Posts in the "Sunday Sermon" Category

Prepared to Give An Answer: “True for You but Not for Me” Be Prepared to Answer Postmodernism and Relativism

Sunday Sermon Series Prepared to Give an Answer

The key verse for this series is 1 Peter 3:15 which tells us to gently and respectfully defend our faith. Colossians 2:8 also tells us to make sure we are not taken “captive by hollow and deceptive philosophy.” 

Postmodernism says there is no objective truth. All truth claims are subjective. Relativism says there is no absolute right or wrong. It says those who believe in absolute truth are intolerant … Before the Modern era, the common belief was that truth comes from God. The Modern era made the idea that truth comes from reason popular. Now in the Postmodern era, the idea that there is no objective truth has become popular. Relativism is closely related to Postmodernism and adds that truth claims aren’t only relative, but also are only for grabbing power. 

The Biblical worldview say: 

  1. Truth exists and comes from God (Isaiah 45:19; John 18:37; 16:13; 17:17). … God is the reference point. He tells us the truth. Jesus’ life was about revealing the truth to us. The Spirit guides us in truth. We are sanctified by God’s Word, which is truth.

  2. Right and wrong come from the nature of a Holy God (1 Peter 1:15-16). … God wants us to be like Him, set apart from evil. 

  3. God placed a sense of right and wrong in our hearts and consciousnesses (Romans 2:14-15). … We have a sense of rightness and morality that comes from God. That sense can be corrupted but we do all have one.

Chew and Spit: 

  • We agree that moral choices are not always clear. It is often difficult to know what to do in a fallen world (Exodus 1:15-21). …Not everything is black or white. Even Paul struggled with this regarding eating meat … When the Israelites were in Egypt and Pharaoh ordered the midwives to kill all the male babies, they let the babies live. Then they lied to Pharaoh about it and God rewarded them. Sometimes a lie is ok, but only under extenuating circumstances.

  • We do not agree relativism produces tolerance … Relativism claims to be inclusive but excludes anything it deems intolerant, thus making it intolerant itself. 

How can we be prepared to answer postmodernism and relativism? 

Gently point out the consequences of relativism: Are you willing to say that slavery, murder, rape, or human trafficking is wrong for some but not others? Was the Holocaust wrong or just wrong for some people? 

Postmodernism is inconsistent. Postmodern architects must use objective truths to make their buildings stand up. Math is all about absolute truths. Engineering relies on math. Buildings stand because their designers engineered it to. Even postmodern architecture that looks chaotic with stairs going nowhere and columns holding up nothing, still stand on those absolute truths. 

Jesus is the truth. He wants us to know the truth and build our lives on the truth.

Prepared to Give an Answer: “Nature Is All There Is” Be Prepared to Answer Naturalism

Sunday Sermon Series Prepared to Give an Answer

The Bible tells us that we should be prepared to give answers and defend our faith (1 Peter 3:15). We aren’t going to argue people into being saved and we shouldn’t respond with harshness or hate, but with gentleness and respect. This series will cover five different worldviews that conflict with the Biblical worldview and how we can respond to supporters of those worldviews. The first one we’re going to look at is Naturalism. 

Naturalism (or Materialism) says that matter and energy is all there is. There is no supernatural. Natural causes explain everything. Science is the only means to knowledge … Carl Sagan once said “the cosmos is all there is, or ever was, or ever will be.” Sagan is an atheist who, like many atheists, hold the Naturalistic worldview. 

The Biblical worldview says: 

  1. There is a God who is eternal (Psalm 90:1-2; Exodus 3:14; Hebrews 13:8). … We believe in a God who has existed forever and will exist forevermore. He had no beginning and will have no end. 

  2. God created everything (Genesis 1:1; John 1:3; Revelation 4:11). … God is eternal but everything else has a beginning and an end. God is the creator of all things. 

  3. God reveals Himself through His creation (Romans 1:20). … The things God creates mirrors some His qualities. 

Let’s introduce a concept called “chew and spit.” It’s a bit of a weird name, but it means we need to take everything we hear and chew it a bit, see if it’s good, and spit out that which is bad. We don’t want to reject anything without considering it first. 

Chew and Spit: 

  • Religion is not opposed to science. Science is a good gift from God. 

  • Science is not the only way to knowledge. If you say, “Nature is all there is,” how do you prove that statement by science? 

What evidence is there that Christianity is a more plausible worldview than Naturalism? 

  1. Science says the universe had a beginning. Things that begin to exist have a cause. The universe has a cause that was before the universe and superior to the universe … This argument is the “argument of cause.” The Biblical worldview agrees and gives a plausible answer, some would say more plausible than others. Science says a big bang created everything, but what caused the big bang, or who caused it? The Bible says it was God. 

  2. Science says the universe is fine-tuned to support life. This precision design is best explained by a designer … The precision required for the universe to support life on Earth is pretty crazy. If one aspect of our universe were just slightly different, there would be no life in the universe. Their answer for this precise design is the multiverse theory, That theory suggests that there is an infinite number of universes and that in the multiverse there must be one that is fine-tuned enough to support life. That would also require an infinite number of big bangs. Does that really make more sense than an eternal God creating everything?

Three Pictures of Hell

Sunday Sermon

Revelation 21-22
Last month our associate pastor preached about Heaven. There’s a second possible eternal destination that also needs to be discussed: Hell. We don’t like talking about Hell, but it is an important part of our beliefs and needs to be discussed.

“These are such weighty things, such that when I dwell upon them, I feel far more inclined to sit down and weep than to stand up and speak to you.” - Charles Spurgeon

Three things about Hell we learn from the last two chapters:

  1. Hell is a place of eternal torment. 

    1. People say, “is it really eternal?” … Unfortunately, yes.

    2. People say, “How is fair?” … Sin gains its wickedness by who it is against. When we sin against an eternal, omnipotent God, the punishment has to fit the sin. Consider the difference in punishment you would face for punching a random passerby versus punching the Queen of England. Is God not infinitely greater than even the Queen?

    3. People say, “Why not just forgive everyone’s sins?” … God is just and being just, He requires justice. Fortunately, He provided us with a way out: Jesus. Jesus was willing to take the punishment for all our sins Himself. 

    4. People say, “Why doesn’t God do something now instead of waiting for the end?”

  2. Hell is a door locked from the inside  … When a fire goes unchecked/uncontrolled, it grows and grows. Those who sin without seeking forgiveness by repentance will continue to sin. 

  3. Hell is our default destination … Most people tend to believe Heaven is the default destination, but the Bible tells us differently. The Bible says we were made for Heaven, but the fall, sin, changed our default destination to Hell. However, there is a way to change our destination to Heaven, and that is faith in Jesus, repenting of our sins. 

What do we need to do in light of this ETERNAL reality? Matthew 28:18-20

  1. Go - Be present with people … as you do life, spend time with people

  2. Make Disciples - Share the Gospel … Romans 10 asks some questions that are intended to prompt us to share the Gospel. They can’t hear the Gospel if we don’t speak it. 

  3. Baptize - Invite people to the family … don’t just invite people into our faith, but also into our community. Invite people to church, to your connection group or Sunday school class. 

  4. Teaching - To follow Jesus … by teaching people to follow Jesus we also teach them how to teach people to follow Jesus. 

Jesus has given us authority to share His message. 

Jesus is with us always. We don’t evangelize alone because Jesus is always with us. 

How Do You Respond to Trouble?

Sunday Sermon

In 2 Kings 3 is the story of two kings who get into trouble. King Joram (king of Israel) and King Jehosapht (king of Judah) respond very differently to the same situation:

The Moabites rebelled against Joram Joram decided to ask Jehoshaphat for assistance in taking on the Moabites. Joram wanted to go through Judah and attack Moab from the back. It was a good plan, but there was one issue. They ran out of water. Let’s see how each king responds. 

  • Joram responds with despair (2 Kings 3:10). … Joram panics and thinks there is no hope for them. He even blames God for his situation. 

  • Jehoshaphat seeks God (2 Kings 3:11). … Jehoshaphat asks for a man of God that they might ask what God is doing in this situation. 

Why do they respond differently? 

Their relationship with God is different:

  • Joram (2 Kings 3:1-3) … Joram was son of Ahab, who was one of the worst kings, and he did evil in the sight of the Lord. 

  • Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:3-6) … Jehoshaphat had a relationship with God and had experience with trouble before. 

Jehoshaphat had been in trouble before: Sometimes a little trouble prepares us for bigger troubles … Even King David saw minor troubles that prepared him for future, giant troubles. 

The prequel to our story is in 1 Kings 22 … King Ahab wanted to go to war with Aram and wanted Jehoshaphat’s assistance. Jehoshaophat said to fris seek God’s counsel. Ahab asked the advice of 400 false prophets and they told him he would win the battle. The one true prophet he asked said he would die in battle. He was right. Ahabn was in disguise so he wouldn’t be a target, but a random arrow hit him. Meanwhile, Jehoshaphat was spared because the Aram soldiers were instructed to only attack Ahab. 

So, how did our two kings fare? They found Elisha, a prophet, who told them what God was doing. Elisha tells them that God will flood the valley. Well, that water appeared as blood the Moabites and they thought the kings and their armies had slaughtered each other, granted themselves victory. So they went to plunder the fallen armies, but ended up getting slaughtered. 

Jehoshaphat will be in trouble again: Again, he would seek God. 

The sequel to our story is in 2 Chronicles 20 … The Moabites tried the same tactic against Judah, coming up from behind. They reached the city and Jehoshaphat saw how outnumbered they were. Jehoshaphat sought God again. He then sent out the praise team to the front line, and as they sang, God somehow sent ambushes onto the Moabites. 

Jehoshaphat provides us with a great example of how to respond to trouble. Seek God’s counsel.

What Happens When a Christian Sins?

Sunday Sermon

When we are saved, our past sins are wiped away, but what happens when we sin after receiving salvation? There are two popular answers: 

  1. We lose our salvation if we willingly sin. 

  2. It doesn’t matter because we’re already forgiven. 

Are these right? Let’s see what the Bible says. 

  1. When we Christians sin, our standing with God is unchanged (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:8-9). … Those who are true believers are sealed and salvation is secure. We aren’t saved by works and we don’t lose it through works. 

  2. When we Christians sin, our fellowship with God is disrupted (Ephesians 4:30). … Even though Christians are guaranteed salvation, that doesn’t mean sin has no effect on us or God. Our sin affects our ability to worship and spend time with God.

    1. Our prayers are hindered (Psalm 66:18; 1 Peter 3:7). … We are told that cherishing sin (including disrespecting your spouse) hinders our prayer life. 

    2. We experience God’s discipline (Revelation 3:19). … Jesus tells us He rebukes and disciplines those He loves. 

Look back at the two popular answers. Is either right? No, they are both on the extreme ends of the spectrum. The first is legalistic and the second treats God’s grace as a simple get out of Hell free card. 

What do we do as Christians who have sinned? We follow the advice of Revelation 3:19: we earnestly repent. 

We also have a tradition that helps us remember this: The Lord’s Supper or Communion. It forces us to consider Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and that should repentance. 

1 John 1:5-10 is a great message about how to live as believers. It calls for us to live in the light of our Savior and to be honest and confess our sins.

God Is Calling You

Sunday Sermon

What method does God use to call us? 

  1. God can speak audibly (1 Samuel 3:4-5).... God called to Samuel apparently in an audible verse since Samuel thought Eli had called out to him. 

  2. God often speaks inaudibly (Acts 8:29).... This can be a simple thought that pops in your head or a tug on your heart to do something. 

  3. The Bible is God's authoritative communication (1 Corinthians 14:36-37).... When you think God has spoken to you either audibly or inaudibly, always check that message against what the Bible says. If it goes against what the Bible says, it wasn't from God. 

  4. God prefers to use human messengers to call us (Acts 9:10-11; Romans 10:14).... He does this a lot in the Bible. In the Old Testament he spoke prophets, judges, kings, and others when getting a message out to His people. In the New Testament He speaks through the Disciples and Paul and Peter and others. The ultimate messenger from God is Jesus who came from Heaven to take human form and deliver His message. Even today He speaks through pastors as well as other people, 

What is the content of God's call to us? 

  1. God calls to salvation (1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Peter 2:9; John 5:24).... We all have a sin problem but Jesus has bridged the gap caused by our sin and we are called to cross that bridge to salvation. We are called out of darkness and into light. We are called from death to life. 

  2. God calls to ministry(Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2).... When we are called to salvation, we are also called to ministry in a sense. We are all supposed to spread the Gospel. However there is also a special calling for people to be more specialized in the ministry, to be pastors, missionaries, public speakers. 

  3. God calls to specific assignments (Acts 13:1-3; 16:9-10).... Sometimes God calls on people to take certain tasks. Maybe you are called to do missions in a specific part of the world or to be the pastor of a specific church or to lead a certain Sunday school class. Maybe you're even called to help lead worship or operate sound and lights and slides. 

Five Pictures of Heaven

Sunday Sermon

Revelation 21-22

CS Lewis said that “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” I've never been to Heaven. The preacher has never been to Heaven. There are books about people who claim to have gone to Heaven, but we are going to get our ideas of Heaven from the Bible. So let's look at five pictures of Heaven from Revelation 21-22. 

  1. Renewal (Revelation 21:1-2).... The new Heaven and Earth will have all the good from the current Heaven and Earth but without sin. There will be no curse. Think about how the Earth was before sin, before the curse. 

  2. Reunion (Revelation 21:3).... We will be with God and with our family of believers, including those who died before us.. We will be ecstatic to be reunited with loved ones, but the greatest reunion we will experience is the one with Jesus. 

  3. Release (Revelation 21:4).... There will be no more pain, depression, sickness, cancer, crime, or even tax forms. There will be no more sin and we will all have pure hearts…. Will we forget all the pain we suffered on Earth? In Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, upon realizing he and his friends were still alive, Samwise Gamgee asked “is everything sad going to come untrue?” That’s a great question that has apparently inspired several sermons (do a quick search and you’ll find some good ones). What does it mean for all sad things to come untrue? It doesn't mean that we forget them or that they cease to have existed, but that they become unimportant with an eternal perspective. After all, we will be with our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ. 

  4. Reassignment (Revelation 22:3).... We will serve God. Work was part of the original plan in Eden, but it wasn't supposed to be difficult like it became after sin entered Earth. 

  5. Reign (Revelation 22:5).... We don't know who we will reign over, but we do know we are royalty, sons and daughters of the King. 

How do we apply these future realities to our present circumstances? 

  1. Put away your bucket list…. The new Heaven and Earth will have the best of everything from the old Earth and Heaven…… If you need a bucket list, there is one thing that we can do now that we can't do in Heaven: share the Gospel with the lost. 

  2. Stop being depressed about aging…. In the new Heaven and Earth, we will get a new, glorified body. 

  3. Let's teach our children these things…. The reality of Heaven should change how we parent and raise our kids. 

  4. Understand what you are longing for…. CS Lewis says that having a longing for something is a pretty good indication that it exists. We all long for something that this world can't provide and can only be fulfilled by God. 

How to Overcome Temptation

Sunday Sermon

Three promises about Temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13):

  1. You are not the only one facing this temptation.... It's easy to feel like you are the only one going through whatever you are going through. Even Elijah felt this but God informed him there were many others who were with him.

  2. You will not be tempted beyond what you can bear…. Even with Job, God put limits on the temptations and suffering Satan could put him through

  3. You will always be provided a way out of your temptation.

Three strategies for overcoming temptation:

  1. Flee (1 Corinthians 6:18; 2 Timothy 2:22).... There are some places we don't need to go to. There are some websites that we don't need to visit. There are some people we don't need to associate with because they tempt us and especially with sins we are prone to committing. Set some boundaries in your life that keep temptations away. This isn't always possible, which leads to the second strategy.

  2. Fight (James 4:7).... We are told to submit to God and resist the Devil. Too often we get this backwards…. One thing this verse implies is that the Devil feeds on weak prey and doesn't like when we fight. And we have weapons and armor provided by God.
    Your weapons (Ephesians 6:11-18) :

    1. Salvation (1 John 4:4)... Claiming your salvation helps you remember who you are, a redeemed child of God. The Spirit is in you and He is greater than the Devil.

    2. The Bible (Matthew 4:1-11)... The Devil traffics in lies but cannot defeat the Truth. When Jesus was tempted, He quote scripture. Memorize scripture and say it when you are tempted. Don't fight with a butterknife when there is a sword available.

    3. Prayer (Matthew 6:13; 26:41)... Jesus tells us to pray for protection against temptation.

  3. Change (James 1:13-15; Galatians 5:19-25).... Some temptation you can flee from. Some you can fight. But the real root of our temptation problem lies within us. The only way to truly fix the problem is to change. To quote Pogo, "we have found the enemy, and it is      us." Some people say there is no way for a person to change, but we serve a God of miracles who has no limitations on what He can do. Our desires can change. We can crucify our old desires and pickup new ones.

A Challenge to Christian Men

Sunday Sermon

2 Timothy 1:1-18

Paul addresses Timothy as “my dear on.” Timothy did not have a Christian father. H had a mother and a grandmother who passed the faith onto him. Paul was a spiritual father to Timothy. Paul shared two challenges with Timothy that our pastor wants to share with men today. … Our best guess for some context of this letter is that Paul is in his sixties and Timothy is in his thirties. Paul is very much a father figure for Timothy and Timothy a son to Paul. … Fathers are important. There are several statistics that indicate just how impactful a father is in the family. But that doesn’t mean that children who grow up without a father have to be doomed. The church should be full of men who can be spiritual fathers to the fatherless.

  1. Be bold in following Jesus (2 Timothy 1:1-12). … From what we know, it seems that Timothy was a naturally timid and passive person. Men can sometimes be pretty passive as they see things happen. Paul encourages Timothy to fan the flame of our gift of salvation and the Holy Spirit. He tells Timothy to be bold and not ashamed of the Gospel or of Paul’s imprisonment, but rather toi join Paul in his suffering. Why should we join Paul in suffering by being bold in our faith? (side note: Being bold does mean being obnoxious or annoying. You won’t win many souls for God that way.
    Three reasons:

    1. We are saved (2 Timothy 1:9-10). … Jesus died on the cross to save us. When He died and rose from the grave, he defeated, obliterated, death.

    2. We are sent (2 Timothy 1:11). … Preacher or not, we are sent into the world to make disciples.

    3. We are sure (2 Timothy 1:12). … Even as he sat in prison for his beliefs, Paul was still sure of his salvation in Christ.

  2. Be faithful in following Jesus (2 Timothy 1:13-18). … There’s a beginning and a continuing to the Christian life. Some people begin the Christian life and then something happens and they quit. Paul gives examples of people who were not faithful in their walk and someone else who was faithful. It is important to only begin following Jesus, but to also continue following Jesus even when the journey grows difficult.

    1. Two negative examples (2 Timothy 1:15)

    2. A positive example (2 Timothy 1:16-18)

When Was God at His Best?

Sunday Sermon

The Bible

How can we answer the title question? When was Go at His best?

  1. God must have been at His best the creation of the Heavens and the Earth. … All of the parameters that had to be perfect for life to exist on Earth are just that, perfect. The Earth spins at the perfect rate, in an orbit around the sun in the Goldilocks zone. There are so many things that had to be perfect for life to exist that it’s absolutely amazing everything came together properly.

  2. God must have been at His best when He create man. … Man is unlike anything else on Earth and God put man in charge of the Earth. The intricacies of the human body are spectacular. Your small intestine is 23 feet long. A human sneeze can travel 100 mph. The eye is equivalent to a 576-megapixel camera. To put that in perspective, smartphone cameras tend to be around 12 megapixels and 4k resolution is only about 8.5 megapixels.

  3. God must have been at His best during the period of time when God’s children were winning battles. … There are quite a few battles in the Old Testament where the Israelites won a battle only because God intervened. Moses, Joshua, King Jehoshaphat, and more led the Israelites in battles they could not win without God’s help, and God was faithful to His people.

  4. God must have been at His best during the time of the prophets. … Elijah, apparently the only prophet of God left at his time, did great things, including having God burn up water soaked bulls to show that God is the only God, showing up the prophets of baal in the process. Other prophets also did great works in God’s name.

  5. God must have been at His best the birth of Christ. … Even the angels sang in joy of this event. The Magi came with gifts, fell on their faces, and worshipped Jesus.

  6. God must have been at His best during the life of Christ. … Jesus did many miracles. He turned water into wine. Healed a child from miles away by simply speaking, healed a man by just telling him to get up, fed 5000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish, walked on water, calmed fears and storms, used mud to heal a blind man, rose Lazarus from the grave, and more.

  7. God must have been at His best during the death of Christ. … Jesus suffered unimaginable beatings and punishment and died on the cross. The Earth shook. The sky went dark. The veil tore. Because He died. The sacrifice of Christ was the final sacrifice to cover sin.

  8. God must have been at His best at the resurrection. … When those who loved Him were weeping and His enemies were rejoicing, He rose from the grave. The tomb was empty and He had risen. He had defeated death.

  9. God is at His best in salvation. … When He saved me, when He saved you, when He saved your friend, when He saved your enemy God was at His best,. God is at His best when people are saved. The whole Bible, from beginning to end, is about the salvation God offers and how it is available to everyone.