A Changed “You”

Transformational Expository Preaching
Colin Smith

We’re talking about how Christ changes your soul not how Christ changes your life. Because as we normally speak about life, people think of the things that are happening to them, the things that are going on – I lost a job, what’s happening in your life?  Your life is the sum of the things that are happening to you but your soul is the “you” to whom these things are happening.

People get the idea that if I come to Jesus Christ, he’s going to come and change my life and I’m going to get a new girlfriend, get a new job so I better come to him for that.  No, the Lord Jesus Christ is going to change the “you” to whom these things are happening.

Link: Complete Sermon Audio

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It Matters to Jesus

How Do We Work for Justice and Not Undermine Evangelism?
Mike Wittmer

Everything hinges on how we answer the question, “Why justice?” or “Who is justice for?”

We fight for justice in part because we want to stop the perpetrators of evil and violence. This is why the most satisfying part of a Chuck Norris movie is the last ten minutes, when the smirking gangster takes a boot to the face.

A better answer, especially for pacifists, is that we seek justice to help the victims of oppression. We care about the widow being scammed by a conniving contractor and we grieve for children who are forced into prostitution or maimed to enhance their begging.

But the best—and only Christian—answer is that we seek justice not only to pay back the perpetrators and to rescue the oppressed but because we love Jesus Christ. No one weeps over injustice like Jesus (nor has anyone been treated so unjustly), and he has been taking names for a very long time. Unlike Chuck Norris, who returned each week to battle new bad guys, Jesus will return to settle things once and for all. He will “set the world to rights” (see N.T. Wright), for his words will become swords that “strike down” evildoers and he “will wipe every tear” from the eyes of his suffering children (Rev. 19:15; 21:4).

We are committed to justice because it matters to Jesus. But if we fight for justice for Jesus’ sake, we will never be satisfied with justice alone. We will not rest until every perpetrator and victim bows before his name, the returning King who gave his life so every unjust person who repents and believes in him may live forever.

This requires evangelism, and it flows naturally from the Christian passion for justice. If justice is primarily about Jesus, we will eagerly tell others about their need for him. If we forget Jesus, it won’t be long until we also lose our passion for justice. For without the promise of his glorious return, really, what’s the point?

Link: Complete Blog Post

A Narrative of Injury

Politics and Culture
Tim Keller

In On the Geneology of Morals, Nietzsche argued that Christian moral claims– of the primacy of love, generosity, and altruism–were really just ways for the early Christians to grab power from the people who had it. Christian morality developed out of the “ressentiment” by the weak of the strong and as an effort to wrest their position from them. This view will also lead to the conclusion that politics is what life is really about.

[James] Hunter argues that ressentiment–“a narrative of injury”–has now come to define American political discourse. Both conservatives and liberals make their sense of injury central to their identity, and therefore in each election cycle it is only the group out of power, who therefore feels the most injured and angry, who can get enough voters out to win the election. Politics is no longer about issues but about power, injury, and anger. How Nietzschean!

Link: Complete Blog Post

Too Great and Marvelous

Contentment
Tim Keller

[1] O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
[2] But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

[3] O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.

– Psalm 131

The believer realizes that the reason God’s actions are often opaque is not because we are wise and he is foolish, but because he is too “great” and “wonderful” for us.

Link: Complete Blog Post

A Muddy Hand

What is the Gospel?
Bryan Chapell

We may not like the idea of someone identifying us as “sinners,” especially if we use that term to refer only to ax murderers and child molesters. But the Bible says that God is absolutely holy and that all who do not match his perfection are “sinners,” a term that simply means missing God’s standard. If we sin to any degree, we become something other than what God intended (Rom. 3:23; James 2:10). He made us to reflect his holy nature (1 Pet. 1:16). So our faults not only hurt us but also mar our relationship with God (Eph. 4:30).

Our relational problems with God began when our human nature was corrupted by our first parents’ sin (Rom. 5:12). Since Adam and Eve, every human knows what it means to fail loved ones, hurt others, and abandon one’s own ideals. All of us know shame and remorse. These actually reflect a spiritual reality we may not have recognized: we feel guilt because we were made to be like God, but we fail to live so (Rom. 3:10).

We were made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27). He designed us to be like him so that we could love him and others made in his image. When we sin, we are going against our original nature, and something deep inside of us winces. The guilt we feel is an echo of the pain our heart registers any time sin distances us from the relationship we were designed to have with our God.

God requires holiness for us to have a close relationship with God, but both our nature and our actions distance us from him. How can we fix this? We can’t. We are imperfect creatures and can’t make ourselves holy any more than a muddy hand can wipe a white shirt clean.

God is the only one who can fix our relationship with him, and he does so by providing the holiness he requires. God takes the initiative (1 John 4:19). Through Jesus, our God rescues us from the consequences of our sin. He provides what we cannot, and that’s why we sometimes refer to his provision as “the gospel of grace.” Grace means “gift” – something given to those who cannot provide what they need – like a clean shirt given to those who have muddied their own.

Link: Complete Booklet

“Jesus can help you. Trust him.”

What is the Gospel?
Bryan Chapell

The events that led to his arrest had been years in the making. When he was growing up, the polite phrase our family used to describe my brother’s mental capability was, “He has a harder time learning than most.” Though his mind stayed undeveloped, David became increasingly strong in body and will as my parents aged. Stresses of dealing with him, as well as with their own issues, led to their separation and to greater difficulties with my brother. As an adult, David’s desire for independence and his developmental disabilities were constant concerns. For friendship and thrills, he developed relationships that spelled trouble. The obvious resulted.

His arrest and confinement were more than his mind could process. He knew only the overwhelming fear that someone with a young child’s mental ability would experience in a jail cell. He huddled in a corner and trembled.

My brother’s obvious fear rekindled something in the heart of another man in that cell. And despite his own difficulties, he shared with David the message of God’s mercy: “Jesus can help you. Trust him.”

The truths of Sunday school lessons in special-needs classes that David had attended as a child rushed back to him. He prayed for God to forgive him and trusted in Jesus as his Savior.

David will be in jail for a long time. He will also be with Jesus forever—forgiven, restored, treasured, and transformed. This is the gospel for my brother and for all who trust in Jesus.

Link: Complete Booklet

The Whole World is a Mess

Ray Ortlund Jr.

We shift the blame, in order to justify ourselves and relieve our anxiety. The whole world is a mess, and it’s always someone else’s fault. When was the last time somebody started a war by saying, “Hey everybody, I just want to admit I’m picking this fight”? No, every war is defense. This is the human heart.

Link: Complete Blog Post