Thursday, March 26, 2009

Does Good Preaching Matter?

Is the Church meeting the needs of the average 21st century person? Why should I listen to what is being preached today in the average pulpit? Questions like these often will plague the 21st century mind – and for good reason. The average church of today does not have a strong pulpit ministry. Today’s pulpit is more a “social” pulpit than a “preaching” pulpit; the central focus is not on “Thus saith the Lord.” And that is tragically sad. People come to church – not to hear the latest joke – but to hear a word from God. And if that Word – that Message – is from God, it will have three elements to it: (1.) it will glorify God, (2.) the Message will be Scripturally sound and (3.) it will be relevant to the person’s life. One or more of these three elements are missing in the average sermon delivered from the average pulpit of the average church of today. And that is the reason why it can be said that the average pulpit of today is weak in faith; and when the pulpit is weak in faith, the people of the church will be weak in faith as well. The Holy Scripture declares:

Romans 10:17 17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

When the Holy Scriptures are preached something wonderful happens within the soul of the listener.
Hebrews 4:12-16
12 “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

When God’s Word is truly preached from the pulpit, its power will be realized in the pew. God is the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. There is no creature hidden from His sight. What God says to us is relevant because all things in our lives are naked and open before the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account. To believer’s, Jesus is our great High Priest, Who intercedes for all those who place their trust in Him.

We can hold fast to the Word of God, for its soundness comes from the integrity of the living Word of God Himself – Jesus Christ! And this is why we can come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Jesus is always there for His people. As God’s people follow Jesus in their lives, the Word of God will display its power through their lives. And that is when God receives all the glory: when God’s Word becomes the living force in the life of a child of God – to the praise of the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Is a Dead Church?

According to the Holy Scriptures, there are many churches that have the appearance of being alive, but they are spiritually dead. They have their scheduled times of meetings, they go through their readings, saying of prayers, and even make reference to the Bible. But they are dead. How so?

Revelation 3:1-6 ESV Revelation 3:1 ¶ "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: 'The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. "'I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'

First, the Scripture says they are asleep spiritually. They are not sensitive to the working of God in their midst. Their focus is not on the Lord Jesus Christ; their emphasis is on the working of man. The Bible clearly teaches that our sole purpose in life is to glorify God in all that we do. The dead church does not do that; they exist only for themselves. When they run up against something in the Bible that runs contrary to their traditions, they are heard to say the seven last words of a dead church: “We’ve never done it that way before.” And when a church says that, they are displaying their lack of commitment to the Word of God and their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God” (v.2).

Secondly, a dead church has forgotten the great teachings that they had first received and heard. Jesus tells them, “Keep it and repent (v.3). God has told His churches to preach the Word of God without compromise. God’s churches are to be bastions of Truth. In today’s world, churches need to be powerful in the delivery of the Word of God – without compromise and without apology. Jesus is to be the central focus of our preaching. He came and lived a sinless life, carried all the sins of His people and nailed them on the Cross in His body, died and rose again in three days, and is living today at the right hand of God. Jesus will soon come again to judge His Church and the world. Churches who are not preaching these truths must repent of their sins, and keep these holy truths before all the people who come to their services.

Lastly, we are told that even in dead churches, there are some “who have not soiled their garments, and they walk with Me in white, for they are worthy (v.4). This is a word of encouragement to those who are remaining faithful in these dying churches. They are the salt that has kept the local church from totally dying. Keep up the good work, faithful ones. As you confess the name of Jesus before others, Jesus will confess your name “before My Father (v.5).” Through your faithfulness to Christ, there is still hope for churches that are dying – who, in fact, appear to be dead. Repent of your sins and return to Christ and His message of repentance.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What Is Success

Success is finding and fulfilling God’s will in your life. How this is accomplished is shown in the principles Jesus is teaching in the parable of the talents:

14 ¶ "For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.
15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.
16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more.
17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more.
18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money.
19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.
20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.'
21 His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'
22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.'
23 His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'
24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed,
25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.'
26 But his master answered him, 'You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?
27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.
28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.
29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'” Matthew 25:14-30

1st Principle – (v.14)We are slaves to Jesus. This is where many people will stop. They refuse to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. By refusing His Lordship, they refuse His Savior-hood. Jesus makes it very clear: we have been bought with a price, we are not our own. If Jesus has saved you, then He owns you. It is as simple as that. You belong to Him.
2nd Principle – (v.15) Jesus has entrusted us according to our ability. Each of us is unique. We all have abilities that God intends for us to use for His glory.
3rd Principle – (v.16-17) God has placed the seed of success into the very soil of our abilities. All we have to do is perform the work God has called us to do.
4th Principle – (v.18,24-30) God will not bless those who do not serve Him with all their hearts. “If just a cup of water I place within your hand, then just a cup of water is all that I demand.” Use it not for the Savior, and you’ll lose it to sin.
5th Principle – (v.19-23) God honors those who honor Him. Success is, one day, hearing God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master.”

Friday, March 13, 2009

Who is The Head of The Church?

When you hear the word “Church,” what comes to your mind? Is it brick and mortar, steel and glass? Is it a beautiful building, having a steeple with a cross on top? Many people think so, but they are mistaken. Other people think that a Church is an organization, run by men and women, much like a business – but this is off the mark as well. The Church is an organism – a real live entity with Jesus Christ as its Head:

“Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior” (Ephesians 5:23b).

There are three things that the above Scripture teaches us:
(1.) Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. There is no Pastor, no Pope, no Bishop and no Prophet who is the Head of the one, true Church – only Jesus!
(2.) The Church is the Body of Christ. The visible church is not what is being described here, it is the invisible Church – the one, true Church of God. When it comes to the one, true Church – the Invisible Church – only Jesus Christ is the Head – the Chief Shepherd of His sheep – the Church. Local, visible churches are to reflect the invisible Church. Shepherds, called Pastors (Eph.4:11-12), take their example from the Chief Shepherd – Jesus (I Peter 5:4). The local church is to be made up of saved sinners, who are led by their pastors in their worship of Christ and in their living for Christ.
(3.) Jesus – the Savior – is the Spiritual Head of the saved – the Church. The very word “church’ means “called-out ones.” Notice, the emphasis is placed – not upon the Church – but upon Jesus, Himself! While the Church is the Body, Jesus Christ is the Head. The believer’s ultimate comfort, encouragement, joy and instruction are to be realized in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Lord. Jesus will never fail His people; Jesus will always provide for His people; Jesus will never leave His people.

The Institution of Marriage mirrors Christ and His Church

Ephesians 5:23-25, 32 23 “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”

Just as Christ Jesus is the Bridegroom and the Invisible Church is His Bride, so also is the institution of marriage – an institution created by God – made to where the husband (the Man) is to marry his Bride (the woman). The picture is correct only when you have a man and a woman – as God intended it to be from the beginning. This is why you have the closing statement:

Ephesians 5:31 31 "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."

God made man and woman to have a unique relationship with one another. It is in the heavenly institution of marriage – between a man and a woman – that the one of a kind love and relationship that Jesus Christ has for His people can be properly shown. The relationship between Jesus (the Groom) and His chosen ones (the Bride) can only be shown between a man and a woman. His glory and honor is displayed in no other way!

Who Can You Believe: Jesus or man?

There is a great battle going on in the world relative to the question: “Who can you believe: the Lord Jesus Christ or man?” Whether you are a Christian or a pagan, the question is relevant. It does matter. There are some who may disagree with the statement “…the question is relevant;” nevertheless, it is a true statement. Just for a moment, I would like for you to consider what hangs on the truthfulness of God’s Word:

I. The heavens and earth will be destroyed, but the truthfulness of God’s Word will stand: Matthew 24:35 35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

II. According to His Holy WORD , the heavens and the earth are being kept until the day of judgment and the destruction of the ungodly:
2 Peter 3:7 “But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the Day of Judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”

III. According to God’s promises made to His people, new heavens and a new earth will be made in which all of God’s people will dwell for all eternity: 2 Peter 3:11-13: 11 ¶ “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,
12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!
13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

You have a choice, Pilgrim. You can either choose to trust God at His Word and live your life for Jesus while on this earth, or you can choose to reject Jesus and His Word and live your life for yourself while on this earth. What you must understand is this: the choice you make on this earth has eternal consequences. Those people, who choose to live their lives by the Word of God, will live in a state of anticipation and holy resolve. They know lives of holiness and godliness do make a difference to God. They know this because God’s Word states it so: v.11 “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness.”

On the other hand, you can live your life for yourself. Do you really want to base your future on yourself or on what man says? You don’t know what is going to happen in the next five minutes of your life – nor do you know whether you will be here on this earth, or standing before the judgment seat of God. Does it make sense to depend upon the changing values of mankind, which change from generation to generation? Or does it not make sense to depend upon the Word of God, whose character and integrity comes from the God Who spoke the very Word of God?!

Concerning your soul and your destiny, who will you depend upon: God or man?