Meaningful Membership: A Purchased People

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July 30, 2017
Pastor Jeff Struecker

Sermon Notes

Alright everybody, there are some pretty exclusive clubs in the United States. Let’s say that you wanted to join the Yellowstone Club. Let me tell you what it’s going to cost you in terms of money in order to become a member of this club. The Yellowstone Club is roughly 16,000 acres of land in Montana, and in order for you to join this club, you’re going to need to fork out $300,000 U.S. Dollars in cash just to enter into the club. The membership fees every year for the Yellowstone Club are $30,000. But just $300,000 up front and $30,000 per year doesn’t get you membership into the Yellowstone Club. If you want to become part of this club -this extremely exclusive club that CEOs and captains of industry are part of, you also have to buy a house on the Yellowstone Complex. This is some of the most exclusive and some of the most secure property in the Rocky Mountains.

The houses have heated driveways, and they have ski rooms. They have exclusive ski resorts. They have exclusive golf courses. Houses in the Yellowstone Club start at 2 million dollars and go up from there. ‘Want to become a member of the Yellowstone Club? You’ve got to fork out 2 million dollars for a house, $300,000 to get in, and pay $30,000 per year if you want to be part of that club.

But did you know there’s an even more exclusive club that’s based here in the state of Georgia? It’s the Augusta National Golf Club. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. About 300 people per year are invited to become members of the Augusta National Golf Club. When Bill Gates was considered the richest man in America, he made the mistake of saying out loud that he wanted to become part of Augusta National. And that’s an error in etiquette, and it caused the Augusta National Golf Club to not even invite him to become a member for many years. -because he publicly said that he wanted to join that club.

It doesn’t matter how much money you have. Most people never get the opportunity to go, let alone to know some of the members of this club. For almost 100 years, you could be one of the richest people in the world…You could be the Queen of England, but if you were a woman, you couldn’t get into the Augusta National Golf Club. That was the policy, that it was an exclusive, male-only golf club, and the only people that could become members of the Augusta National Golf Club were men until that policy was changed, and right now today, there are 3 women as part of this 300-person club in Augusta, GA. The first woman ever to be entered introduced as a member of the Augusta National Golf Club- 2012, then Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

There are some really, really exclusive clubs out there, and today, we’re going to compare the church of Jesus Christ to a club, and we’re going to contrast the two, and we’re going to see that there are some things that are really, really different between clubs and the church.

We start today a 3-week sermon series looking at membership at Calvary Baptist Church and membership into Jesus’s church universal, and today, we’re going to take a look at, “What does it take in order for you to become a member at Calvary Baptist Church?” And next Sunday, we’re going to take a look at what makes church people different from other clubs, or organizations, and on the final Sunday, two weeks from now, we’re going to look at how we as a church keep ourselves pure and make ourselves spotless for King Jesus.

Now, I want us to just answer the question right up front. We’re getting ready to go back to school. I’m going to give you a test; it’s a 1-question test, and in fact, it’s an open-book test, and I’ll probably just tell you the answer up front, but here’s the test question: Can anybody become a member of a church? Can anybody be a member of this church?

Now, I want you to think really hard about this question, because if you were to ask this question to the Bible (What does it take to get in? What keeps you out of membership of a church?), the answer to this question makes the church really, really exclusive. It has nothing to do with you color of skin, nothing to do with how much money you have in your bank account…It has nothing to do with where you come from.

The answer to this question is this: Money can get you into a lot of clubs. If you have enough money, you can get into pretty much any club you want to get into, except for this one. -except the church.

The blood of Jesus …

I. is the bond that binds us

You see, the church of Jesus Christ is a family, and money can get you into most clubs, but it takes blood to enter a family. And if you’re not covered by the blood of Jesus Christ, you cannot become a member of his church. You can attend church; you can watch the members of the church as they worship, but you really cannot be considered a member of a church if you’re not covered first in the blood of Jesus Christ.

I want you to write this statement down. I want you to put it in the notes of your worship guide today. I want you to remember it, because we’re going to go back again and again to the blood of Jesus.

Money gets you into civic organizations; money gets you into social clubs. But the church of Jesus Christ is a family, and if you’re going to enter a family, you do it through blood. -Not your blood, the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, if you’ll notice in your worship guide, you got a little half-sentence at the top of the sheet there, and the half-sentence says this: The blood of Jesus…

We’re going to finish that sentence with 3 phrases today.

The first phrase that I want you to write down is, “The blood of Jesus Christ is the tie, or the bond, that binds us.” Can saying you want to be part of a church family make you part of the church family? No. If you’re not bought by the blood of Jesus Christ, if you’re not born again (You have to be born into a family), you really can’t call yourself part of the big family of God.

Now, we’re going to look at a couple of passages from 1st and 2nd Corinthians, these 2 books in the New Testament. And I’ll tell you before we’re done why we selected these passages, because there are lots of other places in the Bible that we could go to.

Here’s the first thing that I want you to hear from the Bible today about being bought with the blood of Jesus Christ: The bond that binds us together as a family is the blood of Jesus Christ. 1st Corinthians, chapter 6, the Bible says this:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

I want you to pay close attention to what you see on the screens, because the guy who writes this passage is a Jewish man who spent his entire life learning how to be a pastor, and the Apostle Paul, when he was growing up, was taught you have to be born as a Jew in order to be part of the family of God AND in order to go to church, you have to go to a very specific place in a very specific Temple in Jerusalem.

He’s re-defining church for us today, and he’s re-defining family for us today. Paul was raised to believe by being a good Jew, you had to be born to a Jewish mama and daddy, and you had to follow the Jewish customs. And one of the Jewish customs was that you had to go to the Jewish Temple, and you had to worship God there, because God’s presence dwells there. He radically changes this idea. He’s writing to this church in Corinth, and there are Jews, and there are Greeks, and they’re all worshipping in the same building at the same time, but Paul is saying, “You don’t go to a building anymore to go to church. Church isn’t something that you do. Church is something that you are.

You now have the Holy Spirit of the living God dwelling inside of you. He doesn’t hide behind a veil anymore. The Holy Spirit lives inside of you. And that’s why we teach around here that this isn’t a sanctuary. This isn’t a holy building. It’s just bricks and carpet and lights until God’s people come together. You see, the holy Temple of God is you. And when you leave here, you take the church with you to work on Monday. When you leave here, you are the church in your backyard when you’re bar-b-queing on Saturday.

That’s the church. The church is the people. The church isn’t the building. But he says something much more important than that in here. He says, “I want you to notice what it took in order for you to become the church.” In order for the people in Corinth not to start to argue back and forth about who’s more important in the building, he says, “I want to remind you, this is the price that was paid in order for you to become part of the church…” At the end of verse 19, he says, “You don’t belong to yourself.” Verse 20, “for God bought you with a [Say those 2 words.] high price.”

The price that it took in order for you to be part of the church is the blood of Jesus Christ. It took God’s perfect son, the sacrifice of Jesus, in order for you to become part of this family. And that’s why Paul says, “Because you’re part of God’s family now, because the spirit of God lives inside of you, you should honor God with your body. ‘Cause that is the Temple of God now.

Look, there are a lot of things that I really should say about that last phrase up there, but I just don’t have time. I will say this: In order to prepare for today’s sermon, I went back and looked in the Bible at the statement “one another”. These words “one another” show up. I didn’t even get all the way through the New Testament when I saw how many phrases in the Bible refer to how the church is supposed to act, the way that the church is supposed to relate to one another. Just in the New Testament alone, there are 39 passages that use “one another” language, and those passages say stuff like, we’re supposed to be at peace with one another. We’re supposed to love one another. Honor one another. Welcome one another. Comfort, serve, instruct one another. Did you know there are 4 different places in the New Testament where it says you’re supposed to greet one another with a holy kiss? Ushers, get ready. Next Sunday, you need to plant one on somebody’s cheek when they come in the door. 4 times, we’re told in the New Testament, that’s how we’re supposed to act toward one another

It says that we’re supposed to serve one another, that we’re supposed to bear one another’s burdens, that we’re supposed to be kind, forgive, submit, teach, exhort, pray for, comfort, confess your sins to one another. You’re supposed to have fellowship with one another.

And then there are several places in the New Testament where it tells you what you’re not supposed to do. Because you’re part of a family, here are the things that a family doesn’t do. It says not to pass judgment on one another. Don’t provoke one another. Don’t lie. Don’t speak evil. Don’t argue against one another… James, chapter 5, verse 9 says, “Don’t grumble against one another.” That’s not an option. That’s a command. That’s how a family is supposed to live. The tie that binds us together is the blood of Jesus Christ, and that blood makes us family now. And sometimes families fuss with one another, but we’re still family, and this family should be more intimate than your physical family.

II. flows through the body

Here’s the second thing that the blood of Jesus does: The blood of Jesus flows through the body. The blood of Jesus is coursing through the veins of the church.

You see, I think if you were to listen to some pastors… I just want to be honest. The pastors that you hear on TV…If you were to listen to them honestly, it sounds like their whole goal is to build more buildings and put more money in the offering plate. And I sometimes want to ask those pastors, “Are all you’re trying to do or accomplish just building buildings and budgets, or are you trying to build up people? Because if you’re trying to build up people (or the body), you should approach things just a little bit differently.” Of course, churches need money for buildings and budgets, but is that your only goal? ‘Just buildings? ‘Just money in the offering plate? Or are you trying to become a family? -a family that’s so connected with one another that you’re like a body functioning in unison with each other.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13
The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit

Do you see the unity in this passage? Yeah, you come from different backgrounds. Yeah, you come from different walks of life, but let me tell you what makes us one. What makes us one if that we’re part of a family.

Albert Einstein, one of the greatest minds America ever produced, Albert Einstein famously said (and the guy really was a genius, and this statement will tell you how much of a genius he was), “In order to become a member in a flock of sheep, one must, above all else, be a sheep.” ‘Pretty genius what this guy is saying. You really can’t call yourself part of a flock of sheep if you’re not a sheep. You really can’t call yourself part of a family if you haven’t been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ and been brought into a relationship with other Christians.

And Paul is using body language. He’s kind of saying, “You know when you get up late at night, and you’re walking across the living room, and you stub your toe in the dark? -You feel it from your head all the way down to the bottom of your feet. Every part of the body feels that.” You know when you burn yourself, just the tip of your finger on the oven when you’re cooking? Your whole body aches when you do that, because the body is a whole. The body is a unit, and the body is supposed to function like a unit.

And then he suggests in this passage, he suggests that God put you in his body for a specific purpose, and God wants you to bring your gifts, your abilities, and put those to work in his body. And if you don’t do that, then the body isn’t functioning the way it’s supposed to. In fact, the body isn’t firing on all cylinders. The body is missing something. Certainly, somebody else may step in and fill the hole that you’re leaving by not putting your gifts to work in the church, but if God hasn’t gifted them to do that, it’s going to be frustrating for them, and it’s going to be frustrating for everybody else. It’s when the whole church functions as a body, that the church is better, and everybody is ministered to.

And Paul reminds us, here’s the thing that unites us: Different people, different walks of life, different colors of skin, but one Holy Spirit that has radically and totally transformed us, and THAT makes us one.

I’ve got a story, a video that I want you to see in just a second. The lady’s name is Rebecca. Rebecca’s family fell apart, and Rebecca didn’t know where to turn, so she went to a church that wasn’t even in her state. She heard about this church. She drove a long distance, went to a church in Texas, and I want you to notice what happens when Rebecca goes to this church, because her world is falling apart around her. In fact, Rebecca uses family language today. She says, “I’m not blood relation to these people, but they treated me like family. They took me in, and they loved me like family. Listen to Rebecca’s story.

(Video Shown)

A couple of pretty awesome things that you just saw in this video: It didn’t say that Rebecca’s marriage got stronger. In fact, it probably isn’t any better today. But put yourself in her shoes. She’s living in Nashville, TN, nowhere to go next, and she decides, “You know what? I’m going to drive to Texas, and I’m going to show up to a church that I’ve never been to before in a state that I don’t even live in, and when she got there, in Rebecca’s words, she found a family. Here’s the other thing that I think is awesome about this video clip. It doesn’t say anything about the pastors of the church. It just says the church loved on Rebecca. The church was a family to Rebecca the way that church people are supposed to be a family to one another.

One of the things that our church has taught for a long time is that it’s not the pastors who do the ministry of the church. We’re followers of Jesus, so we’re supposed to do ministry to, but it’s actually the people of the church that do the ministry of the church. It’s the pastors that equip the people of the church to do ministry. -to love each other, to serve one another, to be family with one another. And what you saw in this video clip is a woman who said, “I found a family in Texas, someplace that I’ve never been to before. They’re not connected to me by blood.” –Oh yes, Rebecca, they are. They’re connected to you by the blood of Jesus Christ, and that’s why they’re loving on you like a family loves on you.

Ill. purchased his bride

You see, the blood of Jesus, it’s the bond that binds us. It flows through his body, but here’s the last thing that I want you to notice: The blood of Jesus Christ purchased the church, and the Bible calls the church of Jesus Christ the bride of Christ. It’s the only thing acceptable for Jesus to spend eternity with. -His church, his bride, made pure, made perfect, by the blood of Jesus.

I think sometimes we, church people…Before I go any further, I’m not talking about the casual person that comes in on Sunday, and their life’s a mess, and they’re just trying to sprinkle a little religion on it to hope that their life is going to get better. I’m talking about us regular-attending church people. I think sometimes, we can get a little bit mixed up on Sunday. I think we get mixed up about who the church was created for. You see, sometimes, I think the church starts to think, “Well, God created the church for me.”-instead of remembering, actually, God created you for the church.

Here are the times I start to get this impression from people: when they start to use the “I want” language. “I want this kind of music, and I want the temperatures to be set like this, and I want the room to be arrayed like this…” And I start to think in the back of my mind (I wouldn’t dare ask it to your face.), but I start to think in the back of my mind, “Who did you come here to worship today? Did you come here to worship you, or did you come here to worship Jesus?” In other words, was the church created for you, or were you created for the church?

Of course, we all have preferences about the temperature and about music and about how the room is supposed to look, but at the end of the day, I submit those preferences to the good of Jesus’s family, to the good of the church. And because we’re the bride, and he’s the groom, the church exists for him, not for us.

2nd Corinthians, the second letter that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he said this in chapter 11:

2 Corinthians 11:2-4
For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband-Christ. 3 But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. 4 You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.

Here’s what Paul is saying: The church, this church, all churches exist for one person and one person only, and his name is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul is freaking out about this church that he started in the city of Corinth, and he’s saying, “We gave you the pure message of the gospel, that Jesus Christ shed his blood so that sinners could be made right with God, and I’m worried, church, that you started to believe a lie. -that you started to believe a sermon that wasn’t true. I’m worried that you started to listen to a spirit that wasn’t telling you the truth.” Here’s what he ultimately says, “I’m worried that you started to worship a different savior. You started to worship a different Jesus than the one we preach.”

Paul is saying, “I’m worried about my church. I’m worried about what’s happening in your midst, because you are supposed to be a pure and perfect bride for the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is spiritual adultery to start to believe the false teachings that the church was being exposed to in the city of Corinth.

I’ll be honest. As a shepherd here, as one of the shepherds of this flock, I sometimes get worried about our church. I sometimes get worried about 2 categories of people that come to Calvary Baptist Church. I worry about the person that comes to church and puts their name on the roles, and then leaves and never has anything to do with us ever again. And here’s my concern: My concern is, “Did they believe that by joining this church and putting their names on the roles at Calvary Baptist Church, did they believe that because of that, they’re going to Heaven?” -Because, if that’s what they believe, then they’re mistaken, and I’ve allowed them to be mistaken. And that group of people really concerns me.

But I’m equally concerned for people that come every Sunday, and they give the impression that I’m checking this list, and I’m doing this thing, and I’m accomplishing this for God, like, “God surely is going to love me because I got up, and I read my Bible, and I went to church, and I gave my money. God’s going to love me because of that, right?”

Paul is saying, “Don’t you understand? You can’t earn the love of God. That love was poured out on you. Entry into this family was demonstrated for you by the blood of Jesus Christ, and there is nothing you can do to earn that love. But now that you’re part of this family, here’s what the Lord Jesus Christ expects, “I want you, in response to my love, I want you to love me with all of your heart, your soul, your mind, and strength, and anything less is not good enough. Once you know me, once you’ve been bought by me, once you’ve been brought into my family, now I want you to show that you love me, and I want you to demonstrate that you are bought by me and loved by me.”

But don’t be mistaken. Just putting your name on the roles of a church cannot possibly get you into Heaven. Your name as part of the family of God, bought by the blood of Jesus Christ. -That and that alone is what secures somebody’s salvation, what secures eternity for them.

In just a couple of weeks, one of the biggest fights, perhaps in the history of 2 sports is about to happen. On August 26th, UFC superstar, Conor McGregor, is about to fight boxing superstar, Floyd Mayweather, in what most people are calling the biggest fight of all time. In fact, Yahoo Sports estimates that there will be somewhere between 5.3 and 5.5 million people who will fork out the money to watch this fight live on Pay Per View. If you wanted to go to the fight and sit in the audience, those seats are sold out, but you could probably get one for somewhere between $1,500 and $7,500, if you want to go see the fight live.

August 26th, perhaps one of the greatest stars in mixed martial arts is going to fight one of the greatest stars in boxing. And when Conor McGregor was asked, “Why do you pour so much of your heart and soul into this sport? Why do you give so much, not just in the octagon when you’re fighting, why do you spend so much of your energy and time in training for the fight?” McGregor said, “It’s not for the title belt. That’s not why I do what I do.” In fact, when he was asked this question, Conor McGregor said this, “I do what I do in training and in the fight to secure my family’s future. I don’t care about titles. I don’t care about anything else. I just care about taking care of my family.” That guy’s got enough money now that he could take care of his family for a long, long time.

Here’s what you’re hearing from the Bible today: You are a purchased people. The family of God has been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ, and this family should be incredibly important to you. This family should have great meaning to you.

Next Steps

• I want to be a part of Jesus’ family. Today, I turn from my sin and surrender to him for the first time.

– I haven’t taken membership seriously in the past. Sign me up for the August 6th membership class.

+ I will sign the membership covenant.

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever researched your family history? If so, what did you learn about your ancestors?
  2. What message about Jesus does it send to a multicultural community when a church is only one culture or color of skin?
  3. When you’re in the hospital, why don’t they give you a choice about whose blood they put in your veins?
  4. In Jesus’ day, a woman’s family would pay a large sum of money or property to her in order to become a bride.  This was called a dowry. In the case of the church, who paid the dowry and to whom was the dowry paid?
  5. Why was it necessary for Jesus to pay for his bride with his own blood? (Use the bible to explain your answer.)
  6. What is your place in the body? (What gift(s) has God given you that he wants you to use for the good of his church?) How are you using those gifts to serve Calvary?
  7. Pray for your church family this week.

Further reading

Acts 8:1-4

May 5, 2019Pastor Jeff Struecker Sermon Notes I. The Gospel has always been under attack Acts 8:1Saul agreed with putting him to death. On that day a...

Acts 7

April 14, 2019Pastor Jeff Struecker Sermon Notes I. God calls a people Acts 7:1-8 “Are these things true?” the high priest asked. 2...