Listen to the message
(To download: Right Click, choose “Save Target As…”)
Series: Towards a Mature Church
Sunday 9 February 2014 – Kobus Swart
Habakkuk 1:1-5 & 2:2-4. Heb. 10:23-27 & 35-39, Heb. 11:1; Ephesians 3:10;
1 John 2:12-14; Prov. 12:1; Prov. 13:1; Prov. 16:32; Rom. 8:14
The church is in an ongoing reforming process which means every now and then we have to review where we are to see what is working and what is not working. Are we connecting to the community? Are being the salt and the light? It is nice to have church buildings and nice programs, wonderful attendances and conferences – but frankly that is xnot the church. That is part of what churches do today and hopefully in some of those events we do connect with the community and spread the light, but I am coming from my own conviction now that we need and can expect changes.
Follow carefully what the prophet Habakkuk says, How long Lord will I call for help and you will not hear? I cry out to you in violence, yet you do not save. Why do you make me see iniquity and cause me to look on wickedness? Yes destruction and violence are before me, strive exists and contention arises (Hab. 1:1-3). This sounds like the yesterday’s news in this country. Deliberate protests, strikes, contention, wickedness, corruption – we see all these things and we ask questions. … look among the nations, observe, be astonished, wonder, because I am doing something in your days you will not believe if you were told (Hab. 1:5) Then the Lord answered me and said record the vision and inscribe it on tablets that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time and it hastens towards the goal and will not fail (Hab. 2:2-3). It is rushing to completion, it will certainly come. It will not delay behold as for the proud one his soul is not right within him, but the righteous will live by his faith (Hab. 2:4). Do not lose your faith! What is it that pleases God? Achievements? Money in the bank? Your prosperity? Faith pleases God! (Hebrews 10:23) This is tying in to what we have just learnt. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for he who promised is faithful, and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and do good deeds not forsaking our own assembling together as is the habit of some (Heb. 10:23-24)
This is where fellowship and family come in. We are together, we are a family; we are here for one another. Be encouraging to one another and all the more as you see the day drawing near. For if we go on sinning wilfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins but a terrifying expectation of judgement and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries (Heb. 10:26-27). We have to take note that there is this other side if we continue wilfully sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth. I do not preach about sin but the word that is coming is intended to equip us not to continue to sin wilfully, and not continue with wrong habits after receiving the knowledge of the truth. Do not throw away your confidence which has great rewards for who have need of endurance, so when you have done the will of God you may receive what was promised (Heb. 10:35-36).
We have been influenced by the spirit of the age and its definition of success. Churches that strive to succeed and be successful run the risk of drifting away from the Holy Spirit and they can have meetings that are so successful that they would not miss the Holy Spirit if He were not there. For you have need of endurance so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while (this sounds like Habakkuk) you may receive …. for in a very little while He who is coming will come and will not delay, but my righteous one shall live by faith and if he shrinks back my soul has no pleasure in him, but we are not of those who shrink back to destruction but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul (Heb. 10:36-39). The very next verse is the definition of faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the proof of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). This is what pleases God, not my achievements, not the many campaigns, not the many sons; without faith it is impossible to please God.
The prophet was told: “Put this on tablets, write the vision down.” What is the vision of this house? What is the DNA of this household? Write the vision now on the tablets of the heart. That is what we are going to endeavour to do in a fresh way to make sure you know why you are here. Are you a bone-to-bone connection or are you a member attending now and then?
Do we understand the real mandate of the church? What did God have in mind establishing us and what is the vision of this household? It is not just about services. God is building his Church even under what appears to be chaos, because Jesus said “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18).
God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit said they want to come and make their abode in you. The Holy Spirit has an amazing role in bringing a revelation of the Father, revelation of the Son and they want to come and make us their abode. He wants the manifold wisdom of God to be made known through the church to the ruler’s and the authorities in heavenly places (Eph. 3:10). Are we demonstrating the manifold wisdom of God to principalities and powers in heavenly places? Are they aware of us? We come together for specific reasons. Yes, we enjoy the worship, it is part is an integral part of who we are. We come to be equipped. Yes, we come for the fellowship, but then the word is coming to write the vision on the tablets of our hearts. When you go out of these doors you are entering your mission field and the word should be written on the tablet of your heart.
Everybody that is born again is part of the Church, but we cannot say that the church is full of mature Christians, mature sons, not even in this household. 1 John 2:12-14 talks about the three stages of spiritual growth: children, sons and fathers. These are levels of spiritual growth. Ask yourself which level are you on? These questions are vital. We need to grow, not struggle with the same problem without growing spiritually. Our focus has never been to just give you some spiritual therapy on a Sunday morning. That is not what we are. Have fellowship, connect, worship, get the word written on your hearts and go and make a difference.
In the church there is Jerusalem and Zion. Jerusalem is the city and Zion is a mountain that rises above the city. I will show you in days to come and motivate you to rise above and to become part of the Caleb-company.
Real transformation only comes from the renewal of the mind (Rom. 12:2). Repentance means to think differently. How does that happen? By revelation. What I believe for each one of you is that the truth will be like a lightning, penetrating your mind and transforming you and putting truth on the tablets of your heart that can never ever be removed. Jesus learned obedience by the things he suffered. The Son of God – the Creator of the Universe that took on the form of a bondservant and did not regard equality with God something to be grasped, but learned obedience by the things He suffered. Whoever loves discipline, loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid (Prov. 12:1). Do not react when you are corrected. A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke (Prov. 13:1). These are basic, simple principles.
Finally, what is spiritual maturity, what does it look like? He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty. And he who rules his spirit is stronger than he who captures a city (Prov. 16:32). Rule your spirit. Those who are led by the spirit of God are the sons, grown-up, mature Christians. (Rom. 8:14).