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Faithlife Corporation

Real Church 3

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v  A battle between lies and truth is being wage inside all of us, everyday.  Are we going to believe the lies that the society and ourselves tell us and act on them, or are we going to believe God and His Word?  We need to hear the truth and where we are going wrong, but that is not enough.

Ø  Psalm 51:1-4  Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge.

§  I understand these feelings that come after failure.  At these times I feel totally helpless; if God doesn’t just do something in me I will never change.

Ø  Psalm 51:5-6 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.  Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.

§  Here is the joyful truth about my situation, I can’t do what is need, but God can and does.

Ø  Psalm 51:7-10  Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice.  Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

§  Each of these statements are about what God must do, none of them are things we can do.

Ø  John 8:31-32  So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

§  The “know” here is “γινώσκω”. 

§  Jesus is saying that the thing we must do is “continue in His Word” and then the process of coming to experience God’s truth from the inside out will take over.

Ø  This is what the church should be about.  This is the 1st mark of the kind of church I want to be a part of; a church that speaks God’s truth honestly to my inner person so that my addictions to the lies are exposed and I see that my real desire is for God and Him alone.

v  What would a church like that look like?

Ø  Leaders and teachers see their own struggles in light of truth and understand that knowing it is only half the battle: They will know the difference between living and active truth and dead and dormant teaching even when the latter is orthodox and passionately delivered.

Ø  Inner growth valued higher than ministry activity:

Ø  Relational sin more serious than outward failures: Pharisees, not prostitutes, are Satan's masterpieces.

Ø  Truth delivered with love, acceptance and grace: grace will always be there to turn a painful rebuke into a liberating opportunity to look bad in the presence or love.

Ø  Openness without defensiveness or pretense:

{No church will do all that. But every church could want it. That would be a good beginning. I am not sure what this will look like in the days ahead, but I know that we must really want it first and then be willing to risk ourselves in its pursuit.  But to help us, here are four foundational ideas we need to embrace.}

1)      Our desires for anything else but God can and will enslave us.  Grace too easily gives cause for failure today, instead of inspiration to victory:

a)      1 Corinthians 6:12  All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.

i)        The Message puts it this way: “Just because something is technically
legal doesn't mean that it's spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.”

b)      Until we come to understand and acknowledge that we want stuff, each other, other things more than we want God; and that those desires are enslaving us, we will not change.

2)      The Lord’s resurrection changes the way we live.  So start looking at your life differently.

a)      Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

i)        Resurrection truth: the message is, “There's always hope! Never give up!”  

ii)      [I want the man who’s watched pornography every night (or ten years, who can’t imagine not looking at it again tonight, to hear resurrection truth. I want the woman sliding into depression as she endures a difficult marriage, shutting down her feminine soul in order to hurt a little less, to hear resurrection truth.]

iii)    Usual response: No, that’s wrong. I’m blessed when I'm feeling pretty good about myself, and life is going well. That’s when I feel close to God.

b)      Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

i)        My wife is most dear to me: my children, son-in-law are very dear to me. My health is dear to me. So are my ministry, my friends, and my home. I'm blessed by having these blessings to enjoy. I dread losing what is most dear to me. That prospect doesn’t strike me as blessed. I want to go to a church that knows Jesus meant what He said. And because of Easter, His words can speak resurrection truth with resurrection power into my skeptical complacency.

ii)      Because of the resurrection I can look at life with these facts in place:

(1)   First, God became a human being.  That tells me He really wants to be with me.

(2)   Second, God's not ticked off at me. He's for me. He doesn't look at me with disgust or judging anger. He loves me, always has. And now I realize that nothing I do can make Him love me more, and nothing I do can make Him love me less. He looks at me and sings. That one's hard to believe. Without Calvary, it wouldn’t be true.

(3)   Third, because God is with me and for me and because He’s wiped my slate clean in forgiveness, His Spirit can now pour the literal life or Jesus into me so that I can think like Jesus thinks, want what Jesus wants, and love like Jesus loves, never perfectly but a little more as the journey continues. He's not only with me and (or me: now He is also in me.

3)      All of the good and bad in our lives come together to create a story of God’s love at work.  So embrace all of your life as an opportunity to glorify God.

a)      The more clearly I hear God’s story and the more I see both the tragedies and the possibilities of mine, the more I'll be able to hang in there on the Christian journey, knowing that every gruesome and glorious detail of my story, with all its doubts and epiphanies, all its falling downs and rising ups, as well as all its ordinariness, is part of an infinitely big and unspeakably wonderful love story.

b)      All of theology is about telling God’s story and how it effects our story:

i)        who is God? Core theology, the study or God.

ii)      what Is He up to? Practical eschatology, God’s plan for now and later.

iii)    Who are we? Basic anthropology, our nature as image bearers, male and female.

iv)    what has gone wrong? Essential hamartiology, defining sin.

v)      What has God done about it? Surprising soteriology. undeserved rescue, grace-based salvation.

vi)    What is the Spirit doing now? Living pneumatology, mysterious movement.

vii)  How can we join in? Purposeful ecclesiology, what the church is Called to do.

4)      Life is a process of fleshing out God’s truth and purposes into everyday actions, struggles and blessings. [ You have to shoot the gun in order to zero in the sight.]  So try and stop criticizing others in their struggle at process.)

a)      William F. Buckley, known by some as an entertaining intellectual, once wrote, “You cannot paint the Mona Lisa by assigning one dab each to a thousand painters.  But I think that's exactly what God has done. The body grows as each member does his part. The picture becomes clear as each artist releases the creativity given to him by God. This third expression of truth, signpost truth, frees me to help paint a masterpiece, not to hear a kindergarten teacher scold me for not coloring within the lines.

b)      One thing seems clear: not everything is clear.  The freedom scares me. I might mess up. I hear God reply. Of course, you will. Just keep aiming in the right direction. Follow the signposts. I’ll turn your blotches into beauty.

c)      It seems that God has not revealed truth that takes the mystery out of life, and for good reason. Take out mystery and you eliminate creativity: you curtail freedom. We want God to tell us what to do at every step, but He doesn’t.  Instead, He gave us the ability to think and reflect, to dialogue with others we trust, to study His word and take risks we call faith; all the while hanging on tenaciously to a dependence on God.  There are no formulas, no dot-to-dot paintings that we can follow to guarantee a beautiful life. No heresy has been more sin inspired than belief in formulas: do this and God will bless, in this way. Formulas put us in control and reduce God to a vending machine. Everything that’s wrong with me loves that idea.

d)      Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.


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