May 30th 2022: Ian Middlemist

Ephesians 2:11-22

The purpose of the Church.

You can look at taller buildings using an electric drone. Gou can see on screen what the drone is looking at, see how it is looking up there. How is the church looking from up there today? How is it looking from God’s perspective? How is our heavenly Father looking at us today? What do you think of when you think of the church? You can go on a computer and zoom in on Google Earth, zoom into London, into Canary Wharf, into the Bishops Gate area and see enormous, magnificent office blocks made out of glass. Bishops Gate was largely obliterated in the Blitz. There’s a large church – St. Helens. When you see it from the office blocks it looks tiny. Some of those office workers, on their breaks, high up, can look at the little church down there and wonder why it’s there. Worshippers can look up today and ask how they fit in. I encourage you today to raise your vision to God’s perspective. Hi is the one who has created the church for His own glory.

The church is a heavenly assembly.
The church is an earthly assembly.
The church is for the glory of God.

The church is a heavenly assembly.
The New Testament translation of church is ‘ecclesia.’ It actually means an assembly. We’re assembling today. Assemblies in schools haven’t happened for the past two years because of Covid. Schools can now come together, one school, one message. The New Testament has two kinds of assemblies, one is in heaven and one is on earth.

The universal church gathers in heaven, the local church gathers on earth. The Church is fundamentally a gathering. This must be first in our thinking. The local Church is equally important, but the invisible, universal church must come first.

When you become a Christian you become part of the universal church. You didn’t join the church. Scripture invites us to see things from His perspective. Jesus Christ has joined not just individuals to Himself, but a people, all invited to Him. When Adam and Eve sinned, the immediate effect was division occurred. Their relationship and communion with God was broken. They became afraid of Him, uncomfortable before Him. They hid, hoping to disappear from the face of the planet. The relationship suffered. God seeks out that unity between human beings. Because of this rebellion there was no harmony. But God came through His Son, to have a people He will cleanse and purify. Today, He is calling a people out of this world, out of dominion of Satan and death, to be His people in oneness.

He has raised us up with Him, “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” (Ephesians 2:6). Upon saving us, He has given us a place in God’s heavenly throne room.

“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. (Ephesians 2:12-16).

What are the two groups? The Jewish and the Gentile groups. God is uniting these two groups through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. United together, one in the glory of heaven. If you’re sitting with Christ in heavenly places, you are also seated with the heavenly assembly.

The earthly assembly.
This is the local church. God’s purpose is that His heavenly church, one in the Spirit of God, show up on earth through the existence of local churches. God has declared us righteous in heaven, seated with the saints. It’s real, in the here and now. He has declared us righteous for the here and now. Earth, this globe, this time – May 2022, matters to God. We are not merely to be thinkers of how we live out our lives, we’re doers and need to get on with it. Our God acts in this world. Look at Jesus Christ Himself – how God demonstrated His love, not merely by making declarations of His love. But Jesus became a man, entered into this world, came in flesh.

As soon as a Christian becomes a member of the heavenly assembly, they want to become part of the earthly assembly. They want to become part of the local church. They want to be with other Christians, wanting to be in a local church. We put on the heavenly, we get involved. We’re putting on the new self, working it out with other Christians. The glory that is done to the Lord will be revealed to the world through His church. Membership in the universal church must become visible in the local church. Committed Christians, committed to one another. The ideas of a Christian who doesn’t want to become part of the church is impossible.

The purpose of the Church.
Some will emphasise that the church is heavenly; what matters is we’re walking with Jesus, trying to do our best. Others will say that the church needs to be active. The Protestant Reformation say it was possible for someone to be part of the visible, local church without being part of the church of Jesus Christ. These days, we seem to emphasise the local church.

We’re united with all churches, one with other churches. The church is universal. The Almighty God has created the church. He has brought it into existence. What is the purpose of the church? We’re here today for the glory of God. So easily we can be caught up with the concerns of the day – evangelism, bank accounts, so much so we forget we’re here for the glory of God. We’re here today to glorify Him and Him only.

The church is not ultimately for seekers. It doesn’t exist for those enquiring about the gospel. Jesus did pay attention to the needs of crowds and unbelievers. He teaches them (John 6). There’s a danger we become more and more like the world if we exist to be attractive to the world.

The church doesn’t exist to be more attractive for the disciple either. It doesn’t exist for the Christians. The church doesn’t exist for you. We’re not to go around taking surveys for our needs. We’re not to ignore people’s needs but our goal and purpose is for the glory of God.

Our God has come down to us and reached us, lifted us up to the heavenly places. All of our needs are found in Him. We’re here for Him. The church exists in the people of God. Lour primary occupation is the glory of God.

What a wonderful thing it is to be part of the church. It’s our joy to discover that. It’s wonderful to be built on the sure foundation of Jesus Christ. We have a church that is firm and secure. None can destroy His church. Praise His Name.

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