Family Traits: Gospel Living

March 8, 2009 Series: Family Traits

Topic: Gospel Passage: John 17:14–17:21

 

Family Traits:  Gospel Community

March 8, 2009

Sam Ford

 

Intro - Change & Family Traits

Cultures change.  With each new generation, new ways of living are born and others die.  Everything from hair and clothing styles, to language and technologies, to laws and social organization, even society's definition of seemingly forever-established concepts like family or a marriage appear to evolve (or mutate).  Some of those changes are for the better, and some are for the worst, but it is a guarantee that things will change.   Much of culture is morally neutral although some hairstyles are probably sinful.  And, as culture changes, some people are unwilling to change and run the risk of being labeled either an eclectic free spirit or an archaic dinosaur. 

 

Churches change.  Churches change.  Before the Protestant Reformation they did not use pews, they stood in church.   There was a time when voices were the music in church.  They gave away to instruments like pipe organs which eventually gave way to drums and guitars-the tools of Satan.  It's likely Paul didn't know what youth group, VBS, or Awana was, nor did he probably organize camel rides in the park to bless the children and give them gospel tracts.  Churches are impacted by culture because they are made up of people who change, and should change, along with culture.  But like people, churches often fight change.  Sometimes, theologically speaking, there is good reason for not changing with culture.  But more often than not, many of the changes that churches refuse to adopt or adapt are more for reasons of comfort or fear-with a Bible verse or two thrown in for good measure.   It is important, therefore, as we grow and make decisions that require change that we ask ourselves if our fear or unwillingness is rooted in church tradition or a biblical mandate. 

 

Gospel does not change.  The one thing that doesn't change is God's Word.  Isaiah 40.8  8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.  Jesus never changes, he is the same today, yesterday, and forever.   Today is the final sermon in a three part series called family traits.  As our church grows and is shaped by the new people who attend, and serve, and lead, we must make certain that some things don't change.  Although the house may look different, may need an addition or two where we knock out a wall, throw up some new paint, the house will always sit on the same foundation of the gospel.  The foundation of the church never changes-it was, is, and will forever be the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In Mark 12.28-31, in response to a slimy lawyer, Jesus reminded us about what was most important:  Mark 12.28-31  28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the most important of all?" 29 Jesus answered, "The most important is,  ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this:  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

 

Our Confession - Gospel Truth (1st Commandment)

Of first importance is a love for Jesus.  But what does it mean to love Jesus?  1John 5.1-2 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.   Quite simply, loving God means believing the gospel and if we believe the gospel then we love God. AND those who love God demonstrate their conviction by their obedience.   Obedience to his commandments and submission to his authority IS the manifestation of our marriage to Jesus. I can say I am married, I can even have a ring on my finger, but we believe behavior. It is our confession of the LORDSHIP of JesusThis fulfills the 1st Commandment

 

Our Experience - Gospel Community (2nd Commandment)

Through confession of Jesus as Lord with our mouths and hearts, we come to Jesus and rest in him for what he is and what he offers.  That is faith.  Then, we are then reconciled to God and adopted into his family.  God's LOVE for us begins our LOVE for him which overflows into a LOVE for one another:  but even if it doesn't we are COMMANDED to love.  AND we don't love in the way the world would have us love.  Our ability to love comes from God and the way we love is shaped by how He loves us knowing who we were.  People who genuinely and deeply believe the gospel will live differently TOGETHER in a kingdom community.  AND In this community we live out counter-cultural values where wealth, power, and fame and replaced by sacrifice, service, and humility.  Gospel Community is where experience life with people together under the LORDSHIP of Jesus.  This fulfills the 2nd Commandment

 

Our Mission - Gospel Living (Great Commission)

Galatians 6.10 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.  We are to love our brothers and sisters in Jesus in a special way.  But Jesus gave us ANOTHER COMMAND.  There are others whom God intended for us to love. Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, he told his disciples what they were supposed to do when he left.  They were given a purpose and a mission:  This is called the Great Commission.  Matthew 28.19 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

 

A wrong view of Mission

The church is more than a building.  We should never say, "Let's go to church," but rather, "Let's go the building this morning...the church is gathering there."  So the people of Jesus Christ, the church, the people who gather in schools and buildings and homes, all have a mission-something to do outside of gathering together on Sunday mornings.  Gathering together is a tremendously important part of the life of a Christian-but it is not the end. 

 

Declaring that the church has a mission has, unfortunately, been woefully misunderstood.    For many years, however, churches have viewed MISSION in a wrong way.  Their idea of fulfilling the GREAT COMMISSION focused more on bring people in to "join the club" than it did on sending missionaries into the world.  AND even if they send people out on MISSION, they mistakenly believe that these occur only in foreign nations across waters and continents by special "trained" people, as opposed to happening across the street and at lunch tables by normal every day run of the mills Christians.  

 

The Mission of the Church - Live under the Lordship of Jesus

In fact, instead of saying the church has a mission; it is probably more accurate to say that JESUS' MISSION has a church.  And, according to Matthew 28.19, that mission is to, quite simply, to bring the world into the Christian faith and teach them to live like Jesus.  So then, every member, of a GOSPEL COMMUNITY is more than a member of a family, they are missionaries.  Every aspect of our lives is intended to be used as the means of communicating the truthfulness of our confession.   When a missionary steps into a foreign land and declares "I'm a Christians", how that individual interacts with people and the world will make a confession about their faith.  They are, just as we are, witnessing with every word they speak and action they take IN the context where they do it-work, play, home, school, etc.  We need to move beyond judging our witness as simply a "Good" or "Bad" Christian because we sin or not and more about how each action we take says something about the gospel and whether or not the LORDSHIP of JESUS governs our lives.   

 

Gospel Living:  Living Lordship (Worship)

Our third family trait, Gospel Living, is where the Lordship of Jesus becomes the governing force in our lives.  We can't possibly expect to declare Lordship of Jesus Christ in the world and its power to redeem, to rebuild, and restore if we are not submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ ourselves.  What is a submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ?:  a life where Jesus is the supreme hope and joy in all of life and death.  

  • It is a life where all things, big and small, fall under his authority and are guided by a desire to declare his supremacy and to make much of Him.
  • It is a life where we view our worship as a continuous voice, breathing a confession with every action we take about the greatness, beauty, and power of Jesus.  Romans 12.1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
  • It is a life that,  when we come to end of it, we can say that Philippians 3.8 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

 

And I believe that the submitting to the Lordship of Christ is a lifelong activity, at least it has been for me.  From my experience, it seems like there is a moment where you received Jesus as Savior, but living with Jesus as Lord feels like a process.  Our walks look like a series of peaks and valleys that shape us as we grow.  Our growth is not that we become "more acceptable to God", or that he suddenly becomes our LORD when he was not before.  It is a process by which we grow in submission and yielding to the sovereign rights of the Lord over all of our life.   It is a process where we think less about sinning and selfishness, and see more and more where we've failed to be selfless.  It is a process where every day, seemingly meaningless tasks become opportunities to serve God. Colossians 3.23-24 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. It is a process whereby ALL that we do, is viewed as an opportunity to glorify God.  1Corinthains 10.31 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  We ask less about whether I have the "right" to do this or that, but whether or not my action or lack thereof will bring glory to God or glory to me.

 

I do not yet understand the full implications of Lordship of Jesus Christ in my life.  But what I do know that it is a life not characterized by self-righteous legalism or self-indulgent sin.  It is a life of self-denial where I am forced to interact and engage with Jesus at every moment as I struggle to know what the Lord requires of me in specific choices among good options.

 

Jesus as Lord OR Savior

Theologically speaking, I believe that if you don't have Jesus as Savior and Lord, you don't have Jesus.  Practically speaking, even those that confess Jesus live as if he is ONE or the OTHER.  Failure to live out both is the difference between CHRISTIAN LIVING and GOSPEL LIVING:

 

People who confess Jesus as Savior believe they are saved by Jesus but they live for themselves.  They live in the world driven by their own desires.  They live by a mentality that, "I know I'm a sinner", but, "I'm forgiven. "  They do what they want.  This is cheap grace at its best whereby they ignore the SACRIFICE that God made to make forgiveness possible.  Like the Rich Young Ruler, they'll follow the big rules, but when asked to sacrifice what God really wants, they'll walk away with their hell-fire insurance policy in hand. Meanwhile they'll live in community pretending to love Jesus and in the world betraying like Judas.  Giving, Sacrificing, Serving, Evangelizing, they won't do anything until they are so moved because good works don't save you.  

 

People who confess Jesus as Lord live for Jesus but believe they can save themselves by doing so.  This person does all kinds of good works because they believe that, in the end, God will owe them for doing so much good.  Because Jesus is not their savior, their God becomes like a boss demanding his employee to work long hours to prove his worth as to not lose his job.  This leads one to self-righteousness where all relationship with God is to avoid being rejected or feel prideful in comparison to all those sinners not serving God.  They rarely engage with the world believing that sin is like a cold they might catch if their too close.  Like the Pharisees, the love God with their mouths, clothes, WWJD bracelets, Thomas Kinkaide Paintings, but their hearts are far from him.

 

We mustn't ever forget that Jesus spent more time calling people's false assurance's into question then he tried to give them security and comfort. 

  • Jesus was the one that declared in the end many would call him "Lord and Lord"and he would say, away I never knew you.
  •  Jesus was the one warned men in  Matthew 10.32  32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.   
  • Jesus was the one who , in the Revelation said if you're luke warm I'm spitting you out like the fake little lugi you are.
  • We either confess or we deny.  We either speak and act in such a way that accepts God as savior and we acknowledge the Lordship of God in all things or we deny him in everything.   This is not a life characterized by sinlessness; it is a life characterized by confession, repentance, sacrifice, joy, worship, and mission.  

 

Gospel Living:  Declaring Lordship (Mission)

As we struggle to, as Paul says, work out our faith with fear and trembling, we live in the world.  We never forget our mission is to do more than just confess the truth of Jesus privately, or even experience Kingdom community together, IF we are going to live like Jesus we will go into the world.  Gospel Living is a life of worshipping Jesus on mission like Jesus.   John 17.14-21 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

20 "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

 

I have given them your word

Jesus says some very important things here...Jesus mission was not to teach these men to be good Christians.  He taught them God's Word that they might love Him with all their heart and thus obey.  The world hated them as a result of having been given that word because it had a transformational impact on how they lived. It took the guys who were rejected, ragamuffins, blue collar works, and dirty rotten tax collectors, and they become more godly than the most religious of Pharisees. That's what a little time with the Word will do.

 

Do not take them out

Jesus makes a point to say that he does not want his disciples taken out of the world.  Jesus actually prays to leave them in the world. Just like Jesus, they are to dwell in the world.  Jesus left a heavenly culture and entered another one where he immersed himself into the culture so much so that he wasn't even noticed for 30 years!  He lived with them, talked with them, partied with them, interacted with them.  He did all of this and did not sin.  He did not compromise.  We must never forget that all the religious freaks said he "he went to far", falsely accusing him of all sort of things.  Jesus lived in culture and was sinless. AND he prays that his disciples would be protected by God's truth.  We do not go in and partake of every part of culture, rather, discern by God's Word, what we should receive, reject, and redeem to his glory.

 

Sent as I was sent

Jesus went to the people.  Yes, he gathered people and taught them.  Yes, he went to the temple.  But the very nature of Jesus coming to the world shows he was sent.  Jesus did not spend his time in the religious centers, except to overturn tables and exorcize demons.  His own people rejected him largely because he spent time with the marginalized, the dirty, unloved, sinful, sick and sore. 1Corinthians 5.9 writes, "I wrote to you in my letter not to association with sexually immoral people-not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 

 

Each of us know our own sick and sore.  Consider the contexts you are placed in. Acts 17.26  26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,  Living the Lordship IN the world and declaring the LORDSHIP to the world begins in the place that God has already placed you.  Anyone who does not believe the gospel is SICK and SORE...period.   

 

Believe by their word

We must ask ourselves how we believe the world will be saved.  Everyone sees that the relationships of the world are broken.  Relationships with self, with each other, even with creation suffer what we know as the results of sin.  And all people, including churches, try different ways to "fix" the problem outside of the gospel. We believe that we are sent into the world to declare the Lordship of Jesus in a way that is understood by LIVING THE GOSPEL.  This is partly confessional and partly practical.  Through fulfilling our mission, we desire to see people confess gospel truth, experience a gospel community submitted to the Lordship of Jesus, and then turn around and go declare that Lordship by how they live in the world as the eat, drink, work, and play.

 

Conclusion

The Bible says that the church is (Matthew 5.14)  the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  We are to be a city that stands out and yet, is still part of the landscape. . As a church, we believe that we are a sent people.  We are a church that confesses gospel truth, then experiences gospel community, and practices gospel living in our homes and in the world.

 

1.      We believe God is and has always been on mission 2Tim 1.9

2.      We believe we must center our church on His mission to avoid making church tradition an idol. Matt 15

3.      We believe we do not have a mission but God has our church to use for His.  Matthew 16.18

4.      We believe we are sent by Jesus to live like Jesus on mission. John 17

5.      We believe the heart of our mission is to bring glory to God through proclaiming the gospel and declaring the Lordship of Jesus. Mark 15.16

6.      We believe must go into the world on mission and not expect them to come to us. John 1.14

7.      We believe in building relationships with those in communities and subcultures where we already find ourselves.  We understand that doing this is difficult and often misunderstood and feared, especially by Christians around us-Jesus experienced the same thing.  1Cor. 5.9-11

8.      We believe our mission is to live culturally, which is not the same as being worldly.  Guided by the Lordship of Jesus, we must carefully discern what we receive, reject, and redeem to the glory of God.  1Cor 10.31

9.      We believe Jesus has intentionally and uniquely equipped each us for mission through our gifts, talents, experiences, and vocations. Eph. 2.10

10.  We believe that our mission here, in both time and place, is ordained by God  Acts 17.26 

 

These are our family traits.

The moment we lose gospel living, our mission becomes institutionalized and predictable (not radical)

The moment we lose gospel community, our church becomes a dead building (not a living body)

The moment we lose gospel truth, our confession becomes powerless words from a good teacher.

Jesus is more than my teacher. He is my savior. He is my Lord.  He is the supreme purpose, hope, and joy in all of my life and my death.

 

More in Family Traits

March 1, 2009

Family Traits: Gospel Community

February 22, 2009

Family Traits: Gospel Truth