Sermon Recap — October 15, 2017

Gospel Centered Theology

Jeremy Bell
October 15, 2017
Sermon Audio

Introduction

We’re in a series entitled, The Priorities of a Healthy Church. We want to seek, with lazer-like focus, to highlight the things that are critical to us as a local church. We spent our first two weeks considering the necessity of keeping God’s Word, the Bible, at the center of the church. We considered why it’s important to keep the Word at the center, and what happens when we don’t keep it at the center. Today, we take the same approach as we talk about keeping the gospel at the center. When you consider the story-line of scripture, what’s at the center? It’s the message of God’s rescue of lost sinners through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. That’s the very centerpiece of God’s revelation in His Word. Therefore it’s absolutely imperative that we keep the central message of the Word of God at the center of all we teach and  do.

Main Theme: The centrality of the Gospel in the life of the local church.

I. What Is the Gospel?

  • The Gospel – The Gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our sins and rose again, triumphing over every enemy, so that there is now no condemnation for those who believe, but only eternal joy.

Key Scriptures:

” Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures” — 1 Corinthians 15:1-3

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” — Romans 5:8

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” — John 3:16

“… if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” — Romans 10:9

  • “The gospel is not only the most important message in all of history; it is the only essential message in all of history.”  — Jerry Bridges

II. What the Gospel Is Not

The Gospel is not: 

  • Jesus is an upgrade to your life.
  • You need to live better.
  • God is fuzzy warm love.

III. What Happens When the Gospel is Kept at the Center?  

  • The Gospel Produces Joy
  • The Gospel Produces Humility
  • The Gospel Produces Peace

IV. What Happens When the Gospel is Not Central?

When the Gospel Is Not Central:

  • It robs our joy in God
  • Matters of lesser importance become central
    • When we lose our grip on the gospel, and no longer keep it central, other things will quickly take that center place

” All around us we see Christians and churches relaxing their grip on the gospel, fumbling it, and in danger of letting it drop from their hands altogether.” — John Stott

Illustration – the Church in Corinth. Paul’s words to them – “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”  — 1 Corinthians 1:17

“I fear that the cross, without ever being disowned, is constantly in danger of being dismissed from the central place it must enjoy, by relatively peripheral insights that take on far too much weight. Whenever the periphery is in danger of displacing the center, we are not far removed from idolatry.”  — DA Carson

  • Preferences can become supreme
  • Temptation to Legalism, Self-Righteousness, or Subjectivism

V. So What Does This Mean for GCC?

  • By grace, we’re going to be a gospel-centered people.
    • A happy people who remember that once we were captives.
    • A humble people who know that apart from God’s activity in sending Christ, we would be lost.
    • An eager people – we want to share the story of our liberation with others that we meet.
  • We’ll keep the gospel central in our lives, in our church.
    • We’ll teach the gospel.
    • We’ll sing the gospel.
    • We’ll rejoice in the gospel.
  • We’ll maintain the gospel as the matter of first importance.
    • That means every ministry flows out of, is a derivative of, the gospel.
    • Other good things, other good ministries are secondary to the work of the gospel.
  • God’s got great things in store for His people!
    • “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” — Romans 8:32

Questions for Discussion / Application:

  • What is the gospel? In 30 seconds or less, explain the gospel.
  • What does it mean to keep the gospel central in our lives?
  • Why is it so important for believers to keep the gospel central in their lives? What is it so important for local churches to keep the gospel central?
  • What are the positive effects of keeping the gospel at the center of our own lives? What does it look like practically in daily living to keep the gospel central?
  • How do you seek to keep the gospel central in your own life?
  • What the the positive effects of an entire local church keeping the gospel at the center?
  • What are some of the negative effects a person might experience from not keeping the gospel central?
  • What can you do personally to focus more intentionally on the gospel?

 

Sermon Recap — October 8, 2017

Life Is Always About What Christ Is Doing

Kyle Huber
October 8, 2017
Philippians 1:12-18
Sermon Audio

Main Theme: If life is always about Christ and serving His kingdom, then every situation will be fruitful.

Paul is in chains. He realizes this imprisonment could end in death. However, Paul is not creating a vivid picture of his suffering. The only details he is interested in giving is about the ministry and mission of the gospel. The central issue for Paul is — “what is Christ doing in my circumstances?” Following Paul’s example, what is good for us should be measured by what is good for the kingdom of Christ, not our circumstances.

The gospel is advancing in two clear ways:

  • To unbelievers
  • To believers

Paul’s body was in chains but the Holy Spirit and the gospel are never in chains. If our lives are about serving Christ, then we ought not categorize our lives as “bad” regardless of what circumstances may say to us. God uses our trials to exalt and glorify Himself and to advance the gospel and that is good.

Paul rejoices in the work of the gospel going forward. Paul’s joy is rooted in the progress of the gospel, not in his circumstances. The kingdom of Christ is always progressing in the world.

Application:

  1. Be a worshiper
  2. Interact with God’s Word
  3. Be vocal about kingdom activity – about how you see God at work in your life and in the lives of others.

Questions for Discussion / Application:

  • The gospel’s advance was central to Paul’s joy. If the gospel was being proclaimed, he rejoiced even if he was suffering. How can we cultivate a mindset and heart attitude where the gospel’s advance is central to our own goals and dreams?
  • When Jesus Christ, His purposes and mission aren’t central to our joy, other things are.
    • What dreams/ambitions in our own hearts can at times compete with Jesus Christ and His mission?
    • A helpful heart diagnostic — “I can only be happy if <fill in the blank>”
  • How can “becoming a worshiper” as Kyle recommended at the end of his sermon help Jesus Christ and His gospel and His mission to take an increasingly central place in our hearts?
  • What does it look like practically to “be a worshiper?”
  • What does it mean to “interact with” God’s Word? How can that help Jesus Christ and His gospel and His mission to take an increasingly central place in our hearts?
  • How can we become more vocal about kingdom activity –about how we see God at work both in our own lives and in the lives of others? What difference would it make if we all become more vocal about kingdom activity?

September 24, 2017 — Sermon Recap

The Centrality of the Word

Jeremy Bell
September 10, 2017
Sermon Audio

Introduction: 

  • “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other. May God help me. Amen”  — Martin Luther, 1521
  • When asked about his accomplishments as a Reformer, Martin Luther said, “I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word: otherwise I did nothing…The Word did it all (Qtd. in Nine Marks of A Healthy Church by Mark Dever).”

Main Theme: The breathed-out Word of God is the chosen instrument of God to reveal Himself to the people of God.

I. The Word Brings Life

  • Creation: Genesis 1 – By His Word God created all things.
  • God’s Word came to Abraham, Moses and Ezekiel. In each case, we see life produced through the power of the Word of God!
  • In the New Testament,  Jesus Christ Himself is the Word made flesh who dwells among His people. Jesus speaks and gives life!
    • Ex: Lazarus: John 11
    • Ex: Centurion: Luke 7:7 “say the word, and let my servant be healed.”
  • God has always created His people by speaking His word. This is true both in creation and salvation.

II. The Word Sanctifies Us

  • “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).”
  • Jesus prayed “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth (John 17:17).”
  • The Word is meant to shape us, and sanctify us. The church of God has its spiritual life sustained and transformed, by the living, breathing, Word of God.
  • The Word not only gives life but it gives direction, it speaks hope, it promises renewal, and it produces faith.

III. A Healthy Church Prioritizes the Word

What does this look like?

One primary way is in our Sunday service, we hold up the Word of God in the place of central importance.

  • We begin with a call to worship from scripture.
  • We sing songs filled with scriptural truth.
  • We spend the most time, as we’re gathered, worshipping God by hearing the Word of God proclaimed.

The Priority of Expository Preaching

  • Expositional preaching is taking the main point of a given passage and making it the main point of the sermon. It’s not just a verbal commentary on the passage. It’s seeking out the Intended Redemptive Effect (IRE) of that passage.
  • An expository message should answer the following questions:
    • What’s the main point God is seeking to get across in this passage?
    • Why was this passage included in the Bible?
    • What do we learn about God and what’s important to God through this passage?
  • The intent of expositional preaching is to expose scripture so that we can submit to its teaching as well as be encouraged and corrected by it.
  • We preach this way because we fundamentally believe in the ultimate authority and inerrancy of scripture.
  • Topical preaching is legitimate and sometimes necessary, but the regular diet of this church is going to be expository messages.

Conclusion

The Word holds us fast, builds our faith, and makes the dead come alive! Martin Luther knew it, and staked his life on it. We know it, and stand on this solid ground!

Questions for Discussion / Application:

  • What are examples from scripture you can think of where we see that “the Word brings life” ?
  • What are some ways you have personally seen or experienced the Word of God bringing life ?
  • What is the role of God’s Word in sanctification, in helping us to grow and become more like Christ?
  • When was a time you experienced the Word of God convicting you or encouraging you — either in the past or more recently?
  • Why is expository preaching so important in the life of the church?

September 10, 2017 — Sermon Recap

Being Satisfied In God Alone

Jeremy Bell
September 10, 2017
Psalm 63:1-8
Sermon Audio

Main Theme: Being personally satisfied in God’s goodness fuels our ongoing hunger for Him.

I. Being Personally Satisfied

  • This is a psalm written by a man who has a personal relationship with God Himself
    • “O God, You are my God (vs.1)”
  • David has found satisfaction in his walk with the Lord
    • How is he satisfied? When he thinks and contemplates God and considers His ways – this speaking of the truth of God in his soul makes him deeply satisfied (vs.5-6).

“We all know the value of joy. It alone is proof that what we have really satisfies the heart.  As long as duty, self-interest, or other motives influence me, men cannot know what the object of my pursuit or possession is really worth to me.  But when it gives me joy, and they see me delight in it, they know that to me at least it is a treasure.”  — Andrew Murray

II. In God’s Goodness

  • “Your steadfast love is better than life (vs.3)”
  • David valued God’s love
    • Love that is steadfast, sure, uncompromising, uncomplicated, solid
  • This love from God is better than life itself. Its like nothing we’ll experience in this life.

“The world rings with praise – lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players playing their favorite game – praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars…I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it:  “Isn’t she lovely?  Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?”  The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about…I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is it’s appointed consummation.  It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete until it is expressed.”  — CS Lewis

  • “In the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy (vs.6)”
  • David had evidently felt the care, protection and love of God in his wilderness experiences.
  • Being in that place of enjoying the covering of God, the protection of God produced something he couldn’t contain–it produced joy!

III. Fuels Our Ongoing Hunger For Him

  • “Earnestly I seek you (vs.1)”
  • “My soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you (vs.1)”
  • “I will bless you as long as I live (vs.4)”
  • “I will lift up my hands (vs.4)”
  • There is a response that wells up in our souls when we experience the personal goodness of God. We want more of Him!

Conclusion

How do we make Christ our delight and satisfaction?

We recount God’s goodness in the gospel as well as the countless blessings we’ve experienced. The result will be deeper satisfaction in Him and greater hunger for Him.

Questions for Discussion / Application:

  • What does it mean to be “satisfied in God”? What does that look like in the life of the believer?
  • What hinders us from being “satisfied in God”?
  • CS Lewis wrote “we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment…” What do you think Lewis meant by that?
  • How can contemplating God’s goodness stir delight/satisfaction in God?
  • What other attributes of God stir your delight in God?
  • What’s one take home point of studying this psalm and hearing this sermon for you?

September 3, 2017 — Sermon Recap

The Parable of the Sower

Chris Patton
September 3, 2017
Luke 8:1-15
Sermon Audio

Main Theme: A person’s eternal future and present fruitfulness hinges on how they hear and respond to the Word of God.

I. The Path

[4] And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, [5] “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it.

The interpretation follows in vs.11-12:

[11] Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. [12] The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.

  • The sad reality is… some hear the gospel but it falls on a hardened heart and their response is basically no response. Satan comes in immediately devours the seed and the seed never has the opportunity to take root and grow.

II. The Rocky Ground

[6] And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.

The interpretation:

[13] And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.

  • This is the person who hears the gospel, makes a profession of faith, but when testing comes, when trials come they fall away. Their faith is shallow. It’s surface deep and lacks substance. 
  • When this happens, it reveals a person wasn’t a Christian in the first place. It reveals they had a kind of superficial faith in Jesus that is not saving faith.

III. The Thorns

[7] And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it.

The interpretation:

[14] And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.

  • Here the seed of the gospel at some level takes root — there is initial joy, initial enthusiasm —  but before long, the joy is gone and all the thorns that are around the new plant choke the plant and keep it from bearing fruit.
  • Jesus is  identifying the person, who ends up deciding…I can have more fun, more pleasure, more happiness, less worry….if I do things my way rather than God’s way and they walk away from the Lord.
  • Ultimately, we know that the person who doesn’t bear any fruit at all and ends up walking away from the Lord was never a believer in the first place. As Jesus said in Luke 6, a tree is known by it’s fruit (Luke 6:44).

IV. The Good Soil

[8] And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

The interpretation….

[15] As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. 

  • Jesus is clear – a person is good soil if they hear the Word of God and his gospel and hold it fast.

Conclusion

Two encouragements:

Encouragement #1 – Let’s be busy scattering seed. Our job is to sow seed. God’s job is to bring in the harvest. So let’s do our job, and trust Him to do His job, praying that God would bring in a harvest through us.

Encouragement #2 – Let’s stay close to the Word of God, the Word of the Gospel, perhaps taking time to consider, “what thorns are possibly choking the Word of God in my life?” 

Questions for Discussion / Application:

  • Re-read verses 4 and 11. Explain what type of person the soil on the path describes.
    • Here we see that the enemy of our souls, Satan, seeks to devour the seed of the gospel that we sow. How should this awareness inform (A) how we prioritize prayer in evangelism and (B) the content of our prayers?
  • Re-read verses 6 and 13. Explain what type of person the soil on the rocky ground describes.
    • When people do walk about from the faith, how do Jesus’ words help us to process through that?
  • Re-read verses 7 and 14. Explain what type of person the soil characterized by thorns describes.
    • What kinds of “thorns” tend to choke the Word of God in your own life?
    • What might digging those thorns up, by God’s grace, with the Spirit’s help — look like for you?
  • Re-read verses 8 and 15. Explain what type of person the good soil describes.
    • What is the difference between merely hearing God’s Word/the word of the Gospel and hearing it plus holding it fast?
  • Read Psalm 1. What parallels do you see between Psalm 1 and the good soil of Luke 8?
    • What steps might you take personally to “hold fast” in a greater way to God’s Word?

August 27, 2017 — Sermon Recap

The Keeping Power of God

Jeremy Bell
August 27, 2017
Jude 20-25
Sermon Audio

Main Theme: Our ultimate trust is in the Lord our God, to cleanse us and keep us to the end.

I. God Is The One Who Keeps Us

II. God Is The One Who Presents Us As Blameless

III. Praise Our Glorious, All Powerful God

Questions for Discussion / Application:

  1. God is the One who created spiritual life in us. And he is the one who sustains us. How does it make you feel when that God Himself is keeping you to the end?
  2. What are some of the means God uses to keep us to the end?
  3. Because of Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross on our behalf,  God is able to present us “Blameless before the presence of his glory.” What does it mean to be “blameless” in God’s sight?
  4. How does it affect you to think that because of Christ, we can approach the throne of God as those blameless in His sight?
  5. Praise flows from the hearts of those who are saved and kept by God. What about your own salvation story causes you to praise God?  How have you seen the keeping power of God in your own life?

August 13, 2017 — Sermon Recap

The Compassionate Promised One

Chris Patton
August 13, 2017
Luke 7:11-17
Sermon Audio

Main Theme: Jesus is the Compassionate Promised One with power even over death.

I. Jesus’ Compassion

  • As Jesus looked upon that woman in Nain that day, He looks upon you on this day. He sees your weeping, your tears, the anxious nights and he is not indifferent and far removed.
  • He has His eyes fixed on you like he had his eyes fixed on this woman and he gets it. He feels deeplyHe understandsIn compassion, His heart goes out to you. What compassion!

II. Jesus’ Power

  • This points to the miracle of regeneration, when those who are spiritually dead are spiritually resurrected, born again, and made alive in Christ.  What a miracle that God has done this in so many of our lives – once dead, now alive (Ezekiel 37:1-14, John 3:1-8, Ephesians 2:1-10) !
  • This miracle also points to our future bodily resurrection. At the End of the Age the trumpet will sound, the Lord will descend and the dead in Christ will rise.
    • Jesus will say in effect –  “sit up”  as he did to this man —- OR “Come out” as he said to Lazarus in his tomb (John 11).
    • The hour is coming, Jesus says John 5:25– “when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”

III. Jesus’ Identity

  • Their profession of faith was a partial profession of faith, if you will. It was incomplete.
  • The crowd still didn’t get it! Jesus was and is far Greater than they even perceived!
  • More than a great prophet, Jesus was the great Prophet, the ultimate Prophet, the final Prophet  that Moses prophesied and promised would come (Deut.18:15) who would perfectly reveal God to people.
  • Jesus was and is the Coming One long foretold by the OT prophets as Jesus says in the following passage.
    • He is the Messiah.
    • He is the Son of God.
    • He is God Himself come into the world to rescue and redeem lost sinners and to bring them into His eternal kingdom with resurrected bodies where sorrow, and sighing and tears are no more.
  • Yes, God has visited His people….far more powerfully than the people who witnessed this miracle that day even realized!

Questions for Discussion / Application:

  1. What does it mean that Jesus had compassion on this woman? What does it mean that He has compassion on you?
  2. How does it make you feel to think that just as Jesus had compassion on the woman at Nain, He has compassion on you?
  3. This story shows that Jesus has power to raise the dead. This points to the new birth – regeneration. It also points to our future resurrection.
    • Regeneration=spiritual resurrection from the dead. What fruit could come from regularly considering the miracle of regeneration that has already taken place in your life?
    • In what ways can the reality of our future resurrection make a difference in our lives today?
  4. The crowd only partially perceived Jesus’ identity. They thought Jesus was a prophet when He was and is far more. He is the Messiah. He is the Son of God. He is God Himself. What’s our appropriate response to the fact that this is who Jesus is?

June 25, 2017–Sermon Recap

A Tree and It’s Fruit

Chris Patton
June 25, 2017
Luke 6:43-49
Sermon Audio

Main Theme: Our spiritual condition is revealed by the fruit that we bear. Our spiritual condition is revealed by the fruit that we bear.

In seeking to make this connection between our spiritual state – our spiritual health – and fruit –  Jesus emphasizes the central importance of three things: Our hearts, our speech and our obedience.

I. Our Hearts

[43] “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, [44] for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. [45] The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

  • The good person refers to a genuine disciple. It refers to someone whose heart has been regenerated by the power of the Spirit and the good treasure of a transformed heart produces an abundance of good fruit!
  • The evil person on the other hand refers to someone who is not a genuine disciple. They might profess Christ, they might not. The bottom line is their hearts have not been regenerated. They are not born again. They don’t follow Jesus,  they don’t obey Jesus, they are dead in their sins and the result is an ugly thorn bush–a bramblebush that bears bad, evil fruit.
  • According to Jesus, the heart plays a vital role in how much or how little fruit we bear for Jesus. This serves as great reminder to diligently watch over own hearts (Prov. 4:23) because biblically fruit bearing is not an automatic–it’s not “let go and let God.” Rather, it involves grace-driven, faith-fueled, Spirit-powered exertion and effort.
  • It’s important that we not slack off in our pursuit of bearing fruit as we grow older and age.

II. Our Speech

[45] The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

  • While all fruit matters, few things reveal the condition of a person’s heart more than what they speak and what they say. Jesus reminds us – our words matter.
  • Jerry Bridges notes in his book “Respectable Sins” that biblically “sins of the tongue” include : “lying, slander, critical speech (even when true), harsh words, insults, sarcasm and ridicule.”
  • Bridges says “we would have to say that any speech that tends to tear down another person–either someone we are talking about or someone we are talking to — is sinful speech.”
  • Here Jesus Himself reminds us that sinful speech is not a trivial offense to be overlooked. What comes out of our mouths is a reflection of deeper problems in our hearts.

III. Our Obedience

[46] “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?  [47] Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like [48] he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. [49] But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” (ESV)

  • It is possible to come to Jesus, to even pay Him his due respect and honor by calling Him Lord, and yet to fail to truly obey Him and do what He commands.
  • Jesus had just been telling the crowds of the importance of bearing fruit.
    • The fruit Jesus now calls for is obedience — doing what Jesus commands.
    • The good tree must bear the good fruit of obedience to Jesus otherwise it is not a good tree.
  • The one who hears the words of Jesus and does them – remains strong, Jesus says, in the midst of life’s difficult storms/trials. As those who have genuine saving faith, they also avoid the storm of God’s judgment on the last day because God’s judgment has already landed on His dearly beloved Son on that Cross.
  • Several Illustrations from Pilgrims Progress show the importance of genuine faith – faith that is evidenced by fruit.

Questions for Discussion / Application:

  1. What does it mean for a person to “bear fruit” ? Give some examples of the type of “good fruit” a Christian can bear.
  2. What role does our effort play in terms of the fruit that we bear? What is the difference between effort that depends on God’s grace and God’s Spirit and a fleshly, self-powered determination to do good?
  3. Over the years, what temptations have you perhaps faced in terms of “slacking off” in your pursuit of bearing fruit for Jesus.
  4. Re-read the Sermon Summary under the second point “Our Speech.” How does what comes out of our mouths connect to what is going on in our hearts?
  5. In what ways are you convicted that you need to change in the area of your speech?
  6. Verses 46-49 show that it is possible to come to Jesus, to even pay Him his due respect and honor by calling Him Lord, and yet to fail to truly obey Him and do what He commands. If someone is walking in deliberate sin and does not evidence a desire to obey Christ —  should that person be concerned? Should those around them be concerned? How would you speak to a person in that situation?

June 4, 2017 — Sermon Recap

Marks of True Christian Discipleship

Jeremy Bell
June 4, 2017
Luke 6:27-36
Sermon Audio

Main Theme: Christ’s disciples are those whose hearts have been transformed by gospel mercy, and they will demonstrate that mercy towards others.

 “Love Your Enemies”

  • The heart of this text is that Christ’s disciples are so changed by their rebirth in Christ that they’ll love not just their family or their friends, but that they’ll love even their enemies.
  • Who is my enemy? Given how broad and how wide is this call to love our enemies, I think the term “enemy” refers to those who oppose you in the way of Christlikeness.  It can encapsulate a range from those who very severely oppose you to those who more mildly mistreat you.

Radical Marks of the Disciple of Christ

  • Love your enemy (Verse 27)
    • This refers to the active presence of practical love for those who oppose you.
  • Do good to those who hate you (Verse 27)
    • To do something good for those who hate you  opposes the natural inclination of the flesh.
  • When cursed, bless them (Verse 28)
  • When abused, pray for them (Verse 28)
  • When struck on the cheek, offer the other (Verse 29a)
    • In Jesus’s example, revenge is excluded – it’s not optional.
  • When stolen from, offer more – (Verse 29b)
    • Illustration: Jean Valjean and Bishop Bienvenue
  • Give to those who beg from you – (Verse 30)
    • Being prepared to respond to others with mercy
    • The point is not to position ourselves to enable sinful patterns to continue as much as trust God to be at work in others as we walk in mercy towards them
  • Don’t demand your things back from a thief – (Verse 30)
    • This speaks to an absence of retribution for wrong.
    • Jesus calls us to self-denial that is generous and may win over the one who is hostile towards us.
  • Do to others as you would have them do to you – (Verse 31)
    • A form of Leviticus 19:18 in OT law
    • Love your neighbor as yourself
    • This is more than a call to avoid unfair treatment towards your neighbor, but rather to give generous consideration towards your neighbors, just as you would like them to treat you
  • 3 Illustrations of Love that Goes Beyond: True Christian love not only cares for friends, but for enemies, for those who won’t return the good that’s given, and those who fail to repay a loan of some kind.  – (Verse 32-34)
  • Verse 35 is a summary statement: Love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.  God is kind to the ungrateful and evil.
  • So you also, be merciful, even as your Father is merciful – (Verse 36)
    • Disciples bear a family resemblance. We will look like our Father who delights to show mercy.

How is this kind of love possible?

  • Those who have the law of God on their heart, who have been regenerated by the Spirit’s power, have the inclination and ability to obey God in these ways.
  • When we live in this world with an upside down kingdom perspective, we can rejoice, because
    • “Your reward will be great” (v.35)
    • “You will be sons of the Most High” (v.35)

People will know that we are children of the Most High God by the way we respond to our enemies (v.35).

Questions for Discussion / Application:

  1. How did Jesus Himself model the teaching he gives here in this passage — to love our enemies?
  2. What does it mean to love our enemies?
  3. How do the commands in this passage apply in the workplace, the community, the church, the family?
  4. In what ways does the flesh hinder us from doing as Jesus commands here?
  5. What role does dependence on the Holy Spirit play in our seeking to obey Jesus’ words here?
  6. What would applying this passage look like in your own life?

May 21, 2017 — Sermon Recap

Jesus Prayerfully Chooses His Servants

Jeremy Bell
May 14, 2017
Luke 6:12-16
Sermon Audio

Main Theme: This passage is about the absolute necessity and priority of prayer.

What does Jesus do? He looks to His Father (Verse 12)

  • Luke, of all the gospels, puts a particular emphasis on prayer.
  • Jesus was in complete submission to His Father (John 6:38, Luke 22:41, Phil. 2:5-8, John 5:30).

Having spent time with God, Jesus was ready to act (Verse 13)

  • When day came, it was time to move, for God had spoken.
  • God had directed Him, and it was occasion for action.
  • He will form a team and train them for leadership.
  • He undoubtedly prayed for the formation of this team and for the community they would experience together in the face of certain, determined opposition.

The Twelve: God chooses and uses ordinary and varied people, brought under the unity of His Lordship (Verses 14-16)

  • When I look at the apostles Jesus chose, I see ordinary men who learned to walk in the Spirit to do the things God had called them to.
  • These men were far from perfect, yet, God used them powerfully to change the known world in a single generation.

Application and Reminder

Believing faith-filled prayer is:

1. Humble Dependence Upon God

2. Active Submission to God’s Will

Let me know that the work of prayer is to bring
my will to thine,
and that without this it is folly to pray;
When I try to bring thy will to mine it is
to command Christ,
to be above him, and wiser than he:
this is my sin and pride.
I can only succeed when I pray
according to thy precept and promise,
and to be done with as it pleases thee,
according to thy sovereign will.

Valley of Vision – Living by Prayer

3. Waiting On God, By Faith

4. God-Exalting

Questions for Discussion / Application:

  1. Re-read verse 12. Here we see Jesus, the Son of God, praying all night to his heavenly Father. What does this teach us about Jesus?
  2. What does it mean to be a person who is dependent upon God in prayer?
  3. What are the dangers of prayerlessness? What might prayerlessness reveal about our hearts?
  4. What does your own personal prayer life look like?
  5. What blessings have you experienced through prayer?
  6. When convicted of a failure to pray, how does the gospel inform how we should respond?