THE SPIRITUAL WORK OF THE CHURCH
Intro: For the most part, churches are busy places.
There is much work that we are about most of the time. Much of what we
do is visible. We build buildings. We place signs near the road proclaiming
our existence. We hold evangelistic meetings. We have services 3 times
a week. This church has a Bible Institute. There is much we do that is
visible, or physical in nature. These verses, however, deal with that
part of our work that is spiritual in nature. We have gotten good at doing
the physical, but I fear that we have never learned to do the spiritual.
The events that occurred yesterday in New York and Washington, DC ought
to serve as a challenge to the churches and to all saved people to seek
the face of God for our country, our leaders and our world. Those terrible
acts of terrorism are a call for the churches to return to the spiritual
work that God has called us to do. Let's turn to these verses tonight
for some must needed instructions for carrying out the spiritual work
of the church.
I. V. 1-2a A SPIRITUAL REQUIREMENT
A. The Command - Paul uses the word "exhort".
This word conveys the idea of encouragement, and the tense in which
it is used lets us know that what follows is not a suggestion, but that
it is, in fact, a command. Of course, the command is for God's people
to be engaged in the work of prayer. My friends, we are to be a praying
people! God has promised to hear us and to answer us, Jer. 33:3.
He has promised to move in power in response to the prayer of faith
spoken by His people, James 5:16; Eph. 3:20; Matt. 18:19; John
14:13-14; Matt. 21:22, Etc. How can we not avail ourselves
of the resource of prayer? How can we fail to call on the name of the
One Who has promised to answer in power and glory when we call on Him
in faith? The command is clear! The command is to pray!
B. The Challenge - Paul tells us that we are to pray
"first of all". That is, prayer is to be the
top priority of the church. It is not just to be the filler, thrown
in between songs, or as something to take up a few minutes of time.
No! Prayer is the life's breath of the church! Billy Graham said, "The
three secrets to successful ministry are: prayer, prayer and more prayer."
If we will be all that God wants us to be, then we will be a people
who places a great emphasis on prayer! Let us determine that hear at
Gilead Baptist, we will pray "first of all".
C. The Call - As Paul continues his call to prayer,
he uses four words to describe the total scope of prayer. These four
terms refer to the totality of prayer's reach and potential.
1. Supplications - This refers to prayers focused
on special needs. The idea is that of bringing a deep and intense
burden before the Lord. When we have needs in our own lives, and when
we see needs in the lives of others, we are to be moved by these needs
and we are to bring them to the throne of grace, Heb. 4:16.
2. Prayers - This word calls to mind those times
we set aside to come into the Lord's presence to worship Him and just
to spend time at His feet. Every believer must have that time when
we go before the Lord, without distraction, without hurry and we just
spend time loving Him. Public prayer is no substitute for personal,
3. Intercessions - This refers to bold praying on
behalf of others. Jesus is our intercessor, 1 Tim. 2:5.
He stands in the gap between un and the Father and boldly prays for
us, Heb. 7:25. We are to carry out the same ministry
on behalf of others. The main idea in these verse is that of making
intercession for those who do not know the Lord. We are to stand in
the gap for them, praying for God to convict them and save them by
4. Giving of Thanks - No prayer is complete until
we spend some of that time thanking God. We are to thank Him for that
which He has already done, such as salvation, blessings, answered
prayers, etc. We should thank Him for the fact that He is hearing
us as we pray. We should thank Him for those things that He is yet
to do! You see, as we pray, we are to pray in faith, believing that
the things we are asking God to do are already done, even though we
can't see them at the present time. That is the very essence of faith,
D. The Compass - This refers to the scope of our
praying. Who are we to pray for? Paul makes it clear that we are to
pray for "all men". There is no one in the
world who should be beyond the prayers of God's people! Paul specifically
mentions those who are in places of authority. As we pray for our family,
friends and neighbors, let us not forget to pray for our leaders. They
need the wisdom of God to be able to carry out their offices. (Note:
When Paul wrote these words, a man named Nero was the Emperor of Rome.
He was a wicked man who even had his own mother and brothers executed
to secure his throne. He took Christians, dipped their bodies in wax
and set them on fire, using the light to light his dinner parties. He
was a wicked man!) There is a message in this for the church tonight!
Even when we do not agree with the policies of the people who lead us,
we should still pray for them. Regardless of how wicked they may be,
their work should be bathed in the prayers of God's saints. I firmly
believe that God intervenes in the affairs of men. He can overrule a
wicked leader. He can impress a wicked leader to make godly decisions!
We need to pray for those in power, especially right now. There are
many serious and far reaching decisions that must be made by the leaders
of our country. Let us make supplication and intercession for them at
the throne of grace!
I. A Spiritual Requirement II. V. 2b A SPIRITUAL
A. It Leads To A Peaceful Life - One of the reasons
we are to pray for those in authority is that we might live lives free
from persecution and governmental intervention. Regardless of what the
world may think, the church does not want to govern America. We just
want the freedom to live peaceful and quiet lives to the glory of God.
Paul indicates that our prayers for those in authority is a means to
accomplish this end.
B. It Leads To A Powerful Life - As we are allowed
to live out our faith, we are given the opportunity to let our lights
shine. This is God's will for His church, Matt. 5:13-16.
This is the reason we should pray for our leaders. Our freedoms must
be protected at all costs! We should diligently seek to guard the liberties
we have as believers. May we never take for granted out right to assemble,
free from the influence of the government. May we never forget that
millions of Christians are forced to meet in basements and caves because
they are not free to go to a church and publically declare their faith
in Jesus Christ. May we never forget that hundreds of thousands of Christians
all around the world will die this year, simply because they are saved
by grace. In America, we are free to worship as we are led by our consciences.
We are free to follow the teachings of the Bible, just as the Jew is
free to follow the Torah, the Muslim to follow the Koran, the Mormon
the Book of Mormon, etc. We are free to let our light shine for the
glory of God. Let us not waste that freedom by hiding our light under
a bushel! The terrible events that took place yesterday have raised
many questions in the hearts of our fellow men. We have the answer to
those questions, and His name is Jesus Christ. We have the freedom to
share that answer with them. May we learn to take advantage of the opportunities
we are afforded, Eph. 5:16.
I. A Spiritual Requirement
II. A Spiritual Reason
III. V. 3-4 A SPIRITUAL RESULT (Ill. When we do this,
there will be results. Results that are worth the price of diligence and
worth all the effort we can put into them.)
A. V. 3 The Savior Will Be Exalted - Paul's statement
is clear: a life that is lived for God is a life that honors God. When
prayer is given its proper place, when all men are prayed for, when
peace reigns and when believers are living lives that point men to God,
God is exalted. Here is the simple fact, lives lived God's way honor
Him and He honors lives that honor Him. God is well pleased with those
who pray and who live for His glory.
B. V. 4 The Sinner Will Be Evangelized - when we live
as we should, we become partners with God in the salvation of lost sinners.
God desires all men to be saved, 2 Pet. 3:9. After
all, that is why He sent Jesus to die, Rom. 5:8. As
we pray for them, carry a burden for them, live godly before them and
reach out to them with the message of the cross, we can rest assured
that God has and will do His part to bring them to Himself. God has
already taken the initiative. He sent His Son to provide a means of
salvation for whosoever will believe. He sent His Holy Spirit to bring
conviction to the hearts of the lost, John 16:7-11.
He gives His light to all men who come into the world, John
1:9. He wants them to come and He has taken the necessary steps
to bring men to Himself. Therefore, let us do that which we have been
called to do: pray, walk with God, share the message. God will honor
that and souls will be saved!
Conc: These are terrible times! There are forces arrayed
in our day that are powerful and frightening. We haven't seen the worst
of it all yet! In fat, our nation stands this evening on the brink of
war. Thousands are dead and thousands more are likely to die. Sadly, most
of those thousands who died yesterday probably went to Hell. Most of the
thousands who are likely to die if we go to war will also go to Hell.
If there was ever a time when the church needed to be about the real,
spiritual business of the Lord it is now. There is much we can do as a
church, but nothing is more important or more essential than our doing
the spiritual work God has assigned to us. Do you need to get busy doing
the spiritual work of the Lord?