Why do we exist? I’ve asked myself this question too many times to count.
It was ten years ago that I was placed on trial by my former denomination and then given an ultimatum. I don’t think the powers that be understood what they were doing, yet nonetheless, they did it: “Either, confess that there is a group of people that cannot be saved, and that, God takes pleasure in their damnation OR lose your church and your credentials.” Although profoundly painful for me, and for many of you, I chose the latter, and many of you chose it with me.
In a few weeks, we had formed the Sanctuary and held our first worship service downtown on Dec. 9, 2007. At the time I didn’t know if this thing we called the Sanctuary would grow into something huge and powerful or dwindle to nothing. But at the time, a friend who often received “words of knowledge” gave me a Scripture text and said it was for me, and, I think . . . all of us. I didn’t plan it this way—honest—but it’s the text I’m scheduled to preach on Dec. 9, 2017: Revelation 3:7-10, the letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia.
Jesus says, “Look, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name” (Revelation 3:8).
His name is Jesus. And, as you know, it means, God is Salvation. I freely confess to being something of a disobedient insecure bonehead and I know that you’re not perfect either, but I do think, by God’s grace, that we have confessed His name. We didn’t renounce it ten years ago, and as others have joined us, we’ve continued to pronounce it and intend to do so in the future.
- If we say that there is a group of people that can’t be saved, aren’t we saying that God is not able to save some?
- And if we say that God takes pleasure in not saving some, aren’t we saying that God doesn’t want to save some? Aren’t we saying God is Salvation some of the time, and the exact opposite the rest of the time? Aren’t we renouncing His name?
We profess that God is One, God is Jesus, and so God is Salvation all the time.
- Folks on the right are tempted to deny “God is Salvation,” by arguing that our judgment, decisions, and choices are salvation, that is, we are salvation.
- Folks on the left are tempted to deny “God is Salvation,” by arguing that we don’t really need to be saved, for there’s nothing to be saved from—we’re already good.
We profess that God is Salvation, who is God’s Word, who speaks words recorded in Scripture that “cannot be broken.” Our aim is to keep His word and not deny His name: God is Salvation!
All of the devil’s works are built on a lie. I think the lie is this: God is NOT Salvation
Pay attention: God is Salvation is not dead theology. God is Salvation is our living Lord. He came to destroy the works of the devil. And it appears that He’d like to use us. He’s not dependent on us, but He invites us to share His Father’s joy.
Jesus loves all of His Church manifest in each city and has a calling on each church in every city. And I think He has a calling on us: “You have little power, but I’ve placed before you an open door.”
For ten years, I’ve complained to God about the little power, and yet, that appears to be part of the plan.
And I’ve honestly been mystified by the open door; I can’t seem to shut it. Hundreds of times I’ve prayed something like this, “OK Jesus, we seem to have very little power (money, resources, programs etc. etc.), so would you like us to quit?” And then, invariably, I see an open door. It may come in the form of a staff member, a building, a conference, folks from around the country connecting online or thousands of people on the other side of the world reading our posts . . . but it’s an open door.
For ten years, it’s felt as if God were saying, “You will have little power, for when you’re weak, I am strong… and look: an open door.”
For ten years, I think He’s asked us (not just an individual, but a church) to be a witness to the whole Church and to the world that God is Salvation.
Our mere existence as a worshipping community is a witness to the whole Church that you don’t have to preach sometimes God is NOT Salvation to glorify God is Salvation—Jesus. And our ministry is a witness to the world that God is Love and so desires to save, God is Almighty and so can save, and God is Jesus and so does save.
A few weeks ago, I returned from a trip to the Philippines where I led a pastor’s conference for thirty-seven pastors from around that country using Downside Up films, which many of you paid for. I also spoke at the Thanksgiving service of (our sister church) The Abundant Grace and Peace Sanctuary. Three others from our church joined me and ministered in a variety of ways. To be quite honest, it was all a bit overwhelming. Many there had paid a steep price for believing the Gospel that we preach, but all were thrilled at the Good News of who our Lord truly is. It was overwhelming . . . but an open door.
We have some that call themselves, “Sanctuary Dallas.” Some gather in Evergreen and some in Denver. Others connect each week by watching or listening on line. You’ve allowed me to speak at conferences, and we’ll be considering the idea of hosting another conference . . . but I think it’s all an open door.
Perhaps the greatest open door is the one that’s in you—I mean Jesus in you. “I am the door,” said Jesus. When you believe God is Salvation, you become a door in the Eternal City that is Salvation, (Rev. 21:12, 25—I’m not just making this up). Your faith that God is Good, even though this world is bad, is a door of hope in this valley of trouble (Hosea 2:15).
Well, I think that’s why we exist; it’s why we’re here. It’s why our staff and board are here. It’s why our building and our programs are here. I think it’s why you are here (in Denver and around the world) because God has placed an open door in front of us, and is Himself an open door in us—open in a way, that is unique to us and a gift to all creation.
It’s the end of the year . . . I’m writing this to remind you that God is working through you and your giving.
I hate writing giving letters because every pastor is tempted by power, and money is power. We have little power and an open door. God is not dependent upon our little power, but I think He’d like to use our little power to display His big beautiful Open Door.
All year we’ve run on a deficit. Just about every year we run on a deficit, until December when monthly giving usually triples. We would love it if giving could be more consistent so we’d encourage you to consider an automatic withdrawal or, at least, a consistent monthly commitment. However, we realize that’s not always possible, and end of the year giving is infinitely better than no giving.
Currently, we are operating with less than one month’s expenses in the bank, and we have diligently cut excess. So your help is greatly appreciated!!!!
Your giving goes to fund all the ministries of the Sanctuary, including ministry in places like the Philippines. (If you’re specifically interested in supporting our recent project to construct a hamburger factory to support local pastors, watch this video, and make a designation on your check). Your giving is your energy. May all your energy be worship, before an open door (Rev. 4:1).
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches (Rev. 3:12). Each of the Seven Letters ends with that line. And I love it. I think it means something like, “May the Spirit in me have a chat with the Spirit in you.” The letter is addressed to the angel, whom I believe is Christ’s Spirit in you. And that’s wonderful news. It means that we, and our budget, are God’s problem. And God knows how to solve all his problems. That’s true no matter what.
However it’s possible—I would suppose—that my friend was just loopy ten years ago, Revelation 3: 7-10 wasn’t meant for us, and now we’ve run our course and it’s time to do something else. But I believe that Revelation 3:7-10 was meant for us, and though we have little power, there is before us an open door that no person can shut. And we will walk through that door together. Either way, whether I’m right or wrong, Jesus will build His church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it—against the Open Door.
So now, would you stop a minute, pray a bit, ask what the Spirit of Jesus is saying to you, and then, to the best of your ability, do accordingly?
It’s a tremendous honor to go on this journey with you, and perhaps, even walk through a door that no man can shut.
You can donate here!