Well, the 2004 Olympics have come and gone with some pretty unusual things taking place. I don't know if you watched any of the coverage or not. There was the 'streaker' who did a belly flop into the pool during the men's synchronized swimming event. There was also a defrocked Irish priest who pushed a Brazilian marathon runner into the crowd costing him the gold medal.
Sounds weird doesn't it? Fortunately, these kinds of incidents were few. Most of the time we saw teams and individuals working hard to best represent their countries. When the tally was finalized it was the USA that wound up with the most medals, 103.
That makes me feel proud, even though I didn't break a sweat during the competitions. Why? Because I am an American and they were my team! Who can forget the excitement over the 'Miracle Team' of 1980? There is something important about being a part of something greater than ourselves. Now as proud and as exciting as it is to be an American and watch the teams succeed. It isn't even close to what it must be for the team members. Think of what it would mean to actually participate in the competition!
The title of the message this morning is "Everybody Needs a Team". That is especially important to us in the spiritual realm. Throughout the Scriptures we find illustrations of this importance of being a part of the team. For Christians, the team is the local church. As a believer, we are a part of the overall body of Christ, but it is through the local church where we have an opportunity to serve the Lord. God has not called us to be spectators, but to be participants.
Read: Acts 2:41-47
I. Why Become a Part of the Team?
A. There are those who reject the notion of church membership.
B. However, if we believe the Bible…we can easily see that God intended for every believer to connect with a local church.
1. When the Bible declares that people were added to the church it is obvious that they were identifiable individuals.
2. Not only were they identifiable, but the church to which they were joined was also identifiable.
3. Later on we see the this identification as simply "the church at Jerusalem"
4. This was not some 'universal invisible church'.
5. It was a local church with individual members.
Ac 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Ac 11:22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.
C. Illustration of teamwork in the church.
1. They loved the Lord. v41-42
a. They that gladly received the Lord were baptized.
b. Baptism is an act of obedience to the Lord.
c. This is in accordance with the command of the Savior. Cf Mt. 28:19
Mt 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
2. They loved one another. v42
a. They continued in doctrine (teaching of the Word)
b. In fellowship with one another
c. In breaking of bread… observing the ordinance of the Lord's Supper
d. In prayers…praying for each other and helping bear one another's burdens.
3. They loved others. v47
a. People were being saved on a daily basis.
b. That doesn't just happen…that is a direct result of believers witnessing to others and sharing the truth of the Gospel.
c. That is really the goal of all the teamwork!
d. Our goal here at GBT is to reach as many folks with the Gospel that we can!
e. To do this we need each other working together toward achieving that goal!
II. Consequences of Going It Alone
A. Those believers who cut themselves off from genuine involvement and fellowship "with the body".
1. Are often spiritually sick or stunted in their spiritual growth.
2. God made provision for the believer's spiritual growth.
3. And it is not through the TV, radio, or internet!
Eph 4:11-12 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
B. Without church membership the believer fails to progress in grace and knowledge as they should.
1. Because it is within the sphere of the local church that the individual members develop in understanding.
2. It is within the sphere of the local church that believers exercise their gifts, give, receive, and share spiritual life.
3. Failure to unite with a local church results in the believer's spiritual growth being stunted.
C. Questions that need to be addressed.
1. Can't I still attend church? Yes, but attendance is not membership.
2. Can't I still give to the work of God my tithes and faith promise missions? Yes, but membership is more than giving.
3. Do all church members do all that they should? No, but that is no excuse for not becoming a church member.
III. The Importance of Staying With the Team
Ac 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
A. Continue in Doctrine.
1. The order of this verse is very important.
a. Some would say we need to place the emphasis on fellowship.
b. "It doesn't matter what you believe, just join with us!"
c. Be careful of anyone or group that de- emphasizes doctrine!
2. Doctrine is important.
a. You cannot be a Christian unless you believe the TRUTH.
b. The Truth of the Gospel is that man is a sinner…but God loves us.
c. Our sin alienates us from God…but He made a way through the cross of Jesus Christ.
Ro 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
d. Salvation is free to all who will believe in Christ…and Christ alone!
B. Continue in Fellowship.
1. The word here means communion, having things in common or sharing.
2. You do not have to be a Christian to have fellowship with others.
3. But Christians have fellowship of an entirely different kind.
a. We seek to share spiritual life in all its aspects.
b. We have a joy which is imparted by the Holy Spirit.
c. We have our worship, our songs and our activities.
d. Our faith is strengthened as we share our experiences, plans, problems and hopes.
4. Christian fellowship includes the presence of Jesus Christ who said, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them"
C. Continue in the Breaking of Bread.
1. The presence of all the members of the church is desired at the Lord's Supper.
2. In the Lord's Supper the fellowship of believers takes place in a visible act of communion and union together.
3. Why did Christ command His disciples to celebrate this simple ordinance?
1Co 11:26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
a. Every time the communion supper is held we are reminded of the centrality of the atonement.
b. We remember that our salvation is derived from the Lord's vicarious sufferings.
Heb 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
4. Authority for the ordinance of the Lord's Supper belongs to the sphere of the local church alone.
a. It is not to be undertaken by any other body or fellowship.
b. There can be no adequate substitute for a local church.
c. The local church is unique in representing the body of Christ upon earth.
d. It is the duty of every Christian without exception to do all that is humanly possible to contribute to the well-being of the local church.
D. Continue in Prayer.
1. Prayer is a vital part of church life.
2. It is by prayer that we express our entire dependence upon the Lord to sustain us.
3. We cannot even begin the spiritual warfare without participation in prayer.
Eph 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
4. The Scripture tells us that we should love one another and bear one another's burdens.
5. This is partly accomplished through faithfulness in prayer for one another.
Speaking generally, five groups of people constitute the average congregation.
Which group best describes us?
Everybody needs a team. God knew that and has established the local church for our benefit. God desires that we be participants and not just spectators. Let's be obedient to Him this morning. If you are interested in talking with me about uniting with this local church, take the time to let me know. If you are ready to make this commitment now, come. If you need to trust Christ as Savior, don't put it off. If God has challenged you this morning to get off the bench and start serving Him in this church, come.
What ever the need, come to Him this morning.