Sunday, April 19, 2015

True Mission Churches

Temple Baptist Church - 4-19-2015
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10


A.  Several times in the New Testament, we find the Apostle Paul described the churches that he started.  These epistles were written for a couple of reasons:

1.  To encourage this young churches to maintain their quality through faithfulness to
God’s Word.

2.  To set a biblical example for the spiritual generations to come to follow.

B.  Though we live almost 2,000 years later, God’s will for the structure, authority, and outreach of the local change has never changed.  So many churches are now closing their doors both at home and on foreign fields.  My question is “what happened to bring these churches to the point of quitting?”  I believe the answer to that question can be answered in first few verses of this little epistle.

1.  Churches close their doors when they are no longer Obedient to the Person who owns it.  Vs 1.  “In God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.”  To be in the Lord is a place of disobedience, discomfort, and division.

a.  When churches are no longer obedient to God’s Word, they fail to be His churches.  We have a Manuel by which to structure and operate the local church.  Local churches are to be built and maintained through the vigilance of its pulpit and members.  I once had a sticker on my car’s bumper that read, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” 

2 Timothy 4:5  But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

b.  When churches are no longer obedient to God’s Word, there is no grace to endure.  Churches will always have their problems, both internal and external but they are given to grace to endure.  I wish bad things did not have to happen to good churches but they do.  When the local church wants to be God’s church, there is the grace to endure everything and overcome everything that Satan can throw at it. 

2 Timothy 2:1-3  Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  (2)  And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.  (3)  Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

c.  When churches are no longer obedient to God’s Word, there is no peace from God.  Even in the worst of times, God gives His peace to His children.  God’s peace is a peace that remains through the storms that come.

John 14:27  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

2.  Churches close their doors when they are no longer Obedient to the Purpose for which they are founded.  Vs 3.  “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope.”

a.  Churches are to be a work of faith.  I know that we are to be good stewards of what comes into the local church but there is a fine line between stewardship and faith.  Our church has hopefully learned the blessing of giving instead of hoarding!  Money is to be used, not stored up for a “rainy day.”

Acts 20:35  I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.  (Here, Paul quotes a verse spoken by the Lord but not recorded in the Gospels.  It is a verse that was quoted while Paul was still a lost man.)

2 Corinthians 8:1-5  Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;  (2)  How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.  (3)  For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 

b.  Churches are to be a labor of love.  I fear that the work of the Lord has become a burden to many instead of a blessing.  The local church is the Lord’s and the work of the local church should be a privilege and blessing.

2 Corinthians 8:4-5  Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.  (5)  And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

Hebrews 6:10  For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

c.  Churches are to be patient in hope.  Trials and hard times are often long ones!  We always hope and pray that things will get better quickly but, too often, this is not the case.  Winters in the local church can be long and hard but God expects us to see it through to the end.  We know what time it is spiritually and we also know that the Lord is true to His promise: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”  (John 14:3)

Titus 2:13-14  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  (14)  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

3.  Churches close their doors when they are no longer obedient to biblical principles.  Vs 8.  “your faith to God-ward”

a.  Churches are to be self-supporting.  Indigenous mission churches, for the most part, are a thing of the past.  Indigenous means “home grown!”  God full well understands the monetary plight of these mission churches!  Most churches on foreign fields are built with American funding.  In biblical New Testament Missions, churches began in the homes of people and, as they grew, they took care of their own expenses.  Modern missionaries immediately begin to solicit funds from supporting churches for most if not all of building expenses.  The people need to be vested in their own churches.  If they live in huts, they can build one to worship in.  This is not harsh but if everything is bought and paid for by American dollars, then the people have no heart for the work.  Many pieces of property and the buildings upon them are owned by mission boards.  When the missionary leaves, the church folds in spite of Philippians 4:19!

b.  Churches are to be self-governing.  The missionary is the pastor until such a time as the Lord raises up a national or indigenous pastor.  If and when the missionary leaves or can no longer remain in a “Christian hostile” nation or environment, then the church remains able to function according to God’s Word.

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