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The Ministry of the Church

By virtue of one’s baptism, every member of the Church shares in the task of its ministry.  The meaning of the Reformation principle of the “priesthood of all believers” (1 Peter 2:9) is not that we are all priests and therefore we do not need any priests except ourselves-but rather that we are priests and therefore we all must be priests to one another and to others.

The Constitution and By-Laws, Article VIII-E (The Ministry of the Church)

Section 1. The whole Church, as the people of God, is called to manifest itself in the ministry of love exemplified by Jesus Christ, its head. In this ministry, all members are called upon to participate. (Eph. 4:12-13)

Section 2. Within the membership of the Church, some shall be selected as ordained ministers (clergy) and lay ministers (Eph. 4:11) to perform specific ministries of the Church.

Section 3.  The Church shall provide rules and regulations for the classification, ordination,  and settlement of ordained ministers and lay ministers, the same to be prescribed in the By-Laws.


The Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the Church

The Lord Jesus Christ in the head of the Church. (Eph1:22; 4:15; Col. 1:18) He has established therein a MINISTRY  of the WORD  and of the SACRAMENTS and calls from among his disciples to this ministry. The Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26), recognizes and chooses those whom he calls and ordains them to the work of the Ministry.

By-Laws Article VI; Section 1. The Ministry of the Church.

 

The Ministry of the Church is the ministry of Jesus Christ entrusted by him to his body, the Church. (John 14:12, 14-17, 31)

Within the body of Christ, some are set apart not to do the ministry on behalf of the whole Body, but for the task of equipping and enabling the various parts of the Body to fulfill their ministry in the world. (Eph. 4:11-13)

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The Word of God Preached

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10

The Word of God-Bible

Text:

Neh 8:1 And the seventh month came: and the children of Israel were in their cities. And all the people were gathered together as one man to the street which is before the water gate, and they spoke to Esdras the scribe, to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel. Neh 8:2 Then Esdras the priest brought the law before the multitude of men and women, and all those that could understand, in the first day of the seventh month. Neh 8:3 And he read it plainly in the street that was before the water gate, from the morning until midday, before the men, and the women, and all those that could understand: and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book. Neh 8:4 And Esdras the scribe stood upon a step of wood, which he had made to speak upon, and there stood by him Mathathias, and Semeia, and Ania, and Uria, and Helcia, and Maasia, on his right hand: and on the left, Phadaia, Misael, and Melchia, and Hasum, and Hasbadana, Zacharia and Mosollam. Neh 8:5 And Esdras opened the book before all the people: for he was above all the people: and when he had opened it, all the people stood. Neh 8:6 And Esdras blessed the Lord the great God: and all the people answered, Amen, amen: lifting up their hands: and they bowed down, and adored God with their faces to the ground. Neh 8:7 Now Josue, and Bani, and Serebia, Jamin, Accub, Sephtai, Odia, Maasia, Celtia, Azarias, Jozabed, Hanan, Phalaia, the Levites, made silence among the people to hear the law: and the people stood in their place. Neh 8:8 And they read in the book of the law of God distinctly and plainly to be understood: and they understood when it was read. Neh 8:9 And Nehemiah (he is Athersatha) and Esdras the priest and scribe, and the Levites who interpreted to all the people, said: This is a holy day to the Lord our God: do not mourn, nor weep: for all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. Neh 8:10 And he said to them: Go, eat fat meats, and drink sweet wine, and send portions to them that have not prepared for themselves: because it is the holy day of the Lord, and be not sad: for the joy of the Lord is our strength.

Introduction

This day we are celebrating the National Bible Sunday which falls in the third Sunday after the epiphany. The story in our text tells us about the word of God preached by Nehemiah the Prophet, Esdras the priest, the Scribes and the Levites. Let us ponder on the following points that would probably answer the how, where, when, what, to whom of our text today.

Body

I. The word of God preached as requested (vs1)

  • all people

II. The word of God preached in a designated place (vs3)

  • The street that was before the water gate where the people were gathered

III. The word of God preached in a particular span of time (vs3)

  • From the morning until midday

IV.  The word of God preached to a congregation (vs2)

  • Men
  • Women
  • Children who were old enough to understand

V.  The word of God preached with the people’s actuation and response

  • They stood when the word was opened (vs5)
  • They responded with voice and body actions (vs)
    • Saying amen
    • Hands lifted up
    • Heads bowed down
    • Faces to the ground
  • They understood it when it was read and interpreted (vs8, 9)
    • They wept
  • They were challenged to share their blessings to those who have none (vs10).

Conclusion

We have learned valuable things from our ancestors when it comes to their submission to the word of God. They have fully accorded the respect to the preachers and the word of God preached to them.

This respect is not only to their mentors, teachers, and interpreters of the word of God but it is a respect to the God whom they were worshipping.

An orderly manner of being a participant to the community of worship is an indication of submission to God’s small voice by inclining one’s ear, mind and heart.

The people thirsted for the word of God and they cannot just tolerate it. God’s word is intolerable for it seeks its place in the minds and hearts of those who really give a place and time. After hearing the word of God, assimilating it into one’s life the challenge is to live it out. Apply it not only to one’s self but to others and that makes faith a reality and a learning concrete. God must be praised.

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Church is the Gathered People of God

The Church is the gathered people of God (1Peter 2:10) who have responded to Christ’s call for newness in life, attitude, understanding, and action. It is a people trying to be responsive to the teachings and mandates of Jesus Christ (cf. John 14:15) and endeavoring to be responsible to those with whom Christ gave himself in solidarity and in sacrifice (cf. John 21:15-17).

Therefore it is a people who have caught a vision of a different kind of life and lifestyle and are striving to live according to that life and to share the hope of newness with others. Thus, they become God’s instruments in the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.

The Church is the New Israel.  And like the Israel of old, it is to be a light to the nations and a symbol of God’s presence in the world. (Clergy Manual of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines)

The Church is the Gathered People of God

Many people today understand the church as a building. This is not a biblical understanding of the church. The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The root meaning of “church” is not that of a building, but of people. It is ironic that when you ask people what church they attend, they usually identify a building. Romans 16:5 says “… greet the church that is in their house.” Paul refers to the church in their house—not a church building, but a body of believers.

The church is the body of Christ, of which He is the head. Ephesians 1:22-23 says, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” The body of Christ is made up of all believers in Jesus Christ from the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2) until Christ’s return. The body of Christ is comprised of two aspects: 

1) The universal church consists of all those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:13). This verse says that anyone who believes is part of the body of Christ and has received the Spirit of Christ as evidence. The universal church of God is all those who have received salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

2) The local church is described in Galatians 1:1-2: “Paul, an apostle … and all the brothers with me, to the churches in Galatia.” Here we see that in the province of Galatia there were many churches—what we call local churches.

A Baptist church, Lutheran church, the Catholic church, etc., is not the church, as in the universal church—but rather is a local church, a local body of believers.

The universal church is comprised of those who belong to Christ and who have trusted Him for salvation. These members of the universal church should seek fellowship and edification in a local church.

In summary, the church is not a building or a denomination. According to the Bible, the church is the body of Christ—all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation (John 3:161 Corinthians 12:13).

Local churches are gatherings of members of the universal church. The local church is where the members of the universal church can fully apply the “body” principles of 1 Corinthians chapter 12: encouraging, teaching, and building one another up in the knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 It is a People Trying to be Responsive to the Teachings and Mandates of Jesus Christ

The UCCP Statement of Faith states We believe that the Church is the one Body of Christ, the whole community of persons reconciled to God through Jesus Christ and entrusted with God’s ministry.

The Church response can be expressed in the following varied forms and expressions:

In faithfulness to Jesus’ proclamation of his own mission (Luke 4:18-19), and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), the Church, as the People of God, is called to a ministry of love and service and the search for peace based on justice and reconciliation, in obedience to, and as exemplified by Jesus Christ.

Having been given a diversity of gifts, all church members are called upon to participate in this ministry, looking forward to the attainment of unity in faith, knowledge of the Son of God, and mature personhood according to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).

Within the Church, some are called as ordained ministers, lay church workers and others charged to perform specific ministries to enable the Church to fulfill its mission and service and to build up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Schools, health-care institutions, service agencies, sectors and organizations duly recognized by the Church shall contribute to the fulfillment of its life and ministry.

The ordination of ministers and the classification and assignment of all church workers shall be provided for in the By-Laws. (Adapted from the UCCP Constitution and By-Laws Article IV-THE MINISTRY OF THE CHURCH, sections 1 to 4).

 

 

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Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above

Sing praise to God who reigns abobe, the God of all creation,
The God of power, the God of love, the God of our salvation
With healing balm my soul he fills, and every faithless murmur stills:
To God all praise and glory. Amen

What God’s almighty power hath made, his gracious mercy keepeth;
By morning glow or evening shade his watchful eye ne’er sleepeth;
Within the kingdom of his might, Lo! All is just and all is right:
To God all praise and glory. Amen

The Lord is never far away, but through all grief distressing,
An ever-present help and stay, our peaceful and joy and blessing;
As with a mother’s tender hand, he leads his own, his chosen band.
To God all praise and glory. Amen

Thus all my toilsome way along, I sing aloud thy praises,
That men may hear the grateful song my voice unwearied raises;
Be joyful in the Lord, my heart, both soul and body bear your part:
To God all praise and glory. Amen

O ye who name Christ’s holy name, give God all praise and glory;
All ye who own his power proclaim aloud the wondrous story!
Cast each false idol from his throne, the Lord is God and he alone:
To God all praise and glory. Amen

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Come Ye That Love the Lord

Come ye that love the Lord, and let your joys be known;
Join in a song with sweet accord, while ye surround his throne.

Let those refuse to sing who never knew our God;
But children of the heavenly king may speak their joys abroad.

The men of grace have found glory begun below;
Celestial fruit on earthly ground from faith and hope may grow.

Then let our songs abound, and every tear be dry;
We’re marching thro’ Emmanuel’s ground, to fairer worlds on high. Amen.