Many people have mentioned to me, after visiting our services, that Grace Baptist Temple is different. I take that as a compliment whether it is always meant that way or not. People look at a church from different perspectives. Some view it as a social club where they can meet people and enjoy one another's company. I hope that Grace Baptist will always be a place where people can feel welcome and find new friends, but it isn't a social club. Others look at a church as some sort of welfare society. You would be amazed at the requests I receive almost weekly! One fellow wanted money for a motel room, because he and his wife had argued and he decided to leave her. Many others expect us to pay their rent, utility bills, travel expenses, and a host of other things. Recently a lady stopped by the church one evening after services, her story was that she was on her way back home to Chicago and had no gas. I took her down to the Shell station and she was only able to put about 5 gallons of gas in her tank. Occaisonally, I will help someone like her, who I think has a genuine need. But have never received a thank you or a God bless you from anyone. When I refused to pay one fellows rent, he asked me if I knew where there was a church who cared about people. I asked him where he was attending. He responded, "I'm not interested in that right now." Amazing! We do help those in need, but we are not a welfare agency.
Some view the church as a status symbol. "We belong to the first church." Recently a young person, whose family had been attending here at Grace, told Randy, "We go to a big church now." If you are looking for that kind of status, you won't find it here. The only status that amounts to anything is to be able to hear, "Well done thou good and faithful servant."
Others look at a church as some sort of ego-builder. One lady called for information about the church. She asked about my preaching. She said she wasn't interested in coming to a church where she got yelled at all the time. Some folks want a church that will stroke their ego and tell them how spiritual they are. Paul told Timothy that in the last days "they will not endure sound doctrine". I hope that my messages are an encouragement, and a challenge to live for God!
So what makes Grace Baptist Temple different from other churches? Note: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
I. IT IS DIFFERENT IN IT'S MEMBERSHIP REQUIREMENTS.
A. You must be born again. v3 & 9
1. It involves our faith...
2. It involves our repentance...
3. It is evident in a changed life.
B. You must be Scripturally baptized.
1. This requires a proper candidate: a person who has been born again
a. that eliminates every group that "baptizes" babies
b. that also eliminates every group that makes baptism equal with salvation
2. This also requires a proper authority: a local N.T. Baptist church.
a. authority for baptism does not rest in a man, it rests in the local church.
b. from where does the church receive its authority? cf. Matthew 28:18-20
c. every N.T. baptism since the ministry of Jesus Christ began was under the authority of the local church.
3. This also requires a proper reason: as a public testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ and in obedience to His command.
a. that means it isn't to obtain salvation or complete it
b. it isn't so we may obtain some special blessing or gift
4. This also requires the proper mode: by immersion in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
a. that means sprinkling won't qualify...
b. that means pouring won't qualify...
c. that means in Jesus' name only won't qualify...
C. You must join for the right motive. "... to serve the living and true God..."
1. We are to serve willingly.
2. We are to serve gladly.
3. We are to serve sacrificially.
4. We are to serve others.
5. We are to serve consistently.
6. There is no stopping point to our service.
D. Objections to church membership.
1. Some claim to belong to the "Universal Invisible Church".
a. it has no pastor, deacons, or other officers
b. it never meets for prayer, singing of praises, or to hear the Word of God preached
c. it has no programs of evangelization and sends out no missionaries
d. it doesn't discipline members when they are involved in unrepentant sin
e. there are no offerings, no one ever tithes or gives to faith-promise missions
f. members can do their own thing, be their own pastor, keep their tithes and offerings, and are responsible to noone
2. For those individuals they only want a Pastor or a church when they have someone in the hospital, they need a wedding performed, or they need someone buried.
II. IT IS DIFFERENT BECAUSE OF OUR PREACHING
A. We preach Christ crucified, risen, and coming again. v10
1. Any church that only preaches that Jesus died on the cross isn't preaching the whole Gospel!
2. Of course most churches are of the Arminian theology.
3. They preach a works salvation, and if works will save...works will get us to heaven without a Savior.
B. We preach the Word of God as it is to men as they are.
1. Without apology, we declare that God's Word is true and authoritative in our lives today!
2. That is rare today! And it will get rarer as time goes on.
3. To preach from this old King James Bible is no longer popular.
4. To preach that men will die and spend an eternity in Hell without Christ is just old- fashioned.
5. To preach that we will give an account for what we do and the way we live is just not well- accepted today.
C. We preach personal responsibility to reach this world for Christ.
1. Many churches do not really care if this world goes to hell or not.
2. They are too busy dealing with social issues such as whether or not to have an incinerator nearby...whose fault it is that pcb's are everywhere...or something else that means absolutely nothing in light of eternity.
3. If people die without Christ, and we had opportunity to tell them about His saving power...or we could have sent a missionary to tell them and didn't, their blood will be required at our hands. cf. Ez. 33::8
Conclusion: Yes, there is something different about Grace Baptist Temple. It has been this way for thirty years. Pray that it remains different, for the glory of God!
Tonight, do you need to rededicate yourself to this church and its ministry? Perhaps you are here tonight and you desire to unite with this church. Maybe there is a need in your life tonight that you just need to come and pray about. Whatever the reason, you come as we give the invitation.