Revive Our Hearts Podcast

No Plan B

Leslie Basham: Jesus entrusted the church to continue His work on earth. Do you think He set up a back-up plan in case we were to fail? Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss. 

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: God has no "plan B" for getting His message out. It's the Church to whom He has given the message, the gospel of Christ. He didn't give it to angels to give to the world. He didn't choose to do it primarily with billboards. He does it with His people and His people collectively.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It's Wednesday, August 3rd. No church is perfect. You probably know lots of examples of this. So why does God continue to trust His work through flawed people? Here's Nancy in a series called Who Needs the Church?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Do they have a church bulletin in the church you go to that lists the announcements and things that are happening in the church? I know they do in mine. You know, sometimes just a little typo can make a big difference in how an announcement reads. I came across this list of things that actually appeared in church bulletins.

"Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community."

"Low self-esteem support group will meet Thursday at 7-8pm. Please use the back door." That's just for people with low self-esteem.

"Ushers will eat late-comers." I think that was supposed to be "seat late-comers.

"For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs."

"The pastor will preach his farewell message after which the choir will sing 'Break Forth into Joy.'" Someone didn't think that one through carefully.

"Potluck supper: prayer and medication to follow."

Here's one: "Don't let worry kill you off. Let the church help."

"Weight Watchers will meet at 7 pm at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use the large double door at the side entrance."

"Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24th in the church. So ends a friendship that began in school days."

And here's one. Supposedly these are all true. An announcement in a church bulletin for a national prayer and fasting conference: "The cost for attending the prayer and fasting conference includes meals." That's my kind of conference.

Now the point is that churches, like humans, are flawed. When you talk about the church today, for some people that brings up all sorts of baggage. But I want to encourage you for some moments here to forget whatever negative or painful experiences you may have associated with the church.

I want us to think about what God intended for the church to be. The church is intended, designed by God, to be the context in which every part of the Christian life is to be nurtured and shaped--our walk, our worship, our witness, and our welfare.

Now let me just break those things apart and spell out for us a vision of what God intended should be what takes place within our local churches, within the unity of Christ, within the body of Christ, within the universal Church. This is what God intended to take place.

First of all, our walk: it's the context for our walk, our growth into Christ's likeness. A baby, a child, needs a family to grow up in. If it's going to grow into adulthood it needs a context for growth. It can't grow up by itself. It needs a context. That's what the church is to be for children of God. It's a place for accountability, for exhortation, for correction, for discipline when we need that in our lives.

C.S. Lewis wrote, "Christ works on us in all sorts of ways, but above all, He works on us through each other." We need each other in the body of Christ for our walk. It's in the context of the church that our lives are supposed to be getting prepared for heaven, prepared for eternity.

It's in the context of the church that we learn to lift our eyes upward above what happens in all the rest of our world and all the rest of our week--to look over and beyond this world with its problems and its struggles and its pressures and lift our eyes up and see Christ and see heaven and see eternity. That's where our focus on eternity should be shaped.

It's in the context of the church, and I don't mean by this just one service that you attend on Sunday morning. I mean in the context of being a part of the church that you're marriage is to be built up, supported, and protected. It's in the context of the church that our families should be raised.

The church children should be trained. It doesn't take a village to raise a child, but it does ideally take a church, a community of believers who are committed to Christian growth and to Christ-likeness and to becoming all God wants us to be in our walk.

Then it's the context for our worship. Worship is not just an individual matter between myself and God. It's a corporate matter; it's a community matter. The church is the context for our celebration of our faith, of our Christ, of our God. It's where we have participation in the Lord's Supper. That's our family meal. That's where we celebrate together the death, the resurrection, the life of Christ, the intercession of Christ and all He is to us.

That's where we sing--and I think it's unfortunate that a lot of our praise songs today say "I" and "my" and "me" instead of "we". Now there's an element to our faith that's very personal, and it's very private. There's nothing wrong with these songs that say, "I worship You," but we need songs that say, "we worship You, we exalt You, we adore You, we love You Christ." It's a "we"; we're a family. The purpose of our worship isn't just to make us feel good. It's to honor and bless the Lord together.

The church is God's design and context for our witness, for our outreach into the world, for our witness to the world. Not just me witnessing personally to somebody who needs Christ, but us witnessing collectively as the world looks at us and they say, "Look how they love each other! Look how they get along with each other. Look how they help each other. Look how they need each other." People want to belong, and we can show what it really means to belong to a family and to a body.

It's God's intended way for taking the gospel to the world. God has no "plan B" for getting His message out. It's the Church to whom He has given the message, the gospel of Christ. He didn't give it to angels to give to the world. He didn't choose to do it primarily with billboards. He does it with His people and His people collectively.

The church is the context for our welfare, our own and that of others. You know, when the church is healthy and functioning as it should, we shouldn't have to be dependent on the government to meet our physical needs, to care for those who are elderly or sick or poor or the widows, the orphans or the unemployed. It's the responsibility of the church to care for one another, to meet each other's needs.

As I thought about this, two passages in the New Testament came to mind. One when an individual believer was fulfilling this responsibility. Remember Dorcas in the book of Acts chapter 9 [:36-43]? Scripture says she was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor.

When she became sick and died, the apostle Peter came in and the Scripture says, "The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and the other garments that Dorcas had made for them" (verse 39). That was the church at work caring for the welfare of the widows.

It's not only individual believers who provide for the welfare of other believers, it's the corporate church collectively. In times of crisis the church has often provided relief. I think of that passage in Acts chapter 11 [:19-30] where the believers in Antioch learned that there was going to be a worldwide famine. That church in Antioch took an offering to send to their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. Look how they care for one another!

The church is the context not only in which our physical welfare can be cared for but our relational needs as well. The Scripture says God sets the lonely in families. I was talking with a friend the other day who is single, and she was expressing her concern about growing old and being alone and how she would be financially cared for.

I said to her, as I've said to others, that's another important reason for every Christian to be plugged into the life of a local church, a family, a body, a community. Not just your name on the church roll, but your life plugged into the life of the people of God.

The church is the place where, ideally, we should be able to receive comfort when we're grieving. I think of all the times in my own life when the body of Christ has been there. I'm talking about at the death of my father through a heart attack, the death of my brother in an automobile wreck.

At times of personal loss and grief or struggle, God's people have been there and have walked with me and carried me and prayed for me through times when I couldn't pray for myself. They were there meeting practical needs, meeting relational needs, comforting when grieving.

Listen, you may love some particular radio or television preacher, but I'll tell you this. He's not going to be at your side when your dad dies. This happened to a friend of mine earlier this week. That man on the TV or the radio, he's not going to weep with you when your son rebels. He's not going to be there when your husband loses his job or your house burns in a fire as our family experienced.

That man's not going to stay up late at night trying to help rescue your marriage when it needs it or your wayward son or daughter. He's not going to be the one to baptize your children or to try and help restore you when you fall into sin.

We need the church; we need the community of faith. We need the local body of Christ. We need each other. It's what we need for our walk, our worship, our witness, our welfare. It's intended to be the context for life, for growth, for suffering, for service, for fellowship, for everything we need and do between here and heaven.

Leslie Basham: The church isn't perfect, but we need it. Just like your local church isn't perfect, Revive Our Hearts isn't perfect either. We're a ministry made up of imperfect people and know that we can't do anything except by God's leading and power. We need your help, too. Here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I met one of our Revive Our Hearts listeners recently and she said to me, "I want you to know Nancy that I pray for you and for this ministry regularly." I asked her how she had come into touch with the ministry or what had prompted her to pray for it. She said, "Well I heard the program on the air and I heard you say, 'We need people to pray for us. I need people to pray for me.'" She said, "When I heard that I thought, 'Well, if you said that you must mean it. You must really need my prayers.' So I began to pray for you."

She signed up to receive the prayer and praise email update that we send out twice a month, and that has helped her to stay in touch with our ministry and to know how she can pray for us more specifically.

Well, I was so thrilled to hear that, and I hope you believe it when I say I need your prayers. This ministry needs your prayers. Our listeners need your prayers. Our staff needs your prayers.

Listen, nothing of eternal significance is ever accomplished apart from prayer and I believe what God is doing through this ministry today is the fruit, is the result of many around this country who are praying faithfully for this ministry. Praying as this message goes out. I want you to know that day after day God is hearing and answering those prayers in an extraordinary way.

So let me just say to those who are already praying, thank you so much. You can't imagine how much that means to me personally. Let me invite others to join us and pray and believe in God for a reformation and a revival from the hearts of women all across this country and around the world.

Leslie Basham: Here's how to be a part of the prayer and praise update that Nancy was just talking about. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com, then click on share and interact. Then click on subscribe to our email list. You'll find some directions you can follow from there.

Can you be a part of the Church without attending a local church? Nancy will address that tomorrow. I hope you can be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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