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Theology of an Active Church

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

Introduction

This morning, as we begin to turn our attention toward our annual parish meeting and the new year ahead of us, one of the main task before us is filling out our ministry signup sheet. That is, over the course of the next two weeks each one of us will be prayerfully considering where it is that God is calling us to serve in His house over the course of the next year.

 

Therefore, this morning (as it is our tradition at All Saints) I want us to renew and refocus our understanding of what it means to be an Active Church.

 

That is, by the end of our sermon this morning I want you to have a clear understanding of

·      Why Scripture insists that a faithful church be an active church

·      and why God calls you to be personally involved in it.

 

 

I. Basis of an Active Church- notice at once that when we turn to Scripture we find that the basis or reason that Scripture gives for being an active Church is directly tied to the nature of the salvation that is ours in Christ. In other words being actively involved in your church is a fundamental and nonnegotiable aspect of salvation. Why?

 

A] The grace that saves you is a grace that changes you. Therefore, you are expected to bear fruit.

John 15:16 "You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain,FN#1

 

B] The grace that saves you is a grace that includes you. That is, salvation means that you have been included in Christ and His people. As such, you share in both the blessings of God’s people as well as their responsibilities and mission.

Revelation 1:5 Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born from the dead, who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood, 6 has made us to be a kingdom of priests to His God and Father.

 

Importance: remember the two primary functions of a Priest is that they serve God and minister to God’s people

Hebrews 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works in order to serve the living God?

Galatians 5:13 through love serve one another.

 

C] The grace that saves you is a grace that equips you. Scripture assures you that if you are saved then you have been given a spiritual gift. That is, God not only calls you to serve, He has also equipped you to serve.

1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.7 Now to each one is given the manifestation (public disclosure) of the Spirit for the common good.

 

Importance: notice the result: a spiritual gift is not the same thing as a talent or natural ability (though spiritual gifts will often utilize these). Nor is a Spiritual gift primarily devotional (though its rightful use will nurture your walk). Rather, a spiritual gift is a specific way that God intends to work through you to promote godliness in others.

Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

 

Notice the results:

a)    God promises that our faithful efforts to serve Him are not alone or in vain. Rather, God is at work in us and through us

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.


b)    God promises that there are no ordinary tasks in His house. Rather, when we are faithfully seeking God’s Kingdom, God spiritually endows even our most unassuming duties

Matthew 14:17 And the disciples said to Him, "We have here only five loaves and two fish."


c)    The third result is Joy- God intends our service to be fulfilling. That is, God intends our faithful service to yield true joy/fulfillment both to self and to others.

John 15:10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love.11 "These things I have spoken to you, so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

 

Bottom line: notice then our Vision for All Saints’

·      Our Vision for All Saints’ is a vision of a congregation of active members. Why? because grace is active

·      Our Vision for All Saints’ is a vision that includes you. Why? because Christ has included you in His people and has equipped you to serve

·      Our Vision for All Saints’ is a vision of joy. Why? There is no better place for you to be than walking with the Messiah and there is no better or more fulfilling use of your time on this earth than to be involved in the things He is involved in.

 

Footnotes

1] Fruit that remains- the fact that we have been appointed to bear eternal fruit tells us two very important things:

a)     First, it tells us that we are called to more than random deeds of kindness or religious busy work. There is a difference between an Active church and church activity. In turn, there is a difference between an active church and a friendly church. Instead, God calls us to a very specific objective and to bear a very distinct type of fruit.

b)    Second there is not a disconnect between the work we do at church and the work we do at the office, around the house, and in our everyday relationships. Instead, these arenas of labor are intrinsically connected. Consider: God calls us to His house each week to cleanse, forgive, strengthen and renew us. He then sends us out into His vineyard to serve His will in all that we do throughout the week. Simply put, our time in our father’s house prepares and focuses us for the week ahead.

Notice then the point: the ministry we do in God’s house is a part of the nurture God provides His people each week (in fact notice that each ministry listed on your sheet involves one of the things God commands to be a part of His weekly worship- be it reading the Word, training our children, worshiping in song, and etc.). In other words, as God’s grace begins to heal you, He uses you to minister healing to others. As such, God uses your service in His house as a part of the preparation He provides His people for the week ahead.

Thus we see yet another way that grace that saves you changes you and gives you an active role in your Father’s work. In turn, we are reminded of the intimate way our walk and growth are intertwined. As you grow, God uses you in my growth.

 

 

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