We exist to develop disciples who . . . Love the Church

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“We exist to develop disciples who . . . Love the Church”

(Selected Passages)

Vision Series: Part 2 [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

January 21, 2018

Introductory Comments:

Last week we talked about the importance of having a vision.

We learned that a vision tells us where we’re going!

It gives us direction!

Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”  [on screen]

We don’t want to aim at nothing!  We want to aim at something.

(white board illustration; draw on a white board a starting point and an ending point)

If X marks the spot where we want to go, that’s our vision.

Go there! (circle the starting point)

Are we there yet? (no!)

We want to go there!

Listen to what the apostle Paul says about this:

See Philippians 3:12-14. [on screen]

12 Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

Paul speaks of the Christian pursuing a prize.

That’s what we’re doing also.  We’re pressing forward towards this prize; this vision.

Here’s our vision statement:

Our Vision Statement: “We exist to develop disciples who love God, love the church, and love others.” [on screen]

This is our vision. This is where we want to go.

We can do it, church!  We can go there if we stay committed and focused!

Let’s pray as we continue.


Last week we talked about loving God.

The second part of our vision statement is . . .



When we talk about loving the church . . .

I think first of all we should love the idea of the Church.

The local church is central to the mission of God.

Jesus said that He will build His Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it!

The Church is called the bride of Christ, the body of Christ, the foundation!

We need the Church!

Christianity without the Church is like mashed potatoes without gravy, or Bert without Ernie, or politics without disagreements, or Baptists without fried chicken, or marriage without commitment, or parenthood without selfless love. You cannot have it!  You cannot have Christianity without the Church!

We must love the idea of the Church!


Secondly, we must also love our actual church; our brothers and sisters in Christ; First Baptist Church Bartow.

We must get this!


If we cannot, or will not, love one another we might as well turn it in.  We just need to stop all of this now.

But we can, church!

As we become the church that God wants us to be, we must love the church!

Let’s see what the Bible says about this. Let’s look at the biblical foundation.

Biblical Foundation [on screen]

First, look at John 13:34-35 [on screen]

34 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Pretty clear, right?

If I asked others to judge whether I was a follower of Jesus based solely on how I love my church brothers and sisters, what would they say?  How about you; what would they say about you?

Jesus said plainly how they would know if we follow Him: if we love one another.

Next, let’s read John 15:10-12 [on screen]

10 If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. 12 “This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you.

Jesus commands us to love one another as He has loved us. Pretty high level of love, huh?

We are to love one another; we are to love the church as Christ has loved us.

Boy, there are a lot of implications here: forgiveness, humility, sacrifice, devotion, patience, prayerfulness, gentleness, servanthood, and the list can go on!


But, we shall move on.

Third, look at 1 John 4:7 [on screen]

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

John echoed Jesus’ words. We are to love one another.


Because love is from God. If we’re born of God and if we know God, we will love one another.

Logically, if we are from God we should love one another.

Finally, look at  Acts 2:42-43; 46-47 [on screen]

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles.

46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

The early church experienced and displayed the love of God wholeheartedly.

They met together, learned together, served together, fellowshipped together, prayed together, saw miracles together, made disciples together, and grew together.

They loved one another!

The New Testament example and command is for us to love the church!


Now, let’s highlight some ways that we can be disciples who love the church.

First, . . .

I. We love the church through sacrificial devotion [on screen]

We are devoted to Jesus and His people, and we are devoted sacrificially.

We are not here for ourselves!  We are not self-serving!  We are here for the glory of God and the building of His Church!

We give generously!  We encourage one another!  We are not led by our own pride!  We are not given to gossip!  We are not driven by negativity!

We are not here to consume!  We are here to contribute!

It’s not about our preferences: be it carpet color, music style, room temperature, sermon length, buildings and property, etc..  That stuff matters, but that is not why we are here.

We are here for the glory of God and to make disciples!


We love the church by being sacrificially devoted.

II. We love the church through unifying accountability [on screen]

We hold one another accountable in a way that brings unity.

We confront sin boldly, yet lovingly.  We do so for the benefit of each other and the purity of the church.

Accountability helps us to be a pure and holy church!

As we unify each other through accountability, we must be guided by the Word of God.

We love the church through unifying accountability.

III. We love the church through committed membership [on screen]

We will take church membership seriously.

We will realize that this is not a country club or a fraternal organization.  This is the body of Christ; called to holiness and purity.

We will give, we will serve, we will attend, we will pray for each other, we will love each other.

Church membership must mean something to us.

We will love each other through committed church membership.

Concluding Thoughts:

As we come to a close we must commit ourselves to be disciples who love the church.

We will glorify God if we do so and we will be a church that is following the Word of God if we do so.

Here’s our bottom line:

Bottom Line: Become a disciple who loves the Church[on screen]


Let’s wrap up with the weekly challenge:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Discover what the Bible has to say about the church[on screen]

Do some homework.

Make it your goal to learn more about the church.

  1. Identify ways that you can love the church. [on screen]

What can you do personally?

Do you need to serve somewhere in the church?

Spend more time in prayer?

Give more?

Reconcile with someone in the church?

What can you do?

  1. Identify ways that our church can love the church[on screen]

What can we do as a church body?

How can we better develop disciples who love the church?

I’d love to hear what God is telling you about this.


The church is God’s instrument to make disciples.  It’s God’s plan A!


Maybe God led you here this morning so you could hear the message of Jesus.

(Gospel Presentation)

Maybe God is leading you to join this church.

Maybe God is leading you to identify with the church through baptism.

As we prepare to sing, respond if God is leading you.

(Closing Prayer)

Closing Song: Where He Leads Me


Tonight we will hear from some special friends. There are five folks with us from Jordan, four of who are students. They will be sharing with us tonight about what life is like in Jordan. We will also have a chance to ask them questions.  You’ll want to be here tonight.

As we leave this morning, spend some time loving each other. Maybe have a conversation on your way out, see how you can pray for one another.  Love the church!

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

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