The Lord Jesus Christ promised to build His church. He did not promise to build SDRBC. If next week our congregation ceases to exist, Christ is still building His church as He gathers the elect to Himself. We will all simply move on somewhere else. Of the seven churches in the book of Revelation Christ warns five that He will come in judgement if they do not address issues of sin. Judgement effectively meant wiping them out. He would rather have no church than a church destitute of truth and godliness.
* Ephesus: hardworking and theologically astute, nevertheless they departed from their first love.
* Pergamos: hardworking and faithful, nevertheless there was doctrinal compromise.
* Thyatira: hardworking, loving and persevering, nevertheless moral corruption flourished.
* Sardis: a church in name only, barely a glimmer of life and almost completely dead.
* Laodicea: nether hot nor cold, lukewarm characterized by indifference and lethargy.
Three of the five churches had commendable qualities, yet there were also serious problems. The warnings are stark – repent or I will remove your lampstand; repent or I will fight against you; repent or I will cast you into great tribulation; repent or I will come upon you as a thief; repent or I will vomit you out of My mouth. None of the churches in the book of Revelation exist today. There are remnants of the Christian faith in some of these places. In others there is nothing at all.
Christ guarantees the success of the gospel. He will indeed save His church. We do not however, have a guarantee for the future health and existence of our particular church. We hear of churches closing their doors regularly. Many congregations in our towns and cities are down to a handful of people. Many struggle to find pastors. When I came to Sydney 20 years ago one particular Reformed denomination had 14 congregations, today there are 3. None of them have pastors. Let us not be presumptuous. Let us not be careless. Let us not just suppose that things will continue on as they always have. What are our responsibilities?
* We must be worshipful – we exist to bring glory to God; motivated by love and thankfulness to honour Him in all that we do. Without love for God we are not functioning as a church.
* We must be prayerful – committing ourselves and our needs to the Lord; looking to Him and not leaning upon human wisdom for fruitfulness. Without prayer we are not functioning as a church.
* We must be faithful – steadfast in the truth; preaching and practicing what God has set forth is His Word. Faithful also in service and commitment. Without faithfulness we are not functioning as a church.
* We must be communal – recognizing the significance of corporate life in that we cultivate care, friendship, and fellowship among ourselves. Without love for the brethren we are not functioning as a church.
* We must be evangelical – outward looking in that we pray and labour to see people converted whether those around us or further afield. Without concern for the lost we are not functioning as a church.
How many of these five points could be considered optional? Take one away, and we are no longer functioning as a healthy church. May we give Christ reason to bless us, not reason to wipe us out.