What Does It Mean to Be a Separate People”

2 Corinthians 6:11-18

O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open.  You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.  Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.  Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?  And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?  And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:  “I will dwell in them and walk among them.  I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”  Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.”  “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

The word in verses 16-18 “akathartos” is translated into English meaning “unclean or foul.”  We get our English word “catharsis” meaning “purification or to cleanse” from this root word.

Have you ever heard that phrase, “There’s something rotten in Denmark.”  I really do not know what that phrase originally meant and am almost afraid to go on a rabbit hunt to find out, but the point I want to make is this.  Sometimes there are things rotten in our lives that God calls unclean or foul, but we excuse it as being a character flaw, misstep, accident, etc.  All demonic, moral and physical uncleanness must be removed from our lives, that is, our body and spirit, if we want the fulfillment of the promises in God’s Word.

2 Samuel 7:14 – I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. 

While this verse was a promise to King David from God.  Since God is no respecter of persons, I think we can apply the principle here to our lives.  God will assume responsibility of parental concern and give Himself to the eternal care of all His children, of all those who walk rightly before Him.  Earthly parents may lack the power and the means to supply all things for their family, but this is not true of God who owns all and rules over all.  However, there are six conditions for us to have this marvelous watch care by God.

  • Be not unequally yoked
  • Come out from the world
  • Be a separate people
  • Touch not those things that are wrong

This seems opposite of Jesus’ command to go into all the world and make disciples.  How do we remain separate from the world and yet be a witness to others?

We need to understand there are three basic meanings in the Bible to the word “world.”

First, there is the created world.  “God made the world and everything in it.”  Acts 17:24

Then there are the inhabitants of the world.  “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

Finally, there is the world system which is headed by Satan and is based on all that is opposed to God and godly lives.  This is the world we are to remain separated from.  “ And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  Romans 12:2

Jesus prayer just before going to the cross was for all of us.  “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”  John 17:14-16

In our culture today it is easy for Christians to be deceived.  In much of our entertainment and news God is either ignored or Christian beliefs are laughed at.  Sadly even in our political world we now see men being praised and elevated by Christians – men whose lifestyle and actions are opposite of what God’s Word has said.  We must remember that when Satan tempted Jesus he quoted scripture. 

Jesus warned that in the end there was a danger that His followers would be deceived.  “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”  Matthew 24:24

Paul called Satan “an angel of light in 2 Corinthians 11:14. 

But as we seek to remain faithful to God’s Word and not be caught up in the culture around us, we do not separate ourselves from the people.  Remember Jesus ate with sinners and publicans.  Many of the people he associated with were outcasts and not part of the religious crowd.  But His goal in all of these relationships was to show love and point them to Himself. 

In 2 Corinthians 5:20 Paul called us “ambassadors for Christ.”  What is an ambassador?

One definition says:  “A diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or sovereign as the resident representative of his or her own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment.”

So to be separate from the world does not mean we act self-righteous like we are better than others.  We should live in the realization that this present culture and time is not our home.  We want to represent our king, our “world” in such a way that they will see something good and wonderful and want that something for themselves. 

Good advice on how to do this:

Colossians 3:12-17 – Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;  bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Walk as Children of Light

Ephesians 5:8-10

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.

Melody Shick, dressed as a rag doll with a teddy bear in her arms and a display of stuffed animals all about her, sat for 5 hours, 43 minutes setting a new record for the Guinness Book of Records.  Previous record was 5 hours, 32 minutes.  As this young lady sat motionless on a circular rotating display, numbers of people questioned whether she was a manikin or was real.  Imagine 5 hours, 43 minutes. 

Some church people have that record beat. The world is watching them.  They look like Christians should look.  They talk like Christians.  They even go to church, but there is no real fruit or evidence.  The world wonders, are they real or just a life-size replica of what a Christian is supposed to be.

  • Jesus has called us to be the light to the world.

Matthew 5:14-16 – You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

Philippians 2:15-16 – that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

  • Jesus gave us the Great Commission

Mark 16:15 – Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 

Sharing the gospel requires us to be a witness.  What is a witness?

  1. A witness is one who knows something.  We cannot share what we do not know ourself.  That is why it is so important that we study God’s Word, that we experience ourself of His love and presence.

Joshua 1:8 – This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

2 Timothy 2:16-17 – All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

  • A witness is one who is something.

Ephesians 5:1 – Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.

Romans 12:1-2 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Colossians 3:1-6 – If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience.

  • A witness is one who tells something.

Matthew 28:18-20 – And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

1 Peter 3:15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 – Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

Toward The Goal

Philippians 3:12-16

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PERFECTION

  • Paul did not count himself as having yet attained; he was not perfect.  We are not perfect and our righteousness is lacking in many different areas of our lives.  We are continually striving toward perfection and toward living a righteous and holy life.  For many perfection is hopeless; righteousness is hopeless.  Holiness is just not going to happen.  That is because those individuals are relying on their own ability and strength to be perfect and righteous before Christ and it is definitely not going to happen.  If we could be perfect and righteous on our own merits, Christ would not have had to go to the cross. 
  • No person ever achieves perfection on this earth.  That fact is so obvious to the thinking of a honest man that it is actually ridiculous to even think about being perfect.  But, at the same time, too many are so closed minded in their thinking that they seldom grasp what perfection really is.
  • Consider the brain and the mind.  It has been estimated that man only uses one-tenth of one percent of his mental capacity.  Imagine how far short this is of perfection.
  • Consider the body.  What would a perfect body be like?  A body that never desired, thought, or did wrong; that never came up short; that never aged, deteriorated, died or decayed?
  • The examples could go on and on.  But, in the beginning, the creation stage of this earth, we find that man and woman were created in the image of God.  He and she had the perfect body and mind because God created perfection.  It was mankind’s desire to be wise as God that brought about the imperfection that we have in our lives and in our world.  Look at the creation story in Genesis.  Every time God created something, it states over and over “And God saw that all was good.”   

Romans 7:18-20 – “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh.  I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it.  (I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.) For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do are what I am (ever) doing. Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it (it is not myself that acts), but the sin          (principle) which dwells within me (fixed and operating in my soul).  The Amplified Version

2 Corinthians 3:5 – “Not that we are fit (qualified and sufficient in ability) of ourselves to form personal judgments or to claim or count anything as coming from us, but our power and ability and sufficiency are from God.  The Amplified Version

PAUL’S EXAMPLE FOR US TO FOLLOW

  • Paul followed after perfection.  When Paul was saved on the Damascus Road that was just the beginning.  He had been saved to live for Christ and to serve Christ.   He was saved to follow to pursue, like a runner in a race, that perfection that Christ desires in all of us.  Paul was going to do all he could to help the Lord in the Lord’s great task of perfecting him.  Paul was going to do all he could to lay hold of perfection – the perfection for which the Lord had laid hold of him. 
  • There is no such thing as a genuine believer sitting still after he has been saved.  The believer must not become comfortable, complacent, lethargic, or lazy.  The believer should neither waste time nor opportunity.  He should not begin to think he is safe and secure forever.  The believer can not begin to do what he wants to do and give in to his own desires.  The believer must follow, run, and press after perfection – the perfection for which Christ has saved him.  The believer must be active in living for Christ.
  • START WHERE YOU ARE
  • USE WHAT YOU HAVE!
  • DO ALL YOU CAN!

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 – “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but (only) one receives the prize?  So run (your race) that you may lay hold (of the prize) and make it yours.  Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things.  They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we (do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness) that cannot wither.  Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim).  I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary.  But (like a boxer) I buffet my body (handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships) and subdue it for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit (not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit).”   The Amplified Version

Galatians 5:7 – “You were running the race nobly.  Who has interfered in (hindered and stopped you from) your heeding and following the truth?   The Amplified Version

2 Corinthians 4:7-8 – “However, we possess this precious treasurer (the divine Light of the Gospel) in (frail, human) vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves.  We are hedged in (pressed) on every side (troubled and oppressed in every way), but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair.”  The Amplified Version

Hebrews 12:1-2 – “Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (who have borne testimony to the Truth), let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, looking away (from all that will distract) to Jesus, Who is the Leader and Source of our faith (giving the first incentive for our belief) and is also its Finisher (bringing it to maturity and perfection).  He, for the joy (of obtaining the prize) that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  The Amplified Version.

WHAT MUST WE DO?

  • Paul worked at forgetting the past.  If we are going to have a good future, we must now, in the present, forget the past.  We must burn bridges if necessary.  We must sever relationships if necessary.  We must change jobs if necessary.  For us to live like Christ intended for us to live, holy and righteous and striving toward perfection, we have to make a change.  The first change must be to bury the past.  Leave the stinking, rotten actions and memories of the sin of your past and never resurrect it again.  If Christ forgave you of wrong doing and does not hold it against you anymore; then who do you think you are resurrecting something that has been forgiven?  It’s over.  It took you down the wrong path the times you were involved in it, and it will again if you resurrect it.  The one thing we must do is forgive ourselves and go on and live our life in Christ to the fullest. 

1 John 3:2 – “Beloved, we are (even here and) now God’s children; it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be (hereafter), but we know that when He comes and is manifested, we shall (as God’s children) resemble and be like Him just as He (really) is.”  The Amplified Version

Forward in Christ

Philippians 3:1-4

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.  Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:

THE CHRISTIAN’S MAIN RESOLUTION:   Forgetting sin and moving forward in the power of His strength and might by the power of His shed blood within us and the Holy Spirit within and upon us.

Simply say NO to sin and YES to God!

  • “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”    —Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poet
  • What is on the inside of us that will stand the test of time?
  • You cannot expect to reap a harvest if you have kept the seed in the barn.
  • If you lay down with the dogs at night, don’t expect to get up without fleas.
  • If you run with the goats on Saturday night don’t expect to smell like a sheep on Sunday morning.
  • We always have time for the things we put first.  What about the things of God?  They are first priority.

Switzerland originally was a part of the German Confederation/Holy Roman Empire, and along with Luxemburg and Lichtenstein are the only three countries that remain intact as countries from WW I.  (I say this about that little bit of world history….they too shall pass away but there is a kingdom that shall never pass away.)  They had proclaimed neutrality.  They remained nations because they did not have to choose sides.  We must, however, choose sides – to live for God or face eternity in a devil’s hell.

Our religious/spiritual neutrality is threatened whenever someone we know well takes spiritual commitment seriously and refuses any longer to play hide-and-seek with the living God. 

GET THIS IF YOU DO NOT GET ANYTHING ELSE FROM THIS MESSAGE – Lethargic, complacent, lukewarm, pew-warming Christians will be expelled from God’s presence. 

Revelations 3:16 – So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

Footnotes:

  1. Revelation 3:16 NU-Text and M-Text read hot nor cold.

If we as INDIVIDUALS, BELIEVERS, FAMILIES, A CHURCH, A BODY OF BELIEVERS, are going to do something for Christ that will make a difference…the time is NOW.  NOW.  NOW.

  • You think about that and try to fit it into your schedule
  • You think about that and try to squeeze it in to your routine, your day, your calendar
  • It really isn’t too convenient you think to yourself

It was not convenient for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to leave His Father and home in heaven and come to this earth, live as a man while yet being God in the flesh. 

  • for Him to take the stripes upon His back…
  • for Him to have His beard plucked out…
  • for him to be spat upon, to be jeered at, to be ridiculed, and to be tried as a criminal…
  • for Him to have the crown thrust violently upon His head…
  • for Him to have nails driven into His hands and feet. 
  • for Him to be crucified and have all the world turn against Him.

But, He did.

He did for you and for me.

How dare we even think of looking at our calendar or schedule and debate within ourselves about whether or not we can fit in something God is calling us to do?  How dare we!  We all should be ashamed for we are all guilty of neglecting to do some thing God has called upon us to do.  Maybe it just isn’t convenient.

THE TIME IS NOW TO ACT….THE SONG SAYS…

Souls are crying, men are dying,

Won’t you lead them to the cross?

Go out and win,

Rescue from sin,

Day’s almost done,

Low sinks the sun.

Souls are crying, men are dying

Win the lost at any cost!

Light Bearers

Philippians 2:12-16

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.  Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

Paul has reminded the Philippians of the example of Jesus Christ, how he was obedient and willingly sacrificed Himself for the entire world.  Paul is not teaching salvation by works, but he is showing the church at Philippi that if they really understand and believe what Jesus Christ did for them, their salvation will express itself in progressive Christian living and upright character.  This spiritual growth and character will happen on an individual basis.  However, true obedience will lead the individual to participate in God’s corporate call to a local body of believers.

WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION

  • Work out in the Greek means to bring to completion, to accomplish.  In other words, do not walk half-way with God.  Do not be satisfied with a little of God.   No one else can do it for you.  It is your salvation.  We are to do it with “fear and trembling.”  We need to take this effort seriously.  We will stand before God some day and give an account of our lives.  We need to not be complacent or half-hearted in our walk with God. 

Matthew 10:28 – “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” 

Titus 2:11-12 – “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly (in a responsible manner, sensibly, being in self-control and in full possession of intellectual and emotional faculties), righteously, and godly in the present age.” 

WORK AT OBEYING GOD

  • Works here means to energize.  It speaks of the active operation or working of power and its effectual results.  God is working in us, stirring our hearts, trying to obtain our attention.  We are to recognize these “workings” of God in our hearts, and respond so that we can be obedient to Him.

John 5:21 – “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.” 

John 6:63 – “It is the Spirit that gives life . . . the words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” 

WORK AT NOT COMPLAINING OR ARGUING

  • Murmurings or complaining means to grumble, complain, be critical, find fault and gossipDisputing means to question, express doubt.  We are to work together in the church without divisions, complaining, being critical of our leaders or of one another. 

1 Corinthians 10:10 – “Nor complain, as some of them also complained and were destroyed by the destroyer.”

Numbers 20:2-3 – Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and Aaron. And the people contended with Moses and spoke, saying: “If only we had died when our brethren died before the Lord!

21:4-5 – Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.”

WORK AT BEING A LIGHT BEARER

  • We are to shine in the moral darkness around us – show forth the light of Christ.  We are to do this by being blameless (free from fault and censure) and harmless (innocent, unadulterated). 

Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glory your Father in heaven.” 

WORK AT BEING WITNESSES

  • We are to share the good news of Jesus everywhere we can, whenever we can. 

Mark 16:15 – “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

1 Peter 3:15 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in your, with meekness and fear.”

WORK AT LIVING A SACRIFICIAL LIFE FOR GOD

  • We have the example of Jesus, we have the example of Paul, and we have the example of many in the Bible and in our own lives. 

Luke 9;23 – “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” 

Romans 12:1 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice….”

Where is the Harvest?

Galatians 6:6-10

Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

  • We must not grow weary in discharging our responsibility and in obedience to the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:58 – Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

2 Thessalonians 3:13 – But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good

1 Corinthians 4:1 – Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.

  • Blessings if we do not lose heart.

Matthew 24:12-13 – And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.  But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 – For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Peter 1:10-11 – Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

James 5:7-8 – Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Rev 2:7 – He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.

Rev 2:11 – He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.

Rev 2:17 – To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.

Rev 3:5 – He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

Rev 3:12 – He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.

Rev 3:21 – To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

  • In due season

We do not know when the Lord will return or when we will go to be with the Lord by our death.  But we do know that He has promised to return.  In the parable He told about the faithful and unfaithful servants – we must be found sowing the seeds of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Jesus said our prayer should be for reapers because the harvest is ripe. 

Matthew 9:37-38 – Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

You cannot reap the harvest if the seed corn is still in the barn.  Go and make disciples. 

Christ’s Church – Part 3

Ephesians 2:19-22

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Helen Keller was asked one time, “What would be worse than being born blind?”  She quickly replied, “To have sight and no vision.”  John Maxwell says, “Successful people are motivated by a dream beyond them.”  It is something that constantly keeps them going for they are always reaching higher and higher to ultimately reach that goal. 

One of the diseases that can affect the church today is to have no vision.  To not have something that is bigger than they are.  The church can then become complacent and happy in a comfort zone.  This is a dangerous place to be for a church for they will begin to feed on one another rather than being occupied with fulfilling the vision.  A complacent church falls in love with itself and the rest of the world does not matter.

Isaiah 6:1-9 – In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.  Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one cried to another and said:  “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!”  And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.   So I said:  “Woe is me, for I am undone!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”   Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar.  And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.”   Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:  “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”   Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”  And He said, “Go, and tell this people:  ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’

  1. Isaiah saw God.  When he saw God, he saw a holy God.
  2. He saw himself.  He saw that just as God was holy and perfect, he was needy and imperfect.
  3. He saw others; he looked at the multitudes around him.
  4. He allowed God to change him.
  5. He began to stretch himself.  He began to say, “OK God, allow me to be part of this vision.  Allow me to reach out and be what you want me to become.”

Like, Isaiah, once you have had a glimpse of what God can make of you, you will never be satisfied with what you now are.  God has given to every church a mission, a vision and when we grasp that vision and begin to share it, the church will never be satisfied with status quo.  It will change our attitude and our outlook. 

Church growth/evangelism is not gaining people from other churches.  That is not any different than Farmer Brown moving cows from one feed lot to another. 

One of the biggest problems that has stunted the growth in most churches today is the lack of understanding of the divine purposes of the church.  The church is more than a Sunday worship service, or a social club, it is the house of God.  Jesus Himself said, “I will build my church.”  Let us take a look at two scriptures that give us the understanding of the purpose of the church.

Matthew 22:37 and 40 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…love your neighbor as yourself.  All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.

Matthew 28:19-20 – Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

  1.  Love the Lord with all your heart – #1 is very easy to grasp!  It is simply the worship of God.  As a church we are called to worship Him.  Jesus said of worship, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”  The Father is literally seeking worshipers.  We are the church and one of our great purposes is to worship Him.  Worship is not a duty, but a joy!
  • Love your neighbor as yourself – #2 is a beautiful description of ministry!  The church simply exists to minister to people.  People have needs, all kinds of needs.  We are to be in the need meeting business.  We demonstrate God’s love by meeting the needs of those around us, and this means more than just their spiritual needs.  It means emotional, relational and physical.  In the book of Ephesians, we find again this purpose defined in this manner, “For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”  Ministry is the work of the church!  Unfortunately, very little ministry takes place in many churches.  Faithfulness is often defined in terms of attendance rather than service, and members just sit, soak and sour.  Wrong.  We are to edify, encourage, exalt, equip, and evangelize.
  • Go and make disciples – #3 is simply called evangelism.  It is our responsibility to let the world know of the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and then to point them to Christ.  A true disciple maker is one who makes disciples and then teaches them to trust in Christ and Christ alone.  As long as there is one person in the world who does not know Christ, the church has a mandate to keep growing.  Growth is not optional; it is commanded by Jesus.  We should not seek church growth for our own benefit, but because Christ wants people saved.
  • Baptizing them – Why is baptism so important to warrant inclusion in Christ’s Great Commission?  It is because it symbolizes one of the purposes of the church:  fellowship-identification with the body of Christ.  As Christians we are called to belong, not just to believe.  As we relate to those who are being baptized in our churches, this is a symbol of the death of the old man and coming alive as a new reborn person.  Your life has changed and now you are identified with the people of God.  Our people must belong to this body.  They must identify with the body of Christ.  If in our churches they are simply a number or a face in the crowd they lose out on their importance in the body of Christ.  They must be brought into the fellowship of the brothers and sisters in Christ and find their place in ministry.  In other words, the church is here to help them have a sense of belonging.
  • Teaching them to obey – Dr. Paul Laverne Walker says, “In the scripture we find the word ‘disciple’ listed 320 times.”  This reveals to us the tremendous responsibility God gives the church today.  We are to make disciples.  The church exists to edify, or educate, God’s people.  Discipleship is the process of helping people become more like Christ in their thoughts, feelings and actions.  The apostle Paul said, “So everywhere we go we talk about Christ to all who will listen, warning them and teaching them as well as we know how.  We want to be able to present each one to God, perfect, because of what Christ has done for each of them.”  Colossian 1:28

We are called to reach them and teach them!  To bring them to spiritual maturity where they may be able to listen and obey the voice of God.  We disciple them to be ministers of the gospel.  One of the saddest things we find in the church today is the difference we make between the ministry and the laity.  We are all ministers of the gospel, and we all have our place in the work of the kingdom.  We are to make disciples and help everyone to find their place in the work of the kingdom.

These are the purposes of the church today.  They will be met in different ways by different churches but the purposes remain unchanged.  We exist to “Edify, encourage, exalt, equip and evangelize.” 

IF WE DO NOT DO THAT WE HAVE FAILED!

Christ’s Church – Part 1

Ephesians 2:19-22

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Psalm 118:22 – The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.

Acts 4:10-12 – let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.  This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’  Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

The church is the only thing Christ called His.  He borrowed a manger, a coin, a book, a boat, a donkey, and a tomb.  But He called the church, “My church.”

Jesus is the chief corner stone of the church.  Many lively stones are in the building, though some act like tombstones instead of lively stones.  You are a strategic stone.  God wants to use you in His building process. 

Absolutely no force will prevent the building of the church.  The message to you is that Christ’s church is alive and well, for it is filled with eternal life!  Isaiah states “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.”   If the “you” in that verse is part of the church…then no weapon formed against the church will prosper either.

We cannot remodel the world. 

No man-made rhetoric can revive it.

No political pronouncement can restore it.

No educational enlightenment can redeem it. 

The world’s problem is a spiritual problem of the greatest magnitude; therefore, only a spiritual solution of the greatest magnitude will save it.

While we are called as Christians to do what we can to make this world a better place to live and many social and political programs are commendable, these activities alone will not change the heart of man.  

The greatest good the church can do is to do what Christ intended for His church to do:

                        Take the bread of life to a hungry world!

                        Give the Water of Life to a thirsty world!

                        Carry the Healing Message to hurting people!         

                        USE YOUR P.H.D. (PREACH, HEAL, DELIVER)     

Politics and social life have invaded our pulpits.  Major ministries have reversed to a political and social pulpit.  They talk more about the president than the Prince of Peace, more about senators than the Savior, more about governors than God, more about the White House than about the house not made with hands.

Politicians promise to remodel this world.  They promise, they grandstand, they kiss babies, they make back-room deals, and do anything for a photo op or a vote.  Men who promise to make this world a better place to live based on their own abilities alone will never accomplish remodeling the world.  The world is reproducing the same sinful corruption of Noah’s day, Lot’s day, of Sodom and Gomorrah’s day.

Timothy 3:1 states “In the last days perilous times will come.”

God wants us to build His church rather.  Christ said, “I will”—not maybe, not perhaps—but “I willbuild my church.”  Christ has a plan for building His church and you can be a part of that divine plan. 

HOW MANY OF YOU WANT TO BE IN ON BUILDING CHRIST’S CHURCH?

We must be a Team!  It is amazing what people can do when they work together for a common goal.  Genesis 11:6 tells the story of a people who aspired to build a tower to the heavens.  When God looked down upon the handiwork, He said, “Behold, the people are one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” 

                        They had one language—they all spoke the same thing.

                        They had one purpose—building the tower of Babel.

                        They were one—together in unity.

The result was that God said of them, “Nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”  There would be nothing they could not do. 

WOW!  Wouldn’t it be great if the church were like that—what could we not do?

The early church was in unity – in one accord.   At one point over 3,000 had been saved, another time over 5,000, another time the descriptive word was multitudes had been added to the church.

They had the opportunity for unlimited results.  God said they could do whatever “they have imagined to do.”  The final result of their unity would be beyond imagination.

Together we can build a church – not a tower to the heavens—not a tower of Babel built on carnality and personal objectives, but a tower of spiritual, Holy Spirit-anointed achievements reaching into the harvest, impacting the world, doing exploits that defy imagination because we are united as one.  In this unity of purpose and determination, there will be no confusion of tongues, no superstars, but just godly men and women who want to make a difference, who want their lives to count. 

DO YOU WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE?  DO YOU WANT YOUR LIFE TO COUNT?

We can do beyond anything we have ever imagined if we are one, speaking the same language, and focusing on the same mission.  We must not settle for just the survival mode or the comfort zone.  We must reach others for Jesus.  We will not be satisfied until lives and families are changed.  Let us go forth and make a difference.  What we need in our churches is for everyone to get pregnant with the love and word of God and begin having babies…spiritual babies.  In other words, get busy producing baby Christians.  Quit trying to come up with all the reasons why you cannot be a soul winner for Christ.  Get up and do something for the Lord.