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The Gospel Centered Church



"14 I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; 15 but in case I am delayed, write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. 16 By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:

He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,

Believed on in the world,  
Taken up in glory.
Good Morning my beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's Day!
We're so glad that our brothers and sisters from around the world are here with us today.
We continue to pray for all of you, daily.

If one were to consider the lax attitudes of many Christians today, it would be easy to draw the conclusion that church attendance is optional or that church is only for those who are religious fanatics, extremely dedicated to their faith. If one were to look at the membership rosters in most churches, and compare them to actual numbers of people in weekly attendance, it tells the story of Christian people’s true attitude. Barring of course, those who are home bound, unable to attend. I want to be very clear in saying, that I do not hold the position that church attendance is optional. The Bible and I believe, that common sense teach us that church attendance is not just a smart thing, especially in the times in which we are living, it is also a necessary thing.
Hebrews chapter 10, verses 23-27 clearly teaches us that "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries." 
Why do I mention this passage? Because these words were written to people who were close to losing their faith in Christ. Some of them, were habitually forsaking the meetings of the church. The writer of Hebrews didn't mince words, but came right to the point. He boldly told them not to forsake the assembly. Look closely at these verses. I'd like you to notice that church attendance has to do with holding fast without wavering, stimulating ourselves and others to love and good deeds, and encouraging one another. In my years of being a pastor, it has been my experience, those who forsake the assembly, most often exhibit the opposite tendencies. They constantly waver in their faith, some even falling away from it, they frequently doubt their salvation, fail to stimulate love or good deeds, and they get increasingly more discouraged in their faith, when life throws them a curve ball. I do not believe that one can say they "live by the teaching of the Bible," and willingly forsake assembling of themselves with the body of Christ. I am aware that my saying that sounds harsh, but its biblical. You either live by all the teaching of the Bible, or you live by none.

Let us bow our heads in prayer.

Heavenly Father,

Father, thank You for this clear Word of instruction on how we are to conduct ourselves in the church. Thank You for the honor and great privilege of being a part of Your family. Thank You for this high and holy calling that You’ve given to us, which You have so clearly laid out for us in Your Word. Lord, help us to give our lives in faithful service, not only to You, but those we call our brothers and sisters. Remind us that You have given us each special gifts and talents, that we would function together as one body. As a father, a mother, brother/sister, a teacher, an encourager, to one another. That we would love and support one another, as You have loved us and have commanded us in Your Word. Father, forgive us, as we have failed to do as You've told us. Restore Your church, that we might live as we ought, and be faithful upholders of the truth, by our living example, we would proclaim the Word to a world unbelieving.
In Christ's name
Today's Message: The Gospel Centered Church
The church is the assembly of God’s people. The church is the assembly of God’s people. The apostles and the early Christians valued deeply being a part of the local congregation. Is it not rather audacious for any soul to say to God, "Thank You, I accept my gift of salvation, but can I just opt out on being part of that relationship for which Jesus shed His blood?" Life is about relationship. Life is about loving and being loved. May we always instead respond with humility and gratitude! It is "the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth." If you take away the church, you have then taken away the pillar and support of the truth in your life. If you remove Christ from the middle, a collapse of faith is inevitable. I do not believe that one can forsake the assembly and remain strong in the truth. Regardless of how social you may, or may not be, by nature, God created us to live and thrive in social environments.
God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that learning in a group is a far more effective form of instruction, therefore, we all benefit exponentially from the insights and experiences that are voiced during such as group gatherings, even when we disagree. Not to mention, that accountability with others is quite spiritually advantageous, and can be a safety net and motivational tool, toward doing our best for God.
Over the years, I have discovered, that many, if not most Christians, view going to church services similar to when they go out to eat. They just simply show up, are seated, wait to be served and when it is all over, they just leave. I would like to boldly add something here, when you join your "extended family," whether for a family dinner or a Thanksgiving meal, the level of involvement is much different! You often bring something to the table, a dish. When the meal is over, you help clean up. Afterwards, you linger and socialize for a while before going home. The Bible clearly describes the local congregation as a "family." Not just a local establishment you frequent every now and then.
"And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." - Luke 22:19. In this verse, Jesus command refers to communion, or the Lord's Supper. The early church, as directed by the Apostles of Jesus, met regularly for communion. I believe that the one who forsakes the assembly disregards Jesus' command.
And in John 6:53, Jesus said "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves."
I have had a number of people attempt to debate me on this, that this does not refer directly to the Lord’s Supper, and perhaps, some of you may as well. However, allow me to point out something here, where else is the eating of His flesh and drinking His blood fulfilled in the Christian walk? He who forsakes the assembly forsakes the remembrance of the Lord’s Supper. It isn’t long before the outcome of "no life" becomes reality. 
Hebrews 13:17 says " Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you."
One of my responsibilities, as your pastor, and this is also true of all church leaders, is to keep watch over the souls of church members. These leaders, and myself, will one day give an account for our service and work. Just think about that for a moment! That is difficult enough when Christians assemble regularly and are in contact with one another. Can you imagine the complications and difficulties when members are seldom or never present? If church leaders are expected to assume responsibility for such oversight, church members need to assume responsibility for regular attendance. I must tell you, that I feel strongly about this. Members who habitually forsake the assembly with no valid reason, they not only lose blessings, they lose the blessings of others that can be shared as Christian brothers and sisters can. Remove a fish from the water. He may flop around on the shore for awhile, but ultimately he dies. Remove a coal from the fireplace. It glows for awhile, but ultimately it dies. Remove a Christian from the assembly of other Christians. Though he may continue in faith for awhile, he ultimately dies. Tragically, sometimes, without Christ!
Paul's letter to Timothy is in effort to remind Timothy, and through him to remind the Church at Ephesus of the fundamentals of church life. I am deeply disturbed how many of these fundamentals appear to have been forgotten in this day and age. However, I place the majority of the responsibility for this where it belongs, on church leadership! 
If you find that this message is convicting you, GOOD! Now do something about it, make a commitment today to regularly attend and participate in worship services. I know, many of you are fearful of speaking in front of others, be a morning greeter, hand out bulletins, go around and collect them for recycling after service. Help prepare food in the kitchen, can't cook? No problem, certainly you know how to wash a dish or wipe off a table? 
Once you've made the decision, let church leaders and others know of your decision, so they can help you in being accountable. Make this a once and for all lifetime decision, not a weekly one. Adjust your personal schedule so that regular church attendance is a routine part of your life. If it your work schedule, speak to your employer. If that doesn't help, bring in to me, we will join you in praying for a resolution to the work issue. We are a family, and as such, we are to pray with and for one another. It would be my privilege and honor to do so.

If you are a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, church is not an option. It is a way of life.
Open your Bibles with me to the third chapter in the book of First Timothy. Today, we will conclude this chapter, as we come to the final three verses 14 through 16. I would like to encourage you to follow along with me as I read to set the text in our minds. I Timothy 3:14-16

"I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long;  but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory."
Paul uses three terms, all referring to the church. In order to appreciate truly the conduct and confession required of the congregation, we need to understand the apostolic view of the church. Bear in mind that he is not writing about  some elusive entity that is ill-defined and difficult to comprehend, he is writing to Timothy about the congregation in Ephesus, the church that Timothy pastored.
In verses 14-15, Paul states the reason he is writing; "I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. The first term Paul uses is "the Household of God." This phraseology is more common for Paul than you might imagine.
In Galatians 6:10, Paul said "So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. " Here, he refers to the "household of faith." 
And in Ephesians 2:19, he says "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household." Given Paul's frequent use of this phrase, I believe that it is more than obvious that in the mind of the Apostle Paul, "the household of God” encompasses all the saints gathered in assembly as a congregation. In this particular instance, the Church in Ephesus is identified as "the household of God."
Holding on to God’s vision of the work of the church, verse 15, rather than being pressured to opt for the "vision" of men. The congregation is a family, God is the Father and as believers, we are His children. Therefore, believers are brothers and sisters. The elders and deacons are given as leaders to assist the family to fulfill the Father’s will and purpose. I believe, that because we are a "family," implications are profound! We now have a relationship to one another. This is not a temporal worldly relationship; this is an eternal one.Like many siblings, as a church family, we don’t always seem to be so brotherly or sisterly toward one another; however, in Heaven,the church will be the redeemed, perfected "household of God" in entirety.
J. Vernon McGee, the great American ordained Presbyterian minister, pastor, Bible teacher, theologian, and radio minister, once quoted as saying "To live above with the saints we love. Oh, that will be glory. To live below with the saints we know, Well, that’s another story!"
Sometimes, given we are all human, with different personalities and opinions, always being in harmony with those we love in Christ, can be, to say the least, challenging! However, the glory resulting from the total unity of believers will be witnessed only as we draw close to the Father. 
A.W. Tozer wrote, "Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship. Social religion is perfected when private religion is purified. The body becomes stronger as its members become healthier. The whole church of God gains when the members that compose it begin to seek a better and a higher life." 
The next phrase that Paul uses is "the church of the living God." Twenty-seven times in the Scriptures is God identified as "the Living God." Fifteen of those times, occur in the Old Testament, and twelve times the term is applied to the Lord God in the New Testament. Whenever we see the Lord God identified as "the Living God," our minds quickly turn to the knowledge that He is eternal and immortal.This testifies to the reality that He is the source of all life. We live because He has given us life, we are alive in Christ Jesus our Lord. We live, because He lives.
John 14:19, says it this way; "After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also."
The attitudes of this world are the attitudes of the dead, as the child of God, we are not to associate with that which is identified as dead or dying; we must not embrace that which is dying. Because He lives, we too shall live!
In I John 2:17, we are told "The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever."
In II Corinthians 6:15-16, Paul says ".. what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God;"
When we assemble ourselves for worship, we are not just another organization registered with the Federal Government, we are the congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The living entity, indwelt by His Spirit.
Then Paul uses the phrase "the pillar and support of the truth." Whenever a congregation is true to the Word of God, that congregation becomes the foundation and the support of God’s truths in the world. As many of you know by now, I believe that it is imperative that pastor, the leader of Christ's church, speak truth, holding fast to the Word of God. Any deviation of the truth, the body of Christ is compromised! I believe that a community is only as strong as the churches of that community. If the community is religious, though unchanged by the preaching of the Word, it has no depth or stability to permit it to stand. I believe that this also true of the culture, nation, and the world. 
Psalm 33:12 says "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance."
Whenever the people no longer worship the True and Living God, those people have placed their trust in a gossamer thread that must soon fail; I believe our society is stepping onto a slide from which they may never return as they plunge into insignificance and ultimately into abject ruin. I do not believe that it’s enough to just hear the Word, you’ve got to commit it to your memory. I expect in our lifetime, we will see Bibles being banned as in many other countries around the world.
The Psalmist of Psalm 33 continued to write in verses 13-19, "The Lord looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men; From His dwelling place He looks out On all the inhabitants of the earth,He who fashions ]the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works. The king is not saved by a mighty army; A warrior is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory; Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope for His lovingkindness, To deliver their soul from death And to keep them alive in famine."
The Word of God, God’s truth given in written form, is to serve as the foundation for our life as a congregation and it is to be the message that we deliver to the world.
I am compelled to tell you, if you are not saved, if the Spirit of God does not live in you, you cannot be part of the household of God, which is the church of the Living God. While you may be part of a religious society, you cannot be members of the church.
If you have not yet been saved, I'd like to share this passage from Romans 10:8-13 with you; "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;  for "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Many that identify themselves as churches are merely religious social societies, a Christian Country Club for if they do not submit to the Word of God, as it is given, they cannot lay claim to being His household. Those who distort what God has commanded, cannot claim to be the Church of the Living God. When you do not uphold the Truth of God, you're merely a religious club for a tax exemption.
In verse 16, Paul writes "By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory."
Here, Paul is talking about the mission of the church to hold forth the truth, his mind goes to that which is most essential in the truth, and that is the message of Jesus Christ. Tragically, today, in far too many of the religious societies presenting themselves as the "Pillar and support of the truth," the question of the day is, "What will the people think?" Pastoral qualifications, if they are considered at all, are given a cursory glance before rushing onward to do whatever the members imagine to be best for the culture. I ask, where is God in all of this? Oh is there, watching! And soon the day will come, these "pastors" will give account to the One they have claimed to serve!
Matthew 7:22-23 makes it clear, "Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness."
In Closing...
The Gospel, part of the mystery of godliness which, while we have every reasonable evidence to believe, we have not powers to comprehend. His reception into glory is of the utmost consequence to the Christian faith; as, in consequence, Jesus Christ in his human nature ever appears before the throne as our Sacrifice and as our Mediator. 
 May God reveal His mercy to us, drawing us back into the ways in which the fathers walked and to the paths that bring glory to His Name. 
May it be so...
And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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