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Today, we are starting a new series titled “The Nature and Mission of the Church”

The New Testament contains many images and figures of speech that describe this divine but human institution for which the Lord died and on which He depends for carrying on His work in the world today.

Today is part 1 The Church, The Family of God.

Text

Ephesians 2:19 (ESV)

19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

Scripture Reading

Ephesians 2:11-22 (ESV)

One in Christ

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 

12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 

15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 

16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 

17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 

18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 

19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 

20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 

21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 

22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Prayer

Father, we gather today in our houses which combined Lord are your house to worship you.

We express our gratitude that you are truly our heavenly Father.

You gave us life and you sustain us.

We are grateful for everyone, that make up this congregation, our brothers and sisters.

In this family of worship, guide us to become the people you want us to be.

It is in Jesus name we pray.

Amen.

Introduction

In this passage of Scripture, Paul spoke to the church as “the family of God.”

This analogy has a great deal of meaning and value, and it is supported by a number of other analogies that express the same thing about the nature of the church.

In Galatians 6:10 Paul refereed to the church as “our family in faith.” 

Galatians 6:10 (ESV)

10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

He admonished Timothy with respect to his pastoral responsibility in 1 Timothy 3:5 (ESV)

5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?

Obviously, the church is a larger family.

The church is called the “people” of God in 2 Corinthians 6:16-18, Hebrews 2:14-17, and 1 Peter 4:17.

The church is also compared to a brotherhood in 1 Corinthians 6:5, 1 Peter 2:17 and 5:9.

Also, Jesus referred to the community that followed Him in terms of the bride and bridegroom in Matthew 22:1-10 and Revelation 19:7.

  1. The church is the family, not the building they worship in. 
  1. The church is an immediate family.

Most of us were born into a family and with parents and possibly brothers or sisters.

We learned the meaning of family in this small, immediate circle.

It is the same way with church.

In the New Testament and in our own experience, the church is first of all the small community of believers in a particular place, meeting, worshipping, and serving God.

In the New Testament, of about 114 references to the word church, 93 of them refer to these small families of God living in various communities of the Roman Empire.

Our church is the family of God in a particular community.

B. Growth is part of family life.

We all started off as children, some of us have our own children and some of us have grandchildren.

We grow from childhood to adulthood and although our family may be scattered in terms of distance, it is still one family.

It was that way in the New Testament as well.

At first the people thought primarily of the local congregation.

By the time Paul wrote Ephesians and Colossians, however he realised that all christians throughout the world were tied together in a family relationship.

C. The church is a large family with many small families.

The church is truly a family.

Wherever we might travel and encounter a church, even though they may speak a foreign language, worship in a different way, or have a culture entirely seperate from ours, we are at home in the family.

The church is the family of God, not a building or organisation.

2. The church is God’s family.

  1. People are born or adopted into a family.

The New Testament uses both these terms.

John spoke of becoming a christian as being “born again” in John 3:3 (ESV)

3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Paul refereed to adoption in Romans 8:23 (ESV)

23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

And Romans 9:4 (ESV)

4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.

Both terms, born again and adoption stress our entry into the family of God.

B. God creates His family. We don’t.

Often we think that we build or organise churches.

However, new members are born into the church when people hear the gospel under he power of the Holy Spirit.

They are convicted of their sins and respond in faith to Jesus Christ.

God initiates this even by sending His messenger and His Holy Spirit.

We are merely God’s servants in bearing that witness.

C. God also calls the church into being.

Through a missions organisation  or trip, we may go into a country of city where there are no or not enough churches.

We may establish a teaching or preaching ministry out of which a church later grows.

However, we need to be reminded that the congregation, or church, that emerges does so because God calls it into being.

We go on missions only because He sends us.

There is response to the Word only as the Holy Spirit works within the hearers.

When a church itself is born, no matter how individuals may be involved, it is God who calls His family into being.

D. God holds His family together.

In the local church and the universal church, God the heavenly Father holds His family together.

Those of us who are members participate in the family because of our faith in God.

Faith in God is the basis of our love for one another.

So the church is God’s family from the beginning to the end.  

3. The church is truly a family.

  1. A family unit is composed of individuals.

Each person has his or her own personal characteristics, and often these are diverse.

Members within the family don’t always agree, but they are bound together by a bond that is far stronger than human opinion.

Though many, we are a family, a unity.

B. We belong to the family.

Several times in the New Testament the word “belong” is used in connection with our relationship to God and the church.

Human life is made up of “belonging.”

We don’t learn the meaning of human life until we build strong relationships with family members.

As we grow older, we desire to be accepted by our peers.

Later we enjoy the respect and love of people from many groups and relationships.

This means that we derive our meaning in life from belonging to other persons.

We experience this bond of belonging most clearly in the family unit.

Husband and wife belong to each other.

Each life would be incomplete unless the other had a claim on that life.

Children belong to their parents, parents belong just as much to their children.

The bond of belonging does restrict freedom in one sense, but, in a larger sense, it is the basis of true freedom.

C. We learn the meaning of love only in belonging.

again, look at your own family relationships.

Look at those who belong to you and to whom you belong.

Think of those occasions in which there has been joy in your family.

Now think of an occasion full of grief or sorrow.

Recall how important it is to intimately belong to another and to have another belong to you.

This is what it means to belong to a church.

In the church, we learn to love one another to the extent that we give ourselves to others and accept them into meaningful relationships.

Love cannot be known in isolation.

It has meaning only in personal relationships.

We love God because He loved us first.

D. In the family, we share.

The human pilgrimage includes both joy and sorrow. 

There are times when we will celebrate  the good times, the weddings, the births, the healing from illness and there will be times when we weep at the grave of a friend and family member together.

This is church.

4. It means a lot to belong to the family of God.

  1. It means that we acknowledge that we belong to God.

Not only did God create us, but He also redeemed us through Jesus Christ.

We are God’s creatures.

In sin, we believed we could live our lives best without God.

This started with Adam and Eve.

It led to estrangement and misery.

Salvation means that we are restored to God.

The relationship of belonging is reestablished.

B. We cherish belonging to God and His people.

When we come to know God and the family of God, we have come home.

There is no sense of loss in turning our backs on our old kind of life.

Rather, there is pure joy because we now realise the relationship with God and other for which we were created.

Christians cherish their membership in God’s family.

C. It is God our Father who holds the family together.

When we recognise our heavenly Father, it is easy to recognise that we belong to one another.

The differences that could seperate us are harmonised if we acknowledge our mutual belonging to God.

Because the church is God’s family, we belong both to Him and His family.

D. Only in this family can we grow into the people God wants us to be.

If a child is deprived of a family through the death or separation of their parents, some family substitute must be found.

A child cannot grow up without a considerable amount of care by someone else.

The church is the ideal family in which individual christians grow up.

There we have the right blend of challenge and encouragement. 

We have approval and correction necessary for healthy growth.

E. In the family of God, we rejoice at the birth of a new member. 

When we hear the good news of a family giving birth to a child we are excited and want to let everyone know.

Likewise, the church is entrusted with the good news of salvation.

We proclaim the gospel throughout the world.

In our local community, we rejoice when a person becomes a christian and is born into the family.

This joy is appropriate.

Also, when we hear from missionaries and churches in foreign countries that people are becoming christians, we rejoice from a distance. 

Conclusion.

Belonging to the family of God is very significant.

This family had its origin in the life and teachings and the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We each participate in the family.

We make our contribution, and live through the family.

Take heart today!

You are members of God’s family and through your participation the family lives on.

Until next time

Stay in the Blessings

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I really want to encourage you to be diligent with your Bible study time, because God has so much more for us than we can get from just going to church once or twice a week and hearing someone else talk about the Word.

When you spend time with God, your life will change in amazing ways, because God is a Redeemer.

Theres nothing thats too hard for Him, and He can make you whole, spirit, soul and body!

You’re important to God, and you’re important to us at www.refinerylife.org

When it comes to prayer, we believe that God wants to meet your needs and reveal His promises to you.

So whatever you’re concerned about and need prayer for we want to be here for you! Or even if you just want to say Hi, you can contact us

2020 IS A YEAR OF CLARITY

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