Why the Little Church Should Not Think Little of Themselves!

I don’t know how many churches are discouraged about their church’s size; maybe you wish you had more people than you do, maybe you are discouraged because you have less than what you used to have. I think our Lord’s words will encourage you. Revelation 3:8 “you have a little power.” When Jesus wrote that He wrote that to one of seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, and only two of them were blamelessly perfect, and the church with a little power, is one of them.

Don’t you think that is an odd thing to say to a church that is blamelessly perfect? Shouldn’t Jesus be saying to a perfectly blameless church you have lots of power, and here is why I point that out! Matthew 16:18 “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Did you know that all hell can break loose against a church; the devil and his demons can mount an all-out attack to destroy your church or mine, and did you know they can’t overpower the church and do you know why? The church has lots of power! When you have Jesus your church has lots of power.

Why tell them they have little power? The church at Philadelphia is the littlest church, humanly speaking, when compared to the other churches! For example the church at Philadelphia was unlike the church at Sardis! The church at Sardis had a name they were alive, but they were dead, to the community they were a lively church, but not to Christ!

Perhaps this church had little name recognition. Maybe they had little money. The church at Laodicea had lots of money, Revelation 3:17 “because you say, I am rich, and have become wealthy.” And perhaps they had little in the way of attendance unlike the church at Pergamum and Thyatira that had large attendance; perhaps this church had little in the way of people power.

My experience with little churches is they have the tendency to think they can’t do a lot for the Lord because they are little! Do you know what little churches with little power, humanly speaking, need to hear?  Revelation 3:7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: If Jesus can open a door that no one can shut and shut doors that no one can open do you know what little churches need to hear? Strength is not determined by the size of the church, but the Savior of the church!

Did it ever occur to us that some churches are little because of Jesus? Jesus is telling His little churches I am sovereign over the doors of life. We know what that’s all about don’t we? 2 Corinthians 2:12 “Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord.” We are talking about an open door to preach the gospel to save souls! I would argue some churches are large not because the Lord is opening doors but because they are–don’t miss that, that’s the church at Pergamum and Thyatira that had large attendance because of their come one, come all, come as you are and feel free to stay as you are mentality! Some churches are large because they are attracting a crowd not a church!

The church at Philadelphia was not little because they were not preaching; they were little because they were! Revelation 3:8 “You kept My word. You have not denied My name.” What if I told you that being faithful to keeping the word, never denying the Name, what if I told you that a church might still might remain little–and do you know why, Jesus is sovereign over size! Jesus sovereignly opens and closes doors, He opens and closes hearts, people don’t believe the gospel because of the church they believe the gospel because of Christ! When Jesus wrote to the church with large attendance He wrote Revelation 3:3 “So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it.”

The church with a name, the church at Sardis was not keeping what they received and heard-they were not preaching and they had a large attendance, the church that was preaching was little not large! I hope we all know that what appears to be is not always the way it appears! Please don’t ever assume because a church is little that they are necessarily doing something wrong, and please don’t ever assume that because a church is large they are necessarily doing something right because one of the two blameless churches was doing something very right and they had little power!

Little churches should not think little of themselves! Zechariah 4:10 “For who hath despised the day of small things?” There is nothing wrong with small or little.  Take Obadiah, Philemon, 2 John, 3 John and Jude–all one chapter books in the Bible.  Little books, listen they are as divine as the 66 chapters in Isaiah. There is nothing wrong with being little.

Is Your Church Alive?

Revelation 3:1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.’”

One writer described this church as a morgue with a steeple, a congregation of corpses; he said they have undertakers for ushers, embalmers for elders, morticians for ministers, and the pastor graduated from the cemetery.

Ever wonder if your church is dead or alive? We drive by churches and see a parking lot full of cars and we think now that church must be doing something right! May I remind you what appears to be, is not always the way it appears!

There was a brilliant young pianist giving his very first concert. As the final chord of his flawless performance reverberated in the hall, the audience rose to its feet and broke out in thunderous applause. Only one member of the audience remained seated. The pianist’s eyes began to well up with tears and his head dropped slightly as he left the stage in utter defeat.    The stage manager in the great hall was a sensitive and observant man who had noticed the lone gentleman and saw how this cool response affected the star performer. “Son,” he said, “you’re a hit! Everyone was overwhelmed. The critic from the Times was in tears. By morning you’ll be famous. Don’t let one guy get you down.” “You don’t understand,” the dejected young man replied, “That man was my piano teacher. It only matters what he thinks.”

When it comes to a church being dead or alive it does not matter what you think or I think, it only matters what the teacher thinks. A church may have all the publicity, all the popularity, and all the population, why, it has a name that is alive and it means nothing to Jesus! If you want to know a church that is alive from dead, look no further than the church that had a name that they were!

If we learn anything from the previous 4 churches, all 4 churches experienced persecution – not the church at Sardis! One writer called the church at Sardis, “the perfect model of inoffensive Christianity.” Evidently the Jews and the Romans didn’t bother the church because the church didn’t bother them. Evidently the devil didn’t bother them because they never bothered the devil! Do you know who loves the kind of church that never bothers them? The community – this was the very first community church!

Why did they not experience persecution!? Revelation 3:3, “So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.” What did they forget that they needed to remember? The gospel received and the gospel heard – they were not keeping it. They believed it, they were just not keeping it!

No wonder why the community never bothered them. Who wants to hear repent of your sins and turn from them and believe that your only hope for heaven is Jesus? Who wants to hear they are not good enough, that on your best day you are not good enough, you must be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect? Who wants to hear that if you reject this message, if you refuse to repent and receive Jesus as your only hope for heaven, you will perish and be eternally damned from the presence of God in a real hell?

So if you want to know a church that is alive from dead – the church that is alive irritates the system with a sermon and that sermon causes the system to irritate the saints.

 

Is Your Church Into Popularity, Population, or Purity?

Is your church into popularity, population, or purity! Or to put it another are you into big or blameless?

How many have ever heard there is no perfect church? Notice what Paul wrote in Philippians 2:15, “so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless” and Philippians 1:10, “so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ.” Proving yourselves blameless until the day of Christ means blameless until and at the rapture.

When Jesus writes these seven letters to these seven churches in Revelation chapter 2 & 3 in each letter are commendations and condemnations. Only two of the seven churches are without condemnations and corrections, two churches receive no criticisms. That tells us something, number one in the eyes of Jesus is there are perfect churches, and number two-look no further than these commendations and condemnations to know how to be one!

Now what happens to the imperfect church? Revelation 2:5, “I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.”

The church at Pergamum had both commendation and condemnation! There condemnation has to do with my opening questions. Is your church into popularity, population, or purity! Or to put it another way are you into big or blameless?

Revelation 2:14–15, “But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.”

Do you know what I call the church at Pergamum? The ‘Church of the Open Door;’ they said something like this, ‘come one, come all, and come just as you are.’ G. Campbell Morgan said that the church at Pergamum, while not committing itself to heresy, had “become guilty of Broad Churchism, attempting to find room within her pale for all sorts and conditions of men and faiths.”

The Church of Pergamum, said something like, we preach and believe saved by grace alone thru faith alone, why we even die for it, but if you do not agree with us and if you choose to teach and live an immoral lifestyle, we will still make you feel at home within our church.

The church at Pergamum was more into pews that were plentiful than pews that were pure – which brings us to the Lord’s call in verse 16: “Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” Notice in that verse the words you and them, so who exactly is supposed to do the repenting?

Everyone is to repent, first you, you is the church at Pergamum, the elders must repent, the congregation must repent. Why? They were after pews that were plentiful when they should have been after pews that were pure.

Them! The false teachers who live an immoral life who teach others to do likewise, they too need to repent. It’s their only hope of avoiding eternal damnation. The church at Pergamum wanted the unsaved to feel comfortable, come one come all come just as you are.

How should unsaved people feel if they come to church? 1 Corinthians 14:24, “if an unbeliever enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all;” Does your church make the unsaved feel comfortable at the expense of being convicted? Churches like the church at Pergamum cause people to think they are going to heaven because they are going to church!

Let me end by saying we cannot help sinners by saying that sin is not sinful. Christ came to save sinners, but if the church no longer believes in sin, we have nothing to offer, and if our only ambition is to be large for large sake, I want you to know when Jesus comes He is not impressed.

Jesus is far more impressed with the small church that is blameless than the large church that is big!

Jesus Will Be Looking For the Perfect Church!

Did you know when Jesus comes at the rapture He is looking for perfect churches?

Have you ever heard Christians say there is no perfect church? I want you to know when Jesus comes He is looking for the perfect church! Now that’s a scary thought!

1 Corinthians 1:8, “who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Blameless in the day of Christ, blameless at the rapture!

Philippians 1:10, “so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ” Blameless until the rapture, I wish I could tell you when Jesus comes He is not looking for perfect churches – but that would only excuse our imperfections.

Thirty two times to the churches in Rev. 2 & 3, Jesus says, “I know,” and in 12 of those 32 He says, “I know your deeds.” Jesus knows everything there is to know about our church and yours. He knows what we are doing well and He knows what we are doing poorly, and look, He knows if we are not doing anything at all!

To demonstrate just how perfect Jesus wants His churches when He comes follow along with me.

When our Lord said to the church at Ephesus, “I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent,” He said that to a church that was a laboring church, a lasting church, a learning church, and a loathing church! They had one problem, only one, that’s all it takes you know. Look, they did not leave their laboring, lasting, learning or loathing, they left their loving, that is they had devotion without emotion. Dry orthodoxy!

Only two of the seven churches in Rev. 2 & 3 are without condemnation and correction. You say what made them so blameless? Jesus knows!

If you would you like to know what a perfect church is in the eyes of our Lord then look no further than the commendations and condemnations of these seven churches, and one more thing get the good in and the bad out or Jesus will turn your electricity off.

What Difference Does Easter Make?

“How can I know which religion is the right one?” That’s a fair question don’t you think?

It is a critical question because on the surface there seems to be no great difference between Christianity and all the religions of the world. They have great leaders … and so do we. They have written Scriptures … and so do we. They have miracle stories … and so do we. They have high ethical standards … and so do we. They have a long and rich history … and so do we.

One Fundamental Difference–just go to the tombs of the founders of the great world religions. Call the roll:

Mohammed … “Here!”

Moses … “Here!”

Buddha … “Here!”

Confucius … “Here!”

Jesus Christ … … No answer! Because He is not there. The tomb is empty!

Four thousand years ago Job asked this question, “If a man dies, will he live again?” (Job 14:14) That is the greatest of all the questions-it is the central question Easter was meant to answer. Death is frightening and terrifying-this is why the Bible calls it “the last enemy.” (I Corinthians 15:26) No man has ever lived who hasn’t trembled before the fact of his own death. The empty tomb says, He is risen. The disciples say, He is risen. The church of Jesus Christ says, He is risen. The writer of this blog says He has risen.

Is it true? Can we believe it? I can only give you my personal testimony. I do!

If a man dies, will he live again? Yes! Yes! Yes! Here is the answer to the greatest question, the deepest question, the final question. All of us will face death someday. But for those who know Jesus, death holds no fear because of their faith!

Have you given the alternative some thought? Die, decay, death. I have a better idea repent and believe in Jesus, He not only said He would die and rise from the grave, but His disciples died because He lived and for the last 2000 years men and woman from all over the world have chosen to believe, so believe and follow Him!

What Kind of Church Does Jesus Want to See at the Rapture?

Churches need to know the answer to this most critical question because if a church is not rapture ready Jesus is ready to remove their church.

Now why these thoughts, why these questions, why rapture ready or ready to be removed?

Jesus said this to the church at Philadelphia, Revelation 3:11 “I am coming quickly.” Jesus said that to a specific church about the rapture, but not just them! Revelation 3:13, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

When Jesus said I am coming quickly to one church, He has the ‘churches plural’ in mind, which means all churches. Now what does Jesus want all churches to hear about His coming quickly?

Thirty two times to the churches in Revelation 2 & 3, Jesus says, “I know.” In 12 of those 32 He says, “I know your deeds.” Jesus knows everything there is to know about any church. He knows what we are doing, and He knows what we are not doing. He knows what we are doing well, and He knows what we are doing poorly. And He knows if we are rapture ready or ready to be removed!

Because Jesus knows Jesus says this! Revelation 2:5, “I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.” What is a lampstand? What is a lampstand for? Revelation 1:20, “the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” A lampstand is a church. And, what are lamps for?  To give light—right, lamps give light.

Notice what Paul said to a church! Philippians 2:15, “so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.” The Philippian church was to be lights in the world, that’s what a lampstand is for. Does Paul mean leave all the lights on, go around the building and turn all the switches to the on position?

Paul had two things in mind when he said that to the Philippians. Philippians 2:16, “holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.”  The church is a lampstand that lights the world when she holds fast the word of life—that’s the gospel. In the day of Christ, that’s the rapture!

Do you see the kind of church Jesus is looking to see when He comes? He is looking for lampstands that bring the light of the gospel to the world until the rapture comes!

This particular church was a laboring church, a lasting church—they had lasting labor, they were a learned church, and they were a loathing church, BUT they were NOT a lampstand.

Distinguishing the Differences

If a Christian does not distinguish the difference between the church and Israel they will never distinguish between the Rapture in the clouds and the Revelation on earth!

The Rapture
1.Christ comes to the air (1 Thess. 4:16, 17).
2.He comes for His saints (1 Thess. 4:16, 17).
3.The Rapture is a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51).
4.Christ’s Coming for His saints is never said to be preceded by signs in the heavens.
5.The Rapture is identified with the Day of Christ (1 Cor. 1:8; 2 Cor. 1:14; Phil. 1:6, 10).
6.The Rapture is presented as a time of blessing (1 Thess. 4:18).
7.The Rapture takes place in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor. 15:52).
8.The Rapture is for the Church (1 Cor. 15:51- 58; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).

The Revelation
1.He comes to the earth (Zech. 14:4).
2.He comes with His saints (1 Thess. 3:13; Jude 14).
3.The Revelation is not a mystery; it is the subject of many Old Testament prophecies (Psa. 72; Isa. 11; Zech. 14).
4.Christ’s Coming with His saints will be heralded by signs in the heavens (Matt. 24:29, 30).
5.The Revelation is identified with the Day of the Lord (2 Thess. 2:1-12, ASV).
6.The Revelation is a time of judgment (2 Thess. 2:8-12).
7.The Revelation will be visible worldwide (Matt. 24:27; Rev. 1:7).
8.The Revelation is for Israel (Matt. 24:1-25:46).

The Last Trumpet

Why do I believe the rapture will occur in the 7th month on the 1st of the month in the Hebrew calendar? Leviticus 23 describes these feasts as God’s appointed times. The words ‘appointed times’ are the difference between believing and not believing! If I don’t believe the rapture will occur in the 7th month on the 1st of the month, I don’t believe that what God has done, God will do!

What has God done?  Paul wrote to the Colossians in chapter two that the 7 feast days in Leviticus chapter 23 are shadows of things to come, things to come is all about what God will do! Paul then adds the substance of these shadows belongs to Christ. That’s all about what God has done! I believe what God has done God will do. God appointed specific times and specific days, and Jesus fulfilled every spring feast on the exact day of that feast.

Passover is the first of God’s seven feasts, and Jesus died as the Passover lamb on the Passover. On the day, Paul said to the Corinthians Christ our Passover has been sacrificed!

The second festival, day two, begins a seven day feast, the feast of Unleavened Bread. This is why the Jews call it the 8 days of Passover; leaven is a symbol for sin. Jesus said, “take this bread and eat, this is My body which is for you,” the unleavened bread He was eating was the shadow, He was the substance!

Day three came, and along with it the third of seven feasts, the third appointed time; the feast of First Fruits. Now what day did Jesus rise from the dead? Day three right! 1 Corinthians 15:20 says, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.”

The next feast is the feast of Pentecost.  Pentecost literally means 50, 50 days from the Passover the Holy Spirit came and the church was born! Whose church was born? Jesus said, “I will build My church” Matthew 16. The feast of Pentecost is a shadow, unlike the Passover, Unleavened Bread and First Fruits, which were observed with unleavened bread, the feast of Pentecost was observed with leaven bread; now get this, two leavened loaves, now why two? The Lord’s church is comprised of two kinds of sinners: both Jews and gentiles. The only two kinds of sinners there are in the world.

This brings us to where we are now – the church age. In-between the spring feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and Pentecost, in-between them and the fall feasts, the feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the feast of Tabernacles, are 4 months! There are 4 months that separate the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), the church being born from the feast of Trumpets – the church being raptured!

Jesus spoke of this in John 4:35, “Do you not say, ‘there are yet four months, and then comes the harvest?’ Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” That’s where we are now, the 4 months in-between the feast of Pentecost and the feast of Trumpets – and Paul wants us ready for the last trumpet!

If God appointed every shadow feast on its day I have no reason to believe His next one will be fulfilled on any other than the 7th month and the 1st of the month.

Rapture Ready

Why a series on the subject of being rapture ready?

Join us every Sunday Morning as we start our new Series “Rapture Ready”

My fear is that the Left Behind series written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins will leave people left behind!

In this book series people are left behind and in many of the stories someone who heard the gospel and rejected that gospel before the rapture come to their senses after the rapture and believe realizing all their friends and family were right after all.

Should we expect that to happen, fact or fiction? The fact is after the rapture according to the bible, the first believers during the tribulation are not your friends or family that rejected the gospel, but 144,000 Jewish men! They are called the first fruits of the Lamb, and do you know why? The gospel was, and the gospel is and the gospel will forever be to the Jew first!

I would not be expecting our friends and family to become believers after the rapture! Ever wonder what happens to all those people who were not ready for the rapture? What if I told you the bible teaches if they rejected Jesus before the rapture they will in all likelihood reject Him after the rapture!

I should point out, we won’t find the word rapture in our bibles. Now don’t let that alarm you, I want you to know it is okay to change God’s vocabulary, just make sure to never change God’s dictionary! So what does God’s dictionary tell us the word rapture means? 1 Thessalonians 4 verses 16–17, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

The words ‘caught up’ come from the word har-pa-zo, they mean to take away, to snatch away by force to heaven!

2 Corinthians 12:2, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven.” Verse 4, “was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.”

Speaking of Israel metaphorically giving birth to Jesus her son Revelation 12:5, “And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.”

In John 10 the word is used to describe the inability to snatch us from the right hand of the father in heaven! John 10:28–29, “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

In Jude snatched away will result in our being in the presence of the Lord! Jude 23–24, “save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.”

In all these passages people are taken away, caught up, raptured and snatched away to heaven!

How long will it take God to get us ready for the rapture? There are a lot of dead in Christ you know, 2,000 years of dead in Christ, and look a lot of living in Christ as well, so how long will this take? Not very long, 1 Corinthians 15:52, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” In the twinkling of an eye, it will happen—so fast and without warning that I am sure the newspapers and the internet will be reporting in great perplexity ‘thousands upon thousands missing from every city and every continent!’

Ever wonder about those left behind when this occurs? Think about it with me—planes will be flying through the air and suddenly the saved pilots will be taken out of the plane. What if the entire crew on that flight to Florida were all saved, and what about all the flights all around the world where the pilots are saved! What about those left behind traveling to their honeymoon or vacation who are unsaved? I would strongly suggest to them that they be rapture ready before they board that plane!

Cars will be speeding across all the highways and all the saved drivers will be caught up, but their unsaved passengers will be left in the passenger seat or the back seat while all those cars drive all over the road. What about all those cars, some going 30 miles an hour others’ 55, what then? I would strongly suggest you be rapture ready before you get in any vehicle!

People all over the world will be on operating tables and their surgeons, who were believers, will be taken out of that surgery. Think of all the surgeries around the world and all the believing surgeons and all the believing nurses and all the believing anesthesiologists will be caught up in a nano second! What then, I would strongly suggest you be rapture ready before you go under anesthesia!

Those left behind in the rapture will face a quickly changing world—and the change will not be for the better. Second Thessalonians 2:11 says that the “power of lawlessness” is currently being held in check by the Holy Spirit. At the rapture, the true church is removed from the earth, and the Holy Spirit’s restraint will be “taken out of the way.” At that moment, the world will have no born-again believers anywhere. All the Christian workers in hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, rescue missions, relief agencies—gone. Every Christian in law enforcement, social work, and health care—gone. And of course many churches will sit empty. In addition to the great void in the service community will be the commencement of God’s judgment on a rebellious world, detailed in Revelation 6—16.

Don’t be left behind. Make sure you are ready for the rapture. Since the rapture is for believers, it is vital that you place your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior (Acts 16:31). Repent of your sin and fully trust in Jesus alone as the payment for your sin. Believe in Him, and you will not perish (John 3:16). The Lord knows who are His, and He will leave none of them behind (John 10:14).

Those who REPENT, that is change your mind about what you believe and how you behave, are those saved by faith in Christ and will not be left behind in the rapture. The saved are like the five wise virgins in Jesus’ parable who are ready for the coming of the bridegroom; they have their lamps trimmed and burning and full of oil—a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 25:1–13). To make sure that you are not left behind, trust Christ. Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Do not delay another moment. The matter is urgent. Trust Christ now.