Sanctity of Human Life: How the Gospel Compels Us to Take Action

On Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, we pause to remember the intrinsic value of every person and call the church to action to take up the cause of life. We must take action because the gospel compels us to action. The gospel is the good news of Jesus which speaks of the kingdom of God, the rule of Christ over the cosmos, and the restoration of this broken world. The gospel ushers in a new resurrection-reality that brings redemption, forgiveness, and love to sinners. The good news fuels our motivation to care for the fatherless, particularly the unborn. Foetus-435110

The scriptures tell us that we are orphans. The Scriptures speak of God’s love as a loving father who adopts us and brings us into his family. Spiritually, everyone of us is an orphan, abandoned to our sins, exposed in eternal suffering, and hungry for love and family. As the lamenter Jeremiah said, “We have become orphans, fatherless” (Lam 5:3).

Though we are poor orphans, God cares for the marginalized. He sees us in our lowly estate; he sees our suffering; he sees our hunger, and he chooses to adopt us as his children. He sent Jesus, his own son, to purchase us and bring us into his family. Our salvation tells one beautiful story of adoption. The story of the Bible describes a loving Father who sacrificed everything to love his children. He spared no expense, even if it meant the sacrifice of his only-begotten son.

Yet, even though Jesus has been raised from the dead and sits at the right hand of the Father, God did not abandon us like orphans. Rather, now we have the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18, ESV). He gives us a helper, the Holy Spirit until Christ returns for us.

These glorious Gospel truths amazes us. If you are a Christian, you’ve received the adopting love of God. How amazing it is that God’s love would descend to choose broken, unwanted orphans like us. Though you may feel unwanted, good for nothing, and worthless, God the Father declares: “I love you. I want you. Become my child, and let me become your father. Come enjoy the warmth of my embrace and enjoy your inheritance as my son or daughter.” You want that kind of love. I want that kind of love. If you want to become a son or daughter of God, he invites you into his family today. He calls you to turn from your sin and trust in his son Jesus Christ for your salvation. Come to the Father through the son, and enjoy the privileges of being a child of God.

So when we become a child of God, we are called to action. We spread the kingdom of God and share in our Father’s care for the orphan. As Paul would write in Ephesians, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10, ESV). James write, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22, ESV). James tells us that one of the ways we prove to be a part of the family of God, is that we obey God. Disobedience to the command of God indicates spiritual deception. Our obedience proves our son-ship.

As we think about the sacredness of human life, how does the Gospel compels us to do something? What motivates us to action? Let me suggest five ways.

First, we are compelled by gratitude. As we think about all that God has done for us, we cannot help but be grateful, and that gratefulness leads us to obedience.

Second, we are compelled by love. We want to imitate God, be like him in his care for the least of these. As God has loved us, we love others. Children are like their fathers, and the church should by like God. We share in the care of God for the least of these. Indeed, we are an extension of the love of God.

Third, we are compelled by God’s Kingdom. The kingdom of God speaks to our individual salvation on a micro level, but on a macro level it speaks to the restoration of the cosmos. God will renew all things and restore all things before sins corroding influence on the world. As citizens of God’s kingdom and members of his family, we are compelled to see his kingdom advance.

Fourth, we are compelled by the Great Commission. We do justice and serve the least of these as a part of our Great Commission work to make disciples. Social justice goes awry, when we forget that people need Jesus. Out of love and compassion, let us care for the marginalized, but let us also take the Gospel message with us, inviting all people to trust Christ as the savior and king.

Fifth, we are compelled by God’s glory. At the end of the day, this is the ultimate motivation for all we do. We want to make God’s name famous through all the earth. We want his rule to spread, his kingdom to come. We want the nations to be glad and sing for joy, as all of the cosmos sings in climatic praise to God!

The Best Use of Time

http://www.foresthillsbaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/R_20150322-1059161.mp3  

Each Monday I’ll be putting up my sermon notes and audio file for the sermon series from Forest Hills Baptist Church “Christ Over All: A Study from Colossians”. This is an edited copy of my sermon notes, not a transcript of the sermon. You can listen to the sermon audio above or directly for at the church’s website

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:2–6, ESV)

1. Persistently Pray for Open Doors for the Gospel (4:2–4)

2. Live and Speak with Gospel Intentionality with Outsiders. (4:5–6)

3 Easy Ways to Build Relationship with Non-Christians

It is so easy to find yourself stuck in a Christian sub-culture. In fact, it is so easy most of us do not realize we are in one. Jesus commands us to be both salt and light (Mt 5). Both illustrations assume that Christians are involved in the rotting decaying world of darkness. In order to transform the world with the Gospel we must engage the world. Yet our temptation is to seclude ourselves into a spiritual bomb shelter. We create a large institution with all kinds of Christian programs so that we never have to interact with the lost world around us. Many churches and Christians have found themselves in a secluded sectarianism. Yet we cannot be salt and light if we stay hidden in our spiritual bomb shelter waiting for the apocalypse. Jesus is coming soon. We must leave our holy huddles and engage the world.

Am I in a Spiritual Bunker?

Are you trapped in a christian sub-culture? Well here are a few diagnostic questions to ask yourself.

  • How many non-christians do you know by name?
  • How many of those people do you have in your contacts on your cell phone?
  • When was the last time you had lunch with someone who didn't know Jesus?

If we are honest with those three questions I think we will be ashamed of their answers. For many of us (including myself) we simply do not know people who don't know Jesus. We have become so isolated in our christian sub-culture that we cannot function as salt and light because we don't know anyone to be salt and light too.

So if you are like me and tend to get trapped in the spiritual bunker, what are some practical ways you can get out and engage the world for Jesus? Here are three easy and practical ways:

1. Find a Hobby or Activity Apart from the Church

Do something that is not associated with the church at all. Rather than joining an upward basketball team go join the rec. league and meet people who don't know Christ. Go join a community bowling league. Go hang out at high school football games. Be active in your child's PTA. Be involved and active in things that are not church related and do not apologize for it. However, do these things as a missionary, participating for the good of the community and for the evangelization of the lost people and friends you will make.

2. Be a Regular at Local Establishments

An easy way to get to know people who are lost is to be a regular somewhere. Go to the same restaurant every week. Go to the gym at the same time every day. Put a smile on your face and interact with people. Be kind and tip well. Ask the employees questions and strike up conversations. Get to know people and be their friend. You will be surprised how many opportunities you will have to share Christ through those relationships.

3. Invite Your Neighbors Over for a Dinner Party

Everyone loves a party. Christian hospitality is a wonderful gift and a huge catalyst for relational evangelism. Invite your neighbors on your street over for a BBQ. Grill some burgers and get to know each other. Become friends and see where God will take that relationship. God has placed you in your neighbored to be a missionary to your community. Begin praying and looking for ways to get to know the people who live around you.

Functioning as Salt and Light

Be intentional about looking for opportunities to make new friends who don't know Christ. We tend to drift towards the spiritual bunker more than we drift towards missional engagement. Be disciplined and pray that God gives you opportunities to get to know new people. These three tips are things anyone can do and anyone can put into practice. Get out of the Bomb Shelter and go be the children of the light empowered and redeemed by the Light of the World, our Lord Jesus Christ.

I recently preached a sermon on Matthew 5:13-16  on what it means to be salt and light. You can check out the sermon audio here.

My Soul Magnifies the Lord

The Following is an excerpt from my sermon "God's Unexpected and Wonderful Plan " from Luke 1:39-56.  You can click the link for the sermon audio. 

Luke 1:46 - "And Mary said, 'My soul magnifies the Lord'".

Mary praises God for choosing to use her, a woman of such humble origins.  She begins this psalm asking that her life might magnify the Lord. A simple statement, but a prayer that should be on the lips of all the saints. May our life and existence be used to magnify the greatness of God’s name! May he be exalted and made much of through our lives. His glory must be our greatest treasure and longing joy. Just as a magnifying glass enlarges and makes clear, so too should our lives magnify the glory of a God to a world who cannot see clearly. Our lives are to increase in size the font of God’s grace so that this near-sighted world can read its truth.

However Mary’s first statement is not so much one of a prayer, but an indicative statement.  She is not asking the Lord to use her to magnify the Lord, she is praising him for already using her for such a purpose. Mary is carrying in her womb the savior of the world.  She is carrying the son of the Most High God. God has already chosen to use this woman to magnify His name by bringing Jesus into this world through this humble country girl from Nazareth.  As a result of this truth her “spirit rejoices in God”. She is filled with overwhelming joy over the fact of God’s amazing plan includes her! How wonderful it is to be apart of the divine plan of God to spread the glory of his name!  How wonderful it is to be used to magnify the name of the Lord!

Yet, just as Mary was chosen by God to magnify His glory, so too is every Christian chosen by God for the same purpose. As Christians we have been given the charge of the great commission.  We have been given the task sharing the good news of the arrival of the savior to the nations.  As we take the Gospel to the ends of the earth, God is using us to magnify his name. The glory of God is spreading to the ends of the earth as King Jesus reigns in the hearts of all peoples. Yet, he has chosen us for this task.  The wonderful thing about the church is that it is filled with a bunch of nobodies. The early church was filled with common, uneducated fishermen, hated ex-tax collectors, and despised gossiped about ex-prostitutes. Yet God has chosen those who are rejected by the world for the most important of purposes.  He has chosen the rejected on the most urgent of mission and the most glorious of tasks – magnifying the Lord.

Mary confesses that she is a woman of humble estate. There is nothing about her that any king of the earth would chose to bring his son into the world. No human being would chose Mary to bring the savior of the world into existence. Yet, the Gospel reverses the perception of the world.  He chooses a woman of humble estate, a nobody, to be the mother of the word become flesh.  All generations will call this woman blessed, because she has been called chosen by God for the most wonderful tasks. God’s mighty hand will use those who are humble and rejected by the world for incredible things.  Mary makes it clear in v. 49 that it is “he who is might” who has done all of this. There is nothing special or unique about Mary that earned her the right to carry God’s son or to participate in God’s story of redemption. No, she is but an ordinary teenage girl whom God chose to lavish his grace towards by his mighty hand.  God alone is the one who has accomplished all of this and he alone is the one who lavishes grace on his children

Advantages of Established Churches

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how we should not give up on older churches that are platued or declining. I gave a call, particularly to the younger generation to invest the time and energy of building up this congregations. However, despite all the empahsis in church planting, there are reasons why established churches can make a huge impact in advancing the Gospel in their communities. Here are a few reasons why we should continue to seek to revitalize these congregations.

1. Resources, Resources, Resources

The amount of resources in established churches are astounding. The amount of financial assets, fascilities, and people are overwhelming. The reason most of these churches have started declining is not because they lack resources, but because they lack vision. These established churches have the resources to do incredible things for God and his mission, the problem is they may need to be reprioritized.

2. Established Churches Already Have a Presence in the Community

For churches who have been around a while, most people have at least heard of your church in the community. They may drive by your building, have met one of your church members over the years, or have visited one Sunday. Established churches have a natural network of people established over the years that the church can use for missions and disciple making. Now, having everyone in the community know your church can be a good thing. It can be bad if your church has rubbed the community the wrong way over the years, however it can be a huge blessing if over the years the church has demonstrated a love to their city.

3. Established Churches are Multi-Generational

Another huge blessing to established churches is the variety of age groups. Many young church plants may have a plethora of 20-somethings but struggle to have wiser, older Christians who can disciple and invest in the younger generation. Having a multi-generational church is a good thing (See Titus 2). Having an established church across generation is a great opertunity to use the diversity of age for discipleship.

These are just a few contributions established churches bring to advancing the Kingdom of God. Although many of these churches are platued or declining, there is incredible potential to turn these churches around back on mission. We should not abandon these churches, but seek to cast a vision for the Great Commission in our community.

What other benefits to established Churches bring to reaching the community? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments!