What Is Important in a Church?

Text: Romans 14:1-12

 

I.         I remember visiting a large congregation many years ago. They had asked me to do some web site work for them.

            A.        While I was amazed at the size of the group, what struck me most were some of the comments the elders made:

                        1.         We don’t have outside preachers speak to the congregation.

                        2.         We don’t want links on our site to other congregations because we don’t know what they might teach.

                        3.         We don’t want anything that will upset some of our members

            B.        While the lessons I heard were scripturally accurate, I realized that they were generic and a bit bland

            C.        I walked away with the impression that here was a congregation that numbers were the most important thing to them. It was how they measured themselves.

            D.        I don’t know if it has since changed or not. I sure hope so. But today I would like for us to consider what is important in a church

                        1.         A greater number is always nice

                        2.         But there are things more important than numbers

II.        What kind of people does God want?

            A.        Having the favor of God

                        1.         What is more important? People like you or God liking you? - Galatians 1:10

                                    a.         It is to God that we are accountable - Romans 14:10-12; Hebrews 4:13

                                    b.         Our destiny is in God’s hands - Revelation 20:12

                        2.         Judgment is based individually, but are we among people who put God first in their lives?

                        3.         However, we must also live at peace with men - Romans 12:18

                                    a.         It isn’t always possible. The wicked tend not to like the righteous - Proverbs 29:10

                                    b.         Fortunately, when we serve God, people tend to like what the godly do - Romans 14:18

            B.        Sound preaching

                        1.         People tend to want preaching that makes them feel good about themselves, but such preaching won’t necessarily get them to heaven - II Timothy 4:2-5

                                    a.         It is the true gospel that has the power to save - Romans 1:16

                                    b.         Altering it would make it a different gospel - Galatians 1:6-9

                                    c.         However, the truth must be spoken in love - Ephesians 4:15

                        2.         We contend earnestly for the faith - Jude 3

                                    a.         We cast down false reasoning - II Corinthians 10:5

                                    b.         But we do so without being quarrelsome and with kindness and patience - II Timothy 2:24

            C.        Speaking out against sin

                        1.         Jesus spoke out against man-made doctrine - Matthew 15:7-14

                                    a.         Often people leave when they are offended - I John 2:18-19

                                    b.         But we must warn - Ezekiel 3:17-18

                                    c.         After all, warnings can lead to changes - II Corinthians 7:8-11

                        2.         What we have to remember is that we are trying to turn people to the truth - II Timothy 2:24-26

                                    a.         Mercy must be shown - Jude 22-23

                                    b.         The goal is restoration - II Corinthians 2:6-8

            D.        Purity

                        1.         We cannot tolerate continual sin - I Corinthians 5:1-7

                                    a.         People sin because they find it desirable, but to keep sin from spreading the sinner must be removed

                                    b.         This is what Thyatira was warned about - Revelation 2:20-23

                        2.         But some sin due to temporary weakness - I Thessalonians 5:14

                                    a.         For some we must help and be patient - Romans 15:1

                                    b.         We need to be encouraging - Hebrews 3:13

                                    c.         We need to first help them overcome and not be quick to write someone off

            E.        Unity

                        1.         We need to reject those who cause factions - Titus 3:9-11

                                    a.         It is not a unity for unity’s sake, but a unity of the Spirit - Ephesians 4:3

                                    b.         Factions are bound to happen; yet, they show who is following God - I Corinthians 11:19

                        2.         But we must not pass judgments where Christ did not - Romans 14:1-4

                                    a.         We need tolerance for one another in love - Ephesians 4:2-3

                                    b.         Unity doesn’t not come by insisting that everyone conform to our opinions

            F.        Committed

                        1.         Many left Jesus over his teachings - John 6:60-68

                                    a.         Many of these same people were ready to force Jesus to be their king - John 6:15

                                    b.         But their zeal was not for spiritual things - John 6:26

                        2.         What Jesus wants are people willing to take up their cross - Luke 9:23

                        3.         Yet, we must still be in the world - John 17:14-16

                                    a.         Spiritual things comes first

                                    b.         Then we are the salt and light of the world - Matthew 5:13-14

                                    c.         Living in the midst of sin without being a part of it - Philippians 2:14-16

            G.        Following the Narrow Way

                        1.         The way to heaven is narrow and straight - Matthew 7:13-14

                                    a.         It leads to everlasting life - Romans 6:22-23

                                    b.         No matter how difficult the way may be, it is worth it - Revelation 21:4

                        2.         But we should not make that way more difficult than it is

                                    a.         The Pharisees made being religious hard - Matthew 23:2-4

                                    b.         Binding the Old Law was an unbearable burden - Acts 15:10

                                    c.         Adding rules are of no value - Colossians 2:23

III.       Yes, few will find their way to following Jesus - Matthew 7:13-14

            A.        But that doesn’t mean we drive people away or isolate ourselves

            B.        Our stand with the truth will cause some to leave, not because of us, but because of the truth

            C.        Others will leave because they are not committed or have become complacent

            D.        Our job is to encourage without being complacent


Based on an article by Andy Sochor, “More Important Than Numbers”