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January 8, 2021 3:00 am
The church grows in direct proportion spiritually to how well it deals with the sin within it. The process of church growth then is the process of the elimination of transgression, the elimination of sin. If the church is to move ahead powerfully and be all that God wants it to be that it has to be dealing with its own internal sin. Honor Christ in the way you minister to people in your church who will might not be so easy to love. It's a message titled, dealing with problem people John before we get to the lesson every year at the end of the year we stress how important year-end giving is to this ministry and we encourage people to remember that and be faithful and they are and I think it's appropriate now at the beginning of a new year to say thank you to those who have been so generous in their support for the ministry. Of course Phil, it's a joy to be able to say your outpouring of support was generous. In fact, it was sacrificial. We know that year-end giving is a very significant portion of our annual budget.
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Even now, so your commitment to supporting our Bible teaching ministry says so much about you. It says that you love the word of God you believe in its power to change lives you trust us to use your gifts with integrity and your depending on us for spiritual nourishment and for proclaiming truth around the world. So thanks for partnering with us. Thanks for giving and getting us off to a good start in 2021 where to put your investment to work for the glory of God and his word always brings him glory. So on behalf of all the people will be able to reach in the coming days.
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Thanks again for all you've done to help us start 2021 on sound financial footing and now to continue his study on the Bible driven church.
Here's John MacArthur. We find our text in chapter 5 of first Thessalonians verses 14 and 15 and I would invite you to turn to that text in your Bible, Henry Ward Beecher said the church is not a gallery for the exhibition of eminent Christians, but a school for the education of imperfect ones is right. The church is not a place for perfect people. It's a hospital for people who know their ill. We don't claim for a moment that the church is perfect. In fact, we would eagerly claim that it is not. Charles Morrison wrote the Christian church is a society of sinners.
In fact he said it is the only society in the world of membership in which is based upon the single qualification that the candidate shall be unworthy of membership. The church is full of problems because it's full of problem people because everybody in it is the center albeit saved by grace but nonetheless with unredeemed human flesh.
Consequently, battling with sin. The church grows in direct proportion spiritually to how well it deals with the sin within it. The process of church growth then is the process of the elimination of transgression, the elimination of iniquity. The elimination of sin. If the church is to move ahead powerfully and be all that God wants it to be, then it has to be dealing with its own internal sin world has yet to see what an absolutely pure holy church would do the closest thing to it would be the early church in the fire and the heat of the purity of its birth came in energy that perhaps has been unequaled in the subsequent history church growth from the spiritual standpoint, which is the only standpoint God has any concern about is in direct proportion to how well we deal with the failures in our midst. Paul wants to help us to do that by giving us these two verses in our text which will look at in a few moments, but if we were to sort of step back and take a look at the church and say well how can we categorize the problem. People in the church we might come up with five categories five categories of problem people that retired the growth in the power of the church group number one will call the way word the way word there never in step there always out of sync.
There always out of line. There never with the program when everybody else is moving ahead they're going backwards when everybody else is filling up the ranks in proper order.
There outside that somewhere failing to do their duty not particularly interested in serving sometimes not at all interested in giving idle, perhaps even loafing there in the way of the progress disorderly. They might be even AWOL. They might be apathetic they might be sometimes contentious, sometimes rebellious and I suppose they fill up the spectrum all the way from apathy to rebellion. There the way word there just never going the way, everybody's going in the proper line 2nd group we might identify that hinder the growth in the life and the power of the church will call the worried. The worried this group is basically motivated by fear.
These are the people in the church, you have no courage cool will articulate you know the famous words we've never done it that way before. Who can give you 10 reasons why you can't do anything you propose to do.
They have no sense of adventure.
They hate change they love tradition, they fear the unknown. They want no risk. They worry about everything, all the issues of life are far more than they can bear their usually sad, always worried, sometimes in despair, often depressed, discouraged and defeated Carey. None of the zeal, the joy, the thrill be exuberance that adventure brings we could probably identify third group we call them the week the week. There just spiritually and morally weak Christians who because of their weak faith because of the week disciplines of their life are susceptible to sin and they fall into the same sins over and over and you barely get them up and dust them off and they're back in the same hole again. They find it very hard to do God's will consistently they embarrass themselves.
They embarrass the church they embarrass the Lord they take an awful lot of attention.
They test how good a church is a church discipline and usually run you all the way to at least step two. If we were to identify 1/4 group we could call them the wearisome the wearisome. Another word for that would be frustrating, but it doesn't start with W. These are the these are the wearisome, the foot draggers therein lying about the just going at the wrong speed. They never catch up. You keep teaching them you keep training them.
You keep discipling them and you pour all of this energy into them every time you look around to see how close they might be.
They look like they're farther away.
Everything distracts them.
They have a great difficulty concentrating great difficulty focusing. They're just very exasperating because you make the maximum effort and you get the minimum return, they don't move and grow it pace that would be considered normal. Finally, group 5 would be the outright wicked the wicked.
They do evil Christians who do evil.
They commit sins against other Christians writing the church. They break up marriages. They defile daughters a steel gossip. They slander, they falsely accuse they're just wicked.
Now you understand that as the church endeavors to grow.
It's got a deal with these five groups.
The way word the worried the week the wearisome and the wicked, and that no wonder growing a healthy flock is such a challenging enterprise because all these folks need healing spiritually. The wayward need to get back in line.
The worried need to have a stronger courage and faith in boldness and confidence. The we need to be more disciplined in the matter of holy living and the worrisome need to get up to speed in the wicked need to do righteously is a lot of work to do. Bring all these in line now with all that's being sad and all that's been written about church growth. All the sophisticated data all the homogeneity principles. All the cultural demographics all the subtle strategies all the entertainment methods all the advertising techniques that are supposed to be the keys to building the church and growing the church precious little is being said about how to grow a healthy flock spiritually into Christ likeness by eliminating these problems.
The Bible never says anything about homogeneity. The Bible never says anything about cultural demographics. The Bible never says anything about subtle strategies.
The Bible never says anything about entertainment methodology.
Bible never says anything about advertising technique, but it does say if you want to grow a church you need to get the impediments out of the way, you need to deal with whatever's retarding that church's growth and then when it gets purer to get totally ill get moving and will know the power of God and it will make a massive impact on its culture.
The apostle Paul understood this and if you turn to the apostle Paul to learn the principles of church growth.
First of all what you want to find out is what is his goal. What see after what is you want the church to become bigger, wealthier, more popular, more accepted in the community. Why pretty clear in his mind what church growth meant to him. He was after deepening strengthening of the lives of believers knowing full well that as you as you eliminate the impediment presented by the folks that are retarding the church.
The church begins to move in power. So Paul put his major energy is resources is prayer and his passion into growing a healthy spiritual flock by transforming the wayward the worried the week the wearisome of the wicked into the righteous and powerful and effective healthy flock is a beloved flock. Paul love these people dearly couldn't resist him, but that is not to say that is not to say that they didn't have any problems. They did if you look at our text verses 14 and 15. You will meet the problem.
People verse 14 and we urge you, brother, and admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the week. Be patient with all men see that no one repays another with evil for evil but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men. That's a marvelous marvelous duet of verses because even though the church at Thessalonica was flourishing and growing. They had problems and whatever they weren't was a result of those problem people. Paul said in second Corinthians 1128. It's the care of all the churches that is the biggest burden of the ministry. It transcends any physical pain.
I have endured.
He says on top of all of the pain that whips the rods that have bashed my body. Is this concern for the churches. Colossians 21. I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf to put it in the vernacular. You are a big pain to me this is a burden to me carrying around my back.
All the churches need to grow now in these two verses as he defines these five groups. He also tells us how to deal with verses 12 and 13 which we've already studied talked about the relation of the shepherds to the sheep and the relation of the sheep to the shepherds verses 16 and following, talk about the relation of the sheep to the great Shepherd and our text talks about the relationship of the sheep to the sheep.
So this little section covers it all. In verses 12 and 13. He talked to the shepherds as to how they were to treat the sheep. He told the shepherds labor among the sheep take authority over the sheep and instruct the sheep. He told the sheep how to treat the shepherds, he said to the sheep appreciate the shepherds esteem the shepherds and submit to the shepherds starting in verse 16.
He's going to tell the sheep how to relate to the great Shepherd rejoice always, pray without ceasing. Give thanks.
Don't quench the spirit and so for but right now he's talking to the sheep about how to deal with the sheep.
The keyword then in verse 14 is the word brethren, while certainly there is a responsibility on the part of the shepherds to exercise unique authority in confronting these five groups of troublesome Christians.
The lines between the shepherd and the sheep in this regard are very fluid uses the word brother and adjust to give you a comparative note verse 12. We request to view brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you have charge over you in the Lord and give you instructions appreciate your shepherds so brother and in verse 12, is directed at the congregation we assume, therefore, that brother and in verse 14 is also directed at the congregation he's talking to the sheep about how they deal with the other sheep does not exempt those of us in leadership but it includes everybody and by the way you note also Romans 1214 to 17 is a very close parallel to this text and it obviously is directed at the whole congregation.
He also notes that there is an urgency. We urge you uses that familiar Greek verb Park allow to come alongside someone and help them. It has a tone of urgency unit so he is urgently zealously eagerly encouraging the sheep to get involved in helping the sheep that need the help.
See churches not showing up on Sunday morning patting yourself on the back about how deeply religious. You are being truly involved in the church goes far beyond the audience mentality. In attendance gets all the way down into involving yourselves with these five groups of people that are retarding the development of the church and therefore its ultimate impact. Let's begin with the wayward group on the wayward verse 14.
It all right so we urge you, brother, and admonish the unruly little phrase admonish the unruly introduces us to the wayward.
The word talk to us often was used in the military sense when used in a military sense.
It had the idea of a soldier who was out of line. A soldier who was out of rank soldier who was guilty of disorderly conduct, who was insubordinate, non-submissive disobeying orders not following through on his duty, it was out of step. It eventually came to mean anybody who doesn't do his duty. Anybody who doesn't follow through on his responsibility.
Moffat translates it loafers.
Some of suggested quitters idle, lazy, indolent, apathetic, but it doesn't have to mean just that it can mean someone who doesn't do his duty not only out of apathy but someone it doesn't do his duty out of the rebellion in second Thessalonians were some cognate forms of this word are used. This word is used only here in the New Testament but were some other forms of that are used in second Thessalonians 3 verses six, seven, I think 11 in that particular text. It is used to refer system lazy busybodies who don't work and expect everybody else to do all the work and take care of them for us. The reverse of the wayward brown line the route to step your boys going one direction they're not everybody else understands spiritual duty is willing to do it. Do whatever God's gift to them to do get involved in the service, whether it means that I'm serving the Lord with my gifts I'm giving as God has prospered me. I'm behind the leadership of the church. I'm supporting the direction were going.
I'm on board I'm on the team I'm participating on the part I'm involved that's that's the kind of person that makes the church move and grow. These are the kind of people who reject all that there out of step it. It may be that they're not doing their duty because they don't care. It may be that they're not doing their duty because their angry and rebellious and contentious. They're just not supportive. They're not a part of what's going on. Sometimes they hang on the friends for a while and finally they are so bitter they just leave and go somewhere else there. The benchwarmers and I learned a few things when I was in athletics.
One of them was benchwarmers become critics, the people who do the most criticizing are the people who fail to do their duty. I can remember sitting on the bench through football season, I had the privilege of being a starting running back and there were a few others that didn't start because I did and at first they would be somewhat encouraging to me. Thinking there were to get their moment, and when their moment wasn't coming. Then they would be secretly wishing I would break my leg and when I didn't break my leg. They would then begin to take it out on the idiocy of the coach who didn't know talent when he sought, and eventually they would root for the other team that's the progression people resist involvement never want to get beyond the audience mentality either for apathy sake or for rebellion sake. They come to here to watch and then to just criticize, perhaps at worst do nothing at best. One preacher said usually they sit in the back, but I wouldn't want to say that but I would say that sometimes you can watch a person who becomes critical systematically move back so I'm watching you. If you're going back two or three rows a week. I know what's happening. This is a culpable laziness that people want to serve. Just hang on the fringe out there just on the edge want to get involved too much and don't have any accountability they really don't want to get into it. They don't want to become a part of it.
They're just not in step that's intolerable conduct in a growing church.
How are we to deal with it very simple. Admonish there's no formula. There's no program there is no system, individual sheep go to the sheep that are hanging on the fringes and not doing their duty not using their gifts not ministering not on board not supported. Not with the program not going the way, everybody's going there Adeline at a rate disorderly AWOL and just come alongside Haiti. Robertson said the verb knew they tell means to put sense into to come alongside a put some sense into their head. One writer says, is the idea of coming to someone who is following a path that ultimately ends in serious consequences, and instructing them about the inevitability of those consequences. In other words the word can be translated to warn someone it doesn't have the idea of of distant judge.
Mentalism doesn't have the idea of criticism from a from a vantage point of superiority. It has the sense of coming along closely and intimately and showing someone the consequences of their conduct.
It's a simple essay have been watching you and I see your indifference. You come now and then, not faithfully to the church you not involved in a ministry you're negative about certain things are your critical about certain things and saying to the person you realize, don't do that if you continue in that path.
These are the consequences and I don't think you want those consequences, nor do I want you to experience those consequences is that gentle kind of warning the comes alongside and says you're going in a direction the end of which will be a major disappointment to you.
It's a warning that Paul gave to the Ephesian elders with tears. According to acts 2031.
There's a passionate there's there's a Hertz unit that says I want you to keep doing that because the end of that road is a major consequences for God will chasten such apathy. Such rebellion, insubordination such disorderly conduct. When you truly love somebody you you don't hesitate to warn I don't hesitate to do that with my wife and my children and the people that are close to me in my life get in the line not because there's some agenda that I get what I want you to deal with the consequences of living like that. I want you to know the fullness of God's blessing the fullness of God's provision and I want to see the church.
All can be. I'm not under any silly illusions that if we could borrow be more clever and what we do on the stage, we could have a more powerful church know know if we would have a more powerful church to impact the world isn't a question of how clever we are on the stage. It's a question of how willing we are to come alongside believers who are wayward and lovingly bring them into line, then the power of God begins to flow within the church begins to cut a swath through the world.
This is a necessary confrontation church isn't coming in sitting and staring at the back of somebody's head. That's not it church is being involved in the lives of people the troublesome people we have to go alongside the ones that are on the outside testing the edges living on the fringe going day-to-day in their waywardness without plumbing we do it out of love because we understand the consequences if the church is going to be powerful and grow and be strong. It's going to be when we deal with the wayward personal personal because when the wayward get in line we removed the impediment. So the church can move in as a church takes that shape and that form it will be a growing and a powerful church. We need to commit ourselves to being what the church really is and this is it. Father, we thank you for these brief moments that you've given us to worship and to have our hearts and minds confronted by your truth.
Seal this to our hearts. Help us to have the right relationship sheep. The sheep that we might be the kind of church that you can use in a mighty way and will thank you for such a privilege. In Christ's name. Amen. This is grace to you with John MacArthur.
Thanks for being with us today.
John continued his series on what God intends a church to be and the role you have in that the Bible driven church. That's the title of John study. Keep in mind you can download today's lesson and the rest of the Bible driven church study firstname.lastname@example.org to get those lessons and to let us know how God is using grace to you in your life.
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