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2016-09-04 Luke 18:9-14 Getting "In" (1): Beautiful to God

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GETTING “IN” (1): BEAUTIFUL TO GOD (Luke 18:9-14) September 4, 2016 Intro – Here is one of the most pivotal passages in Scripture. It tells the gospel as clearly as it can be told. If you don’t get it here, you’ll never get it. Jesus’ audience is those “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous.” We don’t talk much about righteous any more. You might suspect the average person today doesn’t care much whether or not they are considered righteous. But actually, we do. We all want to be good enough to be accepted by God. We don’t exactly think of it that way, but that question lurks behind every action we take. We can suppress it; reject it; deny it or ignore it, but we cannot avoid it – am I good enough? Am I acceptable to God? Deep inside all of us is the undeniable need to be accepted, to be wanted, to be in, to be “righteous.” That is the topic Jesus addresses in this explicit parable – how to be righteous – or in today’s vernacular, how to be rid of guilt and acceptable to God without a doubt. That’s the topic. It is so important that I want to take one day to deal with the parable in general terms. Then next week, how not to be acceptable and finally how to be acceptable. Eternal life and death are at issue. I. The Problem During a high school halftime show, a young man in the band was playing a fine trumpet solo. A man sitting high up said proudly, “That’s my son!” No sooner were the words out of his mouth and the boy began to make numerous mistakes. Shortly the man said, “Well, maybe that’s not my boy. They all look alike from up here.” Whoa, that would be devastating, wouldn’t it? But deep inside us is the realization that that’s in a sense what our relationship with God is like. Not bc He’s like that father, but bc we are like that son – not good enough. We want to be accepted -- by peers, by our boss, our family and most of all by God. Beneath all, we want to be righteous. But also beneath the surface lies the deep-seated awareness that we are not righteous, not acceptable, that we fall short. We call it guilt. Guilt – there’s a word with which we are familiar. What is guilt? It is the recognition that I am not righteous, and the fear that I can’t get righteous. Do you think that is not at the core of our being? Listen to Karl Menninger, world famous psychiatrist: “If I could convince the patients in my psychiatric hospitals that their sins are forgiven, 75% of them could walk out tomorrow.” 1 Subconsciously, the whole world wants to be accepted. Subconsciously we know – we’re not! Why the doubt? Because it’s true. We are not acceptable to God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” There is a huge gap between us and God. An unbridgeable gap – a Grand Canyon gap. The first time I was ever in Boston I drove around for what seemed like eternity trying to get from one side of the Charles River to the other. NY is easy. It’s all squares and there are no rivers in Manhattan. But in Boston, it’s all old cow trails, and the Charles River runs in the middle. I could see where I wanted to go, but the harder I tried, the more I could not get there. That is like the gap between us and God. He is holy; we are not. We can see it; but we can never be it, try as we might. The gap is unbridgeable. We long to be righteous, but we cannot. So what do we do? Easy. We re-define righteousness. We lower the standard. Years ago I was talking to an Asst. Police Chief of Houston. He was mandated to get more feet on the street. But the approved pay scale could not attract qualified people. Those who applied failed the tests. So they finally took the only course open to them. They lowered the physical and mental standards to allow them to meet their quota given the pay scale they had to work with. That is precisely the problem Jesus ran into constantly in His ministry. And He addresses it head-on here. 9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous.” Were they righteous? No! But they’d lowered the standard and declared themselves in. God’s law said, “Thou shalt not steal,” and they said, “Right – can’t take what someone else owns – but I can take the money I might have used to help my needy parents and give it to the temple so people will see how generous I am.” And Jesus called them on it. God’s law said, “Thou shalt not murder,” and they said, “Right. No stabbing someone in the back -- but I can stab them in the back verbally all I want.” And Jesus called them on it. God’s law said, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” and they said, “Fine, when I see a woman I can’t live without, I’ll just divorce wife #1 or 2 or 3 and marry the next.” And Jesus called them on it. In a thousand ways they redefined God’s Law to fit their preferences and then declared themselves righteous against their standard. It never occurred to them that in re-defining the law, they were defining God in the own image, and while they might be acceptable to their imaginary god, the true God had never changed and they were further than ever from being right with Him. This is exactly what millions continue to do when they say, “Well, I’m as good as the next guy. I can’t believe a loving God would ever send anyone to 2 hell. I’m good enough. I’ll make it.” Declaring themselves acceptable, but to a God who exists only in their imagination. They’ve built a bridge to nowhere. Meanwhile the true God is still living in perfection miles away on the other side of the Grand Canyon. That’s a problem! That’s the problem Jesus is addressing – people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous.” Bridge-builders to nowhere! When they do arrive in God’s presence on Judgment Day they’ll only demonstrate how short they fell of God’s perfection. That’s a problem! II. The Parable So – Jesus tells a parable – a story aimed at helping them their grave error. Now, many claim that Jesus is dividing the world into 2 types of people and everyone is either one or the other. But that is not the case. There are actually three types of people in the world. Let’s call them the irreligious, the religious and the gospel people. Three kinds. Irreligious people either don’t believe in God at all, or they have a deistic view of God –believing He created everything, but has been uninvolved since. We are on our own in this meaningless universe and it is no use looking beyond ourselves for answers. They care nothing for religion, and, outwardly, have no concern about being acceptable to God. But the Bible claims they have the same inherent knowledge of God as everyone else but they, “by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Rom 1:18). They live in denial of reality. The second group is the religious group. They believe they can earn God’s acceptance thru good works, ritual, or mind-games. They believe they can bridge the gap on their own. Finally, there is the gospel group. They see the gap; they recognize it is unbridgeable by any human means and throw themselves on God’s mercy. Those are the 3 groups. Jesus’ parable does not address the first group because they are not in His audience. The parable is not contrasting the irreligious and the religious. It is contrasting the religious and the gospel – all of whom claim to be believers. They want to be accepted by God, but they pursue vastly different methods to get there. So we have two men, two prayer and two results, only one of which is accepted by God. III. The Paradox The first man in Jesus’ parable is a Pharisee. By now we know the Pharisees. The name Pharisee means “separate”, and that’s what they were – separatists. 3 They came into existence around 150 BC in response to the ongoing spiritual compromise and indifference of the nation and the priesthood. They were laymen who committed themselves to strict adherence to the Mosaic Law – thus separating themselves from the general laxity of the population. Over time they had added their own definitions of the Law’s requirements which had become more important to them than the Law itself. By the time of Christ, they were the most revered spiritual leaders in the nation. They despised the common people, but the people looked up to them as the ultimate in piety. They wore the white hats. In their eyes and the eyes of others, if anyone was acceptable to God, it had to be the Pharisees. So, in Jesus’ parable, a Pharisee enters the temple to pray. The temple, of course, was the cultural center of Jewish life. It was a place for public teaching. It was the only place where sacrifices could be offered. That happened twice a day and it was common for people to gather for prayer at those times. Lu 1:10: And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.” The temple was also a place for private devotions, so it was not at all unusual to see a Pharisee in the temple. He could have come anytime, but typically would have come at one of the two daily sacrifices to have an audience. Jesus says in Lu 20:47, Pharisees “for a pretense make long prayers.” Jesus no doubt has this kind of scene in mind. Then a 2nd man comes. He’s a tax collector. No one expected to see him at the temple. He was a rascal – the scum of society. He collected taxes for the Romans and feathered his own nest by cheating in the process. Everybody knew it – but no one could do stop it. He had denied his nation, his religion and his God -- all for the sake of money. His very presence at the temple was a scandal. He wore a very black hat. Thus the 2 men. And in the minds of Jesus’ audience there was no doubt who was in and who was out. Both men pray, after which Jesus issues a verdict. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. See the word “justified”? It’s the same word translated “righteous” in v. 9. To get the sense translate “accepted” in both places. 9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were [accepted].” Jesus knows that many in the crowd think they are “in”. So he tells the story, then issues the verdict. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house [accepted], rather than the other. And there’s the paradox. Because the one Jesus says is “in” is the exact opposite of whom the crowd expected. They’d never have believed a dirty, rotten tax collector would be accepted while an exemplary Pharisee not be. They couldn’t believe it. This would have turned their world upside down. 4 Think of it this way. Faced with a crowd that had it all wrong, Jesus is saying, “Here are two photographs. One shows you what you are. The other shows you what you must be to be justified.” And to everyone’s shock and surprise, the tax collector is pictured as “in.” The Pharisee is pictured as “out.” So, was the Pharisee out because he lived a good life and the tax collector in because he was a filthy, rotten traitor? Of course not. It was the content of their hearts, as revealed by their prayers, that was the deciding factor. Jesus is using this extreme example to show that it is what’s inside that counts, not what’s outside. Appearances deceive. Religion looks good even as it destroys people. Jesus’ message is our search for acceptance must center in Christ, not in self. Let me illustrate. I read recently of a woman in her late 30’s who had never married and saw herself as a failed woman. She harbored tremendous unresolved anger toward a man she had dated for many years but who would never commit. She sought therapy and was assured that she had foolishly accepted her family’s and society’s opinion that to have significance (to be “in”) she must have a husband and children. The counselor proposed she abandon such unenlightened views and devote herself to her career to see that she didn’t need a man or anyone else to give her a sense of worth. She did so, tho she found she could not escape her resentment of her ex-boyfriend. About this time she began attending a church where she was hearing the gospel for the first time. Always before she thought, like Jesus’ audience, that we are accepted by God by amassing a record of good works that we give to God in hopes that it is enough. Now she was hearing that Jesus Christ has already amassed a perfect record, and when we believe into Him, He freely gives it to us. He lives the life we should live and died the death we should have died in our place so that when we receive Him by faith our sins are forgiven and we are justified – declared acceptable by the Father. That led to the further realization that while the counselor was right that she could not find acceptance thru male affection, she was wrong in suggesting that instead she find acceptance thru career success. She stated it this way. It’s beautiful: "Why should I leave the ranks of the many women who make ‘family’ their whole life to join the ranks of the many men who make ‘career’ the same thing? Would I not be as devastated then by career setbacks as I have been by romantic ones? No. I will rest in the righteousness [acceptance] of Christ and learn to rejoice in it. Then I can look at males or career and say, ‘What makes me beautiful to God is Jesus, not these things.’” There is someone who got it, Beloved. Do you get it? What 5 she was saying is exactly what the Bible says in Eph 1:6 when we are told that believers are “to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which HE made us accepted in the Beloved [Christ].” If you are searching for significance this morning – for a way to be ultimately “in” – accepted – it can only be thru Christ, never thru self. Total paradox, but total truth. IV. The Principle Now, Jesus closes with this at the end of v. 14: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” This is the paradox stated in the form of a principle. It means this. To be accepted by God you must do the opposite of your fallen human tendency. To get up to God you would think you must work hard at it. Instead you must go down on your knees in humility, confess your inability and beg His mercy. Heading up will bring you down; heading down will bring you up. Conc – John MacArthur’s sister passed away from cancer in 1997. They spoke frequently during her last days. Once John said to her, “Well, Julie, the worst thing that could happen to you is the best thing that could happen to anybody.” She replied, “I know that – never questioned it. I can’t wait to be with Jesus.” Next day she told how the hospital had sent a psychiatrist around to ask her to a special therapy group. He suggested it would help her to get in touch with her “inner child.” She told them, “No thanks. I don’t need to get in touch with my inner child. I’m in touch with my Lord Jesus Christ and everything is fine.” Oh, that’s the right answer, Beloved. Your inner child is the problem; Jesus is the answer. What makes us beautiful to the Father is Jesus, not anything we can do. Do you have Jesus? Why not now? Let’s pray. 6 In Christ; Assurance; Receiving Christ; Accepting Christ; Salvation; Hope; Eternal Perspective; Heaven; Supremacy of Christ; During the time my sister was suffering from terminal cancer (she passed away in 1997 and now knows the joy of heaven firsthand), we spoke to each other frequently by telephone. During one of those call several years ago, I said to her, “Well, Julie, the worst thing that could happen to you is the best thing that could happen to anybody.” She answered, “I know that; I’ve never questioned it.” Then I added, “You know, you’re going to be in the presence of the Lord, in the glories of heaven.” To which she replied, “And that’s my confidence.” Then she told me how the hospital that day had sent a psychiatrist and someone else to tell her they wanted to place her in a special therapy group. They hoped to help her get in touch with her “inner child.” My sister reacted to that idea by telling the hospital personnel, “No thanks. I don’t need to get in touch with my inner child. I’m in touch with my Lord Jesus Christ, and everything is fine.” John F. MacArthur, The Pillars of Christian Character, page 103.1 Imputation; Receiving Christ; In Christ; Accepting Christ; Merit; Goodness; Good enough; Good works; Salvation by works; Faith; Dependence; Faith and Works; Grace; Salvation; I took Abby and Flannery out for something fun to drink. Abby got an apple juice, and Flannery got a Mango Surprise. Despite my insistence that I would pay, my daughters were prepared to be generous with the contents of their piggy banks. As we were walking up to the counter, one of them said, “I want to pay for mine.” “Daddy’s gonna get it,” I said. She insisted, “I’m paying for mine.” The clerk, ringing up the drinks, said, “That’ll be $2.06.” One daughter put all the change, about 80 cents, on the counter. “Um, that’s not enough,” the clerk said. I felt a little tug on my sweater. “I think I’d like to use your money,” my other daughter said. —Tom Allen, Seattle, Washington 1 McNeff, D. (n.d.). New Illustrations. 7 Larson, C. B., & Ten Elshof, P. (2008). 1001 illustrations that connect (p. 210). Self-sufficiency; Man centered; God centered; Need for God; Provision; God's provision; God's existence; Creation; A group of scientists got together and decided that humans have come a long way and no longer needed God. They picked one scientist to go tell God. He said, "God, we've decided that we no longer need you. We can now clone people, we can walk on the moon – we can do everything." God listened patiently, and after the scientist made his point, he said, "I understand what you're saying, but before you dismiss me from your life, let's test your theory." "Okay, great," the man replied. "What's the experiment?" "We’re going to create a man from the dust of the earth, just like I did back in the old days with Adam." The scientist said, "Sure, no problem," and then down to grabbed himself a handful of dirt. "No, no, no," said the Lord. "You go get your own dirt." Bernard Brunsting, The Ultimate Guide to Good Clean Humor, page 165. Conc Self-sufficiency; Man centered; God centered; Need for God; Provision; God's provision; God's existence; Creation; A group of scientists got together and decided that humans have come a long way and no longer needed God. They picked one scientist to go tell God. He said, "God, we've decided that we no longer need you. We can now clone people, we can walk on the moon – we can do everything." God listened patiently, and after the scientist made his point, he said, "I understand what you're saying, but before you dismiss me from your life, let's test your theory." "Okay, great," the man replied. "What's the experiment?" "We’re going to create a man from the dust of the earth, just like I did back in the old days with Adam." The scientist said, "Sure, no problem," and then down to grabbed himself a handful of dirt. "No, no, no," said the Lord. "You go get your own dirt." Bernard Brunsting, The Ultimate Guide to Good Clean Humor, page 165. Victory; Help; Defeat; Lib; Self-Sufficiency; Dependence; Holy Spirit; Power; In May 1940, with France on the verge of defeat, Winston Churchill, who had been serving as first lord of the Admiralty, replaced the failed 8 Chamberlain. A few days later, while shaving, Churchill announced to his son, Randolph: "I think I can see my way through." Randolph, recalling the conversation in a 1963 memoir, asked, "Do you mean we can avoid defeat or defeat the bastards?" His father, flinging his razor into a wash basin, proclaimed, "Of course I mean we can beat them." Asked how, the new prime minister simply said, "I shall drag the United States in." Seymour M. Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot, page 67. Indwelling sin; Sin; Anxiety; Guilt; Depravity; Acceptance by God; Righteousness; Gospel; Humility; Humbleness; Pride; Confession; Repentance; The day you can swallow your pride and say, “My record is bad. That anxiety I’m feeling is right …” Or as Ed Clowney, one of my fathers in the faith, used to say, “If you have a negative self-image, maybe you’re just being realistic.” My anxiety is well grounded, you see. The gospel is: swallow your pride, admit you really are unacceptable as you are, and then and only then, Paul says, will you be able to receive the verdict of absolute acceptability. “This is my beloved child in whom I am well pleased.” Keller, T. J. (2013). The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive. New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church. ense of worth; Needs; Psychological needs; Emotional needs; Acceptance; Acceptance by God; Idols; Idolatry; Worth; Self-Worth; Grace; Gospel; I once knew a woman in her late 30s who had never married. Her family and her part of the country believed that there was something radically wrong with any woman of that age who was still single. She wrestled greatly with shame and a feeling that she had somehow failed as a woman. Because of this, she also had tremendous unresolved anger against a man she had dated for many years but who had not been willing to marry her. Finally, she went to a counselor. The therapist told her that she had taken to heart her family's approach to personal value – namely, that a woman had to have a husband and children if she was to have any worth. She was bitter against this man because he had come between her and the things she felt she had to have for her life to have significance. The counselor then proposed that she throw off such an unenlightened view and devote herself to her career. "If you come to see yourself as a good, accomplished person, then you will see you don't need a man or anyone else to give you a sense of worth." And so she began to shed her family and culture’s view of women and to pursue a career. She began to feel better, but she discovered that it didn't enable her to get over her resentment toward her longtime ex-boyfriend. 9 At about this time, she was going to a church where she was hearing the gospel clearly for the first time. She heard that the gospel was not what she had thought – that we amass a good record, give it to God, and then he saves us. Instead, the gospel is that Jesus Christ has amassed a perfect record and when we believe in him, he gives it to us. He lives the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died in our place, so that when we believe, our sins are pardoned and we are "counted righteous in his sight." Then we are completely accepted and loved by the only One in the universe whose opinions really count. She began to realize that the well-meaning counselor was only half right. Indeed, it was wrong of her to seek self-worth through male affection. That had been a trap. It made her self-regard contingent on what men thought of her. But now she was being asked to look to her career and accomplishments as a way to feel good about herself. That meant that her selfimage would be dependent on her success at achieving economic independence. So she said, "Why should I leave the ranks of the many women who make ‘family’ their whole life to join the ranks of the many men who make ‘career’ the same thing? Would I not be as devastated then by career setbacks as I have been by romantic ones? No. I will rest in the righteousness of Christ and learn to rejoice in it. Then I can look at males or career and say, "What makes me beautiful to God is Jesus, not these things.’” And so she did. Not only did she quickly find that she was much less anxious about her job, but she began to sense more and more the magnitude of God’s love through Christ. She began to experience what can be called “emotional wealth” – a sense of being loved so deeply that when someone wrongs us we can afford to be generous, able to forgive. Her anger against her former boyfriend and against men in general subsided. A few years later, to her surprise, she met a man, fell in love, and married. Looking back, there was no doubt in her mind that, if she had married her old boyfriend, it would have been a disaster. She would have looked to him to give her what only Christ can, and therefore she wouldn’t have been in a position to serve and care for him. Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, page 68. Intro  We lived free [when in fellowship with God in the Garden of Eden], we lived large, but when we lost our certainty of God’s approval, when we decided to be our own masters, and we 10 started experiencing alienation, we developed a lof-geornost. We began to experience a glory hunger, an approval hunger, a self-esteem hunger, an assurance hunger, that seems to never be satisfied. That’s the problem of righteousness. Righteousness means to be approved, to be accepted, to pass scrutiny, and it’s a problem we all have. It’s a huge problem, and everybody is dealing with it. Jesus says, “Let me tell you one common way people deal with it that doesn’t work, and let me show you the way that does.” The way that doesn’t work and the way that does are represented by these two figures. Here we are in verse 10. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.” The one approach, represented by the Pharisee, is what I’m going to call the outside-in approach. The other approach, represented by the tax collector, is what we’re going to call the inside-out approach to righteousness, to the solution. There’s an outside-in solution to righteousness that doesn’t work. There’s an inside-out effort as a solution to righteousness that does. (Keller) I. The Wrong Way (Self-centeredness and outward) characterized by A. Self-Sufficiency – moving to remove the gap by himself Self-sufficiency; Man centered; God centered; Need for God; Provision; God's provision; God's existence; Creation; A group of scientists got together and decided that humans have come a long way and no longer needed God. They picked one scientist to go tell God. He said, "God, we've decided that we no longer need you. We can now clone people, we can walk on the moon – we can do everything." God listened patiently, and after the scientist made his point, he said, "I understand what you're saying, but before you dismiss me from your life, let's test your theory." "Okay, great," the man replied. "What's the experiment?" "We’re going to create a man from the dust of the earth, just like I did back in the old days with Adam." The scientist said, "Sure, no problem," and then down to grabbed himself a handful of dirt. "No, no, no," said the Lord. "You go get your own dirt." 11 Bernard Brunsting, The Ultimate Guide to Good Clean Humor, page 165. B. Self-Centeredness – confessing his greatness to self and others – not a prayer but self-exaltation C. Self-Promotion – Not like others 2) better than required D. Self-deception (compared himself to others, not God; wrong standard God’s stamp on him -- LOST Conc Indwelling sin; Sin; Anxiety; Guilt; Depravity; Acceptance by God; Righteousness; Gospel; Humility; Humbleness; Pride; Confession; Repentance; The day you can swallow your pride and say, “My record is bad. That anxiety I’m feeling is right …” Or as Ed Clowney, one of my fathers in the faith, used to say, “If you have a negative self-image, maybe you’re just being realistic.” My anxiety is well grounded, you see. The gospel is: swallow your pride, admit you really are unacceptable as you are, and then and only then, Paul says, will you be able to receive the verdict of absolute acceptability. “This is my beloved child in whom I am well pleased.” Keller, T. J. (2013). The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive. New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Self-sufficiency; Man centered; God centered; Need for God; Provision; God's provision; God's existence; Creation; A group of scientists got together and decided that humans have come a long way and no longer needed God. They picked one scientist to go tell God. 12 He said, "God, we've decided that we no longer need you. We can now clone people, we can walk on the moon – we can do everything." God listened patiently, and after the scientist made his point, he said, "I understand what you're saying, but before you dismiss me from your life, let's test your theory." "Okay, great," the man replied. "What's the experiment?" "We’re going to create a man from the dust of the earth, just like I did back in the old days with Adam." The scientist said, "Sure, no problem," and then down to grabbed himself a handful of dirt. "No, no, no," said the Lord. "You go get your own dirt." Bernard Brunsting, The Ultimate Guide to Good Clean Humor, page 165. Intro II. The Right Way (God-centeredness and inward) characterized by A. Humility Before God – not trying to bridge gap himself Indwelling sin; Sin; Anxiety; Guilt; Depravity; Acceptance by God; Righteousness; Gospel; Humility; Humbleness; Pride; Confession; Repentance; The day you can swallow your pride and say, “My record is bad. That anxiety I’m feeling is right …” Or as Ed Clowney, one of my fathers in the faith, used to say, “If you have a negative self-image, maybe you’re just being realistic.” My anxiety is well grounded, you see. The gospel is: swallow your pride, admit you really are unacceptable as you are, and then and only then, Paul says, will you be able to receive the verdict of absolute acceptability. “This is my beloved child in whom I am well pleased.” Keller, T. J. (2013). The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive. New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church. B. Repentance to God – “the” sinner addressed to God, not exalting self before others 13 Indwelling sin; Sin; Anxiety; Guilt; Depravity; Acceptance by God; Righteousness; Gospel; Humility; Humbleness; Pride; Confession; Repentance; The day you can swallow your pride and say, “My record is bad. That anxiety I’m feeling is right …” Or as Ed Clowney, one of my fathers in the faith, used to say, “If you have a negative self-image, maybe you’re just being realistic.” My anxiety is well grounded, you see. The gospel is: swallow your pride, admit you really are unacceptable as you are, and then and only then, Paul says, will you be able to receive the verdict of absolute acceptability. “This is my beloved child in whom I am well pleased.” Keller, T. J. (2013). The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive. New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church. C. Faith in God – “propitiate me” – the other guy was hiding behind others. This guy wants to hide in Christ. ense of worth; Needs; Psychological needs; Emotional needs; Acceptance; Acceptance by God; Idols; Idolatry; Worth; Self-Worth; Grace; Gospel; I once knew a woman in her late 30s who had never married. Her family and her part of the country believed that there was something radically wrong with any woman of that age who was still single. She wrestled greatly with shame and a feeling that she had somehow failed as a woman. Because of this, she also had tremendous unresolved anger against a man she had dated for many years but who had not been willing to marry her. Finally, she went to a counselor. The therapist told her that she had taken to heart her family's approach to personal value – namely, that a woman had to have a husband and children if she was to have any worth. She was bitter against this man because he had come between her and the things she felt she had to have for her life to have significance. The counselor then proposed that she throw off such an unenlightened view and devote herself to her career. "If you come to see yourself as a good, accomplished person, then you will see you don't need a man or anyone else to give you a sense of worth." And so she began to shed her family and culture’s view of women and to pursue a career. She began to feel better, but she discovered that it didn't enable her to get over her resentment toward her longtime ex-boyfriend. At about this time, she was going to a church where she was hearing the gospel clearly for the first time. She heard that the gospel was not what she had thought – that we amass a good record, give it to God, and then he saves us. Instead, the gospel is that Jesus Christ has amassed a perfect record and when we believe in him, he gives it to us. He lives the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died in our place, so that when we 14 believe, our sins are pardoned and we are "counted righteous in his sight." Then we are completely accepted and loved by the only One in the universe whose opinions really count. She began to realize that the well-meaning counselor was only half right. Indeed, it was wrong of her to seek self-worth through male affection. That had been a trap. It made her self-regard contingent on what men thought of her. But now she was being asked to look to her career and accomplishments as a way to feel good about herself. That meant that her selfimage would be dependent on her success at achieving economic independence. So she said, "Why should I leave the ranks of the many women who make ‘family’ their whole life to join the ranks of the many men who make ‘career’ the same thing? Would I not be as devastated then by career setbacks as I have been by romantic ones? No. I will rest in the righteousness of Christ and learn to rejoice in it. Then I can look at males or career and say, "What makes me beautiful to God is Jesus, not these things.’” And so she did. Not only did she quickly find that she was much less anxious about her job, but she began to sense more and more the magnitude of God’s love through Christ. She began to experience what can be called “emotional wealth” – a sense of being loved so deeply that when someone wrongs us we can afford to be generous, able to forgive. Her anger against her former boyfriend and against men in general subsided. A few years later, to her surprise, she met a man, fell in love, and married. Looking back, there was no doubt in her mind that, if she had married her old boyfriend, it would have been a disaster. She would have looked to him to give her what only Christ can, and therefore she wouldn’t have been in a position to serve and care for him. Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, page 68. D. Truth of God – he had the right starting place God’s stamp on him -- SAVED Conc Indwelling sin; Sin; Anxiety; Guilt; Depravity; Acceptance by God; Righteousness; Gospel; Humility; Humbleness; Pride; Confession; Repentance; The day you can swallow your pride and say, “My record is bad. That anxiety I’m feeling is right …” Or as Ed Clowney, one of my fathers in the faith, used to say, “If you have a negative self-image, maybe you’re just being realistic.” My anxiety is well grounded, you see. The gospel is: swallow 15 your pride, admit you really are unacceptable as you are, and then and only then, Paul says, will you be able to receive the verdict of absolute acceptability. “This is my beloved child in whom I am well pleased.” Keller, T. J. (2013). The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive. New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Self-sufficiency; Man centered; God centered; Need for God; Provision; God's provision; God's existence; Creation; A group of scientists got together and decided that humans have come a long way and no longer needed God. They picked one scientist to go tell God. He said, "God, we've decided that we no longer need you. We can now clone people, we can walk on the moon – we can do everything." God listened patiently, and after the scientist made his point, he said, "I understand what you're saying, but before you dismiss me from your life, let's test your theory." "Okay, great," the man replied. "What's the experiment?" "We’re going to create a man from the dust of the earth, just like I did back in the old days with Adam." The scientist said, "Sure, no problem," and then down to grabbed himself a handful of dirt. "No, no, no," said the Lord. "You go get your own dirt." Bernard Brunsting, The Ultimate Guide to Good Clean Humor, page 165. Victory; Help; Defeat; Lib; Self-Sufficiency; Dependence; Holy Spirit; Power; In May 1940, with France on the verge of defeat, Winston Churchill, who had been serving as first lord of the Admiralty, replaced the failed Chamberlain. A few days later, while shaving, Churchill announced to his son, Randolph: "I think I can see my way through." Randolph, recalling the conversation in a 1963 memoir, asked, "Do you mean we can avoid defeat or defeat the bastards?" His father, flinging his razor into a wash basin, proclaimed, "Of course I mean we can beat them." Asked how, the new prime minister simply said, "I shall drag the United States in." Seymour M. Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot, page 67. 16
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