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Habits and Attitudes of Highly Effective Churches: Devoted To Scripture

09 Aug

Does anyone here remember a phrase used in our fellowship in years past: “chapter and verse?” It carried the idea that we knew our Bible and used it regularly. It’s a phrase I hope is remembered in this assembly and I hope it will always be set before us as the beginning standard of who we are and why we do what we do!

We ought to require it of anyone who seeks to press their agenda upon us…or creates tensions which need to be clearly identified as “matters of opinion.”

We began a series of lessons entitled Habits and Attitudes of Effective Churches….and made the case that any successful congregation must first be Centered on Christ.

Second only to an affirmation of faith in an allegiance to Jesus Christ, a faithful and fruitful church declares its confidence in the Bible as the authoritative Word of God.

It may even be a mistake, in fact, to list these two affirmations as if they were somehow capable of being separated.  All we would dare affirm about Jesus is what we can ground in Holy Scripture.  It is our definitive source of information about him and the normative guide for understanding his function as head of the church.

The Christian faith rests upon the data found in the Bible, for “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).

The world around us is looking neither for someone to toss away the Bible nor for a group that will turn its authority into a heavy yoke no one can bear:
· It is waiting for churches to so embrace, affirm, and live Scripture that they cannot but see Jesus in them.
· They want churches both to teach and to model the life of Christ.
· Those churches will draw men to God.
· They will lead men and women to salvation in Christ.

1. THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD HAS BEEN PROCLAIMED
Paul spoke these words to the elders at Ephesus: Acts 20:20-21: “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. {21} I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”

Acts 20:24: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”

Acts 20:27: “For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.”

2. WE HAVE ALL THINGS PERTAINING TO LIFE AND GODLINESS
2 Peter 1:3: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

3. THE FAITH HAS BEEN REVEALED ONCE FOR ALL
Jude 1:3: “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”

In the Greek, “once for all” is “one time for all time.” I.e., the faith (that body of knowledge we are to believe) was delivered one time for all time:
· The faith wasn’t partly revealed, with more to come through later revelations years later!
· The faith wasn’t revealed just for that generation, with a different faith to be revealed for a generation yet future!
· Therefore the task we have is “to contend earnestly for the faith”, not be looking for a new faith to fit our desires or expectations!

4. THE SCRIPTURES CAN MAKE US COMPLETE, EQUIPPED FOR  EVERY GOOD WORK
2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, {17} so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NIV)
1  In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:
2  Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.

We are faithful to this “word of God” only when we are willing to accept its rebuke and correction as quickly as we accept its teaching and training and encouragement!

When I turn to the Scriptures, I find that I have all I need to…
a. Believe in Jesus – John 20:30-31

b. Have life in His name – John 20:30-31
c. Have fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the apostles 1 John 1:3
d. Have joy that is full – 1 John 1:4
e. Have help when I sin – 1 John 2:1
f. Know that I have eternal life – 1 John 5:13
g. Understand the revelation of the mystery of God – Rom 16:25-26; Ep 3:3-4
h. Be fruitful in the knowledge of Jesus Christ and have an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom – 2 Peter 1:8-11

There will always be a distinction related to “the all-sufficiency of the Scriptures.” The distinction becomes apparent as one considers the doctrines and practices of any religious group…
a. Those who accept it are more apt to be like the church you read about in the Bible
b. Those who deny it will quickly evolve into something much different

Introduction to 2 Kings 7 events:
In the period of Israel’s history known as “The Divided Kingdom”
a. The nation was divided into two parts
1) The kingdom of Israel in the north with Samaria as its capitol
2) The kingdom of Judah in the south with Jerusalem for its capitol

The weakened condition of both kingdoms left it open to attacks by other countries

We read of one siege of Samaria in 2 Kings 6, which brought a terrible famine upon the city of Samaria. Among those suffering in the famine were four lepers: 2 Kings 7:3-8 (NIV)
3 Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die?
4 If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’–the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”
5  At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, not a man was there,
6  for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!”
7  So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.
8  The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp and entered one of the tents. They ate and drank, and carried away silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also.

They discussed their plight
· In desperation they decided to surrender to the Syrians
· To their surprise, they found the Syrian camp abandoned
· At first, they splurged in their newfound riches

But upon reflection, they knew they needed to tell others what they found, and did so: 2 Kings 7:9-11 (NIV)
9 Then they said to each other, “We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.”
10  So they went and called out to the city gatekeepers and told them, “We went into the Aramean camp and not a man was there–not a sound of anyone–only tethered horses and donkeys, and the tents left just as they were.”
11  The gatekeepers shouted the news, and it was reported within the palace.

The lepers knew what was right, and did it
a. They knew they would be wrong by keeping silent
b. They knew punishment would befall them if they kept the good news to themselves — So they went back to the city and told the good news!

Many Christians are not like these lepers…
a. Despite it being “a day of good news”, they remain silent!
b. While many die of spiritual starvation, they feast on the gospel!

Matthew 28:18-20: “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. {19} Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of
the Son and of the Holy Spirit, {20} and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””

1 Peter 2:9-10: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. {10} Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

Today, the church is God’s “watchman” to the world! We are to take the gospel to every person! Those who have not heard will die in their own sin, but we will be held accountable if we gave them no warning!

We are not obligated to teach the non-Christian beyond the “first principles” Only if they accept the “first principles” will they ready to receive the “second principles”

If we are silent with regards to the “good news” (the gospel), then the words of the four lepers is true of us:
“We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait until morning light, some punishment will come upon us. Now therefore, come, let us go and tell…”- 2 Kings 7:9

A highly effective church is so focused on Jesus that its own experience of the Word of God reveals him to everyone who sees it. If we cherish, teach, and offer the Word of God to others merely as a library of statutes and case studies, we reveal our own impoverished understanding of the Bible.

The Bible is God’s revelation of himself in the person and work of Christ. And we are reading and interpreting it correctly only when we see beyond the words and cry, “I see Jesus! I see Jesus!” And we teach it effectively only when we model it so faithfully through the life of our churches that unchurched people around us cry, “I see Jesus! I see Jesus!”

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2018 in Sermon

 

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