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How To Be The Church Jesus Built



HOW TO BE THE CHURCH JESUS BUILT


Princeton Christian Church

MATTHEW 16:13-20 05 March 2023


The story is told of a man who was shipwrecked on a beautiful, deserted South Pacific island. After 5 years he was discovered by a passing ship. As the sailors arrived on the shore the rescue party was met by the shipwreck survivor. He said, “I am so glad you are here! I have been alone on this island for more than 5 years!”

The captain of the ship looked around and asked the man, “If you are all alone on the island, why do I see 3 huts?” The man answered him – “Well, I live in one of them, and I go to church in another of them.”


So, the captain was still puzzled, and he asked, “But, what about the third hut? What is it.?”


The man said, “Oh, That’s the church I USED to go to.”


So, even on a desert island, with no one else on the island but one man, apparently church division is possible.


So, let’s begin this morning with some fundamental questions that all of us need to be able to answer.


Why have you/we chosen to be a part of the church of Jesus Christ, the Princeton Christian Church that meets right here? Do we understand who we are as a church among the many hundreds of kinds of churches in the landscape of Christianity?


Do we understand that we are not trying to be just another of the many kinds of churches with just a little different flavor?


There are multiple establishments that are doing the same things in different ways. For example, Burger King has a Whopper; McDonald’s has the Big Mac; Hardee’s and Arby’s, and Chick-fil-a all have their special, better-than-the-next offering of food. But let’s face it. They are all selling food, most of which is not all that good for our health. We, as the church, of course, are not trying to be the “Burger King” of churches while others are “McDonald's” or “Wendy’s” – with all of us just being hamburger joints with different names.


But, in our world today, that is a picture of what man has made of THE church that Jesus Christ established.


There are significant and fundamental differences that set us apart that we need to understand and embrace.


Now, we might pause here and ask the question: Does any of this matter to God? Does God care about the differences among churches that call themselves Christian churches, but see the need to add other descriptive names to the church? Those descriptive names are Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Nazarene, Catholic, Assemblies of God, and many, many others.


Sometimes folks will make the comment that: “Variety is the spice of life?” They take the attitude of “Whatever”, “Anything Goes.” or “To each his own!?”


But that certainly is not the attitude of God. It is not the attitude of the One who established His church.


We must be able to state who we are trying to be as Christians, and what we understand we are trying to be as a church. And here is what that statement should be: “We are simply trying to be Christians who belong to the church that we read about in the New Testament.”


Our goal must be to be the people who owe allegiance to one Lord and to His instruction and teaching, and who show that allegiance by calling ourselves by his name - Christian. We are Christ’s followers. We want to be members of the church that He established. The church that Christ established was just as He wanted it.


Christ is the founder of the church, and it was purchased by his blood (Mt 16:18).

5. Christ was and is the foundation and the head of the - “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:11); and Ephesians 1:22-23, where Paul taught the church as Ephesus, saying, “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave His as head over all things in the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”


The New Testament contains the instructions God wanted the church to have with regard to worship, organization, conduct, and mission. By following those instructions only, we are Christ’s church. The church that belongs to Christ.


Unfortunately, many churches over the centuries have departed from the New Testament teachings about many things - from leadership organization to missions, to membership among many other manmade regulations not intended by the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ.


But really, these practices should not surprise us. After all, the Apostle Paul warned Timothy (and us) that this would occur. Hear what Paul told Timothy in his instruction to him in 2 Timothy 4:3-4: “For a time will come when men will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires. One version says that “They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

We need only to look at history to read of the many departures from the New Testament principles and patterns that Jesus Christ established for His church and see that many have departed from His authority over the years.


The truth is, that you can find a church today that will teach whatever you want.


I very much believe that there have always been simple, New Testament Christians throughout all times since the beginning of the church.


Very often, these simple Christians had to meet in secrecy. They did not have the benefit of easy access to the Scriptures, yet they remained faithful to the simple, uncomplicated doctrines of Christ and His church.


Leaders arose during that period calling for reformation of the church. This brought on the Reformation of the Church. But, of greater importance and wisdom, while some called for more than reformation, those who saw a greater vision called for the RESTORATION of the original church.


And that is where we, as the Princeton Christian Church stand today. We are a result of God’s work among the RESTORERS of NT Christianity.


Many of those restorers fled the persecution of the established church in Europe and came to the United States of America, the new land of religious freedom.


Look at these words of Alexander Campbell, a man mightily involved in the restoration movement in the early 1800’s here in our country.


He was often accused of founding a new religious system, but here was his reply: “We have no system of our own, or of others, to substitute in lieu of the reigning systems. We only aim at substituting the New Testament in lieu of every creed in existence, whether Mohammedan, Pagan, Jewish, or Presbyterian. We wish to call Christians to consider that Jesus Christ has made them kings and priests to God. We neither advocate Calvinism, Arminianism, Trinitarianism, Unitarianism, Deism nor Sectarianism, but New Testament-ism.”


Look at these words of J.W. Tyler in 1882 as he explained our purpose, “Were you to ask of me one word which would most exactly present the central purpose of the peculiar plea presented by the disciples, I would give you the deeply significant and comprehensive word “Restoration”: For it was their purpose, as they declared in the beginning, and as, without variation they have continued to declare to the present, to restore to the world in faith, in spirit, and in practice, the religion of Christ and his apostles as found on the pages of the New Testament…They clearly saw, and from the beginning distinctly recognized, that in order to do this, they must ignore and pass back beyond all ecclesiastical councils, with their creeds and confessions, their speculations and controversies, since the days of the apostles, and take up the work just as these inspired men left it.”


Although the early church was mostly unified in doctrine and practice, the New Testament shows that there were false teachers, even early on, who were trying to distort the truth and draw people into separate groups.


To counter those teachers and their teaching, the New Testament writers passed on the principles and patterns of God for the church. It is to some of these principles that I want us to briefly turn our attention to. So, we will look at some of those principles next week. In other words, this message is to be continued.


Jesus Christ established His Church. And He provided the way to become a part of His Church. He first asks us to hear His Word, to believe that He is the Son of God, the Savior of the world; then to recognize we have sin in our lives, and that we must seek forgiveness of our sin, which He will grant. Then, He requires that we be baptized into Him, to be immersed into Him, and to be raised as a new creature, pure and accepted by Him into His church.


Although the early church was mostly unified in doctrine and practice, the New Testament shows that there were false teachers, even early on, who were trying to distort the truth and draw people into separate groups.


To counter those teachers and their teaching, the New Testament writers passed on the principles and patterns of God for the church. It is to some of these principles that I want us to briefly turn our attention to. So, we will look at some of those principles next week. In other words, this message is to be continued.



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