Below are notes to a sermon preached Sunday morning and evening, September 16, 2001, at Gospel Light Baptist Church, Albany, Georgia.
LET’S NOT BE THE AVERAGE CHURCH
By Michael D. O’Neal Pastor, Gospel Light Baptist Church Albany, Georgia
Scripture Reading: Revelation 3:14-22
Text: Revelation 3:15
Revelation 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
Introduction: The church at Laodicea was not hot. It wasn’t cold. It was lukewarm. It was an “average” temperature. It wasn’t extreme right. It wasn’t extreme left.
I don’t want to be average. When it comes to issues, I want to stand in such a way that makes people either love or hate me.
I saw a preacher who told me he was going to be hosting a fellowship meeting of pastors. He invited me to attend saying, “I’ll let you preach; I don’t care what ‘they’ say.” I grinned. I wasn’t aware that he felt he would be under pressure by having me preach.
In preparation for our special day on October 7, “Miracle Sunday,” I knocked on the doors of 1,000 homes this week. I threw a pair of shoes in the trash can last night. I emailed a number of preacher friends and asked them to pray for me before this week began. Some of them seemed almost stunned. Someone said, “I didn’t know anyone was doing that anymore.”
Let’s don’t be “average”!
I know that the average church today is focusing its sermons and emphasis on the tragic terrorist attacks of the past week. I am not totally against that, but my focus is on something else today. By the way, the MAIN things to learn from the events of the past week are:
1. If you are not saved, you should GET saved today. You have no promise of tomorrow for an opportunity to trust Christ as your Savior.
2. If you ARE saved, you should use every day to live for God and to try to bring others to him. You have no promise of tomorrow for serving the Lord or for winning others to Him.
I will take a moment in the introduction to answer this question which is being asked by some people who have heard that the terrorist attacks are causing a revival in America:
IS AMERICA TURNING BACK TO GOD?
Well, today is the first Sunday after the terrorist attacks. If America is turning back to God, then:
Bible-believing, fundamental Baptist churches, not just the liberal, contemporary ones, will be “packed out” for every service this week.
The altars will be full, with Christians as well as lost people on their faces before God.
Offerings in churches will multiply tenfold as Christians start tithing.
Church members will start asking their pastors to preach longer and more often rather than check their watches at the top of the hour.
Prayer and Bible reading will return to the government schools.
Abortion clinics will close down.
Production and distribution of strong drink will become illegal.
Sodomites will go back into their closets, as it becomes illegal again.
The pornography industry will shut down.
Jails and prisons have to lay off personnel.
When I think about the average church, the average church today is
Carnal – following the flesh
Conforming – making the church like the world
Covering sin – no preaching against sin or false religion, no invitation
Contemporary – in step, in touch, with the times
Casual – loose, relaxed, shabby, worldly
Compromising – leaving the old time standards of holiness
Charming – drawing the world to church
Overall, the average church today is simply:
Counterfeit – phony!!!
I want you to think with me about these characteristics, and I want to encourage us all to NOT be the average church! Let’s don’t be lukewarm. Let’s not even be cold. Let’s be RED HOT for JESUS!
I. LET’S NOT BE CARNAL (Following the Flesh); LET’S BE RIGHTEOUS
Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
The word, “carnal,” has to do with the FLESH (carnivorous, chili con carne, carnival). The average church follows the flesh. In order to not be carnal:
A. We must be saved
- Salvation is a birth of the spirit (John 3:1-7)
B. We must be Spirit-filled
- 1. I am not referring to the confusion of the charismatics.
- 2. We need to be filled with the Spirit of God and submit to His leadership.
II. LET’S NOT BE CONFORMING (Making the Church Like the World); LET’S BE RENEWED BY THE WORD OF GOD
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
A. Let’s not change our meetings for the world
- We are not going to cancel or change our services for some holiday of this world.
- If you come to Albany, GA on Sunday morning, Sunday night or Wednesday night any week of the year, Gospel Light Baptist Church will be open for God’s business! You will hear the word of God, not just some “cantata” or drama!
B. Let’s not change our methods for the world
- One of the largest churches in our country was started by a man who took a survey in his area to find why people did not attend church, what they did not like. He then built his church to suit them!
- That’s completely backwards!
- Let our methods change the people in this WORLD, not the other way around! We should not let the world change our methods!
C. Let’s not change our message for the world
- This old black-backed, 66-caliber, AV 1611 King James Bible is still pure, preserved, precious, proven, plain, pointed and powerful!
- It will do the work!
D. Let’s not change our music for the world
- Thank God for the old psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs!
- Let’s stay away from the rock music of Contemporary Christian Music and the country western music of Southern Gospel!
- Let’s teach our kids to sing the old hymns and songs!
E. Let’s not change our morals for the world
- America may have changed its mind about liquor, abortion, gambling, and sodomy, but that doesn’t mean that they are not still wicked sins!
III. LET’S NOT BE COVERING SIN (Only “Positive” Preaching; No Invitation); LET’S REVEAL, REBUKE, AND REPENT OF IT
Proverbs 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
A. Let’s have courageous preaching
- Preachers need to get back to blasting and exposing sin and false doctrine!
B. Let’s have contrite people
- Baptists don’t repent about their sin these days; they just change churches!
C. Let’s have a confessing place
- Not to men, but to God
- “The front”
- The altar
- The mourner’s bench
IV. LET’S NOT BE CONTEMPORARY (In Step and In Touch With The Times); LET’S BE RELIABLE
1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
People should be able to count on
A. Our message
- There is no telling what I am going to say on any given Sunday, but the message will come from THIS BOOK!
B. Our music
- People shouldn’t wonder if our music came from Trinity Broadcasting Network, Gaither, or the charismatic crowd.
C. Our manner
- Let’s stop applauding performances, and let’s get back to “AMENING” PREACHING!
- I think it’s an abomination to God for people to shout and clap during a song and sit as quiet as a church mouse while the living word of the living God is being preached!
V.. LET’S NOT BE CASUAL (Relaxed, shabby, worldly); LET’S BE READY AND REVERANT
1 Corinthians 11:22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.
A. We should be alert
- Our Lord is at hand!
- Our Lord is about to speak to our hearts through His word!
B. We should be adoring
- In love – bathed, shoes shined, clothes pressed, hair combed or brushed
- As the Christmas hymn says, “O, come, let us adore HIM!”
VI. LET’S NOT BE COMPROMISING(Leaving Old-time Convictions); LET’S BE RIGID
2 Timothy 3:10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,
Exodus 10:24-26 And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you. 25 And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the LORD our God. 26 Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the LORD our God; and we know not with what we must serve the LORD, until we come thither.
A. Let’s stay with the scriptures
- No matter what everyone else does!
B. Let’s stay with the standards
- A church ought to always have spiritual babies in its midst, but they should not be in positions of leadership!
- If a person isn’t winning souls, he isn’t following Jesus. He has no business being a pastor, deacon, Sunday School teacher, music director, pianist, or choir member.
VII. LET’S NOT BE CHARMING (Drawing the World to Church); LET’S REACH OUT WITH THE GOSPEL WHERE THEY ARE
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Acts 20:20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,
A. They don’t need to be charmed to come here; they need to be confronted out there!
- Let’s go where they are!
B. They don’t need to be comforted; they need to be convicted!
- Lost people need to see their HOPELESSNESS.
- Then they need to see the answer God has provided to give them HIS hope — the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:3-4; Acts 16:29-31; John 14:6).