The Growth And Revival of Church
"THE MEASURE OF A STRONG CHURCH"
1. The practice of assembling with a church is important - He 10:24-25
a. Naturally, we hope the congregation we assemble with is a strong
b. But such may not always be the case
1) In NT times, there were many good congregations
2) But some were not what they should have been - e.g., Re 2:4,
2. What, then, is the "measure" of a strong church?
a. Some might consider it on the basis of:
1) The building (or lack thereof)
2) The number of programs, classes, etc.
3) How smoothly it runs as an organization, with its committees,
-- But a congregation can have all these things and still be
b. I suggest a better measure is to be found when we think of the
church in terms used in the Bible to describe it...
1) Such as "body," "family," "temple," "kingdom," "bride"
2) Granted, these are terms used to describe the UNIVERSAL
church; but I believe these figures of speech can help us to
properly measure the strength of a LOCAL congregation
[In other words, a "strong" church is one that...]
I. FUNCTIONS LIKE A "BODY"
A. THE CHURCH IS THE BODY OF CHRIST - 1 Co 12:27
1. As such, it is an organism, rather than simply an organization
2. You can have organization, but still not have LIFE!
a. E.g., a dead body
b. "the foot bone's connected to the leg bone..." can just as
easily be said of a corpse as with a living body
B. THE BODY OF CHRIST HAS MANY MEMBERS...
1. Not all have the same function - Ro 12:3-8
2. Every member must appreciate his or her own function - 1 Co
3. Every member must appreciate the function of others - 1 Co
C. THE BODY MUST HAVE MEMBERS WHO FULFILL THEIR FUNCTION!
1. Growth occurs when "every part does its share" - Ep 4:15-16
2. We understand that a chain is as strong as its weakest link
3. So a body's strength is affected by weak and inactive members!
a. Injury or physical handicaps limit the ability of the body
b. Strong members may try to help out, but then that limits
what other work they would normally do
[How each of us functions as a member of the body affects the strength
of this congregation!
A strong church is also one which...]
II. LOVES LIKE A "FAMILY"
A. THE CHURCH IS THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD - 1 Ti 3:15
1. I.e., it is the "family" of God
2. Do we think of each other as "family"?
3. We should, in light of 1 Ti 5:1-2
B. A STRONG FAMILY IS ONE WHERE THERE IS...
1. Concern for one another
2. Care for each other
3. Love for one another
-- The church at Thessalonica is a good example - 1 Th 4:9-10;
2 Th 1:3
C. TO DEVELOP A SENSE OF FAMILY REQUIRES...
1. A willingness to get to know one another
2. Taking advantage of opportunities to spend time together
-- As congregations grow, it becomes harder to maintain a sense
(But how well we one love one another will be a true measure of the
strength of this church!
A strong church will also be one that...]
III. PRAISES LIKE A "
OF OLD WERE BUILT TO GLORIFY THE BEING TO WHICH THEY TEMPLES
1. The design of the structure itself was designed to praise
2. The sacrifices and services rendered in the worship also
B. THE CHURCH IS GOD'S TEMPLE TODAY - 1 Co 3:16-17
1. We are both the "temple" and the "priests" who offer
"spiritual sacrifices" - 1 Pe 2:5
2. Our purpose: to proclaim the praises of God - 1 Pe 2:9-10
C. HOW DO WE OFFER SACRIFICES AND PRAISE TO GOD?
1. By lifting our VOICES in song and prayer - He 13:15
2. By doing GOOD DEEDS - He 13:16
3. By offering OURSELVES as living sacrifices - Ro 12:1-2
[How each of us praise God with our voices, body and service is a true
measure of this church, Let's be careful not to despise the name of
the God we serve as a temple and priests (cf. Mal 1:6-8).
And then consider that a strong church is one that...]
IV. SUBMITS LIKE A "KINGDOM"
A. AS THE CHURCH, WE ARE PRIVILEGED TO BE IN THE
1. As were the Colossians - Co 1:13
2. As was John the apostle - Re 1:9
B. A KINGDOM SUGGESTS A KING, TO WHICH SUBJECTS SUBMIT ALLEGIANCE
1. Unfortunately, many churches are more like the kingdom of
a. Where the king (or queen) is only a symbolical figure head
b. The true decision-making power is in parliament
2. But a strong church is one in which the citizens (members)
submit to Christ as King in reality - Co 3:17; cf. Ac 2:36
a. Where things are done as He directs, by His authority
b. Where we follow His commands, and not make up our own rules
[How each person submits to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is a true
measure any congregation.
Finally, a strong church is one that is...]
V. PURE AS A "BRIDE"
A. PAUL THOUGHT OF THE CHURCH AS A BRIDE - 2 Co 11:1-2
1. One that he had betrothed to Christ
2. One that has a responsibility to be pure and chaste
B. CHRIST THINKS OF THE CHURCH IN THE SAME WAY - Ep 5:25-29
1. He offered Himself to enable her to be pure and holy
2. He did this out of His great love for her!
C. JOHN WAS TOLD OF THE FUTURE MARRIAGE - Re 19:6-9
1. Note that bride "has made herself ready"
2. She was adorned by the righteous acts of the saints
D. AS THE BRIDE, AWAITING MARRIAGE, WE MUST MAINTAIN OUR PURITY AND
1. By being cleansed through the blood of Christ...
a. First in baptism - Ac 2:38; 22:16
b. Then in confessing our sins - 1 Jn 1:9
2. We also maintain our purity...
a. By our "righteous acts" - Re 19:8
b. By abstaining from unrighteous deeds - cf. Ep 5:3-5
1. Such is "The Measure Of A
", one that... Strong Church
a. Functions like a BODY
b. Loves like a FAMILY
a. Praises like a
d. Submits like a KINGDOM
e. Is pure as a BRIDE
2. How each person does his or her part will have an effect on the
measure of this church...
a. We may have the best organization, and all the outwards signs of
a strong congregation
b. But we may be just like the church at
("...you have a name Sardis
that you are alive, but you are dead.") - Re 3:1
Are ALL OF US doing what we can (indeed, what we must) to make the
church strong in the eyes of the Lord?
"THE MEASURE OF A STRONG CHRISTIAN" (II)
1. When Samuel was sent to anoint the new king of
, he learned Israel
that God's measure of a person was different than man's - 1 Sa 16:
2. The same is true today...God's measure of a Christian is often
different than that applied by many people
3. In this lesson...
a. I want to review the measure often used by brethren to evaluate
b. And then consider what is God's measure, which ought to be ours
[We begin with...]
I. THE MEASURE OFTEN USED BY BRETHREN
A. WE OFTEN MEASURE CHRISTIANS BY...
1. Their ATTENDANCE at the services of the church
a. If they attend ALL of the services, then they must be
b. If they attend SOME of the services, they must be "weak
2. Their PARTICIPATION in church-related activities
a. If they participate in ALL of the activities...
1) Such as Bible classes
2) Or Evangelism classes, Visitation programs, etc.
-- Then they truly must be "strong brethren"
b. But if for ANY reason they do not participate in all that
the church offers, their "commitment" is certainly suspect!
3. Their LEADERSHIP abilities
a. MEN are considered strong Christians if they...
1) Lead singing, prayers, help serve the Lord's Supper
2) Teach classes, preach sermons
b. WOMEN are considered strong Christians if they...
1) Teach children's classes, women's classes
2) Prepare communion, clean the building
B. THE PROBLEM WITH THIS MEASURE...
1. It tends to measure the OUTSIDE of man
a. People can do all these things, and still be spiritually
destitute on the INSIDE (I have known some like this)
b. "Hypocrites" can exist very comfortably with such a
c. Brethren can remain in "spiritual immaturity" if this is
the only measure given to them
2. It tends to neglect the multi-faceted nature of the body of
a. Especially if emphasis is on the PUBLIC functions of the
b. And if emphasis is placed on one function over another
(e.g., teaching over service) - cf. Ro 12:3-8
[Because of these "tendencies," the use of such measures is wrought
with the potential of misjudging and condemning one another. This is
something we want to avoid (Ja 4:11-12).
What, then, ought to be the measure of a strong Christian?]
II. THE MEASURE OF A STRONG CHRISTIAN
A. IS FOUND IN SCRIPTURES SUCH AS...
1. Ga 5:22-23
a. Here are qualities of man who is truly SPIRITUAL
b. This is evidence that is truly led by the Spirit of God
c. Now one who is truly "spiritual" will certainly be involved
in various "activities" of the church - e.g., Ga 6:1-2
d. But this measure requires that the "inner man" be changed
2. Co 3:12-17
a. Again, this measure begins with the "inner man"
b. But it carries over to our relationship with one another in
such activities as Bible study and singing
3. Consider other passages, such as those given to:
1) One may preach a great sermon, but what of his personal
life? - 1 Ti 6:11; 2 Ti 2:22
2) He may be willing to contend for the faith, but in the
right spirit? - 1 Ti 6:12; 2 Ti 2:23-25
b. Bishops (elders, pastors)
1) They may be married and have children who believe - cf.
2) But are they quick to anger, unable to teach others?
- cf. Ti 1:7-9
c. Members, young and old
1) They may be attending the services faithfully
2) But is their conduct becoming their stage in life? - cf.
B. THE CHALLENGES OF SUCH A MEASURE...
1. It emphasizes the reformation of the INSIDE of a person first,
trusting that the outside will naturally follow
a. I.e., it requires "transformation," when conformation would
be a lot easier
b. Transformation takes more time than simply conforming
1) Time some brethren may not wish to take
2) Either for themselves, or for those whom they want to
quickly conform to their ideas and programs
3) E.g., trying to get involved in teaching before one is
ready, just to make oneself look good - cf. Ja 3:1-2
2. This is a measure that often only the LORD sees
a. We see each other only for a short time each week
1) It is easy to "put on a front", to pretend to be
something we are not
2) But the Lord sees us as we really are!
b. On the other hand, brethren who may seem "passive" when we
are together may be extremely "active" when apart
1) Active in their warfare against personal sin
2) Active in their daily service to others in the name of
-- Activity which we may never SEE, but the Lord knows!
1. The purpose in discussing the true measure of a Christian...
a. Has NOT been so we can go around and judge others
b. But to suggest caution in how we measure others!
c. And to make sure that we are properly measuring our own selves!
2. The statement of the Lord to Samuel still applies today:
"Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature,
because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees;
for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at
the heart." (1 Sa 16:7)
Let's be sure the "measure" by which we examine ourselves is the same
one used by the Lord!