* God does have a church today. A living growing loving church. I firmly believe that the Seventh-day Adventist church is God's true church. Of course, God has people in every church that will be saved, but this people are the closest people to the truth of the Bible of any anywhere.
Revelation 12 describes God's last day church: Verse 17 - "Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off the make war against the rest of her offspring (the remnant)-- those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And Revelation 19:10 says that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
You put this together, I believe this describes the Seventh-day Adventist movement. I am sure it does. What other church believes or even professes to believe in all 10 of the commandments including the fourth one about the seventh day Sabbath? What other church even believes in the gift of prophecy in Revelation 19:10. What church puts BOTH of these together? Only the Seventh-day Adventist church.
To get the first half a million members took 92 years from our founding. To get the last half a million members took 1 year. That is phenomenal.
In 1995 there was a brand new Seventh-day Adventist church in the world every 6.2 hours. In 1996, just last year, there was a brand new Seventh-day Adventist church constructed every 4.33 hours! Now you think about the difference between those two dates. That's a phenomenal difference! Every four and a third hours there's a brand new SDA church pops up somewhere.
God has a church. God is leading His church God is blessing His church abundantly. God's church is growing.
Many churches measure their active growth by attendance, and they say that we have so many active members, and I was just reading on the Web last night that much of the criteria is: if they attended once during the year they were considered an active member, or if they gave one offering during the year they are considered an active member. Ah! That would be something to say that 70% of the people are unchurched is a vast statement. I believe that God's church ought to be full. Many churches today are about empty. It is said the church cannot compete against TV and the things the world has to offer. But actually we are not in business to compete against the world. We only have one reason to be here and that is to uphold Jesus, the truth of His word, and His beautiful salvation through righteousness, His righteousness.
The fastest growing churches today are not the liberal churches. The churches that grow the fastest are the most conservative Bible based churches. We don't need to bring the theater into our church. What we need to do is bring Jesus into the pulpit and into our hearts. We don't need to water down our doctrines, we need to water our soul with Jesus the water of life.
The heart of the gospel of Matthew makes a statement about worship. Matthew 15:9 (KJV) "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." In many churches a social gospel is being taught. And that is wrong. We must hold to the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. When we leave the sure word of God we follow the teachings of men. I want this church to stay conservative in its belief and its behavior. Let's not bring the world into our church here.
10 years ago this church, McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church, had 450 members. Today we have grown to 686 members, and still growing.
Let me show you something. I have a little baptismal book I use for children's baptismal classes and Bible studies out of this book. I sometimes use it for adults, too. On the back of this book are the names of all the children I have studied with: your children that I personally have given studies to over these 10 years. Each child received their studies in their home; a series of 8 or 10 Bible studies. I tell you that is a wonderful privilege for a pastor to go into the home and sit down with a young person and give a Bible study. Each person is valuable to Jesus.
But, the measure of a great church is not how many people are attend on a Sabbath morning, but what is going on in the church when these buildings are closed. A church is not a building. The church is people. Religion does not stop after the closing hymn.
"Where is the church at 9:15 on Tuesday morning?" The church then is at the doctors office, it's at the dentist's: getting it's teeth cleaned. It's in the automobile repair shop, and on the assembly line. It's in the hospital, in the classroom, and in the home. It's in the office; McKee Foods, real estate, or credit union. It's dealing with these sales people who call you on the phone. We are exemplifying Jesus Christ wherever God's people are. The church is out there on Tuesday morning honoring God in their daily actions and not just while they worship in a building. That's the sign of a great church. Living the Christian life in their home and in their family and wherever they go.
A Christian church is a body, a collection of persons, voluntarily associated together, professing to believe what Christ teaches, to do what Christ enjoins, to imitate his example, cherish his spirit, and make known his gospel to others.
"Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation," (1 Peter 2:2 NIV) How do we grow up in salvation? By craving spiritual milk, the Word of God. This is how we grow: We connect ourself with the source of strength that is the Word of God. God wants us to grow in to salvation. The SDA church is growing at a rate of 5.49% every year. There is now one SDA for every 621 people world wide. With God Quantity is not the most important thing.
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." (2 Peter 3:18 NIV)
I wonder if God measured the McDonald Road church, what He would measure. Would He measure our expansion that we have just completed? I wonder if He would do something like this:
I'm not really reading from God's list, but I think those thing might just be on His list.
Since arriving at the McDonald Church, we have grown. And I want you to know that I have grown. This church has been good for me personally. It seems that over these years I have gotten a total grasp of what Righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ really means. A whole new meaning has come into my life. A new fervor for God. A warm sense of assurance that Jesus is my Savior has permeated my life. A deep hatred of sin has only gotten stronger. My love for God has grown stronger being here in this church. I love this church.
Ephesians 4:11, 12 God gives us different gifts. God gives His church a special name. "He gave some....as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the Saints for the work of service to the building up of the body of Christ." That's the job description of a pastor. My job description is not to go down to Georgia Cumberland Academy and work at a work bee, even though the conference thinks that it is. And I don't mind going down there. We had a great time this week installing doors in the dormitory rooms. My job description is not to just preach sermons to you from this pulpit. My job description is to equip the saints for the service of building up the body of Jesus Christ, and His church is His body.
Coming here in 1987, I brought a sense of the immanence of the coming of Jesus Christ in my preaching. I still believe that. Today I know we are 10 years closer to that blessed event. I believe Jesus is coming soon. It can't be long now till Jesus comes to take us all home. I don't want us to ever forget that focus. Today, I know that it wouldn't be long and Jesus could come. I want to continue to be a committed pastor here, to continue to build you into what Jesus would have you to be. I want to continue to be a spiritual example and leader to each of you dear folk.
They told pastors, "If you can't stand the smell of sheep, you shouldn't be a shepherd." I want to do a better job and be a better shepherd. We try to visit you. We have a visitation team comprised of Hugo Christianson, Margaret Halverson, Delmar Anderson, Kent Crutcher and myself. And we're hoping to add one more person to that team. We try hard to visit in every home. We want to care for you as a pastoral staff. Sometimes we fail. Sometimes we don't get to your home when we ought to. You don't have a perfect pastor. Maybe the associate pastor is perfect. But this one isn't.
A minister habitually told his congregation that if they needed a pastoral visit to just drop a note in the offering plate and he would contact them and make a visit. One day after the services he discovered one of the deacons handed him a note a note that was in the offering plate. It said, "I am one of your loneliest members and I am one of your heaviest contributors. May I have a visit with you tomorrow evening?" It was signed by his wife. You know, it's hard to balance the obligations and duties between home family and church family. It has been difficult sometimes. I was here last night until 7:30 or 8:00. It has been a busy time. But it has been a good time.
It was claimed for Augustus Caesar, and this month is named for Augustus Caesar. You know, July was named for Julius Caesar, and he got 31 days, and so Augustus said that he was just as important, he wanted 31 days in his month, so that's why we have two months with 31 days next to each other. (It might be noted that September really means seventh month, October: eighth month; November: ninth month and December: tenth month. Julius and Augustus wanted their months in the middle of the year so they shoved the rest till later.) It was claimed for that man that when he came to Rome he found a city of wood, and when he left it, he left it a city of marble. The pastor who succeeds in changing his people from a prayerless to a prayerful people has done a greater work than did Augustus. I am here to be an instrument in the hands of Jesus to make marble for heaven at McDonald Road.
As I begin my 11th year here my goal is to introduce everyone you to the lovely JESUS in all that I do. I want you to see Him in every sermon. I want us to grow together to be more like Jesus. I want us to be ready and stay ready and get others ready for Jesus to come. I want to emphasize Jesus, His coming, His character, His righteousness.
I wish this church could sponsor a Maranatha-type program to actually build a church or chapel in another country and send enough McDonald Road members to put it up. We could do it. Then we would sponsor that church till it got strong. I wish we could utilize our family center now to involve our community. We're doing a great job for our church, but we need to involve more of the community. I wish we could invite former Adventists to our activities and through friendship and love win them back.
I wish this fall when Doug Bachelor conducts his satellite TV series that every family in this church make it their personal goal to invite some unsaved friends or neighbors to their house to watch it together. We could watch the program with them and answer their questions, invite them to church, and eventually add them to God's family.
I wish we were all in heaven. Jesus makes an amazing promise in Revelation 22:15, 16. It's about the great city of God. It says: "Outside of that city are the dogs (sexual perverts), those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral and murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." They're dead. They are not alive outside of that city. But what's on the inside? God's people. Verse 12 - "Behold I am coming soon! My reward is with Me. I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go in through the gates into the city." That is my goal. I want to be there. When the roll is called up yonder, do you want to be there? I want to be in heaven. I want to walk through those gates. I want to see the tree of life. I want to taste of that fruit. I want to see Jesus and be there with Him. I want you to be there. We can all be there.
Then he asked that they all stand at the same time, and he prayed for each one. This was very impressive as the whole congregation was able to stand together and not single any group out but that we were all together.
Opening Hymn- 240 Fairest Lord Jesus Scripture--------- Revelation 22:12-15 Closing Hymn-- 329 Take the World, but give me Jesus! Oh the height and depth of mercy, oh the length and breadth of love. Oh, the fullness of redemption, pledge of endless life above.
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last updated 2/3/98 by Bob Beckett.