Summary: Too often we think of salvation only in terms of our "personal salvation." But Jesus not only saves us as individuals, He saves us to be part of His local body. Jesus cares enough about His local churches that He is pictured as walking in our midst. How
1. Jesus is intimately involved in His local church as our mediator
2. Jesus is intimately involved in His local church as our purity
3. Jesus is intimately involved in His local church as our judge
4. Jesus is intimately involved in His local church as our authority
I am as excited as I have been in a long time. This morning we’re starting a new series that has been weighing on me for several months. We finished our last book exposition back in February when we finished James and we’re not ready to start another complete book exposition quite yet. So we’re not going to go through the whole book of Revelation. Instead, we’re going to spend the next several weeks looking at the first three chapters. When most of us think of the book of Revelation, we always think of the end times. We think about all the symbolism and pictures of the Apocalypse. We think about Rapture and Tribulation and the Beast and the Millennium and all of those end-times things. Well, that’s not where we’re going. We’re staying out of the speculation about the future and staying in the here and now. In the first three chapters of Revelation, you will find seven letters to seven local churches in Asia. People have tried to do all different kinds of things with these letters, but here’s what they really are. They’re seven real letters to seven real churches that existed in the first century. While the Apostle John was in exile on the Island of Patmos, Jesus appeared to him in a vision. And in that vision, Jesus told John to write these letters. So he did. He wrote to the local church in Ephesus, the local church in Smyrna, the local church in Pergamos, the local church in Thyatira, the local church in Sardis, the local church in Philadelphia, and the local church in Laodicea. I want you to get that in your mind. This was not some kind of universal church. It was not different church ages. These were seven letters to seven local bodies of believers. Local bodies of believers just like we here at Brushfork Baptist Church are a local body of believers. Is the local church important to Jesus? Is Brushfork Baptist Church important to Jesus? That’s what we will discover each week as we move along in this series. Before we get into the individual letters to the individual churches, we’re going to spend the next couple of weeks seeing a broad picture of Jesus’ relationship to His local churches. And in that, we’re going to see how Jesus cares for us. Not just for us as individual Christians, but how He cares for us as a church. How He cares for us as His church. He cares for Brushfork Baptist Church by His intimate involvement with us. And He cares for Brushfork Baptist Church by His personal protection of us. And that takes us to our passage this morning.
One of last year’s best-selling Christian ministry books had a very interesting title. The book is called “They Like Jesus, But Not the Church.” Well, if that title was designed to grab attention, it certainly grabbed mine. Surely that was just a controversial title to sell books. Surely the book didn’t mean what the title said. It did. Here’s the premise of the book. In today’s world, people don’t have a problem accepting Jesus into their life. What they have a problem with is so-called “organized religion.” In other words, they have a problem with going to a local church. Well, is that OK? Is it OK to “accept” Jesus and not accept His church? Jesus didn’t think so. As a matter of fact, in our passage this morning, Jesus portrays Himself to John as walking in the midst of His churches. Sometimes the images in Revelation can get confusing. But there is no mistaking what Jesus is talking about here. Because He explains Himself on down in verse 20. In verse 20, He tells us that the seven candlesticks He’s talking about represent these seven churches He told John to write to. In other words, Jesus tells John to write a letter to seven local churches. And, by the way, let them know that I am constantly walking in their midst. Is that how we see Jesus this morning? Do we see Jesus walking in our midst as a church? Notice that Jesus didn’t say, “I’m walking in the midst of all these people who call themselves Christians who won’t have anything to do with my church.” He says, “I’m walking in the midst of My local churches.” My friend, Jesus is here with us this morning. Jesus is walking in our midst. Many times we sing the song, “Just a closer walk with Thee. Grant it Jesus is my plea. Daily walking close to thee.” Do you want to walk with Jesus? Then be in His local church. That’s where He’s walking. If you want to walk with Him, that’s where you have to walk too. As a matter of fact, I’m safe in saying, there is no walking with Jesus outside of the context of a local church. This morning, I want each of us to see our church the way Jesus does. I want each of us to value our church the way that Jesus does. I want us to walk with Jesus as He walks in our midst this morning. In order to do that, we’re going to look at four ways Jesus is intimately involved in Brushfork Baptist Church. The first way is that He is our mediator. Look at verse 13: