Summary: Often we want to see church growth, but have we looked to see what we need to do to sustain growth?
I have asked myself the question over the past two years, what is it that has kept the churches from having sustained growth, what has kept them from keeping pastors for any length of time, what is it that has such a vise over Northeastern Washington preventing the excitement and revival other areas of the nation and world are currently experiencing? Have you wondered? I know in this congregation there are those who love the Lord, who spend time in prayer, who are seeking His will and His way, but lets be honest, are we experiencing the breakthrough we are looking for? I want to share some thoughts with you today, I want you to pray about them, and decide if you think I might be on to something.
We are all familiar with the passage in Matthew 22:37, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." A few weeks ago I quoted from the passage in John 21:15-17 where Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love me?" three times. Jesus asked Peter three times to make sure Peter’s service was motivated by an intense love for Him because if it was not, it would lead to duty without devotion, practice without passion. And God not only wants our duty, He desires our devotion and our passion.
Somewhere along the line we have exchanged that devotion and that passion and have come to look upon our Christianity more out of duty and obligation. It is so easy to do, in fact, when the transition takes places, we don’t notice it, and it is hard for us to acknowledge that it has actually happened.
Let me show you this by first reading a passage from Revelations Chapter 2:1-5. (READ) Jesus is telling them, I see your deeds and your toil, your perseverance. He is telling them their duty, their work, their obligations are noted, but so is their lack of devotion and lack of passion for they have lost their first love. Where they wrong in what they were doing? No. They were only wrong in their motives. They were doing, but their motivation was in question, for without our love for Christ being the primary reason for our doing, something is out of balance.
Now before you tune me out thinking I am saying my balance, your balance is not right, and throwing up a defensive wall, I want you to hear me out this morning. I believe an important key for this community is found in what I have to say this morning, I only ask that you weigh the information. You might have right motives, you might have total devotion and passion, then this message might be for someone else here today, but I believe this an eye opening revelation right from the throne of grace.
Turn to 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 (READ)
In this passage, Paul is addressing carnal Christians. Understand, carnal Christians are genuine Christians, Christians who have left their first love, and you cannot leave your first love unless you are related in the first place.
Think on this for a moment. It is possible to be on your way to heaven and yet be of little use to God here on earth. It is possible to come to a place where you receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, yet come to a place where you refuse to submit to His Lordship. This is a picture of a carnal Christian, someone who is on their way to heaven but has compromised their life of faith here on this earth.
Also understand this. There are some people who think they are carnal Christians when they have never been Christians at all. They think they have backsliden when they have never front sliden. Let me help you understand what I am saying so there is no confusion.
John 3:1-7 states (READ) So what does one have to be before they can become a Christian, they must be born again. They need to repent of their sins and be saved. They need to entrust their eternal destiny to Jesus Christ who has paid for their sins on the cross and confess Christ as Lord and Savior of their life. If you have never done that, today is the day of salvation for you and at the end of the service you can come to the alter and we will pray with you so that you can be sure.
Now sometimes we see a person who has professed to be born again but is now living a Christian lie and it is east to say that this person is not a Christian. And it is possible they are not, but it is also possible that this person is a genuine Christian who has grown lukewarm and become a failure in their walk. Just as much as it is legally possible to be married without enjoying the intimate fellowship that marriage should bring, it is also possible to be truly married to Christ but not enjoy the fellowship that ought to be part of our salvation.