We can say today that our special funds campaign is a success! While there are further goals, we have surpassed our first goal – A Victory Goal of $300,000 in pledges to be paid any time over the next three years. A Challenge Goal of $400,000 and a Hallelujah Goal of $500,000 yet await us.
Why have we been successful in this first leg of our campaign? Several reasons:
We saw the need – (if no need, then no reason!)
We devised a plan – (planned our work and worked our plan)
We set necessary, reasonable, and reachable goals;
We involved a lot of like-minded people;
We used the services of a successful and experienced director;
We under girded everything with prayer;
We have the ultimate goal of honoring our Lord Jesus Christ.
When I was pastor of GWHB in Macon, a man on the best church league softball used to tell me that while we didn’t have the best team in the league, we had the funniest! But I didn’t think it was so funny!! We did have a penchant for snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory and I suppose we looked funny doing it. I don’t like losing! I don’t know how good and gracious a winner I am, but I never learned to be a good loser! I like being around winners – always have and always will. That’s one reason I have enjoyed this special drive – believed from the start “we had a winner!”
And our temporal success in this effort is but an extension of the success our Lord promised so long ago. Note the very strong words he used: “I will build … the gates of hell shall not prevail …” Stated positively and stated negatively, the success of the church is determined by the Lord himself.
Why can we say with such certainty that the Church will always succeed? There are four obvious reasons:
The church will succeed because it has been programmed to succeed!
The church will succeed because it has the Lord’s promise to succeed.
The church will succeed because the Lord gives it the power to succeed.
The church will succeed because we are part of God’s plan for it to succeed.
So the Church will not, shall not, cannot fail! It can succeed. It will succeed. It shall succeed!
I. IT HAS BEEN PROGRAMMED TO SUCCEED!
The hottest player on the professional golf tour is Tiger Woods. The day he turned pro, Nike gave and signed him to a $40 million contract. Just last week at the Asian Open in Thialand, Tiger won the $30,000 first place. What was peculiar was that the total prize money was only $300,000, and Tiger received $480,000 just for showing up!!
THE POINT: Tiger is a huge golf success because from his infancy his dad groomed him, programmed him to be a success … time, money, lessons, the best equipment, and most of all, emotional support and keeping Tiger focused. HE IS A SUCCESS NOW, BUT WHAT WILL HE LOOK LIKE IN 2000 YEARS?? That’s how long the Church has been existent, and “it ain’t over yet!”
THE GREATEST, MOST MIND-BOGGLING SUCCESS STORY OF THE LAST TWO MILLENNIA IS THE CHURCH OF THE LORD JESUS. WHY???
Look at what Jesus did for the church:
He designed it:
to look like a Building, with a foundation, stones, and He being the chief cornerstone;
to look like a Bride – beautiful, charming, clean, pure, and he is the Bridegroom who promised to sanctify it and keep it clean by the Word of God.
to look like a Body – with Himself as its head, and each of us its body-parts (I Corinthians 14, with Ephesians 2, 4)
“He loved it and gave himself for it” – love is always expressed by what is willing to give to the beloved.
Note what the Lord is doing now for his church:
Functioning as its head –
giving life to the body;
giving direction to the body;
giving protection to the body;
giving encouragement to the body;
giving administration to the body.
Constantly building it, replacing its worn out or missing parts (more on this later);
Note what the Lord will do in the future:
Present the Church to himself without spot or wrinkle.
ILLUSTRATION: WHEN EX-PRESIDENT CARTER’S DAUGHTER, AMY, GOT MARRIED, SHE HAD NO ONE GIVE HER AWAY. SHE SAID, SHE DIDN’T BELONG TO ANYONE, SO NO ONE WAS GOING TO GIVE HER AWAY!
Well, the Church belongs to Christ, and shall be presented to him, owned by him, for the entire universe to see!
II. THE CHURCH WILL SUCCEED BECAUSE IT HAS THE LORD’S PROMISE TO SUCCEED!
“… I will build … the gates of hell shall not prevail …” Strong words, indeed! Determined words! A power-packed promise of success!!
A promise based on possession – “… my church”, he said.
It would be unthinkable that HIS church could or would ever fail.
The church, like its head, is both human and divine, and like Jesus, could never by anything but a success.
A promise based on process – “I will build my church …” The verb tense shows continuation, a process always in process and not yet finished.
He thus promises to replace those who quit.
He promises to replace those who leave. (There are those who “went out from us because they were …”)
He promises to replace those who die. “The gates of hell …”
Paul makes an interesting comment in I Corinthians 15:9 about those who are “baptized for the dead.” He is not talking proxy baptism, but that when folks die; there are others who join to take their place. So the Lord is continuing to build his church.
III. THE CHURCH WILL SUCCEED BECAUSE GOD GIVES IT THE POWER TO SUCCEED.
(If it is his church, then he is responsible for providing the resources to assure ongoing success).
He devised the plan – “tithes” and then “offerings”
He provides the financial resources …
When poverty hit the church in Jerusalem the Lord provided financial relief sent by the churches in Macedonia (I Corinthians 16)
When Paul needed to travel with the gospel to distant lands, the church “sent us on our way” – a way of saying the church paid our expenses.
The Philippian church relieved Paul’s physical needs by sending him money – Philippians 4:15-16
He supplies the spiritual leadership – Ephesians 4:11-12 – “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors-teachers for the perfecting of the saints for work of the ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ …” (no commas!)
IV. THE CHURCH WILL SUCCEED BECAUSE WE ARE A PARTY OF GOD’S PLAN FOR ITS SUCCESS!
We are a part when we believe the right things – Peter announced his faith (and defined ours!) when he said, “Thou art the Christ …”
This is the starting point – we cannot be a part of His church unless we begin here at his deity! Deny this and we are already losers!
This is the bedrock of the Church – not Peter, but the truth of Peter’s confession.
We are a part of the success of his church when we engage in the right things – vs. 19 –
This is a solemn responsibility – to think that we may be binding someone for hell, by not using our keys of communication of the gospel. When we don’t tell, others don’t know how to be saved – & hell results.
But it is a marvelous privilege – to think that we hold in our hands and in our mouths the truths that desperate men need to hear that will show them how to get to heaven.
So human beings will either be bound up for hell or bound up for heaven, depending on how faithfully we use our keys! HOW LONG SINCE YOU UNLOCKED SOMEONE FROM THE HOLDING PEN OF HELL AND LOCKED THEM IN THE FLIGHT GATE FOR HEAVEN?
We are a part when we contribute to ministry and participate in ministry.
ILLUSTRATION: Some folks go through life just watching things happen. Some go through life and don’t know what’s happening; and some go through life making things happen!
CONCLUSIONS AND APPLICATIONS:
Do you want to be a winner, to share in the success of the Lord’s church? Here’s how:
If saved, refocus on the things that make for success: Christ programmed for success, gave His promise of success, gives the power and resources, and makes us a part of it … but this is not automatic for the individual Christian … we must decide to be a part of the success of the church. This means we can re-commit!
If not saved, you already are on the failing side! But you don’t have to be! Change sides now. Repent of your sins, believe on the Lord, and be saved. This is the ultimate success story!