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Part 5: We Live Life Together – The Christ-centered Community

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If you believe in Jesus, you must persevere in the faith. The God-appointed way to do this is by being actively connected into the life of the local church.

Scripture: Hebrews 2:7-15

Manuscript

Many of us who have gathered here this morning believe in Jesus

            -we believe there is an Almighty God who created the heaven and the earth and us

            -we believe that this God has revealed himself to us in the Bible – that the Bible is God’s word to us

            -so therefore we believe there is one God in three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

            -we believe that Jesus came to the earth

                        -that he lived his life perfectly and completely without sin

                        -that he pleased his Father in everything he did

            -we believe that Jesus died on the cross, that he was buried, and that he rose from the dead on the third

                     day

            -we believe that when we believe in him, we are forgiven of all of our sins—past, present and future

            -that because of what Jesus has done for us we will live with him for all of eternity – forever and ever

            -the message of the gospel of Jesus is that we are saved by the grace of God through faith

                        -by believing in him

Now when I describe these core, central Christian beliefs, many of you would agree with them

            -when I go through the list, you say, “Yep, that’s me. I believe every one of them.”

            -if you believe, these core beliefs are important to you

            -they are meaningful – they are beautiful – they are delightful

            -when you hear these great truths, they stir your heart with peace and joy

                        -they fill your heart with worship

If that is you, praise God – you have come to church today as an expression of your faith

            -if you don’t believe all of these basic Christian beliefs, if you are not a Christian but just checking

                     things out today, I’m glad you are here

            -I invite you to sit back and listen in today

                        -today I am going to be describing some of the core ways we live out our faith in Jesus

But if you today believe in Jesus, I have a question for you

            -How are you going to keep believing?

            -Sure you believe in Jesus today sitting here in church, but how are you going to hold onto your faith?

            -How are you going to make sure you don’t make a shipwreck of your faith?

Because if you have been a Christian for very long, you have probably seen this happen to other people

            -friends of yours who believed in Jesus just like you do

            -friends whose faith was important to them, just like your faith is important to you

            -but then something changed

                        -maybe they went through some big event that ended up destroying their faith

                        -or maybe it was a slow, subtle drift away from the faith

                        -they maybe can’t even point to any cause or any reason

            -all we know is that something changed

                        -they used to believe in Jesus, but now they don’t

                        -they used to be actively involved in a church, but now they are not

If today you believe in Jesus, how are you going to make sure that this doesn’t happen to you?

            -Are you going to trust in your own strength?

            -Do you assume that you falling away from the faith is something that could never happen to you?

            -but remember, you probably know someone who before would have given the same answer as you

                        -and now they no longer believe

            -How are you going to continue in the faith right up until your dying day?

This is what we are going to look at today

            -we are going to look at the primary tool God has given to keep you in the faith

Core Value series – Looking at the 6 core convictions that guide us and define us as a church

            -6 core truths that we love and cherish and delight in

                        -first 3 are 3 core beliefs – last 3 are 3 core practices

            -Core Value #5 – We Live Life Together – The Christ-centered Community

            -the church – why the church is absolutely necessary for you if you want to follow Jesus

            -why we all need the church – why we need each other

(PRAY)

Before we get to some specifics, I want to lay a bit of the biblical groundwork

            -I want us to see biblically why the church is absolutely necessary for us

            -through the Bible, God will show us what the stakes are and why the church is essential for us

1. You Must Persevere in the Faith

Persevere means continue

            -some word you may use when running

                        -you’re tired, you’ve run a long way – you keep telling yourself you have to keep going

                        -tell yourself “Persevere, endure, overcome” – “Don’t give up”

Persevering in your faith means continuing to believe and follow Jesus throughout your life

            -to not give up in your faith when you are challenged or discouraged

            -if you believe in Jesus, this is the most important issue in your life

            -giving up in your faith, quitting in your faith is devastating and deadly

            -perseverance in your faith is absolutely necessary

We are going to look at a number of Bible verses that will help us see how important persevering is

Mark 13:13 – “And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be

                     saved.”

Matthew 24:9-13 - “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by

all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

James 1:12 -  Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will

  1. the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

James 5:19-20 - My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let

him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

1 Timothy 4:16 -  Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will

  1. both yourself and your hearers.

2 John 9 -  Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God.

                     Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

1 Corinthians 15:1-2 - Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you

received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

Hebrews 10:26-27 - For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no

longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

Hebrews 10:36 - For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive

                     what is promised.

Revelation 14:12 - Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God

                     and their faith in Jesus.

Through these verses God is making something very clear to us

            -here it is – if you believe in Jesus, you must persevere to the end

            -it will do you no good to believe for a while but then to move away from the faith

            -sometimes Christians have fallen for this mistaken idea that if you say a sinner’s prayer, you will be in

                     heaven no matter what

            -but this is not the message of the Bible

                     -in the Bible God is making it absolutely clear to us that we must persevere

            -he warns us that we must persevere

            -he tells us that if we do not persevere in our faith, we will be under his judgment

            -you must have a real, true faith in Jesus to be saved

                        -and a true faith will always persevere – if it doesn’t it reveals that it is not a real faith

            -persevering in your faith is absolutely necessary

            -it is tremendously important – you will be under the fierce judgment of God if you do not

2. We Need Each Other To Persevere

So if persevering in the faith is so drastically important, how are we going to do it

            -how has God commanded us to stand firm to the end

            -the primary tool God has given us on this earth is the church

            -God has given us each other

We are going to focus in on our passage this morning – Hebrews 2

            -describes in perceptive detail how we need each other to persevere

Hebrews 3:12(-14)

            -“Take care” – this is serious business, this deserves your attention and effort

            -telling them “be careful you do not have an evil, unbelieving heart”

            -he starts off the passage calling them “brothers” – “Take care, brothers”

            -Who are the “brothers”? The men and women and boys and girls who believe

            -Do you see the problem here? At first he calls them brothers – they are brothers because they believe

            -but then he warns them about having an unbelieving heart

            -So do they believe or don’t they believe?

            -well, they all gathered together as the church

                        -but within the church, some may have a true faith and some may not

            -he is giving them the benefit of the doubt – he is calling them all brothers

                        -but he is also warning them

                     -he is telling them to search their hearts to make sure they are not evil and unbelieving

            -because if they have an evil and unbelieving heart, they will “fall away from the living God”

So how do you overcome this? How do you make sure you don’t fall away?

            -If there is this real threat out there, what is the solution?

            -How do we make sure this doesn’t happen to us?

            -it gives us the solution in the very next verse

Hebrews 3:(12)-13-(14)

The solution that it gives us is something you can’t do on your own

            -“exhort one another” – you can’t do that by yourself

            -“one another” means that you need other believers to do this with

                        -you need them and they need you – otherwise you can’t obey this command

            -“exhort one another daily” – talking about close, personal, involved relationships with one another

                        -if your only church involvement is coming to church on Sunday, you can’t obey this

            -Sunday is the necessary start but the relationships within the church must continue through the week

This means that we have a responsibility to each other

            -we have a responsibility to speak words that protect others from falling away

            -to encourage each other, to challenge each other, to care for each other

            -we have a responsibility to ask the hard questions and to get involved in each other’s lives

It gives us the reason why this is so essential

Hebrews 3:(12)-13b-(14)

That is the threat – that we “may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin”

            -on your own, you are at great risk of being deceived by sin

            -sin is very deceptive – if you are all alone, it will deceive you

                        -sooner or later, on your own, sin will overcome you

                        -you will fall for its deception and you will fall away                     

            -to try to withstand sin’s deception on your own is incredibly foolish

                        -it is like one soldier on his own trying to overtake a full army

            -this is why we need the eyes and words of other people

            -if you are driven by pride, you will think you don’t need anyone else

            -but if you are humble, you will be grateful that your brothers and sisters can give you the help you need

Persevering in the faith is the sign that your faith is a true faith

Hebrews 3:(12)-14

The exact wording is very important here

            -notice that it does not say “we will come to share in Christ, if we hold our original confidence”

            -instead it says “we have come to share in Christ, if we hold our original confidence”

            -persevering until the end doesn’t earn you a share in Christ

            -persevering proves that you already have a share in Christ

            -The Point – biblically, true faith always perseveres

                        -God himself will see to it

God himself will see to it that his children persevere in the faith

            -but he accomplishes this through means

            -he doesn’t just zap this down from heaven – he uses people – he uses his church

So how do we live this out?

            -How do we make sure that we set up our lives to tackle this threat head on?

            -To live out the best path to persevere in our faith till the end?

3. Covenanting Our Lives Together

If this threat is real (and God says it is), if the risks are grievous (and God says they are), then we must take

                     serious steps to combat them

The serious step we are to take as believers in Jesus is to join in a covenant with one another

            -to willingly join our lives together with a covenant agreement

            -this is the purpose behind church membership - we call our church membership Covenant Membership

            -because membership is where we willingly agree to join our lives together

            -we want our practice of Covenant Membership to get better

                        -have taken steps but more to get better at

Church Membership – today Why – talk to pastor/elders on how – class after 1st of the year

Now to get a picture of what a covenant looks like, it can be helpful to look at marriage

            -marriage is a covenant relationship - it is a man and a woman agreeing to join their lives together

            -the marriage covenant is a formal, legally binding agreement

            -to get married you go to the courthouse to get a marriage license, because there are state laws that

                     stipulate how marriages are to be legally treated

            -and then in a Christian marriage, a pastor performs a wedding ceremony

            -he stands before “God and these witnesses” and the couple makes vows to unite their lives

            -at the end, the pastor pronounces the couple husband and wife

                        -from that point on, the relationship of this man and this woman is different

                        -by their willing decision, they have covenanted their lives together

So rather than getting married, why not just live together

            -several reasons – God has commanded that sexual relations should only take place within marriage

                        -so to just live together is to be disobedient to God

            -but even beyond this, the marriage covenant is for our good

            -challenges will come against every marriage from right inside the marriage

                        -every marriage is the union of two sinners

                        -we put them together and hope it will all turn out ok – it is amazing that it every does

            -when challenges and threats come against the marriage, we need the protection of the covenant to get us

                     through

            -we need to remember that we willingly made vows to remain married until death do we part

            -we need the covenant to sustain the marriage through dark, difficult times

            -Dietrich Bonhoeffer – “It is not your love the sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that

                     sustains your love.” (quoted in Piper, This Momentary Marriage)

            -when we have children, the marriage covenant provides a stability they need

            -in marriage, we willingly join our lives in a covenant for our good and the good of others

In many ways, our church covenant membership is like a marriage

            -it is willingly agreeing to join our lives together for our good and the good of others

            -there is something very counter-cultural about church membership

            -American culture – very individualistic – a “right” to privacy – be your own man/woman

            -but as we saw in Hebrews 2, to follow this and try to live your faith on your own is foolish and futile

            -taking the step of Church Membership is you saying that you want to willingly join your life with

                     others in the church to follow Jesus Christ together

            -it is you saying “I care more about my perseverance in the faith more than my privacy”

            -it is you saying “I care more about my perseverance in the faith than my desire to not be committed and

                     to keep my options open”

            -it is you realizing that your heart is prone to wander

                        -and setting up protections for yourself when your heart does wander

Our Church Membership Covenant is an agreement between you and the elders of this church

            -the elders agree to care for your spiritual health and to pastor you

            -you agree with a few points about how you will be committed to the church and will do your best to

                     faithfully follow Jesus                      -this means that when you become a Covenant Member, you are no longer an isolated believer

                        -instead you have brought yourself under the biblical protection of the elders

            -the elders then have a responsibility to care for you and for your soul – to practice Church Discipline

            -becoming a church member is you giving the elders permission to come after you if you go astray

            -this is for your good – James 5:20 – “whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his

                     soul from death”

Becoming a Church Member is a sign and statement of your commitment

            -similar to marriage – when a guy just lives with a lady, it is a sign of his lack of commitment

            -living together is the man saying to the woman, “I’m not really committed to you”

            -getting married is a statement of commitment – “Through thick and thin, I am committed to you”

            -same with church membership – becoming a member is a statement of your commitment

            -it is you saying to the church “You can count on me”

Becoming a Church Member is agreeing to how you will handle conflict

            -in marriage, you do not marry the perfect person

            -Jesus’ church is not perfect on this earth – it is not perfect because we are in it

            -our Church Covenant recognizes this

            -when you become a church member, you are agreeing to handle conflict in a biblical manner

                        -when you sin against others and when others sin against you

            -you are agreeing to resolve conflict biblically with humility, confession of sin, and forgiveness

            -we miss out on so much when we refuse to handle conflict biblically

                        -when we drift away and avoid it and go our separate ways

            -when we handle conflict biblically we get to see the gospel of Jesus at work and live it out

                        -God can use the conflict that will come to increase our faith and our experience of his grace

Becoming a Church Member is a promise that you will be actively engaged at church

            -that you will be at our times of corporate worship

            -it is a promise that you will be engaged in biblical community

                        -this is how Community Groups are so important and essential

                        -just got started this fall – if you are a part of this church and not in a CG, get plugged in

Becoming a Church Member is an act of love for your brothers and sisters

            -it is telling the other believers in this church, “I care about you enough to lay down my independence”

When you become a church member, you are taking a step to help you persevere in the faith

            -and you are taking a step to commit your life to help others persevere in the faith as well

This is what I desire for you – for your good and the good of your faith

            -I want you to be actively plugged into the church where real, spiritual relationships can form

            -a commitment to give years - the rich relationships that build and get stronger year after year

            -relationship in which we love one another and care for one another and encourage one another

            -relationships that will continue with our true spiritual family for all of eternity

Philippians 1:3-6

Audio:

ManuscriptCommunity Group Leader Guide

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