Summary: BASED ON 1 PETER 4:7-16, WHAT CHARACTERISTICS SHOULD MARK THE CHURCH IN THE LAST DAYS?
SPIRITUAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LAST DAYS CHURCH
I. LIVING IN THE LAST DAYS
A. Spiritually speaking many people have no perception of the time we are in
1-as a kid I thought my parents had been around forever, I couldn’t comprehend them being kids
2-when your 5, 18 sounds old - when your 18, 40 sounds old - when your 40, 70 sounds old, when your 70, 90 sounds old - when your 90 nothing sounds old
3-ill - a little boy asked his grandma, "Grandma, were you on the ark?" "Of course not!" she replied. Then the little boy said "Well grandma, why didn’t you drown?"
B. Many have no perception of this being the last days, others mock and don’t take the warning seriously
-the message has been preached so much, many have become hardened to it
C. What are the last days? When did they begin? When will they end?- Acts 2:17-21, The last days is a period of time that began at Pentecost and will end at the second coming of Christ
-we are living near the end of the last days
II. THE LAST DAYS CHURCH
A. The sad thing is the condition of the last days church as outlined in Rev 3
-the last days church is a divided church, it’s condition is characterized by the churches at Philadelphia and Laodicea
B. The church at Philadelphia - a church marked by faithfulness, unashamed boldness, good works, a church that is spared from the hour of tribulation that will come upon the whole world
C. The church at Laodicea - a church marked by slothfulness, spiritual poverty, lukewarm, a church that is about to be rejected by Christ Himself if it does not repent
D. The question that needs to be answered is, “Where are we? Which category do we fall under? How does God view our spiritual condition?”
1-George Barna “Overall, Barna said the survey revealed “a nation that is comfortable with religion but not particularly committed to spiritual growth.” He commented: “Most people who are aligned with a Christian church really make a rather minimal investment in religious activity… Most people describe themselves as religious, describe their faith as being very important in their daily life, but make only a half-hearted effort to truly master the foundations of their chosen faith and live a life that is determined by that faith."
2-George Barna - "In a typical week, 41% of the adults attending Christian churches are not born again....Most of those people have been attending Christian churches for years and years, without really understanding the foundations of the Christian faith and its personal implications....Barna suggested that the nation seems mired in spiritual complacency. "America certainly did not experience the spiritual revival that many Christians hoped would emerge as the new millennium began. In fact, Americans seem to have become almost inoculated to spiritual events, outreach efforts and the quest for personal spiritual development. There are magnificent exceptions throughout the country, but overall, Christian ministry is stuck in a deep rut. Our research continues to point out the need for behavioral modeling, strategic ministry and a more urgent reliance upon God to change people’s lives. Like the churches of Laodicea and Sardis, described in the Bible as distasteful to God because of their complacency and spiritual deadness, too many Christians and churches in America have traded in spiritual passion for empty rituals, clever methods and mindless practices. The challenge to today’s Church is not methodological. It is a challenge to resuscitate the spiritual passion and fervor of the nation’s Christians."
E. The bottom line is not how many people do we have in church but how many people are actually ready to go if Jesus should rapture His church
-Barna Research - 85% of Americans claim to be Christian while only 41% claim to be “Born Again”,
49% are actually committed to the Christian faith, 37% read the bible outside church, 42% percent attend church, 49% percent have a private time of prayer and devotion, 20% did volunteer work at church, 19% attend Sunday School
-America loses 48 churches every week, that’s 2,496 in a year
III. SPIRITUAL CHARACTERISTICS THE LAST DAY’S CHURCH NEEDS
A. “Be sober” (7a) - Stay in our right mind
1-this literally means to have a correct understanding of what being a Christians is all about, having a thorough and correct understanding of God’s Word
2-the last days will be days of religious deception, spiritual illusion, deceiving spirits and doctrines of devils, abandonment of sound doctrine; an increased activity of the spirit of antichrist (I am the Way)
B. “Watch unto prayer” (7b) - Be faithful to prayer
1-Martin Luther - "If I should neglect prayer but a single day, I should lose a great deal of the fire of faith."