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Vision Sermon

Rock Hill Vision  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Multiplying Disciples, Declaring, Displaying, Delighting in the Gospel.

Notes & Transcripts

34 tA new commandment uI give to you, vthat you love one another: wjust as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 xBy this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Rock Hill Vision

Declaring, Displaying, and Delighting in the Gospel of Jesus together as a sent people.
Intro = Nehemiah – It’s a beautiful story about a man of prayer, a man of action, a man with a vision and extraordinary leadership abilities, and a man who depended upon God to do something extraordinary among the people of God.
But what strikes me so much as I think and reflect on that story is what happens to Nehemiah in the first 4 verses of the book. He hears about the state of the city of Jerusalem, that the wall was in shambles and the people of God living in Jerusalem were in shambles because they had no protection from the those who would come by to exploit them, steal from them, and generally make their life miserable. It would be like living in a house that doesn’t have a lock on the door.
Nehemiah 1:1–4 ESV
The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, 2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, hand its gates are destroyed by fire.” 4 As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, 2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, hand its gates are destroyed by fire.” 4 As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
This news broke him…led him to prayer…led him to fasting…led him to confession…and finally led him to action as he left his cushy job in the palace and set up with the Kings permission to do something about it. Not only that, but it filled him with the kind of boldness to not just ask for an extended vacation, but to ask the King to pay for the rebuild…which he does.
What happens is extraordinary as he leads the people of God to rebuild the wall…at great cost to himself and with great opposition from those who were there that didn’t want Jerusalem to thrive.
But what started all of that…what began this vision inside of him was seeing something that was in plain sight of all. He heard about the wall being torn down and people in shambles.
Do you know how long before the wall had been destroyed? 140 years earlier…by the Babylonians! Why such a dramatic response?
· Because it was not okay…and he knew it was not okay!
· Everyone else had seen it too, knew of it too, but they just got used to it.
· Not Nehemiah…God did something in his heart in that moment, where it wrecked him.
· This is often how vision begins.
Point à He saw as a Crisis what everyone else had gotten used to seeing…but for him it moved him to prayer, action, sacrifice, and perseverance in order to see the current situation change.
Duluth = 15% of people (at best) go to church on any given Sunday…that is any church. This is a CRISIS, but we are so used to talking about Duluth/Superior in terms of spiritual darkness that it doesn’t seem to bother us like it once did.
· In addition, 3,000 new incoming freshman will descend upon UMD. Upwards of 20,000 college students will inhabit the Twin Ports. Most of whom do not have a vital, life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ.
· I’m amazed that our region is consistently talked about as “dark area” for the gospel. But then we talk about that like it is our normal…after a while it stops bothering us and we talk more about “how hard it is” than we do about the reality that God has placed us here to do something about it!
Every once in a while it is important for us a church to ask ourselves the question: Why are we here? Why do we exist? Why did God call this thing called Rock Hill Community Church into being?
11 years ago, God called my wife and I to move up here from the Twin Cities to not simply plant a church, but to attempt to plant a church that sees multiplication at the heart of everything we do. Disciples make disciples…small groups multiply into other small groups when they outgrow their spaces…churches plant other churches to reach new people that the current church isn’t reaching….At the end of the day it is simple math. The gospel is good news that everyone needs to hear. There is not way that one church will be able to reach the 100,000 plus people who aren’t currently part of a Jesus worshiping community!
Armed with just a dream, and a supportive sending church in Anchor Point, we moved up to see if that could happen.
· If we could be a church that saw people who knew very little about the Bible, come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
· If we could be a church where people not only come to know Jesus, but actually grow up into maturity in him.
· If we could be a church that raises many people up to leadership.
· If we could be a church that makes it one of our primary aims and goals to plant other churches.
And so, we stepped out, and in June of 2007, 18 adults gathered to be part of the initial core group…On December 8th, 2007 we officially launched as a church. That was about 10 years ago.
Since then we have seen God do incredible things and we’ve learned how to articulate more effectively what it is we are trying to do:

We exist to multiply gospel-centered disciples, small groups, and churches that bless the city the region and the world.

There you have it. We exist to make disciples…sounds biblical….sounds like the words Jesus gave us in . And to see spiritual multiplication happen at every level in order to be a blessing to our city, our region and our world.
But the question of WHAT all too often leads us into the more specific question of HOW.
How do we make disciples that reproduce themselves? How do we send people together on this great mission we’ve been given.

We make disciples by Declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ, Displaying the gospel of Jesus Christ, and Delighting in the Gospel of Jesus Christ together by living as a sent people.

Declaring the Gospel of Jesus through our words and proclamation.

· This will always make us both wildly popular and wildly unpopular.
1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
“18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”
· There are things in every culture that the Word of God is going to affirm…common grace and ways that we reflect the goodness of creation. But there are also things in every culture that are in rebellion against God…where we think we have outsmarted him. Things that offend us, bother us, provoke us. Where we need to bring ourselves into alignment with his word.
· It is at these moments that we show we is really in authority. God and his Word, or me and my preferences/thoughts.
· More than this, we reveal whether or not we actually think God’s Word is “good news” for us!
· And so, in order to live out the mission of making disciples, we must declare the gospel, winsomely, sensitively, creatively, but also boldly and without apology.
o This is make up wildly popular and unpopular at the same time.
o This is also why we usually preach through books of the Bible, so that we can let God’s word speak to us and set the agenda.
Declaring the truth of the Gospel à there is a truth encounter in our discipleship. A knowledge encounter where we discover he is who he claims to be, and that is good news!
But merely an intellectual encounter with the truth of the gospel is woefully inadequate…

Displaying the Gospel of Jesus through our love for one other, our love for God’s Commandments, and our care for those in need.

· There is an encounter with God’s Kingdom rule which does something in us and does something through us. It manifests itself in 3 unique kinds of love.

Our love for each other

o The gospel compels us to love one another.
o Through the gospel of Jesus Christ, not only are we reconciled to God, we are also reconciled with one another. God makes us family.
§ Wildly diverse, sinful people, and now united in a spiritual family that crosses lines of age, race, gender, socio-economic status, etc. and makes us family!
o This is so important that Jesus actually gives the outside world the power to validate or invalidate whether or not we are actually his disciples by whether we love each other.
John 13:34–35 ESV
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
34tA new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
o We should love each other in such a way that demands a gospel explanation!

Our love for God’s Commandments (Living under his Rule and Reign)

o How you view God’s commandments reveals much of what you believe about God. Is he good or is he stingy? Does he want good for us or does he want bad? Is God fun, or is God a curmudgeon?
o “People think God’s rule is bad news. They think God is a tyrant. They think that they are better off governing their own lives without God. So, our job as God’s people is to live in such a way that we show that it is good to know God and good to live under His rule. This theme keeps coming back again and again in the Bible story. It is central to what it means to be God’s people and what it means to do His mission.” Tim Chester
o A Disciple of Jesus believes that God desires our good, therefore his commands are loving…like a Father to his children.

Our care for the least of these

o How we treat the poor and needy, reveals how we view ourselves before God. It reveals whether or not we really think we deserve his grace.
o When we understand our own need before God, and helplessness before him, it changes our perspective of everyone else.
o We are to Love your neighbor as yourself and so fulfill the Law.
So, as disciples we have a truth encounter, thus we declare the gospel, we have a Kingdom encounter, thus we display the gospel of Jesus together. But there is one more vital encounter in a Disciples life…a power encounter…and encounter with his grace.

Delighting in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

· Though the work of Jesus and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, we now have a relationship with God.
· His Grace overwhelms us as we realize we are loved and cherished children.
· We go from being God’s enemies to his adopted children.
· And the Holy Spirit, in addition to empowering us to do things, experientially reminds us of this. Takes the truths that we claim in our head…and connects them experientially to our hearts!
· It’s not just what God wants to teach us.
· It’s not just what God wants to do through us.
· It’s that God wants to KNOW us, and even more for us to KNOW HIM!
o When we’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good…it changes us! It is an experiential knowledge that longs to know him more.
Now, depending on our background…one of these 3 experiences has probably been highlighted.
· The Knowledge church that is about Declaring and KNOWING the gospel…but often leads to pride or death. You have all the answers, but it moves you very little.
· The Kingdom oriented church that is very active and busy Displaying the Gospel…but often filled with burnt out and tired people not experiencing the joy of the Lord.
· The Experience driven church that longs to know and delight in him…but finds itself chasing one spiritual high after another.
Which is right? They all are, but they are all incomplete apart from the other. Now, this doesn’t mean that you don’t know God if you’ve not experienced all three, but it does mean that you are missing out on a vital aspect of gospel-maturity and health.
The Church of Philippi is a beautiful story of all 3!
· Lydia- cosmopolitan Asian business woman who comes to Jesus through a Truth encounter
· Demon possessed slave girl- poor native of Philippi (Greek) who comes to Christ through a power encounter with the Holy Spirit setting her free.
· Jailer- blue collar Roman (ex-pat soldier) who comes to Christ because he meets people of the Kingdom that he has no categories for (Paul and Silas). I want what you have!
As a church, we long to multiply mature disciples that bless the city, region, and world…and that multiplies communities of Light by embracing the whole gospel and Declaring, Displaying and Delighting in the Gospel.
But we want to do this together as sent people. We do this together. The mission is owned by all of us…but not dependent upon any one of us. This is freeing and challenging!
Application Questions:
· How did you come to Christ?
· What aspect of the gospel comes most naturally to you: Declaring/Displaying/Delighting in? What is most challenging?
· How can you grow in all of them?
· Where or to whom has God sent you to declare, display, and delight in the gospel?
· What has God opened your eyes to, that everyone else has just gotten used to? Who might you partner with in that?
Matthew 28:
Matthew 28:19–20 ESV
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
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