Layman of the Church

 

Sunday June 20, 2010   Phone: 570.829.5216
Pastor David Miklas e-mail pdmikBBM@aol.com
Message: Church #9 - Layman of the Church Text: Acts 2:41-48; Titus 2:2-6 

 

“The Laymen in the Church”
 
Introduction: I sincerely believe what is true in the physical family, like your family and mine, is also true of the Church. The Psalmist reminds us in Psalms 127:1 "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it." Likewise, we might remind ourselves, "Unless the Lord builds the Church they labor in vain who build it."
 
The Church of the living God from the past to the present is glorious in His sight. There is no group, no movement, nor institution of any kind in the world that can even approach:
 
                The glory and splendor,
                The beauty and magnificence,
                The wonder, or the excellence of the Church of God.
 
As we have heard repeatedly in this series on the church, how wonderful it would be if we could all be filled to overflowing with a profound sense of the glory of the church as God sees it! Many of our problems within the local church would be solved immediately if we all shared God's perspective!
 
In our last several messages on the “Power and Glory in the Church,” we took a look at some of the privileges and responsibilities of church LEADERSHIP, namely the Pastor and Deacons. Now let’s focus on the other side of the coin to include the MEMBERSHIP of the church. The members of the church are called LAYMEN:
 
They come from all walks of life, week after week, out of the arena of life's TRIALS and HEARTACHE!
They come into the house of God to get a breath of SPIRITUAL FRESH AIR!
They come into the house of God to hear from God SPIRITUAL INSTRUCTION on how to handle life's TRIALS AND HEARTACHE!
 
Let me ask you, Mr. and Mrs. Laymen, just how important is the local Church? Should there be more involvement than just sitting in a pew for an hour or so once a week?
 
After all, most can find a wide variety of religious programs on radio or TV in their homes.
Many will go to worship services, but will remain aloof from any serious commitment to the local church they attend.
Still others, unable to settle down, will drift from church to church.
 
We truly live in a time of confusion about the place and purpose of the local church. We also live in a time of confusion about the place and purpose of the Laymen we call, Mr. and Mrs. Pew-sitter.
 
You may be thinking, “Pastor, just what is our place within the local church? Obviously, it is more than just sitting here. According to God’s Word, what are the privileges and responsibilities of the church membership?” As your pastor, my response is, “Let’s think this through, and focus upon FOUR areas.
 
First: For the Laymen, there must be personal spiritual involvement in the church. This is an obvious responsibility from the passage found in Acts 2:41-48,
 
 
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (42) And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (43) And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. (44) And all that believed were together, and had all things common; (45) And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. (46) And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, (47) Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
 
The early church was made up of people who were:
 
SAVED and BAPTIZED! I don't believe there is any debate over this issue. As you see throughout the book of Acts, those having by faith received Christ as Saviour, and they were then baptized.
 
EVANGELISTIC! All throughout the book of Acts you can see the early church members carrying out the GREAT COMMISSION by winning the lost to Christ. Any church built by Christ will have a strong emphasis on evangelism. The people of that church will penetrate the community with the gospel message of the DEATH, BURIAL and RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST. Witnessing to neighbors, co-workers, other parents in the community, local professionals, in fact everybody met is the personal responsibility of Mr. and Mrs. Laymen. Let me explain your God-given responsibility this way:
 
THE MEANS CHRIST USES TO BUILD HIS CHURCH IS THE FAITHFUL WITNESS OF CHRISTIANS ON HIS BEHALF.
               
WORSHIPFUL! The members of the early church WORSHIPED GOD. They set their focus on God. There was a sense of worship not often seen today. Oh, to be sure, many come to church, but:
 
Do you come prepared to worship God?
Do you come to church to sing and give testimony of Christ working in your life?
Do you come to church to get something from God for your souls?
 
I’ve discovered that the present-day, average church setting is MAN-CENTERED, NOT GOD-CENTERED.
 
It seems to be is concerned with what people desire, not with what God commands.
It seems to see the church as existing for people's sake rather than for God's sake.
It seems to have become a place where people want their needs met, rather than serving for the sake of others.
 
Let me hasten to say, if the phrase, “meeting their needs” means we need to satisfy spiritual hunger, then it is a very good expression. For sure, everyone ought to be in a Christian community where his or her deepest spiritual needs are being addressed.
 
Sadly, many are reaching for self-centered goals. So, if the church does not fulfill certain expectations, wants and preferences, then they choose to move on to another "EMOTIONAL DEPARTMENT STORE" with different merchandise more appealing to their tastes. Whatever happened to the attitude in a Christian's heart of "I'd like to be a part of this congregation because of what I can contribute to meet its needs?" I recently read this in an article,
 
"The user-friendly, entertainment-oriented, market-driven, pragmatic churches will probably continue to flourish for awhile. Unfortunately, however, the whole movement is based on current fashion and therefore cannot last long. When the fickle winds finally change, one of three things may happen. These churches will fall out of vogue and wane; or they will opt to change with the spirit of the age and very likely abandon any semblance of biblical Christianity; or they will see the need to rebuild on a more sure foundation.”
 
That's why I don't see the need to change my position on old-fashioned fundamentalism. We are here to WORSHIP GOD, not to satisfy the ever-changing whims of man.
 
GIVING! In I Corinthians 16:1-2 we read, “Now concerning the collection for the saints… Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” Upon the first day of the week each one of us is to bring our TITHES into the store house, which today is the church house. All of us are responsible before God to give unto Him within the local church.
 
Do we only give our tithe when we are present in the local church? No, it is our God-given responsibility to give our tithe upon each and every first day of the week. I believe if every one of us in this church would be honest before God, we would never have a problem meeting the church budget every week regardless of vacation time or a change of work schedule.
 
Second: For the Laymen there ought to be a commitment to the family. This includes teaching and training the next generation. Paul gives instruction to us from Titus 2:2-5,
 
“That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. (3) The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; (4) That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, (5) To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (6) Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.”Paul gives instruction for the older generation to instruct the younger generation.
 
The older men were to take the younger men aside and give them training.
The older women were to take the younger women aside and likewise give them training.
 
This was well said in an article,
 
"Modern society has unleashed an unprecedented onslaught against the family. Most of the major controversial issues in the news today, such as homosexuality, abortion, feminism, divorce, youth gangs, and so on are direct attacks against the family. People's families no longer are where their strongest loyalties lie. Few families function as units.
 
The church cannot tolerate or accommodate this devastation. It must confront and correct, then TRAIN its families. How do we do that? Yes, it does take giving priority to the family by promoting the message of loving husbands, submissive wives and obedient children. But there is another thing, and that is the older generation mentoring the younger generation."
 
Again, some of you may be thinking, “Pastor, I am of the older generation, and there is not much I can do.” Let me ask you, “How many of you have actively sought the next generation and tried to help them, counsel them, or even pray with and for them?”
 
I thank God for older men in the gospel ministry who have taken time out of their busy schedules and counseled with me and advised me when I needed help and advice.
 
What about parents teaching their children spiritual things? You know, as the older generation, it's your responsibility:
 
To teach them to PRAY.
To teach them to WORSHIP and BEHAVE in the house of God.
To teach them to MEMORIZE Scripture.
To teach them to LOVE the Word of God.
 
 
In the last two generations, parents have put this training off onto others. No wonder the children grow up and wonder which way they ought to go. Mr. & Mrs. Laymen in the pew, it is even your responsibility to become a mentor to a younger family in the church. It won’t hurt to be friendly and helpful.
 
Third: The laymen have a responsibility toward Spiritual leaders. From several well-defined passages of scripture, let me bring to your attention FIVE statements:
 
From I Thessalonians 5:12-13 we read, “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; (13) And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves.”The laymen are to show LOVE and RESPECT for those who labor in the ministry and who are over you in the Lord.
 
From Hebrews 13:7 we read, “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” As you look for qualities in the lives of spiritual leaders after which you would pattern your life, REMEMBER (acknowledge, recognize) those leaders who have taught you the Word of God
 
From Hebrews 13:17 we read, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”  You are to OBEY and SUBMIT to their spiritual authority. One day before God, I must give an account not only of my life but also of yours as your Pastor.
 
From I Corinthians 9:13-14 we read, Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? (14) Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” It is the laymen's responsibility to PROVIDE for the minister’s material, physical needs as that minister meets the spiritual needs of the church.
 
From Romans 15:30 we read, “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;”It is the responsibility of the laymen to faithfully and specially PRAY for the ministers of the gospel.
 
Fifth: The Laymen must not only have a commitment to Jesus Christ there must be a commitment to and a concern for the body of Christ. In the church Christ is building, laymen need to be INVOLVED in one another's lives. The church is not a theater where people go to watch what happens. PEOPLE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO JUST COME IN, SIT DOWN, WALK OUT, and HAVE NO OTHER INVOLVEMENT WITH THE FELLOWSHIP. Instead, we are instructed as Hebrews 10: 24-25 tells us "And let us consider one another to provoke (stimulate) unto love and to good works. Not forsaking the assembling together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting (encouraging) one another …" Someone said,
 
"Underneath the restlessness of the typical fundamental church lies a root of non-commitment. As I have watched the parade of people through our church, and other churches, I wonder how so few commit themselves to a local body of believers in a significant way. Many sit and soak and do little else, and then flee at the first sign of trouble or pressure.
 
The American passion for entertainment invades the church. A generation who was raised on thrilling movies, dynamic television programs, and professional sports become bored with an "ordinary church." The demand for platform entertainment, exciting programs, and stellar preaching seems far removed from those small bands of early Christians.
 
There is a sickness in what I call "the fickleness of the floaters." There are people who go where the ACTION IS and where the PROBLEMS AREN'T."
 
What about this idea of commitment. Attending a local church and not joining is foreign to my way of thinking. What are the privileges and responsibilities of the laymen in this area of membership? They are a matter of commitment.
Number 1: ATTITUDE. A local body of believers, with all its imperfections, is still the major expression of Christ's witness on earth. In its many forms it gathers for worship, teaching and fellowship. We are to identify ourselves as a part of it. We may see its human problems, but our attitude must be that God will use the local body, and use us in its midst.
 
Number 2: INVOLVEMENT. We need to be part of the church not a bystander. we need to be a part of its membership. Corporate worship is not enough. We need to get to know people in the context of a Sunday school class or within some other smaller segment of the church. It is not necessary to be involved in every program of the church. BUT DON'T SIT ON THE SIDELINES, JOIN IN AND BECOME INVOLVED!
 
Statistics show that in a small church of 60 people, we will know everyone in that church. In a church of 100, we will still get to know only about 60 people. In a church of 400, again our circle of friends will still only be 60 people. So it is not the size of the church that determines our involvement. Rather it is our circle of involvement that determines our satisfaction within that church.
 
Number 3: LOYALTY. Remember, when we criticize our church, we are actually criticizing ourselves. Be loyal to the pastor and staff. If they have blind spots or specific needs, go to them directly. DO NOT SOW SEEDS OF DISCONTENT, AND ABOVE ALL, DON'T RUN WHEN TROUBLE, DIFFICULTIES, OR DIFFERENCES OF OPINION DEVELOP. Practice being part of the solution.
 
The Apostle Paul commended the church in I Thessalonians 1:6-8 with these words,
 
“And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: (7) So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. (8) For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak anything.”
 
I encourage each of you to make that commitment to this church. If you have not officially joined our fellowship, then I encourage you to become a member.
 
What would you say binds us together here at the Green Street Baptist Chapel? I find several things in common:
 
First: Our Spiritual relationship to Jesus Christ.
Second: Our commitment to the Word of God.
Third: Our conviction to Fundamentalism.
Fourth: Our Church Covenant. If you haven’t seen or heard it recently, let me read it to you.
 
“Having been led by the Holy Spirit to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Our Savior and on the public confession of our faith, having been immersed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we do now, in the presence of God and this assembly, solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant
with one another, as one body in Christ.
 
We purpose, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit:
to walk together in Christian love;
to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness
and comfort;
to promote its prosperity and spirituality;
to attend its services regularly;
to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines to give it
sacred preeminence over all institutions of human origin;
to give faithfully of time and talent in its activities;
to contribute cheerfully and regularly, as God has prospered us, to the
support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the
poor, and the spread of the gospel throughout all nations.
 
We also purpose:
to maintain family and private devotions;
to train our children according to the Word of God;
to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances;
to walk circumspectly in the world;
to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary
in our conduct;
to avoid all gossip, backbiting and unrighteous anger;
to abstain from all forms of activity which dishonor our Lord Jesus
Christ, cause stumbling to a fellow believer, or hinder the winning of a soul to Christ;
to be zealous in our efforts to advance the cause of Christ, Our Savior;
and to give him the preeminence in all things.
 
We further purpose:
to encourage one another in the blessed hope of our Lord's return;
to watch over one another in brotherly love;
to remember each other in prayer;
to aid each other in sickness and distress;
to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech;
to be slow to take offense, and always ready for reconciliation, and
mindful of the rules of our Savior to seek without delay.
 
We moreover purpose: that when we remove from this place, we will as soon as possible unite with some other church of like faith and order where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God's Word. In the event there is no such church, we shall seek with the Lord's help, to establish one.” WOW! As laymen of this church, were you aware of these specific responsibilities?
 
Let me close by saying this neither your pastor, the deacons, nor the members can be expected to please you in every particular way. Nor should you be surprised to find inconsistencies, even within this church. Because churches are made up of imperfect people, these imperfections and deficiencies will very likely appear in the day to day life of the church.
 
One of the greatest needs of our times is for living, vibrant, Biblical churches. This is not a time for an apathetic, easy-going attitude within churches. The needs are great. The pressure of ungodliness and theological compromise are heavy. Let us again rise up and go forth with boldness to declare ourselves servants of the living Christ. Let us again rise up and pray and repent so that we may again see what the Psalmist cried for, "To see the power and Glory, as I have seen thee in the sanctuary."
 
******************************************************
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon “The Laymen in the Church” then right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
 
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
 
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
 
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior let me know? Please send an e-mail to, pdmikBBM@aol.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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In His Amazing Grace,
Pastor<br />
David Miklas
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