Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE IMPORTANCE TO THE LOST OF YOUR CHURCH”

Revelation 1.20

 

 

The title of this message is “The Importance To The Lost Of Your Church.” I might have just as easily titled this sermon “The Importance Of This Church To The Lost.” My goal this evening is to show you how crucial a role this church plays in bringing lost people to Christ. You recognize, of course, that the success of any sermon that is preached is gauged by the changes that take place in the behavior of those who hear the sermon. Sermons are different from Bible studies and Bible lessons. Bible studies and Bible lessons have as their goal the imparting of information. Sermons, on the other hand, have as their goal the alteration of the listener’s behavior.

With that in mind, I should remind you that I have preached a number of sermons pointing out that Jesus founded the church, that the Lord Jesus Christ is shown in the Bible to be the head of the church, pointing out that the Great Commission can only properly be fulfilled through the church, that rewards given out at the judgment seat of Christ will only be given out for service to Christ rendered through the church, that the ordinances of baptism and the communion of the Lord’s Supper can only be properly observed by means of the authority of the church, that sin in a Christian’s life can properly be dealt with only by means of the authority of the church, that the church along with the family are the only institutions favored by God with grace for raising children and training people to serve God (certainly not public schools), that the church is the pillar and ground of the truth, that Jesus promised to build the church, that the church is the body of Christ, that every Christian should be a committed and involved member of the church, and that the Lord Jesus Christ will glorify the Father through the church throughout eternity.

The obvious application of such truths as these to the Christian life should be an extremely high level of commitment to the body life of the church, a sense of holy expectation as Christians look forward to their prayers being answered in conjunction with their involvement in their church, and even a willingness to so order their lives so as to provide their very best efforts to serve God through their church.

Considering that Christ will only reward you at His judgment seat for service and ministry to Him through this church, you would think any Christian interested in receiving rewards from the Master would seriously devote himself to church services, to church ministries, to church evangelism, and to church expansion. Turn with me to First Corinthians 3.12-15, where we read of the rewards that will be given to Christians who labor in ministry to build their local church by evangelizing the lost:

 

12     Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

13     Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

14     If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

15     If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

 

This is what happens with respect to your life as a Christian who is involved in this church. Gold, silver and precious stones represents serious and committed involvement to the cause of Christ through this church, while wood, hay, and stubble signifies lackadaisical and halfhearted involvement in the cause of Christ through local church ministry, or complete noninvolvement in local church ministry. Who gets the rewards? Not necessarily the prominent preacher, who never served in a local church context a day in his life despite fame on the world stage as a prominent evangelist, but the church members who attended services, who showed up for evangelism on Saturday nights, and who brought people to church.

To a significant degree, the Christian’s life is expressed not as an isolated individual who lives an autonomous life, but in communion with and in the community of believers who comprise this congregation, as the writer to the Hebrews revealed in Hebrews 10.22-27:

 

22     Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

23     Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

24     And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

25     Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

26     For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

27     But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

 

Notice how much this passage focuses on us and we, and not the individual. “Let us.” “Let us.” “Our hearts.” “One another.” “The assembling of ourselves together.” “If we sin.” “After that we have received the knowledge of the truth.” This being so, our lives lived as Christians in community with each other, and not as isolated individuals, what are you doing home on Wednesday nights? Why are you not an enthusiastic participant on Saturday nights? These are legitimate questions in light of Bible truth concerning the Christian and his church family.

“Well, pastor, I am at the time of my life where there are other interests, other more pressing concerns, and other issues that command my attention.” Are you kidding me? I am 58 years old, and there has never been a time in my life when other things did not constantly tug at me. Excuse me, but I was young and single when I came to Christ. I know what it is like to have all the concerns that weigh down on a single Christian. I know what it is like to be a young married church member without kids. I know what it is like to be a married guy with pressing financial needs. I know what it is like to be a family man, with the yearnings for more time with the family squeezing me and pulling at me for consideration.

I know what it is like to earnestly desire to spend time with longtime friends, which can only happen when you forsake faithfulness to the ministry. I fully understand the desire to relax, now that your kids are raised. You don’t need the church as much any more, so your interests are drifting elsewhere. Hold it a second. Where do you find such justifications in the Bible? First Corinthians 4.2: “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” I don’t care what time of life you find yourself wrapped up in. The Savior demands faithfulness.

Young and energetic? Great. Be faithful. Starting a family? Great. Be faithful. Career building time? Great. Be faithful. Slowing down physically? Okay, give up other things, so long as you are faithful. Coasting as a grandpa or grandma, or getting ready to shut it all down? Okay, but remain faithful to the end. Why so? The Master requires it of thee.

“But pastor, we need to be flexible.” Why? Let the people whose lives are being wasted be flexible. Let the people who have no calling be flexible. Let the people who have no purpose in life be flexible. Let the people who do not serve God be flexible. Let the people who are not needed be flexible. Why must it always be those whose lives are wrapped up in ministry and evangelism, whose efforts affect the smooth functioning of a New Testament church, who are always called upon to be flexible? Why can’t those who believe nothing, who stand for nothing, and who do nothing, be flexible?

I know. I know. I get agitated. I get passionate about this stuff. However, it is important. As a matter of fact, I would like to know if you think anything else is more important? What is more important than God, than serving God, than pleasing God? I would like to know. You see, we actually serve God here.

If that does not convince you, perhaps there is something else that might. I spend a great deal of time focusing your attention on how important church is to you, but perhaps I take the wrong tack. Maybe I should spend more time showing you how important your church is to others, particularly the lost. To that end, turn to Revelation 1.20. When you find that verse, please stand for the reading of God’s Word: “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.”

Setting aside a consideration of the mystery of the seven stars for this evening, I want us to concentrate our attention on “the mystery of the seven golden candlesticks.” “The seven candlesticks . . . are the seven churches.” In other words, church congregations like ours are the platform on which the candles are placed. The candle, literally the lamp, represents the individual Christian, which the candlestick, literally lampstand, is the church congregation where Christians are gathered, the stand on which lamps are placed to more brightly illuminate the surroundings.

Let me remind you that in Matthew 5.14, Jesus said “Ye are the light of the world.” Here I have a lamp much like what Jesus referred to in Matthew 5.14. Let me light it to show you its brightness, keeping in mind that with a much better wick than they typically used and better refined olive oil, this lamp will be much brighter than a typical lamb like this was in our Lord’s day.

 

Lights off in the auditorium. Light the pottery oil lamp.

 

I will now light a modern candle, just so you can see for yourself that the light given off by the candle and by the lamp is approximately the same.

 

Light the candle.

 

Now that you can see the comparative light given off by each, I can extinguish the oil lamp and we will continue our demonstration using candles, in the hopes that it will make a point in your thinking.

Remember, however, that in our text, Revelation 1.20, the Lord Jesus Christ declared “the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” Thus, He uses the symbolism of a lampstand representing a church congregation in certain respects, primarily as a way of collecting candles together, presumably to cast off more light and to provide brighter illumination. Therefore, I will use these candles to represent Christians.

However, once a sinner comes to Christ and is hopefully converted, he becomes a church member by believer baptism. So, let us consider that we have a church, with each candle representing a professing Christian.

Consider these representations of churches:

 

First, THERE IS THE DEAD CHURCH, WHERE THE GOSPEL IS NEVER PREACHED

 

Candles gathered, but unlit, illustrating the effect of a dead and lifeless congregation.

 

Next, THERE IS THE DECISIONIST CHURCH, WHERE SOME FEW CHRISTIANS ATTEND

 

One candle lit, with others gathered but unlit, showing the large number of unconverted people in a decisionist church.

 

Third, THERE IS A GOSPEL PREACHING CHURCH WITH UNFAITHFUL MEMBERS

 

Candles lit and scattered throughout the auditorium, showing that ungathered church members has the same effect as gathered church members who are unconverted, and illustrating hiding your light under a bushel.

 

Finally, THERE IS A CONGREGATION THE WAY IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE

 

Candles lit and gathered together, dramatically increasing the intensity of the projected light, the congregation now functioning like a bright beacon in the darkness.

 

 

Keeping in mind that the Bible likens the unsaved person’s understanding to being darkened, Ephesians 4.18, as well as his heart being darkened, Romans 1.21, it becomes easy to understand why the Lord Jesus Christ declared Himself to be the Light of the world, and why He declared Christians as the light of the world in His absence.

Consider that you have a loved one who is lost. His heart and his understanding are darkened. You try to witness to him and persuade him of his need for Christ, but your dim light is not quite enough to penetrate the darkness.

Which situation will serve your unsaved loved one better to illuminate his understanding, so that he will see not only his own sinful condition, where he needs to go for salvation from his sins? Obviously, where the light is brightest.

As well, what about those people you do not know, whose hearts and understanding is darkened? Which arrangement serves best as a beacon in the darkness to guide the wanderer in the darkness safely home?

Now do you know why you are needed here on Sunday mornings, on Sunday evenings, on Wednesday nights, and during evangelism? Now, do you see why the coming late and leaving early, or the not coming at all for every conceivable reason, has such a deleterious effect on the ministry?

If you are not here with us, you have as much as hidden your light under a bushel, Matthew 5.15. Therefore, the situation is actually worse when you are not here than the lit candles that are scattered.

Oh, to be sure, some lost people will come to Christ because your little light is shining. All by your lonesome, you are making a mark for Jesus. However, what kind of impact could our church have on the San Gabriel Valley if we enthusiastically, energetically, and effectively, gathered together and shined like a bright beacon in the darkness?



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org