A Renaissance Church Looks Biblical
We have spent the last few weeks looking at what I called a renaissance church. In this discussion I have tried to bring you back to the idea that if we are going to be a Church that claims to be like Christ then we must get a better vision of what God is calling us to be. And today as we end this series, we are going to finish where we should have started.
We have been talking about being the church that we were created for, the one that Jesus established at His death and resurrection. And with all of this discussion about being a renaissance church I began to wonder over the last few weeks what that would look like to you personally. I mean, does it mean that we are a place where you are comfortable? Is it a place where you can come and be fed, and then get ready to go out and face the world or another week? Is it the biggest church on the street, or in the county, or in the state? Actually, we need to understand that the call to be a renaissance church is not now or has it ever been about getting as big as possible, it has always been about being as Biblical as possible. That’s the call, to be as Biblical as we can be, so that we can truly be the undefiled Bride of Christ.
As we start this morning I want to talk for just a moment about one of the first things they teach you about preaching. And I believe this is important for us if we are going to become as Biblical as possible. There are two ways that you can read the Bible, the first way is to do what is called an exegesis. This is reading out of the Bible, to do this you start with the Bible and you begin to read the text to see what the author intended to tell you.
The other way we read the text is through eisegesis, this is reading into the text. To do this you start with your thoughts, or traditions, or desires and then you go to the Bible and cherry pick verses that back up your beliefs.
Now the problem is that the desire to do eisegesis is so strong, that very often we have already made up our minds before we let the Bible speak. The problem is that we can proof text anything. I start with this point this morning because if we are going to be serious about being a renaissance church, we not only have to read the Bible exegetically we are going to have to live our lives exegetically.
So in our time together this morning, I want us to look at what would we come up with if we decided to put aside our culture, and our traditions, and our desires, and looked at what we find in the Bible about the church. What would we do if we put the things we were brought up believing on the back burner and start with scripture and tried to find what God desires of us.
In a moment of honesty I’ll tell you that when I think about the church, I don’t think about the passage in Matthew 25 that was read for us this morning, and I don’t think about James 1:26-27 where we read If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
I have been struggling with this, because when I think about the church, I think about what we do here. I think about getting up and coming to this building, I think about going to Bible class, and then sitting here on these pews facing forward and singing and taking some bread and grape juice. I think about you looking at me, or sleeping, while I get the chance to share with you what God has put on my heart, and then we head out the door to eat and thinking that we have become a renaissance church. Is this what you read out of the Bible that happens in a Church that looks like Christ?
Now I don’t think that there is anything bad about what we are doing, but I wonder if we think that’s all there is to being the church. And I really believe if we were to get into the scriptures and read out what God wants from us, we would see that there is so much more. So this morning I want us to look in the Bible and try to read out what God desires for us as His children to be. I want us to answer the question if we start with scripture what would this church look like? What would be the emphasis of Scripture for our lives and this church?
First, I would say that there is an emphasis on loving one another
As I read through the pages of scripture, I keep coming back to this idea that God wants the people who claim to love Him, to love one another. John 13:34 says, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. John 15:12 says, This is My commandment, that you love one another. Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another, and 1 Thessalonians 4:9 you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. And those are not the only calls for us to love one another. As a matter of fact 17 times in the New Testament alone we are told to love one another.
But let me ask you, do you think that there are times when we get together and we forget to love on each other? I would say yes. For some of us, you come, you sit, you sing, you listen, and then you go home. But that’s not what I see in the scripture. As a matter of fact when I see the church getting together in the Book of Acts, there is this overwhelming feeling of love.
In Acts 2 we see the church loving on each other as they share everything with one another. In Acts 4 we see them praying a prayer that God would give them strength and courage. They followed that prayer by once again sharing everything they had, and we read that everything was community property. In Acts 6 we see the people picking 7 men to help in the distribution of bread so that everyone was taken care of. Do you see a pattern here??
I am beginning to believe that one of the primary reasons that we get together is to love on one another. To be counter cultural, and be invested in each others lives. I mean we live in a society that values independence, we want our kids to grow up and to become their own man, or own woman. We put a high value on folks who can go out there and get things done by themselves. But I can’t find that type of independence in the pages of the Bible.
What I do find is that the church gets together and fellowships, and I’m not talking about eating a meal together. I mean real fellowship, being deeply involved in the lives of one another. A church that loves on each other that goes far beyond that warm and fuzzy feeling.
Love that is willing to go and sit on a couch in the foyer and maybe skip Bible class or the worship service so that you can ask if everything is ok. Do you have a need that I can meet, are you able to pay your bills, can I cook you a home cooked meal because I know that your week is filled with you running from dance to ball to homework. The love that I read about in scripture is a tangible love, a helping love, and encouraging love, a love that will rejoice with you when everything is going your way, and a love that’s feels the pain when your heart is breaking. A true renaissance church knows that it’s not enough to love with words, they will love with action.
The next thing I see in scripture is that a renaissance church is intentional about getting the message out.
This is another idea of scripture that we come back to again and again. As a matter of fact, 5 different times after His resurrection Jesus tells His disciples to go, to tell, to teach, to baptize, to make disciples. And I believe that many of us struggle with this idea because we have confused the call. What we think or believe we read in the scriptures is that Jesus says, go into all the world and invite your friends to church. Go into your office and find someone you can bring to a building. Go to your friends and see if you can bring them to this place and hopefully the preacher will wow them. And to be honest, we struggle with that because we feel like we are selling snake oil.
The call was never to invite someone to a church, the call was to invite them to your Savior. And that has caused a huge struggle between our heads and our hearts. While our heads think one way, our hearts are struggling because we are missing what we were created for. We know what we are supposed to be doing, but because we haven’t, we walk around feeling empty inside and we meet up with other folks who feel empty inside. And we try to fill that empty space with religious cotton candy.
We fill our time by having bible studies with one another, and we hang out with each other, and begin to empathize with each other and then someone cries and say things aren’t right and we think we have had this great break through. In reality, God has set this huge meal before us and we are content on eating the parsley sprig that adorns the plate.
What I read in scripture is that people were transformed in the way that they thought. They knew that the world was full of men and women who, if left to their own devices, would die in their sin and spend eternity in hell. And they knew that they had the message that would change the future of everyone they met. They knew that they had the knowledge that everyone they locked eyes with needed. And they knew that they had to be the ones to get that message out. They didn’t wait on the Apostles or elders or their parents, or their spouses. They were intentional about telling folks about the Death of Christ. They wanted people to know that God loved everyone of us so much that He paid a horrible price for our sinfulness and selfishness.
They were intentional about talking about the burial of Christ. That someone had to die for our actions. Jesus was not just punished for you, but His life was required for your actions.
They were intentional about talking about His resurrection. They wanted people to know that our greatest enemy, death, had been defeated by the giver of life. And if we are willing to die to ourselves then God promises us that we will live forever.
And they were intentional about talking about His return. They told that Jesus ascended into heaven to prepare us a room in His fathers house, and He promises when the time is right he will come back and take His brothers and sisters home to be with the Father. They knew this was the good, no they knew that this was the great news and they had to get the word out.
They were intentional about the call to be fishers of men, not keepers of the aquarium. Yes, they faced the same rejections that we face, yes people called them weak minded, or ignorant, or believers of fantasy. But they would not allow the ugliness of man to keep them from sharing the kindness of God. I understand the fear that comes in sharing your faith. But you were created to do more than merely insulate yourself in a holy huddle. You were created to get the message out.
The third thing I see in a renaissance church is that they had a dependance on the Holy Spirit.
In John 14, 15, and 16 Jesus says that He has to go back to the Father so that He can send the Comforter, or Holy Spirit, to us. And as we read through the scriptures we see that the church knew that they had to have the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives if they were going to do what they were created for. They understood that there was no way that they would be able to reach the holiness that God desired for them unless they had the Holy Spirit in their lives. They were honest about their brokenness, and their desire to sin. They knew that the only way they were going to be able to figure out this mission was if God was living in them.
I still believe that’s one of the greatest gifts that God has given us. Every other religion has a belief that they serve a God that is out there in the cosmos somewhere. But God says that He wants to live in us. And it is through His presence and power in our lives that we can accomplish what God has laid before us.
We see in John 16:13 that Jesus promises us that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. And the church we read about in the pages of scripture believed and depended on that. They surrendered fully to Him and they followed where He lead. They relied on the supernatural power of God to help them accomplish what they could never accomplish on their own. There was a deep abiding dependance, they prayed that the Holy Spirit would give them direction and courage to do the will of the Father. If we are going to be a renaissance church we must be dependent on the Holy Spirit.
Finally, from the pages of scripture we see that a renaissance church was devoted to the act of communion.
We get to this point and you are probably think, Ah Ha! Finally we got this one. I mean every Sunday we get together and take communion. But I want you to think for a moment about the emphasis that the scriptures puts on communion. Now ask yourself if you place the same level of importance on it.
I wonder sometimes if we have gotten off kilter when it comes to communion. What I mean is that some people have turned communion into a sacrament, it has become something that you have to do once a week if you have any hope of going to heaven. Then other folks seem to treat communion as just one more thing you do in a worship service in between the singing and the sermon. That’s not what we see in scriptures.
What we see in scriptures is that Christians would get together and commune with God and with one another. It was a time when they could take a little piece of bread and remember, and talk about, and reflect on the body of Christ. They talked about the broken body of the Savior as they broke that bread. They would remember that His whole life was a sacrifice. He sacrificed His human desires and wants so that He could fulfill the will of His Father.
Then they would drink the juice, the fruit of the vine, and reflect and remember and talk about the blood that their sinfulness required. How God required a blood sacrifice for their selfishness, and not only did He require that sacrifice, He offered it as well.
It was a time when the church would look at each other in the eye and remember that they were part of God’s family. They would remember and encourage one another in their commitment to this family, and they would remind one another that their relationship with God is the most important thing.
And this morning we gather here to remember and to remind one another that your relationship with God is the most important thing. And if it is not then what have you allowed to come between you and God?
This morning I believe that scripture has called us to love one another in tangible ways and to get the message of Christ’s love out to the masses. We can do that through the power of the Holy Spirit and through remembering what God has done for us.
Questions For You To Consider
If you were going to start a church, what would you you consider the necessities?
Where did you get your idea of what a Christian and a Church are supposed to look like?
Can you think of something, a matter of faith, where your belief’s have changed? Why did they change?
Jeremy said there were four areas that he believes have a prominent place in scripture. Loving one another, Getting the word out, dependance on the Holy Spirit, and communion. What do you think about his list of four?
How can you better show love for one another?
How can you be intentional about introducing other people to Jesus?
How can you develop a dependance on the Holy Spirit?
How does communion draw you back to the Savior?