Saturday, May 28, 2011

THIS OLD HOUSE

Introduction


In Glasgow Scotland there once were rows and rows of old tenement buildings. These old brick buildings used to house the workers in the hay-day of Clydeside shipbuilding. As the shipbuilding industry died a death in Scotland so did these buildings. They became slums – good only for the wrecking ball! And so whole communities were disrupted as the demolition crews moved in.

Whole communities such as the Gorbals were demolished! The displaced people became known as the “Glasgow overspill.” There was social upheaval – social unrest. Then someone had a brainwave. Instead of destroying the community why don’t we renovate? And so rows and rows of old tenement buildings were spared. After renovation people flocked to these buildings wanting to live in these communities. It’s amazing what can be done with an old house.

If you were an old house, what do you think could be done with you? Do you think you should be condemned as unsafe? Or do you think you could be renovated to become a home fit for royalty? Well, in terms of the Bible, all mankind is standing like rows of condemned houses. We are like derelict and dilapidated buildings with broken windows and leaky roofs. We stand covered in grime and soot awaiting the wrecker’s ball. But God has decided to spare some of us. He has decided to renovate us! He has purchased us and He is forming a new community. So let’s consider some of the work the Lord is doing as He renovates us.



Walls Removed

There has been a solid brick wall built up between you and God. Of course this wall was demolished when you were converted. For when God began His renovation in you, He removed that wall. How did that wall get there? Well, sin built a wall between you and God. You inherited your house from your great, great… grandfather Adam. Adam was the master plan for every house that was to come after him. And he was the one that built the wall that separates each of us from God. His design was passed down from generation to generation. Therefore you live in a house with a wall separating you from God.

However, when God moved into you (ie, the Christian’s) house, the wall of the carnal mind which is enmity against God was torn down. Romans 8;7 says, “The carnal mind is enmity against God...” “Enmity” is something that separates. Enmity is a barrier, a wall. And as the walls of Jericho came a tumbling down, God levels that wall in you first off. Then He begins to patiently clear away the dust and rubble of that wall.

There’s another wall that needs to be torn down. The wall between you and your brother and sister in Christ. Scripture says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28. There may be racism, social distinction, sexism in the world outside, but there is to be none of it in Christ’s church. Each of us has our different roles to play in the church and in society, but we are not to despise others because of their station in life.

In New Testament times, the Jews despised the Gentiles and called them dogs! But when a Jew and a Gentile were converted they became as one. “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition...” Ephesians 2:14. However, the wall between you and your non-Christian neighbor stays in place. If you’ve ever renovated a house, you’ll know about “supporting” walls. A supporting wall cannot be removed unless you want the house to fall down. It’s kind of like our spine – we need it to keep us upright.

It was Adam who erected the wall between you and God. This wall is taken away by Jesus Christ. But it was God who put the wall in place between the Christian and the non-Christian. The Lord said to the serpent in the Garden after Adam fell, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15.

The “Seed” of the women is of course Christ, Galatians 3:16. And since the “seed of the serpent” are all the non-elect, it means that there is a barrier between those who are of Christ and those who are of the world. Jesus says, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of this world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:18, 19.

Therefore, the wall between the Christian and the world has to remain or Christianity crumbles. Christians need to be aware that it’s not a flimsy plasterboard partition. It is a load-bearing wall. The Apostle Paul emphasizes this where he says, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-16.

So we’ve then seen a couple of walls removed in the “old house” which is the Christian’s body.



Wires Replaced

What we’re talking about here is the rewiring of the mind. You wouldn’t renovate an old house without rewiring it. If you’re going to think the thoughts God wants you to, you’ll need a new electrical system. Scripture says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2.

You used to be wired according to the system of this world. But now you’ve been rewired to accommodate a power way stronger than the power in the world. You can now do things that you couldn’t before. You now have the power to glorify God. Before your regeneration and subsequent conversion you didn’t have the power to do any spiritual good. Sin had tripped the breaker, blown the fuse. Sin had broken the connection with God. But now God has come into your house and is busy rewiring.

Now you have the ability, not only to understand the will of God, but to obey and do it. Where before, you were at best like a Pharisee able only to keep God’s Commandments outwardly. Now you can say with Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13. This means that sin has no power over you. It doesn’t mean that you’ll never sin again. It does mean that sin has lost its dominion over you. Your sin used to rule in your old house like a tyrant. But now that the Lord has begun His renovations you are back in control.

Your mind that was once controlled by sinful impulses is now capable of resistance. Those sinful cravings can now be resisted by the power of God in you. If you were a glutton, for instance, the Lord has given you back control of your appetite. If you were a drunkard the Lord has empowered you to control your drinking. Paul says to the Corinthians, “Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you.” 1 Corinthians 6:10 & 11.

The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. The Lord is able to save even the vilest of sinners from their sins. He does so through regeneration and conversion whereby the power of Christ and His cross is, by the Holy Spirit, transferred to the Christian’s old house.

But this old house needs to be rewired to accommodate that power. You need to be converted from Alternating Current to Direct Current. The difference between AC and DC is this: Alternating Current means just that, that the current alternates back and forth, whereas Direct Current flows constantly in one direction only.

So then, before your conversion from AC to DC you would flip flop back and forward over things. You were like the children mentioned by Paul, who were “Tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men...” Ephesians 4:14. But the Holy Spirit has rewired the old house in which you live.

Conversion from AC to DC was complete when you were hooked up to the new power generator. The living, active and powerful Word of God is hidden in your heart like a battery in a watch. The Holy Spirit has flicked the switch and enabled you to welcome Christ into your home.

While running on this new power source you heard a knock at your door. You recognized the voice of the Lord and He came into your home to dine with you (Revelation 3:20). Things are still a bit of a mess in your house – what, with a couple of walls removed.

And when there are wires being replaced it can look like spaghetti for a while. In fact you’re embarrassed the Lord has come to visit and the place in such a mess. But don’t ever forget the reason why the Lord has come to your house. He has come to renovate and He will clean up the mess. And the Lord will keep on renovating and cleaning up the mess until the job is completed. “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1.

But what about all those grime covered and broken windows?



Windows Repaired

An old building wouldn’t be an old building without its grime-covered windows smashed. The world has been throwing mud and stones at you all your life. But the Lord is repairing your windows.

What are windows for? Windows are for letting in air and light, and seeing out of. However, they also let out light, don’t they? When the Lord turns on the power in the Christian’s house the lights come on. If Christ the Light of the world comes, by His Spirit, to live in your home it stands to reason that the lights will come on. A Christian house with all the lights on is warm and inviting on a cold dark night.

Now, Australia is a strange place at Christmas time. The sun is splitting the concrete in the streets. Even though it’s the middle of summer the Christmas cards are covered in snow! Therefore no matter where you love you’ve all seen the little house with the warm glow emanating from it. The one with the snow-covered roof that looks all warm and cozy inside. It would be a lie to tell you that the Christian’s heart is always like the house in that picture. However, there is a peace that transcends all understanding in the Christian’s heart. And that peace comes across to those who are on the outside looking in.

Where there were once panes of glass that couldn’t be seen through, there is now a welcoming warmth emanating out into the surrounding world. It’s a place of rest and refreshment for weary travelers. Why? It’s because Jesus, the Light of the world, lives in that house by His Spirit. He is the One who is breaking down the walls. He is the One who is rewiring your home. He is the One who doesn’t want you hiding your light under a basket. He is the One who says, “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.

If someone came to you with a heavy problem would you try to hide Jesus in the closet? Would you say, “Quick Jesus, in here! There’s someone at my door!”? No! It might very well be that the person has seen the light on in your home on a cold and dark night, when everyone else in the street had gone to bed so to speak.

And when the Lord repairs our windows we begin to see the world through different eyes. We begin to see the enmity between the world and the kingdom of God. We begin to see the forces of darkness at work. We begin to see the battle between light and darkness.

We see it in the political arena. We see it in the state schools. We see it in the streets. We see it on the TV – on the radio – and in the newspapers. We see clearer and clearer the enmity between the seed of the serpent and the Seed of the woman.

The world wants to engulf the light of the Lord in its darkness. So we see the abortionist demanding the right to murder little babies. We see the homosexual demand the right to practice sodomy. We see the homosexuals pushing to lower the age of consent as they eye up our children. And what are some Pedophiles? Simply homosexual men who also prey on little children!

But never forget that the Lord is more than able to save even the vilest of sinners. However, when the Lord repairs your windows you are able to see the vileness of sin in the world outside – the sin that at one time had overcome your heart. But thank the Lord that you are able also to see the kingdom of God. Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3. To have the Lord renovating your old house is to be born again which is to be converted. And when, by the grace of God, you are converted you see the world in a different light.

I began by talking about the old derelict tenement buildings in Glasgow being renovated. And we used that as a picture of the individual Christian being renovated by God. But let’s not miss an important point – as we begin to tie things together.

Christians tend to be a bit too individualistically minded. In other words we tend to act as single people. But in Glasgow whole communities were renovated, not just individual houses. And so it is with us – we are part of a renovated community – a Christian community. We are a community within a hostile community. The world with all its false religions and philosophies setting themselves up against God.

Now, Jesus says that we are to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every nation. It seems to me that the local churches have been doing this in their communities. However, I believe a strange thing has been happening. Because the churches have been so busy out there campaigning, they’ve been neglecting the upkeep of their houses, even their own Christian community.

It’s good and Scriptural that we reach out to the lost and dying in the world. But what about the Christian home? Scripture says, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10. So it’s right that we seek to do good to our non-Christian neighbour, but it is clearly wrong to neglect our own household. In fact it makes you worse than an unbeliever if you neglect your local church. Scripture says, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8.

A neglected house becomes dilapidated. A row of neglected houses becomes a slum. And a slum becomes ready for the wrecking ball.

At present the Presbyterian Church of Australia, along with many other churches, is obsessed with outreach in the community. On the surface this looks good. It’s good to care about winning the lost – but what’s really happening? Well, like any army on a campaign overseas, the home front becomes weak and prone to attack. The enemy has been busy on the Home Front – busy swinging the wrecking ball. Whole Christian communities are being demolished rather than renovated.

And how does the enemy swing the wrecking ball? He does it by talking Christians into removing supporting walls. Do you remember that the Lord has put a wall between us and the world? Well, the enemy wants that load-bearing wall to come down. Remove that one and the building is liable to collapse and destroy everyone in it!

The enemy swings the ball by filling churches with people desiring to have their ears tickled. The Devil is filling the Lord’s Church with people who have no interest in sound Biblical preaching – as more and more churches become like the world to attract the world. Then the Christian community becomes a slum.

However, the Lord is in the business of renovating. He can even rebuilt run down Christian communities. He can remove walls. He can renew wires. He can replace windows.



Conclusion

I don’t want to live in a slum – do you? So let’s encourage our brothers and sisters in the faith. God has renovated you the individual along with others. He has renovated our whole church community. Your number one priority is to build up your brother and sister in the faith to the glory of God. Therefore live as God wants you to live at peace with your Christian neighbor in a God-glorifying community. The Lord will draw others into your community as He spares other houses from the wrecker’s ball.

If all the old houses the Lord has renovated were gathered into one place, what a picture that would be. Think of it, all those little lights making up one greater light – the church. Now picture this on the top of a hill on a cold and dark night. What a sight this would be to a traveler wearied by this world.

Look around, people are sick to the back teeth with crime in the community. They’re sick of people spray-painting slogans on their walls. They’re sick of break and enters. They’re sick and tired of criminals getting away with murder. They don’t want their neighbourhood to become a slum. The whole nation is becoming weary of it all.

We have the answers! Can’t you see? The harvest is white so shine the light. But make sure there are walls where there should be walls. But also make sure there are no walls where they shouldn’t be. Make sure the wires are able to handle the power of the Lord. And finally, make sure the windows are clean. Make sure you can see the world outside. But make sure that the world can see the lights on in your home.

Isn’t it amazing what the Lord can do with an old house?

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