This Preaching in Shorts sermon series is called “The Church”.
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Last week we started a new series about the church. We looked at what the church is. The church is people. It either refers to the group of all Christians who have ever lived, or it refers to a group of believers in a specific place. So, if you are a follower of Christ, you are a part of the body of Christ, the church. We also talked about being a people created for good deeds. We are a people of mission. This week we are going to develop that concept a little more.
Colossians 1:15-20 (NIV)
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
1. We are a people of mission
Jesus lays out our mission for us in Matthew 28:18-20
Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus is with us in our mission. We also have some other amazing help in this process.
2. We have the keys of the kingdom
Jesus gives the keys to the Kingdom to the church when He places them in the hands of Peter.
Matthew 16:13-19 (NIV)
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
As the church, we have been given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Having the keys means that we have access in Christ to the Kingdom of God so that we have all we need to carry out our mission of partnering with God in reconciling the world to himself.
2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NIV)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
3. We have the Holy Spirit
Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and empower.
Acts 1:1-8 (NIV)
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Under the anointing of the Holy Spirit the church begins to take shape.
Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
We will be looking at these verses and more in the weeks ahead. I want to leave you today with this thought. The church is ultimately about relationships. Relationship with God, relationship with the people of God, and relationship with those who do not yet know Jesus. These relationships are developed in the context of worship, discipleship, fellowship, and ministry.