concept to be clarified for us further on in the same chapter. If you go on down to around verse 23, we see a discussion that begins actually here in relationship to the husband and wife and what Paul does here as he tries to help us to understand our relationship with God and Christ as we would understand the relationship between a husband and a wife. He does that by saying the following in verse 24, He says, "Wives submit to your own husbands as to the Lord." Verse 23, "For the husband is head of the wife as also is Christ head of the church and He is the savior of the body." If you look clearly at those verses there, the comparison is made that the wife is under the head which is the husband just as we as Christians are under the head of the church. In fact, that's exactly what it says. "Christ is head of the church." Now again I might take this back to where we discussed earlier and say, "Well how then can people claim the church doesn't exist if it says here that Christ is the head of it?" Again, proving clearly that the church must have been in existence for Paul to say that Christ is the head of something. Would it make sense for me to say that you or that somebody else was the head of an organization or a group if that organization didn't even exist? Again, the fact is that Christ is the head and as we saw last week in our lesson on organization, He is the only head. There is no other earthly head or headquarters that controls the church. Alone, Christ is that head and His word is that creed or that book only that will tell us exactly what we must do in relationship to what God would have us to do.

Notice also what it says that not only is He the head of the church, again Christ, but it says there in verse 23 that "He also is the head of the body." He is the head of the body and the savior. The savior is the other concept we want to bring out there. Notice that He is there to save the body. What is the body? Well, here in this verse we have it very clear for us as it says first of all that "Christ is the head of the church" and then it says that "He is the savior of the body." Well some people are going to automatically say, "Well, you know Ray, I think it's actually talking about two different things there though. It's not talking about the same institution again." And that's always what many of my religious friends try to do and try to bring out, but if you'll notice clearly the same author in Colossians chapter 1 and verse 18 said the following. He said, "He is the head of the body," and then he says, "the church." He clarifies what the body is for us there by telling us that it is the church. So there we find clearly that we are a part of that church if we do what? If we are imitators of Him. If we are followers of Him. If we are obedient to Him. Again, that's how we show our love isn't it? As we are Christians and followers of Him.

Also, we might be able to find as we see that He is the savior of the body, that this is a great proof to show us how important the church is. If Christ died to save the church. In fact that's what the verse says here. He's the savior of what? The body. What's the church? The church which again equals the kingdom. If he's the savior of it, how important is it? I would again say it is of utmost importance. The verse that we continue to go back to is Acts 20 and 28 where it says that He purchased the church. How on earth can we say that the church is not important to salvation when God Himself purchase it. He purchased it in order that we might be a part of it and gave His own life for it. That's exactly what it goes on to say further there in verse 25 if you'll read with me back in our text of Ephesians chapter 5. It says there, "Husbands love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it." Notice there very clearly that Christ loved the church enough to do what? To give Himself for it. Again, I might ask you to tell me the church is not important. Tell me that salvation is not in any relationship to the church when it says here that Christ gave Himself for it. Why did He give Himself for it? Well it goes on to tell us in verses 26 and following, He says there that "it might sanctify it or her with the washing of water by the word that He might present her a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she might be holy and without blemish." Here again, the clear illustration is that Christ and His blood, Christ's perfection presents that church that He purchased with His blood as spotless. You see, that's what it's saying. Even though we're human and we make mistakes, we are in the church glorious and presented spotless before our creator. Why? Because Jesus is that head. Jesus is that savior. He is the one that again proved to us through scripture such as this that again we can believe that truly, truly it is important to be a part of His church, the one that He purchased.

In the book of Revelation chapter 1 and verse 5, we find there that John and his vision said the following, he said concerning Jesus and what He had done, "He was the one who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood." You see there again, the blood washing us, the blood that was shed to purchase the church cleanses us. You see again, these lessons that we're having are all tied together to help us understand that the church is important in salvation. How is it that someone could say that something that Christ died for and something that He gave Himself for and that He's the head of and that He's the savior of is not important in salvation? Well the fact is we cannot do it because the Bible tells us that we have to be members of that body. Again, if you go back to our text and you look with me in Ephesians 5 and verse 30, it goes on to say there, "For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones." We are members. You see, if we are Christians, back to verse 1 and following where it said, "If we are imitators and obedient and so on and so forth, we are in the church," it said that we are members of that body. What's the body again? We've clarified again today that it's the church. The kingdom. So tell me how that we cannot be in the body of Christ, I might ask, and be saved? You see again the point being that salvation and the church are so closely linked that they cannot be taken apart, that they are one because they were planned by the same Father in heaven and all was done according to His purpose and what He would have done.

There's another verse that I think is of utmost importance that we read this morning. If you will, turn in your Bibles if you have them to 1 Corinthians chapter 15 because this tells me about this body, this church again and this kingdom that we've talked about so much over the past several weeks. I want you to notice with me there in chapter 15 beginning around verse 23 and following and what Paul says here to the Corinthian brethren. He says the following, "But each one in his own order, Christ the first fruits after those who are Christ's, it is coming. Then comes the end when He delivers the kingdom to God, the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and all power." You see, when we look at this verse here, well you acknowledge again what is being said. It's talking about the end of time. It's talking about the coming of Christ. It's talking about when something will happen, when all will be put under His feet, that is Jesus, because He is the head of all things as we again read at the end of the book of Ephesians chapter 1. But here again in verse 24 it says that in that day at the end, He will deliver what to the Father? He will deliver the kingdom. Now friends, I hope you will really understand here what is being said. If He delivers the kingdom to the Father and the kingdom is the church, again the body, and He delivers that body to the Father, do you want to be a part of it? I certainly do. And then how can I say it doesn't matter whether you are a part of the church to be saved when it says here that Christ will deliver that church, that kingdom, that body to the Father presented as what? As perfect, clean and pure.

As children of God, may we please look to God's will and teach those around us so they might truly understand the importance of the Lord's church and how that salvation is not found in any other place than His body, the church.
(SONG # 3 - "The Great Physician!")


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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As Christians may we accept the responsibility given to us to proclaim to the whole world the things of God. Furthermore, may we always teach the truth in connection to the importance of the Lord's Church in Salvation.
(Program closing)