The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5:25b, “…Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her…” Jesus bought the church at the price of his own blood. We are stewards of something of inestimable value. However, for some of us, church is just one item on our self-help playlist. Ephesians 2:4-5 reveals that we don’t need help, we need resurrection. Every time we gather, may we have the bride of Christ in focus, seeing the unsurpassed beauty of citizens and siblings growing together into God's sanctuary. What attitude or practice is hiding the beauty of the church from your eyes?
We often use the phrase, my church, to refer to the place we go on Sunday mornings. It’s common to discuss what I like about my church, what I don’t like about my church, how my church is changing, and what my church is doing or saying about a particular issue. Although this kind of language and commentary is pervasive enough to become background noise in most church foyers or fellowship halls, there is only one person who can truly say, “my church.”
In Matthew 16:18b Jesus says, “…I will build my church…” The church, forever and always, belongs to Jesus. It is his possession, not ours. In addition, Jesus is the one who makes and fashions the church according to his will, not ours. So what is the church according to Jesus?
This series focuses on the Church’s Mission.
From September of 2021 to June of 2022, the Chapel family will seek to align its understanding of church with Jesus’ intention for church. We will walk through eight sermon series that will call us to greater levels of understanding and obedience regarding the beauty, the worship, the location, the relationships, the “chosen instrument”, and the life of the church. These series will challenge us to engage questions like: What is the church? Why is there a church? What does the church do? Where is the church located? What are relationships in the church supposed to be like? What kind of people does God use in the church? What characterizes the life of the church?
“My Church” — Matthew 16:13-20
— The church belongs to Jesus
— The only one who can say, “my church,” is Jesus
— What does the Greek word, “Ecclesia,” mean?
— The dual nature of the church as called out from the world to gather and called from the gathering back into the world
Summer Series: In 2020 the world contended with a crisis. In 2021 everyone is talking about a recovery. The dynamics of crisis and recovery are present early on in the Biblical story. In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve’s rebellion plunge the world into a cosmic crisis of sin, selfishness, and separation from God. The Apostle Paul sums up the depth of the crisis, “As in Adam all die” (1 Cor. 15:22a)... They desperately try to deal with the new reality of shame at the sight of their own nakedness by covering themselves with fig leaves.
How did God respond? He re-covers Adam and Eve. “And the LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and He clothed them” (Genesis 3:21).
As we move from contending with a crisis to receiving God’s recovery, may we see that Jesus is God’s ultimate covering. Adam and Eve attempted to cover themselves, and God re-covered them with the skin of an animal. This was an early sign that their covering would require a sacrifice. Matthew 27:45-46 reads, “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus was covered in darkness that we might be covered in God’s eternal light. Jesus was covered with the weight of sin that we might be covered with the freedom of grace. Adam and Eve were covered with the skin of an animal to point forward to the truth that all who place their faith in Jesus Christ are covered by the blood of the Lamb.
We have all been contending with a crisis. As we move through the summer of 2021, let us receive God’s recovery, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).
Spring (2 Weeks): We will close out our long look at Jesus with two passages from the Gospel of John that challenge us to consider the exclusivity of Jesus’ claims and follow him alone as the way to life in this world and the world to come.
Spring (3 Weeks): We look at Jesus as He sends His followers out to share the Good News of the gospel with others.
Spring (2 Weeks): We look at Jesus as He shares the Good News of the gospel with others.
Spring (2 weeks): We will fix our eyes on Jesus’ gentle care for those who are struggling to place their faith in Him.
Lent (7 weeks): during the season of Lent we will look at Jesus the Forgiver. We will ask questions like: How does Jesus forgive? Who does Jesus forgive? Who needs to be forgiven? Why does Jesus forgive? Forgiveness plays a central role in the mission of Jesus. Mark records Jesus declaring the very reason he came like this, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” In addition to forgiveness being fundamental to why Jesus came, it is what his followers are told by Jesus to proclaim, “repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47).
Winter (7 weeks): We will look at Jesus’ teaching on the practical matters of everyday life. What did Jesus say about money, poverty, marriage, parenting, and how to deal with broken relationships? We will be reminded that he taught “as one with authority” (Matthew 7:28-29). We will seek to surrender our own authority and autonomy to live under Jesus’ authority in communion with him, our spouses, children, and the church.
Advent (5 weeks): During the season of Advent we will ask the great question that hangs over any honest look at Jesus: who then is this (Mark 4:41)? We will look at the beginning of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke to answer the question, and join with Jesus’ mother, Mary, by treasuring what we learn and pondering its mystery (Luke 2:19).
Fall (9 weeks) – Jesus with people
After a two-week introduction to the annual focus theme, we will fix our eyes on Jesus with people. What did he say to them when they were afraid? How did he invite them into his mission? How did he respond to their limitations? We will be instructed by Jesus, the master teacher, and seek to apply everything we learn. In addition, we will examine what Jesus did when the crowds thinned, and he was alone with his Father.
The book of Revelation is a disclosure of history’s final outcome so that believers and the Church may view the present moment in light of the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises. The Greek which the author of Revelation (John) uses to describe its contents is apokalypsis from which we get our English word “apocalypse”. The Greek term means “disclosure or unveiling”. In Revelation, we see the unveiling of the Messiah’s return, heaven and earth re-united, and the new creation that finally and completely establishes the Kingdom of God about which Jesus preached.
Due to its prophetic nature and heavy use of symbolism, Revelation has always been a challenge for believers to understand. However, we must remember that all of God’s Word is “profitable” (2 Timothy 3:16). God did not give us a book to confuse us. Rather, though the imagery takes work to unpack, God structured the visions in a clear outline so that every reader could follow the plot line of God’s story till the end of time and into eternity through the repetition of the number “7.” In the Bible seven symbolizes completeness or perfection, as in the seven days of God’s perfect creation. As God brings history to its perfect conclusion, we encounter seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls. Along with an introduction and the conclusion of the whole biblical story, these “sevens” give you handles to grab on to any part of Revelation and know what you are reading. As you read Revelation, look for the repetition of the number 7 and when you encounter it, slow down and consider the symbolism of what comes next.
In the one Book of Revelation, we see God triumph over evil to live with His people forever. God’s story of creation, rebellion, redemption, and new creation with Jesus at the center moves from challenges in the Church to the new creation through evil’s ultimate defeat. We see Jesus at the center of the story for it is only Jesus, portrayed as the lamb who was slain, who is worthy to open the seventh seal of God’s scroll. The wedding feast of Jesus, again represented as the lamb, takes place at the culmination of history at the dawn of the new creation. And it is Jesus to whom the final petition of the entire Bible is addressed, “Amen, come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)