May 9, 2010
Waking the Dead – Part 3
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Time:
Revelation 3: 1-6
Scripture: 
Topics: 

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Transcript

(00:01):
Let’s take our Bibles and turn to Revelation chapter 3. Revelation 3:1. If you’re visiting with us, we’re glad to have you. We’re in a series of expositions on the seven letters of our Lord Jesus to the churches in Asia Minor. We’ve been looking at the church at Sardis now for a couple of weeks and we’ll get the bulk of it covered today.

And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, “These things says he who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars. ‘I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard. Hold fast and repent. Therefore, if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.
(01:03):
You have a few names in Sardis who have not defiled their garments. And they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life. But I will confess his name before my father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'” Thus, reads the word of the living God. May we have ears to hear and the will to obey.
(01:40):
I don’t know if it’s been your experience perhaps of going back after some years to a favorite restaurant where you perhaps spent a special evening together or a hotel you honeymooned in. But after some years you go back only to be disappointed because there’s been a downturn and a downgrade in terms of service and quality. The place is not what it once was. The product is not the same. It’s now a hotel. It’s now a restaurant living off its past reputation. That can be rather disappointing and discouraging.
(02:22):
As we come into the context of Revelation 3:1-6. We have a similar situation here regarding this assembly of believers. The gospel had come to them some 40 years earlier, probably the early ’50s, but neither glory has feared. This church is not what it once was. Its past is greater than its present. This church is now living at the corner of complacency and mediocrity. They weren’t praying with the same expectancy. They weren’t singing with the same fervency. They weren’t witnessing with the same urgency. They weren’t assembling with the same regularity. They weren’t serving with the same humility and they weren’t living with the same consistency.
(03:18):
The Lord Jesus Christ notes that doesn’t he. In verse one he says, “I know your works that you have a name, that you are alive but you are dead.” And so, Jesus begins this letter with what we call the impeachment. Jesus has little good to say about this church. And so, he immediately reminds them that they are not where they ought to be, that their works are not perfect before God.
(03:48):
There’s a lot of in unfinished business as it regards God’s will and God’s work in the life of this church. And so, we have this impeachment, Jesus denounces them. Jesus calls them a congregation of corpses. Their spiritual pulse is rather faint. The Lord Jesus encourages them to pick up the piece to get back to where they once were with him. And to help them to that end. The Lord Jesus commands certain things of them. He wants to move them from the emergency room to the recovery room. He wants to see them get back to a better state of health and strength spiritually speaking.
(04:32):
And so, from verse two on, we have five imperatives, five commandments, five things that Jesus wants them to do immediately. They need to be watchful. They need to strengthen the things which remain. They need to remember how they received and heard the gospel. They need to hold fast to that gospel and they need to repent of anything that indeed goes against that gospel and the call to radical discipleship in the Lord Jesus Christ.
(05:10):
Now we started working through some of these imperatives. We have given them certain headings. They needed to reawake. That’s verse two. Be watchful. This church was making itself a sitting duck. It was falling asleep at the gates of its own spiritual life.
(05:33):
And so, Jesus tells them to wake up, to stop folding their arms spiritually and to seek him afresh, to pray as they once prayed, to study the word of God as they once studied the word of God, to get back into the habit of fellowshipping with God’s people and building biblical friendships that will hold them accountable and inspire them to love in good works. They needed to reawake.
(06:00):
As we left the Antrim Road police station in Belfast, we were often met by the words on the gates of the station on the way out. Stay alert, stay alive. And what’s true of a policeman in Belfast or one of our brave soldiers on the streets of Baghdad today is true of the Christian. Stay alert, stay alive, because you have an enemy who goes about seeking whom he may devour. You’re never safe. You’re living behind enemy lines.
(06:34):
The world is pressing in. Your flesh is trying to open the door of your heart from the inside to let the enemy in. You and I need to put on the helmet of salvation. We need to guard that gets to our spiritual life. Remember what we said last week, the calm which puts us to sleep may be more fatal than the storm which keeps us wide awake. They needed to reawake.
(07:03):
Secondly, they needed to reinforce. They needed to strengthen the things which remain that are ready to die. Jesus said, “Look, I have not found your works perfect before God.” The word “perfect” there carries the idea of unfulfilled or incomplete. Oh, they were working and they were serving, but they were doing it with half a heart. And Jesus tells them, “Come on, there’s more to be given.” They had accepted mediocrity, which ought to be a curse word in the Christian’s vocabulary. Given what Jesus has done for us on the cross, we need to leave it all on the field for him.
(07:50):
And so, we reminded ourselves that in our commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ, there ought to be no reserve, no retreat. And if that’s the case when we come to die, there will be no regret.
(08:03):
But let’s move on. What else is in this prescription for health and holiness? Be watchful. Strengthen the things which remain that are ready to die. Number three in verse three, remember, remember therefore how you have received and heard. That’s the next imperative. That’s the next command that Jesus sets before this church. He commands them to bear in mind how they heard and received the gospel.
(08:36):
Now, this isn’t a simple recalling. This is something beyond the momentary reminiscence. This is a word that carries the idea of keeping something alive in your memory. This is something that’s not far from your thoughts. This is what Jesus is asking. Hey, as you go through the day and all sorts of things call for your attention and call for your affection, you need to put on the helmet of salvation. You need to stay alert because there’s things in your life that need to be strengthened and made stronger.
(09:13):
So, remember that. Remember the ethical imperatives of the gospel. Remember the implications of faith and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. He encourages them to allow the past to inform the present so that the present may transform the future. This was not to be a still or a stagnant remembering of past glories, like an old footballer telling you the same story for the 100th time of how he scored the winning touchdown and turned the game in their favor.
(09:52):
No, no, that’s not what Jesus is calling. Look, he’s not trying to put them asleep. He’s trying to waken them up. And one of the things he believes can do that is remembrance which stabs the conscience wide awake. They were to remember that there was a time in the life of this church when they sought souls with a greater eagerness.
(10:15):
When the word of God was preached and received with greater fervor and obedience. When prayer before God was conversation, delighted in. When they got their highlighter out every morning to mark the word of God so that they might hide it in their heart and not sin against the one who wrote it and became flesh for us.
(10:40):
Jesus encourages them to remember the past. The point is not that the past might act as chloroform, but it might act as smelling salts. Come on, waking up. Do you remember 40 years ago when the gospel came to the city of Sardis and the spirit of God tugged on your heartstrings and brought you weeping to the cross and you repented of your sin and like bunions pilgrim, the burden of your sin went rolling down into the open sepulcher of Christ’s tomb and you were free and forgiven in the Lord Jesus.
(11:18):
Remember that? Was that not a night to be celebrated? And then you had a sense that you know what? You’d become the temple of the Holy Spirit. You’d become the base of operations for God’s work on earth. How cool is that? And you remember how God used you in the lives of other people. You turned hearts towards him. Do you remember all of that?
(11:40):
You see, it was the act of smelling salts because you see, they had folded their arms. They were on the spiritual easy chair. They were watching the reruns of what they once were and going, “That’s great.” And Jesus says, “No, it’s not. Get up. Strengthen the things that remain. Remember that you are not where you once were and you’re not yet what you ought to be.” Folks think about this. Isn’t it funny yet it’s not funny that you and I tend to remember what we ought to forget and we tend to forget what we ought to remember? Write that down today and think about that. That’s something you and I often do.
(12:24):
Someone has said this, “We tend to write our sins and injuries on marble and God’s mercies and benefits on dust.” How true that is? Too many Christians are chained to the failures and mistakes of the past. They keep remembering those moments that cause them such pain. Are those moments that brought shame to them and the savior they love and they’re stuck in the past. They’ve hit the pause button and that’s where they’re at remembering that moment, staying in that moment.
(12:59):
But my friends, listen, if you and I truly repent, we can get past that. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. Amen. And the Bible says he remembers them no more. And if God has forgotten them, why do you keep bringing them up and to the feasts of your spouse or why do you yourself dredge them up in your own conscience and make yourself guilty and paralyze your effectiveness for Jesus Christ?
(13:33):
Get up and go on in the freedom of God’s forgiveness. There’s a new day and a better day for you. Remember what God has forgotten and then you forget it. But we have this tendency to remember what we ought to forget and then we forget what we ought to remember. We’ve got an awful short memory when it comes to God’s goodness, haven’t we? How many times has God blessed you? Many times has he thought about you.
(14:05):
Psalm 139 says more than the sand of the sea. Next time you’re down at Newport Beach, just take a handful of that sand and come back next week and tell me how many grains you held in your hand. In fact, come back two weeks later because you’ll still be counting after the seventh day. There’s a ton of little grains in that one hand full of sand.
(14:25):
And it’s just a hyperbolic way of describing God’s unending thoughts directed toward us. He’s constantly working all things together for good. His mercy is forever. Nothing will separate us from his love and yet we forget that and we get into a funk and we get into a fog and we come to a crisis in our life and it seems like there’s no way forward and we wonder how we’re going to make it. Well, you’re going to make it today and tomorrow the way you made it yesterday, cradled in God’s love, held by God’s power, underwritten by God’s grace.
(15:17):
That’s what you and I need to remember, but we often forget. God, our help and age is passed, is the God who will be with us for years to come. We forget God’s work and therefore we feel in our own. That’s what’s going on here. Hey, you guys, remember God doesn’t want us to live in the past, but he does want us to learn from it, to go back to some of those milestones of God’s faithfulness, to take encouragement from those, and then go back to where we came from and then to go beyond where we are. Forgetting those things which are behind.

“I press on,” says Paul. Philippians 3:12-14, Jesus knows full well the ministry of memory. Write it down, the ministry of memory. What’s one of the reoccurring words in the Book of Deuteronomy? What’s one of the keywords if you’re going to study the Book of Deuteronomy? Remember my covenant. Remember my faithfulness. Remember that when you’re rich, I made you rich. Remember when you’re in the land, I got you there. I promised I would be with you, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I have capped my promise and when you have failed me, I have not failed you.
(16:48):
Remember, bless the Lord on my soul and forget not his benefits. Those are the things we need to remember. The other things we need to forget. Jesus understands the ministry of memory. Now we’re not talking about nostalgia. Some of you are gray hairs or silver hairs here this morning. I’m encouraging you to look back but don’t stay there. It’s not about nostalgia the way it once was. It’s simply going back to those benchmarks, come back to those milestones and recapturing hope and encouragement and expectation that he who is the same yesterday, today, and forever will be a constant in each of our lives.
(17:39):
William Colonel, the old Puritan, takes the image of a hunting dog, a hound dog that’s lost the scent when it’s out on the trail. What does that old hound dog do? It goes back to where it picked up the scent and tries to find it again. And he says, “That’s a wonderful analogy of what ought to go on in your life and my life as Christians. When we lose the scent of Christ’s favor, when we may begin to doubt his love or even our own salvation,” he says, “go back and pick up the scent.”
(18:16):
Listen, when a hound has lost the scent, he hunts backward to recover it and pursues his game with a lighter cry of confidence than before. Thus Christian, when your hope is at a loss and you question your salvation in another world, look backward to see what God has done for you in this one. Past experiences with God are sure foundation for hope in the future hardships and a powerful argument in prayer.
(18:42):
So, you should not only feast with the joy of mercy but see of the remembrance of it as hope seed to strengthen you, to wait on God for further mercy and help in time of need. That’s why journals are so good where you write down in a given moment God’s mercy. And a year from now, you can go back and there’s a hope seed to be sown again in your heart and watered by expectant prayer.
(19:09):
That’s also by the way why we ought to read old books and why we ought to sing the old hymns. Because they bring the past into the present. They show us the hope of saints centuries ago and how God brought them through and how God will bring us through, the God who is the same yesterday, the day and forever is with us. So, I want to know what he did yesterday. And yesterday’s not yesterday. Yesterday can be 50 years ago, 500 years ago, 5,000 years ago. It’s all relevant because his story is history. And the people of God, their story is our story.
(20:01):
When someone was leaving this church, they said to me in a rather negative mood one day, why do you quote all these dead people? Well, there’s more of them to quote from to be frank about it because there’s more dead people and there is living people. But beyond the arrogance and the ignorance of that statement is the reality that the God who served them and the God who safeguarded them is my God. And I want to know what he did in their life so they might know what he was willing to do in my life.
(20:45):
What is it saying, Hebrews 11:4? He being dead yet speaks. I’ll tell you another reason why I read dead guys because I think we are in a generation of dwarfs. I want to read the giants, the man that changed the face of Europe and the Protestant reformation. I want to follow William Carey to India and see how he brought the advent of modern missions. I want to go back to the wilderness wanderings. I want to listen to David in the Psalms. I want to hear the prophets thundering to disobedient Israel just bumping up against a New Testament.
(21:26):
There’s something for me to learn in all of that, something for you and I to learn in all of that. Let’s not be so shallow to think that all of God’s work is being done in our generation.
(21:42):
But here’s another interesting thing here. This remembrance is centered upon the Holy Spirit. Let’s go back to verse three. Remember therefore how you have received and heard. What? Well, the gospel. See, Jesus through John tells this church at Sardis to remember how they received and heard the gospel. He wants him to go back in their mind to the beginnings of God’s grace in the life of this church, and how the Holy Spirit brought them from a state of deadness to life and from a state of darkness to light. That’s how they heard.
(22:29):
They’re not being asked to remember the gospel so much as how they received the gospel. How do you and I hear the gospel? How do you and I come to a place of trusting the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the work of the bountiful and blessed Holy Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit. It opens my mind to understand. It’s the Holy Spirit that moves my will to believe in Jesus Christ. It’s the Holy Spirit that makes me alive in him.
(23:02):
Jesus said, “You must be born again by water and the spirit.” Jesus tells us that the spirit would come and he would convince man of sin and righteousness and judgment to come. Christ is the agent of redemption, but the Holy Spirit is the agent of regeneration and that’s what they were to remember.
(23:25):
Why were they to remember it? Because the church had been birthed from the life-giving womb of the Holy Spirit. And therefore, its future life its greater works would depend upon them being filled by the spirit, walking in the spirit, not quenching the spirit. You see this church as with other churches, it would either live or die on the basis of the vitality of the relationship between the Christian and the spirit.
(24:04):
How are you and the Holy Spirit doing these days? Because the future of our church lies there and relies upon that. Remember how you receive and heard. In fact, this ties in to something we noted, didn’t we? In verse one, Jesus talks about the fact that he has the seven spirits of God. We noted that in all these letters, the end reduction is always tailored to the need of the church. And the need of this church was life. It was a dead and dying assembly that needed a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon its life and upon its witness.
(24:53):
And Jesus says, “I have the seven spirits of God.” We noted that we don’t believe in seven spirits of God. It’s a grammatic way of speaking of the spirit’s fullness. The number seven is the number of completeness. It’s used that way throughout the Book of Revelation and other passages in the Bible.
(25:12):
So, Jesus, I have the manifold fullness of the spirit to give to you and you need him because where the spirit of God is, there’s liberty and there’s life. And you need to throw off the grave clothes as did Lazarus and be filled again with the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit. He’s called the spirit of life in Romans 8:12. Therefore, how necessary is he for a church that’s dead and dying?
(25:52):
He alone can bring churches back from the brink, animate dead works and awake sleeping saints, and yet we’ve forgotten the Holy Spirit, haven’t we? If the sin of the world is to reject the Son of God, the sin of the church is to ignore the Spirit of God. We’ve been studying at our man’s breakfast each month the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Get some of those CDs.
(26:23):
I reminded the man as I remind you that the Holy Spirit has been called the forgotten God. We must not settle for two thirds of God. We are saved by the Father, the Son and the Spirit. When we baptize candidates, we baptize them in a Trinitarian formula. In the name of the Father, in the name of the Son, in the name of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is no marginal figure in heaven or history. Without him, there would be nothing and without him, we would have nothing and accomplish nothing.
(27:02):
Listen to me, just hang in for a moment or two. Think about this. Without the Holy Spirit, there would be no world. Without the Holy Spirit, there would be no Bible. Without the Holy Spirit, there’d be no Savior, no gospel, no Christianity. Genesis 1, we read that the spirit of God hovered over the waters of the deep in that creation week. We read that as our Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal word became flesh that the Holy Spirit mysteriously and miraculously overshadowed Mary. And Jesus was conceived in her womb without sin.
(27:49):
We read, Peter tells us that the Holy Spirit moved the prophets of old to write the holy scriptures. We’ve just acknowledged that you and I can’t come to faith in Jesus Christ. You and I can’t be born again without his mysterious and sovereign work in our lives. It’s the Holy Spirit that launched the church to its world mission in the Book of Acts. Without him, no world, no Bible, no savior, no church, no Christians, no gospel.
(28:31):
So, are you consciously filled by him today? Are you sure you haven’t grieved them, quenched them? Are you sure you’re walking in the spirit, bearing the fruit of the spirit? Because the health and holiness of this church hinges on that. Remember how you received and heard what the Son is to this planet, what life is to our bodies, the Holy Spirit is to the church. Make sure that he’s not a footnote in your theology. Make sure he’s not an appendix to your Christian life.
(29:10):
I’ll tell you how big he is. He’s so big that he replaced the Lord Jesus in the life of the disciples without loss to them. That’s how big he is. Jesus said in John 16:7, “I’m going to go away and the comfort is going to come.” But that’s to your advantage. No loss, no regression. He’s the same as me. He’s the presence and power of God internalized in the heart and the life of a man. That’s a challenge, isn’t it?
(29:53):
You know when I was growing up in Rathcoole Baptist Church in Northern Ireland, I became good friends with two old women in the church called Ms. Houston and Mrs. Price. I endeared myself to them and they endeared themselves to me. I along with others in the church called them Ms. and Mrs. Faithful. In fact, when we were at one of their funerals, I heard an old brother say, “Mrs. Faithful is dead.” They never missed the meeting. They were faithful in all that they did.
(30:27):
When I got saved, my mom told me to call Mrs. Price because I was made aware of the fact that she had prayed for me every single Wednesday night without fail at the Bible study in prayer meeting at the church. These were two women who had seen actual revival in Northern Ireland. In the turn of the 20th century, God used a [inaudible 00:30:50] evangelist by the name of W.P. Nicholson to bring about a movement of God in that province.
(30:56):
Hundreds if not thousands were coming to Christ on a regular basis, true conversion. And they didn’t pad the statistics. The newspapers of the day tell of publicans closing their pubs and pouring the beer down the street and into the [inaudible 00:31:11]. The great ship building company, Harland & Wolff tells us that so many workers brought stolen stuff back that they had to actually build the warehouses to house the stuff.
(31:26):
There was genuine conversion resulting in genuine holiness and both these women were converted during that time. And I can tell you they never forgot it. In fact, as the years went by, they saw the oil of God’s spirit burn low. They watched the church enter the world and the world entered the church and no wonder like the striking of a clock every single Wednesday night, one of them prayed, “Oh God, send revival for the need of the hour is Holy Ghost power.”
(32:06):
They knew that our president [inaudible 00:32:09] but peace shooters against the enemy without us having lives that are clean enough to become receptacles for the power of the Holy Spirit to move among his people and to change so many lives once again. Is that not the need of the hour? Holy Ghost power, certainly the case at Sardis.
(32:35):
Two other things quickly. They needed fourthly to remain, they needed to remain, verse three. Remember therefore high you have received and heard and hold fast. This is the next dose of medicine that will bring health to this healing assembly. They were to hold fast, literally to keep the gospel, the gospel that they had received and heard through the administration and agency of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of this church’s history some 40 years earlier.
(33:13):
This is one of the themes of the book of the Revelation begins in 1:3. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep what is written in it. There’s many people that have the Bible in their hand. Few have it in their heart. We’re meant to keep it in the sense of not only garden it but living it. That which had been received the generation earlier had to be kept alive among them through renewed observance and obeyance.
(33:50):
To our forefathers, faith was an experience. To our fathers, faith was an inheritance. To us, faith is a convenience. To our children, faith can become a nuisance. That’s what can happen in the life of a family, in the life of a church, and that’s why the gospel must be remembered through the work of the Holy Spirit and lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. John Stott said something, it’s quite good. “A deaf church is a dead church. A deaf church is a dead church.”
(34:35):
How does a church stay alive? How do you and I stay on the cutting edge of our spiritual experience by remembering the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit and by keeping it, by understanding the gospel, by treasuring the gospel, by seeking to live the gospel, by eagerly coming to hear the word of God as the gospel has preached on every occasion the church assembles.
(35:05):
Here’s the deal. This church’s renewal hinged upon what? A fresh appreciation and appropriation of the gospel. That’s where our future lies at kindred. We need to be gospel people. We need to understand it. It needs to be preached. We need to work our way through books in the Bible will give us a greater grasp of it. We need to teach it from this pulpit and the larger gatherings of the church. It must be heralded in the Sunday schoolrooms where adults and children meet. It must be preached in our youth ministry.
(35:42):
Because it’s the gospel. That’s the power of God on the salvation. God’s glory visits a church that preaches his gospel, preserves his gospel, treasures his gospel.
(35:56):
And here’s what I’m saying, this church didn’t need something new. This church needed something old. The way forward was the way back. That’s the opposite of what I’m hearing today in all the church gross stuff. From what I can tell, we’re being told to forget the past. It’s a new day. We need new methods and even a new message, but here’s a church that’s dead and dying, a church that’s fast asleep.
(36:27):
And Jesus says, “Here’s what you need to do. You need to remember the gospel you heard and the power of the Holy Spirit and hold fast to it. You need to go back before you go forward. But once you’ve gone back and grasped it again, then you can go forward with my blessing.” The church at Sardis didn’t need anything more than the gospel. Rightly preached and radically practiced. There’s nothing wrong with the gospel. The gospel is not broken and the word of God is not powerless.
(37:04):
I’ll tell you, there’s nothing wrong with the gospel. There’s just something wrong with the church. We’ve lost our faith in the gospel. We’ve stopped preaching it. We’ve stopped believing it. We’ve stopped living it. We’re actually ashamed of the gospel. We cut and paste our message today to appeal to the world. We don’t call them to repentance. We don’t call to a radical commitment to Jesus Christ and his lordship, a leaving of sin.
(37:34):
If you come to Jesus Christ and you’re in a living relationship, my friend, that of love for your new savior, you need to leave your partner because you’re not betroth to Christ. We don’t preach that anymore. We don’t preach separation. We don’t preach repentance. We don’t preach hell. Actually, there’s churches that take satisfaction in the fact that they don’t preach those messages and they advertise themselves that way.
(38:06):
Now, the church is infected with the false gospel of the Joel Osteens of this world telling you that the gospel is all about a better you. And it’s actually not. It’s all about Jesus Christ and the death of you and the slain of your flesh. It’s the dying of you that brings life. We’ve got the Satanic gospel of self-fulfillment that tells men that salvations no longer being saved from hell, but being saved from a purposeless life.
(38:42):
This is a perverted gospel. It’s a parlous gospel. It’s a gospel that preaches faith without repentance, heaven without holiness, Jesus without the church, and life without suffering. We’re ashamed of the gospel, aren’t we today? God forgive us.
(39:05):
Remember how you heard and receive that gospel and hold fast to it. That old gospel preached by the apostles, promised by the prophets, taught by the Savior, and one that’s been treasured and transported across the world by the sins of old. And why in our generation do we believe that we have got a corner now and what really needs to be happening that the church has got it wrong for centuries? Evangelicalism is ashamed of the gospel scandal and its exclusivity and its winner take all demands.
(39:52):
You know that this past weekend I’ve had the privilege of spending time with my friend and father in the faith, John MacArthur. I was up at the graduation services and ceremonies for the Master’s College. They’ve just reprinted one of John’s books, it’s in its third edition. You need to get your hands on it. It’s called Ashamed of the Gospel.
(40:14):
It’s still true. The church is bind into all kinds of pragmatism. We’re not preaching repentance. We’re not preaching the holiness. We’re not preaching the hard saints of the Lord Jesus Christ. We’re being slick. We’re making it easy. When Jesus said, “Hey, if you’re going to have all of me, I want all of you. If you want the benefits of my cross, then after that, you’ll take up your cross and live for my glory. Even if it pitches you against your father and your mother, even if it makes you the laughing stock of the school, makes you an outsider rather than an insider.”
(40:56):
But that’s okay. Jesus will go on to say to this church, “Hey, if you confessed me before the world, I’ll confess you before my Father, but if you don’t, I won’t.” In fact, at Thursday night we celebrated Dr. MacArthur’s 25th year, 25th year at the Master’s College. We gave him a number of gifts.
(41:21):
But I think the best thing of that evening at the dinner was the words of Dr. John Stead, one of the professors at Master’s College, who has taught there for 40 years, political history. He get up and he said, “You know what? In the last 25 years, nothing new has been preached at the Master’s College.” What a testimony. Some people would yawn at that thought. I don’t know. I get all fired up about it. That there were men before us who preached this message and now we’re preaching it.
(41:56):
And when we are dust, hopefully a new generation of young men graduating from our college in seminary, another evangelical schools will preach that same gospel. In 25 years from now, we won’t have preached anything new at the Master’s College because you see the secret to the future is the past. We don’t need something new. We need something so old, it’ll seem new.
(42:21):
The gospel of the grace of God, that old gospel of running from the fires of hell to the blood soak cross of Jesus and there putting your faith where God put your sin in Jesus Christ alone. And then leaving that cross by picking up your own cross and submitting yourself fully to the lordship of Jesus Christ and saying, “Lord, whatever, wherever, whenever. You did this for me, tell me what do you want me to do for you?” Or C.T. Studd said, “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then there’s nothing too great that I can do for him.” Where the gospel has protected the life of a church is preserved.
(43:18):
Last thought and very quickly they needed to repent. This is the fifth imperative. Remember how you received and heard the gospel hold fast and repent. They were to no longer accept the unacceptable. They needed to stop doing certain things and start doing certain things. It was time to waken up. It was time to shake themselves, because they were staring disaster in the face. And so, they needed an about face.
(43:53):
You see, you can’t hold fast to the gospel and hold fast to sin. You can’t say you love Jesus, and then love that which he hates, and that which kneeled him to the cross. Our every evil thought, our every evil action, and now we can’t hold fast to that gospel and then hold fast to our sin. The gospel brings about repentance after repentance after repentance, turning away from the world, turning away from self, turning to God, given the state of play, given the impending discipline of Christ, given the practical effects of delay, they needed to repent swiftly.
(44:45):
This is in the [inaudible 00:44:46], the word “repent” carries the idea of a simple action or a past action. This basically say, “Hey, you were meant to repent yesterday.” Because you see, they departed some time ago. They were on the downhill slide some time ago. And they should have repented by now, sits in the [inaudible 00:45:06]. Hey guys, “Waken up. Strengthen what remains. Get a fresh appreciation and have a fresh appropriation of the gospel in the power of the spirit. Love it and live it and turn from anything that shames it or anything that drains its power and energy.”
(45:32):
Delayed repentance strengthens sin in your life and mine invites the devil to take a foothold and hardens our heart. The longer ice freezes, the harder it is to break. Jesus says to this church, maybe to some of us, I repent. It’s time. You know what you want to do, you know the word, you know the gospel and you know what you’re doing needs to stop and other things need to start, do it and do it now. It’ll be easier for you. It’ll be better for the world and certainly good for the church.
(46:15):
Let’s pray. Lord, we thank you for this word to our hearts this morning. The night is far spent and the day is at hand. It’s time for the church to wake up. We’ve got to stop hitting the snooze button. Every week that goes by as the day is marched near our home this last time to win our crowns, last time to reach the world with the message of Jesus Christ, last time to become more like him whom we love.
(46:59):
So, Lord, help us to waken up, to throw off the gray of clothes. We pray for the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of our church. May we repent of those things that are grieving him, those things that are quenching his power among us. May we seek him in all his fullness so that our services may be marked by power and his work among us. Oh God, you have put your finger on some things in each of our lives and you’re telling us to repent. Oh Lord, we pray indeed that the ice will melt and that the breakthrough will come. Lord, be with us this day for we ask in Jesus’ name, amen.