Summary: Our methods might change and will, but our message stays the same.
THE CHURCH AND IN THE 2000’s
Ephesians 4:7-12 08/03/03
Not many years ago, maybe at beginning of the 90’s’ Jerry Vines or Adrian Rogers preached a message titled can the church survive the 90’s. At the beginning of the 90’s I had my doubts I would be here on earth by the year 2000. I will tell you why.
First of all culturally, we see change all around us. In the earliest years of our country, our culture was primarily a rural culture. People were brought up on a farm. We are now living in an urban culture. More people are now living in cities and around cities.
Morally, we are living in a generation that is all together different from the generation we have known. Those things that use to be taboo have come to be accepted in society in general. Culturally, we are changing. Morally, we are changing as a nation.
Also we are changing spiritually. Churches are changing. They are not the same. In the midst of all these changes, one would ask the question, will the church survive the 2000’s.
When I study the book of Revelation chapters 2&3, the Lord lays before us the church ages. As you come to the last three churches mentioned, we see they are Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodecia. There are elements of all these churches found in churches today. I do believe as we approach the coming of our Lord, these three churches will be the predominant church models in the final age.
The Lord said about the church Sardis, you have a name that you are alive but you are dead. But Jesus says to the remnant in those churches, there are some who have not defiled their garments. They are the faithful even though they are in a liberal church. The church of Sardis represents the liberal churches. We have those among us today who have a liberal theology. Few years ago a church in North Carolina accepted homosexuality as a normal lifestyle. The church voted to allow their pastor to perform a wedding for man and a man. I am glad Southern Baptist have gone on record saying we cannot condone what God condemns. You never get people saved if you condone their sin. That kind of church will not survive the 2000’s. They will be around but they will not make an impact for God.
Then there is the laodecian church. That is the church that believes right but not on fire for Jesus. That church needs commitment. It is just as bad to be lukewarm in your commitment as it is to be liberal in your theology. That church will also not make an impact for God in the 2000’s.
I believe there is a church that is going to make it. It is the Philadelphia church. Jesus said to that church, you have kept the faith and have not denied my name. Jesus said to that church, I will set before you an open door. People will still get saved in that church because the Holy Spirit is at work.
Now, in order to be the church of the final 2000’s, we have to be willing to change our methods. We ought never get married to methods. We never change our message. Our methods might change and will, but our message stays the same.
I believe Oak Ridge have traces of the last three churches mentioned. I do believe for the most part of us we believe the Bible to be the Word of God. I do believe for the most part we are a part of the church of the Philadelphian age. We will not only survive the 2000’s but we will thrive. I want to show you why I believe that. First of all, we have an exalted master 7. When a church has an exalted master, there is unity in faith. We are one in Jesus though we have different spiritual gifts.
Notice what is said about our exalted Lord. He descended and ascended. Jesus descended when He came to earth and was crucified for our sins. He ascended when He went back to heaven. Fill in the gaps in these two statements, and we have the story of Jesus.
Then verse 9 says He descended into the lower parts of the earth. He went down to where those captive demon spirits were. The Bible says He made a proclamation to them. I believe He told them it didn’t work. Your plan did not work. That means that the exalted Lord had won the victory.
The second reason our church will survive and thrive is because we have a gifted ministry, 11. Here He is talking about a group of gifted ministries He has given the church. First of all there were the prophets and apostles. Those were the foundational ministries. There are no prophets and apostles in the 2000’s. These two groups of men laid the foundation of the ministry with Jesus being the cornerstone. We don’t need the foundation laid anymore. We are to build on the foundation. When the foundation was laid, they passed off the scene.