Today marks the official memorial of my first public sermon, July 28, 1963. My first sermon title was “Saved by Hope – Romans 8:24-25. Although I have had a media library for the last 30 years, I haven’t been one to log my sermons, so I couldn’t tell you how many sermons or lessons I taught over the last fifty years. For me the point is not how many, but how many have been effective and productive.
You see when I finally did get my GED in the military and got to my first bible college experience, I failed “Homiletics.” My professors tried to get me to write my sermons out and I wanted to just talk them out. When I started in the ministry I was under the impression, “You just open your mouth and God would speak for you.” However, I did learn structure in college and eventually how to outline my sermons.
However, my journey is just that. My journey. Of course with the triumphs there were many mistakes and failures along the way. That is the beauty of survival and longevity in ministry. You learn from mistakes, repent and move on to teach others the wisdom you learned, if you learned and they will listen.
I hope we are taking a cautious look at what we accept, believe, and declare about our salvation. We are faced with dangerous theological rat traps all the time. The media attention Christianity is getting lately might cause many to believe what they see rather than what they know to be true. I know that the best way to administer poison is to hide it in something good. So, false teachers are not standing up waving a flag saying they are teaching false doctrine. No, they are mixing truths, lowing standards, and secretly denying canal doctrines of the faith. The Word of God is said to be “nourishment, energy, and development” in truth. Any sort of theological poison that is planted in the midst of a solid base of truth will upset the balance. We must be on guard by studying (2 Tim 2:14-15), praying (Eph 6:18), and trusting God (Heb 11:6).
If the moral code (The Ten Commandments), which birthed the Jewish nation given by the finger of God, could not maintain Israel in cultural or religious purity, why do we think that the laws of the Bible will today force a nation to live by Christian standards? In the past, nations culturally practiced and maintained customs and religions that defined a nationality or people. But sad to say, there is no nation today that is culturally pure. Diverse groups of people live in different lands and practice different customs and worship different gods
Remaining true to the Faith of Christianity is to advance the teachings of the early apostles by expressing the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as the only source of salvation. The essence of truth is not a matter of choice, but a matter of grace. It is more important to be truthful that just have the truth. Many cry for the truth, but are not truthful themselves that is not integrity.
I believe the Holy Spirit is preparing us for more than just having endless conferences, seminars, and workshops that inform, but seldom change us. Yes, we are the enlightened age-the technological geniuses of the 21st century; this new high tech church world. Where does our fight with the forces of darkness fit into of this new illumination? Somehow, I sense the Holy Spirit wanting to do more than present the church with easy options in which to research information via the internet.
A healthy church then is a church that is accomplishing the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to take the gospel into the entire world. A healthy church sponsors growth through involvement. A healthy church must address cultural and ethic differences not by making them like us, but molding them into the image of Christ. Evangelism today is faced with new and challenging dilemmas of communication and effectiveness. New trends birth new methods of evangelism for the church. However, should we forsake the core of the gospel message for the greed of establishing new empires?
The church of Jesus Christ has been defined as an organism and not an organization. We are pieces as Paul suggests “That must fit” to build up the body of Christ. (Eph 4:16). According to the scriptures the church has always been representative of the people and not the buildings that house the people.
As the church attempted to fortify itself with the doctrine of the Apostles (Acts 2:42); the practice of its worship (Col. 3:16-17); and the fellowship of its followers (Rom 15:5-6); one thing became clear. Satan was not going to make this an easy assignment. The external persecutions (Acts 8:1; 4) and the internal divisions (1 Cor 1:10) produced a strain on the long term reality of its existence and the effectiveness of its message. But then the message of Jesus Christ has survived the test of time, history, and debate. ^DMG
The people who received the message of Jesus Christ were then called the “church.” They met in cell pockets in different locations and discipled new converts into the Faith. The importance of where they worshiped and what they called “Houses of Worship” were a later development and could be concluded as adding more complications to the growth and development of Christianity. ^DMG
Centuries of debate questioned the percentage of humanity and divinity Jesus possessed while on earth. The age of miracles was replaced by the age of reason and language supplied little clarity on supernatural issues. To properly define the church is to define its mission and clarify its relationship to its founder, Jesus Christ. ^DMG