Mission of TRCC, Fellowship, and the Local Church
1 John 1:1-4
Verse 3 “…that which we have seen and heard we proclaim to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us;…”
Mission, Fellowship and the Local Church all go hand in hand. In that order.
We have been given a mission. We come together in fellowship around that mission and that is what makes the local church.
However, if there is no commitment to the local church then there is no fellowship. If there is no fellowship then the mission suffers (not eternally but in our joy in our sanctification as we engage the super-natural mission of God).
Today we are going to talk about the mission of TRCC.
Over the next few months (beginning February) we will be studying fellowship as we study through 1 John.
In order to talk about mission and fellowship we need to talk about the local church first.
I hope to come back to my introduction throughout our time in 1 John. I’m not sure what comes first here, the chicken or the egg, but mission, fellowship and the local church suffer here in the west.
Is that because the local church as lost focus on the mission (Great Commission)?
Is that because we are so individualistic that we can’t bind together on the mission and thus don’t have real fellowship?
Is that because we, in our individualism, won’t commit to the local church and therefore have no fellowship and no mission?
So, lets take a look at the importance of the local church by way of introduction and then review our mission together this morning in order to get ourselves set up for 2013 and the pursuit of koinonia, fellowship.
1 Timothy 3:15 (“…if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.”) clearly establishes the local assembly as the centerpiece of God’s work in this dispensation.
We know that Paul is referring to the local assembly because of how this verse relates to its surrounding context. What Paul has written in chapters two and three deals with matters of how the local church functions—the place of prayer, the role of women, and the qualifications for the offices of overseer and deacon. Verse 15 then states his purpose for writing these things: “so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”
The local assembly is the place where God has assigned responsibility for upholding His truth. This truth has implications both regarding the relationship of the local church to other ministries and the place of the local church in the life of individual believers.
Although we live in a day that focuses almost exclusively on the believer’s personal relationship with God (while neglecting the corporate necessity of our individual relationship with God), we cannot forget that every genuine believer has been saved and placed into the Body of Christ.
It may seem radical, but I would like to suggest that service to God in the local assembly is every believer’s primary obligation in life. Clearly, we have other responsibilities entrusted to us by God (family, civic, vocational) and these must be executed by the church member through the local church and with the local church’s affirmation for the mission of the local church which is the mission of God, but my contention is that the centrality of the local assembly in God’s program gives it the place of priority. There are several reasons why this is so.
First, God saves and gifts believers for the purpose of good works, and those are to be done through the local assembly (Eph 2:10; 4:7, 12-16). It is common to view the concept of “good works” from a purely individual perspective, but the instruction found in Ephesians 4 will not allow this. The context and purpose of our service is within the Body of Christ.
Second, a proper relationship to the local assembly is essential to fulfilling all other God-given responsibilities. This is clearly true of parenting duties. You cannot bring your children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4) apart from the local assembly. Their own spiritual growth depends on a proper relationship to the ministry of the local assembly (Eph 4:12-16). The goal of bringing them to spiritual maturity is undercut by neglect or indifference to the local assembly (Heb 10:25).
Your work is subservient to your walk with the Lord (Eph 6:5-9; Col 3:23) and your witness for Christ (Titus 2:9-10; 1 Thess 4:11-12). Both your walk and your witness are integrally related to the local assembly.
It is the place where you are taught the Word, built up in your faith by mutual ministry of the Body, and enjoy the purifying effects of worship and service. Your witness for Christ is limited and incomplete if it is disconnected from the Body of Christ.
Your marriage was designed by God to reflect the relationship between Christ and the church, which means the marriage serves that picture (not vice versa, Eph 5:31- 32). Even Paul says this is a mystery, but the principle is that marriage was instituted with the advanced knowledge of the relationship between Christ and the church and in order to replicate it and provide a picture of it. In other words, marriage, in God’s economy, is to display Christ and the church. So if the church is neglected our marriages are not showing forth Gospel reality.
And what was said about raising children applies equally to marriage—you cannot build a marriage that is truly pleasing to God apart from the local assembly. Your ability to be a God-honoring spouse grows out of your walk with God in obedience to His Word and Spirit, and that is fueled in the fellowship of the local church.
Third, the call of Christian discipleship clearly places following Christ above all human relationships (Luke 14:26; Acts 5:29). It is clear that Christ has commissioned His disciples to carry out the Great Commission, so everything else in life is subservient to that God-given responsibility. The Great Commission is fulfilled through the work of the local church in making disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to observe all that Christ commands. The outgrowth of each local church obeying this commission is the extension of local churches among all the nations and I would argue the fuel and goal of church ministries.
Please do not conclude that serving God in the local church is justification for neglecting our other God-given responsibilities. Righteousness will not allow us to selectively choose obedience to God—we must fulfill all of His will. The case that I am making is that a proper relationship to the local church provides a unifying center and focus for all other responsibilities.
Therefore, I would argue, that our fellowship, because of the Gospel, must be through the local church.
Our mission as a church is what unifies us as a local church.
Our mission as a local church is what gives direction to our work.
Our mission as a local church must be understood and spoken and returned to so that we don’t lose focus on the mission.
If fellowship is going to be our greatest challenge in the next 10 years together, then we need to learn fellowship in the local church and understand our mission as a local church.
Today we will look at our mission as a local church.
In February we will begin our study through 1 John to unpack fellowship, life together under the word.
So, lets visit our mission as a local church.
1. The Mission
For the glory of God we will build the church, both local and global, by being and producing radical followers of Jesus Christ.
(restatement of the Great Commission)
A. Glory of God
1. Gospel – good news of Father, sending Son to die for rebels
to reconcile rebels back to Father and rising for their full salvation
and sending Spirit to indwell faithful repentant recovering rebels as
a deposit guaranteeing their full inheritance in the Kingdom…
a. Simple enough to teach children (creation, fall, redemption,
b. Deep enough to keep the most accomplished scholar busy
for eternity (1 Peter 1:10-12; 1 Cor 2:1-2 [for three years Paul
preached Jesus and the cross])
B. Build the Church
1. Matthew 16:18 “On this rock” – the rock of Peter’s confession that
Jesus is the Christ, the Son, the good news that Father has sent the
a. Great Commission – Church building is an outworking of the
great commission. Make disciples by going, baptizing, teaching.
This is establishing the church.
b. Evangelism – Church building is an outworking of the
established church to make more disciples and bring them into
the fellowship of the church.
C. Local and Global
1. Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
a. Local and global at the same time.
2. Ministry must be both/and not either/or
D. Being and Producing Radical Followers of Jesus Christ
1. John 15
2. Radical Life
Radical living, described in John 15 as rising from and being connected to the root source of life, Jesus, looks like this circular process seen in Acts as the Spirit indwells Christians.
A. Communion with God
1. Trinitarian Fellowship
3. Bible Study
1. Fluid (looks like whatever it needs to look like)
a. Affinity (all like same stuff and enjoy hanging out and discipleship
b. Bible Study (all study bible and affinity breaks out)
c. Open Groups and (Short-term and Long-term)
d. Closed Groups (Short-term and Long-term)
e. Mission Groups (do ministry projects Short-term and Long-term)
C. Collision with Culture
1. Gospel impact as salt and light locally and globally
a. Engagement with sin issues in our culture with practical help and
communication of the Gospel