Program Air Date - 12-24-06



Good Morning and Happy Holidays! We welcome each of you to the Living Word Program. As always, we will be privileged this morning to give this time to God. We hope and pray that our songs of praise and our study, will be acceptable in His sight, on this magnificent Lord's Day. May we not only glorify God, but may we all learn and be encouraged through the things we do together this morning. Now, let's begin with a prayer!


Isn't our God wonderful and amazing? Certainly He is. This morning we want to begin with a song that confirms this wondrous truth. So won't you join in with us as we sing together, "I Stand Amazed!."

(SONG # 1)


Here it is December 24, 2006, Christmas Eve! To my children this means that Santa comes tonight and brings toys and gifts for all to enjoy. As most, I certainly love this time of year and all the wondrous and secular stories surrounding this holiday. Not only Santa Claus, but Flying reindeer, even the Red nosed reindeer, a sleigh - full of toys for all the children of the world, elves who make the toys, and on and on we could go. How the faces of little ones light up as they hear the story of the night before Christmas. What a privilege it is to celebrate this time of good, clean fun - which promotes love, family and giving.

On the other hand, as we began to consider last week, let's also remember how this holiday began. From a religious standpoint many celebrate this day as the date our Lord was born over 2000 years ago. Great emphasis is placed on the birth of our Lord and it's significance to this world. Let me say, Amen, as far as the importance of Christ Jesus coming into this world, so that He later could become a sacrifice for our sins and purchase His church.

However, isn't it also important to clarify the facts and show our knowledge concerning the things of Christ and His Word? The reality is no man knows the exact hour, day, or even year that our Lord Jesus was born in that manger? No matter how important or significant the event is, we must ask the question, "does this give us the right to set up and bind a religious day or a religious feast and celebrate it?" Is it within our authority to bind days and feasts on God's people that He, Himself is silent about in the scriptures?

Let's also consider from the religious standpoint, where this holiday comes from? Around 300 A. D., the Catholic church began to promote the idea of this religious holiday. The only problem was that the Roman Catholic church and the Greek Orthodox Catholic church could not agree on a common date to hold the holiday. Finally, the first time this holiday was officially celebrated was in Rome on December 25, 325 A. D.

I think it is important to note that the church of our Lord Jesus Christ began around 33 A. D. and it was not until 300 years later that this holiday was established. So let me ask you, what does this tell you about this holiday, again from a religious standpoint? Well it tells me that it is man-made: established by man, appointed by man and set up by man! If the Bible is silent about it and the first church established by our Lord, for 300 years did not practice it; I think we must be very careful about celebrating it as something of God or approved of by God.

Let me make one final point! What event in the life of Christ bears the greatest significance to the follower of Christ? You and I know that it is His death. Why then don't we have a yearly feast for it? I will tell you why, God hasn't commanded it, authorized it or sanctioned it. However, what He has authorized is that we assemble every first day of the week. And when we do so, we are to reverence, glorify, honor, praise and magnify His holy name! As well we have opportunity to celebrate His birth, life, death and resurrections as the assembled Children of God. We are to thank Him for all He has done, is doing and has promised to do for us. Thanks be to God, that we have a weekly opportunity to remember Him and worship Him every first day of the week.

So, let's enjoy this season and it's secular parts as we use this time for showing others how much we care about and love them. Furthermore, let's make it our duty to show God the homage and reverence due to Him when He has asked us to in His Word - every first day of the week. So, let's not be satisfied with once a century, once a year, or once a month, but only accept once a week, just as He has commanded! How important is your God to you? Please stay with us, because after our next song I will return with our main lesson from God's Word. This morning we will begin a new series taken from a statement which Jesus made, when He said, "I Will Build My Church." Our specific lesson today will deal with, "The Church In Prophecy!" But before we dive in to this important discussion of the day, let's sing our next song together. Won't you join in the hymn, "Soldiers Of Christ, Arise!"

(SONG # 2)


Speaker: Ray Sullins

In Matthew chapter 16, if you'll read there with me from the book in verse 18. The Bible says, "Upon this rock, I will build My church." We begin with these remarks because this is our new series and the title of it where we read there that Jesus Christ proclaimed that He would build the church. Notice the thing which is said that He states here that He would build it on, the great confession that Peter had made, that "Jesus Christ was the Son of God." Today, you and I have just completed actually a study throughout the last several months, but today, we come together to worship God because we have been given the privilege of being a part of the church as obedient children of God. So we want to begin to look at the church and to understand what the church is all about in order that we might fully know that it is from the Bible, the Word of God and what is involved in being a Christian as well as how God chose to organize His church.

So today, we'll talk about the preparation. We'll talk about the establishment itself in a sense, as well as the prophecy, for the church was not just an afterthought of God or something that He just came up with all of a sudden. But rather, when Jesus said, "I will build My church," we learn that it's something that was planned long, long ago.

If you'll look with me over in the book of Ephesians chapter 3, we find there in verse 10 a very interesting fact. The scripture says, "To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church through principalities and powers. In other words, here is something that the church will do, make known the wisdom of God to the world.

But now, notice the next verse, verse 11. Notice when God determined that this would happened. The verse says, verse 11, "According to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus, our Lord." You see, Jesus said, "I will build My church." but now we learn something about historical fact that God gives us that He planned this eternally, before He ever created or before He ever made the world, according to His eternal purpose. God had said, "Someday, I will build the church." And so how interesting it is that Jesus eventually there in the book of Matthew states, "I will build My church." For as God in the flesh, He proclaims to us the great thing that God had planned even before creation now was about to come to fruition.

Now let's look at some of the prophecies we find in the Old Testament to see what it is the Bible says about the coming of the Lord's church.

If you'll notice there with me beginning in the book of Isaiah, in Isaiah chapter 2, beginning in verse 2, Isaiah proclaims the Words of God. He says, "It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills and all nations shall flow to it.

Hear verse 3, "Many people shall come and say, "Come and let us go up to the mount of the Lord. Come and let us go up there to the house of God and of Jacob, and He will teach us His ways and we shall walk in His path and out of Zion shall go forth the law and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem." We begin learning about another day, in latter times, in latter periods when something is going to be established on a mountain. Certainly we know that the concept of Jerusalem always had to do with the mountainous area. We also know the concept of Mount Zion is also again that area of Jerusalem. But then he also mentions in verse 3 that "the Word of God would go out (from what?) Jerusalem." Whatever this is that is going to be established, that is going to be put on the Mount, as we also read here, is going to allow all men to come to be saved and it is going to be exalted before everything else that has ever been made. What is this thing? Well, I present to you obviously the church and that is found as well in fulfillment.

We'll look at that in just a moment, but first of all let's go to the book of Micah. There in the book of Micah, we again find a similar and interesting fact in chapter 4, almost the same wording now through another prophet of God is confirmed. "Many nations," it says, "will come to it. It will be exalted," in verse 1. Then we read again, "From out of Zion the law shall go forth," (verse 2). The law of what? The law of the Word of the Lord which began in Jerusalem. So whatever this is and whatever it is talking about is something that is going to happen in Jerusalem in latter days. It is going to be something that is exalted that all men can come to for salvation, not only Jews, and something that will establish a new covenant.

Go back with me, if you will, as well to the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah speaks this in another sense. Not specifically in the establishment of the church but the law that will govern the church or that is also referred to as the new covenant. In Jeremiah 31, we read there beginning in verse 31 of that same text, "Behold the days are coming," says the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel." He says, "Not according to the old covenant, but it will be a new covenant," He says, "that I will make with the house of Israel," and He says, "I will put the law (verse 33) in their minds and on their hearts. I will be their God and they shall be My people." Notice He goes on in verse 34 so far as to say this, "For I will forgive their iniquities and their sins I will remember no more." He says, "Another law, another day, another peoples, a spiritual Israel." But what's really interesting here is He mentions something that was not true under the Old Testament period. "In that day," He said, "I will forgive their iniquity," which God forgave under the old law, but notice He says, "I will remember it no more. I will forgive and forget."

Now as we begin to understand that so that we won't miss the purpose and the great emphasis of that point, turn with me now to Hebrews chapter 8 because here the Hebrew writer re-emphasizes what we have just learned in Jeremiah 31. In fact, what the Hebrew writer is stating is he is trying to say, "Today, we are under a better covenant of Christ as was proclaimed in Jeremiah's day." In fact, beginning in verse 7 and there following, we find the same, the same quote that we just read from Jeremiah 31 through 34, also those are the verses.

But now notice with me if you will what verse 12 states. It is very interesting. For He says, "I will be of mercy to them and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." Well, that's what we just read from Jeremiah. He says, "At what point this comes, it will be the sign of a new covenant, the sign of the kingdom, the sign of the church. Notice in verse 13 in that He says, "A new covenant." Well what has He done? He has made the first obsolete and the one which is becoming obsolete is growing old and vanishes away. The old covenant is gone. It has been replaced by what? A greater one that under, through the blood of Christ, we have what? Forgiveness of sins. Isn't that what we're promised in the new covenant? Isn't that what we're promised in Acts 2:38 that we be repent and be baptized, every one of us? For what? The remission of sins, not just the pushing forward as under the old law, the remitting, the forgetting, the forgiving of sins. Well, you see, we begin to see a different law, a time when Jesus then again said, "I will build My church."

Now another thing we said is this kingdom was going to continue and be established, according to Isaiah, according to Micah, according to Daniel and others, in Jerusalem. Let's then explore that a little bit more and see what the Bible has to say.

Begin with me, if you will, there in Luke 24. In this gospel account, Luke here helps us clearly to understand that this again is what is about to happen at the time that he ends his book. If you'll notice with me there in Luke 24 around verse 46. There Jesus is speaking to them and He says, "Thus it is written and thus it is necessary for Christ to suffer and to rise again the 3rd day." He is speaking there about the resurrection to come. "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in the name to all nations beginning at Jerusalem and you are witnesses." Now notice verse 49. "Behold," He says, "I will send the promise of My Father upon you, but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you're endowed from power on high." He says, "Go to Jerusalem." Where does the church begin? Jerusalem. Where was this kingdom in latter days? Jerusalem. He says, "Go to Jerusalem and wait." For what? The power, the power that is spoken of throughout the Old Testament is coming and the Spirit that was going to come upon them on that day.

How do we also know that? You can look at references like John 14, John 15. We'll specifically look at John 16 this time. All three of those chapters, however, cover the same idea, but there in verse 7 of chapter 16, He says, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away, that I leave this earth," Jesus says, "for if I do not go away, the helper will not come, but if I depart, then I will send Him to you." He says, "I'm going to send you a helper." What is He going to do? Go back up to chapter 14 and verse 26. "When I send a helper, He will teach you all things and help you to remember all things and give you all power." Well, now we begin to see what comes together. Where have they gone, Luke? To Jerusalem. Waiting for what? The power, the Holy Spirit. John says that He is coming. John tells them to go also there to where? The city of Jerusalem and wait. How interesting in prophecy then in all these things that we turn to the book of Acts. Just a few days, maybe fifty some days later, we find guess what. The apostles are in Jerusalem. They're waiting for what? They're waiting for the Holy Spirit (verse 5) when they will be baptized in the name of the Holy Spirit when the power will come and when all these things will happen. Verse 8 states that also this is the time when from Jerusalem the Word will go out. Remember what Isaiah said? He says, "All of these things are coming to fruition."

Then we turn over and we look at chapter 2 on the Day of Pentecost. And they begin to speak in tongues. The Holy Spirit came upon them in languages that all men could understand what they were saying and so many believed that 3,000 were added to the church. I want you to notice that in the sermon that Peter preached, the proclamation of the gospel in Acts chapter 2, guess what he refers to. He goes back to Joel chapter 2 and guess what Joel chapter 2 talks about. The same thing Isaiah did, the same thing Micah did, the same thing Daniel did, that behold in those days, the kingdom will come. The house of God will be established.

So we see the church coming to fruition. We see they were proclaimed and told as to what to do. Repent and be baptized. To do what? To be receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit and also to be forgiven of sin (Acts 2:38). Then in verse 47, the Bible says, "And those that were being saved were added to the church by the Lord." Before this time, we do not see the establishment of what Jesus said, "I will build My church," but on this day and every day thereafter, we see the Bible says, "all those who were saved were added to the church," and everything thereafter speaks of the church being established. For instance, Colossians chapter 1. The body, the church, the kingdom. Then it says that "We have been translated out of darkness into the (what?) church, the kingdom, the body of His dear Son." How can we be put into something that doesn't exist? Well certainly, the church does exist. Certainly that is why Jesus died on the cross (Acts 20:28) that He might shed His blood and establish the what? The church.

I hope you are beginning to see that prophecy is so important. The fulfillment of these things means the world to us because it shows us that we know that God established that kingdom, that church, that institution that we are a part of on this earth, that we continue to be a part of and if we are faithful until death, God will not only bless us now, but eternally.

I want you to notice something else the Bible states about the church. It states that someday the church, the assembly of the saints, the kingdom, the body will be given back to the Father. Notice there in 1 Corinthians 15 there in verse 24, it says, "When the end comes, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all power and authority, He must reign until all enemies are put under His feet." Did you hear what it said? Until the end and in the end when Jesus delivers the what? The church, the kingdom to the Father. I don't know about you but if God planned it before He created the world, if He prophesied about it for all mankind upon the death of Jesus, the Son, that the church would be established, if John came and said the church was coming, if Jesus came and said it is at hand and "I will build MY church," and to go and wait there in Jerusalem and it will happen to the apostles and I will give you the Holy Spirit and power," as prophecy confirmed. Then in Acts chapter 2, we see that all that came to fruition and they add the first, that is God, obedient people to the church. I don't know about you, but if that's what they did, that's what I want to do. I want to be a part of that institution especially as we read in 1 Corinthians 15 that if someday God will give that church, that is God in the flesh, Jesus, will give that church back to the Father in Heaven, the eternal church. Today, I hope you'll consider whether you are a part of God's church as He commands. If not, do what it take, according to His Word, this day and everyday to be found pleasing in His sight you will ultimately receive that great reward.

(SONG # 3 - "The Glory-Land Way")


Again, let me thank you for putting God first and choosing to give this time to Him. We invite you to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to worshiping God in His way!

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Thanks be to God for the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. May we always be the church that God wants and do those things which are according to His commandments!

(Program closing)