Faithlife Sermons

Worshiping the Risen Christ

Awaken to Worship  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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EAster 2020 and the conclusion of Awaken to Worship. We worship Jesus because we have assurance of our eternal hope in him

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Introduction

In a study, Psychologist Dr. Elinore Kinarthy reported that the average person has more than 200 negative thoughts a day: worries, jealousies, insecurities, cravings for forbidden things, etc. Depressed people have as many as six hundred. You can’t eliminate all the troublesome things that go through your mind, but this kind of insecurity plagues our society. As I’m writing this message, our society is in a heightened fear of the Coronavirus. Honestly, it seems as if the media is always looking for something to cause fear in our lives. This insecurity shakes our confidence and our hope in life.
It’s the kind of insecurity that we introverts feel in a crowded room of strangers. I would rather be anywhere in the world than a crowded room full of strange people. Sooner or later someone asks me what I do for a living. Knowing I’m in a room full of Christians, my confidence is higher. “I’m a pastor.” Put me in a room full of strangers, and my psyche convinces me that every person is a card-carrying ACLU member from Seattle in the area attending a conference for militantly defeating religious liberties. “I’m… in the people business...”
It is easy to be confident when it seems like everything is going your way. Like being a *** fan during the **** season. Take that confidence away and we’re stuck justifying our own position. In America we have so much to place our confidence upon. Wealth, position, the economy, our own well-being. It’s easy to forget how much insecurity is in the rest of the world.
In fact, right now there are more people enslaved than in any time in history. Seventy-one percent of the ten million slaves today are women and girls. Twenty-five percent of the slaves today are children. Where do people in places like Guinea Bissau where children cannot find basics like clean water and immunizations find confidence for their life? In 2020 no child should ever perish or suffer because they do not have access to clean water or a twenty-five cent immunization.
The first Christians didn’t believe they had much to be confident in their own lives. After the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, everything they believed seemed to overturned. Jesus was crucified and buried and the disciples of the first Easter hid themselves in fear. Yes, life offers its fair-share of reasons for fear. Big and small, there are plenty of threats against the things that seem offer security. But as Bonhoeffer wrote, we pursue security, when what we really are looking for is peace.
Little changed culturally after the resurrection and ascension. Existentially, the world was far from open arms to the first church. Of the Twelve Apostles. eleven were Martyred. The only reason John was not martyred was because they couldn’t figure out how to kill him. Even Paul, who was once feared by the church because of his persecution, now was being persecuted himself. The letter to the Philippians is called a ‘prison epistle’ because it was written from a Roman jail. It is in Philippians that we find inspiring words like, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength ().
It is here also that Paul, from his prison cell reminds the early church and us that we have something to be confident about. It is from here I want to remind you today of the same confidence that Paul shared. Yes, because of the Risen Christ we can have absolute confidence. Confidence no matter what how the world around us is pressing in on us. Confidence in the face of a diagnosis. Confidence in a time of storm and turmoil. Confidence no matter what the economy is doing. Confidence despite the finance, children, family or job situation. Confident today that, “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” That’s what the resurrection does and why we worship the risen Christ.

3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

The Advance of the Gospel

12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Paul and the church in Philippi had tremendous reason to give thanks with certainty in uncertain times. It had little to do his circumstances and everything to do with worshiping the risen Christ. The resurrection changes everything and it will change your life too. This morning Paul gives us some important certainties because of the resurrection:

The Resurrection Means Certainty of Salvation

Over the years, people have asked me, “How can a loving God send good people to hell?” On the surface it sounds like a reasonable question and the first time I was asked that I didn’t have a good answer. When you look at the heart of the question, however, you begin to see some significant flaws. Clearing up some definitions actually reveals the height and power of God’s love for people.
To answer that, let’s look at the question in reverse order.
There is a hell. Hell is described by the Bible as eternal and conscious suffering (). It is a place that was designed for Satan and his demons after they rebelled against God (; ). As the result of the fall of man in the garden it is the default destination of all people because of our sinful nature(,; ; ). Which leads to the second part of the question.
How does God send GOOD PEOPLE to hell. He doesn’t. He doesn’t because man is not good, only God is good, hold, and righteous (, , , , ). The Bible says that there is no one that is righteous (). By our own standards we may say that man is good, but the measure is not against the standard of man. The standards is God’s holiness.
Nor does God send anyone to hell, we send ourselves. In The Great Divorce and The Problem of Pain, Lewis put it this way: “In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell is itself a question: “What are you asking God to do?” . . . To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what he does. . . . In the end, there are only two kinds of people—those who say to God “thy will be done” and those to whom God says in the end “thy will be done.” I like how J.D. Greer put it when he said, “It’s not enough for God to take us out of hell; he must take hell out of us.” .
Worshiping the Risen Christ is a continual life of joy - no matter what the situation or storm. We can count all things joy because nothing changes our heavenly home in Jesus. The resurrection signals the battle was won. Our eternity secure. Which brings me the central part of the question and the central part of this point in the message: God’s love.

The Resurrection Means Certainty of God’s Love

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell is itself a question: “What are you asking God to do?” . . . To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what he does. . . . In the end, there are only two kinds of people—those who say to God “thy will be done” and those to whom God says in the end “thy will be done.”
You see, the resurrection is an overwhelming testimony of God’s love and the work of God to save us all from our default destination of hell. A loving God will do everything He can to prevent us from an eternity in hell and the greatest act of love is in the cross and the resurrection! The Gospel of John tells us that we were enemies of God but to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, He gave the right to become children of God.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote; “Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes”
Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes
I have good news: God began a good work, a work of amazing love by coming down from heaven. You were his enemy and he demonstrated his love for you by dying on a sinner’s Cross for you (). It is one thing to show love for a friend by sacrificing yourself for him, but true love is seen in that sacrifice for someone who is an enemy (, ). Salvation is the power of God in response to faith. God’s love for us is not because we are lovable; it is because He chose to love us when we were not lovable.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ()
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
It is essential that you understand that salvation is a work of God.  Look at verse 29 of chapter 1.  Paul says to the same Philippians, “For to you it has been granted,” or “it has been given” – you are the recipient of a gift from God – “for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”  In other words, God gave you faith, and God has given you suffering.  It has been granted for Christ’s sake that you should believe.

The Resurrection Bring Certainty of God’s Faithfulness

Now, let’s return to : “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you...”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), .
Stop right there… who began the work? Jesus. If Jesus began the work; that Jesus came from heaven to earth, died on a sinner’s cross and then rose again. That if God did all of this to bring Salvation; be certain, be positive, be joyous, be secure that he who began the work of your salvation will be faithful to complete it.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you
Trusting God is an essential part of being a Christian. God is constantly honing you and shaping you into the person He created you to be both now and for all eternity
There’s something else that is present in God’s faithfulness. This verse is widely interpreted as a basis for personal confidence: God began the good work of salvation in me and he will be faithful to complete the work. Of course God’s work in the includes the work in the individual, but He also is at work in the fellowship or koinonia of believers. Those who enjoy the fellowship and relationship of other brothers and sisters of the gospel share a mutual participation in the saving work of Christ. We are the kingdom of heaven! Our fellowship together is a foretaste of the joy to come!
When Paul wrote to the Philippian believers, there were real and existential threats to the church. Like today, the world was hostile to the gospel. Paul wanted to encourage the Philippians and us at GCC today to strengthen the fellowship and unity.
God is faithful. And because God is faithful we are called to walk by faith and not be sight (). There are seasons and we are in a season right now when things seem unstable and uncertain. But God is faithful to complete what he started no matter what the circumstances are around us.
It is easy to try to try to rely on our own strength. But this is the folly of man. We need God and we need to be faithful to him because he was first faithful to us. That is why Paul will continue to encourage the Philippian church
God is faithful in providing for our every need: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” ().
God is faithful in giving us strength: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (). 
And God is faithful in providing us a community of support : “...not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (). 
We can have confidence in God’s faithfulness and we need each other to be reminded of His faithfulness.

The Resurrection Bring Certainty of Eternity

He will be faithful to complete it...
There was a time in my faith when I secretly questioned if heaven and eternity was real. Mainly because I couldn’t wrap my head around all of it. I mean, what if we are just time, plus chance, plus matter? What if, we are like Steven Hawking used to say, ‘dancing to the beat of our DNA.’? We are nothing more than advanced biology and when I die - nothing. Paul’s words are assurance to us.
God is faithful to finish what he started to the very completion. It is the certainty of the resurrection that puts to bed all these questions. The hope of the resurrection is everything. It was the resurrection that transformed a rag-tag bunch of fishmen to Apostles that died for their faith. It was the resurrection that took Paul to being a vehement persecutor of those disciples to writing, “I am crucified with Christ” (). It was the resurrection that has transformed lives for 2000 years.

9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Conclusion

It is this confidence that Paul shared with the Philippian Church that I am sharing with you today, that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Jesus. We can be certain as the resurrection that Jesus is coming again soon. Next week we will start a series from Revelation on that theme.
When everything seems sideways. When the uncertainty of life is robbing us of all joy. We can be certain of our hope in Christ. To those who respond to Christ, we live in that certainty in every day, in every situation. The Christian is not immune to difficult days, but in those days we find a strength and hope that is not our own.
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