“I'm glad you guys are doing this, because there are so many people out there who are afraid to go into a church. And they look at church people as though they are perfect or think they are perfect. And they need to understand that after we come to Christ we are all still sinners, we are all still failures, that they aren’t any different than we are.”
This was the beginning of Chances’ sermon yesterday as he shared a story of an individual who lauded our starting a church outside a church setting and why.
The sermon went on to talk at length about the interpretation of scripture that we are not still sinners after we have accepted Christ as our Savior.
Roger and I discussed this for quite some time immediately following the service, and even later into the day. The entire sermon was preached out of the book of Jude, next to the last book of the Bible right before Revelation.
After discussing the topic, I circled back around to the initial conversation and told Roger that I would have looked at the man making the statement and asked him, “Well, who do you think Christ is?” the question behind the question being, "Don't you think Christ, the Jesus of the scriptures is more than enough to conquer your sin? He died for it after all. And rose from the dead. Let's talk about THAT Jesus."
First of all, his entire statement shows his disappointment with the church overall, but also his misunderstanding of who Jesus Christ is. Not an uncommon malady in today’s society, where I find more people base their belief in Jesus on what others have told them, television shows or movies they have watched, or books they have read rather than God’s word…. the Bible or better yet, real experience gleaned from a personal relationship with Christ.
When the question I would have asked him came to mind, I thought of the scripture in the book of Colossians.
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[g] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
This is Jesus. God through Him has accomplished it all. There is nothing He can’t and hasn’t done, and won’t do for us, as His followers and children. It has all been accomplished by God, through His Son, Jesus Christ.
But listening to the message yesterday, the emphasis was once again not placed on Jesus and who HE is, but on us, and who we are and continue to be after claiming to be Christians.……
The story of Peter wanting to walk on water came to mind.
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
When people are told to look to themselves to find their strength, tenacity, motivation, desire, anything other than Christ, they are being told to look at the wind, the waves. Not at Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
2 [a]fixing our eyes on Jesus, the [b]author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary [c]and lose heart.
Dr. R.C. Sproul wrote in Table talk magazine several years back in an article entitled, “Preaching Christ” the following:
“If we take time to examine the sermons of the apostles that are recorded in the book of Acts, we see a somewhat common and familiar structure to them. In this analysis, we can discern the apostolic kerygma, the basic proclamation of the gospel. Here the focus in the preaching was on the person and work of Jesus. The gospel itself was called the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is about Him; it involves the proclamation and declaration of what He accomplished in His life, in His death, and in His resurrection. After the details of His death, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of God were preached, the apostles called the people to be converted to Christ — to repent of their sins and receive Christ by faith.
When we seek to extrapolate from these examples how the apostolic church did evangelism, we must ask: What is appropriate for the transfer of apostolic principles of preaching to the contemporary church? Some churches believe that a person is required to preach the gospel or to communicate the kerygma in every sermon preached. This view sees the emphasis in Sunday morning preaching as one of evangelism, of proclaiming the gospel. Many preachers today, however, say they are preaching the gospel on a regular basis when in some cases they have never preached the gospel at all, because what they call the gospel is not the message of the person and work of Christ and how His accomplished work and its benefits can be appropriated to the individual by faith. Rather, the gospel of Christ is exchanged for therapeutic promises of a purposeful life or having personal fulfillment by coming to Jesus. In messages such as these, the focus is on us rather than on Him.”
If you continue to tell people to focus on themselves, their lives, faults, shortcomings, and watch the wind and the water, they will continue to drown, but if they keep watching Jesus, learning who He was, is and is to come, they will not only walk on water, but become the fishers of men that Jesus told us to be.
Where is the focus, the emphasis? On ourselves, or on Jesus?
Who do you think Jesus is?
Because your answer to that question is going to impact everything else in your life.