Summary: The "Church" has to learn how to do mission work, tell the story of Jesus, in the 21st century America which can be labeled the "post Church" Society.
In Jesus Holy Name May 24, 2009
Text: Matthew 16:18 Easter VII - Redeemer
God’s Vision For His Church” Part 1 The Book of Acts
Rev. John Stott in his book “The Living Church” writes: “The Church (with a capitol C) lies at the very center of the eternal purpose of God. The Church is not an accident of history; on the contrary, the Church is God’s new community.”#
On Sunday morning’s in our Bible Class we are studying the Book of Revelation. The book of Revelation is a prophetic message that tells us what events will happen on earth as the Church carries out her mission. John received his vision from the Risen Christ, who presently reigns at the right hand of God. In Chapters 2-3 the first century Church receives both compliments and warnings, as each congregation carries out it’s mission of proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus. The Book of Revelation is an explanation of human history in which the Church must live and carry out ministry until Jesus returns.
Each of the warnings to the seven churches can also be warnings to the “Church” through out history. Revelation 2:4 The church in Ephesus is warned that their “commitment”, their hearts desire is no longer centered on Jesus.
Smyrna - Rev. 2:10 - The Christians are suffering for their faith in Jesus. Some may have lost jobs, businesses because of prejudice, even martyrdom. They are afraid and would shrink from “witnessing for Jesus”… and they are encouraged not to be afraid to stand up, for Jesus said these things would happen to Christians.
Rev. 2:14 Pergamum. They are allowing compromise in their theology, often called syncretism, which is allowing two opposing theological beliefs to be held at the same time. They were allowing sexual immorality and false worship and still claiming themselves as Christians.
Rev. 2:20 Thyatira. They are tolerating false teaching & sexual immorality. Like Pergamum…. They have accepted the “cultural” pressure to compromise. When Satan seeks to destroy the Church, if persecution does not work then his next tactic is moral compromise. If Satan can not destroy the church from the outside he will try to corrupt it from the inside.#
Rev. 3:1-2 Sardis The sin of hypocrisy …they are doing good deeds but in their heart they have little love for God…. It is an outward show. They are pretending to be believers by their actions but in reality they are hiding their sins.
Rev. Philadelphia They are afraid to witness about the resurrection of Jesus even though God has opened a door for them to be successful… they are afraid to speak the truth. They are worried about non acceptance for their moral stance, or they are afraid of public embarrassment or persecution.
Rev. 3:15-16 Laodicea… they are lukewarm. Their witness for the resurrection and Christian values makes no influence in their community or culture.
In the Book of Revelation we are told that the Church is not immune to tribulation when sharing the message of God’s love and forgiveness displayed in the person of Jesus. As the people of God we are called out of the world to belong to God and then sent back into the world to witness and serve.
In the book of I Peter the “Church” is called “a chosen people, a royal priesthood belonging to God, who called us out of “spiritual darkness” into His wonderful light and truth to declare His praise. “ Jesus told his disciples: “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”
Each decade, each century, each culture in which the Church finds itself, will present a challenge to the Church as the Church seeks to witness and serve. The 21st century America presents different challenges than the 19th century. The 1700’s and 1800’s were centuries when great universities where established for the purpose of preparing men for pastoral ministry. Princeton. Harvard & others. It was a period in American history when Christian denominations built hospitals. The Methodist brought great revival to the frontier as traveling missionaries. Christianity and Christian values had great influence on the development of our constitution and culture. Missionary’s were sent from Europe to America and Africa.
The ministry (which includes both “witness and servant hood” in the pre churched society is what we know as the “traditional mission field. The Church still sends men and women into the mission field. We here at Redeemer have sent people to Kenya and the Ukraine. Christians are active in two week mission trips to Mexico to build houses. Provide food and medical mission trips to communities in Central and South America or countries in Africa.
The pre churched society is where Jesus sent the disciples. Peter, James, John, Paul and the others were sent out to tell the story of Jesus. It was a world of diverse religions, with hundreds of Greek and Roman temples built for worship. It was a pluralistic culture. When Paul arrived in Athens he began his message with these words: “I see you have a temple to the “unknown” god… let me tell you about Him. He created the heavens. He came to earth in the person of Jesus. He was crucified and rose from death, so that you and I can have peace and forgiveness with God.” He established communities of Christians in Athens, Ephesus, Philippi, Thessalonica and elsewhere.