The Ekklesia

EKKLESIA

The Infrastructure of the Church Part 2

As we continue in the sermon series CHURCH 101, let’s explore the second  infrastructure of the Church of God – THE MEMBERS

“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2)

The MEMBER’S POSITION

“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus…”

The church, Christian believers, is the assembly of God’s people. The word church (Ekklesia) in secular Greek meant an “assembly duly summoned.” Paul changed the term to represent the church. We are called out of the sinful world by the Holy Spirit to be a part of the body of Christ. Ninety percent of the time, “church” refers to the local congregation, which speaks to the importance of a local community. One cannot grow into the image of Christ outside a local church.

Believers are “sanctified in Christ Jesus.” “Sanctified” is a perfect participle (Patterson 21). The Greek perfect tense portrays a past act, the consequences of which continue on. This is our position in Christ. We are sanctified in Christ. This is a past act that is to be lived out daily. Those who have been sanctified look like, act like, and live like it!

“As Christians one of the strongest rebukes we can have when we sin is to be reminded of who our Father is. And reminding ourselves of whose we are should be one of our strongest deterrents to sin. Remembering our position can compel us to improve our practice.” (MacArthur 301-303)

 

The MEMBER’S PRACTICE

“called to be saints” (verse 2)

Our practice is based upon our position. Believers are to live out who we ARE in Christ, not how or whom we are trying to be. We are saints or holy ones – God’s called out distinctive people. We are to discipline our bodies to live out who we are in Christ—saints and holy ones.

“Christian discipleship involves striving to become that which in terms of status God has already given. Practical holiness entails being transformed in Christ-likeness and goodness day by day” (Thiselton 31)

We are God’s called out and set apart saints by and for Him. Therefore, we are to reflect God’s character in our daily lives. Not to be saved or to please God. We do so because we are saved and long to live and look like whose we are!

“A little boy was accustomed to attending a church which had beautiful stained-glass windows. He saw that the windows contained pictures: “St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, St. Paul,” and others. One day he was asked, “What is a saint?” He replied, “A saint is a person the light shines through.” (Barnhouse 203)

“Does God’s light shine through you? Christ commands, ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven'” (ibid 203).

The MEMBER’S PARTNERSHIP

“…with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours…” (verse 2)
The Corinthians had the habit of thinking they were an island all to themselves. They could live and set their rules however they wanted. In truth, no church is isolated from other Christian communities. Community tradition, doctrine, and practice are all very important. Paul wanted them to know they were a part of the entire body of Christ.

Notice: “Call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (verse 2). This is the earliest confession of faith—Jesus is Lord. Lord was OT reference to YHWH. Here Paul declares Jesus the same as Father God. There are those who do not believe in the Trinity. However, this verse and many others prove a great problem to their beliefs. Regardless of some non-essential differences, we are in a partnership with all true believers.

We must realize our POSITION and PRACTICE have an effect on the universal church of Christ!

The MEMBER’S PRIZE

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 3).

The gift of God’s grace.
Grace always precedes peace. Grace is God’s free, unmerited, sovereign gift. It is God’s “undeserved, gracious acts whereby He has chosen to provide existence, with all its benefits, and access to God, with all its blessings to those who are the objects of His purpose”—His sanctified saints! (Patterson 23)

The gift of peace
Our definition of peace is no problems, worries, sickness, or struggles. Peace is not a harmonious state or relegated to heaven (Patterson 23). “Peace is the confidence of God’s favor, even in the midst of conflict” (Ibid 23). It is based upon a harmonious state with God. Not a subjective feeling of inner tranquility (Thiselton 33). This peace can only come from Christ and is only given to believers (MacArthur 313).

The gift of God Himself
Grace and peace are the outflow of God’s presences. Paul wants the Corinthians to know God is the ultimate gift. They were too caught up in spiritual gifts. They were bragging about tongues and teaching. They thought they were special because of their gifts. Gifts, by the way, were given freely, not earned because someone is a special Christian. Believers should be focusing on the presence of God in their lives. He has given Himself to us bountifully. “Grace is [God’s] favor [upon believers], and peace is one of its fruits” (MacArthur 308).

Paul begins the letter to the Corinthians by setting out the infrastructure of the church of God. There are MINISTERS and MEMBERS. Each have their specific part to play. Ephesians 4 says that ministers are to equip the members for the work of ministry. That is exactly why Paul was writing to the Corinthians. They were focusing on how important they were as individuals. Paul reminded them of the importance of the body of Christ. It is God’s church and His called-out saints!

Points to Ponder

    • We are to follow God’s plans for His Church.
    • Ministers are to lead, but they are not the heart of the church.
    • Members are to follow and serve, but they are one body.
    • Regardless of whether gifts are seen by all or behind the scenes, all are gifts.
    • No one gets to brag because of their gifts.
    • We ARE sanctified—past act of God.
    • We are to live out who we already are in Christ.
    • God is our prize!
    • Our focus and prayers for other things must be secondary to desiring Him.

Resources:
Barnhouse, Donald Grey. Timeless Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004.
MacArthur, John. 1 Corinthians. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1984.
Patterson, Paige. An Exposition of First Corinthians: The Troubled Triumphant Church 2nd ed. Fort Worth: Seminary Hill Press, 2011.
Thiselton, Anthony. First Corinthians: A Shorter Exegetical and Pastoral Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006.
Church 101 Listen Now

The Infrastructure of the Church

Church 101

The Infrastructure of the Church

As we begin our study of Church 101, the first basic truth we will see is found in 1 Corinthians 1:1-3.

“Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:1-3

As we take a closer look at these three verses we are going to see the infrastructure of The Church of God.

First, The Church of God is made up of THE MESSENGER

“Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother”. (1 Corinthians 1:1)

The reason behind Paul’s opening in verse one is because those in Corinth were questioning his authority. The initial address of sectarianism is seen later in chapter one. Paul’s Position is stated clearly: He is an apostle. He was called by the will of God.

This speaks to the divine origin of HIS POSITION

God chose Paul. This was not a task he volunteered for. He was an apostle sent by God. The word Apostle (apostolos) means “sent from”. In the Greek, the one sent isn’t the main focus, rather the focus is upon the sender and the reason for the sending. So, God is the focus! God is responsible for Paul’s ministry as well as the message he is writing to the Corinthians (and to us). John MacArthur clarifies the role of the one sent:

When the Jewish supreme court, the Sanhedrin, was asked to arbitrate a serious dispute or to give an interpretation regarding Jewish law or tradition, they would send their decision by an apostolos to the parties involved, who were often represented through a synagogue. As far as the message was concerned, the apostolos possessed the full authority of the Sanhedrin. He did not speak for himself, but for the Sanhedrin. Yet he was more than a messenger. He was an emissary, an envoy, an ambassador. Paul was God’s envoy, God’s ambassador (cf. 2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 6:20), God’s apostolos. (MacArthur 222-26)

Paul wanted them to know he was writing God’s message and that he is simply an emissary delivering the Lord’s message.

The next thing we learn about The Messenger is: HIS PERSON

“and Sosthenes our brother”
Though an apostle, he was still equal to all believers. All Christians are saints. The Corinthians had those who thought they were super-saints. Either prominence, prosperity, or power led them to feel superior. Paul associates himself with the church in Corinth using the term “Our brother”. The New Testament consistently presents the theme of family: We are One through the blood of Christ Jesus!

How is this applicable to the church today? Ministers are called by God. Trust me, no one chooses to be a minister. All are chosen and called by God to a specific task. Ministers are to proclaim the eternal, timeless message of God. We are ambassadors for God. We are delivering His message.

Even though ministers have different responsibilities they are still equal to the saints. All believers are a part of the body of Christ, so none are more important than the others. Ministers lead the sheep, but only by following Christ’s leadership. They are to be treated as part of the family. When a group or person tries to run the church it is never a good thing. When a pastor sees himself as a dictator it is never a good thing. It is like a single cancer cell that will eventually destroy the whole body. The church is one body united in Christ.

The first infrastructure of the church of God is GOD’S MINISTER.

In tomorrow’s post we will examine the Second Part of the Infrastructure of the Church of God.

Resource: MacArthur, John. 1 Corinthians. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1984.

The Church of God is the first in the Sermon Series Church 101: A Study of 1 Corinthians at Living Oaks Baptist Church in Tulsa, OK.

Join us at 10:45 AM each Sunday for contemporary music and worship as we continue the series Church 101.

Living Oaks Baptist Church
8855 E 91st St
Tulsa, OK 74133
www.lobc.net
918-250-0210

Saving a seat for you

A How To Manual for the Christian Church

The Church of God

Church 101 A Study in 1 Corinthians
There was a mother who had watched her son through the week begin to drain in energy. And by the end of the week he had simply lost the desire to get up and get with the day. She heard the alarm go off through the door. She listened as nine minutes passed and the alarm went off again. Apparently he just kept punching the little snooze button on top of the alarm. Finally, after three or four extra rings, she decided to take charge so she walked in and said, “Son, it’s time to get up. You’ve got to get up.” He peeked out from under the covers and said, “Can you give me three good reasons I have to get up?” She said, “Well, yes. First of all, it’s Sunday, and you need to get dressed for church. Second, you’re forty-three years old and you know better than to lie there. Third, you’re the pastor of the church and they expect you to be there!” (Swindoll 419)

I imagine this is how Paul might have felt when he heard all that was happening in the church of Corinth. And yet in spite of all they were doing wrong, Paul begins his letter with encouragement, joy, and thanksgiving. His letter dealing with the problems in the church of Corinthians is more like a how-to-do-church book. In fact, because of this I have entitled our study of 1 Corinthians as Church 101. In this wonderful book we will learn a great many lessons on how to or even how not to do church.

Some of the major issues we’ll deal with are:

  1. Divisiveness
  2. Church Discipline
  3. Litigious spirit
  4. Privileges and limitations of Christian Liberty
  5. Principles of Rhetoric
  6. Domestic Issues
  7. Women’s Roles and Status—home, church, society
  8. Behavior at the Lord’s Table
  9. Spiritual Gifts
  10. The Resurrection

As we study through the book, we’ll see the problems Paul addresses were not just relevant to 1st century Corinth, but are still pertinent for the church in 21st century. In tomorrow’s post we will explore the first three verses in Chapter One and examine the Infrastructure of the Church of God.

Resources:Swindoll, Charles R. Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations and Quotes. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998.

The Church of God is the first in the Sermon Series Church 101: A Study of 1 Corinthians at Living Oaks Baptist Church in Tulsa, OK.

Join us at 10:45 AM each Sunday for contemporary music and worship as we continue the series Church 101.

Living Oaks Baptist Church
8855 E 91st St
Tulsa, OK 74133
www.lobc.net
918-250-0210

Saving a seat for you

 

Signs of Life

Signs of Life” is a forty day devotional by Dr. David Jeremiah. In the book we are given daily examples of the signs of life that should be found in an authentic Christian. It is a powerful study which reminds us that Christianity is not just about attending church. Christians are a new creation, a new life, a bright light, and an example of Jesus to the rest of the world. “Signs of Life” gives us explicit reminders of what this new Christian life is supposed to look like. After all, most people can tell when someone is physically alive or dead; so doesn’t it stand to reason that they can tell when a person is showing signs of the Christian life or not?

Each day the book starts out with a short thought. Day seven begins with these words, “We don’t stay on earth forever; but after we’re gone, our imprint remains.” Then, on day thirteen we read, “If you were a walking advertisement for the Lord, what would people learn about Him?” These two thoughts together can be very convicting depending on what it is you are advertising every day. Are we a commercial for Jesus Christ which demonstrates the reality of this new life? Is our new life influencing others toward Christ? How large of an imprint are we leaving? Will those who come behind us find us faithful?

Sunday morning we will be looking at the life of a man who left a giant-sized imprint on the landscape of his time. In fact, his advertisement for Christ was so large that we are still following his example today.

Saul of Tarsus was a man who hated the blasphemous, demon-possessed, false teacher Jesus of Nazareth. His hatred was so great, he set out to find, arrest, try, convict, and then kill anyone who would not recant their faith in the man who had died by hanging on the cross.

I would like to invite you to Living Oaks Baptist Church as we look at this man’s life. We will see why he had such a passionate determination to destroy the followers of the Way. Then we will witness the miracle of his life being turned completely around. What could possibly make so drastic a change in someone’s life? Be sure to attend LOBC at 10:45 tomorrow morning to find the answer.

Real Bad

In a recent post, Timothy Keller discussed Jesus’ attitude toward all the difficulties, pain, and suffering we face.

Keller writes:

The story of Jesus standing before the tomb of Lazarus is an endless source of insight for me. As he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, Jesus was not smiling. He was angry. He was weeping. Why? Because death is a bad thing! Jesus wasn’t thinking, ‘They think that this is a tragedy, but no harm done! I’m about to raise him from the dead. This looks like a bad thing, but it’s not. It’s really a good thing! It’s a way for me to show my glory. It’s really exciting! I can’t wait!’ He wasn’t thinking that. Jesus was weeping at the tomb, because the bad thing he’s about to work for good is bad. The story of Lazarus does not give you a saccharine view of suffering, saying bad things are really blessings in disguise or that every cloud has a silver lining. The Bible never says anything like that! God will give bad things good effects in your life, but they’re still bad. Jesus Christ’s anger at the tomb of Lazarus proves that he hates death. He also hates loneliness, alienation, pain, and suffering. Jesus hates it all so much that he was willing to come into this world and experience it all himself, so that eventually he could destroy it without destroying us.

There’s no saccharine view in the Christian faith. The promise is not that if you love God, good things will happen in your life. The promise is not that if you love God, the bad things really aren’t bad; they’re really good things. The promise is that God will take the bad things, and he’ll work them for good in the totality.”

Many people have questioned God’s love for them after they have placed their faith in Christ. They don’t understand why they still suffer even though they are a Christian. Like the seed sown in the shallow soil they wither under the heat of discomfort and eventually turn away from God completely.

Jesus never promised us a life without trouble, in fact He actually told us in this life we would have troubles (John 16.33). Jesus didn’t come to give us our hearts desire. He came to deliver us from God’s wrath. He came to give us life eternal in heaven. He came because of His great love for us.

Tomorrow we will continue our study of Jesus’ “I Am” statements in the book of John. As we look at the broader story around Jesus’ declaration, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11.25) we will discover some of the similarities of Lazarus being raised from the dead physically and our being raised spiritually.

I hope to see you Resurrection Sunday at 10:45 a.m. as we celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin, death, hell, and the grave.

Here is a link for directions to Living Oaks Baptist Church.

I Am the Light of the World!

Most of us wouldn’t consider trying to feel our way through a strange building filled with danger. We would want a bright light to illuminate our path in order to make it through without harm. However, sometimes we don’t think about the danger and just try to make it on our own.  I remember a time when I was wandering in a dark building and almost took one step too many. If I had kept going I would have fallen down fifteen feet into a giant hole. Thankfully, an uneasy feeling prevented me from going any further without a flashlight. When I returned, I was able to make it safely around the hole and through the room without any bumps, bruises, or broken bones.

In John 8.12 Jesus cries out, “I am the light of the world!” Ok, He is the light, but what do we need His light for? Why should I trust His light? What is His light going to do for me? These are just some of the questions we will be answering on Sunday, March 25th as we continue our study on Jesus’ “I Am” statements.

Will you please join us tomorrow at Living Oaks Baptist Church as we worship together, and then learn a few lessons about how Jesus’ light can help us, protect us, guide us, and save us. Our worship service begins at 10:45 a.m. You can find direction to Living Oaks by visiting WWW.LOBC.NET.

What’s In It For Me?

If you do not attend church on a regular basis you’ve probably wondered what church has to offer. There are so many things in this world to enjoy, and cutting your weekend short for church just doesn’t seem right. You may even wonder about friends who get home early on Saturday night in order to get up and go to church on Sunday.

What is it about Christianity that would cause someone to want to give up part of their weekend and spend time with a bunch of people singing and listening to a preacher. Personally, I think that is a fair question. When you look at the church from the outside it appears to be nothing but rules to keep you from having fun. So, what is it that makes church so special that people would give their time, money, and their very life to their faith family?

Tomorrow at Living Oaks Baptist Church as we look at Acts 8.4-25 we will see some of the reasons people choose Christianity over their former life. I hope you will join us at 10:45 a.m. as we gather together to encourage one another in fellowship, worship, and study.