Sermon Options: November 10, 2019

October 2nd, 2019

HOW TO STAND FIRM IN A TURBULENT WORLD

2 THESSALONIANS 2:1-5, 13-17

Have you ever tried to walk in gale force winds? That is what it is like to try to stand firm in our world today. There are many challenges that try to buffet us. It is difficult to keep our equilibrium. Paul brings to the attention of the Thessalonians and to our attention as well, two great concepts that can help us stand firm. Paul's discussion is in the context of concern about persecution, rampant immorality, and a coming man of lawlessness. Paul counsels them not to be overly concerned because they had a foundation in their lives that could not be destroyed. Since their battle and ours is a battle of ideas, our stability comes from remembering great ideas. We have not been thrown out into the battle with no resources.

I. Remember the Gospel You Believed (vv. 13-15)
Paul begins by reminding us that God took the initiative. God did not wait for us to choose him. He chose us. This choice is made evident through the work of the Spirit and our belief in the truth. It is the Spirit speaking through the word that we must respond to. This is the word that preachers have shared. When we respond we receive salvation from our sins and we are sanctified, that is made holy, that we might share in his glory. So there is both an earthly and heavenly benefit to receiving God's grace.

We live in a society that often devalues doctrine. This is a shame because our doctrine shapes what we are. Every doctrine has some practical application. It does matter what you believe.

It is important to remember that the word gospel means good news. Preachers may tell the truth in their sermons, but still not have a note of gospel in them. This gospel gives us stability in a turbulent world.

II. Remember the Grace You Received (vv. 16, 17)
Evidence of the grace of God is the great love the Father has given us. This loving grace gives us encouragement in our present circumstances and an enduring hope for the future. We have a confidence that both empowers us and strengthens us to excel in word and deed.

Grace is such a glorious concept that some people reject it because they feel undeserving. What a liberating moment it is when a person recognizes that grace is for the undeserving. That's why they call it grace. Just because we don't deserve it does not mean we can't enjoy it. This grace gives us stability in a turbulent world.

Do you remember the story of the little girl who bought a pair of ice skates so she could learn to skate? As she went out to try them she fell repeatedly. Her father, trying to be compassionate, said, "Do you want to stop for now?" "No," came the terse reply, "I didn't buy the skates to fall down."

We didn't become Christians to fall. We must stand firm. We can stand firm. (Michael Shannon)

A NEW TAKE ON REALITY

LUKE 20:27-38

One of the encouraging trends in our postmodern world is the new openness to faith and belief. Folks who operated from a modern rationalistic, scientific worldview who often rejected faith claims as being intellectually indefensible are now coming to the realization that such claims are not as indefensible as they had imagined. This is exciting news for those who proclaim the gospel. However much times may change and developments may warrant new openness to faith, there will always be those who rigidly cling to their preconceived notions of the way things ought to be. The Sadducees were such people.

I. The Rigidity of the Sadducees
In the Gospels, the Sadducees frequently did whatever they could to make Jesus' life miserable. I have often erroneously believed that the Sadducees were the liberals of their day because they denied a belief in the resurrection. In fact, they were the extreme conservatives of their day. Their rejection of belief in the resurrection was based on a strict interpretation of the Torah, in which resurrection is not mentioned. So when the Sadducees ask Jesus about the resurrection, they are not really interested in knowing about the resurrection or considering what Jesus has to say on the matter. Instead, they pose a riddle that is on the level of "Can God make a stone so big he cannot lift it?"

They refer to the custom of levirate marriage and concoct a scenario that could conceivably happen but would be highly unlikely. Suppose a man with six brothers gets married and then dies. The wife marries the brother who then dies. This cycle repeats itself until the wife has been married to all seven brothers. In Mark's account, Jesus tells the Sadducees that their whole premise is wrong because they do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God.

II. The Newness of Jesus
Luke's account shows Jesus using an interesting hermeneutic to answer the Sadducees' question. Jesus tells them that the purpose of marriage in this life, which is fleeting and temporal, is to propagate the race, as well as to provide companionship. In the age to come, which is eternal, there is no longer any need to propagate the race. Therefore, the question of marriage becomes moot in eternity.

What is interesting is the interpretation Jesus gives to the story of Moses at the burning bush. Jesus uses the Scripture that the Sadducees will accept as authoritative and "puts a spin" on it that they hadn't considered previously. Moses demonstrated the reality of resurrection. It was Moses who addressed God as the "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." Of what value would it be to address God as the God of a bunch of dead people. God is not the God of the dead but of the living.

Jesus gave such a compelling answer that he earned his critics' grudging respect.

"Well said, teacher," they replied. And from that time on, although they were plotting his death, they didn't dare try to test him anymore.

The Sadducees show us the danger of becoming so locked into a particular way of thinking and viewing reality that we are no longer open to anything new. Certainly the truth of the Scripture does not change. But changing times open new ways of viewing that reality. The rigidity of the Sadducees caused them not only to miss out on the joy of knowing Jesus as the Christ but also brought on them the condemnation of crucifying the Lord of Glory.

In all of the changing views of reality we face, let us also be encouraged by the truth that there will be a "great, gettin' up mornin' " when we are raised to spend eternity with the One who never changes and in whom there is no shadow of turning. (Mark A. Johnson)

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