OceanSide church of Christ
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MEMBERS MUST BE COMMITTED TO THE LOCAL CONGREGATION
Victor M. Eskew
A. Let’s begin this lesson by looking at what appears to be three unrelated Bible concepts.
1. First, all men will be judged by God.
a. Romans 14:12
So then every one of us shall give account of himself unto God.
b. II Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
2. Second, what is done to the church is done to Jesus Christ.
a. In Acts 9, we read about Saul’s persecuting Christians (See v. 1).
And Saul, yet breathing our threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, and went unto the high priest…
b. As Saul came to the city of Damascus to arrest Christians and bring them bound to Jerusalem, the Lord appeared to him. Listen to His words (Acts 9:4).
And fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me.
c. Saul was persecuting Christians. However, when Jesus spoke to him, He asked: “Why are you persecuting me.” Whatever one does to the church, he is doing to Jesus Christ.
3. The local church was established by God.
a. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said that He would build His church.
b. In Acts 2:47, we learn that the saved are added by the Lord to the church.
c. The universal body of the saved, however, is organized into local churches by the authorization of God and His Word.
1) On their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas established churches in various cities of Galatia: Derbe, Iconium, and Lystra.
2) When they returned home, they passed through all of these cities again. They put the final touches on their organization at that time (Acts 14:23).
And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
3) Paul left Timothy in Ephesus. He wrote I Timothy with an interesting purpose in mind (I Tim. 3:14-15).
These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the faith.
4) He left Titus on the isle of Crete for the same purpose (Tit. 1:5).
For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.
5) In the Revelation, the letters in chapters 2 and 3 are addressed to “the seven churches of Asia” (Rev. 1:10-11).
B. The title of this lesson is: “Members Must Be Committed to the Local Congregation.”
I. THE REASON FOR THIS LESSON
A. The local church in many areas of our nation is slowly disintegrating.
1. Churches struggle with attendance, especially on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights.
2. Churches are suffering because they are not meeting their budgets.
3. The work of the church suffers to find members to support it.
a. There is a need for Bible class teachers.
b. About 10% to 15% of the church does most of the work.
c. Programs begin with a bang and end with a splash.
d. VBS attendance is down.
e. It is hard to get members to support gospel meetings.
f. There is little personal evangelism done by members of the church.
B. When you ask members about these things, you find that there is little commitment to the local congregation.
1. The New Testament teaches that all I have to do is attend worship on Sunday morning. Everything else is optional.
2. I am just too busy to commit very much time to the work of the church.
3. I am opposed to organized religion.
4. I don’t like the way they are doing things down there at the church.
5. God never expected me to give every hour of my time to the local congregation.
6. We do all of these things and we never see results from our efforts.
7. I can serve the Lord and be faithful without being a member of a local church.
II. THE RECONCILIATION OF THE CONCEPTS
A. If local congregations are not important, why did God establish them?
1. He put elders in every church to oversee them (Acts 20:28).
2. He commanded them to assemble for worship (Heb. 10:25).
3. Numerous books of the Bible were written to local churches: Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, the churches of Galatia, Colossae, and Philippi.
4. He exhorted the churches to give in order to carry out the work (I Cor. 16:1-2; II Cor. 9:6-7).
5. He knew the works of all seven of the churches of Asia Minor and held them accountable for the things that they were doing (Rev. 2-3).
B. Whatever we do to the local church, we are doing to Jesus Christ.
1. In I Corinthians 12:27, Paul referred to the church at Corinth as “the body of Christ.”
Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
2. The local church is a microcosm of the universal church.
3. However we treat the local church, we are treating the Christ the same way.
a. It is not needed. So Christ is not needed?
b. I will not help it. So you will not help the Christ?
c. I can serve the Lord without the church? So you can serve the Lord without His body?
d. I am not giving my time to the church. So you don’t want to give your time to Christ?
4. There may be some who believe that this concept is ridiculous. I wonder how Saul felt when he heard the words: “Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me?” Until that point, he had never laid eyes on the Son of God.
C. God will hold us accountable in judgment for our actions.
1. We will stand before God in the last day and give an account for the deeds done in the body, good and bad.
2. This includes all of the deeds both for and against the local congregation.
3. My friend, God knows your name and every action that you are, or, are not, performing for the local church (Ex., “Antipas”, Rev. 2:13, and “Jezebel,” Rev. 2:20).
III. THE REPENTANCE OF SOME IS NEEDED
A. It is a myth to think that a Christian does not have to be committed to a local congre-gation.
B. Those who believe this fallacy need to repent.
a. When Simon was in error, Peter commanded him to repent and pray (Acts 8:22).
Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
b. The church of Ephesus was exhorted to repent for leaving their first love (Rev. 2:5).
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto the quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
2. Repentances can be described by two concepts.
a. A death to the old way of living (Rom. 6:11).
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
b. Change. A good definition of repentance is: “a change of mind that leads to a change of action resulting in a reformation of life.” (See Matt. 21:28-29).
But what think you? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
1) The son initially disobeyed his father’s will.
2) The text then tells us that he repented and went.
a) His repentance began in the mind.
b) This change of mind changed his actions. He went.
c) This would result in his father’s being pleased with him instead of displeased for disobeying him.
3. To repent, individuals are going to have to change their minds about their involvement in the local church.
a. It is not optional. It is imperative.
b. It is not futile. It is fruitful.
c. It is not unpleasant. It is a blessing.
d. It is not drudgery. It is a privilege to be part of the body of Christ.
A. In I Corinthians 12:12-27, Paul compares the local congregation to our physical bodies.
1. Verse 18
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
2. Verses 21-22
And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble are necessary.
3. Verses 25-26
That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members should suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members should rejoice with it.
B. Ephesians 4:16
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
C. The body of Christ stands in opposition to the world. We want you to be a part of that body (See I Corinthians 12:13).
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.