Speaker: Ben Marsh
Scripture: 1 Peter 2

From the series What is Church?

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Well, good morning. It is this morning that I do have to let you all know that this will, in fact, be my last sermon as your vicar. So you still get to hear from me a little bit more. I was just making sure everybody was listening. You just heard Pastor Tim, right? Nobody was falling asleep. Yeah, I’m thankful for that. Honestly, I just feel so blessed and I know my family does as well to be able to serve here. This place such a unique and beautiful church and just honored to be able to step into this role and to thank you for that. We greatly appreciate it. And so today we’re actually just looking at beginning a two part series, which is actually focused around what is church, which is so fitting as this ordination installation’s coming up. And also it’s fitting because so often in life we’re all going 100 miles an hour, a thousand different directions, and we just assume a lot of things. We assume we know the meaning of things and the value of things. And we have a really good understanding of how the world works and all that. And there is a good reason to slow down every now and again and to look at things very closely and how we define them. And today we’re going to be looking at how do we define what church actually is, what is the core essence of church and not based off of my opinion or Pastor Tim’s opinion, what based off of scripture, what is church exactly? 

And we see that it is consequential. It actually does impact the way that we view God, the way that we view ourselves, the way that we view gathering together here in person and what we do with all of that. So a couple of weeks ago, actually, Patterson kicked off this idea, I believe it was at our Step Out celebration service. And he asked you this question What kind of church do we want? Shepherd’s Gate to be? Feel free. Like what kind again? What kind of church do we want Shepherd’s Gate to be? A prosperous church. Inviting church, a truthful church, A faithful church, Relational. A serving church. We’re going to see that this church was maybe some of you know this. If you don’t, we actually cover this in the new member class. We make sure to touch on this, that this church over 40 years ago in 1980, was founded. And it was founded with this core belief that a church needed to be established in this area to seek and save the lost, that there was a message that needed to be shared with those that were far from God, that have maybe never heard the message of the gospel.

And that’s why this church was planted with with seven families, with a pastor certainly being a part of that and six other families coming together to plant this church and that we all are now able to enjoy the fruits of what they planted back then as God allowed it to continue to grow. And we can look back at it and go, that’s how it began. And we want to continue in some of those things. But also we recognize this, that a church is ultimately God’s gathered people. And so you have a great influence in what our church becomes, that it isn’t myself as I become ordained or a pastor ten that tells this church what they have to be. But the church is ultimately the people. And we’ll see as we look at the text today what that exactly means and what gifts the church has and what it has to offer and why it should be gathering. Well, before we do that, what comes to mind when we think about other churches or even our own church? And again, Patrick seemed to touch on some of this, but just in way reminder, because this is often how we look at church as well. There’s different kinds. 

Maybe some of you have spent a season of life at some point kind of church shopping, going around and looking at other churches. And there’s here’s a not exhaustive list, but a list of some of the churches that you may run across if you’re looking for a new church that you could go to. We see our church. Oftentimes, this is a very big church. It has a focus on making sure that guests feel really welcome, which is a good and right thing. And they also are usually pretty highly produced. If you didn’t know it, you might mistake yourself to be an adult. Actually, in a rock concert versus a church. And they seek excellence and all they do and they want to share the gospel in that way. There’s also teaching churches where they do expository preaching. And if you don’t know what expository means, it means going through a book of the Bible, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, and walking through the text to see what God’s Word says. Does that sound familiar at all to anyone? Maybe as we walk through the Book of Genesis and there’s also a focus on Bible studies, traditional church, maybe some of you grew up in traditional churches that have a focus on liturgy, meaning a way of worship where if you go, you know, five times throughout the four or five times throughout the month, you see the same service over and over again. 

The sermon. The songs may be different, but the structure of the service, you stand up, you sit down, you say this, you say that, and it usually looks pretty similar from service to service, and you usually have organ worship and hymns and things like that, but they’re also confessional. We’ll dig into that a little bit more, but that’s really key to some of those traditional churches. There’s also charismatic churches. They have a focus on supernatural gifts, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and there’s an emphasis that’s placed on that in those churches, their school churches. I grew up in a school church was a preschool all the way through eighth grade when I was a young kid, and that was one of the primary ministries of the church that I grew up in. And there’s many around us is a wonderful thing. But the mission of the church sometimes can become focused on that school and serving those families and teaching those kids and raising them in the faith in that academic setting as well. This community churches which plant themselves within the community and then try to offer things to the community, different activities to try to draw people in to the the church through various means, not necessarily Bible studies, but sometimes just simply social things.

And then there’s missional churches which have an emphasis placed on going out, being trained up, being a missionary, going out, sharing your faith. And I know pastors in touch with this, but as you look at these, as Shepherds Gate fall neatly into one of these categories, no, there’s aspects of our church that that resonate with each of these to a certain degree. But all these things I want you to see this all of these things as we go in church shop are all secondary characteristics. They are characteristics. Now you can look at on the outside, but they don’t tell you the essence of the thing, right? If you lined up a whole bunch of seven through one year olds, a little blond boys, I would be able to tell you that they’re all little blind boys, but I would be able to tell you which ones are mine. Yeah, I have three of them. They all look alike, right? And they all are. These secondary characteristics that make them look so terribly handsome, just like me. But the essence of who they are. If something changed about the way they look, they cut their hair a little bit differently or they wore different. Sure, these are secondary things, right?

But in essence, they’re my son. 

That can’t change, is unchangeable. That’s the essence of them. But looking at the exterior is often where we spend more time when it comes to church. Well, in the same way when you look at houses, you you walk through and you see houses and they’re they’re all just houses, right? When I was going to school in Chicago, I actually remember walking around the neighborhood. It’s a very nice neighborhood where my university was and million dollar multimillion dollar homes all around. And you start seeing houses that look something like this and you see some kind of design like this. And you notice like, all these all these houses or they have walls and windows, they have a roof, but there’s something different about their secondary characteristics. Can anybody tell me as you just look, even I just had a couple of photos who designed those houses? Frank Lloyd Wright Yeah, because I remember as a college student walking down a street and just marveling at all these wonderful houses and then noticing that there’s people stopping in front of this house and they’re stopping to take photos with the house. And there’s a tour guide leading people through. There’s something different about that house because there’s a designer behind it. 

There was someone who intended to make it a particular way. And, you know, I come to find out actually later in ministry, I ran across a member of a church I served at, and that member had a replica of a Frank Lloyd Wright. And that’s what you also sometimes find with church is that there’s things that look a lot like the original, a look a lot like the real thing. But in their essence, the builder, the architect, the person that plan behind it is actually someone different. And they’re just trying to be a copycat and make it look like church because you can make things on the outside look like church. But again, there’s a core foundation that you actually have to go back to to know what is truly church and what isn’t church. Here at Shepherds Gate, the way that we kind of articulate our unique identity is first and foremost is that we’re confessional and sacramental. Sacramental meaning as we are going to participate in today billboard supper, that this meal that Jesus instituted has given to his church to experience the forgiveness of our sins and his very body and blood. Or last week at the outdoor service, as we witness, I think, four different baptisms taking place and through those waters of baptism, God has given us the sacrament. This mystery, this gift where He is doing his marvelous work, and that is part of the church. 

So we’re sacramental in that way. We’re also secondarily, I would say we’re modern in our approach. We’re relational, we’re invitational, as you guys invited. So many and to come into that outdoor service and continue to invite family and friends into this church. And we’re also missional in our approach as well that we are desiring to seek and save the loss. But I would I would argue that if you look at those last two categories, modern Relational Invitational mission, those are secondary, secondary characteristics. But a primary essence of the church is actually found in that first word confessional, because how many of you would like to be at a Bible believing church? Anybody? Yeah. What does that mean? Which part of the Bible? All of it, Right. All the Bible. All the Bible. In what way? Because did anybody here have bacon this morning? Because according to the Book of Leviticus, if you had bacon this morning or shellfish last night, you have sinned. So I want to go to a Bible believing church. What part of the Bible, what emphasis of the Bible that is such a throwaway phrase, in my opinion. 

I want to go to a Bible believing church. What Do you mean by believing the Bible? What part of the Bible? What is the emphasis and the key message of the Bible, which is what we’re going to see in this text here today, Is that just simply saying because every church on the face of the planet would say that they’re a Bible believing church and they have all sorts of secondary characteristics. Some of them are high church and do liturgy, some of them are modern, and they have guitars. But those things are all secondary and they ultimately don’t matter if you don’t have the core foundation. And that’s what we’re going to see as Peter, the leader of the early church in the first century, is writing to these established churches about what it means to be the church. What is the core foundation of being church? What is the core confession of being the church? So Peter is writing a letter to these churches in the first century, and he’s writing out to them and he’s saying therefore, in chapter two, at any time you see the word, therefore you have to ask yourself, what’s it there for? 

It’s there for because it’s pointing back to chapter number one, where he goes in and he shares a specific message, a message that I’m going to share with you, but not quite yet. Therefore, he’s already shared this message. Therefore, after I’ve shared this message with you, now read yourselves of all malice and all the hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation. Now that you have tasted that the Lord is good, Now that you’ve heard this message, you heard a life changing message. Now you need to look different. Peter’s calling the church, he’s exhorting the church look different. Don’t go back to your ways of life. Don’t go back to malice and deceit. And Parker see, speaking ill of others and slandering. But now you’ve tasted that God is good. So now live differently, look differently. To be a light in a dark world, you have to look different. And he goes on to begin to share what it is that makes them look different, he says. 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 up into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. I’ll tell you what, as I look at this chapter this week, at this even the section of second verse, Peter, chapter two, there there is several sermons contained in here. We only can focus on so many things in one Sunday morning. There’s so much here that he’s saying that there’s a living stone. This is Jesus. And now this being built up on Jesus, you’re being built into a spirit full house. He’s speaking to all these churches that you are being built together, that you are called to assemble together, being built up upon one another. Because let me ask you this. If you grab your Bible and go to Stoney Creek, go find a bench next to the river. Go sit in the waterfront, and you flip to Genesis one one and you just begin your Sunday morning over there by yourself with God’s Word. Is that church? No. Is it good? Yes. Is a better thing to actually be in the assembly? The ecclesia, the the chosen ones that are gathered together, being built into his spiritual house together? Absolutely. 

Coming together is what God is called to be part of the body of Christ actually means to be together. But it’s not just just simply being together. That is one of the facets of being a church is assembling together. But you have to assemble around something. Just a couple of weeks ago, how many of you went here? A couple of you did the air show over at Selfridge. My family went over there for the first time, and we were able to walk around and see these amazing planes and helicopters.

And it’s part of the show that they were putting on. And I couldn’t even tell you how many people were there in thousands, thousands of people there to go see these things, to go to to support our troops, to kind of be an all the way and the things that they use to defend our country. And as I look at that, you go, wow, there’s thousands of people all gathered in the same place with a common purpose to enjoy this and also to kind of be patriotic at the same time. So there are gathered people and they have a common purpose is that church? No, there’s no way that anyone would say that’s church, right? We have people gathered around and they’re all enjoying something together. They all stop and they all say the Pledge of Allegiance. No, that’s not that’s not the church or even this. It gets a little bit trickier for Father’s Day. 

One of the things I was gifted and I’m so thankful for is that are coming up in August, I’ll be able to go to a Phil Wickham concert. For those of you that don’t know, that was actually the artist who wrote the first song that we sang, I believe, and I’m considering, as I was given two tickets, I’m strongly considering taking my wife to this concert. I think that might be a good idea, but we’ll gather there. Right. And here’s a Christian artist singing about God, praising God with other people. So now we have an assembly of people and now we’re gathered to worship God. Now is that church? Well, that’s not church either, is it? Is there something distinct and different about church? You wouldn’t think going to a Christian concert is a substitute for church. So there’s got to be something in the essence of church that makes it set apart from being by yourself with God’s Word or being with other people for a different reason, or even going to a concert to worship God. All those things aren’t church. Then it begs the question, what is church again? Going back to the very beginning, these things that we assume that we just look at and go, yeah, well, I know what churches were then. What then? 

What is it? In its essence, if it’s not all these secondary things, these different styles of churches, then what is it at its core? What’s actually broken down into two different categories? First and foremost, there’s the Invisible Church, What we believe about the Invisible church is that this this consists of all true believers in Christ. It’s invisible because faith is in your heart and known to God. So that means here on this Sunday morning in Shelby Township, in Macomb County, in Michigan, around the US, around the world, Christians are gathering and they are gathering not only in Lutheran Church but Baptist churches and Catholic churches and all sorts of other churches in between and contained within those churches are true believers. And the thing that makes them distinct as true believers is what they believe. Where their faith is anchored, what is their foundation, because there are church bodies and maybe you’ve come from one of them that would say it’s just our church body. If you leave this church body, then you’re a heretic. Then your lost. Then you might lose your salvation if you leave this particular church body because there’s only one true church. What I so love about our church body is that we recognize we don’t agree on everything. 

But if we agree on one thing and that one thing is the key message of all of scripture, if we agree on this one thing where that is clearly taught and professed, then well, then there’s the invisible church. But then there’s also the visible church. That’s where we’re gathered. We’re gathered at a visible church, one that we all see. And this includes all who gather around the word and the sacraments. But this can include that while this includes nonbelievers, it is still called the church because it contains true believers. Because there’s true believers. And what I want you to notice in that second line is nonbelievers. There’s two things there. First If you are a nonbeliever, if you don’t profess to be a Christian here, this you are welcome in our church. We’re glad that you are here. And we want you to hear this message that you are welcome and that you need to be exposed as to God’s word so that God can begin to do his work. And then also, secondly, that there is the potential that there are those in our midst that are members, but they’re nonbelievers. People will attend churches for all sorts of different reasons. And if their primary reason, if their primary anger isn’t the message that we’re going to talk about and God ultimately only knows that, then there’s the potential to fall into the category of nonbeliever. Simply having your names on the rolls and being a member of a church is not a get out of jail free card. Simply going to church week in and week out is not a get out of jail free card. 

Doing all the things at church, doing Bible studies and service is not a get out of jail free card. To be the church and to be a believer actually is something different. To be part of the invisible church is not about you and your actions. And if I was to ask you, are you saved? If you were to die tonight, would you go to heaven? And the first place that you go is to put the spotlight on yourself. It’s not a good place to be because where you need to be anchored is the message that we’re going to talk about. See, Peter knew this and he’s telling the church, you have a cornerstone. He says in scripture, it says, See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone. The one who trust in him will never be put to shame. There has to be this foundation, this unmovable, unshakable foundation. And that’s a secondary characteristic to look all sorts of different ways that it could be a house church, that it could be a megachurch, that it could be a traditional church, it could be a secret, or if you all sorts of things. But the foundation has to be secure because something can look really good. But if the foundation isn’t secure, if the cornerstone isn’t secure, then the whole thing is going to crumble. 

I don’t watch shows like this all that often, but I remember a couple of years ago this just stood out to me as I was preparing this message that my wife and I were watching kind of an extreme home show, homes that were just like really extraordinary all around the world. And there’s this home in Scotland where someone was spending millions of dollars to go to this remote cliff to take supplies up there so builders could build this home. And they wanted it right on the edge of this cliff so they they could look out through all their glass windows and essentially just have like 180 degree view of the ocean over this cliff. They get all this natural sunlight. And it was just a stunning home, extremely difficult to build, a beautiful home that they wanted to go and enjoy it. But what they also knew full well, even as they began the building process, was the cliff that they were building on year after year would erode from several inches to a few feet, and that those that they were working with let them know that as you build this home, you may on the top end have 50 years.

You may have as little as 30 years, but at the end of the day, this home will ultimately fall into the sea, that things can look really good, it can look like church, it can look like faith, it can look like a believer. But if the foundation is slowly eroded away, if it’s not built on something secure and steady, well, that’s not church. And that eventually will not be a house, is it? The purpose of the house is to go and enjoy the house and live in the house and be safe and secure. What’s the purpose of church? Because that helps us understand what again, is the essence of church. What would you say? I mean, feel free. What is the purpose of church to reach the last. Yeah. To gather together the leaders were believers to grow as believers. Salvation. So we it’s not a guitar solo or it’s not a hear. My favorite hymns is the purpose of church not to come and to be able to walk out and go, Wow, that was a really good sermon today. Does it become less church if in the parking lot or in your car ride home you go, I really get a lot out of that.

Is church based off of your opinion, so is the purpose. If you feel like you’ve been fed, if you feel like you’ve gotten something out of it, that there’s something that you can take home Because look at that. 

You have to be very careful. The purpose of the church is now dictated by me. The now ultimately I am saying that I myself determine what church is and all of us can do it so very easily. I don’t know if I like that song. I don’t know if I like that or why do they do that? Why do they do this? And we nitpicked and sometimes that’s the very reason that we go from this church to that church or why we go church shopping, because we’re trying to find something that meets all my needs. I want a place to belong. I want a church that serves more. I want a church that does this. I want a church that does expository preaching. And now all of a sudden, we made the purpose of church really just our preference. And in doing so, what we basically done is taken Jesus off his throne and put ourselves there and said, I get to dictate what church is because it’s ultimately all the same. Right or wrong, church is not primarily a place to belong. It is not primarily a place to simply learn something. It is not primarily place even to serve. 

These, again, are all secondary characteristics. Are they good things? Absolutely. Should you belong it feel like you belong at a church and you feel like you know people? Absolutely. Should you learn new things through Bible study and through sermons? Absolutely. Should the church go out and be the hands and feet of Jesus? Absolutely. But again, we’re not we’re talking about two different things, right? We’re talking about now characteristics. We’re not talking about essence, the essence of church, the purpose of church cannot be these things. These are all external exterior things that we look to. They are all ultimately works of the church in that works of God. And these become stumbling blocks for so many of us because we get so comfortable being the ones that get to dictate and decide what church we like. But for anyone who’s here this morning or anyone watching online, I want to tell you that that’s that’s a fallacy. And it’s dangerous because what you ultimately need to be pursuing is you need to be pursuing a church that has the message. And Peter even warns the early church is here. He says now to you who believe this stone is precious again, talking about Jesus. But to those who do not believe the stone the builders have rejected has become the cornerstone. 

A stone that causes people to stumble in a rock that makes them fall. Now they stumble because they disobey the message. And it begs the question, what’s the message that what’s the message that some of these people are disobeying? And even that that phrase, such an interesting phrase to disobey the message. What does that mean? Because it’s looking at the individuals. What message are they then trusting in? What are they looking to? It begs the question then what is that message? What is the message? That is the core foundation and cornerstone of a church that makes it the essence of a church and is not just some kind of frilly thing or a program or something that we put forth or a song that we sing. But what is the message that the church has been built on? Well, first say this, that the church is where God’s people do gather, they do assemble, and they hear this message. And this message is the thing that actually can bring them into touch with reality, because there are messages all over churches that can tell you five different ways to improve your marriage, ten ways to be more productive, how to find your spiritual gifts, how to do this, that and the other thing. And these are all fine messages, but they are not the gospel, because the gospel is the only thing that can bring you into touch with reality. And there’s other messages that are out there in the world that I want to tell you how to how to get in touch with reality. 

And reality is that if you work a little bit harder than you can, you can rest later in life. Or if you switch to this job, then you’re going to be a little bit happier if you move or move on up in the world, things are going to be okay. Or if you work just hard enough, then God will be pleased with you. There’s all sorts of other messages out there, but the message that he’s referring to here and first Peter, and he’s telling all of these early churches and he’s telling our church here today as well, is that it needs to be built on. It is actually found in chapter one and in chapter one. Peter writes to all these churches and he says, for you know, that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold, that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ right there in that message. It contains so much actually, from the very beginning. The fact is that you actually needed to be redeemed, that there was an empty way that had been handed down to you. And it’s been handed down to me as well. That from the very beginning in the Garden it’s Adam and Eve that they fell into sin, that now we inherit in our essence, not a secondary character in our essence, a sinful nature that every thought, the desire and will that we have is contrary to God’s will. And now, because we have that stain of sin on all of our hearts from our very inception and conception, is that we deserve punishment. 

And that punishment is not only a temporal punishment for our sins, but that punishment is an ultimate separation from a God is holy and righteous and good. And he’s also just. And that there’s nothing perishable. There’s nothing here in this temporal world, neither silver or gold. There is nothing in this part of creation that can be used to buy us back, to redeem us from all the sin that we have. The only thing that can redeem us has God himself. So God look down on His creation and He knew it before He laid the foundation of the world that we would fall into sin. And he knew how much we would sin. He knew how contrary our hearts would be to his heart. And rather than saying, I’m going to send them a list of rules on how to live their lives a little bit better, or I’m going to make them work for this thing. And then I’ll mention now I’ll prove them. No. Rather, he stepped down into the muck and the mire and the sin, and he put on flesh in Jesus Christ. And Jesus didn’t come to teach us a bunch of rules. He didn’t teach us how to be a great moral person or how to just be a good person. But he came ultimately to die, to take upon his shoulders a cross that both you and I deserved to climb up a hill where he was crucified, a crucifixion that we deserved, and that through his blood and through his perfect sacrifice, bearing the weight of all of our sins now is he’s taken that sin and now we are handed his righteousness in return.

This is the core foundational message. 

And now this that you receive mercy by his blood no longer being punished by God, who is just because God has poured out his wrath on his son. But more than just mercy, God has also given you grace. He’s given you unmerited, undeserved grace. So now the punishment has been taken away. But now he’s also gifted you. He’s gifted you his Holy Spirit. He’s gifted you eternal life. He’s giving you do a restored relationship with him. So no longer you not just have to say, good, I’m relieved. I’m not going to be punished. But you ultimately now have been handed hope. This is the message that Peter is referring to. This is the message that the church has to play on repeat over and over and over again because of our thick skulls. We so often, well, look to secondary things. And rather than the essential thing and far too often we get caught up in our own actions, in our own works, whether they be good or whether they be bad, we put the emphasis on those things rather than the thing that’s already been done for us. And Peter states this way as he moves forward in chapter two, he says, Now you, but you are a chosen people. You are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession. Everything about what He’s saying is your essence is now righteous, your essence is good, your essence is now covered and clothed with Christ. Your new identity is no longer that of sinner, but it is of saint. Because now when I see you, I see Jesus. 

And then from that place he calls us to action that you might declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into wonderful light. Because once you were not a people, but now you are a people of God. Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. The ordering of this is so terribly important. I cannot overemphasize it that when we look at the fact that we are a royal priesthood, that we are now God’s holy and righteous people, we sometimes treat that like a speedbump so that we can get to the good works that we’re supposed to do. And in doing so, we put more of an emphasis on ourselves and okay, how are we supposed to declare praise? How are we supposed to do these things without actually being able to rest in that gospel message and that core foundational message of what the church is and who you are? Because God has called you a royal priest and you’re standing before God, whether it be as you finish a year in the Bible, Bible study and you read all the way through the whole thing or you’ve slipped up in your study and you feel like you’re far from him, but you still believe you’re standing before him, is still a royal priest, that there is no spiritual hierarchy when it comes to God’s redeemed people, even using, for instance, next week when I’m ordained, it’s not like I get called up and I become a varsity Christian and you guys are just J.V., right? 

That’s ridiculous. In God’s eyes, and even through God’s Word, we’re on his team. He’s called us his own. We’re part of his family. There are secondary characteristics that we all look and can express and articulate his gospel to different people and in different ways. But our standing before him, our identity is secured in Christ, and the work has been finished by him. Again, I cannot overemphasize this because all too often we’ll hear phrases like this be the church, and we hear this as an imperative, like go and be the church. So what do we need to do then? What do you need you to be the church? What? I want to challenge you to hear this morning is be the church is first to rest in your identity and then to live out that identity. Because all too often I don’t meet with people and they’ll share with me the things that they struggle with, and I become their stumbling block and a stumbling block for so many can be. I believe in Jesus, but I just can’t believe that he’d forgive me. Ben, you don’t know. You don’t know the things I’ve said and you don’t know the things that I’ve done. You don’t know the thoughts that I’ve had. I know that Jesus is the Son of God. I know that He loves me. But I just don’t know. And what I want you to hear this morning is when we do that, we are ultimately again placing ourselves on Jesus, his throne. And we’re saying that the son of God himself, the one who was before all of creation through everything, has been created. And now everything will magnify him eventually as he comes in his return. 

The Son of God, God in flesh, Jesus Christ, that his sacrifice on the cross is not enough for your sin. That the blood of the Creator of the universe shed for you is not enough. Hear this message. It’s enough. He’s shut it and he’s shut it. Not just for the whole church, but he’s shut it for you. And so now when you hear this phrase, be the church first, hear this, be the church, receive mercy and then declare his praise.

Be the church, be forgiven, and then go forgive others, be the church. Hear this good news. Hear this message again and again, this message that cannot and will not get old because there is no height nor depth, nor breath of this message that could ever be searched on this side of eternity of his love towards you. As you hear that message, then share that message to be the church’s first to be loved and then to love others. Because so often we get the cart before the horse. And even as you hear what we will echo again here and here, this church that we exist to impact the the world with the love of Jesus. 

You ask you this Who does the world include? Includes you that to be the church has actually come to this place to receive God’s gift, To hear this message of Jesus love, God’s love towards you again and again, that you might not forget it, that you might cling to it, and that that would be the foundation of your faith. And that is why this church exists, that you might hear that message, that it might take hold of your heart. Because it is true. The only thing in all of creation that has the power to save you in the power to change you, no list of rules, no list of expectations, nothing can change. Your actions like the Gospel can can transform your heart, that you need to hear it again and again. And then from that place, we share it with others. And then from that place we carry forward that message that we’ve been called out of darkness into light, that we receive mercy and that we value everyone we meet. We influence everywhere we go, and we live generously with everything we have. So church here, this this morning that you are, in fact, our royal priesthood, that there is no nothing else that you need to do. There’s no other actions, there’s no other steps. There’s nothing other than simply receiving and believing the message of Jesus Christ shed his blood for you. And now you have the hope of eternal life by simply receiving the gift of faith that comes by the Holy Spirit and then be His people. 

Now that you are that Royal Priesthood Church, be the church that goes and declares this message that this message, this gospel message of what Jesus has already finished and accomplished is the core foundation of church, and that we need not get cut off with all the secondary things, but return to the essence of the church over and over again, because it is the only thing that we can turn to for our salvation. Amen.