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September 6, 2009
The Only Opinion that Counts – Part 1
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Revelation 1: 19-20

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This series provides insight into Jesus' master plan for the church today. We cannot afford to ignore what Jesus thinks of the church. You've Got Mail will help deepen your understanding of the church and the essential elements necessary to remain healthy, holy, and faithful in today's society.

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Revelation chapter one, verse 19. If you’re visiting with us this morning, we are returning to an expositional series on Revelation one to three and the letters our Lord addresses to the seven churches in Asia Minor. And what Christ’s says to them has something to say to us. I want to begin a two-part sermon this morning entitled, The Only Opinion That Counts. When it comes to thinking about the Church, it’s Christ’s thoughts about the Church that should reign Supreme. And that’s why we want to study these seven letters. Listen to what we read in Revelation 1:19, “Write the things which you have seen and the things which are and the things which will take place after this. The mystery of the seven stars, which you saw in my right hand and the seven golden lamp stands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven lamp stands, which you saw are the seven churches.”
It seems today that everybody and his uncle has an opinion on how the church ought to conduct itself in a changing culture and in a society that’s retreating from Judeo-Christian values. Certain high power and high profile pastors and pundits tell us that if the curtain isn’t to come down on the Western church, then the church to survive will need to do this, or the church will need to do that. If you read their literature, if you go to their conferences, again and again we’re told it’s imperative that the church change. The church must change its message. The church must change its music. The church must change its methods. The church must reconfigure its meetings. We’re told that people aren’t listening to us, and therefore we had better listen to them and tailer our services to their tastes. Complete conferences have been assembled and small libraries have been written to help the church of the 21st century get a new game plan. The constant cry from certain ministers and certain marketeers is that the church must emerge into something other than it is right now.
I can tell you, as a pastor who gets sent magazines, invited to conferences, who reads books, that the church is awash with opinions about what is wrong about the church and how to put it right. Now, whatever the merit or whatever the deemed merit of those opinions, the thing that struck me this week as I’ve come back to Revelation one to three, if we really stop to think about it, is that there really is only one opinion that counts when it comes to the church and its future health and holiness, and that opinion is Christ’s. The body ought to do what the head tells it. The head of the church is Christ, not the Pope of Rome, not the Archbishop of Canterbury. The head of the church is the Lord Jesus Christ risen and reigning, and his input must inform our output. He tells us about the church in the gospels. We’re given a description of the primitive church in the Book of Acts. Christ speaks through his apostles in the Epistles. What we need to know about the church Jesus has supplied. And I would argue this, that no passage in the New Testament however contains more clear, more concise and more comprehensive instruction on the church’s life and its ministry and work in the world than the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation.
And so I want us to listen to Christ’s opinion. I like the story of Babe Pinelli, the famed professional baseball empire who once called Babe Ruth out on strikes in one of his games. Babe began to argue, get into the face of Babe Pinelli and he said, “There’s 40,000 people here who know that that last one was a ball, tomato head.”
Pinelli looked at him and in a calm voice simply replied, “Maybe so but mine is the only opinion that counts out here.”
When it comes to the church, we can listen to pastors and pundits and ministers and marketeers, but when it’s all said and done, it comes down to one opinion, and that’s the opinion that counts, the risen Christ who speaks to the churches here in Revelation one to three. Listen to these words by John Stott, whose book, What Jesus thinks of the Church I Commend to you, it’s a study on Revelation one through three. Here’s what he says, “What Christ thinks of the church is a question which no professing Christian can afford to ignore. What Christians think of it from the inside and what unbelievers think of it from the outside may be important, but far more significant is the opinion of Jesus Christ himself, the church’s founder and Lord.”
Let’s then come back into this last book in the Bible that furnishes us the last word on the church. Sometimes we think that the last words of Jesus to his disciples was Matthew 28, but that’s not true. His last words to his disciples come through the spirit by means of these messengers, also by John to the churches in Asia. This is a message from heaven, from the ascended Lord, the head of the church, the founder of the body of Christ. Now, there’s five things I want to say. We’re only going to begin to look at two of them this morning. If you take your outline, you’ll see that I want us to consider a number of things. We’ll try and cover at least the first two or at least a good part of it, want us to see the sender of these letters and then I want us to see the … What’s point two? There you go, the setting of these letters. What about the sender? What do you see when you read these seven letters? You see that they are postmarked heaven. While they are dictated to and delivered by John, they are in a greater sense authored and posted by Christ.
Look at verse 11, Jesus says to John, “I am the alpha and the Omega, the first and the last and what you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia, to Smyrna, Pergamos, Saratara, Sardis, Philadelphia and Leo Desia.”
We see this repeated in the verses we read just a moment ago, verse 19, “Write these things which you have seen and the things which are and the things which will take place after this.”
The things that John saw, chapter one, the risen Christ in a glorified state, the things which are is the present church age as the churches of the Asia are addressed in chapters two and three, and the things which shall take place after are the future events of chapters 4 through 22. Christ speaks prophetically through John, much like God addressed Israel through the prophets of the Old Testament. It’s interesting, if you go to the beginning of every letter, you’ll read these words. Look at verse one of chapter two, “These things says He.”
You see that again in verse eight, “These things says the first and the last.”
You see it in verse 12 of chapter two, “These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword.”
Every letter is addressed to a church by the Lord himself. And that phrase, ‘These things says he’, reminds me of the Old Testament refrain, thus says the Lord. John may be a postman but he’s also a prophet, he’s a mouthpiece for the risen reigning Lord Jesus who wants to address his church. Let’s look at the sender of these letters, and as we look at him, as we look at this court correspondence, I want you to see two aspects of Christ’s relationship to the churches he’s addressing. Number one, I want us to see his centrality, and number two, I want us to see his control, his centrality among the church, his control over the church. These verses bring us to see Christ residing and Christ presiding. Look at verse 12 and 13 of chapter one, “Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me and having turned, I saw seven golden lamp stands.”
And we know from verse 20 that the seven lamp stands are the seven churches, “Having turned, I saw seven golden lamp stands.”
And in amidst verse 13 of chapter one, “In the midst of the seven lamp stands, churches run like the son of man.”
Here’s Christ sending letters to his churches, to the churches of Asia. And I want you to see his centrality. He’s in the midst, Christ is and must forever be at the heart of all the affairs and advances of the church. In the middle, that’s where he is, not on the edges of first century Christianity. One commentator put it like this, “In the middle, the glorified son of man in the middle, not above looking down, not outside looking in, but in the middle at the heart of the church’s affairs and advances. Christ may be risen, Christ may have ascended, but he is not absent, he is present. He is not passive or distant, he is active and imminent.”
In fact, we won’t take time, maybe next week with a little bit more time, you’ll see that every letter begins with a front piece on the risen Christ. He is introduced to every letter and there’s a throwback to that portrait of him in chapter one. Some aspect particularly relevant to that local church is drawn from chapter one and readdressed in chapter two. Christ is front and center of the church’s life in Asia, wall to wall coverage. And that shouldn’t surprise us. Why? Because this book is all about the Lord Jesus, not about the antichrist, it’s about Christ. We’re told in chapter one, this is a revelation, an unveiling of the Lord Jesus. We find him directing, disciplining, defending his church. Now, I think there’s a point here, an application that you and I need to make. And we need to be reminded that in all things, Christ must have the first place. Has he got the first place in your marriage, your business, your relationships, your leisure, your speech, your thinking, your viewing habits, your entertainment choices? Has Christ got the first place? Because we find him in the middle, not on the edges but in the middle.
Christ is no appendices to the church’s health or history. He’s not an adjunct savior, he is not an absentee Lord. Without him, the church fails miserably or it succeeds even more miserably. Christ must be front and center. Let me point you in the direction of something you want to think about. Isn’t that where God was among Israel, the old covenant people of God? Where do we find the tabernacle? If you read in Exodus chapters 25 through 28 or numbers chapter two verse 17 I believe, something makes me think that may be a wrong reference but in the Pentateuch you’ll find that God details and dictates through Moses that the tabernacle is to be center and all the tribes are to be put on the four sides of the tabernacle. The tabernacle was the focal point of the nation. God wasn’t going to allow himself to be pushed to the periphery. And watch that you don’t push him to the periphery. He’s got to be in the middle dead center, he’s got to be the front piece of everything we do.
Some years ago, I had the privilege of going to Spain and speaking in a number of Baptist churches in the great city of Madrid, and Larry Thornberg took me down to the city center and we got to a particular point in the city of Madrid and he said, “This is kilometer zero. He says at this very point Philip, this city is measured out from this very point. It’s called kilometer zero.”
God in Israel was kilometer zero. Everything was to be measured from him and to him. It’s to see him in the events of the mind of transfiguration. You can read it for yourself, Matthew 17:18. It begins with Jesus and Moses and Elijah. When it’s all said and done, we read Jesus only. And Peter made the mistake of wanting to build three tabernacles. And by inference, he was placing Moses and Elijah alongside Jesus, and the father was having none of it. And all of a sudden, woof, Moses and Elijah are gone and only Jesus remains, “This is my son, here ye Him.”
Because you see, Jesus has no peers. He’s greater than the law and the prophets. He is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. He is the incomparable Christ. Therefore, as we apply it, Christ must be the hub of our lives and all the spokes of our lives must go to him. He is to be the bullseye of our worship. He is to be the subject of our preaching. He is to be the pattern of our service. He is to be the first sentence in our conversation. He is to be the measure of our relationships. He is to be the very reason for our love. You remember what the guy said in Luke nine to Jesus, “Suffer me first. Let me go back and bury the dead or say goodbye to whoever I need to say goodbye to.”
Suffer me first, is the way the old king James puts it. And yet Matthew six, what does Jesus say, “Seek me first.”
It can’t be suffer me first, it must be seek me first. Christ must occupy that supreme place. Go with me to first Samuel five verse 11, and let me remind you and then illustrate something, that it is a dangerous thing not to give God his rightful place. In First Samuel five verse 11, you find that Israel has been defeated. The Philistines have taken the ark of the covenant in that place where God would meet his people. And they take it, they’re going to use it as some religious talisman, some religious rabbit’s foot. It’s going to bring some power to them, some supernatural benefit, but it all backfires and God visits the camp of the Philistines with sores and cancers and just some ugly things. Look at verse 11, here’s what the leaders of the Philistines say. They send and gather together all the lords of the Philistines and said, “Send away the Ark of the God of Israel, listen to these words, and let it go back to its own place.”
It’s a dangerous thing when God gets displaced. It’s a dangerous thing when Jesus isn’t given his rightful position in the church, in our homes, in our marriages. It’ll cost you something when you rob God of his glory. Let’s be warned, as Jesus writes these letters, and we’ll look at each one of them soon enough, do you see his centrality in the midst? You know that I was back in Ireland this summer with Pastor Faberez from Compass Bible Church and Elisa Viejo, and on a day off we were taken around Stormont, which is the parliament buildings in Northern Ireland. It’s a beautiful, beautiful building. And while we were inside, the girl who was showing us around pointed out a picture, beautiful oil painting of Stormont and the Senate being opened at Belfast City so many years ago by George the 5th and Queen Mary. The picture was painted she told us, by a man the name of William Connor. He was commissioned to paint this picture for the sum of 200 pounds. But what was interesting about the story was he was only paid 131 pounds.
And we asked why and she said, “Well, there’s a number of theories. One of the theories is that he painted the hats too big on some of the wives, and their husbands were offended. Or at least when they got home the wife was offended and they made a big stink about it, ‘You can’t see me, I’m lost behind this sombrero’. Number two, he painted the backs of the heads of too many important people. Number three, Queen Mary looks bigger than King George.”
Now, the reality is this is true. The reality is she was bigger, she was taller, he was smaller, but if you’re painting a picture of the king, you paint him bigger and you paint her smaller. That was the etiquette of the day. And most people opt for option three. He lost some money because he took the glory away from the king. And may we never be found guilty of that. Here’s the second thing, when you see his control. This speaks of Christ presiding over the churches, not just residing among them. Christ not only walks amidst the seven lamp stands, what do we read in verse 20 that he … Sorry, in verse, yeah, 20, “He holds in his hand the seven stars.”
We read in chapter two, verse one, “These things says he who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lamp stands.”
The seven stars are seven angels or seven messengers, and they’re held by Christ. Now, we’ve got a little bit of exegetical homework to do here. The first order of business is to determine the identity of those who are held by Christ. Are they spiritual beings, angels, real angels? Or as it can also be translated, are they messengers, perhaps leaders in the church, pastors? There’s a debate on this and good men have differed over it and certainly it’s not a doctrine to split a church over, but you’ve certainly got to wrestle with it in the text and its context, and I personally lean in the direction of understanding the term to speak of a church leader, a church pastor who acts as a delegated representative of the church, a envoy or someone that fulfills an ambassadorial role. That’s how the word is used in Luke 9:55 and in GMs 2:25. And it could well be that these envoys or these ambassadors of a local church, they actually went to Patmos and received from John the book of the Revelation, and they took it back to the churches of Asia and read it. And that’s why Christ addresses himself to the angel of the church of Ephesus or Smyrna or Pergamos.
Here’s the reasons why I lean towards that. The word can be translated the human messenger or the messenger. Now, the challenge of that is this word is used consistently in the book of the revelation for a spiritual being but it also reminds us, be very careful of just basing your theology on the etymology of a word. You’ve got to not only see it in the context of a book but in the context of other books. This is number two, nowhere in the Bible are angels ever given charge over the church. In Hebrews 13:7, “Who’s accountable to the risen Christ for the welfare of a church? The elders. They must give an account for those under their charge.”
Scary business. Continue to pray for us, come alongside us, because if this is the messenger, the delegate of the church, they have a certain responsibility under Christ. And the preponderance of the commentators see it that way. But here’s the point I want us to get, forwarding fast here. If you take it as seven leaders who are representatives of the church, by implication Christ not only holds the leaders in his hands, but he has the churches in his hand. He’s concerned about the welfare of his people. And to me, it presents a beautiful picture. Jesus is described here as holding, in chapter two verse one, the seven stars, the seven messengers, and by implication, the churches that they serve in his right hand. The right hand in scripture speaks of God’s power, his authority, his ability to deliver. You’ll find it throughout the book of Psalms, how he opposes with his right hand, how he delivered Israel with a strong and mighty hand.
And the beautiful picture that comes out of this is that Christ owns the church, Christ has redeemed it with his blood, Christ possesses it and holds it precious. He is its sovereign sustainer and at no time does the church slip from his grip. And that’s a beautiful thought. And that was music to the ears of believers that were being pummeled and persecuted in Asia. Things had become increasingly worse under the mission. He had established the emperor cult. Every year, citizens in the Roman empire had to go to an altar and with a pinch of incense, they were to cry, “Caesar is Lord.”
That’s scary what the president wants to do with our kids, doesn’t it? Smacks of an an empire cult and an emperor’s cult. But here in every part of the Roman empire, the citizens had to cry, “Caesar is Lord.”
Now, for the Christian, problemo, because who was Lord? Caesar? No, Christ. Christ is Lord. And John finds himself in the salt mines of Patmus, he’s a prisoner in tribulation because of that very fact when he addresses the church of Smyrna, this factor of martyrdoms on the horizon. These churches were feeling the heat of the Roman empire, the heel of the Roman machine, the thumb screw of persecution was being tightened, but here is presented to them the one who conquers death and hell, the one who will ultimately defeat the unholy trinity of Satan, the anti Christ and the false prophet. The Book of Revelation helps them to see that Christ has a lock on world history. In the end, he wins, and so do we, even when it looks like we’re losing. That’s what the headlines are of the book of the revelation, “The blood of the saints of God will be avenged. The prayers of the saints will be answered. The works of the saints will be remembered, their enemies defeated and their tears forever wiped away.”
Is that not comforting, “I walk amidst the candlesticks and I hold in my hand the seven stars, my right hand. I will defend my people, I will provide for my people.”
Do you see his centrality? Do you see his control? In the words of the Geddes who we had here just a year ago, no part of hell or scheme of man can ever pluck us from his hand, in Christ alone. It’s a wonderful thing is it not, today amidst all that many of us are facing in the ups and downs of our economy and the mega trends across the world, the boiling pot of the Middle East? It’s a wonderful thing to be in the grip of God’s grace today, to be able to say with David and Psalm 31 verse 15, “My times are in your hands.”
Wherever you are in life right now, whatever you’re going through, whatever the time might be for you, it’s all happening in the palm of his hand. Think about that. It’s all happening in the palm of your hand. Physically, we see under our feet … I’m standing a wooden platform, you’re sitting on a concrete floor, but in a reality, in a theological sense, not by what we see by sight, but what we perceive by faith, we’re actually standing in the palm of God’s hand. Our times, our lives, our children, our businesses, our health, it’s all in God’s hands. Are they not a safe pair of hands? Of course they are. In his hand is the whole world. From his hand, he flung the stars into place. He stretched out his hand on Calvary’s tree and allowed himself to be pierced for us. And it is that hand that holds us in its grip.
I love the story of Luther Martin, the Protestant reformer in the throes of the reformation in his fight against papal authority and the sacramentalism of the Catholic church and the Pope sends a cardinal to deal with Luther. This wild boar in Germany, is how he’s described. And he tries to buy Luther off with gold but Luther will have none of it. In fact, the cardinal sends back a note to the Pope that says, “The fool does not love gold.”
He’s exhausted, he’s at his wits end. And so he threatens Luther, basically says, “Do you realize that the Pope’s little finger is stronger than all of Germany? And do you think that the German princes, Martin, will rise up and take arms to defend you, you wretched worm? No, they won’t. And then where will you be?”
And Martin Luther Stiffens, he looks into the eye of that cardinal of Rome and he says, “I’ll tell you where I’ll be. I will be where I have always been, in the hands of God.”
Wow, that’s the way you want to live. And then you’ll not fear so much and you’ll not be as anxious and as worried, because you’re where you’ve always been. Even when things turn south and things turn sour, you’re always in the palm of his hand. Let’s start on the second thought, just going to cover one aspect of it. This is so good, even if I say so myself. The setting of these letters, the book begins with these letters. That’s interesting, 22 chapters, an eighth of this apocalyptic literature is given over to the seven historical prophetic letters addressed to seven churches in a physical place called Asia Minor. And I’m interested to know the significance of their placement within the infrastructure of this book. And as I’ve looked at it, on the one hand, the setting of the seven letters encourages me and you to long for the second coming. And secondly, they encourage us to live for the second coming. Now, it’s my job to make that sensible to you. The setting of these letters, number one, causes us to long for the second coming. You say, “Pastor, where did you get that?”
Good question. I’ve got to satisfy your mind, I got to place it into the text. And here’s how I’m going to do it. You can’t help but notice that the letters of chapters two and three stand in what commentators will call antithetical parallelism to the last two chapters, okay. Hang with me, that assembly means that chapters two and three are set in contrast to chapters 21 and 22, antithetical parallelism. There was some thinking in John’s mind and certainly as the spirit of God spoke to him, and God crafted this book purposefully and in proportion. And so in chapters two and three, you have the imperfections of the church as it expresses its life in the old creation. And Jesus has to address the fact that some of them have left their first love and they’re cozying up to false theology and they’re falling into immoral lifestyles.
Now, in chapters two and three, you have the imperfections of the church in the old creation. But in chapters 21 and 22, the counterpart, the completion, you have the perfections of the church in the new creation. When all things are gone and everything becomes new, no more crying and no more sighing and no more dying, every tear is wiped away and the new Jerusalem comes down to earth. I was helped to see this by Sam Storms in his book, The One Who Conquers. He quotes Meredith Klein and she shows that in chapters two and three, you have false prophets. But in chapters 21 and 22, you have the 12 true apostles. In chapters two and three, you have false Jews. In chapter 21 and 22, the names of the tribes of the true Israel. In the early part of the book, Christians dwell in Satan’s throne. At the end of the book, Christians dwell under God’s throne. Some in the church are dead early on and all in the new Jerusalem are written in the lamb’s book of life later on. Early on, Christians’ fierce persecution, hoping in God’s promise to overcome. Later on in new creation, they reign and inherit the promises of God.
In chapters two and three, you see the church is faltering as a temporal lamp stand, but in chapters 21 and 22, we read that Jesus is the light, God is the lamp stand, that’s beautiful parallelism. And that has a real practical application because it’s interesting, this idea of imperfection being contrasted to perfection, of promise giving way to fulfillment, is in fact the thesis of the whole book. The book of the Revelation has been called the Grand Central Station of the Bible because everything that starts in the book of Genesis draws in to the Grand Central Station of the book of Revelation. Let me quote to you Ray Steadman in his book on Revelation, “Someone Israeli observed that the book of Genesis and the book of Revelation are like two book ends that hold the entire Bible together.”
In Genesis, we have the story of the origin of human sin. In Revelation, we have the complete and final victory over sin. Genesis presents the beginning of human history and civilization, Revelation presents the end of both. In Genesis, we learn the beginnings of God’s judgment and his grace toward mankind. In Revelation, we see the awesome result of his judgment and the triumph of his grace. And that’s so good. The Bible climbs from the fall of man and sin, to the dawn of a new creation, a new creation inhabited by people who have been made new creatures in Christ Jesus. What a beautiful promise. The old gives way to the new, the bad gives way to the good, and death gives way to life, and Satan gives way to God. Amen.
And I don’t know about you, I camped on that this last day or two and really enjoyed rolling that over my tongue and sucking on it like a sweet. Here’s coming a change. And even as we study the seven letters and we see a faltering church and we see a wicked world, it’s all in the anticipation of a redeemed church, of a purified people, of a new earth and the wicked or banished. There’s coming a change, and Jesus Christ will have the last word. That’s the setting of the letters. Okay, you’re under the heel of Rome, but someday I’ll free you from that. In fact, throughout these letters, we’re going to see that the promise of eternal life, the promise of the life to come, is held out as a motivation to stand and to be holy. As we close and move towards the table, doesn’t it leave you longing for the second coming? I don’t know about you, I’m tired. I really am. I’m tired of watching young people die. I’m tired of watching loved ones grow old and basically waste away. I’m tired of injustice. I’m tired of relative morality. I’m tired of a corrupt government. I’m tired of pseudo Christs and false religion. I’m tired of fighting with sin and my own flesh. I’m tired of Satan molesting mankind. I’m tired of myself being what I am, rather than being all that God has called me to be.
I’m tired of all of that. Are you? I long for that day when war will give way to peace and sin will give way to righteousness, and sickness will give way to health, and death will give way to life, and sorrow will give way to joy, and goodbye will give way to hello, and darkness will give way to light, and faith will give way to sight. Even so, come Lord Jesus. And reading these seven letters leaves me wanting to escape this world and to be all that God has saved me to be. I want to see certain people get what’s coming to them, I really do. Someone Said recently, “Hey, that theology, is it not an escapism?”
My friend, when Satan is finished with this world, you’ll want to escape and long for what we long for. Here’s the final illustration, it’s a great one. There’s a missionary by the name of Gregory Fisher. He was teaching in the West African Bible College. He was teaching on the second coming, he was speaking on first Thessalonians 4:16. And one of the students put their hands up and said, “What will he say? What will he shout?”
The professor looked at him and said, “What are you talking about?”
“Well, you just said in first Thessalonians 4:16, “And when Christ comes, he will descend from heaven with a loud command, with a shout. I’d like to know what that would be.”
Now, initially the professor tried to censor the student, “Let’s not go beyond what scripture reveals.”
But then for a moment he began to think of how earlier that day, he had talked to a refugee from the Liberian civil war. And if you know anything about that, you know how grotesque that was. This man was a high school principal. He was taken one day by the death squad, for several hours they terrorized him and described how they were going to torture him and butcher him and his family, and he narrowly escaped with his wife and a number of the kids, two of the kids died on the road to escape the horror that was Liberia. Then he had a flashback to a beggar he had seen that morning on the way to the office, a poor looking soul in rags, famished. And then he looked at the student and he said, “What will Jesus say? I think he’ll say, enough.”
… said the student. Yes. Enough suffering, enough starvation, enough terror, enough death, enough indignity, enough lives trapped in hopelessness, enough sin, enough sickness, enough disease, enough time, enough. He just may well say enough. It’s great thought. And as we look at these seven letters in their setting, we begin with chapters two and three but we’ve got to keep our eye on chapters 21 and 22. History is moving in that direction when Jesus will ring the bell and say, “Enough.”
Let’s pray. Oh God, we want to hear what your son has to say because you’ve challenged us, “This is my son, here ye him.”
And though God, it really doesn’t matter what some pastor from a a church tells us is the secret to success, and it really doesn’t matter what the latest polls and marketeers tell us, but what really matters is what your son says to the churches. And let us hear what he says. Oh God, this morning we thank you for his centrality and his control, that he is in the middle of the church’s life, that he’s with us this morning, he’s watching his wane. He’s looking at our hearts, he’s measuring our commitment. Oh God, may we be found faithful. May we be found even as we were challenged these last few weeks in our place, functioning fully as the body of Christ. We thank you for his control. Oh, the thought this morning that we live in the palm of his hand, the world is in the span of his hand, tells us, tells Isaiah, and that hand has a hole in the middle of it. And if God is for us, who can be against us?
Oh God, we’re tired. This whole world is a cursed place and it will never be all that you made it to be. It has to be remade and reworked by your grace in that great day of regeneration. And as we, your church, plowed through the mud in the mire of life, may we hold out the hope of a new Jerusalem, a planet populated by new creatures in Christ, where the curse is being removed, where death is being banished, where Satan has been imprisoned, for that day when you say, “Enough.”
Even so, come Lord Jesus. Amen.