Look Who Came To Church…And Who Didn’t!

1 Corinthians 6:9


This is a unique and historic day for FBC. It is special for several reasons.

First, we are calling today… “See The Need Sunday.” This is a day for FBC to visibly see the need we have for more worship and educational space.

Second, the activities here are a prelude to what will take place tonight. At 5:30 we will have our Challenge To Build Banquet at the Oxford Civic Center. That time will be a further affirmation of our need to build and how each of us can participate.

T’sition: What are businesses concerned with most? The bottom line. What does a business do if their bottom line does not measure up? They make the necessary changes to improve it… right?

Next question, “Do churches have a way of evaluating their effectiveness?” Yes. In fact there are several ways. One is Sunday School attendance. Another is Giving. A third is numerical growth. A fourth is baptisms. Let’s look at ourselves in these areas. (Don’t fill in your outline yet…)

In one year we have 40 teachers teaching 27 Adult & Youth Sunday school classes every Sunday. Thus God’s Word is taught 1,404 times each year. Add to that an average of 6 Adult Discipleship Training classes that meet 52 nights a year to teach Scripture 312 times. The Word is preached 104 times from this pulpit. So the total number of times God’s Word is formally proclaimed in 1 year is 1,820.

Our average Sunday School attendance is 471. Our resident membership is 901. We have 15 deacons and 4 full time ministerial staff members. This congregation gave $695,738 in Budget offerings ($87,746 in the black), $15,620 to Lottie Moon Foreign Missions offering, & Annie Armstrong $9,802 Home Missions Offering.

Those numbers are pretty impressive aren’t they? What congregation would not be proud of them? But let’s consider the way the Lord Jesus Christ… THE C.E.O. … might look at it…

NOW fill in your outline… It took the preacher delivering 104 sermons; 40 Sunday School teachers teaching 1,404 lessons; 312 Discipleship Training classes; 15 Deacons; 4 ministerial staff members; and $720,800 to win a whopping 17 people to Christ last year! P-A-U-S-E.

Look back over that tally again. Is that an effective use of our resources? While we did have over 40 other additions, that still doesn’t negate that only 17 trusted in Jesus as their Savior!!!

Now, multiply that times the number of churches in Oxford… Alabama… and the nation!

If we were a business, do you think the C.E.O. would be happy? Do you think there would be some restructuring to take place? Should WE be content with that kind of bottom line? Does that sound like revival and awakening in building in our midst? NO… at least not yet!

There are many ways to evaluate all I’ve just said… not the least of which is our involvement in evangelizing the lost. And there are many thing we must do to set the stage for those numbers to improve. I’ll be straight forward with you… we need to get serious about wining the lost to Jesus.

Let me give you some specifics from this morning (S.S. Numbers).

I am tremendously encouraged by your faithfulness and willingness to participate in worship of our God today! And I want to challenge all of us to make this a regular priority in our lives… and not just reserved for special occasions!

However, for the most part, everyone here today has a Christian heritage. These are our own people… those who have already been exposed to Christ and First Baptist. Those God called from the foundation of the world. So now let’s be specific about who was NOT here this morning.

A neighbor you passed on the way to church was not here. One of your co-workers, a struggling single mother, and some of your children’s friends were absent. Someone in your family was not here. And, sadly enough, even some of our own members of FBC weren’t here either…

But let’s not stop there. Let’s take it another step further. There are also alcoholics, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, liars, and swindlers, who live in Oxford, that not only weren’t in God’s House either! They have not been awakened by God to even care about being here! And that should encourage all of us that the fields ARE WHITE TO HARVEST!!

The reason I mentioned those types of individuals is because of 1 Cor 6:9 (Read)…

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you WERE…

A genuine New Testament church will have EX-homosexuals, EX-adulterers, EX-thieves, EX-drunks and many others who have been powerfully saved from sin. And keep in mind that those kind of sinners wear expensive clothes, live in 3,000 sq. ft houses, have $100,000 incomes, and drive $50,000 cars!

Now, what will happen to those people if they die without Christ? Tell me… That’s right, they will go to hell for eternity! That should grieve us! It should concern us that there are people in this city that don’t have love, care, or concern for God!

Who is responsible for telling those people about Jesus? PAUSE   Here’s another question, what if God were to awaken those people? What if God were to give them the faith to believe? What if God were to birth them into His kingdom? And what if they wanted to come to church… HERE?!

As you can see… WE DON’T HAVE ROOM for all our OWN people, much less room for those who may come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior! What are we supposed to do? Tell them to go somewhere else? Turn them away? Not share the Gospel? Ignore the spiritual need of hundreds of people in Oxford? NO!!!

We MUST provide a place for people who WILL trust in Christ to worship, serve, and grow in the faith. That is one reason why we NEED a new sanctuary and educational space. That is why each of us needs to prayerfully consider how to support and encourage the completion of this new building!

Your Sunday School lesson came from 1 Chron 29: 1-9. Let’s read that passage again…

Then King David said to the whole assembly: “My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced. The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the LORD God. 2 With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God-gold for the gold work, silver for the silver, bronze for the bronze, iron for the iron and wood for the wood, as well as onyx for the settings, turquoise, stones of various colors, and all kinds of fine stone and marble-all of these in large quantities. 3 Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple of my God, over and above everything I have provided for this holy temple: 4 three thousand talents of gold (gold of Ophir) and seven thousand talents of refined silver, for the overlaying of the walls of the buildings, 5 for the gold work and the silver work, and for all the work to be done by the craftsmen. Now, who is willing to consecrate himself today to the LORD?” 6 Then the leaders of families, the officers of the tribes of Israel, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of the king’s work gave willingly. 7 They gave toward the work on the temple of God five thousand talents and ten thousand darics of gold, ten thousand talents of silver, eighteen thousand talents of bronze and a hundred thousand talents of iron. 8 Any who had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the temple of the LORD in the custody of Jehiel the Gershonite. 9 The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD. David the king also rejoiced greatly

I have two points to make in this final Sunday morning message about the new building.

The first point is most important, This Building Is For GOD’S Glory!

This building is not about First Baptist Church. It is not about Oxford being wowed by the edifice that can be built. It is not about any deacon, family, any person living or dead, a committee, or the preacher. This building is first, foremost, and only about the Almighty Sovereign LORD GOD!

Five times in nine verses the point was reiterated that their building was all about God. The TRUE Master of the universe, The Alpha and Omega, The First and Last, The Beginning and the End, Jehovah God Almighty!

Now read further in the text about David’s response to the people giving to build to the glory of God… 1 Chron 29:10-13

David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. 12 Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise YOUR GLORIOUS NAME…

Do you get the sense that David and all the people were focusing not on themselves, but God?! They recognized that building for the glory of God transcended them! They counted it an honor to be involved in building God’s Temple!

I’ll guarantee you this. If we are faithful, and God allows us to build for His glory, the first time we are in that building… GOD will be the one magnified! GOD will be praised and worshipped! He alone will be honored, glorified, and adored. Because that building is all about glorifying HIM!

** The second point is this…

Giving Springs From A Heart Right With God. The people gave for one reason… they loved God. They WANTED to give all they could. They were willing to set aside their own needs, desires, and plans for God’s House to be built!

Look at what they did. They gave gold, silver, bronze, iron, and precious stones. They gave ANYTHING they had of value TO GOD for HIS house to be built! They didn’t hold back if it was theirs and they could give it!

And notice HOW they gave. It is described as “giving willingly,” “freely,” and “wholehearted” in “devotion” to the Lord. They weren’t guilted. They weren’t pressured. They weren’t manipulated. They gave because they WANTED to! Because their heart was right with God, THEY GAVE!

The ONLY kind of giving that is rewarded BY God is found in 2 Cor 9:7. Turn there…

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

This congregation is strongly IN FAVOR of building and several have given testimony to their support of this process and the end to which it is progressing.

But what about YOU?

What should YOU give? To answer that question, let me suggest a few things. And this applies not only to this program… but your WHOLE life! Please know that my desire in preaching this message is simply to make you aware of the need. Before God my motivation is NOT to use guilt, pressure, or manipulation. What you give is between you & God. So here we go…

First, Forget The Specifics you’ve heard from everyone.

What God leads you to do will be different from everyone else. So don’t be impressed by or try to out-give anyone.

Second, Seek God Through Prayer.

After a time of worship and confession, get on your knees before GOD and ask Him what HE would have you to give according to James 1:5.

Third, Wait And Listen TO God.

You probably won’t hear an audible voice. It will be more like a thought or an idea. God rarely speaks to an individual believer in earth shattering ways. Instead it is in a still small voice as is found in 1 Kings 19:12 of the King James.

So keep a pen and paper close by. Write it down everything that comes to your mind,. You may think of 10 or 20 different ways to give. Who knows what God may lead you to do? A heart surrendered to God will be open to whatever He leads you to do.

Fourth, Be Obedient.

For a gift to be one that is pleasing to God it must cost us personally. How that is understood is between you and the Lord. Therefore all of us need to consider a statement from King David when we decide what to give or how to minister in God’s Kingdom.

David wanted to build an altar to God so he could sacrifice to the Lord. Araunah wanted to give David the materials he needed. But David refused. Listen to what David said in 1 Chron 21:24…

But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”

The amount is meaningless. When Jesus taught on giving, he didn’t applaud people who gave great sums of money. He commended a lowly widow who gave less than 1 penny in Luke 21:1-4. It was not the amount, but the motivation and condition of the heart Jesus praised!

Therefore, if through prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit, God leads you to give $1.00 a week, you don’t need to hang your head in front of anyone. And if you give $100,000 under God’s leadership, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have given more than anyone else either! That is where the phrase “Not equal gifts, but equal sacrifice” comes from. Each are rewarded EQUALLY by God!

This much I can tell you in conclusion…

1) The purpose for building is to glorify God. 2) Every person who gives should do so as God leads. 3) Everyone who gives cheerfully, regardless of amount, is favored by God. 4) Give in a manner to glorify God!

But most important is your relationship TO God… whether or not you know Christ as your Lord and savior. Where your church home is… the place where God can use you to glorify Him and His holy name.

Is God calling you to His kingdom? Have you surrendered your life to Him? Have you formally joined with a local congregation to put your gifts, talents, and abilities to use FOR Christ? Respond now.. TODAY!

Ron Ethridge

Graduated from Samford University with a B.S. in Accounting, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity, and Beeson Divinity School with a Doctor of Ministry degree. He has served churches as pastor since 1989 in Mississippi and Alabama.
Ron Ethridge

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