Character of the Church

When I first read Hebrews 13 and the notes from a study I had (you can look up The Summit Church or J.D. Greear for his study of Hebrews; the bullet points below summarize part of this study), it seemed this was about worship.  It is.  But it is also about the character of the church.  Or, perhaps part of worship is the character of the church.  To start with, what is the church?  It is not a building and not where you “go to” to fulfill your duty as a Christian, though that is an important part of your spiritual life.  That is a time to fellowship with other believers and worship God, but our act of worship should be non-stop throughout our week and our life.  That is a study in itself, but not for this post.  What the church is, though is you and me.  It is Christ’s bride.  It is the body of believers.  It is those who follow Him.

1 Corinthians 3:9-18

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

Hebrews 12:28-29

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.

So, what do we look for in a church?  How are we to conduct ourselves as a body of believers?  What should our contribution as individual members of a church be?  1Corinthian 12 and Ephesians 4 explain how we are to use our spiritual gifts to edify, or build up, the church, but that is not what this is talking about.  It is our normal day to day living and how we conduct ourselves as part of the church.

Romans 12:1-2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

As some describe this, it your act of worship.  It is “practical Christianity.”  There are 4 aspects of this as described in Hebrews 13:

  1. Practice hospitality-brotherly love and love for others (v.1-3).
  2. Avoid immorality (v. 4).
  3. Flee materialism (v. 5-6).
  4. Honor the church (v. 7-18).

Hebrews 13:1-21

Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. Remember the prisoners as if chained with them — those who are mistreated — since you yourselves are in the body also.

Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say:

“The Lord is my helper;

I will not fear.

What can man do to me?”

Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.

We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably. But I especially urge you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

How do we honor the church?  How do we live as Christians?  This chapter explains to us a few ways we do this.

  1. Observe our church leaders, imitate their faith, and hold them accountable (v.7).
  2. Evaluate the church’s message about the gospel (v. 8-9).
  3. Just because the church is criticized from outside, doesn’t mean it is doing something wrong…we are not to conform to this world, we are not to compromise our faith or teaching.  God’s truth does not change.  The church is not a country club.
  4. Is the church going outside the camp to the lost?
  5. Worship centered on the gospel (v. 15).
  6. Generosity inside and outside the church should be a big deal (v. 16).
  7. Obey the leaders and submit to them (v. 17).
  8. The pastoral team should be humble enough to admit they need help (v. 18).
  9. Pray for the leaders of the church (v.18).
  10. Serve where God has called you to serve.  Allow God to work in you and through you (v. 20-21).

We all have a calling, we all have a ministry.  We all have a part  in making our church pleasing to God.

 

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