Easter 2022

Authentic Believing

(John 20:24-31)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Thomas A. Miller, a surgeon and researcher, explores the miracle of Christ's resurrection from a medical angle. Dr. Miller notes that the body contains trillions and maybe even 100 trillion cells. Each one of these cells carries out thousands of different chemical reactions. Thus a bodily resurrection would require ‘some phenomenal power to energize life into all these individual cells, but it would have to do so in such a way that specialized nerve cells could resume their unique function, heart cells perform theirs, blood cells and bone cells do theirs, and so on.’

 

Dr. Miller continues:

 

Consider the heart as just one example. It beats on average 70 times a minute, 4,200 times an hour, 100,800 times a day … and 36,288,000 times a year …. And for that to happen, thousands of processes within each cell must act in a coordinated way to ensure that the blood entering the right side of the heart is effectively propelled into the lungs, where the red blood cells contained in it discharge carbon dioxide and pick up oxygen, following which it returns to the left side of the heart where it is propelled to the tissues of the rest of the body, do that they might receive precious oxygen they need to sustain their many functions. This all happens at least every second in such a smooth fashion that we are not even aware of it. And at the moment we die, all these processes came to a screeching halt.

 

A bodily resurrection implies that thousands of processes in trillions of cells must be restarted with the unique intricacy and inter-coordination that existed before death. Dr. Miller notes that this would require not just incredible power but also unimaginable knowledge. He writes:

 

Even the latest science has not unraveled the complete mystery of each of the cells of our bodies, and how they interact and "talk" with one another …. But for the resurrection of Jesus to occur, all of that information had to be known in its completeness and totality, and known some two thousand years ago.”

 

Source: Thomas A. Miller, MD, Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? (Crossway, 2013), pp. 133-136.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2013/march/1031113.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Third party authentication

        • The push to protect our online accounts is never ending

        • In recent years, there has been a push for third party authentication, especially for financial accounts and even email accounts

        • The idea is that every time I login to one of these accounts, they will either text or email me a code that I enter to prove that I am the owner of the account and to protect my account

        • I am not put off by this authentication, because I want to make sure my accounts are secure

 

  • WE

    • Third party authentication

        • How many of us have had to do that recently?

        • Perhaps some of us do not want to be bothered with receiving a code and entering it in order to gain access to our accounts

    • Banking

        • Some of us don’t use a computer, but we’ve probably been to the bank to withdrawal money or cash a check

        • When we do that, the teller asks us for our ID, so we can prove that we are who we say we are

 

Jesus appeared to ten of His disciples on the day He came alive again. ​​ There was one disciple who was missing from that initial meeting. ​​ As we learned in the sunrise service, the wound made by the spear would have been a unique identifying factor that it was Jesus who was appearing to them. ​​ No other person, who was crucified, had that unique mark. ​​ We’ll see today that the disciple, who missed the initial meeting, says he’ll never believe that Jesus is alive unless he can put his fingers in the nail holes in Jesus’ hands, and place his hand in the spear hole in Jesus’ side. ​​ He wanted physical proof before he would believe. ​​ Jesus challenges him on this and speaks a blessing over those who believe without seeing. ​​ John wants us to know that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Jesus is pleased when we believe without seeing.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 20:24-31)

    • Thomas’ Unbelief (vv. 24-25)

        • Who is Thomas

          • A twin

            • The name Thomas is Aramaic

            • The name Didymus is Greek

            • They both mean “twin”

            • We’re not told who his twin was

          • A disciple

            • He is one of the Twelve

            • Jesus had chosen him as one of His closest disciples

            • We know from church history that Thomas took the message of Jesus Christ to India and gave his life for the Gospel while there [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 596]

          • A realist

            • John 11:16, Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (this was in response to Jesus encouraging His disciples to come with Him to see Lazarus, who had died – Thomas realized the volatility of going back to Judea so soon after the Jews had tried to stone Jesus)

            • John 14:1-6, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. ​​ Trust in God, trust also in me. ​​ In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. ​​ I am going there to prepare a place for you. ​​ And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. ​​ You know the way to the place where I am going.” ​​ Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” ​​ Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. ​​ No one comes to the Father except through me.

          • As a realist, he would have been skeptical about the possibility of Jesus’ resurrection, which is why he may not have been together with the other disciples on that first day of the week – for Thomas, the three-year journey of faith was done – perhaps he was feeling hopeless and just wanted to be alone

        • Thomas absent

          • During the sunrise service, we looked at the episode that Thomas missed

            • It was on the evening of that first day of the week – the day that Jesus came alive again

            • The disciples were behind locked doors for fear of the Jews and Jesus miraculously appeared to them and greeted them with “peace”

            • He showed them His hands and side

          • Thomas wasn’t with them when Jesus appeared to them

            • “Thomas is a good warning to all of us not to miss meeting together with God’s people on the Lord’s Day.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament, Volume 1, 394]

            • Hebrews 10:22-25, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. ​​ Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. ​​ And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. ​​ Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

            • “Remember Thomas when you are tempted to stay home from church. ​​ You never know what special blessing you might miss!” ​​ [Wiersbe, 394]

            • Application

              • Think about a time when you didn’t “feel” like coming to church, but after you came, you left feeling refreshed, renewed, filled with joy, peace, comfort, and contentment

              • Early in my tenure here, we had a movement of the Holy Spirit that happened during second service that was powerful. ​​ A young man was listening to the message and as I was finishing up, he fell to his knees and began to flail around, knocking down some of the metal chairs. ​​ He stood up and came towards me. ​​ I embraced him as he kept repeating a man’s name. ​​ I asked him what we needed to know about that man. ​​ He eventually looked at me, blinked his eyes, and then said, “what just happened?” ​​ This young man had spoken with me, earlier in the week, about the man, whose name he was repeating. ​​ That man had been going through a difficult time and this young man was trying to help him. ​​ Something supernatural happened that day and not everyone in the church was there to experience it. ​​ The Holy Spirit of God was speaking through this young man and it was powerful!

          • Thomas had missed something supernatural and powerful and the other disciples tried to explain it to him

        • The disciples’ witness

          • Told

            • In the Greek this verb is in the imperfect tense, which means it is a continual or repeated action [Blue Letter Bible, https://www.blueletterbible.org/nasb/jhn/20/1/t_concf_1017025]

            • The other disciples didn’t just mention it to Thomas once, they kept on telling him

            • I can only imagine that the reason they kept on telling him is because he was shaking his head from side to side in disbelief

            • This didn’t make logical sense to Thomas, the realist

            • My aunt and uncle had a missionary family visiting. When the missionary children were called in for dinner, their mother said, ‘Be sure to wash your hands.’

              The little boy scowled and said, ‘Germs and Jesus. Germs and Jesus. That's all I hear, and I've never seen either one of them.’”

              Source: Vesper Bauer, Audubon, Iowa, Christian Reader (Sep/Oct 1998).

              [https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2000/february/12256.html]

            • The little boy did not understand the importance of washing his hands, because he had never seen a germ

            • Thomas did not understand the importance of Jesus’ resurrection, because he had not seen Jesus like the other disciples had

          • Seen

            • This Greek verb is in the perfect tense, meaning that it was an action completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated [Blue Letter Bible, https://www.blueletterbible.org/nasb/jhn/20/1/t_concf_1017025]

            • The disciples were telling Thomas again and again that they had seen the Lord – it was a fact – He was alive!

            • Application

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when we tell others about Jesus.

              • “The disciples who had experienced the surprising appearance of Jesus and his empowering commissioning were apparently enthusiastically ready to share the details of their postresurrection experience of ‘the Lord.’” [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 312]

              • I always enjoy being around new believers, because their enthusiasm for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is contagious

              • They aren’t complacent, apprehensive, or fearful about sharing it with anyone and everyone

              • For long-time believers, the enthusiasm seems to wear off, because they have been confronted with those who are skeptical and those who refuse to believe in Jesus – we are no longer enthusiastic and excited about sharing the Gospel

              • I believe the reason this happens in our lives is because we have a false idea of our role as messengers of the Gospel

                • We have this incorrect belief that if people don’t believe in Jesus, after we share the Gospel with them, that we have somehow failed God and Jesus

                • Our responsibility is not to convert and convince, but to communicate

                • 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. ​​ So neither he who plants nor he who waters in anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

                • Planting and watering are both forms of communicating

                  • The planter is the one who shares the Gospel with an individual for the first time

                  • The waterer is the one who shares the Gospel with an individual a second, third, fourth, fifth, or more times

                • Whether or not someone believes in Jesus, when you share the Gospel with them, does not define success or failure

                • When we simply communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone, we succeed in God’s eyes – He is pleased!

                • That should change everything for us

                • We should be excited and enthusiastic about sharing the Gospel

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Enthusiastically share the Gospel with my family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

                • Now that we know, success is simply communicating and not convincing or converting, let’s plant and water with enthusiasm and watch as God makes it grow!

                • Who will you plan to share the Gospel with this week?

            • The other disciples were enthusiastically and repeatedly telling Thomas that they had seen the Lord – He was alive!

          • What we see with Thomas’ response is that he probably got tired of the other disciples repeatedly telling him they had seen the Lord

        • Thomas’ demands

          • Thomas wanted proof – he wanted to experience what the other disciples had experienced and even more

            • He didn’t just want to see Jesus’ hands and side

            • He wanted to put his fingers in the holes where the nails had been

            • He wanted to put his hand in the whole created by the spear

          • “Thomas’ words help to understand the difference between doubt and unbelief. ​​ Doubt says, ‘I cannot believe! ​​ There are too many problems!’ ​​ Unbelief says, ‘I will not believe unless you give me the evidence I ask for!’”  ​​​​ [Wiersbe, 394]

            • Some people are right there, right now

            • They are telling us that they will not believe in Jesus unless He gives them the evidence they are asking for

            • They want all their questions answered to their satisfaction

              • If God is all-loving, then why does He allow bad things to happen?

              • If God is all-powerful, then why doesn’t He stop bad things from happening?

              • God is both all-loving and all-powerful in addition to being sovereign, all-knowing, ever present, unchanging, infinite, holy, righteous, and so much more

              • It’s the arrogance of humanity to believe that we can understand all of who God is and how He operates as an infinite God

            • They want physical proof that God and Jesus exist

              • It’s the arrogance of humanity to demand that God provide the evidence we ask for before we will believe in Him

                • Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. ​​ “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

                • 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. ​​ He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

                • Ephesians 3:20-21, Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! ​​ Amen.

            • Jesus is pleased when we believe without seeing.

          • Thomas’ declaration

            • Thomas tells the other disciples that he will not believe it without his demands being fulfilled

            • In the Greek there is a double negative, ou mē, which gives his declaration an emphatic push

            • It could be translated, “I’ll never believe it!” [Milne, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of John, 302] or “I positively will not believe!” [Wiersbe, 394]

            • Thomas is saying, in no uncertain terms, that if his demands for proof are not met, he will never believe that Jesus is alive

        • Jesus is gracious with Thomas, and his demands, and does the supernatural again, within the week

    • Thomas’ Belief (vv. 26-29)

        • Thomas present

          • All of the eleven disciples were together in the same house one week later

          • Perhaps the other ten disciples told Thomas not to miss this Sunday gathering

          • Jesus again appears to His disciples, even though they are behind locked doors

          • He greeted them again with “peace be with you”

          • I’m sure they needed peace as he supernaturally gained access to the room they thought was secure

          • Jesus doesn’t waste any time in challenging Thomas

        • Jesus’ challenge

          • Jesus basically repeats Thomas’ demands back to him

          • “Here you go, Thomas! ​​ Put your fingers in the nail holes in my wrists. ​​ Put your hand in the spear whole in my side.”

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus is omnipresent

              • “Here Jesus is teaching a lesson of great import, for in repeating Thomas’s ultimatum, it’s as if He’s saying, ‘Boys, even though you don’t see Me, I’m with you always.’” ​​ [Courson, 597]

              • Because Jesus is omnipresent, He hears and knows our deepest desires

              • Application

                • This is a foundational truth principle for us as believers – Jesus is always present with us

                • No matter what we are going through, we can trust that He is here

                • Maybe you’re feeling lonely, anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, worried, fearful, unsure, or concerned

                • You may be struggling physically, emotionally, financially, relationally, and/or spiritually

                • Jesus is right there with you

                • Even if you can’t see Him or feel His presence with you, He is there

                • Hebrews 13:5-6, Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” ​​ So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. ​​ What can man do to me?”

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Claim the truth promise that Jesus is always present with me.

            • The second part of Jesus’ challenge is His exhortation for Thomas to stop doubting and believe

          • Stop doubting and believe

            • The literal translation of the Greek text would be, “Do not become unbelieving [apistos] but believing [pistos].” [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 562] or “Do not be unbelieving but believing.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 657]

            • Thomas wasn’t saying that he couldn’t believe, because there were too many problems (doubt), but rather that he would not believe (unbelief), without physical proof

            • “Authentic believing was the issue,” not doubt [Borchert, 314]

            • Hebrews 3:12-13, See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. ​​ But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

          • Jesus’ presence, challenge, and exhortation was enough for Thomas

        • Thomas’ confession

          • The only response that Thomas could have at this point was to confess who Jesus was – “My Lord and my God!”

          • Thomas’ confession accomplished two things

            • It recognized Jesus’ authority

              • Confessing that Jesus was his Lord, meant that Thomas was submitting to His authority as Master

              • We must do the same thing when we come to believe in Jesus – submit to Him as our Master

            • It recognized Jesus’ deity

              • PRINCIPLE #3 – Jesus is God!

              • Thomas knew that only God had the power to do the supernatural

              • God is the only One who is always present with us and knows everything about us, including our thoughts and desires

          • Thomas wanted physical, material proof that Jesus was alive

            • Most of the time we refer to Thomas as “Doubting Thomas” and can be pretty critical of him

            • He was in good company though, because Peter, John, and the other disciples didn’t believe the testimony of the women, including Mary Magdalene

            • Peter and John had to see the empty tomb for themselves – they wanted physical and material proof

          • Jesus then offers a blessing over those who would never experience the physical and material proof that Thomas and the other disciples did

        • Jesus’ blessing

          • Jesus tells Thomas that he believed, because He was granted the physical and material proof he had demanded

          • Jesus then blesses those who have not seen and yet have believed

            • If you have believed in Jesus, He was talking about you!

            • You can personalize that part of verse 29 today

            • “Blessed is _______ (your name) who has not seen and yet has believed.” ​​ [have everyone repeat the verse with their name in it]

            • Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

            • Jesus is pleased when we believe without seeing.

        • This naturally transitions to our belief

    • Our Belief (vv. 30-31)

        • More miraculous signs

          • John gives us some concluding remarks, which includes the theme verse for the entire Gospel of John

          • John lets us know that Jesus obviously did many other miraculous signs while His disciples were with Him

          • We don’t know how many miraculous signs Jesus did while on earth

          • It’s also probable that He did miraculous signs when His disciples were not with Him

          • John does not record the other miraculous signs

        • John’s witness

          • John records eight miraculous signs in his Gospel

            • Turning the water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana (John 2:1-11)

            • Healing of the nobleman’s son (John 4:46-54)

            • Healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-17)

            • Feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:1-14)

            • Jesus walking on the water (John 6:15-21)

            • Healing the man born blind (John 9:1-12)

            • Death and resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:1-45)

            • Catching of fish (John 21:1-11)

          • These eight miraculous signs, that John records, are for the purpose of helping us to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God

          • When we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, then we can have life in His name

            • The life that John is talking about is eternal life

            • He says it this way in John 3:16-18, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ​​ For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. ​​ Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

            • We are all born in sin, Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned – for before the law was given, sin was in the world. (Romans 5:12-13a)

            • God sent Jesus to take our punishment for sin

              • God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:21)

              • He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Believe in Jesus and receive God’s eternal life.

            • We have to believe without seeing the physical and material proof of Jesus’ resurrected body

            • We have to believe the eye witness accounts that are recorded in the Bible

          • Jesus is pleased when we believe without seeing.

 

  • YOU

    • Are you ready to enthusiastically share the Gospel?

    • Do you need to claim the promise that Jesus is present with you?

    • Are you ready to believe in Jesus without seeing Him and receive eternal life?

 

  • WE

    • Our mission is to pursue, grow, and multiple disciples for Jesus

 

CONCLUSION

“Tim Keller tells the following story about the power of Christ's resurrection:

 

A minister was in Italy, and there he saw the grave of a man who had died centuries before who was an unbeliever and completely against Christianity, but a little afraid of it too. So the man had a huge stone slab put over his grave so he would not have to be raised from the dead in case there is a resurrection from the dead. He had insignias put all over the slab saying, ‘I do not want to be raised from the dead. I don't believe in it.’ Evidently, when he was buried, an acorn must have fallen into the grave. So a hundred years later the acorn had grown up through the grave and split that slab. It was now a tall towering oak tree. The minister looked at it and asked, ‘If an acorn, which has power of biological life in it, can split a slab of that magnitude, what can the acorn of God's resurrection power do in a person's life?’

 

Keller comments:

 

The minute you decide to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, the power of the Holy Spirit comes into your life. It's the power of the resurrection—the same thing that raised Jesus from the dead …. Think of the things you see as immovable slabs in your life—your bitterness, your insecurity, your fears, your self-doubts. Those things can be split and rolled off. The more you know him, the more you grow into the power of the resurrection.”

 

Source: Nancy Guthrie, editor, Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross (Crossway, 2009), p. 136.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2012/march/7032612.html].

12

 

8 Marks Of The Church

The Sanctifying Church

 

INTRODUCTION

Urban Legends

 

“It’s one of Hollywood’s favorite bits of pseudoscience: human beings use only 10 percent of their brain, and awakening the remaining 90 percent—supposedly dormant—allows otherwise ordinary human beings to display extraordinary mental abilities. In Phenomenon (1996), John Travolta gains the ability to predict earthquakes and instantly learns foreign languages. Scarlett Johansson becomes a super powered martial-arts master in Lucy (2014). And in Limitless (2011) Bradley Cooper writes a novel overnight.

 

This ready-made blueprint for fantasy films is also a favorite among the general public. In a survey, 65 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, ‘People only use 10 percent of their brain on a daily basis.’ But the truth is that we use all of our brain all of the time.

 

How do we know? For one thing, if we needed only 10 percent of our brain, the majority of brain injuries would have no discernible consequences, since the damage would affect parts of the brain that weren’t doing anything to begin with. We also know that natural selection discourages the development of useless anatomical structures: early humans who devoted scarce physical resources to growing and maintaining huge amounts of excess brain tissue would have been outcompeted by those who spent those precious resources on things more necessary for survival and reproductive success. Tougher immune systems, stronger muscles, better looking hair—just about anything would be more useful than having a head full of inert tissue.

 

We’ve been able to back up these logical conclusions with hard evidence. Imaging techniques, such as positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), allow doctors and scientists to map brain activity in real time. The data clearly shows that large areas of the brain—far more than 10 percent—are used for all sorts of activity, from seemingly simple tasks like resting or looking at pictures to more complex ones like reading or doing math. Scientists have yet to find an area of the brain that doesn’t do anything.

 

So how did we come to believe that 90 percent of our brain is useless? The myth is often incorrectly attributed to 19th-century psychologist William James, who proposed that most of our mental potential goes untapped. But he never specified a percentage. Albert Einstein—a magnet for misattribution of quotes—has also been held responsible. In reality, the concept most likely came from the American self-help industry. One of the earliest mentions appears in the preface to Dale Carnegie’s 1936 mega best seller, How to Win Friends and Influence People. The idea that we have harnessed only a fraction of our brain’s full potential has been a staple for motivational gurus, New Age hucksters, and uninspired screenwriters ever since.

 

Obviously, this is bad news for anyone hoping to find the secret to becoming a genius overnight. The good news, though, is that hard work still works. There is plenty of reason to believe that you can build brainpower by regularly working at challenging mental tasks, such as playing a musical instrument, doing arithmetic, or reading a novel.”

 

[https://www.britannica.com/story/do-we-really-use-only-10-percent-of-our-brain]

 

I like to play Sudoku and June’s Journey (it is a game where you have to find various objects in a scene. ​​ My favorite video game of all times is Portal, which is a thinking game. ​​ All of those games help to keep my mind sharp. ​​ I hope that I am using more than 10% of my brain when I’m playing those games.

 

There are many common myths about the church that are misguided at best and dangerous at worst

 

BODY

  • Myth

    • You can emphasize personal holiness as much as you want and be a healthy church

    • This myth, if believed, can be dangerous because:

        • It can give someone a false sense of security that they can be truly united together with Jesus without looking increasingly like Him

        • It dilutes and pollutes the church, which God intended to be potent and pure

    • We know this is a myth because Jesus said a clear mark of a healthy church would be a church filled with people who are being conformed more and more into the image of the Son

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD

    • MARK: ​​ The Sanctifying Church

        • The Sanctifying Church and the Teaching of Jesus (John 17:13-19)

          • Background

            • John 17:1-26 has historically been entitled, The High Priestly Prayer

            • Jesus is praying for Himself (17:1-5), His disciples (17:6-19), and for future believers (17:20-26)

            • In the middle of His prayer for the disciples we see His teaching on sanctification and the means by which His disciples and future believers can continue the process of sanctification

          • Means of sanctification

            • Jesus is expressing to the Father that He is coming to Him now

            • He is praying out loud for the benefit of His disciples, so they can have the full measure of His joy within them

            • He gave the disciples God’s Word

              • This brought about hatred by the world

              • Jesus was not asking the Father to take them out of the world, but to protect them from the evil one

              • Paul reminds the Ephesian believers that our struggle is not with human beings, but rather it is against the rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12)

              • Jesus was not praying for isolation, but infiltration

            • Jesus was praying that His disciples would be sanctified in the world

              • We see, that sanctification comes by the truth

              • God’s Word is the truth!!!

              • The Greek word for sanctification means “set apart for sacred use, cleansed and made holy” [NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for John 17:17]

              • Our theme last year was “pursuing holiness”

                • The Spiritual Life Journal focused on various commitments: ​​ holiness in prayer, the Word, service, giving, relationships, the Gospel, and worship

                • The commitments under the heading “Holiness in the Word” were, to read through the Bible with my Idaville Church family in 2021 and memorize one verse a month with my Idaville Church family in 2021

              • “A follower of Christ becomes sanctified (set apart for sacred use, cleansed and made holy) through believing and obeying the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12). ​​ He or she has already accepted forgiveness through Christ’s sacrificial death (Hebrews 7:26, 27). ​​ But daily application of God’s Word has a purifying effect on our minds and hearts. ​​ Scripture points out sin, motivates us to confess, renews our relationship with Christ, and guides us back to the right path.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for John 17:17]

              • Hebrews 4:12, For the word of God is living and active. ​​ Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

              • “The Greek word for sanctify is hagiazo, which means ‘to set apart for God’s use.’ As Bruce points out:

                This involves their consecration for the task now entrusted to them; it involves further their inward purification and endowment with all the spiritual resources necessary for carrying out that task. This purification and endowment are the work of the Spirit, but here Jesus declares the instrument of that work to be ‘the truth’—the truth embodied in the Father’s ‘word’ which Jesus had given to the disciples as he himself had received it from the Father (vv. 8, 14). The very message which they are to proclaim in his name will exercise its sanctifying effect on them: that message is the continuation of his message, just as their mission in the world is the extension of his mission (Bruce, p. 334).”

                [Kenneth O. Gangel,
                John, ed. Max Anders, vol. 4 of Holman New Testament Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2000), 317.]

              • Bruce is talking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ being proclaimed to all nations

              • It also includes teaching the nations to obey everything Jesus had commanded them from the Father (Matt. 28:20)

            • Jesus sanctified Himself, so that His followers could also be truly sanctified

          • “God’s truth has been given to us in three ‘editions’: His Word is truth (John 17:17); His Son is the truth (John 14:6); and His Spirit is the truth (1 John 5:6). We need all three if we are to experience true sanctification, a sanctification that touches every part of our inner person. With the mind, we learn God’s truth through the Word. With the heart, we love God’s truth, His Son. With the will, we yield to the Spirit and live God’s truth day by day. It takes all three for a balanced experience of sanctification.” ​​ [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Transformed, BE Series Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2010), 98.]

          • Jesus’ teaching helps us understand that sanctification comes from truth, which is found in God’s Word, the Bible

        • The Sanctifying Church and the Teaching of the Early Church (Acts 5:1-11)

          • Sin in the church

            • We know from this passage that lying was the sin that Ananias and Sapphira were judged on

              • They had lied to God

              • They had lied to God’s people

              • “George MacDonald wrote, ‘Half of the misery in the world comes from trying to look, instead of trying to be, what one is not.’” [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Dynamic, BE Series Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2010), 78.]

              • “They build the front just like St. Mark’s,
                Or like Westminster Abbey;
                And then, as if to cheat the Lord,
                They make the back parts shabby.” [Wiersbe, 78]

            • Realities

              • The property was theirs to do with what they wanted

              • They were not required to give all of the proceeds from the sale of the property to the church

              • But, they were required to be honest about their giving

              • If we look back at Acts 4, we better understand their desire to make it appear as though they had given the total amount of the sale of the property to the church

              • Acts 4:36-37, Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

              • Joseph was not the only one who had done this, for from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need (Acts 4:34-35)

              • My guess is that pride was also a contributing factor in Ananias and Sapphira’s deception

              • They wanted to be counted with those who were giving sacrificially to the church

            • The result of their deception was death

          • Sanctification in the church

            • Why was their lie judged so harshly?

              • First, the Lord was establishing His church through the disciples and He wanted it to be holy and sanctified

              • “This act was judged harshly because dishonesty, greed, and covetousness are destructive in a church, preventing the Holy Spirit from working effectively. ​​ All lying is bad, but when we lie to try to deceive God and his people about our relationship with him, we destroy our testimony about Christ.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for Acts 5:3]

              • This was not the first time that the Lord judged harshly

                • “It is worth noting that the Lord judges sin severely at the beginning of a new period in salvation history. Just after the tabernacle was erected, God killed Nadab and Abihu for trying to present “false fire” to the Lord (Lev. 10). He also had Achan killed for disobeying orders after Israel had entered the Promised Land (Josh. 7). While God was certainly not responsible for their sins, He did use these judgments as warnings to the people, and even to us (1 Cor. 10:11–12).” [Wiersbe, 79]

                • When the Lord was establishing new things, He wanted them to be established correctly, with integrity and honesty

              • Paul shares warnings from Israel’s history with the Corinthian believers before he says, These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. ​​ So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! (1 Cor. 10:11-12)

              • We all have the capacity to deceive and lie, not only to other human beings, but also to the Lord

            • The result

              • After Ananias’ death we read, and great fear seized all who heard what had happened (Acts 5:5)

              • After Sapphira’s death Luke writes, great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events (Acts 5:11)

              • This was the correct response – reverence – to God’s righteous judgement on Ananias and Sapphira

              • The church needed to not only emphasize sanctification, but they needed to practice it

          • God takes sanctification and holiness seriously, and so should we

          • But what do the apostles have to say about sanctification?

        • The Sanctifying Church and the Teaching of the Apostles (Romans 8:28-30; 1 John 3:1-6)

          • Roman 8:28-30

            • The primary thought from these verses is, conforming to the likeness of his Son

            • Sanctification is just that, becoming more like Jesus in our attitudes, thoughts, speech, and behaviors

            • “God’s ultimate goal for us is to make us like Christ (1 John 3:2). ​​ As we become more and more like him, we discover our true selves, the persons we were created to be. ​​ How can we be conformed to Christ’s likeness? ​​ By reading and heeding the Word, by studying his life on earth through the Gospels, by being filled with his Spirit, and by doing his work in the world.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for Romans 8:29]

            • Notice that the way to sanctification is again pointing us to God’s Word – it is where truth is found

            • But it also includes being filled with the Holy Spirit and doing His work in the world

          • 1 John 3:1-6

            • Wiersbe outlines vv. 1-3 very well [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Real, BE Series Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2010), 107.]

              • What we are – children of God (v. 1)

              • What we shall be – like Christ with a glorified body ready for heaven (v. 2)

              • What we should be – purified, holy, sanctified (v. 3)

            • “For a child of God to sin indicates that he does not understand or appreciate what Jesus did for him on the cross.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 108-109.]

            • “One of our resources, then, for living a more holy lifestyle is pondering and meditating upon who Jesus is, who we have become in him, and what our life is likely to be when we see him.” [Max Anders, I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude, ed. Max Anders, vol. 11 of Holman New Testament Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 1999), 190.]

            • As followers of Jesus Christ, we still sin sometimes

              • What John is referring to is willful, continual, habitual sin

              • “An unbeliever who sins is a creature sinning against his Creator. A Christian who sins is a child sinning against his Father. The unbeliever sins against law; the believer sins against love.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 108]

              • We are not trying to deliberately disobey God, grieve the Holy Spirit, or take lightly Jesus’ sacrifice

              • We understand the importance of revering God

              • If we continue to sin, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, then we don’t truly understand or appreciate Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross [Wiersbe, 108-109]

            • Jesus came to take away our sin

              • The sacrificial system required a perfect lamb to be sacrificed in order to cover over their sins

              • Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)

              • His perfect sacrifice did not cover over our sins, but took them away

            • Abiding in Christ

              • The key to not sinning is found in “living in Christ”

              • “To abide in Christ means to be in fellowship with Him, to allow nothing to come between ourselves and Christ. . . . It is this communion (abiding) with Christ that keeps us from deliberately disobeying His Word.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 110]

              • “Biblical terminology does not say that a Christian has two different natures. He has but one nature, the new nature in Christ. The old self dies and the new self lives; they do not coexist … The Christian is a single new person, a totally new creation, not a spiritual schizophrenic. It is the filthy coat of remaining humanness in which the new creation dwells that continues to hinder and contaminate his living. He is no longer the old man corrupted, but is now the new man created in righteousness and holiness, awaiting full salvation (Rom. 13:11) when he dies and is given a new body (p. 164).” ​​ [John MacArthur cited by Anders, 192-193]

          • The Apostles want us to understand that becoming more like Jesus takes reading and heeding God’s Word, being filled with the Holy Spirit, pondering and meditating on who Jesus is and who we have become in Him, and abiding in Christ.

        • We not only see this mark proclaimed to us through teaching, but also through a picture

    • METAPHOR: ​​ A Holy Nation (1 Peter 2:9-12)

        • Who we are, in Christ

          • Chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation, God’s own possession, people of God, recipients of God’s mercy

          • The holy nation represents a nation that is pursuing sanctification

          • The reason is so we can proclaim the excellencies of God

        • Who we used to be, prior to Christ

          • Not a people

          • Not recipients of God’s mercy

        • What we should do as a result of following Christ

          • Negative

            • Abstain from fleshly lusts

            • “Sinful desires” is best understood as “strong desires motivated by selfishness.” ​​ [Anders, 1999]

          • Positive

            • Keep your behavior excellent/live such good lives/practice good deeds

            • Accusations [Anders, 1999]

              • Christians were accused of being disloyal to Caesar

              • They were accused of hurting local businesses, because they spoke against idol worship

              • Speaking against idol worship got them labeled as being godless

            • Peter is encouraging the believers to show the Gentiles, through their changed/sanctified/holy lives, that the accusations are not true or valid

          • The result of living this holy, sanctified life would be that the Gentiles would glorify God when Christ returns

        • So, how does this apply to our lives?

    • APPLICATION (how will we know if this mark of The Church marks Our Church?)

        • We will see evidence of God’s supernatural work in our lives (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

          • Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. ​​ Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass (NASB1995)

          • The work of sanctification is the work of God in our lives as we submit to Him

        • We will see evidence of God’s sustaining work in our lives (Philippians 1:6)

          • For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (NASB1995)

          • The perfecting work in us is God’s sanctifying work – making us more like Jesus

        • We will see evidence of our part in the sustaining work of God in our lives (Philippians 2:12-13)

          • So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (NASB1995)

          • The working out of our salvation is again the process of sanctification

        • We will see evidence that we are being sanctified by time in Scripture (John 17:17)

          • Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth (NASB1995)

          • This takes us back to what we learned about sanctification from Jesus, the early church, and the apostles

        • We will see evidence that we are being sanctified through timeless obedience (Titus 2:11-15)

          • For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. ​​ These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. ​​ Let no one disregard you (NASB1995)

          • Obedience over the long haul – denying ungodliness and worldly desires, living sensibly, righteously and godly, and looking for Jesus second coming

        • Our desire is to have a church filled with people who are being conformed more and more into the image of the Son (Jesus)

 

  • YOU

    • Idaville Member Survey from RESTOR Renewal Ministries

        • There was one of the five survey questions that was in the top ten of least difficult for us as a church

          • “I can confidently say that being part of our church has deepened my desire to be more like Christ.” ​​ (7 out of 10).

            • This is encouraging!

            • I am excited that most of us have a deepened desire to be more like Christ

            • Notice that the primary word in the sentence is desire

          • I think the next question helps us understand that while we have a deepened desire, we don’t really know how to act on that desire

        • One of the remaining four questions was in the top 10 of most difficult for us

          • “The people in our church understand what ‘sanctification’ means and the means God uses to sanctify us as Christians.” ​​ (4 out of 10)

            • I hope everyone of us can now define sanctification – becoming more like Jesus Christ

            • I also hope that we now know the means that God uses to sanctify us

              • Jesus taught us that sanctification comes from the truth, which is found in God’s Word the Bible

              • The teaching of the early church helped us understand that God is serious about sanctification and holiness in His church

              • The Apostles teaching helped us to understand that becoming more like Jesus takes reading and heeding God’s Word, being filled with the Holy Spirit, pondering and meditating on who Jesus is and who we have become in Him, and abiding in Christ

            • Spiritual Life Journal

              • There are two commitments in the Spiritual Life Journal that apply to God’s Word

                • “I am committed to read through the Bible with my Idaville Church family in 2022.”

                • “I am committed to memorizing one verse a month with my Idaville Church family in 2022.”

                • I would encourage everyone to make those two commitments

                • The daily Bible reading guide is close to the back of the journal and the monthly memory verses are in the very back

                • I want to encourage you to take it two steps further

                  • After reading the daily Bible passage, journal what God is saying to you through His Word

                  • Share what God is teaching you with another person

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to reading through the Bible, journaling, and sharing what God is teaching me with others.

          • Where did the remaining three questions fall?

        • The three remaining questions all fell in the middle

          • “Our church has helped me to make a plan for my own personal sanctification.”

            • I do not know that we have helped each person make a personal plan for their own sanctification

            • We have definitely provided resources for you in the Spiritual Life Journal

            • Pastor Marc and I would love to meet with you, if you would like to develop a plan for your own personal sanctification

            • The initiative has to be on your part, otherwise it will not last

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Set up an appointment with Pastor Stuart or Pastor Marc to discuss my personal sanctification plan.

          • “It’s clear that the leaders in our church are consistently growing in their Christ-likeness.”

            • I trust that this will be more evident as we all pursue becoming more like Christ

          • “Our church consistently teaches on and encourages personal and corporate sanctification.”

            • As holiness and sanctification come up the various passages of Scripture that we are studying, I will make an concerted effort to highlight sanctification and encourage everyone to seek to become more like Christ

            • Our theme last year was “Pursuing Holiness”

            • We want to continue to do that even this year and beyond

 

  • WE

    • Vision

        • Core Values

          • “Our leadership strives to be led more by Jesus, to lead more like Jesus, so we can lead more to Jesus.”

        • Growth Strategy

          • Three+ Uniques – “Preaching and teaching God’s Word.”

            • Through the weekly exposition of God’s Word, we all have the opportunity to learn more about Jesus and who we have become in Him

            • We can learn about abiding in Him and how to do that

          • Proven Process – “Sunday school and Discipleship groups.”

            • Sunday school and discipleship groups are an great way to learn the truths of God’s Word

            • When we learn the truths of God’s Word then we can become more like Jesus

    • Traction

        • “Have a 10% increase in the number of people attending Sunday school and/or discipleship groups.”

        • “Have a 10% increase in the pursuit of holiness as evidenced through salvations, baptisms, and accountability.”

 

CONCLUSION

The altar is open this morning with members of our prayer team. ​​ You can come forward today and kneel at the altar or pray with one of team members about anything. ​​ It may be about something the Holy Spirit has spoken to you about through God’s Word. ​​ It may be something you are dealing with personally. ​​ You come as the worship team plays quietly and then leads us in the closing song.

11

 

MARK 3: THE SCRIPTURE KEEPING CHURCH

This morning we are continuing our sermon series on the 8 Marks of the Church. So far we have looked at the Spirit-filled Church and the Son-confessing Church. This morning we will be looking at the Scripture-keeping Church. Each week we have started with a myth about the church. The first two myths have been perpetuated by people who want to take the power away from the Holy Spirit and who want to reduce Jesus to just another good person or as C. S. Lewis put it to make Jesus out to be a “liar or a lunatic.” Our myth this morning is perpetuated by people who want you to believe that the Bible, the Word of God, is just another book. This is because they don’t want to live under its authority or ultimately under God’s authority. These myths about the church are misguided, dangerous or both which is why we need to be on guard in the church and be reminded of the truth.

The myth or urban legend I am going to recount to you this morning is from the 1970’s. It is the death of Life cereal spokesperson Mikey. Some of you might remember him. This new cereal was being introduced that was supposed to be “good for you.” These two brothers aren’t going to try it so they put it in front of their younger brother, Mikey. Mikey is the kid who hates everything so they believe there’s no way he will like it. But of course he does to their shock. The following comes from an August 19, 2021 article by Jake Rossen about the origins of urban legends. “In the 1970’s Mikey, the star of the Life cereal commercials was a big hit. At some point, word spread that Mikey had succumbed to a dangerous combination of soda and the effervescent candy Pop Rocks. The rumor grew so widespread that in 1979 the mother of child actor John Gilchrist, who played Mikey, got a condolence call from a stranger. The story likely stemmed from schoolyard discussions about Pop Rocks, which were fizzy carbonated candy, and how eating them seemed dangerous. It wasn’t, but the story was so widely believed that it seriously damaged sales of the candy. General Foods, which owned Pop Rocks, even begged John Gilchrist’s parents to let him film a commercial letting people know he was still alive, but they refused. The grisly story continued for years and all the negative publicity forced General Foods to discontinue Pop Rocks soon after. They have made a comeback, however, in case you’d like to test this theory out for yourself.” This myth was misguided but it’s interesting in showing how rumors spread and can cause harm. This morning’s myth about the church falls under the dangerous category. The myth we will talk about and study today is that “You can believe what you want about the Bible and be a healthy church.”

This is a dangerous myth because if you can put doubt in someone’s mind about even the smallest thing in God’s Word, you can cause people to not believe the bigger doctrinal truths found in there as well. This undermines not only God’s authority, but the deity of Christ, his work on the cross, sin, salvation and so much more. God’s Word points us to our creator who loved us and sent his son, Jesus, to die on a cross for our sins. It tells us how we are to live on this earth and how we can have eternal life. If you don’t believe the Bible is truth you will not believe that what Jesus came to earth to do is true and that he is the way, the truth and the life, and now your salvation is in jeopardy. It is definitely b slippery slope. Before we begin to dive into our scripture this morning, let’s pray: Heavenly Father, as we look into your Word this morning, open our hearts and minds to your Holy Spirit. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear your truth and help us to use your Word as a light for our path as we navigate our lives in this world we live in. Amen.

Our first point this morning is the Scripture Keeping Church and the Teaching of Jesus, found in John 14:21, 23-24. This is what God’s Word says, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

I want to take a minute and remind you of what God’s Word says about itself. God’s Word is truth, it is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword. God’s Word is a lamp and a light. It is God-breathed and eternal. It is successful in that it will accomplish God’s purposes no matter what, it will not come back void. God’s Word is able to save our souls and can keep us from sin. It cleanses us and will keep our way pure. God’s Word is inerrant and infallible. That is God’s Word. Just because someone doesn’t believe these things about the Bible, doesn’t mean it is anything less than these things. It is still God’s perfect Word given to us to show us what he is like, to show us how to live life on this earth in obedience to him and to point us to the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ. But we have a problem and it’s not a new problem. The problem is that people take the parts of the Bible they disagree with and say it’s ok to not believe this or that all the while still calling themselves Christians and claiming to be in a relationship with Jesus. There are non-negotiable doctrines in God’s Word that must be believed in order to call yourself a Christian. It wouldn’t make sense otherwise. But there are also non-doctrinal things in the Bible that on the face of it you might say “it’s no big deal if I don’t believe this or that.” Believing whatever we want about the Bible is dangerous for numerous reasons concerning our faith and once we decide to not believe one thing here or there it will be easy to not believe more and more as time goes on.

In our scripture Jesus said that those who “has” and “keeps” his commands is the one who loves him. Where do we find the commands of Jesus? In God’s Word. To “have” the commands of Jesus means to make them your own, to take them into your heart, mind and soul. To “keep” his commands means to obey them. It means to live them out in our daily lives. It is more than just having a head knowledge of God’s Word. It goes deeper than that. It should go down to our hearts and to our very souls. To use a sports metaphor: we need to eat, sleep and breath God’s Word. Every ounce of our being, every single second of every day, should be in obedience to every word in the Bible. We can’t pick and choose what we want to believe or not believe. The mark of true love, the mark of a true Christian and the mark of a healthy church is obedience to the entirety of God’s Word. If we love Jesus we will prove it by keeping his Word. Not just keeping it the way we want to keep it, not just believing the parts we want to believe, but believing it as the inerrant, infallible Word of God, not adding to or subtracting from it. The person who believes in the Word of God this way will be loved by the Father and the Father and the Son will make their permanent abode or dwelling in them. If we believe the Word of God in these ways we will experience the immediate presence of God.

Jesus follows up with telling us one of the reasons it’s dangerous to believe what you want about God’s Word. Those who do not believe in and obey God’s Word prove that they do not love Jesus. Our love for God and Jesus is shown through our obedience to his commands and teachings found in the Bible. We can’t have it both ways. We can’t consider ourselves a Christian and pick and choose what we want to believe about the Bible. We can’t be a healthy church and believe what we want about the Bible. The marks of a healthy church is believing what the Bible says and showing our love for Jesus and the Father by being obedient to everything it says. It is important that we mention both Jesus and the Father because the words found in the Bible are not only Jesus’ words but the Father’s as well. There is no higher authority. But isn’t it interesting that we want to be the highest authority so we only believe what we want about the Word of God and change it to fit what we believe.

 

Our second point is the Scripture Keeping Church and the Teaching of The Early Church found in Acts 2:42. This is what God’s Word says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” This verse tells about another mark of a healthy church. A healthy Church in the first century and today is marked by the Apostle’s teaching. Acts chapter 2 tells us of the story of Pentecost where the Holy Spirit came as tongues of fire and rested on the disciples, filling them and allowing them to speak in tongues. Peter then stands up and links the OT texts with the ministry of Jesus and Acts 2:41 says that three thousand were converted that day. This was the power of Jesus’ teaching passed down through the disciples to the people. This was the apostle’s teaching which was everything Jesus told his disciples while he was on the earth. God told Jesus, Jesus told his disciples and they told the rest of the world. The apostles’ teaching was authoritative because it was the teaching of the Lord communicated through them. This teaching would take the written form of the NT scriptures that we have today. The Christian Church is most readily recognizable in those churches which have continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching from the First Century until present day and that includes Idaville Church.

 

Barclay says, “It was a learning church. The word teaching or doctrine in verse 42 is not passive it is active. The phrase means they persisted in listening to the apostles as they taught.” Christianity is not a static relationship but an active relationship in pursuit of God and Jesus more and more each day. It is not being content with sitting idly by but learning from and obeying God’s Word daily. We can’t know God’s Word without reading and studying it, we can’t obey God Word without reading and studying it and we can’t believe God’s Word without reading and studying it. The mark of a healthy church is knowing God’s Word, obeying God’s Word and believing God’s Word entirely from cover to cover.

 

I like what Weirsbe says, “The three thousand converts needed instruction in the Word and fellowship with God’s people if they were going to grow and become effective witnesses. The early church did more than make converts; they also made disciples.” They were in line with the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20 which says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (there it is) And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Our mission statement – Pursue, Grow and Multiply Disciples – embodies this. This is what Idaville Church is about. This is our DNA. If we are going to be a healthy church we must make disciples who also make disciples and this is done through teaching what the Bible says and teaching obedience to everything the Bible says.

 

Our third point this morning is the Scripture Keeping Church and the Teaching of The Apostles. We will see this in the teaching of Paul the Apostle found in 2 Timothy 3:16. This is what God’s Word says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.What does it mean that scripture is “God-breathed?” It means that the power of God’s Word to change a person’s heart and bring about obedience to its teachings is because the Bible originates with God. God is the final authority on all things and because of that the Bible is true and dependable. The doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture is vitally important to the Christian faith. Satan has been attacking it since the beginning. Is it any surprise that people try to prove that God did not create the heavens and the earth as Genesis 1:1 says? Or that people question and disregard the commands and teachings of Jesus in the Bible? The world does not want to accept that God has complete and final authority over every aspect of their lives. The Holy Spirit used men like Moses, David, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Peter and Paul to write the word of God. God prepared them for that task. This supernatural influence on the writers guaranteed that what they wrote down was accurate and trustworthy.

 

Paul goes on to tell us that this God-breathed, inspiration is profitable or useful for four things. The first is for teaching or instruction. When we teach the Word of God we are instructing others about what it says and how it can be applied to our lives. The Word of God is our guidebook for life and our code of conduct for the Christian life. If something happens in your life or you have a question about life you can be assured that you can find the answers in the Bible. It can instruct you in your daily lives if you allow it to. The second and third are “rebuking” and “correcting.” This is the disciplinary authority of Scripture given to us and the church. God’s Word commands us not only about church discipline but is also our guidebook in implementing church discipline. Because the Bible is God-breathed inspiration and because it reveals the truth it exercises authority over those who disobey it and sin against it. “Rebuking” is pointing out sin and confronting disobedience. “Correcting” is the gracious, loving yet firm way we are to guide an individual back into obedience. We definitely don’t do this well in the church today. I think we have forgotten the concept of reconciliation that the Bible talks about. Neither side is gracious, loving or repentant and that makes it difficult for reconciliation to take place in the church.

 

The fourth thing God’s Word is useful for is “training in righteousness.” God’s Word shows us how to conduct our lives, how to be holy, and how to mature in our faith becoming more like Christ. I like how our churches themes of unity, holiness and love for one another fit so well here. It’s because they are biblical. Jesus commands his people to be unified, holy and loving towards one another. Weirsbe sums up these four useful things about God’s Word, in this way: “They are profitable for doctrine (or teaching) which is “what is right”, for reproof (or rebuking) which is “what is not right”, for correction which is “how to get right” and for instruction (or training) in righteousness which is “how to stay right”. A Christian who studies the Bible and applies what he learns will grow in holiness and avoid many pitfalls in this world.” If we, at Idaville Church, are going to be a church that believes the truth about the Bible that means we will use God’s Word in our lives and in our church in these four ways.

 

Lastly, we also see this mark through the picture or metaphor of the Pillar and Buttress of Truth found in 1 Timothy 3:14-15. This is what God’s Word says, “Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” Pillars and buttresses are elements of architectural genius, used to uphold the most meaningful and valuable structures. Without these features certain buildings would not be able to hold their weight and would fall over. In a similar way, the Bible is the genius of God, because it upholds the truth about Him and His Gospel. I truly believe that if the Bible was not the God-breathed inspiration that Jesus, the early church and the apostle’s claimed it to be then we would not be sitting here 2000 years later still believing, teaching and obeying it like we are. The Bible would have passed away centuries ago as would have our faith.

 

Timothy would have understood Paul’s architectural metaphor. He would only have had to look as far as the Temple of Diana in Ephesus (picture) which had 127 pillars. A buttress suggests a strong foundation that would keep a structure from falling over or being swept away.

 

The foundation of the church is Jesus Christ and the church is the pillar and foundation of the truth. The pillar aspect of the church relates primarily to displaying the truth of God’s Word so that all can see it. It reminds us of a statue up on a pedestal. We are to put Jesus on display in our lives so that people are pointed to Jesus and not away from Him nor to ourselves. So a question for you this morning: “when people look at you, who do they see? Do they see Jesus? Or do they see something or someone else? Being the foundation of the truth means that the church protects the truth and makes sure it doesn’t fall. When we as a church turn away from the truth by not believing in and obeying God’s Word we compromise our ministry and mission and Satan gains a foothold against us and in the world. When we don’t obey the truths and commands of God’s Word the world calls Christians “hypocrites” and the Great Commission to pursue, grow and multiply disciples is stymied.

 

We must make a stand against sin and apostasy. Apostasy is the act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith. Where have we heard that before? Every month or so we are hearing of another person who no longer calls themselves a Christian, who no longer believes the truth found in God’s Word and is not obeying those truths anymore. I for one am glad that the truth of God’s Word is not diminished just because people decide to not follow it, obey it or recognize it as truth. We as Christians and as the church, need to believe in and obey the Word of God because by doing so we uphold the truth about God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is what the world needs to hear, know and accept and that is what we are commanded to proclaim and live out. We must proclaim and live out the Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God. That is a mark of a healthy church and that’s what I want Idaville Church to be and I hope you do too.

 

How does this apply to us? How will we know if this mark of The Church marks Idaville Church? First, we will want to hear the Bible being preached and taught. Romans 10:17 says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Do you come excited on a Sunday morning to hear God’s Word taught in Sunday school and during worship? Next, we will want to read the Bible. Revelation 1:3 says, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Do you spend time daily in God’s Word and then obediently live it out? In the Spiritual Life Journal, there is a “read the Bible in a year” guide. I would encourage you to pick one up if you haven’t (you can find them in the foyer where you pick up your bulletin) and use it to start reading through God’s Word. Next, we will want to study the Bible. Acts 17:11 says, “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Do you study God’s Word for yourself? You need to. Please do not take Pastor Stuart’s or my word or your Sunday school teacher’s word for everything you hear. If there is something we say that doesn’t make sense or doesn’t come from scripture come talk to us, ask us about it. I would welcome that. I would welcome to study the scriptures with each one of you.

 

Next, we will want to memorize the Bible. Psalm 119:9-11 says, “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” In the Spiritual Life Journal, you will also find our monthly memory verses that we recite each Sunday. I would encourage you to memorize those scriptures along with us. Next, we will want to meditate on the Bible. Psalm 1:2-3 says, “but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” Reading, memorizing and meditating on God’s Word are important ways we can know God’s Word which brings us to the next one which we will want to obey the Bible. 1 John 5:3 says, In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” When we eat, drink and sleep God’s Word we fall in love with God’s Word and with God and Jesus and we will want to obey God’s Word. Finally, we will want to emphasize Jesus as the hero of the Bible. John 5:39 says, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.” One of the main reasons we can’t diminish the Bible is because when we do it diminishes Jesus and that is something we just can’t do.

 

Our desire as a body of believers and as leaders of Idaville Church is to have a church filled with people who believe in and obey the Bible completely. Again, it is exciting to see that from the surveys you filled out from Restor Renewal Ministries, that 3 of the 5 questions from the Scripture-keeping section were in the top 10 of the least difficult for us as a church and another one was in the top 15 of the least difficult. Let me read those four questions to you. The least difficult of the Scripture-keeping questions was “I believe the leaders in our church look to the Bible as the highest authority in our church, and lead our church in ways that are consistent with the truth revealed in it.” The next least difficult was “I consistently hear things from Scripture in Sunday sermons and other teaching venues that I desire to apply to my daily life.” They were four and five of ten respectively. The tenth least difficult was “our church regularly encourages me to read and study the Bible on my own and with other Christians.” And the fourteenth least difficult was “the people in our church have the highest view of Scripture, and believe it to be the inspired and inerrant Word of God.” These are the things we believe and embrace as a church and as a body of believers. Now the last question in that section scored as the fifteenth most difficult for us as a church. That question was “our church encourages and provides opportunities for accountability in living out the things we are learning together as a church through scripture.” So this tells us that the people of Idaville Church are interested in being held accountable to living out the things we are learning together as a church through scripture. That’s awesome. There are some ways that already happens: participating in Sunday school and or a small group are ways that you can be held accountable to living out what you are learning. When you are in Sunday school and or a small group and participating there is an accountability that naturally happens. Another way is to find another Christian and become an accountability partner with them. These all take intentionality. You must be intentional about being in and participating in Sunday school and or a small group. You must be intentional about finding another Christian to become an accountability partner with. Intentionality is important because without it, it will probably never happen.

 

At our dream retreat at the end of last year we set some quarterly goals that have to do with the things we are talking today. The first is we would like to see a 10% increase in the number of people attending Sunday school and or discipleship groups. That brings us to the first next step on the back of your communication card: To be intentional about joining and participating in a Sunday school class or discipleship group. There are still three weeks left of our Genesis study on Wednesday evenings that you can participate in. And we are getting ready to start a Men’s Discipleship group in February and hopefully a Women’s/Girl’s Discipleship group by the Spring. These are great opportunities to be intentional about being accountable to living out the things we are learning together as a church through scripture. If you are interested in learning more about Sunday school or the different discipleship opportunities we currently have or that are coming up, just make a note on your communication card, and I will contact you.

 

The second is we want to see a 10% increase in the pursuit of holiness through salvations, baptisms and accountability. Another opportunity for accountability is by participating in the commitments found in the Spiritual Life Journal. I earlier highlighted the “read through the Bible in a year” plan and the “monthly memory verses” found in there. I would love to be an accountability partner with everyone here. It would be a two-way street as I want to be held accountable as well. Also, this accountability is about encouragement not judgment. In 2021, there were seven or eight people in our congregation that I was in an accountability relationship with. If you would like to talk to one of them about their experience just let me know and I will put you in contact with them. Also, it doesn’t have to be with me. You can be in an accountability relationship with another Christian. It doesn’t even have to be with someone from Idaville Church. But we would at least love to know that you are in one because we feel that it is important as we continue to pursue holiness as a church body. That brings us to the second next step: to be held accountable to one or mor of the commitments found in the Spiritual Life Journal. If you would like to learn more about being in an accountability relationship, just make a note to that effect on your communication card and I will get in contact with you.

 

As I close this morning I want to highlight one of core values that you see on the front of your bulletin which is “we live, model and share the importance of being biblically grounded.” If we are going to be biblically grounded as a Church, as a body of believers, we need to know, obey and believe God’s Word and the only way we can accomplish this is by reading and studying God’s Word for ourselves and with other believers. That brings us to the last next step which is “to know, obey and believe God’s Word by reading and studying it myself and with other believers.” These marks of a healthy church and the next steps take intentionality and I pray that you will allow the Holy Spirit to guide you as you prayerfully consider them.

 

As the praise team comes to lead us in a final song, let’s pray: Lord God, we thank you for your holy, inspired and God-breathed Word given to us. Let us not neglect its reading, its studying, its memorizing etc. Help us to grow more each day in knowledge and obedience to it. Do not let us believe what we want about it but through reading and study help us to understand and believe exactly what you intended it to say. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  ​​ ​​ ​​​​ 

 

8 Marks Of The Church

The Son Confessing Church

 

INTRODUCTION

Urban Legends

 

The 999 phone charging myth is an urban legend, which claims that calling the police and fire services, then hanging up, charges mobile phone batteries.[1]

 

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_urban_legends]

 

There are many common myths about the church that are misguided at best and dangerous at worst

 

BODY

  • Myth

    • You can believe what you want about Jesus and be a healthy church

    • This myth, if believed, can be dangerous because:

        • It can cause people to think they know Jesus when they really know “another Jesus” that’s not really Him

        • It can cause a church to be schizophrenic at best and apostate at worst when it comes to Jesus.

    • We know this is a myth because Jesus said a clear mark of a healthy church would be a church filled with people who confess correct things about His nature and character

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD

    • MARK: ​​ The Son Confessing Church

        • The Son Confessing Church and the Teaching of Jesus (John 10:37-39)

          • Background

            • Jesus has been teaching at the Temple area during the Feast of Dedication

            • The Jews gather around Jesus and ask Him a question and make a statement

              • “How long will you keep us in suspense?”

              • “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

            • Jesus’ response is that He had already told them, but they didn’t believe

            • The miracles He does in His Father’s name speak for Him

            • They did not believe Him, because they were not His sheep

            • Jesus then makes His confession and pleads with the Jews to believe

          • Just believe (vv. 37-39)

            • I wish we could have heard Jesus’ tone of voice at this point, because my guess is that His tone was one of pleading with the Jews to believe

            • Challenge

              • Don’t believe me

                • If I don’t do what my Father does, then don’t believe in Me

                • This would certainly be an indication that Jesus was not from God

                • He would have been a false prophet or teacher trying to direct them away from God

                • So, they obviously shouldn’t believe in Him or follow Him

              • Believe the miracles

                • While Jesus doesn’t say it directly here, He is saying to them, “Even though you don’t believe my words, believe the works (miracles) from the Father

                • “Jesus’ works were the window into his words.” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 344]

                • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s people recognize His Son through His miracles.

                • If you believe the miracles from the Father, you will understand that the Father is in me, and I’m in the Father

                  • “Interestingly, coming to understand is presented as the result, rather than condition, of believing.” ​​ [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 317]

                  • Sometimes we have to take the step of faith without having all of our questions answered and then we will be able to understand that Jesus’ works prove His words

                • PRINCIPLE #2– Jesus and God are One!

              • Even though Jesus is pleading with the Jews to believe in Him, they aren’t quite ready to take that step yet

            • Reaction of the Jews

              • They try to seize Jesus, either to stone Him or to arrest Him

              • Jesus escapes their grasp, because it’s still not God’s timing for Him to be put on trial and killed

          • Jesus was confessing that He is the Son of God that the Father is in Him, and He is in the Father – Jesus and God are One!

          • Jesus confessed His deity and exclusive claims about Himself

        • The Son Confessing Church and the Teaching of the Early Church (Acts 2:24-36)

          • Background

            • We saw last that Acts 2 retells the events that happened during Pentecost in Jerusalem

            • We know that the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles in power and enabled them to share the Gospel in the various languages of the people who had gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks

          • Peter explains Jesus’ resurrection (vv. 24-32)

            • Peter is confessing Jesus’ resurrection, to the people gathered in Jerusalem

            • Jesus is alive!

            • He is the only person who died, was buried, came alive again, and is still alive today

            • The fact that He is still alive today sets Him apart from every other prophet, teacher, human being, or god

            • Peter explains that David, as a prophet, has died and was buried and his tomb is still there to this day

            • Peter and the other Apostles were witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection

          • Peter explains Jesus’ ascension and current position (vv. 33-36)

            • He is exalted to the right hand of God.

            • Footstool – this was a practice in the Orient where the conqueror would put his foot on the neck of the conquered.

            • God made Jesus both Lord, kü-rē-os, meaning he to whom a person or thing belongs; and Christ, khrē-sto’s, meaning anointed.

            • Peter is confessing the deity of Jesus Christ

          • The teaching of the early church is that Jesus was resurrected by the power of God and is still alive today and that God has made Him Lord and Christ (deity)

        • The Son Confessing Church and the Teaching of the Apostles (1 John 4:2-3; Philippians 2:5-11)

          • Teaching of the Apostle John (1 John 4:2-3)

            • John is helping believers everywhere to know how to discern whether a spirit is from God or not

            • Every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ is from God

            • Here we see that the confession or acknowledgement is that Jesus came in the flesh

            • This speaks of Jesus’ humanity

            • John mentions it again in his second letter, Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. ​​ Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. (2 John 7)

          • Teaching of the Apostle Paul (Philippians 2:5-11)

            • Paul teaches us that Jesus is God (deity)

              • Being in very nature God (v. 6)

              • Jesus Christ is Lord (v. 11)

            • He also teaches us that Jesus was human (vv. 7-8)

            • We also learn about Jesus’ substitutionary death (v. 8)

          • The Apostles’ confession is that Jesus is both God and man and that He died on a cross to take our punishment for sin

        • We have the teachings of Jesus, the early church, and the Apostles about this mark, but we also have a picture found in Revelation

    • METAPHOR: ​​ The Bride of Christ (Revelation 19:6-10)

        • This is the end of human history – the hope of every believer

          • Jesus is the Lamb, the Bridegroom

          • His disciples are His bride

          • The hope of every follower of Jesus Christ is to be invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!

        • “As the Bridegroom, Jesus has confessed His love for us and union with us, and as the Bride, we likewise confess our love for Him and union with Him. ​​ He has intimate knowledge of us – who we really are, and we have intimate knowledge of Him – who He really is.” ​​ [Matt Kyser]

        • How does this apply to us?

    • APPLICATION (how will we know if this mark of The Church marks Our Church?)

        • We will have intimate knowledge of and confess the deity of Jesus (John 1:1-4)

          • In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ​​ He was with God in the beginning. ​​ Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. ​​ In him was life, and that life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4)

          • As disciples of Jesus Christ, we will confess that Jesus is fully God

          • He is not just another prophet, teacher, or good human being – He is God!

        • We will have intimate knowledge of and confess the humanity of Jesus (John 1:14)

          • The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. ​​ We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

          • While it may be difficult for our finite human minds to comprehend, Jesus is also fully man

          • He is fully God (100%) and fully man (100%) and yet He is one person

            • Colossians 2:9, For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,

            • Luke 24:39, Look at my hands and my feet. ​​ It is I myself! ​​ Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.

          • As human beings, we do not have to understand how Jesus can be fully God and fully man at the same time, we just have to believe

        • We will have intimate knowledge of and confess the sinless life of Jesus (Hebrews 4:15)

          • Scriptures

            • For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

            • God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

          • Jesus was the only One who could take our punishment on the cross, because He was perfect, without sin

          • We are human and fallible, Jesus is both God and man and perfect

        • We will have intimate knowledge of and will confess the substitutionary death of Jesus (1 Peter 2:24)

          • He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

          • But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. ​​ Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:26b-28)

          • But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

        • We will have intimate knowledge of and confess the resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

          • For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: ​​ that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. ​​ After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. ​​ Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

          • Jesus’ resurrection is what sets Him apart from everyone else – He is still alive today, interceding for us before the Father

        • We will have intimate knowledge of and confess the exclusive claims of Jesus (John 14:6)

          • Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. ​​ No one comes to the Father except through me. (Hebrews 4:15)

          • There are those in our culture today, that want everyone to believe that there are multiple ways to heaven and since God is loving, He will let everyone in to heaven

          • The old saying is, “all roads lead to heaven.”

            • That saying is false

            • I would modify the saying to say, “all roads lead to God.”

              • For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10)

              • You, then, why do you judge your brother? ​​ Or why do you look down on your brother? ​​ For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. ​​ It is written: ​​ “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess God.’” ​​ So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:10-12)

              • “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. ​​ Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ ​​ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. ​​ Away from me, you evildoers!’” ​​ (Matthew 7:21-23)

              • During the final judgment, all the nations will appear before Jesus and He will separate the people like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31-46)

            • Jesus is the only way to heaven and the Father

          • We have to confess the exclusive claims of Jesus

        • Our desire is to have a church filled with people who confess correct things about Jesus’ nature and character

 

  • YOU

    • Idaville Member Survey from RESTOR Renewal Ministries

        • Four of the five questions from The Son-Confessing Church section of the survey were in the top ten of the least difficult for us as a church

          • That is encouraging, because it means that these are things we readily believe and embrace

          • “The people in our church believe that Jesus is the unique Son of God, fully God and fully man, and the way, the truth, and the life – no one coming into a relationship with the Father but through Him.” (1 of 10)

          • “I hear the name of Jesus consistently in sermons, teaching content, small groups and interpersonal conversations in our church.” (2 of 10)

          • “Our church consistently teaches on the Person and work of Jesus on the cross, connecting the truth of the Gospel with any particular passage or theme.” (3 of 10)

          • “The leaders in our church consistently and publicly point to Jesus as the Head and primary Leader of our church.” (6 of 10)

          • “It is obvious that love for and obedience to Jesus is the reason our church exists.” (12 of 12)

        • Encouragement and Challenge

          • If you believe and it is a settled fact in your heart and mind that Jesus is fully God and fully man, that He lived a sinless life and gave His life on the cross for you, that God raised Him from the dead and is still alive today, and that the only way to heaven and the Father is through a personal relationship with Him, then I want to encourage you to continue in that faith

            • These are the truths of Jesus that the world needs to hear

            • We have been called and commissioned to confess these truths where we live, work, learn, and play

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to confessing the truths about Jesus to my family, friends, fellow students, and coworkers.

          • If you are struggling in your heart and mind about any of these truths, that Jesus is fully God and fully man, that He lived a sinless life and gave His life on the cross for you, that God raised Him from the dead and is still alive today, and that the only way to heaven and the Father is through a personal relationship with Him, then I want to challenge you to do a couple of things

            • Pray and seek the Lord’s face concerning the truth(s) that you are struggling with

            • Spend time reading the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and ask the Lord to make these truths evident to you through His Word

            • Reach out to Pastor Marc, myself, or another fellow believer, so we can walk alongside you as you pray and read God’s Word – accountability is so important

            • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to praying, reading God’s Word, and reaching out to other believers concerning the truths of who Jesus is and what He came to earth to accomplish.

 

  • WE

    • Vision

        • Core Values

          • “We are a church that reaches out, spreading God's Word, God's glory, and God's promises to those that do not know Him.”

          • “Our leadership strives to be led more by Jesus, to lead more like Jesus, so we can lead more to Jesus.”

        • We are committed as a church and as leaders to confessing Jesus to those we live, work, learn, and play with

    • Traction

        • One of our annual goals for 2022 is to have a 10% increase in the number of people attending Sunday school and/or discipleship groups

        • Another annual goal is to have 10% increase in the pursuit of holiness as evidenced through salvations, baptisms, and accountability

 

CONCLUSION

“The greatness of God is most clearly displayed in his Son. And the glory of the gospel is only made evident in his Son. That's why Jesus' question to his disciples [in Matthew 16] is so important: ‘Who do you say that I am?’

 

The question is doubly crucial in our day, because [no one is as popular in the U.S. as Jesus]—and not every Jesus is the real Jesus. …

 

There's the Republican Jesus—who is against tax increases and activist judges, for family values and owning firearms.

 

There's Democrat Jesus—who is against Wall Street and Wal-Mart, for reducing our carbon footprint and printing money.

 

There's Therapist Jesus—who helps us cope with life's problems, heals our past, tells us how valuable we are and not to be so hard on ourselves.

 

There's Starbucks Jesus—who drinks fair trade coffee, loves spiritual conversations, drives a hybrid, and goes to film festivals.

 

There's Open-minded Jesus—who loves everyone all the time no matter what (except for people who are not as open-minded as you).

 

There's Touchdown Jesus—who helps athletes fun faster and jump higher than non-Christians and determines the outcomes of Super Bowls.

 

There's Martyr Jesus—a good man who died a cruel death so we can feel sorry for him.

 

There's Gentle Jesus—who was meek and mild, with high cheek bones, flowing hair, and walks around barefoot, wearing a sash (while looking very German).

 

There's Hippie Jesus—who teaches everyone to give peace a chance, imagines a world without religion, and helps us remember that ‘all you need is love.’

 

There's Yuppie Jesus—who encourages us to reach our full potential, reach for the stars, and buy a boat.

There's Spirituality Jesus—who hates religion, churches, pastors, priests, and doctrine, and would rather have people out in nature, finding ‘the god within’ while listening to ambiguously spiritual music.

 

There's Platitude Jesus—good for Christmas specials, greeting cards, and bad sermons, inspiring people to believe in themselves.

 

There's Revolutionary Jesus—who teaches us to rebel against the status quo, stick it to the man, and blame things on ‘the system.’

 

There's Guru Jesus—a wise, inspirational teacher who believes in you and helps you find your center.

 

There's Boyfriend Jesus—who wraps his arms around us as we sing about his intoxicating love in our secret place.

 

There's Good Example Jesus—who shows you how to help people, change the planet, and become a better you.

 

And then there's Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Not just another prophet. Not just another Rabbi. Not just another wonder-worker. He was the one they had been waiting for: the Son of David and Abraham's chosen seed; the one to deliver us from captivity; the goal of the Mosaic law; Yahweh in the flesh; the one to establish God's reign and rule; the one to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, freedom to the prisoners and proclaim Good News to the poor; the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.

 

This Jesus was the Creator come to earth and the beginning of a New Creation. He embodied the covenant, fulfilled the commandments, and reversed the curse. This Jesus is the Christ that God spoke of to the Serpent; the Christ prefigured to Noah in the flood; the Christ promised to Abraham; the Christ prophesied through Balaam before the Moabites; the Christ guaranteed to Moses before he died; the Christ promised to David when he was king; the Christ revealed to Isaiah as a Suffering Servant; the Christ predicted through the Prophets and prepared for through John the Baptist.

 

This Christ is not a reflection of the current mood or the projection of our own desires. He is our Lord and God. He is the Father's Son, Savior of the world, and substitute for our sins—more loving, more holy, and more wonderfully terrifying than we ever thought possible.”

 

Used by Permission

 

Source: Kevin DeYoung, "Who Do You Say That I Am?" from his DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed blog (posted 6-10-09)

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2009/august/1082409.html]

11

 

8 Marks Of The Church

The Spirit Filled Church

 

INTRODUCTION

Urban Legends

 

The Killer in the Backseat (also known as High Beams) is a common car-crime urban legend well known mostly in the United States and the United Kingdom. The legend involves a woman who is driving and being followed by a strange car or truck. The mysterious pursuer flashes his high beamstailgates her, and sometimes even rams her vehicle. When she finally makes it home, she realizes that the driver was trying to warn her that there was a man (a murdererrapist, or escaped mental patient) hiding in her back seat. Each time the man sat up to attack her, the driver behind had used his high beams to scare the killer, after which he ducked down.[38]

 

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_urban_legends]

 

There are many common myths about the church that are misguided at best and dangerous at worst

 

BODY

  • Myth

    • If your church is filled with people, you have a healthy church

    • This myth, if believed, can be dangerous because:

        • It can cause us to focus more on how many people are in our church instead of how Jesus is at work in the lives of the people who are in our church

        • It can give a false sense of security to those who attend our church – that they are part of His Church simply because they show up to our church

    • We know this is a myth because Jesus said the first mark of a healthy church would be a church filled with people who are filled with His Spirit

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD

    • MARK: ​​ The Spirit Filled Church

        • The Spirit Filled Church and the Teaching of Jesus (John 3:5-7)

          • Nicodemus has come to Jesus at night

            • Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again

            • Nicodemus is trying to understand how someone can be born again, physically

            • Jesus is helping Nicodemus to understand that He is not talking about being born again physically, but rather, spiritually (being born from above)

          • Born of water and spirit

            • Jesus uses the phrase born of water and spirit to mean the same thing as being born again or born from above

            • Jesus is not talking about baptism or two births here

            • Ezekiel 36:25-27, I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. ​​ I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. ​​ And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

            • “In essence God said, ‘You need to be clean on the inside – washed with water. ​​ You need your heart to come alive by my Spirit. ​​ Then, and only then, will you be able to obey me.” ​​ [Carter and Wredberg, 57]

          • Like gives birth to like

            • Flesh gives birth to flesh is simply referring to natural human birth – the physical

            • Spirit gives birth to spirit is the supernatural – the spiritual (born from above)

          • So, Jesus teaches us that we cannot participate in the kingdom of God unless we are born from above, meaning that we have the Holy Spirit living in us

        • The Spirit Filled Church and the Teaching of the Early Church (Acts 2:38-39)

          • Background

            • Luke explains in Acts 2 how the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles at Pentecost

            • He also retells Peter’s address to the crowd when they speculated that the Apostles had had too much wine

            • After Peter shares the Gospel with the crowd, they are cut to heart and ask him what they should do

          • Peter’s reply

            • Repent

              • Repenting is much more than just being sorry about our sin or being sorry that we got caught in our sin

              • Turning from sin – “changing the direction of your life from selfishness and rebellion against God’s laws.” [NIV Life Application Bible, p. 1948]

              • Turning to Christ – “depending on him for forgiveness, mercy, guidance, and purpose.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, p. 1948]

              • It is recognizing that we are done with sin

              • Read Romans 6:1-14

              • Peter couples repentance with baptism

            • Be baptized

              • Baptism does not save us from our sins, that is what repentance does

              • Baptism identifies us with Christ and fellow believers

              • “It is a condition of discipleship and a sign of faith.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, p. 1948]

              • I always refer to baptism as believers baptism, because it is a step of faith that shows outwardly what has taken place inwardly (repentance)

            • Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

              • Peter experienced the gift of the Holy Spirit coming upon those who repented while visiting Cornelius

                • Cornelius had been visited by an angel and was told to send for Peter who was staying in Joppa

                • The Lord prepared Peter for this important evangelism task by giving him a vision of clean and unclean animals and telling him that what He has made clean in not impure

                • Peter returned to Cornelius’ house and shared about Jesus of Nazareth with Cornelius and everyone who was in his house

                • Peter explains that he and the other Apostles were witnesses to Jesus’ arrest, conviction, death, burial, and resurrection

                • While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. ​​ The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. ​​ For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. ​​ Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? ​​ They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” ​​ So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. ​​ Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days. (Acts 10:44-48)

              • The gift of the Holy Spirit was not reserved just for the circumcised Jews

            • The promise is for everyone

              • While Peter was addressing primarily Jews from all over the diaspora (Roman Empire), he realized, even at Pentecost, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone

                • It is for children, youth, adults, etc.

                • It is for those in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8)

                • It is for everyone the Lord calls – all ethnic groups

          • The teaching of the early church reminds us that the evidence of true repentance is the filling of the Holy Spirit and a desire to be baptized

        • The Spirit Filled Church and the Teaching of the Apostles (Titus 3:4-7)

          • God’s love expressed (v. 4)

            • The word “but” makes the transition to the discussion of how to deal with the sin that has enslaved us

            • God’s kindness and love appeared when He sent His Son Jesus from heaven to earth

            • God’s love was expressed for us through this act

              • Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

              • God’s love for us never ends – He wants us to recognize our sin and turn to Him – to be in relationship with Him

            • We know God’s will concerning mankind

              • Some people will tell you that God’s will and purpose is to make their life miserable

              • Others will tell you that God is simply waiting for them to make a mistake, so He can discipline them

              • But, scripture tells us God’s will

                • Matthew 18:14, In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost. (He wants children to be saved from their sins)

                • 2 Peter 3:8-9, But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: ​​ With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. ​​ He is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. ​​ He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

              • His will is that everyone of us turns from our sin, repent, and seek His salvation

            • Jesus’ work

              • Jesus’ purpose was to seek and to save the lost

              • He did that by dying on a cross, taking our sin on His body, and paying the ransom so we could be saved

            • God accepted Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for our sin by allowing Him to come alive again

          • He saved us! (v. 5)

            • God is the One who initiated salvation for mankind

              • We can’t save ourselves

              • We can’t do enough good things to be saved by God

              • We can’t say enough good things, help enough people, give enough money, etc., to be saved by God

              • It was God’s mercy that saved us (mercy is not getting what we deserve)

              • Ephesians 2:8-9, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

            • How did God save us? (vv. 5b-6)

              • Through the washing of rebirth and renewal

                • Washing – some scholars believe this is referring to baptism, but baptism is not a part of salvation

                  • Baptism is an outward expression of an inward decision – letting others know publicly that you have asked Jesus Christ to save you

                  • “‘Washing’ here means ‘bathed all over.’ When a sinner trusts Christ, he is cleansed from all his sins, and he is made ‘a new person’ by the indwelling Holy Spirit.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 267]

                  • It is a spiritual cleansing that removes moral stains

                  • Psalm 51:7, Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

                • Rebirth is the result of washing – we are made new, our sins have been removed

                • Renewal – the process of moral renovation or transformation which follows the new birth [Stott, 204]

              • By the Holy Spirit

                • The washing that brings about rebirth and renewal comes by the Holy Spirit

                • God poured out the Holy Spirit on us generously through Jesus Christ

                • The Holy Spirit lives in us as a reminder and as evidence that we have been washed, made new, and transformed

                • The Holy Spirit is the One who helps us to understand Scripture

                • He is the One who reminds us of Scripture when we are tempted to do wrong

                • He is the One who prompts us concerning spiritual disciplines that will deepen our relationship with God

            • Why did He save us? (v. 7)

              • We see the purpose clause that begins with “so that” – it tells us why God saves us

                • Paul reminds us again that we have been justified by God’s grace

                • Justification is defined as “just as if I have never sinned”

                • That’s how God sees us through the blood of Jesus Christ – without sin

              • Become His children

                • God saves us so that we might become heirs

                • John 1:12-13, Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

                • God saved us so we could be part of His family

                • If we’re part of His family then we will be able to live with Him someday where He lives – heaven

              • Have hope of eternal life

                • As God’s children we have hope of eternal life

            • Eternal life is the kind of life we need here on earth to obey God and the kind of life we need to live with God in heaven someday

          • We learn from the teaching of the Apostles that God saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal that takes place by the Holy Spirit that lives within us

        • We not only see this mark proclaimed to us through teaching, but through a picture

    • METAPHOR: ​​ The Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20; 2 Corinthians 6:16)

        • Bible Project Video – “Temple” (Windows Media Player) ​​ [https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/temple/]

        • Imagery in Scripture

          • Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? ​​ If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

          • Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? ​​ You are not your own; you were bought at a price. ​​ Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

          • What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? ​​ For we are the temple of the living God. ​​ As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16)

        • As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are God’s temple since the Holy Spirit lives within us

    • APPLICATION (how will we know if this mark of The Church marks Our Church?)

        • We will look like a new people (1 Peter 2:9-10)

          • But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9-10)

          • Our unity, pursuit of holiness, and love for one another will be evident to our community and those around us

        • We will have a new perspective (2 Corinthians 4:6)

          • For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

          • We will recognize the glory of God as we shine His light to those around us

          • It is serving within our giftedness

        • We will walk in a new power (Acts 1:8)

          • “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

          • The Holy Spirit will give us boldness in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those locally, domestically, and internationally

        • Our desire is to have a church filled with people who are filled with the Holy Spirit

 

  • YOU

    • Idaville Member Survey from RESTOR Renewal Ministries

        • Four of the five questions from The Spirit-Filled Church section of the survey were in the top ten of the most difficult for us as a church

          • “The people in our church understand what their spiritual gifts are and regularly use them to serve our church in tangible ways” (1 of 10)

          • “The people in our church consistently live out the ‘fruits of the Spirit’ in their everyday lives” (5 of 10)

          • “The people in our church know what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit” (6 of 10)

          • “Our church consistently teaches on the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit in various teaching settings” (10 of 10)

        • How do we address these questions?

          • We have provided and will continue to provide a spiritual gift survey for every church attender

            • We will counsel with you about how to use your spiritual gifts in a tangible way to serve the church

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Take the spiritual gift survey and begin using my spiritual gifts in a tangible way to serve the church.

          • The fruit of the Spirit are found in Galatians 5:22-23a, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

            • How are you using the fruit of the Spirit in your everyday life?

            • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Choose at least one of the fruit of the Spirit and begin using it in my everyday life.

          • To be filled with the Holy Spirit means that we are transformed as disciples of Jesus Christ

            • We are dead to sin and alive to Christ – we longer desire to pursue the things of this world and the evil in it

            • Our thoughts, actions, and speech are controlled by the Holy Spirit

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Allow the Holy Spirit to control my thoughts, actions, and speech.

          • As leadership, we will make a concerted effort to highlight teaching about the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit through messages and lessons

 

  • WE

    • Vision

        • One of the core values that we developed at the Dream Retreat is, “We are a church who encourages our members to discover, develop, and use their spiritual gifts.”

        • Under the growth strategy, proven process section we are committed to our membership knowing their spiritual gifts and using them

        • We are also committed to the fruit of the spirit being evident in our body

    • Traction

        • One of the annual goals for 2022 is to have 20% increase in volunteerism for the Wednesday evening and Sunday morning services

        • One of the quarterly goals is to have the Board of Administration take the spiritual gift survey

        • Another quarterly goal is to have you all take the spiritual gift survey

 

CONCLUSION

“I cannot make someone fall in love with Jesus.

 

It really came home for me, literally, with my own teenage daughter, who, 18 months ago, was not in love with Jesus. I spent nights crying, bawling, praying to the Lord. Here I am known for my ability to communicate, but there was nothing I could do for my own daughter that would make her fall in love with Jesus. Of course I could still guide and lead her, but I was powerless to convict her.

 

I prayed, ‘God, either your Spirit comes into her or your Spirit doesn't. It doesn't matter how great a dad I am. I cannot bring her to life.’

 

One day she came into my room and said, ‘You were right, Dad. The Holy Spirit was not in me. But now he is.’ She talked about how near she was to God and how everything had changed. My wife and I were skeptical. We wanted to see evidence of change. But 18 months later, I can say she really is a new creation. I didn't do that. It was the Holy Spirit.”

 

Condensed from our sister publication Leadership Journal, © 2010 Christianity Today International. For more articles like this, visit Leadershipjournal.net.

 

Source: Francis Chan, "Catching Waves," LeadershipJournal.net (posted 5-17-10).

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2010/june/3060710.html]

10

 

Can I Get A Witness?

The future. It might be one of the greatest obsessions of our society today. From an early age we are focused on our future. We ask ourselves, “What do we want to be when we grow up?” In school we are always working toward getting good grades so we can graduate and get a diploma. When I was in high school I had to decide whether to take college prep or business courses. If we go to college we have to decide what to major in or we are looking at getting the job that might have the best chance of getting us the most money. Then we think about the raise or the promotion or the next job and finally we are looking toward retirement. Next comes relationships. Will I get married? Who will I marry? Will I have children? How many children do I want to have and how many years between them? The future. Right now, the future seems to be at the forefront of our thoughts and our prayers. We think about a future after the coronavirus, hopefully, or our future with the coronavirus. We think about our future after the election or the future of our world as we deal with racism and other problems in our society.

One of the most famous predictors of the future is probably Nostradamus, a French astrologer and physician, born in 1503, whose prophecies earned him fame and a loyal following during his lifetime. In the centuries since his death, people have credited him with accurately predicting pivotal events in history, from the French Revolution to the rise of Adolf Hitler to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and even the 2020 coronavirus.

In 1900, John Elfreth Watkins, Jr., made some pretty interesting and accurate predictions. Here are a few of his predictions, published in a 1900 issue of Ladies' Home Journal under the title "What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years." One, express trains will travel at speeds up to 150 mph. Today, the Acela express train hits top speeds of 150 mph and the bullet trains in Japan, glide along at 198 mph. Two, "Ready-cooked meals will be bought from establishments similar to our bakeries of today." Have you ever heard of Stauffer’s? The frozen-food industry is worth $33 billion today. Three, "Man will see around the world. Persons and things of all kinds will be brought within focus of cameras connected electrically with screens at opposite ends of circuits, thousands of miles at a span." Can you say “the internet.”

God through his Word also has a lot to say about our futures. There are over a hundred verses in the Bible that talk about the future in some way. Here are a few: Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. 1 Peter 1:3b-4 says, In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you. Proverbs 16:3-4 says, Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The Lord works out everything to its proper end—even the wicked for a day of disaster. Lastly, Matthew 6:31 says, So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ and verse 34 says, Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

These verses tell us many things about our futures: that God has a plan for our futures and for our hope. If we trust, lean on and submit to the Lord he will make our paths (our futures) straight. We have a future inheritance in heaven waiting for us. Commitment to the Lord establishes our future. And lastly we are not to worry about our future because God has our futures in his hands.

This morning our passage comes immediately following what Pastor Stuart taught us last week. Jesus has just restored Peter and commissioned him to feed and take care of his sheep. Peter would serve the Lord and show his love for Jesus this way until his death. ​​ This morning, we are going to see that Jesus tells Peter what his future holds. Jesus will also give insight to Peter about John’s future and will show us that he holds the future of the church in his hands as well. As we study this passage in John 21:18-25, John wants us to understand that Jesus is the Lord of our futures. That’s our big idea this morning. From the verses that I just read and from our passage this morning we see that God and Jesus are supremely concerned about his people’s futures, knows His people’s futures and is Lord over his people’s futures.

Let’s pray: Almighty and All-Knowing God, we come before you this morning ready to be filled with your Holy Spirit, ready to learn from your Word and ready to share what we learn with those who need to hear it. Give us opportunities this week to share the Good News of your Son, Jesus Christ, with those who do not believe. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

We are going to be looking at three points this morning. First, Peter’s future, second, John’s future and third, the church’s future. We will start with Peter’s future which is found in verses 18-19. This is what God’s Word says, “Truly, truly I tell you, when you were younger, you used to put on your belt and walk wherever you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will put your belt on you, and bring you where you do not want to go.” Now He said this, indicating by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had said this, He said to him, “Follow Me!”

Jesus begins with “truly, truly” which emphasizes that he is about to say something significant to Peter. What he says to Peter was probably a well-known proverb in Jesus’ day. It contrasted the strength and freedom of youth to the frailty and limitations of old age. Two things are mentioned: the putting on of his belt or dressing himself and the walking or going where he wanted. Jesus is reminding Peter that “when he was young” he had freedom and independence. He led a somewhat carefree life as a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. But “when he is old” someone else will dress him and take him where he doesn’t want to go. Jesus had just commissioned Peter to a future of serving Jesus by feeding and taking care of his sheep, but later there would come times of trouble and tribulation and at the end of his life he will “stretch out your hands.” The Greek words for “stretch out your hands” was used by early Christian writers to represent death on a cross.

John then goes on to tell us exactly what Jesus meant by “stretch out your hands” and it was to indicate the kind of death Peter would die that would glorify God. Now we don’t know exactly how Peter died but the tradition from Eusebius is that he was crucified upside down. Peter asked to be crucified upside down because he didn’t feel worthy of dying in the same way that Jesus had. We see from these verses that Jesus was the Lord of Peter’s future. He was not only Lord of Peter’s future in his ministry of feeding and taking care of Jesus’ sheep, he was Lord of his future in death as well. As soon as Jesus tells Peter he will die for his sake he tells him to “follow me.” It is used in the present tense meaning “keep on following.” Jesus meant that Peter was to continue to follow him no matter what for the rest of his life. He had followed in the past but not continuously. “Follow me” takes on a whole new meaning for Peter, in that, he would spend the rest of his life in faithful ministry to Jesus knowing that one day he would die a martyr’s death which would glorify God. ​​ 

This reminds us that there is a cost to our discipleship. There is a cost in following Jesus. We must decrease so Jesus can increase. We must daily surrender our will to Jesus’ will. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” We must be willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of the Gospel. That includes, our safety, our security, our jobs, our families and even our lives if Jesus calls us to that. That brings us to the first next step on the back of your communication card which is to be willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as I follow Him in the ministry he has called me.

Our second point is John’s future which is found in verses 20-22. This is what God’s Word says, “Peter turned around and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them—the one who also had leaned back on His chest at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who is betraying You?” 21 So Peter, upon seeing him, said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”

After Jesus had reinstated Peter and commissioned him to feed and take care of his sheep it seems they began to walk down the beach possibly for a private moment together. After Jesus had told Peter he would be martyred for his sake Peter turned and saw the disciple that Jesus loved following them. We are also told he is the one who asked Jesus at the last supper who was going to betray him. He’s talking about John. These two specific identifications of John show the close relationships that John had with Jesus and with Peter. John 13:23-24 says, Lying back on Jesus’ chest was one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 So Simon Peter nodded to this disciple and said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking.” This signaling between Peter and John assumes a close relationship between the two disciples.

This may give us some insight into why when Peter saw John he asked Jesus the question, “What about him?” While we can’t be certain of the motivation for Peter’s question, he may have been concerned about John’s future because of their close relationship, especially after being told about his own. Maybe there was a sense of rivalry between the two reminiscent of the race to the empty tomb. Maybe Peter felt emboldened by his restoration and assumed he now had special privileges to ask certain things of Jesus. Whatever Peter’s motive, we get the sense from Jesus’ reply that it was not well-intentioned because he abruptly but mildly rebukes Peter. He makes it clear that John’s future is none of Peter’s business. The verb “remain” meaning “remain alive” has eschatological overtones in that if Jesus wanted John to live until he returned, talking about the Second Coming, that did not change the task he had given Peter. Even though Peter was the leader of the disciples there were some things he did not have the privilege to know. Peter’s attention was to be focused on himself and his duty and devotion to Christ not John’s.

Jesus wasn’t putting down either disciple. Peter was being called to pastoral ministry and a martyr’s crown and John was being called to be a historical and theological witness to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Carson says, “The beloved disciple’s commission is not cast in terms as explicit as Peter’s because at this point Peter needed a new fresh commission since that was part of his restoration while the beloved disciple did not. John was giving faithful historical witness even at the present time and would continue to do so.” Jesus was the Lord of John’s future as he knew what John’s role was going to be to further his kingdom. That reminds us of our big idea that Jesus is Lord of our futures.

After his rebuke of Peter, Jesus tells him, “You must follow me.” The “must” is emphatic and the fact that Peter has now been told twice by Jesus to “follow him” is significant. Peter has been twice urged to do what John was already doing. Hoskyns says, “His obedience (John’s) is assured; it was Peter’s love that had been shown to be uncertain.” Jesus is reminding Peter that he has one duty and that is to follow Jesus and to follow him until his death.

We can learn a lot in the church today from this rebuke of Peter. It is interesting that Peter had to turn to see John following them. If Peter had kept looking forward or better yet kept his eyes on Jesus he would not have seen John and asked the question that received the rebuke from his Lord. As Christ followers we need to always be focused on Jesus and not on others. Our mission to Pursue, Grow and Multiply Disciples is too important to compare ourselves to, compete with or be critical of what other Christians or other churches are doing. If we are properly living out our call from God we should not have the time to question the ministry and stewardship of other Christ followers. Personal competition and rivalry destroy the work of the church. What we should be doing is encouraging, helping and serving with other Christians and other churches. That brings us to our second next step on the back of your communication card which is to keep my focus on Jesus and encourage, help and serve with other Christians as I pursue, grow and multiply disciples for his sake.

Our third point is the Church’s future and we see this in verses 23-25. This is what God’s Word says, Therefore this account went out among the brothers, that this disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who is testifying about these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things which Jesus did, which, if they were written in detail, I expect that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.”

John was the only disciple not to die a martyr’s death and in fact was going to live to a very old age. This passage seems to prove that in the fact that the rumor that John would live until Jesus returned had spread throughout the church by the time his gospel was written. The longer John lived the more people would start to believe that what Jesus had said to Peter was a prophecy about John. As this rumor spread John felt he needed to correct people’s false beliefs because of the damage it could do to the future of the church. When John would finally pass away two things would happen. Those who were Christians at the time would be in for a shock and those who were enemies of the Gospel would call Jesus a liar. Imagine the impact for the church and for the world. John’s witness about Jesus being the Messiah and the Son of God would be damaged. The church would start to wonder about the truthfulness of Jesus and the disciples. The world would ridicule Christians and call Jesus a liar. Christianity may have ceased to exist. So John wants his readers to be clear about what Jesus did or did not say. The “but” is emphatic that Jesus did not say John would not die. He again states Jesus’ exact words to prove it is accurate. He is careful to say Jesus was speaking hypothetically only to deflect Peter misguided question. The word, “if”, made all the difference in Jesus’ statement. John was desperately concerned about the unity of God’s people and the oneness of Jesus’ flock. The Jesus whom both Peter and John served in different ways is passionately concerned about those things as well. Jesus cares deeply for his church and is the Lord of the future of the church.

John now turns his attention to his calling as a faithful witness to Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God. John was able to say that he saw all “these things”, and he wrote these things down. “These things” refer to his entire Gospel. We can’t be sure who the “we” are in “we know that his testimony is true.” He could be referring to the other disciples that witnessed the same events or it could refer to John’s followers in the Church of Ephesus where he resided until his death. Some commentators believe that these last two verses were written by someone else besides John, possibly these followers. Or it could have been just a literary device that John used like we see in John 1:14 which says, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us; and “we” saw His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

It would be nice to know who the “we” refers to but it must not have been important to the book or we would know. If the “we” means someone other than John than their testimony must have been very early because there has never been any doubt about it. Barrett (in Morris’ commentary) says, “The ‘we’ is to be taken with full seriousness; there exists an apostolic Church capable of verifying and affirming the apostolic witness.” If it is referring to someone besides John we don’t know who they are but they were there and that is what mattered.

John’s gospel is a record of what happened written down by a man who had seen it, but it was not exhaustive. John says that Jesus did many other things as well and if they were all written down there would not be enough room in the whole world to hold the books that would be written. This is playful hyperbole, a deliberate exaggeration for dramatic effect which was common in antiquity. John is not content to end his Gospel focusing on himself. He closes by saying his own work about the life of Jesus is only a small part of all the honor and glory due to the Son. John is not only stating the greatness of God here but also stating that the words and works of Jesus were much greater than what is contained in his gospel. But nevertheless, John is the final witness in a long line of witnesses that include John the Baptist and the miracles and signs that Jesus did while he was on the earth. And his Gospel is also a witness written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit presenting Jesus Christ as the Messiah the Son of God for the express purpose that all may believe.

Witnesses are important. A witness is defined as someone who sees, hears, or knows by personal presence and perception, to be present at (an event) as a formal witness, spectator, bystander, etc. or to bear witness to; testify to; give or afford evidence of. The word, “witness”, is significant in the Bible. The Israelites were to be witnesses to the world of the goodness of God. But where we really see its importance is in the New Testament. The Greek word for witness occurs thirty-four times; the verb form appears seventy-nine times; the nouns are used a total of fifty-seven times. This concept is found mainly in John and Acts which suggests that it was a vital reason for the Church's growth from a local Jerusalem group to a world-wide movement. The witness of those early Christians contributed to the explosion of the church and the belief that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God" through which believers found “life in His name.”

This witness was important because it was different from every other religion of the time, before it or since. In Jesus’ day there were the gods of the Greeks, the gods of the Romans, and both had their temples and priests. There were many philosophies of the day such as Gnosticism and Stoicism. Jesus Christ showed up on the earth in the midst of these pagan religions. He came as a baby born in a manger. He grew up learning carpentry from his earthly father, Joseph. He taught in the synagogue, ate with sinners, healed the sick and forgave sins. He claimed to be God and died on a cross. This was different in that no one ever shook the hand of one of the Greek gods or had lunch with a Roman god. Those deities never wore sandals or walked the same earth that humans did. Jesus Christ was a historical person who interacted with other historical people and those people were witnesses to this Jesus and made the claim that he was indeed the Son of God.

Christianity rests on the witnesses of these stories and events. If no one knew the events and witnessed to them, no one would be a Christian. Because of this we need to keep returning to the scriptures. The Bible will always remain central to the Church's witness, for it contains the story which brought the Church into being and will continue to nourish it to the end. The difference between the apostolic witness and all subsequent Christians through the ages is that they could speak of that "which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands” and the rest of us who were not present at the time must repeat the story and keep it living to the next generation. John’s Gospel that we have just finished studying is the witness that gets us from, Thomas, who believed because he had "seen" to "those who have not seen and yet believe.”

So what does all of this have to do with us? John, an eyewitness to the historical Jesus who died on a cross for everyone’s sins, wrote his gospel so that we “may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing may have life in his name.” Now that we have read and studied his gospel we too must be witnesses to an unbelieving world so that they may believe in Jesus as their Messiah, as the Son of God and by believing those who you share your testimony with will have life in his name. That brings us to the last next step on the back of your communication card which is to “be a witness for Jesus Christ and what he has done in the book of John and in my life so that others may believe and have life in his name.”

As Gene and Roxey come to lead us in a final hymn let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you that you not only have the futures of Peter, John and the Church in your hands but our futures as well. Help us to be faithful witnesses of your Word and of what you have done in each of our lives. Let us be bold in sharing our testimony to the salvation you have freely given us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Believe

Fireside Chat

(John 21:15-17)

 

INTRODUCTION

“The president wants to come into your home and sit at your fireside for a little fireside chat,” announced Robert Trout on the airwaves of CBS in March 1933. It was the first of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous radio talks addressing the problems and successes of the Great Depression, and later, World War II. President Roosevelt had not originally planned a title for these broadcasts, but the name “Fireside Chat,” coined by CBS station manager Harold Butcher in reference to the president’s conversational speaking style, stuck. During President Roosevelt’s twelve years in office, the Fireside Chats connected the White House to ordinary American homes as never before.1

Franklin Roosevelt took office at the start of the golden age of radio. When he was first elected in 1932, forty-one percent of U.S. cities had their own radio station. Five years into Roosevelt’s presidency, nearly ninety percent of the U.S. population had access to a radio. Radio was fast overtaking newspapers as America’s major source of news, as it did not require literacy to enjoy or even money to buy—just a friend or neighbor willing to let others tune in. Walking down the street in cities and small towns, one could hear music, radio dramas, comedy hours, or news drifting out of open windows. By the end of the decade, ninety percent of Americans said they would sooner give up movies than radio.2

The primacy of radio as a source of entertainment and news gave President Roosevelt an opportunity no U.S. president had yet had: to speak directly to broad sections of the American public without having his message filtered through the press. Presidents before him had always had to rely on newspaper reporters and editors to convey their words to the public, leaving their original message open to editorial slant or misquoting. Live radio, by contrast, left no room for misquotation.

 

During his presidency, Franklin Roosevelt used periodic Fireside Chats to tell the public what government was doing about the Great Depression and later, the second World War. During the years of the New Deal President Roosevelt addressed the nation on-air about twice a year, announcing each chat a week or two in advance to ensure a wide listenership. He defended government programs, answered his critics, expressed encouragement through difficult national times, and requested cooperation with his policies. 3

With the United States’ entry into World War II, President Roosevelt started to broadcast about every three months, feeling that it was important to update the public frequently on the progress of the war. His frustration with information provided by the press was constant throughout his time in office: a reporter once asked if he planned to discuss recent talks with Winston Churchill on air, to which the president replied, “It’s up to you fellows. If you fellows give the country an exceedingly correct picture, I won’t go on the radio.” 4

For many Americans, the Fireside Chats, delivered in President Roosevelt’s calm, measured voice, were a source of comfort—a reassurance that during the crises of the Great Depression and World War II, a steady hand was on the wheel. The first Fireside Chat, updating the electorate on what the federal government was doing to address the banking crisis of 1933, came just eight days into Roosevelt’s first administration, direct from the White House to half a million listeners. The sense of connection with the president was immediate. A flood of letters from citizens across the country inundated the White House Mail Room in the months after that first on-air address, most expressing strong support for the president’s words. One letter in particular summed up the general spirit of the response: “Think of having the president talk to us in our parlor…” 5

[https://www.whitehousehistory.org/the-fireside-chats-roosevelts-radio-talks].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Campfires

        • Judy loves to have campfires

          • We’ve had many, here at the pavilion

          • We’ve also had several at various campgrounds

          • Sitting around campfire provides an incredible opportunity to relax and talk

          • We’ve had some really meaningful talks with our children and their friends around a campfire

        • Creation campfires

          • A least of couple of times we’ve had campfires at Creation Music Festival

          • Those campfires have brought out some deep conversations about the things of God as youth are away from their usual surroundings and perhaps more open to hearing from the Lord

 

  • WE

    • Creation campfires

        • How many of us have experienced those deep, meaningful conversations around a campfire at Creation?

        • Perhaps we remember a youth giving their life to Jesus Christ for the first time (can you remember their name(s)?)

        • Maybe it was a Creation campfire conversation that sparked the desire to enter full-time ministry

    • Personal campfires

        • Every one of us can probably think of a time when we had a meaningful conversation around a campfire

        • Even if it wasn’t around a campfire, we can probably recall a time when we had a deep conversation with someone about Jesus Christ and God

 

Jesus had a fireside chat prepared for Peter and the other disciples after their breakfast together on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. ​​ Peter had publicly voiced his allegiance to Jesus, even if everyone else fell away. ​​ He also publicly denied Jesus three times. ​​ With incredible mercy, Jesus wants to restore Peter publicly, so that he could carry on the mission of the Gospel. ​​ Through this fireside chat, Jesus helped Peter understand what his responsibility would be concerning taking care of His flock (sheep). ​​ The principle Jesus shared with Peter, included the other disciples and you and me. ​​ John wants us to understand that . . .

BIG IDEA – Loving Jesus means loving His people.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 21:15-17)

    • 1st Question & Answer (v. 15)

        • After breakfast

          • John lets us know when Jesus’ fireside chat took place

          • Jesus had prepared breakfast for them and had served them and cared of them

          • Jesus took care of Peter’s physical needs, before dealing with his spiritual needs

          • It’s interesting to note that Jesus modeled physically what He was going to challenge Peter to do spiritually

            • Jesus fed Peter and the other disciples, who were His sheep

            • He served them and took care of them as His sheep

          • Only after the disciples were taken care of, did Jesus move from the physical to the spiritual

        • Question

          • Jesus addressed Peter in the presence of the other disciples

            • “Peter had boasted of his reliability in the presence of his fellow disciples.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 675]

              • John 13:8, “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” ​​ Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

              • John 13:37-38, Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? ​​ I will lay down my life for you.” ​​ Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? ​​ I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

              • John 18:10-11, Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. ​​ (The servant’s name was Malchus.) ​​ Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! ​​ Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

              • Mark 14:29-31, Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” ​​ “I tell you the truth.” ​​ Jesus answered, “today – yes, tonight – before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” ​​ But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” ​​ And all the others said the same.

            • His denial of Jesus was done publicly

            • It stands to reason that his restoration, by Jesus, should also be done publicly [Carson, 675]

              • Jesus had met with Peter privately, prior this public restoration, to deal with Peter’s private sin

                • Luke 24:34, “It is true! ​​ The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”

                • 1 Corinthians 15:5, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.

              • “Private sin should be confessed in private, public sins in public.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament, Volume 1, 397]

          • Jesus uses Peter’s given name, Simon, which reminds us of when Jesus initially called him to follow (John 1:42)

            • Jesus does not call him Peter (the Rock) as this point, because he was broken

              • He had denied knowing Jesus three times

              • Luke 22:60-62, Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” ​​ Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. ​​ The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. ​​ Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” ​​ And he went outside and wept bitterly.

            • Jesus knew Peter’s strength and character and how he would lead the establishment of the first Christian church

              • Jesus knew the importance of restoring Peter, so that the other disciples would follow his leadership

              • Matthew 16:15-18, “But what about you?” ​​ he asked, “Who do you say I am?” ​​ Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” ​​ Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. ​​ And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

          • “Do you truly love me more than these?”

            • Jesus is asking Peter if he loves Him more than the other disciples, who were present, love Him?

            • Before Peter’s denial of Jesus, he probably would have answered, “Yes!” (it would have been emphatic with confidence)

            • “Of course I love you more than these guys love you!”

            • That’s not the case as Peter answers Jesus

          • That’s what we see next

        • Answer

          • “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

          • Peter doesn’t try to compare his love for Jesus with any of the other disciples love for Jesus

          • He knows that his pride and arrogance got him in trouble before

          • “He does not try to answer in terms of the relative strength of his love as compared with that of other disciples. ​​ He appeals rather to the Lord’s knowledge. ​​ Despite my bitter failure, he says in effect, I love you – you know that I love you.” [Carson, 677]

        • Greek words for love

          • Some scholars and preachers have pointed out the use of two different Greek words for love, in Jesus’ questions and Peter’s answers

            • They attempt to make this difference more significant than it should be

            • In Jesus’ first two questions, John uses the Greek word agapaō, which has been considered to be the stronger form of, “to love” – it is self-giving and self-sacrificing love

            • In Peter’s response, all three times, and in Jesus’ final question, John uses the Greek word phileō, which is thought to be the weaker form of, “to love” – it is a friendship love or brotherly love

            • It would be nice to make a distinction between these two Greek words and apply that to our lives today, but we have to consider how these two words were used by John in the rest of his Gospel

            • He uses them interchangeably throughout his Gospel, so there really isn’t a distinction between the two Greek words [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 1043]

              • He uses both Greek words for the Father’s love for the Son [Michaels, 1043]

                • John 3:35, The Father loves (agapaō) the Son and has placed everything in his hands.

                • John 5:20a, For the Father loves (phileō) the Son and shows him all he does.

              • He also uses both Greek words for the disciples’ love for Jesus [see 14:15 (agapaō); 16:27 (phileō)] [Michaels, 1043]

              • He uses both for Jesus’ love for Lazarus [see 11:3 (phileō), 5 (agapaō)] [Michaels, 1043]

              • Finally, he uses both for Jesus’ love for “the disciple whom he loved” (see 13:23 (agapaō); 20:2 (phileō)] [Michaels, 1043]

            • The main point of the passage is that Jesus is restoring Peter after his denial and not the use of two Greek words for love

          • After Peter affirms his love for Jesus, Jesus gives him this command

        • Command

          • “Feed my lambs”

          • Lambs and sheep are again used interchangeably throughout the Gospel of John, so there probably isn’t some hidden meaning there that needs to be mined or harvested

          • Jesus had just fed Peter, physically, and now He is commanding Peter to feed His sheep, spiritually

          • This will be significant after Jesus ascends to heaven and Pentecost takes place

        • Jesus asks the same question a second time

    • 2nd Question & Answer (v. 16)

        • Question

          • The only difference in Jesus’ question, this second time, is that He omits, “more than these”

          • The restoration of Peter has begun its second phase

        • Answer

          • Peter’s answer is exactly the same as his first one

          • “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

        • Command

          • “Take care of my sheep”

          • The verb can also be translated, “Shepherd or feed”

        • Jesus completes the restoration of Peter by asking him the same question a third time

    • 3rd Question & Answer (v. 17)

        • Question

          • The only difference in the question this time is found in the Greek

          • Jesus uses phileō instead of agapaō

        • Answer

          • John tells us that Peter is hurt when Jesus asks him a third time

            • Why was Peter hurt or grieved?

            • “It was hardly because of the change in the Greek verbs. ​​ Besides, that argument would hardly be viable if the original conversation would have been in Aramaic. ​​ A mere glance at the text tells the reader the reason. ​​ Peter experienced a major ‘undoing’ (cf. Isa 6:5, KJV) of his self-assertiveness because Jesus asked him ‘the third time’ (21:17) about his love. ​​ The third time did it.” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 335]

          • Peter adds an important part to his answer this time

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is all-knowing (omniscient)!

              • “Lord, you know all things”

              • This is an important principle for followers of Jesus Christ to embrace

              • Psalm 139:1-4, O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. ​​ You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. ​​ You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. ​​ Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.

              • There is nothing in our lives that Jesus does not know about

                • Whatever we’re struggling with (health, emotions, relationships, finances) Jesus knows about it

                • Some of us may feel like Jesus doesn’t know about our situation, because we feel like He is doing anything about it

                • That doesn’t void this principle or truth – our feelings don’t void truth

                • Jesus answers our cries with Yes, No, or Wait

                  • We never struggle with Yes

                  • We normally struggle with No and Wait

                • Sometimes the struggle is to strengthen us

              • Because Jesus is all-knowing, He knows what is best for us

                • He knows what will strengthen us and draw us to Him

                • He knows what we are able to handle with His grace

                • He knew how Job was going to react to the attacks from Satan

                • He knows how we’ll react to the attacks from Satan

                • We can trust Him to do what’s best for us, because He knows everything

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust in Jesus’ ability to know everything about me and what I’m going through and to guide me by His Spirit.

            • Even though Peter is hurt and grieved that Jesus asks Him the same question a third time, he affirms His love for Jesus based on Jesus’ knowledge of him

          • Jesus gives the same command again

        • Command

          • “Feed my sheep”

          • Jesus wants Peter to take care of the other disciples and the new converts that will be part of His flock

    • Command fulfilled

        • We know that Peter took this restoration seriously and understood his responsibility to take care of Jesus’ flock

        • 1 Peter 5:1-4, To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. ​​ And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

        • Read Acts 20:28-31

        • “Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), the Great Shepherd (Heb. 13:20-21), and the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). ​​ Pastors are ‘under-shepherds’ who must obey Him as they minister to the flock. ​​ The most important thing the pastor can do is to love Jesus Christ. ​​ If he truly loves Jesus Christ, the pastor will also love His sheep and tenderly care for them.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 398]

          • Pastor Marc and I love Jesus Christ

          • We love all you very much and we strive to tenderly care for you

          • Loving Jesus means loving His people.

 

  • YOU

    • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus is merciful.

        • Mercy is the goodness of God providing a way for man’s guilt to be erased

          • Ephesians 2:4-5, But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.

          • Numbers 14:18, “The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. ​​ Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.

        • Peter experienced Jesus mercy as He gently restored him to leadership after his failure

        • You and I can experience the great mercy of Jesus when we fail Him

          • You and I are human and fallible

          • Even as followers of Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit living in us, we will sometimes choose to give in to sin’s temptation

          • When we acknowledge that sin and confess, Jesus promises to forgive us

          • 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness

          • Are you struggling with unconfessed sin?

          • Are you ready to experience Jesus’ mercy by confessing those sins to Him today?

          • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess my sins to Jesus and experience His mercy and forgiveness.

        • If you’re not a follower of Jesus Christ, you can still experience His mercy and forgiveness for the first time

    • PRINCIPLE #3 – Before Jesus can be followed and served, the sin in our lives has to be addressed.

        • Peter experienced that also through his restoration process

        • Jesus had met him privately prior to this public fireside chat

        • Jesus wants to meet you privately to deal with your sin, so you can follow and serve Him

          • You and I are born in sin (Rom. 3:23, 6:23)

          • Before we can follow and serve Jesus we have to recognized our sin (The Good Person Test)

          • Repentance is turning away from our sin and following Jesus and His ways

          • God loves us so much that He made a way to deal with our sin (Rom. 5:8; 1 Cor. 15:3-4)

          • Romans 10:9-10, 13, That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ​​ For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved . . . for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

          • Are you ready to take that step today?

          • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead, so I can be saved from my sins.

 

  • WE

    • PRINCIPLE #4 – Following Jesus and loving Jesus mean accepting responsibility for Jesus’ people.

        • We know that God raises up some individuals to serve in spiritual leadership roles, but listen to what Paul says about their role as he writes to the Ephesian believers

          • Ephesians 4:11-13, It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

          • Spiritual leaders are to prepare God’s people for works of service that will build up the body of Christ

          • The various discipleship opportunities that Pastor Marc and I offer is to help prepare you all to serve one another

          • We also serve together with you through the various food pantries we help with

        • The Holy Spirit gives each follower of Jesus at least one, if not more, spiritual gifts to help serve the church and those who are part of it

          • Romans 12:4-6, Just as each one of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. ​​ We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.

          • 1 Corinthians 12:7, Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

        • Loving Jesus means loving His people.

        • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Identify my spiritual gifts and commit to using them within the body of Christ, so that Jesus’ people will be taken care of.

 

CONCLUSION

.

10

 

Believe

A Fish Story

(John 21:1-14)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Koral Wira, 14, was fishing with her parents and a friend near Venice, Fla., when a barracuda went for her dad’s bait and ended up biting her instead. ​​ Her dad, Rob Parker, submitted these photos and Wira told the story.

 

After anchoring the boat 4 miles off shore, Parker baited his rod with herring. ​​ Wira switched seats to get out of the hot sun, and watched as her dad cast. ​​ Moments later, she heard a splash and saw a long silver flash in the air. ​​ A barracuda jumped from the water and opened its mouth. ​​ As it hit her left arm, it clamped down with razor teeth.

 

When the fish dropped off her arm, Wira said the angled bites made her skin look like raw hamburger meat from the middle of her bicep to below her elbow. ​​ She was more scared than in pain, she said.

 

As the barracuda flopped around the boat, Wira ran to the bow and ducked. ​​ Her mom and friend climbed onto their chairs and screamed, while Wira’s dad grabbed his filet knife and stabbed the fish behind the eye.

 

Wira looked down at the still fish and couldn’t believe it had bit her. ​​ It was 42 inches long and its blood and her own spotted the boat’s floor. ​​ Her dad cut the anchor with his filet knife and they zoomed back to the shore.

 

On the trip back, Wira pressed her dad’s Red Sox Shirt to her arm to slow the bleeding. ​​ Her friend was crying, but Wira said she was too shocked to be upset.

 

Parker opened the barracuda’s mouth to check out its rows of razor-sharp teeth. ​​ He noticed the fish had taken in his line, but the hook never penetrated. ​​ Parker said he suspected his bait herring attracted the fish, causing it to jump. ​​ When it flew out of the water toward the boat, it found his daughter instead.

 

Wira and her dad stopped for a quick picture [show picture] before jumping in the car and heading to the hospital. ​​ Wira said she wasn’t in pain at the moment, but she was still creeped out by the fish. ​​ Her arm needed 51 stitches, and doctors told her they had never treated a barracuda bite. ​​ Her stitches are out now, and she said her arm is healing.”

Field & Stream, “Leaping Barracuda Gashes Teenage Girl’s Arm,” July 28, 2010

 

[https://www.fieldandstream.com/photos/gallery/fishing/2010/07/barracuda-jumps-boat-chomps-koral-wiras-arm/].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Catching a trout with my bare hands

        • Growing up, I hunted and fished with my father

        • On opening day of trout season, when I was probably 10 to 12 years old, we were fishing in Muddy Run over in Shippensburg

        • My Dad and I jumped out onto a small island in the creek

        • Laying in the water on the edge of the island was a beautiful rainbow trout

        • I got it to bite at a worm, but didn’t hook it

        • I tried every other bait we had available, but it wouldn’t bite at any of those

        • I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to catch it

        • That’s when my Dad mentioned putting the rag from the tackle box over the fish and picking it up with my hands

        • I didn’t know any better, so I did just that

        • After catching the trout with my bare hands, I raise it over my head and shouted, “I got it!”

        • It was an unconventional way of trout fishing and something I have never repeated

        • When we measured it, it was a 15-inch rainbow trout

 

  • WE

    • Fish story

        • Perhaps some of us have a fish story we could tell

        • It was something beyond the ordinary that happened while we were fishing

    • Other hard to believe stories

        • Some of us are not fishermen or fisherwomen, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have incredible stories to tell

        • Maybe those stories are about shopping, driving, hunting, our children, etc.

 

John adds an epilogue to his letter that accomplishes two primary things. ​​ It shows how Jesus restores Peter after his denial, and it addressed the rumor, that had been started, that John would not die before Jesus returned a second time. ​​ In the first section of this epilogue, we are going to learn about an incredible fish story that only happened through the sovereign will and power of Jesus. ​​ John wants us to understand that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Following Jesus means having confidence in His sovereignty alone.

 

Too often, we have misplaced confidence in our own strength to accomplish what only Jesus can do through us and for us.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 21:1-14)

    • Jesus’ Appearance (vv. 1-5, 14)

        • Jesus’ third appearance to His disciples

          • John tells us that after Jesus appeared to the eleven disciples, with Thomas present, that He appeared a third time to the disciples

          • This appearance was different than the first two

            • It wasn’t in Jerusalem, but in Galilee

            • It wasn’t behind locked doors, but on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias

          • This shouldn’t come as a surprise to us, because of the words of the angel recorded by Matthew and Mark

            • Matthew 28:7, “Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. ​​ There you will see him.’ ​​ Now I have told you.”

            • Mark 16:7, “But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. ​​ There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

        • Sea of Tiberias

          • Multiple names

            • This was the Roman name for the Sea of Galilee [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 323]

            • Luke called it the Sea of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1)

            • In the Old Testament is was referred to as the Sea of Chinnereth, from the Hebrew kinnerot/kinneret meaning “harp.” (Numbers 34:11) [Borchert, 323]

          • Location

            • It was about 75 miles north of Jerusalem

            • It is surrounded by the hills of Galilee and Golan [show 3D map of Sea of Galilee]

          • John then tells us exactly how it happened

        • Disciples present

          • There were seven disciples that were present during this appearance

            • Simon Peter

            • Thomas (called Didymus)

            • Nathanael from Cana in Galilee [show map]

            • The sons of Zebedee, James and John (Mark 3:17)

            • Two unnamed disciples

              • It would not be inconceivable to consider Andrew and Philip as the two unnamed disciples, especially if we look at John 1

              • John 1:40-41, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. ​​ The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).

              • John 1:43-45, The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” ​​ Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. ​​ Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

          • While the disciples are waiting for Jesus to meet them in Galilee, they decide to go fishing

        • Peter’s proclamation

          • Peter announces to the other six disciples that he is going out to fish and the other disciples agree to go with him

          • Fishing at night

            • They were going out to fish at the preferred time

            • “Nighttime was the preferred time for fishing in ancient times, including first-century Galilee (e.g., Luke 5:5). ​​ That way, fish caught before daybreak could be sold fresh in the morning.” ​​ [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 589]

            • They were all seasoned fishermen, so they probably assumed they would be successful, but they were skunked

          • Unsuccessful

            • They didn’t catch anything

            • This wasn’t the first time they were unsuccessful

              • Luke tells us of another time, two years earlier, when they were unsuccessful

              • Luke 5:4-7, When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” ​​ Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. ​​ But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” ​​ When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. ​​ So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

            • “Brown notes at this point that in the Gospels the disciples never catch fish without Jesus’ assistance.” ​​ [Borchert, 326]

              • This doesn’t mean that they never caught fish without Jesus, but Scripture doesn’t record a time when they did

              • This brings to mind Jesus’ teaching about the vine and the branches

                • He said to His disciples “I am the vine; you are the branches. ​​ If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

                • Notice that Jesus said they could do nothing without Him

                • This was going to be an important lesson for the disciples to learn, because they wouldn’t be successful at fishing for men without remaining in Jesus and having Him remain in them

              • Application

                • The same is true for us

                • If we try to do anything for Jesus, but aren’t remaining in Him and He in us, we will be unsuccessful

                • Our evangelism efforts will not bear fruit

                • Following Jesus means having confidence in His sovereignty alone

                • When we try to do things in our own strength, we will fail

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess that I’ve tried to do things for Jesus in my own strength, and failed.

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Have confidence in Jesus’ sovereignty and not my own strength.

                • We have to learn the same lesson that the disciples learned – we can’t do anything apart from Jesus

            • The disciples were going to learn this lesson pretty quickly

          • Peter was the leader of this fishing expedition, when he announced that he was going out to fish

        • Jesus showed up, unannounced and unrecognized

          • Jesus arrived early in the morning when the disciples were probably wrapping up their fishing trip

          • The disciples didn’t realize it was Jesus

            • Scripture doesn’t tell us why they didn’t realize it was Jesus

            • It could have been that He was concealing His identity, like He had done with Mary Magdalene and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, until the right time

            • It could also have been that there was mist on the sea and at 100 yards from shore the disciples couldn’t see Jesus clearly

            • We’re just not told the reason why the disciples didn’t realize it was Jesus

          • Jesus asked them a simple question

            • “Guys, how was the fishing? ​​ Were you successful?”

            • Their answer was “No.”

            • Last Saturday, while my buddy and I were deer hunting, we ran into another hunter and asked the question that every hunter asks another hunter, “Did you see anything?” ​​ He had seen three bucks earlier that morning. ​​ I had seen two does and my buddy had harvested a doe. ​​ Where we were hunting was doe only, so this other hunter had passed on the three bucks he had seen. ​​ So, he hadn’t been successful

        • Jesus’ next words would transform this failed fishing trip into a success

    • Jesus’ Command (vv. 6-9)

        • He told them to throw their net on the right side of the boat and they would find fish

          • We would be naïve to believe that Peter and the other disciples hadn’t already tried that at some point in the middle of the night

          • It wasn’t that they had exclusively fished off the left side of the boat all night

          • Perhaps Jesus was able to see a school of fish swimming on the right side of the boat

          • More likely, Jesus was supernaturally exercising His sovereignty, for their benefit

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is sovereign!

            • Following Jesus means having confidence in His sovereignty alone.

            • They had been fishing all night, in their own strength, without success

          • Notice that Peter didn’t question this stranger, like he questioned Jesus two years earlier, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.” (Luke 5:5)

        • They were successful

          • Without question, they listened to the advice of this stranger and threw their net on the right side of the boat

          • Their net was so full of fish that they weren’t able to haul the net into the boat

        • Jesus revealed

          • John recognized the miracle that had just taken place and knew immediately who the stranger was on the shore – it was Jesus!

          • He tells Peter that the guy on the shore is the Lord!

          • “In characteristic fashion, the beloved disciple displays spiritual discernment, while Peter exhibits decisive action (Carson 1991: 671; cf. Ridderbos 1997: 660).” ​​ [Köstenberger, 591]

          • Peter immediately jumps into action

            • “Here Peter is wearing a worker’s smock (Gk. epedytes) on the boat, but he wants to swim to shore to meet the Lord. ​​ Because he is naked (Gk. gymnos) underneath the smock, when he hears that Jesus is on shore, he tucks or wraps his smock into his belt to give him a tight fit and leaps into the water.” ​​ [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 584]

            • “Greeting in general was a religious act which required that a person be clothed.” ​​ [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 386]

            • Peter leaves behind a net full of fish, which he has been laboring all night to catch, in order to be with Jesus

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus is pleased when we’re willing to leave everything for Him.

              • Would we be as willing, as Peter was, to leave something successful in order to follow Jesus?

              • Has there been a time when we’ve done that?

              • Perhaps Jesus is asking you to do that right now

              • Idaville Church has a rich history of sending out individuals, couples, and families into the mission field and ministry (Small’s, Stansbury’s, Runyan’s, etc.)

              • We need to continue that rich history

              • Maybe the Lord has been asking you to leave everything you are familiar with, including a successful job, in order to follow Him into full-time ministry

              • I want to encourage you to be obedient to that call

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Obediently leave everything, and enthusiastically pursue Jesus’ call on my life.

            • Peter immediately left a successful catch of fish to pursue Jesus

        • Other disciples brought the fish to shore

          • Notice that there were others available to handle the successful catch of fish

          • The same will be true when we follow God’s call on our lives – He will raise up others to handle what we’ve left behind

          • The other six disciples towed the net, full of fish, to shore (about 100 yards)

          • What they saw when they got to shore was reassuring and comforting

            • A hot breakfast was already prepared for them, after a long night of fishing

            • There was fish on the grill and bread available

        • Jesus cared about His disciples and wanted to provide for them

    • Jesus’ Provision (vv. 10-13)

        • Jesus encourages the disciples to bring some of the fish they have just caught

        • Peter returns to help bring the net ashore

        • John tells us a couple of things about the fish

          • First, they were large

          • Second, there were 153

            • It was common practice for the fishermen to count their catch, so the catch could be distributed evenly among them

            • This is perhaps why John even mentions the number of fish that were caught

            • There are all kinds of other explanations given for the number 153, but I believe the simplest explanation is the best – John wants us to know that this was a miraculous catch of fish, orchestrated by Jesus’ sovereign power

          • “The catch consists of 153 ‘great fish,’ ‘great’ implying not only ‘large’ but ‘good’ (as perhaps in Gospel of Thomas 8). ​​ None will be ‘thrown out’ (Mt 13:48), nor will any be lost, for ‘even with so many the net was not torn.’” [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 1038]

            • The symbolism found here is important

            • Jesus is continuing to prepare His disciples to spread the Gospel to every nation

            • Something supernatural happens beyond the miraculous catch of fish

              • In Luke 5:6 we see that the first miraculous catch of fish, caused the nets to break

              • Here in John 21:11 the net was not torn, even with so many fish in it

              • “The point is much the same as when Jesus, after the feeding of the multitude, told the disciples to ‘Gather the leftover broken pieces, so that nothing is lost,’ and ‘they gathered, and filled up twelve baskets with pieces left over’ (6:12-13). ​​ Here the conservation of fish, like the conservation of fragments there, hints at Jesus’ repeated promise that he will keep his disciples safe, and that none of those whom the Father has given him will ever be lost (see 3:16; also 6:39; 10:28; 17:12; 18:9). ​​ And what is true of them is true as well of ‘those who believe . . . through their word’ (17:20). ​​ As ‘fishers’ in the world, they will ‘go and bear fruit,’ and their fruit will last (5:16).” ​​ [Michaels, 1038-39]

              • Symbolically and visually, Jesus is sharing with His disciples what their mission will be and that it will be successful

              • The same is true for us

                • Jesus is sharing with us what our mission is – fishing for men/women

                • Jesus reassures us of the same thing – we will be successful

                • “When we were called to believe in Jesus, we were called to mission.” ​​ [J.D. Greear, RightNow Conference: Focus, November 05, 2020]

        • Jesus encourages His disciples to come have breakfast

          • Jesus provided for His disciples

          • He took the bread and the fish and served them

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – Jesus is our provider.

            • Jesus will provide for us too

            • Take a moment to think about a specific time that Jesus has been your provider

            • Perhaps it was in a supernatural way or in a simple common way

            • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Make a list of the ways Jesus has provided for me and praise Him for that provision.

        • The disciples are speechless

          • They knew this stranger was the Lord, but there was some hesitancy

          • This was probably in fulfillment of John 16:23a, In that day you will no longer ask me anything.

 

What an incredible fish story John had to tell. ​​ Through it we realize that following Jesus means having confidence in His sovereignty alone.

 

  • YOU

    • Confess that I’ve tried to do things for Jesus in my own strength, and failed.

    • Have confidence in Jesus’ sovereignty and not my own strength.

    • Obediently leave everything, and enthusiastically pursue Jesus’ call on my life.

    • Make a list of the ways Jesus has provided for me and praise Him for that provision.

 

  • WE

    • As a body of believers, we can have confidence in Jesus’ sovereignty as we strive to accomplish the Great Commission

CONCLUSION

In the 2003 movie, Big Fish, “Edward Bloom, an entertaining and charismatic teller of tall tale, is a source of frustration to his only son, William who grew up believing his father’s stories until it became obvious they were lies. ​​ At Will’s wedding, Will feels embarrassed by his father telling the guests an impossible-sounding story about the day of Will’s birth, involving catching a giant catfish with his wedding ring as bait. ​​ Will feels that his father tells these huge lies just to get attention and confront him angrily about it. ​​ Edward denies his son’s accusations and they end up not speaking to each other for three years.”

 

Edward is diagnosed with cancer, which draws Will home from Paris with his pregnant wife. ​​ Will attempts to reconcile with his father and encourages him to tell the truth about all the stories. ​​ Will asks the doctor, who is attending to Edward, about his real birth story. ​​ The doctor tells him it was simply a normal birth that Edward missed because he was working.

 

“Later that night, Will finds Edward only partially conscious, and unable to speak at length. ​​ Since Edward can no longer tell stories, he asks Will to tell him the story of how his life ends. ​​ Will tells his father that he doesn’t know that story since Edward never told him what he saw in the glass eye. ​​ Edward keeps insisting and Will realizes it’s up to him to finish the story. ​​ Deciding to play along, Will tells his own impromptu tall tale: ​​ Edward regains strength, and he and Will escape from the hospital. ​​ Jumping into Edward’s old car, they speed up to a nearby river, where everyone Edward has ever met are waiting. ​​ Instead of a funeral, they are holding a goodbye party, and Edward happily bids them farewell as Will carries him into the river where Edward transforms into a giant catfish and swims away. ​​ Edward agrees with Will that this is exactly how he dies. ​​ Shortly afterwards, Edward dies. ​​ Will is the only one present for Edward’s death, and is both sad but also deeply happy that they finally connected at last.

 

At Edward’s funeral, Will, Josephine and Sandra along with Edward’s doctor are initially the only ones in attendance. ​​ Then a long line of cars, vans and buses arrive and it is here that Will becomes astonished to see all of the characters from Edward’s stories show up to pay their respects to Edward; Amos Calloway, Karl the Giant, Norther Winslow, Older Jenny, Mr. Soggybottom, Ping and Jing, Mayor Beamen of Spectre are all present. ​​ However, each one of them is slightly less fantastical than they’re described in Edward’s stories. ​​ For example, Karl is not a 12-foot giant, but is still quite tall at around seven feet; Ping and Jing are not conjoined twins, just identical. ​​ It finally becomes clear that Edward had simply combined his love of storytelling with his own reality, which finally makes sense to Will. ​​ When his own son is born, Will passes the stories on to him, remarking that his father became his stories – allowing him to live forever.”

 

IMDb, Big Fish, Synopsis

 

[https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0319061/plotsummary?ref_=tt_stry_pl].

 

While Edward’s fish story was fiction and not true, John’s fish story is fact. ​​ Jesus came alive again and appeared to His disciples in Galilee. ​​ His presence made the impossible possible. ​​ Following Jesus means having confidence in His sovereignty alone and not in our own strength.

11

 

Believe

Doubt Dissolved

(John 20:24-31)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Erik Weihenmayer, the blind mountaineer who recently successfully scaled Mount Everest, writes in Outside magazine:

 

A few days after I arrived in the Khumbu Valley for the Mount Everest climb, a rumor began circulating. Because I wasn't flopping on my face every few minutes, the Sherpas thought I was lying about my blindness. Women would approach me in the alleys of Namche Bazaar and wave their hands in front of my face. I'd feel the wind and flinch, which only confirmed their suspicions.

 

Finally, I resorted to drastic measures. I asked Kami Tenzing, our climbing Sirdar, into the kitchen tent. ‘Kami,’ I said, ‘I want to give you a message to take back to the Sherpas.’ I pulled down my left lower eyelid, leaned my head forward, and my prosthetic eye plopped into my palm. ‘I can take the other out if you want,’ I said. ‘No!’ he said firmly. ‘Not necessary.’”

 

Erik Weihenmayer, "Tenacious," Outside (December 2001), p.55; submitted by Dave Goetz, Wheaton, Illinois.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2002/march/13545.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Proving I’m not a robot

        • Setting up online accounts for any website has become more secure than in the past

        • Before, I just had to create a username and a password

        • Now, for most websites, I have to prove that I’m not a robot

          • I have to click the box beside the words “I’m not a robot [show image]

          • Then a pop up screen appears asking me to select the images with . . . (traffic lights, street signs, fire hydrants, bridges, etc.) [show image]

          • Websites do this to make sure that a live person is actually signing up for something instead of a computer bot

 

  • WE

    • Proving we’re not robots

        • How many of us have had to do that recently or in the past?

        • Most of us have had to go through checking the box and then clicking all the boxes with the requested image in it

    • Banking

        • Some of us don’t use a computer, but we’ve probably been to the bank to withdrawal money or cash a check

        • When we do that, the teller asks us for our ID, so we can prove that we are who we say we are

 

Jesus appeared to ten of His disciples on the day He came alive again. ​​ There was one disciple who was missing from that initial meeting. ​​ Pastor Marc shared last week that the wound made by the spear would have been a unique identifying factor, that it was Jesus who was appearing to them. ​​ No other person, who was crucified, had that unique mark. ​​ We’ll see today that the disciple, who missed the initial meeting, says he’ll never believe that Jesus is alive unless he can put his fingers in the nail holes and his hand in the spear hole. ​​ He wanted physical proof before he would believe. ​​ Jesus challenges him on this and speaks a blessing over those who believe without seeing. ​​ John wants us to know that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Jesus is pleased when we believe without seeing.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (John 20:24-31)

    • Thomas’ Unbelief (vv. 24-25)

        • Who is Thomas

          • A twin

            • Thomas is Aramaic

            • Didymus is Greek

            • They both mean “twin”

            • We’re not told who his twin was

          • A disciple

            • He is one of the Twelve

            • Jesus had chosen him as one of His closest disciples

            • We know from church history that Thomas took the message of Jesus Christ to India and gave his life for the Gospel while there [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 596]

          • A realist

            • John 11:16, Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (this was in response to Jesus encouraging His disciples to come with Him to see Lazarus, who had died – Thomas realized the volatility of going back to Judea so soon after the Jews had tried to stone Jesus)

            • John 14:1-6, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. ​​ Trust in God, trust also in me. ​​ In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. ​​ I am going there to prepare a place for you. ​​ And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. ​​ You know the way to the place where I am going.” ​​ Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” ​​ Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. ​​ No one comes to the Father except through me.

          • As a realist, he would have been skeptical about the possibility of Jesus’ resurrection, which is why he may not have been together with the other disciples on that first day of the week – for Thomas, the three-year journey of faith was done – perhaps he was feeling hopeless and just wanted to be alone

        • Thomas absent

          • Last week, Pastor Marc shared with us the episode that Thomas missed

            • It was on the evening of that first day of the week – the day that Jesus came alive again

            • The disciples were behind locked doors for fear of the Jews and Jesus miraculously appeared to them and greeted them with “peace”

            • He showed them His hands and side

          • Thomas wasn’t with them when Jesus appeared to them

            • “Thomas is a good warning to all of us not to miss meeting together with God’s people on the Lord’s Day.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament, Volume 1, 394]

            • Hebrews 10:22-25, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. ​​ Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. ​​ And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. ​​ Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

            • “Remember Thomas when you are tempted to stay home from church. ​​ You never know what special blessing you might miss!” ​​ [Wiersbe, 394]

            • Application

              • Think about a time when you didn’t “feel” like coming to church, but after you came, you left feeling refreshed, renewed, filled with joy, peace, comfort, and contentment

              • Early in my tenure here, we had a movement of the Holy Spirit that happened during second service that was powerful. ​​ A young man was listening to the message and as I was finishing up, he fell to his knees and began to flail around, knocking down some of the metal chairs. ​​ He stood up and came towards me. ​​ I embraced him as he kept repeating a man’s name. ​​ I asked him what we needed to know about that man. ​​ He eventually looked at me, blinked his eyes, and then said, “what just happened?” ​​ This young man had spoken with me, earlier in the week, about the man, whose name he was repeating. ​​ That man had been going through a difficult time and this young man was trying to help him. ​​ Something supernatural happened that day and not everyone in the church was there to experience it. ​​ The Holy Spirit of God was speaking through this young man and it was powerful!

          • Thomas had missed something supernatural and powerful and the other disciples tried to explain it to him

        • The disciples’ witness

          • Told

            • In the Greek this verb is in the imperfect tense, which means it is a continual or repeated action [Blue Letter Bible, https://www.blueletterbible.org/nasb/jhn/20/1/t_concf_1017025]

            • The other disciples didn’t just mention it to Thomas once, they kept on telling him

            • I can only imagine that the reason they kept on telling him is because he was shaking his head from side to side in disbelief

            • This didn’t make logical sense to Thomas, the realist

          • Seen

            • This Greek verb is in the perfect tense, meaning that it was an action completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated [Blue Letter Bible, https://www.blueletterbible.org/nasb/jhn/20/1/t_concf_1017025]

            • The disciples were telling Thomas again and again that they had seen the Lord – it was a fact – He was alive!

            • Application

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when we tell others about Jesus.

              • “The disciples who had experienced the surprising appearance of Jesus and his empowering commissioning were apparently enthusiastically ready to share the details of their postresurrection experience of ‘the Lord.’” [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 312]

              • I always enjoy being around new believers, because their enthusiasm for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is contagious

              • They aren’t complacent, apprehensive, or fearful about sharing it with anyone and everyone

              • For long-time believers, the enthusiasm seems to wear off, because they have been confronted with those who are skeptical and those who refuse to believe in Jesus – we are no longer enthusiastic and excited about sharing the Gospel

              • I believe the reason this happens in our lives is because we have a false idea of our role as messengers of the Gospel

                • We have this incorrect belief that if people don’t believe in Jesus, after we share the Gospel with them, that we have somehow failed God and Jesus

                • Our responsibility is not to convert and convince, but to communicate

                • 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. ​​ So neither he who plants nor he who waters in anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

                • Planting and watering are both forms of communicating

                  • The planter is the one who shares the Gospel with an individual for the first time

                  • The waterer is the one who shares the Gospel with an individual a second, third, fourth, fifth, or more times

                • Whether or not someone believes in Jesus, when you share the Gospel with them, does not define success or failure

                • When we simply communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone, we succeed in God’s eyes – He is pleased!

                • That should change everything for us

                • We should be excited and enthusiastic about sharing the Gospel

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Enthusiastically share the Gospel with my family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

                • There are resources available in the foyer this morning for you to pick up and use to share the Gospel

                • Take as many as you need or will use

                • Now that we know success is simply communicating and not convincing or converting, let’s plant and water with enthusiasm and watch as God makes it grow!

                • Who will you plan to share the Gospel with this week?

            • The other disciples were enthusiastically and repeatedly telling Thomas that they had seen the Lord – He was alive!

          • What we see with Thomas’ response is that he probably got tired of the other disciples repeatedly telling him they had seen the Lord

        • Thomas’ demands

          • Thomas wanted proof – he wanted to experience what the other disciples had experienced and even more

            • He didn’t just want to see Jesus’ hands and side

            • He wanted to put his fingers in the holes where the nails had been

            • He wanted to put his hand in the whole created by the spear

          • “Thomas’ words help to understand the difference between doubt and unbelief. ​​ Doubt says, ‘I cannot believe! ​​ There are too many problems!’ ​​ Unbelief says, ‘I will not believe unless you give me the evidence I ask for!’”  ​​​​ [Wiersbe, 394]

            • Some people are right there, right now

            • They are telling us that they will not believe in Jesus unless He gives them the evidence they are asking for

            • They want all their questions answered to their satisfaction

              • If God is all-loving, then why does He allow bad things to happen?

              • If God is all-powerful, then why doesn’t He stop bad things from happening?

              • God is both all-loving and all-powerful in addition to being sovereign, all-knowing, ever present, unchanging, infinite, holy, righteous, and so much more

              • It’s the arrogance of humanity to believe that we can understand all of who God is and how He operates as an infinite God

            • They want physical proof that God and Jesus exist

              • It’s the arrogance of humanity to demand that God provide the evidence we ask for before we will believe in Him

                • Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. ​​ “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

                • 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. ​​ He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

                • Ephesians 3:20-21, Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! ​​ Amen.

            • Jesus is pleased when we believe without seeing.

          • Thomas’ declaration

            • Thomas tells the other disciples that he will not believe it without his demands being fulfilled

            • In the Greek there is a double negative, ou mē, which gives his declaration an emphatic push

            • It could be translated, “I’ll never believe it!” [Milne, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of John, 302] or “I positively will not believe!” [Wiersbe, 394]

            • Thomas is saying, in no uncertain terms, that if his demands for proof are not met, he will never believe that Jesus is alive

        • Jesus is gracious with Thomas, and his demands, and does the supernatural again, within the week

    • Thomas’ Belief (vv. 26-29)

        • Thomas present

          • All of the eleven disciples were together in the same house one week later

          • Perhaps the other ten disciples told Thomas not to miss this Sunday gathering

          • Jesus again appears to His disciples, even though they are behind locked doors

          • He greeted them again with “peace be with you”

          • I’m sure they needed peace as he supernaturally gained access to the room they thought was secure

          • Jesus doesn’t waste any time in challenging Thomas

        • Jesus’ challenge

          • Jesus basically repeats Thomas’ demands back to him

          • “Here you go, Thomas! ​​ Put your fingers in the nail holes in my wrists. ​​ Put your hand in the spear whole in my side.”

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus is omnipresent

              • “Here Jesus is teaching a lesson of great import, for in repeating Thomas’s ultimatum, it’s as if He’s saying, ‘Boys, even though you don’t see Me, I’m with you always.’” ​​ [Courson, 597]

              • Because Jesus is omnipresent, He hears and knows our deepest desires

              • Application

                • This is a foundational truth principle for us as believers – Jesus is always present with us

                • No matter what we are going through, we can trust that He is here

                • Maybe you’re feeling lonely, anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, worried, fearful, unsure, or concerned

                • You may be struggling physically, emotionally, financially, relationally, and/or spiritually

                • Jesus is right there with you

                • Even if you can’t see Him or feel His presence with you, He is there

                • Hebrews 13:5-6, Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” ​​ So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. ​​ What can man do to me?”

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Claim the truth promise that Jesus is always present with me.

            • The second part of Jesus’ challenge is His exhortation for Thomas to stop doubting and believe

          • Stop doubting and believe

            • The literal translation of the Greek text would be, “Do not become unbelieving [apistos] but believing [pistos].” [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 562] or “Do not be unbelieving but believing.” ​​ [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 657]

            • Thomas wasn’t saying that he couldn’t believe, because there were too many problems (doubt), but rather that he would not believe (unbelief), without physical proof

            • “Authentic believing was the issue,” not doubt [Borchert, 314]

            • Hebrews 3:12-13, See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. ​​ But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

          • Jesus’ presence, challenge, and exhortation was enough for Thomas

        • Thomas’ confession

          • The only response that Thomas could have at this point was to confess who Jesus was – “My Lord and my God!”

          • Thomas’ confession accomplished two things

            • It recognized Jesus’ authority

              • Confessing that Jesus was his Lord, meant that Thomas was submitting to His authority as Master

              • We must do the same thing when we come to believe in Jesus – submit to Him as our Master

            • It recognized Jesus’ deity

              • PRINCIPLE #3 – Jesus is God!

              • Thomas knew that only God had the power to do the supernatural

              • God is the only One who is always present with us and knows everything about us, including our thoughts and desires

          • Thomas wanted physical, material proof that Jesus was alive

            • Most of the time we refer to Thomas as “Doubting Thomas” and can be pretty critical of him

            • He was in good company though, because Peter, John, and the other disciples didn’t believe the testimony of the women, including Mary Magdalene

            • Peter and John had to see the empty tomb for themselves – they wanted physical and material proof

          • Jesus then offers a blessing over those who would never experience the physical and material proof that Thomas and the other disciples did

        • Jesus’ blessing

          • Jesus tells Thomas that he believed, because He was granted the physical and material proof he had demanded

          • Jesus then blesses those who have not seen and yet have believed

            • If you have believed in Jesus, He was talking about you!

            • You can personalize that part of verse 29 today

            • “Blessed is _______ (your name) who has not seen and yet has believed.” ​​ [have everyone repeat the verse with their name in it]

            • Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

            • Jesus is pleased when we believe without seeing.

        • This naturally transitions to our belief

    • Our Belief (vv. 30-31)

        • More miraculous signs

          • John gives us some concluding remarks, which includes the theme verse for the entire Gospel of John

          • John lets us know that Jesus obviously did many other miraculous signs while His disciples were with Him

          • We don’t know how many miraculous signs Jesus did while on earth

          • It’s also probable that He did miraculous signs when His disciples were not with Him

          • John does not record the other miraculous signs

        • John’s witness

          • John records eight miraculous signs in his Gospel

            • Turning the water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana (John 2:1-11)

            • Healing of the nobleman’s son (John 4:46-54)

            • Healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-17)

            • Feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:1-14)

            • Jesus walking on the water (John 6:15-21)

            • Healing the man born blind (John 9:1-12)

            • Death and resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:1-45)

            • Catching of fish (John 21:1-11)

          • These eight miraculous signs that John records are for the purpose of helping us to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God

          • When we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, then we can have life in His name

            • The life that John is talking about is eternal life

            • He says it this way in John 3:16-18, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ​​ For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. ​​ Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

            • We are all born in sin, Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned – for before the law was given, sin was in the world. (Romans 5:12-13a)

            • God sent Jesus to take our punishment for sin

              • God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:21)

              • He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Believe in Jesus and receive God’s eternal life.

            • We have to believe without seeing the physical and material proof of Jesus’ resurrected body

            • We have to believe the eye witness accounts that are recorded in the Bible

          • Jesus is pleased when we believe without seeing.

  • YOU

    • Are you ready to enthusiastically share the Gospel?

    • Do you need to claim the promise that Jesus is present with you?