Saturday, October 14, 2006

Membership Matters (Sunday AM Sermon Outline, Oct 15, 2006)

What it means to be a member of First Presbyterian Church:
The Five Questions of Membership (5)

Embracing the spiritual leadership of the church, and striving for its purity and peace
Hebrews 13:17 and 12:14, 1 Peter 3:8-9

Introduction (review):
1. A month ago now, we began this series on "What it means to be a member of First Presbyterian Church," by looking at the first question of membership: (1) Do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of God, justly deserving His displeasure, and without hope save in His sovereign mercy?
2. In this question we acknowledge that we are (1) sinners, (2) justly condemned and (3) without hope (apart from Christ).
3. We said that two implications of this question (if we really understand and mean it when we answer it "I do") are that we will be (1) people of humility, (2) who rejoice in God’s sovereignty.
4. Then, three weeks ago, we considered the second question of membership: (2) Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of sinners, and do you receive and trust Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the gospel?
5. We said that this meant that Christians have faith in Christ’s person and work, alone. (1) Faith; (2) Person; (3) Work; (4) Alone
6. The implications of this are many, but here are a few: understanding and meaning it when we answer this questions means that we realize that (1) we cannot save ourselves, that (2) for us salvation is a gift to be received not a status to be earned, that (3) life is radically Christ-centered and cross-centered; that (4) Jesus is our and everyone else’s only hope.
7. What should this lead to in our lives? We ought to be (1) people of faith [in the Bible, and in Christ]; (2) people with a high view of Christ; (3) people with a high view of God's grace.
8. A couple of weeks ago, we came to the third question of membership: (3) Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as becomes the followers of Christ?
9. We said that this question indicates that All Christians are disciples, followers of Christ. All followers of Christ, are resolved, committed, have promised, to live like his followers, and they know that for this they will need the grace of the Holy Spirit.
10. Again, the implications of understanding and sincerely affirming this questions are manifold, but several things stand out: We will (1) realize we need God's grace for sancitification as much as we need it for justification; and we will be (2) serious about living the Christian life, about being different from the world.
11. Last week, we looked at the fourth question of membership (4) "Do you promise to support the church in its worship and work, to the best of your ability?"
12. We said that answering this question with understanding requires that we realize the significance of (and love) three things: (1) the local church, (2) the worship of the church, and (3) the work of the church.
13. This means, practically, that we will (1) have a high view of and commitment to the local church, realizing that when the saints are gathered they are, collectively, God’s Gospel family, the assembly of the living God and God’s plan for discipleship; (2) yearn to worship God corporately and in all of life; and (3) show a zeal for the church’s work in discipleship and witness.
14. This morning, our short series comes to a close, as we consider the fifth question of membership: (5) Do you submit yourself to the government and discipline of the church and promise to strive for its purity and peace?
If we rightly understand this question, and if we truly intend it when we answer "I do," it will mean that we will be a church filled with members who have three things: (1) a respect for spiritual authority, (2) a commitment to the pursuit of holiness, and (3) a passion for peace in the church family.

I. A glad and willing respect for the elders, and a joyful acknowledgment and embrace of their spiritual leadership as the appointed shepherds of this flock
Hebrews 13:17 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
Application: We’ll do everything we can to show respect for and follow the shepherding of the elders of the church

II. A glad and willing self-exertion for the purity of the church
Hebrews 12:14 14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.
Application: We’ll do everything in our power to make sure that we do not bring sin and judgment into the camp of God’s people [Luther: It is due to the perversity of men that they seek peace first, and onlythen righteousness, consequently there is no peace]

III. A glad and willing self-exertion for the peace of the church
Hebrews 12:14 14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.
1 Peter 3:8-9 8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
Application: We’ll do everything in our personal power to make sure that this is a harmonious, happy, safe and secure family fellowship of believers

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