Order of Worship

  • reading: Colossians 3:1-11
  • prayer
  • songs
  • reading: Matthew 25:14-30
  • prayer
  • sermon

    Spiritually, what are you afraid of? Let me see if I can guess what some of the answers might be.

    (1) "I am afraid of God--the thought of facing God scares me to death!"

    Now let me get this straight: your biggest fear is being terrified of God? The God that loves you so much that He gave His son to die for you, the God Who used the blood of His son to atone for all your sins, the God Who resurrected His son from death to prove to you that He can raise you from the dead--THAT God, and He is the greatest dread and terror you have? Does that make sense to you?

    (2) "I am afraid of judgment--the thought of being accountable to God for the way I live my life scares me to death!"

    Again, let me get this straight. God let Jesus be crucified for us to give us hope. In that hope we are assured we do not need to fear dying (in fact Jesus died for us to remove the fear of death--Hebrews 2:14, 15), but you are terrified about the very things that God gave Jesus in order to give us hope and peace. Does that make sense to you?

    (3) "I am afraid of hell--the thought of hell scares me to death."

    Still again, let me get this straight. The spiritual reality that scares you the most is the same reality that Jesus' death was God-designed to remove. In Paul's words, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

    May I ask you some questions? I want you to answer in your heart of hearts to yourself alone. Do not lie to yourself. Do not deceive yourself. You are just talking to you! No one else will hear you! Be very honest with yourself!

    My questions:

    (1) Can you be good enough to be saved? Is your answer to yourself, "No"?
    (2) Can you be so obedient that God owes you salvation? Is your answer to yourself, "No"?
    (3) Can you live your life without ever making a mistake, without ever being 'wrong'? Is your answer to yourself, "No"?

    If your answers to those questions is "No," then you are in quite a mess, are you not? You are scared to death of God, or of judgment, or of hell, or of two of those, or of all three of those ... BUT:

    (1) You cannot be good enough to be saved.
    (2) You cannot be obedient enough to saved.
    (3) You know you are going to make mistakes and at times be wrong.

    May I ask some more questions.
    (1) Why would anyone be attracted to the God you follow?
    (2) Is your message to the people around you, who really know you, "Please be a Christian so you will be as miserable as I am"?
    (3) Is your invitation to your friends, "Please let me introduce you to some people who are as depressed and scared as I am"?

    1. Please read with me Ephesians 2:1-10.
      And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
      1. Let me call your attention to some obvious things in this reading (you do not need a Ph.D., or be able to read Greek, to do a detailed diagram of this passage to see the obvious).
        1. Obvious reality one: prior to becoming Christians, these were horribly sinful people!
          1. They were so deep into sinning they were dead--sin had killed them in their indulgence--you do not get any worse than "dead."
        2. Obvious reality two: their salvation was the result of an act of God, not a result of their goodness--they did not become wonderfully good people, but they trusted what God did in Jesus' death and resurrection!
          1. Their salvation was the act of a mercy-rich God!
          2. Their salvation was the act of a loving God!
          3. Their salvation was the act of a God who gave them the gift of grace!
          4. They did not earn salvation--it was a gift!
        3. Obvious reality three: this gift also contained two responsibilities.
          1. First, if you accept the gift of God's salvation, you will cooperate with God in remaking you to serve God's purposes.
          2. Second, if you accept God's gift of salvation, you will live your life doing the things God wants you to do.
      2. We say, "Thank you," for the gift of salvation by being obedient to God's will and purposes.
        1. The motivation for Christian obedience is not "earning our salvation."
        2. The motivation for Christian obedience is gratitude!

    2. In most Churches of Christ we have a huge problem that has dissected and taken the life out of too many men and women.
      1. Please do not say, "We do not have any problems!"
        1. We do!
        2. Just look inside yourself--are you ready to be the poster board picture for the 'ideal' member of the Church of Christ?
        3. The tragedy is this: more people outside the Church of Christ see our problems than we see our problems.
      2. "What is this big problem that concerns you?"
        1. At some point in our development we adopted this attitude:
          "It is better to do nothing than to do something and be ignorantly wrong."
        2. What is so hurtful about that attitude?
          1. It says the safest course of action to take spiritually is to do nothing after we are baptized.
          2. God will not condemn us if we do nothing.
          3. But God will destroy us if we do something and that something is not precisely right.
        3. Why is that attitude so hurtful?
          1. Because it is a deceiving lie!
          2. It has never been true that God was pleased because His people did nothing!
          3. Surely we stir God's anger if we knowingly, willingly, deliberately rebel again God.
          4. But God's grace says, "I have you covered--so do not be afraid to try as you serve me!"

    Before we started thinking together, we read the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. A talent was a huge some of money--more than a slave would ever accumulate! The master gave huge sums of money to three servants. Only one servant made the master angry. He made the master angry for two reasons: (1) He did not know his master; (2) He did not try.

    This week, come to know your God better, and because you know God, try!

  • invitation song
  • dismissal prayer

    David Chadwell

    West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
    Evening Sermon, 9 January 2005

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