The Case For The Church

Why Is It Important To Belong To A Church As A Christian?

Tim Lundy
Jul 12, 2020    34m
As Christians, there are many of us that do not feel that it is important that we belong to a church. However, there are many reasons that we should be excited to be a part of the church as Jesus designed it. Join us today as we discuss the difference the church makes in our world and in our lives. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Tim Lundy (00:00):
Well, Venture, as we finish out this series, The Case For, I am so appreciative of Lee Strobel and the messages we've had up until this point. And I really want to encourage you, if you didn't catch his messages in particular, The Case for Christ, The Case for miracles, The Question and Answer that I was able to have with him, go back and watch those. They are fundamental because I think they answer some of the key questions that people have. And this weekend is a finish out. I want to finish out with The Case for the Church. And even as I say that, I don't know what your response is to that. You know, for some people, maybe when I say the church, you have an immediate longing. If you're like me, man, I am longing for us to be able to gather together again as a church. For some people, maybe it brings up hurt. For some, objections. You know, for a lot of people, especially a younger generation, when you say church, there's almost this response of meh, no big deal, don't really need it.

Tim Lundy (01:07):
This week as we finish out the series, I just want to address three common objections I hear as a pastor when it comes to the issue of church. Here's the first one, the first objection. The church does more harm than good. You hear that in a lot of different ways. The church throughout history has done more harm than good. More people have been hurt by church in that. And I would say that objection is patently false. I thought about kind of drilling in all the negative ways that people bring it up. But I want to take a different approach in this message. I want to walk you through 10 ways that the church has impacted the world, positive ways it's impacted. And each of these could be a message.

Tim Lundy (01:52):
So I'll have to move them pretty quickly. You'll see in your notes, each of the 10. You'll also see some references, some biblical references that form foundations for that. There's a lot more in Scripture about it. But let me walk you through 10 ways that the church has impacted the world for good and impacted your life for good. And I want to say this unequivocally. No matter who you are, whether you've been in the church or not, your life has been impacted by it for the good. What are the 10? Let me give you the first one. The first one is an understanding of a loving God. Understanding of a loving God. You know, if you asked most people today, what is God like, the most common answer bar none is that God is loving. Now they often don't think the church is, but the conception of who God is, I mean, almost universally people will say, well, God is love and He loves people.

Tim Lundy (02:44):
Isn't that interesting though that before Christ, before His church, that is not how people would refer to God. In fact, when they talked about God or the gods, He was referred to or they were referred to as moody. You go back and look at the stories, the stories around it that God would be capricious or the gods would be jealous of humans. God would be vengeful or abuse humans. God would take advantage of humans. Sometimes the stories of the gods taking advantage of people sexually, and almost universally, there was this concept you had to appease these vengeful or jealous or moody gods. Isn't it interesting today when people refer to God, first concept is, oh, God is love? What changed that? See, I think if you go to Scripture, what's the most famous verse in all the Bible? John 3:16, for God so loved the world. And here's how He proved He's a loving God. He gave His Son that whosoever believes in Him, you don't have to perish. You don't have to appease Him. You don't have to earn it. You get eternal life. Why? Because He loved. Guys, that concept didn't change on its own. The concept of who God is changed because of who Christ is and how it was taught and expressed through His church.

Tim Lundy (04:26):
Look at the second impact. The rights of women, the rights of women in the world. And I would say again, unequivocally, no one who's ever walked the planet has changed and elevated the status of women more than Jesus Christ, especially if you look at the ancient world that He lived in and how He did life and ministry, and then the way the church impacted the view of women. If you go back into that culture in that time, you take Cicero, the famous oratory, teacher in Rome. You know, when Cicero referred to women, he said they were on the same status that women, slaves, horses, and dogs, all of them were possessions to be owned by a man. In fact, of the household, it was often seen that the wife is just a slave, a worker or a possession of the man. And that translated into all of life. Then Jesus came along. Jesus knew that men and women, if you go back to Genesis 1:27, Jesus knew and He taught that God created humanity in His own image. In the image of God, He created Him. And then notice this part, male and female He created them. That they both are equal image bearers. The impact that had for women, the treatment of women in Jesus' ministry, the treatment and the elevation of women in the church and the ongoing impact in the world, the change in the whole social structure of marriage based on the New Testament teaching.

Tim Lundy (06:11):
As one writer put it, the issues of mutual submission, equal worth, partnership, equality, self-sacrificing love gave a harmony and protection to family relationship that over the hundreds of years became the foundation of Western civilization. If you are a woman in the world today, you've been impacted by the way that Jesus Christ shaped the view and treatment of women. And how was that spread throughout the planet? Through His church. Now hand in hand with that is the third one, the care of children, the care of children. You know, in that first century, children and the status of children, if wives were a possession, children were even lower. And so children could be sold into slavery with no impunity. If you had a child and you didn't want to keep that baby, it was nothing to leave it out for exposure. And it often happened to female children. in a household, they wanted a male. And so the female babies could be left to die out for exposure. What changed the status of children? It was the church.

Tim Lundy (07:20):
In fact, one Norwegian scholar Baki, he did a study of this, the impact of the view of children. This is the title of the study. Listen to it. When Children Became People: The Birth of Childhood in Early Christianity. It changed the world. Fourth, the accountability in civil government. The way that we view government today has been fundamentally shaped by the Bible and ultimately the church. Now, again, there's no perfect form of government. There's no one prescribed form of government. So I'm not teaching that. I'm talking about the concept though of when you see in a passage like Romans 13 where God says that the leaders of a government no matter what style of government have an accountability to Him and an accountability to the people. See, up until that time, government had an absolute power that often owned the people.

Tim Lundy (08:13):
And then you see the impact and you trace it through history. Go all the way back to the Magna Carta. See it in British law, see it in the common law, see it in the founding documents of this country. Whether it's been lived out perfectly or not, I'm not trying to make a case for that. I'm making the case for the biblical impact of governmental accountability that spread throughout the world because of the impact and influence of the Bible and the church. With that, the fifth thing, the preservation and establishment of education. Preservation and establishment of education. Do you realize the ancient literature we have from Greece and Rome. I'm not talking biblical literature. I'm just talking about ancient literature. The studies that we have, the reason they were preserved is because of Christian monasteries and the monks that were there, that they believe that that repository of knowledge was valuable for humanity. And so they preserved it and they copied it and they give us an insight and a window into the ancient world.

Tim Lundy (09:20):
Do you realize the first university that was founded in London and in Paris were founded by Christians? You realize the Gutenberg Press which Time Magazine said was the greatest invention of the last 500 years and the impact on education because of that? The first 120 universities that were founded in this country in America were done so by Christians, Harvard, and Yale and Princeton, these great academic institutions of learning because Christians wanted to share education. In fact, public education, the reason there was public education that was provided for every child. I was reading about in the colonies, that the first publicly funded education in the colonies, that the act was called the Old Deluder Satan Act.

Tim Lundy (10:08):
You go, that's a strange name. Because here was the thought on it. Satan wants to deceive the ignorant. And so they believed we need to fund education for all people. Not just the elite class, all people. And the impact that has had in that. Number six, the foundations of science, the foundations of science. And maybe you hear that and you go, well, the church and science, they've been at war with each other. They totally disagree. That's absolutely not true. In fact, I love Rodney Stark's book, For the Glory of God. And he points out that modern science was born of the Christian faith, not in opposition. It was born out of that, that there was this recognition and Christian civilization that the world has been designed by God and we should study that design. That Scripture tells us, now I love Psalm 19, the whole passage of it. But those first two verses of it. Look what it says there. The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies above proclaim His handiwork. Day to day pours out speech and night to night reveals knowledge. In it, the Psalmist, he's declaring this whole universe is God's handiwork. We should study it.

Tim Lundy (11:25):
In the same way later in the Psalm, he'll say that Scripture is God's revelation as well. One is a general revelation, the universe. One is a special revelation, God's Bible, Christ. Guys, these aren't at odds with each other. And if you look through the history of science, I mean you go all the way back from Galileo to Faraday to Newton to our time today, a scholar like Francis Collins, a scientist. There's a foundation of science that complement each other. And the spread of that because of the nurturing of the church. With that, another category, we often don't think about, number seven, the impact on business. The impact on business, the sense of how a biblical ethic of business and work has imbued, especially our culture and our economy. Colossians 3:23, whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men. And as one scholar noted, he went all the way back, he says, Adam Smith wisely pointed out in his book, The Wealth of Nations, the large and growing middle classes, the endless business opportunities, the Protestant work ethic, extensive philanthropy and the standard of living we share today is the fruit of these teachings that came out of this.

Tim Lundy (12:46):
Number eight, and this one's fundamental, humanitarian reform. The way that all people are the same, the way that all people are treated in that. Now, again, whether it's been lived out the way it should, the principles and the teaching that are there. You know, one of the most fundamental verses to this is Galatians 3:28. Look at this verse. Paul's writing here and he's talking about the church. He said there is neither Jew nor Greek. So it's not based on what country you're from. There's neither slave nor free. It's not based on socioeconomics. There's neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. We who've been in the church, maybe you've heard that verse a lot. You don't realize how radical it is when he said that. He said this is the foundation of God's kingdom of God's church. Thomas Cahill, the historian and not a Christian historian per se. He wrote the seven volume Hinges of History series. Cahill says about this verse. And he's just writing as a historian. He said, this is the first statement of egalitarianism, of the equality of all people in human literature.

Tim Lundy (13:59):
This is the first statement in human literature that equates all people as equal. You realize how revolutionary that is? Do we realize the impact that has had? And why as the church, it's so important that we continue to fight for this, we continue to live it out, we continue to own where we have it? And if we're honest in our country and what we're wrestling with right now as a people is how do we live this out for all people, for all races that they experience that? And if we in the church, if we shy away and we don't want to speak into it, we don't want to talk about it and we just kind of avoid it, in that silence, other ideologies will step forth. Whether it's Marxism, whether it's, you know, total breakdown of all society, something will fill that void. That's why I think it's so important right now as a church, we continue to do this work, that we own where we haven't, that we speak up, that we speak against racism where it's there in any form and we move into it because are answers and it's shaped human history. And I've got to believe that right now, God is continuing to shape our country's history through this. And as a church, He wants to use us as instruments of good in that process.

Tim Lundy (15:30):
Let me give you two last ones. Number nine, the care for the elderly. The care for the elderly. You realize the first homes for aged people, it was not ever instituted by the government or secular authorities? It was the church. It was a church. There were no government programs. There was no social security. Nobody cared for the elderly. In the same way at the beginning of life, it was the church to step forward at the end of life and said, no, we've got to care for all people where they're a part of the church or not. The concept and the care for the elderly came out of the impact of the church. Final one I'd say, number 10 is the establishment of hospitals and orphanages. Again, these were established by churches. It was the church that stepped forward and believed we've got to care for the least of these. It was the church. You can go back and look at the Council of Nicaea, one of the early church councils. They made a declaration that from now on, anytime we build a cathedral, we need to build a hospice, a hospital right next to it because people don't have hospital care.

Tim Lundy (16:29):
There's not orphanages for children. And so the church stepped forward in that. I mean look around today. Look at the names of hospitals. When they're named things like Good Shepherd and Good Samaritan and Saint Francis, why did they get these religious names? It wasn't that hospitals decided, you know, we're starting a hospital. We just need to grab a religious name. That'll sound good. It's because the roots of it, they were started by churches. And the impact of it. Guys, when you look down the line of that, when you realize that impact, that's why the church has lived out verses like Proverbs 31. You can see it on your screen there, 8 and 9. Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. You look at it globally and in our country. You know, somebody added up globally one year how much aid, compassion aid was given from the American church to foreign countries. It was foreign aid. When they added it up together, it was $13 billion. Now that's a huge amount. But then they compared it. That same year, they compared how much was given by foundations. It was $5 billion. How much through relief agency, separate relief agencies, $6 billion. How much was given by corporations, big companies? $9 billion dollars. How much was given by the church? $13 billion. And that doesn't even account the economic impact in this country.

Tim Lundy (18:04):
You know, different economic groups have tried to estimate and come up with what is the economic impact of the church within our culture? When you look at all the services that are provided, all the ways that it helps out of that. And you know, there's different ranges of that. I like William Galston of the Brookings Institute, the government studies program, secular program of it. Their range of it, they say it's around $1.2 trillion. They say that's probably the Goldilocks, not too high, not too low in that. $1.2 trillion. 7% of the GDP of the impact of the church. Guys, just hear me. I know it has its flaws. I know there's things that we continue to have to work on. But your life, no matter who you are, you've been impacted for the good because of Christ's church and its impact over the last 2,000 years.

Tim Lundy (19:06):
A couple of other objections because maybe you hear that. But the second objection I hear is church is just a man-made institution though. That's all fine and good. It's just a man-made institution. It's buildings, it's budgets, it's institution, it's an organization. And I will say there is truth. There is the institution of the church. But the church is different than any other organization. And I've taught on this before. But if you look through the New Testament, it describes the church both as an institution, an organization that has to have leaders, it has to have organization around the programs of it. But it's also an organism. It's also this body that's connected together. See, we believe when Christ forgave our sins, when we began a relationship with Him, the Holy Spirit is within us and unites us together. We're connected as family together that crosses those lines. Everything that we talked about. There's no male or female. There's no slave or free. There's no racial lines in that. We're connected together as an organism, as one body in that. We're part of a movement. Look how Jesus describes it.

Tim Lundy (20:20):
He says to Peter, he says, I tell you, you are Peter. And on this rock. And look what Jesus says. He says, I will build my church. Jesus is the one building it. And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. There's a spiritual battle here. I'll give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven. Whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven. Do you hear Jesus's language there? He says, I am building my church. I'm doing something here that affronts and attacks the very gates of hell, the spiritual forces of darkness. I'm doing this in a way that will have eternal impact, impact here and impact for eternity. See, I think some of the people that lose sight of this the most are the people in the church and we reduce it to just a habit. We just reduce it to a practice and some things we do. And we forget that Jesus said, no, I'm launching my Kingdom. I'm launching my movement. It's got great impact. It's an organism and an organization.

Tim Lundy (21:26):
Now, as I say that, though, for some of you, you go, yeah, but I can have a relationship with Christ. I don't need to be a part of an institution. I don't like institutions. And I would liken it to marriage as you think about marriage in it. I mean marriage, you can have a great relationship without being married. A lot of people that choose that and they go, you know, we have a loving relationship. It's strong in that. And I'm not arguing with that. But there is a difference. And there's a difference even when I just look at the studies of that, of why I would encourage, I would encourage any of my kids get married. And maybe some of you that have held off on that, I think you might be able to attack the institution of marriage. There's problems in marriage. But you know, when you compare the two, it's interesting. I was reading just the comparison of the studies that the poverty rate for those who cohabitate is five times greater than marrieds. The length of the relationship, only one in three couples make it past three years that cohabitate. One in five pass five years. One in 10 past 10. I mean it starts going down dramatically compared to marriage. The impact on children, six times the behavioral problems and emotional problems.

Tim Lundy (22:46):
You go, what is it? I mean it might be a couple that that's committed together, but there's a difference in it. You know, one of the most fascinating studies I read about it, Stephanie Papas wrote an article, Marry or Move In Together, your brain knows the difference. They did a study. They took women, some who were cohabitating, some who were married. And in this study, they put them in a stressful environment where all of them would get this little shock on their ankle. And as they're preparing for the stress of that, they put them in different settings out of it just preparing for it alone. And then they gave them the option. You could do it alone, you could hold the hand of your spouse or the person you're in relationship with or you can hold the hand of a stranger. And for the married women, almost universally, when they held the hand of their spouse, in that time period as they're preparing for it, there was a calm in the hypothalamus portion of the brain. There was a piece that was there. Then when they did it with women who were not in a married relationship, they were cohabitating. Even when they would hold the hand of the person in that, the brain would still spike in that area.

Tim Lundy (23:59):
It wasn't that same sense of peace. In fact, it was no different for them when they held the hand of a stranger. Here's the final line of it, and I thought it was so interesting. Researchers speculate that while cohabitating women say they feel commitment from the partner, doubt resides in the deepest parts of the brain. There's a doubt that's still there. Guys, hear me. You can have a spiritual relationship without church, but it's not how Jesus designed it. So there is an institutional part of the church. There is a commitment that's involved there. And I would say in the same way, you know, as it said about the women in that study, that their brain knew the difference, I'd say on a spiritual level with you and the church, your soul knows the difference. That when Jesus designed it, He didn't just call you into relationship with Him. He called us into relationship with each other. Now I know that probably brings up the last objection, and I hear this from a lot of people. I love Jesus, but not the church.

Tim Lundy (25:09):
Maybe you got good reason for that. I'm going to tell you, I feel that at days and I'm a pastor. There's a lot of days I'm like, oh, I love Jesus. I don't know about this church. I don't know about church in general. I don't know about church people. Now it usually comes out of my weariness or maybe it comes out of your hurt and you've got real reasons in it. Maybe it's just a distaste as you look at it. And you go, yeah, but the church doesn't live up to those principles you talked about, Tim. And you see that disjointed part of that. And so you can kind of say, and I'm hearing this more and a lot of people kind of settled in this. I love Jesus. I'll have my spiritual life/ but I don't love church, and I won't be connected to it. Here's the one thing I would say to you. Jesus would look at you and go, I fundamentally disagree with you. Jesus would absolutely say I love the church. Now, why do I say that? Well, look in His work. Look at Ephesians 5. I love this passage. It's Paul writing husbands. But look what it says about Jesus and the church. He says, husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, so that He might present the church to Himself. And I love this word. In splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing that she might be holy and without blemish.

Tim Lundy (26:39):
He's describing the relationship between a husband and wife. And then he says, this is how Christ views the church. The church is His bride. The church is who He loves. Now, I love that word, splendor. You know, it reminds me of my wedding day. I can still remember, you know, this December, it'll be 30 years ago that we got married. I still remember standing at the end of that aisle in the back of the church. We got married in a big church, beautiful church. The doors opened and when Lea stepped through and this was the first time I saw her in her wedding dress. And she's in the wedding dress and the veil and so beautiful. And I can't think of a better word to describe it than splendor. I mean so beautiful. And as I remember that day, I still remember as she was coming, in our church, there was a big clock right over the end of the aisle there. And I looked up at the clock and I kind of thought to myself, 20- 30 minutes and she can't back out. She'll have to be committed to me then.

Tim Lundy (27:41):
Because I knew, I mean I married her. She was young. She was 21 when we got married and I knew I needed to marry her young before she got old enough to wise up to realize she could do better. I married up and I knew it. But here's the difference with Christ and His bride. Guys, Jesus didn't marry up. When Jesus found us, when He came to His church, we weren't beautiful. We're not in splendor. We're not standing there in white and He looks at us and goes, oh man, so wonderful, I just fall in love. Now look what the verse describes. He loved us. Now go back to the passage with it. He loved us and he washed us with His Word. He gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her. He cleansed her. See, when Jesus found us, we're not standing there beautiful in white. You know what the Bible says? We're in dirty rags. We soiled it. We messed it up. And instead of rejecting us, instead of pulling back from us, He moved in and He said, I will sacrifice so that you can be beautiful, so that you can be claimed, so that you can be presented.

Tim Lundy (29:02):
And you know, one day in eternity, that splendor, it talks about the very first thing we do in Heaven is the marriage celebration, that we will be presented in all the beauty and splendor and purity that He sacrificed for us. And it hasn't stopped today. In fact, as the passage goes on, you can read the rest of it, it says, in the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own body. He who loves his wife loves himself for no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it. And look at that last line, just as Christ does the church. You know what Christ does today? He nourishes His church. You know what Christ does today? He cherishes His church. He loves His church. And maybe you look at the church today and you go, yeah, but Tim, church is full of hypocrites. Church is full of people, they don't live up to those principles. Church has latent racism in it. The church has people with this holier than thou attitude. Church has people that hurt me. Church has people that lied to me. Church has all different kinds of people in their brokenness.

Tim Lundy (30:15):
I would agree with you. And I'm so thankful that when Jesus who sees all of the brokenness more than we do, who knows every flaw that you just named and more, when Jesus sees it, He doesn't pull back from it. He moves in that much more. He loves that much more. And says, okay, let's clean up that. Let's deal with that. Let me make you who you were called to be. See, I'm so thankful that Jesus doesn't pull back from broken people because if He did, I wouldn't be allowed in the church and you wouldn't be either. I want to encourage you today, as we finish out, guys, the church has impacted the world more than maybe you realize. It is an institution, but it's also an organism. It's this living body. And the commitment to it is how He designed it and it makes a difference. And if you love Jesus, you know what Jesus would say to you? Then love my bride too. And instead of pulling back from brokenness, do like Jesus. Move into it and go, okay, Jesus, how can I make a difference here? How can I be a part of making your church look more like you in preparation for that day of splendor? If you've been hurt by the church, maybe it's time to forgive. If you've pulled back from the church, maybe it's time to step in. If you're on the fringe, maybe it's time to commit.

Tim Lundy (32:05):
For all of us, trust and believe that Christ is using His church to do something beautiful in us. If you hear this and you say, Tim, I'm not good enough to be a part of the church, hear me. None of us are. But because of Jesus, all of us have that opportunity, all of us have the free gift and together He's doing something beautiful. Guys, you need Jesus and we need church because that's how He designed it. Will you pray with me? God, I thank you. I thank you for your church. I thank you for how it's impacted my life. I thank you that you welcome people like me in it. Lord, I do pray for our brokenness. I pray that we would look more like you. I pray that we'd have the humility to address where things need to change. Lord, I pray for anybody hearing this. Maybe they've been hurt by church. Would you give them the ability to forgive as you forgive? Lord, I pray for those who are staying on the fringe and they're not getting the full benefit of it. Would you call them to step forward in commitment?

Tim Lundy (33:18):
Lord, I pray for any who maybe they've never experienced it because they've never experienced life in you. Would you show them today that you're the Savior who you love us and in that love, you offer salvation and forgiveness? Lord, we confess together we need you and we need your church. And we pray this in Christ's name. Amen. I would encourage you as we finish out today, maybe this prompted in you something that you say, I want to talk to somebody. I need to take that step. I've been disconnected too long. I'd encourage you, you'll see on your screen there's different buttons there. Get connected. Maybe reach out to somebody in the chat room. We'd love to personally connect with you right now. I want to invite you back next week. I'm going to launch a new series. I've been studying. I've been praying about it. And the name of this series is Audacious Hope, Audacious Hope. I did a biblical study of every time hope is used in the Bible. And hope is different than just, you know, having a positive outlook. You might look at the world and you go, Tim, nothing is positive right now.

Tim Lundy (34:29):
Scripture teaches us how we can have audacious hope. You know, Murph kidded me a little bit. He said, man, we ought to call it bodacious hope. Now I was tempted. I thought audacious hope probably is better representation of Scripture. Whether you think it's audacious or bodacious, let me tell you, the Bible teaches hope in a way that you won't find anywhere else. And I can't wait next week to begin that journey of teaching it to you. Why don't you join us then?

Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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Venture Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, California 95032