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Preparing the Church for the Last Hour Mission Part - 2

C. Raymond Holmes

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C. Raymond Holmes

Pastor, missionary, retired seminary professor, and author

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  • June 18, 2019
    10:45 AM
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Heavenly Father we thank you for this new day we thank you for the sunshine that reminds us of the Sun of Righteousness our Lord Jesus. We thank you for the health we enjoy that makes makes it possible for us to be here we pray that your spirit will be with us and lighten our minds in our hearts blessed this time around everyone who was here presenters and members of friends I'm now your Holy Spirit teach and touch hearts and minds and move people into face me with the children and the young people in a special way in Jesus name Amen. While you want to open to verse John how many of you here were not here yesterday quite a few well then it's helpful if I had to repeat myself. At you up where we were when we ended yesterday we were talking about the fact that. To claim fellowship with Jesus while walking in the darkness is to deliberately mislead on the seat. It's hypocrisy pretending to be something that we're not not just giving lip service to the truth but living it put it into everyday practice a matter what the consequences are and that is so important because this kind of faithful living strengthens the church for its last our mission John says in Chapter one Verse 7 if we walk in the light. In the midst of the world's darkness. As he is in the light we have fellowship with one another so understanding the nature of the church is one body and understanding the mission that's required by the demands of the last hour and that's where we are in history said we really be in fellowship with one another if we're not on the same page when it comes to both the message and the mission of the Church is you know that the mission of the church is not to transform society it's to transform people and it's to transformed people who prance form society you are the light of the world Jesus said to His disciples Let your light shine before others why did he say that so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven there is a difference between good works on the works of the flesh. You know the God produces good works and off he wants people to see them why because when they do he gets the glory not us and what does that mean that he gets the glory and means he gets the credit not us. And those works are good only if they are of the light and not of the darkness however follows me Jesus says will not walk in darkness what darkness spiritual see logical philosophical they please the ass to call cultural moral darkness but he says they will have the light of life to illuminated. And guide and direct were not supposed to be secret the leavers were supposed to have an influence on the world for good or right just nuts now after John talks about walking in the light and practicing the truth as opposed to walking in darkness and not practicing the truth he he talks about said which we mentioned yesterday is the basic human problem since that little story letter word said a lot of people don't like it when you talk about. I remember when I was a Lutheran minister every once in a while somebody would mention I had a church board meeting and tell me that folks are complaining because you talk too much about sin. Anyway John's logic is relentless when he talks about sin because the hypocrisy of claiming to be an fellowship with Jesus while walking in darkness misleads and deceives people it's the worst kind of sin and misleading and deceiving people and that kind of hypocrisy and deception will not serve the mission that is required by the demands of the last hour and other words the world has to know that we are here when I was a student up Northern Michigan University and Mark up my wife and I worship at St Mark's Lutheran Church which was a part of the finish of an Jellicoe Lutheran Church and by the way we still appreciate the spiritual heritage that we received in that finish Evan Jellicoe sure. But anyway that's when I preached my 1st sermon in that church and we were received warmly by that congregation and so when my graduation was approaching I decided that I would paint a portrait of that church I was going to be an artist when I was in my teens but the Lord had different plans and so I painted this quite quite a large painting of that church where the dark background some of the names of light coming up. And a couple of years ago I got word that that church was closing and so I inquired if I could get the picture back. And so they were happy to return it to me they had a very nice gathering there were only 11 members left but they were all there one Sunday afternoon and my wife and I drove from from our house to Marquette or that occasion and they presented returned the painting to me and thanked me for him and so on and I had it in our house for a while but I don't know where to put it what am I going to do it is part was pretty big didn't have any room and one day it finally dawned on me I should give it to the new conference office so I did that's where it is but the whole point is John says How does he say it I can't find it right now but anyway when I 1st painted that picture my focus was on a light that was shining out of the church window that had a big cross in it and it was reflected on the ground on the snow but now when I look look at it my focus is on the on the sky dark sky with beams of light. That seemed to me to portend the 2nd coming of Jesus in other words I'm see I see something different in that picture that I painted way back then today because of what I know and I saw that and it was a sad thing to think about when that church was closing down that knowledge clinic a doctor bought it and turned it into a clinic but that's what happened that's what happens to life that was once shining it's gone out and that's happening all over there are 4 large Lutheran churches in in the western end of the u.p. that have lost so many members that they have one minister known for carriages and they don't know what to do and let me tell you that's what happens when you abandon sola scriptura the Bible and the Bible although Anyway John says in chapter 3 verse 8 whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil and is doing the doubles work wow that's pretty serious if we say we haven't listened verse 8 what 7 look at the context look at the context let's read the chapter one verse John this is the message we have heard verse 5 from him and proclaim to you that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all if we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness we lie and do not practice the truth but if we walk in the light as he is in the light. We have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. So saying one thing and doing another doing the opposite living a lie walking in spiritual darkness not practicing the truth we deceive ourselves and self-deception is the worst kind because if you deceive yourself you won't hesitate to deceive other people and convince yourself you're actually presented the truth now you know now we're we have to listen to all the politicians because a big election is coming up next year and I listened to the news quite a bit but I thought as I listened to them talking the question a comes to my mind everytime is he telling the truth is she telling me the truth. Or do they just say what they have to say to get elected and if that is the truth that they are deceiving me it's deceptive and how can I trust if I'm being deceived. Ellen White says in her testimony Spain 361 at self-deception begins with not having a sense of the sinfulness of their own natures she says they are far from God yet they take great satisfaction in their lives when their conduct is abhorred by God This class will ever be at war with the leadings of the Spirit of God and that in 1st testimonies page $214.00 she says these are perilous times now if the times were perilous when she wrote it what about now these are perilous times she says for the Church of God and the greater danger now is that of self-deception. Individuals per pro fessing to believe the truths are blind to their own danger and then in 4 testimonies page $88.00 she says fearful is the power of self deception on the human mind what blindness setting the light for darkness and darkness for light as John says in chapter one verse a self deception ends with the truth is not in us if we say we have not said and in other words if we say everything is Ok with the church with the message it preaches even though it contradicts the Bible we make Him a liar John says and the truth is not in us after one verse 10 now nothing could be more devastating to the mission of the Church of the last hour so what must that church do that if this is the context in which we exist in which we worship and evangelize him reach out all the answers come fess repent and experience the forgiveness of a faithful and just God and Soul be cleansed as John says of all unrighteous notice something in that verse in Chapter one Verse 9 if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness in other words after the forgiveness of sin there is more. That God will do for us and enough. The cleansing now begins he's preparing us not only for right just living but for haven't healed he's cleansing us from all unrighteousness and what is the word that the Bible uses to refer to that process sanctification what the sanctification mean means being made holy while turn your Bible to 2nd Peter. I think it's in seconds later. The. First chapter verse or sorry has divine power has granted to us all things does pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us to his own glory and excellent by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises listen so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature while having a scape from the corruption that is in the world for this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue virtue with knowledge knowledge with self-control self-control with steadfastness Studd vastness with Godliness godliness with brotherly affection and brotherly affection with low while we're still here God is preparing house you know doesn't it just forgive our sins he is preparing us for that place in heaven whole. If if we're if we're being hypocritical We need to confess repent and experience the forgiveness of a faithful and just God and be cleansed of all unrighteousness and hope so we're able to fulfill the mission that is required by the demands of the last hour the church and trusted by God with a special mission and that our must 1st deal with the sins that hinder it from fulfilling that mission. And people don't like it when you talk like that a couple of years ago together with some other folks I was invited to. Secrets on sealed television ministry. And during one of the panel discussions one was my turn I said we have to repent that's what we have to do. And I heard about that I was not what I should say I can't you know. I don't want to hear about that that's what the Word of God tells me because the mission of the church in the last hour does not involve the imposition of God's truth upon other people but the submission of God's Church to his truth for the sake of others is a big difference and that is to be found an imitation of Christ that comes closest to the real thing so I think we all recognize that we're living in serious times not only. As a nation but as a church the Bible points to God as its author but it was written by human hands and in the very style of the different books. It presents the characteristics of the of the different writers and Ellen White recognizes that and great controversy. Page 5 in the introduction and I I when I read that I said that's right she's right God is the author written by several writers and I wanted to come so the New Testament there were 8 Matthew Mark Luke John Paul Peter Judith and James 5 writers one author 5 writers and the 3 major contributors were look Paul and John John wrote the gospel 1st and 2nd John and the revelation in fact he was he was one of the 1st disciples that Jesus chose you can find that in Matthew Chapter 4 now. I'm having a hard time hearing you I've got hearing aids and I have a speak up. That's Paul. Some people are saying that John wrote it I don't know where they get that. I don't know what does it say. You know. How to say Chapter one Paul 1st word. An apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God and Timothy our brother. That's what it says. And that's what it means all that's good not complicated that's that simple to use a fancy word hermeneutics What does the Bible say. Alright John has been referred to throughout history as the apostle of love he wrote more about love than any other New Testament writer and though he wrote a lot about God's love for the world. For his church and about believers love for one another has made your emphasis is on the believers love for Christ and in this letter his focus is not on the world it lies in the power of the evil one as he says in Chapter 5 hours 19 but on God's people on the church that's why it's so important and relevant for us today and more precisely John's focus is on the Church of the last hour chapter 2 verse 18 for which he says it is crucial to be capable of distinguishing between the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error 1st John 46 And why is it important that the last our church be capable of making a distinction between the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error it's because that church is the one that has to understand and fulfill the mission that is required by the demands of the last hour that's why and it is that church which must be prepared to meet those demands. So John the Volt's this letter following the 1st 3 verses so that preparation. And the church of today needs to listen to 1st John why while because it's the Church of the last hour and it's threatened by forces that would sabotage and subvert it at the very time. That it's clear and courageous witness is most needed in the world that God so loved. It may be disturbing to some folks but the apostle of love does not begin this letter by talking about love why not because love must never be distorted by the church over the last hour or so that it subverts that church is passion for truth. Now I'm going to be specific so you know exactly what I'm talking about one of the what it was is one of the major cultural issues that we're being faced with today aren't. You know almost sexuality and same sex marriage and and. Confusion and we're being culture is telling us we have to love everybody you have to love these people does God love them yet. He loved them so much he sent his son to the cross to die for them too are we to show his love to them Yes For what purpose so that the Holy Spirit can use us to help bring them into the fellowship of His redeemed people and experience transformed lives so that they no longer live in darkness but in the light that's love that's love the way the Bible presents it is that being mean you know our hearts go out to folks that are struggling with sin we struggled ourselves. Til the Lord followed us our heart goes out goes out to them our doors are open you know everybody is welcome in our guest in our church to worship with us and fellowship with us but when it comes to preparation for baptism and inclusion in the in the fellowship of the Body of Christ we have to go by what the Bible says because he wants to transform people who are right just who are living right just live not unrighteous you see the sea where the issue isn't the problem is so love must never be distorted the kind of love that the Bible talks about when people ask me questions about these things I always tell them read 1st John read 1st John the answer is there the love that he talks about is in a far different context than than the context of the fuzzy idea of love that is popular in large segments of Protestantism today it's the context of righteousness and the Apostle Paul underscores this and 2nd tussle only in Stover's mind Paul says the coming of the lawless one the anti-Christ is by the activity of sacred with all power and false science and wonders and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing because they refused to love the truth and so be saved so John begins Chapter one Verse 5 with a call to the Church of the last hour to practice the truth practice to do it live it preach at. To not walk in spiritual darkness to walk in the life as he is in the light it's a call to practice of truth that God has revealed in His Word and in his Gospel chapter 8 verse 12 John Paul Jesus who said I am the light of the world whoever follows me will not walk in darkness spiritual see a logical philosophical cultural moral darkness but will have the light of life to eliminate to guide to direct He begins with a call to confess to repent and experience the forgiveness of all faithful and just God and so be cleansed of all unrighteousness and and in the process the beeper prepared and able to employ our to fulfill the mission that is required by the last hour and trusted by God with a special mission in that hour that church must deal with the sins doesn't hinder it from fulfilling that mission what comes next what comes next in chapter 2 verse 5 a very clear exposition as to how the confessing believe or can know be certain that he or she is in a saving relationship with God certain that we are in him as John says Why so that we don't deceive ourselves as he says in Chapter one Verse 8 he makes it an ambiguous really clear that there is specific evidence of the reality of that relationship. Evidence that can be observed by the world and again the word of God does not leave us in the dark about the crucial matter. This crucial matter in the last hour let's read chapter 2 beginning with the 1st words my little children I'm writing these things to you so that you may not sin but if anyone does and we have an Advocate with the Father Jesus Christ the right just he is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world and by this we may know that we have come to know him if we keep His commandments God's commandment whatever says I know him but does not keep his commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him but whoever keeps his word and him truly the love of God is perfected and by this we may be sure that we are in Him Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked you do you know he he repeats himself 3 times in this letter look at chapter 3 verse 21 beloved if our heart does not condemn us we have confidence before God and whatever we ask we receive from him because we keep His commandments and do what pleases him and then he repeats it again in Chapter 5 2nd verse by this we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments for this is the love of God that we keep His commandments and His commandments are not burdensome. Now however so that there is no misunderstanding so that he cannot be accused of legalism and works right just nest he prefaces his uncompromising statement of truth by making it absolutely clear that he understands the gospel he had just said if we confess our sins He is faithful to forgive and to cleanse us not just forgive but to clean us up and he underlines a truth that is all often overlooked in contemporary Christianity that Sen listen is not the determining or ruling force in the believers life now have you or have you heard it said I have heard it many times even since I become an advantage believe it or not we will always be centers on commit sin as all sin was the ruling force as older gospel of grace has no power to transform a person's life if anybody asks you that or says I have to you tell him to read 1st John because there is the answer for John right just nuts is the determining ruling force in the born again believers life not says if you don't believe that you can have victory over sin you're deceiving yourself. The Word of God makes it absolutely clear that the atmosphere in which the Christian believer lives is that of righteousness not to have this fear of said and so he says I'm not I'm writing these things to you so that you may not sin chapter 2 verse one truth is the antidote to sin God's truth. And Jesus said in John John reports in chapter 8 of his gospel verse 31 if you abide in my word you are truly my disciples and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. No this is kind of a footnote here the Apostle John has made us aware of 2 major theological issues faced by the last our church 2 issues that impinge on its understanding of both its message and its mission and that our On the one hand is the rejection of the biblical concept of human sin if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves he says on the other hand the issue is the rejection of the biblical concept of victory over the power of said to dominate and control human life to cleanse us from all unrighteousness both of them are major deceptions the 1st deceives the world which is then is led to think it needs no savior you know an atheist with accept the idea of God If that God were not a moral God. If you had not established standards of righteousness by his law and if he did not hold mankind accountable it's not the idea of God that is disliked but the idea of sin that's that is disliked Bertrand Russell who was an atheist philosopher wrote a book entitled Why I am not a Christian have you ever heard of it he says on page 50 the Christian God may exist. But he also says on page $205.00 kindness is in evidence ted by the belief in sin. While the 2nd deception deceives while the 1st deception deceives the world the 2nd deception deceives the church which then is led to be content with the appearance of godliness while denying its power. A Christian God shows me I'm really looking at the wrong place the church is deceived by the idea that the appearance of Godliness is Ok while you deny its power 2nd Timothy $35.00 so then to his Preface to his book John adds but. But usually introduces a contrast but if anyone does sin we have an Advocate with the Father Jesus Christ and on the words he's saying don't say you have no send confess it receives a forgiveness and the cleansing of a faithful and just and loving God then lives in the atmosphere of righteousness because whoever does not practice right just mess he says in chapter 3 verse 10 and his mouth of God This is what it means to be a born again believer and Christian believers ought to know on the authority of the Word of God that everyone 1st John 518 who has been born of God does not keep on sending he says but he who was born of God God protects. He who was born of God protects the believer that's Jesus and the Evil One does not touch it those are powerful words but if you do sin you have an Advocate with the Father Christ the right just who will represent you in the Father's presence John and I want to make this clear John does not hold to the mistaken idea of sinless perfection that's not what he's talking about he understands the fault in most of mankind He says this is not to condone sin on he says if you sin we have an advocate he doesn't say that and to condone sin or to diminish it's all fenced of God but to uplift and glorify the only one who can save you from the consequences of any sin that 1 May fall into and because because he Jesus alone is the Hopi she asian the Greek means to be merciful for our sins Jesus is merciful God is merciful he is our reconciler he reconciles us to God because while we were still sinners Christ died for us Romans 58 these are basic teachings truths doctrines some people don't like the word doctrine either but that's what truth is it's a doctrine of the New Testament they must not be lost sight of diminished or perverted and so what follows is also a basic teaching of the New Testament which must be love not not be lost sight of diminished or perverted that which distinguishes and identifies the Church of the last hour is faith in Jesus as the advocate. As appropriate she ation for our sins and keeping the commandments of God and he repeats that 3 times as I already mentioned the Church of the last hour is a commandment keeping church and power by the Holy Spirit to obey God the idea of a knowledge of God's love is the supreme value and that how one lives is of no importance is a deception that has no place in the sea ology or the lifestyle of the last hour church the Word of God makes it absolutely clear that only a life lived in harmony with the will the Word of God is reliable. Is the reliable evidence of a saving relationship with him we're supposed to close now but there's no meeting after this Can I finish and they think ology does not that does not hold with that new testament truth as a lie and a lifestyle that does not bear witness to this new testament truth is false and hypocritical and then in order to impress it on the reader's mind John says it another way he says Chapter 2 verse 5 By this we may be sure that we are in heaven whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which Jesus walked to abide in Christ means means to be united with Christ listen to Jesus' own words quoted by John in the Gospel 50 Chapter 15 doors for abide in me and I in you. Whoever abides in me and I in him he it is that bears much fruit for apart from me you can do nothing by this my father is glorified that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciple as the father has loved me so have I loved you abide in my love if you keep My commandments you will abide in my love just as I have kept my Father's Commandments and abide in His love the spirit of obedience that's the way Jesus walked and how crucial it is for the theology the message in the mission of the Church of the last hour if that church is to bring Be prepared to meet the demands of the last hour we have to have this right we have to have this straight. Face in the right just most of Christ separated from the practice of righteousness is not the message of the New Testament I don't care what anybody says it's not the message of the New testament to how important is all of this John says 1st John to 28 and now little children abide in Him so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming if you know that he is right yes you may be sure that everyone who practice says right just noticed has been born of him that's what it means to be born again no wonder Martin Luther wrote he sat in his antinomian disputation he said if we cast the law combatant. Aside. We shall no longer retain Crites Now I want to end with telling you a little story of. My personal spiritual mentor he was a professor in the Lutheran so logical seminary and even after I became an admin Asli maintained our relationship he was a real spiritual friend to me in fact when I went down to see him when I was faced with a crisis of Adventism and so on and I I spent 2 days with him and went through the whole thing I talked for 2 days and he looked at me didn't take his eyes off my face for 2 days when we were talking and finally I had said all I didn't know what else to say and I just sat back him and waited What's this theologian just Lutheran theologian going to say to me this is what he said I'll never forget you said Ray you need to ask God what he is trying to say to you and that was like God speaking to me through him because when I left his house I drove right to Andrews University parked my camper in the seminary parking lot and went inside and began to meet people that's how it started I wasn't yet ready I didn't make my decision yet but that was the result of what he set and we have going to we maintained our relationship all through the years since. Eventually he retired and he moved to Minneapolis and we kept in touch. He stopped over once in a while I'll remember the last conversation I had with him over the pole we talked for maybe an hour and then he said to me he said Ray I have concluded that this is a crisis church. And he was talking about his church they have a Jellicoe Lutheran Church in America and I thought I got to go down and said that his feet down and listen to him say what did to me 2 days later I got a phone call from his son who said Dad died this morning but he wanted me to to to tell you he wants you to preach at his funeral I had 2 days to get ready I think what he meant was exactly what I just said if you throw out God's law you throw out Christ they are united they're not contradictory and by the way one of the things I appreciate it so much as I began to transition is when I heard people say that 7th Day Adventists are people of the book but I don't hear that anymore are we still the people of the book. I want to be I don't know what would have happened to me if I had remained in in that denomination with everything that's happened since then if God had not intervened it was a struggle yes painful yes Anyways I really had to look deep into Adventists but you know Luther helped me loser helped me make a decision about the Sabbath when I read in his large catechism on the on the Sabbath commandment I was the commandment was there 1st and you know what it said in English said You shall How will a day of rest and I looked up in your in Luther's German Bible his translation of a Bible into German and it was accurate. Yes Then cut the sub a tog of stuff still in highly Just remember the Sabbath day that you keep it holy but one year old is catechism he changed it so you shall hello a day of rest we don't Hello anything only God makes holy You can't make anything holy the admin is church doesn't make the Sabbath holy because we keep the 7th day God already made it holy in the beginning by its word and command so I sat there with my mouth open. Luther help me become most of the buttons on the side of this media was brought to you by audio person a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio version or if you would like to listen to more sermon please visit w w w dot audio Verse dot org.

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