God’s Blueprint For His Church
This month, we’ll explore a series of sermons under the heading, “The Church-God’s Master Plan.” And our first message in this series, is “God’s Blueprint for His Church.” If you’ve ever watched a house or a business being built, the method of communication between an architect, contractor, or builder is a big piece of paper called a ‘blueprint’. Now the ‘blueprint’ is a large drawing of how the building is to be constructed.
I read a funny story about two little brothers that decided to build a doghouse. The older brother, Tommy (who was 8) noticed his little brother, Billy (who was 6) would take out a nail, look at it and either nail it in or throw it over his shoulder. Finally, Tommy yelled at Billy, “Hey, why are you throwing away half our nails?” And Billy replied, “The points are on the wrong end.” Tommy shook his head and being older and wiser by 2 years, he replied, “You dummy, those are for the other side of the doghouse!” These boys don’t need a blueprint…they got wisdom.
This morning, we’ll turn to Titus for “God’s Blueprint for His Church”. You see, if you don’t have ‘this’ blueprint, which is approved by the ‘Great Architect’, then you don’t have a church! Every congregation ‘must’ be constructed using this blueprint…or God won’t approve it. So what does this blueprint look like? Well, let see as we stand and read from Titus 2:11-14: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
Did you notice the first verse; “Grace brings salvation.” Grace teaches us how to live. Grace is the blueprint of the church. And Grace is how you build a church. It’s Grace that makes a church a church. And the truth is…without Grace, you don’t have a church. So, to build a church that God will approve of, we need to understand what is Grace? Is this the grace you say before a meal? Of course not. The best way to understand Grace is to compare it to the Biblical concepts of “Justice and Mercy”.
- Justice is getting the bad that we deserve. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death.” If we died without the Savior and received justice, then we got what we deserved.
- Mercy is “not” getting the bad that we deserve. We’re spared from “justice” by the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
- Grace is getting the GOOD that we don’t deserve. Not just being spared death but being given Eternal life plus all the blessings that God wants to give us.
Again, Grace is getting the good that we don’t deserve. And that’s important because today people tend to think of heaven as something they can earn. If they do enough good stuff, they’ll get in. But if they don’t…then they’ll go to the other place.
Now, think about it. If a person can ‘work’ their way into heaven, then God can’t keep them out. In other words: if salvation could be ‘earned’, then God would be ‘obligated’ to put them in heaven. But Grace says that can’t happen because we’ve “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Have you ever sinned? Raise your hand if you’ve ever done wrong? Well, I guess we all deserve to spend eternity in that other place! If you’re depending on your “righteous acts” to get you into heaven…then you’ll be disappointed on the Judgement Day. Because the truth is “… all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” to God. (Isaiah 64:6) Every time we gather as a church we’re reminded of that truth. You see…we’re all sinners saved by grace and we don’t deserve God’s gift.
I’m here because of God’s grace. His Word says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph 2:8-9) A church is the only place that exists for the benefit of those who don’t deserve to be there. Christian comedian Brad Stine said it best: “The only reason I’m a Christian is because it’s the only religion that would have me.” The truth of God’s Grace is that He loved us even when we weren’t lovable. The moment believers forget Grace…the church is trouble. Grace says Jesus bought you. He owns you. And He owns the church. A church where its people have forgotten that they all belong to Jesus will find itself with serious problems.
I read about a church who split over an argument at a potluck meal when a lady brought a congealed salad made with Cool Whip instead of real whipping cream. Churches have divided over whether the pianist should sit to the right or the left side of the podium. Over whether the Lord’s Supper should be served from the front to the back or the back to the front. Over, the color of the carpet or the pew cushions, or even the color of the roof. Now, why would believers behave like that…because they’ve forgotten Grace. They’ve forgotten that Jesus owns the church and owns them. And so they behave like hypocrites because Grace isn’t part of their church‘s blueprint.
Now that brings us to v12 “(Grace) teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age.” If I’ve been bought by Grace (the blood of Jesus Christ) then Jesus owns me. And if He owns me, He can tell me how to live. And the first thing Jesus tells me is to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly lusts. The Greek here literally means to ‘disown’ evil and worldly desires.
Now, one last thought. Verse 13 tells us that Grace does all that while we are “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”. This is the last part of “God’s Blueprint for His Church” as Grace prepares us for the 2nd Coming of Christ.
Grace not only prepares us morally and mentally for heaven, it also prepares us emotionally. When Jesus returns, it will be a time of great rejoicing! Revelation 21:3-4 says, “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Grace declares to us…that this is what we’ve been waiting for. This is what awaits those who have denied themselves, taken up their cross and followed Christ every day!
Dr. Stowell, former President of Moody Bible Institute, tells about the time he visited a home for mentally handicapped children. While walking through the halls, he noticed the windows were covered with tiny little hand prints, so he asked about them. The director said, “The children here love Jesus and they’re so eager for His return that every day they lean against the windows as they look up into the sky.” Now, that’s how we should be. God’s grace has prepared us for that very moment. The moment His Son returns…are you ready?