"BOLD IN CHRIST, IN GRACE, AND IN PRAISE"
(A Sermon from Hebrews)
Westgate Chapel 7/18/99 a.m. Hebrews 13:9-16
PROPOSITION: When the cares of this life have intimidated you and brought you into the bondage of fear and indecision, the challenge and call of the Spirit is to be bold in Jesus, bold in grace, and bold in praise and thanksgiving.
- WHEN Hollywood portrays people in its productions, to make the plot interesting they tend to exaggerate the personality types to get your attention.
- I HAVE never known anyone like John Wayne. I am sure that there are some men out there like that, but those fearless, carefree, cowboy types do not represent reality for most of us.
- THERE are not many women out there in the real world like Lucille Ball or Carol Burnett.
- NOW, on the other end of the personality spectrum, from Rambo, you have Barney Fife. He is an exaggeration too, but there are far more of us who, in the privacy of our secret thoughts, see ourselves as Barney Fife than Sylvester Stallone.
- BARNEY has been battered by life somewhere along the way.
* Something has tilted his equilibrium. He feels and looks out of balance, like a prat fall waiting to happen. And when it happens, we all laugh, nervously, because we feel like him. We are him.
* An abusive father, or a domineering mother, or some crushing experience in life has robbed him of any sense of personal worth, and he has no confidence at all. He desperately wants to be accepted, to be an equal to Andy, a potential replacement as Sheriff of Mayberry when Andy retires.....but we all know that he will never make it.
* He is plagued with indecision, and confusion and fear. When the crisis hits Mayberry, you can count on Barney to mess things up in the panic.
* No wonder Andy will only let him carry an unloaded gun. This man cannot be trusted with live ammunition.
- NOW, Barney is an exaggeration of a personality type, but we all love him because we see ourselves in his life much more than we see ourselves in John Wayne or Indiana Jones.
- THERE are many people today who are so battered and scarred by their past, and intimidated by life, that any appearance of confidence, or composure is a well-constructed veneer covering the drab grey uniform of Barney Fife.
- THE pressures of life take their toll.
* Knowledge is multiplying faster than ever in the history of the world. It is impossible to keep up. There is not enough time to read all the trade journals you should. You and I will be out of date before we can wear out our Dockers.
* We are living too fast to have meaningful relationships. Marriages are failing and leave behind wounds that seem never to heal.
* Our sense of security is shaken by a job market that is changing overnight, companies are down-sizing, and the economy rests precariously on budget deficits and third world debt.
* There is so little that can be counted on today. Moral standards are decaying. Truth is relative. Eastern religions and cults are growing faster in America than the Far East.
- AND so we live in a world where, in spite of outward appearances, there is very little confidence, very little inner peace, and very little genuine boldness.
- TURN with me please to Hebrews 13:9-16 this morning. I want to look at a few verses there with you that have to do with genuine boldness for living.
- THE Christians to whom the book of the Hebrews had been written had lost their boldness.
- THE crushing circumstances of their lives had robbed them of confidence, had stolen their peace. They had lost their song and all boldness for living had been carried away.
- THEY were confused.......didn't know which way to turn, what to do next, where to go, what to say......like Barney Fife when the Mafia came to Mayberry and Andy was out fishing.
- LET'S turn to Hebrews 13:9-16 to find the answer for this fear and confusion......to find a source for boldness (pg. 1194)
- I BELIEVE that holy boldness can be found in three places in these 8 verses of Hebrews 13.
ii. bold in jesus
- THE first place to find boldness is in the only human who lived life to the fullest.
- HE never flinched, never backed away from a challenge, never gave up and in the face of the fiercest opposition.
- HE lived with heaven and eternity in view, but fully engaged in the things of earth.
- HE never compromised truth, never lied, never gave in to sin.
- EVEN in His death He took on the powers and principalities of darkness and emerged from the fight triumphant.
- COLOSSIANS 2:15 says of Him...
“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
- BUT this bold victory over sin and darkness and death was not won by the Man, Jesus, on the cross for God’s benefit. There has nevere been any question of God’s complete dominion over Satan and all of his evil forces.
- NO the victory of Christ on the cross, fully God but fully man, was to provide you and me with faith access to holy boldness.
- PAUL writes in 2 Corinthians 2:14,
“.....thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.”
- BACK in Colossians 2:6 Paul says,
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, (7) rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
- SO what does this have to do with Hebrews 13:9-16?
- WELL, verse 9 says,
"Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings." (Hebrews 13:9)
- LET me paraphrase this verse for you. Instead of being led away into confusion by an emphasis on different teachings and doctrines, set out boldly to know Jesus only, with all other things secondary to that pursuit.
- ALL through the book of Hebrews it has been evident that the people had been confused and misled by different emphases in teaching.
* In Hebrews 1&2 the writer is having to correct a problem with too much emphasis and teaching on angels.
* In chapter 3 the problem was an emphasis on Moses.
* In chapter 5 it is priests.
* In chapter 6 it is the elementary teachings of repentance, and faith, and baptisms, and the resurrection and the judgement that have taken center stage instead of the deep things of Jesus.
* In chapters 8 & 9 it is the Old Testament forms of worship and sacrifice.
* And in this chapter it is an emphasis on ceremonial foods.
- THE author says that these teachings have led the Christians away, pulled them off course, left them confused.....vulnerable to fear.
- WHEN you are off course, pulled away from the path, confused, then there is no basis for boldness at all. You are handicapped to live the abundant life that Christ has promised.
- HERESY is usually a teaching that started as truth, but got too much emphasis, too much attention, and took a slight 5 degree shift in course, until it eventually pulls the follower of Jesus off the mark.
- THE last 85 years of Church history have been checkered with many such emphases and teachings that have left confusion in their wake and robbed the Church of its boldness.
* We have had an emphasis on Bible teaching that has led some groups to believe that they are doing all that God intends for them as long as they are meeting in groups for "deep" Bible study.
* We have had an emphasis on worship, with clinics and seminars teaching how to sing, play and dance in the Spirit......and whole congregations that believe that their sole reason for existence is the worship experience.
* We have had an emphasis on demons. Need I say more?
* We have had an emphasis on divine healing, on the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, on the gifts of the Spirit and their use in the Church.
* We have had an emphasis on tongues, on shepherding, on deliverance.
* We are seeing a resurgence right now in an emphasis on personal prophecy, with Christians running here and there to get a "word from the Lord" for guidance in their lives.
- AND many of these things are good. And many of them are given by the Lord.
- BUT at the point that they become our "trademark," our "specialty," our "reason for being," I believe that, even though they started in the Spirit, somewhere along the way God gets off the bus and we go on on our own.
- AND a lot of people end up hurt, and weak in their faith, and confused, having lost the holy boldness that they were intended by God to enjoy.
- WHAT is the solution?
- IN Philippians 3:10 Paul says,
"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."
- THE Amplified Bible for this verse says,
"O that I may know Him, that I may become more progressively and more intimately acquainted with Him...."
- IT is Jesus who is the Author and the Finisher of our faith.
- IT is our relationship with Him that is of primary importance here, not some doctrinal distinctive, not some "new revelation" or teaching.
- WE need a new relationship with Jesus here, a new love affair with Jesus.
- HE must increase and we must decrease.
- HE is the only One who can dispel the confusion and give you His peace and wisdom, and can infuse you with a holy boldness.
- THE thing that baffled the Sanhedrin and awed the crowds after Pentecost, concerning those simple fishermen, was not their speaking ability, or their knowledge of doctrine or new teaching, but that they "took note that they had been with Jesus."
- THERE is no other place to receive boldness for life than at His feet, seeking to know Him afresh.
iii. Bold in grace
- LET'S move on with verses 9b-14, and find another secret for holy boldness.
"It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them. (10) We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.(11) The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp.(12) And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.(13) Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.(14) For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come."
- LET me paraphrase these 6 verses. Instead of being led away in the confusion and frustration of a self-righteousness that is based on rules and rituals, set out boldly after the grace of God that changes you from the inside out and prepares you for the city that is to come.
- IT is evident that some of the believers to whom this book was written had started out their Christian life through grace, by faith, but had slipped back into trying to please God by their obedience to the rituals of the Old Covenant, with ceremonies and rituals and sacrifices.
- AND the result had been confusion.
- THERE is a bondage and a confusion in many Christians lives today that comes as a result of an honest attempt to please God by a holiness that is self-engineered and self-powered.
- THE problem is not the desire to be holy. The problem is in the way it has been taught, as if by "doing" or "not doing" certain things you were either saved or at least had a better holiness than the next person.
- THE result has often been a group of people who wore their hair in buns, shunned make-up, didn't go to the movies, spoke in tongues, but were as mean spirited and sharp tongued and unloving as a snake.
- NOW, unfortunately, my generation was turned off by that kind of holiness and hase gone to the other end of the pendulum swing.......and we have Pentecostals who don't look any different or act any different or talk any different than the rest of the world......and they can be as mean spirited as a snake.
- HOW can we solve this confusion?
- BY setting out boldly for grace.
- THE only way that any of us is changed from darkness into light, from mean-spirited snakes into gentle doves, is by changing us from the inside out.
- IT doesn't work the other way around. You cannot be changed from the outside in.
- YOU may succeed temporarily to follow certain rules and regulations, and have a veneer of holiness. But if it is not the work of the Holy Spirit it will just make you mean.
- WE are only truly changed from the inside out.
- AND the only one I know who does "inside" work is Jesus.
- AND the only way He does it is by grace.
- AND grace is given as you and I participate by faith in the disciplines of the faith, like reading the Bible, and prayer, and fasting, and worship, and fellowship with believers, and giving.......and as we participate in the disciplines of the faith, that puts us in the geographic location where God pours in the grace that changes us from the inside out.
- SO get on boldly with grace. Grace that changes us. Grace that frees us. Grace that empowers us. Grace that makes us holy.
- BOLD in Jesus.
- BOLD in grace.
iv. BOLD in praise
- HERE is the last secret for holy boldness. It is found in Hebrews 13:15&16.
"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name.(16) And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."
- LET me paraphrase again. Instead of being led away into confusion and despair by crying the blues and complaining all the time, set out boldly in thankful praise towards God and let that spill out into the lives of those closest to you.
- THERE is nothing that will bring confusion and despair into your heart and life faster than complaining and singing the blues.
- THAT stuff spreads faster than poison ivy.
- ELIJAH got too dependant on God working in spectacular ways, with drought and fire and rain. So when things got tough for a while, and Jezebel was after his life....he wasn't used to the opposition.
- AND he started crying the blues in I Kings 19. Listen to how it goes.
* Lord, please just let me die. That would be better than what I am facing right now.
* I have had enough Lord, I can't take any more. (Any of this have a familiar ring to it?)
* I am no better than my ancestors.
* I have been very zealous for you, God.
* The Israelites have rejected your Word, broken down your altars, and put your prophets like me to death.
* I am the only one left that has been faithful to you, and now they are trying to kill me!
- AND God has to snap Elijah out of it. He says, "Go back to where you came from, and anoint Jehu king over Israel, and get Elisha to succeed you as prophet. I have 7,000 in Israel who have not bowed their knee to Baal."
- NEGATIVE thinking and talking breeds confusion in the spirit because it leaves out God's perspective and denies His power and authority.
- SO when times get hard, and the despair and confusion break in.....instead of being led away by crying the blues......through Jesus, let us continually offer to God the sacrifice of praise....."
- FIRST, it is through Jesus that the praise is offered. Not feelings, not circumstances, not other people. He is the foundation of our confidence and hope.
- SECONDLY, it is offered continually, not just on Sunday mornings, and not just when you feel like it or are specially moved to praise....but continually.
- THIRDLY, it is a sacrifice. IT costs you. It costs you your decorum, your cool composure, your image. It costs you your feelings. They have to die on the altar. Praise is a sacrifice.
- FOURTHLY, it is the fruit of lips that confess His name. It is verbal, not silent. Not just a song that praises Him on Sunday morning, but lips that confess Him at home and in the neighborhood and at work.
- AND lastly, it is a sacrifice that does good and shares with others. In other words it is practical in its selflessness on behalf of others.
- SO we give thanks,
* For our salvation, for the gift of eternal life, for forgiveness, for His protection over our lives and families, for His joy, for friends, for family, for the Gift of His Spirit, for Jesus, for health, for the Word........and on and on we can go.
- HE has been so good to us, we continually offer to God the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of the lips that confess His name.
- AND the more He is lifted up in your heart and in your life, the more He gives clarity of thinking and courage and boldness.
- AND the shadows fade away, and the Sonshine floods your life.
- INSTEAD of being led away and confused by different teachings.......set out boldly after Jesus alone.
- INSTEAD of being led away and confused by self-effort to achieve a new you.........set out boldly after God's grace that will change you from the inside out.
- INSTEAD of being led away and confused by crying the blues.....set out boldly to continually offer the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that confess His name.
- THAT is the antidote for intimidation and confusion that the enemy would bring on your life and this church.
- WE resist him in the name of Jesus, and move forward in boldness and courage to the victory that He has won for us on the cross.
JESUS, YOU'RE THE CENTER OF MY JOY