THE GREAT CHURCH
I Timothy 3:15
September 16, 2007, SUN a.m.
What is a Great church? Everybody wants to have and belong to a Great Church. I am not talking about a particular kind of building but the Church that meets in a building.
I thank the Lord for a good Church, but we don’t want to settle for just being good. We want to have a great Church. We have had a great past years, but I believe we can have a greater future. We can turn what is good into great. Sad will be the day when we cease to strive for greatness and settle for just being good.
The Bible says in Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” A dying Church is one in which there is no vision to be more, see more, and do more.
Do not be the kind of members who are content with the way things are but be like those who desire the Church to be all it can be and do all it can do. Some are happy to be a good Church and others are hungry to be a great Church.
The question is how can we have a great Church? The answer is very simple. Great Church members make great Churches. If we have a great Church it depends on you and me who are the members of Messiah Baptist Church.
When we talk about a great Church, we should ask ourselves what makes a Church great? I am afraid that our common ideas of what makes a Church great are not what God says makes a Church great.
1. Some think that it is budgets and buildings that make a great Church.
2. Some think that it is the programs that a Church has that make it great.
No, it is not building or programs that make a Church great. What then makes a Church great? I believe we have the answer in 1Timothy 3:15.
Let’s look at the Church as described in our text and seek to find out what makes a Church great? First, a great Church has:
I- THE DWELLING PRESENCE OF GOD
In our passage today it was mentioned in 1 Timothy that the Church is called “the house of God.” When the Church is spoken of as the house of God it is setting the Church apart from any and all places where people gather. It is a description that says that the Church is a place where God’s presence dwells. A house is not a place where one visits. It is a place where one lives and dwells. To call the Church the house of God is to say that the Church is where God’s presence abides.
In the Old Testament there was the Tabernacle. On several occasions it is called the house of God.
1. The Tabernacle was an earthly dwelling place for God. It was built after God’s command in Exodus 25:8, “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.”
2. It was a place where God dwelt to meet His people. God said in Exodus 25:22, “And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony.”
The same was true for the Temple which was a permanent structure that replaced the Tabernacle. God said in 2 Samuel 7:13, “He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.” God called the Temple His house indicating that it would be a place where He dwelt.
In our time, God calls the Church His house. When I think of the Church as the house of God I am mindful of:
A. Continual Presence of God
When Solomon dedicated the Temple He said to God, “I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever” (1 Kings 8:13). The word “abide” simply means “to remain.” God’s abiding presence is a continual presence in the Church.
Every time we come to Church, God is with us. He is present among us. We may not always see or sense His presence, but He is always present.
His abiding presence is not determined by the number of people who gather. Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
The house of God is not only remind us of the continual presence of God but it is also the place where we can see:
B. Walking Presence of God
Notice carefully in Revelation 2:1 the Bible says that He “walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.” The seven golden candlesticks represent the seven Churches in Revelation and the seven Churches represent all Churches of all ages. Where do you find Jesus? You find Him walking in the midst of the church.
The Apostle Paul also stated in 2 Corinthians 6:16 we read that, “God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” God did not say that He only dwells in His people, but He would also walk in them. God is not just sitting around in His house doing nothing. He walks in His house. God is always present in the Church, but there are times when He walks in the Church. I like it when God is walking in the singing and during preaching. We can sense it when God is walking in a service.
There are times when I have been invited to speak in other churches where services were so cold. On the other hand, I have been in services where there was a wonderful, glorious, and awesome sense of God’s presence that is so real.
Beautiful facilities and expensive instruments and equipment do not make a Church great. But it is a Church in which God presence is real and active.
God’s presence is the need of every Church. As members we ought to pray daily that when we come to Church there will be a great sense of God’s presence.
Secondly, you will notice that a great Church has:
II- THE DEMONSTRATING POWER OF GOD
Let us focus again in our text in 1Timothy 3:15 that the Church is not only called the house of God but also “the church of the living God.” The word “church” is the Greek word ekklesia that speaks of “a calling out.” The word was used to speak of an assembly of people. When you talk about a Church you are talking about a place where people are called to assemble.
Think carefully that this is not just any assembly but the assembly of “the living God.” We can say it is not just the Church of God, but the Church of “the living God.” The God of the Church is not some dead god made of wood, clay, chalk, stone, or marble created and dressed by man but He is living and true God who created you and me and the whole universe.
As a true and living God, He demonstrates His power and ability in the Church. A great Church is one in which the living God is at work in mighty and marvelous power. God’s power in a Church is the difference between having a good Church and a great Church.
We can describe the early church by the distinctive power of God. In Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” In Acts 4:33 we read, “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” That which made the early church so effective in its day was the power of God that was upon them. They didn’t have air-conditioned buildings, padded pews, PA systems, and all the modern conveniences that we have, but we don’t have what they had, and that is the power of God.
As a Church we need:
A. The Convicting power of God toward Sinners
We need the same old time power bestowed upon the Prophets and Apostles that makes sinners tremble under conviction. How tragic to see that lost people can sit in the services and never come under conviction.
We are talking about God’s power so real that unsaved lost sinners are shaken with Holy Ghost conviction.
B. The Consecrating power of God toward the Saints
In our day and time most people are looking for a Church that they can attend and be able to hide. They want to be able to say they went to Church on Sunday morning, but they don’t want to be in a Church that calls for discipleship and consecration. They don’t mind coming to Church on Sunday but they don’t want their lives to be different on Monday. Our Churches are full of people of Sunday who the rest of the week will make no effort to serve or live for God.
Many Christians, only pick up their Bibles or pray on Sunday. In some cases, the only time they will even think about the Lord is on Sunday. For some, attending Church on Sunday morning is all they need. That is why some Churches will have large attendance on Sunday morning and half of those on Sunday night. The Church needs a revival in which the power of God will be manifested.
All true Churches everywhere need God’s power. Good Churches can substitute God’s power with exciting activities, numerous programs, and other means to entertain the flesh; but a great Church knows and depends on the power of God.
Lastly, from1 Timothy 3:15 we see that a great Church has:
III- THE DECLARATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF GOD
Go back in our text the Bible speaks of the Church as being “the pillar and ground of the truth.” The pillar and ground speak of that on which the Church stands and by which it is supported. THE TRUTH is God’s Word. On the Word of God a church stands and by the Word of God a Church is supported.
Hence, we can say that:
A. God’s Word is the Church Message
When a person comes to Church there should always be the proclamation of the Word of God. In our efforts to be more appealing and attractive to the world, the Bible is often replaced with other things to be more entertaining. However, God never called the Church to be entertainment centers in this world, but proclaimer’s of THUS SAITH THE LORD! Let me say again and say it plainly; the Church is not here to entertain. It is here to faithfully and fearlessly proclaim the Word of God. Being relevant is not the issue we are to be concerned about. Being faithful is the issue. Our main concern is not being attractive to the world but being accepted by God.
When a Church substitutes other things for the preaching and teaching of the Bible, they have abandoned an important purpose for which the Church exists.
Whenever the Church comes together, whether it is on Sunday morning or on Sunday night or Wednesday night it should always be for the purpose of hearing God’s Word.
This very great purpose does not stop with the pulpit. It is also assigned to the pews. For there is not only the Church’s message, but also:
B. God’s Work is the Church Ministry
First and foremost, this is not anyone's ministry neither Pastor's ministry but by the Holy Spirit. Church ministry is doing the work of God entrusted to us to share with our lips and show with our lives the Word of God.
Remember, that the pastor proclaims the Word of God publicly but on the other hand the members proclaim the Word of God personally. Members gather to hear the Word and they leave to share the Word of God.
Don’t be mistaken the Church is more than a building. It is a body that goes out into the world and shares with the world the great message of the Church—THE GOSPEL that Christ died for their sins.
Church is more than gathering it is serving. A great Church is more than members who come through the doors to hear a sermon. A great Church is members who go out the door to tell others about what God says in His Word.
Would you want your church to be a great Church, not just a good Church. Will you open your ears and your heart and let God make you a great Church member. Did you understand that great Church members make great Churches.