Summary: An examination of the Church at Macedonia.
Sermon by Pastor Robert Earl Houston, Sr., Assistant Pastor
Westwood Baptist Church, University Center
Nashville, Tennessee - www.westwoodbcuc.org
”Moreover, brethren, we make know to you the grace of God bestowed upon the churches of Macedonia: that in great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.”
Subject: “THE PARADOX OF GRACE”
There is a doctrine that has appeared and is spreading throughout the Body of Christ. It has been entitled the Doctrine of Prosperity. Ken L. Sarles wrote that this prosperity doctrine is so new that he calls it a movement.
At the core of this movement is the belief that the gospel breeds affluence. That no believer should ever be poor. No believer should ever experience lack. No believer should ever be sick. No believer should ever know of poverty. No believer should ever experience physical pain. One prominent television evangelist has been dared to boldly proclaim, “I’ll never be broke, another day in my life.”
However, the truth of the matter is that every believer is not affluent. Some believers are poor. Some believers experience lack. Some believers are sick. Some believers live at or below the poverty line. Some believers experience mental or physical or emotional pain. And for some believers, they were broke yesterday, they are broke today, and they will be broke tomorrow.
There are those in the Body of Christ who do not roll up to the church house on Sunday morning in luxury cars. Many believers think that 401(k) is the number that comes after 401(j). Even our sanctuaries are not always elaborated graced buildings with the modern conveniences. Some congregations struggle. Some churches struggle. Some pastors struggle.
I have come to suggest that God does not frown on wealth. Conversely, He does not frown on the lack of wealth. Being wealthy is not a sign of spiritual superiority. Being healthy is not a sign of extraordinary empowerment. I must suggest immediately that no matter what your financial portfolio entails – whether you are wealthy or barely making it – the Grace of God makes the difference in your life.
In this pericape, the Apostle Paul is writing to a messed up Church - the Church at Corinth. He writes from a jail cell with a sentence of death hovering over his head. Paul has been the Church’s greatest evangelist and he now writes his pastoral epistle to the Church at Corinth.
The root problem of the Church at Corinth is that of a lack of spiritual direction. They came to church. They crowded the sanctuary. They filled the roles of the organizational charts. However, their actions negated anything that they professed in the sanctuary.
My brothers and sisters, we all need to make sure that our talk and our walk are succinct. Don’t proclaim Him Lord unless He is your Lord. Don’t pray “thou kingdom come” unless you are prepared to leave your own kingdom and are prepared to join His.
Notice that Paul writes lovingly about the Church at Philippi. He writes lovingly about the Church at Thessalonica. He writes lovingly about the Berean Church. However, this church is lack spiritually, fiscally stingy and lovingly deficient.
Paul says that the Grace of God is resting upon a church. But Corinth - it’s not upon your church. The Grace of God is moving within a church. But Corinth - not your church. The Grace of God is doing miraculous things within a church. But Corinth - not your church. The Grace of God is providing signs and wonders. But Corinth - not in your church.
Paul says that the Grace of God has been bestowed. In Greek this word didomi suggests that God has given this Grace. God has assigned this Grace. That Grace didn’t fall out of the sky accidentally, but Grace was given to a church – not to the Church at Corinth, but to the Church at Macedonia.
It’s interesting that Paul says God’s favor is upon the Macedonian Church, especially since the Macedonia Church was a poverty-stricken Church. It was not only a poor church; it was a “sho nuff” poor church. They had rock bottom destitution. This does not sound like a Church that is experiencing the Grace of God.
If the Church was a poor church –
And if the Church had rock bottom destitution.
And the Church was poverty stricken.
Therefore, the Church was comprised of people who were under the same classification. Let me hurry up and suggest that if a church is a cold church, it’s not because the building temperature has done below 32 degrees, but it’s because the spiritual temperature of the lives of believers has grown cold.
If a church is not doing anything. It’s not because the building is inadequate or facilities can’t house new ministries. It’s because the building is filled with folk who are lazy, uncaring and don’t want to go forward.