It is not on us to fix things. The redemptive purpose of God had its beginning in Genesis 3:15 and He will see it through to its consummation. The bedrock of our theology for this anxious world must be this: God is at work. (Genesis 3:15; Revelation 21:1-5)
Speaker(s): Pastor Thomas Schaller. Pastor Phil Strout
Sermon # 11354
6:30 PM on 10/22/2017
We heard the message this morning but would like A.V. to play the video we saw this morning. Here’s a question: Do the sheep recognize the voice of the shepherd? I think for my devotional I watch that every day! When you were born again and the Spirit of God came into your life, you started to hear. My sheep hear my voice. That hearing that we have, that built in sense. When the first child called out, not one sheep looked up. A dog would or an animal of some kind. These sheep didn’t hear a stranger’s voice. In the ministry just for a few words, I love it we can sense things that aren’t even said. We can sense what is going on because we’re in a spiritual world. Sometimes we recognize God’s hand in something. God’s message to us, chastisement or correction. Sometimes we realize this is important and we embrace it and think about it.
P. Phil grew up in our particular part of his life for those years in Lenox with a disciplined way of thinking. We learned to listen and follow and believe it’s important. I love that in our lives we can make the important thing the main thing. To be a listener. This is edifying for us. We can hear the voice of the Shepherd and follow. We don’t know always where it will bring us. We know our Shepherd is the Good Shepherd and he will bring me.
Let me read this piece from a bishop in England in the 1860s. “Bibles read without prayer, sermons heard without prayer, marriages contracted without prayer, journeys undertaken without prayer, friendships formed without prayer. The daily act of private prayer itself is hurried over without heart. These are the kinds of downward steps too many Christians descend to spiritual palsy….unstable Samson’s, inconsistent Asa’s, pliable Jehoshaphat’s, over-careful Martha’s of whom so many are to be found in the church of Christ…they become careless about private prayer.”
Maybe you know I’m on this theme of thinking about prayer, private prayer. Stirring up my heart in prayer. Believing God in prayer. I’m challenged in it. We went to Owings Mills yesterday morning and went to the new mall area sharing our faith. A soft launch for starting another church. Is it God’s will and how will we do it and all these details without confusion in the plan of God. We can hear the voice of the Shepherd and he guarantees to lead us in and out and use us in different ways. Powerful ways, influential ways in our city and in the world. Praise the Lord for the message.
P. Phil Strout
Good evening. This is a surprise. We popped into Baltimore to greet and see a couple friends from 35 years ago and I find myself working again! Janet and I are on a sabbatical. In June we celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary. This is what we did our whole life, minister, plant churches, grow churches. We were asked to do another five years in a particular assignment. I think it’s the Lord but it would be good to have a little sabbatical after 42 years. A month to reflect and reload. I’m still in the month of reflection. I talked more church stuff today than the last six weeks…now Janet and I were chattering like chipmunks with a thousand ideas. We took our lives and broke them into seven different chapters where specific assignments the Lord had given us. We are amazed how faithful God has been, how kind, how thorough. In this reflection we want to be thankful for the men and women given so much to our lives. We were in Lenox 3 years. It was an amazing time. We learned and listened and learned and listened. Our assignment took us in a little different direction. We couldn’t do a reflection of people who profoundly influenced our life and not come to Baltimore and say than you. It’s been a privilege to do this with God and how much all of you helped us on the journey. We’ll take a few more weeks, reload and jump back into the saddle and do it again. Maybe in 30 years we’ll pop in again. We might be pushing walkers and taking turns saying “what” but we will still be in the battle. You don’t have to be a sociologist or politician to know we live in an interesting time here and abroad. In conversations all over the world it seems this is a great day for the church of J.C. This is a great day for God’s glory. I’ve been given a two hour limit tonight and I’ll stay with that! …
Let me share a couple relevant thoughts. We are looking at the world and believe Christ is the answer. We know the greater glory of God is the biggest issue on the earth. How does that play out in a world that has gone crazy?
Jn 16:33 I like paper and book. Click on whatever pad you have. Simple verse. Something Jesus wants to really say in probably a difficult moment when things are tense in Jerusalem. Things are tense with the disciples. Jesus says, lays out a motivation of what he has said and done. These things, what I have been saying to you, these things I’ve spoken to you. I’ve shown the works that go with the words. I’ve done this so in me you may have peace. The most frequent command in the Bible is fear not. It’s mentioned over 300 times. Don’t be afraid. Remember the angel. Don’t be afraid, I’m an angel. Be at peace. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be anxious. If there is a word so important to get ahold of today we can be the least anxious people in the world. A local church in whatever community should not participate in the anxiety of what is swirling in society. People are becoming millionaires by brokering fear. We are inundated by social media trafficking in fear. I’ve been explaining these things, spoken these things so that in me you may have peace. I don’t care what is going on. We believe in a bedrock theology. The swirl of the world exposes that. It exposes our own anxiety. The lack of anxiety is not a feeling, emotional or state of psychology. It’s a theological conviction. Jesus says this to his followers. He is speaking directly to the gang close around him. He says these things I’ve spoken to you so in me you may have peace. In the world you are going to have trouble. You have trouble. You’re in trouble. You’re only just begun to have trouble. It’s going to get worse. It’s going to increase and invade the various disciplines of life. He’s not just setting him up. In the world you have tribulation. Take courage. I’ve overcome the world. That sounds like a stale statement here but is a colossal thunder in heaven. I recognize many faces so you’ve been in this journey a long time. What will get us through this next season? Same thing as last and before that. That God is at work in the world. Everything that is being pedaled, I don’t care if it’s economy, nuclear power, etc. God is not in heaven saying, oh my self! They made such a mess! Oh my self, what do we do? He said I have overcome the world. This is bedrock. We believe this. We believe the birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension and Second Coming of Christ is a done deal. You can be a very non-anxious presence in Baltimore, Boston, and Katmandu. Relax. I love he says this and he basis this in a theological conviction. Nothing heretical so far! I believe in the finished work. I’m also excited that today is a great day to be a leader in the Body that has its eyes towards the world. You can have adventures of faith until you take your last breath on the earth.
What did he base this on? Ge 1. We’ll make a journey through the Bible. That should make you nervous!
There is a debate going on today on Ge 1 and 2. All I want to say is we’ve often taught it as the story of Creation but I don’t think that’s the center of the story. The star of the show is the Creator not the creation.
Ge 1:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, God, God, God. God. God. And in between he is doing some stuff. vs. 16. And he made the stars also. He throws that in like he’s throwing in pepperoni pizza. People have taken entire careers to study the stars. One little portion and in the yawn of God he made the stars also. So what are you worried about? What is the bill you can’t pay? What is that Bible study you can’t get off the ground? I tell people you got to relax. Take a deep breath. This whole thing is not on us. The redemption of the world is on God.
Ge 1 and 2 go along well. If we just stopped there I wouldn’t have a job. We have the great thing called the Fall. I didn’t come with a whole lot of notes. I’m going to make some assumptions we know this story. We lose what we have. The created beings that had received the gift of life turned their back on God. In that moment, if I had been God and the first two created beings turned their back on me I’d have gone (puff!) and there would be no witnesses! He couldn’t because he made a divine declaration that he loves what he created. He never lays the trip on Adam to fix the mess. Here’s the pivotal verse of the Bible.
Ge 3:15 my favorite verse of the Bible. This is God’s declaration. And I will. You can stop right there. As I was taught in total depravity, the fall of man, there was no way back. The Father couldn’t look at Adam and say fix this. Nor does God look at us when we make a mess and say you better fix this. God steps up and says this one is on me.
vs. 15. Let me give you a paraphrase. I’m going to cause trouble between you and the woman, her seed and yours and the seed of the woman will crush your head. First prophetic mention of the Gospel. Openness, communion with the divine, honesty, love, purity, innocence in one moment that is gone. Death, sin, pain, cancer, AIDS, rejection, war, poverty with no way back. God the Father, Son, Spirit steps up and says this is on me. I’m going to fix this. He looks into the future and prophesies the coming of the seed of the woman being the Lord J.C.
Then so we move along, in Ge 12 he announced in Ge 3 what he would do and in Ge 12 he begins to execute it. He reaches into the sea of humanity and plucks out Abram and says I’m going to make of you a great nation. You will be used to reach all nations. He sets it in motion. This narrative we call the Bible is him doing that.
Even when we talk about missions and mission, we don’t start at Mt 28. This is the mission of God. This is where God announced his mission. Church is participating with God on his mission towards humanity. I’m going to make of you a great nation and from it come tribes and families and one of those families, the seed of the woman. He sets this divine drama into movement.
God is not playing with the disciples in Jn 16:33. Don’t fear, I got this one he says. He’s been in the middle of this for millennials. I like it that this is on God. I like it that this is on God. We couldn’t make this up. Remember learning the book the Resurrection Factor, reading Joshua McDowell. You can’t make that up. The writing of the Scripture and the continuity of the Scripture and so many different writers and languages all put together as the Scripture. No group of people ever could have made this up. It takes more faith to believe that then to believe the Word of God.
We see Ge 3 in Luke 2.
vs. 21-25. He was looking for that day, that moment, that intervention.
vs. 26. This guy is hanging out in the temple. Celestial traffic going on. He clearly heard the voice of God. You will not die until you see the consolation of Israel. So he is hanging around the temple. All these baby boys bringing in daily…you’ve got to put a little bit of sauce on this. He came in the Spirit in to the temple and when the parents brought him the child Jesus he took him in his arms.
vs. 29-30. I’m holding what you said way back here that you would fix this in Ge 3:15 and sets in motion in Ge 12 and we have the narrative of the history and the prophets and the psalmist and the intertestamental period and there comes a day when God winds the clock forward and this R man stands in the temple, takes the baby and says here it is. My eyes have seen the salvation of our people, the consolation of Israel. You talk about a dance in heaven. An understanding of what is going on as this divine drama unfolds. Amazing. He lives his life and he’s crucified. What happened after the crucifixion? Died. Dead. He didn’t swoon or faint. Heart started beating, kidneys, lungs, brain, and no blood flow, dead as a door nail. Dead. On the third day, can you imagine this? I think there is a divine video. He has to show us this.
That moment in the grave where something started in Ge 3:15 is now being carried out, that life, the heart, the lungs filled with air, the kidneys kick in and the circulation kicks in and he comes back from the dead. There was no category for what happened to Jesus. All of this we do, following Christ, asking Christ to be our Savior, looking for the coming of Christ, being missional to a world that is insane. All of this is based on that.
Rev 21 John is on the west coast of present day Turkey. He goes into this cave and has a revelation of J.C. I’m not getting into eschatological issues here. I want to read the vision John had as he described it.
Rev. 21:1, don’t try to download that. It will cook your cables. This is a testimony of John.
vs. 2-3. God has taken up residency among men again. This is either Grimm’s fairy tale or this is what is going to happen. He will dwell among them and they shall be his people. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Here’s the new creation.
This is is why Jesus said to the boys in Jn 16:33 I’m explaining these things to you so in me you will have peace. In the world you will have trouble. I got this covered. We know there is a dynamic tension of what actually is but not yet. It’s in play. The consummation, the coming of Christ, what a glorious thing. We put all our marbles in this basket. This is why we can look at Muslims and Hindus and “nones” in the present day sense. They don’t identify any religion. Stay in the boat. We have this message. I can’t believe we get to do this. This is on God. This is what we have.
Ge 1 and 2 pure glory. Pure glory. Amazing. Then we lost it all and God says I’m going to fix it.
Then Rev, 21 and 22 and he actually did it. All of that between is a narrative of how he did it. Let me tell you a quick story. We have two children. Many of you knew them. They were this big. They are 40 and 38 and both have three children. Every once in a while we go out with them. They sort of know pops is going to pay. Janet has this high level pay so I know it’s going to cost me. We take my wife’s father out, we pay, etc. I’m a pop. I love doing that. We’re out to dinner in Portland, Maine and my kids are involved a lot in medicine. I said there will come a day as we get older that the check slides toward your side of the table. A little nudge. And they looked at me like dad that’s the dumbest thing you ever said! I’m just being fatherly. We get in the car and Jan said what was that all about? I just wanted them to understand it’s not always going to go in this direction. She said as long as there is breath in your lungs you’ll never let those kids pay. I said I don’t want them to know that. That’s a little different from God. This is on Dad. This is on God. God set out on a mission. The Bible is a narrative of the mission of God. It’s completed reality in divine eyes but in time and space it’s being worked out. If you will take the time and listen to what I speak to you, look at the works I’ve been doing before you…that will give you enough ammunition not to get up in the swirl of anxiety going on. In culture, in our body betraying us, in those who pedal fear. The church can be the least anxious reality in a city. People want to go there because it’s a peaceful place, the Spirit of God. We tell his story. We throw in little tidbits of our story but we tell his story. The bedrock of the Christian faith is based on the fact God intervened on behalf of humans who couldn’t intervene on their behalf.
My numbing vision of Rev 21 and 22 where we go back to the future. We see the consummation of our faith. We will actually see this. I honestly love you, deeply appreciate you, and appreciate the ministry.
This Ge 3:15 is my life verse. I have spent the last 42 years unpacking this in every way possible. This is what I do.
Let’s just do this. Some of you are high level anxiety with your job, with adult children not working out. Some of you all sorts of things feed this. I am on a mission to let steam out of the hot kitchen and let God’s children live a life of peace. What is the area you need a breakthrough? Something comes around and takes you out again and gets you all wound up.
God says I got this one. Let’s repeat a few of those phrases.
I like also at the end maybe the anxiety that happens in life and learning grace and growing in grace. Maybe it spoke to folks here in that way. Maybe you’d like to have a prayer. I asked P. Phil to be here on the ground floor and others join him and if you could be you are carrying a burden and would like them to pray for you. Come on down and be bold. Zane, maybe he will be a pastor one day. He can come next to P. Phil and observe and learn on the spot. Come on Zane. And anyone that wants to come down. For prayer or being healed or something moving in your heart. We will sing a song or two and then we will be dismissed.
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