sermon: Letters to Seven Churches (Part Ten): The Church
Vessels of Gold, Vessels of Clay
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Given 09-Jun-19; Sermon #1492-AM; 78 minutes
Many see through rose-colored glasses when assessing the apostolic church. A golden era of unity and good feeling never existed in the church. A parity of ups and downs, blessings and trials, have characterized every era of the church. The early church saw miracles and growth but also intense persecution from the outside and corruption on the inside. God's people are always battling something negative between the brief euphoric highs. God's called-out ones can prevail if: 1) they realize that God's grace does most of the sanctification Work, 2) they live righteously, making witness to the world, and 3) they must be willing to sacrifice their lives. The firstfruits are the ecclesia (the assembly of God), a word applied to both local and universal venues, all gifted with spiritual capabilities designed to edify the body rather than to lord over others in the body, producing jealousy and pride. The characteristics described in the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 are all extant in the current church of God. The first job of Christ and His followers is to set straight that which has fallen out of order. If we heed the commendations and corrections of these seven churches, we will be able, with the help of God's Spirit, to be transformed from a vessel of dishonor to one of honor. Genuine followers of Christ can thrive in any environment if God is working in them.
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