Kim A. Carroll is the full-time Pastor of Cornerstone Church of Lexington. He and Bettye, his wife of 35 years, have six daughters, two sons-in-law, and a brand new baby granddaughter.
Encouraging insights from the office of Pastor Kim Carroll.
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Sermon for today
His Kingdom and His Church
There is no question that the Church is an amazing truth of the Bible. The Church, as is stated in scriptures, will be the bride Jesus is coming back to receive. Now, while it is true that His Kingdom is coming upon the earth, it's just as strong of a truth that we are to be Kingdom builders. That is, all who declare to be followers of Christ Jesus. So I decided over the next few days to post certain truths concerning both, in hope that we can get a perspective on both. I am going to start with an illustration of an event that happen to me many years ago. Years back a group of YWAMers were arrested in the nation of Greece for proselytizing (convert or attempt to convert someone from one religion to another belief or religion). Now, still on the books at this time in Greece was the death penalty for such a crime. So the word got out all over the world that Christians in all countries on a certain day were to go to the Greek embassy and protest. It happened on that particular day chosen that I was in Brazil on a mission trip. So a hand full of us went down to the Greek embassy in Rio de Janeiro and met with the ambassador and told him how we felt. Of course this worked and the young missionaries that had been arrested were released. Okay, here is the point I want to make with this illustration. When we went into the embassy, everything was Greek. There were Greek statues, pictures, rugs, there was no way you could mistake what country they represented. But, this was only a representation of Greece, it was not the nation of Greece. Everything within the walls of that embassy was the Greek culture and language, yet it was not Greece. Here we go, the Kingdom is not the Church and the Church is not the Kingdom. The Church is the representation of the Kingdom. The Church sets in the Kingdom, but is not the Kingdom. The Church, if you will allow me to say it this way, is the embassy of the Kingdom. It's to have Kingdom culture and language. It is to accurately represent the Kingdom and Kingdom laws. The Kingdom is to be in the Church. So using this illustration I want to draw out some concepts concerning them both.
In Matt. 28 what's known as the Great Commission (Com-with, Mission, With Mission) Jesus gives His authority and states "Go". Now with this authority you need power as well to enable the authority. We find this in, Acts 1 they are told "to wait till they receive power", which they receive in Acts 2. When Jesus walked on the earth in human form, he was all God and yet 100% man. He represented His Father's business. Up to this point everything about the Kingdom was "types and shadows" or as Hebrews expresses "copies". But Jesus came to represent it, not as a copy, but being God as the authentic, the real heavenly version. He was the first to bring the authentic version of the Kingdom of God to earth. Up till then all they had were models, or copies at best. But when Jesus came, He represented the laws the way they were meant to be represented. The laws that God gave through His covenants not the ones man had established. So saying this we need to understand , Jesus gave us authority to represent Him and His Kingdom the way He wants it represented, and then He gave us the power to do so. We are sons and daughters of God the Father, and sons and daughters of the Kingdom. In scripture everywhere His sons and daughters went proclaiming His ways they were representing and building the Kingdom and everywhere they did this, churches (embassies)would emerge. So what are some of the aspects of the Church? We see in Acts 2 that there were men and women rescued from the other kingdom and transferred to the Kingdom of Light and here they were meshed with each other and taught the Kingdom ways as they were taught the Life of Jesus Christ. This is where they grew strong and were going around daily representing the ways of the Kingdom.
1. We see in scripture that the Church is where His laws and His ways are to be taught and practiced. The Church is to solidify, reinforce, instruct, (for the purpose of maturity), the Life of Jesus into the believer, the way Jesus represented the Kingdom of His Father, so they can do the same. The Church is not the ones instructed to "Go", but those who are the sons and daughters of the King. The Church is where they are taught, trained and equipped to "Go". The Church is suppose to put into the believer the ability to go and do it the same way Jesus did it.
Where things go wrong sometimes is when the believer begins to transfer that responsibility to "Go" to the Church and then expects the Church to do it for them. Signs of this is when you hear statements that are critical of what the church is or isn't doing. What is actually being done is comparisons of church bodies that God has placed them in. They slowly begin to let their thinking judge what the church is or isn't, instead of focusing on what they are, or are not doing for the Kingdom. The responsibility to "Go" was put on the believer, the Church is to help them grow strong in this responsibility. The church is to encourage and strengthen them to be adequate ministers of His Kingdom. The vision of the Church will only be as strong as the vision for the Kingdom.
The Bible reveals two distinct actions with our ears, listening and hearing. Jesus stated several times "he who has ears to hear", or "hear what the Spirit is saying" and a few other statements like this. But hearing, is different then listening, and you must listen to hear. Hearing in the Bible means to turn your attention toward and do. True biblical hearing requires an action. As a parent raising 6 daughters I would tell them to listen to me, and if they did not respond properly, I would say, did you hear me. Sometimes when correcting them, I would say, look at me when I am talking to you, meaning I want their attention, and I am speaking to them wanting an action to take place from what I said.
An example I can give is squirrel hunting. While I have not been in many years, it was my favorite. I would get up early go out into the woods and very slowly and methodically begin walking through the woods. I would have to quiet myself inwardly to focus outwardly. I would listen, centering my ears to hear any noise or sound a squirrel might make. From practice or many times squirrel hunting, I had got to know what I am listening for. When hearing, I turn and look toward the noise. Upon seeing and identifying a squirrel, I would raise my gun and, well you know the rest of the story.
God gave us His Words, we read His Words and then listen. Now, this may be while we are reading. We stop and think or, later after reading, we may roll the scriptures over inside our mind (biblical meditation or musing) thinking about them, but then we begin to hear something. We may say, I had a thought. We then put our attention onto what we heard and begin to act this out. This is the process of hearing God and the difference between listening and hearing. Some will listen and then hear, but never give attention to or act upon what they heard, and the Bible states this as dull of hearing. They purposefully stopped up their ears. In turn they will never have what God was trying to give them. But if we listen and learn to hear, we begin to identify the voice of God over all other voices. Next, we give attention to and then do. We have what the Bible states as light—His light—and our Christian adventure takes place.
To Serve, the Highest Calling and Greatest Honor.
Over the years, to me the greatest area of need in the church, is that of true servant hearts. Christians tend to be more, serve me first and then I will get involved. But if you study scriptures out, the greatest of all honor is to be chosen by God Himself to serve and represent Him. Think of what Jesus states here in John 12:26: "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." (NIV) "My Father will honor the one who serves me." That means the God of the whole universe, who created all things, who holds all things together, looks down at you when you serve Jesus and Honors You. Can there be any greater honor than that which comes from God Himself.
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