Who Are WE? #2 2-10-2019 pm I. INTRO- Psalm 139:23-24 A. It is not an easy endeavor to truly take a good hard look in the mirror, let alone diving deeper into the recesses of the soul to find and examine the real us . We are creatures of comfort, more so now than at any other time in history, there is very little discomfort, very little struggle as far as the physical parameters of life, and as such we find ourselves being very easy on ourselves and expecting very little from ourselves. This extends to the church as well as we live in the greatest time of prosperity and ease for churches that the world has ever known. The reason why this matters is that when things were harder to come by we had to be harder we had to be more aware of who we are, what the dangers that were facing us were and how we needed to get better, or else we would have to face the consequences. This has led us to feel at ease in this world and loosing our identity, to become softer, and less focused on glorifying the LORD. The first generation of churches had no such problems as they faced the obstacles of life together , clinging to the LORD and being on absolute fire about fulfilling their purpose and understanding their identity. In the dark ages our brethren faced incredible persecution and had to make unthinkable choices, choices that they were able to make ultimately because they knew who they were , both as individuals and as churches. Today we would find it hard to do so, not because we are lacking in courage, idealism, or even conviction, but ultimately because we are far removed from our identity. Knowing this will aid us in so many ways in our lives. B. We noticed last week that this is a question and a process that men and women of GOD have participated in, in times that have gone by and are still continuing in. IN Psalm 139:23-24 David begs for the searching of GOD to take place in His heart and life. Most of us would resist making such a request and yet God already knows everything that is inside of us . David's request was not so that GOD would have permission and an invitation to come and search His heart, GOD does not need such in order to know us or to see what is in our heart . DAVID made this request for his own benefit, in order that GOD would make known to him what was in his heart. This could simply apply to sin that needs to be confessed before GOD after a certain event, but much more than this it can also be the searching so that GOD would make known to us what manner of men we are and ought to be. The purpose of which is to then make corrections and point ourselves back to GOD. Are we asking GOD for this searching, I want you to join me in prayer, to ask GOD to search us as a church, but it will not have its fullest effect unless we ask GOD to search us individually as well. Let us pray INTENTIONALLY RIGHT NOW with the PURPOSE of GOD searching and trying our hearts. C. After prayer; The course we are on is three-fold, with the purpose being that we fulfill our purpose by embracing our identity, and by pushing ourselves to grow. This course is to ; Evaluate/Examine- This first step is the one that we are on, where we are searching ourselves and asking God to answer the question for us " WHO ARE WE ". This Adam had to do as he exited Eden, Moses asked of GOD when commanded to lead Israel out of Egypt and David did at multiple times in His life. In our effort to examine last week we thought of some general ways that we could answer the who are we question to others, and as we did so we found that so many of those answers had to do with characteristics and attributes of who we are rather than answering the question for us. IN the end the ONLY ANSWER that matters upon an honest evaluation is something that we will begin talking about tonight. Clarify our Focus- The next step will be to refine or clarify the focus of our lives and activities as a church to line up with our identity. Define our Mission- We need to realize that we have a mission, a purpose, a reason for existence higher than self. We then need to give ourselves to this mission. God does everything on purpose for a purpose and churches are no exception. II. WHO WE ARE- The Body of Christ- Ephesians 1:18-23, Ephesians 2:21-22 , Hebrews 10:5, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 ➤ While it would take a considerable amount of time to study it fully we must consider that o ur number one identity is as a body, the body of CHRIST, and we need to take that as literally as we possibly can take it and apply it . When the word body is often used in the metaphoric sense it is in reference to a group of people that have banded together and given the authority to govern certain things, like the governing BODY of the Olympics, or the governing body of the U.S., and so on. It is in reference to the fact that they are not acting as individuals but they are acting on behalf of another as ONE. IN this way the reference is to the group as a whole and the illusion is that they are acting as one, moving as one, thinking and working as one . There is a limited sense in which this is true of what it means to be the body of CHRIST, with CHRIST being the head and deriving our authority to act from him and on his behalf we move, act, and will as one to his honor and glory. As Matthew points out in Matthew 16:19, we have been given the authority to act on His behalf and that action will be binding in heaven because we will acting according to His leadershi p. When interpreted this way it lends itself primarily to an administrative role , as in Matthew 18 where discipline is being discussed. There are however many more operations to the church than just this. ➤ There is much more depth to this than what is on the surface of our understanding. Ephesians 1:23 tells us that the church is the body of CHRIST, which is, that is the body, THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST. Being the FULLNESS of CHRIST is much more than simple legislating or administrating, it is about BEING CHRIST in HIS FULLNESS in this present time . Ephesians 2:21-22 The metaphor used here is of a building but notice here it tells us that the church is the dwelling place of GOD, through the SPIRIT, and where do we know that the SPIRIT resides, it resides within the BODY . It resided within the BODY of Christ while he was physically upon the earth, John 19:30 , has Jesus dismissing the Spirit from His body. We know that the HOLY SPIRIT indwells every believer and also indwelt Christ. The picture in this verse is that GOD the HOLY SPIRIT indwells the body of CHRIST still today, which is the church. This is a critical understanding to our identity as a church. We are not a place, we are not an association, we are not a club, we are not an event, we are not a religious organization, we are not a social group, WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST AND THE HABITATION OF GOD! Recognizing this identity will help us with the next steps in this process of self examination. ➤ Hebrews 10:5 - Speaks to us of the body that GOD had prepared for Christ when he came into this world , in Hebrews 10:10 , we see that it is through the offering of that body that we are redeemed unto GOD. God prepared that body through the womb of Mary and then broke it, buried it and then resurrected it for our justification . That body is now glorified in heaven at the right hand of the father, soon to return for us, but until then GOD has prepared another body for CHRIST, beginning with the baptism of JOHN and continuing with the Apostles right through today with HIS CHURCH . The body fitted for CHRIST today is that of HIS church, a spiritual body of sorts, as we have already read about in EPHESIANS, with Christ retaining the headship of, but we being the physical manifestation and representation of CHRIST to the world , here in this place today. He has prepared this body by fitting and framing together such as pleased him, to be of use in the very place where he has put us . SO not only are we the habitation of GOD, but we are also the Physical representation of Christ to the world. The whole point of a body is to give the Spirit and soul a location and the ability to interact with it. ➤ 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 -These verses, perhaps better than any, showcase the diversity yet unity, of the body of Christ. In verse 12 we are shown that the BODY is the BODY OF CHRIST. All members are needful and useful to the work of Christ as we move forward towards the mission of Christ. We are members in particular, we are not here by accident or random event, we are not here either to simply fill time or to merely survive, we are here to do the work of CHRIST, to carry on the work he begun while he was here upon the earth, it was his body of flesh then, now it is the body prepared through baptism and framing of God through the SPIRIT. ---Having these thoughts in mind lead us to question how we view church, how we view the reason for our existence and our identity. We are not identified by fellowship, by other churches, by associations, by people, or by other things. WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST, and that is all that matters. We must be true to our identity, we must honor our calling as the body that GOD has prepared for CHRIST during this age of the HOLY SPIRITS operation here upon the earth.