Remember: Jesus Came 2 Peter 1:12-21 Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

Who here can tell me what you had for lunch on October 13, 2019? I had Runza! Why do I know that? Because of this picture! What if I made it a super special day, dinner for Christmas Eve 2020? We had Lou Malnatis pizza!

I can guarantee you ate, had everything you needed to survive otherwise you wouldn’t be here today, but how good is your memory of that? There are only a handful of meals that truly stand out in my mind, that I can recall without pictures on a regular basis! I at times worry that we are guilty of the same thing in our faith. We don’t often spend enough time scrolling back through the pictures of Christianity in our minds, reminding ourselves of the call to daily die to ourselves and be conformed into the image of Jesus. Peter will begin this section saying “I intend to ALWAYS remind you of these things”


  1. Always Remember These Qualities (12-15)

-Therefore connects to last week

-Last week’s big theme was remember your calling, which begins with God’s call through our faith. God has given us everything we need to grow in godliness, therefore we need to continue working to supplement our faith, virtue, etc. So that we can faithfully run the race God has called us all to. 

-These qualities need to be our focus in our lives. Peter says he intends ALWAYS, he never stops harping about these qualities that need to be demonstrated in our lives.

-Yet there’s still the need to be reminded, why do we have to be reminded so often? 

-We are forgetful creatures! Have you ever heard of ‘The Doorway Effect’? Walking through a doorway causes a mental shift in our minds, where our brains move to a new mind space after walking through a doorway. Comic strip at Grace “now why did I come in here?”

-Because we’re forgetful people, the Bible regularly calls God’s people to “remember”

Deut. 5:15 – Sabbath. What purpose does the Sabbath serve? A reminder that God has providentially saved His people! That they used to be enslaved to the Egyptians but God brought them out with a mighty hand and His outstretched arm. That even if they’re enslaved in the future, God will continue to provide for them. Then for us today, it’s why we need to regularly gather together with other believers: to remember and remind. I’d encourage you to think about and approach Sunday morning with those 2 words in mind: remember and remind. Remember that we were once slaves to sin, but God has redeemed us, brought us out with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, so we have a job to help remind those around us about these truths! Remember and remind. This is part of the reason it’s so important for us to GATHER TOGETHER!

Deut. 16:3 – Passover. This feast served as another reminder of what God had done to providentially provide for His people. When an entire country faced the loss of their firstborn sons, God told His people how they could be spared: the blood of a sheep. Thus, Passover is an annual reminder of how God providentially passed over their sins and spared their lives. Similarly for us today, our regular celebration of communion, the new covenant version of the Passover, is a reminder for us of how God now “passes over” our sins because they were dealt with once and for all when Jesus died in our place. I was in CO as COVID hit (just passed the 2 year mark), I pushed for us to not try to find creative ways to celebrate communion, because it’s meant to be a corporate act, an us gathering together unification. I intentionally tried to remind our body that watching online left something missing: the one anothering we’re commanded to. This isn’t just an OT idea:

1 Cor. 15:1 – the gospel. I find it interesting that after 14 chapters (most of the letter!) Paul then decided he needs to remind them of the gospel! It is the lifeblood of the church and every individual Christian. We need the gospel preached to us every day to remind us who we are and who God is! But at the very least, we need to be reminded of these realities every time we gather. Lastly:

2 Tim. 2:8, 14 – Remember who? Jesus Christ risen from the dead! Our whole faith is centered on an historical event, the reality of the empty tomb (which we’ll intentionally celebrate in a few weeks). And finally, there’s a last command from Paul: REMIND THEM! Focus on the empty tomb and quite fighting about issues that don’t matter. Some things won’t change until Jesus comes back, people still like to divide!

-None of these reminders are new! Notice the rest of vs. 12: you know them and are established in them. This means we never arrive that but still have work to do. This means we need to regular reminders in our lives, so keep coming to church to be reminded: you need it, and we need you!

-This reminding has become the primary focus of the ending of Paul’s ministry. ESV “stir you up” Greek literally: “Wake you up” Why do we act like “being woke” is such a bad thing? Biblically, we’re called to be awake! Eph. 5:14 “awake o sleeper, rise from the dead” That’s the gospel message in a nutshell! Wake up! Plead with others to be woken up out of their sleep!

-Peter knows that the end of his life is coming, apparently Jesus told him.

-We have 1 account of Jesus telling Peter of his death in John 21:18 “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.)”

-Could be referring to that text, or that the post resurrected Jesus had appeared to Him some other time and shared with Him that the end was near. Either way, Peter knows he doesn’t have much time left, so what is he focusing on?

-One thing is Peter is refusing to become a bitter old man who’s yelling at the youths to get off his front lawn! Peter is refusing to sit back and let life pass him by.

-Remember last week we saw Peter’s command to make every effort to demonstrate certain characteristics, now we see what he’ll make every effort to do: to remind Christians about the truth. Being a Christian means to be marked by a remembrance of the resurrection. We saw the reminder of Sabbath for God’s people in the OT, now Sunday morning serves as a reminder of the empty tomb. That’s Peter’s 1 remaining goal in his life: make it easy for everyone to remember that reality.

-There are some people today who try to divorce that historical reality from their faith. The avowed atheist Christopher Hitchens was onetime interviewed about one of his new books by a Unitarian minister. 

The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make and distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?

I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.

-Christopher Hitchens, the atheist, understands Christianity than this supposed “minister” And that’s the point that Peter is making here – if we think we ever move beyond the need of regular reminder of empty tomb, we’re not in any meaningful sense a Christian anymore.

-And this is what Peter goes on to remind us of:

  • We Have the Truth (16-21)

-For: reason for everything he’s been talking about

  1. The Word Made Flesh (16-18)

-Cleverly devised myths

-This is not a new accusation! It’s been trendy since the early church to question the realities of what Jesus did on our behalf. I’ve read The Da Vinci Code, that’s not a new proposal! (fun book, terrible historicity) Christians today have a tendency to get so worked up about some of the crazy ideas that come up. Don’t! These ideas have pretty much all come up before, and Christians much smarter than us have responded in some incredibly helpful ways.

-Remember: what we read in the Bible is rooted in historical fact. There is no serious scholar today that questions whether or not Jesus lived, the only valid questions are whether or not you take his claims seriously, which Peter did!

-Power and coming

-We’ll get to this part next week, but part of the purpose of this letter is because there were false teachers denied that Jesus was going to come back (we’ll see some more implications about this in the next section as well)

-Here Peter is reminding that Jesus is coming back. How does he know that? 

-Eyewitnesses of his majesty. Let’s look at the rest of this section as 1 big unit. 

-Eyewitnesses of his majesty, referring to a specific event, the transfiguration. All 3 Synoptic Gospels have the story, and many people think John 1:14 (And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth) refers to it too.

-Through most of His time on earth, Jesus’ divinity was concealed (Phil. 2 talks about Jesus emptying Himself) But the transfiguration was a time where it was completely revealed (Mark almost trips over himself describing it, Jesus’ clothes being bleached whiter than anyone can possibly bleach it). And this revealing was seen by 3 disciples: Peter, James, and John. 

-This revealing wasn’t done just by watching something, they heard the truth spoken too: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” The eye-witnessing also had ear-witnessing to accompany it. 

-It’s important to note this: what they saw was accompanied with an explanation. When they saw Jesus’ as He truly is, the Father told them what He was doing. We see Peter talk about this another time in Acts 4:20 “we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” Do you do the same thing today? Are you at a place where you cannot but speak of what you have seen and heard?

-What’s difficult about this is it was a 1 time event that only 3 people saw, what about today, or other believers who didn’t see this event? 

  • The Word Passed Down (19-21)

-Now today we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed. 

-The first question you should ask is: what prophetic word? Was there some kind of prophecy the early church was aware of that we don’t have today? Everyone agrees Peter is referring to the OT, the question is: is he saying the OT is more fully confirmed than his eyewitness or that the Transfiguration confirms the OT prophecies? I tend to lead toward the former, that the OT is more fully confirmed since it’s something we can all look to together, and it’s what he goes on to talk about in the next verse.

-Since this word has been more fully confirmed, we need to pay attention to it. That means read it, study it, grow in it. This is a more fleshed out version of what we saw last week in vs. 3, we have been giving “ALL THINGS that pertain to life and godliness.” What God has given us is this prophetic word, the Bible! It should be the focus of our whole lives, like a light shining in the darkness.

-Have you ever been in a cave or even a room that’s pitch black? Your eyes start craving light, searching for any little speck of it to try to make sense of the space you’re in. That’s what the Bible is meant to do and be for us: the guiding light in the darkness. But only for a season, because someday:

-Day dawns, morning star will rise in our hearts.

-This is talking about the day when Jesus will come back. This was prophesied about back in Num. 24:17: You probably remember the guy who gave this prophecy, Balaam, who rode a talking donkey. “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth.”

-Until Jesus returns, we need to pay close attention to God’s Word, this is our remaining source of authority that God has chosen to use. We’ll see in a minute that people will try to use this and twist and distort it to fit their own ideas or agendas, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true! It means we need to continue correcting our interpretations. This connects back to last week with the “knowledge” that we need to add.

-The remaining 2 verse get to the doctrine of inspiration. You’ve most likely heard me pray at the beginning of my messages for “the inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word” Sermon’s generally aren’t meant to be teaching of theology, but when theology comes up in the text, I’ll share it!

-Wayne Grudem defines inspiration as “a term referring to the fact that the words of Scripture are spoken by God.”(1512)  

-“first of all” the starting point or foundation for this doctrine is the reality that no prophecy of Scripture (different than just prophecy, different topic for a different time!) comes just from someone’s own interpretation. This has a few implications:

-People twist Scripture to support their ideas, even during Peter’s time! (come up again in chapter 3) But Scripture, under the inspiration and direction of God aren’t brought about by an individual’s interpretation. Which means:

-Scripture isn’t just what people wanted to say. God was using various people to record the things that His people needed to be equipped for life and godliness. 

-Prophecy requires correct interpretation. Just as the transfiguration was accompanied with an explanation, so prophecy is meant to be connected to an explanation (Paul explains this further in 1 Cor. 14 if you want to study that on your own time)

-To double down on this, Peter emphasizes that NO prophecy comes just through someone desiring to do it, instead men “spoke from God.” That is, they uttered the very words God wanted them to! These words took places as they were:

-Carried along

-Not just dictation (although there are some instances where God told people to write this down) wasn’t possessing people as if they each went into a trance then when they came out of the trance they had the Bible in front of them.

-God used people’s own language, experiences, and skills to capture exactly what He wanted captured for His people until He comes back.

-The illustration my dad always used with me growing up was me “mowing” the lawn with him when I was 3-4 years old. Who’s actually doing all the work? But who thinks they’re doing it? The Holy Spirit was working through people to be a blessing to God’s people. But here’s the best part about that, who carried the authors of Scripture along?

-Holy Spirit

-same Spirit that inspired the Bible allows faithful interpretation today. Each time we come to God’s Word we pray for the Spirit to continue His work in us. The same work that inspired the authors when it was first written down.

-All of this is meant to center around and point us to the reality that Jesus came. What we read, study and devote ourselves to isn’t (as every other religion is) some cleverly devised myth, instead everything we believe centers around the realities of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And as I’ve heard, if you believe that someone has risen from the dead, the rest of the miracles in the Bible seem minor in comparison! 

Benediction (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the people of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Remember Your Calling – 2 Peter 1:1-11 Sermon

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-New series

Lombardi: gentlemen, this is a football. John Wooden: “Please take off your shoes and socks. I’m going to show you the proper way to put them back on.”

-The fundamentals make a huge difference in life. Russel Westbrook, UNC/Baylor

-In 2 Peter, Peter goes back to the fundamentals to remind Christians what we need to keep as the focus in our lives.

-Can almost guarantee that at some point/points I’ll refer to Peter as Paul, just warning you now!


  1. God Has Provided (1-4)

-Simeon – Hebrew spelling of Simon. Peter – most well known name.

-2 Peter is Peter’s last will and testament that we have recorded.

-Most of you know/remember who Peter is: one of the first 12 disciples, one of Jesus closest 3, saw the transfigured Jesus, and still disowned him on the last night. Often spoke far quicker than his brain could keep up.

-Quickly became a leader in the early church (I would think anyone who preaches their first sermon and has 3,000 conversions would pretty quickly become the leader)

-We know he wasn’t perfect, Galatians tells the story of Peter’s slide back into ethnocentrism. And that should encourage all of us! No one has arrived, no one is perfect (this side of heaven), even when we fall back into old habits/patterns of sin we still can be restored and reconciled.

-Think of all the things Peter has been a witness to: a few miraculous catches, walking on the water, Transfiguration, betrayal and crucifixion, an empty tomb, the ascension, the explosive growth of the early church spreading across the entire Roman empire, this persecutor Saul being miraculously converted, and now he’s imprisoned in Rome counting down the days to his death: the day that he’ll see his Savior once again. If you were in Peter’s shoes, what is the last message you’d give? Peter begins the same way the great coaches have: the fundamentals. 

-Notice his description of himself: servant first, apostle second. Common way of starting epistles (Romans and Titus begin the same way). Peter is very intentional to begin by reminding everyone their place in their faith: a servant of Jesus. We’re all serving someone or something, the best person to be serving is Jesus. Only when he mentions the servant does he then go on to the apostle part.

-We have the author of the letter, then he shares who he’s writing to: those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours.

-This should blow your minds! Peter, the early Apostles are no better off than we are today! We’re saved by the same means (faith in Jesus Christ as our atoning sacrifice), we’re indwelled by the same Spirit, we have access to the same Father. The only difference is what year we’re living in.

-That’s why Peter goes on to say this equal standing comes from the same place: God’s righteousness. Because God is perfectly righteous (morally perfect) The death, burial, and resurrection of His Son provides the way for everyone else to be made righteous too. This righteousness is freely given to anyone who believes. 

-Introductions out of the way, now onto the customary greeting: grace and peace.

-Combination of Greek and Hebrew greeting became the normal greeting in the early church. Grace from Greek, peace (shalom) from Hebrew (Jewish).

The order matters greatly, because you don’t have Christianity if those 2 words are reversed. Think of how most (every?) other world religion operates: if you can get somehow attain peace either through a specific set of practices, or emptying yourself THEN you can get favor/grace. I think we have a tendency to act the same, don’t we? We try to get our lives in order, we try to fix ourselves, try to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, THEN God will bless us! But that is literally the opposite of what the gospel says! The gospel says you can’t ever get grace, you could work for eternity and still not get enough peace to merit God’s grace. That’s why the gospel flips that idea on its head (and I think another reason Christianity couldn’t have been invented by mere humans). Even today’s text begins with grace and then moves to peace. God calls us, God has made us partakers of His divine nature, God has given us all the grace we need, and because of that grace, we can now “make every effort,” which we’ll see in the next section.

-Notice how this grace and peace are multiplied: through knowledge. Knowledge isn’t salvific (demons believe James 2:19) but it’s how we grow. Knowledge throughout the Bible isn’t merely mental ascent (as if we just have to reach a certain level of theological understanding and then we’re done). Instead, what we’re supposed to be doing is applying/living out the knowledge that we learn. James 2 reminds us that if we don’t have works with our faith, then our faith is dead. BUT in order to know how we should be acting, we need to grow in our knowledge, think of them as 2 wings to a plane. What happens if you only have 1 wing? Not good things! In order to grow more like Jesus, we need knowledge and applying that knowledge (faith and works). What knowledge do we need? Look at vs. 3

-His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.

-Seems like a weird phrase, doesn’t it? Why doesn’t he just say GOD has given us everything we need? Peter is reminding us the source of growth. We can’t do these things in our own power (just as we can’t get more grace from God). Everything we do and are comes from Him!

-Notice too how much He has given to us: ALL things! When God makes deals, he’s all in, there’s no half and half in Christianity! EVERYTHING we need related to life and godliness. 

-If you (like me) have ever shopped at Ikea first thing you gotta do is check to make sure all the parts arrived! Don’t want to get halfway through and find out you’re missing a screw. However, if you’re also like me you have a tendency to just jump in instead of wasting the time counting screws! With God, you don’t need to worry if all the parts are there, it’s guaranteed!

-Notice that Peter repeats himself, this comes about through KNOWLEDGE

-God has given us grace, He has called us, given us everything we need, in order for us to be glorious and excellent.

-No excuse to not live a godly life (we’ll get to that)

-Partakers of divine nature. God’s promises (seen throughout the whole Bible) are the means by which we get to join with his divine nature. 2 things:

1-relates to our last series: we are being remade into the image of God. Remember, the fall tainted our image bearing like a carnival mirror, God now is working to refine us and correct us so that we can accurately image Him to the world. And we can do that because we’ve escaped the corruption of the world.

2-We no longer need to sin! We are new creatures, we don’t need to give into the sin nature of everyone else. God has provided everything we need to say no!

Think of it like this: when kids come into your life they suddenly have dibs on all your stuff. You no longer have any possessions. (me taking Lucy’s pacifier, her laughing and grabbing it back) Similarly, when God adopts us into His family, we now have access to everything that’s His (that’s a lot!) But it also comes with specific expectations: living a certain way.

-This is everything God does. Our faith, our righteousness begins with His initiative. But then we have work to do, at least as long as we’re still on this side of heaven!

  • We Make Every Effort (5-11)

-We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ Jesus alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.

-Spurgeon: how do you reconcile divine sovereignty and human responsibility? “I never have to reconcile friends. Divine sovereignty and human responsibility have never had a falling out with each other. I do not need to reconcile what God has joined together.”

  1. Increase in These Ways (5-7)

-Make every effort.

-This doesn’t just happen. It takes time, work, intentionality, just like anything else in life! How do you get batter at something? You’ve gotta commit to working your tail off to improve! Just as we saw at the beginning of the message, you don’t ever assume! You need to be reminded of the basics regularly and then build off of them. Spend HOURS working, practicing, fine tuning

Carson: “People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, and obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”

-Peter commands us make EVERY effort. This isn’t like the Matrix, where something gets downloaded to Neo’s brain and suddenly “I know kung fu” There’s something in all of us to want an easy Christianity (what Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace”) but what Christ calls us to do isn’t easy. It is impossible. It is daily dying to yourself. It is so hard, but the rewards are worth every pain. And don’t forget, all of it begins with what God has provided. We already have everything we need!

-Peter then moves on to a list of character traits that should be evident in our lives.

-Faith: the starting point. Most of the time I fear that all our efforts are aimed at conversion as if that’s the finish line. Conversion is just the beginning!

-Virtue: Same word in vs. 3 “excellence” Another reminder that this is only because of God at work in us! 

-Knowledge: there’s that word again! Need to continue growing in knowledge of God, who He is, what He’s done, what He expects of us.

-Self-control: not easily prone to give into selfish impulses, the corruption of the world.

-Steadfastness: not giving up, remaining faithful

-Godliness: better reflecting God’s image, looking/becoming more and more like Jesus

-Brotherly affection: first of the horizontal implications, ties into Jesus’ words in John 14

-Love: the final apologetic! Love binds everything together in perfect harmony

-Not comprehensive (look at Gal. 5 or Rom. 5)

  • To Remain Effective & Fruitful (8-9)

-IF – qualifier. These are meant to be descriptive of us, and not just now, we need to get better, stronger, deeper at them as we continue to grow. That’s why Peter says: increasing: We need to continue growing, don’t give up! If you’re still alive, still on this side of heaven, you still have growth to do! Because if we continue growing, it prevents:

-Ineffective, unfruitful.

-I think all of us would say we aim to be effective in all areas of our lives (I had a season where I was obsessed with lifehacks, like the 4 hour work week) But this is reminding us that we cannot neglect being effective in our spiritual lives as well. Just as it takes work/effort to grow more physically fit, it takes work/effort to grow more spiritually fit.

-Similarly, our goal is fruitfulness, literally bearing fruit (Gal. 5) think of the cursed fig tree who wasn’t producing fruit (parable for the temple)

-So in order to be effective/fruitful, it comes from having your foundation rooted in “the knowledge” (there it is again!) of our Lord Jesus Christ

-But what if we forget to do this? Peter says you’re so nearsighted you’re blind!

-The word nearsighted is squinting in order to see, so think of someone squinting so hard they shut their eyes

-What Peter is saying is: our gaze is meant to be always forward looking, always looking for heaven, instead of dropping our eyes down to the here and now

-We have a tendency today to become so nearsighted that all we can see is our own issues, problems, ideas. Think of some of the pictures you may have seen of people staying at their phones. You could walk a kangaroo through and people would miss it! But that’s become so normal! I’ve found 1 good thing to come out of Twitter:

-This is Peter’s point, if we neglect to continue growing like Jesus, if we neglect refining our image, we’re as faithful as someone staring at their phone, forgetting both their past and their future! Past, forgetting that we’ve been cleansed from our sins, and future that we have heaven to look forward to!

-So instead of being near sighted, lift up your gaze, and start to practice.

  • Practice! (10-11)

-Summarizing this section (therefore) everything has been building up to this final exhortation.

-confirm calling and election. How do you confirm your calling and election?

-These 2 words are very similar in meaning, and this doesn’t diminish anything that God does, remember the first part of this section is what God has done, this half is emphasizing our proper response. We confirm our calling and election by actively living out the character traits in vs. 5-7

-One commentator said “Those who live ungodly lives show no evidence that they truly belong to God, that they have genuinely received forgiveness.” THAT is how we confirm our calling and election: by living holy lives. 

-We have to admit, that is an impossible goal! We’ll never fully arrive, that’s why Peter says we:

-Practice: virtue list

-What does it mean that we’ll never fall? Because I sense that as I grow in holiness I’m just made more aware of all the areas I fail/fall! In this case, Peter is saying you won’t fall away from your salvation.

-You will continue to stumble/fall, but still moving forward. I love the name of one of the books on the history of the EFCA: “Stumbling Toward Maturity” We only get to maturity by stumbling. But look what happens at the end of our stumbling:

-Rich entrance

-Seen a cross country race? People stumble, collapse. You’re taught to continue running THROUGH the finish line. This is those who continue running through to a beautiful ceremony.

-The saints are cheering us on (Heb. 12) in this race, keep pushing! We need to be cheering each other on to keep practicing these things!

-Ladies and gentlemen: this is the Word of the Lord! Let’s get busy practicing it!

BENE (Heb. 12:1-2):

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

The Wordly Image – Ephesians 2:11-22

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Conclusion of our series, let’s take a minute and think back to everything we’ve studied

-Every human is created in the image of God: from conception to natural death. Nothing you can or will do changes that reality. Because God is the Creator, He has determined how our bodies best work and function, so if you want to flourish as a human, obey God as He has commanded us to live in His Word and world.

-The fact that we’re created in His image has 3 primary implications: relational, functional, and structural. We are called into a relationship that entails a role that we are uniquely designed to do.

-This idea of being created in the image of God has unfortunately been sidelined in many evangelical circles leading to us being unable to speak into some very important issues of our day. Things like: gender discussions, sexuality, racial reconciliation, rest, work, the list could go on to pretty much everything we do since we’re humans!

-It’s hard not to look at how unifying sports are in the USA as an example of what the church is supposed to look like. 

-I love basketball, have almost my whole life. First word was “ball” My poor wife didn’t know what she was getting into – on our honeymoon I made her adjust our whole schedule around when the Golden State Warriors were playing (no joke!) We were in Hawaii, so most often games were during dinner, which meant I was googling whether or not the restaurant we were looking at had TVs.

-Something happens when you’re with a bunch of people who are cheering for the same team (we lived in CO when the Broncos won the Superbowl – the whole state went crazy!) But then you even start to look for fellow fans out in “normal” life. People you wouldn’t normally associate with are packed in knees to shoulders yelling, screaming, and cheering together. But generally, the comradery doesn’t go beyond the game. In the church, it’s mean to be a place where we’re all up in each others business 24/7. 

-The question before us today is: how do we ensure we’re reflecting the correct image together? AKA what team are you on?

READ/PRAY (pg. 568)

-Begins with “therefore” continuation of Paul’s previous argument. First 10 verses talk about the uniqueness of God saving us by grace through faith. There’s nothing we can do to add or take away from that, and now we get to walk in the reality of the resurrection. Emphasizes the restoration of the vertical relationship between us and God. God has provided a way for us to have a reconciled relationship with Him: by grace through faith. But this leads him to the horizontal implications of this:

  1. Remember What You Were (11-12)

-“Remember” we saw this idea back in Rom. 1 a couple weeks ago. One of the ways unrighteousness is made visible is in the world is through not giving thanks to God (Rom. 1:21). 

-One of the markers of a Christian is someone who regularly remembers and gives thanks to God. Whatever circumstances we’re in, God is still good.

-In this case, Paul is encouraging the believers to remember what they were.

-Ephesians was written to a church with different ethnicities in it. Remember from last week, we saw in Acts 15 that this was a big issue in the early church! How can they get along and be unified?

-Unification comes by remembering what everyone once was!

-He specifically addressed the “Gentiles” in this text, but then notice the descriptions of the Gentiles: “in the flesh.” Happens twice!

-Does an external, physical change save you? If you remember to last week the answer is NO! Paul is saying the only difference between the 2 groups is a physical distinction, which doesn’t matter when it comes to salvation.

-These Gentiles (only in the flesh) were referred to in a derogatory way “the uncircumcision” (the haves and the have nots, just leave it at that!) It’s true that there are only 2 ways to live, but circumcision isn’t the marker, it’s faith! Paul doubles down on the fleshliness of this: “by hands.” Not something God does!

12 – another call to remember! 

-“At that time” past tense, not a present reality. At one time, in the past:

-Separated, alienated, and strangers, Which meant: no hope and no God. What sad place to be! 

-Paul goes on a tear here listing all the terrible things that come from that. They were separated from Christ, aliens to the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise. Another way of saying all of those is the Gentiles were the “others.” BUT they chose to be there! This is a little different than the ethnic divides we often see in the world!

-Because they chose to be “others” they had no hope. There was nothing to look forward to, nothing to give them comfort in the midst of struggle. The reason they had no hope is because they were without God.

-Before we continue, I need to ask if this is any of you. Are you hopeless and without God? Are you separated from Christ? You don’t have to stay there! And it begins with:

  • Remember What Jesus Does (13-17)

-Paul loves comparing with “But” The best word in the English language for us is “but”

-In the first section of Eph. 2 Paul does something similar to here where he reminds us that we were once dead. BUT GOD, who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ! Similarly here, he’s contrasting the ways of the world, the ways we once lived (past tense) with our current state (present tense)

-If you’re in Christ, those who were once far off (othered) are now brought near.

-If you’ve ever seen Sesame Street, Grover: near, far.

-Jesus’ sacrificial death provides the only way for us to be brought near to God. And we’re not only brough near:

-Jesus’ death provides peace. 

-Text says “He Himself IS our peace.” Peace throughout the Bible is more than just the absence of conflict. When so many people use peace today it’s far too narrow in it’s application. I’ve seen social media posts saying to pray for peace in Ukraine! I totally agree, but true lasting peace isn’t just the absence of war: it’s everything being rightly ordered. Relationships, cities, homes, the earth. Biblical peace is something we hope and pray for, but we recognize that this side of heaven true peace will never happen.

-This connects back to the OT Aaronic blessing in Num. 6 “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” God has given us peace, but it took the sacrifice of His one and only Son. That’s how God blesses us! Not monetarily, not physically, but He brings us near. 

-This near-ness, this peace, lack of “othering” means these 2 completely different groups of people are now 1 new group. This happened because Jesus broke down the dividing wall of hostility. A couple ways this applies: 

-First is what is described in vs. 15, the OT commandments. We know Jesus says He came not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17). A better way of translating that Greek word is: nullifying. The OT served as the point of distinction from every surrounding ethnicity. Meant to be obedient so they would shine as lights into the world and image God to others. They didn’t always do that well! Wanted to be like everyone else. It’s hard being the outlier! 

-The second implication Paul is talking about here is referring to a literal wall that separated the Gentile section from the Jewish section at the temple. The divide was so sharp, that Gentiles weren’t even allowed past that wall.

-Peter talks about this in Acts 10:28 “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation.” It was illegal under Jewish law to “associate or visit.” 

-How do you think that affected the most sacred space for them, the temple? They have excavated some of the signs that hung on that dividing wall: “No foreigner is to enter within the forecourt and the balustrade around the sanctuary. Whoever is caught will have himself to blame for his subsequent death.” That’s the ultimate “no trespassing” sign! Paul delt with the same problem, a riot is started in Acts 21 because they assumed he’d brought an Ephesian into the temple. Jesus dealt with the exact same thing! 

-Most people use the cleansing of the temple as an example for us to be angry today, but what Jesus was really upset about was the way the Jews were “othering” Gentiles.

-This article: “In Mark 11:15–19, Jesus returns to the temple to cleanse it the day after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Part of the corrupt situation he finds involves race-based systematized injustice. While the religious leaders protected the peace of the inner courts where Jews prayed and worshiped the Lord, they brazenly turned the court of the Gentiles into a noisy smelly livestock exchange and marketplace because of racialized bitterness. Jesus smells the ethnocentrism and the injustice, and it infuriates him.

Everything about the temple was intended to point to the coming Christ. And Jesus knows this ethnocentrism is a complete misrepresentation, a repudiation of the saving purposes of the God who would make his Christ to be a “light to the nations” (Isa. 49). In his zeal, Jesus completely dismantles the livestock exchange, refuses to let anybody pass through, and so restores the court for the Gentiles to pray. Then he exposits Isaiah 56:7: “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?”

-All of that weight, history, understanding contained in that 1 phrase: dividing wall of hostility. And think about it: what ways do you see Christians today trying to enact walls to keep others out? We don’t put up literal walls, but we do have a tendency to create a list of rules or expectations we have for people, don’t we? Wear certain kinds of clothes, live in a certain part of town, make enough money, follow a specific code of conduct. In what ways are we adding to the simplicity of the gospel message? Because when Jesus comes, he gets rid of all that! He removes the cultural stipulations from Judaism and creates a new way of peace and reconciliation. This isn’t saying those things don’t matter, they do, but keep them in perspective! Allow the Holy Spirit to work in people!

-I think this even gets to one of the prevalent issues in our world today: deconstruction. 

-Because of the ways we’ve so enmeshed our faith and our culture (in conservative Evangelicalism) those who start to question some of the cultural pieces end up throwing out the faith with the culture. Instead of deconstructing, we need to disenculturate – separate the cultural trappings from the true essence of the biblical message. Doesn’t mean we go squishy on truth! But we need to understand that which is truly true. Dynamics of Spiritual Life pgs 186-7.

-Another reason for this movement is because the church hasn’t been willing to stand in the gap and address difficult topics like race. Many Christians were so enmeshed in their culture they weren’t able to separate that which was Christian from that which was American.

-Another component to the deconstruction phenomenon is the supposed individuality of it, yet everyone who deconstructs is following the same path/trajectory. “claiming to become wise.” Paul even addresses that idea! By nullifying the OT ways, Jesus creates a brand-new corporate identity. We, as individuals, are nothing, but once we are in Christ, we’re unstoppable! Not even the gates of hell can prevail against the church! But the church also assumes that we need each other! And most of the time, the first step toward deconstruction is abandoning the church. 

-Church: look at this carefully: the culmination of us BEING/BECOMING the church is peace (15). That is the only way true, lasting peace is going to come to earth. Look how vs, 16 goes on to talk about this:

-Peace comes about by reconciliation, but notice that BOTH parties need to be reconciled. This isn’t a one sided issue. Both groups are sinners, and when sinners gather together sin is going to happen. 

-This is something we saw last week with George Yancey’s approach to “Mutual accountability approach.” We need to address the depraved human nature in all of us.

-This peace also only comes about THROUGH a bloody, hostile act: the cross. Jesus bore the weight, burden, and struggle for every sin, but unless we believe in the comprehensiveness of that payment, hostility will continue to happen. Jesus said that: wars, rumors of wars. Life is hostile this side of Eden and before eternity. But it doesn’t need to be.

17 When Jesus came, he preached the exact same message to both parties: Jews and Greeks, those who were far off and those who were near. They both needed a Savior! The Jews from their good works, the Gentiles to do good works! But the message is exactly the same: peace can happen, but only through faith in Jesus. It doesn’t matter how close or how far you are: it takes faith! Then once you have faith, you need to:

  • Remember What You Are (18-22)

-THROUGH Him. Who is the Him? Jesus! It is quite literally through Him, through His body placed on a tree where His blood was poured out for you and me. Through his death, burial, resurrection, and consequent victory over sin and death we both (those who are near and those who are far) have access in the same Spirit to the Father.

-Everyone can now become a son or daughter of the Most High God! It is through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to cry out “Abba! Father!” and boldly come into His presence without fear or shame.

-Paul uses the rest of this section to mixing metaphors to describe the status of those who are now a part of the Church.

-Fellow citizens, members of the household of God, a structure built on the apostles, prophets, and Jesus, a holy temple, a dwelling place for God. All those descriptions are true of us right now. In Eph. 2:6 Paul says we are RIGHT NOW “seated in the heavenly places.” All these descriptions are meant to be true of the church TODAY! Obviously, it won’t be perfected until Jesus returns, but that doesn’t stop us from working toward this end! What does all this mean, and what does it have to do with the racial/ethnic divides in our world today?

-First, we need to seriously recapture what it means to be the church.

-Has happened since the church was founded: people like to badmouth the church. I get it! The church has done some horrific things in the past! We looked at some of the ways the church in the USA has pushed for segregation, or marginalization of women, or any number of things. BUT the church is what Jesus literally died for. No other human entity, group, or organization can claim that.

-The church is a supernatural idea. Look again at the descriptions. We MUST fight for unity through the power of the Holy Spirit.

-Not a social club, not a place where likeminded people gather together

-We need to get uncomfortable here, be stretched, challenged, pushed, encouraged

-“Called out ones” this isn’t an addition to our otherwise busy weeks, this is meant to center our lives, to transform our lives, to make us new.

-Be a part of the “red church”

-Tony Merida: “a group of people, from every tribe and tongue, that has been redeemed by the torn-apart Christ, who spilled His red blood that we may be reconciled to God and to one another! “

-We do this by intentionally going to every ethnicity: invite them over, spend time with them, share stories with each other.

-We need to pick up the mantle and preach peace to those who are near and far.

-Disenculturate from the places where it’s too American, and then we have the freedom to re-enculturate the gospel message in any context we’re in! Paul can say I have become all things to all people: we can go to every ethnicity!

Ethnocentrism in the Early Church – Acts 15

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

Reminder: this is a very unique/different series! We’re taking some biblical and theological truths, seeing what they say, and then applying them to various cultural ideas today.

-Foundation of the image of God, which is the reality that every human is worthy of dignity, honor, and respect simply because they’re human. This has relational, functional, and structural implications. 

-Last week we saw the worldly image. The ways the world images the creation instead of the Creator, and the most direct application to that is seen in the broken sexuality of so many people today. Still humans, still created in God’s image, just a distorted image.

-Today we’ll look at ethnocentrism in the early church. We’ll get to some definitions in a little bit, but I want to start with the Bible!

-How does the Bible speak to ___ issue? DOES the Bible speak to ____?


  1. Salvation

-Christianity started as a Jewish sect. Had a whole way of life, specific holidays, foods, ways of existing that were distinct from everyone else.

-Torah even included the identity markers required for sojourners/strangers who wanted to become a part of God’s people. (circumcision and following the law) Might even say the Pharisees had a good point! They were the ones following the Bible! That was how one came into the family of God.

-The problem became apparent when suddenly Gentiles started trusting in Jesus. What was the early church going to do in response? Did Jesus’ arrival change anything in how believers acted and behaved, or was it just a continuation of the same rules and expectations? 

-This was a watershed moment in the life of the early church! The definition of the gospel literally depended on it! Is salvation by faith alone in Christ alone, or are we saved by faith + works (cultural distinctions)?

-If you didn’t realize it, most of the NT is the outworking of these questions, and the implications they bring up. How do people from 2 utterly different backgrounds, from completely different cultural understandings come together and be unified in 1 church? How can the family of God continue to exist as a family? What does obedience to God look like?

-Passage begins in Antioch, then transitions to Jerusalem (about 250 miles away) where starting point and authority for the beginning of the church is centered. First example in Scripture of a members meeting vs. 7: “after there had been much debate.” Nice to know some things never change!

-First, Peter stands up. The first Apostle to be called to the Gentiles (most likely referring to his visit to the Italian Cornelius after being encouraged to eat bacon for the first time!) Peter reminds the room that the law was given to demonstrate to the Jews that they couldn’t keep it! Salvation comes only through the grace of Jesus.

-Then, Paul and Barnabas tell what has happened on their missionary journey, and finally, James, the half-brother of Jesus (same mom, different dad) shares how this is the fulfilment of the prophets. Now the elders have spoken! 

-4 things, not salvific, but for fellowship and unity in the body: food offered to idols, sexual immorality, things that have been strangled, and blood. Doesn’t 1 of those sound much more important than the others? Most likely the Gentiles had a VERY different sexual ethic than the Jews (we looked at some of that last week) yet the church calls Christians to sexual purity.

-Not contrary to Rom. 14 or Acts 10, they don’t need to DO anything to be saved, but because of the desire to live in true fellowship with each other, this would allow the Jews & Gentiles to live life together, to have table fellowship with each other. Remember that, it’ll come up again. 

-Paul and Barnabas are then sent back to Antioch with the good news: your ethnicity no longer matters! Salvation comes through the grace of Jesus alone! 

-The Great Commission literally commands us to go into all the ethnes, ethnicities of the world and make disciples. Command to Abraham, and Israel too

-So what is the purpose of the wide variety of ethnicities across the world? 

  • Ethnicity

-Like many of you, I’ve been watching with shame what is taking place in Ukraine over the past week. So many people refused to admit Putin actually meant what he said, until the day when the Russian forces invaded the borders of Ukraine. It has been fascinating to read what Putin has been repeatedly saying regarding the history of the 2 countries. According to him, the West’s influence on Ukraine has led to Nazis being in control, and everyone in Ukraine was just waiting for the troops to FINALLY come in and bring them back under Russian rule.

-I started thinking about how often a false understanding of history has affected conversations and realities today. Is America a failed/doomed experiment, completely flawed from it’s foundation as the 1619 Project articulates? Is American Exceptionalism the name of the game and America is now God’s chosen nation? Maybe it’s some of both!

-“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” Edmund Burke

-If we misdiagnose the problem, it will lead to more harm than good. If we don’t understand how we got to where we are today with the difficulty of conversations, or refuse to acknowledge some of the ways Christians have historically been complicit in sins we’ll never understand why people are frustrated. 

-Similarly with the Jew/Gentile divides in the NT: the 2 ethnicities worked to empathize/understand each other so they could live in true unity with each other.

-As we enter into this discussion, we need to be on the same page. The world uses all sorts of words with different definitions than I would use them. Even pronouns are losing their purpose in our culture. So some terminology that I’ll be using:

-Race. Vs. ethnicity. Race is a social construct meant to elevate certain ethnic groups above others. Historically in the US it has been used to elevate whites to positions of power and influence. Where people often get frustrated is there’s 1 race: the human race. The Bible uses the word ethne as the distinctive word, where we get ethnicities. The world continues using the word “race” and since most people understand that, I will almost always begin conversations using the word “race” since it’s understood. Then as the conversation continues we can get to redefining words. When talking to unbelievers always celebrate the places where they’re pointing to truth! Even when the world is using a different dictionary than us, we need to look for every opportunity to point them to truth!

-Reconciliation: hasn’t everything been reconciled? Until Christ returns NO! That’s what Bruce’s favorite passage is all about: 2 Cor. 5. Until He comes back there is ALWAYS reconciliation that needs to take place.

-Don’t use buzzwords like: CRT: advanced legal theory that very few people understand, BLM: the organization is deplorable but the sentiment is something we should totally agree with (black lives matter too), defund the police. We don’t need hashtags, organizations, or the world to tell us how to deal with the sin of racism/ethnocentrism, God does in His Word!

-NOT a standalone message! Everything else has been building up to this. I also only have ___ min left, so I obviously have to be selective in what I’m bringing in.

-History of ethnocentrism in the USA (define ethnocentrism). This isn’t the first place we see slavery, and unfortunately wasn’t the last place, still slavery today, however we need to understand/remember OUR history so in order to remind us:

-Aug. 1619, the first slave ship arrived at Jamestown, VA, beginning a deplorable history that we can do nothing but condemn. At the beginning here, I want to mention something we have to wrestle with: Christians were both the most vocal supporters and opponents to the slave trade in the USA. We just have to admit both of those realities when engaging this conversation.

-Trans-Atlantic slave trade transported between 10-12 million men, women, and children from their homes to various other parts of the world to work as unpaid labor and be viewed as another’s property. Families ripped apart, people treated as subhuman. For every 100 who reached the Western hemisphere, 40 died either during the march to the coast or during the “Middle Passage.” There are countless human remains sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean until the resurrection. This carried on until 1808, which didn’t end slavery, but shifted to:

-Domestic slave trade. Instead of shipping humans over from Africa, they started being sold domestically. Imaging giving birth to a beautiful baby, seeing that baby growing up before your eyes, then suddenly you’re ripped away and sold to another plantation, never to see your family again.

-While slavery was finally outlawed at the conclusion of the Civil War (1865), there were still laws on the books (Jim Crow laws) that negatively affected people of color for another 99 years. This is where the idea of “separate but equal” took hold. There would be a white bathroom, and a colored bathroom, and again this carried on for almost 100 years. 

-Sermon from a well-known, conservative pastor: “If you are against segregation and against racial separation, then you are against God Almighty because He made racial separation in order to preserve the race through whom He could send the Messiah and through whom He could send the Bible. God is the author of segregation. God is the author of Jewish separation and Gentile separation and Japanese separation. God made of one blood all nations, but He also drew the boundary lines between races.”

-During this time, if there was a perceived slight or offense toward a white person, without a jury there could be a public execution known as a lynching. These would often become public spectacles where a body was beaten beyond recognition, and body parts taken as souvenirs.

-While the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made segregation illegal, how long do you think it took for people of color to make up the lost ground from the past 300 years?

-Redlining 1935-1977. FHA provided government backed loans to people, but would draw red lines around “poor” (black) areas. Many of those places remain the poorest neighborhoods to this day!

-My history, as I’ve been digging into this issue further:

-My great grandparents immigrated here in the 1890s from Norway. Great grandpa came through Canada to ND, great grandma came through Ellis Island eventually making her way to ND. Personally, I viewed the racial issue as a “southern” thing. That was until last Nov. 

-Had the wonderful privilege of joining a number of other pastors from our district to travel to Montgomery, AL and visit The Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The Legacy Museum traces the history of African Americans since they were brought over on ships, and then the implications of those relationships that continue down through today. It was unbelievably hard. One of the first areas of the museum was this picture. An African artist is capturing the faces/bodies of many different Africans to use in this exhibit. Yet there was a shocking contrast. I love the beach, the rhythmic pounding of the waves, the sand between my toes. Yet for over 10 million people, this was their last sight of their home country. The faces grimacing in pain, chains holding them together doesn’t correlate to the image of the beach I have in my mind today.

-A little further down the hall was some hologram images of actors sharing stories that had been written down by former slaves. The one that got me was 2 children who kept shouting “Mommy! Mommy! Have you seen my mommy?”

-Finally, they got to lynching. Did you know that Duluth, MN was the site of a lynching in 1920. Isaac McGhie, Elmer Jackson, Elias Clayton lynched in front of 10,000 people. Afterwards, postcards were sold commemorating the event.

-After some time in The Legacy Museum the group went to The National Memorial for Peace and Justice. There are over 800 boxes shaped like coffins that track (to the best of their ability) the lynching’s that took place. Each box stands for a county and there are name or names on each of them. And MN is up there. 3 people, created in the image of God, were “othered” and killed.

-It wasn’t just MN! My whole family is from ND: Law 1943: “If any judge, justice of the peace, priest, or any person authorized to solemnize the rites of matrimony knowingly shall perform the ceremony of marriage for any white person with a negro person, he shall be punished by imprisonment…or by a fine…or by both such fine and imprisonment.”

-For my grandparents, America was the land of opportunity, for others it was the land of enslavement. Story from ‘Weep With Me’ about college admission. How do we “weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice” regarding this history? Many people ask what’s the point of reliving history? Because we need to understand it in order to better address the problems we see today. Just like a person, countries have good and bad history that we need to acknowledge. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else! The foundation has cracks. No country is heaven, until we get to heaven we are commanded to continue bringing reconciliation wherever we live!

-That’s all very interesting and moving history, but what does that do for us today?

  • Engagement

-Many people have done some fascinating studies on how we engage this important topic, and I believe we NEED to engage it, because so many people in our current cultural climate are concerned about it.

-I at times wonder if, in our pursuit of being quick to listen, we forget that we are supposed to speak too! Just be slower to speak! And go back to the Bible to help interpret what how we’re supposed to engage these issues instead of our favorite political pundit. None of these things should scare us! We have the ultimate source of truth, so why should we be afraid if/when controversial topics come up? I am fully convinced that the Bible actually gives us a framework for us to faithfully engage all these issues that we’ve been studying together from gender discussions to same sex attraction to racial divides to even owning up to a bad history.

-Even gets to the question: how do we view history? Cyclical, slowly getting better, ups and downs. History is moving us somewhere, each day is closer to THAT day. Until Christ returns we’ll have problems, sickness, broken relationships, but God has us here as his ambassadors pointing to Him.

-George Yancey, a professor at Baylor recently talked about the 2 primary ways to engage this issue in our culture today: colorblindness or antiracism. One views the problem largely through an individualistic lens, the other primarily through a cultural or societal lens. 

-Colorblindness (Racism is something that is overt and only done from one individual to another individual) studies have shown that there has been no decrease of racial discrimination in hiring over the past 25 years. Educational outcomes are different for people of color.

-Antiracism (Racism is structural as well as individualistic and social institutions can perpetuate racism even when individuals do not intend to be racist) studies have shown that diversity training improves relationships for about 6 months, then goes back. Also shows that this training leads to less sympathy towards whites, but no increase in sympathy toward blacks. 

-His problem with both: they ignore human depravity. We’ve looked at that! Sinners by nature and choice!

-He argues for: “A mutual accountability approach: A Christian based approach whereby we recognize that people of all races have a sin nature that has to be accounted for. Thus, everyone has to work towards healthy interracial communications to solve racial problems.” This isn’t a 1 sided problem!

-Next week we’ll look more fully at how we engage this, but we can start with 4 things:

  1. Listen

-Commanded to be QUICK to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Remember, this doesn’t mean we never speak, but we need to ensure we’re listening before we do.

-This also assumes we have people that we can listen to. Remember: we’re commanded to go into all the ethnicities and make disciples. What’s amazing about living here is all the ethnicities are coming here! Most of us can just walk down our street to reach other ethnicities with the gospel.

-This also assumes that we realize every person we meet has different life experience than we do. I have yet to meet anyone that has lived my exact life, and even my siblings who got as close as anyone experienced it differently than me, so when we get into disagreements we need to listen to each other. READ some new books!

  • Lament

-I think this is a big piece that has been missing from our American Evangelical discussions for a while! Not just in this conversation, but it certainly applies to this conversation! There’s a lot that we should have been lamenting over the past 2 years, there’s lots of lamenting we should be doing with Ukraine right now.

-Mark Vroegop Weep With Me pgs. 18-19. Lament gives a voice to those who are struggling. Instead of just putting on a mask every time you come to church (I’m great, how are you?) this is supposed to be the place where you can let down your guard and honestly share how you’re doing.

-I know of one church that has been having an internal discussion about whether or not it’s sinful to extend empathy. Just blows my mind!

  • Learn

-Be in relationship with “others” Are they a human? Then we need to share the gospel with them in word and deed. Invite “others” over to your house to learn from each other.

-MLK: the most segregated hour is 11 AM on Sunday morning. To address that, we need to fix truly the most segregated time which is 6 PM every day. Invite people over that don’t look like you. Jesus in Luke 14 says to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind because they cannot repay you.

-The gospel isn’t constrained by any 1 culture or ethnicity. God’s goal from all the way back in the garden was to have the entire world worshipping Him. That goal didn’t change with Abraham, he was to be a blessing to the whole world. If we try to define Christianity by 1 culture/ethnicity we’ll misunderstand many aspects of what God has called us to do and be. In the West we have a largely individualistic approach to everything, but the Bible was written in a communal context, so in order to understand and apply the Bible we need to understand another culture!

  • Love

-Francis Schaeffer in his little book ‘The Mark of the Christian’ described love as the final apologetic. 

“without true Christians loving one another, Christ says the world cannot be expected to listen, even when we give proper answers. Let us be careful, indeed, to spend a lifetime studying to give honest answers. For years the orthodox, evangelical church has done this very poorly. So it is well to spend time learning to answer the questions of men who are about us. But after we have done our best to communicate to a lost world, still we must never forget that the final apologetic which Jesus gives is the observable able love of true Christians for true Christians.”

-Love that covers a multitude of sins, love that will endure, love that is sacrificial and other oriented, love that looks like Jesus.

-Listen, lament, learn and love, but the greatest of these is love.