Summary: It is necessary for the church to be involved in community participation and action in light of Christ’s imminent return. I believe that there are three reasons why we need to establish and support biblical community within the church in these Last Days –
CHURCH AND COMMUNITY MEMBERSHIP AND ACTION IN LIGHT OF CHRIST’S RETURN
Introduction: Hebrews 10:25 encouraged the Hebrew Christians to find strength in participation and involvement in their local church in light of the pending destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. They were called to establish community which would help them to effectively carry out the work Christ gave them to do while maintaining their walk with the Lord. This passage also speaks to us of the necessity for community participation or involvement and action in light of Christ’s imminent return. I believe that there are three reasons why we need to establish and support biblical community within the church in these Last Days – Satan, Service, and Salvation.
I. Satan - The Hour being late, temptations are great as Satan knows his time is running out.
A. Revelation 12:12 (NKJV) Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”
B. While Revelation 12 has reference to the devil’s onslaught during the Tribulation, the principle applies true today. The devil is a great theologian and knows the Word of God. As he sees the lateness of the hour he realizes that he is on borrowed time. Consider a football team which is down and losing in the last minutes of the big game. The team will pull out all stops and throw everything it has in its arsenal in a last ditch effort to win. Likewise Satan as the hour draws nearer to his inevitable doom will pull out all stops to defeat the work of Christ.
C. 2 Timothy 3:1 - 5 (NKJV) But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
D. Mark 14:38 (NKJV) Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
E. Matthew 24:12 (NKJV) And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
F. By maintaining a strong relationship with God, we can overcome temptation. But we need the strength and encouragement that comes from having fellowship with other believers.
G. Ecclesiastes 4:9 - 10 (NKJV) Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.
H. Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NKJV) Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (NLT) A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
I. Communion is strength; solitude is weakness. Alone, a fine old beech tree will yield to a storm’s mighty blast and lie flat in the field. In the forest, supporting each other, the trees laugh at the tempest. The sheep of Jesus, the Great Shepherd need to flock together. (Adapted from C. H. Spurgeon)
II. Service – The Hour being late, the fields have turned white and needs harvesting
A. John 9:4 (NLT) All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end.
B. John 4:35 (ASV) Say not ye, “There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white already unto harvest.”
C. Crops go through three stages: green, ripe, rotten. Harvest is effective only at one stage. Likewise, witnessing at the right time can produce a rich spiritual harvest.
D. Matthew 28:19 - 20 (NKJV) Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
E. Matthew 21:28 (NKJV) “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’
F. In Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, writing in light of the second coming of Christ, Paul gives three directives to the church at Thessalonica regarding work: first, he says, follow our example of work (3:6-9); secondly, work for your own bread (10-12); and thirdly, mark men who won’t work (13-16). We have been called to work and not to sit.