Reverend Dr. Philip Lee’s sermon from Shiloh's Lord’s Day Service on July 28, 2019 (Deck Completion Dedication Service)
Work and remain until the end
Thank God that we were able to come here to Shiloh International Missions and expand the deck outside our sanctuary. Thanks to all the saints and staff that was able to work tirelessly on this deck construction until its completion. God created us and He wants to see His glory through all of us (Isa 43:7). If God wanted to do everything by Himself then He would not have created us. God desires to do work with man together. But when you work with God, there are people that will also disappear in the midst of that work at that time. In the name of the Lord, may everyone from Shiloh become those who would work and remain until the end.
Jesus appoints twelve disciples
The Bible gives us the names of the twelve disciples that Jesus appointed (Mark 3:16-18). God chose these twelve disciples for various reasons (Mark 3:14-15). First, Jesus appointed them so that they would be with Him. Therefore, if we are disciples of Jesus, then we must always be together with Jesus. Secondly, Jesus appointed them so they can be sent out to preach. Disciples are also known as apostles. In Greek, the word “apostle” is ἀπόστολος (apostolos) meaning "a messenger" or "one who is sent." We are those who have been sent out to preach the Word. Hence, we must go out into the world and spread the Word with all of our strength (Matt 28:19-20). Thirdly, Jesus appointed disciples so that they can cast out demons for they have been given authority to do so (Mark 16:17). Demons are evil spirits that cause us to be depressed and hopeless and give up on everything. At that moment, if you command in the name of Jesus that hopelessness, despair, and sickness go away, it will happen. God has given all of us the authority to do that. When we command in the name of Jesus Christ, we must shout "Amen" loudly in order for the illness to flee.
Those who run away
All the disciples of Jesus left Him and fled away (Matt 26:56). If people run away when Jesus is in trouble, they are not true disciples. When the church is in trouble, we must be the disciples who defend the church, not disciples who runaway. Peter, the top disciple, followed Jesus but from a distance (Matt 26:58). May we never follow Jesus from a distance but follow Jesus closely. Secondly, Judas who betrayed Jesus sold Him for thirty pieces of silver (Matt 26:15). Later, Judas tied a rope around his neck and died (Matt 27:5). But even the rope around Judas’ neck refused to be used to kill Judas and let go. As a result, Judas fell and all of his intestines gushed out (Acts 1:18). No matter what troubles we may go through, we must not commit suicide. Life is given to us by God; thus, if you take your own life, you are challenging God. Judas Iscariot died tragically because he desired to go to his own place (Acts 1:25). However, we must go down the path that God desires for us to go.
The 120 disciples recommended two people, Barsabbas and Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:23). Barsabbas was very popular, which is why we see him nominated as the number one candidate and Matthias as the second. Barsabbas was very active and popular not just in Judea but in all the colonies of Rome as well. However, when the lots were drawn, the lots fell not to Barsabbas but to Matthias, and he was added to the eleven apostles to replace Judas (Acts 1:26). No matter what the plans of man are, it is God who leads our footsteps; every decision is from the Lord (Prov 16:9; 33). The 120 disciples prayed and asked God to show which of the two men were to be chosen, for God knows the hearts of all men (Acts 1:24). The prophet Samuel wanted to choose the physical firstborn Eliab as king, but God actually chose David, for God looks at the heart (1 Sam 16:6-7). Of course, we must be acknowledged by people as well; however, let us live to be acknowledged by God first. Moreover, may God acknowledge us not only in the middle but all the way until the end (Rev 2:10). We must be faithful until death to receive the crown of glory. Thus we must remain faithful until the very end.
Conclusion: Matthias did not receive God’s acknowledgement until the end. Although he was the one that was chosen, he was not faithful until the very end. But disappointingly, Matthias does not appear in the Bible after Acts chapter one. Matthias was chosen after following Jesus in His public ministry for three years. However, although the Bible was recorded forty years later, Matthias fails to appear in the Bible after this point. Therefore, before he was chosen as an apostle, Matthias probably worked very hard. But after he was chosen, he probably didn’t work as hard. We must always be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord (Rom 12:11). We must love our Lord with incorruptible love (Eph 6:24). That fervent spirit whether it’s three or five years from now even until the day we are transfigured, that must not change. This is the characteristic of a true disciple. Only those who remain until the end will be saved, for it is the remnant that will be saved (Rom 9:27). Many people have come and gone from our church. However, only the remnant is present at the time, according to God’s gracious choice (Rom 11:5). This teaches us that being a remnant is not by our own accord, but God must give the grace for us to become the remnant. It was the Apostle John who remained until the very end out of the twelve disciples and wrote the Book of Revelation, the Book of the end times. John was a disciple that Jesus had loved. In one expression, the cross is love. The vertical bar means that we must love God, and the horizontal bar means that we must love our neighbors (Matt 22:36-40). If we desire to remain until the very end as disciples, we must be full of love. If we have time to gossip and talk about other people, use that time to go out and diligently proclaim redemptive history. Let us all be full of the Father’s love like the apostle John and remain until the very end.