Vintage Tales: Excursus on the Church

♪♪>>I want to take the few moments we’ve got left… to tell you why I believe the church is strategic to God carrying the light right now. ‘Cause I have some friends who are worried about the church. They’re worried about what’s happening up in Battle Creek just a few miles up the road. There’s a whole lot of hand-wringing going on in some circles, where people are saying, “I just don’t — I just d– This — This is probably it. This is going to collapse this faith community.” I want to share with you why I believe not. 20 years ago, the church was preoccupied with saving the world. 20 years later, if we’re not careful, the church will be preoccupied saving the institution. Now, the danger is, that in our effort to save the institution, we could lose an entire generation while we’re waiting. Here’s why I believe that that will not happen. You know why? Jesus made three promises. I’m gonna share the three promises with you, share two quotes, and then sit down. Pull out your study guide, ’cause I want you to get these three. You’ll take them home, you can brood over them later. Open your Bible to promise number one from the Lord Jesus himself. We’re talking about Matthew 16. Open your Bible to Matthew 16. Take a look. Jesus speaking, red-letter words. Watch this. Matthew 16:18 — “And I tell you,” Jesus speaking, “that you are Peter.” So he’s talking to Peter. “And on this rock,” but now he points at himself. Peter’s name means “rock,” but this is a different form of rock in the Greek. And he says, “On this rock,” he points to himself, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.” Would you write that down in your study guide, please? “I will build my church.” The church has one builder. It is not I. It is not you. It is not the theological seminary. It is not the leadership gathered in Battle Creek today. The church has one builder, and the builder is the one who says, “I will build my church.” We have nothing to fear for the future of this church, because we know the builder. What are you thinking? That he used a shoddy material? He wasn’t clever enough? He wasn’t bright enough and he put the wrong human mixture together? Are you crazy? You think the devil has the brawn and the brains to take down God’s creation that He has built? “I will build my church.” He’s the builder. We can rest secure in that assurance. Promise number two — jot it down, please. Promise number two, also the words of Jesus. Speaking through Paul. Find Acts 20. Paul has gathered on the shore with the elders from the fledgling church plant in Ephesus. He can’t even get into the city. It’s two hours away. He’s got to — They came to meet him because he’s hurrying to Jerusalem. This is Acts 20. Drop down to verse 28. Paul’s speaking now. Watch this. He says, “Keep watch…” This is verse 28. “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” I see Brian and Becky out there, and we’re gonna have an ordination for elders next week. And deacons, as well. Paul’s saying, “Hey, elders, church leaders, deacons…” “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” Now here it comes. “Be shepherds of the church which He…” Did what? “He bought with His own blood.” Would you write that down, please? Jesus not only declares, “I will build my church.” He declares to us today, “I have bought my church.” Lord, how did you — What currency did you use? The crimson currency of Calvary. It’s clear. It’s his blood. “I have bought this church. It is a blood-bought movement. Nail-scarred hands today. This movement, His church will be blood-bought for eternity. I will build my church. I have bought my church.” And so, the naysayers — and I’ve got some friends who are — and the doomsayers. And those who fret and worry that somehow we can’t have absolute confidence and quiet assurance in the security and longevity of the church that Christ has built and bought. I beg to differ with you. Because he has built it and bought it, that is our security, that is our quiet assurance. Carry the light. Chuck and Julie sang their hearts out a moment. Carry the light. You can’t carry the light if everybody’s one little candle, running around, lost in the dark. You have to have the movement, and the church of Christ in the New Testament is a continuation of the community of Israel in the Old, and God has always had a community, and He will have a church that goes through to the very bitter end. Get off this worry and anxiety bit. Tell your friends to take a chill pill. God is not gonna lose the church. And I’m speaking to those of you who are young. Because the temptation now when you’re young is, “I have no roots in the church, so not a big deal to me. I could walk out tomorrow.” I suppose you could. But this church is built on the blood and the bones of the apostles and every generation that has followed it since. This church is going through, because it’s Christ’s church. “I will build my church. I have bought my church.” Promise number three. Final promise. Jot it down. Ephesians 5. Take a look. Just go a few more pages. Oh, look at his assurance embedded in these words. Ephesians 5. Familiar words in verse 25, but we’ll get beyond 25. Watch this. Keep reading. “I will build my church, I have bought my church –” jot it down now — “and I will bring my church to be with me.” For all eternity. You say, “Dwight, where’s he gonna bring this church?” Come on. Where do you think he’s gonna take his bride? It’s called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. The church — He’s gonna bring the church into eternity. You know, I’ve been reading the Book of Revelation for my personal worships in the morning for the last month, I suppose. A friend of mine gave me — You know, the ESV has it. I got to tell you about this. The ESV has come out with every book of the Bible in a journal. So he gave me Revelation and John. And here’s how it works. So, you open the — Little black covers, all of them. You open the journal up. On this side, on the left side, is the ESV text. On this side is blank lined paper, and you can go line by line, is what I’m doing. Line by line through the Book of Revelation and just respond and react and ruminate. Brood over it. Our pastoral staff, we all have them now, these little black Revelation journals, and we’re doing it for staff worships every Monday afternoon. But I’ll tell you what. And by the way, I’m using my friend Ranko Stefanovic’s commentary on the Book of Revelation, so I’m reading that in tandem with the Apocalypse. Here are two mighty points that you cannot — you cannot — shut up when you read Revelation. Point number one. No matter — No matter — what the dragon — that would be Satan — and his two confederates — that would be the sea beast and the earth beast. No matter what the Satanic confederacy does at the end of time, in its efforts, in its coalition to seize control of the entire human race… When you read the Book of Revelation, I’m telling you what. One point. Mighty point number one is that Christ, our Lord, triumphs spectacularly not only in the beginning, not only in the middle, but he triumphs in the end. He wins. Just in case you haven’t read the Book of Revelation lately, let me just read this to you. Let me just say this to you. He wins. Number one, mighty point — he wins. He comes riding back, his robe dipped in blood, on that white stallion. He wins. The Satanic trinity obliterated. That’s mighty point number one. But a corollary to it is mighty point number two, and that is that the church of Christ Jesus, battered and bruised and bloodied, though she has been — and I’m learning now — she will yet be the church of Christ Jesus, the remnant seed of the woman, against whom the dragon is enraged and seeks to destroy the church of Christ Jesus, the remnant of the woman. She also wins in the end. She wins when she stands beside her lord and savior. He wins, and in his win, she wins. So, all this consternation, all this wringing of the hands and all the websites that are popping up, “Oh, this is it! It’s all over in Battle Creek!” Forget it, forget it. I don’t know how Battle Creek will turn out. And neither do you. But what I do know, three short promises from the Lord Jesus himself. And guess what — the church survives. Two quotations, then I’ll sit down. Quotation number one, put it on the screen, please. A little over a century ago, the American writer Ellen White wrote these words. You see them there. So, we’re talking about a 2,000-year history now — two millennia — the church, throughout the span of Christianity. “The church has been as a city set on a hill. From age to age, through successive generations, the pure doctrines of heaven have been unfolding within its borders.” All through history. Now here comes a line. “Enfeebled and defective as the church may appear right now –” pretty weak, pretty enfeebled, huh? — “the church still is –” read this — “the church is the one object upon which God bestows in a special sense His supreme regard.” There’s no higher word than “supreme.” You don’t have “supremer” and “supremest.” It’s just “supreme.” There’s one object on this planet — one object on this planet — belting the planet in every time zone of Earth. There is a church, and that church is the only object upon which God pours his supreme regard. I’m not worried about the church. Somehow God is caught napping? The enemy destroys the church? You kidding? “Yeah, but, Dwight, isn’t there something about the church falling?” Oh, you’re talking about this one. Let me put the second one on the screen. Oh, it’s true — same author once more on the screen. You see the words. “The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall.” So, come on, members of the church all over this campus, members of the church all over the planet watching right now. Take hope. It may appear that it will fall. It will not. I have three promises, and I’m betting on all three promises. For the longevity and the security of the church to the very end of time. To the end of time. So, anybody comes to you and says, “Hey, girl, you need to leave this place.” [ Fingers click ] “Get out of here. Come on. You don’t need the church. Rubbish.” You need the church more than the church needs you. Because it’s going through. Now, I may get booted out. Paul says, “Every day –” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9, “Every day, I just have to pummel my body, because after preaching and teaching to everybody else, I could get lost if I lose my focus. I will build my church, I have bought my church, I will bring my church home with me one day.” The church is not — How could — How could you bring home what’s not there? The church is not gonna fall. Take heart, take courage. But keep reading the sentence. “The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out.” If I’m not hanging on to Jesus, adios. “The chaff will be separated from the previous wheat. There’s one more sentence. I’m not leaving it out. So, something’s coming. Something’s coming that will be a terrible ordeal. Well, if you read the Book of Revelation and you understand that the confederacy that ruled during the Dark, Dark Ages, Middle Ages, will also resurge at the end of time. Then you can you can understand that what was bloody once will be bloody again. I understand that part. But, apparently, churches are like vineyards. Churches have to be pruned. And so God would allow his church, his bride — ouch! ouch! ouch! Remember we’ve been talking about pruning with the vineyard? God will allow his church to be pruned. It’ll look like this baby’s going down. It’s adios time. No, no. She will not go down. Stay with it. Stay with Him. You know why it works this way? Because the Devil is ticked off to high heavens. The problem is, he can’t get up to high heavens and get at the head. So instead of attacking the head, you know what he attacks? The body. The church is the body of Christ. Revelation 12:17 — “And the dragon was enraged with a woman and went to — went off to make war with the remnant of her seed who keep the Commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus.” That’s the deal. You think he’s gonna sit around and twiddle this thumb the closer we come to the end of time? He can feel it. He reads. “No, you turn on the church, and I’ll destroy this. I will destroy them!” Sorry. You’ve been trying for 2,000 years, and you have failed, because Jesus promised us, “I will build my church, I have bought my church, I will bring my church to be with me. Where I am, there you may be, also. I will bring my church home. Hallelujah. What do yo say? Hallelujah! Praise God. So, keep praying for Battle Creek. We’re gonna pray right now. Keep praying for Battle Creek. That’s tomorrow. The big discussion is tomorrow. Keep praying. Keep praying. I’m not worried, though. Don’t you go getting all fretty and angstsy. [ Scoffs ] Quiet confidence in the Christ who is lord of our church. Quiet confidence. But we must pray. Karen and I are late Wednesday night. We got Ted Wilson on our little — my little phone, smartphone. And we watched it — 12 minutes long — as he opens up his heart. And he appeals to the world church. This is our world church president. He appeals to the world church, “Would you please, from this Sabbath to the next Sabbath, would you be praying for God to intervene in the very human process?” I thought to myself, “Good for you. What could be more powerful than the people of God banding together, uniting together, and pleading with him to do whatever it takes, keep the enemy at bay, hold off that dragon, hold him off, and let your church that you bought with your blood, that you built with your own hands, and that you will bring home one day — let the church go through to the end with you, Jesus. Come on. What’s so wrong with that? Gonna invite you to kneel. Let’s pray. Let’s pray for the church. Let’s pray for Battle Creek right now. Oh, God, lord of the church… head of the body… cornerstone, foundation… Lord Jesus… bridegroom of the bride… builder. Oh, God. We bow before you now. We cannot control the events around us, not on the planet, not in the church. But we can pray, and we are praying earnestly right now that you will descend upon that gathering of leaders in Battle Creek, and you will do what only you can do. Walls will come down. Hearts will be united. And a decision will be made to advance your kingdom on Earth through the humble church. Weak and enfeebled though we are — we don’t just appear it, we are — oh, God, please, do whatever it takes. We believe Jesus. “I will build my church.” We believe Christ. “I have bought my church.” We believe our soon-coming savior. “I will bring my church back to me.” So, give us hope, give us confidence, and a holy boldness to assure our friends and neighbors, hang on. Hold on to Jesus. He wins, and the church wins standing beside him on that day. And on that day, oh, God, may not one person bowed before you right now, may not one person anywhere on the planet where this signal is going right now, may not one person be missing. For that marriage supper, that homecoming of all homecomings. In the name of Jesus, we humbly ask. Amen. Amen.>>We’ve been really blessed by the financial support that comes from our viewers, and we’ve made a conscious decision not to continually appeal to you for that support. The fact is, as everyone in the industry will tell you, we’re needing to make constant upgrades to our technology. So if God has blessed you and you’d like to further the work of this ministry, we invite you to partner with us. Not a single penny of your donation will go to me. Every bit of your gift goes to the mission of blessing your community and our world. You can donate on our website, Or call the number. You know the number — 877-HIS-WILL. Again, that number is 877 — the two words “HIS-WILL.” And may the God who has blessed you continue to pour into your life the gifts of His joy and His hope. Thank you. And I’m looking forward to seeing you, right here, again, next time. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪

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