When we think of the church many different pictures may come to mind. We may picture a building with a bell tower or steeple pointing upward. We may think of stained glass windows, pews, pulpits, and hymnals. We may think of robed choirs or giant pipe organs. But none of these are accurate pictures of a Biblical church. The church that Jesus Christ was talking about had none of these things. They were simply people who had placed their faith in Christ, had followed Christ's command and example of baptism, and were meeting together endeavoring to reach others with the gospel. I have met people who have made comments that are similar to this "Why do I need to go to church? I can be just as good a Christian without regular attendance in a church." "I am closer to God in the woods or on the riverside than I ever am in church." "Why can't I just be alone out in the country and get close to God?" Perhaps you have been asked the same questions or similar ones. This morning, I want us to consider the importance of the church. As I use the word 'church' realize that I'm talking about the local assembly of baptized believers, not some mystical invisible, universal, non-existent something. Who needs the local church? Everyone!
I. Imperfect People Need the Local Church.
A. The local church is made up entirely of imperfect people.
1. That shouldn't shock anyone, because I am looking at you and you are looking at me.
2. We both know that who we are looking at is imperfect.
3. If the local church was made up of people who never sinned, who never made mistakes, who never made wrong choices, who never "blew it"; then we would certainly feel out of place!
4. I'm thankful that I feel right at home here!
5. We are not perfect, nor does God expect us to be.
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." Jn. 1:8
B. Sometimes we forget that truth.
1. Some folks are looking for the perfect church.
2. That translates like this: They are looking for a church where everyone acts like they expect them to act.
3. Too often folks who forget their own imperfections grow critical of others.
4. Like the man in Matthew 18 who was forgiven a great debt, but refused to forgive someone who owed him very little.
C. Imperfect people need to be teachable people.
1. I have heard people say, "I just don't get anything out of coming to church."
2. That may be true…but the problem may not be the church!
3. God's plan for the local church's educational program is found in Ephesians.
(Ephesians 4:11-15) 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: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
a. We need the church to equip us to serve.
b. We need the church to build us up and encourage unity among the brethren.
c. We need the church that we might become more like Christ.
d. We need the church that we might be grounded in our faith.
e. We need the church that we might be able to distinguish between the truth and the lie.
f. We need the church that we might grow up or mature in Christ.
4. Imperfect people need the local church!
II. Broken People Need the Local Church.
A. Who are they?
1. They are people who have come to the end of themselves.
2. They have been beaten down by sin and by this old world.
3. They are no longer proud and self-reliant, they are hurting and realize that they can't make it alone.
B. We need each other!
(Eccl 4:9-10) Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
1. Woe to him that is alone when he falleth!
2. Broken people need the church to lift them up when they are down.
3. We have a ministry of restoration to perform.
(Galatians 6:1-2) Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
C. Every one of us has been or will be hurt and broken.
1. Those are the times when we need the church the most.
2. To know that someone is praying for us.
3. To have them minister to us.
4. I know that I need this local church as much or more than you need me.
5. I have faced the heartache of losing family members ... and you were there!
6. I faced the uncertainty of my own health when I had a heart attack ... and you were there!
7. I have been broken-hearted, beaten down, lied about, and accused of all sorts of things … and you were there.
8. Broken and hurting people need the local church!
III. Lost People Need the Local Church.
A. People need the Lord.
1. Without Christ, men and women; boys and girls will be lost for eternity.
2. Our hearts are moved when we see pictures of little black children in Ethiopia with flies crawling on their faces and their bellies swollen from malnutrition.
3. And those things ought to move us.
4. But if we could just get a glimpse of the eternal pain and suffering of a soul in hell ... no one would ever have to remind us of the importance of the local church.
"He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." Jn. 3:18
B. God's plan for the local church is world evangelization.
1. The commission given was to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
2. To teach all nations. 3. Without the local church what would happen to the people in this world?
4. Just the missionaries that we support were able to reach over 11,000 souls last year.
5. We spent nearly $42,000 last year on missions, and that figures to $3.69 per soul.
6. I believe it is worth it!
C. If the local church doesn't warn people of hell and tell them of the love of Jesus Christ who will?
Who needs the local church? Imperfect people, broken people, and lost people. We all do!