Temple Baptist Church - 3-19-2017
2 Thessalonians 3:1
A. Anytime you have a 2nd or 3rd of a book in the Bible, it prophesies of the end times and the rise of apostasy. The theme of 2 Thessalonians is the “falling away” and the revealing of “that Wicked” one: the Antichrist. We are there! Apostasy is everywhere and the spirit of antichrist permeates our society.
B. As the Apostle Paul brings this little book to its conclusion, he uses the word “finally.” It is both the summation and conclusion of the epistle. “Finally, brethren, pray for us!” If you have ever prayed for God’s men, you had better pray for them now.
C. Two things are mentioned here: a) Pray for the preacher to preach the Word of God and b) that he will be delivered from “unreasonable and wicked men.” I will only deal with the former this evening. This prayer is for God’s man, not for the preaching. When the Word of God is preached, it will flow unrestricted. It will have “free course” and stem the “tide of apostasy” of these last times. What restricts the “free course” of God’s Word is when the men of God no longer preach its fullness with uncompromising power from the pulpits of our churches.
D. I could spend the entire sermon on the purpose and importance of preaching but I believe that you and I already know these things. The most important aspect of a church service is the preached word.
1. Many churches build their church upon singing programs. While singing is important in both worship and a prelude to the preaching, it is not to be the single most important aspect of a worship service.
2. Many churches build their church upon youth programs. The number one question asked of this pastor by prospective “church members” is “What programs do you have for the youth. I am all for working with our youth and trying to do things with them but I do not find “youth programs” in the Bible.
3. Many churches build their church upon entertainment and extra-curricular activities. I know churches that always have to have something going on. (Ladies Meetings, Youth Meetings, Camps, Seminars, Sweetheart Banquets, Plays, etc. I am not against these things but Biblical churches are built upon the preaching and teaching of God’s Word.)
E. While these are not entirely wrong, the main thrust of the church or the primary purpose of the church is preaching and teaching God’s Word. The local church is called the “pillar and ground of the truth.”
F. The list could go one but I think that you get the “gist” of what I am trying to preach. Let us look at these few simple things in order to get the reason for the Word of God having “free course.” When speaking of water, “free course” means allowing the water to flow unrestricted. It would mean to let the water seek its own level and run where it will. Power companies dam up rivers and creeks in order to harness the power of the water by changing its natural course. Grist mills often cut channels to redirect the natural flow of water to turn the wheels and grind the meal.
G. The Word of God is not bound; therefore, when it is allow to flow unrestricted, it becomes effectual in the lives of God’s people. The only way that Satan can “bind” the Word of God is to effectively stop its preaching. He is trying to do so today in society through such things as the “Hate Crime Bill.” In Canada, it is against the law to preach against sodomy. America is following suit. Same sex marriages, etc., are secretly directed at the Word of God. Someone told me yesterday that I would get in trouble because of our church sign which said that sodomy is not an alternate lifestyle. Sodomy is sin! Sodomites do not mind terms such as “gay” or “homosexual” but the Bible term “sodomite” has free course and exposes the very depravity of the act.
H. The greatest tool that Satan has that effectively restricts the preached Word is the people of the church: the pew! Most of the denominations today are liberal and filled with apostasy for this reason. As the times of not enduring sound doctrine approached, the churches filled up more and more with lost people. These individuals soon became the majority in most churches and, therefore, had a majority vote in church decisions including the calling of a pastor.
I. I do not want to deal with these liberal compromised churches for this reason: WHEN SOMETHING DIES IT NORMALLY REMAINS DEAD!
Revelation 3:1-2 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. (2) Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. (I find it interesting that God did not say to resurrect the things which have died! I am not saying to stop trying to reverse the satanic trends in the churches but I am saying that once something is gone, church people will rarely let it be resurrected.)
J. Satan has always deliberately attacked the Word of God from “Yea, hath God said?” in Genesis 3 to the “falling away” of the end-time church. He is trying to destroy the preached Word in our churches today!
1. How Do Churches Restrict The Free Course Of God’s Word?
a. By Hearing And Not Obeying – I made the statement not long ago that most church members like “Buffet Preaching.” Many things are on a food bar but there are many that I never sample. I pick and choose what I like. I often do not eat some foods because I can eat them at home. Sometimes, I like the foods that I reject because I simply like others better. On occasion, I do not eat certain things because I do not like them! Most sermons are heard but unheeded! I guess “if they had been here, I would have got them!” Eventually, the preacher will quit preaching on certain subjects because no one wants to hear or obey them.
b. By Bucking Every Standard Of The Church – I have found that most people will try to find out just where the line that marks the border of liberalism is and then put their toes to the line and lean over it as far as they can. Standards are an area of constant attack. Most churches of our day have absolutely no standards for dress. People come dressed like they are going to Six Flags. Worldly, immodest clothing permeate churches. You can seem more bosoms and legs in church than you can at Wal*Mart. There was a grand time when a woman’s ankles were covered. Those were days of greater morality! Dress standards also need to apply for outings and youth meetings. Church outings are for our people and youth meetings are for our youth but others are welcome to come but are not welcome to “come as they are.” I know that lost people often attend church functions and they do not know better but many know what the church standards are and simply reject them. If they want to enjoy these things with the church, they should dress and act accordingly.
c. By Unfaithfulness In Attendance – God’s Word is ineffectual in the lives of those who are not there to hear! Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves has become more of “as the manner of some is!” Churches are closing their doors on Sunday night and Wednesday nights because of lack of attendance. I blame most of this on the pulpit because, if the pastor’s family wanted to come to church, there would be the two or three where the Lord is in the midst. Apathy will cause a preacher to stop preaching and start entertaining in order to get the people to come more often.
d. By Rejecting Doctrinal Truth – Doctrinal truth must be “endured!” Sound doctrine is a must in the local church but there is often a mixed multitude on the pews. 2 Timothy says that the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine. Therefore, the man of God is to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. You correct some people with either a reproof or a rebuke and they are gone. They are looking for churches and pastors who will allow them to remain in their sinfulness and rebellion by keeping his mouth shut. If a pastor “likes his job,” he must be careful not to offend these “goats.”
e. By Running Off Preachers Who Preach God’s Word – This is not a problem here but many preachers go through several churches before they find one where they can stay and minister in the Word. A good man of God will not be limited in what he can or cannot preach. Endure the preached word if it comes from God’s Word and “Amen” the preacher even if it hurts! Then run off the crowd who wants to run the preacher off! Let godliness become the majority in the church and the preached word will take care of the rest.
2. What Will Be The Effects Of Restricting The Free Course Of God’s Word.
a. Our Preachers Will Either Leave Or Quit Preaching The Whole Counsel Of God – God gives churches men that are “suited” to them. Men who love the Lord, love the Word, and will love and be a part of your family as well as the church. Good men of God are hard to find. You will never keep a good pastor and preacher by restricting what he can preach. God’s man will preach or move on. Then, more often than not, God’s man will become discouraged and just “slack off” a little. Then, our children will not hear the clear message from God’s Word. Where we had a choice, their choices will be made by us.
b. Our Pulpits Will Become Sounding Boards For The Will Of The People – Good preachers will leave and Pulpit Committees will find preachers of “like un-precious faith!” Good men of God have become a rarity in these last days. Hireling prophets abound along with many men in pulpits who have no divine call. These are men who go into the “ministry” for various reasons and look forward to the day when they can retire. They preach what the people want to hear and make sure that they step on no “toes” in the process. The pulpit then becomes a “mirror” for the will of the people and not the “mirror” of James chapter one that makes us behold our natural face.
c. Our Principles Will Become Distorted And Eventually Die – Bible principles will diminish and God’s Word will be compromised or changed. Look around you here in our county. How many good, Bible preaching, God loving churches do you know of? I personally know some families that know nothing about the Lord and act just like religious, lost people who are “pillars of the assembly” in their churches. (One of my deacons and her husband.)
d. Our People Will Become Worldly And Rebellious And Good, God fearing Christians Will Leave – Christian Schools have suffered this problem for years. As the need for money grows, standards are let down and as standards are let down, good people move on. I know separation is a “bad subject” in these worldly times but the Bible still says to separate from the standards of this world. As the church gets more worldly, the world gets more religious because they can now fit comfortably on the pews with no conviction power because God’s Word has been diverted or restricted.
e. Our Purity Will Become Tainted And Sinful Living Will Permeate Our Pews – Instead of good, godly people who love the Lord and one another, there will be people who are ungodly, worldly, and care nothing about the things of the Lord. Now people can shack up and be good church members. Sodomites can now sit comfortably on the pews. Sinners will always be welcome here at Temple Baptist but they cannot join our fellowship without getting saved and, if they get saved, shacking up and sodomy, etc. will be history in their lives.
f. Our Posterity Will Sniff Out Our Hypocrisy And Will Leave Never To Return – Churches are losing young people at a record pace because of the hypocrisy and double standards that they see. Kids are really smart! I look around and grin a little but, really, they are very intelligent. They may not always do right but, for the most part, they know right from wrong and look to God’s men and God’s people for examples. Unfortunately, to most of the young people in churches, their parent’s lives, church standards, and preachers fail to give a proper example and—with their lives—say, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say do!” We, as parents, are to set the godly examples for our children and allow the pulpit to reinforce what they are taught at home.
g. Our Purpose Will Come To A Standstill And Our Churches Will Become Social Clubs – Sinners will neither be welcome nor saved. Missions will die and sinners will perish. Most churches have neither a visitation program nor a strong mission’s outreach. Churches become hospitals for the sinfully sick; rest homes for those who have spiritually “retired;” safe havens for “goats” and “false prophets;” and generally despicably lukewarm and apathetic.
h. Our Power Will Soon Be Gone And We Will Become The Spiritually Anemic – May God help us to remember that it is God’s Word and allow God’s men to faithfully instead of fearfully preach its “whole counsel!” We have a great church. We have a special church. Let’s keep it that way.