Faithlife Sermons

Making-over the Work of the Church

God’s House, a DIY Make-over...  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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When cars made the transition from carbureted to fuel injected, a lot of technicians got out of the business. When I was a technician, I worked on a lot of cars that belonged to former technicians. In almost every case, I heard the same story. Rather than having to go through the process of relearning how the fuel system worked, they chose to simply find something else to do, because they felt that learning to work on fuel injection would be just too difficult.
I first related to these guys when I was given the opportunity to work on a 1956 Willy’s Jeep from the Korean War Jeep. I was nervous, because it was way out of my comfort zone. I had never encountered a system like it before, and I had no manuals to tell me where to start.
However, when I finally got over my nervousness and committed to doing the job, I soon discovered that even though the parts were a little different, the system essentially worked the same. I just had to rely on what I knew about how it worked. I had to stick with the basic fundamentals of the system.
Explanation of the Passage
Setting
In this passage, while Jesus was up on the mountain with His three disciples that made up His inner circle, the other nine disciples were at the base of the mountain where the a crowd had gathered. Apparently, a father had heard about the miracles that Jesus and His disciples were doing, healing the sick, the lame, the blind and deaf, and casting out demons, so brought his son to Jesus to be healed.
To get the complete picture of the situation, you have to read through this passage, as well as and . The Apostles had already been performing miracles sine Jesus commissioned them in . He had sent them throughout the region performing miracles and sharing the good news of the Kingdom. So, since Jesus is still up on the mountain when the father arrived, and no one knew for certain when He will be back, they decided to give it a try.
However, their attempts met with total failure. There was something different about this situation. The Bible does not tell us what exactly was differently, but even Jesus points out that there was something different about this case. No matter how hard they tried, they could not help the young man.
No matter how hard they tried, they could not help the young man.
I can’t imagine how this must have impacted this father, but it is clear that his expectations were shattered. He had come expecting a miracle, but instead received disappointment. So, when Jesus comes down the mountain, and is made aware of the situation, the father asks Jesus to help his son if He can.
Jesus’ response comes across almost as a form of incredulous humor: “If I can?”
The father was experiencing the same problem the disciples had, and it provided an excellent teaching opportunity for the disciples. So, Jesus responds, “Everything is possible to the one who believes.”
So, the father responds, “I believe! Help my unbelief.”
After Jesus cures the young man, the disciples approached Jesus and ask the question every one of us would be asking, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
Jesus’ response is very simple, and it is essential to the question that is at hand today. They had no faith.
The disciples encountered a situation that was different than the ones they had previously encountered. Apparently, this difference was enough to make them doubt whether they could accomplish the tasks that was before them. When they failed, I suspect they probably tried again and again to cast out the demon, but each failure fed their doubt, essentially leaving them completely devoid of any faith that they could succeed in this task.
The point that we gain from examining Mark in
However, as Jesus pointed out in in His discussion with the boy’s father, it’s not a matter of quantity; its a matter of quality. It’s about where your faith is directed. The disciples evidently could not understand why they could not cast out the demon, but that is the heart of the problem. They were working in their strength, not God’s.
The Current Application of the Problem
Today, the Church is facing a similar struggle.
We live in a culture today that is vastly different than the one most people grew up in. Doing ministry in such a culture is very difficult when compared to the past. In previous times, a person could go door to door, or walk up to someone in the mall or the grocery store, and if they were not a Christian, they would usually have some understanding about Jesus.
Many times, you could take just a few minutes sharing what the Bible says about sin and salvation, and people would give their life to Christ. What is more, they were much more willing to talk to you about Christ.
Today, many people have a completely mindset and a completely different background. When many people attempt to do the same thing today, they are often met with derision and disbelief. Rather than winning someone to Christ, many found that instead they were verbally assaulted for their beliefs.
I’ll never forget my first attempt at witnessing to a stranger. It was early December, and I had just completed a Way of the Master training program, and as our final meeting, we went to Birkdale Village to walk around and talk to people about what they believed happens when you die. As I was sitting in the Starbucks there waiting for the rest of the group to arrive, a fellow came over to the area where I was sitting, and sat down to drink his coffee.
Shortly afterwards, we began to engage in idle conversation, and after a few minutes of chatting, he asked me what I was doing there that night, so I told him. He got very excited. Immediately, he began to ask me all sorts of questions aimed at showing me how off-base I was in my beliefs.
By the time the conversation was over, I had no idea how to respond to the things he brought up, because most of them involved things I had never encountered or learned. I was at a loss for words. Lets just say it was not the best start for the night I had looked forward to.
Many times, the culture we live in today can be very discouraging to ministry, because when we meet with failure, we are tempted to give up and stop trying. We feel like we are not cut out for it, that we will never succeed.
Many of us have had some sort of experience in the past that has led us to a point that we end up as the proverbial doubting Thomas. We often don’t want to try anything, because we are often so certain before we even try that it will eventually fail.
That’s because we have the same problem the disciples did…not enough faith.
The Essence of the Problem
When the disciples failed to cure the boy, they basically gave up.
The problem that prevent us from reaching the culture is not about what is wrong with the culture; it’s what is wrong with the Church. We don’t need a cultural make-over in this country; we need a make-over in the work of the Church in this country
The problem that prevent us from reaching the culture is not about what is wrong with the culture; it’s what is wrong with the Church. We don’t need a cultural make-over in this country; we need a make-over in the work of the Church in this country
When the disciples failed to cure the boy, they basically gave up.
Notice in verse 14, the one that brought the problem to Jesus wasn’t the disciples; it was the father. The father held onto a sliver of hope, even though the disciples had failed over and over again. However, not one of the disciples approached Jesus about the problem. What this tells us is that the father was still counting on Jesus to save his son. The disciples were not. They were so convinced that the task was impossible that they had given up, because it was beyond their power.
The Church has a similar problem. We have become so convinced that the culture won’t change, that people are not interested in hearing the Gospel, that people in the Church won’t change, that we have effectively given up trying. We give up, in large part, because we feel that we don’t have the resources necessary to accomplish the work of the Church. We don’t have a message they want to hear; we don’t have the finances for big programs or large scale missions; and we don’t have enough volunteers to do the work of the Church.
So, many times, we concede defeat even before we really give it a try. The problem that prevents us from reaching the culture is not about what is wrong with the culture; it’s what is wrong with the Church. We don’t need a make-over in the cultural in this country; we need a make-over in the work of the Church in this country.
The Effective Solution
Jesus tells the father that all he had to do is believe.
The father boy said, “I believe, but help my unbelief.” Essentially, he was saying that he believed to a certain extent that Jesus could save his son, but he had his doubts. Jesus’ ability to heal the young man was not dependent on the father’s faith. However, Jesus used it as an opportunity to teach the disciples. Jesus knew that one of their biggest obstacles once He would be gone would be their faith, and He was right. When Jesus was arrested, the disciples scattered, even though He told them well ahead of time that it would happen exactly as it did.
So, what lessons can we learn from this situation?
The answer is to have faith. It doesn’t matter how much faith you have, as long as you have some. If you trust Jesus in just a little, He will give you reason to trust Him a lot.
Faith is essential to the work of the Church. In this passage, we see several essentials of faith in the work of the Church that are necessary for the success of that work.

The Essentials of A Make-over in the Work of the Church

1. The Object of your faith is Essential.

When the disciples tried to heal the young man, they saw the problem, recognized that it was a different situation than they had previous encountered. In their eyes, more different equated to more difficult, which was the essence of their problem
When we begin evaluating ministry opportunities by their degree difficulty, we have already demonstrated that in that situation, we are experiencing a problem with our faith, because we are experiencing a problem with the object of our faith.
When we evaluate ministry opportunities by their degree difficulty, we are depending on our resources and abilities to solve the problem. We look at the problem before us, look at what we have to work with, and decide whether or not it is possible to succeed. However, as Jesus shows us here, we are relying on the wrong person.
When Hurricane Matthew hit this area, people were overwhelmed, because no one alive had ever seen this area flood to such a degree as it did during Matthew. However, instead of paralyzing us, it motivated us. The churches in this area responded wonderfully, not because we were convinced we could handle it. but because we knew that God could.
When that hurricane passed, and we saw the devastation, I don’t think any of us looked out at the flooded homes and the flooded streets, and thought, “We’ve got this.”
I don’t think when you realized that we would not have power for a very long time, and when you realized that we had no water, and no stores or gas stations to replenish our supplies, I doubt anyone hear thought, “It’s not a problem.”
However, we realized that no matter how bad things looked, we had a God who could handle the situation.
Why is it that we don’t take the some approach to evangelism and discipleship?
Why is it that we look at our culture and think they are unreachable?
Why do we look at our budget and think the Church is un-savable?
Why do we look at our people and think they are unchangeable?
We have to remember that the same God who turned the Church’s greatest persecutor into its greatest church planter is the same God who wants us to reach out to the people in our community today.
We need to stop deciding whether attempts to reach people for Christ will work or not based on our abilities and past experiences and start depending on God to ensure results.
So, the first make-over we need in the work of the Church is in the object of our faith. We need to stop counting on ourselves and start counting on God.

2. The Expectation of your Faith is Essential.

The second make-over in the work of the Church basically boils down to this. What do you believe God can do, and what do you believe He wants to do? Because, this is what truly determines your expectations.
When we stop reaching out to the community in which we live because we are convinced that people don’t care or won’t listen, we are essentially saying that either God can’t change their hearts, or that God doesn’t want to. However, One thing we can be certain of is that God wants us to reach the lost people of this world.
Matthew 28:18–20 HCSB
18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The only job Christ gave the Church, the very reason for its existence, is to fulfil the spiritual mission He gave Israel. We are His people, literally His children, and He leaves us here for the time being for the sole purpose of making disciples, leading others to follow Christ.
-21
Secondly, we can be certain that He has given us the ability to reach them.
Acts 1:8 HCSB
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
God has given us everything we need to reach the people of this world for Christ. It isn’t dependent on the programs we offer, deep pockets for missions, or a vast number of volunteers. Jesus began with 12 key disciples, and through the very same power He has given each and every one of us, they spread the Gospel to the limits of the known world at that time. Before the end of the first century, the Apostles of Jesus Christ carried the Gospel from Jerusalem to Spain and form Jerusalem to India, if not further, in cultures even more opposed to the Gospel than the one in which we live today, with greater threats to their personal being than we will ever have to fear in the immediate future in this country.
We need to remember that the same God who created the Heavens and the Earth is the same God we serve today, and the same God sent His Son to die for our sins so that we might have a path to God, and the same God who is patiently waiting for all to have the opportunity to come to faith in Christ.
We have to remember that the same God who turned the Church’s greatest persecutor into its greatest church planter is the same God who wants us to reach out to the people in our community today.
We need to stop deciding whether attempts to reach people for Christ will work or not based on our abilities and past experiences and start depending on God to ensure the results.
We have everything we need. We have the testimony about Jesus, we have our personal testimony of what He has done in our lives, and we have the power of the Holy Spirit…but, do we have the expectation for God to succeed where we can’t?
So, the essential of faith that a make-over in the work of the Church depends on is, “Do we believe that God wants the Church to succeed, and do we believe God has the power to make the Church successful in that work?”

The Means of a Make-over in the Work of the Church

We need to remember that the same God who created the Heavens and the Earth is the same God we serve today, and the same God sent His Son to die for our sins so that we might have a path to God, and the same God who is patiently waiting for all to have the opportunity to come to faith in Christ.
If so, the question is, how do we get there?
We have to remember that the same God who turned the Church’s greatest persecutor into its greatest church planter is the same God who wants us to reach out to the people in our community today.
As I said last week, there is a certain amount of DIY in a Make-over of God’s House. God is not going to do for us what He expects us to do for ourselves.
We need to stop deciding whether attempts to reach people for Christ will work or not based on our abilities and past experiences and start depending on God to ensure the results.
So, even if we understand what needs to change, we need to know how to make those changes.
We need to stop deciding whether attempts to reach people for Christ will work or not based on our abilities and past experiences and start depending on God to ensure the results.
Look at verse 22. Jesus tells them at the end of verse 21, “Nothing is impossible for you (meaning if they have faith). However, this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.”
Now, before you get the impression that Jesus was providing a formula for casting out certain demons, you have to consider the context. The problem the disciples were having is that the difference in the situation led them to feel that it would be somehow more difficult to expel this demon than ones they had dealt with previously. And, Jesus pointed out that their problem was a lack of faith. And finally, it was the father who finally come to Jesus, not the disciples. They were not counting on the power of God for their success.
So, Jesus tells them they should have been praying and fasting. So, what did He mean by that? Prayer is our sole means of communicating with God. It’s the means by which we share our concerns with Him and by which we discern the will of God.
Second, fasting is a physical expression of our dependence on God that is meant to draw us closer to God through our physical experience. Both are spiritual disciples intended to make us more dependent on God and more aligned with the will of God.
If we want to see a make-over in the work of the Church, we need to begin by who is the orchestrator of the work fo the Church and the effector of that work. We ned to remember the sole purpose of the Church and the limitless resources of the Church. Then and only then will we regularly start depending on God for that work and expecting Him to accomplish that work.
We need to start regularly depending on God, not just for the big stuff, but for the little things as well.
We need to remember that the one who provides for our smallest need is the some one who will provide for every need. He is the same one who will provide for our greatest needs.
In this world that seems worse than it has ever been within any of our lifetimes, we need to remind ourselves of how Christianity works…through God and by God. then, and only then will we see a change not only in the efforts of the Church, but also in the effectiveness of the Church.
Drawing closer to God and becoming more dependent on God will help you depend on Him for everything, and trust that He can and will accomplish all things in accordance with His will.
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