When I published my blog yesterday about why people leave churches or never come back once they have visited a new church. I mentioned in there that I would ask my Pastor if he could share his thoughts concerning if someone needs to go to church in order to be saved. I didn’t make it to church last week and his sermon was pretty much based on it. He gave me permission to share his sermon notes.
Thanks Pastor Ray. Pastor Ray is the Senior Pastor at St. George Community Church in St. George, Utah.
FROM A SERMON DELIVERED April 29th, 2018:
If you want to listen to Pastor Rays sermons Click Here...
Here’s a phrase you hear a lot from the young people or the Millennial Generation—“I’m spiritual but not religious.” What do you think they mean by that—‘spiritual but not religious?’ Well, let me say it in another way. “I love Jesus but not the church.” Maybe you’ve heard that from some. Or they say, “I can worship God wherever I’m at and I love Jesus but I don’t need to come to a church where there’s a bunch of hypocrites who think they’re ‘holier than thou.’” And I always say, ‘Well, there’s always room for one more.”
But the thing is, people say they don’t need the church. Let me tell you something. Here’s what that really means: “I don’t love Jesus.” If you don’t love the church you don’t love Jesus. Now why would I say that? What’s one of the metaphors the Bible uses for the church? –the body of whom? Christ! We are all members of the body of Christ and members one of another in Christ. And you can’t cut off part of the body, a finger or foot, without hurting the whole body. We are all members, together, of Christ and of one another.
One place where I think Paul the Apostle really got a hold on this in his own life was when he was called Saul and he was on his way to Damascus and he was going there to imprison these people called Christians and while he was on his way a bright light blinded him and he fell to the ground and he heard a voice saying, “Saul! Saul! Why dost thou persecutist me?” And Saul said, “Who are you, Lord?” And the voice said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutist!” And Paul realized that the church, the people he was persecuting, they were Christ’s body on earth now. It’s the same as persecuting Jesus. So that metaphor of the church as the body of Christ became important to him. If you love Christ you love the church, if you hate the church you hate Jesus Christ.
That’s just true. Now, here’s the problem. Have any of you been hurt by someone in the church? I think all of us have at some point. So go to church anyway. Has anyone ever been wronged by someone at church? Yes, so go to church anyway. Has anyone ever felt they’ve had an enemy at church? Now I say this because I’ve had people tell me that they believe that someone was their enemy at church and ‘had it in for them.’ Well, what did Jesus say about your enemy? “Love your enemy!” So go to church anyway.
Because when you cut yourself off from your brothers in Christ you cut yourself off from Christ. And the author of the Gospel of John, by the Holy Spirit, wrote about this in his letter of First John, chapter 4 verse 20, where he writes:—“If someone says , ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God (or Jesus) whom he has not seen?” “And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” This is the Word of God!
Can you imagine someone saying, ‘I love the church and I’m going to lay down my life for the church!’ like Peter said about Jesus? You don’t hear that so much. What do you hear? “I don’t think this is the church for me, I’m going to try that church down the street.” Or they say, “I’ll try the church across town.” Ever heard that? Yeah. But you never hear, “I’m going to give my life for this body that God has brought me to today.” “I love Jesus Christ and I love His church and that’s the way I’m going to show my love for church through Christ because how can I say I love Jesus Christ whom I’ve never seen but I hate the brethren because they’re so picky, or they’re so mean, or they’re so forgetful.” You can’t do that.
Jesus is calling you and me to love Him by loving His church. And we say, ‘Yeah, but Jesus was without sin, and church is full of a bunch of sinners and even some cruel people.” There’s no one perfect in church. But when God looks at the church He sees Jesus Christ. And He sees people who are cleansed from their sin by the blood of Christ. And so He calls us to live a life that continues to grow in our love for Him and if we stumble and fall He’s there to pick us up and help us to start again on that road of love and we show our love for Christ through loving each other even though they do us wrong, they disappoint us, but we love them.
Any of you have children that have disappointed you in different ways?
You still love them, and this is the way Christ loved Peter and I believe this is the way Peter loved Jesus. Peter’s willing to lay down his life for this man who came from heaven to die on a cross.
Jesus looks at His church and says, “You know, I love you and I gave myself for you. I don’t want to spew you out of my mouth like the church at Laodicea that was neither hot nor cold.” “Will you love me?” “Will you love me?” Peter stumbled and fell yet Jesus still loved him. The church stumbles and falls but we are called to love the church, as imperfect as it is, because it is the body of Christ, and Christ gave Himself for her, the church. Amen.