This past Tuesday night, I continued our study of Ephesians in our midweek service. I preached the closing paragraph of Ephesians 2, verses 19-22. It is about the nature and the importance of the church. I was most concerned about presenting the text clearly. And I did not spend as much time in application as I would have liked. So I fear the message become somewhat of “data-dump.” I trust the Lord will make up for my weaknesses in preaching.
The subject of the church burdens me. I love the church. And my love for the church is an expression of my love and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. I am convinced that you cannot have one without the other, you cannot exalt Jesus and reject the church at the same time. At the same time, I am not blind to the sin, hypocrisy, and weakness of the church. I know that many people have been hurt, and the name of the Lord Jesus has been reproached, by foolishness that has taken place in the church. My heart breaks as I hear the news of high-profile religious leaders in the news the past weeks. And I also am grieved by the way my own congregation falls short of the Lord’s expectations of us. I believe we are going in the right direction. But I know that we have a long way to go. And sometimes it seems like the progress of the church is two steps forward, three steps back. But be clear, none of these things change my mind and heart against the church. I believe in Jesus. Therefore, I believe in the church. I agree with the late Vance Havner, who used to say that you can’t drown with your head above the water. And maybe that’s the key. Maybe we need to be more inentional, strategic, diligent, passionate and focused on the supremacy of Jesus Christ. We should win people to Christ, not the church. And if I read my Bible right, a true devotion to Christ will result in participating membership in the church.
Pardon my rant. Here is the skeleton from Tuesday’s sermon.
TITLE: “Three Pictures of the Church”
TEXT: Ephesians 2:19-22
THEME: The importance and nature of the church
Point: To be in Christ is to be in the church.
Probing Question: Why the church?
Transitional Sentence: In Ephesians 2:19-22, Paul explains what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ with three word-pictures.
I. We are citizens of God’s kingdom
A. Kingdom citizen involves rights.
B. Kingdom citizenship involves responsibilities.
C. Kingdom citizenship involves relationships.
II. We are members of God’s household
A. God is our Father.
B. Jesus is our Elder Brother.
C. We are brothers and sisters in Christ.
1. We should be present when the church meets.
2. We should participate in the life of the church.
3. We should protect the reputation of the church.
III. We are living stones in God’s temple (2:20-22)
A. The apostles and prophets are the foundation (v. 20a).
B. Jesus Christ himself is the cornerstone (vv. 20b-22).
1. We are being joined together in Christ (v. 21).
2. We are being built together in Christ (v. 22).