Summary: Change is the word that most people fear. The church must embrace change in order to reach the lost.
April 24, 2005
Text: Romans 1:14-16
Title: Change Is In the Air
I am going to begin my message by using a four-letter word. Actually it’s a six-letter word but it might as well be a four-letter word because it makes people cringe when they hear it. The word is – brace yourselves – CHANGE! Can you believe that one word can impact the world; open doors of ministry, and at the same time tear churches apart. I think we have gotten past the fear of change in this church, but what we have seen in the past 3½ years is a gradual change in what goes on inside the church. Now as the Lord moves us forward we are going to see that it is time for radical change in what goes on outside the church. Perhaps you have seen on TV the commercials that advertise the city of Las Vegas. The ads promote immorality by saying that “what happens here stays here.” Unfortunately I believe that is what has been happening in the church today. Undeniably, we have seen some wonderful moves of God take place. The Holy Spirit’s gifts are in operation. Healing is taking place. Wonderful testimonies of God’s power have been shared. But are we living by the code, “what happens here stays here”?
Don’t you know that the world is looking for the spiritual excitement that we are experiencing here? Don’t you know that many in this town have been in one church or another at some point in their lives and there was nothing to keep them there? Don’t you know that the Holy Spirit power that is evident in this church is enough to provide something lasting in the lives of those who have never found anything in any other church?
As we were gathered together for prayer Friday morning, the Holy Spirit was impressing on my heart one thing and one thing only. I tried to pray but I was interfering with what He wanted to speak to me. So as I submitted myself to listen to what He was saying, I heard a simple message. “Change!” He told me of change that was coming on Friday mornings. He spoke of the change that would take place in every heart. And He lay on my heart that we have to change or die.
Today, is the introduction to a short sermon series on “change”. This introduction to the series is based on a short but familiar passage. Romans 1:14-16 is part of a passage in which Paul writes of his desire to visit the church in Rome for the express purpose of sharing something with them. Verse 13 sets the stage for what Paul is about to say by saying these words, “I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.”
Today we want to look at three aspects of change that we must attend to if we, and ultimately the church, are going to move forward. My prayer is that four weeks from now we will have changed sufficiently to allow God to do in this church the things He desires to do.
I. OBLIGATION - CHANGE OF MIND (14)
Verse 14 NIV, “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and to the foolish.” The word translated “obligated” in the NIV is “debtor” in the KJV. Paul’s recognition is that he has a responsibility as a Christian. In the context of the passage his responsibility is win the lost. Paul’s passion was for the lost. Obligation originates in the mind. As Christians we know that we have certain obligations. When we are saved our minds are changed. We see things from a different perspective – from God’s perspective. God’s perspective is that He desires that none should perish but that all should come to repentance. So our obligation is to do everything we can to affect that purpose. Romans 12:2 says that it is the renewing of our minds transforms us. “Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” So the way we think should be in a constant state of change. I used to work with a friend who came from two families of extremely strong willed German Catholic background. I used to tease him about his head being the hardest known substance in the universe because he did things the way we always did it. But we as the church must be obligated to changing our minds. Why? Because the word says so? No, but because we want to know God’s will. Now, how do we exercise our obligations? It is through the church. When our minds are in that continual state of renewal and change we will recognize that we are obligated to God through the church. We are obligated to God’s work in the church – which is what? – bringing the lost to Christ.