Wednesday, January 14, 2015

'Pray in the 391."

Outside of the sanctuary of my pastorate at First Church of God in Princeton, WV is a sign:

In other words, the fire marshal wouldn't even break a sweat with us unless we hit 391 in attendance.  However, we Americans have a substantial comfort zone of personal space and we are told that if a congregation is 70-80% filled to capacity it is full.  So, we at First Church would have to add another Sunday morning worship service long before we hit 391 in attendance.  I'm ready to preach twice on Sunday morning.

Tonight I shared a Scripture with the saints.  It comes in the form of King Jesus reassuring the Apostle Paul that he would be safe during his time as a church planter in Corinth:
And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, "Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people." And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. (Acts 18:9-11 ESV)
What is so fascinating about this vision is that Christ tells Paul of "many" in Corinth who were the Lord's but didn't know it yet.  In other words, Jesus assures Paul that many will get saved because of Paul's ministry.

Every Bible-believing and Christ-exalting church can take courage in this passage because of "Remnant Theology."  In short, God always has a people.  In the midst of a sinful world God will always have a group unto himself who will be a faithful witness of Christ.  
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? "Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life." But what is God's reply to him? "I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:1-6 ESV)
How does this help the modern church?  In different ways:

1. No church is in competition with another congregation because there will always be plenty of sinners to go around.
2. No church needs worry about God's will to save.  God will save his Remnant through any Bible-believing and Christ-exalting church if she will remain faithful to Christ and his Word.

"Pray in the 391."

"Pray in the 391," is code for, "Church, let's pray and get to work.  God has chosen people who don't know it yet who are ready to be saved.  Let's introduce them to Christ and we will grow."

Do I believe a local church can grow?  Absolutely.  The Old Testament/New Testament theology is clear.  The question is, "Will we be the ones to participate in God's Remnant?"  

Let's pray and get to work.  Let's grow.  Pray in the 391.