Through The Church – Is the Church the hope of the world? If it is not what is? It is through the church the world has been changed and will continue to be changed? Is the hope a better president, more laws, or a more powerful army and smart missiles? Or, is the hope of the world exactly what Jesus said – a church the gates of hell cannot hold back? We will discuss this in our talk about Through The Church.
Through The Church
By Pastor Delbert Young
Through the Church
Scriptures: Ephesians 3:11-12, Matthew 16:18, Acts 2:46-47, Matthew 4:23, Acts 8:25, Acts 14:21, Luke 11:20, Mark 9:33-35
Is it? Is the Church the hope of the world? If it is not, then what is? Is the hope a better president, more laws, or a more powerful army and smart missiles? Or, is the hope of the world exactly what Jesus said – a church the gates of hell cannot hold back? Are things to get worse and worse as so many say and seem to desire? Or, is there something with the power to stop hell and change human depravity? I do understand. Everything else is good, but one part “stinks.” Sort of messes up and overrides the rest.
Like it or not, agree or not, but Father God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit have decided to stop hell and change the world through the local church. Ephesians 3:10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,
Ephesians 3:11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ephesians 3:12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
My Title today is “Through the Church.” We will be looking at the vision given Life Gate Church.
God’s eternal purpose is the church. The church is not a parenthetical addition or an addendum to his program as today’s popular theology insists. It is through the church God reveals his ways and his wisdom. The church is his ETERNAL PURPOSE. All God did with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, all he did with the twelve tribes, Levites, Jews, all he did with temple worship, even up to and beyond Jesus was because of the Church. The church is God’s eternal purpose. Whatever happens in the future will involve the church because the church is eternal. The church is not going anywhere. The eternal welfare of this region will involve the church because the church is the eternal purpose of God. The eternal welfare of your loved ones and my loved ones will involve the church. The reason? The church is the eternal purpose of God. The eternal welfare of my grandchildren and your grandchildren will involve the church. The reason? The church is the eternal purpose of God.
One day Jesus said he would build the most powerful entity ever established. He would call it his “church” (ekklesia – gathering of people). Hell itself could not stop it.
Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Jesus used the Greek word katischuo (kat-is-khoo’-o) which is translated prevail in the King James’ version. That is not a word we use in our everyday vocabularies. Yet, it is extremely important and means ‘to be superior in strength, to overcome, to prevail.’ Hell is not superior in strength when compared to the church. Hell will never overcome the church. The church Jesus Christ builds is unstoppable. It is the most powerful force on this planet. Only the local church has been given a power hell cannot stop.
This power comes from the Holy Spirit transforming a human heart through the Church – its ministries. If you are a believer then you have experienced this power as have I. Through the church comes the effects of God. Through the church comes the love for Jesus able to conquer sin, wipe away shame, heal wounds, and repair broken dreams. It’s the only power able to change a human heart and ultimately change the world one life at a time, yet able to, at the same time, chang many lives. The local church is the hope of the world. A better president is not the hope of the world. A Christian Senate or House of Representatives is not the hope of the world. A better army is not the hope of the world. The local church is the hope of the world.
Once people hear the message I preach, they ultimately ask me how can this be? They go on to say how things are getting worse and worse. They basically see the devil taking over. My response is in two parts. First, things are not getting worse and worse in my life. Things get better and better – glory to glory, strength to strength, and faith to faith. I believe it should be this way with every believer. Jesus came to give us abundant life, not abundant death. The second part of my answer is if things are getting worse then it is because the church is not doing its job in that it is to be salt and light. If society is decaying then the church is not salting. If things are dark then the church is not the light (torch) it is to be.
I believe in the church Jesus said he would build – a prevailing church, a church that cannot be stopped. In fact, I have given most of my life for this church and will gladly give the remainder of my life some place in some dimension for this life changing, globe changing church. I do not believe the church is to run from, or fear, the gates of hell, but rather penetrate the gates of hell and pull people into the kingdom of heaven. The Bible tells us about a church like this. Its record is found in Acts chapter two. It’s this type church Life Gate is becoming.
The church in Acts 2 was a community of believers who were so totally devoted to God and to his purpose they were electric with the power of the Holy Spirit. They preached and demonstrated the kingdom of heaven upon earth. They radically loved one another. They laughed together, prayed together, cried together, and sang together. They took their masks off and became real together. Those who had more, shared with those who had less. They bridged the gender gap, racial chasms, and cultural differences. That church was so bold, so creative, and so dynamic people could not resist it. The end of the chapter in Acts says this.
Acts 2:46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,
Acts 2:47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Hell could not stop this church. It tried! I remember the first time I read this chapter in 1978. I asked, “What happened? What happened to what they had? Seems we should have so greatly increased in two thousand years. Has the Holy Spirit changed? Isn’t this what church is supposed to be? Did Jesus change the plan? What happened?” I would read my Bible and talk to my pastor asking “What happened?” I would look at churches and Christians and I saw “escaping” churches rapturing out. I saw hateful, bitter, and sad people. What happened?
In 1985 I came to LaFayette, Georgia. In my mind was the question, “Can an Acts 2 church ever happen again? Is it possible to have a prevailing church like Acts 2 right here in Northwest Georgia?” It was my passion and the passion of many in this building. WHAT DO YOU THINK? Is it possible? Does anything I’ve said spark or ignite anything in you? Is there a fuel in your heart waiting to be ignited? Do you want to burn white hot with a passion and a purpose for God? Is a church like this something you would want to experience? If so, then you just heard the MAIN THING I will ever say. I want you to be a part of it. I want you to get onboard with us. Will you grasp a piece of the vision?
What is vision? Well, “Vision is a picture of the future producing passion.” (1) A modern day Acts chapter 2 church is the picture we see at Life Gate. It has produced a passion. Everything we do – EVERYTHING – is to have a prevailing church that penetrates hell. It doesn’t matter how many workshops we do, or videos we make, or songs we write, or how well I and others teach if it is not moving us toward a prevailing church – a church penetrating hell and redeeming people.
Desiring a prevailing church in honorable. Talking about and having a vision for a prevailing church is something to applaud. But if this is all we do, then we have done nothing. So, how do we put legs and feet and hands on our vision? I looked at the Acts 2 church and I saw certain constants giving legs and feet and hands. I call these constants and our 5 G’s. These five G’s must be present in any church for a church to be a church at its best – a church with the power of the gospel can change lives. I made small four-feet icon images to help me convey these constants and put them before our congregation every year. I think they help us put legs and feet to our vision.
GOOD NEWS –
Matthew 4:23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
The King James’ version says “preaching the gospel of the kingdom.” The word gospel means “good news.” That means it’s not bad news. It’s GOOD NEWS. It’s not news of things becoming bad. It’s news things will be good. It’s news about a kingdom and the King. The church in Acts preached the Good News.
Acts 8:25 After testifying and preaching in Samaria, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, stopping at several Samaritan villages along the way top reach the Good News to them too.
Acts 14:21 They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch
Corporately we will consistently hear Good News at Life Gate. God is for us, not against us. God is looking for ways to bless us, not beat us. Individually, we need to tell people GOOD NEWS. God desires to make their lives better. He will give people abundant lives in every area. Jesus preached the GOOD NEWS of the kingdom. The kingdom of heaven is Good News. Jesus brought the kingdom of heaven.
Luke 11:20 But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.
CALENDAR – Every Sunday you will hear Good News of the kingdom. We spend a lot of time and effort on every Sunday to present Good News.
Our second ‘G’ is Gifts. The Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost as a ball of tongues on fire. It came into a corporate setting, divided, and set upon each one giving each person gifts. The Bible says the gifts are given by the Holy Spirit “severally as he will” (1Co 12:11). This means we all have several gifts – “severally.” These gifts operate as spiritual gifts and as grace gifts. Spiritual gifts are listed in 1 Corinthians chapter twelve. Grace gifts are listed in Romans chapter 12.
We tend to think of gifts in a “spooky” way, but the church in Acts 2 wasn’t spooky. It moved in every gift including tongues. The gifts are the same today as in Acts 2. We have the same Holy Spirit today as was then. Gifts (spiritual and grace) are released here at Life Gate every week. Every week there is teaching and often prophecies. Every week there are healings and words of wisdom and knowledge. We may not hear tongues, but I promise you, tongues have been employed. We all will see serving. I don’t know of another church operating in the gift of serving greater than this church.
CALENDAR – We desire spiritual gifts come forth. This year the first Wednesday night of every month will be Communion and a time for the gifts to move. Let’s focus on Wednesday being about Communion and spiritual gifts.
On the day of Pentecost after they received the Spirit, those immediately went out telling the Good News and Gathering souls. The gifts will gather. Our gifts – grace and spiritual – are not for ourselves. Our gifts are to give to others. They are to serve people and minister to people.
Most Gathering (evangelism) is done ‘on purpose.’ We have purposed several major Gathering opportunities throughout the year for us to invite people other than only Sunday. We have tried to have at least one major event every season.
When we say ‘Growing’ we mean maturing. There was a time not long ago, we thought Growing and making disciples was determined by how much Bible the person knew. We don’t feel this way today. Growing spiritually is applying the teaching of Christ and maturing in our purposes. A person can know a lot about the Bible, but if what they know is not applied, or the person is not fulfill their purpose in advancing the kingdom, then the person is a babe. Making disciples is not only teaching people the Bible. It is believing in their gifts. It is bringing out their gifts. Jesus did not say the greatest in the kingdom was the person who knew the most about the Bible. He said the greatest was servant of all.
Mark 9:33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?”
Mark 9:34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
Mark 9:35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
If I were to ask you what is the main thing happening at Life Gate right now, what would you say? It’s not a lot of teaching. Personally, I have never felt more successful. Not because I am teaching deep revelation, but because I am leading people to find and fulfill their purpose.
Our goal is not only to reach the lost, but to also mature the saved. We do everything possible to help every person become a disciple – a devoted follower – of Jesus Christ.
GIVING– All this vision stuff sounds great, but the truth is none of it can happen without Giving. It’s a sacrifice, no doubt, but for what better cause and reason can I give?
I want to challenge each of us as I have already challenged myself. My giving will go up in every area. I will do my part, and more, to see the kingdom advance. How about you? Is it worth it? Are souls worth it? Are your loved ones souls worth it?
That’s the Vision.
How will this year end? Will we have gone on any new adventures? Oh yes! Will we have touched any lives? Oh yes! What’s out there? Will it be fun and adventurous? Oh yes! I invite you – every one of you – to experience this year with me.
What is it we in this room represent? Are we a bunch of Christians holding on until Jesus comes? Or, are we a group of people penetrating hell bringing out one soul at a time and bringing the wisdom of God through the Church? If we are a bunch of sad, bitter, angry, Christians then I have failed as a leader and we have failed as a prevailing church. But I haven’t failed and we haven’t failed.
So, how many lives will we intersect and cross this year and change their eternal destiny through the eternal church? I close with a thought. In 1978 I became a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. It was greatly because of a man who had recently become a follower. His name is Billy Shirah. Because of Billy’s witness to me, I became a follower, my family became followers, my grandchildren will be followers. Eventually Life Gate Church and all it will ever do and all the people it will ever touch came to Jesus because Billy witnessed to me. This past week, Billy had a stroke. He’s been having some health problems. I called him in the hospital in Huntsville, Alabama to tell him what I just said to you, but he was asleep. I plan to go see him in a few weeks and relay to him what his witness has done. My point is to whom will you witness this year and change the lives of people?
The Church really is the hope of the world. It really is Through the Church the depravity of humanity will change one life at a time.
That’s the real Vision.
It’s a vision the eternal purpose of God will be revealed in us as salt and light penetrating hell and changing one soul – one life at the time. It will be Through The Church.
Other Related Sermons:
- Courageous Leadership, Bill Hybels, p.32