Faithfulness – A Key Step to Happiness
Holy Church versus A Healthy Church"
Sun Am Worship
Text: Matt: 16 16-18 (King James Version)
Subject: Equipping the Church for the Harvest"
"Father, I am your servant, willing and desiring to be used to bless your people."
Matthew 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Matthew 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
"Consecrate yourselves and
be holy, because I am the LORD your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am
the LORD, who makes you holy." (Lev 20:7-8 NIV)
Multiplied numbers of books on church growth have been written that try to explain the characteristics of so called "healthy" churches yet they don"t really define the characteristics of a holy church.
What are God"s standards for becoming a holy church? His standards have never changed and remain absolute. The holy God reaches down to fallen mankind through the shed blood of Jesus but demands that the redeemed reach up to Him and become holy as He is Holy (1 Peter 1:16) There is no meeting in the middle, no "synthesis" of thought or behavior. God requires nothing less than the redeemed taking on the behavior and thoughts of Christ. (1 Cor 2:16)
1 Corinthians 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
Historically, the Church Growth Movement has failed to address this question. In any diagnosis of church health, a basic question must always be answered:
The Question "Who sets the vertical?"
Terms such as "radiant . . . holy and blameless" aren"t easily quanlified (Ephesians 5:27).
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or
wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without
There is a conscious, organized effort to change the message and the music of the Christian church – to make it more acceptable to the world. The higher standards of Christianity are supposed to transform the world.
God hates divorce (Mal
2:6) yet it takes place in over one out of every two families and is even
running rampant in the Church. We have sacrificed tens of millions of
unborn children on the alters of our hedonistic self indulgence under the guise
of our right to "free choice". There is not much difference between the church
and society as a whole. We justify this because we want to get people into
the church. This isn"t what God intended. Christianity is supposed to transform individuals and not
make them more like the world.
The danger we face is making Christianity more palatable and not intimidating to "seekers" – unchurched people – so that both churched and unchurched people can try to bring in more unchurched and make them "comfortable" using an entertaining type of service. We avoid telling people they are sinners because that"s going to make them feel bad about themselves and hurt their self-esteem.
The Church is being subtlety seduced. We have become driven more by purpose than His presence. Seeker/seeker-friendly/aware/sensitive-felt need messages rarely speak of sin directly. Instead it is called "wrong doing" or "bad/poor choices" or "mistakes". The reality of a literal burning hell is conveniently overlooked. Jesus is not presented as Lord, but as "Leader". This softened message sears the conscience and lulls the church into semi-conscious state, no longer able to discern the very subtle watering down of the Word. The Bible says "that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron" (1 Tim 4:1-2 KJV)
A lot of religious organizations and churches are involved in this dangerous message and lifestyle.
Modern evangelism, church growth and counseling training manuals are all based on the feelings mode, the effective domain, not the facts. They use Scripture, but they"re using a humanistic dialectic process as well Simply to make it fit. One size fits all.
God is absolute. He doesn"t analyze or question Himself. He doesn"t use rationalistic arguments to persuade people to believe. He doesn"t see Himself as part of the solution because He is the solution. He doesn"t come to consensus with man. Man must come to consensus with God.
Did you know that God has a reputation for judgment. In any conversation, let someone bring up.
Sodom & Gomorrah
The 10 plagues of God upon Egypt
.and image that pops into people"s minds is one of God"s judgment. God has a reputation for judgment.
Talk to an insurance agent about an "Act of God" and he"ll tell you it means a catastrophic destruction of lives and/or property.
When Peter spoke of Noah"s flood, he"s saying: God"s done it before. he"ll do it again – count on it!
In other words, it doesn"t matter whether or not you think He"s coming again in judgment – He Is! AND PEOPLE IGNORE THAT AT THEIR OWN PERIL. The truth of the matter is they are only fooling theirselves! God is not fooled!
That great and terrible day
of the Lord will come..
2Peter 3:10. "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare."
ILLUS: Back in May of 1969 a national magazine told the story of Port Royal, Jamaica.. "Cities have been smothered with volcanic ash, leveled by hurricanes, shaken apart by earthquakes. But no disaster quite matches the one that struck Port Royal, Jamaica, at 11:43 a.m., on June 7, 1692. In the space of less then 10 minutes, the thriving pirate port, reputedly the wickedest city on earth, sank convulsively into the Caribbean.
An eyewitness described the scene: "The earth heaved and swelled like the rolling billows, and in many places the earth crack"d open - open"d and shut - with a motion quick and fast.
In some of these people were
swallowed up, in others they were caught by the middle, and pressed to death.
The whole was attended with the noise of falling mountains at a distance, while
the sky was turned dull and reddish, like a glowing oven."
Upward of 2000 people perished in the chaos. Even today, many Jamaicans believe that Port Royal"s destruction was the price exacted by an angry God for its sins.
APPLICATION: Peter tells us that God"s judgment is coming. It"s coming upon our world in a breadth and scope that will make Port Royal"s destruction seem pale by comparison. Seeing as how God" judgment is imminent and inevitable, there are a few things that we need to understand:
1st - (vs 3)- People who desire to run their own lives without the restrictions of God"s Holy standards will always find a way to ignore God & the potential of His judgment.
ILLUS: They are like the drunken cowboy that was stopped by the Highway Patrol. The cowboy refused to take a breath analyzer test. He explained: "The last time I took one of those tests, I flunked and I am a lot drunker now than I was then."
REPEAT: People who desire to run their own lives without the restrictions of God"s standards will always find a way to ignore God & the potential of His judgment.
Today many churches are fully involved in creating partnerships (relationship/community buildings) using ice breaker exercises that get you to share (dialogue) with somebody else who"s different than you. You move into the "I think and I feel" mode of conversation for the sake of changing the person.
The truth is that you do NOT dialogue the Word of God, you preach, you teach, you publish, and defend it.
You only dialogue what
you"re not sure about. Decisions must be based upon what the Word of God
Separation and divorce are the result of the breakdown of our society, and the moral character that it used to have, because it was built on the integrity and the authority of God"s Word. God hates divorce and yet we have gone to the vagueness, the ambiguity, the tolerance of fallen human nature within the church.
The preaching of the Word is being changed so that we can have a "relationship" with another person. We are learning to pick and choose what Scripture to use out of Bible versions that meet our message, not necessarily what is the original meaning and then extrapolate so that we can continue this relationship under the banner of "unity". Scripture is left out and redefined so that it"s whatever feels good.
Paul warned as he wrote in I
Cor. 6: "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do
not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor
male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor
drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that
is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were
justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our
Be assured this day : God"s judgment is coming .
The promise of the
Lord"s coming should influence how WE think & how WE live.
QUOTE: Dorothy Sayers - "If men will not understand the meaning of judgment, they will never come to understand the meaning of grace."
IF you don"t realize what you could have faced at the judgment - what your sins deserved - you"ll never appreciate the grace & mercy you"ve received. But if you do realize what you might have faced in judgment you"ll live & think differently than just about everyone else.
Churches that tend to shape their message and ministry around the interests and felt needs of the seeker require mature believers to mix with unbelievers and "synthesize" – that is, come to consensus where truth becomes somewhat in the middle for the sake of "community". What happens is the believer ends up moved very slightly away from his original position of moral absolute – the seeker or the unbeliever is moved slightly more towards faith.
The Word of God is compromised or even sacrificed in the process. God doesn"t grade on a curve. The Church should not be influenced by the world or take its cues from culture. When people walk into the church, it should and MUST be a reflection of heaven not a reflection of the world.
We can attempt to fish with wider nets and draw in multitudes of people. But the reality is that "many are called, but few are chosen. (Matt 22:14 KJV) Just because everyone prays the "Sinners Prayer" at the end of a message doesn"t make them a Christian nor guarantee them entrance into Heaven. Jesus warned us of this when He said: "Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?" Then I will tell them plainly, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (Matt 7:21-23 NIV)
The Word of God must be proclaimed as truth and stated as fact. When Jesus taught, He said that some would believe, some would scratch their heads and others would turn away. He always taught factually. It would either convict or not convict people. It was never watered down or softened which is what is happening in today"s church growth movement.
The danger of using modern day Madison Avenue marketing methods, slick ad campaigns, man made organizational techniques and human management principals is that they are changing the environment of the church and minimizing the message preached so as to make it inoffensive. We run the risk of denying the work of the Holy Spirit in motivating the church to reach out to the lost. And we run the risk of not motivating the lost once they come to desire THE truth found only in the Word. The Church is supposed to be tailored around the feeding of the Word for the perfecting, building up and edifying of the saints, rather than for meeting the "felt" needs of unbelievers.
The Unity Objective
Scripture talks about unity and loving one another. But you need to realize that the Gospel is the Good News. It is not unity, it is not hope, it"s Jesus Christ. And so, the hope of the Gospel and the unity of the Gospel is found only in Christ. We must look to Him as the source of our relationship. Relationship is based upon Him and only him. We are to "Make every effort to live in peace with all men" yet we must also " be holy" because "without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Heb 12:14 NIV)
The real danger is making unity the only objective.
Of all the different
interpretations of who Christ is, and for the sake of unity, the tendency
now is to go into the Word of God and find what Scripture has in common
with Buddhism, Islam, and all the other religions of the world. Once you find
what you have in common, you then redefine Christ
for the sake of unity, relationship, hope and world peace.
My Bible teachese we are a separate people, to come out from among them and then he will receive us.
God"s Word is supposed to change us. We can"t go in and change it. But That"s what the religious organizations have been pulled into. People go to seminary not knowing that when they go there and take "biblical" counseling strategies that they are rooted in psychology, sociology, and anthropology. The danger is learning how to read the Bible in order to define God"s Word in changing times – actually redefining it for the sake of meeting the felt needs within the community and drawing people in. The Bible calls these felt needs, "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (John 2:16 KJV)
If we use felt needs, which is our fallen human nature, as our agenda, we have changed our belief system. If our agenda is to bring people to the Lord Jesus Christ, we must proclaim the truth of the word of God, which brings them to realization that they are a sinner. What is Truth Gods word is Truth.. All have Sinned and come shortand The only way they can have their sins covered is through the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ the Messiah. Jesus said, "I am the way " Not a way", I am the the truth and the life." He didn"t say, "I am the feeling." You don"t come to God through feelings, you come to God through facts, through the truth of His Word.
What did Jesus say about
unity?: "Suppose ye that I come to bring peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but
rather division." (Luke 12:51)
The Law Of God
Human standards are what psychology and sociology are based upon. They"re not built upon God"s standards. We all fall short of the Glory of God. We"ve all broken those laws. They"re not changeable. We can"t justify the changing of them to make them user friendly for the continuation of relationship with mankind and God. We must realize the hopelessness of saving ourselves and that it"s only in Christ that we receive our salvation. None other Name is given. That"s contrition and that is what is being left out today. Now it"s social sin.
It"s bad behavior based
upon how we relate with one another.
Pastors are afraid to speak against sinful behavior because they may be labeled
as not loving or tolerant. The Bible tells us to, "Love not the world, neither
the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the
Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and
the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the
world." (1 John 2:15)
The primary agenda of Christianity is that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ means we might stand alone. Jesus said that we must "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matt 7:13-14 NIV)
The fact that you and the other person disagree has to be determined by your relationship with Jesus and the Word of God. That is the ground we stand on. Any other ground is foundationless. We don"t change His law for the sake of diversity and to save a relationship with anyone. When I see an Individual straying and heading down a dead end road, or taking a culdisac journey, I do not join myself to them regardless of the relationship I had or currently have.. If I trulyy Love them I will remain Separate, See the direction they are headed and Pray for the individual"s return.
Compromise comes when
beliefs are based on feelings and not the Word of God in faith believing that
the Lord knows the answer. We"re accountable to it, as is, not how we feel or
think about it. That"s where faith is involved. Faith is not a tool to be
changed to our human understanding and knowledge, then coming to a synthesis of
"ideas" in order to meet our felt needs for the sake of a relationship. The
ministry of Jesus wasn"t built on "I think and I feel." It was built on "I
know." Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No man cometh
unto the Father but by me." (John 14:6)
If we want to be a Healthy and Holy Church that is filled daily with the HOLY Spirit then we must each be holy and offer our "bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God"s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom 12:1-2 NIV)
One day soon the Lord will come like a thief in the night. We must teach others to "live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming." (2 Peter 3:10-13 NIV)
"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (Rev 22:12-13 NIV)
ILLUS: A young woman was
studying in a science class that was discussing the evolution of man. As they
considered how each part of the human anatomy must have evolved, they came upon
the eye and spent a great deal of time discussing it because it was so
complicated that it was difficult to explain its evolving in a simplistic
fashion. Though the student was not a Christian, it seemed to her that perhaps
Evolution might not be the best way of explaining this phenomenon and said so.
The teacher became irritated as he responded: "Young lady, we"re not here to
talk about God!"
At least for that teacher: evolution had become a refuge from God. For that type of person: If God doesn"t exist, They can live however they want to there"s no possibility of punishment for their actions. no ultimate final reckoning for their sins. They can eat drink & be merry.
BUT IF GOD DOES EXIST. suddenly they know their standards aren"t good enough: they have to change.
we need to understand about judgment is that God takes no pleasure in it (Vs 9).
Ez. 18:21-23 God says: ". if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. None of the offences he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live.
Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
HOW COULD GOD SAY: Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. . all except your sins.
If God weren"t able and
willing to be merciful to the worst of sinners how could we be sure He would
show mercy even to us?
He showed mercy:
1. To a back stabbing brother named Jacob
2. To a prostitute named Rahab
3. To an adulterer named David
4. To a vile & evil ruler named Manasseh
CLOSE: Realize God"s judgment is coming. it"s just not coming for you.
One day, an ambitious
university student was talking with a wise older uncle. "Joe," the uncle asked,
"tell me what you plan to do after you graduate from college."
"Oh, I guess I"ll start my career," said Joe.
"That sounds prudent," said the uncle. "What then?"
"I guess," said Joe, "I"ll get married and have a family."
"That"s wonderful," said the old man. "What then?"
"Well," replied Joe, "I guess I"ll make my fortune."
"Good for you," said the uncle. "What then?"
"Then," said Joe, "I"ll buy a country home and retire."
"That sounds inviting," said the uncle. "What then?"
"Well, I suppose," said Joe, "that one day I"ll die."
"That"s true," said the uncle. "What then?"
Blood of Jesus deliver me by
fire in the Name of Jesus.
2. I command all my blessings confiscated by rulers of darkness to be released, in the Name of Jesus.
3. I cut myself off from every territorial spirit, in the Name of Jesus.
4. I command all demonic reverse gears installed to hinder my progress to be roasted, in the Name of Jesus.
5. Lord Jesus, bear all my physical and spiritual burdens now, in the Name of Jesus.
6. Every power stealing my virtues die, in the Name of Jesus.
7. Every power in the heavenlies, on earth and in the seas hindering the angel of my blessings, die, in the Name of Jesus.
8. Any power diverting the blessings of God away from me, your time is up, die now, in the Name of Jesus.
9. By the Blood of Jesus, every owner of evil load, carry your load in the Name of Jesus.
10. Blood of Jesus, pursue my pursuers in the Name of Jesus.
11. Blood of Jesus, arise and fight my battles, in the Name of Jesus.
12. Blood of Jesus, pursue poverty out of my life, in the Name of Jesus.
13. Every power assigned to follow me, to destroy me, die in the Name of Jesus.