From the July 1 sermon “Jesus Builds His Church,” preached by Pastor Mark Driscoll:
Jesus said that he would build his church. The way he built his early church in Acts is the way he continues to build her today: regenerated church members, qualified leadership, preaching and worship, rightly administered sacraments (baptism and Communion), Holy Spirit unity, holiness, the Great Commandment to love, and the Great Commission to evangelize, make disciples, and plant churches.
Who is a Church Member?
It is very important for us that you know, if you’re not a Christian, you are totally welcome at Mars Hill Church, we love you, we are earnestly glad to have you. [. . .]
But church membership is reserved for those who are Christians. Regenerated means born again. It means that they have experienced the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
How do you know whether or not you have the Holy Spirit? Well, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ but by the Holy Spirit.”
The one way you know you have the Holy Spirit is you love Jesus.
You belong to Jesus.
You worship Jesus.
You serve Jesus.
You confess your sin to Jesus.
You want to be like Jesus.
You’re pretty fired up about Jesus.
You know you’ve got the Holy Spirit when Jesus is the center of your life and the object of your affection.
That’s what it means to be born again. You could be physically alive but spiritually dead. Regeneration is where you’re made spiritually alive. You’re connected to the resurrection life of Jesus through the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit. [. . .]
If you’re not a Christian, we want you to give your sin and your life to Jesus. He died and he rose for you.
Number two, if you’re a Christian, you’re part of something that Augustine called the universal Church. You’re one of God’s people. You’re also supposed to be part of something called the local church.
Welcome to Mars Hill. We love you. We want you to be connected. We want you to be in community. We want you to care for others and be cared for.
Prayer for Each Other
Pray for one another. I know it’s sometimes awkward if you’re not used to this.
Let me just encourage you, when someone says, “Hey, I need this. I’m struggling with this.” Or they just let you know something, don’t say, “I’ll pray for you.” Just pray for them. Just pray for them. You can pray right then. You can pray on the phone. You can pray in person. Feel free to pray with them after, but pray for them. [. . .]
Part of our evangelism, too, is praying for people. We say, “Man, my friend does not want to hear about Jesus.” Are they sick? Pray for them. I’ve yet to hear a sick person say, “Do not pray for me.” It’s a start. It’s how we invite people into friendship. It’s how we grow our friendships.
Come as You Are, Meet Jesus, Change Forever
Jesus builds his church through holiness. Now, Peter says it this way, he stands up and he says, “Repent.” What he’s saying is sin is a real issue, sin is a real problem. So one of the things that a church has to do to be obedient to the Scriptures and the leading of the Holy Spirit is deal with sin.
If you’re in sin, we love you. Jesus loves you. But if you’re a Christian, we want to help you walk in holiness. We want to help you walk away from sin. We want to help you walk toward Jesus.
Now, we don’t want to be controlling. There are far too many people, we could never control. But we do want to influence you to submit to the Scriptures, to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and to pursue holiness by the grace of God.
Holiness means “like God.” Not that we are gods and goddesses, but that God is holy, God is without sin, God is perfect, God is good. His name is Jesus.
And when we sin we’re not just breaking the laws of God, we’re breaking the heart of God. Just like a father who looks at his rebellious kids and they’re just destroying their life, and it destroys his heart. So when we sin the Father’s heart is broken.
And our brothers and sisters are supposed to come around and say, “We love you. The Father loves you. Please stop. Please repent. Please let us help you. Please let us walk with you. Please let us pray for you. God wants good for you. And what you’re doing is very bad.” Any church that refuses to deal with sin, any church that refuses to compel people toward holiness, doesn’t love the people.
Some churches will say, “Well, come as you are.” Here’s how we say it, “Come as you are, meet Jesus, and change forever.” Everyone is welcome to come, but once you meet Jesus, you start to change. You start to hate sin and pursue holiness. You stop rebelling, you start obeying. Your nature changes, your desires change, your life changes. [. . .]
So as a church, yes, we’ll talk about sin, our sin and help others work through their sin. When the Holy Spirit shows up, these are the things that happen. Sin comes to light and people get the help they need.