Get Connected - A Refresher
In March of 2012 we spent about 8 weeks looking at why we exist as this local assembly called church; the Longville Bible Chapel. We tried to answer some questions like: What is our purpose? Why are we here? Why do you come to “church?”
We took a look at our purpose statement and though we have a statement of purpose in our constitution it seemed somewhat vague. We wanted a simplified statement that anyone could remember and easily explain to someone else as to why the Longville Bible Chapel exists.
We studied what Scripture has to say about our purpose and we put together a threefold purpose statement with the illustration of a rock-climbing event that gives us a visual image and illustrates our threefold purpose as a church.
Remember, we are a church, not because we meet in a building that we have labeled the Longville Bible Chapel, but because we are brothers and sisters in Christ, and we have been called out by God both to salvation and to this body of believers to meet together regularly. In other words, we are a living, breathing, manifestation of the spiritual Body of Christ on earth. How we live, how we love, and how we act toward one another puts on display to our friends and family our life in Christ. We are in essence, a colony of Heaven on earth. We are to show the world what the Kingdom of Heaven looks like.
In fact, it tells us in Hebrews 10:24-25 that we should not neglect regularly meeting together:
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Why are we not supposed to neglect this? Because God has a purpose for our existence as a church and we need to be attempting to fulfill that purpose as a church. I just want to refresh out memories and briefly look at our simplified purpose again. I hope that the banner on the back wall has not just become a part of the décor but that it is a reminder every time you see it why we are here.
What is our threefold simplified purpose as a church?
Give an opportunity for response!
Connect – Grow – Serve!
First, our purpose as a church is to help people
Connect - - - to Jesus Christ
I love this first image that we have of our purpose. God has not designed our lives to live detached from Him. We often want to live that way, but whenever we try . . . we often will find ourselves discouraged, disheartened, and living in despair.
When we compare living our lives to that of rock climbing up a rock face on a mountain, we find some interesting similarities. For instance, most of us would want a connection to the top of the cliff if we were literally rock climbing.
In the same way, God did not design life to be free soloing like the rock climber Alex Honnold. If you remember, we saw a video of him as he climbed sheer rock faces with no ropes or anchors to secure his climb. You may have seen the movie “Free Solo” that came out in September of 2018 about his climb of the nearly 3,000-foot granite wall known as El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Of course, he did it without ropes. That is not how we are to live our lives. God designed our lives to be connected at the top, something rock climbers call top rope climbing. The rope is anchored to a secure place at the top of the mountain.
In our illustration, we find the believer has his rope connected at the top of the rock face, connected to the most secure anchor we can have, Jesus Christ. This is what Hebrews 6:19-20 talks about:
19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
This spiritual anchor of the soul is huge. This anchor point resides on the throne in Heaven. This anchor point is the eternally steadfast rock of Jesus Christ. Only He can be the anchor of our souls!!
This is what our lives can be connected to, we can have this connection point that will not move for all of eternity. Even this rope tied around a large tree cannot be compared to the steadfast hope we have in Jesus Christ. Oh, how foolish we are to try and Free Solo climb through our lives and think we will be okay. No! We need an anchor! How foolish we are to think that we can work our way to heaven and trust anchor points that we place in the crevices of the rock like that of “Free Climbing.” No, we need the top rope anchor, an anchor in the Heavenlies. And we have a top rope anchor available to us, we just need to make the connection.
Let’s talk about that connection. Do you remember what the connecting device is called in rock climbing? The Carabiner. A carabiner is the device used to connect ropes to their anchors in rock climbing. When it comes to our lives being top rope connected to Jesus Christ, do you remember what we said the carabiner represents for us? It represents our faith in Jesus Christ. So, we called it the carabiner of faith.
A couple of chapters later in the book of Hebrews, chapter 11:6, it talks about faith as our connection with God.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
The only way for sinners like you and me to draw near to God . . . is by anchoring our life on Jesus Christ through the carabiner of our faith in Him. This has been true since man’s first sin in the Garden of Eden, we must believe, we must have faith. We must believe that Jesus came to seek and save us. How about Ephesians 2:8-9?
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Do you see this? Faith is the carabiner of our spiritual lives, it is a belief in the finished work of Christ upon the cross. That is why we use a cross to represent our anchor point in this illustration. Without the cross we have no hope in life. We can free solo through life all we want, but we will never be able to please God without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the cross. Jesus paid the penalty for sin upon the cross and is now the anchor point of our faith. He is the anchor of our souls in salvation.
As a sinner separated from God for eternity, I connect the top rope connection of my life on the anchor of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross with the carabiner of my faith in Him. You might be saying to me right now, “Pastor Mike, I have that connection in my life. I have put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I’m good to go.” That is great! Now you need to help others make that connection also.
Part of our purpose as a church is to help people make that connection in their lives. To help them see their need of Jesus Christ. To help them understand their eternal destiny of separation from God without faith in Jesus Christ. Also, as a church we are to help you be equipped to display that connection in your life and help you tell others about that connection. This is part of why we exist. We are here to equip each other for connection ministry.
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
What is the greatest need in our community? What is the greatest need of your neighbor? What is the greatest need in your family?
We exist to help you to help people connect to the anchor of their souls, Jesus Christ. The second part of our purpose statement is seen in the actual climbing of the rock face itself. We exist as a church to help people:
Grow - - - in Faith
For those who enjoy rock climbing there are many things that they need to develop in their lives to do it well. They need to learn safety and different methods that are used to climb different types of rock. They need to learn skills like rope handling, knot tying, and using gear. But one that I would definitely need to work on is strength and stamina.
The point is simply this; that there are many things a good rock climber needs to learn and grow in. Often, they will even go to a gym or artificial climbing wall to learn the basics in a relatively safe environment. But the more you practice, the better you become at it. The more you learn and practice the techniques and methods the more you grow in the sport of rock climbing. You will want to learn from other climbers, friends that know how to climb.
This is true in our spiritual lives as well. Look at Colossians 2:6-7:
6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
We are to live our lives daily in a way that is an outgrowth of our faith. Faith living as learned from others and being made a part of our lives also. Much like a rock climber learning and growing in the art of climbing we learn and grow in our faith journey with God. Listen to how this is described in 2 Thess. 1:3:
3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.
Part of the purpose of church is helping each other grow in our walk with the Lord. Learning how to resist sin, how to dig deeply into His word, and help keep each other from falling. Being taught what God’s Word says and learning to apply it to our lives. This is what it means to grow in faith.
This means that every single person who attends here, member or not, impacts others in this body of believers by how we live, how we grow, how we deal with temptations, how we handle anger, how we repent, how we forgive others, and most importantly how we love one another.
You may think that you have no influence on other people, but the life you live impacts those who know you way more than you think. They may not even know your name, but recognize you by some characteristic that stood out to them.
** Example of someone who mentions another person they saw at church but did even know their name.
Part of the purpose of the Longville Bible Chapel is to help people grow in their relationship with the Lord. It is done through preaching, teaching, music, skits, readings, but most of all it takes place through the relationships we have with one another. It is through all of these things that we grow in our faith.
Listen, if you are here today and you are not more passionate about your life in the Lord, you are not growing! If you don’t find yourself talking more about Him, digging deeper into the Word, desiring to be more involved in Bible studies and prayer times with His people, you are not growing. If you are not experiencing more victories over sin, talking more about your salvation with others, enjoying the fellowship of His people, you are not growing.
If you cannot look back over the last year and notice a closer walk with the Lord, then something is wrong. It takes both your initiative and a labor of love for the local church. When you work together, eat together, play games together, and just plain spend time together, we can encourage each other in our walk with the Lord.
Are we connected to Jesus Christ?
Are we growing in our faith?
The third part of our purpose as a church is seen in our serving.
Serve - - - others
In our rock climbing illustration, you will find people at the bottom of the cliff holding onto ropes, people giving instruction and direction, people who are cheering the climber on to his destination, and even people who are praying. I liken this to people serving other people in the Body of Christ.
Jesus came to this earth not to be served by others, which would have been normal for royalty and especially the Creator of the Universe, but Jesus came to serve others. This is what is taking place in John 13 as He instructs His disciples about serving others. Listen to what Jesus says to them in John 13:14-15:
14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
You know as well as I do, the life of Jesus Christ was a life of serving others. He is our example. Many of you follow His example and serve in this local body in one capacity or another.
Every single person in this room has some God given gifts and abilities that can be used to serve and help others. There are people with all kinds of gifts in the local church.
There are people who can teach and know Scripture well, people who can console others in times of loss, people who know how to encourage others in times of desperation, people who can help others conquer sin, people who can show young men how to be leaders in the home and young ladies how to be good wives, people who can help others in time of emotional need or other kinds of needs, and the list could go on here too. But the point is that this group of “called out people,” God calls His church, is the source of the expertise we need. We need each other.
This is exactly what we see in 1 Corinthians 12 where it describes us as one body with many members. Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 this afternoon. There are no parts of the body that that we cannot say we do not need. The eye cannot say to the hand I have no need of you. What if our bodies were nothing but an eye? How would we function. In the same way, we need each other to function as God designed. As a church, part of why we exist is to serve others.
Longville Bible Chapel exists to help people
~ Connect to Jesus Christ
~ Grow in Faith
~ Serve others
Seems so simple and in some respects, it is, yet we must ask the question of how are we doing at it?
When we talk about church, it is not about this wonderful building that God has given us, but it is about the people and the work of God that takes place within our hearts. The building, may or may not, continue to exist, but the body of Christ, His church, continues no matter what.
I remember back in April of 2016, we spent 5 weeks looking at what it means to be committed to this local body of believers through membership. We found that church membership is not only a biblical concept, but it is necessary for us to function in our day and age.
We found that membership is important because it is a commitment to one another, it shows a desire to be associated with others in the church. It frees you to use your spiritual gifts with the people you love. It is an identity with this local congregation which goes deeper in your commitment to what God is doing here than just being one who attends.
I know that for many, membership seems unnecessary. But when we take the time to understand the why of membership, it becomes clear what God is doing through His Body.
I believe church membership is important because:
~It is a commitment to this local body.
~It deepens the godly relationships that grow us.
~It gives us a place to exercise our spiritual gifts.
~It provides spiritual accountability.
~It is a place of identity.
~It brings glory to God.
Modified quote from Stephen Davey:
It is time that membership in the local church be shifted to a gut-level, all or nothing, self-committing, self-sacrificing, self-denying, cross carrying, Christ exalting ownership. This isn’t a club. Longville Bible Chapel is a part of the living Body of Jesus Christ.
Because of what He has done for us on the cross of Calvary, we should do all we can to advance His local body and that is best done through membership to a local church.
Are we truly fulfilling our purpose as a local body of believers?