A Church, Not a Social Club

mp3 Audio

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, 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: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

As Jesus ascended to Heaven, He gave some apostles and so on. The reason why He gave them was for the perfecting of the saints. What is perfection?

Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith

Can you pick up the burden on Jesus’ heart for His people in how He prayed while on Earth? Jesus was praying for His disciples as He about to go through the Gethsemane experience.

John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

Who is He praying for? He’s praying for people in the future.

Matthew 28:20 I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

Even for the people who live at the end of the world and everyone in between. What was He praying?

John 17:21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

Jesus is praying for the people at the end of world that they can be one to the same degree that He and God the Father are One. How close are Jesus and the Father? Extremely close. This oneness is what He is praying for.

John 17:23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one…

This is saying that perfection cannot happen unless you have it with all of God’s people.

Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith

There is more than one person that needs to be perfected with you. You cannot be perfected by yourself. If you are keeping to yourself and neglecting this oneness that Christ is praying for, you are neglecting the thing that can make you perfect. Perfecting is the multiple becoming singular.

John 17:23 …and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

Think of the life of Jesus Christ and how many love tokens God bestowed upon Him. We think of all the miracles and we know that God really loved Jesus; at His baptism there was the dove and the voice that said,

Matthew 3:17 This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 

The world could see that God really loves Jesus.

Matthew 3:17 And hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

Today the world is to look upon a people and say, the Lord loves these people to the same degree. This is the heartache of Jesus’ prayer; this is what He cared about during the last few days of His life. As soon as He ascended to Heaven, did He forget about this prayer? No. He sent apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints for this oneness. He prayed for the oneness and then He went to Heaven and started implementing the things that would bring about the answer to His prayer.

As an important factor in the spiritual growth of the new converts the apostles were careful to surround them with the safeguards of gospel order. Churches were duly organised in all places in Lycaonia and Pisidia where there were believers. Officers were appointed in each church, and proper order and system were established for the conduct of all the affairs pertaining to the spiritual welfare of the believers. This was in harmony with the gospel plan of uniting in one body all believers in Christ, and this plan Paul was careful to follow throughout his ministry. Those who in any place were by his labour led to accept Christ as the Saviour were at the proper time organized into a church. Even when the believers were but few in number, this was done. The Christians were thus taught to help one another, remembering the promise, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20 (Acts of the Apostles, p185 para. 2 and 3).

The apostles’ purpose is for the wellbeing of the spiritual growth of the person and for the unity of the body. From perfection and unity comes church order. That was the objective of Jesus Christ as He completed His ministry. As soon as He ascended to Heaven that is what He established. There are three things – church order, perfection and unity.

Church Order, Perfection and Unity

Revelation 12:1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

The woman is the early church and this crown of twelve stars represents the twelve apostles. This woman came about when Jesus ascended.

Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Here is this church that is aiming for perfection and unity. Satan is angry with that. He wants to break it up. He has successfully done so in many situations.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

This love is what Satan is trying to break apart. Church order, perfection and unity – if any of these three go out the door it ceases to work. A church represents people of all types of dispositions coming together. Perfection means everyone needs to be correct. Unity means you’re all very closely bound. What happens as Satan starts to attack? He either takes away the perfection concept or says, can a group of people who believe in doing everything right come together with structure and function nicely without any bickering, biting and carrying on?

Look at the churches in the world, they may look nice on the inside but as soon as you go in there and really become part of the church you realise the whole social fabric is just splintered apart. There are little clique groups, gossiping, back biting and all sorts of nasty things. Because of this problem Satan comes in and people say, let’s lower the standard a bit, let’s be ecumenical. Let’s not worry about the perfection. Let’s lower the standard so no one gets offended or too judgemental. Church becomes a social club where we all have the same interest but nothing more. We’re not going to be too close or too right about anything. Another way is to get rid of order. Some might say, you’re not right, I can’t associate with you. Church order fails if we hold to being right. Then unity is attacked. Can you really be unified? In the world, you can only be unified if you get rid of the structure or perfection. Satan is warring. What are his plans and strategies?

I saw that Satan bade his angels lay their snares especially for those who were looking for Christ’s second appearing and keeping all the commandments of God. Satan told his angels that the churches were asleep. He would increase his power and lying wonders, and he could hold them. “But,” he said, “the sect of Sabbath keepers we hate; they are continually working against us, and taking from us our subjects, to keep the hated law of God. Go, make the possessors of lands and money drunk with cares. If you can make them place their affections upon these things, we shall have them yet. They may profess what they please, only make them care more for money than for the success of Christ’s kingdom or the spread of the truths we hate. Present the world before them in the most attractive light, that they may love and idolize it. We must keep in our ranks all the means of which we can gain control. The more means the followers of Christ devote to His service, the more will they injure our kingdom by getting our subjects. As they appoint meetings in different places, we are in danger. Be very vigilant then. Cause disturbance and confusion if possible. Destroy love for one another (Early Writings p266).

Here is what Satan has told his angels to do.

Revelation 12:17 The dragon was wrath with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed.

Satan is telling them to destroy the love between the last people who Jesus prayed for.

Discourage and dishearten their ministers; for we hate them. Present every plausible excuse to those who have means, lest they hand it out. Control the money matters if you can, and drive their ministers to want and distress. This will weaken their courage and zeal. Battle every inch of ground. Make covetousness and love of earthly treasures the ruling traits of their character. As long as these traits rule, salvation and grace stand back. Crowd every attraction around them, and they will be surely ours. And not only are we sure of them, but their hateful influence will not be exercised to lead others to heaven. When any shall attempt to give, put within them a grudging disposition, that it may be sparingly.” I saw that Satan carries out his plans well. As the servants of God appoint meetings, Satan with his angels is on the ground to hinder the work. He is constantly putting suggestions into the minds of God’s people. He leads some in one way and some in another, always taking advantage of evil traits in the brethren and sisters, exciting and stirring up their natural besetment’s. (Early Writings p266).

Here we have a group of people who have natural besetment’s and all sorts of dispositions who God is trying to bring together in unity, perfection, oneness and order. Satan is trying to exercise their human reactions to pull that apart. It was talking about selfishness. What I have and what I think is most important. As this trait becomes prominent, love for one another disappears.

Day by day, though unconsciously to himself, he is working out before men and angels a vast, sublime experiment. He is showing what the Gospel can do for fallen human beings (Signs of the Times July 10, 1901, para. 10).

God is working out an experiment. He is taking people from different backgrounds, different nations and bringing them together and making them interchange perfectly. That is the sublime experiment of what the gospel can do.

It is the special work of Satan to cause dissension, . . . that the world should be deprived of the most powerful testimony Christians can give it that God has sent His Son to bring into harmony turbulent, proud, envious, jealous, bigoted minds. . . (Our High Calling p237 para. 3).

That is the biggest witness the world could ever see; that people that are stubborn, envious, with terrible traits of character that would clash against each other in the natural world would come together in order and be very right and yet love each other. It is impossible for that to happen without the grace of Christ. That can never be faked. I will love a church that only has my friends in it doesn’t work. It’s easy to love people that aren’t close to us but when it comes to those who are close to us who have grating dispositions we find it very difficult. That’s where the test lies. This is the manifestation of a child of the devil and a child of God.

1 John 3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

3:11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

3:12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

3:13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

Let’s not talk about how much we love each other. Let’s act it.

To be a Christian means to be Christlike, to follow the Saviour. Following implies obedience. No soldier can follow his leader unless he obeys orders. Following means imitation. “Learn of Me,” the great Teacher says to those who have taken the name of Christian. Keep your eyes fixed on the Model. Do all things for His glory and in and thru the love He has for you. The Christian is the world’s light, and the only Bible that many read. Thru Christians men see God. {Signs of the Tings, July 10, 1901, paragraph 1}.

God is love. Through Christians men see God. That is what Jesus prayed; that they could be one as I am one with you, that we all can be one together. If people saw Jesus they saw the Father. If they see you, have they seen the Father? It’s all about how you relate together.

How careful, then, should those be who have taken the name of Christian. But many professing Christians crucify the Son of God afresh and put Him to open shame {Signs of the Tings, July 10, 1901, paragraph 1}.

Would you ridicule Jesus Christ? Would you ridicule one of your brethren who you found a bit irritating? Jesus said;

Matthew 25:40 Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

If you take the name of Christian upon you say, I don’t like that person, you’re actually saying I don’t like Christ. We can profess to be Christian, but what we do can be completely different.

God help us to be true Christians, consistent today, consistent tomorrow, upright in action, kindly in word, pure in thought. The true Christian lives the Christ-life. In all his transactions he lifts the banner of the cross (Signs of the Times, July 10, 1901).

What is the banner of the cross? Christ loves us but did we love Him first to activate that love? No. He died for His enemies. Love your enemies. Do you like people that irritate you? Would you die for them? Every time there was a controversy of opinion, would you yield to them? How hard is that? This is the Christ life, the banner of the cross.

If he is misunderstood, he takes no offense, but pursues the even tenor of his way. He is kind, thoughtful, and forbearing. He closely examines himself, lest in word or deed he shall deny his Lord. He chooses God’s way. Each day of his life he unselfishly ministers to others. The light that is in him shines forth, and he stills the strife of tongues. Day by day, tho unconsciously to himself, he is working out before men and angels a vast, sublime experiment. He is showing what the Gospel can do for fallen human beings (ibid).

The gospel can bring a whole bunch of people together in perfect harmony. This is what we need to work towards. Do you take on the name of Christian?

Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

4:2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

4:3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

May God help us to be Christians.

Amen.

Posted on September 7, 2010, in Prayer Meeting Sermonettes, Sermons For Sabbath. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Llewellyn & Lu-Anne

    Thx for sharing all your wonderful works & your willingness to be an instrument 4 God.

    • thank you for this wonderful message my brother. For sure in my place our churches have turned from the purpose of God they are social clubs.
      Therefore since this church neglected the counsel of
      the true witness we are turning more and more to the
      protestant ecumenical teachings. These old traditional
      teachings of Protestantism include, sin is no longer
      the transgression of God’s law, man will continue to
      sin until the second coming of Jesus Christ, the
      character will not be perfected in this life, God’s work
      of atonement was finished on the cross and many
      more.
      Today the Sabbath is looked upon by so many
      Adventists as a holiday instead of a Holy day.

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