Title: Church Matters
Text: 1 Timothy 3.14-16
Intro: What is the church? Why does she exist? And why should you care? I mean, why all of this organization? Do you really want deacons or elders? Does a statement of faith really mean a whole lot? Why should you be a member here? Does “church” even really matter?
There was a period in my life when I did not like the church of God. I loved God. I still do! But the church, it just turned me off. I decided I did not want to go to another church as Pastor. If I left the First Baptist Church of Worland, Wyoming, then I would go and plant a church. I didn’t want to deal with people and their traditions. I wanted to start fresh.
Well, I didn’t. I went to Calvary in Tyler. And once again, I said to myself, if ever I leave here, I’m not going to an established church.
There have been many times the church has left me frustrated and disillusioned. I tell you this today because I want you to know that if you’ve ever felt that frustration toward church – I get it. But that isn’t the way it is supposed to be.
I don’t feel that way anymore. I’m not so much ashamed of the church anymore. I think the church is a beautiful place to be. Sure, she isn’t perfect. But she is God’s design. Now, I have a special place in my heart for her. That’s why I’m here with you guys – I hope to help us be the church God has designed.
Do you remember KAL-007? I’m guessing you won’t from those numbers and letters. KAL (Korean Airlines) Flt 007; it was a New York City to Seoul, Korea flight that had a stop in Anchorage. Back in 1983, GPS was in existence, but not everyone had that capability. The Pilots had made a technical error in charting the flight path and ended up way off course – actually, over Russian air space. The airliner was shot down by the Russians and ended up in the Sea of Japan.
Today’s message is all about the church: Who we are. What we believe. How we ought to behave. My message is about the course that has been charted out for us – by one who knows the way. My hope is that you’ll have a greater affection and a deeper appreciation for the church when we’re finished this morning. And, what’s more, you’ll desire to be a strong part of her existence – because she matters!
God has given us a map to follow, but too often, we don’t follow it. We want to chart our own path. He has charted our course, but too often, we think we can do a better job. The results can be disastrous.
This text is Paul’s Purpose Statement for the letter. Let’s read this together (rd 14-16): His purpose in writing is so that they would know how they ought to behave, who they are in Christ, and what they ought to believe. Those are the three points for today, by the way.
This is near and dear to me because I’ve been working on the Church’s Constitution and Bylaws with the Trustees. These documents declare who Tarpley Baptist Church is and why Tarpley Baptist Church exists. These documents present your statement of faith and the polity by which you function and are organized. These documents answer the questions: What is the church? Why does she exist? And why you should care?
For the previous two weeks, we’ve covered the two separate offices of a church: Elder & Deacon. We pick up in v 14-15 where we see the answer to this question:
- What is the Church?
- The Household of God: God’s family; I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God. Last week in Bible Study the Men looked at Romans 8 – I was so grateful to be reminded of the fact that we’re heirs with Christ because we’ve been adopted into the family of God. In Romans 8, from verse 12-17, you’ll find so many references to us being in this new family: brothers, sons of God, adoption as sons, we cry, “Abba, Father”; 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. I think it’s interesting that Paul adds that 2nd We love the “children of God” part, but don’t like the “provided we suffer” part. 1st, we’re members of the household of God. 2nd,
- The Church of the Living God: The Word church in the original language is a compound word that means, “called out”. We’re the “called out” ones. God has called us out of the world and invited us to become his own people. But there is more here! The Church of the … Living God! If you go back to Paul’s first experience at Ephesus, he was harshly treated. I’m guessing many of these people would have been in the crowd of thousands upon thousands of people who were screaming for Paul’s head. Do you remember reading of the story in Acts 19, where Paul was accused of turning people from worshiping the idol, Artemis of the Ephesians? This phrase here, in this letter to them, would have caused many of them to remember Paul’s teaching that Artemis was a fabricated god of stone and wood. The man who started the riot at Ephesus was a Silversmith who created silver shrines of Artemis. He was losing business. So, he got the people all riled up and they rioted. Paul is declaring: Our God, he is the living God! His presence is with us! Where 2 or more are gathered in my name…rd 15c;
- Guardians of the Truth – God’s Word; You and I have something absolutely incredible that has been preserved for us for 1,000’s of years. It’s truly amazing. We have the Truth of God in the Word of God! Jesus, when praying in John 17 said, “Your Word is Truth”. Paul, as he wrote to these same people in his letter to Ephesus wrote: 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
app.: You are the Household of God, you are the church of the living God, and you are the guardians of the Truth. That’s why the way you live is so very important for the rest of the world to see.
t.s.: which is point # 2; Point # 1, the Church, Point # 2…
- Her Conduct: How she ought to behave
exp.: This has been each of my sermons to this point; that is what this letter has been about: 1st, pray for:
- Kings and all who are in high positions (2.1-2)
- Toward their pastor (4.12; 2.11-15; 5.17)
- Toward the elderly in their congregation (5.1-3)
- Slaves toward their Masters (6.1-2)
- The Rich toward others (6.17)
refuting false teaching and false doctrine; respecting and honoring those in positions of authority; respecting and honoring those who are older; organizing the church’s leadership; recognizing and fulfilling roles and responsibilities within the church;
app.: there is no need to spend more time on this here, but for now, just note the call for them to act like the Christians they claim to be!
t.s.: 1st, the church and who she is; 2nd, how she should behave; 3rd, Her Confession
- Her Confession: What she believes
exp.: Gk a compound word that means ‘to say the same thing”.
ill.: A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God: Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow.
app.: So it is when 100 believers are tuned to the one same confession. Tozer says: So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.
Paul, then mentions the tenets of this faith – the same faith we all possess. The tenets of this confession:
- Manifested: Christ, though he was in nature God, chose to let go of his position in heaven and ‘emptied’ himself and came to earth to live as a man – and not just any man, he became the lowest form of a man – a servant. He humbled himself. And, as Philippians says, he became obedient, even unto death. He was buried in a borrowed tomb.
- Vindicated: or justified, or declared righteous by the Spirit. The Bible teaches that although Jesus was dead, he didn’t stay that way. The Holy Spirit vindicated him and brought life to his dead body, displaying for all of us that Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus was raised from the Dead! More than just dying for our sins, he was raised to life again. Paul opens his letter to the Romans with this: 1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord…
- Seen by angels: at his birth, at his resurrection, at his ascension. All of heaven offered praises to Him testifying to who he is – the Risen Son of God! But it could have another meaning: messenger. The word ‘angel’ a transliteration of ἄγγελος is Messenger. The Hebrew word is Malachi; So, could the Confession, then, be a statement of the apostles who witnessed the resurrection and testified about it? They are the messengers mentioned here. Scholars disagree.
Manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit who raised him from the dead, seen by angels, or by messengers – and this fits well with the next part of the confession – proclaimed among the nations…
- Proclaimed among the Nations: this is what the apostles did starting in Jerusalem, then to Judea and Samaria and even to the uttermost parts of the world. And what is their message? Just this: Jesus Christ, God with us, God who became flesh, who lived and died for our sin. Buried and raised to life again. This was their commission as given by Christ himself: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Mt 28.18-20
- Believed on in the World: This is the message of the book of Acts: They start with 120 persons in the upper room and expand to thousands as the Gospel is proclaimed to the World. Acts 1.15; 2.47 – and the Lord added day by day to their number those who were being saved.
- Taken up in glory: This, of course, refers to the ascension of Christ, but I think hints at the future. I say this because everything seems to flow in progression until you come to this phrase. It seems out of place unless of course, it is referring to the future. Ryken says this denotes, in particular, the glory, majesty, and sublimity of God. By virtue of his resurrection, Jesus is exalted and enthroned. He radiates the glory of God. What better way to end a hymn than with the glorious praise of the glorious Christ? He continues: Epiphanius had this glory in clearly in mind when he composed his “Second Creed” – a confession of praise that strikes a joyous chord in every believer’s soul: “The Word became flesh; the same suffered in the flesh; rose again; went up to heaven in the same body, sat down gloriously at the right hand of the Father; is coming in the same body in glory to judge the quick and the dead.
t.s.: Let me close this section with: The mystery of godliness. We spent some time last week talking about the mystery, so I don’t want to belabor the point this week. But the mystery is this faith we possess – hidden for ages, revealed in Christ. And, as individuals, we come together with this same faith – One Faith, One Lord, One Spirit – There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Conclusion: Most of you are old enough to remember the South Korean Airliner being shot down by the Russians in 1983. I remember it for a couple of reasons. The main reason is that my mother is from South Korea and so it was bigger than just news to my family. My mom was scheduled to fly to Korea just a few weeks after this happened. Tensions in the Cold War were high and pessimism toward Russia and the USSR was higher than it had been in some time.
I remember watching the news over the next couple of days as so many of those people were in anguish: falling on the ground, flailing about, screaming and crying at the same time. I had never witnessed anything like that before. It really made me sad because people who have no hope see death as the end. I’m telling you, watching the news and seeing their hopeless response just broke my heart. Sometime later I read where Paul wrote that we don’t respond like people do who have no hope (1 Thess 4.13: 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.)
That’s when I understood what I had seen.
C.S. Lewis: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
Takeaway’s: Why are these important? That is: Our Conduct and Our Confession
- They give us hope. They constantly remind us of our Hope in Christ. His Resurrection means our Resurrection. That these struggles are not the end for us. The Corona Virus could kill millions of people. But our hope isn’t in the surgeon general or in the president. Our Hope is in Christ and our eternal destiny. And when the rest of the world panics – we don’t.
- They give others hope. When the lost and confused in this world struggle with a world-wide crisis and they see us living differently, they want to know why!
- Aren’t you afraid of the stock market crashing? No, we’re not. These possessions aren’t the totality of our lives.
- Aren’t you afraid of getting sick? No, we’re not. This health isn’t the totality of our lives.
- Aren’t you afraid of dying? No, we’re not! We understand life differently and we understand death differently.
- Aren’t you afraid that things are out of control? Well, no, we’re not. Because while things may appear out of control, we know the One who is in control. And when you think you’re in control, it is only an illusion.
I can’t promise any of you that you or I won’t die from this dreaded Virus that has the World in such a panic. If we’re honest, the statistics are not in our favor here at Tarpley. Most of our congregation is in the ‘high risk’ segment of society. But, as we view this situation, as those who don’t really belong here, we gain a proper perspective.