Text: Ephesians 4:1-16
What are some of the out workings, how we do Church?
We might do church in different ways, but each church needs to have certain things. There are some components that are necessary.
Key components of the church:
Repentance – reorientation of life
Separation – a different kingdom
Mission – proclaiming the power and kingdom of Christ
Discipleship – watching over each other in love and truth
Fellowship – sharing the Lord’s Supper with each other, our goods, joys, and sorrows
Authority – Leaders are to discern and apply these things together with assembled believers under the authority of Christ
There are probably more components, but these are some that I believe are key to Matthew.
The message of Christ is the same, regardless of which book of the Bible we study.
To be a follower of Jesus a person needs to be a part of a church that practices these. One cannot practice these components alone.
These components must also be kept together. They are not inherently opposed to each other.
They can’t be isolated and continue to exist in a meaningful way.
These things require the resources of the Holy Spirit.
Those who do these things are given spiritual authority from Christ to accomplish them.
These things must be worked out anew in every generation. There is a time to hand the baton on to the next generation.
When Christ ascended and sent His Spirit, He became present everywhere.
The Church is Christ’s body, it is His fullness.
Problems we face:
1) Relating to those who do church different than our own
People define things different ways and take different stands on the same issues. How can another group be under the authority of Christ if they take a different stand than others.
2) People leaving our churches
3) Difficulty in translating church life into cultural shoe leather
4) Drift — trying to become more relevant by leaving Biblical practices
5) And so on… there are probably others.
I’m going to offer some of my perspectives— I don’t have answers for these.
I believe the line in the questions of denominations is really the question of those that do or don’t do discipleship. There are those who have made the gospel something other than what Jesus gave us. I believe that we have more in common with people that care enough about their doctrine to deny open communion. On one level this is painful, because they are serious about their faith and doctrine. On the other hand they are our brothers. We did not create the problems of denominationalism. People leaving: The fact that we require obedience to practical biblical teaching, will make us a minority. There are churches that do not have the commitment to some of these teachings, creating a path away from our churches. At the same time we must be humble about ways we have hurt people that have left. I think I am saying, that sometimes people do accuse us of these that aren’t fair, we should acknowledge where we have hurt them. We must also acknowledge the cultural trends. These forces are extremely corrosive. I want to sound the alarm in the right way- I don’t want to be an alarmist- the types of activities that people are becoming part of dissolve real community. 3) Biblical teaching requires practical applications to be made. The reason I say this, is that I believe I have precedent both from the example of the Apostles and the testimony of the early church. If we care more about correctly observing the application than the principles that is a problem. We need to develop the imagination to see people so that we think they CAN follow our kingdom teaching and practice. 4) When we try to flatten out our visible differences with the world, we forget that the invisible things that divide us are greater. I believe that every congregation will develop its own life and applications. The great project of Christian leadership is to have discernment in these things. It cannot always be changing, yet it must be able to change. Here is where pastors sometimes wring there hands. Think about these things.
Christ’s will for His church is to face these things — Christ has given us what we need.
Christ’s will is not that we find perfect answers for all these things, but rather that we find repentance, fellowship, etc.