An exposition of Revelation 3:7-13. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, July 27, 2008.
Introduction and Outline
A couple of years ago I attended a retreat at Tulakogee. The pastor leading the retreat was from a large church in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Early in the retreat he used the parable of the wedding feast – the one where the invited guests made excuses for why they couldn’t come? The king said, “Go out into the highways and the hedges and compel them to come in?” The speaker then said, “Our job is to make sure all the seats are filled at the table.” Now that is a fairly safe thing to say – no one is going to argue with that saying, “No – we don’t want to reach anyone with the Gospel.” Every believer would agree that we are to preach the Gospel and win people to faith in Christ. The problem was where the attention went from there. The rest of the time was spent talking about leadership and casting a vision and management structure etc. I believe there is a place for all of that. But an entire movement has arisen within the church – the “church growth movement.” The movement asks a lot of the right questions – “What makes a church grow?” “What keeps a church from growing?” “How do you get a church off the plateau?” Those are legitimate issues and questions worth answering. The problem comes with the method or approach in answering the questions. My concern is that perhaps in focusing on questionnaires, market analysis and finding out what the customer wants we’ve lost sight of the Lord of the church.
We’ve forgotten that the ultimate aim of the church is to be pleasing to the Lord. There is nothing wrong with meeting people at the point of their need and bringing them the Gospel. There is nothing wrong with understanding the world in which we live and couching the Gospel in terms that can be understood and applied. My concern is our focus. What is our reference point? What is our aim? Is our focus evangelism? Missions? Worship? Community involvement? We are to do these things – but our focus is Christ! We are the bride of Christ and our focus is to be our husband – Christ himself. What matters is whether we are pleasing to him. If we are – these other things will be what they ought to be. The issue isn’t size – it is heart. It is not strength it is character. Consider the words of the Lord of the church to the church at Philadelphia.
I’m convinced if we want to know something about church growth this is a good place to begin. Because here we find our Lord’s strategy for church growth.
The risen Lord promises a glorious future to the church that is faithful and true to Christ.
Three things stand out in this text.
- The church that is faithful and true to Christ is assured an open door (3:7-8). Based on the description in verse 7 – he has the power to back this statement up. What does this open door mean?
a. An open door in to the presence of God. You have unhindered access to me.
b. An open door of opportunity – the door of ministry is wide open.
- The church that is faithful and true to Christ is promised perseverance and deliverance (3:9-10).
- The church that is faithful and true to Christ is guaranteed a glorious reward (3:11-13).
I’m all for church growth – I want to see us reach as many as we can. I would like nothing more than to be overflowing. But what is our aim? Is it growth or the glory of God? Is growth the goal or the byproduct?