Institutional First Baptist Church Weekly Sermoin
Delivered By
Dr. E. G. Sherman, Jr
Delivered On
March 23, 2014 at 10:45 AM
Subject
The Church: A Spiritual Entity
Description
Dr. E. G. Sherman, Jr. Sunday March 23, 2014
The Church: A Spiritual Entity
“...upon this rock I will build my church...” ( Mt. 16:18 )
Today is the 43rd Anniversary of Institutional First
Baptist Church and its founding pastor here in Albany,
Georgia. In keeping with the divine origin of the church,
the service today will be confined to the regular worship
without the traditional giving of gifts and a meal here in
the Fellowship Hall.
The sermon for this occasion is entitled, The Church:
A Spiritual Entity. It will include the following three
dimensions, namely: nature of the church, membership
obligations, and the ultimate destiny of the church.
As background to the analysis of the subject, attention
is called to the fact that a variety of worship practices and
sacrifices were held during the Old Testament Era, but none
of them were known as church. It was not until in the early

New Testament period when Christ promised to build his
church. This fact is documented in the textual anchor of the
sermon; therein Christ stated, “...upon this rock I will build
my church...”. ( Mt. 16:18 ). This promised was made when
Jesus was on his earthly sojourn so its predated his
crucifixion, and resurrection along with the many
prerequisites that would follow the resurrection. Among
those events were: The Great Commission given to the
eleven disciples to “...go into all the world...”( Mt. 28:19-20 );
his message to the disciples that they, “...shall receive
power after the Holy Ghost come upon you and you shall
be witnesses of me...” ( Acts 1:8 ); the Advent of Pentecost
and Peter’s sermon that followed drawing three thousand
souls to the newly envisioned church. That Pentecostal
experience marked the Apostolic period in the early church
development. As the early church was emerging as a new
religion, Christianity, the apostles were subjected to
inhumane treatments including martyrdom; also, an ardent
persecutor, Saul, who later became a great defender of
the Christian movement and, finally, the Ethiopian Eunuch
carried Christianity to Ethiopia. The discussion, thus far,
has highlighted the Apostolic Era in the development of the
church that ended with the death of Saint John the Divine.
With this background, attention will now be focused
on the first dimension of the sermon which is - the nature of
the church. As noted in the subject, the word church
denotes a spiritual entity; it encompasses a idea that
describes the union of like minded people who accept the
Lordship of Jesus. Such an aggregate of individuals is more
organismic rather than organizational; accordingly, they are
concerned about their spiritual identify with Christian
principles than positions with the physical body of believers.
The Church, in this regard, is Christ centered, group
focused, and biblically anchored rather than status oriented.
This posture is reflected in the word, Ekklesia , that
denotes being “spiritually called out” from the secular
world and committed to the life of a new creature. Hence,
the Church consists to like minded believers in the finished
work of Christ along with the commitment to present their
bodies as living sacrifices to the Master’s service.
A renown sociologist, Sorokin, studied the structure of
society and concluded that it consists of five institutions,
one of which is Religion. Christianity, in this connection, is
a religion and the worship structure is known as the Church.
Sorokin asserted that every institution has at least three
components, namely: Ideational, Behavioral, and
Materialistic. Accepting this topology, the Church has
doctrines, creeds, covenants - all of which represent the
Ideational, the focus that Jesus envisioned. Next is the
behavioral; this refers to the actions that members
display in actualizing their notion of the Church and, thirdly,
is the materialistic. This components entails the physical
facility, land holding, vehicles, stores, child care facilities,
and other possessions.
While Jesus envisioned the Church more at the
Ideational level, sadly, the Church has drastically shifted
to the materialistic level. There is a trend toward the mega
church in size, but not in belief and help to the less
fortunate. Regrettably, the contemporary church is being
recognized more for its size, membership, and location than
its evangelism, social services, and doctrinal adherence.
This sad fact leads to the second component of the sermon
which is - What should be the appropriate behavior of the
church members. Let us search the Scriptures for
guidelines. The Scriptures tell us that the early church
converts gladly received the word and they were baptized.
But their action did not stop with baptism rather they
continued in the doctrine, fellowship, breaking of the
bread and prayer. ( Acts 2:42 ). The early church members
recognized that the church was purchased with the blood
of Christ, and it is his and their’s ( Act 20:28 ). In this
regard, Christ is the head of the church ( Eph. 5:23 ) or
as Peter would say, “The Chief Shepard” ( 1st Peter 5:4 )
while we pastors are a mere under Shepard; hence, the
Church should not be referred to as the pastor’s church.
Another facet of membership obligation is that of
regular Church attendance. Paul warned of this neglect
in his letter to the Hebrews in which he noted, “Not
forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the
manner of some... “. ( Heb10:25 ). The Scriptures also
mandate believers exercise spiritual stewardship of their
funds as noted in 1st Cor. 16:2, “Upon the first day of the
week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God
as prospered him...”. Finally, the Scriptures tell us, in the
words of Jesus, “...be thou faithful unto death and I will
give thee a crown of life.” ( Rev. 2:10 ). This glorious
promise leads to the last dimension of the sermon which
is - What is the ultimate destiny of the Church?
A poet of old stated, “ Kingdoms may rise and fall, but
the Church shall constantly remain”. While that assertion
is true, attention is called to Revelation in which the Church
is depicted as the Bride of Christ with the eternal wedding
to transpired at the end of time. Until that time, humanity
has a chance to be included in that eternal wedding, if only
they accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. I recently read an
article, that reinforces the reality of Christ and the Church.
It is entitled, Christ is Glorious: Let us make him known. The
words are - Our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Head of the
Church, is always actively engaged for ... The Church may
go through her dark ages, but Christ is with her in the
midnight. ... One other word remains; our Lord's kingdom is
most majestic in its aspect. .... would weather the storm and
abide till moons shall cease to wax and wane?
In closing, this sermon has focused on the Church as
a spiritual entity, It emphasized the nature of the Church
as spoken by Christ - “ Upon this rock I will build my church”
it cited Scriptural teachings about the church and its
believers, and it referenced the ultimate marriage of Christ
and His Church. Lastly, the sermon proclaimed the
wonderful news that we can be part of the Great Wedding
and thereafter enjoy the eternal wedding reception forever.
Amen.
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