Summary: "The Church is Dying on the Vine" is a common statement today. Is it True?
THE PERIL OF PRIVILEGE
INTRO: "This church is dying on the Vine," is a statement I have heard made recently. But who is responsible? Some say the preacher, others the deacons, the Sunday School teachers, and on & on. We, are all responsible. People have told me they wont attend because we don’t offer anything for their family. If we are going to be called God’s people, we must be aware of our responsibilities. A church is blessed. It prospers and has opportunity to reach people and exact moral influence upon the community, but it does not want to reach out. It decides it’s about the right size.
I. ISRAEL’S UNIQUE POSITION.
God says to Is.: "You only have I known." This describes a covenant relationship. They had an unique relationship with God "not enjoyed by other people.
The people had confused this covenant relationship with privilege and favoritism. They thought they had unconditional divine protection. Amos pointed out that election carried with it responsibility to obey God. They were in danger of forfeiting their special relationship with God.
As Christians we have an unique position with God. We have a special relationship with him as New Covenant people through Christ. We sometimes get the idea that we enjoy special privilege and favoritism, and unconditional divine protection. We have much responsibility with our relationship. We may be in danger of loosing it.
II. ISRAEL’S RESPONSIBILITY.
The people must have been shocked when Amos said: "Therefore it is you whom I will punish for all your iniquities." (v.2) They really felt that their special status with God made them exempt from judgment and responsibility. They felt that the benefits of the covenant were automatic - that they would automatically be absolved of any guilt they might incur. But Amos tells them of the coming doom. He uses illustrations from the wilderness (v 3-8).
Ill: In our country 85% of the population claim church membership. We’ve seen worship services in White house. Yet we’ve witnessed bribery, and break-ins. We have divorced religion from ethics, profession from behavior. Our government is decaying.
Some Christians today feel that they are absolved from judgment and responsibility. Many people are afraid of Hell, so they join a church thinking that is good enough. They neglect their responsibility to God. Could the Lion be roaring in our church?
III. ISRAEL’S PUNISHMENT.
Amos called upon Israel’s neighbors to witness the nation’s destruction due to its lack of righteousness and justice (v 910). Then he announced their doom.
Before Watergate the President was warned that "there was a Cancer growing in the govt."
Consider how our nation and our churches are privileged: economically, educationally, socially, and spiritually. Remember that privilege carries with it responsibility. LUKE 12:48
CONC: This message from the prophet Amos speaks to us today. We need to beware, lest we become like the nation Israel and think we have it made because we are God’s chosen people.