Makeup Monday


Would you characterize yourself as a radical? We all welcome a sense of comfort, a place of peace, and a sensible life. It’s celebrated in our culture. But is this Biblical living? What is it, fundamentally, that sets us apart from everyone else? In Luke 14: 25-35, Jesus, the true evangelist describes the life of His disciples. His disciples have been called out from the world and they truly don’t belong in world. This is a clear description of what a true disciple of Christ looks like. Jesus had a multitude of followers with Him who were not truly His disciples. Here Jesus describes the nature and heart attitude of his disciples. He is giving full disclosure about what a life lived for Him would be like. He’s making it very clear to these people that following Christ isn’t easy. In fact it is humanly impossible. One of the most dangerous things and useful tools of Satan is the “nominal Christian.” Christ himself is making it very clear that, in reality, there is no such thing as a “nominal Christian.” There are Christians and then there are those who are not.

Jesus draws attention to three key aspects of true disciples. 1. True Disciples Forsake Their Interests. Jesus says quite clearly in this passage using some common Hebrew language that people, personal interests, and possessions are not to take priority in your life. We know that from other passages that Jesus doesn’t want us to have some emotional disdain or anger towards our friends and family. It’s a matter of position. Who is our primary focus and the recipient of our time, attention, passion, and love? Jesus is the only one who deserves the top spot. 2. True Disciples Fully Consider the Impact of Discipleship. The name and honor of God is at stake when we say were are his disciple. Additionally, our discipleship will have profound effects on every one around us. There is a great cost at stake in this discipleship issue. Christ gives 2 stories to illustrate the issues that are at stake with discipleship. 3. True Disciples Acknowledge Their Kingdom Function. We are salt (Matthew 5). We have a purifying and preserving function in this World. We are propagating and preserving the message of the gospel as we speak the truth and we live as true disciples. Our Lord spoke as He did to prevent people from following Him lightly and inconsiderately. He knew that nothing does so much harm to the cause of the true religion as a “nominal Christian.” So where do you stand? What characterizes you? You may say, “This is impossible! I struggle with my priorities and I don’t always take my walk with Christ seriously.” This is not an issue of perfection. Only Christ is perfect and in Him we are being made perfect. You can’t make this happen apart from Christ. So I ask you, “Do stand out a radical disciple of Christ?”

John Frame: Redemption is the means; worship is the goal. In one sense, worship is the whole point of everything. It is the purpose of history, the goal of the whole Christian story. Worship is not one segment of the Christian life among others. Worship is the entire Christian life, seen as a priestly offering to God. And when we meet together as a church, our time of worship is not merely a preliminary to something else; rather, it is the whole point of our existence as the body of Christ.

John Piper: Worship is what we were created for. This is the final end of all existence- the worship of God. God created the universe so that it would display the worth of His glory. And He created us so that we would see this glory and reflect it by knowing and loving it-with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. The church needs to build a common vision of what worship is and what she is gathering to do on Sunday morning and scattering to do on Monday morning.

  1. God demands our worship.
  2. God fulfills our joy though corporate worship.
  3. God edifies the believers through corporate worship.
  1. The Word of Christ is the center of our corporate experience.
  2. Teaching and admonishing each other are two ways we demonstrate Gospel centered worship.
  3. Singing is a means of teaching and admonishing.

In verse 13 of the 11th chapter of Luke, the Holy Spirit is the ultimate example of a good gift which a perfect father, our Heavenly Father, could give.

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13 ESV)

The role of the Spirit in Luke’s Gospel and the book of Acts is a very central theme as he emphasizes the importance of what takes place in the disciples’ lives. Within the temporal setting of Jesus’ speaking to his disciples about prayer and praying to God as “Father”, the gift of the Spirit in their lives is as good as a gift gets short of the redemption that is to come about through Jesus’ death on the cross.

The role of the Holy Spirit in our understanding of God’s Fatherhood and our adopted sonship through Christ is something akin to God placing his identity upon us, that is, within us. Paul would later refer to the Holy Spirit as God’s seal upon those he has adopted as his own (Ephesians 1:13). While Luke does not flesh this thought out in great depth, as a historian he often refers to the work of the Holy Spirit in his writing of both Luke and Acts. Clearly in Luke’s thought, the disciples could not have carried out the task ahead of them without God’s Spirit in them. Additionally, this reference comes at the end of a passage rich with the language of the Father-Child relationship, likely giving the meaning a special point of emphasis.

[Curiously, having gotten rather lost in my notes toward the end of this sermon on Luke 11, I did fail to explain or even mention the reference to the Holy Spirit. Consider this a mulligan.]

“God doesn’t demand hectic church programs and frenetic schedules; he only wants his people to know him more intimately,” writes D.A. Carson in A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers.  While I think we would all agree with Carson, our lives do not always reflect that belief.  Carson continues, “Both in our work and in our play, we rush, we perform, we accomplish, we strive, we do.  We are not living in a contemplative age.  When we stop rushing and performing and doing, many of us park ourselves in front of a television, and simply absorb what is dished out.  The result is that we seldom take time to think, to meditate, to wonder, to analyze; we seldom take time to pray.”  I know from my own life, as well as many conversations I have with other brothers and sisters in Christ, that this is all too true.  And, when we do pray, it is quick, on-the-move, needs-based, and quite frankly, self-centered praying.

Yet, prayer is so deeply important to the church knowing our God more intimately.  And, as Carson quips, “The one thing we most urgently need in Western Christendom is a deeper knowledge of God.  We need to know God better!”  It is so easy to want to seek and demand God’s blessings without seeking and desiring God Himself.  A great way for us to both grow in our knowledge and affections for God, while avoiding self-centered seeking after God, is to learn from and to pray the prayers recorded for us in Scripture.

Over the next several weeks, we will be taking our Gathering class from 9-10 AM each Sunday to study the Apostle Paul’s prayers for churches that he so dearly loved.  We will learn what we should be praying for, what arguments to use, what priorities we should adopt, what beliefs should shape our prayers, and much more.  Personally and practically, I have quite possibly benefited from this study as much or more than any other study I have done to this point in my walk with Christ.  It helped to give shape and direction to my prayer life, while learning to place Christ, His Word, the cross, and and His church at the center of my praying.

One of my regular prayers for our faith family at Providence comes from Paul’s prayer for the church at Colossae.  In Colossians 1:9-10 we read, “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”  I think this class will be a great blessing to our faith family in helping us to know God and to live, think, and pray in a manner consistent with His character and gospel.  So, please make plans to come and be part of this time of growing together in grace!

During yesterday’s sermon we saw that Luke’s point in the temptation, and in his Gospel as a whole, is not that we need a strategy but that we need a Substitute because this Lion of Judah who overcomes our Enemy, who crushes the Serpents head, is also the Lamb who was slain.  This is increasingly clear as his Gospel narrative moves from Christ’s victory in the wilderness towards His triumph at the cross and the proclamation of that promised victory to the nations (cf. Luke 24:25-26, 44-49; Acts 1:4-8).  If we begin with that understanding of the temptation then we are in a good place to seek to understand how temptation works and ultimately what the tempter is after.  Because temptation is never about the bread, or the authority, or the rescue; temptation is about getting the people of God to question the fatherhood of God.  It forces us to see God’s character through our circumstance rather than viewing our circumstance through His character.  So we are to as Philippians 2 says, work out our salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.  This helps to frame our understanding of temptation around our Sovereign Substitute rather than our self-righteous strategies because ultimately the glory is His.  Yes we work and yes we toil but we do so knowing that the victory is His.

God has created us in such a way that we have these desires and in many ways our survival is dependent upon the fulfillment of these desires.  There is only so long that you can go without eating or drinking, right?  And so we desire to have our stomachs filled, and we desire to be healthy and financially prosperous, and we desire emotional and physical intimacy, among countless other necessary and unnecessary things.  We were designed to crave our Father’s provision, providence, and protection.  The key though is that we can place our confidence in our Father’s character or we can go about fulfilling these desires in such a way that denies His existence.  These are the tensions we saw in the temptation of Christ:

  • The Father’s Provision or Self-Preservation (vv.1-4)
  • The Father’s Providence or Self-Glorification (vv.5-8)
  • The Father’s Protection or Self-Vindication (vv.9-12)

These are also the tensions at play in our lives on a daily basis.  Keep that in mind when you are facing temptation.  It is never really a question of taking or not taking the carrot dangled before you; no it is a question of whether or not we will trust in the character and fatherly love of our God.

Justification by faith alone reminds us who we are and who others are.  Since we are justified by faith, we cannot believe in our own merits. This slays pride, and this raises up those who are timid. What qualifies you to be a child of God? The credentials come from God. So, what qualifies you to serve God? Don’t go thinking that you can serve God based on your abundance of talents, and don’t go thinking that you cannot serve God because you don’t have the “stuff” to do it. Mess this up and you are messing up justification by faith.

By coming back moment-by-moment to the cross of Jesus Christ, we are simultaneously brought low in our self-assessment and raised high in our understanding of what we are because of him.

And these truths affect how we view others – both believers and non-believers. We can subtly forget the ramifications of being justified as a gift. We begin to act like we earned the gift. This “forgetfulness” causes us to treat others with less than a gospel-standard. When you and I are less aware of our ransom, we tend to be less gracious to other people. God accepts that person as righteous in Christ. You and I also need to accept that person as righteous in Christ.

With non-believers, we are prone to act and think like we are actually a little sharper than they are – we think we believe the gospel because we somehow connected the dots. In addition, we don’t live consistently around people who don’t understand the gospel. If we really thought that God is the one who opens the eyes of the spiritually blind and the ears of the spiritually deaf we would speak the gospel with greater confidence – confidence in God!

We are set free in Christ. We dare not be legalists. So, we tout our freedoms. We are free, free, free. We are free to do what we like. We are free to use our freedoms to our hearts’ contents, and we do use those freedoms to try to make our hearts content. But freedom by itself does not content the heart. Freedom by itself easily turns us into slaves again. We are not slaves to the law, but we quickly become slaves to our flesh…laziness, worldliness, self-centeredness. We may not sin by commission, but we abuse our freedom to sin by omission. We are free, but what are we free from? Do we sometimes think that our freedom is actually a freedom from living for Christ, rather than a freedom from the law and a freedom from sin? Do we claim “freedom” and neglect other Christians? Do we claim freedom and neglect the things that God has called us to be about in great measure…all the while patting ourselves on the backs for not being legalists. Oh wretched people that we are! On the one hand, the Pharisee in each of us cries out, “Do this and God will be happy with you.” On the other hand, the flesh in each of us cries out, “Do this and make yourself happy.” Like Job’s so-called friends, we’re getting bad advance either way we turn.

If our freedom in Christ does not free us to be like Christ in the way we live, then we have a problem. Part of the problem is that we cannot fathom that the whole point of the law is that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. We don’t really buy that. And so we also don’t really buy that Jesus calls us to love one another. We want freedom; we want Jesus because we want all that is good  – yes! heaven and life and eternity, and all that. But sometimes we, yes, supposedly growing Christians, we find ourselves listening more to the flesh and justifying our fleshly pursuits by claiming “free, free, free.” We may not run all the way from being the Galatians to being the Corinthians, but we find ourselves in need of the love for others as defined in 1st Corinthians 13.

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