Sunday, November 2, 2008

November 2nd - Service for Men

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Dave Sloan safe return
Leon in the Yucatan

Text - 1 Thessalonians 2:7-13

A little bit of context, remember that Paul, Silas, and Timothy went into Thessalonica preaching the Gospel free of charge and working themselves to pay for their food and lodging. While they could have charged those at Thessalonica for the Gospel, this passage we will see why they were preaching free of charge.

But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

The spiritual life mirrors the physical life, there is a conception in which the seed of faith is planted, followed by gestation, rebirth, infancy, adolescence, and adulthood.

Matthew 13:1-13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

John 3:3-7 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'

When you are born again, your flesh is filled with the Holy Spirit. This is a major life-changing event and when it happens, you’ll know. Many Christian churches that are no longer adhering to the Bible have abandoned this language because it doesn’t happen to them and therefore they think it must be symbolic. But being born-again is as extreme and life-changing was when you were born the first time.

You don’t say, “I prayed a prayer and that made me born again.” No, being born again is an act of the Holy Spirit, it cannot be forced by someone.

2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

Godly sorrow, or grief, is the acknowledgement that you’ve sinned against God and that he is justified in sending you to Hell for your transgression because you’ve offended his righteousness and blasphemed his name through your actions. Few people have a godly sorrow.

Worldly grief, or regret, is the acknowledgement that your sin has caused you or someone else sadness and that you’re sorry that your sin has hurt you. This regret is bad in God’s eyes and as it says, it leads to death, not to life. Many people have this wordly sorrow.

A godly sorrow results in what the Apostle John states in one of my favorite verses,

John 1:12-13 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

This event is synonymous with the new heart that God promised Israel by the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 36:26-27), where-as the person who hasn’t been born again drinks iniquity like water (Job 15:16), the one born of the Spirit will hunger and thirst after righteousness. (Matthew 5:6)

Let’s look at Jesus’ birth,

Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

Jesus was born of the Spirit before he was born of the flesh. This is one of the reasons that he didn’t have a sin nature and was able to be perfect for his entire life. The biggest reason though was because he was God manifest in the flesh.

After a baby is born what does the mother do? Does she send it to work, or start teaching it immediately, or does she love it, and feed it, and tend to its every need so that it is healthy and happy? New Christians are the same way, someone shouldn’t get saved and then instantly be put in a pastoral position or sent out evangelizing.

1 Timothy 3:6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.

Paul realizes the correlation, the likeness, of physical birth to rebirth and compares himself, Silas, and Timothy to moms who took care of the new Christians in the same way a mother would take care of a new baby. This is another reason I think that Paul wrote Hebrews.

Hebrews 5:13-14 …everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

After their initial understanding of the Gospel and basic training on the word of God, they transitioned into teaching them how to live holy, righteous, and pure, both through word and through providing examples for them.

It is a constant struggle for me when preparing these lessons not to go too high for you guys so that it’s out of your reach, but I definitely don’t want to go too low and treat you like babies, because you’re not. If I ever say anything you don’t understand, please don’t hesitate to ask questions. One of our greatest failures in the last century, I believe, is adding the term teenager to our vocabulary. I think there are children, and there are adults, and children should transition into young adults around the age of 12-14 and start to be responsible for themselves. We are also seeking this transition in spirituality.

There should be a point, if it hasn’t happened already, where you are reading your Bible and you realize, “I don’t need Canyon or my parents to explain this to me, I can understand it on my own through the help of the Holy Spirit.” Do you remember when you were learning to ride a bike and you thought your mom or dad was still holding you upright then you realized that they weren’t but that you were doing it on your own? That’s what we’re going for, we want you to be autonomous in your ministry and relationship with God.

Paul states, “we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” We are representatives, ambassadors, for God and our lives should be becoming of his kingdom. We do this in our language, our actions, and our dress. As your spiritual leaders we at Summit are seeking the same things, sometimes it might not seem fair or reasonable, like not letting you dress up as something sinister on Halloween or making you put on a Summit t-shirt because your shirt is too small or has something vulgar on it, but we have our reasons which will hopefully become clear to you as you read your Bibles. Or if you have questions you can always ask, ultimately our goal is the glory of Christ and the sanctification, even salvation, of your soul…not that you can lose your salvation, but if you love the world and things of the world, it shows that you probably have never been saved and are in need of saving.

Continuing on… And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

The Bible is amazing, it is supernatural, it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error for its content. It is the final authority on everything it speaks of, it is not a science book, but when it speaks of science, it is accurate, it’s not a math book, but when it speaks on math, it is accurate, it is not a comprehensive history of Israel or the world, but when it speaks on history, it is accurate.

Who knows why education was so important to the Founding Fathers of the United States of America? They wanted you to be able to read this book. Every book, every chapter, every verse, every word is God breathed and as important as the rest.

It is the source of our knowledge, how God speaks to us, where faith comes from, it is our mission statement, our instructions for life, and a light for our path. Sometimes people will say it has errors in it, and at face value it might seem like there is one, but these errors are always easily harmonized.

For example, Can God create a rock so heavy that he himself cannot lift it?