Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Church, Part 2

Here is part 2 of Dr. Adams' message on the church:

Great Grace

Secondly, a great New Testament church has great power and also great grace. The end of Acts 4:33 says, "and great grace was upon them all." I have been studying and meditating on that passage for two weeks and it has intrigued me deeply in my spirit. Whatever this condition was on the Jerusalem church it was impressive, intuitive and inclusive. It was impressive because Luke calls it great grace. It was not small grace. It was not puny grace. It was not midget grace. It was giant, large, unmistakably huge grace. It was intuitive because Luke says it was upon them. Note that word "upon." When you get saved the grace of God comes in you to forgive you, cleanse you, and make you a new person from the inside out. But Acts 4:33 is different. It is grace that is upon them. A chicken can lay an egg but you really can't see the egg because the egg is inside the shell. But if I were to throw that egg and hit you in the face with it you've got egg on your face, don't you, and everybody can see it. It is right out in plain sight. You can't see forgiveness. You can't see the blood wash away a man's sins. That is unseen and inside. But the grace of Acts 4:33 is outside and wonderfully visible. Hold on to that thought. Finally, this grace, great grace, is inclusive. Luke says it was upon them "all." Nobody in that Jerusalem church at that time who were saved missed out on this condition. You could go from one church member to another church member to another church member and one by one you could see this great grace clearly manifest on all their lives. Today we're living in times of "spot grace" on the church and it is hard to spot. Few believers have what this talks about enough to recognize it. What in the world is Luke referring to here when he speaks of great grace upon them all?

I believe the answer goes back nearly 4000 years to man named Noah. In Genesis 6:8 you read, "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD." Noah had the favor of God on his life when God wanted to destroy every other living soul on the earth. I wonder sometimes if God just wouldn't like to shut the doors of some of America's churches because they have completely lost the favor of God. I'm sure the only reason He keeps them open is to testify of what it is like when a church has completely lost the favor of God. Do you know what that looks like? Have you seen that in churches but you were unwilling to make the diagnosis? I'll tell you what it looks like. First of all, the love is gone. The love of God demanded His grace and the grace of God declared His love. These are companion blessings in a church and when one is gone the other is nowhere to be found. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." My dear friends, if the favor of God is to be seen upon our fellowship in such an impressive way you and I will be so touched by God's unmerited favor on our lives that we can't help but share that same love and grace with each other. If you lose that you lose the greatness in your church. Not only is the love gone when God's favor is missing. The light is gone. The lights have not only gone out in Georgia but in all fifty states of America where God's church does not yearn for the favor of God. You'll see it in the church when people fight the message and the messenger. The reason why somebody can't see the truth is because they are in the dark. They reject the light, run from the light, and eventually relinquish and forfeit the light. Light doesn't stay around in persistent darkness. Light likes light and darkness likes darkness. If light stays around darkness and tries to coexist, pretty soon the light will be extinguished. You can park your car in a dark garage overnight with the lights on high beam and you'll have a dead battery by morning. Try explaining that experience to someone by telling them you thought your garage stuff would be better by morning if you left the light on. They'll think you're crazy. I'll tell you so many Christians trying to be light today hang around darkness thinking that eventually they'll make an impact and change the darkness when the truth is all they are doing is running their battery down. If darkness will not come to the light it is because their deeds are evil and they love evil according to John 3:19.

The favor of God totally leaves a church when they will not receive the light of God's truth. Finally, you can tell when the favor of God is gone from a church. Not only is the love gone. Not only is the light gone. The luster is gone. A diamond ring that has lost its luster is just a rock. A church that has lost the favor of God is just a building on the street. It might as well be bulldozed down as to continue on without God's blessings. When the favor of God is on a church the preaching anointed. When the favor of God is on the church the offerings are astonishing. When the favor of God is on the church the invitations are amazing. When the favor of God is on the church the fellowship is appealing. When the favor of God is on the church the vision for ministry is awesome. When the favor of God is on the church the love is authentic. And when the favor of God is on the church the presence of God's Holy Spirit is apparent. A great church according to God has great grace upon all the members. Do you have the favor of God on your life? This church can be no greater than the favor of God on your life.

Great Fear

Thirdly, our last point in this morning's message is that a great church has great fear. Great power, great grace, and great fear is what God says makes up a great church. In Acts 5 we read that it didn't take long for a good thing to start spoiling. This great church in Jerusalem that had oneness, generosity, and the favor of God also had Ananias and Sapphira in the membership. God struck Ananias and Sapphira dead for pretending a full dedication of their property and proceeds to the benevolent ministries of that church. If they had just sold the property and said they got $100,000 for it but were only willing to give half of it to the church they could have still been on the finance committee. But no, they lied and said they were giving all they got for the property to the church when in truth they were holding back part of the proceeds. What happened shocked the whole town and the undertaker. We read twice in Acts 5, verses 5 and 11, that "great fear came on all them that heard these things; and great fear came upon all the church." The Ananias and Sapphira club prospers in the modern day church and the fear of God has been lost in Christendom. It might do us some good today to call all five undertakers in this city to stand outside our church doors on Sunday with their hearses and the prophet of God to declare at the threshold, "if you come into this church today and your worship is not in spirit and truth; your Christian life is a lie, these men are here to give you a ride home to the cemetery."
Great churches do not search with their eyes frantically to find happiness as much as they squint their eyes to aim at holiness. We're too busy planning fun and have forgotten our fear of God. Preachers have lost their fear of God because they stand in their pulpits and powder puff iniquity and put cold cream on the cancers of sin in their congregation. Church members think they can bow at the altar of Baal on Saturday nights, drink their cocktails, sleep with whomever they wish, as long as they come in on Sunday and sing ever so piously "I'd Rather Have Jesus." I tell you we have lost the ability to be horrified at sin in the church today. Preachers are dishing out sun baths to church members when they really need surgery. But church members have become so brazen in conscious sin the pulpit pump might as well be pumping up a balloon full of
holes. Beloved, we are in the last days before Christ comes. According to Revelation 21:2, He is coming to get a bride that will be adorned for her husband. The bridegroom is not interested in a powerless church. The bridegroom is not interested in a love-less church. The bridegroom is not interested in a church with soiled garments. The Bridegroom is coming for a great church who has made preparations and is looking for His return. Are you going to be ready?

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