THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 12-10-06
LESSON TITLE: "THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA: OTHER GREAT CHURCHES OF THE BIBLE"
Can you believe that we are already in December of 2006? Doesn't time fly? Well the reality is that here we are on another wondrous Lord's Day! So let me welcome each of you to our program this morning. It is always a privilege to have you with us for the Living Word. Thank you for choosing to be with us for this time of offering to God.
As most of you know, we will have the opportunity today to sing songs of praise to our God and to study from His perfect Word! What better activity could we together engage in this morning for the sake of our God. I hope each of us will do our part to make this time together acceptable in His sight. Now, let's approach our Father's throne in prayer.
This morning we want to begin with a song which reminds us that with God on our side all things are possible for He is always by our side. So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "Anywhere With Jesus!"
(SONG # 1)
As we just sang, "Anywhere with Jesus I can safely go...." Do you have this confidence in God? How many of us have truly and completely turned our lives over to the Lord. However, as so many other things, this is a requirement if we are to be pleasing in His sight.
I really think that the words to our song help us to understand the key to being able to accomplish Christian living as God designed. Notice what we sang together, "anywhere, anywhere, fear I can not know!" You see the key is giving ourselves to the Lord, trust in Him and letting Him have his way.
I think often we wonder why we fail at trying to do our best or at being the type of Christian we want to. But if we would only realize it, the problem is that we are trying to do it alone or our own way. When will we ever learn that the only right way is God's Way. The way He shows us and teaches to us through His Word.
Isn't this what Paul was talking about as he wrote to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 5:14 & 15. There he said, "For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again." As Christians we are not here to live for self but for the one who died for us - Christ Jesus.
Paul also said, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me," Galatians 2:20. The question is have you learned to give yourself wholly and completely to Christ your Lord and to fully trust in His guidance and care! Have you committed yourself to the greatest thing that you can in this life? Why not give yourself to Jesus?
Our topic today will again focus on our series concerning, "The Seven Churches Of Asia!" Our specific study of the day will consider, "Other Great Churches Of The Bible!" So stay with us this morning and in a few minutes I will return and lead our main thoughts of the Day. Now it's time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
We're glad you've continued with us today and now we want to go back to our discussion about the churches of Asia. Today, actually we want to understand that as we have concluded those churches that are mentioned there in Revelation chapter 1 and verse 11 beginning there with the church at Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamus, also Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and last week, Laodicea, that there were many other churches also mentioned throughout the New Testament. I think sometimes when we think about the church or those churches that were addressed, we focus on the book of Revelation and we forget about all the other churches really that are dealt with throughout the New Testament period. So what we would like to do this morning is to look at other faithful churches, not only were they faithful though, but many of them needed to be reminded of problems that they had, that they might correct. Many of them needed to be rebuked by the writers such as Paul or Peter or others and when they did these things, no doubt it was through love that these churches as the churches there in Asia Minor might get their robes white once again and be proper in the sight of God.
So let's begin looking there if you will in the book of Acts. You and I well know that the church began there in Acts chapter 2 as the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost and thereafter people were converted to the Lord. We know in Acts chapter 2 as well verse 47 that all those that were saved, that is according to Acts chapter 2 verse 38, the need to believe, repent, confess the name of Christ and then be baptized. All those that were saved were being added to the church. And so as we begin to look at the book of Acts, we begin to see the missionary work taking place. In fact, you might recall there in the book of Acts in chapter 7 we begin to see a man named Stephen who was martyred for his faith. What happens after that martyrdom? Well what happened is that he causes many, many faithful people to be scattered. Why? Because now they know the Jews will go to such an extent as to even kill Christians. So after that takes place then, we find that there being a great persecution. It causes many to be scattered. We find that actually in Acts chapter 8 and verse 1.
But if you'll turn over with me to Acts chapter 11, we see that after a short period of time all of these journeys, by all of these different disciples including some apostles, begins to cause the establishment of the church throughout Judea, throughout Samaria, Galilee, throughout all parts of Palestine, even going up into areas of Asia Minor that we have been talking about, as well as even churches into parts of Europe.
So what we would like to look at then as I said this morning is some of those churches beginning in Acts chapter 11. If you will look around verse 19, it is interesting because there Barnabus is mentioned. And why is he mentioned? Because in verse 19 it again reminds us why the Christians, the disciples, those proclaiming the gospel, why were they scattered? Verse 19, "Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch preaching the Word to no one but the Jews only." Now we see that they were going out and they were preaching, but here specifically preaching to those who were already in Judaism, talking about Christ being the fulfillment of the old law and the old prophecies which are found in Judaism.
Verse 20 continues, "But some of them were men from Cyprus and Syrene and when they had come to Antioch, they spoke to the Hellenist preaching the Lord Jesus." Here again, the proclamation of Christ. And they also said that "the hand of the Lord was with them," and a great number were converted. They turned to God and obeyed.
Now I want you to notice in verse 22 what happens though when the news of all this evangelism took place, there was the church at Jerusalem decides to send help, someone that might not only help but someone that might not only see how they can assist the church, and then report at some point back to Jerusalem how the work was going. Who was that man? Verse 22 says, "The church at Jerusalem sent out Barnabus." So we see there was a church in Jerusalem. We well know that because in the Day of Pentecost we said in Acts chapter 2, that's where the church began and the church was established. And so now we see that they were even sending him out as far as Antioch. Why? The church had been established at Antioch.
And so after this, we begin to see that these individuals worked. We see that Barnabus was faithful. Verse 24 says, "A man of good spirit." And many, many more obeyed. Many were added to the Lord's church and did those things that were according to the Will of God.
Then we find Paul being mentioned at this time, Saul. There in verse 25, Paul is sought out by Barnabus. Barnabus seeks for him. He's heard about his conversion. He believes that he is right and that he is true and I believe by this time has already met him, so he goes to seek him at Tarsus to bring him to help there at Antioch. So what happens? In verse 26, he finds him. He brings him to Antioch and it says, "they were there a whole year working with and assembling with the church and teaching," it goes on to say, "a great many people."
So here we see Barnabus and Saul or that is Paul evangelizing. What was the church there at Jerusalem doing? It was living for God, working for God and sending missionaries to evangelize even unto Antioch. Well it is interesting because even the young church at Antioch, what was it doing? Well, through Barnabus, it sought out Paul. And as they worked with the church for a year, what were they doing? Preaching, preaching, preaching, converting people, and even had that same desire to evangelize in their own areas, to evangelize in their own community.
Well it wasn't long before that same church then saw a need to be benevolent to its brethren. You'll notice there at the end of chapter 11 as well that it says, "The disciples there gave..." That is at Antioch. Why? Because they had heard that the brethren in Judea were suffering. That's Acts 11 and verse 29. They were suffering and so by the hand of Barnabus and Saul, they sent help to Christians in Judea. We see a preaching church, a working church, a church that's converting people and evangelizing, doing missionary work, and here specifically we find benevolence with its brethren throughout the world.
Another thing that we've begun to see though is a foreign type of attitude toward missions. Not only to have a mission effort locally and to evangelize those that live in Antioch, but there around chapter 13 we see that the Holy Spirit comes to the church there at Antioch and tells them to select men to evangelize and to be sent out. Who do you think was selected? Well, there in verse 2, it says, "Barnabus and Saul were selected for the work by the Holy Spirit and they were to call them..." and they did, verse 3 says, "They laid hands on them after fasting and praying and they sent them out (to do what?) for the first missionary journey." To go to Cyprus. To go unto Asia Minor. To go often as we might even see in later journeys as far as Greece and even as far as other places in Europe as we see the church continuing to grow and spread. You see, we're talking about one church that saw the need to do the work. We're talking about a second church there at Jerusalem who saw the need to assist and help in the work.
But then after the book of Acts, we come to the book of Romans. And what was the book of Romans? It was written by Paul once again, but written to whom? Read with me verse 6 of chapter 1. The Bible there says, "Among whom you also are called of Jesus Christ." Who are the called? "Those who are in Rome, beloved of God, called as Saints." Here we find the church at Rome receiving a letter from Paul, a letter to who? Christians. Now we've seen the church at Jerusalem. We've seen the church at Antioch. We've seen the church at Rome. And what about the church at Rome? Well, we find very quickly that it was a church that seemed to be well established and seemed to be faithful. Look at verse 8 with me. First he says, "I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world." You see, Paul says here, "I'm thankful to God because I hear of your faith everywhere. When I go to other places, I hear about the faith of the church at Rome."
At the same time, I might remind you that later in the same book, he warns them about the difference in confusing Judaism and Christianity, in rejecting Christ and remaining in the law and focusing on sin. We recall there in Romans 3:23, "All have sinned." He reminds them there, "The wages of sin are death," Romans 6:23. On and on about that. Then finally even that they needed to be living examples and to continue to keep on keeping on in the things of God. So yes, the Roman church, another great church in the work of the Lord.
There also if we'll turn over to the next book we'll find the Corinthians. Corinth, another city there, another great and mighty city where the church was established and again Paul writes unto them, and notice who he addresses there. The apostle Paul, verse 1 of 1 Corinthians and chapter 1. Verse 2 tells us this. "Written to the church of God at Corinth, those who are sanctified and called out." You see, he writes again to the church, a church who no doubt in many ways is faithful. What does he say there in verse 4? "I thank my God. I encourage you to keep on keeping on. I ask you to do all those things that you need to do." But then later in the letter, we see that he continues to start warning them, warning them about things they must watch. In fact, one of the warnings is even as early as verse 10. He says, "Don't be divided. Don't allow the church to be divided. Speak the same things. Be of the same mind." Well it is interesting to me because the same thing the Lord did in the book of Revelation is done through the Holy Spirit as these writers penned these books and as he wrote them to encourage, to admonish them for their faithfulness, but also to correct and rebuke them for things that they were doing that were wrong.
Notice also over in the book of the Philippians. We find there once again verse 1, "To all the saints of Christ Jesus who are at Philippi..." The church at Philippi again, a good church. Verse 12 says, "I know you brethren and I know that you've worked towards a furtherance of the gospel." He says, "I know you're workers." But then over in chapter 4 and verse 2, he says, "I implore you again to strive for unity. It is a lack of unity among some of your members." "Help them to work it out," he says. Well you see again, he admonishes. He encourages, but then he reminds them of things that can make them better just as we can learn.
The church at Colossi we find the same. Verse 2 there of Colossians 1, he says, "To the church at Colossi, to the faithful brethren." You see, they were faithful. But yet at the same time, he goes on to write them about the problems in chapter 2 of circumcision and how many of those who no doubt had been converted from Judaism were still longing to hold on to their old ideas and old beliefs. Even in the book of
Thessalonians which comes next at least as a letter to a church, we find there again Paul addressing the church at Thessalonica. He speaks again in verses 3 and 4 of their labors of love, their work of faith, their patience and all that they do as the elect of God in the sight of God. But yet then again he turns around in chapter 3 verses 1-4 and he reminds them that "although they were persecuted, not to be shaken, not to fall away, and although they might be stumbling from time to time to get back up and to be faithful and to remain faithful for God."
The last church I would like to remind is really not a church as such, but churches. As Jesus addressed the churches of Revelatia or as we usually say, the area of Asia Minor there in the book of Revelation, we find that there is another book that Paul writes that that's similar. There in Galatians chapter 1 it is interesting because he talks to the churches of Galatia, not just one but those of the region. This was the northern part of Asia Minor. But then I want you to notice there that right off the bat in verse 6, he says, "I marvel that you, the churches there in Galatia, have so soon turned away from the truth, to another gospel, to a perverted gospel." You see he wrote them. He encouraged them. He says, "I am thankful that you're my brethren. I am thankful that you love God, that you have made efforts to serve Him, but repent of those things that are wrong."
Brethren, isn't that the purpose of scripture? That we might know God and know His Will. But as we read there in Romans chapter 15 and verse 4, isn't it God's desire that we look at those things that were written before our time whether we are today or in the New Testament. We look at those things before and we learn from them, that we glean from the churches that are found there in the book of Revelation, those of Asia Minor and we find what they did that was right, as well as the churches there that we've mentioned there, Jerusalem, Antioch, the churches such as Rome and Corinth and Thessalonica, and Colossi and Philippi, that we look at all of these and we say, "What were they doing right? What pleased God?" And then we imitate it. But at the same time, what can we learn as well from a negative standpoint? What God did not accept. What we should not do. What we will find if we do those things. Well you see, what a great encouragement to know that as parents help children, that we can look back at these examples and see where we can go right or where we can go wrong, where we can move forward or where we can move backwards. You see, all that we do, we must do to the glory of God. And as His church, we're responsible as the bride of Christ to make sure that we are always pure and holy, that we are presentable through the blood and that we are not bringing shame upon Christ but rather glory to God. Do you know what happens to those who bring glory to God and honor through obedience? We will be rewarded. What a great and wondrous promise. You have that hope. I have that hope. So let's live every day as the church that God died for, that He can be proud of, that will receive that great promise.
(SONG # 3 - "There's A Fountain Free!")
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. I hope and trust, that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. Let me also invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.
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As we strive to be the church which God desires, may we learn to put our own thoughts, wants and desires aside! If we can ever accomplish this and simply do what He commands, God will be well pleased and no doubt we will be blessed beyond measure!