Sunday, March 11, 2012

8 Things We Can't Fudge On

What are the non-Negotiables of the Local Church? In a world that has so many ideas and different opinions of what is right and what is wrong, it comes as a refreshing reality that as Believers in The God of the Bible, we have a promise of His love and direction as we seek Him and to seek Him with an open and pure heart.
As I was asking the Lord for tonight’s message, my good wife sent me a mailing of what I’d like to share with you tonight.
First, we need to understand that the Great Commission can be accomplished and those who trust in the Lord will complete it.  Matt 28:18-20
Secondly, Pastors, church leaders are given the role and responsibility to be mobilizers and equippers for people in the local church.  Each one here at Harvest has a role.  You might not be the pastor… there are only one of two of them in most churches but you do have gifts from the Spirit of God & you are to use them in the local church to aid in bringing the Great Commission to be!
Truth be known, the Church is to be mobilized to action—all the time.  We are to be making disciples of ALL people all the time.
Here are some 8 statements that are rather important as the Local Church is moving out to do what we are supposed to do as Followers of Jesus.
1. The first non-negotiable is that we serve a God-Centered God.  It is all about Him. He does NOT have a huge ego.  It is not that He just can’t make it with the attention. He is WHO HE IS and we must give those we are living with a glimpse of the God-Centered God who exalts Himself.
His Character is one of complete Holiness.  We sing about it in the song “It’s all about You, Jesus.” And we had better believe that. 
Some might believe that God is an old bearded man who is hunched over His Throne cooking up things to make life hard for humans.  Some would think of God as an impersonal cosmic force with no real interest in the Creation. One who is angry and bloodthirsty!
But He is none of those things. Those of you who know Him know that He is Good -Revelation 15:4 Who can fail to fear You, God, give glory to Your Name?  Because You and You only are holy, all nations will come and worship You, because they see Your judgments are right.
He hates evil -Ps 5:4-5 4 You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with You the wicked cannot dwell. 5 The arrogant cannot stand in Your presence; You hate all who do wrong.
God loves you -1 John 4:7-11  7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 
And this personal caring God has made it possible for you to know Him personally through His Son, Jesus, the Christ -John 3:16-17 16For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not die but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.
While that may not be the version being portrayed by science, the movie or music industry, it is an accurate picture.  And that is the God we need to show to those around us. The God we serve is a God-Centered God who is Holy and Just in all He does.
2. A Word-saturated ministry. We give them a glimpse of the glory of God by giving them the Word of God. It’s the only thing that will drive them into mission and then sustain them. Biblical theology needs to be understood as it is the backbone of the Faith. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  If the life is saturated with the Power of God’s Word, there will be life and there will be a drive for urgent missions.
3. A life-changing Gospel. Maybe one of the reasons so many in the church aren’t making disciples of all the nations is that they aren’t really disciples themselves in the first place. We have modern evangelism built on sinking sand that runs the risk of ruining souls. We must be very careful about assuring people they are Christians when they have not responded to the Gospel. It’s damning to drain the lifeblood of Christianity and replace it with Kool-Aid. They need to see the greatness of God—He is a loving Father who may save us, but He is also a wrathful God who may damn us. The true meaning of “dead in your trespasses and sins” means “dead.” Eph 2:1-3  As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,  in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. We have developed many methods of ministry that require little or no help from the Spirit of God. One of the greatest hindrances to the advancement of the Gospel is the attempt of the Church of God to do the work of God apart from the power of the Spirit of God. A God-centered changed life speaks volumes to those who are seeking.  Be it: live it!
4. A Spirit-empowered church. There is a church culture that does not depend on the Spirit. Ps 62:7 My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty Rock, my Refuge. We need to be desperate for the Spirit of God. We need to catch fire again with the wonder of the Power of God’s Spirit in our lives and in our services.  In our relationships and in our work-stations. If the Church that believes in Christ is empowered by God’s Holy Spirit, then there will be power in the lives of the Christ followers.  Ps 78:8b may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.
5. A Christ-driven strategy. Go and make disciples of all the nations. It is a simple call to action.  It does not suggest we get a mess of degrees in order to move on God’s strategy.  Study does help but God’s Son is the driving force behind this. It is not the plans of man—as they may sound good but the Plan of the Lord has always been the best and it will always be the best.  If Christ is not it, it will fall. Ps 33:11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
6. A people-focused goal. The Great Commission is not a general command to make disciples among as many people as possible, but to make disciples among all the people groups—as you are going. “Unreached” people is not the same as “lost” people. The difference is access or contact. If we are not mobilizing our people to go to unreached peoples, we are not being obedient to the Great Commission. Our obedience is incomplete. As in Luke 15:4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?" Still work to be done. Someone once said: Christ has not yet returned; therefore the task is not yet done. We are not completely following His command if we are not engaged in reaching unreached peoples. It is the whole Church working in community.  If you can’t go yourself, help send someone who can.  (But you will still need to make disciples where you are!)
7. A multifaceted approach. Let’s not take both-and’s and turn them into either-or’s. Local and global. Spiritual and physical. Pray and go. Short-term and long-term. We cannot afford to be one-sided.  God wants us to find pleasure in His ways. Ps 16:11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Why don’t we just let the locals do it? That’s the point! With the unreached there are no locals!
8. A death-defying commitment. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My Name’s sake” (Matt. 24:9). It will be costly. Satan is—in a sense—fine with us spending all our time with people around us while ignoring the unreached. When we engage the unreached, we will be met with the full force of hell. 
Are we willing to pay that price? 
Are we willing to redesign church budget and family budgets? 
Are we willing to let go of programs and preferences? 
Are we willing to lead and shepherd people, telling them, “This may cost you everything.”?
In one Asian country, right now, the oppression and harassment against believers is severe enough that church leaders have had to take some precautions. "When they're meeting with folks and people show an interest in Christ, and they're about ready to get baptized, they go through this list of seven questions. It's a very delicate or fragile situation. They're quite open, but they're really hoping that this is going to be the birth of a new era in the country."
1.   Are you willing to leave home and lose the blessing of your father? 2.   Are you willing to lose your job? 3.   Are you willing to go to the village and those who persecute you, forgive them, and share the love of Christ with them? 4. Are you willing to give an offering to the Lord? 5. Are you willing to be beaten rather than deny your faith? 6. Are you willing to go to prison because of your Faith? 7. Are you willing to die for Jesus?
It's an examination, of sorts, to assess the level of commitment. It also serves as a reality check.   
If they are willing to answer "Yes" to all of these questions, then church leaders invite the person to sign on the bottom of the paper that of their own free will they have decided to follow Jesus. If they refuse, it's more likely that they may be operating as a police spy.
The risk: If a new convert signs and is caught, it's three years behind bars. The one who did the evangelizing faces six years in prison.
At the same time, we must not forget the reward. There is coming a day when the trumpet will sound, Christ will return to receive the reward He is due. And all the peoples of the earth will be represented around the throne, crying out, “Salvation belongs to our God!” Those people will not seeing letting go of the things of this world as “sacrifice.”  Joshua 22:5 "But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul.”
The cost is great-yet it is ours because of the great sinner we are…and it because of His Great Grace that would forgive such a sinner as you and I.
He is worth it. And He is Worthy!  
 I will like to thank David Platt for the main part of this presentation.  He gave this talk at Verge 12.