Sermon September 2, 2018 – Re-Up part 3, The Gospel

Re-Up to the Gospel

We talk a lot about the Gospel, but are we really able to articulate the Gospel message?

The word, “Gospel” is translated from the Greek word “euangelion” from which we get our word, Evangelism. The Gospel means the Good News and it all starts and ends with God.

The most succinct text we have for the Gospel is 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. God created the heavens and the Earth, and it was good. But, sin entered into the world as Satan tempted eve, she and Adam sinned by eating the fruit that God told them not to eat. Satan tempted Eve by making asking the question, “did God really say?” And that is the same question he tempts us with every day, if we don’t know and stand firmly on the authority of God’s word.

As a result of their sin, we are all sinners (Romans 3:23).  Sin has resulted in a break in relationship, a separation between God and man. All of creation suffers as a result of this separation. In order to provide for the restoration of the broken relationship between God and man, God required a perfect sacrifice, Jesus was that sacrifice. He came to earth as a baby, born of a virgin and he lived a perfect sinless life. Jesus was persecuted and crucified on the cruel Roman Cross where he died. But Jesus was raised to life on the 3rd day, by the power of God, overcoming death. After forty days of teaching and appearing to many people, Jesus ascended to heaven and today he is at the right hand of God the father. But Jesus didn’t leave us alone, he sent the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit to live in us, to empower us to do what he calls us to do. The Holy Spirit is the power and the fuel of the church.

This sacrifice that Jesus made was for all who would put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior. Paul tells us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We did nothing to deserve his love and sacrifice. All we have to do is accept this free gift from God (Romans 6:23). The Bible says that there is no other way to be saved, this makes the Gospel a message of offence and one that causes division, just as Jesus said in Luke 12. The Gospel is offensive in our culture mostly because of its exclusivity. Our age of political correctness hates the exclusivity of the Gospel (John 14:6).

In 2 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul was commissioning Timothy to Gospel ministry. In the first verse, Paul reminded Timothy that this commissioning is before God and Jesus Christ who is also going to judge all people when he comes again. If Timothy wasn’t aware of the weight of his commission he certainly got it there in the first sentence. Paul charges Timothy to be an evangelist, a Gospel proclaimer (2 Timothy 4:2). In the end of the previous chapter, Paul told Timothy that all Scripture is God-breathed and the he needs to preach all of scripture and not simply his favorite texts, or the texts that he knows people will enjoy hearing (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Paul writes and tells Timothy to be ready, “in season and out of season”, to preach the word. Naturally, we understand that Timothy is to be ready to preach the word when he is in front of a crowd or simply when he is sharing a meal with a family, being ready to speak about the Gospel at all times. But I suggest that there is more to this statement. Let us never forget that if we call ourselves Christians, the world is watching, and we preach a “form” of Gospel with our actions. How we respond to immorality in our workplaces, how we respond to financial and family challenges, how we respond to these and other challenges preaches a form of Gospel to the watching world.

But what about the bigger issues of life, the cultural issues that demand a response from the church?

What Gospel are we as a church preaching to the world when it comes to our response to the plight of the unborn in our nation? What Gospel are we preaching in our response to caring for those caught in sex slavery and trafficking?

What Gospel are we preaching in our response to the re-definition of marriage in our society? What Gospel are we preaching to those around us in our care for the widows and the orphans in our communities?

We have the opportunity everyday to declare the truth of God’s Word to those around us as they see our response to the challenges of everyday life.

Paul continues in his encouragement to Timothy and writes about a future time where there will be false teachers (2 Timothy 4: 3-4). Over the course of the past 2000 years, cultures have come and gone that have rejected the truth of God’s word, but it really sounds like Paul was talking about the era in which we now live.

There are primarily two kinds of false teachers today; firstly, those who intentionally teach a false Gospel in order to attract crowds and make people feel good about themselves. Many large churches have built enormous buildings and have incurred huge debts, now the pastors feel compelled to preach what the people want to hear in order to keep them coming to pay for the buildings.

Secondly, there are those who are too afraid of the cultural resistance to the Gospel, this is the preacher who doesn’t want to offend.

The truth is that the days of unquestioned respect for the church are gone. In our 21st century culture, if you truly believe and hold fast to this Gospel message, you could be risking your reputation, your social status and possibly you will face legal threats as we have already seen in our country.

But here is the wonderful good news, God himself by the Holy Spirit is committed to the results of the proclamation of the Gospel. You are not alone in this task, Jesus ended the Great Commission in Matthew 28 by promising, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

What is the Gospel that you are declaring to the world?

Sermon August 19, 2018 Re-Up Part 1

 

The Word – John 1:1-5

This week we began a new series called “Re-Up”, this is a call to re-enlist, to recommit to personal spiritual disciplines, gathering together and being a church on mission. The summer break has a way of breaking our good routines and disrupting our spiritual growth.

We begin with the Bible, which is a perfect place to start in getting back to personal spiritual disciplines and growing in our knowledge and the call of God on our lives.

In John 17 Jesus asked the Father that He would “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Jesus prayed that believers would be transformed as they are exposed to the truth that is God’s Word.  God’s Word is the truth that re-creates us, refines us and makes us more like Jesus.

The Bible is no ordinary book, it is the Word of God. We need to get a fresh perspective of the value and the immense importance of this book in our lives.

In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul writes that, “all scripture is God breathed…” we believe that all scripture, all 66 books written by multiple authors over thousands of years, is fully inspired by the Holy Spirit.

The Gospel of John is a portrait of Jesus Christ and his saving work. The central theme is the eternal majesty and deity of Jesus Christ, and we see in the first five verses this theme being developed. John does not mention the name of Jesus until the 29th verse, rather he calls Jesus the Word. John calls Jesus the Word because he had come to see the words of Jesus as the truth of God, and the person of Jesus as the truth of God in such a unified way that Jesus himself — in his coming, and working, and teaching, and dying and rising — was the final and decisive message of God. As we read the first five verses of John’s gospel there are six key phrases that jump out of the page:

1 In the beginning.

The apostle John began his Gospel in a very different way to the other gospels, he went back to the beginning of time on the earth, echoing Genesis 1:1. Jesus is the pre-existent God who spoke creation into existence.

2 The Word was with God.

The Word has always been in a relationship with God the Father. Christ did not at some point in time come into existence or begin a relationship with the Father. In eternity past the Father (God) and the Son (the Word) and the Holy Spirit, have always been in a loving communion with each other. verse 2 clarifies this point, “He was in the beginning with God.”  Jesus was always God.

3 The Word was God.

The Word, who became flesh and dwelt among us, Jesus Christ, was and is God. Jesus Christ was with God, and he is God, he is the image of God. There is one divine essence and three persons in the trinity.

4  All things were made through him.

Why is there something rather than nothing? That is the great question in philosophy. The answer is God, He is eternal, and He is the Creator of all things. And the Word was the Father’s agent, or Word, in the creation of all things. God, the Word, created the world. Your Savior, your Lord, your friend, this same Jesus is your Maker.

5 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

This is one of the key themes in the Gospel of John, John 10:10 states, “…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly”. John makes it clear that Jesus was not only the creator of life, he is the sustainer and supplier of life. Jesus said in john 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life”

Not only is Jesus the life, he is also the light. In John 8, Jesus declares himself the “light of the World”.

In the Bible darkness is commonly used to denote death, ignorance, sin, and separation from God. The prophet Isaiah described the coming of the Messiah in Isaiah 9, saying, “the people living in darkness seeing a great light.”

6 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Light dispels darkness, Jesus exposes darkness and in his presence, all evil must retreat. Jesus coming to the earth was God turning on the light switch and exposing and defeating the darkness of sin. The light shines, it has not gone out it is still shining through his church, we are the ambassadors of Christ to go into dark places and turn on the light.

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The entire Bible is the revelation of Jesus to us, the Old Testament points to him, the Gospels reveal his life and the rest of the New Testament point back to the cross and reveal the church, the Body of Christ and then in the Revelation, we read about this same Jesus who will come again as the warrior king. All scripture points us to Jesus.

With all that we have been given, how can we call ourselves followers of Jesus, and not have a passion for his word?” Why do we struggle to spend time reading and meditating on the Word of God?

We need to rekindle a love for the Word of God. It is no ordinary collection of pages and ink, it is supernatural in its authoring, it is supernatural in its reading and it is supernatural in its application.

The word of God does not change, the truth of God’s word does not change, it is our plumb-line and our authority for business, for parenting, for marriage and all other aspects of life.

But, we like to redefine truth to fit our own personal preferences or desires. Let us be careful not to ignore or discard selected truths, just because we find them hard to receive or difficult to understand. And above all, we must be careful not to become lazy or apathetic with the truth of God’s word because it is not socially acceptable or because the cost of defending or standing on the truth becomes too demanding.

This world we live in is vehemently opposed to the truth of the Word of God.

The Word of God was truth before the beginning of time and will continue to be truth for all eternity.  (See, 1 Peter 1:23-25.)

We desperately need time away from the business and steward our time reading and meditating on God’s word.

As you read the Bible, you will encounter Jesus, the Word of God and the Holy Spirit will reveal his glory and majesty to you.

Have you read the Word of God today?

Sermon March 11, 2018 The Sending God

Luke 20:1-18

Throughout scripture we see that God is the one who sends, He sent Abraham, Moses, David and he sent the prophets of the Old Testament amongst many others. Jesus was sent with the authority of Heaven to complete a mission to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

In Luke 20, the chief priests, the scribes and the elders approached Jesus as he was teaching in the temple. This was a clash of kingdoms’; the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man were coming face to face. Jesus had just made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem and he had cleansed the temple and had begun proclaiming that the Kingdom of God, the rulership and authority of God, had arrived.

The question that the chief priests asked Jesus was legitimate, who was Jesus and by what authority did he teach? Here was a man who had no formal training, he was not a scribe or a priest, but he assumed the role to cleanse the temple, and to teach strange new teachings. Jesus was a threat to established traditions and dead religion. Jesus is still a threat to established tradition and dead religion today.

Jesus responds as he often does, by asking them a question that stumps them, “was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” Luke 20:4.

Immediately thy chief priests had a problem, if John had the authority of God over his prophetic ministry of declaring that the messiah was coming, then why did they reject him?

If they said that John was not sent from God, the people who followed and believed John would rise up in anger against the chief priests and the elders.

They were afraid of the people because they were not ministers of the truth, they were politicians who were only concerned about protecting their own position and authority.

So, they respond in by saying,” we don’t know…” But Jesus doesn’t let them off the hook and says, “neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things” (verse 8).

Jesus only increased their hatred of him, he knew what was coming, and he didn’t attempt to change their minds. He knew that they wanted to kill him, and he added to their anger by further telling a parable to the crowd.

The land owner, a metaphor for God the Father, develops the land, he goes to great expense to prepare it for a successful crop to be harvested. The landowner then leaves and leased it to tenants to maintain the land and take care of the crop.

At the time of harvest the landowner sends three different delegations to receive the landowners share of the crop. But the wicked tenants beat them and treated them shamefully. The abuse and violence escalated for each representative that was sent. In Mark’s Gospel he writes that the tenants killed some of the servants who were sent.

The vineyard was a well-known metaphor for Israel. As the scribes heard the words of Jesus they would have known that he was talking about the Prophet Isaiah chapter 5 where God calls Israel his vineyard that he has prepared. The servants or the ambassadors that the landowner sends are clearly the prophets of the Old Testament, which the people of Israel rejected and even killed.

The landowner decides to step up the pressure and send his son as his royal ambassador. But the tenants in the parable decide that if they kill the son, they will inherit the land. By doing away with the son, the owner will leave them alone. That was the plan of Satan all along, he thought that by killing the son of God he would have absolute dominion over the earth and prevent God the father receiving any of the harvest of souls.

The people Jesus was speaking to could not imagine the possibility of God taking the land away from Israel as Jesus ended the parable in verse 16. But this happened in a real sense in AD 70, when the Roman empire destroyed Jerusalem, but it will happen in a complete destruction when Jesus comes again and there is the final judgment. The people seemed offended by what Jesus was saying, but Jesus pauses and looks them straight in the eyes and quotes Isaiah 8 in Luke 20:17-18. Again, a passage the scribes would have recognized that Jesus was not only calling himself the messiah, but he was also calling himself God, because that passage in Isaiah is preceded by the verse stating this is the Lord of Hosts. Jesus not only has the authority of the one who sent him, but he will also come back again one day to judge the world.

Jesus the Beloved Son, the chief cornerstone, the head of the Church who was sent by God the Father. God the Father sent his only son on a mission that looked like a certain defeat. Satan thought the cross was his greatest victory, but it is his ultimate defeat.

God sent his son, to bring the Kingdom to reintroduce his people to himself. But sadly, just as the parable states, his people killed his son (John 1:11-12). You now have been given the right to be called a child of God. You have the right to be a representative and ambassador of the kingdom of God.

Jesus was sent by God the Father and in turn he sends us. The story of the cross is a completed victory, but also the beginning of our commissioning, the sending out of the church with the message of the Good news.

God is a sending God, he has always been sending his people into the vineyard and now, he is sending you into the vineyard. God prepared the vineyard, he is expecting a harvest.

How are you going to respond to the God who sends?