Friday, May 31, 2013

The Jesus Club

New Testament Reading:  Galatians 1:1-12
1 Paul an apostle--sent neither by human commission nor from human authorities, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead--2 and all the members of God's family who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
    6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- 7 not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed!  9 As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!
    10 Am I now seeking human approval, or God's approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ.  11 For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin;  12 for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Message:     “The Jesus Club”     

    Once there was a rocky coastline that jutted out into a shipping lane.  A careless navigator or raging storm would occasionally cast a ship upon the rocks.  It was a dangerous and deadly place.  One man took it upon himself to go out in particularly bad weather and watch for just such an occurrence.

    When he saw a shipwreck he would push his boat into the water and row into the storm to rescue the survivors.  He did this alone for many years and saved hundreds from drowning.

    One evening one of his friends joined him in the rescue mission and was so excited about the thrill of saving the lives of these lost sailors that he enthusiastically began recruiting more helpers.

    Soon there were many people watching the shoreline.  And they had many boats to assist in the rescue.  As time they decided that they needed to build a boathouse to house all of these boats.  And a meeting place where they could discuss the best strategies for coordinating the rescue attempts.

    As time went on people began to bring games to play as they watched the sea.  And then some televisions were added to the meeting room to help pass the time between rescues. 

    Eventually the rescues become bothersome to those who were watching TV and playing games.  It was decided to hire someone to watch the shore for them.

    Then they decided that if they just built a tall tower on the top of the meeting room, they could place a bell up there.  The reasoning was that they could just ring the bell and those that needed saving could just find their way to the meeting room with out anyone else having to go out and risk their lives in the storm.

    This, to me, sounds all too much like what has happened to Christ’s followers over the centuries.

First there was Jesus who began his ministry by preaching this message, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” Mark 1:15

And what was the good news in which we are to believe?
Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah when he read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent be to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And then Jesus declared, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  Jesus came to proclaim and fulfill the good news. (Luke 4:18-19)

We call that good news “The Gospel”

Jesus himself proclaims that, “God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.  Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”  John 3:16-18

Jesus continued to preach this good news until while on the cross he said, “It is finished.”  No longer was the Kingdom of God “Near” it was now here.  What Jesus came to do was finished.  The captives (us) had been set free of our sins.  As I said in last week’s message.  We have been justified before God.  Which means that although we are truly guilty, we have been released from the death sentance that our sins carried.

At his ascention, Jesus told his follwers (Us), “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” (Luke 16:15)

Jesus’ final command was that the gospel continue to be spread.

That lone man on the rocky shore was no longer alone in his mission to rescue the perishing.  He had followers, helpers, friends.
    On the day of Pentecost those timid, fearful friends of Jesus became powered up and dynamic.  Hear these excerpt from Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost (Acts 2 starting with 21-25)

 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him,
“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;’
This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
 until I make your enemies your footstool.’
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

    Yes Peter and the others stood boldly before the people who were looking to kill them.  They proclaimed the gospel that the Christ had come, that he had died to free all people from their sins, and that he was coming again to take the faithful to his father’s mansions where he had prepared rooms for them.  Many heard and were converted.  That is the power of the true gospel.

    The converted had that same enthusiasm and drive to tell all those around them this marvelous news.  The Jesus Movement grew from a handful of people hiding in an upper room to a movement that swept throughout the known world. (Read the book of Acts) It was a grass roots movement with only a few leaders who worked to keep the original message pure and straight to the point.  People met in homes to share with each other the joy of this salvation.

    Eventually it became inconvenient to have so many people in their homes and they began to build structures in which to meet.  Over time the term “the church” stopped referring to the people and became the common name of the building. 

In far too many instances the church became the building that housed the Jesus Club. It had stopped being the Jesus Movement to being the Jesus Club.  The club were members gather to shake hands, pat each other on the back and reasure each other of what good people they are.  If a stranger should happen to enter the clubhouse, he would be judged.   If he was deemed sufficiently good, if he walked like and talked like and looked like the rest of the club members, he may have been asked to join the club.

 Once a church becomes a club if its lost its true meaning; it is operating under a new gospel, a new good news.

    Paul sent letters to the churchs in Galatia because word had come to him that a “new” gospel was being preached.  A gospel that did not line up with the true gospel that he had taught them.  Paul warns his readers that there is no such thing as a new gospel. 

    Paul claims his authority to preach the true gospel by telling his readers that this was not something given to him by some human authority.  He was probably refereeing to his old life as Saul when his authority came from the religious leaders in Jerusalem. 

Paul remind his readers that he was commissioned by Jesus himself after Jesus death and resurrection.

Now Paul warns the churchs in Galatia of the need to get back to the true gospel that Paul originally proclaimed to them.  

Let's take a look at what Paul originally proclaimed.  in his letter to the Romans Paul laid out a clear path to salvation.

Romans 3:23 All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23   The wages of sin is death and the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8  But God proves his love for us and that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

Romans 10 9-10   Because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

Romans 10:13  Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Please note that this is the same gospel that Peter proclaimed in Jerusalem on the day of Penticost.

This is the true gospel that we are commanded to share.  when Christ said go into all the world and share the good news, he did not necessarily mean that we (you and I) had to go to every place in the world.   However he did mean that wherever we are we are to share the good news.

Understand this is not the duty of your denomination.
This is not the duty of your local church.
This is not the duty of your pastor.
This duty belongs to each Christian individually, share the good news with those with whom you come into contact on a daily basis.
If we neglect our duty as Christians and expect others to do it for us, then we're only members of the Jesus Club, not members of the kingdom of God.

Here ends the lesson.

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