Posts Tagged ‘ Christian ’

Sermon: De-Contexting Jesus – John 11:11-16

I preached again! And once again, I was covering for Brother Paul in Paulden, AZ.

There is no video this time (unless you are okay looking up my nose most of the time!), but I did upload the audio recording.

I also joined in the solidarity day with Canadian churches by taking some time to discuss biblical sexuality (and understanding biblical context) in response to the nee Canadian law, Bill C-4 – Conversion Therapy ban.


De-Contexting Jesus: John 11:11-16

Waking the Dead

Know how parents or the cranky neighbor next door (or you?) complain about loud kids, “Their being so loud they could wake the dead?”

I have been thinking about so many people – churches, preachers, even people who have nothing to do with Christianity – who make bold claims about what Scripture says, about how Christians should act.

Tend to be the liberal-minded – “We understand better what was really meant back then: Jesus never spoke about homosexuality! People don’t really come back from the dead! We find new spiritual life and change, even in our bodies, if we were born the wrong way!”

Or even, like people like Bart Ehrman (author of Misquoting Jesus and other works attempting to tear down Christianity), they say we don’t understand what Jesus really meant, and it was exaggerated, anyway.

I have been thinking about so many people – churches, preachers, so-called prophets and apostles – who make bold claims about what Scripture says, about what Christians should be able to do.

Tend to be liberally-minded – “We understand more what was really meant back then: Jesus raised the dead, so we should be doing it even more! Jesus was sinless, and we are too! Jesus did amazing things, and we can do more!”

Or even, like people like “Pastors” Kenneth Copeland and Bill Johnson, we are Christs (anointed ones), we are little gods.

What does this have to do with today’s message?

Misquoting Jesus

[John 11:11-16]

11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

“Lord, if he’s fallen asleep …”

Oh, Lazarus wasn’t that sick. He is resting and getting better.

The disciples misunderstood Jesus, even though He said something plain and in a context that should have made it plain. And how many times do people today take something Jesus said without looking at the context?

“Do not judge … See! Jesus said don’t judge, you evil hypocrite!”

“You will do greater things … See! We should all be raising the dead and performing signs and wonders!”

“This is my body … See! Jesus said!” Do the elements of communion literally become His body and blood? Catholics certainly say so. But so many others say “He spoke in euphemisms and metaphors. He was just a good teacher!”

It is so easy to rip things out of context to fit our needs.

Yet, “Lazarus has died.” Okay, “Lets die with him!”

They started to get the context: vv. 7-8 – “We’re going to Jerusalem.” “But, teacher! The Jews are trying to kill you!”

“Oh! We might be martyred!”

Now, we know that Thomas was right. All of the apostles and disciples were persecuted, and most of the apostles were indeed martyred. But in this moment, he probably is still thinking of his own glory more than the glory of Jesus.

Thomas and the disciples are trying to do good by Jesus, but they keep missing the greatest meaning. This happens even now.

In terms of the more liberal thinkers, they are following evolutionary thinking: we are later in time, so we understand better. Jesus did not really talk about these things, but even if He did, times have changed. The loving thing is to let people live how they believe they should!

As an example, today is a day that pastors across North America (maybe farther) are standing in solidarity with Canadian churches to preach about biblical sexuality. This is my little addition to that.

Canada just began enforcing a new law this past week, “Bill C-4: Conversion Therapy.” This bill makes conversion therapy illegal, defining conversion therapy as:

a practice, treatment or service designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual; change a person’s gender identity to cisgender; change a person’s gender expression so that it conforms to the sex assigned to the person at birth; repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behavior; repress a person’s non-cisgender gender identity; or repress or reduce a person’s gender expression that does not conform to the sex assigned to the person at birth

Essentially, the way it is worded, in Canada, it is illegal to even call homosexuality, transgenderism, and any sex outside of marriage sin. How do we know this is not merely “slippery slope logic” and hyperbole?

The UK, New York, California, New Jersey, and Nevada have passed similar laws. Preachers and evangelists in the UK and New York, that I know of, have been arrested for hate speech and disrupting the peace for calling homosexuality a sin.

We hear people – pastors, theologians, politicians, everyday people – saying the New Testament never explicitly condemns homosexuality, it was just an OT law that was abolished.

Firstly, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 we read:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

“neither the pornoi” – sexually immoral, the root of our word “pornography”

“nor malakoi” – soft, effeminate men “who catch” – “nor arsenokoitai” – males who penetrate men and boys.

Both of these terms are combined into our English translations to the word “homosexual.” So, yes, the NT talks about it, and in a few other places condemns all sorts of sexual and sensual acts outside of marriage.

And as for Jesus never having spoken on it, that means they do not believe truly is God – the Logos, the Word – the One who worked through Moses and the Prophets to write the OT. In effect, Jesus spoke on these through the OT, and He does not change (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 7:21, James 1:17).

And Paul continued,

“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

So, it is possible to change, in Christ. It is not merely trying to “pray the gay away.” It is conforming to Christ. (So, some conversion therapy is indeed not that good!)

Yet, clearly these are not the only ones.

Back to Context

Many who [claim to (have)] follow(ed) Christ, twist His words, as well.

Many people have “deconstructed their faith” in recent years, being seen as brave and open-minded by many in our world.

Really, most have de-contextualized Jesus or listened to those who have. Maybe they were in liberal churches or churches that shy away from biblical truth to be seen as hip and with it, to be “seeker sensitive”, even though Romans 3:11 reminds us that “no one understands; no one seeks for God” unless the Father (by the Holy Spirit) draws them in (John 6:44).

Many “pastors, prophets, and apostles” today claim special knowledge and new understanding about God and His Word.

Really, most have de-contextualized Jesus or listened to those who have. They claim passages about Him or said by Him as for themselves, even if the greater context completely contradicts their understanding.

Case in point, Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

So many people claim this verse as a life verse, even if they have had an easy life. The context is God telling Israel, “I am about to punish you for 70 years for disobeying me. I am disciplining you, but it is okay.” As many take it as, “God only wants good things for me!”

Normal people are not really the problem. It is the big names, the ones who continue to spread mis-truths and should know better.

Remember earlier I asked about complaining about people “being so loud they could wake the dead?

Like Paul reminded us in 1 Corinthians 13, these people are like noisy gongs and clanging cymbals. They distract and make enough noise to raise the dead! (Or claim they can, anyway.)

Jesus warned us these people would come before the end, and Paul repeated it in his letters to Timothy, such as in his encouragement in 2 Timothy 2:15 when he says “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

So what about everyone else?

Re-Contexting

In a world of deconstructing and de-contexting, we should be people who re-context.

We know in our passage today that Jesus had let Lazarus die so that Jesus and His Father could be glorified.

His disciples did not yet understand, and they spoke rashly, like we often do, too.

Firstly, Jesus reminds us that when we die, it is not the end. “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep.” We know that Jesus has defeated death through His death and resurrection. We know that, unlike woke culture that seeks to separate and shame, Jesus awakens us out of our sin and shame into unity with God.

We may misunderstand and take things out of context, but His grace is enough. His love is enough. Wake up to the truth of Christ, the Faithful One who shows us that He is the context of love, grace, and truth.

Secondly, we are reminded of our duty. “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” Christ has told us that we are to take up our cross and die to ourselves.

Is Christ more important than our own lives? Do we trust that He has overcome death and the grave? “If God is for me, what can flesh do to me?”

Is sharing the gospel something we are willing to lay our lives down for? Though others turn away, deconstruct, and de-contextualize, do we truly believe that these are the words of eternal life (John 6:66-68)?

We serve the God of the Universe, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Great I Am. Do we fear Him or those who twist His words? If God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)?

Yes, we get it wrong sometimes. But we turn to the only righteous one, and we follow Him into the battle, even if we must die.

And die we must. Die to our fleshly desires and selfish wants.

We may never see anyone raised from the dead in this life, but we know the One who defeated death and came back. He may come in the next moment. He may not come for 10,000 years.

But Jesus has proven Himself faithful and trustworthy.

Come, let us go also, that we may die with Him.

For He has shown His light to awaken us to eternal life. Forget the sins of the past, and grab hold of the nail-scarred hands that lift us from the pit.

Let us all do our best to present ourselves to God as those approved, workers who have no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15) Let us re-context Christ to this world and hasten His return.

Prayer

Lord, we have come before you a people who have misunderstood, misapplied, and misused your Word. We confess it to you now. We thank you and give you praise that have forgiven us through the cross of Christ.

Open our minds by Your Holy Spirit to understand Your Word. Give us a passion for the Scriptures, to read and study the Bible.

Embolden our hearts and spirits to proclaim Your Truth to this world. Give us a desire to share the gospel, to be ready in all seasons to give an answer to those who ask for a reason for the hope that is in us.

Give us peace and wisdom as we go into this world with all of its problems and challenges, dangers and attacks.

Help us to remain focused on You and Your Truth. Guide us in all wisdom and truth.

Help us to seek You and Your Kingdom first.

For you are worthy of all glory and honor and praise, and we declare our need for You. Show us Your glory, fill us with Your love, and guide us by Your Spirit. Conform us to the image of Your Son.

In the name of that Faithful Son, Jesus Christ, we pray.

Amen.

VerseD: Colossians 3:1

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Colossians 3:1, ESV

It is not enough to call yourself Christian. If you are not seeking Christ and His Kingdom (and sharing the truth of the Gospel) you are in danger of showing you are not a Christian.

VerseD: 1 Peter 4:16

Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
1 Peter 4:16, ESV

Following Christ will lead to other people mistreating, mocking, or doing worse to us. We remember that this is how they treated Jesus our Lord, so we thank God that we are joined with Him in His plan of redemption of this world.

VerseD: John 7:38

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
John 7:38, ESV

As Christians, we should not be able to help sharing the truth, grace, and love of Jesus Christ as the Holy Spirit moves in and through us.

Video Lesson: When Someone Disagrees . . .

We live in an outrage culture. People seem unable to agree or disagree … well.

What does the Bible say?

  1. Avoid i                     arguments
    1. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 – T                               everything.
      1. Compare what people are saying with the B         and t .
      2. Get at least some of the f                        .
  2. Remember the other person is made in G                 i
    1. Romans 12:9-18 – L the other person
      1. Give the other person h                  
      2. Be z for truth,
        but remain c

So, stay calm, remember they are a fellow image-bearers of God, and do not automatically assume you are right but rely on God’s Word and Spirit!

2020 Perspective on Passover:

As born again Christians, we understand the foundational truth about Jesus’ sacrificial, atoning death and resurrection that brings us freedom and life, but I want to focus on the post-salvation implications of Jesus’ awesome work. Keep in mind, this will only apply if you have already committed to the side of Jesus.

After salvation, what does freedom and life look like for a Christian? Many might think “well, if a Christian is addicted to alcohol, etc. then Jesus can set them free from that” and that is true. But beyond that, what does freedom and life look like? It looks like this:

1. Freedom from false guilt.
2. Freedom from fear about what others may think.
3. Freedom from people who try to control and manipulate.
4. Freedom from the idea that you need anyone else’s approval other than God’s.
5. Freedom from circular or destructive thought processes.
6. Freedom…to grow, which is life-giving.

Pastors are supposed to promote freedom in Christians lives so that they can grow, but sadly many pastors do just the opposite.

Friends are suppose to be life-giving and help us grow, or at the very least, not hinder us from getting closer to Jesus, but sadly, many friends do just the opposite.

Assuming they already have a sincere faith in Christ, here are some things to ask yourself about a pastor or a friend:

1. Are they someone in whom I can see consistent growth?
2. Do they listen well?
3. Am I afraid to talk around them? Why?
4. When I come away from them do I feel burdened, or more free?
5. Does what they say ring true and bring clarity?
6. Can I see any ways that they attempt to manipulate?

There are many forms of manipulation, some are quite subtle and can even be seen as pious. Some of the more subtle ways of manipulation include:

* False guilt – does this person make me feel guilty if I don’t do what they want?
* Tone – are they talking down to me as though I don’t know anything? (Pay great attention to this one!)
* Leading Questions – do they appear to have all the answers? This is accomplished through the use of leading questions, that is, a question that is asked, with a very specific answer in mind. Therefore, unless you answer with the specificity that the manipulator is fishing for, you appear inferior while the manipulator appears to have all the answers.
* Positioning – there are many types of positioning, but one example is, is the person using tactical empathy? That is, do they claim to know and empathize with what you’ve been through, in order to earn your trust?
* Redirection: there are many types of redirection, but one of the most cunning is exploiting your emotional wounds to shift the attention off of something they don’t want to talk about.

Ask yourself, “who helps me walk in freedom?” It may surprise you who you DON’T list.

Jesus came to bring us freedom and life, and I believe the Lord wants the church to walk in Freedom and Life in 2020!

Wishing you freedom and life as you celebrate Resurrection day!

In His Love,
Jesse ישי

About Jesse Walker

VerseD: Colossians 2:6

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,
Colossians 2:6, ESV

We should be wise about the teachings we allow to influence us, so read the Scriptures and live amongst those who follow good doctrine to the glory of God.

Sermon: Signs You’re a Christian – 1 John 3:10-24

I preached again! I liked it. Like, wept some, got goosebumps some, enjoyed preaching it … a lot.

Please enjoy listening (click here if it does not work just below), and see my rough notes for all scripture references and basic thoughts. I am reading from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible.

Signs You’re a Christian (1 John 3:10-24)

Read 3:10-11

        1:1, 2:7: Nothing new, known from the beginning

Read 3:12

        Genesis 4:3-5: Why did Cain murder Abel? His sacrifice was not accepted.
Why?
2 theories: 1) He could have asked Abel for an animal sacrifice. Could have, yes, but …
          2) He offered “an offering of the fruit” versus Abel’s “firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions.” Abel offered the first and best, but Cain went for the bare minimum.
Genesis 4:6-7: Bare minimum can lead, at best, to complacency, and at worst to proof of not being saved.
Genesis 4:8-9: Our selfishness leads us to hatred, as John reminds us …

Read 3:13-15

        Testimony: Know I am saved, because I have loved the Church.
-Jim Harper – Pastor on the Titanic
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Pastor in Nazi Germany

Read 3:16-20

        Two things to remember:

  • Our sinful hearts:
    • Jeremiah 17:9-10
    • How righteous are we really?
      • Illustration with three volunteers (preferably one of the Paul’s, Jadon, and Scott as our prime example):
        • 1 at the left, representing Hitler and anti-christs
        • Student at the right, representing Christ
        • Scott (or someone) being moved for how much righteousness he has, starting out close to student, moving him until he is right next to “Hitler” to demonstrate how much better we are apart from Christ. Then, back over to hug “Christ” who has covered our sins with his own blood.
    • Romans 8:23 – awaiting the redemption of our bodies
  • Christ commanded that we help others, especially the Church (Galatians 6:10, John 13 especially v. 8)

Read 3:21-24

  1. If we believe, we are washed by Christ. Since we are washed by Christ, we should have clean consciences
    1. Sometimes, we struggle to let go of the past, making our consciences feel burdened …
    1. This is one reason Hebrews 10:19-25 (vv. 23-25) tells us to keep meeting together and encouraging each other, but also …
  2. Whatever we ask: See Ephesians 3:14-21 (v. 20)
    1. He meets all of our needs, knowing what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8, 7:7-11)

What does this all mean for us?

  1. First, realize we can do nothing good apart from God
    1. Romans 3 – None are good nor seek God, all have sinned
    1. Luke 18:18-19 – Only God is good
    1. Philippians 4:13 – Through Christ alone can we do good things
  2. Second, we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. (Ephesians 2)
    1. Realize our full need for Christ, repent of sins, and believe in His atoning work on the cross.
    1. As Ephesians 2 continues and reminds us …
  3. Third, we are made one with Christ and each other through Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit.
    1. We love Christ and His Church.
      1. Read your Bible
      1. Pray
      1. Meet regularly with other Christians
        1. Not just go to church on Sundays!
      1. Live out love for God
        1. Do good works as a response to the great love God has given
        1. Especially toward our brothers and sisters in Christ
        1. These reveal the Spirit’s work in us, that we love Christ by obeying His commands (John 15:12-14), all to the glory of the Father (meaning people see our love and good works and come to believe the Gospel!)

So, then, what are the commands we are to obey?

  1. Love God with all that you are (Matthew 22:37-38)
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39-40)
  3. Love one another as Christ has loved us (Sacrificially and with a servant’s heart) (John 13:34)
  4. Go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20)

VerseD: 1 John 4:15

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
1 John 4:15, ESV

You cannot be a Christian and deny the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ, that He was sent by the Father to save us.

Nothing New: The Church’s Foundation: Part 4: Sad Realities

I am currently the Youth Pastor for The Church Next Door in Prescott Valley, AZ. On Sunday, August 11, 2019, I took over teaching the adult Sunday School class (the foundation of why we learn from history) before the regular service. (If you find yourself in North Central Arizona, specifically the Prescott Valley area, come join in from 8:45 to 9:45 AM, and then stay for the singing and sermon at 10!)

The second and third lessons were combined in the post two weeks ago, with a look at when the Church was founded and the various forms of leadership Jesus dealt with. Previous was a look at how he rebuked those in leadership.

Again, here are my notes:

Nothing New: The Importance of Church History

Lesson 6: Christ and the Church’s Foundation – Modern Comparisons

The leadership in the time of Jesus included the entirely secular yet pagan Roman Empire, the hyper-religious Pharisees, the super-compromised Sadducees, the fastidious Essenes, and the rebellious Zealots.

Briefly, how do we see nothing new in our leadership?

Modern comparisons:

  • The Divided leadership (remember that there can be bleed-over from group to group):
    • Pharisees – Got a lot right, but added a lot.
    • Sadducees – The compromised
      • Basically only used the Torah/Five Books of Moses
      • Messiah – Essentially, did not care
        • Maybe it was a real person, maybe it was Israel, maybe it was whoever was in charge.
          • The government could handle everything.
          • As long as they were in charge, more or less, of what the people believed, they were okay.
      • Resurrection?
        • Not a thing. This life is basically it.
        • Essentially, they were Deists
      • See Mark 12:18-27
      • Modern comparisons:
        • Much of this will come back up with Gnosticism
        • Functionally, atheists and agnostics, which leads to …
        • Science-ism – The belief that we can know/learn everything about the physical universe from science. No god needed.
        • Union Theological Seminary (ultra-left in every way)
        • Liberal denominations/churches – Spectrum, may be any to all of the following:
          • Inerrancy – Ideas/thoughts in the Bible are inerrant, if that
          • Lifestyle: Nothing inherently wrong with homosexuality, transgenderism, or most other ways of living (usually in committed, monogamous relationships … usually …)
          • Believe good people go to heaven. (For rebuttal, see Romans 3:23 and John 6:44-66 & 14:6)
          • God, if he or she exists, is all about love and freedom. Sin is at worst done away with, at best not real.
          • Science and the government are in essence more compelling than scripture, because our understanding has evolved over time. (Just like us)
        • New Apostolic Reformation and other ultra-/super-charismatic churches and movements
          • Yes, they are under this list, too. Watch the next two lists for Essenes and Zealots, as well!
          • We know more things from special revelation through modern apostles and prophets, even those who occasionally get it wrong.
            • Yes, even things that contradict Scripture.
          • Redeeming the things of the world and the occult for Christ.
            • Yes, even the things Scripture specifically calls wicked/evil/abominations
        • Many who attend church, Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, or whatever. (So-called “Carnal Christians” and “Chreasters”, those who only attend on the holidays)
          • The people who attend church to be good, get that checkmark, or for family/friends, but they are just like anyone else who does not attend church.