Ephesians 2:11-22 – 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.

-What is your earliest memory? Memories are a fascinating thing, aren’t they? Some moments we can remember as clear as if we were there each time we bring it to mind, others are just completely gone until you find a picture or an old friend reminds you of a shared experience. Maybe like me, you’ve been carelessly walking through a mall when a smell hits you, and brings back a flood of memories! When I moved back here, the first time we took our kids to MOA when I caught a whif of Cinnabon! I hadn’t eaten or smelled that delicious concoction since I left MN, but it brought back all the times I’d gone there with friends growing up, and the worst part is now that I have the money to buy it, I know I shouldn’t!

-Memories are significant in all of our lives, there can be negative memories we have that get triggered regularly, or positive memories that get triggered by other things, almost like riding a bike! No matter how long it’s been, they can come back.

-God has also given us collective memories that we’re supposed to call to mind on a regular basis, this is why it’s so important for us to gather together on the Lord’s day, this is why something like NCC is so important: God has designed our minds to remember certain things. I’ve started describing the purpose of our gathering as: remember and remind. Remember who God is and what He’s done, and then intentionally remind each other to live in light of that truth.

READ/PRAY

  1. Remember What You Were (11-12)

-“Therefore” connects us back to last week. That was a whole 7 days ago, so what did we study last week? Before Christ, we were dead, but God, who is rich in mercy, brought us to life and prepared good works for all of us to walk in. Because of this new life that is given by God, Paul begins by encouraging the Gentile readers to look back.

-Need to talk about an issue that I hadn’t made much mention of before: the different ethnicities Paul addresses in Ephesus, and the ethnocentrism that has been a problem since the Fall. 

-It’s important to remember Paul’s history in regards to ethnicities: he was a Jew. And not just any Jew, Acts 22:3 summarizes his life: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day.” In Phil. 3 he refers to himself as blameless according to the law, he was trained as a Pharisee and persecuted anyone who was a follower of Jesus.

-Paul demonstrated the way the Jewish people had been trained to think: there was Jew, and then then there was everyone else. And unless you were a Jew you were useless. (you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much) One Jewish author actually wrote that Gentiles were created to keep the fires of hell burning. Just to be fair, everyone else also looked down on the Jews as weirdos, so it was a mutual hatred! 

-But the crazy thing about this new faith called “The Way” or “Christianity” is it was meant to transcend all ethnic and cultural boundaries, and transform everyone from the inside out. But how difficult is it to overcome historical tension that goes back generations? We struggle with tensions that go back a week! So how do you think people from different ethnic backgrounds (who had been taught to hate each other their whole lives) would feel when they walk into church on Sunday and sitting next to them is that person? How would they be able to sit together, much less actively love each other? It’s only through a radical, life altering transformation. Thankfully, as we saw last week, that transformation has taken place! Dead people can’t get along, if you’ve seen any zombie movie you’ve seen that! But now, because of Jesus’ work on the cross, these 2 diverse groups can begin to get along.

-“Remember” doesn’t Paul contradict this in Phil. 3:13?

-Remember last week: we are sinners by nature and by choice, all of us need to be saved from our sin, whether you’re trying to be the best person you can, or you’re stuck in a cycle of addiction and sin that you can’t escape. God’s grace and mercy are still for you. We all need to remember what Paul says in 1 Cor. 6:11, after running through a list of sins “and such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified.” Even in our remembering, we recognize that we’re no longer that way! 

-“You Gentiles, in the flesh” flesh is repeated again.

-The differences are only skin deep. Circumcision was meant to be the sign of the covenant since the time of Father Abraham. Every law-abiding Jew was circumcised (even Paul). On the flip side, the Gentiles mocked the Jews for the practice of circumcision, so it was a contentious issue! But how effective is an external surgery at dealing with the problem of sin?

-This is a temptation for all of us! We all want to find something that will allow us to be measured righteous without having to die to ourselves. If only it was as easy as cleaning up our lives! It takes a death, and then daily dying again and again to our own made up standards so that we can actually follow Christ.

-Paul is not afraid here to call out what they’re adding to the faith when he says “by hands.” Remember, circumcision was the sign that someone was in right standing before God (righteous) but by using that phrase, he’s equating circumcision to idolatry. How would Jews feel about an accusation of idolatry? 

-We’re all tempted to do the same thing today: add external things to our faith on a regular basis, oftentimes without even realizing it! Music, clothes, schooling, books (Harry Potter), political party. We, as humans, are really good at creating ways that we’re supposed to follow God. Then we ostracize anyone who doesn’t agree with every detail of trappings we’ve added to the faith, which ironically enough is meant to be the marker of those who aren’t following after God.

-Once again, please pay attention to what I’m NOT saying: not saying there aren’t things we should divide over, but we need to be careful what it is that we’re putting up as markers of true orthodoxy, and what is an application point from true theology. (more in that in tomorrow’s Sermon Scraps!)

“Separated, alienated, strangers, no hope, without God”

-These are the markers of someone who isn’t in God, not meant to be dividers of those who are in Christ. 

-No hope is an interesting thing to contemplate. Paul talks about this in 1 Thess. 4:13 “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” One of the primary markers of Christians is that we are a hope filled people. The world may fall down around us, but we still have hope, not in ourselves, not in the world, but we have hope in God! This hope is based on what Paul goes on to talk about:

  • Remember What Jesus Does (13-18)

-BUT NOW- once again, Paul starts with the bad news before talking about the shift that come: “IN Christ Jesus” all the blessings that we have come about ONLY because we’re in Christ. Blessings, children, seated with Him, now the emphasis is on relational distance that has now been amended.

“Far off” vs. “brought near” 

-Muppets made the best illustration of this with Grover

-For those who are not in Christ, we’re eternally separated from God, a chasm that we cannot cross. Think of the first time you saw the ocean (assuming you’ve seen it) I remember feeling completely overwhelmed at the distance between me and the next chunk of land “if I get sucked out, I’m not getting back” That distance pails in comparison to the eternal gulf separating us from God. There’s no way to bridge that by our own efforts, it only comes about because Jesus bought us with his blood. We saw this in Eph. 1:7 “In him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace”

-This idea of how we can be near to God is one of the major themes throughout Scripture. Talk with Micah – one way of putting the Bible together is the way we can be near God. Think of how Matthew structures his book, begins with Immanuel (God with us) last phrase of the great commission: behold I am with you always, to the end of the age. Genesis begins with God dwelling with His people, Revelation ends saying “The dwelling place of God is with man” this separation that we have today will no longer exist!

-He is our peace, because He is now alive in us (Gal. 2:20) Peace is the theme of this section, notice the end of vs. 15 repeats the peace idea, with 3 things this peace accomplishes: made us one, broken down the dividing wall, and abolishing the law of commandments.

-Made us one, beginning and end (14a16b). The things that we once used to divide are no longer allowed to divide those of us who are in Christ. Same as we saw at the beginning of this section, we’re no longer allowed to divide however we want, we need to divide where God divides: in Christ or not.

-Second: broken down the dividing wall. Some debate about what Paul means by this, as he goes on to talk about the means by which he has done this is “by abolishing the law of commandments” The law was what served as the distinction between the two groups, Jews obeyed, Gentiles didn’t! 

-But there was also a literal dividing wall in the temple where Gentiles were only allowed to a certain point before a sign would say “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.” How do you think this would train the Jews to treat the Gentiles? But Paul goes even further:

-“abolishing the law of commandments” Abolishing has a wide range of interpretive options: “make powerless” “use up” “to be released from” one translation went with “nullify” When Jesus came, he came to fulfill the law. He obeyed everything God had commanded perfectly, because no one else could. One of the primary reasons God gave the law was to reveal how unable we are to achieve the level of holiness He expects. And then when Jesus came he double down: it’s no longer a matter of mere external obedience, now it’s internal obedience, so even your thought life is required to be holy. 

-And those standards are the same across ethnic lines:

-“One new man” 

-Think of all the genocidal fights that have happened throughout history, that try to create different people. As we read through the OT we see Israel against the Canaanites, NT Romans vs. Jews, Sunni vs Shiite, Germans vs Jews, Russians vs Ukrainians, blacks vs whites. The normal state of human affairs is conflict! Most of us have lived in this weird time of not much conflict, but that is not the norm. However, true and lasting peace, without hostility can only come about because of the cross.

-“preached peace”

-Same message to both! Both those who were/are “near” and “far” need the same message from God: peace is possible! But not through the ways humans want to pursue peace. It’s not through a complete turnover of society, it’s not about pursuing power, it only comes about by pursuing God. This idea is something Paul is picking up from:

Isa. 52:7 “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.””

-Salvation creates a level playing field for all of us: same spirit, same Father, we’re now a family. Family doesn’t always get along, but you can’t escape them! 

-Think of your extended family! Every family I know has someone that’s the weird one/odd ball doesn’t really fit in with everyone else, but you can’t change the fact that the same blood flows in your veins, same for those “in Christ!”

-Scene from ‘Remember the Titans’ “Alice, are you blind? Don’t you see the family resemblance? That’s my brother.” There’s no longer any room for comparison, or belittling others, we’re now a part of the same family, which is where Paul goes next.

  • Remember What You Now Are (19-22)

-What you were, but no longer! Apart from Christ, we are strangers and aliens to God, then once we’re in Christ we move to being strangers and aliens to the world! We no longer have the same identity markers or judge using worldly standards, because God’s standards are radically different. Yet at the same time, we have some things to learn from this, because 

-How was Israel to treat a stranger and alien? Sabbath was commanded for everyone, including the alien. One note, not alien like outer space, alien as in not a citizen. Even Lev. And Deut. Talk regularly about how God’s people are to treat aliens and sojourners. For example, they’re commanded to not harvest their field all the way to the edge, they’re commanded to leave grapes that fall when you’re harvesting for the poor and the sojourner. Similarly for us today, how should we treat the stranger and the alien, those different from us?

-I was reminded this week of one of my favorite books: The Rise of Christianity because the author died over the summer. Stark was a sociologist, and in the book studied the early church through a sociological lens, concluding that the reason the early church spread was their care for the poor and marginalized. Friends, we should be known for those who care for everyone, but especially the poor and marginalized (poor materially, spiritually, emotionally). This has been the marker of the church since Jesus commissioned us! It’s no coincidence that so many hospitals used to be named after saints (until they all got bought out), because Christians took care seriously! Even the word “hospital” was taken from “hospitality” that Christians showed to aliens and strangers. 

-This is a high bar, but the best part is we don’t need to do it alone, nor are we the first generation to be wrestling with these ideas. Look what we’re built on. We aren’t the foundation! Christianity in the big scheme of human history, doesn’t depend on us, because even if we were wiped out today, God has people following Him faithfully across the globe.

-There is a tendency to get myopic and overly fixated on right here and now instead of remembering our past and the reasons for our hope. This forces us to ask the question: where are you building the foundation of your life on? Because if you’re in Christ, He’s the cornerstone, and literally nothing can shake that foundation, not even hell itself! 

-We also need to note that it is: “being joined together” it’s not done, and it won’t be until Christ comes back. That means that as long as we have breath in our lungs on this side of eternity, we need to continue pursuing peace with God, and preaching peace to those who are near and those who are far.

-By doing this, God’s people grow into a “holy temple”, AKA the place where God’s presence dwells. This is the craziest part of salvation! God is no longer mediated through a law or an intricate sacrificial system, He now lives in those of us who are believers. The reality that God’s dwelling place is with humans is already happening, but we are often completely oblivious to it. Why don’t we often believe enough to pray “your kingdom come and your will be done,” and instead try to pursue these things through purely human efforts? It will never work! Instead, we need to die to those worldly ways, submit ourselves to God’s work in us through His Spirit, and become one new people. 

-Friends: what do you remember? We remember who we were before God saved us, we need to remember what Jesus did and does, and finally remember and remind each other each week how God has transformed us and made us a new people.

Ephesians 2:1-10 – 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.

I’ve got some good news and some bad news. Which one do you prefer to hear first? 78% of people prefer to begin with the bad news. Studies has shown that starting with the bad news leaves people in a more positive mood than the reverse.

READ/PRAY

  1. You Were DEAD (1-3)

-Paul paints a stark picture here of our spiritual state. Our life before Christ was one of death. The problem was we didn’t even know it! We were able to walk, talk, carry on as if everything was completely fine, but spiritually we were dead.

-Scene in The Princess Bride where not as Miracle Max says in The Princess Bride “just mostly dead,” which according to him is “slightly alive. Unlike dear Westley, we were COMPLETELY dead. 

-I’m not sure if you’ve ever thought about that implication, but what can dead people do? Well, they can lay there, decompose, take up space. But can a dead person will themselves to life? No! 

-I know this is a morbid picture, but imagine going to a mortuary, you walk through to the back room where the bodies are. What would your response be to one of those bodies sitting upright and talking to you? I’m pretty sure that’s the plot of some scary movie that I will never see! 

-Before Christ, all of us are like those bodies in the back of the mortuary, we are spiritually dead. There’s nothing we can do to earn God’s love, there’s nothing we can do to bring ourselves back to life. And not only were we dead, but we were dead in something: trespasses and sins. We are dead in and because of our sins: completely separated from the only one who gives life. 

-I think there’s a tendency to miss this reality. We don’t understand the depths of our sin and separation from God, so we don’t view ourselves as spiritually dead. We’re often too busy comparing ourselves to others (our strengths vs their weaknesses) to contemplate that reality that apart from God we’re dead!

-“In which you once walked”

-Not only did those trespasses and sins keep us dead, but they also were the only way of life we knew how to follow. Before Christ opened our eyes to the reality of our sin “in sin” was the only way we could walk. 

-This word “walked” is a life encompassing word. It’s not just the action of walking, it’s the entire way of being. Before Christ, our only way of living and orientation was toward our trespasses and sins. 

-In other places, Paul describes it as being a slave to our sin. Similar to being spiritually dead, being a slave means you can only do that which your master demands and expects of you. It’s not a very freeing way of living. Paul also goes on to explicitly state who the masters of those who are spiritually dead are, he mentions 3 things: 

-worldly influences, Satan, and our flesh. Let’s look at those one at a time.

“Following the course of this world”

Paul here is referring to the ungodly trends and directions the world will try to move us. And for those who are dead in their sins, they aren’t even aware of it. 

It becomes as much a part of us as a fish is a part of the water. Just as the fish doesn’t even realize they’re wet, so those who are not in Christ don’t even realize the problems with the world, the culture, around them. And this is not just a modern-day problem, because Paul is writing this 2,000 years ago! But let’s think about the 2 predominant ways cultures can influence and lead people away from where they should be going. 

-During Paul’s time, and in other parts of the world today, the group always trumps the individual. For simplicity sake, let’s call this “The Eastern Way of Thinking.” A person’s sense of identity was completely wrapped up in their genealogy, their family, their history. Think of how Thor describes himself: Son of Odin. That carries weight to it! That also leads to a great sense of responsibility, because your actions reflect not only on you, but on your family. Now: there are some things that are good and can be applauded in this Eastern thought: 

we didn’t just appear out of nowhere, we do have a history, and that does shape and inform us today. 

-The problem with this thinking is dealt with extensively all over the NT – just because of your family history, you are not saved! So when you read in various places about Abraham being someone’s father, this is what they’re referring to. The course of the world for Paul and all those who were alive at this time is one of assurance by family ties. If you have a good family in the right bloodline, then you don’t need to worry.

-We have the opposite extreme in what I’ll call the “Western Way of Thinking.” The individual trumps the communal. Think about the Frank Sinatra song, “I did it MY WAY.” Our culture today places the emphasis pretty much exclusively on individual wants, needs, and desires. The way of thinking becomes “If I want to do it, by golly, I’m going to do it, and no one can stop me or get in my way!” This is also referred to as “expressive individualism.” 

This is where we have very loose abortion laws, no fault divorce, unconcern that anyone around us may be struggling, and only worry about me, myself, and I (Libertarianism isn’t the answer). No one else matters because I am an individual. 

-Just as the Eastern way of thinking has good things, so does the Western way of thinking. Yes, we are individuals. We all have unique gifts, strengths and weaknesses, just because our parents are gifted in an area doesn’t mean we’ll be gifted the same way. Individually, we all need to be saved. I think it’s helpful that many of us don’t look to our family heritage as a reason why I am a Christian. 

-The problem is when we take our individual identities into our community, which for us is the church. 

-A couple implications of this: 

-first, don’t waste your time comparing your gifts or strengths or weaknesses to someone else. News flash, they’re not you and you’re not them. God brought us both of you for a reason, to use your gifts for God’s glory, and strengthening and equipping the body, the church. 

-The second piece is the tendency to view the whole church only through your lens of interests. So if a specific ministry has significance to you, then it must be the most important thing in the whole church, right? Same as the previous idea, we have a wide assortment of ministries that combine together to make up this church. We also need to realize that some of these ministries are seasonal, depending on the people God has brought to our body at that time. “For everything there is a season” Eccles. 3:1. Just be aware of that, don’t be discouraged about it, don’t get too fixated on something that is meant to be a tool, instead fix your attention on the one who never changes!

-Both the Eastern and the Western way of thinking have strengths AND weaknesses. The Bible calls us to not completely follow either way, but follow God’s way, which is contrary “the course of the world.” 

-One author quipped “You can recognize ‘the ways of this world’ wherever sin seems acceptable and righteousness seems strange.” (Fruit of the Spirit) And who is behind this, attempting to orchestrate this negative “course of the world”? The devil. As Paul continues: 

“Following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sonsof disobedience.”

-Throughout the NT, the devil is referred to as: “the ruler of this world” “the ruler of the demons” “god of this world” Ephesians HEAVILY emphasizes the spiritual realm. But anytime we talk about the spiritual realm, we need to be careful because we don’t want to OVER emphasize it, or UNDER emphasize it:

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.” CS Lewis

-So we don’t overemphasize the devils work, nor do we want to underemphasize it, because there’s other things that are at work to lead us into sin.

-In Jewish thought at this time, the devil and his followers operated in “the air” the sphere between earth and heaven: spiritual realities happening around us all the time! And this influence is “now at work” 

-“Sons of disobedience” a way of referring to one’s character of life. Again, Thor son of Odin. Just do you get this: being called a son of disobedience is NOT a compliment. But think about the opposite as well, for those who are In Christ, we are now sons of God. Not demeaning to women, just talking about the way the world worked at the time, only male children received an inheritance from their fathers. Our primary allegiance and focus has completely changed!

-“Among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind.”

-This is the third and final way we were dead in our trespasses and sins. 

-For many of us, the devil doesn’t need to waste his time on us, because we’re too influenced by our fleshly passions. Our own wants, desires and needs no matter the cost. “Expressive individualism” found a prayer that would work in our cultural context today! 

-Nothing is left out, flesh, body and mind. Remember how Jesus said we can sin with our thoughts too? It’s not a matter of merely external obedience, it’s radical transformation. Paul has vice lists in a few of his writings, we’ll be looking at one of them in a few weeks in Eph. 5:3-14. But a summary is: the opposite of the fruit of the spirit. Those are the works of the flesh, the sins that we so easily give in to. 

-We’ve seen 3 different ways that influence us to remain dead: as one commentator stated “The world dominates from without, the flesh from within, and the devil from beyond.” (Kent Hughes, 65)

The implication of our being dead:

“Were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

-All of us were sinners by nature, and by choice as we’ve seen in the past couple verses. 

-By nature refers to our state at birth. Paul expounds more fully upon this idea in Romans 5, where he says “Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” (12) Our nature, our orientation, from birth is toward spiritual death in sin. 

By choice – we all have sinned (Rom. 3:23)

-We saw earlier “sons of disobedience” similar idea “children of wrath.” 

-An early church heresy that continues until today is this idea that we need to separate the God of love from the God of wrath. A popular pastor a few years ago said we need to “unhitch” the OT from the NT and only teach the New. As we’ll see in a minute, apart from God’s mercy and grace, we only have wrath. We don’t get to pick and choose the characteristics of God we like and throw out the rest. YES, he is love, AND he is holy, AND he is wrathful, AND he is kind and slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. His wrath is his just condemnation against sin. This isn’t the way we tend to see wrath today, which is often unbridled and unhinged, no, this is the just consequences for enmity against a holy and righteous judge. 

-This is our original nature, before Christ we were only deserving of condemnation, of his wrath, that’s the bad news. But now we come to the best news ever. 

-Here’s the deal, God’s wrath MUST be dealt with. There MUST be a payment made, there HAS to be restitution. All of us are sinners by nature and by choice, and the penalty for that HAS TO be paid. So for those who are “In Christ,” it has been. The debt we could NEVER pay has been paid in full.

2 of the most important words in the Bible, the best news possible:

  1. BUT God (4-7)

-All of those negative things that make us deserving of God’s wrath find their answer, their resolution, their demise in God’s mercy, love, grace, and kindness. 

-“Mercy” is a term that is used throughout the OT, which is tied to the notion of his covenant faithfulness, or steadfast love (hesed).

-Lamentations 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

-Mercy is God’s forgiveness to not hold us accountable for our actions. But it’s not just mercy, God is RICH in mercy! God has more mercy than he knows what to do with! God has enough mercy for every sin all of us have ever committed, or will commit. His mercy is more! PLUS grace!

-Notice as well, that his mercy is tied to his love. Mercy AND love. We get mercy because of God’s love. We saw that a couple weeks ago in Eph 1. In love God predestined us for all these gifts here!

-When did all this take place? When we were dead. So we saw in the first 3 verses the past tense verbs (were), that’s where we used to be. Before Christ we were… and even when we were in that state, God. Because we are now “In Christ” there are now 3 realities about us. Spiritually we have been brought from death to life, and because of that Paul explains it this way: 1 – made alive, 2 – raised up, 3 – seated in the heavenly places. All 3 are “With Christ” 

1 – “Made us alive together with Christ.”

-First things first, we’ve already established that there’s not much someone’s who dead can do. Which means that needs to change! So we’re first brought to life! 

-So often when we talk about becoming a Christian we approach it as an add-on. “I tried all these other things, and then I tried Christianity and I liked it best.” We’re reminded here that Christianity isn’t something we can add on to our lives, it’s a complete and radical shift FROM death INTO life. That means that EVERYTHING changes from that moment on. One author stated “Christianity is not about becoming a nicer person, nor is it about starting a new religious routine. It is about becoming a new person.” (Tony Merida, 48) 

-At the very center of these things that we are “In Christ” is the reminder that over all of this is God’s grace. Grace is God’s unmerited favor, it’s the reminder that we couldn’t accomplish any of the things that God has done. It’s all because of him! Remember: what can a dead person do? Nothing! There’s nothing we can do to earn our salvation. It’s all grace, a free, undeserved gift. We’ll see this pop up again in the next section. God’s rich in mercy, and lavished his grace on us as his children. What else could we ever need?

2-“Raised us up with him.”

-After we’ve been brought to life, we are raised up with him. Because we are now “In Christ” we are with Christ in his resurrection. This term “raised” should remind us of Christ rising out of the grave. He has defeated sin and death so that we no longer need to be slaves to our flesh and passions. 

-Do you understand the implications of this? You don’t need to wallow in self-pity of misery anymore! Since you’re now in Christ, earth is literally the closest to hell you’ll ever be! 

-This idea of being “in him” can be hard to understand. A good way to think of it (albeit, on a MUCH less significant scale) is like the Olympics. 3 out of 4 years I don’t give a rip about swimming (more like 1 week every 4 years). But every time the Olympics come around, I become, or maybe became, obsessed with watching all the swimming events, largely because of a guy named Michael Phelps. Now: I am not a swimmer, I can barely make it from 1 side of the pool to the other, but Michael Phelps represents me and all of us at the Olympics, so we’re ALL pulling for him. We are all “in him.” As I mentioned, this is a far smaller scale because this doesn’t have eternal consequences. But just as we are all pulling for “our” athlete to win at the Olympics because he represents us, so are we brought together “In Christ” to participate in all that he accomplished. He did what we couldn’t so that we could celebrate with him. 

3-“And seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

-This is referring to Christ’s exultation. This is the final “In him” we’re made alive, raised up, and now seated WITH HIM, that is Christ. Spiritually we are seated with Christ in heaven, in our eternal home, where we will spend eternity with God. Just as Christ said on the cross “It is finished.” There’s nothing else we can do or need to do to change our position, spiritually. Christ has already accomplished it! 

-Once again, notice the tense of these verbs: PAST: MADE, RAISED, SEATED. It’s already happened! Yet we don’t experience that reality yet. This is where we have a tension. We live in this period between Christ’s comings, where we don’t yet see everything as it truly is. The war is over, but the battle wages on. This should make us long for the day when our spiritual reality matches our physical reality, but until that time we remain faithful. 

-Even studies/conversations about the end times are supposed to give us hope, not make us despondent. Here’s what EVERY person believes: Jesus is coming back! I once heard a pastor say “we’re not on the planning committee, we’re on the welcoming committee.” God didn’t tell us what would happen so that we would live in fear about whether or not we’re in the end times (spoiler alert, we are, and have been since Jesus ascended!), God told us what all of human history looks like from his perspective. Another spoiler alert, He wins! At the beginning of eternity He’s in the same spot He’s sitting now: on His throne. And guess who’s also sitting there with Him? Anyone in this room who’s “in Christ.” Nothing can change that.

-Now that we’ve seen the 3 spiritual realities because we are “In Christ” Paul continues on to the WHY question:

-“So that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

-The reason we are in Christ is so that God’s grace can be made manifest in and through all of us, for eternity. 

-Did any of you ever play show-and-tell growing up? The premise was simple: you bring in something you like to show people, and then tell them about it. The crazy thing is what God does for show & tell is: look at us! WE are God’s demonstration of grace and kindness to the world. This is why God extended his mercy and love to us, so that we could be a witness to the watching world.

That means we actually have a job to do: tell others what God has done! Throughout the Bible, the gospel message is compared to a light. What do you do with a light? You use it to extinguish the darkness! Think of the old song you learned: “This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let It Shine!” We DON’T hide it under a bushel, we let it shine! SO SHINE! Share with others what God has done in you and through you. Share your story of how God brought you from death into life, how his grace mercy and love transformed you and can transform anyone. On author stated it this way “No one is beyond the reach of God’s regenerating grace, and no one is beyond the need for God’s regenerating grace.” (Merida, 48)

This leads us to the final point:

  1. GRACE Through FAITH (8-10)

-Paul reminds us that all of these things that are true spiritually are true because of God’s grace. As we sing in the hymn Amazing Grace “’Twas grace that brought us safe thus far, and grace will lead us home.” Everything we have is because of God’s riches of grace. 

-God’s grace is what allows us to be saved. Saved from what? Saved from our “death in the trespasses and sins in which we once walked”

-Paul then describes the means by which we are saved, which is a gift of God’s grace: faith. 

Faith is believing in God and trusting in him. Belief + trust. 

-Think of a tightrope walker. Now I am deathly afraid of heights so even saying that phrase makes me queasy. But let’s imagine we see a tightrope walker go back and forth over the Grand Canyon. (I would ask the question: what kind of fool does it multiple times, but anyway…) We’ll say he’s the best tightrope walker in the world. Now one of those times he’s going over the Grand Canyon he brings someone from one side to the other on his back, and then walks up to you and asks if you’d want to go over with him. Would you? My response would be a quick ABSOLUTELY NO! I believe he could bring me with him, but I don’t trust him to actually do it. It only takes one slip, or me messing something up and we’re done. The wonderful thing about faith in God is he CAN’T and WON’T let us go. We have every reason to both believe and trust him. 

-“And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”

-And because it’s God doing it, we can trust completely. Once again, what can a dead person do? Nothing! But God can even resurrect the dead! We read of him doing that physically in the Gospels, but he also does it spiritually. We need the reminder that there’s nothing we can do to be saved: it’s all God’s work, it’s all God’s gift to us.

Ezek. 34 dry bones

-“not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

-Paul doubles down on the idea that we can’t save ourselves. There’s nothing we can do to earn our salvation. Think about that. Nothing. 

-Jonathan Edwards said it this way, “You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.” 

-This is freeing! It levels the playing field. If we added something to our salvation that made it possible we’d spend the rest of our lives comparing to those around us. But God doesn’t let us. Everything in salvation is a gift of God so that we can’t boast in anything except the cross: where we are all equal. None of us is any better than the other.

-Therfore, because it’s all a gift of grace, Paul can conclude:

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

-This word “workmanship” is one that means a work of art (poema poem). The NLT translates it as “masterpiece.” We’re the pinnacle of everything he’s done. We’re the Sistine Chapel of everything God has made! Just as God, when he created humans said it was VERY good. Now that he has re-created us by grace, it is VERY good! For those “In Christ” there have been 2 creations: physical life, and spiritual life. 

-Remember what we saw earlier about works not adding anything to our salvation? Now we see the purpose of those works. 

-One of the big statements of the Reformation was “faith alone.” But the Reformers refined that and said, “It is faith alone that justifies, but the faith that justifies is never alone.” So while the works are not the root of salvation, they are the fruit

-God has good works that we are to do. We are to live lives that are holy and blameless as Paul says in Eph. 1. Our works cannot add anything to our salvation, but once we are saved, we now demonstrate that new life BY our good works. 

-This often feels like a tension, and is where many of us end up sliding into legalism. We MUST obey and do these good works. The problem is when we correlate these good works as something added to our salvation, that they somehow make us more righteous and holy before God. Don’t forget: spiritually we are ALREADY seated with Christ in the heavenly places. ALREADY. That’s not changing! But that future reality of us being positionally in Christ must also be manifest in our present reality. 

John Newton, author of Amazing Grace who experienced a radical transformation because of Christ: “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I wish to be, I am not what I hope to be, yet by the grace of God I am what I am.” 

-Just to remind us that it is all God’s grace, Paul says the good works we’re called to do were prepared by God beforehand. Before what? As he says in Eph. 1:4, “before the foundation of the world.” God not only sovereignly orchestrates our salvation, but the demonstration of that salvation in our lives today. That demonstration is what Paul says we are to walk in. This brings this whole section to a close, as the bookend to the opening verses: We once walked in death, but God in his mercy saved us and brought us back to life. 

Psalm 14 – 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.

-Why do you believe in Jesus as the Savior of the world? Have you ever given thought to reasons or rationale for believing in Him, and believing that we have a rational faith that makes sense of the world and our lives? 

-Dr. Groothius in Seminary: “the defence of Christianity is objectively true, compellingly rational, and pertinent to the whole of life. I have dedicated my entire adult life to that defending that claim.”

-Because Christianity is defensible, it gives us a reason to have hope when the world around us is full of chaos.

-Hopelessness is seen all around us today, deaths of despair, upcoming generation despondent about climate change, wars taking place in Europe for the first time since WW2, friendship is on the decline

-When do you tend to feel hopeless about the world around us? When you feel that way, do you take your thoughts to God, or do you start to complain about how unfair life is and either ignore or blame God for your current state of affairs?

-When I feel that way, I need to go back and remind myself why things are this way, remind myself who God is, and ultimately speak the truth to myself!

READ/PRAY

  1. The Unbelief of the Fool (1-4)

-Not something you should run around referring to people as! Hebrew has a few words that we translate as fool, and all of them refer to something that is morally inferior, not intellectually inferior.

-Not saying this person is dumb, instead they’re refusing to acknowledge that there is a moral standard they aren’t matching up to, which the rest of the verse goes on to talk about

-However, there is a base level that true intellectual pursuit can’t be found apart from God. If the pursuit of intelligence is meant to lead to the discover of the truth, and the source of everything (including truth) is God Himself, how can someone legitimately pursue intelligence apart from God? While the Hebrew denotes moral inferiority, I don’t think this leaves out intellectual inferiority. But how can this be, when some of the “smartest” people in the world are avowed atheists?

-One of the things that has fascinated me in the past is the entire University system was initially conceived as centering around theology, which was referred to as the “queen of the sciences” Theology was the centering point around which everything else flowed, hence a uni (1) versity

-Paul picks up on and expands this idea in Rom 1:22-23

-Mere intellectual pursuit isn’t enough! It will point to, reveal, demonstrate God, but just pursuing more smarts is a pointless aim unless it finds it’s fulfilment in the worship of God, talked about this idea in the Spring when we looked at the image of God. We, as sinners, participate in the great exchange, where instead of worshipping the Creator God, we worship the creation, that is God’s definition of foolishness!

-Now, notice where the fool says this: in his heart, Lit. “No God”

-He has convinced himself (or herself), that’s where Romans says this is self-deception. In Ecclesiastes we’re reminded that God has placed eternity in our hearts, which is where humans have an innate desire for something more or bigger than themselves. 

-If you haven’t heard/read the statistics, the biggest growth in religion is “nones” (not nuns), but what’s fascinating is if you dig a little further into the research, something like 40% of the self-identified “nones” believe in the God of the Bible. So they’re refusing to identify with a specific religious identity, but they still believe in God. How have we gotten to the point of separating these 2 things out? I don’t get how you believe the God of the Bible, but you’re not a Christian.

-When I was in college, it was really cool to say “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.” I get what you’re trying to say, but it’s more accurate to say it’s a religion AND a relationship! I heard a story onetime of a professor who has a sign that he brings to every class, on one side is the phrase “I don’t know” on the other side is the phrase “both/and”

-I even saw this week, Chris Pratt (Star Lord, Jurassic Park, Parks & Rec) clarified that he’s not a religious person because religion is all about oppression, but he is a Christian.

-Part of the challenge is you can’t learn these things the natural way we learn, just studying more or reading more or being taught more, the Bible says apart from a transformed heart, these things will continue to appear foolish to people.

1 Cor. 2:14 these things are spiritually discerned, AKA you can’t figure out who God is just by looking at the world He made. It points to Him, but it doesn’t contain Him, He is not constrained by or the same as His creation. 

-Then look at what this denial about God leads to: corruption and abominable deeds.

-A well-known picture of this is seen in the book many of you have heard about or read: the Lord of the flies. A group of young boys escape England during a war but the plane carrying them crashes on an uninhabited island where their attempts to govern themselves lead to death, destruction and chaos. That’s a great picture of what happens apart from God sovereignly guiding things – who cares what God says if I’m my own god? That’s where this next verse is so funny!

-The Lord looks down.

-How do you look at an ant? Sitting in our driveway, oh weird! Look at them all!

-One of the fascinating things throughout the Bible is how God responds to those who think of themselves as being something great. In Gen. 11:5, the Tower of Babel, they planned to build a tower so high it would reach to the heavens and make them gods: “The Lord came down”, Nebuchadnezzar in Dan. 4Psalm 2 the kings of the land make themselves great and God laughs!

-Atheists act as if they’re the intellectual gods, they have arrived, have all the answers, and God both intellectually and literally has to look down, and what does he see?

-A lack of understanding, corruption, no one doing any good, not even one.

-It makes me think of another story in Genesis where Abraham is let in on a secret by the Lord to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah where his nephew Lot lived. 50, 45, 40, 30, 20, 10. This is literally why God sent Jesus, because there is no one who does good.

-That’s the argument Paul makes in Rom. 3:10-12. None of us are off the hook! We either deep down in our hearts believe there is no God, or we act as if there is no God and refuse to admit that we need Him. That’s where David will go on:

-No knowledge

-Claiming knowledge, they refuse to follow knowledge by not calling on the Maker of everything they study. Again, they are acting or assuming superiority to God, this is where atheism is so dangerous! 

-So how do you think God should respond?

  • God’s Response (5-7)

-Lit. “They feared a fear”

-Despite not acknowledging him, they live in fear, think of how difficult it would be to live without certainty, what reason or purpose would there be to live if there wasn’t an end goal to live for? As you talk to people and ask them how certain they are about their beliefs, if you keep pushing don’t get you to a low-level sense of fear about everything? How many of us can guarantee anything? 

-Guy from high school who said he’d just wait until he’s on his deathbed to hurry up and say a prayer and then be fine, but what if that’s not how he dies?

-Story from Spurgeon about atheist, ship going down, stabbed in town, writes about “religious experiences”

-If the fools are opposed to God, who does God side with? 2 words used to describe them here: righteous and poor. Those are the ones that God will be a refuge for

-Jesus says something similar in the beatitudes: Matt. 5:3 poor in Spirit will have the kingdom of heaven. This is the paradox of the way God has ordered the world. It doesn’t make sense to the natural mind, it contradicts the way our flesh thinks we should operate and behave. 

-Think of some of the other things Jesus said: first shall be last, whoever wants to be greatest must become the least, you’re blessed when you’re persecuted. Do any of those things sound like the way the world should work?

-If we want trust success and true flourishing, it means that we must acknowledge that God is God and we are not! It means we need to come to the end of ourselves, admit that we too often try to live as fools and instead become fools to the world.

-It is by being worldly foolish that God will serve as our refuge

-We don’t often need a refuge today, our world is at times far too safe! Everywhere we go we’re in a refuge: car, house, work. It wasn’t always like that, and any travel often meant you were dependent on someone else’s hospitality to act as a refuge for you. When we come to God as our refuge, we are completely safe, and nothing, not even the most formidable army in the world can fight against God. So we need to trust Him!

-That’s where David ends this prayer in vs. 7:

-Salvation

-Notice the certainty of this salvation, not if, when. Micah reminded us last week that we can and should turn to God in the midst of our struggles and pain because we know that God will restore our fortunes. It’s not if, it’s when! So if you are struggling, if you are hurting, bring it to God and trust that God will restore your fortunes. HOWEVER, it might not be on this side of heaven. God doesn’t guarantee us health and wealth here, but when we’re with Him, all those things that are broken are done.

-Spurgeon: “On earth are atheists many, in hell there is not any.”

-God has revealed himself in creation, but God most manifestly shows Himself in the cross. The real crux of apologetics has to answer: what do you do with Jesus?

-No serious historical scholar doubts that there was a Jesus who made some pretty big waves in the first century. The only question becomes, how do you respond to Jesus, and where do you find out more about Him?

  • Are You a Fool?

– Or maybe another way to ask this question is who views you as a fool, God or the world? Or perhaps even if you’re not a practicing atheist, are you a practical atheist, living and operating as if God doesn’t exist and you don’t need Him?

-I’ve been getting some interesting apologetic questions since I moved here, and wanted to just give you all a really brief introduction to some of these questions to help you begin to understand why we can and should believe in Christianity as reliable and defensible as the one true faith in the world. 2 parts: first the existence of God, second the existence and purpose of Jesus. 

-Doubt is the natural state, it’s completely normal to have doubts and questions about God, but don’t just stop there! Since God is the source of all truth, He stand up to your scrutiny, and believe it or not, there are answers to every question I’ve ever had, heard, been asked, or read about whether or not God is real and can exist. Church, we don’t need to view faith and science or faith and reason as opposed to each other! The creation points to God! We can learn about God from both science and faith! We need more Christians who take seriously the Bible and seriously their scientific pursuit! 

-Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology (171-172) summarizes the 4 primary arguments for the existence of God: cosmological, teleological, ontological, moral.

-1. Cosmological. Nothing exists by itself. Everything that exists is dependent on something else to be. If everything in the universe must have a cause, then the universe itself must have a cause. I remember learning about the big bang in middle school, and then joking that I believed in the big bang: God said it and bang there it was! But God could have used a “big bang” as His chosen means of creating the universe! I’ll leave it at that, if you want to talk further about that, or want more resources about that email me!

-2. Teleological this is taken from the Greek word “telos” which means purpose. Think of all the incredible ways we see the purpose around us. The moon creates tides and rhythms, our planet is the perfect distance away from the sun to provide life giving nutrients, the water cycles reproduces itself to give us what we need. The best example I’ve heard of this argument is like a watch (old school watch, not like my fancy new Apple Watch!) If you were to stumble across a watch would you be amazed at what the ocean created by the waves pounding against the sand, or would you think someone dropped their watch? Think of all the various components that make up our bodies, do you think it was a complete accident?

-3. Ontological this one gets to some of the intellectual discussions people like to have. Has been a philosophical conversation since the 11th Century. Asks the question: what is the greatest being that can possibly be imagined? Then, if you can come up with that being, to exist is greater than not existing, so intellectually you’re at God! If you want to dig further, again email me!

-4. Moral: why do we have things that are considered good and bad? Is it just cultural? Is is just upbringing? This argument says what justification can there be for there being morality in the world? Why is Mother Theresa lauded as an example to the world, while Adolf Hitler conjures up hatred and anger? 

-Liar, lunatic, Lord, legend.

CS Lewis on Jesus:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [that is, Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse…. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

-Maybe all these ideas came about after Jesus lived, and then became a legend like King Arthur. 

-More than I have time for, but this is where it’s worth to note all the historical evidence we have for the validity of the NT

Lewis again: “Now, as a literary historian, I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the Gospels are they are not legends. I have read a great deal of legend and I am quite clear that they are not the same sort of thing. They are not artistic enough to be legends. From an imaginative point of view they are clumsy, they don’t work up to things properly. Most of the life of Jesus is totally unknown to us, as is the life of anyone else who lived at that time, and no people building up a legend would allow that to be so. Apart from bits of the Platonic dialogues, there is no conversation that I know of in ancient literature like the Fourth Gospel. There is nothing, even in modern literature, until about a hundred years ago when the realistic novel came into existence.”

-We can believe that Christianity is objectively true, compellingly rational, and pertinent to the whole of life

-Study these things, but also share your story of what God has done in your life. Even if someone doesn’t believe the apologetic arguments, they can’t argue with a changed life, so refuse to live like an atheist and demonstrate that you believe in God, it will transform every aspect of your life

Gospel Rooted Growth – 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.

James 4:1-10

-Finally reached the end of this series! I hope it’s been encouraging to you, and a helpful reminder as far as what is it we need to focus on as a church, the non-negotiables that need to determine what we spend our time and money towards, and how we’re going to be moving forward together as a church. 

-Started with the mission of making and maturing disciples of Jesus. This is what sets the church apart from every other group, organization, or entity in the world. There are lots of other organizations doing lots of great work, but there’s only 1 group called to make disciples. That must be at the forefront of everything we do!

-Then we saw the need to by glorifying God. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism begins: What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. We are created to glorify someone/something, if we glorify something other than God it’s idolatry and leads to death.

-This need to glorify God means we need to lead the gospel permeate into everything we do, so we looked at gospel centered worship. All of our lives are meant to worship God, so the gospel needs to be both explicit and implicit in our lives, and in our gathered worship.

-We also need to be a gospel shaped community, we looked at Gal. 5 with the need to lovingly care for each other and live out the fruit of the Spirit instead of the works of the flesh.

-This idea continues as we join with God’s mission to seek and save the lost. The church needs to embrace being the church and allow the gospel to shape both our gathering and our scattering. But the ultimate goal has never changed: God’s people in God’s place serving under God’s perfect rule and reign. Right now we already serve as an embassy where we serve a different king than the world. We do our best to represent that king and kingdom. Read this this week: 

-“The ambassador represents the message of the King, the methods of the King, and the character of the King.” (accelerate, 14)

-Let’s think about this for a minute. That ambassador language is taken from 2 Cor. 5 “we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” 

3 aspects: message, methods, character. The message is the gospel, the good news of what Christ has done by entering into human history, dying on the cross, then rising again on the third day which changes everything about our future. That needs to be on the tip of our tongues and forefront of our minds for our whole lives.

-The methods are what I love describing as the “upside down way.” Acts 17:6 the early church is accused of “turning the world upside down.” Isn’t that exactly what Jesus coming does? Instead of being served we’re to serve others, instead of lording over people our status, we’re to act humbly. In our culture humility is a virtue, in the 1st century it’s a vice! God’s ways look counterintuitive to our fleshly human minds, but they’re the only way to find true, lasting life.

-The character. Brothers and sisters, we are literally commanded to look like God. “Be holy as I am holy.” (Lev. 19:2, 1 Peter 1:16) Have you ever thought of what that looks like? Being just as perfect as God? Don’t just run to “I’m not God” actually think about that for a minute.

-One characteristic about God I’ve been trying to meditate on recently is “draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” When I am confronted with a sinful situation in my life or heart, I’m supposed to use that to run TO God not AWAY from God. So if we’re supposed to act like God, shouldn’t we be a welcome place for someone to run to when they’re confronted with their sin? Why do we act surprised when sinners sin? 

-Religion: “I messed up. Dad’s gonna kill me!” Gospel: “I messed up. I need to call Dad.”

READ/PRAY (pg. 587)

-Different message, intentionally today! I don’t like using a text as a springboard, but I think James lays a great foundation to talk through what I mean when I talk about gospel rooted growth, but then I’m going to spend the bulk of today on how to apply these truths using 2 of the most helpful books on sanctification (becoming holy) I’ve found: Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands and How People Change. The first is in the library, the second will be there tomorrow.

  1. The Tensions of This World (1-4)

-The first step in any hope for growth is recognizing there is a problem! 

-I don’t know if any of you had this experience, but I had no clue how truly selfish I was until I got married! I thought I was a fairly patient, understanding person until I actually had to be accountable to someone for money, time, location!

-The problem for all of us is we are sinners, which means we are far far worse than we would ever imagine! We are sinners down to our core. This is why we need the gospel message, which means because of Christ we are far more loved than we could ever dream.

-James says even our passions are suspect! What is it that you most deeply think you want? Because if it’s anything other than life with Christ, you’re going to be severely disappointed. Think of the last time you got a new (at least to you) vehicle. You promise yourself that it will be different this time – cleaned every week, meticulously maintained, then what happens? Lasts for maybe a month! You can’t change you!

-Because of sin, we are our own worst enemy, and by giving in to the way the world operates, we put ourselves at war with God. Every time we sin we are breaking at least 2 commandments: the 1st one (no other gods) and then whichever of the next commandments we also broke. This is why worship is so important: we all worship someone or something, and sin has misplaced our worship. 1-3: no other gods, no other images, God’s name in vain (dishonor Him)

-4 Sabbath – my time is more important than God’s time, and I have no limits

-5 honor parents – my will is higher than God’s, and I don’t need authority in my life

-6 Do not murder – others exist for me, if I am not treated as the highest authority, I will seek revenge

-7 No adultery – my pleasure are more important than others, even God’s law

-8 Do not steal – I need more things to be satisfied instead of God

-9 No lying – my image is more important than someone else’s image

-10 do not covet – I similar to 7, my needs/desires are more important than others and I can’t celebrate when someone else is blessed.

-Prayer can help you do this! ACTS: by the time you get to “supplication” you’ll actually start to be praying for those needs according to God’s will.

-We need to treat sin as it really is: a cancer that spreads into our whole bodies affecting everything we do. John Owen: be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.

-So what do we do about that? This is where How People Change is so helpful! 

-Using Jer. 17:5-10 as a picture: heat, thorns, cross, fruit. I’ll let you go read the passage on your own time, but I’ll walk through this illustration to help you think through what this looks like in your life.

-Heat: situations that God brings into your life, all of us have things that happen to us each and every day. The way God works in us is our responses to the “heat” that comes into our lives. The Bible is full of examples of this! The Israelites, the kings, the prophets, the apostles. The Bible accounts how people responded to many of these situations! The way we respond to these situations reveal exactly what’s in our heart! Initially, our fleshly response leads to thorns.

-Thorns: these would be responses that manifest our sinful tendencies, and what kinds of things have you seen that come out when you respond to situations sinfully? These thorns are areas that God allows for us to see the ways our sin so easily entangles us.

-The authors have a list of typical ways people respond with thorns, I’ll just pick a couple and let you go read the rest.

Deny, avoid, escape: how many of us refuse to admit where we’re struggling or hurting? We put on the “good Christian” face, but inside we’re scared to admit we’re struggling to keep our head above water. Or maybe you’ve found ways to numb the difficulties you’re feeling, either with working too many hours, or eating too much food, or drinking too much. Whatever it is, it allows you to run from facing your thorns head on. 

Magnify, expand, catastrophize: maybe you view your entire life through a negative lens. No one else could ever truly understand your difficulties, no one else carries the same burden you carry, nor do you believe anyone else would truly care enough to let them in. Maybe it’s even giving into 1 story that has shaped the way you view literally everything!

Self-excusing self-righteousness: instead of actively killing our sin, we see our sin, but then blame other people for it and refuse to acknowledge it. This is most often manifested as children start to grow up and become independent. Your parent’s end up becoming the punching bag for all your issues because they clearly didn’t understand you as well as they should have. I could go on with these ideas, but you get the point! The thing to remember is: God will allow thorns to expose our sin.

-So what do we do? We run to God!

  • The Grace of God (5-6)

-God’s grace is sufficient. Grace is described as “the thick rod of rebar that courses through the concrete of the biblical story.” (Instruments, 32)

-The very moment where we’re tempted to turn around and run away from God, the moment when we feel most distant, most disconnected, most afraid of Him, is the moment where He is most near. It’s at that moment when we finally start to realize that we need His grace. Lewis: “pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Spurgeon: “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the rock of ages.”

-Leads us back to the need to bring everything to the cross.

-Cross:

-The cross means we have a brand new way of living (because of God’s grace) that wasn’t available to us before God saved us. This idea is most clearly demonstrated in:

-Gal. 2:20 This new life is signified with baptism, we die as our old selves and rise as Christ. Not an improved person, a brand new one! I have been crucified (saved) Christ lives in me (present tense) The life I live in the body (ability to live a new life daily)

-This is how we now have the ability to live a changed life! All the excuses we once had are now pointless and useless. Because of the cross, we can own up to the times we fall short, which leads instead of thorns to:

-Fruit: lasting heart change instead of merely external obedience is only possible because the gospel is taking root in our lives.

-ILLUS: staple an apple to a dead branch. Does this apple have any hope of continuing to grow? This is what happens when we try to force obedience without a transformed heart. With my kids! Until God saves them, this is what I’m going to be doing (doesn’t mean it’s bad for parenting, but as they grow I need to continue going for the heart, not the externals)

-This is where we all have the need to preach the gospel to ourselves every day. You need God’s grace today just as much as you did yesterday, and you’ll need God’s grace tomorrow just as much as you’ll need it today.

-However, we often forget that we need the gospel in our lives today. We have a tendency to view the gospel past tense (were saved) and future tense (will be glorified) but the gospel is also the means by which we can have lasting fruit. And once again, we need to remember this needs to be done in the context of the church. James is written to a church to help them live out these truths. Galatians is written to a church to help them live out these truths. Actually the NT is written FOR THE CHURCH to live out and embody gospel rooted growth.

-So how do we do that together? I’m glad you asked!

  • Humble Repentance (7-10)

-Submit to God: don’t puff yourself up, allow Him to work in you.

-Resist the devil: we can actually do that now! Before we had no hope of defeating his temptations, but now we can!

-Watch your life and belief: life: “cleanse your hands” belief: “purify your hearts”

9 – how do you respond when you’re made aware of thorns in your life?

-“God uses the instrument of His Word, delivered by human preachers and applied by the Spirit, to call his people to repentance.” ESV Expositors

-Every revival in church history began with repentance!

-How do we seek repentance together? First we need each other!

-Heb. 3:12-13. Love, know, speak, do from Instruments

  1. Love

-Christ’s love in us, which compels us as believers (2 Cor. 5:14-15), we have a new way of treating others, we are actually called to love them, even our enemies! That’s where love is described by Jesus as the last apologetic, the way the world knows if we’re Christians. 

-“If there had been no fall, if we had never sinned, we would still need help because we are human.” (Instruments, 41)

-Get up in each other’s business! We act as if we can’t have deep, lasting relationships, but that’s exactly what we need! If we are only known 99% we’re not actually known! This leads us to:

  • Know

-Ask questions, don’t assume you know everything that’s going on.

-Need honesty, both sides: look in the mirror before the other (log vs. speck)

-Try to actually understand the other person. How many arguments take place because you don’t actually understand what the other person is saying?

-Or let’s think about this another way, go to the Dr but you’re dishonest about your symptoms, will the medicine he prescribes be effective? In order to deal with the cancerous sin, we need to use the right medicine, it is the gospel, but it’s applied in different ways.

  • Speak

-Speak the truth in love. What do we speak? “The word of Christ” (Col. 3:16)

-Don’t just confront your preferences, confront where someone is out of line with what the Bible commands! AKA, extend grace to others and assume the best. Even in confronting, you can do it in a way that honors and assumes the best of someone else! 

-Podcast this week, “I heard you saw ____ this week and I’m just wondering if you meant that, why you said that, and how that aligns with Scripture?”

  • Do

-Continue living in relationship with them. This is going to need to happen again and again until Christ returns.

-Accountability. Do people know what’s really going on in your heart? When you are demonstrating thorns instead of fruit, who will tell you?

-Long term hope for us: 

-a healthy church that intentionally looks to welcome people in 

-disciples them on what a healthy church looks like and how it operates (steeped in God’s grace)

-and sends them out, every week, but also:

-Church planting. I found documents from 2008 when I got here that said “South Suburban needs to remain committed to church planting,” and I completely agree!

-Church revitalization. Until Christ returns, church’s are going to need help to get healthy. How can we help other churches be healthy? When one church catches fire for the Lord, it raises the temperature of every other church around them.

-Pastoral training. Because of my commitment to the local church, I’m convinced the best place to train pastors is, guess where? Partner with seminaries to help train new pastors.

-Today is multiplication Sunday in our district. We have an EFCA church plant coming into Eagan, Lord willing this fall! What can we do to help them be a healthy church that’s pursuing God’s kingdom together?

Gospel Shaped Community – 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.

-Working our way through our new mission/vision

-Nothing new, but reminds us the fundamentals of our faith, things that have been true since our founding in 1978.

-If you played sports growing up, you had drills you had to practice. Basketball: dribbling, triple threat stance, defensive stance, shooting form (follow through). I remember going to watch Kevin Garnett growing up, saw his pregame routine, was the exact same thing we did at high school, but unlike us, he didn’t miss! 

-We saw last week the story of the gospel, leading to the need to have gospel centered worship shape everything we do (so we had some people eat Snickers for us, and yes we did have Snickers in our new members class)

-Today we’re going to look at farming. Before my family moved to MN, we lived in ND. Both families were farmers, so when we’d go to family get togethers we’d spend hours driving through the ND farmland (most of the state) Always amazed me, my parents knew exactly what each field contained by a quick glance. My plant identification skills still leave my dad in awe of my ignorance! (when we first moved here my dad asked me what kind of trees we have in our backyard) Whether we realize it or not, all of us are farmers. Our habits, routines, practices are all planting seeds that will someday sprout in our lives and demonstrate what kind of seed has been planted in our lives. 

READ/PRAY (pg. 567)

-Galatians is written to a group of churches who have been inundated with false teachers who wanted to add to the gospel message. If you’ve read through the NT before, you’ve seen the way most of the Epistles are written is half theology, half implementation of the previous theology. Galatians is no exception! Paul expounds the realities of the gospel message

-By adding man-made rules, the false teachers were enslaving a people who had been set free. But this freedom is very different than the way we often view freedom today! Remember, the same guy who wrote this freedom idea in Galatians also wrote Romans! 

Rom. 6

-Everyone is a slave to something: what are you a slave to, sin or righteousness? Both have demands, both have expectations, both have masters that you’re serving, but one leads to life.

-That’s where back in Gal. 5, Paul will talk about freedom with ethical implications to it. When we think of freedom, we have a tendency to think (philosophically) libertarianism. Most often hear that word in connection to politics today, politics is named for the philosophical idea that every person is an autonomous free will agent. That’s not what Paul has in mind when he uses freedom (which we associate with the American way). 

-The Christian’s freedom is the joy to lovingly serve each other, the horizonal dimension to our faith. (cross shaped, quoting Jesus from Matt. 22 greatest commandment)

-The natural state of a human is conflict/war. You see that with kids! It takes time and effort to train them to stop thinking only about themselves, and it’s hard! Adults are similar, we just hide it better.

-Yet becoming a gospel shaped community means we don’t “bit and devour one another.” It means we honor others above ourselves, and it means even our so called “freedom” is meant to be a way to die to ourselves. All that to get to: 

  1. Lives in Step With the Spirit (5:16-26)

-Paul is expounding here what it means to love our neighbor as ourself, and it begins with walking by the Spirit. 

-Notice that the theme of the Spirit permeates this whole section, and there’s some important verbs connected to the Spirit: walk (16), led (18) live (25) keep in step (25) for now just note that, we’ll get to what that means as we walk through.

-Walking refers to your entire orientation, the way you go about your life. 

-Remember, building up to this point Paul had quoted Jesus’ greatest commandment, Jesus was quoting from Deut. 6, which has been memorized, studied, lived out by the Jewish people for 3,000 years. Another way of saying “walk by the Spirit” is remembering God first and foremost. Look at this.

-Statement of who God is, followed by a command for us to follow. God’s commands are to be written on our hearts. We say this last week “let the word of Christ dwell in you.” Meditate, think on these things. But these things aren’t meant to be done in isolation!

-Teach them to your children! When? House, travel outside your house, going to bed, wake up in the morning. If it’s in your heart, that’s what will naturally come out as you’re doing your normal daily things.

-Should become so soaked into who you are that it’s like they’re written on your hand and placed in between your eyes. Should permeate everything you do that your front door is marked by the implications of God’s Word, and your gates will be obedient to God’s commands.

-Everything I’m talking about with our new vision can be found here. Worship in vs. 5, community with children and your house (7, 9), mission in 78, 9 and growth back in 5

-This is what a life walking by the Spirit will look like: it will drive us to worship, community, mission (worship, we witness) and it all centers around the Word of Christ (the gospel!)

-Back to Galatians, living this way means we stop catering to our fleshly impulses. 

-Notice the constant battle going on in our lives: flesh vs. the spirit. When you find yourself giving in to the same old sin it’s your flesh winning the war. When you find yourself becoming more patient in responding to your spouse, it’s the Spirit winning the war. This is the process of sanctification, and all of us are in different places spiritually.

-We will get to the community part in chapter 6, but we need to begin with this, since Paul is talking about the way individuals will act in this new body/community that we’re called to. 

-This leads us to some lists. First, a list of the works of the flesh. 

-Notice the plural behind this workS. Then 15 things that seem to not have a lot in common with each other. Loosely follow: sexual sins, spiritual sins, communal sins, excess, but then we see it’s not exhausting: “things like these.” Almost as if Paul gets too tired of listing them “you know I could go on forever, but we’ll stop there.” I find relief in this list, there’s nothing new! These things still crop up in the church today! How often in the church (sometimes even here) do we see strife, dissensions and divisions? Every church I’ve ever been to has the battle scars to prove that these have come up before. Just so we’re on the same page here, is this evidences of the Spirit, or flesh? When you see these characteristics coming up, RUN AWAY! Instead, what we need to demonstrate and look for is:

-Singular fruit. None is optional. 3 groups of 3. God, others, ourselves.

-If we are in Christ we have the freedom to demonstrate this fruit instead of the works of flesh! We’ve killed that flesh, but the flesh keeps fighting back!

-live by the Spirit (only way TO live) keep in step (who’s setting the pace? Hank Griffith finally keeping up with Donna since she had her gall bladder removed!)

-If we all individually are living out this fruit, it will allow us to have gospel shaped community where we will not be opposed to each other.

  • Bears Each Other Burdens (6:1-5)

-All that previous stuff we saw is the characteristics, traits required of all of us individually to allow us to now live out these truths in this section. It turns us into:

-Brothers – we are now a family

-Listening to a podcast yesterday on the invention of the nuclear family. When the Bible talks about family it’s far bigger than we tend to think today. We’re far too nearsighted when we think about family today.

-Diognetus: 130-200 AD.

-“follow the customs of natives” in but not of the world

-have no home, living for another world

-“do not destroy their offspring” true Christians have been against abortion since the 2nd century. It’s purely a modern idea that “Christians” would support the killing of the unborn. Pray for Roe to be overturned, but that’s the end of the beginning, because it will essentially not change anything.

-“common table, not common bed.” Share meals together, but not sleeping together. What a wild idea!

-“surpass the laws by their lives” often too independent today to do this!

-“unable to assign any reason” brothers and sisters this could hardly even describe those in the church today, much less the way we treat those outside our body. Wouldn’t you love to be a part of a group of people who exemplified this reality? We can! That’s why it’s a part of our vision, this is something we aspire to

-Caught

-traps, snares. World, the flesh, the devil. How often do you find yourself giving into sinful temptations, or living out the fleshly works instead of the fruit

-Who are spiritual, opposed to fleshly

-Those who are living the fruit of the Spirit, should be most of us! 

-I was tempted to preach on 1 Cor. 5 where Paul tells us to judge those inside the church, or follow Jesus’ command in Matt. 18. Church discipline is a beautiful thing, and most of the time we’re not even aware of when it’s taking place since it starts 1 on 1. And the end goal of church disciple, or judging those inside the church is:

-Restore – set a broken bone, fix what was broken. Ultimate goal is restoration or reconciliation. Yet when we do that:

-don’t fall into the same temptation. Be aware of your own personal temptations, and don’t get caught by the same sins.

-And notice how we approach this restoration process: with gentleness. How often do we just condemn, and not use gentleness? Not shying away from the truth, but speaking the truth IN LOVE. Gentleness isn’t weakness, it’s a mark of keeping in step with the Spirit, being led by the Spirit. 

-Bear each other’s burdens

-Did some drywall yesterday, have any idea how tough that is to move by yourself? I heard sounds coming out I didn’t even know I could make! Having a second person makes it infinitely easier. Similarly, we’re not meant to carry our spiritual burdens alone. 

-Song “Christ has no body now but yours” some issues, Jesus still has a body

-What is the law of Christ? John 13 love. The way we demonstrate our love is by not letting our family carry their burdens alone. We just read this description from the second century of the church living this out.

-While we’re commanded to love each other, our brothers and sisters will not bear the penalty for our sins when we stand before God.

-We will be culpable for how we love our church family, we’ll be held responsible for whether or not we carried their burdens, but the reverse is not true. We cannot be like our first father Adam and blame anyone else for our sin.

-The fact that we need others should lead us to gospel rooted humility, there is no such thing as gospel rooted pride! The gospel will rip the roots of pride right out of your life, it will force you to take the attention off yourself the put it on Christ, and then care for others’ interests even higher than your own.

-Listened to a podcast that was titled “Will the real adults please stand up?” Just waiting for someone else to do it. All of us need to say it starts with me. 

-I think of the verse I’ve seen in SO many houses growing up (my mom had it in the bathroom my sister and I shared) Joshua 24:15 “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Do you have that attitude? I don’t care what everyone else does, we’re different. 

  • Does Good (6:6-10)

-Share with the teacher (6)

-People generally take this to refer to paying pastors, and that’s part of it (so thank you for allowing me to spend time studying God’s Word each week! I don’t take that lightly, and consider it a privilege)

-But also, this is where as we’ve gotten to the end of sermon series, I’ve asked to share where you’ve been encouraged, challenged, or learned something new. Not just for me, tell Tami, Micah, Jeramy, Bruce, Sabrina. If something comes up, please share! I’m not always aware of what is effective and what isn’t. Plus, we’re supposed to be encouraging toward each other anyway! 

-Sowing and reaping (7-8)

-If you didn’t know, Spring finally came this week, at least for a couple days! With Spring comes planting time. Cara has high hopes for what plants will eventually be growing in our backyard, and guys I’m trying to pretend to care! But even I know how this works, so if Cara tells me she’s planted some lettuce seeds, what’s (barring famine, neglect, or insect) going to grow? If she tells me she’s planted some cucumber seed, I should be expecting what to grow? Everyone knows how this work, it’s not rocket science!

-Paul takes that idea and asks: spiritually, what kind of fruit are you going to bear? You’ve got 2 places to sow seed: flesh or Spirit.

-Remember the previous section Paul compared works of the flesh vs. the fruit of the Spirit. But one thing about fruit is it’s a byproduct of the work. The plant can’t help it, it’s the natural overflow of what it does. In our lives, the natural byproduct of planting Spirit filled things will be the fruit of the Spirit. When we try to do it in our own comfort or strength we’ll end up doing it in the flesh/works. 

-True individually and corporately. Are the ministries, works, seeds we’re trying to scatter in the Spirit or the flesh? Are you praying regularly for the seed that is sown here, both individually and corporately to be leading to fruit? This means we need to do regular evaluation of what’s bearing fruit, if something we’re spending a lot of time and money on isn’t bearing fruit, we either need to change it or get rid of it! We only have so many resources to give, we need to ensure we’re being faithful to what God has called us to do! Make disciples. 

-If you are ever discouraged by what feels like unfruitful work, go read Gal. 6:9. Sometimes I feel like it’s the only thing that keeps me going!

-Life on this side of heaven is hard! In the most difficult season of ministry I experienced this verse was a lifeline for me because of the last line: “if we do not give up.” In the midst of my struggle there were many days when I woke up and wanted to give up, to go work somewhere else, but this reminded me to continue putting 1 foot in front of the other, keep moving forward. 

-But it also means we need to ask the question: what season are we currently in? Are we in a planting season? Are we in a pruning season? Are we in a fruitful season? One thing remains constant through every season: do good.

-When we’re mocked, do good. When we’re upset, do good. When we’re belittled, do good. When we’re depressed, do good. Come what may, we do good. The reality is, God will bring us opportunities to do good, the question is are you ready for them?

-Notice vs. 10, generally, do good to all, but there is a unique burden to do good to those who are believers, the burden of love! We’re now family, which means we need to treat each other like it, far more than just casual acquaintances.

-Made a joke to Cara yesterday that I was triaging my parenting, one child was being very disobedient so they were getting all my focus. Another one tried to get me to do something else but I couldn’t get away to help the other child. Then we practiced actual triage when someone wiped out on his bike! We have the burden of caring for those in our body who can’t go on by themselves. 

-The gospel calls us into a community, the gospel then embeds itself in our community and transforms us, planting seeds in us to bear the fruit of the Spirit, the question for all of us is: what field are you planting in, the flesh or the Spirit? 

Gospel Centered Worship – Sermon Manuscript

-New mission/vision: making and maturing disciples of Jesus, last week glorifying God, this week gospel centered worship, then gospel shaped community, gospel driven mission, which culminates in gospel rooted growth. The gospel is at the core of everything we do.

-Really briefly, if you haven’t been here for long, the gospel is taken from the Greek word “euongelion” which literally means “good news” The good news is that our sin has been dealt with once and for all by God Himself, who came to earth 2,000 years ago, lived a perfect life and taught how to become a part of this new kingdom that is upside down to the way the world teaches us to operate. Then Jesus validated everything he had taught by rising from the dead. Because the tomb is empty, we need to respond to Jesus call to repent and believe in Him. Then, once you believe in Him your journey is just starting, because you need to daily choose to become more and more like Him obeying him more and more fully. You can summarize everything I just said in 4 words: God, man, Christ, response. And that last word (response) will take eternity to fully grasp! So you may as well get started today! 

-So when I say we need to have gospel centered worship, what am I talking about?

-Volunteers: gospel centered worship through eating a snickers bar.

-First, there is an orientation to our worship. Our whole lives are lived coram deo before the face of God. That’s why we started with glorifying God last week, everything we do and say is meant to glorify Him, point to Him, even image Him.

-Second, there will be a lot of things that compete for our worship, so we need to regularly remind ourselves of and brings ourselves back to the fundamentals: the gospel, so then everything else will fall into proper place. Think of 1 Cor. 15 Paul delivered the gospel, which is of first importance. We need to keep the gospel in the place it deserves: the first place! Only when we have that first can we get to properly ordering other things in our lives.

-Third, we need to think about how we approach the worship of God. I’ve shared before one of the words that drives my nuts that people use connected to worship is “authentic.” What does that even mean?

-Most people use that to talk about only doing what I feel like or want to

-What I prefer to use is from Heb. 12 acceptable. Believe it or not, God cares how we worship Him, and sometimes His people need to repent of worshiping Him unacceptably, which we’ll see in Isaiah

-We’ll be looking at 3 texts today to see what it means to have gospel centered worship, which means we need to do the right things (right action) and it needs to come from the right desire (right motives)

READ/PRAY 

  1. Right Action, Wrong Motive (Isaiah 1) pg. 327

-Last Spring we studied Amos together, fascinating book, and one I mentioned last week from Amos 5 where God tells his people he hates their acts of worship. God says something similar here in Isaiah, and remember this is the first chapter of the book! God comes out swinging! 

-Word of the Lord

-Isn’t made up by the prophet, must pay attention to this!

-There are other places where the Word of the Lord has come, think of the part of the Bible where you quit doing your daily Bible reading every year: Leviticus. God gave explicit commands to his people in how they were to worship Him. Do you remember what they were? Sacrifices, offerings, blood!

-Some scholars argue that these people were quick to jump to excessive offerings given in service of the Lord. You see this in vs. 12-13 trampling done by the running of bringing so many offerings in, and all the people coming, and vain offerings are pointless/useless

-God says all the external obedience in the world is pointless. Look at what He says in 14 that their external piety has become a burden to God. When Jesus comes, He referred to people who act like this as “whitewashed tombs” we may call it “putting lipstick on a pig.” Later on in Isaiah 29, God says “this people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” 

-So what is acceptable worship in God’s eyes? All these things they were doing were the right things to do! The things God Himself had commanded! But God won’t look or listen to them.

-Think of the story of Elijah vs the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Do you remember how it went down? Showdown of the gods, they had 450 prophets vs 1 prophet of the one true God, and Elijah spends the day mocking them, saying their god is indisposed, or sleeping, or on a trip, but the one true God will always listen. Unless your worship is unacceptable. 

-Lots of verbs: wash, make, remove, cease, learn, seek, correct, bring justice, plead. Acceptable worship of God will be evident in your response to “the least of these” Another way of thinking about that today would be your life outside of these walls must represent the God we claim to worship on Sunday.

-Then God says, alright let’s talk! 

-A verse many of us know! If they address their unacceptable worship, do all the action points listed above, then this is how God will respond to their sin.

-Notice the two IFs here. The people have a choice! If they obey God they will eat well, if they disobey God, they will be eaten. Those are their options! God says go ahead and choose! He’s put all his cards on the table!

-This also says the primary problem is human stubbornness. We’re unwilling to look at things from someone else’s perspective, even God’s! 

-Where do you see this kind of misplaced/misguided or unacceptable worship today? 

-Politics. How many of the political conversations taking place today are rising to the level of the single most important thing in the world? Where these conversations have devolved is to demonize anyone who disagrees with any finer point of the political agenda. In so doing, you come to the conclusion that the if only everyone would vote or agree with your political agenda, the entire world would be saved. Let me ask: what is the only way to be saved?

-Sunday mornings So often we see socio-economic divides guiding our gatherings, we see racial divides guiding our gatherings, we use secondary theological issues to divide our gatherings. We’ll separate based on musical preferences, clothing styles, kids ministry, youth ministry, all because of something we like or don’t like (preference based instead of dying to self)

-Neighborhoods how many of us are trying to keep up with the Jones’? I was told they don’t know what they’re doing either! 

-Theological conversations – I’m as guilty of this as anyone, but how often are we (similar to politics) dissecting every word and phrase to ensure 100% alignment instead of loving each other unconditionally?

-That’s the first instance where we need to ensure that our whole life is lived in a way that brings honor to God. Up next we’ll see where we need to orient our worship

  • Wrong Action, Right Motive (Colossians 1) pg. 572

-Paul begins this chapter by giving thanks for what God has done in the church at Colossae, then focuses on what Christ accomplished on the cross, and then uses what many people believe is an early church hymn of praise for who Jesus is.

-“He is the image”

-We’ve studied this idea quite a bit together! Where we reflect the image of God poorly, Jesus reflects the image of God perfectly.

-Firstborn

-Jehovah’s Witness use this to say SEE, Jesus was the first created being. Unfortunately for them, it can also mean the pinnacle or highest person. And if you look at vs. 18 it uses the same phrase, but He had raised other people, so within the context it would make more sense that this is the pinnacle, because that also fits the next verse:

-Why would He be created if everything was created BY Him? Doesn’t work!

-Nothing is outside of His creative control: heaven and earth, visible and invisible, people that appear powerful on earth. Everything that exists was created to point to Him. This is another way of saying that our worship must change our orientation to be Christ focused! He must be the focus of our worship!

-The second half of this section focuses on Jesus’ role in the church, of which He is the head.

-He not only imaged God perfectly, He is God perfectly 19

-Then finally, after all these wonderful words about who Jesus is, does the attention finally turn to us. Jesus’ work on the cross brings about reconciliation. Church, at the heart of the gospel is a reconciling God! First he reconciles us to Himself, and then gives us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5)

-But God didn’t save us when we were lovely, Paul goes on to say we were alienated (far away) hostile (fighting against) doing evil deeds (antithetical to God’s very nature). These behaviors are the wrong actions, yet before God saves us we assume, act, and operate as if they’re the right things! We don’t know any better!

-I’ve got young kids, do you know how hard it is to teach someone to share? And the reason they don’t like to share is because their orientation is focused on themselves instead of toward Jesus, who I try to keep reminding them told us to treat others the way we would like to be treated.

-This orientation toward Christ could also be described in vs. 23 the hope of the gospel. We need that regular gospel reminder in our lives! Part of the reason we need that reminder is because we tend to forget, maybe you have a better memory than I do, but I forget what it means to keep Jesus as the focus of my life on a regular basis. This is part of where it’s SO important for us to have these regular patterns of gathering with fellow believers for encouragement, edification, and reminding us what’s really real. To remind us to place our hope in the truth of the gospel. That means what we do on Sunday has a specific purpose.

-One of the things I love learning/studying about is the liturgy of the church. What is the order of our worship services, and why do we do it that way? I was listening to a podcast this past week that talked about the liturgies of God’s people through history. One of my favorite books on this topic is Christ-Centered Worship by Bryan Chapell. I cannot recommend this book highly enough to get an understanding of what should be a part of our corporate gathering. 

  • Right Action, Right Motive (Colossians 3) pg. 573

-Summary: our gatherings are meant to reflect the realities of the gospel, both implicitly and explicitly. One author has said when we gather we’re supposed to “Read the Word, preach the Word, pray the Word, sing the Word, see the Word (in the ordinances).”

-Paul tells us in this passage how we are supposed to operate now that we’re a part of the body of Christ. 

-Earlier in this section he said we need to put to death or put away the earthly way of living, so stop with the wrong actions we say back in Isaiah. Instead of that, we’re supposed to put on some things: compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Do you see any of those things in our current cultural climate? What we’re called to is radically different to the natural way people want to operate. 

-On top of all those things, we’re supposed to bear with each other. Life is way too hard to do it by yourself.

-This means being real, open, and honest with people. Instead of being “MN nice” and not wanting to burden anyone you actually have to put yourself out there! 

-I just need to tell you, if anyone ever wants to talk to me, you’re NOT being a burden, nuisance, or interruption. I don’t remember where I read it, but I remember reading one time that ministry is the interruptions. If I don’t have interruptions then I’m not ministering! I’ve had overseers tell me they felt bad for taking my time! Please don’t ever apologize! We all need each other! But it’s also contingent on the next part of this verse:

-If someone wrongs you (including me!) please don’t assign nefarious intentions. Remember, that’s the way the world teaches us to think: distrust and suspicion. But we cannot operate that way in the church! Look at the bar Paul sets for us: forgiving like who? The Lord! And what did He forgive? Everything, 

-If only he stopped at forgive! He goes on to add love, which he defines in 1 Cor. 13. The nice thing is, the call he’s giving us is merely very hard (just mostly dead). Jesus already did the impossible by creating a way for us to come to Him through His death on the cross! That death leads to peace! Reconciliation leads to peace, true lasting peace. Then as a throwaway comment: be thankful. A mark of a Christian is thankfulness, it will come up again.

-Then we get to the main point: what should we let dwell in us? The word of Christ.

-Remember back in Col. 1 we saw that the fullness of God dwelled bodily in Christ. Now we today have the same command, but we’re to let the word of Christ dwell in us. This is why we spend SO much time in God’s Word together each week. And what do we do with God’s Word?

-Teach and admonish.

-Positive instruction and negative correction. I was texting another pastor friend this week about the need to allow the Word to do the work. By myself I’ve got nothing to give you guys! What I do have is God’s Word which is living and effective, that will never return void, that has everything we need to grow more like Christ. But this isn’t just my job, this is the job of all of us! Keep giving the Word to each other because if we don’t we don’t have anything!

-Notice a way we can teach and admonish: singing. Have you ever viewed singing as a way to teach each other? This is why we’re SO careful about the songs we sing! They’re meant to be used to teach and admonish each other. Which also means you should probably sing, because otherwise you won’t be able to teach those around you. 

-Story of ‘Not for a Moment’ 

-Notice even singing is meant to be connected to thankfulness.

-Then, to wrap up this whole section, Paul throws in not just singing, but anything else you do too! 

-What you say, what actions come out in your life are meant to be done to point to Jesus Christ, in other words they’re meant to be gospel centered. 

-And this gospel saves us, sanctifies us, makes us new creatures, brings us together, allows us to become one body and should create in us a thankful spirit. Each time we leave our corporate gatherings we should be giving thanks to God for the blessing of His people in our lives.

-Let me simplify everything I’ve said: we start with God, God has revealed Himself to us in His Word, His Word tells us the Good News (gospel) about Jesus, and we respond by living a transformed (worshipping) life that reflects the gospel message we believe. 

-I’ve been thinking about this reality for a while now. Why is it that we are so often exactly the same as our neighbors and culture that we live in? This is the 3rd state I’ve served as a pastor in, and there are some unique things in each of those places! Gives you some perspective/understanding, appreciation and frustration of each of them! 1 thing is true: people are sinners! 

-How do we live a life that is gospel centered? It’s doing everything you already do with a new/distinct outlook or motivation to it.  

-Eating a Snickers bar (imagine your favorite meal untainted by our sinful taste buds. These are meant to give us a tiny taste of eternity)

-Mowing my lawn (be patient with my kids!)

-Reading on our front deck (we need more front decks!)

-Helping my neighbor move his new skateboard ramp to his backyard

-Working

-Driving

-Resting or Playing (re-creation) How many struggle taking time off? Productivity has become such an idol for so many of us. 

-All these things must be rooted in the Word “have the mind of Christ” (Phil. 2:5) we look down to bring our gaze back up in awe of God. Every day is practice for THAT day when we’ll finally be unencumbered by sin, our flesh, and the devil. 

Remember How to Live – 2 Peter 3:11-18 Sermon Manuscript

-Why do we gather together week after week? Have you ever asked that question? I remember in college it was really trendy to “have church” at Starbucks, that’s the best place for me to worship. Is that what God has called us to do? Do you think the early church had green mermaids on their cups when they met together? One of the ways I’ve started talking about our need to gather is: remember and remind. We need to remember the true story we’re living in, that Jesus is God, that the tomb is empty and that compels us to live differently than the world. But we also need to be reminding each other of that reality. When I’m sitting alone at Starbucks, I don’t have others reminding me of these truths, I don’t have people calling out sin in my life, I don’t have what God has called me to.

-One way of remembering is singing! I got to hear my favorite singing this week!

READ/PRAY

  1. How Must We Live Now? (11-13)

-Since, connecting us back to what Pastor Jeramy preached on 2 weeks ago.

-If you didn’t know or hadn’t heard, Jesus is going to come back, and it might be soon! Part of Peter’s purpose for writing this letter is to correct poor theology and false teachers. All of chapter 2 is devoted to dealing with the false teachers who pursued pleasure at all costs. Part of the reason they felt free to live that way is because they had become convinced Jesus wasn’t ever going to come back (remember waiting for Christmas to finally come when you were growing up?)

-Since all these things (heavens and elements) will be “dissolved” 

-Weird word in the Greek, some say “melt away” sounds like the created order is reverting back to the primordial idea it was before creation. Does that meant they’re going to die and then be recreated, or is this a purifying? If you’ve ever seen a movie like LOTR where they smelt down the metal to purify/strengthen it (as when the orcs are preparing for Helm’s Deep), this is meant to refine and get rid of all the impurities. That debate is too big for my allotted time, so I’ll let you go study how we put the end times together on your own time!

-Peter’s primary reminder remains: the end is coming! It’s going to happen at a time we least expect it, but what affect does that have for me today? Hopefully (by now) we all will acknowledge, Jesus is going to come back, but you’ve probably heard the comment of someone being “so heavenly minded they do no earthly good.” (I have yet to meet anyone like that!) But Peter tells us that idea is ridiculous. Because Jesus is coming back:

-It compels/demands a completely new way of living, a radically new ethic that we’re to hold ourselves to: holiness and godliness

-Holiness ties to 1 Peter 1:14-16

-Since we have been purchased by an unmeasurable payment (the shed blood of Jesus) we are commanded to no longer act like we’re still a part of the world. We’re commanded to act like God, that is being holy, sacred, set apart from the sinful world. That’s what God means we we’re described as His children: we now have his attributes in our lives. This is what it means to image God today: being holy. 

-Godliness connects to 2 Peter 1:4 “having become partakers of the divine nature”

-Godliness in vs. 3

-Comes through knowledge, comes by escaping worldly corruption

-Listened to a podcast this week with Andy Crouch (Tech Wise Family is fantastic) but brought up the idea as much of technology today being mammon, or a demonic temptation. Have you done an assessment of your use of technology and looked for ways in which your use may not be holiness and godliness? Andy shares that both of his kids have completely sworn off of social media. As we live lives of holiness and godliness we are:

-Waiting for and hastening the coming

-Waiting for – 2 kinds of waiting, active vs. passive. Active like when your dad has been gone on a work trip and your mom saves the house cleaning for the hour before he walks in. Passive like the previous 6 days he was gone! This waiting isn’t meant to be us twiddling our thumbs. Luther, if you knew God was returning tomorrow, plant an apple seed today. Many of us act as if our jobs are preventing us from pursuing holiness/godliness, the reality is those are the very places we’re supposed to be demonstrating holiness/godliness.

-Hastening: your holy and godly living “hastens” or “hurries” the coming of the day of God. Isn’t God sovereign and not dependent on us? Ties to the gospel being preached to the ends of the earth (Matt. 28). What do you think we’re asking when we pray the Lord’s prayer: your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. This is exactly what Jesus tells us to pray for!

-Day of God – connects to vs. 10

-His return demonstrates that this world isn’t all there is. Very violent/graphic! Is it destroyed or renewed?

-Why would someone want this day? Remember when we studied Amos, the prophet there said be careful if you ask for the day of the Lord because it means judgment is coming! This implies that the person asking is living a life of holiness and godliness, because if you’re not then, then don’t ask for that day to come! Related to that is a warning to the false teachers: since you’re NOT living a godly life you should be afraid of Jesus’ return! I.E. That which they’re convinced won’t happen will be the very thing that gets them in the end.

-His promise

-Because Jesus is the one who made the promise, it guarantees it will happen. This isn’t something I made up, wasn’t even made up by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins to make millions on their Left Behindbooks, this is something Jesus talked about during his ministry. Because Jesus talked about it, it’s a guarantee!

-Connects to vss. 8-9. Many people got tired of waiting for Jesus to come back, they thought it would be a lot sooner than the 20 years they’d been waiting (dude, now we’ve been waiting 2,000 years!) Our timeline tends to get skewed, God’s doesn’t! So we try to better align ourselves with His timing. Have you ever prayed for victory over certain sins, and decades later you’re still fighting them? Because we have eternity to grow, it may feel like forever!

-New heavens and a new earth: restored, renewed. “new in nature or quality” doesn’t have the idea of a completely new thing. Purifying! These new heavens and earth will be a place where:

-Righteousness – character trait of God. Connects us all the way back to the beginning of this book: “to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” 

-Unlike this present age, in the age to come righteousness will “dwell” (root of the word is “house”). Connects to the grace and peace from 1:2. If we have “peace” we have righteousness dwelling eternally. We will in an eternally peaceful state, where the normal course of our lives are based in righteousness. Unfortunately, that time is not yet here.

  • Be Patient in Your Holiness (14-16)

-Therefore: because of all those other realities (Jesus is coming the need to live holy and godly lives), beloved: affection, endearment. It’s at time easy to read these verses as cold/distant/condemning. Peter means none of those things. This is a dear, close, intimate relationship. Peter cares for his readers, just as Jesus cares for us today! These words have the same familial connection to us as they did the first readers! We read this as God’s very words to us, through Peter.

-YOU here versus the WE in 13. Both of them are waiting, but Peter wants to remind his readers of something specific. While they’re waiting, they have a job: BE DILIGENT

-Active vs. passive waiting here. Continue working, remain faithful. This is where we today are setting the stage and laying a foundation for (Lord willing) generations of faithfulness here at South Suburban.

-Be found – This is the passive part! We can’t find ourselves, this is God unilaterally does! God calls, we respond. (Adam in the garden) How are we to be found?

-Without spot or blemish

-Remember I said back when we were in chpt. 2 to look down at this verse. Contrast to 2:13, the false teachers are referred to as “blots and blemishes.” This is a radical difference between the false teachers and the children of God.

-But this also connects to Peter 1st letter. 1 Peter 1:18-19 “you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” What Peter is doing is saying our godliness, our holiness comes to us ONLY because we are connected to Christ. If we haven’t put our faith in Him, we’ll be blots and blemishes.

-At peace

-This idea keeps coming up! Because we’re in Christ, eternal peace is possible today. More than just the absence of conflict, everything is right!

-God’s patience (saw that in vs. 9) is meant to give us time for salvation. 4 aspects:

-This should cause us to look back in awe that we were saved (past tense) Rom. 8:24 “in this hope we were saved”

-There is also a present tense aspect of currently BEING saved 1 Cor. 15:2
“the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved.”

-There’s the future tense that when Christ returns we will be saved Rom. 10:9: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

-Because we are saved completely, in the past present and future, it compels us to mission/evangelism Rom. 2:4 “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” How will someone respond unless they hear about the good news of what Jesus has done on their behalf? Brother and sisters: only Christians can accomplish this task! This connects back to the “hastening” of the day of the Lord. We have a job to do diligently! God’s patience towards unbelief is temporary, his peace (or the flip side of bearing the brunt of no peace) is eternal.

-Here’s the reality: the church is meant to spread throughout the whole world. The mission originally given to Adam and Eve (fill the earth with God’s image) is now meant for the church. You don’t have missions without the church! Too often we have separated those 2 ideas as if they’re 2 radically different things. Church, we’re supposed to keep reproducing, making new churches, making disciples who make more disciples until the whole earth is full of people who image God. That was the mission of the early church and remains the mission of the church today! 

-Paul and Peter. Talks about him differently: beloved brother.

-Interesting relationship! Galatians issue. Gal. 2:11 “when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.” No love lost there! Apparently there was some sort of reconciliation, and at times even the apostles needed to be confronted when their lives didn’t match their preaching.

-Notice the unity of Scripture here. What Peter says is what Paul says is what Jesus said. There is 1 message with a multitude of applications and ways to live out the truth.

-These letters being written and distributed among the early church are wisdom from God. The Nicene council didn’t invent the Bible being God’s Word or Scripture, the early church believed it!

-“Hard to understand” 

-This is one of the most important verses in this book. Underline it, highlight it, bold it on your phone, whatever you need to do. SOME OF THE BIBLE IS HARD TO UNDERSTAND. At least we’re not the only ones! Don’t you find it somewhat ironic that Peter says that, when we saw some weird stuff in chpt. 2?

-DOES NOT GET US OFF THE HOOK OF STUDYING! Peter doesn’t say they’re hard to understand, so don’t worry about it. This just means we actually have to apply ourselves to this the Bible to understand what it is God wants us to learn. This does not meant that therefore we can’t understand it! One author coined the phrase “the hermeneutical spiral” Hermeneutics is the way we understand something, but because the Bible is 1 book, as we grow in our understanding we move down the spiral to get more, deeper, and accurate understanding of what God is saying through His Word. And the more we learn of other parts it fills in some of the gaps in itself! Just because you may not understand something the Bible says doesn’t mean there isn’t a solution to your problem! You may need to open yourself up to others and maybe do a little work to figure out what the text is saying. 

-Part of the difficulty with the Bible being hard to understand is: those who are “ignorant” (unlearned) or “unstable” (weak) use these letters to twist (dislocating limbs for torture) the meaning. Just because people can (and do!) twist the Bible doesn’t mean the Bible is wrong! 

-Think about this: imagine you had a tape measure that you were using for house projects, but instead of having 12” in a foot you had 10”. How accurate would your readings be? Similarly, the true standard is the Bible, not whatever else you’re wanting to use, that’s twisting the Bible to fit your meanings. 

-Thankfully, those who twist the Scripture do so to their destruction. What kind of God’s Word would it be if He only ever said what we wanted Him to say. Who is God then? If you never find anything in the Bible that challenges you’re thinking, you need to do some evaluating about who your highest authority is. 

-Loki in the first Avengers “I am a GOD you dull creature, and I will not be bullied by…” “puny God” We are so often trying to make God into a “puny god” but that’s not how God works! He doesn’t conform to our image, we conform to His! 

-Don’t miss this last phrase: “the other Scriptures”

-Putting Paul’s letters on par with Scriptures. Another reminder that this wasn’t something invented by later Christians trying to come up with something to believe, this happened in the first century! 

  • Don’t Get Carried Away, Remain Rooted (17-18)

-Peter’s final exhortation, remember YOU, focusing on the readers

-Be careful to not carried away (rooted, good foundation, connected to God’s Word, our South Suburban arrow)

-Error of lawless people (first error they’re led the wrong way since they have no foundation, then they’re lawless (they have no rule to obey))

-Instead of living rootless and lawless, GROW! Roots planted deep mean you will have a fruitful life. This is the description we find in Psalm 1 a tree planted by a stream. What do we grow in?

-Grace – not just for our salvation, each breath we take is a grace, each day we have is a grace. Everything we have is a gift from God and is therefore a gift of His undeserving grace.

-Knowledge – you must grow in knowledge of God, revealed through His Word. God continues to speak to us, all we have to do is pick up and read!

-Ends with a benediction: 

-Everything we do and are is meant to glorify God (Westminster shorter catechism: what is the chief end of man?)

-Just because He’s coming back to make a new heavens and earth doesn’t mean his glory will be any less!

-Amen: let it be so.

He Is Risen Indeed! – Luke 24 Sermon Manuscript

He is risen! He is risen indeed! Have you ever wondered why we say that every Easter? Was it just something someone came up with to be clever? We find it in the Gospel of Luke! We’re going to be studying Luke 24 together this morning, open your Bibles. 

-We’re going to see as we walk through this text that the early disciples demonstrated every possible normal human response to the miracle of the resurrection. All the “new” ideas about what happened to Jesus aren’t so novel when you find out people in the 1st Century (even those who believed Him!) thought the same things!

READ/PRAY (words of our mouths and meditations of our hearts be pleasing in your sight, O Lord our rock and our redeemer)

  1. The Women Are Reminded (1-12)

-Good Friday we ended with the Sabbath note, today picks up where we left off. Since Sabbath is Saturday, what do you think “the first day” is? Good start! Sunday. 

-First example of the validity of the resurrection. Throughout all of Jewish history, their week was centered around Sabbath, Saturday. Why do you think suddenly this group of Jews started centering their week around Sunday? Something significant must have happened on a Sunday to change the way the early disciples oriented their lives.

-Who’s this “they” look back at 23:55 “the women” before Sabbath they had done the prep work, today was the delivery.

-Common practice in the 1st Century, preparing a body for burial, which they didn’t have time to do.

-Something is wrong as they approach the tomb: front stone is rolled away, and there was no body in the tomb. Did they go to the wrong place? Look again at 23:55: “saw the tomb and how his body was laid.”

-They were perplexed. Seems like an understatement to me. If you saw a dear friend of yours beaten to a pulp, then hung on a cross by an expert executioner, had no breath or pulse, when he was taken down so you put him in a tomb, what would you expect to happen? Let me ask another way: what would you expect someone who’s dead to do? Stay dead! None of the disciples were expecting this! Think of all the spices they wasted!

-Suddenly, 2 men appear in “dazzling” clothes. 

-I think we have too many “touched by an angel” shows today, every time angels appear in the Bible people are terrified! 

-They ask one of my favorite questions in all of Scripture: why do you seek the living among the dead? Once again, seems like a weird statement! The women had just seen Jesus die. So they didn’t know they were looking for a living person, they thought they were looking in the right spot. 

-Where would you go to look for living people? Walk through the neighborhood, always people at MOA, airport, Target, LOTS of options. 

-Where would you look for a dead person? Hospital, funeral home, graveyard. Much more limited options. Based on all the information given to them, the women think they’re in the right place.

-The angels then go on to tell the women to remember what Jesus said. 

-Hindsight is 20/20, as you read through the Gospel accounts, Jesus repeatedly told his followers that he would die, but they didn’t connect the dots until later. Honestly, it would sound completely ridiculous as Jesus’ fame was growing, people were being healed, He was providing for so many people, why would he die a martyrs death? John 12:16 tells us: “His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.” They were living it, and they still had trouble remembering it!

-Jesus wasn’t the only person who claimed to be the Messiah in Israel’s history, there were even other so called Messiah’s who were killed by the Romans in the first century! Jesus’ disciples thought there was something different about Him, but apparently his death had proven their hopes wrong. Or had it? 

-Look at vs. 8. “They remembered his words.”

-If you’ve been paying attention during our 2 Peter series, you’ve heard that word repeated regularly. God knows us all, He knows just how forgetful we humans are! I joked about it during one sermon that you forget things by walking through a door (called the doorway effect, real thing!), and then Micah had to tell me to do that twice this past week!

-The angels’ reminder jogs the women’s memory, so suddenly it all comes back to them! In their excitement they go back to the rest of the disciples and report what happened. But no one else believes them!

-Look at vs. 11

-‘An idle tale’ could see this as “an old wives tale” equivalent to: if you read in the dark you’ll damage your eyes. This is one of the reasons we can believe these accounts, they contain natural human responses to what happened. If one of your friends was publicly killed, and then someone came and told you they had 2 angels appear at his grave and tell you he’s alive, how would you respond? Accuse them of making things up, and not believe it. Just like the text says!

-But something changed in the disciples, because Peter, when he wrote 2 Peter 1:16 said “We did not follow cleverly devised myths.” Luke recounts that Peter ran to the tomb to see it, and saw exactly what the women said.

  • The Two Foolish Ones (13-32)

-The next account Luke records for us is of 2 other disciples who were leaving Jerusalem.

-Yet again, we see the validity of this account because this is another normal, human response to what had happened. They saw Jesus killed, they waited for Sabbath, then they decided they needed to go back to what they were doing before they followed Jesus. And as they go on their journey, they (again, normal human response) are talking about what happened.

-But then some other dude catches up to them and joins them on their walk. The person they were just talking about appeared (like the women were NOT expecting it) so they didn’t recognize him.

-Maybe you’ve had one of those experiences, like running into a pastor at the grocery store (I thought he lived at church?), or you run into one of your work friends at a church friend’s house and you don’t even recognize them, since your brain can’t make those 2 connections. I can’t be the only one who’s had that experience! However, in this case there’s something more going on, as the text says their “eyes were kept”

-Jesus proceeds to ask them what they’re talking about on their walk

-Yet again, another human response, they’re sad! The person they had banked their lives on, that they had become convinced was the Messiah was gone. But it’s not enough for them just to remain sad, the one disciple who’s named in this encounter sarcastically responds to him saying “Where have you been?” It’s like that old Geico commercial: “could Geico REALLY save you 15% on car insurance? What, have you been living under a rock!?” How would you feel being recorded in Scripture as the guy who was trying to make Jesus feel bad for not keeping up with the headlines? Think maybe Jesus said “I’ve been busy”

-Thankfully, (For Cleopas) Jesus plays along with them, and asks for an explanation. Cleopas answers with an explanation of everything that happened on the fateful weekend, and then lands on their response:

-Look at vs. 21 with me. “We had hoped”

-Past tense. Just as other so-called Messiahs had risen up and died, leading to the dissolution of their followers, so it looked like this Jesus was going to follow the same path. We had a good run!

-This is day 3! Didn’t have the same medical technology as us, so sometimes people would be very sick, but not dead, so day 3 made the person officially dead. Then he tells the account we just read about the women, and that Peter went to look, but they still couldn’t find Jesus, not even his body.

-This time, Jesus doesn’t hold back. “O foolish ones” This is not MN nice!

-There is no underselling or tiptoeing around these issues this time. As I was thinking about how direct Jesus was here, I thought about a friend whose way of telling me I need to lose weight is every time I see him he asks “Have you been working out?” This past week, my son was cuddling with me in bed in the morning, and his approach was to poke my stomach and say “Daddy, your tummy looks full!” Thanks bud. Calvin took the Jesus approach!

-But he goes on, not just foolish, but also “slow of heart to believe” Despite repeating Himself while He was still with them, they still forgot. And I think we often do the same thing! No matter how many times throughout the Bible God promises to be with us, to sustain us, to provide for us, we still struggle to believe Him, don’t we? Despite thousands of ways He’s provided in the past, we still forget.

-Jesus knew exactly what He came to earth to do, he uses the word “necessary” in vs. 26. God’s plans are perfect, and they’re guaranteed to come to pass!

-Jesus moves to take them on probably the most enlightening Bible study that has ever taken place. Starting with Moses (the beginning, the first 5 books), all the prophets (there’s a lot of them!) “in all the Scriptures” just throw the rest of it in there too. Must have been quite the long walk! According to a study I found, it would take the average reader 56 hours 44 minutes to read the entire OT. If you look back to vs. 13 you can see they were only traveling 7 miles, so no more than 2 hrs 20 min. Doesn’t quite add up. Slightly hyperbolic statement! Instead, He went back and pointed out the ways the Bible was pointing to Him. This is meant to change the entire way we approach the Bible! I’ve said this before, we must read the Bible Christocentrically, everything centered on Christ!

-Finally, after the greatest Bible study with the greatest Bible teacher, they arrive at Emmaus, and Jesus goes for the sneak attack: pretends he’s going to keep going, but since it’s approaching night time, they beg Him to stay with them. During their evening meal, suddenly their “eyes were opened” again, this is God’s doing, didn’t just happen, but they finally realize who they just journeyed with, and as soon as they realize it, he’s gone.

-This story of the disciples is little picture of what it means to become a Christian: initially, Jesus appears as a stranger, and then over time reveals Himself to us so that we can then look back and say “didn’t our hearts burn within us as we started learning more about who He is?”

  • Jesus Trains and Sends (33-49)

-Just as the women had to run back to the rest of the disciples to share the good news, now it’s Cleopas and the other unnamed disciple’s turn.

-Once again, hindsight is 20/20, since these disciples are now able to piece together what just happened. And despite the day being “far spent” (29) they immediately run back to Jerusalem to tell everyone else what happened.

-Then we see why we say “He is risen indeed!” every Easter. As Jesus slowly starts appearing to the disciples, there become more and more eyewitnesses to the reality of the resurrection.

-Now we’ve got 2 different groups of people who claim to have seen the risen Jesus, so they have a very normal, human response: they start talking about it! But as they’re talking (I would imagine having a very heated debate) Jesus appears with them. It doesn’t say how, just that suddenly He’s there. And look at the first word He says: peace.

-We saw something very similar at the beginning of 2 Peter: grace and peace. If you weren’t here, we have a slightly too small definition of peace when we use it today. We tend to refer to it exclusively as the absence of conflict, but when the Bible talks about peace it includes the absence of conflict, but it goes beyond that to mean everything is as it should be. Relationally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. Everything is correctly ordered exactly how God intended it to be. Paradise. 

-No coincidence that this is the first thing Jesus says to His disciples. Because of the sacrifice Jesus made (grace) there is now the possibility of peace. True, lasting peace.

-Yet again, another normal human response: they think Jesus is a ghost! Wouldn’t that make more sense than someone rising from the dead?

-And Jesus goes right there with him, but calls out their unbelief. Thus far, we’ve got a few women who have been reminded what Jesus said, Cleopas and an unnamed disciple who went on a walk with Jesus, but the rest of the group still has serious doubts. Jesus encourages them to use their senses to discern whether or not it’s really Him. He begins with what they can see. The number of people who would now be eyewitnesses is expanding dramatically. But it’s not just enough to see, they’re invited to touch Him. This isn’t an illusion, this isn’t a spirit, you can touch Him, He has a body.

-Then Luke gives us another reasonable doubt: “still disbelieved for joy.” Despite seeing and touching Him they didn’t believe it was Him since they were overly joyful. Have you ever had a dearly loved pet die on you? You spend the first couple weeks being reminded all the time, seeing the remnants of your old buddy, but each time that hope is dashed. The disciples don’t want that disappointment, so despite Jesus being there they don’t want to believe. This story is showing us such typical responses to this whole story.

-The final cherry on top is that Jesus is hungry. Do ghosts need food? CAN ghosts eat food? (Scooby Doo episode watching the food in the stomach) What else could Jesus do to prove that it’s really Him? The disciples are incredulous, untrusting even their eyes! 

-If you’ve ever been to Disneyworld you’ve probably seen people with the same experience. We got some free tickets last Fall and took our older 2 kids, the first half of the day was AWESOME, then they got tired and hot. We walked in the front gates as a parade was starting, Tinkerbelle was carried by on a float waving at everyone, I pointed her out to Calvin and his first question was: “Is she real or betend?” That’s a loaded question at Disney! But that’s the exact experience as the disciples – is this real or betend? 

-Just as the women needed to be reminded, Jesus needed to remind the rest of the disciples what he had been trying to prepare them for. Just like a parent repeatedly reminding your kids to be obedient, you can say it until you’re blue in the face, and they will look you in the eyes and be disobedient.

-Then, just as he explained the Bible to the 2 disciples on the road, he explains how they should interpret the Bible, and the mission it points them to in vs. 47. “Repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to allnations.”

-This is why Jesus came: to offer a way to have sins forgiven. But then once you have repented of your sins and put your trust in Jesus, you’re given a global job. 

-Look at vs. 48. We’re meant to be witnesses of the realities of the resurrection. Similarly to this story, one of the things we saw in 2 Peter 1 was the need to be both eye and ear witnesses. These early disciples were eyewitnesses before they became earwitnesses (hearing and believing the truth). Today, we’re primarily earwitnesses and longing for the day when our faith will become evident in what we see around us. Jesus even says those who believe without seeing will be blessed in a different way than those who believed because they saw Him (John 20:29).

-As we walked through this text, I tried to point out the places where we see very normal human responses to the story of the resurrection. Why would we believe that someone rose from the grave? It runs contradictory to everything we’ve been taught to think and operate. I think we need to remember Luke’s point in writing this letter was to create an orderly account of what happened with Jesus.

-When we read this today, it’s really easy for us to read this and forget that the early disciples weren’t expecting this. We’ve read the story so many times and can easily neglect the human, real aspect that these are true historical events. Not just a made-up story. So that leads to the question: what do you do with Jesus?

Bart Ehrman: “It is indisputable that some of the followers of Jesus came to think that he had been raised from the dead, and something had to have happened to make them think so” (How Jesus Became God, 182-83).

-If you haven’t read CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity, he postulates 3 options to respond to Jesus: liar, lunatic, Lord. 

-Liar: what kind of liar gets a following from so many people, and says things like “do onto others as you want them to do unto you” or “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

-Lunatic: if you haven’t, go read some crazy people’s writings. David Koresh has his last letter published online! It’s nuts! And doesn’t sound remotely similar to Jesus. Additionally, the Gospels tell us His family initially accused Jesus of being crazy! But then ended up following Him and dying for Him.

-Just for fun, Bart Ehrman, who I read earlier, added that Jesus was merely a legend. Like a fish story. 

-We have more historically accurate accounts of Jesus written within decades of his life than any other person who lived during the 1st Century.

-The Gospels are proven time and time again to contain verifiable, historical data. In one verse, Luke 3:1, Luke gives us 15 different historical facts. Do you think this would be something that would be easy to fake?

-Lewis had a great quip on this idea too: “as a literary historian, I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the Gospels are they are not legends. I have read a great deal of legend and I am quite clear that they are not the same sort of thing. They are not artistic enough to be legends. From an imaginative point of view they are clumsy, they don’t work up to things properly.” (from the article“What Are We to Make of Christ?”)

-That leaves us with 1 possible, dare I say scientific, option: Jesus is who He said He was: the Christ, the Messiah, the Lord, whose arrival ushered in a new era of human history. Whose death at the hands of sinners and subsequent resurrection provide the only means of salvation because there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. As I was preparing this sermon this week I was once again overwhelmed with the mountain of evidence that points to the historical reliability of this Gospel account. So if you are a believer, remember that our faith isn’t some abstract concept and be encouraged to even more diligently commit to live in light of the resurrection each and every day. If you aren’t a believer, I want to ask you: why don’t you believe that Jesus is who He says He is? 

-You may have been told the way you give a talk is 3 things: tell people what you’re going to say, say what you’re going to say, then tell everyone what you just said. Jesus told everyone what he was going to do, He did it, then told everyone what He just did. Then He leaves the choice up to you: will you believe Him? Brothers and sisters, if He can rise from the dead there’s nothing that can stop Him!

Remember False Teachers – 2 Peter 2 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.

-Ever felt like you got away with something? Our kids are at the age where they’re starting to test what they can get away with, and honestly they’re pretty bad at it. Ask them if they took cookies and they’ll say no while they’re holding the package! Or 2 of them will start playing, 1 starts crying and the other one says they didn’t hit the one crying. Happened with Lucy last night!

READ/PRAY

-Remember in last week’s text, Peter was reminding us to always keep our focus on growing to be more like Christ. This wasn’t some cleverly devised myth, this is a true, historical account of what happened. Jesus is the ultimate source of truth, His return is our hope and expectation, but also part of the reason we live godly lives today. As the old classic song says: “His return is very close and so you better start believing that our God is an awesome God.”

-Unfortunately, part of the reason Peter keeps this reminder the focus of the rest of His life is because there will continue to be false teachers fighting against the truth.

-There’s some WEIRD stuff in here! This book and Jude has some really interesting things, we’ll touch on them, but not dig too far

  1. There Will Always Be False Teachers (1-3)

-Also arose in the past, there will be in the future. No matter how hard you try, you can’t get rid of them. Part and parcel of living on this side of heaven is false teachers

-Comparison of prophets to teachers. Intentional comparison, these aren’t the same as the prophets of old, now they’re just teachers

-Word usage here for Peter connects to 1:20. “arose” is the same word used in “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.” Peter is connecting these false teachers to denying the doctrine of inspiration. Do you ever see people questioning the validity of the Bible today, even supposed Christians?

-Saw a TikTok video where a “pastor” claims Jesus was a racist, and then is taught how to not be a racist by someone he talked to, that the Gospels show Jesus had to learn to fight his biases. Yes, Jesus, the only perfect God-man harbored secret sins, which is exactly what Peter goes on to describe.

-These false teachers secretly bring in destructive heresies, even going so far as to deny Jesus, just like that TikTok “pastor.” Jesus is the center point of our faith, around which everything else is centered. Thankfully, those who deny Him, will see a swift destruction!

-Doesn’t always seem that way! In many cases it feels like they get a bigger platform, their books sell more, they get more YouTube views (Rolling Stone described that TikTok “pastor” as “spreading the good news of an inclusive, modern gospel.”) This is part of the reason Peter spends the bulk of this letter addressing the false teachers. It looks like they’re getting off scot free. And what makes it even worse is:

– MANY will follow their sensuality. This is why they’ll get more views, hits, recognition

-It’s a lot easier to follow the world’s ways of living than standing up for Jesus’ way of living. Jesus’ way of living demands that we die to these fleshly desires/impulses that enslave so many around us. Yes, the road is narrow, but the results are totally worthwhile! These false teachers will even claim to be more enlightened, to have more understanding, and to have a different standard of living than what Jesus commands. Thus Peter will go on:

-The way of truth is blasphemed

-Not trendy or easy to walk in the way of truth ,but it’s the only way that leads to life! If this way is the “way of truth” what does that by definition mean of any other way of living? It’s the way of lies, dishonesty. But then we also recognize that the right way of living will be “blasphemed.” That means a couple things. First, our live should look different than the world. Second, we need to be comfortable when people mock the way we live. Why would we expect applause/recognition from the world when they have radically different goals and desires? At least we should have different goals and desires than the world! If you don’t, that’s a different problem. We honestly don’t like having our way of life blasphemed, we like applause and recognition.

-There is an infatuation with face/recognition or “celebrity”. Even if you’re not keeping up with the Kardashians, most of you at least know what I’m talking about! Always looking for the Christian sports stars, missing that the stars of God’s kingdom weren’t necessarily the best athletes, we almost act as if we have enough people who are “stars” we’ll finally get the recognition we deserve! But that’s not what Scripture promises!

-Today, what’s getting recognition is those who claim to have come out of an Evangelical background, but then they saw the “truth”

-What’s more, the false teachers are marked by greed, always wanting more. And notice their method of sowing corruption: false words.

-Words, talk, speech matter! This has been a problem since the Fall. Who are you listening to? What are you saying?

-But don’t worry, even if it looks like they have nothing but success, their condemnation is still going, and their destruction is still assured. 

-How do we know this? 3 examples

  • 3 Examples of False Teachers (4-9)
    • Angels (4)

-First are the angels. This is a reference back to Gen. 6, which we studied last year. It’s the difficult to interpret section about the sons of God going in to the daughters of men, and what does that mean? I think it’s referring to angels taking on human form and coming to earth, but lots of thoughts/perspectives on that text!

-Also contains some allusions to a book attributed to Enoch (who walked with God and was no more), don’t have time to dig into that one right now, but you can go read that book sometime if you want!

-Primary point remains the same, regardless of what situation Peter is referring to, but keep this in your mind because it’ll come up again. Main point: the angels who were disobedient didn’t get away with it. Even if it looked like they would, like no one could stop them, God sent them away until the day of judgement. Next:

  • Noah (5)

-Remember, during the time of Noah, there was increasing corruption in the earth (also in Gen. 6), God regretted making humans, so he needed a new start.

-Unlike the angels, God didn’t completely blot out everyone, Noah and seven others were preserved.

-We learn something about Noah here: herald of righteousness, a preacher of how to be in right standing before God

-We learn that God will preserve those who are heralds of righteousness

  • Lot (6-8)

-Lastly, Lot, Abraham’s nephew who followed Abraham to the land of promise (Gen. 13-19)

-Begins with the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of punishment, which signifies the consequences for living an ungodly life.

-Does anyone else find it funny that Lot is described as righteous?

-Picked the best land to live in, planted himself in the city of Sodom, offered his daughters up to the men of the city, then became the father of his grandchildren, that’s the righteous guy? 

-Look at how it describes him in vs. 8, I think many times we’re in similar positions today! Yet we’ve almost become inoculated against the depravity that we see around us. It’s become the norm that we can’t separate ourselves from it

-Saw and heard – in Peter’s case was the things they learned about Jesus. What are you watching and listening to? Keeps coming up in here!

-Peter summarizes what we can learn: God will rescue the godly, but the unrighteous will be punished for their sins. Calls out a couple specific things:

-defiling passions, and despise authority. We see a lot of this in our world!

-There are passions that defile! There is bad authority!

  • What Do False Teachers Look Like? (10-22)

-Remember, I said there was some weird stuff! Who are the glorious ones? What does it have to do with angels? 

-Similarly to vs. 4, this has connections back to Gen 6 (also filled in by Jude 8-10

-“Glorious ones” has 3 options: fallen angels, unfallen angels, church leaders. Connects to “despise authority” Because of vs. 11, I think it refers to fallen angels because of the similarity to Jude, let’s look at that text. So if even the holy angels won’t blaspheme the fallen angels, but let God do his work, why should humans feel free to blaspheme? (feel free to do your own research and disagree with me!)

-The point is: these false teachers are “willfully bold” in speaking against authority (the fallen angels), i.e. even demons don’t scare them.  You may have heard the phrase “Where angels fear to tread” which wouldn’t be a lot of places! Yet here is something even angels won’t do, and the false teachers boldly walk in!

-Peter goes on, describing these people as becoming more and more animalistic in their lives. Abandoning the call to image God to the world, they have no self-control or steadfastness (remember where we saw those? 1:6)

-Think of the story of Nebuchadnezzar in Dan. 4. He became prideful then was condemned to live like an animal, eating grass and walking around on all 4s. Then it wasn’t until he acknowledge God and humbled himself that he became human again. Or another well known example is Pinocchio and the other boys who slowly became donkeys

-The false teachers claiming to be wise end up looking like fools they’re literally ignorant, they become irrational like animals. 

-Almost as if Peter can’t contain himself, tripping over words to make this point of how foolish they are living! Let’s zip through a number of these here:

-Pleasure to revel (carouse) in the daytime, celebrating sin in the open

-Blots and blemishes – glance at 2 Peter 3:14 “be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish.” Think Peter is making the opposite point here? This is another way of saying to be holy, like a perfect sacrificial lamb (Jesus) 

-They continue spending time with the other Christians in their feasts

-Eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin – constantly looking new ways to sin. Instead of focusing on 1:19God’s Word as a light in the darkness

-They entice new believers, trying to lead them astray

-Hearts trained in greed, always looking for personal, selfish gain

-Peter has no problem cursing them!

-Lands on an illustration: Balaam. Anyone remember learning about him in Sunday school? He rode a talking donkey! It’s a really funny story. Instead of following the way of the true prophets of old, they are following in the way of Balaam. 

-I had a prof in seminary who would refer to people like this as: ignoramuses

Num. 22-24, Balak, king of Moab sees how God is blessing His people, gets scared so he hires the prophet Balaam to curse them. Initially, Balaam refuses, but eventually gives in and goes out on his donkey. God, however, thwarts him. Sends an angel to stand in the way, donkey sees the angel and runs off the road, so Balaam beats the donkey. Happened 2 more times! Then the donkey asks Balaam what his deal is, because he’s been a good donkey his whole life! IDK about you, but I’d probably stop talking at that point, but Balaam ANSWERS THE DONKEY! “You made my look like an idiot” (dude you’re talking to a donkey)

-Balaam was supposed to know better than to try to curse God’s people or to lead them astray (that’s literally the job of a prophet!), but there will always be Balaams around to try to distract from what God is doing 

-If God can use a donkey, God can use anyone to bring about His will!

-Peter adds 2 additional descriptions: waterless springs. How useful/effective is a waterless spring? My in-laws live in New Mexico: “At least it’s a dry heat” It’s still too hot! 

-Mists driven by a storm, no grounding or anchor to prevent them from being cast around (Eph. 4:14children tossed to and fro, this is why we need to plant a firm foundation in God’s Word, which we saw in the first chapter)

-Entice by fleshly, sensual impulses the immature in the faith. 

-How often is this the case? Tim Keller, someone leaves the faith the first question is: who are you sleeping with? Or today, with the rise of “influencers” who speak of your own happiness being the end goal/aim. Listened to a podcast with a pastor who shared he always gets worried when a church member starts to post all their workout stats online, get healthy goals, not long before they ask for a meeting to share their unhappiness in marriage, can’t be the right thing if they’re unhappy (regardless of what God has commanded)

-I think of books like “Girl, Wash Your Face” or an online class you can take titled ‘Me Course’ which is described as “series that’s for YOU, sister, so you can show up better for yourself, your family, and everyone else in 2022.” Or even Marie Kondoing your house! Not inherently bad to take care of yourself, get healthy, etc. but when that becomes your primary goal/aim at the expense of everyone else in your life (potentially even your spouse) that’s a MASSIVE problem!

-Peter says these people are promising freedom, but they don’t realize they’re in slavery.

-Think of Rom. 6:15-19. You are slaves of whatever you obey or live out. The question for all of us is: what are you a slave to? One way is impossible! The other way has the best co-laborer in the world. Jesus talked about taking his yolk, which is easy. You still have to put in the work, but you have Jesus working in and with you.

-Remember what we looked at in our Image of God series with “expressive individualism” for far too many people today, they’ve become slaves to themselves, their desires, their fleeting passions, and it just leads to decreasing satisfaction with themselves, the world, and those they interact with. It’s only when we take on the yolk of Christ that we start seeing what we were designed to be and to do.

-What’s even harder about these false teachers is they were a part of this body of believers. They ate together, played together, served together.

-Peter is describing spiritual inoculation. Doing all the right things doesn’t guarantee salvation! We are only saved by grace through faith in Jesus. Think of all the statistics you’ve probably read of kids who grew up in church, said all the right things, but as soon as they left home they left the church. I was this way for a season growing up! My heart had not been softened to the glories of the gospel! PRAY PRAY PRAY

-This is demonstrated by Prov. 26:11, and an 1st century version of Aesop’s fables.

SO WHAT:

-Don’t just pursue knowledge for knowledge’s sake – live it out! Not enough to just believe the right things

-Don’t buy into the nonsense that you have to feel it before you can act it out, sometimes we need to “fake it til we make it” go through the actions to retrain our hearts in the ways of the Lord

-We saw through the first chapter to grow in knowledge, but that’s not a mere intellectual pursuit! You’re not trying to win arguments, you’re trying to understand who God is, what He’s like, how you can obey Him. The reality is, you’ll never be more theologically astute then the demons, the question is: what is your response to your growth in knowledge? Does it lead you to worship, or do you become animalistic and refuse to acknowledge Him as God?

-Finally, we need to trust God’s perfect judgment – while there may be seasons where it looks like false teachers are getting away their sins, God is taking care of it. We need to be faithful in the midst of it. There have been, and there will continue to be false prophets in our midst! Yet we have a hope in God’s Word and the revealed Word, Jesus Christ, that we can continue to be faithful in the midst of them, that we can continue shining as lights in the darkness, that we can demonstrate the true freedom that comes from being a slave to righteousness. 

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”

READ/PRAY

  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.