The Church of God and its Role in Our Lives

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By John Thiel

Why you are attending church today?  What is your reason for being here and for being a member of this church?  In Christianity in general there are many reasons why people want to become part of a church but the main reason is for social interaction.  The human race is a web of human interaction and this is the predominant reason for church fellowship.  In this respect, the reason for church is for a sense of well being.  We like to have a lovely sense that we are Christians.  But there is also another reason why people attend church.  It is so that they can teach someone else something – they can teach others and this activity in itself becomes a missionary motivation.  People also attend church because they want to provide a certain environment for their children or because they want to stand different to other people.  Very few people are conscious of the real purpose for being part of God’s church. In Ephesians we find the real reason for attending church and being part of it.  I place it before you carefully to see if this is the reason why you want to attend:

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Church leadership is identified.

Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, (this is the purpose) for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Did you pick up the reason for being part of this church?

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 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 blemish.

The real purpose for being part of God’s church is that you would change.  You can’t remain the same person that you are at this present time.  To be part of God’s church requires you to become changed from the person you are now into a perfect person.  This process requires cleansing and experiences that will change your personality.  Are you happy being the kind of person you are right now?  Some people are. They think to themselves I am very well just the way I am thank you very much.

However if you are a person that is not happy with your present condition and you want to become changed, then that is the real reason for attending church.  Every servant of God has been given the task of taking care of the church and if he does not understand this he will miss his calling.  Every servant of God has been called to proclaim the word in such a way that it will change other people’s lives.  I hope that all of you are dissatisfied with your current personality and character and that you are striving to change it.

You should keep before the minds of patients the fact that in suggesting reforms of their habits and customs you are presenting before them that which is not to ruin but to save them; that, while yielding up what they have hitherto esteemed and loved, they are to build on a more secure foundation. (What you have esteemed and loved needs to change) While reform must be advocated with firmness and resolution, all appearance of bigotry or an overbearing spirit should be carefully shunned. Test Vol 4 p568

You can be a reformer and yet not reforming

Christ has given us precious lessons of patience, forbearance, and love. Rudeness is not energy; nor is domineering, heroism. The Son of God was persuasive. He was manifested to draw all men unto Him. His followers must study His life more closely and walk in the light of His example, at whatever sacrifice to self. Reform, continual reform, must be kept before the people; and your example should enforce your teachings.  {4T 568.4}

What is to be kept before God’s people in the church is continual reform and as God’s people we must be an example of it.

The case of Daniel was presented before me. Although he was a man of like passions with ourselves, the pen of inspiration presents him as a faultless character. His life is given us as a bright example of what man may become, even in this life, if he will make God his strength and wisely improve the opportunities and privileges within his reach. {4T 569.1}

What is our work of reform? To keep the heroes of God’s kingdom under the minds eye.

Daniel was an intellectual giant; yet he was continually seeking for greater knowledge, for higher attainments. {4T 569.1}

Although Daniel was a great intellectual giant he still needed to change.

Other young men had the same advantages; but they did not, like him, bend all their energies to seek wisdom–the knowledge of God as revealed in His word and in His works. Although Daniel was one of the world’s great men, he was not proud nor self-sufficient. He felt the need of refreshing his soul with prayer, and each day found him in earnest supplication before God. He would not be deprived of this privilege even when a den of lions was opened to receive him if he continued to pray.  {4T 569.1}

We need to pray like Daniel.  Even the threat of a lions den did not deter him from prayer.  We need to look to Daniel as our example in prayer.

As the light of truth is received and followed out, it will work an entire reformation in the life and character of all those who are sanctified through it.  {2T 60.2}

The light of truth is to be followed and the church is to be the preacher of truth.

John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Are we bound by our human deficiencies?  As the truth is followed it will work an entire reformation through the character and this is what our association with church is all about.  If you are here for any other reason you will be disappointed.  Some of our pleasures and joys which only lead us into trouble will have to be changed.  That is the purpose of reform.  The fact that I have the reformation and reform means that I have to change my pride filled spirit.  I cannot be bigoted and overbearing.  These are characteristics that need to be changed.  If I am grovelling around in the murk of the world and then I come to church – am I going to be able to change from all that?  Every man is occupied with the task of character change.  As we travel along the path with God’s people and his church at no point can we say – I don’t need to change any more.  If this was the case then Jesus would be here already.

Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.  {COL 69.1}

When Jesus sees himself perfectly represented among his people then he will come to take them to be with him. But Jesus hasn’t come yet so we are not yet perfectly reflecting Him.  We need to change in order to become like Him.  We are already comforted that we are children of God but does that mean that we are perfect?

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

If I have this hope, what is my activity?  I will purify myself even as He is pure.  This is our allotted task.  Are you sick and tired of the human suffering that is escalating around you?  Are you tired of the corruption and all the evil around you?  Do you desire to see an end to it all?  Then you need to do something about it – Change!

When Jesus comes he is going to make an end of it all but he can’t come until we are changed.  If He did come at this very point in time we would all be destroyed but He doesn’t want to destroy us, He wants to save us.  Jesus says I have given you my church and sent you ministers so that you will be brought to a condition that is going to change your character and then I can come.  If you don’t know how to change the ministry of his church holds the answers.

2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

What is the word Glory referring to here?  It is the same glory that Moses saw on Mt Sinai. Most people think that glory is just brightness of God but not the brilliance of God in is His perfect character.  It was actually God’s character that Moses saw on Mt Sinai.  As we see the character of God and how he handles our sins – and as we behold his love demonstrated through the sacrifice of his loving Son – what will happen?  It is a law that the mind gradually adapts itself to the subject upon which it is trained to dwell.

Do You Have A Brain?

In the brain there is a law which says – what we behold affects us.  We see this in the world today.  The children mimic what they watch on TV.  So it is that when we come into God’s church and shut out the world by concentrating on Jesus this law affects us so that we become like who we dwell upon.  That is why we come to church and study his Word – so that we may behold His glory and become changed even as by the Spirit of the Lord into that same glory.  I would like to spend the closing chapters of this sermon mapping out our experience in character change.  I appeal to you to stay wide awake and to follow very carefully the remainder of this service because what I am about to share with you we all need to understand if we are going to continue in this church.

As we come from a life of self indulgence (many of us look back at how we indulged ourselves and did what we wanted) we suffer the consequences of those actions that we committed when we weren’t under the direct counsel of God.  The consequences affect us bitterly.  As we suffer being tossed about by those consequences and we wonder to ourselves – why am I going through this experience?

The natural twist of mind is to blame others for our own circumstances.  We justify ourselves by saying they are being horrible to me and they are doing horrible things. Or someone is upsetting me so much I get sick and stressed.  But have you ever stopped to think that it might not be the stress as it might be something else that we are doing wrong?  Who created the stress in the first place?  Do we blame someone else for that as well?  When we finally come into this terrible realisation that I am the cause of my own problems, the one in a desperate state – then God can come to my aid. Here is how God deals with this terrible dilemma of my own afflictions;

Isaiah 30.18 And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him. 19 For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee. 20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: 21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

Like the Israelites of old when God was trying to lead them we say no thankyou I can do things better myself. I have my own set of beliefs thankyou very much. Then God responds by saying okay then enjoy yourself.  So we enjoy ourselves in blissful moments but then comes the aftermath.  We then become troubled here and God says okay you are crying to me now, thou shalt weep no more, I love you although I have given you adversity which was the consequence of your own actions, the water of affliction. Now I am going to show you your teachers.  You shall not be removed of your teachers any more. This is the way you have been looking for, walk ye in it.  Although we might have been backslidden and tossed about by our own incongruent ways God has not given up on us. What is his cry now and how does he want to help?

Jeremiah 3:13 Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.

Only acknowledge thine iniquity – what has caused the problem?  Check it out.  Your iniquity that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God.  Just acknowledge that.

Jeremiah 3:14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: 15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

This is how God does it.  This is his way.  I shudder when I hear people say I don’t need a church I can stay at home and do my own study.  God says that is not my way.  Yes you will do your own study and you will do it for your own comforts sake but I will send you my pastors and give you what you need to understand, not what you want to understand. I will give you knowledge and pastors according to my own heart.  Yes indeed he passes us by the ministry of his pastors.  What will these pastors communicate to our experience? How will this experience take palace as I acknowledge my experience and place myself under the tuition of these ministers?

Deuteronomy 32:2 My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass.

What will you get at the hand of God’s teachers?  My doctrine will drop as the rain. How does grass grow and produce its seed? By the rain.  How will you and I grow and produce fruits to the glory of God?  By the rain – my doctrine shall fall. As I shared this subject once with a church group the leader stood up and said – I have always disliked doctrine but now I see what doctrine is. Therefore and I am never going to say that I don’t like it again.  The outpouring of latter rain is God’s doctrine that will finish the work of the growth of his people.  Doctrine means teaching.

Proverbs 4:10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many. 11 I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. 12 When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. 13 Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.

Teachings and doctrines are thy life, holding onto the instruction that is given to us.  I have led thee in right paths, take fast hold of instruction. That is so uncomfortable to some people because they say I just want to do my own thing and enjoy myself but now I have to be told what to do.  I thought those days were over when I was a child.  This is why people don’t like doctrine – they don’t want to be told what to do.

Proverbs 4:14 Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.

God Gives Counsel to Be Old Fashioned

Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.

This is the experience of the change of a personality that is going to take place under God’s tuition but the people say I will not walk therein.  We stumble around and the consequences of our wrong ways we don’t like but neither do we like to be told to change our ways – so God says please yourself. Stand in the ways and see and ask for the old paths where you will find the good way – the old paths. One example of an old path is in courtship. Don’t hold hands, hug each other or kiss until you are married.  That is the old fashioned way isn’t it? Any other instruction in regards to the way of life is to be God’s old paths and that is old fashioned.  That is the path by which you will find rest unto your soul.

Older people – do you remember how you chaffed under the instruction of your parents?  But now you have relaxed those old ways over time towards your own children. Is it any surprise that the children of today are worse than you were?  What has happened to the new generation?  Well if we didn’t obey and do what we were told – how can we expect our children to do it?  I have seen this in so many situations in the ministry. People attack the old ways that I have tried to communicate but God is saying follow the instructions that come from my servants. Have a look at the different paths. Which one you going to travel? Choose the old path which is the good way and walk therein. We can say very simply yes I can recognise the path, yes I can see it. Here are the right answers, the old fashioned church.

Sr White writes we need old fashion ministers, old fashioned truths and old fashioned childlike humility and submission.  Not this typical modern age attitude where children say I have my own rights and they begin to raise their voice against their teachers, parents and ministers.  We need to be small in our own eyes. Submitting to instruction means that we have to become small in our own eyes.  When you first become a Christian and come under such tuition you say – yes I love the truth because it’s right.  You realise that you have to start all over again in order to become a Christian.  But as you start to blossom and grow people make comments about the apparent change and it makes you feel elated.  Furthermore as you learn about conquering self you begin to realise  that you are elated and you forget that you can only walk safely as you stop to think about the Lord instead of yourself and how you are going.

A danger arises when we can see that we are changing because we have changed we think.  I know a thing or two we may say. This is a consequence.  We are illuminated and we look about us and see others around us including the ministry doing things which we feel are wrong.  We see imperfections in the church and full of zeal we venture into that which God has never given us to do.  He has delegated his servants to do the job but we begin to do the job for ourselves because we feel that we have learned something and that we can step in and do a thing or two.

A powerful example of this is a man called Saul.  There he was a strapping tall man whom Samuel found and anointed to be the future king of Israel.  It was written that Saul became a new man – born again. But as this young man led Israel in battle against the Philistines, things started to go terribly wrong.  In order to help the battle Samuel the high prist promised Saul that in 8 days he would come to offer sacrifice to God.  Now notice what happened.

1 Samuel 13:8 And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.

13:9 And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.

13:10 And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him.

13:11 And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and [that] thou camest not within the days appointed, and [that] the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;

13:12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.

13:13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.

13:14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.

Samuel was am appointed man of God who said to Saul – wait there until I come and offer the sacrifice.  Follow Saul’s thinking. Because I saw the people were scattered from me, there was great danger and you weren’t here, I burnt the offering.  Do you blame Saul for doing what he did?  When you see things going wrong in the church – do you force yourself to do something because no one else is doing anything about it?  Samuel did this and offered the sacrifice which was only the priests responsibility to do. There are certain responsibilities that devolve upon certain people and not others and we step in to do things that are not our responsibility to do because we have become so aware and conscious of the need around us.  As no one is doing anything to fix the situation we think that it is going to get even worse.

1 Samuel 15:17  And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?

Who does God want to be in positions of faithfulness?  Those who are little in their own eyes and little in their own sight.  The attitude is oh no I can’t reach into another persons life.  That is not mine to do – I cant do that because I know what my own weaknesses are.  Yes those are the people that are going to grow in character development and God claims them not when they think that it is time to move but when they are little in their own sight.  What a mess we create when we think we’ve made it.

Although we have done so where do our mistakes come from?  When we are enlightened we see and understand that our character is not so thoroughly changed, that we cannot reply upon our own judgement.  When I am totally changed into God’s perfection then I will be able to make sound judgement.  To walk safely in this character change I must remain meek and dependent no matter how long I have travelled the path of change.  I must remain meek and dependent. The following statement really brings this to our understanding.  You want to walk safely in the character change procedure?

The very beginning of the evil was a neglect of watchfulness and secret prayer, then came a neglect of other religious duties, and thus the way was opened for all the sins that followed. Every Christian will be assailed by the allurements of the world, the clamors of the carnal nature, and the direct temptations of Satan. No one is safe. No matter what our experience has been, no matter how high our station, we need to watch and pray continually. We must be daily controlled by the Spirit of God or we are controlled by Satan.  {5T 102.1}

We can only be safe if we watch and pray. King Saul was in a lofty position and God chose him for when he was little in his own eyes and in his own sight.  Not until Jesus comes is our work of character building complete  because when he comes it is only a finishing touch.

None are living Christians unless they have a daily experience in the things of God and daily practice self-denial, cheerfully bearing the cross and following Christ. Every living Christian will advance daily in the divine life. As he advances toward perfection, he experiences a conversion to God every day; and this conversion is not completed until he attains to perfection of Christian character, a full preparation for the finishing touch of immortality. . . .  {AG 291.4}

We will go through the close of probation and the time of trouble until we meet Jesus face to face.  Although I am righteous and although I am perfect what will be my attitude of myself?

Job 9:15 Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer, but I would make supplication to my judge.

9:20 If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.

9:21 Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would despise my life.

No matter how perfect and righteous we are we will never feel it.  And we will never feel that I am capable of doing what God wants me to do. Unless someone is actually called of the Lord we will not plunge ourselves into those dangerous areas.  I would not even try to justify myself.  I would not do anything.  I would quietly let the Lord reveal himself to me.

Imperceptibly to ourselves, we are changed day by day from our own ways and will into the ways and will of Christ, into the loveliness of his character. Thus we grow up into Christ, and unconsciously reflect his image.  {RH, April 28, 1891 par. 2}

I will not be conscious of my abilities and achievements I will only see an impure person and the reason why is because my sins are etched into my chromosomes and they will play before me. As the Psalmist says my sins are ever before me and as Ezekiel says I loathe myself.  When Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven and we see his face – his eyes will seem like fire and they will search his people through and through and although they are perfect they will gather paleness because they will feel like melting into a state of hopelessness.  They will say who is able to stand and then there will be a dead silence and the voice of Jesus will say my grace is sufficient for you.  His people will know who he is talking to and they will forever rejoice and walk in perfection with no more sin memories.

We are becoming better people.  God makes sure it will happen by concentrating on his character while ever being conscious of my frailty.  His mercy and love for me as such a terrible sinner tis hat I can actually rejoice in a loving God who has given me so much that he would save a sinner as bad as me. I will walk oh so carefully not to fall and dishonour my lord any more.  This is the true Christian.  This is the experience that we make when we are part of his church.

May God grant us a willingness to persevere unto the end.

Amen.

Posted on November 14, 2009, in The Church of God and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. So what if I go to a churhc which has no loving pastors, true prophecy is not spoken, or is neglected, and there are no teachers of true truth, but it is alot of error, and I am not edified, and no one has open ears to be ministered to , and I am not perfected into CHRIST’s image, but polluted. Sorry, but what do I do then?

    Anyone have anthing on this??
    thx
    Lorraine

  2. unconsciously reflect his image ( I like that statement )

    • oh !! I keep praying that I might be a blessing, and then feel I havent been. maybe thats a good thing.

      Im praying for a way to get to camp.

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