Community

Community

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, 1 Peter 2:9-10, Ephesians 4:1-13
Date: 06/20/2009  Lesson: 12
God created humanity to be social, and church provides a valuable social environment for His people to fellowship and worship.
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Good morning and Happy Sabbath. We're so glad that you are joining us here at Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church for another "central study hour." We're so glad that you are tuning in this morning and you're going to sing with us because you have sent in your favorite requests. And you're going to study with us, because that's what we do every week. And we love studying together here at central. And we welcome you with open arms this morning from across the country and around the world, whether you're listening on the radio, watching live on our website at saccentral.

org, or watching on the various television networks. We welcome you. Our first song that we're gonna sing this morning is "Jacob's ladder." This is a request from sherace and mary in england, jim, dianne, jamie and buffy in florida, en yi in malaysia, and tina, don, and katharine in Montana. , We will do all 4 verses, , "Jacob's ladder." [Music] If you love him, why not serve him? I hope that is what you will decide to do today. If you have a favorite song that you would like to sing with us on an upcoming Sabbath, you know exactly what to do.

If you don't, go to our website at saccentral.org, click on the "contact us" link, and you will find there every single song there in the hymnal. And you can pick your favorite and we will do our best to sing that for you as soon as possible. Our next song is "until then," , 632, "until then." This is from art and margaret in Arizona, garnet, cristine, kenyon and felicia in australia, rodolfo in austria, angelina in California, mario in Canada, nada in croatia, parliament and Mark in england, hector and vassel in florida, deonne and jason in granada, esma, nicelee, mandy and jennifer in honduras, cecile in jamaica, mr. And mrs. Koranteng in japan, sandi in Minnesota, dolly in New York, leslie in the Philippines, marilyn in st.

Lucia, venita in south africa, glenn in tennessee, gregory in Texas, Karen in trinidad and tobago, and bob in Washington. And we're gonna do all 2 verses. [Music] Father in Heaven, we are looking forward to that day when you call us home, when our eyes behold the city coming out of heaven, coming down to this earth. Father, we thank you so much for loving us, for giving us the promise of everlasting life. And father, down here on this earth, there's so much sickness, so much pain and suffering, so much sin, but we know that one day that will all be done away with and we will be able to live in your presence forever.

I pray that we will each be ready for that day so that we can spend eternity with you in heaven. Please be with each person that's here this morning, those that are joining us from the farthest regions and remotest places of this planet. We pray that we will all receive the lesson that you have for us as we open up Your Word and study together this morning. I pray in Jesus' Name. Amen.

At this time, our lesson study will be brought to us by our senior pastor here at central church, Pastor Doug Batchelor. Thank you. Microphone's working. Thank you very much for our musicians. And I want to welcome everybody who's here at central church today, our regular class.

We have visitors that are here today. And I want to welcome those who might be visiting or watching with us on television. And it's good to have you. We're continuing our lesson dealing with the subject of "the Christian life." And as always, we have a free offer. And that offer is number 720.

It's our "friendship" audio cd. We'll be happy to send that to you simply for asking. We're talking today about "community." We thought that this special cd would go along with that. If you like that, ask for offer number 720. And call the number.

It's 866-788-3966. And we are going to get right into our lesson today dealing with the subject of "community," lesson 12. We've been going through our study dealing with the themes, the big themes of the "Christian life." Now I probably need to explain something to you now, 'cause you may notice a difference. I had what they call laser surgery on one of my eyes about a week ago. And going through that in-between process of healing right now where I'm not seeing very clearly far and my glasses aren't working quite right yet.

You know, your eye takes a while to adjust. And so you're going to be seeing me doing some of this stuff while I'm preaching. And I'm gonna be looking through my glasses and over my glasses. These are just wal-mart reading glasses. I'm not wearing my regular glasses anymore.

So, I'm just about at the place where I'm gonna take that Scripture literally that if your left eye offends you, pluck it out. But not quite there yet. So bear with me. Anyway, "community." We're gonna talk about the subject of "community." It's an interesting study because it talks about when we are and are not supposed to be community. And we need to understand the differences.

We have a memory verse. The memory verse is Corinthians 12:27. I'd like you to say that with me. In your lesson it's in the niv version. And to keep things simple, I'll have you read it with me from that version.

You ready? Corinthians 12:17, "now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is part of it." Speaking to the church, we are the body of Christ collectively. And every one of you are members. You are part of that body. Now, you know, the first thing we're gonna look at is that God wants us to be a people. But he wants us to be his people.

There are different groups of people in the world. You've got people who are divided by language. You've got people who are divided by culture. You've got people who are divided by their nation, geographically. Some people are divided by race.

You've got people that are divided by tribe. It's interesting that when Jesus comes it says, "then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn." Every tribe? Or is it talking about the tribes of the earth? Does God have a tribe too? That tribe doesn't mourn. They're tribes of another kingdom. They're part of another community. And who's the Gospel to be preached to? "Every kindred tongue, tribe and people.

" All these different groups that are not part of God's group; they are to be hearing the message. So there are all kinds of different communities. There are principally two big kingdoms that are odds with each other in the Bible. You find them in Revelation. One is called the new Jerusalem, God's people, God's bride.

And the other is Babylon, which is the counterfeit kingdom. And so you see this tension all through the Bible. It's between these two communities if you will. And sometimes one of them advertises to be the other. You've got the true church.

And then you've got the counterfeit Babylon and her daughters, right? And so it's very important to understand the principle of community. To begin with, why don't we go ahead, and we're gonna read one of the opening verses that deals with this subject. And that's in 1 Peter 2:9-10. Whenever I share my testimony, it's one of the only sermons I probably use the least amount of Scripture, when I do my personal testimony. But one Scripture I like to read is this one.

Peter 2:9-10. "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of him who have called you out of darkness unto his marvelous light; which in time past were not a people but are now the people of God, which had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy." Alright, very important verse. "You are--" by the way, Peter is quoting Genesis--or Exodus where Moses says when he brought the children of Israel out of Egypt that he was gonna make them a kingdom of priests. He's telling us that we, the church, are the fulfillment of that. Well we are a "royal priesthood;" we're a "holy nation.

" Something else he mentions here. He says that you are a "chosen generation." How many generations do you think we have represented in this room now? I'm not even gonna speculate how many are watching. What is a generation? How many of you have children? Hands. Okay. Get an audience shot.

Hold your hands back up again. I want to do a little experiment here. You've got children. Alright. Put your hands down.

Next question. How many of you have grandchildren? Oh, I should have raised my hand for the first one. Now I'm raising my hand for the second one. Okay. Anybody great-grandchildren? Oh! Alright, hey, congratulations.

Now I'm gonna stretch. Great-great-grandchildren? Well, I think my grandchildren are really great, so can I do that? But no. But, so each one of those is a generation, right? But here he identifies the church as a generation. Alright, so what generation is it? Is it the tweens? Is it the yuppies? Is it the baby boomers? Is it the x-generation? I mean we got all these different categories of generations that we described today. Some of us identify with the '60s.

And there's some here who remember when the roaring '20s or the rockin' '50s. I mean you could say, "what generation?" But we're all part of God's church. Let me tell you why I think that is. God never designed--it's not God's plan that his church be divided up the way cultural generations are divided up. We are all part of one generation if you're God's church.

You know what I think divides up the generations in our culture? A disrespect of the young for the old. You know we're almost at a place where, you know, there's total disrespect for age. And that's obviously not God's plan. Part of the Ten Commandments, "honor your father and mother," is not just saying your mommy and your daddy. It's saying honor those of age, even your spiritual fathers and mothers.

And young people should be very carefully inculcated with that respect for age. In the Bible, it says that they would "rise up for the hoary head." Hoary head meant the frosty or the gray head. And you don't see that anymore. And so there's to be this respect. And then in the same way, the elders are to train and to guide lovingly the youth, not to "provoke them to wrath.

" There's to be this regard for one another, the respect from the young, the value from the old, so that there's this precious, united relationship. Now I've said all that because I want to read you a verse that I think sometimes people have missed. Last verse in the old testament, Malachi--still talking about community--Malachi 4, and again I didn't hand this out yet. Somebody read for me verse 6, Malachi 4:6. You're just gonna have to pop your hand in the air.

We got microphone here too if there's anyone on this side that's willing to read that. We got a hand? We got a hand right back here, okay. Malachi 4, just-- yeah, just verse 6. Well, I tell you what, linda, go ahead read 5 and 6 to give it context. Okay.

"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes--" excuse me-- "and he will turn the hearts of The Fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse." Alright, fathers and children are at least two different generations, aren't they? Is that right? Part of the Elijah message is a turning of the children to The Fathers and The Fathers to the children. That generation is welding together where there's been a rift. You know, I think there's also symbolic meaning here. Theologically, do you sometimes see a change in theology between what the old people believe and what the young people believe? But does God's Word change from generation to generation? From everlasting to everlasting, he is God. He does not change.

From one generation to the next, he doesn't change. And this idea that, "well, that's what the old people believe, but we're a new generation. And we interpret things differently." Uh-uh. TRuth is the foundation. There should be one community of truth.

And before Jesus comes back, the Elijah message is gonna help people say, "it's not what the old conservatives believe," or "what the young liberals believe. There is one message that we are to believe." There's one truth. You don't say, "well, you know, we're gonna have a separate service for the young people, so they can worship God their way. And we're gonna have, you know, a more sedate service with oxygen bottles for the old people so they can worship God their way." Is that God's plan for community? No, I think that's the devil's plan for division. Because what ends up happening is you raise up a whole generation that doesn't have the influence of The Fathers.

And you know, I think-- have you met people before that do that with the Bible? They say this is the old generation; this is the new generation. Old testament and new testament. They say, "that's the old generation. We don't read the old testament anymore. We're the new--we just read the new testament.

And there is to be one community in the Bible. And we're to be united in our worship. And I think when we design our worship, it needs to be relevant for the young and the old. And you know, I think about that all the time in every message. I want to say something that's going to appeal to the youth.

And I want to say something that's gonna be appealing to people across the range. And the older I get the easier it is for me to relate with all groups. But anyway, back to our study for today. Ephesians 4:15-16, still talking about God wants a people. And I think I gave that verse out to somebody.

Ephesians 4, if you've got that, hold your hand up, verse 15-16. Right here? "But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." Okay, thank you very much. Here it's talking about how the whole body grows from Christ. You know, it's very interesting to me, like Solomon said-- it was interesting to him too. It says, "who can tell how the bones do grow in the womb of him--or her that is with child.

" And I said him because I got a message this morning that pastor and mrs. Mackintosh had a little baby last night, healthy baby boy. I don't know that they've got the name for it. He just said, "another-- mackintosh 4.0 arrived," or something like that. And, but, you know, it is such--by the way, I'm gonna have to talk to luminitsa and tell her that Friday night you're not supposed to do any labor.

But I'll let her recover first before I mention that. Anyway, do you know when that new life first forms, you get to the contribution from the man, the seed of the man, and the egg of the woman, and when they combine, some miracle happens. They've even photographed that now with their incredible technology. And from that original cell, the information is there that is going to provide toe nails and toes and fingers and nose and ears and eyes in that one cell. It's going to continue to grow from that cell.

And somewhere along the way, it's gonna start popping off as it separates and say, "alright, this is gonna be a heart." That's one of the first things. "This is gonna be a brain. This is gonna be the fingers." And all of those different parts of your body all came out of one cell! Isn't that a miracle how that happens! Well, if we are born in Christ of the Spirit, and we give ourselves completely to him to be filled with the Spirit, the union of those two, it then grows into a healthy body. Spiritually your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. And collectively we together are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Not only is your body individually a temple of the Holy Spirit. So wherever you go, there is a miniature church. You take that with you. But it's also true that collectively what "know you not that ye," Paul does it in the plural, "ye are the temple of God and members in particular." We're all different parts of that body. And we're gonna get into that more in our study later.

Now there is a time when it tells us we are not to be a community. And that's--I'll read this one for you, Genesis 11:1. Genesis 11:1, I'll read, well, through 4 or 5. I'm gonna read this out of my Bible as opposed to my notes. "Now the whole earth had one language and one speech.

" That seemed like a good community now. "And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east--" this is talking about after the flood-- "that they found a plain in the land of shinar, and there they dwelt. And they said to one another, 'come, let us make brick and let us bake them thoroughly.' And they had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, 'come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad across the face of the whole earth.'" Now was that a good thing they were doing? "Let us make a name for ourselves." I mean this is a community. Isn't community good? "Let's stick together.

Let's be one." Is it always good to be one? Is there a time when Christians should say, "unity is badity?" How often do we hear the idea that, you know, "as long as we can get along, we should all be willing to make compromises to get along." And there are cases where that is true. But it is not true when it comes to biblical truth. If you must compromise a biblical conviction or a principle of truth, and sacrifice that for the sake of a little bit of community harmony, did Jesus promise that we would have that kind of community with the world? Or did he say the truth is gonna be a sword and it'll bring division. And if we stand for our convictions of truth--and some people will call you unloving. They're gonna call you stubborn.

They're gonna call you fanatical. But when it comes to truth, we shouldn't say, "well, I tell you what, let's just all join together and let's make certain sacrifices so we can all be one." That's not God's will, because what ends up happening is you compromise. Somebody compromises truth. Why does God say that a believer should not marry an unbeliever? Because when two people get married, they become one flesh. And someone is gonna be compromising truth when they do that.

Is that right? I mean the ultimate community begins with the family unit which is one man and one woman. Praise God still in California for a little while. You know what I can't understand? Pardon me for diverting for just a second. But for those who are watching, you know there's a big battle in California over this proposition 8. And it passed.

And then it was contested. And that proposition says in California marriage is just between a man and a woman. And so it passed. But then it was contested and the court came out and said it's gonna stand. But the marriages that were in effect during the time when it was being challenged are also gonna be respected.

How can you have a state that has in their constitution "marriage is only between a man and a woman, except for those that managed to squeeze in." Isn't that a conflict? Talk about a double standard. And so they're trying to make everybody happy with this so we can all be community. You know, and you shouldn't compromise principles of truth. That's what you end up with, a convoluted sense of truth and law. So when they were doing that it said they began to build this "tower whose top is in the heavens; and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad across the face of the whole earth.

" "But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that The Sons of men had built. And the Lord said, 'indeed the people are one--'" isn't that good? Was it good? No, it wasn't good, because they weren't all converted. "And they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let us--" it's interesting; that when they're building, they said, "come let us," "come let us." And now God says, "come, let us go down and there and " confound or "confuse their language, that they may not understand one another." "So the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the earth." I thought God was in favor of community. Not of Babylonian community.

This was gonna be a community that had several intrinsic problems. Let me read some of this to you. It's very important to understand this because it comes up later. Alright, why was God upset with what they were doing there in babel? And understanding this helps you understand Babylon through history and Babylon at the end of time. First of all, this was a monument to false religions.

Their tower--who was building their tower? They were. It was--why were they building their tower? Well, after all God had flooded the world before. And if he changed his mind and flooded the world again, they could climb up the tower and save themselves. So this is a monument to salvation by works. Every false religion teaches salvation by works.

So this was a plan to build up their own tower to save themselves. Number 2, the tower is a monument to human pride. They said, "let us make a name for God." What is the purpose for the Christian? "Hallowed be thy name." We live to bring glory to God, right? They said, "let us make a name for him?" Or was it a monument for themselves? You know, they're building bigger and bigger towers in the world today. I grew up in the shadow of New York's empire state building. And I actually left when they were building the world trade center, but I made three trips there 10 years ago in 1999 when we did our net program there.

And then after those towers came down, the empire state building once again was the tallest building in New York city. But you know, when they built--there's a lot of towers that greatly surpass the empire state building now. But none of 'em have broken some of the records. First of all it was the first tallest. Course tower of babel was the first tallest, but I'm talking about of the skyscrapers.

Eiffel tower was the tallest man-made structure for years. Did you know that? And before the eiffel tower, it was the pyramids for about ,000 years, tallest man-made structure, the great pyramid. The empire state building holds the record still to this day for the fastest construction. It was the first time they used prefab material. And in 1 week they built stories.

Can you imagine that? In a 1-week period of time, they've never passed that up. And I don't think anyone ever will pass it up: week, 14 stories. Now they've got a tower, it's just about complete in-- oh, saudi arabia, where is it everybody goes? Huh? Dubai. Dubai, yeah. Everybody going there now, they got seven-star hotels.

And the thing is about /4 of a mile tall. But architects have now designed, some other billionaire, at least this was the plan I read about before the recent economic reverse, mile tall. Seriously. They have on the books plans of multi-billion dollar building, gonna be 1 mile tall. Interesting thing is that they're planning on building these things in the area where Babylon used to have their territory before.

You just wonder if God's telling us something prophetic, being built with oil money. Anyway, so it was a monument to human pride. Another thing about the tower of babel, it was a monument to man's disobedience. What had God told them to do? He told adam and eve, "go forth. Be fruitful.

Multiply, fill the earth, scatter, disseminate, spread." And God said the same thing to Noah that he said to adam. He said, "be fruitful. Multiply. Fill the earth." Don't congregate in one spot. They'd been commanded to do that.

It was defiance. They said, "no, we're not going to. We'll be stronger if we stay together." And nimrod was probably behind their plans. It was a monument to human achievement. All their wisdom and technology, they're really worshipping their own works in doing that.

And they're doing that today with their skyscrapers. Five: it's a monument to disbelief in God's Word. God had said, "I will no more flood the world. I'll put the bow in the heavens as a reminder." They doubted God's Word. And so they said, "just in case we can't trust him.

" They didn't believe. And it was a monument to man-made heaven. They said let's make our kingdom here on earth. And so they built this tower. And they said, "let's--you know--we don't know if we're ever gonna see the Garden of Eden again.

We don't know if we're ever gonna see the new Jerusalem. So let's have our kingdom here." And finally, man was in effect--there's probably an altar at the top of this like they have in all the inca pyramids and many of the ancient structures. They had these towers. And there was an altar and even idols at the top. And Abraham probably grew up in the shadow of the rubble of the tower of babel.

Herod--I'm sorry--king Nebuchadnezzar--herodotus the historian says Nebuchadnezzar took the rubble from the tower of babel that had been abandoned, and he built a tower --kind of wish it had said , but it was 660 feet tall. And that was destroyed again. And alexander the great was in the process of rebuilding it when he died from the ruins of the original tower of babel. But they were basically trying to build--it was called gate-- Babylon means gate of heaven. And do you know why we say when a baby can't speak, we say they're babbling? That's where you get the word baby, because they babble.

Babylon became synonymous with confusing utterances. And so you've just got this whole thing that is the antithesis of God's people where there is understanding. When God poured out his spirit at pentecost, and he built this new community, this new heavenly Jerusalem. You know the church is called the new Jerusalem. Did he confuse their language, or did he give them understanding and heal the confusion? "How is it we hear each man speak in our own tongues wherein we were understood?" When they were building a tower against God's plan, God confounded the languages and the community was destroyed and they scattered.

Right? When God is pouring out his spirit and building up his church, he gave them the gift of tongues so they could communicate and understand and build up the church. See what's happening here? It's an opposite of what had happened at Babylon. And so you've got these, this tension between these two kingdoms and these two communities all through the Bible. Alright, I don't want to belabor that more than I already have, so let's go back to our Scriptures and our study here. Now Genesis 12:1-3.

Let me read this to ya. I want someone to read for me Exodus 19:5-6, I gave that to somebody. Right here. Let's get a microphone to you. While they're getting that focused, I want to read Genesis 12:1-3.

"Now the Lord God said to Abraham: 'get out of your country, from your family and from your Father's house, to a land that I will show you. And I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.'" Now Abraham's being called out of mesopotamia. This is the, roughly, the area of ancient Babylon. It's the southern part of iraq today.

Ur is where he came from. But they had begun to--matter of fact, there is a great tower that is there in ancient ur. They had their own tower there. And they had their idols there as well. And God is now calling Abraham out.

And he says, "I'm gonna make a community of you." He's calling him out of Babylon. Isn't that right? Little sidetrack. Just remember this. God gave the land of Israel to Abraham and his descendants, right? God brought his wife, who was his sister, out of Babylon into the promised land. She had problems bearing children, but God performed a miracle and she conceived.

Then their son is told, "don't you take a wife from the canaanites. Go back and get your wife. Bring her out of mesopotamia. Isaac gets his wife. Eleazar actually does the ups for him.

Eleazar goes and he gets a wife, Rebekah, brings her out of mesopotamia into the promised land. She has trouble getting pregnant. But God answers prayer. She has a baby. And then you've got Jacob.

And Isaac and Rebekah were so grieved that esau had married the local canaanite girls, the pagan girls. And so Isaac goes back again east, brings his wives out of mesopotamia into the promised land. And then you read in the old testament that God's people taken off to Babylon. And he brought them out of Babylon back to the promised land. Right? Then you read in Revelation Babylon has fallen, "come out of her my people.

" God's bride is bought out of Babylon, that community into another community. See? He wants to separate his people so that they could be where he wants them to be and they can grow. And it was a miracle in all those cases that made them flourish. You know the Jewish nation, it's really amazing to me--and again forgive the detour--that jews don't accept the new testament. Well, many do, they're called Christians, spiritual jews.

And there are many literal, physical jews that also believe in Jesus. But such a great body of Jewish people. There's so much evidence in the Bible for God leading these people all the way along the way that reaches its culmination with Jesus and the church. To stop short of that, for a jew, is a tragedy. Because everything points to what that was going to be.

And that community, to miss that. And so it's a miracle that they give birth in. So he calls them out and he says, "I'm gonna make a nation out of you. I'm gonna bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.

" Through the community of Abraham's seed, the Messiah would come. And of course that's what Jesus did. Now I gave out Exodus 19:5. And we're gonna have you go ahead and read verse 5 and 6, please. "Now therefore, if ye obey my voice indeed and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine.

And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shall speak to the children of Israel." Why did God call Abraham out? Why does God call the church? Matthew 5:13, "you are the," what? "You are the light of the world." We are to be the light of the world. He's called us to be a light on a hill. He called the children of Israel. Why? Why did he call them? They were to be the guardians of the truth.

God committed to them the oracles of truth. And he wanted them--why did he put them in the middle east? Why that land bridge between three continents? Why there? Why not australia? Well, would it have had as big an impact if God had told Abraham, "I want you to go to australia. And I'm gonna raise up a great nation down there in that remote continent." Nothing against our australian friends I know are watching. I'm probably going to get letters on this. Some of you probably think it would have been better.

But now that would be called the middle east and you'd have all those problems there. You know why he put them where he put them? Geographically it was an extremely prominent piece of real estate, though it's very small, smaller than many of the states in the u.s. But why is it in the news all over the world? Because geographically it is a land bridge. Got a desert to the east of it. Got an ocean.

Connects sort of three continents. It's a very strategic location. You know why Israel fought so hard to get that southern territory? 'Cause it touches an ocean that reaches down towards india. And then it's got borders on the mediterranean. It's got own little land has got two seas in it.

Very strange piece of real estate. He put them there, not only do they have mountains they can see the ocean, they got the lowest point on earth is there in Israel. He put them there because that unique piece of real estate would give them the most prominence to be a light to the world, because of the way that people traveled back then, all these nations and their conquests. They had to go through Israel: the assyrians, the Egyptians, the persians and the meads and the Babylonians and the Greeks and the Romans and even during world war I and world war ii, the land of Israel was involved. And so he put them there because of their prominence.

They would be seen and they would be heard and the message would diffuse. Now what he planned for Israel, he's planned for the church. He wants us to be in a place where we can let our light shine. Now I believe in country living. Anyone who knows me knows that I believe in country living.

Matter of fact, I'm gonna read you a verse that's not in our notes here. Isaiah--is it chapter 5:8? Let me go there real quick. I might be giving you the wrong verse here. I can quote it to you. "Woe unto them," yeah.

"Woe unto those who join house to house, who lay field to field, till there is no place where a man may dwell alone in the midst of the earth." And you know when you fly over some of these subdivisions like we've got here in elk grove and roseville and rocklin and lincoln and I could just-- el dorado hills, and it's just--you could jump from house to house. You don't have to be a squirrel. You could do it. And if you open your window when you get up in the morning, you better gargle first, 'cause your neighbor can smell your breath. I mean they just join house to house like that, field to field, the yards are like postage stamps.

So yeah, not to mention what happens in the cities of the world. Is that what God's thinking of when he thinks of community? See the church is supposed to be a community, not in that we are a commune, where we all cluster together like clumps of salt, like, you know, and I don't want to be critical, but we all have communities that seem to grow up around institutions, where-- do I dare name any of 'em? No, I won't name them. But we all know where they are. Seems like anywhere you've got a prominent hospital or two or a university, it seems like we sort of get a ghetto of believers around there. And we say, "oh, what a wonderful community.

" That's not what God planned for us. He wants us to spread out and to share the message with others. He doesn't want us to be a community where we're like a commune where we isolate ourselves. This was the problem with ancient Israel and the same problem with the church today. We got all these beggars that lay at our gates, full of sores desiring the crumbs of truth that fall from our table.

And we're feasting among ourselves. I'm not just talking about our potlucks, feasting on the truth, in our own Bible studies and our dialogue and our debates about the nuances about the message, missing the important truth that the beggars are at our gates. And they want the crumbs of truth that we are dropping from our table. Ancient Israel did that. They said, "we're the chosen people, and the pagans are all lost.

I thank thee Lord I'm not as other men or I might be one of them." They don't have this burden to spread and diffuse it. The way we're to be community is not that we're to be clumped together. We're to be community in that we--there's a cohesiveness in our belief. You know I think that the church is the most successful that when we are sending out missionaries, and you've got, you know, a little nucleus that's helping support the ones that are scattered--which brings me to another verse. Turn with me to new testament.

This is not in my notes. I'll let someone else read it. Acts 8:1. "And Saul was consenting to his death. And in that day there was a great persecution on the church at Jerusalem; and all were scattered through the regions of Judea and samaria, except the apostles.

" Alright, when did the church grow the most in the history of the church? What part of our history from the time of Christ to the present did the church grow the most? Early days of the church, right? First hundred years. Paul says Gospel's been preached to every creature. Was that because they were very comfortable? You noticed what happened? A nucleus of leadership stayed in Jerusalem so they could sort of have a beach head to help coordinate what was happening? But where did the bulk go? They were scattered everywhere. And what did they do? Preaching the Gospel. So Jesus said, "if they persecute you in this city you go to other.

Doing what? Hiding? Go to the other preaching. So what the Lord wants us to do is to take the message, stay connected. They had messages going back and forth with the Jerusalem. And the leaders there were, you know, trying to give them some guidance and praying about where they were to go. And periodically Paul and silas or Paul and barnabus, they'd come back and say, "hey, we need someone to go out there.

" And they were sending them out everywhere preaching the Gospel. And that's when the church had the greatest growth. Were they still a community when they were scattered everywhere? Alright, I want to say that again. This is the big question. For us to be a community, does it mean that we try to fill as many people as we can in our church? Is that what makes us community? Or is it our unity of our faith that makes us a community.

Is it our unity of our prayers that make us a body? Or is it our sitting as close together as we can physically that makes us a community? And not having any disagreements. I don't know that they were ever a better community than they were--there you see in acts 8:1 when they were persecuted, when stephen laid down his life, he was preaching the Gospel. They're scattered everywhere. The apostles are like football coaches telling 'em, you know, how to spread the Gospel. They had not lost their sense of community.

They really felt that they were one with one message. They were united in their love for one another, but they were going everywhere preaching. I'm just really wanting to if anything overemphasize that point because sometimes I think we make the mistake of thinking as we bunch together we're a community. I like it when we get together. And by the way, you know, it is important for us to come together as a people and to network and to mesh and to spend time.

How many of you have families that are scattered in every different direction during the week? You just, you know, dad's working here. Maybe mom's working. The kids are at school. And one comes home, the other one leaves, got a class. And someone's got a music practice and then they go off here and there.

And it's just--bachelor home is like that. How do you maintain community in a family where we're so busy? You gotta set aside times where you say, "alright, we're gonna eat together. We're gonna sit down." Matter of fact, Karen and i, the kids wolf down their food and they're up. We said, "you're not excused yet." "But we're done." "You gotta sit here." "Why?" "'Cause we're gonna be a family whether you like it or not. Tell us what you did today.

" "Uhh." And then we say, "you can't get up until we're done eating." And we eat as slow as we can. Why is that important, because you lose your sense of community in your family if you don't have some time where there's overlap, right? We had worship together this morning, fresh Sabbath morning, you know, you're racing out. I take two separate cars to protect our marriage. I'm usually want to get here before Karen. And she wants to stay when I'm ready to leave.

So but we say, "alright look. Let's stop. Let's have prayer." You gotta do that, not only Sabbath, but you need it for family. Does a church need that to stay a family? If we get together once a week and the preacher pontificates and then we leave and go our separate ways, are we really a community? Can we become disconnected. Would you be able to mention the names of everybody sitting around you? I couldn't do it.

I could probably name more names here than anyone here, but I'm the pastor. But I probably couldn't name half of 'em. And so do we have that problem today, people getting so busy we become disconnected? I'll bet you when the Holy Spirit was poured out in acts 2 that Peter knew the names of all 120 in the upper room, because they'd been through a lot together. They knew each other. That's what I worry about as a pastor; I worry about as a father in a family is that you get so busy, you lose the sense of community.

And that's why it's wonderful. We've decided we have a fellowship lunch here every week. And even we have a lot of guests and it's wonderful and once or twice there's been no luck left in the pot when you get there, because we have so many people that stay. But you know, I think it's so important. All the pastors here believe, you know, big church, you gotta be connected.

We need that time together. Prayer meeting, good opportunity to develop community. People stand up. They share their testimonies. You're getting to know each other.

You know how to pray for each other. Those things are so important. I know that's not in my lessons, but I think it's really important to cover these things when we talk about what it means to be a community. Alright, I think I've got time. I'm giving out three Scriptures.

You've already got 'em: Ephesians 1:1, Philippians 1:1, Colossians 1:1-2. Now who did I give those to? Hold your hands up. We got one right here. Doesn't matter which one. Hold your hands up.

You got one. Get a mic to mike. David, you got one. Which one do you have? 1:1. Ephesians? They're all 1:1.

Alright, so I tell you what, we'll start with you, dave. I have Philippians. Oh, you got Philippians? Alright, well you'll be next. Go ahead, dave. Read for us Ephesians 1:1.

Ephesians 1. You're on I think. Ephesians 1:1, "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God to the saints who are in ephesus and faithful in Christ Jesus." Alright, I'm not gonna comment. Let's see how quick we can do this. Alright, you next, mike? You got Colossians.

You have microphone? Go ahead and read that for us. Colossians 1:1-2. Colossians 1:1-2, "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in colosse: grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Now I do want to comment. You notice in Ephesians and Colossians he says, "the saints and faithful." These are faithful saints. Alright now, I think ray, you've got Philippians 1:1.

Yes, is that right? "Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons." Alright, in all three of these letters, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Paul begins the letter. He's speaking to these various communities. How does he address his letter? To who? What does he call the church? The saints. Do you feel like a saint? If you've got any catholic trappings in your history, you probably chaff if I were to call you a saint, because the idea of the saint is, you know, these characters in stone that are deified, you pray to them and they're up there before mary and The Father, trying to get some audience for your prayers. And they're the holy ones, the saints.

Do we believe that way? What does the word "saint" mean? It does mean "holy ones." He says, "the holy ones in Christ," "the holy ones," "the faithful." So the church is to be a community of people that are saints because of Christ. And we are to be faithful. We are to have that characteristic. You shouldn't feel worried about being addressed as a saint. By the way, when Paul wrote these letters, did he sometimes chastise them for bad behavior? Have you read the books? Yeah.

And especially 1 Corinthians. But he still addressed them as what? Saints. We are to be a community of saints because we are set aside--you know the reason marriage is called holy is not because necessarily the two people getting married are perfect. It's called holy because they are set aside especially reserved for only one another in that relationship. We are called saints because we are set aside especially reserved only for God.

We belong to God. We have this loyalty, this allegiance, this fidelity to God. And so we're saints. We're married to God. And so that's what the community is.

We're God's community in that respect. Are we still gonna have community in heaven? Does someone have Revelation 7:9-10? I think I gave it out. Got a--Timothy over here. This is first Timothy is gonna read for us Revelation 7:9-10. That's his name.

I'm just teasing him. "After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, 'salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the lamb!'" Alright. This great multitude that is gonna be in heaven is comprised of only jews. Is that what it says? It kind of says that about the 144,000, but of course those are spiritual jews. I'm sure there's literal jews in there too.

But it says, "this is a great number that no one could number." That's encouraging for me, 'cause if you think only ,000 are going to be saved, we're in trouble. They represent like the last day apostles, you might say. Of every nation, tribe, people, and tongue, but they are one community in the Kingdom; amen? And if we want to be part of that one community there then, we must first be part of a community here now. Does that make sense? And so no matter what our backgrounds are down here-- when do we become a citizen of God's kingdom and his community? After Jesus comes or before? Before. Christ began preaching, "the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

" We become ambassadors of that community, that kingdom now. No matter what our background, our tribe or language might be here, we become part of that one family now. Oh, there's a lot more in the lesson I'd like to share with you, friends. I'm sorry, I'm out of time. But I want to remind those who are watching or listening, we do have a free offer.

You may have missed it at the beginning. And it's offer number 720. It's our "friendship" audio cd. We thought that would talk about community and help relate with this lesson. We do have one more study in this.

And soon we'll begin with a new quarterly. And we'll say more about that next Sabbath. God bless you, friends, until we study again next week. If you've missed any of our Amazing Facts programs, visit our website at amazingfacts.org. There you'll find an archive of all our television and radio programs, including "Amazing Facts presents.

" One location, so many possibilities, amazingfacts.org.

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