24/7: The Rhythm of Life (Part 5)
October 7, 2018 | Pastor Steve Pixler
Review: Life balance begins with soul balance. Soul balance flows out into family and work balance.
One huge part of achieving life balance is today’s topic: church balance. Attending church weekly is part of the 24/7 cycle around which God designed the world.
Let’s ask two questions starting off:
What is the church?
Why do we meet weekly?
Then, we will wrap up today by looking at the big picture of what God is doing in the world through the church. It is truly amazing!
WHAT IS THE CHURCH?
First, let’s define the word “church.” “Church” winds through a long etymology that traces it roots back to the Greek word, “ekklesia.” In Bible times, an ekklesia was a civic assembly where the citizens of a city or province would gather to do government business. And that is exactly what the church is: it is the formal, governmental gathering of Jesus’ kingdom in the earth. (Think of a parliament, congress or legislature.)
The idea of “ekklesia,” however, reaches back farther than Greek civic tradition. Jesus and early Christians borrowed the word “ekklesia” to speak about God’s assembled kingdom community because Greek was the common language. Yet the idea of the assembled people of God goes back to Moses and the “congregation of Israel.” (Israel is called “ekklesia” in Acts 7:38.)
On the Day of Pentecost, Jesus’ church became the Spirit-filled congregation of Israel into which Gentiles were later gathered as the one-people-of-all-nations vision for the church was revealed to the apostles and prophets. (Acts 2; Ephesians 3)
Here is Jesus’ most famous statement about the church:
Matthew 16:18–19 (ESV): And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Then, Jesus made it clear that it only takes 2 or 3 gathering in his name for the kingdom assembly to be in session:
Matthew 18:15–20 (ESV): 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
The kingdom assembly of King Jesus is also the temple of God:
Ephesians 2:19–22 (ESV): So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Jesus established his church as his kingdom assembly when he ascended into heaven.
Ephesians 4:10–12 (ESV): He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.
The church gathers as the kingdom assembly of King Jesus, and Jesus rules through his people so that the kingdom of God may flow out into every person, family and nation under heaven. The gates of hell shall not prevail!
The church is the temple of God, the “building of God.” The church is also described as “the body of Christ” and “the bride of Christ.”
Countless books have been written on the church, and we could go on for years. However, here is the main point to take away for now: the church is the gathering of God’s people and we are called to assemble together.
Look at how the writer of Hebrews put it:
Hebrews 10:24–25 (ESV): 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
WHY DO WE MEET WEEKLY?
Remember this: we are talking about how weekly worship helps us achieve and maintain life balance. But first our second question: why do we meet weekly?
The tradition of gathering every week as the kingdom assembly of Jesus flows out of three things:
Creation pattern: God made the world in six days and then rested on the seventh. The “Sabbath pattern” of life carries over into the New Covenant as a PRINCIPLE, not a law. But we do still see the value of living in a 24/7 rhythm and observing a day of rest and worship.
The synagogue tradition: Israel was given numerous annual feasts to celebrate together, but they were also commanded to gather in a weekly “convocation” (assembly) each Sabbath evening, which would have been Friday night. (Leviticus 23:3) This was the beginning of the Jewish synagogue and was carried over into the church. The NT even refers to the church as “synagogue-ing” together (Hebrew 10:25)
The Lord’s Day: The Christian tradition of meeting every Sunday (at least) as the church (2 or 3 or more gathered to do kingdom business in his name) flows out of the “first day of the week” pattern based on the resurrection of Jesus; the appearances of Jesus with his disciples after his resurrection (John 20); the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2); and a couple of NT references to the church gathering on “the first day of week” and the idea of “the Lord’s day” (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10)
We must be careful here because we cannot reduce gathering as the church into a religious ritual, which is has become true for so many. In fact, much of the backlash against attending church regularly has been a backlash against dead religion demanding allegiance to the “institutional church.”
And yet, there is GREAT POWER in gathering together as the people of God.
THE BIG PICTURE
The church of Jesus is the means by which God is saving the world. Jesus came to earth, died and rose for our sins, and ascended into heaven to establish his church. His church is what he came to do! And that is how he is doing everything else: people are saved through the ministry of the church; families are made whole through the ministry of the church; nations are transformed through the ministry of the church.
The church changes the world because it releases the rule of God into the earth. When the church gathers, we sit in session as heaven’s government upon earth. And the rule of God transforms people, families and nations as it uses the keys to the kingdom of heaven that bind and release heaven’s authority. The gates (government) of hell cannot prevail against the church!
Ephesians 3:7–11 (ESV): Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
So what does all this mean for you? Simply this: attending church regularly and getting involved in serving brings you into partnership with what God is doing in the world. But it also helps you find the rhythm of life—balancing the busy.
By committing to weekly worship, you bring your self, family and work into alignment with the government of God and the transformation, re-creation power of the gospel.
Weekly worship works!
Life is a dance. Find your rhythm.
small groups study guide (Session FIVE)
(Be sure and listen to the message above. Notes are included.)
In the message, we talked about refusing to reduce church attendance down to a religious ritual. What has your past experience been with attending church? How do we prevent church attendance from becoming a “religious duty”?
Discuss what it means for the church to be the “kingdom assembly” (ekklesia) of King Jesus. How does the church advance the kingdom of God in every area of life?
Why did the church develop the tradition of gathering weekly (at least) and why meet on Sunday?
Studies show that weekend church attendance remains the single most effective way (among many) to lead friends to Jesus. Discuss how we can bring friends.