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

Psalm 12 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.

-Psalm vs. Psalms

-The expression of human emotion. Listened to a podcast this week: Luther called the Psalms “the little Bible” meaning if you prayed through the Psalms you would pray everything in Scripture Calvin “an anatomy of all the parts of the soul.”

-The Psalms give us language and prayers to use in the midst of whatever is going on in our lives. God was intentional about including a book of songs that give us language to process every emotion in our lives.

-Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Scottish pastor died at 29, compiled what may be the most used Bible reading plan where you go through the OT once, NT and Psalms twice, viewed the Psalms as just as important as the NT!

-Similarly, Thomas Cranmer (anyone heard of him) wrote the Book of Common Prayer still in use today, he viewed the Psalms as so important, the church read through all of them every single month!

-Nice thing about the Psalms, can be read through every month! Pick which ever day it is, multiply by 5, read through the next 5 Psalms, you’ll get through them every month!

-The hard part is preaching them! Many of these Psalms sound VERY similar, and they can end up running together! Still God’s Word, still applicable to us, still beneficial for growth in godliness, and above all these things it’s the songbook Jesus grew up singing. It’s not a coincidence that on the cross, Jesus’ last words were quoting the Psalms. The Psalms have given voice to God’s people for centuries, so I think we can be benefitted by learning God’s way of processing emotions too!

-One note: I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in God’s divinely inspired hymnal doesn’t contain musical notes. The emotions expressed in these songs can be adapted to any cultural context and any style of music. We don’t even know what the musical notes mean!

-Summary: share your burden, listen to what God says, remind yourself who God is

READ/PRAY (257) 

  1. Wicked Words (1-4)

-This Psalm feels very applicable for today! Doesn’t it feel like there’s no more godly people involved in the public square? 

-Some of that is natural, life is all about our interpretation of our experiences. My sister and I largely lived the same life, but we are radically different people and even interpret our growing up through VERY different lenses. Same thing with Cara and I, can sit through the same conversation and have 2 very different interpretations of what happened! (She’s right, I’m wrong)

-The description of what’s going on is most explicit in vs. 2.

-“Everyone utters lies to his neighbor”

-Breaking the 9th commandment, remember we looked at this 2 weeks ago with Gospel Rooted Growth: when we lie we act as if our external image is more important than someone else. But what about an entire community marked by lying? How would anyone ever trust another? 

-Do you really think EVERYONE has turned into a liar? Using hyperbole to make a point, but I’m guessing at times it feels that way, doesn’t it? Have you ever felt like you’re the only person around you who’s trying to faithfully follow after God?

-Not just lying (as if that weren’t enough!), flattering lips and double heart.

-Flattering lips is buttering up unnecessarily, a corollary of lying. Keeps speaking super highly, yet you know they just keep digging themselves into a bigger hole because there’s no way you’re as great as they’re making you out to be.

-And finally, double heart. Lit. “they speak with a heart and a heart.” Talking out of both sides of their mouth.

-I think the best example of this is in politics. People only listen enough to condemn and villainize their opponents. I remember listening to a comedian onetime who picked up this idea, smear campaign against an opponent accused him of wanting to legalize shooting against children. The guy gets up and says “I was thinking of situations where a child gets a hold of a weapon and we need to do anything to prevent worse problems” The other guy responds “he wants to kill children!” WHAT?

-And it’s worse when the news sources get a hold of it! Look at these headlines referring to the same story (don’t read anything beyond the difference of opinions into this, not making a political statement right now, just showing competing interpretations). One of them is true, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to know which one it is.

-At times, doesn’t it feel like our entire world is just crazy, and there’s only a few sane people left? 

-The Bible actually has a wonderful example of this idea of feeling all alone in the stand for what is right and good and true: Elijah in 1 Kings 19:10

-The story of Elijah is, I think fascinating, but what’s most fascinating about this instance is he’s coming off one of the biggest and most successful stories in his life. In 1 Kings 18, Elijah challenges 850 false prophets to a showdown on Mt. Carmel to determine who the true God was. After spending the day dancing and begging, nothing happens to Baal’s offering. Elijah prays a simple prayer and Yahweh’s offering is consumed by fire. Instead of living on cloud 9, Elijah runs away and hides from Jezebel, the king’s wife. And out of that hiding comes this passage where God asks why Elijah is hiding. 

-Do you think Elijah is really the only one in the whole country who hasn’t followed Baal? Absolutely not! Does that negate the way Elijah feels? Absolutely not! I can guarantee, if you remain faithful in your pursuit of the Lord, there will be times and seasons where you will feel completely alone in that pursuit! But don’t forget, you’re not! 

-I had a season in high school where I felt this way! God really captured my heart between my Jr/Sr years and it started to feel like high school was just a waste of time. I complained to my dad about it, and he took me to the 1 Kings passage and said “even when it feels like it, you’re never alone.” Once again, this is why we need to meet together like we are today! If you’re feeling alone, please reach out to someone sitting nearby you, and remember, you’re not alone!

-But it’s also important to note, what is your response when you start to feel like you’re all alone, the only one who’s following after God with all your heart? 

-Do you tend to withdraw, run away to cave and sulk? Do you tend to act like the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings and grumble and complain about how difficult your life is and how nobody knows the trouble you’ve seen? Let’s look back at vs. 1 to see what our response SHOULD be.

-“Save, O Lord” When you feel isolated, alone, don’t forget that even if that were true, God is still with you. One of the first promises my parents taught me as I was growing up was in Deut 31:6 “He will never leave you or forsake you.” Do you believe that? And not only was that true in the OT, it’s doubly true now that God literally lives IN you! We are invited to bring our requests, cares, and concerns to God! We saw this back when we studied 1 Peter 5:7 “cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” When you feel all alone, bring it to the Lord. 

-The way this verse starts demonstrates to us that David has the right orientation toward God. He knows this true, he trusts that God will take care of Him, so instead of grumbling and complaining, he cries out to God! 

-Look at what David asks God to do. This is a request for God to enact judgment, there are numerous Psalms that are called “imprecatory Psalms,” asking God to curse or bring evil upon someone. 

-Note here, David is essentially asking God to prevent the evil from continuing to spread. It’s “an eye for an eye” so he’s not going way beyond what the people are committing. It’s also interesting that these are God’s Words in the Bible, how do we process them, especially in light of Jesus’ new commands to bless those who curse us and pray for those who persecute us. How are we supposed to process these ideas? Much bigger than I can fully devote time to, briefly: be slow to adopt them, but what other words would we have in times of mass genocide like we’ve seen a few times in the past century? How do we process the atrocities of places like the concentration camps of the Third Reich? Or the shooting of little children in school? Or the attempts to kill the entire Uighur population in China right now? Or the straight land grab currently taking place in Ukraine? You ask for God to save the person, but don’t you also say: do whatever it takes to stop these evils! Honestly, I really wish I could be a pacifist, and at times I think it does a better job with Jesus’ ethics, but then I think back to the Russian gulags, or the German concentration camps, and then I pray for God to enact perfect, lasting justice. This is also something we pray for (or should pray for) more often than we realize. Every time we pray the Lord’s prayer we are praying imprecatory things, when we ask for His kingdom to come and His will to be done we are asking for him to bring about perfect, lasting justice, to vanquish His enemies and correct the sinful ways of people. 

-Yet another reason I’m a Christian: it gives voice to the evils in the world. It doesn’t skirt around them, doesn’t try to minimize them, doesn’t bury its head in the sand and pretend they don’t exist, it faces it head on and gives language to process through it. More to come as we come across more imprecatory Psalms! 

-But I also want to approach this idea from a personal perspective. I think of the old hymn “Come Thou Fount” where we sing “prone to wander, Lord I feel it prone to leave the God I love.” What do we do when we’re the one that need our flattering lips and boastful tongues cut off? What do we do when we come face to face with our sinful tendencies?

Matt. 18:7-9. We tend to read this and jump to hyperbole, but don’t just jump there too quickly, I think Jesus has a real point here. 

-Jake’s snake story.

-We tend to treat our sin as a little pet that we can keep in its’ container and pull it out to play with it every once in a while, but by doing that we’re only playing with our certain doom. That’s where Jesus says it’s better for you to cut off limbs to ensure your holiness than play with your sin and die.

-Smooth talker: can sell a cup of water to someone drowning, sell an umbrella to someone in the Sahara during the dry season. This is someone who’s so confident in their ability to talk their way out of any situation that they’re confident they’ll never truly be found out. Intentionally deceiving others and being disobedient to God. 

-All that, and we’re only 4 verses in! But don’t worry, there’s only 4 more verses!

-This first section we saw to bring your requests to God, let Him know when you’re feeling alone and struggling.

  • Holy Words (5-8)
    • God’s Words (5-6)

-God responds, but what is it exactly that God is responding to? 

-to the poor and the needy One of the theological issues Jeramy and I discussed this past Spring was the burden of being wealthy. Most of the time we’re not even aware of the spiritual weight having money is to us. That’s why Jesus said it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich person to enter the kingdom of God (Matt. 19:24). That was a joke to make a point. How well would a camel fit through a needle? 

-Similarly, I read an article this week titled “True religion” The title is taken from James 1:27. The article said that unless your discipleship leads you to take better care of “orphans and widows” then you’re not growing as a disciple.

-Another situation I think fleshes this out: Jesus’ first public sermon (and description of His ministry) in (Luke 4:18-19). God cares about the marginalized in the world, it is when the marginalized are mistreated and abused that God responds. It should cause us to ask: do I care about the marginalized that I see around me? Who are the marginalized? Anyone that has a need (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, materially)

-This also gets us back to the imprecatory Psalms: we, today, are meant to be a visible demonstration of God’s lasting justice, that is care for the poor and oppressed looking for ways to care for them like God would care for them. 

-Look at what God will do, He won’t remove them from the situation, but will bring safety. God doesn’t promise us a carefree life, God promises to be with us the midst of whatever situations come our way.

-Compare the description of God’s words to the liar. Pure vs. impure. There is no double speak, no mocking, no flattering, no boasting, just pure honest words. What God says is true. Think about that, because God doesn’t change, the things He said here 3,000 years ago are just as true today as they were back then. They are more pure than the most refined precious metals in the world. 

-So for us, how do we treat/view God’s Word? Do you view it as pure? Do you meditate on it, soak in it, saturate our lives with it, or is it a nice treat on the side? Do you treat it as the main course or the dessert (eat sparingly). Jesus tells a story of how we should treat His Words: a man find a jewel in a field, sells everything to buy the field and gets the priceless jewel. Do we honor God’s Word as more valuable than a priceless gem/heirloom? 

-We need to be in God’s word to listen to what God says

  • Our Words (7-8)

-How does David respond to God’s promise to respond to the call of the poor and needy? 

-He extrapolates on the promises of God. God will keep the people He has promised to, nothing will be able to stand against Him and His ways. 

-Even if (unlike Elijah) you were literally the only child of God left on the earth, God would continue guarding and protecting you. 

-At the beginning of this Psalm, it seemed like the worldly generation would inevitably win, there’s no one godly left, but God will still protect and preserve, despite the evil walking right next to you.

-Keep to the straight and narrow, keep to faithfully following God’s Word, since the wicked prowl beside, but as long as we are being faithful and obedient to His ways, we continue taking one step forward as we seek to see His kingdom come and His will be done on earth just like it is in heaven.

-Preach to yourself: who is God, what is He like?

-So what do we do when we feel like we’re completely alone in the world? Share your burden, listen to what God says, remind yourself who God is

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 Driven Mission – 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.

-Continuing sermon series: making & maturing disciples of Jesus, we seek to do that as a transformed people who are glorifying God through gospel centered worship, gospel shaped community, gospel driven mission, leading to gospel rooted growth.

-Started preparing this week, then realized what I wanted to say was essentially the storyline of Scripture.

-The gospel is the story of the Bible: God, man, Christ, response. Spurgeon, all roads in England lead back to London, all passages of Scripture lead back to Christ

-Just as the gospel, and all of Scripture center around Christ, so does the outworking of God’s mission. Think of a passage like Luke 19:10 “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” Because people are lost, they must be found, rescued, saved, which is only possible because of Jesus. 

-What is/should be the mission of the church?

-“Mission” has come under scrutiny in recent years, since I moved here Bruce and I have been having a dialogue about how to define “missions,” what is included in it, what drives it, and even what is a “missionary”

-When we talk about this, you may have even heard the idea “all of us are missionaries!” and I always want to stop and ask: is that true? 

-One of the best movies to come out of the early 2000s is a classic Pixar movie called The Incredibles. It’s about a family of superheroes who have the profound misfortune of living during a time when being a superhero is outlawed. Yet they’re trying to raise their family (who are all superheroes, except for Jack Jack until the end of the movie, spoiler alert!) keeping their super powers under wraps. The big bad guy is a non-superhero who creates machines to become super, and then captures “The Incredibles” family. “And when everyone’s super, no one will be.” I feel that way with missionaries! If everyone’s missionaries, then no one will be.

-Some of this, I realize is semantics, but since God revealed Himself through words I think I’m ok to care about them! There are some people who are called to leave their community, family, home and go to a new community, culture, country to preach the gospel until the whole earth is filled by God’s glory! That’s a different burden than we have/experience here! I married into a family of missionaries, they have a different burden than I do! 

-We’ll get to all of these issues in this message (again, I’ll do my best to be brief!) but this is such a massive topic, God literally takes the whole Bible to talk about His mission

READ/PRAY (Matt. 5:13-16)

  1. God’s Mission: The Whole Earth (Gen. 1:28, Gen. 12:1-3, Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, Phil. 2:12-18, Matt. 5:13-16)

Psalm 19, Isaiah 6 – purpose of every created thing is to glorify God. How does that happen?

-The idea of peace (shalom) permeates everything. Everything is properly ordered, functioning correctly, everything is worshipping God.

Luke 19:40 “If these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” THEY ARE! Humans are the only part of creation that willfully choose to disobey. This is why God has invited His people from creation until He returns to join with Him in bringing his glory to the ends of the earth!

Gen. 1:28 “Fill the earth and subdue it” Because humans are created to image God, we’re created to reflect His glory throughout the creation. One of the ways the world is full of His glory is by humans filling and subduing the earth. 

-Had some fun debates at seminary about creation care, because that’s a section of this, but the garden of Eden was meant to continue spreading out until it contained the whole earth: continue cultivating, nurturing, expanding God’s reach throughout the earth.

-Gen. 12:1-3 “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

-Ultimate fulfillment in Abraham’s greatest son, Jesus

-What is the reach of Abraham’s blessing? ALL the families.

-This theme continues through Israel as God’s chosen people, meant to be a light shining into the world, an example. This is why the Chosen Land was smack dab in the middle of the known world. Every other nation sprang up around them, watched them, saw what it meant to obey Yahweh. Their unique way of living served as a visible demonstration that obeying God leads to flourishing, disobeying God leads to death.

-The problem was the eventually, God’s chosen people were the ones who disobeyed, and lead to the diaspora, sent out into the world.

-However, even their disobedience and destruction didn’t thwart God’s plans. I think we have a tendency to view God’s mission as completely dependent on us. God chooses to use us, God commands us to be faithful, but if God’s ultimate mission were dependent on fickle, forgetful us, what kind of a God would he be? 

-A corollary to that is it’s never too late to join in with what God’s doing! Today can be the time where you start working with God instead of against Him!

-This is signified by later on in Gen. 15 when God’s covenant is enacted with Abram (to be a blessing to the world) by taking the penalty for breaking the covenant on Himself, leading to the need to send Jesus to bear that penalty.

-Yet even in the diaspora, God was still using his people to point to Him!

Isaiah 42:6, 49:6

-Even as God’s people are scattered across the globe, sent off into exile, what do they still do? The shine as lights in the darkness, so that God’s salvation will be demonstrated to the end of the earth. 

-This isn’t Plan B, this wasn’t a shift, God doesn’t change, He has no need to change, and nothing catches Him by surprise. God’s mission since Genesis 1 has been: God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule.

-This idea that God’s people are a light to the world isn’t only found in the OT

Matt. 5:13-16

-Salt was used primarily for preserving and purifying. Didn’t have refrigerators, so they used salt to slow down the decay of meats. But salt also must remain pure. Unlike our labs that can use salt water, they had to use marshes, so much of their salt was pretty gross! The point is we need to preserve what God’s mission is meant to look like (living out the kingdom ethics Jesus preaches here), and by living a gospel shaped life (pure) we will help preserve the way God wants humans to live.

-Similarly, we are to be examples as light. Think about this, how do we see literally everything. With light! Either sun or artificial light. We, as Christians, are here to shine as light in the world, which means we live different lives than the world lives. We have different priorities, we spend our money differently, we work differently, we love differently. Remember that quote from the second century last week on no one being able to find any reason to hate Christians? We’re not supposed to withdraw and isolate ourselves, we’re supposed to go out into the entire world so people can see!

-But note: what’s the end goal: give glory to your Father. We don’t join in God’s mission to feel good/look good to other people, we do it because we’re to be faithful & obedient to God.

Phil. 2:12-18

-Paul expands on this idea in Philippians. Coming right after the command to have the same mind of Christ, but a couple things to note about how Paul expands the idea.

-“work out your own salvation” 

-Live out, apply your own salvation. You are already saved, Eph. Says you’re right now seated in the heavenlies with Christ, but we don’t see all the implications of that yet. We live in a time between Christ’s 2 comings, so we have been saved from our sins, but we don’t yet see the full completion of that salvation, so Paul is saying you have access to die to your sin, so live like that!

-It is God who works

-All of this obedience isn’t a white knuckle, pull yourself up by your bootstraps sucking it up, it begins and ends with God. Even your desires to be obedient don’t come from yourself, it comes from God in you! But what does that look like?

-I owe Micah thanks for showing me this one. Notice how difficult the burden we have to live is in vs. 14-15.

-End result is 15: so that we may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the world.

-That comes about by: not grumbling or complaining. That’s it! So simple, but have you ever realized how unique this is? Yet how rare is it that this isn’t happening. If you read through the wilderness wanderings before entering the Promised Land, do you know what God’s people were repeatedly accused of? Grumbling and complaining. What tends to happen when people gather together? Grumbling and complaining! “I didn’t like the music today, I didn’t like the preaching today, I didn’t like his clothes, that didn’t speak to me” Yet what are we called to not do? Grumble or complain.

-That is how we shine as lights in the world! Don’t complain about your job, give thanks! Don’t grumble about your house, give thanks! Don’t complain about where you are in your life, give thanks! Don’t grumble about how someone else hurt you, give thanks that God saved you!

-God’s mission is to have a transformed people who live completely different than the world continues to want us to live. This lets us shine as light in the world bringing glory to God.  But we can’t do this alone! So we next need to look at God’s method to bring about this mission

  • God’s Method: The Church (Matt. 16:13-20)

-A very misunderstood passage! One that the RCC has misunderstood profoundly. 

-What does Jesus say the gates of hell will not prevail against? The church. The church is the means by which God’s mission is carried out and demonstrated in the world today. That’s where the church has the ability to denote what takes place in heaven. Do you think the church matters?

-Lots of debate about what constitutes a church! I’ve shared this before, but I remember being told from people in college that their “church” was at Starbucks Sunday morning (but don’t worry, they still skipped that too!)

-I know some people that just say it’s the “called out ones” (literal translation of the NT ekklesia), so it’s people, WE are the church. I had one friend tell me this week who was trying to plant a church, that someone told him his mistake was that he tried having everyone meet together. Everything I read about the church in the NT is meeting together. 

-Even reading through Acts can be tough: is it prescriptive for all eternity, or is it merely descriptive of an event that took place?

-What is the church? Belgic Confession

-Gospel is preached, sacraments are celebrated, practices church discipline 

-“In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head.”

-Now, that doesn’t mean we cease to be the church when we walk out of our gathering, there are 2 aspects to us being the church: gathered and scattered. There’s a tendency for us to swing between 2 extremes, spend a season over emphasizing the church gathered, respond by over emphasizing the church scattered.

-As I was thinking about this idea this week, I started thinking about the way we breathe. Which would you say is more important, inhaling, or exhaling? 

-You don’t live unless you have both! The church doesn’t live unless we have both gathering and scattering. Only gathering is a cult, only scattering is a random smattering of people. 

-The church, gathered and scattered, is God’s chosen means of carrying out his mission to the world, unlike every other group or organization on the planet!

-Who makes up the church? Each one of us.

  • God’s Messenger: ME! (Matt. 20:25-28, 2 Cor. 5, 1 Thess. 1:5-6)

-When I was in high school, we had a substitute named Dr. G who would begin every class having us repeat his mantra: I will behave. If you say it 3 times you start to believe it, so we would repeat his phrases 3x. Didn’t matter how many times you’d had him before, same routine every, single, time. 

-I am God’s chosen messenger to tell the world who He is, to glorify Him

Matt. 20

-Think of the upside down way Jesus commanded us to live. Where does it make sense to willingly become a slave? 

-The way we are God’s messenger is by representing him to everyone. Could also say we need to be like Jesus. Look for ways we can serve those around us, that’s what God has called us to do! Not a doormat, but actively looking for ways to honor others better than ourselves.

2 Cor. 5

-We’ve talked about this passage a lot, for a reason! Because of the gospel shaped community we aspire to be, reconciliation comes between us and God, and then we now have the job of carrying out reconciliation. We’re now ambassadors. That means we represent someone else! We can’t claim to speak on our own behalf, we can’t claim to live on our own behalf, everything we are and do is meant to represent God in the world!

-Look at this phrase: “God making his appeal through us” Today we speak on behalf of God!

-How do we do that? Think back to breathing again! We need to breath in God’s Word (Col. 3:16), then breathe out God’s Word in our interactions with other. We need to let God’s Word, the gospel message, saturate all our conversations. There is no difference in the core message when we’re doing: evangelism, missions, or discipleship. Let God’s Word come out in all your conversations, then trust God with the rest. Like the parable of the sower, we speak the gospel everywhere we go!

-1 Thess. 1

-Lastly, “You know what kind of men we proved to be among you.”

-Our walk needs to match our talk. We can’t merely preach the gospel, we need to LIVE the gospel! That’s how we join in God’s mission to let his glory fill the earth. 

John 20:21 “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.””

EFCA: We believe that God’s justifying grace must not be separated from His sanctifying power and purpose. God commands us to love Him supremely and others sacrificially, and to live out our faith with care for one another, compassion toward the poor and justice for the oppressed. With God’s Word, the Spirit’s power, and fervent prayer in Christ’s name, we are to combat the spiritual forces of evil. In obedience to Christ’s commission, we are to make disciples among all people, always bearing witness to the gospel in word and deed.

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. 

Glorifying God – 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.

-Johann Sabastian Bach (1685-1750) German composer 

-2 Chronicles 5:11-14, “At a reverent performance of music, God is always at hand with his gracious presence.” “The final aim and reason of all music is nothing other than (1) the glorification of God and (2) the refreshment of the spirit.” Because of that, much of his music was signed S.D.G. 

-A few years ago we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. On Oct. 31, 1517, Luther posted his 95 thesis on the door of the Wittenburg chapel, changing the landscape of the entire Western world, and even the way we talk about God’s glory. When Luther was born there were 2 classes – sacred & secular. 

“The works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they may be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks, but all works are measured before God by faith alone.”

Allegedly Luther stated, “The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays—not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.” 

-Where I would disagree with that is not that God loves good floors or good craftsmanship, but He loves things done to the best of our ability as an act of worship, glorifying Him.

-The reformers, and we today, believe what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 

-Westminster Shorter Catechism, written in 1647: What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever.

-So what do we mean when we talk about the glory of God? 

-Like fitting the ocean into a kiddie pool. God’s glory is inexhaustible. That’s why he’s God and we are not! If I were to preach every Sunday for the rest of my life on the glory of God, we would only just begin to scratch the surface.

-Similar to Luther, John Calvin sought to expound only “what I esteemed to be for the glory of God,” or he lived his life “Soli Deo Gloria,” and in his Institutes, he wrote, “wherever you cast your eyes, there is no spot in the universe wherein you cannot discern at least some sparks of his glory.”

-This is Calvin’s way of saying what David wrote in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare…” what?? The GLORY of God.

-Going back even further – the early church used God’s glory as a mark of orthodoxy creating the Gloria Patri (been reading it with a new devotional recently) – “Glory to the Father, glory be to God the Son, glory be to God the Spirit. As it was in the beginning, now and evermore shall be.”

-Look at 3 passages, with a 4th just mentioned quickly! 

READ/PRAY

  1. Strip Away Idols (Exodus 33) pg. 42

-2 book of the Bible, sin had brought all sorts of problems, God’s chosen people had been enslaved to the Egyptians until God delivered them, saving from all of Pharaoh’s armies, leading them into the desert. God manifests himself in a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire by night, and the people follow. They finally reached Mt. Sinai, where God meets with Moses to give him the rules for being God’s covenant people, including the 10 commandments. As Moses was meeting with God, the people got bored, and Aaron built them a golden calf. Because God is God, he knows everything and tells Moses what his people are doing. God tells Moses to get out of the way so he can kill the entire nation and start a new nation from Moses’ lineage, and Moses intercedes for the people. That leads us to Exodus 33.

1-6

God begins by commanding his people to leave Mt. Sinai. God had promised to bring them to the Promised Land, but he would not longer be with them, and why would he no longer be with them? So he would not kill them all because of their sin. This is the God we worship, and call glorious – God kills because of sin. 

-But notice that everything He promised would still come to pass. Vs. 2

-How often do you see or hear of people who would be completely content with that arrangement? You get all the “stuff” but you don’t get God. 

-I think at times, our evangelism can even be geared this way, can’t it? Accept Jesus into your heart so you can go to heaven! That’s part of it, but isn’t it more/bigger than that? Almost as if we’ve forgotten about the person who created the heavens and the earth. This temptation is true of every generation, they want the benefits, they don’t want the giver of the benefits. 

-Just funny to note: stiff-necked. Think about what that means. They won’t look beyond themselves and their own ideas. 

-Moses then talks about ornaments. Have you ever noticed this and wondered what it has to do with them being sinners? 

-Egyptian culture, these ornaments, bracelets, amulets served as protection, like a good luck charm (rabbits foot, dream catcher) The Israelites are literally casting off their idols of supernatural protection. 

-You can often tell your idols by that which you most closely try to protect, and we may not realize it’s an idol until it gets pushed. Another way of saying that is: what angers you? I had a moment at a previous church where I finally got a week off, which meant I was in the booth running slides! We had a pre-recorded sermon, so I started it and ran out to visit the loo. On my way out I was accosted by someone who demanded to know why I wasn’t preaching. I was the music guy, not the preacher. After I explained why, I was told, and while I have you, no one likes your music! 

-Music in the church has a tendency to become an idol, which is so ironic to me! Anyone remember surviving the bloody battles of the “worship wars”? Don’t worry, they still crop up from time to time! 

-The reality is we are all glory-thieves. Our first parents wanted to “be like God.” Have a piece of his glory, but sin turned that wiring for giving glory to God inward.

-Think of some of the ways the Bible talks about where we should give glory:

-Psalm 115:1 – “not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory.”

-Isaiah 42:8 – “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.”

-The best picture of idolatry in all the Bible:

-Isaiah 44:9-20 – carpenter chops down a tree, half is used for fire, half as a god.

-We don’t see people bowing down to a block of wood today, but what are some idols you see being worshipping today?

-Technology addiction – Time magazine, teenagers are becoming addicted to their cell phones, leading to depression.

-Social networking – FOMO, fear of missing out.

-Money? 401K your god? Maybe the security of being financial stable? 

Money isn’t evil James 4:10 “the love of money is A root of all kinds of evil.”

In fact, none of these things are completely bad! A smart phone allows my parents to see their first grandkid on a regular basis. Social networking lets me keep up with friends across the globe. The problem is when they become gods.

-What about family? Families are a gift from the Lord, but elevating them to the place of God is wrong. I think this is one that is acutely true of the church.

-Maybe image is your God? Proverbs reminds us that beauty is fleeting

Health1 Tim. 4:8 “while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

Job? What if you’re fired? Or have everything move to work from home and no one can see your accomplishments?

-What about our acts of worshipAmos 5:21-24 “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

-Old vs. New. High church vs. low church. Singing vs. not singing. The problem is looking to my own interests instead of others. Philippians 2

-The most difficult god for us to put to death is ourselves. We want the glory, we are all glory thieves. 

-We so often look to things outside of us as idols, but what about the idol of yourself? We see this when we drive, everyone who drives slower than you is an idiot, everyone that drives faster than you is a maniac. Each one of us is born into sin “by nature and by choice.” Josh Duggar. Trevin Wax: “sin is not primarily something we need to be sheltered from, but delivered from.”

-The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, “the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.”

-The biggest problem since sin entered the world is us. 

All these things are gifts from God! The fact that you’re alive is a gift from God! But what things do you need to cast aside in order to better give God glory? 

7-11

-This section serves as background to the current situation. Think of it like a flashback in a movie. Moses would speak to the Lord regularly. 

Exodus 16:10, “the glory of the Lord appeared in a cloud.” 

Moses and God’s unique relationship – only person called a friend of God 

“The Lord would speak with Moses”  (9)

-The glory of the Lord came down. Did you know that you can have the same privilege as Moses? Meeting with God.

12-23

-Cut back to Moses’ conversation with the Lord. 

-With Moses’ relationship with God in the background, we see why Moses is able to ask the Lord these specific questions 

-Moses tells the Lord that his presence is the only thing that makes them unique among all the people’s of the earth. Notice also how Moses is reminding God that they are HIS people, God’s, not Moses’. (vs. 13 contrast vs. 1)

-(18) Moses then asks God a huge request, he figures he’s 2 for 2, might as well go for broke – to see God’s glory. The perfect presence of God – related to his holiness. 

-Hadn’t he seen God’s glory in the cloud and the fire? Moses had seen manifestations of God’s glory, but not the whole thing. 

-People could tell when Moses was with the Lord, Ex. 34:29-35. His face was so bright he had to put a veil over his face! 

-We no longer need to look to other mediators, in order to see all of God’s glory, we need to look to Christ. 

Messianic prophecy – God’s glory would come down in Jesus Christ. 

John 1:14 – “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.”

John 17 (527)

What did Jesus do while he was on earth? He gave glory to the Father.

Jesus shared God’s glory “before the world existed.” We saw this in Genesis 1. 

What is that glory? Eternal life. To see God’s glory is to be given eternal life. 

God’s ultimate plan for his glory is our salvation.

-But salvation, as I mentioned earlier, doesn’t necessarily demand earthly benefits.

  • Suffering Leads to Glory (Romans 8) pg. 550

-Paul has been addressing the law and sin, and reminds us in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The same God that was ready to kill his people with Moses has born the penalty for our sins on his own Son.

-But our way to glory may not take the route we most often see. 16 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Our path to glorification may be/WILL be through suffering in this life. 

18

You know how people always say, “it’ll be worth it in the end.” I’ve seen my beautiful bride Cara give birth 3 times. Each time it is an amazing process, and I’m both glad and relieved that I will never have to go through what she did! But the end result was worth it!

-Church, we will face suffering of some sort, be it cancer, wayward children, financial difficulty, SOMETHING will happen to you. But no matter what happens, the other side of that is glory. And the glory on the other side makes everything else pale in comparison.

-We’re working on delayed gratification with our kids. Maybe you’ve heard of the experiment of the kids who were placed in front of a marshmallow, and told if they waited they’d get 2 marshmallows. It’s a marshmallow, not that tempting anyway. But God promises life WITH HIM, far eclipses any of the difficulties we’ll experience here. 

-And it’s not just us! All creation is waiting for this glory to be seen. Right now it’s like we’re looking through the veil that Moses wore, but someday everything will see God as He really is! And we’ll see each other as God originally created us to be.

-I read recently someone was asked if they’d know each other in heaven, and the reply was that will be the first time we’ll actually know each other! Without veil

-It’s with all this background and understanding (that glory comes through suffering) that this chapter includes one of the most misunderstood and misapplied verses in all the Bible:

28 “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” 

-Not for our glory or our aim, but to give glory to God.

-What about now? We’ve seen what it looks like in the OT, how it looks in Christ, and in moments of suffering, but what about daily life?

  • Let Your Glory Shine (2 Corinthians 3) pg. 562

-Paul has been saying that in this new covenant we can have hope. 

-This hope leads us to boldness. Not presumptive, trusting.

-He has the audacity to say what we have today is better than Moses! That is quite the claim! 

-The veil served 2 purposes: prevent fear for the Israelites, but also prevented them from being made more glorious (glow in the dark toys). Needed to be hid from the glory to not be consumed. 

-The veil remains unlifted for anyone who does not believe in God, and the message of His one and only Son Jesus Christ. When God’s Word is read, how do you respond? Because if you respond in faith, there’s no longer any separation. God’s glory doesn’t need to be hidden at all, we all are now called God’s friends, we all are now able to talk to God face to face.

-One note on freedom: the freedom we have in Christ now isn’t ability to live however we want. Where once we were only able to live in sin, now with Christ in us we can finally have the freedom to say no to sin. (Heb. 11:16)

-Finally, the main point (18

-For those in Christ, unveiled has 2 implications. We don’t need a veil (we can approach God without a barrier) and our faces should be shining! (can others tell you’re a Christian?) Family from the walk with Cara in Frederick.

-We are being transformed, slowly becoming more and more like God, this is where the image of God is so important!

-And remember, this isn’t grimace and do it in our own strength, all from the Lord.

-The Westminster Shorter Catechism said the chief end of every human is glorifying God and enjoying Him forever. Since the church is comprised of people, that must be our chief end as well! Just as it has been historically, so it will be in the future: we must seek to glorify God in everything we do and say. 

Making & Maturing Disciples of Jesus – 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.

-Much of what I’ve been preaching and talking about since I got here has been building up to this point! 

-If you can remember all the way back to when I candidated (almost 2 years, and 1 less kid ago) for those of you who were here then, my candidating message was on the great commission in Matthew 28. When I moved here I met with a friend who said “Welcome to finding new ways to say the same thing over and over again.”

-Mission tends to drift over time, other things become the focus, new ideas come up, new trends emerge. Think of how you dressed in the 80s. What about that thought you looked good? Don’t worry, my generation wasn’t any better! This is also true in the church. A dear pastor in the EFCA is preaching his last sermon today after 36 years of faithful ministry in the same church. He recently shared how discouraging pastors conferences were as he was starting out in the 90s because the entire focus was on how to become a megachurch and church growth (not inherently bad, but took the focus off the primary thing). How many of you, when you’re craving a juicy lucy would go to Chick-fil-a? Or vice versa, if you’re really wanting a chicken sandwich, who’s going to Five Guys? This is where it’s vital to remember what our primary mission is. Why are we here? What are we aiming for?

– I only have 1 life to pull from for illustrations, so I’m going to be repeating myself regularly! Similarly, we stand in a church tradition that traces its lineage all the way back to the first disciples. Have you ever thought of that? People have become obsessed lately with genealogies (I found my great grandma’s signature when she came through Ellis Island in middle school). If you trace the lineage of your faith to its origination point, it’s the first 12 disciples. They were faithful in their mission of making disciples, who trained the next generation to faithful disciple making, and so on through millennia until we’re her today.

-Since Jesus gave every faithful church a mission, I literally don’t think I could improve on what the Son of God gave us! So to that end, I present our new mission, which is the same mission Jesus gave us 2,000 years ago: (drum roll please) making and maturing disciples of Jesus.

-We’re going to look at a few different passages today that talk about this idea, but it’s going to be grounded in the great commission again. So if you weren’t here when I candidated, this will be new! If you were, I’m guessing many of you can’t remember what you had for breakfast, so I think it’s always helpful to be reminded!

READ/PRAY

  1. We Are Commanding to Make Disciples

-Where does he begin? With one of the most important phrases in the Bible.

         -“All authority”

-Doesn’t this strike you as a bit odd? Hasn’t he already HAD all authority? D.A. Carson in his commentary states “It is not Jesus’ authority per se that becomes more absolute. Rather, the spheres in which he now exercise absolute authority are enlarged to include all heaven and earth, i.e., the universe.” (594)

-While He has been authoritative up until this point, we see the domain under his authority has expanded to include EVERYTHING. Col. 1, by him and through him and for him all things were created.

-This is the foundation for everything that comes after it. If Jesus isn’t in charge we have no chance of ever bringing his commands to fruition

-With that foundation, we then get into the command, the great mission, the goal, the focus of every Christian since Christ ascended into heaven.

-In this section, 3 participles, 1 imperative verb. 

         -Don’t fall asleep here! Grammar has a tendency to do that to me too!

-Emphasis is placed on the imperative, that’s the primary focus of this entire section, it’s the phrase: (literally) discipling (1 word in Greek) 

-We tend to place the emphasis at the beginning or end, Greek didn’t always do that! But if we were, it would be something like: DISCIPLING, as you’re going, baptizing and teaching. Everything else is subservient to the discipling.

-So if that’s the emphasis, we should know what discipling is, shouldn’t we? That means we have to ask the question: what is a disciple?

-Google: a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher, 

         -So in this case, the most basic idea behind this is a follower or student of Jesus

-Someone who has surrendered to Jesus and is growing in theology & worship (or in doctrine & devotion)

-Jesus doesn’t say “make converts”

         -This is part of what makes Christianity unique & attractive

         -Muslims look to coerce or force people to convert “convert or die!”

-Christians set an example and invite, there’s pleading, begging, exhorting, not coercion. Christianity is not married to any singular culture.

-This is where we now get to the first word in verse 19: Go. Everyone is called to make disciples. Everyone goes somewhere at some point in your life. This isn’t talking about going from sitting to standing in the pews! Nor is it talking about walking from the sanctuary to the foyer for a cup of coffee. This is going into the world. “Worship through Witness” 

-This is also the first time in this Gospel the disciples have been commanded to go all the places. Matthew 10:5 “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans.” 

         -Jesus is going global!

-Tim Keller describes this as the centrifugal force of the gospel message. I’m not a scientist so I have to make sure I get this right. Centripetal force is a pull to the center. That’s the tendency of any group: pull to the center. 

-The example of asking a group of people to stand in a circle and hold hands. Every time you ask a group to do that which way do you think they’ll face? Toward each other! We, as God’s people, have to be intentional to not just look inward.

-The Great Commission here is God’s command for us to become a centrifugalforce, going OUT into ALL the world

-This gets us to a second point here, notice some of the limits Jesus places on this commission: ALL authority, ALL nations, teaching them to observe ALL that I have commanded, he is with us always or ALL the days. So what limit is there on any of this? None. That’s a comfort! We’re faithful, we go, we do our best to make disciples, so how do we make disciples?
-Jesus tells us 2 things: baptizing and teaching.  

-First, baptism. As far as the clear commands in the Bible go, this might be the easiest one in there! How many of you love God perfectly with all your heart, mind, soul & strength? How about the next great command, how many of you perfectly love your neighbor just like you love yourself? 

         -As far as difficulty goes, this might be the easiest command in the whole Bible!

-Let’s note here, this is not salvific. Romans 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.” Baptism is not salvific, but baptism is the first step of obedience

-Carson “The NT can scarcely conceive of a disciple who is not baptized or is not instructed.” So I’d urge you, if you have not been baptized, do it! We’re having a baptism service in just a couple weeks!

-But as that Carson quote just said, there’s a second piece: instruction.

  • We Are Commanded to Mature Disciples 

-To grow as a disciple means to watch your life and doctrine. (1 Tim. 4:16)

-Cannot grow unless you have training, cannot grow unless instructed, cannot grow unless you’re equipped. 

-Tendency to equate discipleship as head knowledge. 

-Jesus doesn’t just say “teach” he says teach “to observe” something, put it into practice

-Theology & Doxology. 

James 2:19 even the demons believe, they’ve got better theology than most of us! Deficient in their doxology.

-So what are we teaching? ALL that Jesus commanded! We’re teaching people how to worship Jesus in and through every area of their life. Worship at home, worship in your car, worship in your sleep, at your work, as you walk, as you run, as you drink coffee, as you eat food. Everything we do is an opportunity to worship God as the creator and sustainer of the universe. And out of the overflow of that worship comes witness to others. 

-This is quite the command/commission you’ve given us Jesus! This feels insurmountable and impossible

-In our own strength, it is. The sooner you realize that the better off you’ll be. 

-We need to remember we don’t go in our own power or strength, it is through Jesus being with us that allows us to work with people to grow as a disciple.

-This is what Paul talks about in our second text, 2 Timothy 2

-Paul writing to Timothy, his protégé who was pastoring in Ephesus (don’t worry, we’ll complete this by looking at Ephesians next!) 

-Second and last letter to Timothy

-Also the text for the first sermon I ever preached! (Don’t worry, I went and checked and it was a live 1 time event with no recordings available) The only thing I know is it was NOT a great sermon!

-First thing we see is something done to us: be strengthened.

-Other places where we see how we’re supposed to work, but in this case we can’t do it. The Holy Spirit working in us is the one who strengthens and allows us to remain faithful. I shared this example before, but I think it bears repeating (only have 1 life, sorry!) I used to “help” my dad mow the lawn when I was little. How much work do you think I did? How much work do you think my dad did? Don’t worry, it wasn’t slave labor! Phil. 2:13 “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” 

-Then we see what we’re strengthened IN: grace that is in Christ Jesus.

-Grace is the starting point of our faith. We saw that in the opening chapters of 2 Peter: grace and peace. Grace is the undeserved gift we’ve been given through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It’s the foundation by which we’re able to grow from. If we don’t have grace, we can’t be a disciple. 

-In addition to grace strengthening us, vs. 2 says what we have heard can strengthen. What does that mean?

-Christianity is a word-based faith. Actually until very recently, words had always been used to describe reality. What were the things that Paul would have shared with Timothy? If you go back to Matt. 28 the things Jesus commanded. 

-Saw this last week in 2 Peter too: what Peter said is what Paul said is what Jesus said. Here we see that what Timothy says is what Paul says is what Jesus said. All discipling is meant to be transitional.

-Jesus trained/discipled the first disciples. They lived together, ate together, traveled together, went about their daily lives together. But Jesus was planning for His transition where he wouldn’t be living bodily with them anymore.

-Then the early disciples started spreading out: “Jerusalem, all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) and they started transition plans where they were discipling people to grow and then would go to a new place and start discipling new people and continue doing this in perpetuity. 

-Paul discipled Timothy the way Jesus said to in Matt. 28, and here reminds Timothy to continue passing that on – and Paul is thinking 4 generations away. From me – you have heard – faithful men – teach others also. This is meant to continue passing on, we’re all meant to serve as transitional pieces in discipleship. But we also see that we need to be looking beyond just us! We need to grow/mature as disciples in order to continue passing that down to others! That’s true individually, but it’s also true corporately, we as a church need to ensure that what we do today lays the foundation for continued gospel faithfulness generations from today.

-I ran into my preaching mentor at a conference in February. He served as the professor of homiletics (preaching) at TEDS for almost 20 years. He shared that he loved coming to this conference because it was a picture of this text! He looks back fondly at his preaching mentor, then he became a preacher for almost 20 years, then he taught faithful men in seminary for 20 years, who are now training others! We all are supposed to do this, continue looking for ways to train others.

-Paul goes on to give us 3 pictures of what this looks like, but the connective tissue is vs. 3: share in suffering. This is the only thing Jesus guaranteed would happen to us (John 16:33). What does it look like to share in the sufferings?

-First like a soldier. Soldiers give up their entire lives to devote to their country. 1st century Rome, sometimes soldiers enlisted for 25 years, vowing to not get married and have 1 focus. If they were divided in what they were doing they wouldn’t last! Everything they do and at times even their very survival is mandated by not losing their focus. Everything they do is meant to be obedient to their superior officer. Think of the infamous Benedict Arnold! That’s NOT a good soldier! Similarly, in faith we’re meant to have the singular focus of obeying Christ. Don’t let anything distract you from that! The church has been guilty of missing this mission, of worrying too much about what the world thinks or using worldly metrics (building, budget butts). What we’re called to is being faithful, the fruit is up to God.

-Second is like an athlete. In order to win, there are specific rules you need to follow. Think of the shame of the steroid scandal in baseball. Cheating to get to the top is shameful! In faith, we need to be obedient to everything God has commanded us to do (teaching them to observe everything).

-Lastly: a hard-working farmer. I don’t know if you know any farmers, but there are times of the year where you won’t see them! Working before the sun is up to after the sun is down. In faith, we need to not rest on our laurels, but instead work diligently in our pursuit of Christ-likeness. 

-Summary: singular focus, obedient, diligent. 

-Last text: Eph. 4 I promise, we’ll get through it quickly!

-God gives everyone a unique gift that is meant to be used for the equipping of the body. We’ll be studying this text in more detail in the Fall, so don’t worry about all the details now! But every role is meant to: equip the saints. We all have a job to do if we want to be a faithful church. No JV, no bench warmers, we’re all in.

-Until: maturity. Won’t completely happen until Christ returns, but that means we continue to have a job to do.

-Finally, this is done to build each other up in love. Assume the best about each other! So much of our world today trains us to be inherently skeptical toward others. That’s the opposite of what’s supposed to happen in the church! As we use our gifts, we bless each other, encourage each other to keep this singular focus in all our lives.

-Everything we do as a church is meant to either make or mature disciples of Jesus. Nothing new! It’s what the church has been doing for 2,000 years! But sometimes we need the reminder!

-One of the ways we’re obedient to everything Jesus commanded us to do is through the celebration of the 2 ordinances, which visibly and tangibly express the gospel message. We saw baptism today, which is a 1 time demonstration of our new life, but then we also are to celebrate communion which is an ongoing reminder of our dependency on the gospel for growth. We’re going to sing a couple songs together, and use them as an opportunity to prepare your heart for this celebratory remembrance of our dependence on Jesus. Bible tells us if you are a faithful believer you are welcome to celebrate with us, but to examine your heart. I’d like to encourage you especially today, to take some time to confess if you’ve experienced “mission drift” away from what Jesus has explicitly commanded us to do.

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!