#2 (The “7 Last Sayings of Christ” Series)
TEXT: John 19:25-27; Heb. 10:24-25; Acts 2:42-47
INTRO: God never intended the church to become an institution; He always intended it to be a family! When God wanted to set the standard for human development he created the family unit, and it is this that He used as the foundation for the church too. Those churches that become institutional lose the power of what God intended for the church.
ILLUS: Many denominations have seen significant membership declines since 1965. United Methodists, for example, have shrunk by 18 percent during the period. Episcopalians have lost 28 percent of their members. Presbyterians have declined in number by 31 percent.
During the same 25-year period,
however other religious bodies have reported sizable growth. Among these is the Southern Baptist
Convention, which has grown by 38 percent.
The church of the Nazarene has increased its membership by 61 percent.
And remarkably, since 1965 the
Assemblies of God have grown by 122 percent. -- Reported in U.S. News & World
There is a real hunger to be a part of the church as God intended it to be!
When Jesus was hanging on the cross His thoughts turned toward family and the coming church, and looking at His mother and the disciple John Jesus opens the door for what the church would become; God's family!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches that God melds us together into one family under Christ's Lordship. In Christ we become "brothers & sisters" in Christ, not just a sentimental title but a true picture of what we are as the church.
I. RELATIONSHIPS John 19:25-27
A. Change! 19:25-27
1. At the foot of the cross stood Mary the mother of Jesus and John one of Jesus’ disciples.
a. There was also another relative, Mary's sister Mary, and a family friend also named Mary!
b. Two family members and two friends.
2. Jesus now takes notice of them and realizes that His death is going to change everything - in a positive way!
a. He looks at them and speaks and tells them they are now all family together!
b. You will notice that Jesus however does not call Mary His "mother" now, just "dear woman."
c. A dramatic change was taking place between Jesus and them and between each other also!
3. Jesus would not be her son now but Mary's Savior, hence "dear woman" rather than "mother" ... and the 4 of them would no longer be friends and family, just FAMILY!
a. Jesus tells His friend John to now take Mary into his home as his mother, and for her to see John as a son ... for them to see each other as family now!
b. The church that fails to become a family fails to recognize how important Jesus views these relationships; on the cross Jesus makes these changes.
c. On the cross we only have 7 sayings recorded that Jesus spoke, and one was about being the family of God!
4. Maybe the idea of calling each other "brother and sister" is not such a quaint old fashion idea ... it is good theology!
5. Christ forever changes our relationships to each other when we come to Him as Savior and Lord!
1. The family of God can be a strange bunch, just look at the composition of this family:
a. Former demon possessed people
b. Tax collectors
e. Political radicals called "Zealots"
f. "Sons of Thunder!"
g. Doubters like Thomas
h. Former prostitutes
i. Easily frightened people like Timothy who came from a mixed marriage home.
j. Gentiles, Jews, Samaritans, male and females, old and young, educated and not so educated, extroverts and introverts, rich and poor, etc.
2. Only God could take all us weird people and make out of us one family!
3. For God, there is no such thing as an unimportant person in His family! God considers each person important.
a. So often in this world one person can still make a huge difference.
ILLUS: In 1645, one vote gave Oliver Cromwell
In 1649, one
vote caused Charles I of
In 1776, one
In 1845, one
In 1868, one vote saved President Andrew Johnson from impeachment.
In 1875, one
In 1876, one
vote gave Rutherford B. Hayes the Presidency of the
In 1923, one vote gave Adolf Hitler leadership of the Nazi Party.
In 1941, one
vote saved Selective Service -- just weeks before
b. If one person can mean so much in the world how much more does one person mean in God's family!
4. The truth of the matter is that the church functions best when it is a true family, though made up of such radically different types, blended together in His grace and calling we are the triumphant church of all ages!
II. RESPONSIBILITIES Heb. 10:24-25 Acts -47
A. Conduct Heb. 10:24
1. If the church is a family what are our responsibilities?
a. There are certain things that make for a healthy family.
b. The family unit is supposed to be the example of church life, so what is a good family?
2. "Consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."
a. In healthy families each member is concerned about the others.
b. Healthy families try and bring out the best in one another.
c. Seeking to help each member become everything they can be before God.
d. In healthy homes our own needs take second place to family members needs.
3. This is not always easy, especially in light of the variety of personalities and flawed humans that make up God's family!!
4. Yet we are called upon to be this kind of family in Christ!
a. Too many Christians float around looking for the ideal church family, but God's call is to "love the one were with!!!"
b. Like most healthy families it isn't always easy to love one another!
ILLUS: Anyone can love the ideal church. The challenge is to love the real church. -- Bishop Joseph McKinney, Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 3.
5. It is not our feelings that matter most it is our conduct! Love is far more than an emotion!
B. Communion Heb. 10:25
1. We are stuck with each other in Christ!
a. Therefore we are not to absent ourselves from communion and fellowship!
b. Especially as we see the day of the Lord drawing nearer!
2. No where in Scripture does it give license for you to quit coming to church based on anything someone else does!
a. The one person that got himself into trouble because he broke away from the group was Judas!
b. There is no good excuse to be away from God's family!
3. We didn't choose our family at birth and at our new birth we become part of Christ's family, all of us!
a. The early church had their fair share of squabbles and disagreements, but they stuck together and worked through them!
b. When Euodia and Syntyche didn't get along with each other Paul wrote and told the other leaders to help them work through their differences. (Philip. 4:2)
c. Paul and Barnabus had a terrible fight over John Mark... (Acts )
d. Paul withstood Peter face to face for his hypocrisy with the Gentiles and Jews. (Gal. 2:11)
e. BUT ... THE FAMILY STUCK TOGETHER! WELCOME TO GOD'S FAMILY!
4. There are bound to be those uncomfortable times with each other, but being ONE BODY, ONE FAMILY in Christ means we will work through them!
a. It is immature love and disobedience that makes us walk away from God's people.
b. The witness of God's family is so powerful that Jesus said it would be by our love for one another that all men would even know that we belong to Christ!
5. In the days we live we need each other more than ever, and to protect one another!
a. The world is a place where people try and get whatever they can, even at the expense of others.
b. But the family is where we are loved and protected; a healthy church has this too!
ILLUS: Stephen Brown explains that when a group of thoroughbred horses face attack, they stand in a circle facing each other and, with their back legs, kick out at the enemy. Donkeys do just the opposite; they face the enemy and kick each other! How often the church does just that -- ignoring the real enemy while we attack fellow believers. – Source Unknown
6. The world should see a real difference in the church, they should see the family of God!
C. Caring Acts 2:42-47
1. Notice how the early church acted: "they DEVOTED themselves..."
a. Devotion was a key word!
b. The ground was level in the church; there were no "rich or poor" only brothers and sisters learning to live out their common faith in Christ!
2. Their devotion involved at least 5 things:
a. Devoted to the Apostles' teaching (doctrine!) [CONTENT]
b. Devoted to fellowship [CARING]
c. Devoted to the breaking of bread [COMMUNION]
d. Devoted to prayer [COMMUNICATING]
e. Devoted to meeting each others needs [COMPASSION]
3. The goal of each member was to be devoted to the others!
a. How different from today, if we don't get what we want we are history!
b. Maybe our own needs would be met better if we concentrated on meeting someone else's needs instead!
4. Their faith was very practical as much as it was spiritual!
a. They shared their blessings with each other when someone had a great need.
b. Being together was very important for both practical reasons and spiritual ones.
5. The characteristic of the early church was that they cared for one another, the expression of the world was: "see how they love one another!"
a. Can the world say this about us as the church now?
b. Jesus hung on the cross and on His heart was His family, His real family - the church!
c. In Him we come together as one family.
6. We are to care enough about each other to transform one another!
ILLUS: obert Schuller tells a story about a banker who always tossed a coin in the cup of a legless beggar who sat on the street outside the bank. But, unlike most people, the banker would always insist on getting one of the pencils the man had beside him. "You are a merchant," the banker would say, "and I always expect to receive good value from merchants I do business with." One day the legless man was not on the sidewalk. Time passed and the banker forgot about him, until he walked into a public building and there in the concessions stand sat the former beggar. He was obviously the owner of his own small business now. "I have always hoped you might come by someday," the man said. "You are largely responsible for me being here. You kept telling me that I was a 'merchant'. I started thinking of myself that way, instead of a beggar receiving gifts. I started selling pencils -- lots of them. You gave me self-respect, caused me to look at myself differently." – Source Unknown
7. The world may never see the church as it actually is, but we must!
8. Are you glad that you are a part of the family of God?
CONCLUSION: Christ changes everything! In Him there is a real family that shares together eternal life. In Him we become "brothers & sisters" - one family in spite of all other differences. These new family bonds will exist forever in Christ, welcome to the family, "you're always welcome in God's family!"