The Hope of the Church – Acts 1:9-11

   It’s Monday, April 13, 2020 and you are listening to COVID-19 Connection Series # 23

   Welcome and the top of the morning to you. I do hope this broadcast find you all doing well.  It’s a beautiful day here in North Idaho.

   Did you enjoy our Resurrection Sunday out at the Buffalo Ranch? Over 96 cars and trucks. Our Worship team sounded great. We heard a great sermon from 2 Corinthians 5:1-21 I so appreciated all of our volunteers that were serving our SLBC family. Thank you to everyone and for sharing your giftedness.

Announcements:

Hope to get our Easter Service laded later today, or tomorrow. Great Ariel footage. You’ll like it. Here is a sample.

Download our SLBC app at Apple Store (The ShareFaith App), and on Google Play Store.

Take some time to visit our church website – slbc2u.com

Today in the News:

CNN reports that for the First time in history all 50 States are under federal disaster declaration simultaneously.

Los Angeles Time reports that the coronavirus may have been in California earlier than anyone thought. Maybe even as early as December.

National Geographic reports that coronavirus has reached the indigenous people in the Amazon. (They added: whose territories are illegally infiltrated by missionaries and gold miners).

On Easter in Rio the Christ on the Redeemer statue was lit up as a doctor, in tribute to healthcare workers fighting coronavirus. Note: Jesus is the great physician and healer.

With people gone, Yosemite’s Wildlife is taking back the Park. See video clip – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_gj9z_1NkU

Pause for Prayer:

  • Tom Spann and Bob Ahsmuhs
  • COVID-19 Pandemic
  • National Revival
  • Safety for those going to work daily.

   Our WORD from the Lord is found in Acts 1:9-11

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

   Today I want to have a word with you about: The Hope of the Church.

   I. Called to put forth Hope

   The Bible calls individual Christians to live a life of justice and generosity towards others. Organically, Christian disciples scattered and represented Christ powerfully and in ways the Bible does not call the institutional church to act.

   It has been believers that started – Parachurch organizations. The church (god’s people) going out and making a difference where God has placed them:
  • Hospitals
  • Orphanages
  • Schools
  • missions
  • Cup of Grace

   A member of a church follows Christ in all sorts of ways that are not tied to the work that God has entrusted to the local church in an institutional fashion. But the individual’s membership should affect how he does everything outside the gathered church.

  • Clubs
  • Camps
  • Retreats

Neighborhood outreaches

  • Sports

   Individually, people are made for God and are to be devoted to him supremely (Colossians 1:18). Christians should have hearts of compassion for all people, not merely because they are part of creation but especially because they are made in Gods image (Proverbs 14:31), and because we ourselves have known such undeserved generosity from God (Luke 6:32-36; 2 Corinthians 8:8-9; James 2:13).

   We as believers need to see with God’s eyes. “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16). God wishes that all people be saved (1 Timothy 2:4).

   Christian should desire to see non-Christians know the common blessings of God’s kindness in Providence: Every good gift comes down from the Father of lights in whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. God cares for all of his creation, and he provides for all of his creation. Such as:
  • Food
  • Water
  • Family
  • Jobs
  • good government

   Christians are called to do all things unto the Lord – Colossians 3:17

In Times of Crisis – The Church Deplored

   At the same time crisis give the church a unique institutional mandate to preach, display, model, and express the good news of Jesus Christ. COVID-19 is a rare opportunity for the church to actually impact the world.

   Southern Baptist Disaster Relief has all kinds of opportunities.

   What all this means is that congregations may take action in the cause of this worldly justice, but they are not required to. Certainly Christians are called to live lives of love towards others. And scriptures in no way denies the right or ability of a congregation to care for the physical needs of non-Christians in the area. But neither does scripture require the local congregation to organize as a whole to alleviate the physical needs of non-Christians in the community.

   II. Freedom to extend Hope to the World

   Each local church has the freedom to choose particular actions for serving the welfare of its community in order to witness to the community directly, or a church is free to do this more remotely by cooperating with other congregations and Christians by farming denominations, educational institutions, and a great variety of boards, charities, and other organizations. Churches should expect their members to be involved in a wide variety of good works – Proverbs 19:17; 21:3; Luke 10:25-27; Acts 9:36; Hebrews 13:1-3; James 1:27.

   Here are a few examples of ministries that Christians can be involved in:

  • Soup kitchens
  • medical clinics
  • food pantries
  • advocacy ministries
  • addictions
  • homelessness
  • family ministries

    These ministries must never be mistaken for evangelism but a means for evangelism.

   Preaching God’s word to a local church helps members to understand and express God’s character of justice and mercy appropriately in the world.  

   A non-Christians greatest need is to hear the gospel. The proclamation of the gospel address is the greatest part of human suffering caused by the fall. It is central to fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). And it is central to fulfilling the Great Commandment (Mark 12:29-31 and Galatians 6:2). For the Christian these commandments must lie at the heart of any cultural mandate (Genesis 1:28).

   Someone once said, “The Great Commandment and the Great Commission will grow a Great Church.” I like that statement. Let us be that type of a Church.

  • What is the churches ministry to the world?

   The Christian congregation is not required to take institutional responsibility for the physical needs in the unbelieving community. The Scriptures do make Christian responsible to care for the needs of the members of their own churches – Matthew 25:34-40; Acts 6:1-6; Galatians 6:2, 10; James 2:15-16; 1John 3:17-19.

   The church is to care for widows – 1 Timothy 5:3 -16. Yet such care was given only when there was a lack of family support.

   Congregations must carefully prioritize the responsibilities unique to the church. It is proper for Christians to be concerned with education, politics, and mercy ministry, but the church itself is not the structure established by God for addressing such concerns. Such matters are the proper concern of Christians in schools, governments, and other structures of society. In fact, churches must be careful not to let such concerns distract them from their main unique responsibility, that of embodying and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.

   III. The Consummation – The End of the Age

   Suffering is an inevitable part of this fallen world. How many of us know a little about what it means to suffer? In this world we will have tribulation and troubles (John 16:33). We will face everything from a toothache to cancer, and divorce to death. This life can throw some terrible things our way. None are exempt.

   Here are some of the terrible things we see in our world (all of these are a result of the Fall).

  • Poverty
  • War
  • Famine
  • Death
  • Disease

   As believers we know that none of these things will escape us save the physical and visible Return of Jesus Christ – Mark 14:7; John 12:8; Revelation 6:1-11. Some of the last word in the book of Revelation read, “Surely, I am coming quickly.” (Revelation 22:20).

   If human culture can ever be said to be redeemed, it will be God doing it, not us. We can help elevate suffering, but only God can redeem.

   The gospels main thrust is not to renew the fallen structures of this world but rather to create a new community of those purchased by the blood of the lamb (Revelation 5:6-12) and washed with his word (Ephesians 5:26-27).  Only through the fulfillment of God’s promise to forgive sin are all of God’s other promises fulfilled.

   Scripture presents no hope that society will be broadly and permanently transformed by the preaching of the gospel (Matthew 24:21-22,29), which is not to deny that great good will be done through the church’s faithful stewardship of the gospel. Individual conversions will have profound effects for good on people, not only in eternity but in this life.

   Evangelicals (those who believe the Bible) tend to have some of the greatest impacts on this world.

   The church is called to preach the gospel not to Herald a vision of a world utopia.

The New Jerusalem

   The heavenly city in Scripture, though bearing some continuity with our own age, is presented as arriving only after a radical disjunction with our current history, including the judgment of the wicked (Revelation 19). The material world is to be restored only after going through a change as significant as death (2 Peter 3:7). This is why Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world … but now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36). Christ kingdom will come to this place (Acts 1:6-8), though when he comes, he will renew this place (Romans 8:21).

   In the Bible, God’s people are given great hope. Dr. Adrian Rogers used to say, “The believers hope is not a hope so hope, but a know so hope.” Isn’t that good?

   Gods people began in a garden (Eden) – Genesis 2-3

   Gods people will end in the city (The New Jerusalem) – Revelation 21-22

   God’s people were placed in a perfect environment, and had everything they needed. Unbroken fellowship with God. It was so good!

   Sin destroyed that fellowship between God, man, and creation (Genesis 3). But the destruction made way for an even grander display of God’s glory in the church – His Son Jesus Christ.

   In another garden Christ faced Adams choice – to follow his own will to the will of his heavenly Father. In God’s mercy and grace, Christ, the last Adam, chose to follow God’s will and to take him at his word. What followed was the most terrible suffering by the only person ever underserving of such suffering. Christ took our sin, died in our place, was buried in a tomb we deserved. After God’s wrath had been appeased, Christ was raised in victory over sin and death. He then poured out his Sprit and created the church.

   From there, God’s people spread around the world to share the good news of Jesus Christ. The mission of the church will succeed. Jesus promised his disciples that the gates of Hades would not prevail against his church (Matthew 16:18). Christians may wonder at Gods patience with the church and fear for our own poor stewardship of the church, but we cannot be anything other than confident about the church. It will succeed. The church is god’s plan and purpose.

   Please hear this: The Church is God’s Plan A. He doesn’t have a Plan B.

   The Christian hope is secure in Christ, and his fulfillment is found in Revelation 21 and 22. There will be a New Heavens and a New Earth. God’s people will be with him in glory. This is our hope. This is our promise. This what we keep our eyes focus upon – His Kingdom Come