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Redeeming Church

May 4, 2008 Series: Redemption

Topic: Gospel Passage: Galatians 5:1–5:1

New Sermon Series: REDEMPTION Part 1

Redeeming the Church

May 4, 2008

Sam Ford

 

Jesus is safe

I’ve decided that Jesus is a safe name to talk about as long as you don’t tell people what he taught.  I’m not talking about the golden rule and love and service, I’m talking about what he really taught—you know, that we’re broken people, that we love darkness of our sin better than the light of God, that we’re sons and daughters of the devil, that hell is waiting with a ton of vacancies just waiting to be filled (even more than heaven), and that he is the only way to God, the only truth and the source of life, that he willingly died so I didn’t have to (because I couldn’t afford the debt I owed), that he rose from the dead, and that he is coming back again to kick some tail.  But, as long as you don’t bring up those things…people generally like Jesus. 

 

Christians are not.

It’s his followers that they have a problem with.  Sometimes, I can’t blame them. I wonder if Christians are often hesitant to share their faith with a neighbor or coworker or even family member because they already know what they think because they already fear what they’ve seen and heard about Christians.  Sadly, people get their opinions about Christians from…

·         Some people get their opinions from TV—good old TBN—with old man Crouch and Pink Hair

·         Some from the Christian leader who decides to jump into politics and make some bold claims about how “Christians” should vote. 

·         Some people get their opinions from the most current Christian leader who falls flat on his face because secretly he was a hypocrite.

·         Some people get their opinions on those weird Christian cults who dress in jogging suits waiting for Jesus to pick them up for their next comet ride. 

·         Some people create their opinions based off that weekend Christian neighbor of there’s who was a saint on Sunday but the devil during the week.

·         Some create their opinions about Christianity and church from their parents, who used religion as a stick to beat them into submission because that is what Jesus would do.

 

Very few people actually get it from Jesus…and from what the Bible says…

 

Anything but free.

As a result of ALL THESE REPRESENTATIONS, there are a lot of things that Christianity has become defined as, and as I have talked to different people (even Christians) I have learned one thing that it IS NOT understood as or characterized by, one thing that all of those TV shows, individuals and churches have in common, is that for some reason, people do not see that the gospel of Jesus Christ as FREEING.   The first thing they often see religion.  All they often hear is Do’s and Don’ts.  They see or feel oppression and control.  The concept of being set free is, in many ways, the last thing that comes to mind for non-believers a lot of believers. 

 

Walking the Line…the only way to live

The redemption series is about freedom.   It’s not about throwing off the oppression of truth so that you can justify your sin, rather, about living the freeing truths that Jesus taught as we live in a world that he loved so much he died for it.  The redemption series is an attempt to address those issues that consistently cause Christians trouble as they attempt to live in culture and “walk the line.”   The concept of “walking the line” should not be viewed as the liberal “risky way” of living as opposed to the conservative “more safe” or “cleaner” way of living.  “Walking the line” is not about safe or less safe; I believe it’s about biblical or not-biblical, godly or ungodly, like Jesus or not like Jesus.  It’s not about asking “What can I do and not get in trouble”, rather, “What must I do, or not do, to bring the most glory to God.” 

 

Without question, we need to protect ourselves and our children.  I’m just not convinced that hastily building up fences (or tearing them all down) is the best way to keep us following Jesus close enough to get dirt in our teeth.  Others will disagree and say, “If I’m going to fall on an extreme side, I’ll fall on extremely fundamental.”  I don’t like fences.

 

Consider the electric fence.  It seems like there are a lot of them that are never on.  They have signs warning that you’ll be fried with 10,000 volts, but that never seems to hinder young boys from challenging those signs.  Eventually, after their unrine rest succeeds, they climb over the fence because it’s not on.  Then they come to another fence.  This time they don’t even test it but they climb write over.  If we rely and depend on well-intentioned but unbiblical fences to keep us close to God, then when we finally encounter God’s fence, we’ll jump right over it.   

 

Purpose of this series

This series is not so much about a “safer” way as it is about a gospel centered away of living life.   Living a “better safe than sorry” may feel safer at first, but I believe it has destructive consequences.  This series intended to set you free into slavery to Jesus.  1Cor 7.22  For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ.  Jesus owns you.  It is this kind of freedom that causes us to avoid “lists” as we wrestle with God about some of the gray areas that life brings us that aren’t perfectly black and white. 

 

My hope is that our study will help repair some of the damage caused by legalism as well as reform our understandings of what it means to be a gospel-centered Christian living in the world.  I also hope that if we, for a moment, work to give specific answers, clear lists, and precise lines, we’ll in fact develop THINKING Christians who can discern how to best glorify God in ALL situations, not just the ones that I or some other Christian leader has decided for you.

 

  

 

 

What REDEMPTION IS.

The sermon series is titled REDEMPTION.  This biblical concept describes the “buying back” of person or property that has been sold.  In Hebrew, the term  goel, comes from root meaning to redeem. The goel among the Hebrews was the nearest male blood relation alive. Certain important obligations devolved upon him toward his next of kin. (1.) If any one of their brothers became impoverished and had to sell his property, it was the duty of this kinsman to redeem this part of his inheritance.  He was also required to redeem any of his relatives who had sold himself into slavery.  The spirit of Redemption then, is the freeing of something or someone from slavery—some self-imposed. 

 

Redemption in the Old Testament – The Exodus

Our God is a redemptive God, meaning, OUR STORY as mankind is a story of redemption.  We are a people enslaved to pursuit of everything that is not God and God is on mission to save and redeem his people.  The clearest picture of REDEMPTION is in the book of Exodus.  It’s the record of a mighty God, creator of the universe, who intervenes in history on behalf of a helpless group of slaves by crushing the ruler of the greatest empire on earth.  Through a series of events, he frees his people from slavery and leads his once oppressed people from that land to freedom. Through this story we learn a lot about our God:

 

  1. God initiates Redemption.  He does not leave his people or his creation to enslaved.  It is his idea and he acts out of love not obligation.

 

  1. God’s Redeemer is reluctant and ill-equipped.  Moses is a loner, a criminal, not an orator but a shepherd, and he does not want to naturally do what God tells him to.

 

  1. God Redeems from the hands of a sinful tyrant who abuses his power for his own selfish gain and it takes the power of blood to free his people.

 

  1. God Redeems for the purpose of serving, worshipping, and knowing God.

 

  1. God Redeems His People that through them He might Redeem the world.  The redeemed become, in some sense, redeemers and actively participate in God’s mission as they living according to God’s prescribed way of life.

 

Exodus 6.5-8

 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. 6 Say therefore to the people of Israel,  ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. 7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.

 

Redemption in the New Testament - Jesus

In the New Testament, the word REDEMPTION comes from the Greek word agorazoand means “to purchase in the marketplace.” The term was most often used to describe the sale of slaves in the marketplace.  In the New Testament, God’s people are not “redeemed” from the clutches of a tyrannical ruler like Pharaoh, rather, as a description of the believer being purchased out of the slavemarket of sin and set free from sin’s bondage. The purchase price for the believer’s freedom and from the curse of sin and it’s bondage was the death of Jesus Christ.  1Cor. 6.20 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

 

Acts 20.28  28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

 

REDEMPTION:  Our Working Definition

Redemption is the biblical concept of getting, winning, or buying back from enslavement to sin which is brokenness, imperfection, and failure, all a result of rebellion to God’s law.  It is the freeing of creation from captivity in order to change for the better through reform, repair, or restoration.    You’ll notice I said redemption of all creation because the Bible does.

 

Romans 8.19-23 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

 

Redemption of a Church Self-Enslaved

The church is supposed to be a place of REDEMPTION, a place where we experience the FREEDOM that God intended for us—it is not freedom TO sin, rather, but freedom FROM sin.  Romans 6.12 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

 

Sadly, too many Christian submit themselves to slavery because they fear a life of freedom mistaking it for a life that can’t possibly be godly.  But Jesus redeemed us to be FREE!  Galatians 5.1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.  There are a lot of non-believers who think their FREE and their enslaved to sin.  Ironically, there are also a lot of believers who say their FREE and their still enslaved to sin.  I’m not saying that they’re NOT HAPPY—many people have learned to convince themselves that they are.  How would you even convince someone of that?  You’re not happy.  Yes I am.  No you’re not.  But I believe that there are a lot of SLAVES that are happy because THEY DON’T KNOW ANY DIFFERENT! 

 

If I’m honest, a lot Christians I meet look and sound like a people enslaved.   And I believe they have enslaved themselves.  The best image I heard was from Alan Hirsch, a writer and former pastor.  He described the self-enslavement of today’s church like a fish tank.  We’re wild fish who come to Jesus and then place ourselves into a fish tank with fake trees, fake plants, fake rocks, fake people, fake air, fake sharks that attack, fake boats, and an overall sterile and static environment that is colorful and really “clean.”  The truth is that if you take wild fish out of the ocean, eventually they will forget that they were made for the OCEAN! 

 

Jesus Redeemed us from Law

The fish tank is a great metaphor the box that faith in Jesus can become.  It is not supposed to be like that.  Jesus redeemed us from the Law of God whose standard only served to show us how sinful we were and proved that we needed someone to save us.  Galatians 3.13 13 Christ sredeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written,  “Cursed is everyone who is hanged uon a tree”  We call this kind of fish tank LEGALISM.  Legalism is Law.  The gospel fulfilled the Law so that we are now under grace (Romans 6.14).  Many people are afraid to live in the freedom the grace brings and therefore place themselves enslave themselves to man-made law (Galatians 5.1).  It is easier to live with law just as it is easier to sin than to follow God.  Legalism allows you to organize your life by not living.  That which is spiritual becomes more of a system and less of a lifestyle.  Therefore, when someone encounters an issue that does not fit their system they are ill-equipped to make a decision on their own.  Instead of being motivated by a heart sold out to Jesus, they are motivated by their head’s ability to determine what is or isn’t righteous in the moment versus resting in Christ’s righteousness all the time.  We build new laws which leads to pride or despair =  SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

Jesus Redeemed us from Lawlessness

But Jesus did not redeem us to be free apart from godliness.  Titus 2.11-14 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

 

Many people are afraid to talk about the redemption in Jesus, grace in Jesus, and Freedom in Jesus because they believe it will lead to more sin. Many fear freedom because they have seen it abused or have abused it themselves.  I might be concerned if the freedom did not come with TRANFORMATION.  If you’re asking a question like, “I’m forgiven..sin it up!”  Then go read 1John and you’ll quickly realize, you’re not a Christian. Jesus does not redeem us then walk away and say live!  He sends us the Holy Spirit through which He comes and lives in us to LIVE through us.  In Christ, we are changed.  In Christ we are not hapless animals driven by our instinct and carnal desires.  He makes us alive.  He gives us His own Spirit to help us live free us from our default—WILD KINGDOM mode.  God does not take the LAW AWAY and say just live freely, do whatever, I don’t care if you’re righteous.  If we deny God’s moral law we sin. = SELF -INDLUGENCE

 

Hebrews 8.10

10           For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel

                    after those days, declares the Lord:

          I will put my laws into their minds,

                    and write them on their hearts,

          and I will be their God,

                    and they shall be my people.

 

He frees, gives us Christ’s righteousness and we pursue God not because we have to (LAW) or run from him because we can (LAWLESSNESS) , but because we desire him and want to glorify him.  

 

Jesus Redeemed us to be His. 

We were not redeemed for self-righteousness, or self indulgence, but SELF-DENIAL.  And a key part of that is to recognize that you are SENT on MISSION into the world to proclaim Redemption in Jesus.   According to Mark 16.15, Jesus said to, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.   I believe that we are called to live redemptively—Jesus redeemed us that we might join in redeeming all of creation.

 

Jesus Redeemed us to Redeem.

For the next 10 weeks we will explore what it means to “walk the line” of the gospel.  We are going to get very practical about looking at food/drink, language, film, sex, politics, and other aspects of culture that we like to enslave to our man-made laws. 

 

We will seek to redeem, to free, to take back, to restore, and to reform those aspects of culture that have become perverted by sin of Non-Christians or demonized by the sin of Christians.  

 

How will we redeem?

Doing this requires that we look at and think about our world and ourselves differently.  We must approach the world humbly and with caution knowing that we can fall into sin very easily.

 

FIRST, God created a world that he called “good.”  The pinnacle of his creation was mankind which he called “very good.”  Creation included all everything from food to language to work. 

 

1Timothy 4.4 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

 

SECOND, because of sin, the world and all that is in it (including people) is cursed.   Meaning, all that God formed in Genesis 1 & 2 was deformed in Genesis 3 through the disobedience of our first parents Adam and Eve.  Creation now is broken, it has fallen short of God’s standard, and it’s in rebellion.  This includes everything.

 

THIRD, creation, including mankind, is in slavery to sin.  Meaning, it’s default mode is to reject God’s design and purpose.  As people, we manifest itself out in either self-indulgence or self-righteousness.  Both represent rebellion against God’s way of life by either adding to God’s law or taking away from it. 

 

FOURTH, both people and the rest of creation are redeemed from sin and death to freedom and life by the proclaiming the truth of Jesus.  Therefore, we redeem by proclaiming the gospel TO people and THROUGH creation. 

  • People are redeemed and freed from their sin when they believe the gospel (lived, died, resurrected) to become worshippers of God. 
  • Other parts of creation are redeemed when we free it from sin by restoring it to God’s design through it being glory to God.

 

What can and can’t be redeemed?

As we do this, my hope is that we will learn to live IN culture as followers of Jesus example.  That being said, we must admit that not everything is redeemable.  There are those things that are without argument, sinful.  But, just because a part of creation is ABUSED, doesn’t mean that the SOMETHING has become inherently sinful.  Romans 14.14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, The jobs of your pastors are not to make every cultural decision for you but to help you make biblical decisions in culture. Ephesians 4.12 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

 

Conclusion

As pastors, it is also our job to remind you of your redemption—because we keep forgetting. Following the great miracle of the Red Sea parting, the Israelites began a journey that would lead them to the promised land…a place of rest.   As the Israelites walked away from the great victory of the Red Sea, the Israelites continually grumbled.  More than once, Moses and many other leaders afterward, had to constantly remind them of how God has freed them from slavery.

 

The gospel is about freedom into slavery to Jesus Christ.  We have been set free from Law and Lawlessness to live a life rooted in glorifying God.  Galatians 5.1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.    The yoke of religion is hard, and the burdens heavy. There is no freedom there.  Unfortunately, this is what is preached to most people through many churches and Christians today.  They want people to BE GOOD so that JESUS WILL LOVE THEM, when in fact, Jesus himself tells us that we can’t be good no matter how much we try AND that he LOVE us despite that fact. 


The Bible says that Jesus yoke (his burden/expectation) is “easy” and His burden is “light.” The word easy in the Greek means “kind, gracious.” The yoke of Christ frees us to fulfill His will, to become everything we were meant to be AND, since he is GOD, is the best and most wonderful thing we could be---There is not better. 

  • If you don’t know Jesus, you are wearing  the yoke of sin (Lam. 1:14);
  • If you are a religious legalist, you’re wearing the yoke of bondage (Gal. 5:1);
  • But the true follower of Jesus, the one who depends on God’s grace wears the liberating yoke of Christ.


Matthew 11.28-30

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

 

 

 

 

 


 

More in Redemption

August 10, 2008

Redeeming Q & A

August 3, 2008

Redeeming Your Past

July 27, 2008

Redeeming Music