Summary: Methods may change, but the message never will.
Changing Church-Unchanging Gospel
March 16, 2014 Morning Service
Immanuel Baptist Church, Wagoner, OK
Message Point: Methods may change, but the message never will.
Focus Passage: Acts 15:1-6
Supplemental Passage: And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. 'BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.' "Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." He was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. (Mark 7:6-9)
Introduction: Too often, we get comfortable with the way we do things and we resist change. The way we do things become our traditions and our traditions become sacred. We will either embrace the pain of change or we will embrace a long slow death. The church is the only institution in America that still operates like it’s 1952.
I. Traditions of Men
a. Seven last words of any dying organization or church: “We’ve always done it this way before”
b. Dressing up for church
i. Started just after the Industrial Revolution
ii. Many pastors and members rejected dressing up for church as hypocritical
1. “Putting on your best for God” is a silly notion at best; hypocrisy at worst
2. We shouldn’t be worried about our outward appearances, but our inward condition
3. Jesus addressed Pharisees as “white-washed sepulchers”
iii. Became part of the culture as people could afford better clothes
i. 1st Century baptisms were done in the nude to greater symbolize new birth
ii. 4th Century Christians had to wait 3 or 4 years after salvation to be saved to “prove themselves”
d. Other things:
i. Beverages or food in the sanctuary
iii. Children’s Church
iv. Air Conditioning/carpeting/education space/LCD projectors/drums or even orchestras/grape juice for Lord’s Supper/the church building itself
II. The Method of sharing the Gospel and making disciples will change
a. Sunday School – wasn’t even established until the 1780’s as a way to teach children on their day off from working in the factories
b. Vacation Bible School – first evidenced in 1874. Lasted 4 weeks. Taught by one Sunday School teacher who felt one hour a week was not enough for the children
c. Baptist Training Union
d. Formal Discipleship Programs : MasterLife, Experiencing God, EE, etc
e. Use of the internet for classes, audio sermons, etc
III. The Message of the Gospel never changes
a. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
b. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." (Revelation 22:13)
c. The Message of the Gospel is this: God loves us, but can’t tolerate our sin. God sent Jesus to take the punishment of OUR sin. If we believe this and trust Jesus to have done that, God writes our name in His Book and adopts us into HIS family where we will live with Him for eternity.
Invitation: We will either embrace the pain of change or we will embrace a long slow death.