13 July 2015

OUR FINAL INSTRUCTION TO A HEALTHY CHURCH (PART 1)


1 Thess 5:12-14

What is the number one thing that gets overlooked by most us, especially us men when we buy something? Whether it is at: Best Buy, Costco, Wal-Mart, IKEA, the Pharmacy,Parts-Source, even when you buy a car, whether its used or brand new. Each one of these places or items has something in common! They all come with a instruction booklet or manual. A manual is supplied by the Company to provide him / her [meaning you and me] with a step-by-step instructions on how to set up and operate a franchised unit to the specifications and standards of the franchise. Basically, the instruction booklet or manual, shows you how to maintain and use the product properly, so that it last for many years down the road. The manual shows you how:
  • To clean you’re electronic properly.
  • To put your new purchase together (table/entertainment unit).
  • How many times of day you're to take your medication.
  • To install that part correctly to your car or truck.
  • Maintain and preserve your vehicle so that it runs at its best and last’s for many years to come.
Why does everything we buy come with an instruction manual? The answer is simple! It’s important and vital for the purchaser...so that they get many years out of their purchase. If we didn’t pay attention to the manual or the warning devices we could be in serious trouble!!! For example in 1984, an Avianca Airlines jet crashed in Spain. Investigators studying the accident made an eerie discovery. The "black box" cockpit recorders revealed that several minutes before impact a high-pitched, computer-synthesized voice from the plane's automatic warning system told the crew repeatedly in English, "Pull up! Pull up!" The pilot, evidently thinking the system was malfunctioning, snapped, "Shut up, Gringo!" and switched the system off. Minutes later the plane ploughed into the side of a mountain. Everyone on board died. A sad tragedy, which could have been averted, if someone would have paid attention to the instrument panel. If someone had followed and listened to the manual of operation! The same principles can be applied to the Christian life! God has given us a book (a manual so to speak) about what He requires from each and every one of us. It’s a book filled with 66 letters about His glory and goodness towards His creation. It’s a book that will either guide you to Him or a book that will draws you away from Him “shut up gringo, shut up God” As we come to a close to this wonderful letter that is filled with:
  • The promises of God’s everlasting mercy and grace.
  • The riches and promises of our resurrected bodies one day.
  • His sovereign grace for His elect children.
  • His providential plan for His elect children.
  • His plan for those who deny His grace and mercy, who will face His perfect wrath one day.
Paul finishes his letter with a sort of a instruction manual for the Christian life.....” A too do list of things, until that blessed day comes! We have to remember how important the church is to God! The church is the most blessed institution on earth. The church is the ONLY institution built by the Lord Jesus Christ HIMSELF. The church is the ONLY institution promised to be eternally blessed. As Paul said “.....that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Eph 5:27. The church is the institution that Jesus Himself declared “the gates of Hades will not overpower it” Matt 16:18. As John Foxe said "Princes, kings, and other rulers of the world have used all their strength and cunning against the Church, yet it continues to endure and hold its own." The church is a pillar and support of the Truth that God has given us through His word. John Calvin said "Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, there a church of God exists, even if it swarms with many faults." See! The church is to be a safe place for born again believers. The church is to be a place where he is drawing sinners to Himself through the gospel. The church is the physical extension of Christ. BUT!! We also need to understand the church isn’t immune to: Difficulties of life, Imperfect people, Hardships & persecution, Weak immature brothers/sisters.....Possibly even unsaved people! We as a church need to recognize, be sensitive and deal with building each other up in the faith of Christ. Helping each other through our weaknesses Imperfections and difficulties caused by sin! Why? Because the church will always be faced with very strong opposition from Satan and his demons. Satan’s human elements, the unregenerate person who are here for one purpose to cause turmoil and division among the children of God. Paul finishes this letter by giving us a list of things to do keep a healthy church body as we wait....watch....anticipate the Lord to call us home! Why? “if one part of the body is sick........ It affects the rest of the body!” The first thing Paul says........look at (v12).

VALUE YOUR PASTOR (v12)

You're my responsibility when I stand before the Lord one day! This is why Paul says “respect” This means that the people of the church are to know their pastor well enough to have a close appreciation for them and to respect them because of their value to the church and your life. See the work of a pastor is summarized this way…..Laboring, working to the point of exhaustion, “overseeing” which literally means “standing before the flock to lead in the way of righteousness.” Instructing in the word of truth.  Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.” Heb 13:7 I care deeply for you and this church.......................I need you! I don’t do this for money or a job. I do this because I care about you and your soul! I’m not here to win a popularity contest. I desire your love for God and His church! See, I don’t find enjoyment in preaching messages that are going to make you upset with me or God. But the Bible says “I’m to preach the whole council of God” So as Paul says here and as Heb 13:17 says “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” Why? For this reason…… “who diligently labour (spiritual sweat) and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction” (v12) Al Mohler said this when he talked to a group of pastors “We study, we stand before our people, we read the text, and we explain it, we reprove, rebuke, exhort, encourage, and teach and then we do it all over again, and again and again.” 

This is my life! He called me to you so that we could grow together. Will you help me or will you be against me? You have a choice to make! Valuing someone in the context of Paul’s letter (pastors/elders) requires you to do something.
  • Pray for me everyday....PLEASE!
  • Study the words I've spoken to you, for yourself.
  • Fellowship with me
  • Submit with love, so that I can do and fulfil my calling as a shepherd.
  • Honor God by living your life for Him and to those who rule over you in God.

BE AN ENCOURAGER AND COME ALONG SIDE THE IDLE (v14)

First Paul says “be a peace among yourselves” Which means submit to your leaders, live in a God honoring way will always reduce the amount of strife, conflict, and discord among God’s people. Harmony within the church leads to effective ministry within the church. As Paul said in Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”

Paul says “admonish the unruly”

“Unruly” refers to: someone who behaving in a disorderly manner, someone who is idle and watching things happens before their eyes. It’s the idea of someone who out of step or against the direction everyone else is heading. These are the people who fail to serve the church with their spiritual gifts. We call them “benchwarmers”. It’s also referring to someone who has a rebellious attitude towards a person or the church. Paul says “admonish the unruly” warn, or alert them of their behavior or conduct! Not being judgmental or critical…but, in a caring kind way of warning against the dangers that lie ahead if they continue this path in a disorderly manner. Because! An unruly person is someone who is angry, rebellious, and contentious; they criticize and undermine the church leadership to justify their insubordination. If this is prowling around in the church it makes it hard to be at peace. So listen to Paul and the instructions given to us by God through His word. It’s easy to be unruly, but its hard work to be an encourager. So strive to be at peace and come along the unruly and point them in the direction of His grace and mercy.

COMFORT THE FEARFUL AND DOUBTING SHEEP (v14)

“The fainthearted” literally means the small souled....the worried sheep who huddled in the middle and afraid to get near the edge. They lack boldness to accept challenges whether they required being more involved or new challenges presented by the church. See there are those in the church who are bold and courageous and are unafraid of persecution or difficulties. The fainthearted lack boldness to accept the challenges that lie ahead.

For example:
  • New ministries ventures.
  • Fear of change and the unknown.
  • They want a risk free ministry that is traditional, safe and absolutely secure.
As the stronger and more confident ones in the church we are to come along side and encourage the fainthearted. That’s why “encourage” literally means “to speak alongside” and comforting them to step out by faith. Not only are we to encourage the fainthearted we are to help the weak. “The weak” are the fragile believers, who are in the faith...though their faith may not be strong enough to enjoy the freedom in Jesus Christ. Due to their maturity or understanding of the scriptures. You don’t become a theological giant overnight. These are the ones who are more susceptible to to listening to error. As Paul said “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,” Eph 4:14. 

“Help” literally means “to hold firmly, cling to, or support” “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.” Rom 15:1-2 Paul says “encourage and help those who display this in their lives. Come along side don’t stick your nose up and look down on them as second class citizens or gossip about how ignorant they are to the things that you know. We all grow at different paces…….true believer will bare fruit. It’s our duty to help the weaker brother or sister to grow deeper in His word inwardly and outwardly. We stronger seasoned Christians are commanded to come alongside the weaker sheep as a friend and provide them doctrinal instruction and encouragement toward righteousness and away from sins door.

ALWAYS BE PATIENT WITH ONE ANOTHER (v14)

It is so easy to be frustrated and even angry at times and especially discouraged when you watch those in your church. We sometimes set high expectations for one another and they’re usually unattainable ourselves, but we expect others to reach our goals that we have laid out for them. For example..You spend hours and even months going over the scriptures with someone and when you’re done you see little or no change to their commitment to Christ or evidence of spiritual growth. This is why Paul says “be patient” which means “be long-suffering with those who struggle in their walk” Remember even Jesus was righteously exasperated with His disciples slow grow and lack of understanding. He called them “men of little faith” Matt 8:26. He said "O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves… “Matt 16:8. In Mark 16:14 rebuked their lack of understanding! “Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.” We are to have boundless patience with the wearisome sheep, even as God has great patience with each and every one of us.“ 

As Paul said I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.” Eph 1-7.