A HEALTHY CHURCH STILL CONTINUED
What does it mean to anticipate something? If you’re having a hard time answering that question; rewind back to Christmas Eve and your children….and fast forward to Christmas morning! Better Yet! Look back to the time when you and your lovely spouse were going to get married in the coming months. All the planning and organizing and sending and seeing who was going to come to your special day. Then the day arrives! Think back to your bride and her reaction when that day finally came. Filled with excitement, nervousness and joy because the day she has been anticipating, is finally here. What does it mean to wait? Because I hate to wait and that’s my sin! It means to anticipate with patience, a readiness and understanding that the day is getting closer and I need to be alert and ready when that day in the future comes.The same truth can be said about our salvation! We anticipate our fallen bodies to be finally redeemed from this earth.
It reminds me of what Paul wrote……“Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” Rom 13:11. Every day, we are one day closer to standing before Jesus in His entire glorious splendor. We are one day, one breath closer to the completion of our redemption. God doesn’t just sit back on the fence to see how you’re going to get through in the Christian life. If that were so! I’m in big trouble, because I would have left a long time ago. We are kept by His power…that’s why the gospel is so amazing. He keeps wretched sinners and makes them and keeps them clean until the day of redemption. The New Testament reminds us of this truth…..“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil 1:6. My fear is that………I don’t believe the church at large is waiting [anticipating] for the resurrected Jesus Christ and the promises He brings. Why do I say that? Why do we get so excited and anticipate?
- Christmas morning
- Your wedding day
- The latest video game pre-launch at midnight
- Our birthday,
- The Stanley Cup playoffs / Brier Cup ;)
- The trade deadline
- When hunting season starts
- The beginning and closing of a school year.
- The next season of 24 and Jack Bauer
- Our family coming to visit.
- My Leafs second win in over a two month period.
Don’t get me wrong! There is nothing wrong with anticipating and waiting for these things. What I’m most concerned about is that we anticipate these things more, than we do the return of our King? Who is the Living God who sustains us under His might power and sovereignty. I want us to see something very important as we close this chapter! Why does Paul say what he says in closing remarks to chapter one? Why does he mention or remind the church about the resurrection of Jesus and that we have been delivered from the wrath that it yet to come? I believe it’s here in his letter to remind us of what we truly are to anticipate as a church and individual sanctified child of God. This is it…….this is our hope and promises found in the redeeming blood of the Lamb. If there is no resurrection, then there is no future hope for anyone of us. It goes back to what Paul was trying to remind the Church of Corinth! In 1 Corinthians 15 we read…… “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.” 1 Cor 15:1-6
See Paul told the Corinthian church, if Jesus wasn’t resurrected then we are still in our sins and that means the wrath of God still abided on us. He continued to say to the church in Corinth ……….“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” 1 Cor 15:12-14. Which means? “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” 1 Cor 15:17. If Jesus wasn’t resurrected according to the scriptures then our sin still remains …..which means the wrath of God abides on us. Paul affirms the belief of the resurrection and the wrath that has been passed over us through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
This is important truth and promises to hold dear to our weak and feebly hearts at times as we wait for His return. It’s the power of His resurrection and hope in Christ that we can face today and tomorrow. It’s the power of His resurrection that we can sing and praise His name each and every day and every Sunday we come together. Paul wrote to Titus and said this…… “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:13-14. We need to understand! The gospel has no power without His death and resurrection.
- It’s the power of God that crushed Jesus and killed Him, because of our sin.
- It’s the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead to give us life.
- It’s the power of God that raised you from the dead to save you from His wrath.
- It’s the power of God that keeps you and gives a burning passion as you await His return.
MARK OF A HEALTHY CHURCH HAS A BODY THAT WAITS EXPECTANTLY FOR HIS GLORIOUS RETURN.
This was a church that waited for His Son from Heaven to return! Paul praised them because they were a “waiting church” (v10a) “wait” conveys the meaning of expectant waiting—sustained, patient, trusting waiting. It pictures an eager looking forward to the coming of one whose arrival was anticipated at any time, waiting for one whose coming is expected.” To wait for the Lord's return is a sure characteristic of a true believer. The present tense can be rendered "keep on waiting". Waiting for the return of their Lord and King was their lifestyle, the habit of their life, the truth that colored all their daily activities and afflictions. This should be the same and displayed in our lives……in our church! “Waiting for God to act is the best opportunity for the right things to happen His way.” David C. McCasland
Who are you looking for today? Remember Jesus could come back today! Are you ready to meet Him in the clouds? In Act 1:6-11 we read “So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." His victory over death makes this promise completely credible. And this truth underscores why we must always speak of His resurrection when we proclaim the gospel to lost people who are dead in sins and trespasses. There is no good news without Jesus' resurrection!
We are to patiently wait as a church because ….…..
- It’s about His Mercy………… Psalm 123:2
- It’s the truth that we’ve been pardoned…………..Psalm 39:7-8
- It’s about His salvation and calling on our life…………..Psalm 25:5
- It’s an outward expression of His sustaining grace and faith in our lives……..Galatians 5:5
- It’s for our good……..Psalm 52:9
We are to wait with patience, continually, all the day with full confidence! Isa 25:9 says “It will be said on that day, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation." Where do we see that exemplified in the word of God? How about a man named Simeon? We read “Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, "Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel." Luke 2:25-32 How about Hannah? How about David? How about the Apostles and the Early Church?
We look back to His first coming, but among these early believers the great hope was in His coming again. This should likewise be the mindset of modern believers! This should be your passion and excitement this morning and when you leave this building. Let me ask you! When was the last time you anticipated the return of the Living King? We need to be sober and alert to His coming, because He will, and He is coming back! This is where our hope begins and ends as born again believers. John Piper said “The center of Christianity is the coming of the Son of God into the world as a real man to destroy the works of the devil and create a new people for His own glory. The very heart of our faith is that He did this by obeying the law of God, dying for the sins of His people, rising victorious over death, ascending to God’s right hand with all His enemies under his feet. The second coming of Christ is the completion of His saving work. If you take it away, the whole fabric of His saving work unravels.”
This is our hope and this is what we are waiting and anticipating for each and every day! This is what gives us strength when we have a bad day or things don’t seem to go right! This is where we find comfort and rest when we see what our Premier of Ontario is doing and when we see brothers in Christ being beheaded for their faith and hope in Christ. Peter echoed that same expectation when he wrote, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers” 1 Pet 4:7. I want my life and my family’s life to represent Him and His glory when He returns. I want my life not be wasted on things that have no value, not in shame or regret because of my grumblings and lack of faith! As John wrote “And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame at His coming.” And I don’t think that will happen as John says it wills for some, if we, keep our eyes fixed upon the gospel and understand what it truly means to be saved. He has saved us from the wrath that is yet to come to the sons of disobedience! That could be someone you know and love this morning….if Christ returned today!
Jesus told Nicodemus this truth……. “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:18. And John the Baptist said at the end of John chapter 3……. For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for He gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:34-36. This church got this truth! And this is why they waited with a joy anticipating Christ return. They understood what it meant to be saved from this pending doom for so many people according to Matthew 7. They understood that they were set free and for that nothing else distracted them in their worship and in the importance of proclaiming the gospel to lost sinners. So, why did they wait with anticipation with thanksgiving? By the summary statement Paul makes in (v10b) “Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” Not only did they wait, but “they were delivered” “Delivered” means to rescue, the deliverance the Lord provides in His death and resurrection. He is the Rescuer and Deliverer and Savior of those otherwise headed for divine judgment and eternal punishment. (v10)
What were they delivered from? And you could say the same thing about your life, if you’re born again! We are delivered from “The wrath to come” Turn over to 1 Thess 5:9 to see what i mean! “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” We have been delivered from the wrath to come. God the Just and the Justifier looks upon me as righteous! This is amazing that God has turned me around to serve Him by His mercy and grace. He has saved me from the wrath that is yet to come! Wrath is God’s eternal judgment against sin! This absolutely scares me! To know God will judge sin at the end of all things. God cannot do anything but judge sin for what it is: an abomination to His character and perfect will. Nothing and nobody will not go unnoticed by a holy and just God! The Hebrew writer writes……“but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation (God’s righteous anger) which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. And again, "THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Heb 10:27-31
John makes this abundantly clear……“And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Rev 20:15. A W Pink wrote this in an article is from the February 1917 "Our Hope" magazine……“This is one of the danger-signals which God has placed across the sinner's pathway to Hell. At every turn of the Broad Road there are notice boards giving warning of the Destruction which lies ahead. The Sunday School teacher, the prayers of godly parents, the sermons of faithful preachers, the little Gospel tract, the warnings of conscience, the innate fear of death, the declarations of Holy 'Writ, are so many obstacles which God places in the way of the sinner-so many barriers to the Lake of Fire….One chief reason why God wrote the Bible was to warn the sinner of the awful consequences of sin, and to bid him flee from the wrath to come.” His Son’s death is a reminder for us of God’s hatred toward towards sinners. His Son’s resurrection is a reminder of His effectual love towards sinners. The gospel saves and delivers us from the wrath that is yet to come.
The church of Thessalonica is for us as a blueprint church. They weren’t perfect and they weren’t holier than thou. But they lived there lives on the promises of God…..and they turned the world upside down with the truth of the gospel. Jesus, has bought us with His blood, and we are here for Him! To serve, wait and rejoice in His coming! MY DESIRE AS YOUR PASTOR………. is to lead by example and for all of us to genuinely follow after the footsteps of this church family from some 2000 years ago. As Leonard Ravenhill said “When I see the church in the New Testament, they didn’t have stately buildings, they didn’t have paid evangelists. They didn’t have a lot of money. They didn’t have organization. They couldn’t get on TV and beg. But I’ll tell you what they did do, they turned the world upside down!!” Leonard Ravenhill also went on to say as he pleaded with the church “We live too much in time, we are too earth bound. We see as others men see. We think as other men thinks. We invest our time as the world invests it. We invest our money. We are supposed to be a different breed of people. I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ needs a new revelation of the majesty of God. We’re all going to stand one day… can you imagine it?.. At the judgment seat of Christ to give an account for the deeds done in the body.”
I want you to think about that statement of the late great Leonard Ravenhill. I want to challenge you! Self-examination if you will. This should be yours to have as an inward spiritual attitude that. Why? He saved you from His wrath and eternal destruction. Our attributes in life should display……..
- A working faith that god supplies.
- A labor of love for one another.
- A hope that patiently endures to the end.
- A humbled adoration of praise to God who called [Elected] you out of darkness and raised you from the dead.
- Is gospel saturated with a deep desire for the world to know the good news?
- Has a known [genuine] testimony to the grace and mercy founded in the gospel.
- Has turned to follow the true living God from idols and that Jesus is more valuable to you then anything.
- Has anticipation for the future as we wait for our King.
Will you join me, even though it may be hard at times to serve our King the way He intended us to serve? We have the blue prints…….we have His word…..we have His Spirit! We have message. Let’s change the world, one soul at a time, through work of the Spirit, under the power of God through the gospel. The purpose statement of my life and the church is this…….“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”