2 THES 1:1-4,11,12
INTRO: In recent months I have reflected a great deal on the blessing of being a member of this particular church family. Among those reflections has been the realization that we are not perfect! Oh, the Lords plan for His church is perfect. But we are not perfect people ... just forgiven people! Still, there are some things which I believe will make any congregation of the Lords people a great church ... things which I am persuade are very much part of this congregations make up. I hope that you will permit me to share some of my recent reflections with you.
I. A GREAT CHURCH KEEPS ITS MISSION IN SIGHT
A. We have often talked about our mission statement
1. and we continue to conclude that it is in Mt 28:19,20
2. evangelize and edify!
B. To a very large degree the church here is faithful in this regard
1. the emphasis on mission work is certainly well known and visible
2. not only do we give to budgeted support of men in various places, but we also see a great spontaneous liberality when needs are announced, made known
3. and I believe that the commitment to edify the body is very present and expressed in numerous ways
C. Yes, we can do more ... and should
1. an area of constant concern is local person to person teaching - we are very good to send; are we as ready to go?
2. still, people are being taught - children are being taught - families are stronger
II. A GREAT CHURCH HAS A LIVING COMPASSION
A. In a somewhat formal way ...
1. we give financial support to assist children who are unable to assist self
2. we help so many people locally with financial support of various needs
B. But it is the people to people expressions which continue to impress me
1. the care of the sick, the shut ins is almost never failing
2. the presence of various of our members when serious surgeries are being experienced ... or when death has claimed a family member
C. Rom 12:15 I suggest that this is the characteristic of this congregation
1. I hear, I see so much of this - and I also hear the grateful responses
2. does it ever fail? Oh, no doubt, from time to time - in the humanity of the church, in the complexity of busy lives, in unrealistic expectations ... yet, that compassion is never-the-less very present among us (Gal 6:10)
III. A GREAT CHURCH HAS A PROPERLY BASED UNITY
A. Unity based on love for the Lord & honoring His word is so correct - Jno 14:15
1. consider Rev 5:9-13 - I would hope and believe that we could wholeheartedly join in the singing of this song of praise to Jesus
2. and Rev 22:13,14 - honoring His word in obedience produces unity!
B. Does unity mean we can never disagree?
1. obviously, matters relating to faith are not subject to disagreement
2. but in matters of opinion there can be variety ... as a body of believers, out of the variety must come order ... the Lord has placed into His church elders (overseers) who are responsible for such order ... it is my privilege to subjugate my opinions to the well being of the whole ... and true unity continues
IV. A GREAT CHURCH HAS GREAT PEOPLE
A. Rom 16:1,3,5,6 (etc.) - Just some of the great people in the Roman church
1. but I notice in the listing large groups of unnamed saints (ill: v. 15)
2. how many anonymous people are engaged in the day to day service to others? (I note at v. 1 that Phebe is a servant of the church)
B. I have no doubts about the presence of great people here
1. yes, there are the teachers, the deacons, the elders (Eph 4:11,12)
2. but I think especially of those who just serve in so many unsung ways - so willingly, so selflessly ... without portfolio (so to speak - Eph 4:16)
3. it is the people who see some need and respond to it ... without a need for their own recognition
4. it is the lawn keepers, the communion preparers, the many who cook for others, the devotional hosts, the blood donors, the family circle leaders, the many who organize special events, it is the encouragers ... and on, and on
5. it is the little children, the teens, the young adults, the middle adults, the senior adults ... and the really senior adults
6. I have had difficulty refraining from the mentioning of names ... but my mention of a name is not the important thing ... the important thing is that the Lord has taken notice of you and your servant heart
CLOSE: Yes, I am very glad to be part of this church of the Lord Jesus Christ. I return to what I said at the beginning. We are not perfect people. But we are forgiven people doing our best to be the holy people God wants us to be.
Cecil A. Hutson
October 6, 2002
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)