What Is the Church? (Ephesians 3:10-11)October 17, 2021 | Brandon Cooper
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Grab your Bibles, looking up to Ephesians chapter three Ephesians three, we’ll be in verses 10 and 11. This morning, Kyle already indicated our question. We’ve got a series of questions about the church. That’s our whole series here. But our question for today is the first and foundational one. What exactly is the church? Like? What does that word even mean? It’s this hugely important cosmic reality. But it just doesn’t feel that way. Most of the time, I’ve ever got a little bit of a thought experiment here. Imagine someone who goes to play racquetball every Sunday morning with their friends, very committed group of people, they’re there every Sunday, always playing and whatnot, and then all of a sudden, the guy, he gets religion, as they say. And so instead of racquetball, he now goes to church, where he listens to guy talk about people playing racquetball. So, you know, strange sort of thing, but from the outside. In that scenario, nothing really seemed to change too much. Like, from a certain perspective, at least, this looked like somebody who traded in a lazy Sunday morning for something they enjoyed doing. To somebody who traded in a lazy Sunday morning for something else they enjoy doing. It’s just a shift of hobbies. And that’s almost what it looks like, in some ways, but scratch under the surface, of course, and it’s something else entirely. This is not just a hobby sort of moment here. So that’s what we want to do today is scratch under the surface. Exactly. What is the church? Now this might seem like an easy question in some ways, but even start to think of how we use this word in sentences. And you know, just how much confusion we have. I said it just a moment ago, very intentionally, somebody used to go to racquetball now they go to church is that even something that makes any sense whatsoever, we’ll have to see as we go today. And I would tell you this, also, it is more important than ever, that we define this term, clearly, because of some recent developments that have made this trickier. So technology is one issue, of course, because you don’t need to go to church anymore, which beam church into your living room, hello, everyone online. The other problem, of course, was the pandemic, because that meant we all stopped going to church, at least for a little while. And some even still don’t feel comfortable coming back. And we could have lots of discussions about that. But you see what happened there, at least those two kind of things happening together, I should have made it so much easier to miss, haven’t they? Like you felt this, that’s fine, you all can nod your head, some of you are lucky. It’s just much easier to go, I know, I can watch the service later online. So if it was a late night, I don’t need to get up early, I can watch it at 130 instead of 1030. And it’s sometimes just you know, it’s cold outside, they’re gonna make me walk down to the 41 building.
I got fleeced jammies, I mean, what’s wrong on my couch, right? So it’s just gotten much, much easier for us not to do this, and just pulling back the curtains fully. That’s the impetus for this whole series. Like this is not happening in a vacuum. We decided to do this series now very intentionally, because I think we developed some bad habits. What do you got to talk about him, we got to understand why this matters. So much we need to rethink. And, frankly, we commit. So that’s what we’re going to do. We’ll start this morning, what is church? Here’s my very, very vague definition for you that will flesh out as we go. The church is a gathering before an audience for a purpose. So it’s not a helpful definition, we got to figure out what all those words mean. So I’m going to try and define those terms, especially gathering audience and purpose as we go. And we’re going to do so in light of Ephesians, 310 and 11. Let me read that for you. Now, his intent was that now says God, God’s intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purpose that He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. Why are we in this passage? By the way, it’s literally the only spot in the whole Bible where we get a purpose statement for the church. So that’s where we want to start. Okay. Paul tells us that this was God’s purpose. This was his intent for the church. So let’s talk about it. Let’s start with a gathering. What exactly does that mean a gathering. And where am I even getting that from? Because nobody seems to gather in these two verses. Well, it’s the word church itself. Just right there in verse 10 and 10 with Now through the church, the church in verse 10. And throughout the New Testament is the Greek word at Clay Sia, if you have any familiarity with Spanish especially, you know, iglesia, and so just accents in the wrong spot, but otherwise, it’s the same word. What does this word mean? It means quite literally assembly, or gathering. In other words, the word church does not refer to a building, certainly, nor does it refer to individuals. It refers to the gathering itself. Now, this is important. If Amy and Jackie were to bump into each other at the grocery store, two Christians committed to Jesus, that’s not church. And it’s two Christians committed to Jesus who bumped into each other at the grocery store. It’s not the gathering, right? And of course, even if a group of us gathered together to play in the church softball league, or to watch the bears Packers game, guess what, it’s not the church, as a group of Christians who got together to you know, watch the bears Packers game or something like that. We know this because of how Paul often speaks to church. First Corinthians 1118, good example of it. When he says this, I hear that when you the church, right. And as we talk to you, I hear that when you come together as a church, so there’s a moment when we come together as the church, and that’s what we want to focus on in this series in particular, is when we come together to be that gathering, because it’s so highly significant. The church is a gathering. That’s what the word means. So we’ve got to gather, like that’s a really important piece of all this gathering is not something that we do. It is who we are. God saved us, as individuals, he did that that’s true, saved us as individuals to gather together as a corporate assembly. Now, that’s not all that we could say about the church, not by any means. In fact, we will even have one week in the series, talking about what happens when we scatter because when we gather to scatter, we gather to scatter gather. And so we got to talk about that as well. The Gathering is so important. I love in the old Scottish tradition, you know, in Scotland, it’s not the church. It’s the Kerch, right. So like Dunkirk means kind of dull brown church. That’s what the word means. So what do they say in Scotland, as the the people walk into the building, they say the cook calls in, not people are going to Kirk. That’s a huge difference, right? The church goes in to the building that sometimes for the sake of shorthand we refer to as the church even though it’s really the place where the church gathers. And so you may have heard the old joke, it’s usually a youth pastor who doesn’t the one Sunday a year, they’re allowed to preach, and they’ll get up front and they’ll say, don’t go to church. And there’s a big gasp in the audience. And the elders confer together to figure out how quickly we can get this guy fired.
And I’ll say it again, don’t go to church be the church. Okay. It’s not heresy after all. But we do that by gathering with the church. That’s the whole idea. And so the church, as this corporate gathering is really the key idea throughout the New Testament. We see it in three images that Paul Peter, others use repeatedly, to really help us understand what exactly this corporate gathering is. So if you’ve been in our evangelism class in the nine o’clock hour, you know that we’re trying to make abstract concepts concrete, right, that’s really helpful for people. And so that’s what Paul and Peter are doing. Let’s put some concrete understanding behind this abstract idea. One of the things that’s interesting about these three images, of course, is it reminds us that it is a gathering of a specific people. That is not just a gathering of those who are interested, it is specifically a gathering of the redeemed. So it is a gathering of those who have surrendered their lives to Christ who have been saved by Christ who have been brought from death to life. We’ll kind of see that as we go. What’s the first image that we see a lot is that of a kingdom outpost, or a kingdom in the sea even a lie? That’s what we know that we are exiles. That’s what Peter says he opens his letter first Peter 112 Gods elect exiles scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, and all the rest of the world and we are exiles from this holy nation. He says in chapter two verse knights were totally different nation altogether exiled throughout. Well, you know, the different nations that were in right Now Paul tells us that we’re fellow citizens. Now Jews and Gentiles are people from every ethnicity being brought together as fellow citizens of heaven, specifically Philippians 320. So we belong to a heavenly kingdom. And what is this gathering? Well, it’s a little bit like heavenly embassy. When we live down in Colombia every little bit, we would have to hit the US Embassy there, usually to get a birth certificate, renew a passport, something that was the strangest thing in the world, right? Because you’re there in Colombia, you go up the gates and you hold this little blue book up, and they let you in, and all of a sudden, you’re in the United States. It’s totally weird how that happens. But that’s what we are here. It’s this other kingdom, all of a sudden. Now what’s a little bit different about this, of course, is that we’re a kingdom not from another continent from another time. But we are a future kingdom, and the sea of that future kingdom, which means the church functions like a movie trailer for the coming kingdom. That’s where it’s a really bad imperfect movie trailer in so many ways. It’s grainy, the sound clips in and out because we’re imperfect people messy. That’s the first word we use in our subtitle, right. But it is a movie trailer of that coming kingdom. Now, there are huge implications to us understanding that the church is this kingdom outpost, because it means then that we gather as ambassadors, not consumers. But as ambassadors. Paul calls us that second Corinthians five, we know that we are God’s ambassadors. And so that changes everything right there, that means we’re coming to be equipped to do the work that he’s called us to do. It also means we come to submit to the Word of God, because ambassadors don’t set policy. They just do what the person who sets policy says, in this case, our King, Jesus, and when we gather and even we scatter, of course, we are meant to exemplify the culture of that heavenly kingdom. You think about it, and that’s so much of what we do here. We’ve got our pledge, don’t we? That’s the creed. We got our national anthem. It’s the hymns of the church, we got our Constitution. It’s the word of God. We even got passports, we’ll talk about in a later sermon in the series. That’s the membership right there. What’s interesting, too, about this culture that we exemplify of this future kingdom, is that that makes us evangelistic, as well. We’ll talk about this more in a moment. But here we are this embassy that is in some way set in hostile territory.
And we’re calling people to defect. He used to belong to this nation, us belong to this world. Once you once you come to this country, see what this country is like. So there’s one idea where the kingdom outpost the kingdom embassy. Second image that we see throughout the New Testament is that of a holy temple. The verse Caitlin read for us earlier, First Peter to Verse five, where we are like living stones being built into a spiritual house. We’re being built into the temple of God. Paul states it explicitly First Corinthians 316, you are the temple of the Spirit. And it doesn’t translate well in English there because we just have you. But this is a plural you. Again, if you’re from Texas, this is all y’all. Right. So that’s, that’s collectively, we are the temple of God, the temple of His Spirit. So as one way to put it, then that that means the temple of God has a congregational shape. I like that. I like that a lot. And that’s got huge implications as well, and they quote him here’s his Matt mercker. In his book on corporate worship, he says, if we hope to encounter God’s presence, when we come to church, we ought to expect to find him in and with one another, rather than primarily in our own personal feelings and intuitions. A church service isn’t mainly the place for me to have a souped-up private, quiet time. It’s a place for me to meet God by meeting with his spirit-filled people. Again, the implications just abound, don’t they? It means we can’t do anonymous church. This is not like a movie theater. If you’re like me, which is clinically introverted. When you go into a movie theater, you’re hoping no one is there, frankly. And if there are other people there, you’re going to pretend they do not exist that cannot dim the lights quickly enough. You’re hoping their seats in between you because the armrests aren’t big enough. I don’t greet anybody. I tried to slip out on no Just you know, that’s how it goes. It’s just this is me. It’s it’s private time. Okay. And we can bring that mentality into church. You can slip in few minutes late, middle, the first song, no one does that. I know. But you could do that you could slip out during the last song. Absolutely. Unless, of course, this is the temple of God. corporately, we meet together that means we can’t do anonymous church means we have to greet one another. It means chit chat is a holy moment. Because it’s the time when we encourage one another in Christ means we should stick around afterwards so that we can connect because we all serve as priests in this temple. And quote Peter, again, we’re being built up like living stones be a spiritual house, to be a a holy priesthood. Every one of us here is to be a priest to one another, which means in so many ways, the most important ministry that happens in the pew and not on the platform. And we’re talking about a platform, this don’t want to denigrate preaching, we’ll get there we’ll have a whole sermon about sermons we find. But what happens in the pew is almost more significant. So if, if you don’t know the people in this assembly, if you’re trying to avoid interaction, you’re not really the temple of God. That matters. So make today the day isn’t easy. Just make the switch. Stay for the groundbreaking. Stick around afterwards, chat with people be an encouragement to the people around you. If you’re online. Today can’t be the day make next week today. You know, calm, interact, do what we are called to do learn some people’s names, encourage and be encouraged. Who Kingdom embassy, holy temple. And then third image is Christ’s body, Christ’s body. First Corinthians 1227. Now you guess what, plural. Now all y’all are the body of Christ. We know that one because of course, it says the next part and each one of you is a part of it. Whatever bodies do, they do it collectively. That’s how bodies work. My pancreas does not go to play soccer on Thursdays when my foot stays at home, despite my foots protests, by the way, with my foots tired of being embarrassed when we go to play and so, but no pancreas drags the foot along. That’s just how our bodies work. Now, from a New Testament perspective, especially the most important thing the body does collectively is grow. And that’s, of course, what bodies do until they reach full maturity.
We haven’t gotten there yet. So we’re supposed to be growing at this point. So Ephesians 412. Paul is speaking of the leaders of the church, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are given to the church, why to equip his people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up. He goes on a few verses later to say that that happens, as each part does its work for 16 as each part does its work. Again, this has got huge implications, doesn’t it? We’re gonna hit many more of these next week. By the way, it’s really been a focus of next week, but but at its simplest, anyway, we gather to be built up. And to build others up. That part’s key. I know there’s a sense of I come here, so that preacher builds me up. That’s not it at all. I’m here to equip you to build each other up. That’s my role as a leader in the church. That’s a that’s a shift, right? That’s a paradigm shift in terms of how we do church. So what I talked about if you read the pulse, and I certainly hope you do, this was last week’s devotional on Hebrews 10. Right? Where it says don’t give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing and yes, some have gotten in that habit in this time, that’s for sure. They’ll give up meeting together. But what’s the opposite of it? Encourage one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching, so the opposite of not meeting together isn’t meeting together. It’s encouraging others when you meet together, that’s the shift that happens here. Kingdom outpost, a holy temple, Christ’s body. It’s a corporate vision for the church. Jonathan Edwards captures the beauty of that corporate aspect, the beauty of the gathering and such a striking illustration. You know, he says Christ is the Son su n. That shine is the light of salvation on us. And we all are like individual drops of moisture. If you ever caught light twinkling through a drop on a leaf or something like that, you know how beautiful it is? Even an individual, of course, but what happens, you put all those drops of moisture together and the light shines through it. That’s where you get the rainbow. Right? That’s the beauty of this gathering and why we come together. But where’s that rainbow shining? Who is enjoying that rainbow? Second part in audience, this gathering has an audience and the audience is huge. By the way. His intent was that now through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to somebody the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. We got a big audience right now. Okay, you are reality TV, for Angels and Demons in the heavenlies right now. Now, this is likely referring to everyone in the heavenlies I think this is a big category. So like I said, Angels and Demons, good and bad. But if you read Ephesians, you know that when he uses phrases like rulers and authorities that typically is referring to hostile forces. So this is a kingdom of evil, the kingdom of darkness. And even to them, our gathering proclaims a mighty message. We are an object lesson of gods many splendored wisdom is manifold wisdom, specifically, the wisdom that we see as he works out his eternal purposes that he accomplished in Christ Jesus, our Lord, what are we talking about there? We’re talking about the gospel, of course, we display the wisdom of the gospel. And there is infinite wisdom in this of course, we’re stunned by this regularly here when we gather that God would defeat evil by being defeated by evil, that he would conquer the grave by being laid in it. This is breathtaking wisdom, of course, the biggest one too, how can a perfect God, righteous, holy, no injustice anywhere in his character? handled? Well, you know, people like us, how can he he can’t wink at sin, he wouldn’t be just anymore if he did that, that a police officer who’s watching a murder unfold and doesn’t act we wouldn’t say, a gracious and merciful police officer. We’d be upset and rightly so. Of course, this is God in His perfect justice. He’s upset by how we act, what we do how we treat each other. So if we deserve punishment,
it’s gonna take some wisdom to figure out how does he punish us and at the same time, reconcile us to himself. That’s the wisdom of the cross. Why punishes our sin in Christ so that anyone who hides themselves in Christ is saved from the storm of His wrath, and instead welcomed in Christ place as adopted children. That’s wisdom. That’s love. That’s the greatness of His mercy. We see his power, we see his triumphs. We see it all. That’s what’s on display, as I said, proclaims a powerful message. But it claims a powerful message to a much larger audience than we ordinarily think. And I want to tease this out a little bit. So we’re gonna go a bit beyond just a Ephesians, 310 and 11 here because of course, I just talked about the, the cosmic audience, but I want to do a biblical theology of church audience for us real quick. Okay. So let’s start with the idea if you were ever trained to lead worship, you have heard the phrase audience of one before. I love the sentiment behind that phrase. This is important to me as a young Christian learning this one who’s led worship for a long time. Of course, of course, ultimately, the most important audience is God, no doubt. So maybe the way you would put this, of course, is that if everyone in the room is really impressed with your performance, uproarious applause and all that, and God hates it, maybe because it distorted people’s view of him or maybe just because it was about your glory instead of his, okay, you messed up. But that is significant. That is serious. And that’s what’s being communicated by this whole idea of an audience of one. It’s not performance, it’s about me and God. Yes. Okay. The only problem with it is it isn’t true. So other than that, it’s fine. But but it isn’t true because we understand that we actually have several audiences When we gather as a church, I love this because Paul will just mention the back to back, here’s Ephesians, 519 and 20. They’re going to kind of bid for you to be filled with the Spirit speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and songs from the spirit. Just love the Bible. I just love the Bible, because they say the most ridiculous things. And you have to stop and go, hang on. Did I read that? Right? So we are supposed to speak God’s praise God, you are glorious to each other. Which is why and then what it Caitlin do in the middle of song right back away from the mic so that we could hear each other saying this to each other. So there’s an artist supposed to speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Very next phrase, sing and make music from your heart to the Lord. Alright, so right there, he feels 519 and 20. We’ve got two very different audiences on the view. In fact, the the reality of that second audience, the church, right, the people gathered together is why Paul sets such a strict boundaries on speaking in tongues in a corporate assembly. Read this in First Corinthians 14, especially but what does he say there? He says, if somebody is speaking in tongues, and there’s nobody there to interpret, why, because that would just be about you and God. And that’s not what happens here. This is about us. And God, we speak to one another. And so Paul says, I would rather speak five words of sense than 10,000 in a tongue when we gather together, but he even goes on it gets a little bit more complicated. The verses already up there for us is a bit later in First Corinthians 14, Paul says that so if the whole church comes together, and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquires or unbelievers come in, will they not say you’re out of your mind. But if an unbeliever or an Enquirer comes in while everyone is prophesy, they’re convicted of sin, and are brought under judgment by all, all of a sudden we have a third audience present, don’t we? The inquiry, the questioning, we often refer to today as the seeking, the reality is that unbelievers will come into the assembly, which is great. So we want visitors from a foreign country, their spiritual tourists, the best possible sense of that word, precisely, we’d hoped for. Why because we’re declaring a countercultural hope I said that the gathering itself is evangelistic, in the sense that we’re saying defect to fact, come to this country, right. And so whatever your view of immigration when it comes to the Heavenly Kingdom, it is all about open borders, right? Like that’s what we want, of course, we want people coming in. But that reality that knowing that that’s going to happen, think how this changes how we gather, then
Jesus out again, for whom do we gather? So a question posed to a friend of mine during an interview? It’s a great story, by the way, because this is actually the guy they fired to hire me at a previous church. So the story of how we became friends is a fascinating one. But that’s a story for another day, but we became friends. And so he’s like, can you pray for me, as I’m going to this interview and stuff, and yet, we did all that great. And asked him later, how the interview go and all that stuff? And he said, so I got this interesting question for whom do we gather? It’s a good question. And in my head, I’m like, Alright, how would I answer this question? Am I getting this job? No. So the question, of course was, is the church gathering meant for believers or unbelievers? Really, the question was just where do you stand on seeker sensitive services? My friend was too smart for that. Not fall into that trap is like Jesus, like it’s one or the other. And he said, Nope, here you go. And so he said, Well, if I understand the New Testament correctly, the church gathering is for God. And everyone’s like, Oh, you can’t go wrong with that one. So thank you. Yeah. So that is what we were looking for. Write that one down for next time. But that question is still hanging in the air, even if we got past it by saying the church gathering is for God as it certainly is. In terms of the human audience, what’s primary? Is it for believers? Or is it for unbelievers? The primary human audience is the church. We know that that’s clear. You read the New Testament and is the overwhelming focus of New Testament passages talking about the corporate gathering is that we minister to one another. We come to be edified to be equipped to be built up, but we do so knowing that the heavenlies are watching and really the world is watching as well. Which means when we gather we have to have this understanding of this is a foreign culture. And so I need to translate, we need to translate some language we need to, we need to make sense of what it is that we’re doing here. Look at our bulletin. If you come here for more than like three weeks, and you’ve stopped looking at the bulletin other know what songs are coming. That’s all the bulletins therefore. And that’s fine honestly like the bulletin it’s there for guests. But we got these little notes underneath all of the things to make sense of all the weird things we do when we come together so that somebody who walks in here goes, you’re doing what now? At least they’ve got seven words saying and here’s why. Just just a little bit. That’s the idea. We got to explain foreign culture. To those who come in, we try to define our terms. Why would we spend 40 minutes answering the question, what is the church, because that’s a term we got to define. We can’t just assume everybody has understanding about what it is. If we act like there’s no one to inquiring about Jesus here, very soon, that will be true. Because they’ll go I don’t know, they speak a different language. Apparently, I’m not welcome here. This is for believers only. But at the same time, as I think Jared Wilson’s, the one who always says that what you save them with is what you save them to. And so we got to be a little bit careful here as well. We can make the the Enquirer the focus of the entire service. And so then we can start to really water down the gospel. In order to get people to come in. If I were to preach the gospel of your best life, now we would have larger crowds. I know. See what churches largest in the country. But if we’re going to save people with a vision of you know, Jesus is there to help fix your life so that you can have the sort of life that you want, well, then people are gonna become increasingly self focused. So keeping that primary human audience primary helps. Here’s what the believers need. We need the word of God. You need the gospel. You need to understand how the Gospel speaks to every aspect of your life, how the gospel promises you something better than what sin promises you. But what does the Enquirer need? Really, word of God, then you understand how the gospel applies to every aspect of their life. Which is why it’s so interesting. Paul says if they hear prophecy, that’s what will convict them of sin. convicted of sin, not wooed to self fulfillment, so a little bit of an excursus there, but what is it that we do as the audience we proclaim God’s manifold glory, for our good, right for our edification, before the world’s gaze, and we do all three simultaneously. There’s our audience. And then lastly, a purpose, a purpose. God has an intent, right, a purpose for the church, His intent was that now through the church, His wisdom would be made known. In fact, this
is why if you’re to look back at verses eight and nine, Paul saying, This is why I do everything that I do. This is why I proclaim the gospel. This is why I’m trying to make plain to everyone the boundless riches of Christ. What is that purpose? Why is it that Paul’s doing this? Why do we gather? It’s the display of His glory, to make known his manifold wisdom, to the watching Cosmos, everyone everywhere, even in the spiritual realm. Of course, this should come as no surprise to us because this is why God does everything. This is why God saves us to begin with Contra, that song we all sang about two decades ago, he did not think of me above all, he thought of his glory, above all. We see that in Ephesians. One in particular, we go back to this passage, quite a bit predestined us for adoption. Why? To the praise of His glorious grace, the praise of his glory to the praise of his glory, Paul just keeps hammering this point. We see how this works in the corporate assembly that with Isaias really evocative image, I like it powerful imagery. Isaiah chapter 61. Isaiah is taught or God is speaking that he’s anointed his servant, the Christ Jesus, to proclaim good news to the poor is the first thing Jesus says this is what I came to do. Luke chapter four. So when he takes his his mission statement, to proclaim good news, to release captives to bring Beauty from Ashes and all that then he concludes, in verse three, they will be called all these people have been saved these captains who’ve been released they will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord. For there’s the purpose for the display of his splendor. You walk around the arboretum and you will see benches and occasionally trees that have plaques on them right near them anyway, in memory of an honor of something like that. Every corporate gathering has this spiritual plaque hanging on it. This is for God. This is for His glory. How could we otherwise Paul tells us first Corinthians 10, whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Much more so when we all come together. Of course, that means everything we do collectively should be for His glory, for the entirety of our gathering is God centered, and not human centered. The primary purpose is His glory, there is a secondary purpose. We’ll talk about that next week. That’s not your sermon next week, but the primary purpose is His glory, keeping God’s glory, the purpose of the gathering front and center helps us overcome two temptations that are very common in our culture. First, temptation is consumerism. How does it help us overcome consumerism? Why? Because it’s not about you, not about me. It’s about God, the gathering is so much more important than your preferences. And how many times we’ve all done this, so it’s fine. Like we can just humble ourselves confess our sin to wonder how many of you walked out and like, I didn’t really like that song. Who cares? I mean, that, who cares? Did the song Sing truths about the glory of God? Great. We spoke to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. And this was a good thing. We sing songs I don’t like I can tell you which ones we do. Worship, I make Robert introduce songs, he does not like. Ask him about at some time, just be prepared to rebuke him at the end of it. No, not really. It’s fine. So it doesn’t matter. I mean, it matters what we do here, of course, but not whether or not it fit our tastes. Why? Because what we’re doing so it’s more important, we’re declaring God’s glory in countercultural protest of hostile spiritual forces. Did I like the song? It’s absurd, right? We just gotta, we gotta we gotta focus here because consumerism is a big, big problem in our culture, second temptation that it helps us overcome those formalism. By formulism. I just mean going through the motions, because you cannot go through the motions with something this hugely important. Have you ever found church? Boring? Think I’m just so glad somebody nodded their heads. This is good. Again, humble yourself. It’s fine. Ah, odd or boring? Yes, of course. Right. Now, the part of the problem actually was gathering with a church for decades upon decades as you forget just how weird we are. And you need to know we’re weirdos. Okay. So Sam Albury tells a great story says every time people come to church, the first thing they inquire about is not Jesus. But about Percy. Percy is a gold plated Eagle shaped lectern at the front of the church. And even just reading that I was like, Yeah, I’d have questions too. But once you go to the church for a while, of course, you know, proceed.
Well, we read from I don’t know. So we got all sorts of Percy’s in our church services. Lots of odd things. We were actually gonna cover most of them in this series. I mean, think about this. Where else does a group of people gathered to hear a 40 minute monologue? Not TED talks are much shorter. Stand up comedy is the only one I could think of. I got news for you. I’m not that entertaining. And then we sing together. Where do you do that? Happy birthday. Take me out of the ballgame. And the national anthem there also okay, there’s only two times and then we come together and we sing together and people are like into it right? Your senior pastor, chief among them, keep his hands and then listen to what we sing. Here I raise mine Ebenezer Heather by thine help I’m coma. Watch. He’s a great words. I love those words. I would never change those words. We just need to learn what an Ebenezer is like you just got to grow up. Okay. We got to wear that learns vocabulary. That’s why we come together. But you see how odd it is. And what’s worse. It’s not only odd, it really could be boring. You can declare the excellencies of Christ in a dull manner. I am confident I have done it. And you all can let me know when that’s fine. We could sing the glory of God and funeral fashion and again, we probably have done it but more likely if you found church boring, it’s because you just weren’t looking at the right things. And say most of the time the problem was here and not Look here. What do I mean by that? Well, because when you look at you look at their, their, you know, Brandon preached again. Oh, Caitlin was singing today. Encouraged weren’t working again. Okay, all true statements, except the curves we’re working today, thankfully, but miracles still happen. But look at the cosmic reality underneath all of this. Caitlin was seen over two or three are gathered, Christ is in their midst God inhabits the praises of His people. That’s what’s happening. And that’s not boring. That’s not boring at all. So what is the church? The church, oh, I got the preaching, I made him cry, sorry. What is the church the church is a gathering, but is not just any gathering. It is a gathering of the redeemed of God before an audience but not just any audience before the cosmos itself for a purpose, not just any purpose, but for the glory of God. The church is not bricks. And these bricks are not God’s house. But these bricks, make the room where God’s household gathers to be made into God’s house in a barrel. Another illustration from Jonathan Edwards that I think was just brilliant. He says, When Solomon built his temple, the stones were all cut and chiseled and hammered and hewn, and made ready for construction at the quarry, because first came sixth, seventh, no hammer, chisel, or any other Iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built because there’s a holy place. That’s here, right? Because in the same way, the chisel of the spirit and the hammer of God’s Word, the furnace of affliction are here, fitting us for that heavenly temple. And when we get to the heavenly temple, we will not need the chisel any longer, because we will have been made like Christ at last. But it’s here where we all like living stones are being built into a spiritual house where God dwells by His Spirit, we gather to be fitted for that day, just a foretaste of the future, displaying the wondrous glory of God to all Let’s pray. Father, even now in this spiritual quarry, would you chisel us? Would you hammer us Would you cut us as we need to be cut so that we are fitted for that day, made ready to be placed in that heavenly Temple is one of the living stones, singing your praises, singing the praises of the chief cornerstone Christ Himself? It’s only because of him that we can gather and be made ready for heaven. Lord, we know that people are watching right now. There are inquires in our midst, and we know that the heavenlies are watching right now. We know how significant this moment is. And so Lord, may we be found faithful
in the eyes of a watching Cosmos, in that what they see in us displays your manifold wisdom and the glory you so richly deserve. In Christ’s name we pray, amen.