Sermon Synopsis for April 23, 2017
God created the church on purpose and with a purpose. Jesus said, “I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18). Though Jesus ordained His people to be an unstoppable force for His gospel and His glory, it seems that many get sidetracked. Sickened by sin and weakened by apathy, many congregations are of little impact in this world. It is rare to find a church which seems to transform its surrounding environments. Nowadays, few are known for making a difference, for pushing back the darkness of a hostile culture.
James seemed to think that his churches fell into this category. Because of sin and apathy, they were weak and anemic. Throughout his letter, he encouraged them towards church health. In our current text, he uses the last few lines of his letter to make a final appeal. In his words, we see three ways churches can become churches that God uses.
WE MUST BE SERIOUS ABOUT SIN (v. 19a).
In ancient Israel, God’s people were prone to such wandering. In the letter to the Hebrews, the Lord is recorded speaking about His chosen nation, saying, “They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known My ways.” Just as the chosen people of the Old Testament were prone to wander, we will be too from time to time. We are all imperfect, so we must all stay on guard. The words of the hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” are so true. It seems that each of us is “prone to wander” and “prone to leave” the God we love. As a result, we should regularly pray, “Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.”
WE MUST BE PASSIONATE ABOUT OUR PURPOSE (v. 19b).
Next, churches who are used by the Lord are passionate about their purpose. They aren’t in the dark concerning sin, and they aren’t blind to the remedy for sin. They know that Jesus is God’s Son who was given to deal with humanity’s dire, depraved lot (Luke 19:10 and John 3:16), and they know that Jesus has commissioned His church to share His message with the world (Matthew 28:18-20). Because of this knowledge, they have a dogged determination to fulfill their God given purpose.
WE MUST BE OPEN TO OTHERS (v. 20).
Finally, the church God uses has an open and hospitable environment. I’ve sometimes heard the church compared to a hospital for the hurting. I believe the analogy is a good one, though it only portrays one aspect of the church. At some point, congregations must do more than simply care for its members. The church is called to march out into society and make advances for the kingdom. Still, the hospital metaphor is a good one. At times, the church needs to be a haven for people who are hurting because of sin. By lovingly warning and admonishing others concerning sin, churches can restore people to the path of life.
Get the full manuscript of the sermon for April 23, 2017 here