Summary: This sermon looks at four ways a church can know it’s moving in the right direction.
A man stands before judge and jury, places one hand on the Bible and the other in the air, and makes a pledge. For the next few minutes, with God as his helper, he will “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
He is a witness, His job is not to expand upon nor dilute the truth. His job is to tell the truth. Leave it to the legal counsel to interpret. Leve it to the jury to resolve. Leave it to the judge to apply. But the witness? The witness speaks the truth. Let him do more or less and he taints the outcome. But let him do that – let him tell the truth – and justice has a chance.
The Christian, too, is a witness. We, too, make a pledge. Like the witness in court, we are called to tell the truth. The bench may be absent and the judge unseen, but the Bible is present, the watching world is the jury, and we are the primary witnesses. We are subpoenaed by no less than Jesus himself: “You will be my witnesses – in Jerusalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria and in every part of the world” (Acts 1:8).
We are witnesses. And like witnesses in a court, we are called to testify, to tell what we have seen and heard. And we are to speak truthfully. Our task is not to whitewash nor bloat the truth. Our task is to tell the truth. Period.
There is, however, one difference between the witness in court and the witness for Christ. The witness in court eventually steps down from the witness chair, but the witness for Christ never does. Since the claims of Christ are always on trial, court is perpetually in session, and we remain under oath. For the Christian, deception is never an option. It wasn’t an option for Jesus.
THIS MINISTRY: (v.1) Corinthians is not just written to the preachers at Corinth or the leaders, it was written to the church. When Paul says through “God’s grace” we have this ministry. We must consider that all Christians have a ministry and it’s only through God’s mercy. Sometimes we think only preachers, and or, church leaders have a ministry. But all Christians are called to be witnesses so we are all called to minister in some form or fashion. I know a lady that her ministry is to shut-ins. Every Sunday after church she and her family all go to the nursing homes and visit the residents between morning and evening services. Then one day I was at the nursing at about lunch time and she was there during her lunch break visiting. Your ministry doesn’t have to be inside these walls, it may be something that God has placed on your heart or burdened you about. Don’t wait for someone else to take the initiative God has put it on your heart and it may be that He wants you to take the initiative.
WHEN A CHURCH IS MOVING FORWARD WITH GOD THERE IS:
1. REJECTION OF DECIET: (v.2) The devil deceived Eve into partaking of the forbidden fruit. The lie of the devil is always that we will be better off if we partake of sin. He told Eve she would be “like God”. We think we will feel better, be more fulfilled, happier or whatever. When things don’t work out the way we want them to deception is always a tempting shortcut. Many times in our jobs, health, marriages and personal lives things don’t work out the way we expect. The only way to move forward is to suck-it-up and keep on going. So why do so many people give up on church when things don’t work out as expected? Do we think things should be different in church? Unity is what has got us to this point as a church and it’s what will move us forward in the future. Disunity will only serve to take us back.
2. A REFUSAL TO MISHANDLE SCRIPTURES: (v.2) Tamper with the meaning of Scriptures, twist them to suite your beliefs. Instead of building your beliefs around the Bible. Cults are involved in this kind of teaching. The devil also told Eve that she wouldn’t die as a result of eating the forbidden fruit. There was a hint of truth in His lie. Did Eve die right on the spot? No not physically, but she did spiritually and she also began to die physically. As a result of her disobedience to God’s Word she was driven out of the Garden of Eden and away from the tree of life.
Many prosperity gospel preachers today do much the same thing. They tell people that God wants them to be healthy, wealthy and wise. Yes God does want to bless us in these areas but more than that He wants us to be spiritual beings first. God doesn’t want us to be lead by our physical, financial, or intellectual life. So sometimes He has to repress these areas of our lives so we will respond to Him on a spiritual level. The prosperity preachers tell people that the only reason they don’t prosper physically or financially is because they lack faith. As a result of their lack of faith they are weak, desperate and sickly. If that’s true then how do they explain these verses?