The same Lord who led me to this point will lead me from this point and the same Lord who led Brook Hills to this point will lead Brook Hills from this point. In this message on 1 Corinthians, David Platt gives a special message to the Church at Brook Hills as he departs.
- Brook Hills has never been about one man.
- Brook Hills has always been about one message.
- Brook Hills is an army that cannot be stopped on mission.
- Brook Hills is a body that consists of committed members.
If you have Bible, and I hope you do, turn with me to 1 Corinthians 1. And if you have worship guide, go ahead and pull that out as well. The title of this sermon is “The Church at Brook Hills: Part 1.” As I have thought, and prayed about this Sunday and next Sunday, my last two Sundays preaching as the Senior Pastor of The Church at Brook Hills before I shift fully to my leadership with the International Mission Board, I have found myself asking, “God, in the midst of my leaving, what are you saying to The Church at Brook Hills?”
Because that’s all I want to do during these two Sundays. It’s really all I’ve wanted to do every Sunday I’ve preached as pastor here. I’ve only wanted to say every Sunday what God is saying.
So I’ve been asking, “God, what are you saying to The Church at Brook Hills right now, because this Sunday and next, I only want to say what you are saying.” And as I’ve asked that question and prayed that request, I have been reminded that the God to whom I’ve been praying, the God whom we are worshiping in this room right now, knew that these days were coming. He knew – not only did He know – He ordained so clearly ordained that a week and a half ago I would become president of the IMB. He ordained in His sovereign wisdom that these two Sundays would be my last two Sundays as Senior Pastor here.
And God, in His providential timing, ordained that right now we would be reading 1 Corinthians together, a book that as we’ve seen before has so much to say specifically to the church about the church. I mean, 1 Corinthians 12 is our reading today. It is one of the most powerful passages in all of Scripture about the body of Christ!
So what I want to do this week and next week, is just to help us hear what He is saying to this church during these days. What is God saying to members of the Church at Brook Hills right now? And I just want to walk us through what we’re reading, and to help us hear what He is saying. This week and next week, I just want us to listen to God.
In fact, can we just stop right now and pray, and ask God to speak clearly and exactly and only what He is saying? Father, we praise you that, in your sovereignty, you have ordained this day for us to be studying 1 Corinthians. We know that, as believers, we comprise the body of Christ, meant to be Christ in the world to those who know Christ and to those who don’t know Christ. We pray today that you speak to us in a clear way. We know that what you choose to reveal to us in your Word this morning will be exactly what we need to hear in such a time as this. I pray that we will have ears to hear and that you give us hearts to obey what it is you are revealing to us in your Word. We pray all these things in the name of Jesus, Amen.
Okay, “Church at Brook Hills – Part 1” – in view of what God is saying to us as we read His Word, I’ve grouped the notes today under two headings. One, as we hear from God, pastorally here is what I am praying and hoping we take away from these days. And then, two, as we hear from God, here is what I am praying and trusting will be evident in the coming days.
What I Am Hoping We Take Away from These Days …
So let’s start with this: As we hear from God in 1 Corinthians, this is what I am hoping we take away from these days. When you read 1 Corinthians 1, there are some key words that God gives us over and over again in this chapter, and one of those words is “called”. Look at it with me. I want you to circle every time Paul uses the word “called” or “chose” to describe God’s work in the lives of His people. Start in verse 1. This is the first time we see it: “Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle…” So circle “called” there. Then skip down to verse 2: “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints…” Circle “called” again.
Now down to verse 9, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Circle “called” there. Now jump down to verse 22: “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” And last, go down to verse 26:
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
Now this word “calling” here is a word that primarily describes how God draws people to Himself — how He saves people, how He brings them to salvation. But it can also mean more than that, like in the first instance that Paul uses it, when he says he was “called by the will of God to be an apostle.” So that certainly includes God calling Paul to salvation, but it’s also more than that. Paul is talking about how God, in His will, called Paul to be an apostle; God called Paul to play a unique role in the church, planting the church and teaching in the church.
And this is where I just want to remind us that God’s call in our lives is just as much a reality as it was for Paul’s life, and it was for the Christians at Corinth. The same thing is true for every Christian in The Church at Brook Hills. You are here because God has called you. At the most base level, God has called you His child; He has drawn you to salvation.
You are a Christian because God has chosen to love you like He has. What an amazing thought!
And as if that isn’t amazing enough, God has not only chosen to love you, but He has chosen to lead you according to His will. Using Paul’s language here, God has a will for your life, and He calls you according to it. Paul’s saying, “I’m doing what I’m doing because God has called me to this.” Which is exactly what I was trying to share last week. I just wanted to give you a glimpse of the journey I’ve walked these past months to say, “I’m going to the IMB because I believe God’s called me to that.”
And if you weren’t here last week, let me encourage you to go back and listen to what I shared. I hope it will be faith-building for us as a church, and for you in your life. Because like I mentioned last week — and this is why we landed where we did in that sermon, because I don’t think this journey is just about me. It’s about all of us; it’s about all of us putting the blank check on the table and saying, “God, where, how You are calling me to live for the spread of the gospel in the world?” Is that here in Birmingham? Or is it somewhere else? Is it doing what I’m doing now? Or is it doing something else?
1 Corinthians Calls Us to Surrender
And we landed on two words last week that I wanted to make sure to put in your notes this week. The first, if you’ll remember, was surrender. Surrender everything to God. This is what it means to be a Christian; this is what it means to be called of God. It means that your life belongs to God. And you don’t call the shots on where you live or how you live or what you do; He does. To use language later from 1 Corinthians 6, your life is not your own, Christian. You were bought at a price. So surrender just makes sense. This is the posture of the Christian. God called you to Himself. And so, wherever He calls you in your life, you go.
Whatever He calls you to do, you do.
1 Corinthians Calls Us to Abide
And how do you know what He’s calling you to do? Remember the second word: Abide. You abide in Christ. You focus completely on Christ, which is what 1 Corinthians 1 is all about. It is about the centrality of Christ in the church, and in the Christian’s life. Listen to how Paul describes the Christian over and over again, as being “in Christ.” Look at verse 2: “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints…” Then, verse 4: “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge.” Verse 9, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” You’re called into fellowship with Christ to abide in Him, with Him.
And then, after talking about how these Christians were baptized into the name of Christ, not into the name of Paul or Apollos or Cephas, Paul then closes the chapter by saying, verse 30 – “Because of God you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” Yes, you are in Christ, and He is in you.
This is breathtaking! The God who calls you dwells in you, and through His presence in you, He leads you and guides you according to His will. So abide in Him, every day, in prayer, and in the Word, and in obedience, growing as a disciple and giving your life to making disciples, abiding in Him.
1 Corinthians Calls Us to Rest
And then, based on this picture in 1 Corinthians, I just want to add one word to those two words from last week, that I hope we’ll all take away from these days. Surrender, abide, and then rest. Rest. And I want to add that word simply because here’s the deal: When you’re a child of God, called by God, and you’re surrendered to Christ, and you’re abiding in Christ, you can rest in Christ. First Corinthians 1 is saying, “Christ is your wisdom, your righteousness, your sanctification, your redemption, and you can rest in Him.”
Oh, this is huge, and this is where, if I can, I just want to be a little vulnerable. I was sitting on a plane almost two weeks ago with my family around me, Isaiah sitting in my lap, and together we’re about to head to Virginia for final meetings about going to the IMB. And people were still boarding, and I opened up my email to see a message from Matt Mason.
And Matt was just so encouraging, just celebrating the friendship and partnership we have in the gospel, and the joy of what God is doing here, and he was saying he was praying for me and supportive of me if the Lord led me to the IMB. But as I read his email, my heart was just heavy, and I thought, “If I did not have the clarity that God has given over these months that God was calling me to do this, I would be running off this plane right now.” And then, these last couple of weeks have just been surreal, almost, not real. I was sitting in my office last week before I was about to come down here to preach, and I was just thinking, “Is this real? Is this really happening? Am I really not going to be the Senior Pastor here?” And as I’ve sat in meetings about interim leadership for the church in the days ahead, I’ve thought, “Is this real?”
And meanwhile, my email inbox has started filling up with responsibilities at the IMB, and I’ve found myself thinking, “Is this real or am I just dreaming?” And if you ask me if it’s a good dream or a bad dream, I’m not always sure; it probably depends on the email. But amidst surreal circumstances, amidst a total collision of emotions, amidst stepping out of what is totally familiar to me into a world that is in many ways unfamiliar to me, amidst all of this, God has given such rest in Him. As best as I can, I believe I’m surrendered to Him.
As best as I can, I believe I’m abiding in Him, and there’s rest in that; there’s rest in Him that He’s leading all of this, and He’s guiding all of this, in such a way that in those surreal moments where my head is spinning and I’m tempted to think, “What have I done,” or, “What do I do now,” I find myself resting in the reality that – and I put this in your notes —
the same Lord who led me to this point will lead me from this point. So that’s me, amidst the craziness of these last couple of weeks, just resting in God and His call in my life.
But here’s the beauty, and here’s really why I’m sharing this with you: Because the same Lord who is leading me in all this is leading Brook Hills in all of this. And if God has so clearly called me to go to the IMB, then God is clearly calling someone else to lead Brook Hills in this way. I remember when I was meeting with all of our elders, sharing this with them a few weeks ago, and one of them said, “If the Lord is leading you to the IMB, then obviously you are not best for Brook Hills.” He said, “You’ve been best for Brook Hills these last eight years, but if He’s leading you away, then clearly it’s because you’re not best for Brook Hills in the years to come.” And other guys echoed that. One other elder said, “If the Lord is in this, go quickly.” And I wanted to say, “Hey, you guys don’t have to push me out of here too fast.”
But what they were saying really was a reflection of this reality – and so I put it there in your notes: The same Lord who led Brook Hills to this point will lead Brook Hills from this point. Isn’t this good to know? Isn’t this good to know in each of our lives, no matter what happens, that we are children of God, called by God, and as we surrender to Him and walk with Him, we can rest in Him, no matter what is happening around us. And you know, it was so good this last week to hear about one couple that was finishing our Impact class, our new members’ class. And the last step in that process is an interview basically for new members to share their testimony and ask any questions they have. And Tate Cockrell, our Pastor for Member Care, was actually doing this interview, and this was last Sunday, after all this had happened, and he said to them, “Well, does this change your desire to become members?” And they looked back at Tate and said, “You know, we’ve prayed and talked about that, and we’ve come to the conclusion: The Lord led us here, not David Platt. So yes, without question we still want to become members.”
And I heard that and thought, “Yes! Yes, yes, yes!” That’s it. The Lord has led me to this point, and members of this church to this point, even prospective members of this church to this point, and He will lead us all from this point. We’re children of God, called by God, so we surrender to Him, we abide in Him, and as we do, we rest in Him. And we rest in the reality that even when we don’t understand this or that, our God is leading, our God is guiding, and our God is directing all things according to His will. Oh, I hope that’s what we all take away from these days.
What I Am Trusting Will Be Evident in the Days to Come …
Brook Hills has never been about one man.
And then, what I am trusting will be evident in the days to come. And this is where I just want to go through chapter after chapter in 1 Corinthians. And obviously, we don’t have time to go in-depth or hit everything, but just think about what God is saying to The Church at Brook Hills. One, Brook Hills has never been about one man, which was part of the problem at Corinth. You had factions in the church based on affinity for certain leaders. Look at verse 11. Paul says, “For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, ‘I follow Paul,’ or ‘I follow Apollos,’ or ‘I follow Cephas,’ or ‘I follow Christ.’” Did you see that? Christ was just one name among many that they were following.
So there was this tendency in the church at Corinth, and it’s a tendency in the church today, right? To rally around a certain person or a certain leader, but Paul says, verse 13, “Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” And the obvious answer was, “No.” I remember reading how Martin Luther, when he heard that some of the first Protestants were being called Lutherans, he protested, saying: “What is Luther? The teaching is not mine. Nor was I crucified for anyone…How did I, poor stinking bag of maggots that I am, come to the point where people call the children of Christ by my evil name?” That’s a good word.
And this is a good thing, isn’t it? You know, before I came, the previous pastor before me was a strong, charismatic leader, and many people associated The Church at Brook Hills with his name. And as a result, when he left, there were many who thought Brook Hills was going to fall apart. But praise God, this church wasn’t built on one man. Consequently, 8/9 years later — and I’m not saying what kind of leader I am or I’m not — but many people associate The Church at Brook Hills with my name. And there will be some (maybe many) who think that when I leave, Brook Hills will struggle in this way or that. But brothers and sisters, praise God, The Church at Brook Hills has never been, and never will be, about one man – Rick Ousley, David Platt, or anyone else. Nobody here has been baptized into anyone but Christ. And I’m trusting that it will only be all the more evident in the days to come that Brook Hills has never been about one man.
Brook Hills has always been about one message.
Instead, Brook Hills has always been about one message. In the words of Paul in verse 17, “Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” Yes! Think about this with me, Brook Hills. This church testifies to the authenticity of God’s gospel. From the very beginning, almost 25 years ago now, this church has been built on the proclamation of God’s gospel. So many of you have come to faith in Christ through this church.
I remember when we walked through the Threads sermon series, and we were talking about sharing your story of how you came to faith in Christ, and I asked you (I’ve asked you to do this on a few occasions in different series) to send me your stories, and I read through them all. And I had one conclusion: This is a messed up group of people. I look around this room even now, and I see men and women, and I know your stories, and I know where you were were, and I see where you are now, and your lives (our lives) together testify to the authenticity of God’s gospel. Your lives, our lives show that this is not about one man, but about one message – the message of Christ crucified.
The good news — and please pay attention close here. Non-Christian friends who are here with us today, hear the good news that, though we have sinned against God, rebelled against God, in all kinds of different ways in each of our lives, God loves us. God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die on a cross in the place of sinners, to pay the payment for our rebellion against God. Not only did He die, but after He died, three days later He rose from the dead, and God has said that anyone who turns from their sin and themselves and puts their trust in Him will receive eternal life with Him forever. Oh, this gospel is good, and it’s true. And I know it’s true because the Bible is true, and I know it’s true because there is no other explanation for the life change that has occurred all around this room in this church.
This church (the Church at Brook Hills) testifies to the authenticity of God’s gospel. And this church demonstrates the sufficiency of God’s Word, which is exactly what Paul goes on to talk about in the first part of 1 Corinthians 2. He says,
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
I was telling our pastoral staff team this week that I vividly remember sitting down on the first day I was in the office here, and I remember thinking, “Uh, okay. What do I do now?” Because I’d never pastored before. And so I’m sitting there, and I think, “Well, I’ve got to preach this Sunday, so let me start by opening my Bible and figuring out what to say.” And brothers and sisters, that’s what I’ve done week after week after week, and the Word has done the work in The Church at Brook Hills. You know, God has done a lot in and through this church over the last eight years, and in my flesh, I wish I could take at least a little of the credit for it, but I can’t, because the Word has done it. The Word has done it all.
Think about it. What was Radical all about? It was opening up the Word, putting aside our preconceived, culturally conditioned notions, and just listening to the call of Christ in the gospel. And after Radical, some people were thinking, “Okay, so I need to sell my house or make some extreme move in order to be accepted by God?” So next we went to Galatians, and God said to us, “No, don’t forget: It’s all about my grace.”
And then, after Galatians, some people were thinking, “Oh good, it’s grace. So I don’t need to do anything different.” And so we went to James, and God said, “Yes you do. You need to work by grace, through faith!” And then do you remember, it was almost exactly five years ago, we were studying James, and we came to James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father looks at as pure and faultless – to look after orphans and widows in their distress.” And the Word of God sparked a movement in hearts and lives and families across this room that has led to what is now a city-wide foster care ministry shared by an entire coalition of churches.
And on and on and on, we’ve read through the Bible together. We’ve studied the Gospels; we’ve immersed ourselves in the Psalms. Every week, we’ve opened our Bibles together, and the Word of God has made this church what it is. And not just hearing the Word, but doing it.
Which leads to the next part of your notes: This church follows the leadership of God’s Spirit. Paul goes on in the end of Chapter 2 to talk about God’s Spirit and the wisdom that comes from walking in God’s Spirit. And that’s it. Oh, this is one of the things I love most about this faith family. Whenever we have had a potential pastor come on our staff from outside Brook Hills, and we have interviewed him, and we would share with him the things we love most about this church, inevitably pastors all around the room would say, “What’s so great about Brook Hills is the way members here don’t just listen to the Word every week. They actually do what it says.” Whether it’s Radical or foster care or I’ll never forget the first time we called people to go on short-term mission, and the front of this room was filled with people. And we’re looking around on staff, saying, “What do we do with all these people? They actually want to take the gospel to the nations!”
Now here’s the deal: I’ve seen all this, and those of you who have been here over the last eight years (and before that), you’ve seen this. But people outside Brook Hills, they haven’t seen this. There are people who are looking at Brook Hills from the outside right now who are thinking, “Well, what’s going to happen to that church when such a visible leader leaves?” And this is where I want to say to you: So seize this opportunity! Faith family, seize this opportunity to testify to the authenticity of the gospel. Seize this opportunity to show that this church is indeed not about one man, but about one message: Christ and Him crucified. Nobody here was baptized into David Platt or anyone else, but you’ve been baptized into Christ, and He’s not going anywhere.
And seize this opportunity to show the sufficiency of God’s Word. Show that as long as this Word is preached, regardless of who’s preaching it, this church thrives. And seize this opportunity to show the leadership of God’s Spirit, that just as God, by His Spirit, has led Brook Hills to great things up to this point, God, by His Spirit, is leading Brook Hills to greater things from this point.
Oh, let’s do this — and I say, “let’s” because I’ll be around for a few more months — but far after I’ve moved or whatever, let’s seize this opportunity, get this, to show a watching world that God is the One who grows His church. First Corinthians 3:6, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” God has built this church. And God will continue to build this church.
I’m trusting it will evident in the coming days that Brook Hills has never been about one man, but Brook Hills has always been about one message: Christ and Him crucified, and the faith of The Church at Brook Hills doesn’t rest on man’s wisdom, but on God’s power. God is growing this church.
Brook Hills is an army that cannot be stopped on mission.
Third, I’m trusting that it will be evident in the days to come that Brook Hills is an army that cannot be stopped on mission. Okay, I’m going to have to pick up the pace here; some things never change. Let me sum it up, and then I’ll run through specifics in light of 1 Corinthians. When I look out at this church, by God’s grace, because God has built this church, I believe Brook Hills is a healthy church. Now let me be clear: Not a perfect church, by any means. The elders and I have spent much time these last months talking about some major steps to strengthen our membership even more, but by God’s grace, we have more people sent out to serve around the world than we have ever had (short-term, mid
term, and long-term), we have a stronger budget than we’ve ever had, a stronger staff team than we’ve ever had, and a stronger eldership than we’ve ever had.
And just a side note there, I’ve heard it said, “Well, what are we going to do come September 21 when we’re without a pastor?” And I just want to remind you, if you’ve thought that or heard that, on September 21, Brook Hills will not be without a pastor. There are 40 pastors at Brook Hills, 15 or so of which are on staff, and the other 20 plus who aren’t on staff, and these men are solid. I’m going to be with them later this week on a retreat, and I have full confidence in the Spirit of God in these men to lead. So yes, I know, in a couple of weeks, Brook Hills will be without a Senior Pastor like we’ve had, and there will be a plan for leadership to fill that void (which we’ll talk about next week), but Brook Hills will not be pastor-less.
And I say all of this because I’m trusting it will be evident in the coming days that Brook Hills is an army – a strong, healthy army that cannot be stopped on mission. And that mission hasn’t changed, and it won’t change. Sure, a new Senior Pastor, primary leader will come, and he’ll do things differently in this way or that way, use different terminology here or there, but the mission of the church always remains the same. As disciples of Jesus, we make disciples of Jesus, which means that as an army, there’s no need to sit around and waiting for march orders. We’ve got our marching orders. Brook Hills is an army that cannot be stopped on mission.
Now think about that mission from two angles, and I’ve phrased this in your notes almost as if I was speaking to a watching world about this faith family. One, I am trusting that it will be evident in the coming days that they are zealous for holiness in this culture; that you are zealous for holiness in this culture. I have seen this in you, and again, it’s like the Lord is just reminding us this week of what we walked through together a year ago. In this critical time in our culture, in this rapidly shifting moral landscape that we live in, where marriage and sexuality are questioned like never before, may it be said of the army called The Church at Brook Hills that they are zealous for holiness in this culture.
In their lives. First Corinthians 5 is an instance where a member of the church at Corinth, maybe even a leader, is unrepentant in sexual immorality, which then leads to Chapter 6, a clear exhortation to flee all sexual immorality. Oh, Brook Hills, never become casual with sin.
Be zealous for holiness in this culture in your lives and in your families; in their families. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul addresses singleness and marriage, and he calls men and women to holy devotion to Christ, whether in singleness or in marriage. And in the church. The whole point in all of this – 1 Corinthians 5, 6, 7, and even into 8 through 10 — is to guard the character of Christ in the church. Oh, be ever watchful, faith family, regarding what Brook Hills portrays about Christ to the surrounding culture.
And as you are watchful and vigilant, I am trusting it will be evident that, indeed, the members of Brook Hills are an army zealous for holiness in this culture, and they are passionate about the lost in the world. First Corinthians 9 is such a great text.
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
Yes, this is Paul saying, “I do whatever it takes to get the gospel to the lost.” May this be so, Brook Hills. May this be so.
Now I hear people saying, almost with urgency, “Well, who’s going to be the next pastor?” And people are throwing out names, and people are asking me. And this is an important question, to be sure but be careful. Be careful, brothers and sisters, not to get so focused on who the next man is going to be in the future that you lose sight of the mission that is right in front of you in the present. You’ve got a neighbor who doesn’t know Christ. That’s urgent. The person in the office next to you doesn’t know Christ. That’s urgent. May they be your urgent concern today and tomorrow and this week. What do you need to do to get the gospel to them? How can you weave threads, share the gospel today, tomorrow, this week with them?
Oh, church, be passionate about the lost across Birmingham, in this city. Oh, Brook Hills, God is doing so much through in you in this city. Don’t stop. What God is doing in and through Work Faith Birmingham is absolutely amazing. Lives are being changed by the gospel and by brothers and sisters who are making disciples. Keep doing that and countless other things like it all across our city, and among the nations. Yes, the Lord is leading me to the IMB, I trust, for the spread of the gospel to unreached peoples, but the Lord is leaving you at Brook Hills, at least for now, why? For the spread of the gospel to unreached peoples. To pray and give and go however God calls you to pray and give and go. I know that there are families meeting today about potentially going to New York to work with our team focused on South Asian Hindus there. And others are meeting today about going to Michigan to work among Middle Eastern Muslims. And others are meeting about going different places in the world. Yes, don’t stop! May it be evident that The Church at Brook Hills indeed is an army that cannot be stopped on mission.
Brook Hills is a body that consists of committed members.
And finally, may it be evident – I am trusting that it will be evident in the coming days — that Brook Hills is a body that consists of committed members. Oh, this is all over 1 Corinthians 10—16, but just think about the text in our Bible reading today. First Corinthians
12 is all about the body of Christ, and the members of that body. It’s why we talk about membership in the church, because all throughout the New Testament, followers of Christ are joined to local churches where they are a part of a body.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
At least 10 different times in this chapter Paul refers to Christians as members of a body. And this is where, quite frankly, I want to just flat out address the consumer driven, church attending, church hopping, church shopping culture that plagues the church in this community. It is so common for people in our culture to hop from one church to the next based on the preacher they like, or the music they like, or the preference for this or that program, and I just want to call you out of that. Now I’m not talking about leaving a church because the gospel’s not being preached or because biblical leadership is not in place or any other number of non-negotiables for even the essence of a church to exist. No, I’m talking about a self-centered church culture that is always looking out for me and my family that goes against the grain of all we see about the church in the New Testament.
The church is a body, and we are members of it, which means we need other members in order for us to operate as we should, and other members need us in order to operate as they should. Your body parts need one another. And so God has us in 1 Corinthians 12 in our Bible reading today, and He is reminding us, even down to this very Sunday, that we need each other. Where you go to church is indeed not just about you and your family. It’s about a bigger family that you need, and one that needs you.
So I am trusting that it may be said of the members at Brook Hills during these days of uncertainty, without a Senior Pastor — not sure exactly what’s going to happen next — may it be said that they worship wholeheartedly as a church. First Corinthians 11 talks about gathering every Sunday around the Lord’s table for worship. Yes, so David Platt may not be preaching September 21, but let me state the obvious: The Lord will be present. Wouldn’t it be the most superficial commentary on the faith of a people if a particular preacher wasn’t present, and so that people said, “We’re not going to gather together to remember the body and blood of Christ if this person isn’t preaching?” Oh, may it not be so! May the crucified Christ be central in this church, and may wholehearted worship follow, week in and week out.
May it be said that they love selflessly in community. First Corinthians 13, which, as we’ve studied before, the essence of love in 1 Corinthians 13 is selflessness. So may it not be said in the days ahead that people started looking out for themselves above others, which is a recipe for disaster and division in the church. Instead, may it be said that people started looking out all the more for others over and above themselves in community with one another.
Oh, this is where I want to say that as much as we emphasize (and have emphasized) small groups at Brook Hills, those small groups are all the more important during a transition time like this. Small groups of brothers and sisters caring for one another and serving one another and keeping one another from falling through the cracks. If you are not a member of a small group, let me urge you to do that over the next couple of weeks. And if you are, let me urge you not to grow tired or weary of loving the people in your small group community selflessly. And for that matter, if you are not a member of a church, then become a member of a church — become a member of this church. You say, “But I don’t know who the Senior Pastor is going to be,” but that’s just it. You’re not committing yourself to a Senior Pastor; you’re committing yourself to a body – a body of Christ, baptized into Christ – to love one another and to lead others to Christ. That’s what the body of Christ is all about. May it be so; may it be said of old and brand new Brook Hills members that they love selflessly in community.
And along those lines, may it be said that they give sacrificially in a world of urgent need. In the beginning of 1 Corinthians 16, which we’ll read this week, we see the New Testament pattern of regular giving in the church, particularly in light of urgent need in the world. We’ve studied verses 1-4 of Chapter 16 before and seen the expectation that members of the church set aside money to give, and this is just one more area where I want to encourage you not to shrink back. By God’s grace, you have been such a giving church. It really is amazing to look back over these years of economic downturn in our country and to see giving up every single year in this church. Particularly in light of urgent need in the world, you have given sacrificially in so many ways, both to minister to needs in our city and around the world, and to send brothers and sisters around the world. And this is all the more reason not to waver in your commitment to this church. We’ve got brothers and sisters who used to sit among us, who have been sent out to work in North Africa and the Middle East and Central Asia, and East Asia and Eastern Europe, and sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. And these brothers and sisters are dependent on the money this church sends to sustain them there.
Do we realize what’s at stake here? Again, to strike at the flippant church hopping, shopping culture, particularly when a change happens at a church, new pastor, okay, time for me or my family to move on, brother or sister, realize there’s more to the picture than just you and your family. You’ve got members of your faith family who are serving on the front lines who are dependent on you staying committed to them. May it be said in the coming days that Brook Hills is a body of committed members — and again, I’m trusting it will be —
because I know you, and I know God’s grace in you.
And ultimately — well, just turn to 1 Corinthians 16, and we’ll close here. I know we haven’t read this yet, but you may remember this exhortation from 1 Corinthians 16 which we looked at last year. It says, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” That’s it. And it’s similar to what Paul said to the church at Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 3. He said, “I live to see you stand firm in the Lord.” Until Jesus comes. That’s what he says in verse 22, “O Lord, come.” Same thing he said way back in Chapter 1 at the beginning of the book. He said, “You are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end.”
Oh, that is my prayer. That is my prayer. And I am confidently trusting that it will be evident in the coming days that the members of the Church at Brook Hills that they stand resolutely in the hope of Christ’s return. And nothing, nothing can shake them.