Faithlife Sermons

What are you living for? Pt 4

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The Church is meant to be a place that carries the life-transfroming Gospel into the world. And yet, it is not. Why? Because we have lost sight... our world, and of the gospel...

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What are you living for?

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Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

In a conversation with one of my very good friends…a brother…this week, he said something so profound…so meaningful for the church…that I want to share it with you:
“…doing requires fostering an honesty, accountability, and vulnerability that the modern church is not equipped to facilitate...”
Let’s be honest.... the “modern” church has failed miserably....
The Church is meant to be a place that carries the life-transforming gospel into the world.
And yet....
Church has become an “activity” instead of a place of “life-altering” transformation.
The result in our culture is that people have either been immunized against the gospel, or abandoned by the Church…
...leaving millions to simply “figure it out on their own,” or worse... be condemned to death....
Why?
Why has the Church become this? What happened?
What sent us spiraling down this path towards destruction? I mean... every one of us recognizes that we are a long way from the church.... So, How did we get here?
We have lost sight of our first love....
After praising the church in Ephesus for their endurance, for their testing of false prophets, and desire for holiness...Christ tells them:
The New Revised Standard Version The Message to Ephesus

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.

We have done the same thing. We have become complacent — as a Church — in our walk with God, and as a result:
We have lost sight of both our world, and the gospel, and we are simply “going through the motions” trying to figure it all out!
We somehow think that meeting in the building…having a lot of people join us — oh yeah! they need to be mixed cultures — and having good programming means we are building the Kingdom and going to Heaven...... But....
Let me ask you this again:
What are you living for?
You see.... The Apostle Paul --- the apostles --- knew what they were living for....

Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.

Paul makes it clear: He was completely “sold out” for the Gospel. And his life proved that!!!!
His “heart’s desire” was to see the salvation of others.... regardless of what it cost him personally!
Philippians 2:17 NRSV
But even if I am being poured out as a libation over the sacrifice and the offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you—
Phillippians 2:17
Paul was so eager to witness the salvation of his brothers and sisters that he proclaimed:
Romans 9:
Romans 9:3 NRSV
For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh.
(yes, I know that his words are towards his own people, but is his heart different towards the Gentiles?)
Are you “seeing” Paul’s heart here? Are you getting a feel for who he was....how he felt about the gospel?
We have a message to share....
Paul was so eager to see his people (the Israelites) receive the gift of God’s grace, that he was willing to lay down his own salvation if it meant that they would receive theirs!
I gotta ask.... Are we willing to do the same?
Paul confesses:
Romans 9:2 NRSV
I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.
Romans 9:
Do we feel the same?
Do our hearts yearn to see people saved? Does it cause us pain…heartache…distress....to see people who are not saved?
Is that thing that keeps us up at night... a concern that others would receive the grace and mercy that we have found in Christ?
Let me tell you.... it should be. Our hearts should break at the sight of someone who is not saved....
Because their salvation is not a matter of choice.....(20-30 years ago we couldn’t say this) Many, many people in our world today, are like the Israelites in Paul’s day..... They just...don’t...understand.
They understand that they are missing something. Many are zealously seeking spirituality, but they don’t understand the gospel....
Romans 10:2-3
Romans 10:2–3 NRSV
I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness.
Now…what is God’s righteousness? (Christ)
Do you see what Paul is telling them?
The Jewish and Gentile believers were condemning the Israelites.... They were acting like they were somehow “bad” people.... like they had just chosen to “ignore” the truth.... Like they had turned their backs on God.... Sound familiar?
Many in our world today (inside and outside the church) are being treated the same way.... The outcasts....the prostitutes…the orphans…the widows…the drug addicts…the depressed…the angry....the complacent.....
But, the truth is, they don’t understand! They don’t understand the gospel, and so....they continue to try and do it themselves....their way...
What is the Gospel?
Simply put.... the Gospel is transformation.
Romans 6:4 NRSV
Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
Romans 6:
We receive that “newness of life” through our faith in Christ.
Romans 10:9–10 NRSV
because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.
Romans 10:9-10
Romans 10:13 NRSV
For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
We have been given “new life” through our faith in Christ. Do you realize what that means?
Do you realize the true significance of that?
You are no longer a sinner.
Now, hear me out!
Christ came, and died on the Cross....paying the price for your sins..... Through His life, death, and resurrection, we are given new life.... we are “redeemed” and “reconciled” with God..... Amen?
That means that we are a “new creation.” In Him.... In Christ we are transformed. We are no longer “defined” by our sin.
Romans 8:1–2 NRSV
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
Now hear this — If you have confessed Christ....If you have accepted Him into your heart…then you are free! That label — “sinner” — no longer applies to you…you are not defined by it!
Christ himself confessed that He came to “break the chains of bondage” and to “set the captive free.”
You see.... that is the beauty of the gospel! No matter what we have done in the past.... no matter how bad we have messed up.... We are not bound by that “sin”.... we are not condemned and defined by it..... Our life has been made new! We have been set free! We are no longer “sinners,” we are “redeemed.”
And even better.... We can do nothing to accomplish that! Our works will never be good enough. Our words will never be enough. Our good deeds will not do it.....
Why is that good news? Because we know how much we fail! We understand....
You will never be “good enough” to save yourself....no matter how hard we try, we fall short.... That’s why we describe ourselves as “sinners.”
But that’s the good news — You don’t have to be, because God has done it for you!
That
Romans 10:
Romans 10:13 NRSV
For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
How awesome is that?!
That is good news, and that is what Paul is proclaiming here.... That is what he desires the Israelites to grab ahold of.... That is the thing that his heart longs to see people come to understand and accept!
There is freedom in Christ that we do not have to “earn,” because it is a free gift of grace, but it is found only through faith.
All we have to do is “call on the name of Christ.”
Isn’t that awesome?!
But, look at what he says next....
Romans 10:14
Romans 10:14–15 NRSV
But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Paul is telling us that we have a message to share....and what an awesome message it is. Amen!
How can we condemn people for not believing it...if we are not sharing it? How can they believe if no-one ever tells them the truth?!
Our job…our responsibility…is to share the gospel — to share what we have received.
2 Corinthians 5:18–19 NRSV
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
-19
We have been given a “life-transforming” message. What are we doing with it?
2 Corinthians 5:18–19 NIV
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
2 Cor
We have been given a “life-transforming” message. What are we doing with it?
What are we living for? Ourselves? Christ? Others?
Let me put it another way — What is the purpose of the church?
If it truly is to share this glorious gospel message, then....
How do we become a church that bridges the gap for those who have been neglected by the church and immunized against the gospel?
You see.... this is a conversation that is long overdue in the church.
We said at the beginning that the “modern” church has failed miserably. Why?
The truth is, we have failed to understand, both the nature of the Gospel, and the nature of the church within our culture.
Let me ask you: Does the Church hold the same place in our culture that it did 20, or even 30, years ago? No....
We have to understand — Christianity no longer holds the “most favored religion” status in America.
We are living in a “post-Christian” society… Our culture has de-emphasized the importance of Christian beliefs and practices.... The result is a “spiritual vacuum” where religion is seen as antiquated and irrelevant to peoples’ lives.
This means that our methods of sharing the gospel have to change. The things that seemed to work in the past, no longer do.... Actually they never really did! (if they did, the Church wouldn’t be where it is today)
Let me ask you this — What are some ways/methods the church has used to “evangelize” people in the past?
(camp meetings, revivals, door knocking, tracts,....)
The only way we are going to see people’s lives transformed by the gospel is by living intentional lives.
By being intentional with our lives.
We are called to live our lives as Jesus modeled.
That is what Holiness is.
Matthew 5:16 NRSV
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
That is what Holiness is.
Matthew 4:16 NRSV
the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.”
St. Augustine — “Preach always, when necessary, use words.”
People need to see what true faith and holiness looks like.
They need to experience God’s love and power firsthand. The only way that happens is through us.
Why do we share the gospel?
We need to get serious about the gospel. We need to get serious about scripture....prayer…worship....about being completely open and honest with each other and ourselves....being vulnerable…and accountable to each other....about building relationships that encourage growth....and about carrying God into every corner of our lives!
As James says, we need to be “doers of the word.”
(to get people saved) Wrong! That is not our job.
Our one and only motivation should be to share the life-transforming love of God with each and every person that God gives us opportunity to share it with!
Now hear this..... There is nothing....absolutely nothing....that is more beautiful....more attractive....and more powerful then men and women completely and totally committed to God!
To answer the question that was posed to me:
We have been given the greatest gift any of us could ever hope to receive — the gift of a transformed life!
How do we become a church that opens the door to the transforming power of the gospel in our little corner of the world?
Why would we not wish to share that with others?
By living our lives for one thing and one thing only.... the Glory of the Lord!
Why would we not desire…to yearn… for others to experience the same?
That is what brings the life-transforming power of the gospel to people’s lives… that is what changes the world.... and that is what we are called to do...
There is not a single place or time that we should NOT carry the gospel in to.... We should be prepared…and eager…to share our message — the Gospel message — everywhere we find ourselves....
1 Peter 3:15 NRSV
but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you;
2 Timothy 4:2 NRSV
proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching.
Do you see it? We do not have to preach.... we just have to live Holy lives… completely committed to Christ.... sanctified to Him… revealing the Hope…the Joy…the Peace... that only comes from Him....
And people will be drawn to it.
We should be taking every opportunity we are provided to share the life-transforming truth of God.
We should be eager to see people understand the freedom that comes with God’s Grace.
That is what we have received Grace for!
I don’t understand how any of us can truly understand the Gospel, and not feel a responsibility to share it..... and I believe that Paul felt the same way.
When we look at the world around us....we see so much…brokenness…pain…suffering…abuse…anger…hate...
The gospel is the cure! It is the ONLY cure… our hearts should ache with an urgency to share it…to see lives transformed by it.... to see the world changed...
Our life is meant to be spent sharing God’s love and grace....not pursuing our own personal gain....
Let me tell you.... there is absolutely nothing more satisfying…more beautiful…more fulfilling…then living for God’s message and seeing people come to understand it!
It will completely change your life!
What are you living for?
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