Matt 16:18
What Is A Church?

This is the first reference in all of the Bible to the church.  It
might surprise you to see the church being referenced by Jesus before
the cross; yet, why not?  The church had been part of the plan of God
from before the foundations of this world.

There are a lot of churches in America and around the world. I
received a post card from the Bethlehem General Baptist Youth, a
ministry, I suppose, of the Bethlehem General Baptist of Whitewater,
Missouri. The card said there were 374,000 churches in America. Of
course that probably includes all kinds of churches—sound ones and
unsound—but even if they were all sound, it would not be enough!

The problem is, "How do you know a good church from a bad one?"

This morning, let’s answer the question, "What is a church?"

I. A church is a place that glorifies God.  This is the most
    important of all purposes of the church.  There is no purpose
    which comes before this one and there are no purposes which can
    be adequately fulfilled without this one.  How do we glorify God?
    A. A church pleases God.
        1. We need to understand a basic, Bible principal; that is,
            there is a conflict between the spiritual and the flesh.

Romans 8:5  For they that are after the flesh do
mind the things of the flesh; but they that are
after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be
spiritually minded is life and peace.
7  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God:
for it is not subject to the law of God, neither
indeed can be.
8  So then they that are in the flesh cannot
please God.

        2. That means that would please men would not please God and
            what would make man comfortable would not make God
            a. A church is not a place for man’s comfort.
            b. That doesn’t mean we have to design church to make man
                miserable but man’s comfort is not a goal.
        3. The church are the people of God meeting together so
                that they can collectively have fellowship with God.
            a. The party that needs to be made comfortable in a
                church is God not man.
            b. Remember, sin offends God.
                (1) Sin includes transgression of God’s laws,
                     worldliness, and carnality
                (2) Transgression of the law
                     (a) When you use that definition, people want to
                          say you are a legalist; however, that is a
                          New Testament definition.

1Jo 3:4  Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth
also the law: for sin is the transgression of
the law.

                     (b) How can you say a New Testament definition
                          of sin is legalism?
                (3) Worldliness
                     (a) Worldliness is worldly behavior.
                     (b) Our churches are more like bars today than
                     (c) They are dark with strobe lights, marsh
                          pits, rap and rock music, and a little
                          sermonette on the side.
                (4) Carnal means fleshly or appealing to the flesh.
            c. How is a holy God being made comfortable in churches
                like that?
            d. It is strange but in this day holiness offends men,
                and most men think that is worse than for our sin to
                offend God.
        4. Most have lost the understanding of what a church is for
            but the number one reason is to glorify God.
            a. When people look for a church, they are far more
                concerned with what a church can do for them than
                what a church does for God.
            b. That is both backwards and sinful.
            c. If you want to look for a church that glorifies God
                AND has programs, nice facilities, and is friendly—
                fine; but make sure you do not forget the primary
                purpose of a church.
    B. A church preaches the Word.
        1. The biggest compliment a true preacher can have is that
            he preaches God’s Word.
        2. The biggest cut to any preacher ought to be that he does
            NOT preach God’s Word.
        3. John tells us that there are many false prophets gone
            out into the world today \\#1John 4:1\\.
        4. Be careful about exposing yourself to a false preacher.
            a. If you listen to one, you expose yourself to a false
                (1) That is even more dangerous than exposing
                     yourself to error.
                (2) A false spirit is a demonic spirit.
                (3) By the way, a person does not have to be wrong
                     about everything to be a false prophet.  They
                     only have to be wrong about one important thing.
            b. If you promote one in anyway—even just by telling
                others you listen to one—you are promoting a false
            c. If you give funds in anyway—even by purchasing a
                book or CD—you are funding the devil’s business.
        5. The church exists to preach the Word!
    C. A church prays with power.
        1. A church is a place of prayer and a place where power
            comes as a result of prayer.
        2. Every weakness that exists in the world today is because
            of our lack of prayer.
            a. Our weakness in missions, soul winning, standing
                against sin, stopping the devil.
            b. The church has the ability to win every battle as long
                as it fights every battle on its knees.

Charles Stanley - The shortest distance between a
problem and its solution is the distance between
your needs and the floor.

II. A church is a wall against sin.  How does a church do that?

2Thess 2:7  For the mystery of iniquity doth
already work: only he who now letteth will
let, until he be taken out of the way.

    A. A church wins the lost.
        1. Winning the lost is the first and the most important way
            of standing against sin.
        2. Winning the lost undercuts sin by eliminating sin’s
        3. Many churches have gotten side-tracked trying to stop
            immorality and wickedness with laws and ordinances.
            a. I’m for godly laws and ordinances, but they are not
                the first work.  They are way on down the list.
            b. Law has begun to accommodate sin not restrict it and
                you can’t put that genie back into the bottle unless
                the people want it.
            c. But salvation could and would.
            d. Salvation of the lost could put virtue and purity back
                in charge and run sin back into the crevices of
                darkness and shame.
    B. A church dispels ignorance.
        1. That is why we are called light.
        2. We expose sin as sin.
        3. We do that with our words, our reasoning, our behavior,
            but more than anything else with the power of the Holy
        4. With words - We preach/teach/talk about sin being sinful.

Ac 5:42  And daily in the temple, and in every
house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus

            a. Of course the pastor does this from the pulpit, but
                what about people doing it with other people?
                (1) My role as the pastor is to equip you with the
                     truth so that you CAN stand toe-to-toe with any

Eph 4:12  For the perfecting of the saints….

                (2) That is why you hear me discuss things like
                     evolution, atheism, secular American history,
                     and homosexuality in sermons, in Sunday school,
                     via films, and our websites.
                (3) If you cannot answer some of their arguments
                     either you are not listening or I am not doing
                     my ministry.
        5. With reasoning
            a. Our first argument is always the Word of God, but
                because many do not accept the Bible as God’s Word
                and because some of today’s topics are outside of the
                Word of God (American history), we must be able to
                give not just Biblical answers but sound, factual,
                provable answers to the lost about contemporary

1Peter 3:15 …be ready always to give an answer
to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope
that is in you with meekness and fear:

            b. Creation Museum, The Ark Encounter, monuments and
                building in Washington, real history, real science,
                real logic
            c. The primary purpose of education in America was NEVER
                just so that you could make more money.  It was so
                that you could know God better!

Benjamin Franklin
    "A Bible and a newspaper in every house, a
    good school in every district—all studied
    and appreciated as they merit—are the
    principal support of virtue, morality, and
    civil liberty."

John Jay, 1st US Chief Justice of the Supreme Court:
    "…and as the weak and the wicked are
    generally in alliance, as much care should be
    taken to diminish the" first as the last.
    "Education is the way to do this, and nothing
    should be left undone to afford all ranks of
    people the means of obtaining a proper

        6. With behavior
            a. Sin is not just something we preach against.
            b. Sin is something that we refuse to participate in.
                (1) Anything less is hypocrisy.
                (2) The number one reason "Christian" homes are
                     falling apart is and always has been hypocrisy.
                (3) Christians who say they love Jesus but their
                     behavior does not bear that out.
                (4) Gossiping, backbiting, jealous, greedy, laying
                     out of church, buying toys and never tithing,
                     carrying a Bible on Sunday but cursing on
                (5) Do you think your children are so blind that they
                     cannot see?
                (6) You confuse their spirits and damn their precious
                     souls by such behavior.
            c. And more, sin is something we physically stand against.
                (1) Should Christians not be on the battle lines
                     against vile politics, abortion, legalization of
                     sin, false education, and immoral lifestyles?
                (2) Is Christ only worthy of a pew and a hardy amen
                     or is He not worth our time, our legs, our
                     backs, our voices, and our public behavior?
                (3) You may think a Christian standing on a street
                     corner with a placard and a cause is embarrassing
                     but I think more of us out to be standing out
                     there with him!
    C. A church slows sin.
        1. That is why we are called salt.
        2. The battle against sin is a losing battle.
            a. It always has been.
            b. God told us from the beginning how this would end.
            c. Salt does not stop meat from decaying but it slows the
        3. But the church slows the progression of sin.
            a. You might sound like a voice in the wilderness (no one
                hears you), but keep crying aloud for your wilderness
                voice with my wilderness voice and the wilderness
                voice of every other Christian has an effect.
            b. When the church’s presence is no longer accomplishing
                anything for God, God will take us home.

III. A church is the body of Christ.
    A. There are many verses where the church is compared to the
        body of Christ.

1Cor 12:12  For as the body is one, and hath many
members, and all the members of that one body,
being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

1Cor 12:27  Now ye are the body of Christ, and
members in particular.

    B. How is the church like Christ’s body?
        1. A body grows.
            a. As a body grows, so the church grows.
                (1) A body grows in maturity (i.e. wisdom, knowledge,
                     and understanding.)

Lu 2:52  And Jesus increased in wisdom and
stature, and in favour with God and man.

                     (a) With each passing week, the church should
                          know more about God, sin, salvation, and
                          the Savior.  There is no "cap" on that kind
                          of knowledge.
                     (b) But even more important, the church should
                          have more wisdom and understanding.
                          fulfilling Jesus’ commandment.

Mt 10:16  Behold, I send you forth as sheep in
the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as
serpents, and harmless as doves.

                (2) A body grows stronger.
                     (a) Since a church’s battle is spiritual, it’s
                          spiritual strength should be what is

2Cor 10:3  For though we walk in the flesh, we
do not war after the flesh:
4  (For the weapons of our warfare are not
carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling
down of strong holds;)

                     (b) Having bigger and nicer buildings, larger
                          budgets and more staff, are not necessarily
                          marks of a stronger church.
                     (c) Reaching more people for Christ, helping the
                          hunger, the sick, and the naked—those are
                          the marks of a strong church.
                (3) A body grows in number.
                     (a) And yes, a church should be growing in
                     (b) The human body reproduces itself and so
                          should God’s church.
            b. If a body does not grow, something is wrong.
                (1) If you want to read some sad stories, do a search
                     on the internet for children who never grew up.
                     (a) Brooke Greenberg - 20 year old woman in a
                          one year old body.  Both her body and mind
                          are still that of a toddler.
                     (b) Gabby Williams - 9 year old girl the size of
                          a toddler.  It is estimated that she ages
                          one year for four normal years.
                     (c) No one knows the cause for these and the
                          other children like them, but all agree it
                          is not normal.
                           i. In Gabby’s situation, at least she is
                                ageing.  Perhaps she will live to be
                                400 years old.
                          ii. But in Brooke’s case, it looks like
                               she will be a toddler no matter how
                               long she lives.
                (2) Is our church growing?
                     (a) In some ways, YES.
                           i. Our church has such a good spirit in
                          ii. Our church is a giving church.
                         iii. Our church is an active church.  We have
                               a much higher percentage of
                               participation in our church than most
                     (b) But in some ways, we need to grow more.
                          i. We need to pray more.
                         ii. We need to do more to win the lost.
                        iii. We need to find ways to meet the needs
                              of the hurting, the lonely, the poor,
                              the addicts, the abused.
                          iv. We need to make the devil run.
        2. A body unifies.
            a. A body can only function as it is joined and working
                (1) If your foot is in room and your leg in another,
                     something might be wrong.
                (2) If you awake to find your hands are gone, you
                     certainly will not get much work done.
            b. Body parts are not supposed to be missing, neither
                should they be working against you.
                (1) Brother Truman McVea is still recuperating from
                     his stroke. He gets better every day but after
                     a month, his body still does not do what he
                     tells it to do.  Talking with him, he shared
                     that his left hand drops things and sometimes he
                     cannot tell it until he hears it hit the floor.
                (2) That is not supposed to happen.  It is as if his
                     hand is refusing to cooperate.
            c. What unifies the body?
                (1) The brain, the head, the controller.
                (2) For the church, Jesus is the Head, the Brain, the
        3. A body serves.

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