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May 11, 2022 7:05 am
In recent years, we discovered an alarming trend in churches all across the country. Congregations that once held biblical principles dear proclaiming the gospel with conviction and preaching from the Bible with boldness have begun to drift from their first love.
So how do we guard against this line and what is a healthy church look like today on Insight for living will discover answers to those questions and more as Chuck Swindoll continues his teaching series called the church awakening before starting a new message. It's our tradition to read the Scripture together was the prophet Jeremiah who said your words were found, and I did eat them in your word was the joy and rejoicing of my heart, for I am called by your name oh Lord of hosts three times in the Bible we read of God's word being eaten.
I'm reading a book by Eugene Peterson now titled eat this book, I decided just to read it, but it is a refreshing reminder that God's word was given to us to be digested to be assimilated to be obeyed to be lived out.
Never did God plan to give us his word to satisfy idle curiosity or to make us biblically intelligent. He gave us his word to change our lives when we realize that we understand that every section of Scripture is applicable for us for now and for days yet future certainty.
The 20th chapter of acts is no exception. I want to read for you.
Just a small section from the center part of the 20th chapter of acts, beginning at verse 28, acts 2028. Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to shepherd the church of God which he purchased with his own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years. I did not cease to admonish each one with tears and now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified by God be honored in the hearing and the instruction from his word and then as we live it out designed to help you dig deeper into today's topic go to insight.more. And now, let's continue Chuck Swindoll's message titled the church on a long drift. The reality of erosion is not new, but neither is it temporary it is here to stay. It is as old as time is impacted our universe around us as well as organizations about us. Organizations erode schools erode families erode scholars use the word entropy is the steady degradation and disintegration of a system or a society or nation put in popular terms.
It is a proven fact that things go from pristine and pure to strong and good to weak and poor. Too bad and worse erosion. So subtle, silent, never with a lot of announcement and often without many people, even knowing it's happened. Historian Edward Gibbon spent almost 20 years of his life writing his magnum opus. Toward the end of the 18th century. He left in his legacy. The decline and fall of the Roman Empire to words in the title reveal erosion decline and fall, I read in the last several weeks that the average age of the world's greatest nation from the beginning of history has been about 200 use those nations always regress through the following cycle. Think of a circle and started the bottom. Those nations went from bondage to spiritual faith from spiritual faith to great courage from courage to liberty from liberty to abundance from abundance to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence and from dependence right back into bondage same old entropy cycle. What can happen in a universe in a nation in an organization can happen in a church.
In fact, it is happening. Seven.
I've been friends for over 20 years with a wonderful man. We have come to know and love. Well, he's a man a little beyond middle-aged was a physician lives in another state, therefore, goes to another church, but we stayed in touch with him through our Insight for living ministry in as a result we dialogue with him from time to time be sent me a very moving letter recently so apropos. I asked for permission to read excerpts from it to you today.
I've deleted the names and places for obvious reasons. He begins Chuck I just finished listening to your sermon last month on worship commitment, not a war. It hit me like a cup of cold water for a law firm am lost wandering in the desert.
I believe this is the most important message to the church.
I listen to in the last 20 years. Absolutely everything you talked about has been happening in our church gradually. By the way, that's an erosion word gradually over these last 20 years I joined our church 26 years ago in the most fruitful days of our former pastors ministry. It was an exciting time of church growth personal spiritual growth fueled by his expository preaching. Toward the end of the 1980s, I began to notice a change. We began to take our cues from other large churches like any names and we sent delegations of our pastors to study their methods and the emphasis change to hear from preaching to believers to talking to seekers. The unapologetic preaching style of our pastor that convicted me of many failings in my spiritual life now gave way to a watered-down style tailored to the needs of seekers.
I'm very grateful for the truth from God's word that he taught me, but near the end of his ministry.
I look forward to his replacement.
I was eager to digest more substantial spiritual teaching. Anticipating the new pastor would have the same fireman's belly. Our pastor had when I first joined the church. I believe the church would benefit from that change. It is been three years now since our new pastor replaced him.
Although he is an accomplished public speaker and I'm sure has a heart for God. Unfortunately he's taken this even further down the path. Those are erosion word down the path of modern style of worship that you described in your message.
Gone is expository preaching sermon that says you described are all too common here parenthesis. Today's sermon lasted 12 minutes. Their plans now to renovate the whole worship center we will in even be covering over the pipes of the organ quote so it doesn't look so much like a church music grows more and more superficial.
The choir that was once over 500 strong has trouble finding 125 on most Sunday mornings is as nice things and then I close with your permission, I would like to send a copy of the sermon you preached on worship to our present pastor, I thought about that and gave them permission.
Perhaps you could also send about five copies of the CDs because there are others I know who need to hear this. God bless you for your courage and faithfulness in preaching the word. The reality of erosion is nothing new. It's upon us. I looked at the faces of 80 or more pastors and wives during the last conference I was at the small room where we were sort of packed in there and able to get close with one another and I heard their stories tragic stories I came to realize that we are now experiencing ecclesiastical erosion and its reached epidemic proportions in light of this, I decided to face it head on. The last thing I want to leave in your mind is any foolish impression that I believe are the only place that has it right. That would be pride beyond description by the grace of God were able to do what we do and keep doing it for his glory.
This is not in any way meant to sound self-serving but my great hope for those 80 men and women was that they might know the joy that's mine. Week after week after week after week of serious study and research of the Scriptures, a congregation that loves strong preaching biblical exhortation and scriptural application how you want satisfied with anything less. Nor should you ever be some of the men looked at me with longing eyes I think I could have expanded our staff by 40 men that day.
When we talked about what goes on at stone briar but I added it hasn't come without a price. What you don't know is whatever the truth is declared a price is paid behind the scene what you don't know, are the attacks the enemy attacked the adversarial attack the things that go on that would drastically detract from our calling in our work. The work of our whole staff of fine staff committed women, men and women who love what we do, this church has it just happened. Grace of God is been at work in your presence has added its own benediction, but God's spirit is upon us and we all want to hold it very loosely, but not so loosely that we become responsible, complacent, apathetic this past week. It occurred to me that there was a classic case in point right from the New Testament where we can watch erosion taking place you turn in your Bible to acts chapter 18 will see this example in the place called the church at Ephesus for the first 17 verses, Paul is in ancient Corinth and that's a story unto itself where he spends some two years or so, pouring his life into the lives of those young believers in the fast rapid moving wicked city of Corinth God pleasing to go across the a GMC to the land we know today as Turkey called in those days Asia. When he arrives he comes.
Not surprisingly, to the busy metropolis of Ephesus we read of the journey in verse 18 of acts 18. Paul, having remained many days longer meaning in Corinth took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria and with him.
Please note were Priscilla and Tukwila. He is living with this couple for the years he has been in Corinth. He has poured himself into their lives. We would call it mental ring. He has built a theology in their thinking. He has equipped them to carry on, either in his presence or absence. And so, not surprisingly, verse 19 he leaves them in Ephesus as he moves on to Antioch that came to Ephesus. He left them there. Now he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews, the original term means dialogue so he goes into the synagogue any dialogues with these people. He's never known before. In the city of Ephesus in the synagogue were Jews assembled. They've not heard of Christ. They've not heard of the resurrection they know nothing about Holy Spirit. He dialogues with them for a period of time, albeit brief and they wanted to stay longer. Verse 20, but he doesn't he doesn't consent he leaves them in. Says I will return again if God wills, and he set sail from Ephesus. The next column will take you to chapter 19 verse one. Picking up a story.
He has gone to Antioch.
Given his report now returns into what we call Turkey or Asia comes down from the north and comes back to that city that he briefly visited verse one Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus and he found some disciples drop down to verse seven there were in all, about 12 men. So we find a small group of disciples that Tukwila and Priscilla have no doubt built their lives into spend time with them and they're underway in the faith, and Paul decides to carry on in the place where you have left all the synagogue in Ephesus. We read of it in verse eight he entered the synagogue and continue speaking out boldly for three months. Three months is again dialoguing and persuading them about the kingdom of God. Once again he's telling them of the Savior.
They're talking about the cross, or at least he is. He's listening to their questions. He's answering them, and there's a back-and-forth give-and-take just like one would do in any Jewish synagogue today. Very unusual, very unique and resisted by the majority. We read of that in verse nine. Some were becoming hardened. Don't miss that summer becoming hardened and disobedient speaking evil of the way in those days Christians were called followers of the way, meaning the way of Jesus and these people in that assembly that synagogue are hardened toward the message disobedient toward the things Paul was teaching and therefore they are speaking evil of the way before the people. So there there saying to people. This is not something we want to believe this is not something were open to were not going to allow this to be said in our synagogue motors. Paul's response, he withdrew from them, meaning he left the synagogue and he took away the disciples those of the followers of the way those are the believers and he moved over and reasoned daily in the school of Tyrannosaurus smile when I read that the Greek word means tyrant. Wonder if his mother named him that our former students that have been studying at the school named him tyrant makes you wonder what, landlord he was but anyway like our church. It gets us started in the school and he has the freedom to teach daily, I take it for hours on end as he declares the great news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He begins to take them through the scrolls of the Old Testament, he finishes the message regarding the Holy Spirit and what God is doing. He preaches the whole counsel of God, and the result is from the verse 10. This took place for two years so that all who live in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and critics is an amazing thing. There was no need for a demographic study to be made in order to start a church there was no need for there to be a promotion and advertisement and all neighborhood canvassing, letting everybody know the great preacher of the decade is available at such and such a school. None of that. There was no fleshly method for enlarging growth. There was no manipulative technique to get people to keep coming and to give their money you read none of that you read none of that. The Bible simply says as only it can say it in the most succinct terms. He came, he taught he held forth. He was consistently reliable to deliver the goods and as a result the message spread.
I said those things earlier with tongue-in-cheek is nothing wrong with some of that. You understand, but when that becomes the tail wagging the dog.
The church is off course that's not what ministry is about people get the word that God's truth is being taught. As I've said for years sheep, where there is good food. As a result, people came, they heard and even some who couldn't come down to Ephesus all over the country of Turkey. Check it out. It's a vast region all over Asia. They began to hear it and God was performing miracles and doing a remarkable remarkable thing know you might be tempted to think that how wonderful was led like a downhill slide way way always know this, and I quote from William Barclay where truth is taught falsehood ever attacks behind-the-scenes a price was being paid in this case to start with. There was spiritual warfare it's mentioned in verses 13 to 19. Remember, remember, now the church is going on. The church in Ephesus, founded well taught, but during the process of this period of time.
The enemy attacks. Not only is he strong. In fact, supernatural empower not only is he insidious. He is invisible and he works for demon in this case we have some self-appointed exorcists to come on the scene, and they're going to do the work of deliverance, not from the Lord himself, but from the enemy. Verse 13 some of the Jewish exorcists who went from place to place, so their itinerant exorcists attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits. The name of the Lord Jesus saying Adria by Jesus whom Paul preaches there were seven sons of Skiba, a Jewish tea priest were doing were doing this, the evil spirit. Please observe this answer. The evil spirit answered and said to them I recognize Jesus, don't ever wonder if the demons know Jesus. Don't ever wonder if they don't know that he died for the sins of the world known everything the demons are ill-informed. They are brilliant. Their strategy is from the one who was the ark and who was the angel of God it one time Lucifer, son of the morning strategy is is empowered by him. They know Jesus. In fact, they say, but he says I know about Paul but who are you and the going to deal with. Is this what overpowers him. Please observe verse 18. Many also of those who had believed Coming confessing and disclosing their practices. God was at work so the word of God continues to grow, repeating the quote check site moments ago where truth is taught falsehood ever attacks and that's certainly a wake-up call. As we strive to protect the bride of Christ you're listening to Insight for living in the Bible teaching pastor and author Chuck Swindoll.
He's titled today's message the church on a long drift it's message number eight in a nine part series titled the church awakening to learn more about Chuck Swindoll in this ministry.
Visit us firstname.lastname@example.org. It's not often that were able to offer a book that dovetails with each series. But today is an exception. Chuck wrote a full-length book that was inspired by her current study. It's also called the church awakening as a follower of Jesus. This book will help you find the right church, strengthen your current church and guard against the gimmicks that degrade the bride of Christ. Once you're finished reading this book you want to share with your pastor as well to purchase a copy of the church awakening go to Insight.org/office or call us if you're listening in the United States called 800-772-8888 that Insight for living were pleased to receive notes, letters and phone calls from friends who affirmed the value of this daily program might be encouraged to hear this one. It said I'm a pastor in southern Texas. I'm 70 years old but going strong. Preachers need to have a preacher to an Chuck is my preacher Insight for living brings me daily inspiration, accountability, and instruction in God's word. Thank you and God bless you is not great when we inspire the pastor of a local church were impacting all the people who attend that church as well and when you give a contribution to Insight for living you're making these moments possible to give a donation now call us if you're listening in the United States called 800-772-8880 to give a donation online. Visit Insight.org/crew ships leave the harbor for Alaska all the time, but there's only one that's hosted by Insight for living ministry, you're invited to travel with Chuck Swindoll this summer. Every moment of your vacation is thoughtfully prepared and protected so that you can enjoy the perfect balance of rest adventure relaxation, sightseeing just playing on all of the company of those who share your respect for God's word and God's creation may vary by the mountain of my life. Quite the point. All my life I wanted to see English when I stepped out on the deck of our ship and witnessed the massive wall of ice. How it was truly breathtaking escape with Insight for living ministries to the great frontier.
July 1 through July 2023: 1-888-447-0440. That's 188-847-0444 or learn more Insight.org/events the tort of Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend my Bill Meyer inviting you to listen when Chuck Swindoll describes what he calls the church on a long drift tomorrow on Insight for living.
The preceding message the church on a long drift is not read it in 2008 and 2010 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2010 by Charles R. Swindoll. All rights reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited