Monday Morning Pastor; Misery and Building
Yesterday we looked at Acts 5:17-33 and asked, “What characterizes a gospel-driven person?” I gave two:
- The gospel-driven person knows and explains the whole message of Jesus’ life (v. 20). If there is a whole, full, and complete message of the gospel and what it means for those who believe, this must also mean that we can reduce the message of Jesus, resulting in a gospel that is no gospel at all (Galatians 1:8-9; 2 Cor. 11:3-4).
- The gospel-driven person obeys God by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit (v. 32). “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God (Romans 8:14). Those who obey God as witnesses for Jesus with all of their lives, have the promised Spirit. Those who have the promised Spirit obey God by living for Jesus. The apostles were honest with the religious leaders when they basically said, “You are not witnesses of Jesus because you do not obey God because you do not have the Spirit of God.” We should never tell anyone they are a Christian if there is deliberate disobedience to the whole message of Jesus.The true evidence of being secure in Christ is ongoing repentance for sin and obedience to God by the power of the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 8:11). This idea is replete in the New Testament. See: Romans 8:9-17; Galatians 5:16-22; 1 John 3:23-24, 4:13. Jesus saves us with His finished work on the cross, but we should also expect that the Holy Spirit has changed us and will change for the rest of our lives.
Are You Miserable?
Ephesians 1:13 and Romans 8:9-17 are crystal clear, if you are truly saved then the Holy Spirit lives within you. If the Holy Spirit does not live within you then you are not saved. The Spirit is the sign of the New Testament Covenant. Question: How do you know the Spirit lives within you? The Spirit gives evidence by bearing fruit (Galatians 5:22). How do we know that a tree is a fruit tree – a person is a Christian? They both produce fruit. How do we know a person is a Christian? The Spirit produces fruit in them. Paul says that the authenticating mark of the Christian is that the Spirit bears testimony with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16). In other words, our spirit or soul displays or gives a testimony that the Spirit lives indwells us. Jesus also spoke about the role of the Spirit for those who follow Christ in John 16:5-15.
This is daunting and it is here that we might find hope in misery. After all, who obeys God all the time? Only Jesus did this. That’s why we need Him and should cherish Him and put our faith only in His life, death and resurrection. But there are some who don’t repent daily of sin and they have tried to make peace with sin by accommodating it in their life. The problem is this however, if you are a Christian and the Spirit dwells within you, the Spirit does not accommodate sin. If you are a miserable Christian, it’s because you are forcing the indwelling Holy Spirit to coexist with your unchecked sin. So if you are miserable this is a good sign, because the Spirit won’t let you be comfortable with the same deeds of flesh that sent the Son of God to the cross so that you could be forgiven of sin and live to righteousness. The Spirit and flesh (sin nature) are at war or opposition with each other (Galatians 5:17) Because the Holy Spirit convicts and makes miserable the Christian who carries out the deeds of the flesh, it is the so-called Christian who sins and is happy about it that is in the greatest danger of hell (Galatians 5:21).
A Potential Objection
Someone might say to this, “We all have hurts, habits and hang-ups.” No one is perfect. We all need grace. Yes, but Romans 6 is pointed in its rebuke of this excuse to sin. We don’t abuse grace by using it as an excuse to continue on in sin. Grace is for overcoming sin, not for making sin an acceptable norm. It is true that we all have weaknesses, but there are those who by the power of grace through the work of the Holy Spirit are overcoming the deeds of the flesh. Ask yourself this, “Would Jesus, Peter or Paul ever say, “You are imperfect, go ahead and keep on sinning.”
On A Building Note
Yesterday we met our initial goal of raising $5,000 to begin the planning process to improve and expand our facilities. I thank God for the responsiveness of our church family.
I see two benefits to pressing forward with plans to build in the days to come. First, there is a practical benefit. If we are to grow and reach more people then we will simply have to have more room to do so. Most people would agree that while we are thankful for what we do have, we were out of room when we built and moved into our current facility.
Second, I see a real opportunity for our church family to trust God in this venture. If there is one thing that people struggle to trust God with, it is their money. This building campaign will force most, if not all of us, to learn to follow God and trust God with our money as disciples. I fear we make money our god so often because it creates comfort and ease and it allows us to trust ourselves. God instead wants us to trust Him with our money. Big difference. I see this as a discipleship issue just as much as I see it as a practical issue. Improving and adding on to our facility is going to require us to sacrificially trust God.
But it will also require us to trust God by trusting the leadership He has raised up among our local body. I know anytime leaders start asking for money, we get a little nervous. We have all seen abuse from leaders when it comes to money. But unless the leaders have given a reason not to trust their leading, we must submit to God by being willing to follow the leadership that He has provided. This also means that the church must also be willing to trust God by trusting themselves. After all, it was the congregation who voted to affirm the leaders that are leading and serving. Without good reason, to say no to the leadership would mean the same person who opposes the leadership is opposing themselves since they affirmed the leadership in the first place.
Finally, moving forward will give our church family and opportunity to trust God by trusting each other. The Elders and Facilities Team brought this recommendation to the congregation and the congregation unanimously approved the recommendation. To oppose the plan would then be a non-verbal statement of distrust toward our brothers and sisters in Christ who attended the meeting and affirmed the leadership of God through the Elders and Facilities Team.
Everyone of these requires us to trust God instead of ourselves, and you really can’t trust God without trusting each other. May God use this to grow disciples in His church. That is my greatest desire.