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Watch 2022 online sermons » Jack Graham » Jack Graham - It Takes a Church

Jack Graham - It Takes a Church

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    Jack Graham - It Takes a Church
TOPICS: Life Together, Marriage, Relationship

If you were to ask me, "What is the greatest spiritual lesson that you learned"? It is the fact that Christ lives in me by His Spirit. That the Christian life is not my human effort or my self effort but it is yielding to the work of God's Spirit in me. And it is the appointment and the anointing of God's Holy Spirit upon my life that fuses me with spiritual power, the strength to go on. We're commanded to be filled with the Spirit of God. And that all was made possible by what happened in the second chapter of Acts beginning in verse 1, "When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly..."

Have you ever noticed in your life how the Spirit of God moves suddenly and quickly when maybe you lest expect it? We ought to always expect God to move in our lives. We ought to always come ready when we worship Him for God to do something special, something supernatural. But God so often suddenly and sovereignly moves in ways that we did not know or could not expect. And I'm praying that happens in your life today. "And suddenly their came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind", they're in the presence now of the supernatural. There's this powerful wind like a tornado. And the wind is a symbol of the breath of the Holy Spirit. But this was a physical supernatural miracle that took place, "and it filled that entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them".

Again, like human candles. They were ignited and infused with divine power! "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit", that is, they were immersed in the Spirit, they were baptized in the Spirit, "and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance". And let me tell you what happened from here. As they began to speak in these languages people who had gathered from all over the world for the Pentecost feast of the Jews heard the Gospel in their own language! It was a miracle of speaking; it was also a miracle of hearing! They heard in their own language the message of Jesus Christ! And so having seen this and heard this, they came running up, rushing up to this little band of believers, just 120 of them at the time, and they say, "What's this all about? What's this all about"?

And Simon Peter, formerly the coward, now the courageous spokesman, filled with the Spirit of God, stands before them and tells them what it's all about; that this is the promise of God, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and then he preached the message of Christ. He preached the message of the Gospel. And then down in the last part of chapter 2, look at verse 40 of chapter 2, "And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them". Some of you will go out, saying, "That's what the pastor did today" "With many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, 'Save yourselves from this crooked generation.'" The word there actually means save yourself from this generation that's going nowhere, a generation without God, a generation just going nowhere! Just falling into eternity without hope, and living life without meaning. He said save yourself! It's interesting when you read Peter's message here. There's not a lot of generic "we".

You know, sometimes in preaching and communicating today there's a lot of "we" and "us", and "everybody", you know. But in Pentecostal preaching there was "you"! You crucified the Lord of Glory! Save yourself from this crooked and perverse and toward generation! We need more You preaching! And that brings conviction because they were convicted and they said, "What must we do"? And Peter said, "Save yourselves". And so "those who received his word were baptized". This is another kind of baptism. We've seen the Spirit baptism takes place when the Christians were immersed, baptized in the Spirit, the Spirit of God now enveloping them. But this is water baptism. And so they were then: "baptized and there were added to them that day about three thousand souls".

On the blast-off, the birthday of the church, the very first day - three thousand people confessed their faith. And from there it was just as Jesus had promised and commanded. They went to Jerusalem and saturated that city with the message of Christ. They went to Judea, Samaria and on to the uttermost parts of the earth. And today in America alone, 100 million people will go to church. I'm not saying that everyone who goes to church knows Jesus because we know that's not true. But the fact is in the name of Jesus 100 million people every week in America! That's more than all the football games on any given Sunday. And then around the world the church, it was birthed; the church that was born that day has expanded to the ends of the earth, just as Jesus promised. "Lo, I'm with you always as you go into all the world and preach the gospel".

What an incredible story! And I stand here today as the witness of the blessing and the benefit of God's church. Now, please, don't hear me preaching churchianity, I've never preached quote churchianity. Other words, just get in the church and you're good. But real Christianity includes the church! And not just includes the church but the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, the true church is a vital connection that every true believer embraces. I love the church. Since I was a baby in my mother's womb, since I was a child taken to the nursery of the church and to little Sunbeam groups we called them, and RA's and... I'd have gone to GA's if they'd have let me! That's Girls for those of you who didn't grow up in that era. But I got to church and I loved the church! It was in church that my family and I worshiped together. We're talking about spiritual connections and family connections, so the reason we're putting this message in the series on home and family is it takes a church! We're in this together.

And some of my happiest memories are even falling asleep in my mother's lap in the church on a pew on Sunday night, knowing the security of my family there together. I understand that not everybody had that experience but I'm just telling you my testimony. And to know that I had this spiritual heritage, that I came to personal faith in Jesus Christ in God's church. I was baptized at the age of eight in God's church! It was in God's church that along with my parents, I learned how to love God and to sing songs of faith and to worship God! It was in the church that I learned to love God's Word and read God's Word and hear the great stories of faith in the Bible!

And it was in church that I was called to preach and I discovered by life purpose in a great student ministry group and a wonderful pastor and a student minister. And it was in church and in the fellowship of God's people and my friends at church, it was in that environment and that atmosphere that God's Spirit spoke to me and appointed me and anointed me to preach the Gospel, Church. It was in a church May 22, 1970 that I stood with my bride Deb Graham and she's still my bride. And it was in church that I stood at an altar and promised to love her and honor her and cherish her, and she as well to me, and we've been sharing this life together. All of this love was launched at church! And then our children came along and they were dedicated in the church, and then they came to faith in Christ in the church. And now our grandchildren are coming along. I can't imagine life apart from the church.

That's why I have one goal in my life as far as my calling in ministry and that is to be a pastor, just to be a pastor. You've given me that privilege to be your pastor. It's a good thing I am the pastor because if I wasn't, I would drive the pastor crazy, I'm sure! I just don't understand people, forgive me for saying so, but I just don't understand people who don't love God's church! I can't wait to get together with you each week. I think about it all the time. It's been that way throughout my life. Not everyone, of course, is called to serve the church as I am and others who pastor and lead and serve, but we're all called and commanded to love the bride of Christ which is His church and to serve Him with His people. You know, they say there's no 'I' in team; well, there's no 'I' in church either! Now there is a "u" but that would be the collective "u", all of us together sharing the Lord, sharing His life, sharing His Spirit, sharing this common hope and this bond and this contagious faith, this joyous faith that we have in Christ.

There are many words that describe the church in the Bible. It's a study in and of itself. For example, if I gave you a word association and I said "church" what would be your association? Maybe you would reflect something like I just reflected briefly, but maybe you would have to say, "Well, church is where I go on Sundays now and again. Church is where I go on Easter". Or "Church is where I go at Christmas". Or "Church is where I hang out with my friends". It's great hanging out with your friends at church, but, really? Is that church? Is that all there is? No, there's really a lot more. One of the words for church that's important is in the language of the New Testament which is the Greek language is ekklesia and it means the called out ones, that we are called out from the world to be distinct, to be different. And we're called unto Christ and out of the world.

And another word, of course, is a body; the church is described as a living organism, not a dead static organization, not a cold institution, or a corporate club, but the church is a living, breathing body. Why? Because the life of God is in His church! The church is called the household of faith. Not necessarily the buildings, of course, the building of faith. The church is called this holy building unto God, but we are the temple of God. When we gather together we become the church so you don't just go to church; you are the church! We are the church when we come together and these buildings are magnificent and they're dedicated to worship and the glory of God but they're just buildings! But we are the household of faith! We are the people of God! It's not the steeple; it's the people! That's the church! The church is called the bride of Christ, the beautiful bride of Christ.

We are destined to be at His side. He's coming for His bride. The heavenly Bridegroom will unite with us and we with Him! We're the bride of Christ and we ought to love the bride of Christ. If you love me, you love my wife, you love my bride! If you love Jesus, you love His bride! You love His church! It's highly unlikely you are a true follower of Christ if you don't love the church, the people of God! So one of the birth marks of every believer is someone who loves being with God's people. So we are a body, we're a building, we are a bride, but to me the most beautiful description of the church is the family. We are the family of faith, God's forever family.

Now have you noticed today, just in conversations today, everybody wants to be a family. Why? Because we long to belong; God made us that way. But a lot of organizations now talk about being a family, and I get that, I'm fine with that, you know. But you can say, "Well, our university family". Or, you know, "our business family", or, you know, "our teams". Teams say, "We're a family". And we all like that because we know the importance of family, of being together, to being a band of brothers and sisters in Christ. But of all the organizations on earth, the groups and the gatherings, there's really one spiritual family and that's the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are brothers and sisters in Jesus. And there is a sense in which we are closer to our brothers and sisters in Christ, our spiritual family than even our own families if they don't know Christ.

And so we are a spiritual family. How so? Very quickly, we are a spiritually family because we are birthed together, born again together. They were birthed into the family of God when the Spirit of God came. They were immersed into the family of God. Here's the way Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 12:13. Look at this: "That we are baptized all of us into one body, Jews and Greeks (that means the selected Jews along with the unselected Greeks, the ins and the outs; everybody's in, slaves are free) and all were made to drink of one Spirit". In Christ we have been made to drink of the Spirit of God. Jesus said, speaking of the Holy Spirit John 7:38, "If you believe in Me, out of His innermost being shall flow rivers of living water".

So this speaks of our baptism, our submerging, our immersion into Christ, that as Jesus said, we are born again. John 3:3, "And you cannot see the kingdom of God unless you're born again". You're not born into the church, you're parents can't put you in the church, you are born again into the family of God. Your parents can lead you to church, your parents can take you to church, but you must personally receive Christ and be born again. We are birthed into the church, and therefore, we are united in Christ. The reason we get together every week is not because we're all just alike. I hope we are increasingly unique and different at this church and we're seeing our church in its ethnicity and its diversity expand, and that's a really good thing. People from other nations around the world...

How many of you present this morning were not born in the United States? This is not your country of origin? Let me see your hands. Hold them up high; hold them up high, real high! Look at that! All the people from other countries! And that's what happened on the day of Pentecost. God brought people from around the world into the church and they were born into the family of God. They were birthed together. We're family! Now you don't always like every member of your family! I mean, you know, you got that crazy uncle and that, you know, that goofy cousin and doofus aunt. You got all of that in every family! But look, we are family! And we're to love one another and accept one another and support one another and encourage one another, and bless one another, and worship together, and hang-out together and study God's word together. Why? Because we're spiritual family. We're birthed together. Secondly, we belong together.

Should you be a member of the church? The answer is absolutely yes. Because in the church is how we connect to the family. Jesus lived and died for the church. Now the church is universal and invisible. Theologians talk about the universal church. That means the church out there, the worldwide church. That how ever many who are true believer, 100 million people in America that are true believers that are in the church. We're all in the church together. That's the big broad definition, the universal church, the invisible church. But primarily when the Bible refers to the church, it's talking about the local and tangible church, where people are active and accountable. And we see that in the New Testament. We see it right here in the book of Acts when 3000 were baptized. Who counted them? Somebody was accounting for all those new members who were baptized into Christ and then to the church that day. And so they were added to the church.

And then there were officers selected to the church. As the church grew, it became more organized, like a body, would be another good illustration again, you know as a body grows it gets stronger and the skeleton system gets stronger. And so they would bring around what God was doing in the organization and it's ministry of the church, and the mission fulfilled, and there were officers elected and pastors appointed, and then were letters written. Two-thirds of the New Testament are letters written to local churches with real pastors and real people and names are mentioned, and I'm pointing out to you that while theoretically it's possible to be a member of the great invisible church and not be a member of the local church... I mean you could be saved and not be a member of the church, but however it is possible that you could be a member of a local church and not be a member of the invisible church, knowing Christ. You say, "Huh? Did you get that"? Right? Cause not everybody who belongs to the church local belongs to the church universal in Christ.

So you need to be saved, you need to know Christ and then you're added to the church and then you belong to the church, and as a result of that, you are baptized, this is not spiritual baptism now, but they were baptized in water, because baptism is your public declaration. It is your open demonstration of who you are in Christ, your new identity in Christ connected to your new community in Christ, the church, to what you believe and to whom you belong. You believe in the death, the burial and the resurrection, baptism speaks of this. It's loud and clear that baptism is commanded by Christ, He Himself was commanded us to baptize believers, and so every believer who wants to connect with Christ then should after connecting with Christ, be baptized as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. That means you go public. And that means that's when you belong. You don't just go out and dunk yourself in water and say, okay, I'm in the church. You're baptized as a believer by the church into the fellowship of the church.

So this is what the church does. This is who we are. We believe together, we are birthed together. We are belonging together. And we're becoming together. This isn't it. We know we're becoming more like Christ until we stand before Him complete. But ultimately God has called us as a church in becoming the church to go unto all the world and preach the Gospel starting with our neighbors and then to the nations. I want to be a part of God's international enterprise. To go global and to stay local in the mission and the ministry of Jesus Christ. It takes a church folks, to raise our families and to develop our own marriages. In the church, the reason we put this message in this "Life Together" relationship series is because the relationship that you and your family have to the church is vital, I should say essential, for you and your family to become all that God intends for it to be. Amen?
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