8 February 2004

God's Action

Welcome and Prayer

#121 - "Come Let Us All Unite to Sing"
#122 - "The Love of God"
#123 - "The Steadfast Love of the Lord"

A Permanent Solution
by David Chadwell

We all have pet peeves. I want to share one of mine this morning. I really dislike having to do the same thing twice. It really bothers me to think that a situation is solved only to discover that what I thought was a solved problem was never solved.

One of the biggest disasters we could experience is this: to be convinced that Jesus solved our problems before God, and find out on the day of judgment that Jesus did not solve those problems. Scripture repeatedly declares that because of what God did in Jesus, through Jesus you and I can have relationship with God. What a disaster it would be to find out in judgment that is not true.

  1. Some of us who are Christians do not believe we are in relationship with God right now.
    1. There are a lot of reasons for having those feelings.
      1. Some of us carry around this huge burden of guilt.
        1. Because we will not forgive self, we are certain God cannot forgive us.
        2. No matter what God did for us in the resurrected Jesus Christ, we live our lives with an enormous burden of guilt that we carry around every day.
      2. Some of us carry around a huge sense of meaninglessness or unworthiness.
        1. We feel "good for nothing."
        2. We are certain we are "good for nothing."
        3. We have such contempt and disrespect for self that we are absolutely convinced God could not love us.
      3. Some of us carry around this huge sense of failure.
        1. We know the truth about ourselves.
        2. We know the horrible mistakes we made in our past.
        3. We are convinced that God saves only good people, and we are sure we are not one of those--we are just a sorry excuse of a person.
    2. Read with me Roman 8:31-35.
      What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ?
      1. Let me share with you my understanding of this statement that was written to Christians who were really suffering through hard times.
      2. Paul said there are three reasons that Jesus Christ is our permanent solution.
        1. First, we represent the greatest investment God ever made.
        2. Second, God's use of Jesus Christ to justify us means Satan cannot accuse us.
        3. Third, the resurrected Jesus is right next to God interceding for us.
      3. The result: nothing external of ourselves can separate us from Christ's love.
      4. What does that mean?
        1. It means nothing is bigger than God, and God will protect his investment.
        2. It means Satan cannot do to us what he did to Job--God will not listen to Satan's accusations against us because in Christ God Himself justifies us.
        3. It means that no matter what we endure or go through, Jesus Christ constantly represents us to God--there is absolutely no way that we can be misunderstood.
      5. It means that the only person who can remove me from Christ's love is me.
        1. There are all kinds of things in life that can make our lives miserable.
        2. But if my heart belongs to the resurrected Jesus, not one of those things can remove me from his love.

  2. Think about these words in Hebrews 10:11-14.
    Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
    1. The priests' work was never over because the solution of animal sacrifices was a temporary solution.
    2. The resurrected Jesus sat down at God's right hand because his solution was permanent.
    3. By God's sacrifice of Jesus on the cross there are two things given to everyone in Christ:
      1. Sanctification
      2. A permanent solution.
      3. What God did in Jesus' death and resurrection is a permanent solution.


Thanksgiving for Bread
[Bread served.]

Thanksgiving for Cup
[Fruit of the vine served.]

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 8 February 2004

Our Response

#68 - "Give Thanks"


#691 - "Make Me New"
#429 - "Oh, To Be Like Thee"

by Chris Benjamin

Sanctification -
Read Mark 2:1-12

Jesus has a curious response to the man’s condition: He doesn’t spend much time diagnosing the illness.

  • Perhaps the need of this man is obvious as he lowered on his mattress with his withered limbs tucked in closely. It should be obvious, but that makes Jesus’ response all the more curious. He forgives the man’s sins.

Forgiveness of sins? Did the man even want to be healed? Or did he want to be saved? Why does Jesus offer forgiveness of sins right off the start? Usually we offer benevolence or healing then proceed to deal with other’s sin problems.

  • What’s being said here about sin? It’s crippling. Condemnation paralyzes and numbs. Unable to walk righteously. Unable to speak to others truthfully and lovingly. Unable to move, to worship, to serve.
But, the Scribes have a point don’t though? Isn’t it God’s prerogative to forgive sins? We do not want to be too presumptuous. If we start handing out forgiveness like candy, no one will want to be holy. Let’s not talk forgiveness to the point that we forget responsibility. Maybe it’s best we leave forgiveness to God - and so that means we will just have to hope for the best in the judgment, right?

"Wait!" says Jesus to the scribes, "Why all this discussion? Why are you thinking these things? Why do you doubt my authority to forgive?"

There are two different views of forgiveness in conflict: We see it in the way the scribes question Jesus’ bold proclamation of forgiveness. We know it in the way Jesus bold proclamation of forgiveness is too often doubted by our own condemning hearts.

I John 3:19-20.

  1. The way our condemning hearts view forgiveness: God’s work of forgiveness is much more active and transforming than simply passing a sentence. We cannot equate God’s forgiveness with the pardon given by presidents and governors. Presidents issue pardons upon leaving office and they are usually the stuff of scandals. Why? Perhaps it is because we sense that nothing has changed. The label has changed, but the contents are the same – and they are spoiled. Yet, God’s forgiveness works much deeper than that. It has to! "Our forgiveness is not some judicial fiction, but a reality being worked out in our lives by the Holy Spirit."
  2. Jesus and the Apostles’ view: a transforming reality within and without, sanctification! Assurance of God’s grace and the power to change our hearts. [John – "So that you may know!"] - God’s forgiveness is good news for us when we feel the burden of condemnation and guilt because it allows us to be defined by God’s righteousness and not our guilt. We may even accept the fact that God forgives us, but we remain so guilt-ridden that we are spiritually paralyzed.
    • Even if we do not assume that death is the only outcome, our guilt may condemn us to a spiritual paralysis. Rather than risk the possibility of doing anything wrong we do nothing. As long as Jesus forgives us, we should just sit down, shut up and be still. We quietly accept the forgiveness and keep our head bowed low. However, Jesus did not become sin so that we might become mediocre. We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). We were not created to stay out of the way and be unobtrusive.
    • Jesus: "Which is easier to say?" Either way the result is the same – a soul with the ability to walk! And Jesus wants us to walk – spiritually. This man who may have never walked in his life – Jesus instructs him not only to walk home, but to carry his bed with him too. Jesus did not forgive us so we would stay out of the way. [2 Corinthians 5:21 – "God made him who had no sin to become sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."] Christ became sin – why? So that we might become righteousness! God’s forgiveness is not just a change in verdict – it contains the power to actually enable us to live differently! And that can be just as astounding as a paralyzed man walking!

We may think that without God’s forgiveness we will die, but the fact is that without God’s transforming forgiveness we will never truly live!

  1. We may choose to respond to God’s forgiveness like the scribes – with doubt and hesitation. We are our own worse scribes. Our hearts condemn us. And then we may, if it gets really bad, condemn others. So we need to hear and see an amazing authority. We need to confront a reality that is much greater than even our own hearts
    • This greater reality is God. In the face of this greater reality, there can be no flippant forgiveness. We confront this reality through the cross of Jesus. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper participate in the crucifixion and resurrection - When we are baptized, when we share the common meal with Jesus we see how Christ becomes sin so that we might become righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). God’s forgiveness creates a new reality. The word sometimes used to describe it is sanctification. God forgives in such a way that sinners might become holy and righteous.
  2. We may choose to respond to God’s forgiveness like the paralyzed man and his friends who brought him to Jesus – with faith and trust. Trusting in God’s transforming forgiveness is not oppressive, but liberating. In fact, we can only experience true freedom as we rely on the spirit of God.
    • In 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, Paul describes the ongoing work of salvation as moment to moment God is transforming us into his likeness. We are never set free just to do anything we want! Removing sin is meant to heal, to empower, to free – to convert! Crippled with sin, we are empowered to walk in righteousness ...

So who has the authority? Our condemning hearts? Our guilt? Our scribal tendency to doubt and deliberate while we lie paralyzed on our mattress? Or does the Lord have the final authority? Jesus is greater than our condemning hearts. His view of what’s real and right and greater than the wisest scribe or the most cynical, self-hating critic. How ridiculous then that some of us would still allow our own heart to rule over the word of God ...

  • Some of us cannot worship because we doubt the authority and grace of God.
  • Some of us have wounds that will not heal because we continue to pick at the scab.
  • Some of us listen to "the inner-scribe" that keeps condemning us and has fooled us into thinking that it is God!

Once the scribes stopped dissecting the authority of Christ, the people praised God. We can too if we will let go and trust in his power to save. We are paralyzed so long as the focus is on us. But that changes when we focus on Jesus’ authority to heal and forgive. He’s greater than our condemning heart.

  1. And we ought also to glorify God when we see his amazing grace. When the sick are made well, they want to return to life. Likewise the forgiven need to return to life.
    • Can you imagine if the paralytic had allowed his friends to carry him home after he was forgiven and healed? "No thanks Lord, I don’t doubt your power and authority to forgive, but I’m just not sure about myself. You see, I’m no good at the walking thing and to walk and carry my mattress, well, that’s a lot too soon. I probably need a few months in transitionary care to make sure this is for real. Thanks for the forgiveness and healing, but I had better go at this slow."
  2. But Jesus’ gives a command – without any doubt he said – "Your sins are forgiven!" And without any qualification he said, "Get up! Take up your bed and walk home!"
    • Christ forgives us so that we may walk in righteousness. If Christ has forgiven you then why would you let yourself be carried home on your mattress?

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 8 February 2004

Song (Invitation)
#794 - "Unto Thee, O Lord"

Closing Prayer

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