The other day I was buying something at a store where the register display was like a computer screen. When the purchase was brought up, there were two amounts listed in dollars and cents. One was in US dollars and the other was in Canadian dollars. The same merchandise but two different amounts. Which was the 'normal' price? Both were! One price was normal for this country's currency; the other was normal for Canada. The word 'normal' is defined as not deviating from a rule or principle. So what is normal depends on the rule or principle to which it is being compared. At times, I have been accused of not being normal. On other occasions, this church is categorized as being different, not your normal church. What is a 'normal' church? To answer that, we have to consider the standard by which it is being compared. We could compare ourselves with all the other churches in our area and come up with an answer. Or we could compare ourselves with all other Baptist churches and get a different answer.
We might even compare ourselves with other independent Baptist churches and come up with still another answer. Each of these comparisons would be different, because the rule or principle of comparison would be changing.
(2 Cor 10:12) "For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." The one rule or principle in this life that doesn't change is God, as revealed to us through His Word. Since He doesn't change and His Word doesn't change, we can determine what is normal for a Christian and what is a normal church. The closer we get to being conformed to the image of Christ, the more we will be accused of being different, out of step, and odd. When people look at us through the eyes of man-made standards, we will always seem strange or abnormal. Let me give you some thoughts on what is normal for a church.
Read: 1 Corinthians 2:9-16
I. We Believe the Bible Is the Inspired Word of God - That is Normal
A. Many Christians Say That They Believe The Bible, Yet They Don't Practice It.
1. Belief must be demonstrated by practice as well as faith.
(James 2:17) "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."
(James 2:20) "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?"
(James 2:26) "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
2. To voice our belief in the Bible and in God without works of demonstration is dead faith.
3. To say that we believe the Bible and not submit to It's authority, is dead faith.
4. To say that we believe God and the Bible and not obey His commands is dead faith.
5. It may be common, but it isn't 'Normal'
B. Jesus Said, "If Ye Love Me Keep My Commandments."
1. Is it normal for a wife or husband to tell their mate that they love them, and then spend all their time with someone else?
2. Why can we think that it is somehow different with God?
3. If we truly love the Lord, we will keep His commandments.
4. For us to do otherwise is abnormal.
C. There are those that teach the Bible is just a good book of principles for us to follow.
1. The debate over whether or not the Ten Commandments should be displayed in government buildings is interesting.
2. I am all for displaying the Word of God, but have you listened to some of the rhetoric?
3. The ICLU says they shouldn't because it is a religious display.
4. Others argue that they aren't religious; they are historical and serve as good principles to follow.
5. I would have to agree with the ICLU on this one…to this extent:
6. The Bible is the Word of God…it is not just a collection of good thoughts and principles that we can choose or not choose to follow!
II. We Have Faith in God - That is Normal
A. Every Christian Should Exhibit Faith.
(Rom 1:17) "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith."
1. God desires for us to live by faith.
2. Faith is simply believing God's Word.
3. It is trusting Him when we don't understand.
4. It is believing Him when we cannot see.
5. God tells us that faith is a necessary part of our everyday life.
6. If a Christian doesn't live by faith, then that is abnormal.
B. Faith Is A By Product Of The Word Of God.
(Rom 10:17) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
1. If faith is lacking, then that means there is lack of the Word of God in our lives.
2. A consistent program of Bible study and instruction in the Word of God will build faith in a Christian.
C. Some Would Say That It Is Crazy To Have Faith In An Unseen God.
1. However, remember what is our rule or principle for normalcy…it is normal to have faith in God.
2. We may not be able to see Him with our eyes, but we can know Him personally.
3. Salvation brings a personal relationship with God.
(1 Pet 1:8) "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:"
4. To know Him is to see Him by faith.
III. We Want To Serve The Lord - That Is Normal
A. The believer serves God out of love, not obligation.
1. Because of His love for us…we desire to express our love for Him.
2. We do that through our obedience to His Word.
(John 14:15) "If ye love me, keep my commandments."
3. It is normal for the believer to desire to serve His heavenly Father.
4. The natural man (or man in his natural state of being spiritually lost) wants to be served, but the child of God wants to serve and please the Lord.
(Gal 4:7) "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."
IV. We Want to Be Around the Lord's People - That Is Normal
A. It is normal for family to desire to get together.
1. This is the time of year for a lot of family reunions and get-togethers.
2. Just yesterday we gathered together at Pat's brother's place.
3. It is a good thing to do that from time to time.
4. Tonight, both my sons and their families are planning to be here, and I can't wait.
5. It is normal for family to want to spend time together.
B. It is normal for believers to desire to come together.
1. This church is my family as well.
2. You are my kind of people.
3. I want to be around you.
4. It is abnormal for a believer NOT to want to come to church and fellowship with one another.
5. Why? Because God warns us about the danger of forsaking the assembly.
6. If it mattered enough for God to include a warning in His Word…then we should take heed to it!
Is there such a thing as a normal church? Yes, as we seek to evaluate what we do with the principles of the Word of God. What about a normal Christian? Yes, but I am afraid there are many who are only 'nominal' Christians. The words sound similar, but 'nominal' means in name only. There are many who seek to be Christian in name, but not in practice. It is normal…
I. To Believe the Bible Is the Word of God
II. To Exercise Faith in God
III. To Faithfully Serve The Lord
IV. To Want to Be Around the Lord's People
Where are we at today? Do we know the Lord as our personal Savior? Or are we Christian in name only? Do we believe God's Word and put it into practice daily? Do we faithfully serve God with our lives? Do we look forward to the times we can assemble together with our church family for worship and praise? Whatever the need this morning, come to the Lord now. Let God make us normal!