Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
"And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'"
My pastor (Steve Kopp) preached on this today, spending the bulk of his time reviewing the core values of our church related to the imperatives of the Great Commission: to make disciples, baptize, teach, and obey. I love my church!
As he preached I began to see something in the passage I hadn't caught before. I was struck by the implications of 'make disciples of all nations' and what that would mean in its original political climate and also ours. It seems to me the Kingdom of God doesn't only cross national allegiances, at some level it must usurp them!
For example, my nation may ask me as a citizen to fight its wars against other nations. However, the Great Commission demands that I make disciples of all nations. This is a critical impasse of allegiances. How could I as a Christian, in good conscience, fight a war against those I am command by Christ to make disciples of? And yet this is exactly what a majority of Christians have done since Constantine...

This isn't to say the Church has to create its own military or political reality. By definition it is a political reality, but it is one very different than the world has ever seen! Christians don't... shouldn't... conquer by dominion or violence, but by loving our enemies and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ! It's so radically different that it's easy to miss for those of us suckered into the world’s way of doing things. When the nations demand we kill for whatever paradigms of justice they've erected to justify violence we must resist! We must resist standing by the truth in love, inviting all nations to the table of Christ! Then we shall be known as peacemakers instead of stooges of the state.
Christians, remove the blinders we've allowed to slip over our gospel! Our political allegiance is first and foremost to the Kingdom of God and the teaching/ways of King Jesus! 

Matthew 20:25-28 (ESV)
"But Jesus called them to him and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.
 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'"
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (ESV)
"Though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete."

On August 31st, having been invited by Pastor Steve Kopp, I preached my first for-realz sermon at Wyoming Park Bible Fellowship!

I’ve given sermons before but only in the classroom. I’ve spoken in front of large groups before but never preached. It felt good, really good.

I’ve been in Bible college/Seminary for seven years now, entering my eighth year as of this past week with two more years ahead of me. These many years are a great benefit to me as I’ve lead Sunday school classes, small groups, engaged in church meetings, worked through personal studies in the Bible, and of course for my own spiritual development! But nothing is quite like actually using that education to prepare a sermon, working through the Greek and the theology, and then preaching it in a church on a Sunday morning. It felt good. It felt right! And I was incredibly nervous! (See James 3:1)

A year ago Hananiah and I were looking for a church where I could engage in a residency program with a pastor. My friends Katie and Joel Morgan, Starbucks regulars, advised WPBF. On our first visit Pastor Steve approached me and asked if I happened to be looking to do a residency! I thought we would have to try several churches before finding one that we would fit into. It blew my mind how God was working to bring things and people together. Now a year later, Steve and I have written up a ministry resident contract and I will be working under him for the next two years! Praise God!

Well, here’s my sermon. As I said, I was nervous! I rush through my points faster than what I intended and I make a couple of lame jokes (especially my greeting in the first few seconds), so if you take notes you might have to listen through it a few times just to catch everything. It’s about 30 minutes long. Post a comment if you have any feedback!

Confession on the Church, the Body of Christ

This was a very good exercise for me. If you’re a Christian, take a minute to write down what you believe the Church is.
What is important to say? What can be left out? What absolutely MUST be said? Does your definition match up with mine? Let me know if it doesn’t! Let’s talk about it and find out where we fit in the bigger picture.

Confession:

I believe…

the Church is composed of those who have been redeemed by grace through faith in relationship with God. The Church serves God in their dedication and loyalty to Jesus Christ in all things. (Romans 5; Ephesians 2; Hebrews 10-11)

Under the New Covenant, the dispensation of grace, this group is defined as all who publicly profess faith in Christ, uphold the testimony concerning Christ in the New Testament, and are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 16:13-19, 26:56; Mark 8:27-29; John 5:39; Acts 17:2, 15:6-11; Romans 9-11; 1 Corinthians 12:13; 2 Peter 3:15-18)

The Church is the Body of Christ. As the parts of a body work with unity under the head, so the Church operates with Christ as its head. (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 4:1-16)

The Church is the living temple of God. Through Christ and the Holy Spirit the Church embodies God’s presence upon creation. (John 2:19-22; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 6:16)

The Church, wherever it is present, stands as a testimony of Christ’s rule and power over all things by subverting the evil powers and the fallenness of all those who seek to dominate creation in rebellion against God. (2 Corinthians 5:11-21; Ephesians 1:15-23, 6:10-20; Colossians 2:6-15)

The Church is most clearly recognized by its preaching of the Gospel, obedience to Scripture in accordance with truth and love, and worship of God in Trinity. (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 4:8; John 4:24; Acts 19:23-27, 24:14; Ephesians 4:4-6; Philippians 3:3; 1 John 3:18; 2 John 1:4-11)

Only God knows who ultimately belongs to his Church, but through a biblical process of loving and truth seeking, Christians are able to discern those who stand against God and his Church. Those whose actions and beliefs are in accordance with the Gospel, obedience to Scripture, and worship of God in Trinity may be declared of the Church. This is to maintain the unity and good work of the Church. (Matthew 18:15-35; John 10:1-18; Titus 1:10-16; Hebrews 10:26-31)

I believe… 

the work of the Church is holistically centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and impacts all of creation as Christians constantly surrender their lives to Christ’s lordship. (Romans 15:1-7; 1 Corinthians 2, 4:1, 7:22, 11:1; 2 Corinthians 4:5, 10:7; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 5:2; Colossians 2:6-7)

The critical work of the Church is surrendering everything to Christ. (Romans 8:12-30; 1 Corinthians 3:23; Galatians 4-5; Philippians 2:1-11)

Surrender results in obedience to Scripture and the conformation of every pattern of life to the truth of biblical standards. (Galatians 4-5)

Acts of obedience to Scripture are most clearly Baptism, the Eucharist, and the good works of faith. (Matthew 3:11; Acts 1:5; Acts 11:16; Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:26; Ephesians 2:8-10; Colossians 3:1-17)

I believe…

Baptism is the act of publicly confessing Christ, in Trinity, in a symbolic action of dying to oneself in order to be raised in new life with Christ. It is achieved by the willing participation in the sacramental symbol of Baptism. The mode of Baptism may alter as long as the covenant reality it symbolizes is fully realized. (Matthew 28:19-20; Romans 6:4; Galatians 3:25-27; Ephesians 4:5; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21)

True Baptism occurs only once, just as the reality of birth occurs only once. Only those who fully understand what it is and means should participate in it. It is not necessary for full participation in the Church but it is a natural part of that participation. (1 Corinthians 1:14-17; Acts 22:16; Galatians 3:25-29)

I believe…

the Eucharist is a meal initiated by members of the Church, in local churches, in obedient memory to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. The drink and food, elements notwithstanding, symbolize Christ’s blood spilt and his flesh destroyed in order to redeem mankind from its sin against God. It is the celebration of the defeat of sin and death, and yet, a solemn memory of the price paid, like a victory feast after a war. (Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:20-34)

The Eucharist meal is physical representation of the invitation for all mankind to accept Christ as Lord and Savior. For Christians, it is a means to serve one another in the unity of our shared faith by enjoying a meal together despite social status, age, and power. For non-Christians, it is a testimony of the Church to Jesus Christ and an invitation to accept him as Lord. Thus, non-Christians may partake in the Eucharist and witness the glory and power of God present in the Body of Christ at the dinner table of any local church. (1 Corinthians 11:20-34)

I believe…

the Church is governed by God through Christ and the Holy Spirit in accordance with properly exegeted Scripture. Christ and the Holy Spirit have given leaders from among the Church to guide the Body of Christ in obedience, resulting in the good work of the Church. (Romans 8:14; 1 Corinthians 11:3, 12:28; Ephesians 4:11, 5:23)

These leaders are defined by two roles: Elders and Deacons. (Acts 14:23; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9)

Ideally, both positions should be appointed through a process beginning with an Elder board interview, then a waiting period of prayer and contemplation, a commendation to the congregation for a vote, and, if their number exceeds that of available positions, a random selection from the remaining candidates. (Acts 6:1-6; 1 Timothy 3:2, 3:7, 3:10; Titus 1:6-7)

Ideally, both positions should have clearly defined means of accountability, exit procedures, and maximum term limits. (1 Timothy 3:2, 3:6-7; Titus 1:10-16)

Elders serve the Church through teaching, preaching, and spiritual guidance to maturity in the faith. (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4)

Elders must be Christians who: are sexually pure- married or not-, good parents, long standing members of the faith, above biblical reproach, free from sin, hospitable, gentle, free from addiction, self-controlled, respected in the Church and out, and able to teach and defend sound Christian doctrine. (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9)

Deacons serve the Church by managing the practical business details required for Church functions and efforts. (Acts 6:1-6; 1 Timothy 3:8-13)

Deacons must be Christians who: are truthful, dignified, free of addiction, lovers of honest gain, long standing in the faith, tested for competency and purity, sexually pure- married or not-, good parents, and of good personal financial history. (Acts 6:1-6; 1 Timothy 3:8-13)

Doxology: Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

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