Yesterday, we examined the nature of the church. We do not go to church, but instead we are the church. We are the called out ones who assemble together to display God’s glory.
But there is also another dimension to being the church. The church is no accident.
Romans 8:28 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
We have been called according to the expressed purpose of God.
John MacArthur says this: “We are not a human organization. We are not the result of man’s ingenuity or power. We are not built by good, religious people. Rather, we have been called by God into existence.”
Do you realize that in eternity past, it was God’s sovereign will to call into existence and create the body of believers that is Emmanuel Baptist Church?
We are gathered here today as His body not because of our will or power but because of His sovereignty in calling us as His church. It’s a great encouragement to know that EBC was not an accident. It was God’s plan from all eternity.
God has called every single one of us who are true believers out of darkness to his light to join together in community as his church
Colossians 1:13-14 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Do you see the infinite value of being connected to Christ’s church?
Once we realize that Christ builds His church. Once we realize that it is HIS church. And once we realize that we have been sovereignly called out according to His divine plan to be the church, our perspective changes and we value God’s design for the church.
Read Matthew 16:13-19
Notice that the church is still under construction. Christ is building the church. It is still in process. We are a work in progress. We are full of imperfect and unfinished people with weaknesses, defects, and sinful habits. One day, in the new heavens and new earth, the church will be perfect as the spotless bride, but for now, we’re still all sinners saved by grace.
So we need to get out of our minds the idea of the “perfect church.” I usually tell people who are checking out Emmanuel as a prospective church that if they are looking for the “perfect church” they definitely have NOT found it in Emmanuel. I am an imperfect pastor who will many times disappoint and frustrate you. The members here are imperfect people who will also disappoint and frustrate you. You will often times disappoint and frustrate others because you’re imperfect as well.
Listen to these words from Charles Spurgeon: “If I had never joined a church till I had found one that was perfect, I should never have joined one at all. At that moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us.”
In our Matthew passage, Jesus makes the startling statement that not only will He build His church, but the gates of hell will not overcome it.
Notice the terminology “gates”—this puts the forces of evil on the defensive and the church on the offensive. The powers of darkness do not assault the church inevitably, but we move forward under the Lordship of Christ on the offensive taking the gospel to the ends of the earth for the glory of Christ. Hell itself cannot stop the church.
The word can also mean “death or the grave”. The church will not die. Organizations come and go. Movements come and go. Governments come and go, but the church will last forever.
Yes, the enemy attacks. We have and will continue to experience spiritual warfare as a church. The devil is a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
But Christ builds His church and He will ensure its final victory. Those He has called out and sovereignly assembled into His church will succeed. It doesn’t mean we won’t have battle scars or wounds, but that in the end, we will be victorious through Christ.
We exist to display God’s glory both individually and united together as His church.
Will you commit to the following:
- To display God’s glory as a 24-7 lifestyle.
- To display God’s glory by active attendance and heartfelt worship on Sunday mornings.
- To display God’s glory by having a hunger for the preached Word.
- To display God’s glory by praying for unity in our church.
- To display God’s glory by submitting to Jesus who builds and unites our church under His Kingly rule.
My heart’s desire as your pastor is that we would faithfully and consistently display God’s glory and that our life together as Emmanuel Baptist Church would be impacted because of this commitment to His glory!
Spend some time praying and asking God to grant you the grace and power to commit to those items listed above.
John MacArthur, The Master’s Plan for the Church (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991), 118.
Charles H. Spurgeon quoted in Ron Rhodes, 1001 Unforgettable Quotes About God, Faith, and the Bible (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2011), 38.