March 19, 2017
How to Neighbor
Love Over Fear
Here at Celebration we believe the good news of Jesus should be taken all over the world. This is why we support the work of Shaun and Mary Ann Cooper in Indonesia. They work in a part of the world that isn’t nice to Christians. The majority of the population is Muslim. I remember in a video about their work how they feel so strong to share their faith, even though it could cost them harm to them and their family. They were honest and talked about the legitimate fear they have in sharing Jesus. And yet, they went anyway. And yet, they share anyway. And yet, they continue to bring the Gospel to dark places. The love of Christ overcomes their fear. They share their faith and it’s lighting up that part of the world!
I love that gutsy faith. I love a muscular faith. Gutsy faith is the norm because that’s the only kind of faith that survives. I see that faith in this church. Many of you talk about how you look and share your faith at work, even though your reputation may be at risk. I hear about how you have a spouse at home, and you pray every day, and you look for every little way to show God’s kindness to them. I hear you talk about your neighbor, and how you befriend them, and possibly risk your friendship, by telling them about Jesus.
Bold souls for God. Bold souls have a gutsy faith. How do you explain that kind of faith? How do you explain a faith that overcomes fear and will take their family halfway across the world and risk their life just for that chance to share Jesus? How do you explain someone risking their reputation at work, maybe a promotion, because they shared their love of Jesus? How many people will risk a friendship and share Jesus their relationship with Jesus?
Every church talks about the importance of sharing the good news of Jesus, and some churches do something about it. Get this, 4.5 billion people in this world has never heard the Gospel. Right here, within a 5 mile radius of this church, there are 30,000 people who are without faith in Jesus. Now, they may know about church, and maybe being a good person, but they don’t know Jesus- how good, how wonderful, and how he lifts the burdens of always trying to do right. Some folks right around this building, who come into this room during the week, are just a heart attack away, a car accident away of know the real Jesus- the real pathway to eternal life.
This is why so many people in our church sacrifice so much. Why they serve so much. Why they give finically so much. Why they give up so much. This is why our church tries so hard at everything we do. We at least know the most powerful source of love in this world. We owe it to our community, to our loved one, our neighbors, to allow God’ love for everyone to overcome our fear, and share the faith.
Today I want to give you six reasons why our love of Christ overcomes our fear. This isn’t original with me. Some of you may have heard this before- but it is definitely worth repeating!
The book of Romans gives us 6 reasons to put love over fear. Romans is a letter written by this guy named Paul to a church in the city of Rome.
Principle 1: Everyone on earth has a knowledge of God. This is true whether they know it or not. Romans 1:19, says, “What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.” There is a guy named C.S. Lewis called Mere Christianity, and if you haven’t read it you are behind. He notes in that book that every culture worships something. Every culture has a sense of justice, of right and wrong. Now, professors at college will challenge this and say we are product of society, or evolution. Therefore, there is no such thing as God. Paul totally disagrees. Paul says everyone has a knowledge of God because God has revealed himself to everyone.
Look at verse 20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Did you get that last phrase? People are without excuse. Read that together, “People are without excuse.”
You have a sense inside you of what is right and wrong. Everyone has a sense of beauty. When you look at the ocean, or the night sky, sitting in a tree, or even a well-designed building, you appreciate that. You can make all the excuses you want to, but Paul says God has made sure no one is without excuse.
From Indonesia, Germany, Mexico, and right here in Western Tidewater. You have no excuse. You may not have felt God but you have seen the evidence.
Principle #2: Everyone chooses rebellion to God.
Everyone who is morally aware chooses rebellion. Look at Romans 1:21, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
How many of you have a had a baby or you have been one? What word does a baby first say? The first word is Daddy! Come on. Second word is mama. The third word is “no” and the fouth, “mine!” Right there, right there, depravity sets in and it poisons every relationship we have between each other and between our Heavenly Father. We say to our earthly parents we say to our Heavenly Father.
Principle #3: Everyone is guilty before God. Everyone-the Greek means everyone! Chapters 1 through 3 in Romans is some of the weightiest chapters in the Bible. Meaning when you get through reading them you will feel a weight on your soul. In these chapters Paul says we are shameful, evil, ruthless, faithless, reckless, wicked, to describe the good guys, the Christians. He goes on to describe spiritual sins like arrogance, pride, and idolatry. He talks about our relational sins like hate, greed, violence, prejudice, and disobeying our parents. He talks about sexual sins of homosexual and heterosexual that are a rebellion against God.
One interesting part is the Roman church is a lot like us. It was diverse, and it had a mixture of people at various spiritual places in their lives. One group in the church was a group that grew up without God, the Gentiles. And it can be easy for us who know God to merely think of these passages are about people who do not know God. Those 30,000 people out there, maybe you. But Paul is talking about people who grew up with God and know God.
Look at chapter 2:17, “Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God.” Jews were the people who grew up with God. The Jews are reading this letter and saying I’m good with God, but in verse 23 Paul brings the hammer, “You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Ouch! Do Christians right here in this room ever dishonor God and defame his name? Well, yeah! God’s name is blasphemed! Religious people always disappoint- Jesus never does. The Jewish people had a religion and Jesus came to die for them. Do you have a religion, a church, or Jesus? Religion disappoints. People in a church will disappoint. Jesus will never let you down. Everyone who dies without Jesus, whether they go to church or not, will be condemned!
Look at chapter 3:10, ““There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Church going people and non-church going people. We are all under sin, we all have rebelled.
No one is good? That is a stark. Wait up there preacher Dice. I think I do good. Well, do you do good all the time? In every way? All of us do some good but we all do selfish stuff too. There is a universal need of grace. All have fallen short.
But what about an innocent person. David Platt in Radical wrote, “I believe in the authority of God that every innocent person will go to heaven when they die.” I do too. Do you know an innocent person? I do. I believe when a child is not morally aware they are innocent. I believe some forms of mental disability keeps a person innocent. But if you are morally aware then you are not innocent.
There are people who think they are ok if they do some good. This is not Biblical. They are misinformed. You are never good enough. You cannot make up for your rebellion. They have heard of church, but they desperately need Jesus! This is why this community needs this church. A group of people dedicated to help people grow in a life changing relationship with Jesus. They need Jesus!
Principle 4: Everyone is condemned.
Romans 3:20 says, “No one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” No one.
No one can say I do more right that wrong. We need to become aware just how bad our sin problem is. I had a professor back in a college who made this really clear. He said just put your life up to the ten commandments. It’s just ten. How hard could that be? So we are going to do that. I’m going to go through the 10 commandments. It’s a pop quiz you can trade papers after the test. Se your blue flyer and put a hash tag down when you are obeying one.
By the way, the Bible says you only need to disobey one and it’s over. 100’s only. Think of it as a hanging chain and you are at the bottom hanging on. All it takes is one to fail for you to fall.
Let’s go through them:
- Have no other gods before me. If you have always put God first and never put money, sex, or pleasure, or family, or having your own way instead of God. Count that as one you’ve never broken.
- You shall not make yourself an image and bow down to it. Now if you have bowed down to an image and called it God then you can count it. How many of you are like I got that one. I got one!
- Do not misuse the name of the Lord. If you have never used him in a cuss word, or said Oh my ______________, or texted OMG, then you can count that one. If you have then you can’t. According to my Mom if say “Gosh” it’s the same as “God.”
- Keep the Sabbath. If you have ever worshipped God but never really brought it. You just went through the motions. You came to church but you didn’t worship God. If you ever skipped church to go hunt, play golf, shop, or clean the house, or for company. You cannot mark that one.
- Honor father and mother. If you have ever disobeyed Mom and Dad you cannot mark that one. Some of you probably have a good story to tell how you didn’t obey, right? If you had to take care of your parents and you grumbled about it at anytime. You cannot mark this one.
- Shall not murder. If you have never killed anyone you can mark this one. Awright, I got this one! However, Jesus said that if you hate anyone, like racism, then you should count it. But we won’t do that today. Count it if you have never killed anyone.
- Shall not commit adultery. If you have been unfaithful to your spouse. If you have had sex outside of marriage. That’s adultery to. Jesus said you’ve committed adultery if you have lusted after another. But we won’t count that today.
- Shall not steal. If you ever have ate a grape at Farm Fresh before paying for, taken a towel from the hotel, cheated on taxes, took 15 minutes of your company’s time, ordered water but you took the soft drink instead. You cannot count this one.
- No lying. If you ever have been dishonest, gave a half-truth, blamed someone else when it was your fault. If you ever said their baby was cute when they looked like E.T. or Jabba the Hut. You cannot count this one.
- Do not covet. If you ever have craved anyone’s hairline, waist line, or bottom line, then you cannot count this one.
Ok, how did you do? Anyone have 10? 8, 7, 6, 5? We have some people pretty wicked people in this place! I think I have kept three. I’ve never worshipped an idol and the other two are none of your business!
We are all guilty. Amen! You can ignore this or blow it off but no one should leave here today thinking you are innocent before God.
Principle 5: The wages of sin is death, but God has made a way for eternal life. Romans 6:23, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 3:21 tells us, “God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law.” God has been made through Jesus Christ. It’s not about getting it right all the time anymore. Grace is based on faith, not on how much good you do. It’s trusting the work Jesus has done for you on the cross.
There is a word we use in the church and it is redeemed. Christians will call Jesus our redeemer. That means no one is just ignoring your sin. It means someone has paid the price for your sin. Jesus paid for your sin with his blood so you might have eternal life and freedom.
You have a debt of guilt to God you cannot undo. Jesus is the only one who could. He’s the only one who claims to. Buddha doesn’t. Mohammed doesn’t. Mother nature doesn’t.
Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the father but through me.” Ouch! That sounds so exclusive! That’s because it is! Just name another totally sinless leader who rose from the dead, and we’ll bring him on, but there is no other name like Jesus.
Principle 6: No one comes to God without faith in Jesus. Romans 5:1-2 says, “Since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.”
Sin puts hostility between you and God. You can feel it. When you apologize to God, humble yourself before him, that angst goes away and you get peace. That’s why everyone is always smiling when they come up out of the waters of baptism. They are free! They have peace! You can’t get that anywhere else. Don’t you have friends who have bought travelled, and tried all kinds of pleasures and don’t have it? This peace is only available through Christ. You cannot get it through anyone else.
Look at Romans 6:3-4 “Have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” This is why people get baptized. To have peace with God through Jesus Christ. Baptism is where you humble yourself, apologize, and make a pledge of good conscience to allow God’s grace to transform your life.
Listen to Romans 10:9-10, it’s the message we preach, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”
If this freedom and peace is only available through Christ what about the guy who knows church but not Jesus? What about the family in your neighborhood, the desk down from you, or anyone you come in contact with. What kind of people would we be if we didn’t share this?
Paul genuinely asks in Romans 10:14-15, “How can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”
How can anyone know about Jesus unless someone tells them? How can someone call on God to save them if they don’t get Jesus is the way? Think about the person who told you about Jesus? Aren’t you grateful? Who do you know could be grateful to you?
Quickly, here is a plan for overcoming your fear with love.
- Understand, God saves people and he sends people to tell the Good News. That’s you and me- us! Some will walk away. Blow it off. Jesus knew this. He talked about how people will disregard the news. People still need to hear the Gospel! It could be you today! You might be better than the worse person you know, but you are not better then God, or even your momma. Surrender your life to Jesus. You should do it today! You could choose love over fear.
- God’s kindness leads to repentance. In our Go Groups we talk about serving our community with the love of Jesus. We do this form relationships and help out. But understand, showing Jesus love is incomplete if you never look for the opportunity to share your faith in Jesus to the people you are serving. We are about grace and condemnation. We must share Jesus to those we serve.
- We are to demonstrate the kindness of Jesus everywhere and to everyone. There is no room for bigotry, racism, antisemitism. God’s love is for everyone!
- At the end of our service we have the offering box for our tithes and offerings. Why would families in financial straits choose to give to this? Why would a retired person on a fixed income choose to give to this? Why would someone sell something precious to them to advance the Gospel? Why do so many of you sacrifice and give so much here? Here’s why. Saved people save people. Repeat that. Saved people save people. Here is another reason. Loved people love people. Say that. Loved people love people. Are you saved? Are you loved by Jesus? Then we need to get busy loving and saving.
- Listen Easter is coming up and so is our baptism Sunday. Who could you share Jesus with between now and then?
We have all these lost people around us here and we are committed to reach them. They may know church but they don’t know Jesus. We are going to fix that. We know life doesn’t last forever. We are making investments now to make a difference there- in heaven. You know why? Found people find people. Say that! Found people find people. When we are lost in our sin Jesus overcame our sin and it is HIS love that compels us to overcome our fear and reach out to one more soul.
End Service by reading 1 John 4:17-20