Acts 8:4 - Gal 6:10
INTRO: As the days of this old millennium slip away, I am wondering what incredible changes will take place in the next 1000 years. When you consider that our countrys modern history occupies about 400 years of this millennium and think of the mass of change in those 400 years, it simply defies imagination to even wonder at the kinds of changes ahead. And what will be the mission of the Lords church in the new millennium?
I. CHANGES I HAVE SEEN ...
A. Socializing of the gospel
1. consumed with feeding, clothing, healing
2. and these are good things
3. but the philosophy has been only to put a new suit on the old man - not to put a new man in the old suit
B. Politicizing of religion
1. so, the religious right and such
2. certainly, we should be involved in political process
3. but political pulpit is never New Testament intention
C. Secularizing of churches
1. so, church has become big business
2. commercial enterprise, large stock holdings, etc.
3. is this what the Lords church is all about?
II. THE MISSION FROM THE FIRST CENTURY?
A. 2 Cor 5:17-20 The ministry of reconciliation
1. from v. 17 - put newman in old suit!
2. from v. 19 - means? word of reconciliation
3. from v. 20 - in Christs stead - entrusted to mortal men is this task (2 Cor 4:7)
4. bringing people back to God
B. Acts 11:27-30 Doing good
1. Heb 13:16 Benevolence
2. churches and individuals meeting needs of less fortunate
3. good works were stressed - but never to the loss of the need for preaching the gospel
4. so, by love the earliest Christians served one another
C. Heb 10:23-27 Exhorting, encouraging each other
1. both further teaching and finding ways to encourage to faithfulness were vital
2. so, saved people were helping each other to remain faithful
3. Gal 5:1-4 even then innovations were taking people away from the faith - fallen from grace
4. the aim? note Rev 14:12
III. BUT WHAT WILL OUR MISSION BE ...?
A. Some present trends ...
1. focus on here and now needs - the word fades
2. focus on felt needs - may not be real need, but what I want is most important
3. recreation - entertainment (heavy emphasis in denominational world)
4. benevolent organization (certainly a world of opportunity exists ... but soul needs are so often lost in organization, bureaucracy)
B. Should the mission change at all?
1. no, it should not - if the pattern of scripture and the unchanging nature of man are significant
2. methods may change - message and focus cannot
3. but it is, admittedly, hard to keep balance
4. the ministry of reconciliation is as essential now as it ever was ... and because people will have souls in new millennium, they must hear that message
CLOSE: Glitz, glamour, productions are dominating the religious scene. Is it possible the true mission of the church could be misplaced in the new millennium? It is possible. So, I encourage us to keep our attention on the cross and its message as the new millennium dawns.
Cecil A. Hutson
21 November 1999
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)