The Message of the Church – The Gospel

What is it that the church has to say? We believe the message of the church is the Gospel. Paul refers to it as “the gospel of God,” “the gospel of His son,” and also “the word of the cross.” Christians are gospel people. We believe that the gospel is the message that saved us. And as followers of Christ, we obey His command to make disciples of all the nations by spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth.

But it’s not always clear what people mean by the word “gospel.” It’s simply “good news,” but what passes for the gospel in some churches, online, etc. is not the good news Paul or the rest of the apostles preached. The pressure is real to “adjust” the gospel to our culture, but eternity is at stake if we get it wrong.

Scripture: Romans 1:1-1

Membership in the Church

The idea of church membership is fading. Many churches are doing away with it altogether. Many people see it as nothing more than a bureaucratic tool for keeping track of people’s attendance and giving. In our culture spirituality has become an individual rather than community pursuit. And even “churched people” often attend more than one church at a time, depending on the speaker, the music, the setting, the programs. We’ve become consumers of spiritual goods and services.

The New Testament paints a different picture. Are there scriptural evidences for why anyone should become a member of a local church? The big idea is this: Local Church membership is the life of committed relationships and responsibilities to which every Christian is called. We are called to identify with and belong to a local church; to follow local church leaders; and want and engage in local church mutuality and accountability.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; Romans 16:3-5; Hebrew 13:17; 1 Peter 5:5; Matthew 18:15-18, 16:18ff; 1 Corinthians 5

Worship in the Church

Worship is the proper response we to make to God as He comes to us clothed in His promises throughout the biblical narrative and covenantal promises, all of which culminate in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christian worship, then, is Christ-centered. It is love inspired reverence, honor and glory for the One who is the eternal word that became flesh and dwelt among us; the One in whom the fulness of God dwelt bodily; the One who has been given a name that is above every other name, that every knee should bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father; that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father.

Scripture teaches that we become like whatever or whomever we worship. In worshipping God we become more godly and we learn to edify one another, forbear with one another, forgive one another, challenge one another. Worship recounts the glory of God in His attributes and actions. It helps plant within our souls a love of God that would otherwise grow cold. In this way worship renews and transforms us; it makes us one with the saints of every age; it helps us persevere as we trust in the power of the gospel to make all things new. Revelation 5 is a dramatic representation of the worthiness of Jesus, the Lion and the Lamb, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!

Such worship exalts the One who is able to make all things new and it exults in the victory of God’s purposes for creation, while it inspires us to remain faithful until the end.  It enables us to accept the slings and arrows of life because Jesus is the divinely appointed Lord in whom all things are brought to consummation.

Scripture: Revelation 5:9-14

The Lord’s Supper

Jesus told us to be sure we included two “ordinances.” An ordinance is simply something that Jesus ordered His Church to do, on an ongoing basis, as central acts of worship. These two ordinances are baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

The origin of the Lord’s Supper stretches back about 1400 years before Jesus was born. Exodus 12 tells of Moses confronting Pharaoh and telling him to let God’s people go. This stubborn Pharaoh of Egypt resolutely refused to release the people from bondage. To get his attention, God sent 12 plagues on Egypt. Finally, God told Moses to have the people wipe the blood of a sacrificial animal on their doorposts. This sacrifice would be a signal for the angel to Passover the people of Israel and inflict God’s discipline of every Egyptian’s home.

From that day forth, the people of Israel have celebrated Passover, to commemorate God’s protection and deliverance. Then, just before his arrest, Jesus ate the Passover meal with his disciples and changed the meaning of the celebration. Today, we continue to observe this commemoration in the form of what we call the Lord’s Supper.

Scripture: Exodus 12 and Matthew 26

The Essential Nature of Baptism

One hazard that we share as believers is that repetition can create inattention. We become so familiar with something that it loses its meaning.

There are no biblical truths that we can afford to overlook. That is particularly true when it comes to worship. Chaucer once wrote that “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Having extensive knowledge of something or a close association with someone can lead to a loss of respect.

To protect ourselves from inattention and “contempt” we need to stop and take stock of the condition of our spiritual lives, particularly the freshness and vitality of our worship.

To help us say spiritually vital, Jesus gave His church two specific acts to remind us of what is most important. We call these acts “ordinances.” We are to repeat these ventures of faith to tell us of what Jesus has done for us.

The message today is about one of those ordinances, baptism.

Scripture: Mark 1:4; Mark 1:9–10; Matthew 3:16; Acts 8:24–36; Matthew 28:16–20; Acts 2:41

Deacons: Leading Servants of the Church

The origin story of the deacon comes from Acts 6. Deacons were selected, not based on the present size of the church, but based on the present needs of the church. A deacon and a table waiter/waitress have a lot in common. In the Bible, they are the same word. Today, deacons keep the servant-identity of Jesus before the church. However, all Christians should be morally qualified to be deacons. Is there any reason, that after engaging at Foothills for five years, you wouldn’t be ready to deacon for a season?

Scripture: Acts 6:1-7

Elders and the Church

This message was preached for the Installation of our first Elder Team.

The Elders are responsible to shepherd the flock of God. How are they to do this?

  • They must protect the Church from the onslaught of false teaching and teachers that Christians are exposed to in our culture, though receiving resistance in that ministry.
  • They must feed the flock. Elders aren’t elders if they don’t teach the Gospel to the Church. They must lead the flock. Elders lead the Church, not only to nourishment in the Word, but in a direction that will make for a healthy church for God’s glory.
  • They must care for the flock. Care for them in their hurts and brokenness; in their sickness and needs.
  • They must give oversight to the church – administering the ministry of the church, but pastoring the church first.
  • The heaviest responsibility – be examples to the flock. Live like a Christian in front of the people and the culture, demonstrating what a Christian does when criticized, hurt, or discouraged, or  don’t know what to do. Provide an example in your devotional life. Neglect this and you will strip yourself of the Holy Spirit’s power in ministry.

Scripture: 1 Peter 5:1-4

Biblical Guidelines for Living (For all Christians, especially Elders)

How should you select elders to lead Foothills Baptist Church? The answer is both weighty and pressing because the issue comes up before the church this evening. How will the church decide who should serve as your lay elders? How are you to make that decision?

Fortunately, the Bible gives clear instructions to help Christians make this judgment. It is helpful to remember that eldership requires a plurality. In other words, no single man will have power over the other elders. They work in tandem to seek God’s will for the church. Also, remember that no Christian is perfect. If perfection was required, all of us would fail, including elders.

Scripture: Philippians 2:13; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-3; Acts 20:28

Church Essentials

The New Testament says a lot about the church. Why? What makes it so important?

God has given the church a central and crucial part to play in the health and vitality of His people. Some neglect and mock. Others jump from church to church looking for the perfect church or a church that will meet their needs. Is there a problem with that? Absolutely. The failure to make a deep and abiding commitment to a local church will stunt any Christian’s development. Jumping from church to church when things get difficult are missing a primary method of personal spiritual growth.

Let’s meet together and study what God’s plans are for His church.

Scripture: Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 5:25-33; 1 Peter 5:1-4