Summary: Jesus promised that He would build his church and Satan would not be able to stop it from growing. Satan and all his legions can storm out of the gates of hell to attack it, but they will not overpower it or destroy it or stop it from completing its mission.
Completing the Mission that Jesus Began
The Church That God Builds
The book of Acts is all about God “Completing the Mission that Jesus Began” through the early churches. That mission was and is to seek and to save those who are lost. (Luke 19:10)
Jesus promised that He would build his church and Satan would not be able to stop it from growing. Satan and all his legions can storm out of the gates of hell to attack it, but they will not overpower it or destroy it or stop it from completing its mission.
There's one condition in Matthew 16:18-19. Jesus said “I will build My church”.
The promise or the guarantee that Satan will not overpower the church or destroy it is only good if God is the one that builds the church. Nothing can stop the church that God builds.
If people build a church, Satan will easily destroy it or use it for his purpose.
Christ will build His church His way or He will have nothing to do with it at all.
God has a plan for His church and when a church is built His way, all the powers of hell will never stop it.
But should a church depart from His plan and usurp His ownership, they forfeit His promise and lose His power.
There are churches all over America that have done that. There are churches all through history that have done that. There were churches that did that in New Testament times, and those churches no longer exist because they did not allow Jesus to build His church His way. Satan destroyed them.
Revelation 3:1 introduces us to one of these churches, the church of Sardis. The city of Sardis was located in what is now Turkey. The Lord Jesus told John to write to the angel or messenger of that church, which most likely refers to the lead pastor of the church.
Revelation 3:1 "To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. NIV
They probably had a lot of activities at the church at Sardis, but they were dead activities. They were not reaching the lost. There was no new birth and therefore no life. It was dead.
ILL. Like the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, by Coleridge. Dead men pulled the oars. Dead men hoisted the sails. Dead men steered the vessel.
Sardis was dead because they had departed from the divine plan and when the church is not built God’s way, it forfeits the promise of Jesus and the power of the Spirit and it is soon to be destroyed by Satan.
The people of the church at Sardis were not letting Jesus build His church His way.
So it died and the church at Sardis doesn't exist today.
What is God’s plan that the church is to follow?
We have a great description of it in Acts 2:41-47.
Read Acts 2:41-47
This was the first church that Jesus built, born on Pentecost, unspoiled, and uncorrupted and unstoppable. It was alive and thriving on the power of the Holy Spirit.
They didn't know anything about church organization. They didn't have book on the church. They didn't even have a New Testament. But what they did have is what Jesus had taught them for three years.
The disciples in that first Church followed God’s plan and Jesus built the church His way. This passage gives us a marvelous model for the church today to follow.
First of all, God’s plan calls for the church to be:
1. Devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
Acts 2:41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. NIV
The first church was made up of believers that were committed to Christ and His Church. They were real believers.
For a Jew to be baptized in the name of Christ and to be identified with Christ and His church in Jerusalem was a bold and brave commitment. The Jewish leaders had just crucified Jesus and could have easily done the same to any of the followers of Christ. They had to be real believers to make such a confession.
God only builds His church out of real believers. The church of Jesus Christ is a redeemed community.