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Stay The Course
The Remnant Church
** Watch: https://youtu.be/g3t-VJPgaiA
The title of our message comes from a show I had watched called, “The Patriot,” staring Mel Gibson. And there was an underlying theme that continued to be brought out throughout the show, and that is to “Stay The Course.”
Therefore, on this first Sunday of the New Year, after the unprecedented disaster of the year we had in 2020, I like to look forward to what I believe God is doing, and then go back in history to see how the church needs to proceed, because I believe that we are entering a time of shaking, where God is calling out His remnant, that is, a remnant church, and then we’ll look at the beginning of this call known as the Protestant Reformation.
So, what is God up to, what is God doing?
Personally, I believe that God is readying the church. I recently did a teaching on preparing for Christmas, and in that process of preparing for Christmas, what we actually need to be preparing for is Jesus and His coming.
And this is what I think God is doing; He is preparing His church for His return.
In Jesus’s parable of the Persistent Widow, Jesus says that the Lord will bring about justice for those who cry out to Him day and night, but then He asks this question that when He returns, will He indeed find faith?
He said, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8 NKJV)
This whole idea of the remnant church that God is raising up came to me while considering the story of Gideon. After accepting God’s call to lead Israel, the Lord told him that the amount of men he had at his side to fight were too many (there were approximately 30,000), and that they would think it was through their might and numbers that the victory was won, and not through the Lord.
And so God had Gideon whittle down the army to three hundred, first by telling those who were afraid to leave, and 20,000 or two-thirds departed. That left just 10,000 men against a well armed and trained army. But God said that there was still too many, so God took them down to some water and told them to drink, and those who drank by taking it in their hands and bringing it to their mouths would be the ones that God would use.
And in the end there were just 300 soldiers to fight the Midianites. And with that small remnant, God was able to win a mighty battle.
What constituted the remnant for God? First they were not afraid, because when fear enters the picture, often times it is followed by a lack of faith in God, that He can do what He says, and can keep what He promised.
Second, they were vigilant and watchful. By bringing the water to their mouths indicates that they were keeping watch of the surroundings.
So what will the remnant church look like, well, it is a church that won’t give up on God. Instead they will press in even further in their relationship with Him.
When things are bad and even at their worst, the remnant church will not regress spiritually, nor will they be hypocritical and say one thing while saying and living another. They will also honestly address the situation and their feelings, but in the end they will always trust God and God’s word with the outcome.
The Remnant church lives and breathes and has its being in God alone, that is, it’s completely and totally dependent upon God.
It’s a church and a people who whole heartedly believe and live their lives knowing that God will work it all out for our good as well as His own, with His good being pre-eminent.
The remnant church will also go back to preaching the gospel, because only it has the power to save. The trend to be hip and relevant needs to shift back to what Jesus has called the church to be, and that is to be a difference maker in this world and in its community, and not a vehicle that looks and operates like the world so it can be liked and accepted. Jesus said that if the world hated Him, well then we should expect the world to hate us as well (John 1:18).
Further, the remnant church will not tell people what they want to hear, but what this world needs to hear, that is, it will tell them the truth.
The remnant church will look and act like Jesus. It will be an example to the world of the Lord God, and His love for the lost.
We will weep with those who weep. We will bear one another burdens, and walk that extra mile with them. It’s not a matter of how they feel about something, nor is it our place to tell them they are wrong in the way they feel; rather it’s that we help them where they are at in their life’s journey. In other words, the remnant church is not going to be so doctrinally correct that it becomes devotionally wrong.
We should care more for the other person rather than whether or not we’re right and they’re wrong about a particular subject or point of view, that is, outside who God is and His word.
Now, most have an understanding of what I am saying about being a remnant and the remnant church, but just in case, let me outline what it means and how it is mainly used in the Bible.
A remnant is a leftover or smaller amount from a larger portion. It could refer to provisions, clothing, or a group of people. Within the Bible it is used or refers mainly to God’s people that are left after some sort of catastrophe event, or a judgment.
This idea of a biblical remnant is seen in what Isaiah says concerning those Jews who would return after their Babylonian captivity.
“And it shall come to pass in that day that the remnant of Israel, and such as have escaped of the house of Jacob, will never again depend on him who defeated them, but will depend on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God. For though your people, O Israel, be as the sand of the sea, a remnant of them will return.” (Isaiah 10:20-22 NKJV)
Of this group that the prophet Isaiah is referencing, the prophet Ezra describes them saying, “But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage.” (Ezra 9:8 NIV)
Therefore, to the remnant God promises that He will pardon them and give them rest, removing their enemies. They will take root in the land of promise and be fruitful.
We see this in what the Lord said about the remnant returning from their captivity, “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number.” (Jeremiah 23:3 NIV)
Therefore, throughout the course of the history God has always had His remnant.
Even the pronouncement of the coming judgment upon Israel due to their continuous rebellion against God, God still left a remnant, those who were faithful, through which God could work His kingdom purposes.
“Unless the Lord of hosts had left to us a very small remnant, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been made like Gomorrah.” (Isaiah 1:9 NKJV)
We see this same idea in what the Apostle Paul brings out.
He said, “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out His sentence on earth with speed and finality” (Romans 9:27-28)
Knowing the current spiritual state of the church, we can understand how this could be. In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 it shows that before Christ’s return there will be an apostasy, a falling away from the faith and from the truth.
As persecution of the Bible-believing church becomes more intense, there will be a greater manifestation of what I am referring to. The remnant church will be vilified by the current culture and society, to the point of actually being hated. And that’s because the remnant church will be preaching and teaching a non-compromising message from the Bible that is counter to the culture and society; like the sanctity of human life (that is, against abortion), or the sanctity of the marriage bed (which is opposite of the current trend towards homosexuality).
It will be the remnant church that will remain true to biblical principles in spite of cultural opposition, or if I could say, down right hostility.
So who is a part of this remnant church? It will be those who have a simple faith, who love Jesus Christ above all else, and will obey and not compromise His word. It will be a people filled with the Holy Spirit, practice true humility, and will love others as Jesus Christ has loved them.
And so the blessing of being a part of the remnant church is that it will experience a greater presence and power of God. Consider the first century church. They were hated minority, yet the power and presence of God accompanied its ministry, to where within a generation the whole world was evangelized!
And so, to get back to the Lord’s calling for His church, we need to get back to the basics of the faith. And I’d like to do so through the basics that called out a remnant of faithful believers of God and His word back in the 14th century, or what is known as the Protestant Reformation, as they separated from the Roman Catholic Church based upon these basics.
These basics were known as the “Five Solas,” and the word Sola means, “only,” or “alone.”
The five Solas are
Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”): The Bible alone is our highest authority.
Solus Christus (“Christ alone”): Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.
Sola Fide (“faith alone”): We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ
Sola Gratia (“grace alone”): We are saved by the grace of God alone.
Soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”): We live for the glory of God alone.
To explain these so that we can begin to follow them, let me take just a moment and outline them. There have been whole chapters and books on each of these, but I think I can give a short definition that can help.
Scripture alone: The Bible alone is our highest authority.
I’ve made Sola Scriptura the first sola in our study for good reason, and that is, all the other solas depend on this one. They are all derived from sola Scriptura. Scripture teaches that Christ is the only Savior. Scripture also teaches that salvation is by grace alone, and through faith alone. And at the end, the Scriptures reveal that this is all to the glory of God.
And the reason why we live and breathe and have our being based upon the Scriptures may best be found in what the Apostle Paul said to Timothy.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV)
The Bible is God’s Word; the Lord Himself has breathed it out, and therefore it isn’t just another religious book. It is practical, beneficial, and relevant; teaching what is true and reproving what isn’t, along with correcting and instructing us on how to get and stay right with God.
The Bible is our ultimate authority; not the pope or someone exalted to be the leader of either a religion or cult. Nor is the ultimate authority the church, the traditions of the church, or church councils. Also we need to be careful not to let feelings, or intimidation tactics take us away from the clear teaching of the Bible.
In fact, all these other authorities, and all these other writings and books need to be judged based upon the Bible, and then rejected when they stray from the truth found within. Everything we learn about God and this world needs to be interpreted in light of the Scriptures. It’s what’s called having a biblical world view.
And why are we to be so trusting, well it’s because the Scriptures were authored by God, and not in or through any human source, which is actually the case for all these other religions and cults and their writings. Therefore to be part of God’s remnant we must reject any elevation of other writings to that of the Bible.
(More about this point is found on my Internet site called spiritual transformation series under Bible Cliffnotes, and it’s entitled, “The Bible”)
Christ alone: Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.
God has given the ultimate revelation of Himseif to us by sending Jesus Christ. Paul said, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” (Colossians 1:15 NKJV)
Now this word, “firstborn,” in the Greek language means having preeminence, and so Jesus as the 2nd person of the Godhead has preeminence over all of creation, which is what is brought out by the Apostle John.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-3, 14 NKJV)
What was happening is that the Church in Rome elevated Mary, mother of Jesus, to being equal with Jesus that people can pray to her for the forgiveness of sins. They also elevated prayers to the saints, and confessions to the priests.
Yet the Bible makes it clear that only Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer.
Talking about no longer needing a priesthood, the writer of Hebrews says that we now have Jesus as our High Priest in heaven, and how He is now seated next to the Father (Hebrews 8:1), and then he goes on to say that Jesus has “Obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6 NKJV)
The finished work of Christ, our great and only High Priest, fulfilled all the sacrifices of the Old Testament and eliminated any further need for a priesthood.
Jesus did everything that is necessary for our salvation. Jesus left nothing undone, so we don’t need other saviors or additional mediators. Christ’s saving work on the cross, punctuated by His resurrection makes His work complete.
(To learn more about Jesus as being the 2nd person of the Godhead as clearly identified within the Scriptures can be found in my Biblical Cliffnotes on the Trinity)
Sola Fide (Fee’-day)
Faith alone: We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ
Going back to Paul’s letter to the Colossian church he said, “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-7 NKJV)
We are saved solely through faith in Jesus Christ because of God’s grace alone (more on that in our next point). We are not saved by our merits or declared righteous by our good works.
This is something that religions have promoted from their inceptions. They say it is God plus keeping the law. It is God plus good works. It is God plus belonging to this or that church or religious institution.
But what makes us righteous in the eyes of God isn’t anything that we do, or anything we are, as the Bible clearly points out, and that personal experience tells us in true, and that is there is no one who is righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10; Psalm 14:1-3; Ecclesiastes 7:20).
Instead our righteousness is based on our faith in Jesus Christ and in Him alone, and through our faith in Christ we have become righteous in the eyes of God.
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”(2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV)
Listen to what Paul said to the church in Rome.
“What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law.” (Romans 9:30-32 NKJV)
Therefore salvation and our righteousness is by faith and faith alone, nothing added.
But our salvation by faith alone flows from God’s grace. We could say it like this, that our salvation is the act of God by which he declares sinners to be righteous because of Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone.
Sola Gratia (Gra’-ti-a)
Grace alone: We are saved by the grace of God alone.
The words sola gratia mean that human beings have no claim upon God. That is, God owes us nothing except punishment for our sins. And so salvation based upon God’s grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve, which is death, as the Bible says that the wages of our sin is death (Romans 6:23), but it goes on to reveal God’s grace, and that is while the wages of sin is death, the gift of God, that is, God’s grace, is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Sola fide and sola gratia is expressed in the teaching of Ephesians 2:8-9
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV)
Salvation is by grace, and is the ultimate expression of God’s grace. God saves those who are undeserving of salvation and unable to accomplish salvation on their own or on their own merits. Salvation is from beginning to end the work of God alone. Salvation is not earned, but is a gift of God that is freely given.
Religion, however, teaches that the salvation of sinners is due, at least in part, to merit, that is, we are saved by grace plus something else, like good works or the church.
But this is not what God’s word, the Scriptures declare. Our salvation and all of God’s dealings with us is through His grace alone. The Lord made this clear when He told Paul that His grace is sufficient for whatever Paul faced, and whatever Paul was going through (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Soli Deo Gloria
Each of the great solas is then summed up in this last sola: soli Deo gloria, meaning to God alone be the glory.
It is what the apostle Paul expressed in Romans 11. “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36 NKJV)
Glory belongs to God alone. In other words, God is not a means to an end, He is the means and the end.
The goal of our lives is to give God the glory. To the Corinthians Paul said it this way, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Where Rome and religion got it wrong, and gets it wrong, is that they attribute to man what is due to God alone.
Let me just end these five solas in a single sentence.
That our salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, for the sake of Christ alone, a truth that is revealed to us in Scripture alone, for God’s glory alone.
And so, God is calling out His church, and is preparing a remnant that will fulfill His calling no matter what. So let’s stay the course, by going back and keeping the basics of our faith as outlined in God’s word.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study