“PILLARS AND BUTTRESSES”                        By Pastor YAU.

Text: Ephesians 4:1-16.                                         August 10, 2008.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   Words of a buttress: Winston Churchill, the WW II hero and Prime Minister of Britain at war time, once said that he related to the church rather like a flying buttress: He supported it from the outside. A flying buttress is an external support that reinforces the walls of old cathedrals. Churchill is not alone. The fact that fewer Christians attend churches on Sundays, participate in ministries, following what the Lord said they should do, prove that this mentality is still very much alive. Some may have changed their priorities of life after their initial claim to follow Christ. Others just got tired or simply feeling “getting nothing out of the church.” Why bother with church?

2)   Words of a pillar: Philip Yancey, a 20th century Gold Medallion Award winner, best selling author of many popular books like Where is God When It Hurts, The Jesus I Never Knew and Disappoinment With God. YanceyHe, is one of the writers of the popular devotional Our Daily Bread, testified that he tried that strategy for a while after he became a Christian, studied the Christian doctrine sincerely and committed his life to God. But today, he could hardly imagine life without church. He said, church has filled a need in his life can’t be met in any other way. To himYancey, Christianity is not a purely intellectual, internal faith. It can be lived to the fuller extend only in a community. He said, “I sense that church contains something I desperately need. Whenever I abandoned the church for a while, I found that I was the one who suffered the most.”

 

WHAT IS THE CHURCH?

 

1)      1) A congregation of God’s people: In commanding Moses to instruct the people of Israel in preparation for the exodus God told him to “speak ye unto all the congregaion of Israel.” (Ex. 12:3KJV) Before the word “church” was used in the New Testament from translating the Greek word, ekklesia, the idea of “a congregation of God’s people is everywhere in the Old Testament. The Hebrew people viewed in their collective capacity as God’s people or as an assembly of the people summoned for a definite purpose. (1 Kings 8:65) Sometimes it refers to the whole people, sometimes to a part. (Numbers 16:3; Exodus 12:6; 35:1; Lev. 4:13)

2)      A congregation of believers: In responding to the confession of Peter that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus declared that “On this rock, I will build my church.” (Matt. 16:16-18)Almost all theologians agreed that “this rock” refers to Petger’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. So, Jesus will build His church on this belief. This state ment gives us a clear definition: A church is a congregation of people who holds the belief that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. Even though the word “church” is being used for all kinds of organization, some of them do not believe in the diety of Christ, it is clear that only those who believe in the diety of Christ, their assmble is the true church.

3)      A congregation of purpose: The idea of a congregation called for a purpose was in the early history of Israel in Exodus. The New Testament word “church”, translated from Greek ekklesia carries the same idea into the New Testament church. Those who were called into the fellowship of believers, the church, were called for a purpose: to be the witnesses of the Lord Jesus and to bring the salvation message to all nations and peoples. Among all the functions of the church, being witnesses of Jesus and bringing the gospel to all nations is the highest purpose of all churches and Christians.

4)      A congregation of members: The body of chosen people in the Old Testament carried into the body of believers in the New Testament resulted in the Body of Christ, the Church. Repeated description on the church as the Body and Christ as the head is everywhere in the New Testament. (1 Corinthians 11:3; Eph. 5:23; Colosians 2:19) Particularly Paul used the body and parts of the body to refer to the church and the different gifts and functions of the members in a church. (1 Corinth. 12)

 

WHY THE CHURCH? (Acts 2:41-47)

1)    The community of witnesses: And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the world.” (Acts 1:8) The church is the witness of God and Jesus Christ on earth. If you point to the institutions God has installed in the world, family, government, social and church, the church is the one Jesus built by himself and will remain His witnesses in this world to continue His saving ministry of the souls of men. The Great commission Jesus gave to His followers indicated the importance of the existance of the church. Without the church to carry out His commission, salvation of the world is impossible.

2)    The community of worship: “Everyday they continued to meet together in the temple. (2:46) Personal devotion is an important part of personal growth, but corporate worship is inheritly important from very early history of Israel and Christian community. The setting of a church is what God has designed for corporate worship. Here in Acts 2, the indication of the first group of believers assembled in the temple, the church, as a body of believers to worship God. God loves to see His people worship Him together in His temple, the church. No personal devotion can replace the corporate worship in God’s church.

3)    The community of discipleships: “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles.” (Acts 2:42) The Lord built His church so His believers may assemble together to study the teaching of the apostles to become disciples of Christ. Teaching ministry is one of the very core ministries of a church: teach believers to become disciples. As important as personal study of the word of God at our quiet time, the body of believers gather togetehr to devote themselves in the study of God’s word is one of the major functions of the church. Christians who do not join corporate Bible study with other fellow Christians usually will not grow nor be productive in their Christian lives.

1)              The community of fellowship: “They fellowshiped, breaking of bread, ate together in their homes with glad and sincere hearts.” (2:42, 46) Fellowship of believers is another important function a church provides. It is important for Christians to fellowship in God’s house and at homes so they will learn to become family of God. The early church set good examples that believers shared their faith as well as their wealth with each other so the bond of a family is strong. Isolated Christian without interaction with fellow Christians will dry up their inner strength and joy.

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PILLARS AND BUTTRESSES: (Ephesians 4:1-16)

1)   We need kind os buttresses: “Praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47) We are told not to follow the trend or life style of the world because we belong to God. But that doesn’t mean we are to separate ourselves from the people of the world. It is for the people of the world our lord came to save. The early church had a great relationship with all the people outside of the church. The world, and all the people in it, is our mission field. To maintain a good relationship with people outside the church and gaining their favor and support is necessary to save souls and grow churches.

2)   We need kinds of people: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:3) Then Paul continued to stress the importance of unity in vv.4-6 from one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God. Although we have many differences in many ways, we need support of all people who are called into the family of God. Unity is the hardest thing in Christian churches. We need to look at the overall oneness, let go of the hurdles of differences so all may work together to support the church for her growth.

3)   We need all kinds of gift: “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” (4:7) This is about the spiritual gifts Christ portioned to each one. Paul continued to list some of the gifts in v. 11, such as the apostles, the prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to indicate the need of all kinds of gifts in God’s church. It is very important for Christians to find out their respective gifts and exercise them to build strong churches. No church may grow strong without all people using their gifts.

4)   We need all kinds of pillars: “It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers.” (4:11)Among all the people in every church, God chose some to be leaders or pillars as in Galatians 2:9. These are those whom God called to shoulder the weight and lend the most support of the church. Pillars are columnes of a building which support the building while they themselves were built on the foundation that is Christ. Pillars must be strong and unwavering or be shaken to keep the building standing. Even in time of difficulty and stress, pillars will always stay firm.

5)   We need all kinds of works: “To prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ (the church) may be built up.” (4:12)Just as building any house, building a church needs all kinds of works done by all kinds of skilled people. God has called each one of us, given to each one of us different ability to build His church, we are to do what we are called to do so His church will be built up, means growing strong. We need to ask ourselves if we have done our fair share of work in the church God has called us to be part of it. No work is too small but all need to be faithful in works and service.

6)   We need everyone to kinds of growth: “Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (4:13)Growing is a natural process for all living organism and all Christians are suppose to grow in unity, in faith and maturity to the full measure of Christ. Compare to your Christian life 2 or 5 or 10 years back, are you growing in all these areas? If you are, then we congratulate you. And if you are not, you have to check your spiritual life chart and ask God to help you see what is or are stopping you from growing. A non-growing baby is not a helathy baby and will become a burden to the family. A non-growing Christians is not a healthy Christiand and will become a burden to the church. God wants you to grow and He will help you grow if you surrender your life to His control.

7)   We need all kinds of support: “From Him (Christ) the whole body joined and held together by all supporting ligaments grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work.” (4:16) Here is the importance of all the ligaments, the small parts, of the building, the church. Pillars alone can’t build a house or a church. We need the support of all the ligaments, big and small, to hold together so the church will rise and complete. We all want to see our church rise to the purpose God wants us to be, do what God wants us to do and be strong and growing like God wants us to grow, then, we need to support the church every way we can.

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CONCLUSION:

1)   The church, the body: The body is what holds the parts together to function as a body. Without the body, no part may survive much less to be functioning. Without the church, individual Christian can’t do much to fulfill the mission God designs us to fulfill. We all need to support the body, to make sure it is strong and healthy so we can be strong and healthy.

2)   The church, the parts: The parts are the ones who carry out the directrives of the body to be useful and fulfilling. Without the parts, the body get nowhere, accomplish nothing and with little meaning of existence. Any missing part will cause the body to be less effective if not mulfunctionmalfunctioning. All parts, big and small, are important to the total accomplishment of the body, the church.

3)   The church, ytheour hope: Even though the church doesn’t save souls, Jesus does, but the church is what all souls should join and be part of to grow, to mature, to accomplish the functions God designs for each one of us. When the body is strong, all parts are strong; when the parts are weak, the body is weak.