Summary: When we get to heaven we’ll be surprised who is and isn’t there.
January 26, 2003
Text: Luke 14:15-24
Subject: Christ’s Invitation.
Title: Looking for the Perfect Church: Part 3
The perfect church! What do we know about it? Well we know that it is not here yet. Jesus spoke to seven churches in Revelation. Some of them probably thought they were just perfect. Look at some of the things Jesus said to those churches, which I believe are representative of churches today.
To the church in Ephesus: I know your works, your labor, your patience - you have left your first love!
To the church in Pergamos: I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to my name, and did not deny the faith. - You have those there who hold the doctrine of Balaam, Who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat the things sacrificed to idols and commit sexual immorality.
To the church in Thyatira: I know your works, love, service, faith and your patience. - you allow Jezebel to teach and seduce my servants to commit sexual immorality.
To the church in Sardis: I know your works, you have a name that you are alive - but you are dead.
To the church in Laodicea: You are rich and have become wealthy and need nothing. - You are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.
All these churches thought that they were doing pretty good. And yet, Jesus knew they weren’t perfect - not even close. Yet He told every one of them, "To him who overcomes" - there is blessing involved!
We’ve come to the conclusion that the church on earth will never be perfect - there will always be areas we need to work on - but our passage today shows us the type of church Jesus expects. Jesus doesn’t want us to be a perfect little church with a perfect little pastor with a church full of perfect little people. He wants an obedient church with a pastor who is called to be here with a congregation that is filled with sinners saved by grace and filled with the Holy Spirit.
Let’s look today and see what kind of church Jesus wants.
I. The church isn’t for the religious. (Verses 16-17) Jesus relates the call of God to the social practice of the time. First, when a man decided to throw a party they would send out invitations by the word of a servant to tell them they were invited. The servant would receive the response and that way the master would know how many to prepare for. Since there was no way of telling time exactly, when the banquet was ready the servants would be sent out again to tell the guests it was time. Then they would begin to gather for the feast. In this passage Jesus was specifically speaking to the Jews. Salvation - the call of God -first came to the Jews. In Romans 1:16 Paul wrote, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Gentiles." Salvation came through Abraham’s seed. Abraham was the father of the Jews. The Jews were the caretakers of the word of God. Though they were to have first opportunity to be saved - they instead added to the law and in essence reduced it to tradition. Remember, Abraham was justified by his faith 400 years before the law was given. Before Christ came, they had already begun to reject God’s grace. But they were those who were invited to the banquet and they originally said they would come! In Joshua 24:15 Joshua challenged the nation of Israel, "Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord." Their response? "Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord and serve other gods." They were very sincere but how long do you think it could last? Joshua 24:31, "Israel served the lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the work of the Lord which He had done for Israel."
Just a few of generations later, in Judges 17:6, "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes." They had rejected God their King and did just what they wanted to do. This also refers to those who have or appear to have accepted the invitation to come to Christ. Their love for him has grown cold. Remember Jesus’ words to the church in Ephesus? "Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love." Jesus spoke of that kind of church, "But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives with joy; yet he has not root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles." (Matthew 13:20-21) Matthew 21:28-32, "A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ’Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ’I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ’I go sir,’ but he did not go. Which of these two did the will of his father? They said to Him, ’The first." How can you tell when someone has lost that first love? I want you to look at some statistics concerning church attendance. These are the top ten reason why people attend a church service.