(Note: This series is based on “I Am a Church Member” by Thom Rainer).
If your house was on fire and you were all alone and you only had time to grab one thing before leaving, what would it be? Now consider for a moment the reason you chose that item. Regardless of what it is, what you grabbed on your way out would be something you treasured. We always make time for what we consider important and we cherish what we treasure. In our final sermon in our series on Church Membership, let us consider the importance of treasuring God’s gift of salvation and God’s gift of the Church. The Church is:
- An Essential Gift. The Church is not an optional aspect of Christianity. 1 Corinthians 12:27 says, “You are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” The Church is the body of Christ and is essential to God’s redemptive work on earth. Church membership is an essential gift from God. But what is the church? It is comprised of the universal and local church.
- The Universal Church. When you received the gift of salvation, you became a part of the Body of Christ (Universal Church). The Universal Church includes everyone who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. It comprises every tongue, tribe, nation, and people throughout all of time. Christ is the head of the Church (Col 1:18) and loves the church greatly.
- The Local Church. When you are saved you are immediately part of the universal church and you are then led by the Holy Spirit to connect with a local church. This is important because the local church will help you grow in spiritual maturity and unleash you for evangelism. You are baptized as a public declaration of your faith. You partake of the Lord’s Supper as a public declaration of your union with Christ in His death. The Bible is clear that the local church is an essential (not optional) aspect of spiritual growth.
- An Exciting Gift. The Church is not a burden on your life, but an exciting gift from God. But what’s so exciting about sitting and listening to some guy talk for 30 minutes? Maybe the service is not as exciting as watching your favorite sports team, but it is far more important. Also, remember that the church is not a service or a building, but a group of people gathering to worship God. It is:
- A Life-Changing Gift. Jesus changes lives. The first disciples left everything to follow Jesus. In Acts 2, the early church praised God and loved one another with great fervor. Jesus changes lives for the better. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 2:8 that salvation is a gift from God. We receive the gift by grace through faith and we are transformed. We have our sins completely forgiven and have peace with God (Rom 5:1)! We are filled with the Holy Spirit and have an ever abundant supply of love, joy, and peace. When we suffer trials and difficulty, we are not discouraged because we know that God is working good (Rom 8:28). We bring the love of Christ to a hurting world and we do so joyfully knowing that great things are happening in Jesus’ name: lives are being changed, love is being shared, and friendships are developing and deepening.
- A Gift to be Enjoyed. Christians should be the most joyful people in the world because we have Jesus! Therefore, we do not have an obligation to be at church, we have the privilege of being the body of Christ in the world. We gather together for worship and disperse to serve for no other reason than our love for God and love for others. We enjoy Christ and we love having a special bond with our church. We are a family. When we have a problem, we resolve it with Christ’s help. When we weep, others weep with us. When we rejoice, others rejoice with us. When we need help, we receive help. When we see someone in need, we gladly help. We enjoy our church family.
Do you treasure your local church? If for some reason you were physically unable to attend, would it bother you? Make the commitment to love your church. Show this love by giving abundantly of your time, talent, and treasure, and serving without hesitation. No church is perfect; therefore, invest your time in contributing to the unity of the church out of love for Christ. Remember, the church is the body of Christ. Jesus loves the church and gave Himself for it. Love the church because you love Jesus.
Grow Group Guide
I Will Treasure Church Membership as a Gift
As a result of this sermon, prayerfully consider making the following pledge to God to be a functioning Church member:
I am a church member. This membership is a gift. When I received the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, I became a part of the body of Christ. I soon thereafter identified with a local body and was baptized. And now I am humbled and honored to serve and to love others in our church. I pray that I will never take any membership for granted, but see it as a gift and an opportunity to serve others and to be a part of something much greater than any one person or member.
Questions for Study: (From “I Am a Church Member”)
- How does the gift of salvation relate to the gift of church membership?
- Why do many church members have a sense of entitlement? What does the Bible say about that?
- Explain how Christians are in both the universal church and in the local church.
- Read the entire story of Jesus rebuking His disciples in Matthew 20:20-28. How could that story relate to church membership?
- For your last question, look at each part of the membership covenant you have reviewed to this point. As you look at the entire covenant, what areas will be your greatest challenge? In what areas can you make immediate changes?