Devolution

Posted on 04/18/2010 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


Public Prayer Requests:


"please pray for owen and dee to get back together as a family and have a good life together. and to be in love always. And that court will turn out great"
   -owen

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Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.

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POWER IN THE BLOOD

Would you be free from the burden of sin?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood;
Would you over evil a victory win?
There's wonderful power in the blood.

Would you be free from your passion and pride?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood;
Come for a cleansing to Calvary's tide;
There's wonderful power in the blood.

Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood;
Sin stains are lost in its life giving flow.
There's wonderful power in the blood.

Would you do service for Jesus your King?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood;
Would you live daily His praises to sing?
There's wonderful power in the blood.

There is power, power, wonder working power
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is power, power, wonder working power
In the precious blood of the Lamb.


TAKE A LITTLE TIME

Thank you,  Lord,
I   just want to thank you,
I   just want to thank You;
(repeat)

I just want to take,
    take a little time right now
to say thank you, Lord
for all you've done for me.
(repeat)


I SEE THE LORD

I see the Lord seated on the throne, exalted
And the train of His robe
Fills the temple with glory
And the whole earth is filled
The whole earth is filled
And the whole earth is filled
With His glory

Chorus

Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord
Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord

Verse

Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord


*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***


Last week, we talked about our "frame of reference," and how the position from which we see things in life radically changes our conclusions and our beliefs. You may have already noticed that the whole world seems to have taken the frame of reference on life that we are all evolving, not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well.

From this frame of reference, it suddenly starts to make sense that morality and religion would evolve as well. The Bible could, in that case, become obsolete, as it was written for people on a "lower spiritual evolutionary scale."

Today, I'd like for us to take a look at this issue, and consider a word I thought I coined until I looked it up, and that word is "Devolution."

The wikipedia states that this word refers to "the statutory granting of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to government at a subnational level." However, when we talk about "devolution" today, I'm not talking about this, but rather about the opposite of "evolution" -- or, "De-Evolution." Or perhaps, "Devil-Lution."

At any rate, let's begin.


Are we evolving? Either as a species or as a society? It's undeniable that society goes through changes. But as we grow our library of knowledge, and as technology builds on technology, are we getting better?

Are we evolving past the hate, phobia, and violence of our ancestors? And are we therefore evolving past our carnal, sinful nature?

While we could look at countless examples of modern-day humanity that could very well answer that question for most of us here, let's open up the Word of God and see not only the past and the present, but the future condition of humanity.

In the book of Revelation, chapters two and three, Jesus dictates letters for John to pen to the seven churches. These churches can be summed up as follows:

1. The Loveless Church
2. The Persecuted Church
3. The Compromising Church
4. The Corrupt Church
5. The Dead Church
6. The Faithful Church
7. The Lukewarm Church

Of course we know the Church is made up of people. You and I are part of the Church. The people down the road at First Church of the Such-and-So are part of the Church. Do we see any churches today that fall into any of those categories?

Do we see any churches lacking love? Well, consider the Westboro Baptist Church led by Fred Phelps, who recently showed up at the funeral of a U.S. Marine killed in Iraq. The Marine happened to live a homosexual lifestyle. The church group carried signs saying things such as "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," You're Going to Hell," "God Hates You," "God is Your Enemy," "Not Blessed, Just Cursed," "God Hates America," and shouting things such as "You can't wave enough flags to bring that boy back!" They even held up a sign which depicted two men having anal sex.

When interviewed, the pastor made the comment, "Look, you're partly to blame for him being dead, woman." And guess what... The Court ended up ordering the father of the dead Marine to pay the pastor $16,000 dollars! I bet THAT man will be drawn to repentance by the obvious goodness of God.

The church said they will use that money to pay for even more protests.

Now I'm not talking about saying homosexuality is okay. Excusing ANY sin is not true love. But this church's hateful statements were anything but love. Before the funeral, the church published a letter with the Marine's photo, a picture of a military coffin, and the words "Burial of an ass."

I think at least most if not all of us would agree the Westboro Baptist Church would fit into the first category, The Loveless Church. Now, Revelation chapter two is talking about the Church leaving their first love. It's not speaking about not showing love to others. However, isn't the first love of the Church supposed to be to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves?

So that church has most certainly abandoned the first love of the Church of Jesus Christ, which includes showing God's love to the world around us.

And they are not alone. While most churches today wouldn't do something like that, and many would condemn their actions, The Loveless Church has not evolved one tiny bit. If anything, they have DEvolved.


So we know that The Loveless Church is still around. How about The Persecuted Church?

Most of you have heard of The Voice of the Martyrs and similar organizations who focus on The Persecuted Church. Are things getting better? Has the human race started to evolve past the persecution of the Church?

Looking at how many countries allow or even support silencing, torturing, or even murdering Christians, it seems rather doubtful. In fact, as we sit here this morning, people around the globe are working hard to bring about the one-world government the Bible says is coming. And true born-again Bible-believing Christians will be seen as its greatest enemy.

After all, we keep saying man is sinful, wicked and depraved, and on his way to hell. We keep saying his only hope is not in the path of his own choosing, but in Jesus Christ and in submission to his lordship in our lives.

And after all, we will refuse to take the mark of the beast and pledge allegiance to the one-world government and the human godhood it represents.

Just look around you. Aren't things heating up already? If you don't compromise what the Bible says, you're being labeled by more and more people, even many people in the Church, as a narrow-minded, ignorant, hateful relic of the dead past.

So no, we have not evolved past the point of having a Persecuted Church. If anything, we have DEvoled. We have gotten and will continue to get worse.


Next, Revelation talks about The Compromising Church. In Revelation 2:14 and 15, Jesus says this:

Revelation 2:14-15 (NKJV)

14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

What is the doctrine of Balaam? Well, to pack it into a very small nut shell, it included spiritual fornication by allowing pagan ideas into the teachings of the church. That included sexual immorality, which was just one major symptom of the underlying problem of compromise.

The doctrine of the Nicolaitans had many similarities with that of Balaam, as well as many differences. We're not going to go into those today, because they would lead us dreadfully off topic. But the overlying theme of these two false doctrines is compromise.

Just 50 years ago, how many churches taught that homosexuality was okay? Such as church would be very hard to find. Today, they abound. Chances are, even before this service is over, I will have received several attacks either in public or in private, saying I'm hateful and intollerant for suggesting homosexuality is a sin.

Have we evolved past The Compromising Church? Or have we DEvolved? You be the judge.


So we still have The Loveless Church, The Persecuted Church, and The Compromising Church.

How about the next one: The Corrupt Church. Is there still corruption in the Church, or have we evolved to a higher level of humanity?

I don't have to say another word for all of us to answer THAT question. Church scandals have become commonplace, from preachers with prostitutes to evangelists and Christian singers having multiple adulterous affairs, to preists mollesting children.

This is the kind of thing The Compromising Church in Revelation was doing. Jesus mentions Jezebel, a false prophetess, and he mentions the sexual immorality into which she seduced them. The spirit of Jezebel is unfortunately alive and well in the Church today. And she's not always hiding behind a carefully-guarded veils as in the exposed preachers, evangelists, and priests. Instead, she often flaunts herself openly, as in the ordination of openly homosexual Church leaders.

And I keep mentioning homosexuality, because, unlike pedophilia and adultery, it is openly promoted as okay. If some other sexual sin were being so widely and openly promoted as good, we would be talking about those today as well.

This is in addition to all the financial corruption and corruption of every other kind imaginable. Have we evolved past The Corrupt Church? Or have we DEvolved.


Next, Jesus addresses The Dead Church and The Lukewarm Church. And they abound still today. About the Dead Church, Jesus says he has not found their works perfect before God, and tells them to watch and repent. He also echoes this call to repentance by saying there were a few among them who had not defiled their garments.

Whatever happened to God's people who are called by his name, humbling themselves, praying, and turning from their wicked ways? Well, we have evolved past the need to talk about sin. Maybe we have become better human beings than when the Bible was written. Maybe we can just focus on the positive and not worry about the sin issue because, after all, we're guaranteed heaven no matter what we do. Right?

Well, Jesus says in Revelation 3:3, "Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you."

If it doesn't matter whether we sin or we repent, then why would it matter if Jesus comes back when we least expect him? If we're going to ALL be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and live in perfect peace and bliss with him forever, why is he warning us to repent and watch?

The Dead Church is alive and well, pardon the paradox there...

And The Lukewarm Church fits right in there as well. After Jesus warns them that, because they are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, he will vomit them out of his mouth, which seems to fly in the face of "once saved always saved," he says this, in Revelation 3:17-21 (NKJV)

17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked,
18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.


Notice there Jesus says they say they are rich, they have become wealthy, they lack nothing. The Prosperity Gospel has swept through the Church like a hurricane. People have been taught that if they obey God, they will become wealthy. If they give enough, they will have money pouring into their bank accounts.

But they ignore the warning from 1 Timothy 6:6-10 (NKJV) which says this:

6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

What kind of Gospel causes some to stray from the faith? I think we'd all agree that only a false Gospel would lead people away from Jesus. But the Bible tells us here that the love of money, seeking after riches, causes people to fall into temptation and a snare, a trap, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.

Doesn't sound very good, does it? And the love of money, which is a root of all kinds of evil, have caused some to "stray from the faith," as they "pierce themselves through with many sorrows."

The Lukewarm Church said they were rich. Maybe they taught an early version of the Prosperity Gospel. But Jesus said they really were poor, naked, and blind, and they needed to humble themselves and repent, before he vomits them out of his mouth.

What does it mean to be vomited out of Jesus' mouth? Well, we all know verses which talk about being "in" Christ -- those who are "in" Christ are a new creation -- If we abide "in" Christ, what we ask will be given to us -- and so-on. Those who are "in" Christ are his, and they have eternal life. But what happens when he vomits us "out" of his mouth? Well, I dare say we would no longer be "in" him.

So has The Lukewarm Church evolved past their error? Or has it spread over the globe like a world-wide plague? He we "evolved" or "DEvolved?"


But then, Jesus addresses one more church: The Faithful Church.

Notice that the Faithful Church is only 1/7th of the Churches mentioned. They weren't the majority, but the minority.

Let's take a look at what Jesus said to them, and then we'll talk about it a little and then we'll close with a time of prayer and ministry.

Revelation 3:7-13 (NKJV)

7 "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,
'These things says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens:
8 "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie -- indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.
10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.
12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
13 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. I pray we all have ears to hear today, to hear what the Spirit of God is saying.

We like to talk about the door that God opens and no one can shut, and that God shuts and no one can open. But this wasn't written to ALL the churches, but to only the 1/7th -- the Faithful Church. He says, "for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name."

They had and showed the love of God.
They refused to compromise with the world.
They rooted out and would not tollerate corruption.
They were alive, and were abiding in the Vine.
They were on fire for Jesus.
They were faithful, even when persecuted.

And to THEM, Jesus said he has opened a door that no man can shut. And notice what he says in verse ten: "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth."

We prefer to believe we will be raptured before the tribulation. But Jesus did not promise any of the other churches they would be spared the hour of trial that's coming. Now, the persecuted Church may very well be part of the Faithful Church. Persecution certainly reveals our level of faithfulness to God.

But I wonder... After reading this promise specifically to the Faithful Church, I wonder... Will those who are loveless, compromising, corrupt, lukewarm, and dead be raptured before the great tribulation? I don't know about you, but I sure don't want to find out the hard way.

Lord, we surrender ourselves to you... Fill us with your love, help us to refuse to compromise, root out the corruption from our hearts, make us alive, set us on fire for you, and teach us to be faithful even in the face of great persecution.


I'd like the ministry team to come stand at the front now.


And the invitation today is simple. Do you want to be more faithful? Do you want to be a person who exudes Godly love? A person who refuses to compromise with the flesh or the world? A person of character and integrity, who is alive and growing, and on fire for God in a world that is desperately in need of a Savior?

If that's you, or if you want to ask God to increase those desires in you, then you're all invited to get out of your seats and come gather at the front for a time of prayer and ministry.

We'll be happy to pray with you, just instant message me or something else on the ministry team.

When you need to leave, you're free to do so. If you can stay until after this time at the altar, stick around and join us in the room to your left for a time of fellowship.

Lord, thank you again for your Word, and for speaking to us today. Meet with each one of us as we seek you now, and may we leave this place with a new sense of purpose and direction. And we ask these things in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.