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October 18, 2022 1:00 am
The continuation of the church always depends on its message. Take a tour of the sites of the seven churches of Revelation in what is now Turkey. All of them are gone. In this message, we review nine lessons from the church in Ephesus. What will it cost us to follow the message of the cross?
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Marie Flores looking to Jesus, founder and perfecter of our dear never the gospel has gone light is burst forth into the culture.
Sometimes that white is extinguished.
Take a tour of the sites of the seven churches of Revelation in what is now Turkey. All of them are long gone. What happened stay with friends of Moody Church in Chicago. This is running to win with Dr. Erwin Moser is clear.
Teaching helps us make it across the finish line faster than the gigantic hockey of Sophia in Istanbul reminds us that it is possible for the Christian faith give way to the forces of darkness. Yes, Dave. You're absolutely right, one a warning for us.
We cannot take the church for granted. That's why I'm so convinced that we have to stand against the culture rather than submitting to the culture and in my new book entitled no reason to hide standing for Christ in a collapsing culture. I intend to give some hope to the church some instruction, but also to encourage people to say here I stand, I cannot do otherwise you know is I've traveled around the country often times speaking on the topic of the relationship of the church to its culture, and to politics. People say I attended church that is in a bubble, it pretends as if the culture doesn't exist. We need to grapple with the issues around us and that's why I've written this book, but for now I want you to listen as we preach the word of God from the first century and in order to help us. I want to refer one more time to hug you Sophia hi guess Sophia is the church of holy wisdom menaced on Christian church from 537 two 1453 the fall of Constantinople. It is turned into a mosque for 500 years and since the 1920s has been a museum.
All of the major churches of Constantinople as it was called back then. It's Istanbul today. All of the major churches have been turned into mosques.
So with that background.
What I would like to do now is to give you the nine lessons nine lessons that I believe first of all let me say as I begin these lessons that the church is really important to Jesus. It is he who walks among the golden candlesticks.
He observes our worship goes up and down the out.
He watched today what we gave in our offering. He watched whether or not we were singing or whether or not were just standing there wondering when the sun was going to be over.
Jesus says the church is number one and he walks amid the candlesticks and he walks at Moody Church in the matter where you are listening to this today. He walks down the aisle of your church to and notices everything that is done while very quickly. The lessons number one, the continuation of any church. The continuation of any congregation can never be taken for granted the existence of any congregation the continuation of it can't be taken for granted, there were churches there and they are not there now I understand here in America there was a church that became a restaurant serving fried chicken and it was known in the area. People came and the question was how did you end up selling fried chicken will the answer is in order to supplement the budget we began to sell fried chicken and we got better at selling fried chicken.
Then we did selling the gospel. So today the church sells fried chicken. Usually when a church closes it is because of the churches neglect of a lot of different things. Sometimes it may not be have situations in the world today where radicals come in and they wipe out a whole congregation and shoot them in church if the church closes it's not because of unsafe but usually it is because of unfaithfulness. You can understand why each of these lessons is one that needs explanation. Secondly, the church has always been always been an island of righteousness in a sea of paganism. It's always been an island of righteousness in a sea of pagan come with me to Pergamum. Pergamum a whole complex of temples and there is the temple of Hadrian. We saw and Hadrian said that you have to worship me and the Christians were there. And when Jesus wrote the letter to the church of Pergamum.
What did he say he said I know where you dwell, your dwelling, where Satan's seat is by the way, do you know that God knows where you dwell to God says to you today. I know where you work.
I know the people around you. I know what they're saying behind your back. I know what you're going through. Understand and so Jesus said that to the church at Pergamum you are, where Satan's seat is but you have the opportunity of representing me in the midst of Satan's seat and some people think that Satan seat was the temple to Zeus that was there. If that's the case, I have walked on Satan's seat 1920s German archaeologists went to Pergamum they took apart the altar to Zeus stone by stone and they reconstructed it in Berlin and today if you go to Berlin. Whatever you do not miss the Pergamum museum and Darren Berlin. You not only see that you actually see a reconstruction of the original Stargate amazing CM to see the church is always been an island of righteousness in a sea of paganism. Third, the church has always had resistance from the culture. Churches always had resistance from the culture. You think for example of the emphasis you know and here you have these makers of shrines getting mad.
The church always impacts culture and the reason that it impacts culture is because the church if it is, the church is always going to challenge the idols of its culture today. The idols of eroticism of materialism. The idols of self-aggrandizement. All of these idle we we need to challenge them as a church and the world will resist that. Let's suppose you're a Christian businessman in Ephesus. Would you have sold those little shrines. Would you have sold them saying that I need to make a business to any other selling them next door and then reason people are going to buy them anyway. It's not as if you know I'm the only seller of them so that's the biggest trade in town.
When tourists come from all over the then known world in order to worship at the great 10 sure sure I'd sell them.
We say to ourselves, or would you or would you say I refuse to sell these idols that are going to be used in worship. Even if I have to shut down and trust God for my next love red. What would you do reason I was talking to a friend of mine is involved in a court case in which three Christians under oath lied because they were representing a certain company and they probably knew that if they told the truth they'd be fired from their jobs. How much does integrity mean to us. At what point do we as individuals and we as a church.
Are we tempted to compromise with our culture.
The culture is always going to put pressure on us always. That's lesson number three, number four, even when the church I love this one, even when the church is in the hands of Satan, even when the church is in the hands of Satan. It is still in the hands of God still in the hands of God. The church at Smyrna, Jesus said to the church. He says that you know there are those from the synagogue of Satan. They are going to persecute you and the Satan will throw you into prison for 10 days.
Now let me say that it Jesus said it's going to be 10 days.
It's not going to be 11 because he is sovereign and then Jesus said be faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life.
You see, even though Satan is the one there in Satan's hands to be delivered over to prison falsely accused and Jesus said you're still in my hand though, because the worst that they can do to you is to kill you. Be faithful unto death, and I'll give you the crown of life. You say well you know if I don't die as a martyr. Can I get this special crown. Yes, you can refer to one other place in the New Testament James 112 where it says blessed is he overcomes temptation for he will receive the crown of life. You are a single there is pressure on you to be sexually immoral, and you continue to stand your ground and you continue to say no or you are married and you are involved in temptation and you say no I'm going to keep my bowels.
I'm going to be committed and the Bible says it, you overcome Tatian you to receive the crown of life.
It's a special crown. Of course, everybody has eternal life or believes in Jesus but is a special enjoyment of eternal life. That's why we also can be faithful were God has planted us, but the point is this. Here's a church thrown into the hands of the devil still in the hands just like Jesus when he died on you.
I mean, the Bible says wicked hands crucified him okay wicked hands crucified.
What does Jesus say as he looks up in his dying breath. He says into thy hand, I commit my spirit is still in the hands of God.
Even though he was given into the hands of Satan.
Let's go on to the next one. We're making progress here. Number five the size of a church is not as important as its character, the size of a church is not as important as its character.
I'm impressed with the fact I read the seven letters and I don't hear Jesus say as single thing about the fact that you should be bigger and you should be growing now. Of course I believe the churches are should be growing. We want to grow as a church we want to grow to have a greater impact in our community and to touch more lives. But Jesus doesn't say anything about that already talks about is their relationship to him whether or not they're morally pure.
Whether not there doctrinally sound whether or not they're compromising with the world and the other things that's all that Jesus does this say about while it's very unlike a lot of books that of been about the church. They have no political power.
None. Jesus said to one of the church is Seth.
I know you are poor and in parenthesis but you know you're rich. Wow, that's interesting. That's the church at Smyrna. The one that is being persecuted Jesus just throws that in to the church at Philadelphia. He says them. In effect you don't have a lot of night but you did keep my word. All how differently Jesus looks at the church and the way in which we have been school to look at it.
So the issue is not the size of the church nearly as much as its character and its relationship to him. That's another lesson that we can learn number six is not necessary to have freedom to be faithful to the gospel is not necessary to have freedom to be faithful to the gospel were concerned about our freedoms being gobbled up well yeah they might be, but that you know martyrs throughout the centuries have proven you don't have to be at freedom to be faithful right from the early church. You know, we obey God rather than then you're going throws into prison throws into prison to stop talking about Jesus. That's all that we can and and that's always been what if I were to tell you this that more Christians died after the Reformation and were massacred because they believe that one should be baptized upon profession of faith, rather than as an infant on that issue.
More Christians died and were massacred then died in the persecutions of Rome is a pastoral is you can throw that out without explaining it. Oh yeah, I can.
It's always been the lot of the true church to be persecuted at some bloodline churches.
Individuals have always proved do not need freedom to be faithful to the gospel number seven.
Jesus knew in every church there would be those who would have years and those who would you know those who have ears to hear, let him hear.
Well, everybody has ears. Most people do, but they just don't get it in every church there are those who get it and those who don't. Those who led a blow past them and those who say while this is a letter from Jesus, we better obey it and we better listen carefully. As always, to and you know the statements that Jesus made about over commerce in the book of Revelation. It boggles your mind you overcomes all. Given the hidden manna.
He overcomes all given the name that no one else knows except he and me. Your wife won't even know the name that Jesus is going to be between you and him I mean is mine. We get to Laodicea and by the way, today Laodicea is a pile of stones you can see the ruins of the city. We walk possibly a half-mile at least in Laodicea. There's an old amphitheater. There, that's the church you know that's lukewarm and most people misinterpret what Jesus said. Jesus said I would you be cold or hot but not lukewarm. When you go to Laodicea you finally see it. I write about this, but now I thought with my eyes on the one hand from higher Opelousas.
You've got this aqueduct bringing hot water on the other side you have another aqueduct coming from the opposite direction, which brought cold water they use both cold and hot.
They used hot is healing. They use cold for refreshment and what Jesus is saying either be cold and refreshed people or be hot and heal people.
But be one or the other. Whatever you do don't be a combination of that. Don't be looked more. That's what Jesus meant then to that church. He says if you overcome all grant for you to sit with me on my throne, even as I overcame and sat on my father. You say Jesus you can't be serious is overcoming worth it. Is it worth it. Think of the promises and think of eternity were coming close to the end but were not there yet.
Number eight the continuation of the church always depends on its message always depends on its message, would you come with me one more time to hug is Sophie of the church of holy wisdom. When you go now into the balcony. What you see our crosses that were part of the original masonry and if you look carefully you'll notice that those crosses are defaced. The crosses are chiseled out, you can still see that there were crosses their but there are defaced five years ago when I was with my Muslim guide very very devout Muslim and we got along very well that we did have some very strong conversations. He said he showed them to me and he said no Muslim can ever pray in the presence of the cross we can have pictures of Mary, we cannot have across. I looked at her door and I thought for a moment that the door had across but actually I went to rub my hand and I realized the crops had been ripped off and what I saw instead was sent that form of the shadow where the cross was an issue will always be the cross. As I mentioned last time, evangelicals neglect the cross and it is the cross of Jesus Christ both preached and live.
Whosoever is not willing to carry his cross and come after me. Jesus said cannot be my disciple and the real issue always has to do with the issue of the gospel and the American church evangelical churches abandoning the gospel. We forget the words of Von Hoffer who said it is not before us. But before the cross, that the world trembles at number eight number nine. We as a church have to think through how to prepare the next generation for what it will face. We have to think through what the next generation will face five years ago there was a speaker at Moody Bible Institute. It was a convert from Islam to Christianity and his expertise was Islamic law, and he gave a lecture to the pastors which he wouldn't allow it to be taped. He gave a lecture to us on what it would mean for America if sharia law were instituted. It was chilling. Perhaps I mentioned to you that after that lecture I saw him in the comments and said let's have coffee together in the middle of it were talked about what to do, what to do and finally I said we have to prepare the next generation to be martyrs for Christ, and he pointed his finger at me and put his finger right against my chest and said that's what God is calling to do is to prepare the next generation to be martyrs for Christ. We need to think in those terms is we need to think historically we need to think of what the church has gone through in previous eras, and we have to think about what is happening in the United States of American. Now I conclude today by asking you a question.
What does the cross mean to you. Can you point to a time in your life when you receive Christ as Savior where you say this is the day I was converted I acknowledged my sin I prayed, I received the Lord. If you can't do that almost surely you aren't saved, even though you think you might be lots of deception going on in that area because the cross of Christ alone is able to bring us to God through the forgiveness of sins through the bridge between God and man that Jesus died there so that he was a redeeming God redeeming God, and it is to the cross that we cling and it is the cross that we gladly identify with in our lives privately and publicly. Let us pray you've never trusted Christ as Savior right now say Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner and you died for sinners and I receive you by faith is my sin bearer father. Whatever the implications are of the cross we ask today that you will help us to live it out. May we be faithful I think of the many people who are here today at the Moody church Lord multiply our numbers not because numbers are important in terms of ministry, but because numbers represent lives and lives represent the opportunity of more people hearing the good news of the gospel, we want to become large to be known as large, we want to become father what you want us to be in your blessed presence and you add people to us according to your good will and pleasure.
May this be a time that dedication we ask in your blessed name.
Amen this is Pastor Luther and once again I want to urge you never received Christ as Savior go to that cross where Jesus died and receive the gift of eternal life, but at the same time.
Jesus said that we should carry his cross into the world. What does that mean in my new book entitled no reason to hide standing for Christ in the collapsing culture. Each chapter ends with the story of a person who stood against the culture and example for all of us and I did that because so often people say to me what can one person do well you can stand against the culture as well. No reason to hide standing for Christ in the collapsing culture. Here's what you do go to RTW offer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337.
How are we going to answer the questions that our children have those who are studying in college or in grade school.
The issues that they confront. Well, those are the kinds of things I answered in the book go to RTW offer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337 sometimes God uses unexpected circumstances spread the gospel. The apostle Paul rejected the counsel of his peers and went back to Jerusalem after completing two missionary journeys. He was determined to settle a church split their next time I'm running to win will watch as Paul returns to moderate that church split and ends up on his way to Rome to face Caesar.
It's no secret that America is in crisis. Pastors book no reason to hide standing for Christ in the collapsing culture will be sent as our gift to you when you give a gift of any amount to support running to win. Just call us at 1-888-218-9337 that's 1-888-218-9337 online go to RTW offer.com that's RTW offer.com or write to running to win Moody church 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago 60614 running to win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. This is Dave McAllister running to win is sponsored by the Moody church