Christ began building a church
Matthew 16:18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
It was a very important part of what He came to do…to lay the foundation for the church that would last until His return – but there would be problems. They began immediately and have continued until today.
There was a time when we were all together, but because of apostasy, the turning away from the truth and the doctrine once delivered to us, we left – and rightly so!
Now we are left with hundreds of organizations – yet one church.
Definition of church: those with God’s holy spirit (Romans 8:9, 14).
Right now it is scattered all over the world and even within the same town.
So here is the million dollar question: Where would you send someone else to?
If you care about them and want to see that they are going to a place that they would get all that they need?
Here’s the other million dollar question: Where would Jesus go to church today?
If He returned today, say incognito, what congregation would He want to attend? Would He attend with you?
What would be His criteria for choosing a place to go?
Our question for today is similar, what criteria should we be using to evaluate whether we should be attending church?
Is it numbers? Is it the ones that value peace above all? Is it the ones that have the best socializing? Peers?
Today let’s come up with a check list of things that Christ is looking for?
One spirit. One church. Called out ones.
Ephesians 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;
Ephesians 4:5 one Lord, one faith [it cannot be Muslim and Hindu and Buddhism and….it can only be Christianity (70% eliminated )], one baptism; [through which we receive the HS; this is yet another distinguishing factor and the way that the church is defined in Romans 8:9, 14] Ephesians 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
True church goes without saying
Luke 4:13 Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.
Luke 4:14 Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region.
Luke 4:15 And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
Luke 4:16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.
We know His true church keeps the Sabbath (99.7% excluded) 7th Day Adventists, His Holy Days Judaism (99.9+% excluded), and all His commandments.
Luke 4:4 But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE, BUT BY EVERY WORD OF GOD.’ “
That’s what Jesus Christ said: He is quoting the Old Testament. He didn’t think that it was done away with.
Revelation 12 shows that His people will be keeping the commandments all the way to the end. Even the ones that do not get to go into the place of safety.
Now we are down to a very small group of people that needs to be looked at.
Don’t be dismissive of this one, because many in the Church of God are not doing this!
1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.
1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
False Gospels and False prophets
While we may have a natural tendency to say that doctrine is important we need to make sure that we are not fooled.
There will be false gospels, notice what Christ warned us of:
Matthew 24:4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.
Matthew 24:5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
Who is He not talking about? He is not talking about the world in general – they are already deceived.
Who is He talking about? He has to be talking about Christians in the Church of God
Matthew 24:10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.
Matthew 24:11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
Matthew 24:12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
2 Peter 2:1 But there were [past] also false prophets among the people, even as there will be [future] false teachers among you [among who? The church members], who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them [paid the price with His blood], and bring on themselves swift destruction.
2 Peter 2:2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.
2 Peter 2:3 By covetousness [because of what they covet: vain glory and praise; power; control; whatever it may be] they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
Who is Satan going to target?
Once error is introduced you will be going the wrong direction — further and further off track.
And if it is built upon this type of foundation, it will be one of sand; one that will not last.
If the group believes that it is okay to break any of the commandments in any form then they are not a place where Christ would want us to be a part. There are Churches of God that are failing in this respect and we are not talking about the nuances of Greek words here. We are talking about things like breaking the sixth commandment. This is definitely not a place to be a part of.
The Doctrine of Action
Do people act the way that they are supposed to be acting as a Christian? Do they practice what they preach – assuming that they are preaching everything that they are supposed to be teaching?
You know what someone believes by the way they act. Do they believe in every word of God?
Divide this into two sections: the people and the ministry
True disciples of God are identified by their love towards one another
John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
John 13:35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
1 Corinthians 12:25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
1 John 4:20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
1 John 1:3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
1 John 1:4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
1 John 1:5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Revelation 12: They were still keeping the commandments of God, it was just that they were not laying down their lives for it.
Parable of the 10 virgins. Matthew 25. This is a parable by Jesus Christ. Are the people using their oil (holy spirit)? Are they awake, eagerly awaiting the return of Christ?
How are they acting? Are they doing their job?
The great commission
Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Matthew 28:20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Some do not and call themselves Church of God. They came out from among us and once believed the way that we did.
Matthew 24:14 (And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.)
MAKE disciples / growing people of God
Growing in the love of God and His knowledge?
2 Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;
2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
A command for us. Is the minister helping his congregation to do this? To become more Godly?
Does He Lay down His life for the flock
John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
John 10:12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.
John 10:13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.
John 10:14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.
John 10:15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
John 10:16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
Shepherd’s Voice – is both Jesus Christ and the minister – do you hear it?
How a shepherd acts
Matthew 18:12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?
Matthew 18:13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.
Goes after the one or the 99?
Matthew 18:14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
It is interesting that right on the heels of this is the three step process for reconciliation
Matthew 18:15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
God places a high value on being reconciled with our brother.
Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.
Matthew 20:26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.
Matthew 20:27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—
Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Ezekiel 34:1 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
Ezekiel 34:2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?
Ezekiel 34:3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock.
Ezekiel 34:4 The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them.
Ezekiel 34:5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered.
Head is sick
Speaking through the prophet Isaiah around the time of the downfall of the kingdom of Israel, God noted that evil had spread through all levels of Israelite society.
Isaiah 1:5 Why should you be stricken again? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, And the whole heart faints.
Isaiah 1:6 From the sole of the foot even to the head, There is no soundness in it, But wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; They have not been closed or bound up, Or soothed with ointment.
This refers to leaders: Isaiah 1:23 Your princes are rebellious, And companions of thieves; Everyone loves bribes, And follows after rewards. They do not defend the fatherless, Nor does the cause of the widow come before them.
God identified the nation’s leaders as the source of corruption. Rather than providing proper leadership, they were leading the kingdom to destruction.
Isaiah 9:13 For the people do not turn to Him who strikes them, Nor do they seek the LORD of hosts.
Isaiah 9:14 Therefore the LORD will cut off head and tail from Israel, Palm branch and bulrush in one day.
Isaiah 9:15 The elder and honorable, he is the head; The prophet who teaches lies, he is the tail.
Isaiah 9:16 For the leaders of this people cause them to err, And those who are led by them are destroyed.
Isaiah 9:17 Therefore the Lord will have no joy in their young men, Nor have mercy on their fatherless and widows; For everyone is a hypocrite and an evildoer, And every mouth speaks folly. For all this His anger is not turned away, But His hand is stretched out still.
Take very careful notice of the fact that even though it is the leaders that are off-base, those that follow them will be held accountable by God (:13). He will bring destruction upon them for succumbing to the errant leadership. Indeed a powerful lesson for those that believe they will be judged differently than the leadership they tacitly follow.
Local congregation vs headquarters
So if the local congregation is “fine” is it really a good place to be if the head is sick?
I do not think that we can sit back (even if we are the sole of the foot) and say that’s them over there and what the head is thinking and doing does not affect me over here
Matthew 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
Matthew 7:16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?
Matthew 7:17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
Matthew 7:18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
Matthew 7:19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Matthew 7:20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Is some better than none?
Is five criteria out of six okay? Which one is it okay to bend or break?
We are to have faith and do what God says and he will work things out? Where is standing up and being counted for what you believe? We are to stand in the gap.
Ezekiel 22:26 Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.
Ezekiel 22:27 Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain.
Ezekiel 22:28 Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD had not spoken.
Ezekiel 22:29 The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger.
Ezekiel 22:30 So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.
Ezekiel 22:31 Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord GOD.
For want of a man a nation was lost.
Psalms 106:23 Therefore He said that He would destroy them, Had not Moses His chosen one stood before Him in the breach, To turn away His wrath, lest He destroy them.
Some of this can take time to figure out or see, some of it just takes having a look.
Must Make a Choice
We are in the end time and we need to make a choice
Some of you hearing this message will have already made a choice or several choices to get to where you are now. We need to ask ourselves if we made the right choice for the right reasons? Did we go through the process properly? It is good that we are thinking, we just need to evaluate ourselves on an ongoing basis.
There are some that have not made a choice, THAT IS A CHOICE! Perhaps we were floating downstream, going with the flow and we stopped at a convenience church…perhaps it was cold, perhaps it was hot, and perhaps it was neither…nonetheless it was a choice
We need to set our standards to those of Christ and His word when we make a choice, when we make that decision of where we would go to church?