Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Andy Stanley » Andy Stanley - What's in a Name?

Andy Stanley - What's in a Name?

Andy Stanley - What's in a Name?
TOPICS: Ekklesia, Church

So it comes as no surprise that I love church. I love the local church. I love like the big C church, the universal church, the worldwide church. And I love our church. I don't know what comes to mind when you hear the word church, maybe the church you're sitting in currently, one of our churches. Maybe when you think church, you think about the church you grew up in. Maybe when you think church, unfortunately, maybe you think about the church you left or hopefully not. Maybe you think about the church you're thinking about leaving. But regardless of what you think about when you hear the word church, you don't think about what the first church people thought about, because our experience with church is extraordinarily, I mean, there's almost no comparison to what the first church people experienced, and what they felt, and what they thought about. They had an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantage was, in the first century, the very first church people were never ever bored, ever. They were scared, but they weren't bored.

So maybe you sat through church and been bored, but I bet you haven't sat through a church service where you were scared, okay? That was kind of their experience. In the first century church, there were no buildings. There were no buildings, Bibles, or bands, or children's environments that looked like Disneyland. You know, they didn't have any of that stuff. They literally met outside at the edge of the woods. They met in gardens. They met in homes. They were just small gatherings. They met together early on the first day of the week.

In ancient times, there was no such thing as a weekend. The Jewish people celebrated Sabbath, but that was only in the cultures of the regions of the world where there were enough Jewish people to influence culture. But the first church people didn't meet on the Sabbath. They met on the first day of the week because that's the day Jesus rose from the dead. But they had a problem because the first day of the week was like our Monday. So they met before work to celebrate the resurrection. And they sang a hymn, and they shared some thoughts, and they prayed together. And if they had a portion of scripture or somebody had memorized a psalm, they would share that. Then they would break up and they would go back to work or go to school. The slaves had to get back and show up to serve their masters.

Very, very different experience. But all of this, all of this, well, and the other thing, a big difference, there was no institution, there was no leadership, there was no hierarchy, there was no structure. Literally, the church in the first century was pure movement. It was just a movement. And it was a movement fueled by one simple conviction, one simple idea. They didn't have systematic theology. They didn't have this versus that. They didn't have a bunch of isms. All they had was this one central idea, that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, and that he was sent by God to explain God and to reconcile the world to God. This was amazing and they were absolutely convinced this was true because the first century church actually was led by and influenced by the men and women who sat at the feet of Jesus. And they were absolutely convinced that Jesus was the Son of God because of what they'd seen.

And he came to explain what God was like and to reconcile the world to God. And that conviction, those beliefs were anchored not to the teaching of Jesus. They were anchored to an event, a simple verifiable event because many of them were eyewitnesses of this event. And that event of course was the resurrection of Jesus. And early on, this is amazing compared to us, early on, that's all they had. No literature, no bibles. Most of them couldn't read anyway. But it was good news. Jesus had come and removed much of the mystery surrounding God. Now people understood, unlike the pagan religions, weren't even called religion, it's just the pagan cults. They understood what God was like, and who God loved, and what God liked. And they understood for the first time where they stood with God because Jesus came to remove some of that mystery.

Now, as you know, time went by, and expressions of the Christian faith changed, right? They changed generation to generation. They changed culture to culture. In fact, what we do now, the way we worship now, the way we gather now is obviously very different than the first century. But with all of that change, there are some things and there were some things that should never ever change, even though some things change from generation to generation in terms of expression and style, the original content of Jesus' teaching, the original emphasis, the original tone, and the posture, and the approach of our faith. Jesus' original intent for that first group of people that he commissioned to go out and change the world, those are the things we can never afford to lose sight of or to veer away from.

And you know enough about church history to know this. When the church veered, things got weird. When the church veered historically away from the teaching of Jesus, things got really weird. When the church or a church loses its way, do you know what happens? People get hurt. In fact, there's a phrase now that, you know, people use, church hurt. Church hurt. I mean, imagine explaining to Jesus one day in the future there's gonna be such a thing as people hurt by your movement, Jesus who came to say, hey, my one command is here, to love each other the way I've loved you. How in the world could anyone ever be hurt by a church who's only been given one simple instruction, love as I have loved you? But it's happened. And when the church veers from the original intent of Jesus, people ultimately get hurt. They get hurt in Jesus' name. Abuse with a divine excuse.

God's name, you've seen this, you've heard this, maybe even been the victim of this. God's name gets stamped on behavior that he finds despicable. And when the church loses its way, the church loses its influence. And we're gonna talk a little bit about this. We talk about it every once in a while. This is so dangerous. This is so dangerous. Even if you're not a church person, even if you're not a Christian, you don't want the church to lose influence because, believe it or not, the foundation for human dignity, the foundation of human rights, the foundation of women's rights are anchored to the belief that everyone is made in the image of God. It's not anchored to the materialistic world we live in. The whole idea that you have dignity and people who don't look like you or live like you have dignity simply because they're human, that is anchored in the teaching of Jesus.

It's anchored to an ethic that Jesus expanded to the whole world. And if that ever goes away, you don't wanna live in that world. You don't wanna live in that culture. Fortunately, even though the church oftentimes veer and oftentimes there's church hurt, fortunately, in every generation, there are, we're just gonna use an old term, reformers, or some people would say a remnant. But there are reformers who rise up and say, no, no more, not on our watch. And they call the church back. And do you know what they call the church back to? They don't simply call the church back to something in the past. They call the church back to the teaching of Jesus, the original version of our faith, his mandated mission.

And here's why this is important for you, and here's why it's important for me, and here's why it's important for all of us. And we don't think in these terms. I know you're busy. You're raising kids, and you're making a living, and you got stuff going on. It's hard to even pay attention today 'cause there's so much going on this afternoon. I get all that. But here's the reality whether you know it or not or accept it or not. We, we are stewards, that is managers of, responsible for, we are stewards of the church in our generation. And when I say we, I don't simply mean the people gathered with me in this room, or the people gathered with you in that room, or in your living room, or in your car as you listen.

I mean anyone who claims to be a Christian, anyone who claims to be a Christian. Anyone who claims to be a Christian, we collectively are the stewards, or the managers, or are responsible for the faith of our generation whether you actually attend a church or not. Say it a different way, we determine, you determine, I determine. We determine what Christianity looks like. We determine what Christianity acts like. Most importantly, we determine what Christianity reacts like. And people outside of our faith tradition, in fact you may be watching or you may be in one of the rooms with us today, and you're not a Christian, somebody said, if you're gonna have lunch with us, you gotta come to church with me today, or this is what we do on Sunday, we sit down and watch this guy talk for 30 minutes, you know, whatever the deal is, and this isn't really your thing, and you don't even really wanna pay attention.

Here's what I know about you, okay? You may not be a Bible scholar, you may not know everything the Bible teaches, you may not be familiar with the entire Bible, but here's what I know about you. You are familiar with Jesus. And you expect me and you expect us to act and react like Jesus. And you should. So the point is simply this. Our collective actions and reactions authenticate or de-authenticate the authenticity of our faith. In other words, how we live our lives is a picture of or a message of what is the church really about, not just individual Christian expressions, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ that he launched 2,000 years ago.

Your actions and reactions communicate whether you actually believe what you are asking other people to believe, to which, again, if you're not a Christian, that might be the only thing you've ever heard a preacher say that you agree with, because you're like, exactly, Andy, the reason I'm not interested in being one of you is I've met so many of you that believe a bunch of stuff, but you don't act anything like I think Jesus would act. Or, Andy, the reason I'm not one of you anymore, the reason I left the faith is I kept going to churches, and everybody sang the songs, and everybody smiled, but in terms of how I was treated, and how they treated each other, and the things that were important to them, I just didn't see the authenticity, so I'm out.

I was raised in it, but I'm out. It's a reminder that you, if you claim to be a Christian, I, if I claim to be a Christian, we represent. We are stewards of the church in our generation. So consequently, we have to get this right. And one of the things I love about our church is that you are in fact getting it right. It's why, and again, one of our best kept secrets, it's why church leaders all over our country and all over the world actually look to you and look to us for leadership. Every other year, and again, we never talk about this, but I thought this would be a good time to talk about it. Every other year, we actually host a conference for church leaders from all over the world and all over the country to come learn what we do. We call it the Drive Conference. Do a little ad here, Drive Conference.

So it's coming up May 1st and 2nd. So in this conference, we already have people registered from the UK, South America, Latin America, Australia, South Africa, church leaders who will come to the United States, spend a couple of days with us, where we say, here's what we're doing now, here's what we've changed, here's how we're talking about it now. And our goal is to help raise up outward-facing churches that understand that we are the stewards of the church in our generation and we have to get it right.

So if you're watching today and you attend a different church, I wanna invite your church leaders to our conference, May 1st and 2nd. In fact, this is what you might wanna think about. Why don't you tell your pastor, "hey, I'd love for you to go to this conference. I'll pay your way". Just sponsor somebody on your church staff. Or if you're a volunteer at your church, we would love to have you on May 1st and 2nd. It's an extraordinary, extraordinary opportunity.

Now, back to us. So for us to continue to stay on track, so we don't veer and get weird, right, for us to stay on track, in this series, here's what we're gonna do. We're gonna take a look back at the actions and the reactions of the first century Christians, the first church, again, the men and women, imagine this, the men and women who sat at the feet of Jesus. If anybody got it right, they got it right. If anybody knew how to model for us how to live and how to react, they're the ones we are to look to. But first, before we jump into the history of all that and the narrative of all that, we're gonna jump in a lot next week, don't miss part two of this series. First, a word about the word, specifically a word about the word church.

Now, as you hopefully know or probably know, when the New Testament, not the Old Testament, when the New Testament was first written, it was written in Greek. And the Greek word that's translated church in our English New Testament is a dynamic defining word. The Greek term is actually ekklesia, this title of this entire series, Ekklesia. Ekklesia, in the first century, in fact ekklesia in every century was not a religious term. It was just a common term that simply meant assembly. You could have an ekklesia of men. You could have an ekklesia of women. You could have an ekklesia of soldiers. You could have an ekklesia of citizens. Anytime a group came together for a specific purpose, they would refer to it as an assembly, or, you know, a gathering of people, an ekklesia.

In fact, there's an interesting situation, this term ekklesia in the Greek New Testament is always translated church, and I'll tell you why in just a minute, except for a couple of occasions. And I wanna tell you about one because it illustrates the point on why this is important. In the Book of Acts, A-C-T-S, not A-X-E or A-X, in the Book of Acts, the Acts of the Apostle, I say that, when I was a kid, I'm like, that sounds like a great book, it's about an ax. No, anyway. Sorry, preacher's kid, you should know better, but anyway.

So in the Book of Acts, Luke, who wrote the Book of Acts, records the journeys of the Apostle Paul when he took the gospel out to the Mediterranean base and the Mediterranean rim, to all these port cities. And Paul visits Ephesus. And Paul begins to preach that God has done something unique in the world and everybody's invited to participate in it. But there was a guild there, a silver guild and a metal guild, where they made idols for the people in Ephesus. And suddenly they were afraid. If everybody becomes a Christian, they're gonna quit buying our idols. So they caused a riot in order to chase the Apostle Paul out of town. And so Luke records what happens in this riot. And in describing the riot, he uses the word ekklesia. But of course it's not translated church. He actually translates the word.

Here's what Luke writes, this is just for fun. He writes, "The assembly," everywhere else, this word is translated church in the New Testament, but he actually translates it. "The assembly," talking about the citizen assembly in Ephesus. "The assembly was in confusion. Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there". Now this does sound like some churches, I will acknowledge. Or if you've ever been to a church business meeting, it can erupt into kind of a riot, right, if you've ever been to a church business meeting. My point is simply this. When they translated the Bible into English, they saw ekklesia and they didn't put church. They put assembly because that's what the word actually meant. And it should be translated assembly everywhere ekklesia shows up in the Greek New Testament translated into our English New Testament, which raises another question.

Well, then where in the world did the word church come from? And I'm gonna tell you, and this is so important to your story if you're a Christian. And this is so important to those of you who aren't Christians, who wonder sometimes why does the church continue to veer and why are there hypocrites in the church? So let me just set your mind at ease. There will always be hypocrites in the church. But there is a through line that always brings the church back to where it ought to be. So here's what happened. In the fourth century, so Jesus did his thing in the first century, so about 380 years later, Christianity is legalized in the Roman Empire and eventually becomes the religion of the Roman Empire. That's an amazing story in and of itself.

So Christians begin to come out of the hiding and were able to worship in public. But where are they gonna worship? So they rented some buildings, they combined some houses, and in some cases, eventually, they took over pagan temples and turned them into places of worship. But in the fourth century, what do we call these places of worship? So they began to call these places of worship another Greek word, kuriakos, which literally meant house of the Lord, or sometimes it's translated temple. So they would see these religious Christian people worshiping together and they had to refer to the building that they worshiped in, and so it was called one of these. But this wasn't a religious term either. It could be, by Lord, it could be lord of slaves, it could be a landlord. None of this is religious terminology. It was just the term they began to use to describe, oh, that's where that group of Jesus' followers meets, in that kuriakos, or however they would say it.

Now, as Christianity spread outside the Greek-speaking world, in every culture where there were Christians, they had their own word to describe the place where Christians worship. In Germany, once the gospel spread to Germany, this was the word they used, which meant house of the Lord. English speakers picked up on this word and they pronounced it kirche, kirche, kirche. That eventually became the English word church. So our word that shows up in our New Testament that we use all the time when we talk about church is not a translation of a word in the New Testament, it's actually a derivative from a German term that unfortunately means house of the Lord.

So, over time, the term evolved to include the people in the house of the Lord or the people in the building. And the rest is history. But it's very unfortunate history because the ekklesia of Jesus is not a location. The ekklesia of Jesus is not a building. The ekklesia of Jesus is a movement. It is a gathering of people on purpose to accomplish something together that wouldn't be accomplished any other way. But once in the fourth century, there were places that were controlled by the leaders. If you control the place, you control the people. If you control the place, you control what's taught in the place. And nobody had a Bible. There were very few bibles. The Bible was still being assembled in the fourth century.

In fact, when they finally published some Bibles, it was about this thick. They were extraordinarily expensive. And they, in some cases, would chain them to the altar so one would steal them or rip pages out of them. And soon, the church looked and acted nothing like the ekklesia of Jesus. It was tamed. It was distorted. It veered. But along came reformers. Because in every generation, there's gonna be a group of people that says, not on our watch. That's not what Jesus intended. That's not what Jesus taught. And that's not what Jesus modeled.

And one of those reformers I wanna tell you a little bit about is a man named William Tyndale, who has influenced your life indirectly in ways you can't even begin to imagine. William Tyndale lived in the 16th century, in the 1500s. And he's often referred to as the father of the English Bible, for which you should be so grateful. Now here's why that's a big deal. In the 4th century, this is the 16th century. In the fourth century, the Bible, after it was translated from Greek, it was translated into Latin. And the Latin Vulgate was the Bible of the church for several hundred years. But over time, fewer and fewer people spoke Latin, especially in the areas outside the influence of Rome. So you had church being done in a language and mass being done in a language nobody understood. And yet at the same time, these are Christians, Jesus' followers, and they assembled, but oftentimes they don't understand what's being said and nobody had access to the Bible.

So our guy, William Tyndale, came up with an idea. He decided we need a Bible in the language of the people. And he lived in England. So he decided to translate the Bible for himself. He was a brilliant scholar, but he did the unthinkable. Instead of taking the Latin Bible and translating from Latin to English, he went behind the Latin and translated from Greek to English and from Hebrew Old Testament to English. And in doing so, he began to rock the religious world because he discovered things in the English text that were masked and distorted in the Latin text. And church leaders were furious, because here's what they're thinking. Wait a minute, if the common people have access to the whole Bible, where would that lead? It would lead to us. It would lead to the world understanding what Jesus did, and what Jesus said, and what Jesus intended.

And so when he was in England, eventually he's arrested, I'll tell you more about that in a minute. He was confronted in one of these trials, I don't know if it was final trial or a different confrontation with the bishops in England. He is reported to have said the following, right to their face. I mean, these are the intimidating people that in that culture held the power of life and death. Here's what he said. "If God spare my life, ere many years," in other words, if I continue to live, "I will cause a boy that driveth the plow," the lowest of the low, "to know more of the scriptures than thou doest," he says to the bishops. In other words, my life is dedicated to getting the scripture into the hands of the people. Imagine that he was having to go to war with church leaders over getting the scripture into the hands of the people.

In 1524, he leaves England and he goes to Germany because his life is at stake. He finds a printer. By this time, there are a few printing presses, the Gutenberg press. Interesting, the Gutenberg press, you probably heard the first book that the Gutenberg press printed was what? Anybody know? It's the Bible, but it was in Latin. Not so helpful if you didn't speak Latin. William Tyndale goes to Germany, he finds a printer, and he begins printing little bitty copies of the New Testament in English. And he begins to smuggle them back into his country. And people begin to read the New Testament, the words of Jesus, for the first time in their own language. Eventually he's betrayed by a friend. He's on trial. He doesn't recant. He's not sorry. They know what he's done. He has caused a great division within the church of his time. They strap him to a post. They put a rope around his neck and, from behind, they twist, and twist, and twist until he dies. And then they burned his body as a heretic.

Christian leaders in the name of Jesus, a very different version of our faith than Jesus' version, a very different version of our faith than the Apostle Paul's version. Now, there were several things in William Tyndale's translation of the Bible from Greek to English that drove these bishops crazy. And the most infuriating of all was this. The term church didn't appear anywhere in his English New Testament. Now, if you're controlling the people because you're the head of the church and now there's a New Testament, and everybody's going, what does this say about the church? It's not in here. That's disruptive because he didn't take the German derivative and put it in the English Bible. He translated the word ekklesia everywhere it appeared in the New Testament as congregation, congregation, shifting the focus from a location that's easy to control to a movement of people, an assembly of people who come together for a purpose.

Years go by, 1611, they decide in England to have an official version of the Bible in English. You know it as the King James Version, the 1611 version. There's a debate. The debate is, what do we do with the word ekklesia? Do we translate it congregation like William Tyndale or do we use the word that is in use everywhere in the empire, the word church? And unfortunately, assembly, congregation lost the vote, and church was inserted in the King James Version, and it has been church ever since. Is that a big deal? It's a big deal. It has influenced the way the world has viewed the ekklesia, the movement of Jesus. In fact, interesting, the first time the word ekklesia shows up in the New Testament, it's on the lips of Jesus, in a very familiar passage.

If you grew up in church, you've heard this. If you haven't grown up in church, this is so important. Jesus is with his guys and he's saying, hey, what's the word on the street about me? Who do people say that I am? Maybe you remember that conversation. And then he turns to them and he says, hey, guys, tell me, who do you say that I am? Now you've been with me for a while. Who do you say that I am? And Simon Peter, remember this, he says, I'll tell you who I think you are. You're the Messiah. You're God's final King. You're the Son of the living God. And Jesus replied, "Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah, because this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood". In other words, Peter, you're smart. You're not that smart. You had a little help with this one. "This was revealed to you by my Father in heaven".

In other words, you correctly identified who I am. I am the King. I am the Son of the living God. And then Jesus smiles. And I think he puts his hand on Peter's shoulder and he says this. And I tell you, I'm changing your name. Your name is Stone. That's what it means, stone, rocky. Your name is rock. Your name is pebble. I'm changing it. But I tell you this, on this rock, different Greek word, an outcropping, the side of a mountain, something that'll never be moved. He says, on this rock, this statement that you made that I'm the Christ and the living God, I'm gonna do something new. I will build my ekklesia, my assembly, my congregation, my movement, who will gather in my name to announce the arrival of a king, to announce the arrival of a kingdom, to announce an invitation that every man and every woman made in the image of God is invited to participate in this kingdom, to model my kingdom way of life, my others' first way of life, to do for others as you have watched me do for you.

And regardless of how many times it veers, and regardless of how many times it's hijacked, and regardless of how many perversions there are, there will always be a group that brings it back, it will always self-correct. Because at some point, somebody is gonna look at what I taught, Jesus would say, and that's gonna be the through line. Here's his way of saying what I just said. "And the gates of Hades will not overcome it". In other words, nothing is going to ultimately stop it. And his point by using the word Hades was that just represented death. He looked at those guys, and he smiled, and he said, and this is permanent, even my death won't be the end.

In fact, his death, his resurrection, as we're gonna see next week, is what launched it. And he wasn't talking about a building. He wasn't talking about a location. In fact, eight chapters later, he predicts the destruction of the holiest building in the world, the temple in Jerusalem that about 40 years later was destroyed and has never been rebuilt. Four chapters later, he says, I want you to go into all the world and I want you to invite people to join my assembly, my congregation, my movement, because the days of sacred spaces have come to an end. You are sacred. You are a walking, talking representation of your King. You are ambassadors for your King. You are ambassadors for Christ. This isn't about location. This is a movement of people who've come together to do something significant in the world.

Years later, not that many years later, the Apostle Paul would come around this idea and punctuate it with these words to gentile Christians in Corinth who were trying to figure all of this out. And these would be words for you and words for me. Paul writes, he says, hey, don't you know, I mean we've talked about this before. Don't you know that your bodies, your physical bodies, are temples? This means nothing to us because we don't really get the whole temple thing. This was extraordinary. He's in Corinth, a city full of temples. He's got some people there that worship in a synagogue, some Jewish people who've been to the temple in Jerusalem that's still standing at that point.

And he's going, no, no, no, no. Those days are over. You are the sacred space. You are the representation. You are the holy sight. You are a temple because you are filled, just like the temple in Jerusalem was once filled, you are filled with the Holy Spirit of God who is in you, to which they thought, wait, what? Temples with pimples, wait, what? Like, we're walking, talking temples? He said, yes, you're sacred, to which they understood some of the implications of that. Well, wait, if I am a temple and you're a temple, if that's the case, and Paul would say, exactly. Therefore, because you're a temple, honor God with your bodies, honor God with your language, honor God with your activities, honor God with your actions and your reactions. Everywhere you go, you are a representation of Jesus and the assembly of Jesus that Jesus left here to impact the world. Everywhere you go, everything you say. That's why I said up front, we, including you, are managers, stewards, representatives of the kingdom of Christ on earth.

380 years after the Apostle Paul writes this, what's the church doing? Building new temples, big, expensive, extravagant temples. We call them cathedrals, while they persecuted and executed the people who resisted. There will always be counterfeit versions of the Christian faith. Always. But there will always be men and women like you, men and women like you, reformers, who are willing to look back, reach back, and bring back, and live out the Jesus version of our faith, the good news of great joy for all people version of our faith, the version of our faith. And I'm convinced, if people truly understood it, would hope it's true before they believed it's true. So what does that have to do with you? What does that have to do with me? Now what? So what?

Three things quickly, three big implications for all of us as we launch this series. Number one, you are part of something big. Not just a big church, you're part of something so big. The church is a big deal. Don't take it for granted. Our church friends in Canada, our church friends in Europe, they say to us church leaders, don't take it for granted. We don't know that we'll ever get back what we gave up. Don't take it for granted. In other words, we dare not lose our wonder. It's not about a building, it's not about a preacher, it's not about the songs, the ones you like and the ones you don't like. It's so much bigger than that. It's a miracle to participate. Participate.

You may not be an official member of a church, that's okay, but you are a member of the assembly of Jesus. So somehow you gotta participate somewhere with some someones, assemble like version 1.0 in a house, or in a garden, or on the back porch, somewhere. Gather some people, open God's word, pray together, talk about life together, and then go out and live it out one another, in such a way that people see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. And the goal, come on, the goal isn't to get something out of it. But you will. I guarantee you, you will, if you give something to it, by participating in it.

Implication number two, this is huge. This starts today. You are a walking, talking temple. You need to remind yourself every day, wait, wait, wait, I don't just work for such and such. I don't just teach such and such. I'm not just a parent. Wait, wait, wait, I'm a walking, talking representative of the church of Jesus Christ. When you drive by a church building, you need to look in the rear view mirror and say, here's the church. Look in the rear view mirror in the backseat, There's a couple of churches back there. There's the temple. There's the temples. Every day of our lives, we should be good news of great joy for somebody. Every day of our lives, we should look for opportunities to be good news and to bring joy to someone's life, to pour out, then gather back, fill back up, and go back out.

Last implication is this. The tone, approach, and posture of Jesus should characterize the tone, posture, the tone, approach, and posture of his followers. This is how you know if it's real or not. This is how you know if you had the genuine article or a counterfeit or a perversion. The tone, approach, and the posture of Jesus, just read the gospels, should characterize the tone, approach, and posture of me and of you. Beware of versions that decentralize or minimize the life and teaching of Jesus. Beware of any version of our faith that decentralizes or minimizes the life and the teaching of Jesus. Come on, every perversion of the Christian faith claims to be biblical. Everybody's got a verse for everything they do, everything they say, and everything they teach.

In fact, this sounds a little arrogant, but I'll just say it anyway. Give me five minutes or give Mr. Google five seconds, okay? And we will find you a verse in the Bible to justify anything you want to do. It'll be out of context. It will not line up with the teaching of Jesus. But if you just need a verse as an excuse, it's in there somewhere, including an excuse for executing someone for publishing and distributing the Bible. But here's what the reformers knew. Here's what I hope you know. The through line, the true north for the assembly of Jesus are the words and the works of our savior.

That's what the reformers always bring the church back to, not simply what the Bible teaches, what Jesus taught and how Jesus lived his life. The author and the perfecter of our faith, as the author of Hebrew says. His words and his works are the template for your actions and your reactions, my actions and my reactions. His words are the template for my approach to life, my posture, and how I live my life, the life of Jesus. Think of it this way. It serves as context and commentary for understanding the Bible. It's Jesus first. You always begin with Jesus. And anybody that wants to minimize or equalize Jesus with everything else, red flag. That's always a sign that somebody is veering off the original course.

So wrapping this up, I want us to continue not to be the church or a church. I want us to continue to be the ekklesia of Jesus, the congregation, the assembly, the movement that joins hands and joins arms with believers all over the world, who wanna get this right. Remember, you determine, it's a big responsibility, you determine what Christians look like because you're a Christian. You determine what Christians sound like because you claim to be a Christian. And you determine what Christians react like in the eyes of the world if you claim to be a Christian. You determine what the Christians look like, act like, and react like for our generation. And us adults, talk about a big responsibility, we determine what the church looks like, and acts like, and reacts like for the generation coming along behind us. So let's get this right. Let's continue to get this right. And we will pick it up right there next time in part two of Ekklesia.
Are you Human?:*