Dr. E. Dale Locke and Rev. Trevor Johnston
Series: Long Story Short
Week 5: How God Grows Goodness
- Continue to learn the series memory verse – John 1:45: “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’”
- This sermon series is giving us 6 words that summarize the overall story of the whole Bible. So far we’ve had the following 4 words. Try to memorize these. Genesis 1-2 = Creation // Genesis 3-11 = Fall // Genesis 12 – Malachi = Israel // Matthew 1 – Acts 1= Jesus.
- Last week we spoke about the 4th section of Scripture where the focus is Jesus. Yale Historian Jaroslav Pelikan said: “Regardless of what anyone may personally think or believe about him, Jesus Christ of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of western culture for almost twenty centuries. If it were possible, with some sort of super magnet to pull up out of history every scrap of metal bearing at least a trace of his name, not much would be left…”. And Historian H.G. Wells marveled that after two millennia, “a historian like myself, who doesn’t even call himself a Christian, finds the picture centering irresistibly around the life and character of this most significant man: He went on to write “the historian’s test of an individual’s greatness is ‘What did he leave to grow? Did he start a movement thinking along fresh lines with a vigor that persisted after him?’ By this test alone…Jesus stands first.” Talk about these two quotations – one from a believer, one from a non-believing historian. What are your thoughts about this?
- We all are now living in the 5th movement, which is our theme this week – Church. What are some mistaken ideas that people sometimes have about what Church is?
- What is Church really intended to be?
- Read Matthew 16:13-20 which is the first time the word “church” appears in the Bible: When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” // 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” // 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” // 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” // 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
- What questions or comments come to your mind as you read the above passage?
- Caesarea Philippi had a lot of religious significance in Jesus’ day. The town center was full of shrines dedicated to the Greek gods Pan and Zeus. Zeus was the greatest of the Greek gods and was considered the king of all the gods. In addition, this city had been built up and named Caesarea Philippi by Philip the Tetrarch (son of Herod the Great) to honor the Roman Emperor Augustus, who – like all Caesars – was considered the “son of god” in Roman religion. It’s also notable that this was the furthest Jesus and his disciples ever were from the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Why might Jesus have asked this question of his disciples in this location?
- William Tyndale was the first person to translate the Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew into English to put Scripture in the hands of ordinary people. One of the things that drove religious leaders of his day crazy was that Tyndale translated the Greek word “ekklesia” from Matthew 16:18 as “congregation” (a gathering of people) rather than as “church” (a building or the hierarchy of the church organization). Why does this matter?
- Peter’s actual given name was Simon, but Jesus had given him the nickname “Peter” which means “the Rock.” In Matthew 16:18, Jesus does a wordplay on Peter’s nickname. But we don’t believe Jesus meant he would build his Church on Peter. Why not? On which “rock” did Jesus intend to build His Church?
- The Church is the community who confesses Jesus is the Son of God. What do we mean by this?
- Acts 2:1-4 describes the fulfillment of what Jesus predicted in Matthew 16. Read that passage here to see how Jesus’ Church was born: “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” // The flames of fire pointed back to when God’s fiery presence filled the Jewish temple in the Old Testament. For Jewish people, the temple had always been the only place on earth where people could meet with God. But now these flames were on the heads of individual Christ-followers communicating that something very new and different was true about God’s interaction with His world. The Church is the new temple of God. What does that mean?
- Read 1 Peter 2:4-5: “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him — you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” // Why did Peter call Christians “living stones”? What was he getting at in this analogy? How does this passage add to your understanding of what the Church is actually meant to be?
- Read more about what Peter said in 1 Peter 2:9-10: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” What does it mean that we are “a royal priesthood”? What does that imply about us – the people of Jesus’ Church?
- The Church is Jesus’ plan to save the world. What do we mean by this?
- The Church isn’t meant to be like a cruise ship, yet some people view it that way. Name some attitudes people sometimes have about Church that are similar to how people view a cruise ship.
- The Church is supposed to be more like a battleship. Name some ways that the Church is similar to a battleship.
- 86% of churches in the United States aren’t growing, and many of those are actually shrinking. It has been said of a local church that “If we don’t mobilize, we fossilize.” What do we mean by that? Have you ever seen that taking place?
- Rick Warren said, “You measure a church’s strength, not by its seating capacity but by its sending capacity.” What did he mean by that? How can we live that out at COH?
- Today we are beginning a new idea that we’re calling “Dollar Club.” We’re asking that every week, each person in attendance at church gives one extra dollar above and beyond what you would normally give. As we measure our attendance each week, we will give that quantity of dollars away each week to provide for needs in our community and bless people who could use some help. This illustrates that one of the reasons God planned the Church is that we can accomplish so much more together than any one of us could accomplish alone. List some things we could do with about $2,000 each week, even though it only “costs” each of us $1.
- Come back next week to get the last movement of the story!