Sunday, 11/27/16, Evident Grace began our Christmas series, “First Come, First Serve”. In it we want to explore how Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection lead us to a life of service. The book of Mark tells us that even Christ didn’t come to be served but to serve. As Jesus came to serve, so should we. From Luke 1, we answered this Big Picture Question:
Big Picture Question: How Did Christ Come to Serve Us?
Luke 1:46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
In that passage, we found 3 answers to our question:
Big Picture Question: How did Christ Come to Serve Us?
- He shows us mercy.
- He brings justice to an unjust world.
- He kept God’s promises.
He shows us mercy.
Luke 1:46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
This is Mary’s song celebrating the blessing that she has to give birth to Jesus. In it, her whole person (soul/spirt) worship God as she realizes that she doesn’t deserve such an honor. And her realization of God’s mercy doesn’t stop with her. She recognizes that God’s mercy is extending to generation to generation in light of the birth of Jesus. The coming of Christ was a merciful service to Mary and us, and that is a great motivation to worship.
He brings justice to an unjust world.
51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
We live in a world where the unborn die, racism is rampant, and cultures clash. It causes us all to cry, “How long? What’s our hope?” The birth of Jesus is the dawn of our hope. Jesus will cast down the proud and raise up the humble. The birth of Jesus brings justice where injustice exists. He is the just penalty for our sins, He brings down those who use their power and riches to punish the weak, and ultimately, He will bring justice to the entire world.
He kept God’s promises.
54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” 56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
From the Garden of Eden, through Abraham, to David, and throughout the entire Old Testament, God the Father promised a servant Savior who would pay for our sins. Mary knew that she was going to give birth to that promised Savior. God was faithful. He kept His promises. And our servant king assures us that God is trusted and merciful.
We closed our sermon with these three takeaways.
Big Picture Question: How did Christ Come to Serve Us?
Truth: We were served by Christ through His mercy, justice, and faithfulness to God’s promises.
Application: Celebrate Christmas knowing that Jesus’ service to you enables greater service to others.
Action: Serve others knowing that you are to live out the life of service Jesus gave for you.
These are the songs of the mark Christmas season. They frame many of our memories and expectations. In addition to these songs filling our radios and streams, Christmas is a time for the church to celebrate the birth of Christ. That is exactly what Evident Grace Fellowship will be doing from the Sunday after Thanksgiving (11/27) until the end of the year.
So, what makes our Christmas celebration unique this year? Well, our Advent series, “First Come, First Serve” will be centered on this truth:
“For Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 10:45
We hope that our celebration of Jesus’ birth will encourage and motivate us to see how we are now to live out a life of service just as the life of Jesus was a life of service. Towards that end, we will look at 5 ways that Jesus served us so that we can do the same. Those 5 ways will be presented in in the form of 5 questions:
11/27 How did Christ Come to Serve Us?
12/4 How did Christ Come For Us to Serve God?
12/11 How did Christ Come For Us to Serve One Another?
12/18 How did Christ Come For Us to Serve the World?
12/25 How did Christ Come for us to Serve the World?
Please join Evident Grace Fellowship, and please bring a friend. All are welcome, and all of our services will be highlighted with both traditional and contemporary Christmas classic songs.
You can find us each Sunday at 10am at:
And if you would like any more information about Evident Grace, you can find us at www.evidentgrace.com.
Big Picture Question: How is our sin foolish?
And we looked at these verses.
John 18:28 Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” 31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” 32 This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
To answer our Big Picture Question, we answered it in this way.
Big Picture Question: How is our sin foolish?
- Desperation to look good
- Baseless anger
Let’s look at our first point. Sin is foolish because of the…
Desperation to look Good
John 18:28 Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover.
Amazing. The Jewish people want Pilate to execute Jesus, but they won’t enter his home. Why? Because entering this Gentile’s home would make them ceremonially unclean. If they are ceremonially unclean, they can’t take part in the Passover celebration. The Jewish people are so concerned with looking good they don’t recognize their sin. They want Pilate to execute Jesus, their Savior. They are trying to look good and religious at the same time. Sin is like that; our sin is like that. We try so hard to still look good even when we are sinning. How foolish. But in addition to sin’s desperation to look good, sin is also full of…
29 So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.”
Pilate asks the Jewish people what accusation they have against Jesus that would merit His execution. And how do the react? They get mad. They are offended that He would even ask. They are angry. The sin in our heart often causes us to react that way. Look in scripture.
In the Garden of Eden, God created an environment of harmony and love in relationship with Him. All that was withhold from Adam and Eve was something exclusive to God: the knowledge of good and evil. But man, in his anger, said, “You cannot withhold anything from me (a baseless accusation against the creator of the world)”. When God rescued the children of God from Egypt and then they actually began their travel to the Promised Land, they got mad and said, “We would have better off as slaves.” (a silly baseless angry accusation). When Moses got mad, he struck the rock in disobedience. When Peter got mad, he rebuked Jesus telling Him that the plan for Him to die was wrong. Sin is about baseless anger against God.
And friends, we are not immune to this. Why should we be immune to the baseless anger of our sin when some of the godliest people, the heroes of our faith, weren’t immune to it? When you don’t get what you want or you get mad at your spouse or your boss, you sin and you justify to God by continuing to sin. And when Pilate asked these folks why they wanted Jesus to die, they got mad, and said, “We wouldn’t have brought him to you if He hadn’t done what was evil.
Friends, we must realize that our sin is rooted in baseless anger with something and ultimately, it is always anger with God.
And finally, not only is our sin desperate to look good and full of baseless anger, our sin is irrational.
31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” 32 This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
Even this Pagan governor knows this is a sham. He can’t find anything that Jesus has done, much less anything that He has done to deserve death. He says, “Take Him back. You obviously have some law that you think He has broken. You judge Him.” Sin is so foolish that even pagan Roman governors know that the death of Jesus is unjust.
But no, the Jews won’t have any of this. They say, “It is against God’s law for us to put someone to death. So, since we can’t kill Him, you kill Him” – as if that is okay. That is completely irrational. But, God used it all, even this irrational behavior to fulfill the promise of how Jesus was to die.
Guys, our sin is so irrational. We justify it. We look at the damage it does. We look at the consequences, and we sin anyway. We assume because nobody knows about your sin, that it really isn’t affecting anyone anyway or you justify a reason why it’s okay not to deal with your sin.
We closed with these things.
Truth: Our sin if foolish because it is angry, irrational and desperate to look good.
Application: Live knowing the dangers of your sin are not only met but exceeded by the glories and abundance of God’s grace.
Action: Apply Jesus’ goodness when we try to look good. Walk in humility instead of anger. Know and obey the scriptures instead of living in the irrationality of sin.
And we ended with this hope.
Romans 5: 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
If you want to listen to this sermon, check out our sermon page.
This past Sunday, we looked at John 18:19-24. In that passage Jesus, having just been arrested, is before the High Priest Annas being questioned about his disciples and his teaching.
We asked this big picture question,
What is a Christian Defense?
Here are the scriptures we read to understand that question.
John 18:19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20]Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
And we attempted to answer the big picture question by seeing that the Christian life is
- Openly Proclaimed
- Elicits Hostility
Let’s spend some time on our first point.
The Christian life is openly Proclaimed
John 18:19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret.
First, Jesus has proclaimed his teachings, what he believes openly, to whoever would listen
As you think about your own life we need to realize that if there is any truth, movie, book, restaurant, that you love, it becomes part of your day-to-day conversation? We tell the people in our circles what we are excited about. I want you to see that there is a correlation between that and how much we talk about Christ.
Jesus was excited about his Father, the good news about himself and he shared it with anyone who would listen and especially with those in his circle.
As you think about your own life, is that true of you? If not, why?
Second, I want you to see that there is a consistency to Jesus life. What he believes and speaks of in private is what he confesses and speaks of in public.
He’s not putting on a show, acting a certain way….then retreating with the boy or girls to “let his guard down.”
We can often live wearing different masks throughout our weeks, 1 for church, 1 for school or work, 1 for home, 1 with these friends, 1 with those friends. Things we would never accept someone saying in one of those venues, we are making those very same comments in another. We need to own that, and begin to ask the hard questions of why that is the case. Is it out of fear or maybe is it the desire to be accepted and liked? And then move towards deep heart change that comes from honestly coming to God with these questions and ourselves.
This openly proclaimed lifestyle elicits hostility.
John 18:21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?”
What was already a highly charged environment now erupts in violence with one of the guards striking Jesus.
This is the same with us. As we stand up for what is true, what is right, and what is good we will face hostility. It may not be someone striking you but it will be in their treatment of you and in the words they will say to you & about you. One of the reasons we don’t talk about Jesus, stand up for what we believe, etc, is because we will face hostility, right? And honestly, we don’t want to experience that. We need to be reminded though, that we are willing to face hostility for many things in our lives….our spouses, our children, noble causes – and wrestle with why we avoid hostility in one area while being willing to endure it in another.
The reason the church faces hostility is because it has the audacity to say that there is a truth that is outside that judges us.
The world has a lot of trouble with Christians because they won’t put it first (and won’t put yourself first even).
While you love and care for this world, you’re not on a side….and because of that the you can’t be trusted.
The reason is because your citizenship is in heaven, and in effect your root system has been transplanted to Christ….(That’s the analogy that Jesus is getting at when he is speaking to his disciples in the early parts of John 15 when he tells them that “He is the vine and they are the branches”)….no longer is the world the main thing that defines you.
All the things that often define and create an identity for someone (political party, social class, power, prestige, money, or anything else) —- no longer do for you, now that you are in Christ, because he is your identity.
And that is part of why the world doesn’t understand Christians. And what people don’t understand, they fear.
Just because you face hostility for what you believe does not make it any less true.
Jesus still stands by his words in the midst of the hostility that is continuing to grow. After being struck he defends himself with these words in vs. 23.
John 18: 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Jesus is saying to them, “hey if something I have said and taught contradicts itself or is against God, bear witness to it. Bring people forward that can testify to my words. But if you can’t, why are you striking me?” He is speaking to their hearts. They are being ruled by fear and anger. Jesus points them back to truth. What they should be seeking after in the first place, right? But what this interaction reveals, and what is often the case in situations like this, is that’s not the operating theme. What they are concerned about is not losing control, status, influence.
He’s bringing it back to truth. Notice that Jesus responds to them…he defends himself.
What I want us to see is that if someone questions your faith or makes an argument and you don’t know the answer guess what, I bet someone in our church does, like our elders and pastors. Don’t let the possibility of that stop you from sharing your story. How great to have a question posed and to have to think deeply about it, search the scriptures, ask your pastors and elders, and then come back to that person for a follow-up conversation.
You don’t have to know every answer to every possible question or objection to Christianity to openly proclaim and boldly and confidently live the Christian life day-in-and-day-out. Even if someone asks you a question you don’t know. It shows humility to be able to tell someone you don’t know or you need to think about that. Speak truth and share your story – if you don’t hear anything else this morning, I want you to hear that. Speak truth and share your story, that’s our your responsibility. It’s not about being incredibly creative, reading, and researching every possible answer to every possible question before you can. Speak truth & share your story.
Three quick takeaways from this sermon to consider as we go through our week.
- As we start this new week I want you to start thinking how you can share your story, what God has done and is doing in your life with people you interact with each day/week. That might look as simply as you inviting someone to church next week.
- I also want us to stop being silent in areas we should be speaking into.
- I want our church to be encouraging each other this week – towards that end. I want us this week sitting down for a coffee or lunch with each other, being honest, maybe sharing how hard or intimidating it is to share your story with someone else. I want us asking who she want to be inviting to church this week, for our Christmas service.
We too often hold the view that there is no way God could use us in bringing someone else to salvation. That’s just a lie! Don’t believe it, not for one second. Boldly and faithfully go through your week speaking truth and sharing your story, trusting that God is at work. Pray that God would bring many people to faith through our witness. If you want to listen to this sermon, check out our sermon page.
We answered that question by looking at the very verses that launched us way back in 2012.
Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
And we answered our Big Picture Question this way…
Big Picture Question: What are we doing here?
- Making God’s grace evident through worship.
- Making God’s grace evident through community.
- Making God’s grace evident through service.
Let’s look at them one at a time
Making God’s grace evident through worship.
In Acts, look what they are doing. Peter just finished preaching, and 1,000’s of people professed faith in Jesus. And then…they have to figure how to be a church. And their first value is worship. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. They took the Lord’s Supper (the breaking of break), they prayed, and they attended the temple.
That’s exactly what we want to see happen at Evident Grace. We want to be a people who make God’s grace evident through worship. We want believers to gather on Sunday and enjoy their salvation through preaching and songs and prayers and the Lord’s Supper. And, just like that early church, we want to see our numbers added to daily. We want lots of people to be saved, experiencing grace for the first time.
And just like that Acts 2 church, we want to be…
Making God’s grace evident through community.
What did that first church do? They formed a beautiful, community. They studied together, they ate meals in each other’s homes (breaking of bread without the “the”), they met with glad and generous hearts, and they were generous to one another.
How can Evident Grace do that? 4 ways.
We want people to grow in commitment to each other through membership.
We want people to grow in knowing each other through our (eg)Groups.
We want folks to be meeting in discipleship relationships.
And we want to see giving reflected just as it was Acts 2.
These are the elements of a grace-filled community that is growing at EG.
And finally, we want to be…
Making God’s grace evident through service.
Look how that wonderful Acts 2 community served one another. They met each other’s needs. If one person had a need, they met it. And if they didn’t have the money to meet that need, they sold their possessions to make sure that no one would be in want. And this worship, community, and service gave the early church favor among even those who didn’t believe. That favor is what God used for people to believe in Jesus. Like that church, want to serve. We can do it in 4 ways.
Serve within the church on one of our seven teams (first impressions, follow-up, children, Sunday Setup, children, small groups, and worship).
Serve the surrounding community.
Serve with partnering churches.
Serve the world.
Pray that God fulfills this bold vision that God has given us for Evident Grace. And please pray about how you can be a part of what God is doing. If you want to know more, or if you want to be a part of what we are doing, just email us at [email protected], and we will help you connect.
This past Sunday, we looked at the sad, but challenging, passage where Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the garden. Following Jesus’ time with His disciples in the upper room, Jesus and the 11 retreat to a garden to pray. There Judas arrives with Roman guards, officers from the High Priests, and the Pharisees. We asked this Big Picture Question:
What should we learn from the betrayal of Jesus?
And we looked at this passage.
John 18: 1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
And we attempted to answer the question this way.
Big Picture Question: What should we learn from the betrayal of Jesus?
- Jesus willingly gave Himself
- Jesus protected the disciples
- The disciples couldn’t stop Him.
Let’s spend some time in our first point.
Jesus willingly gave Himself.
John 17: 1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.”
Judas returns to a place of intimacy for Jesus and the disciples. Judas probably went there himself with Jesus. But this time, Judas returns to betray Jesus, and he brings Roman guards, officers of the high priests, and the Pharisees. These are all the people who hate Jesus.
The Roman guards hate Jesus because He claims to be a king.
The officers of the High Priests hate Jesus because He says that He is the only way to God.
The Pharisees hate Jesus because Jesus told them that they keep their own laws, much less the laws of God.
But yet, in the midst of such hatred, Jesus steps forward willingly to die. Nothing would stop Him from dying for our sin.
Jesus protected the disciples.
Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.”
Amazing. In the midst of all this pain and betrayal, in the midst of all the pain to come, Jesus’ concern is protecting His disciples. But notice something. When Jesus declares who He is, Judas and his crowd all fall to the ground. In the midst of Jesus’ divine revelation of who He is, they fall to the ground. They don’t worship Him, but they recognize His deity.
Jesus steps forward to make sure they know who He is, and He does not want them to harm the disciples. Any rebellion could incite a fight, and there is no reason for anyone to spare the disciples life.
See your Savior. Even as He is betrayed, even as He is about to give Himself over to death, He protects His disciples. This is the heart of your Savior. He willingly gives Himself to die, and He protects those He loves.
The disciples couldn’t stop Him.
10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
Peter may not fully understand that Jesus is Savior, but He does love Jesus. He knows that Jesus is on His way to die, and Peter can’t stand it. He pulls a sword out to defend Jesus, and He attacks one of the officers. But Jesus stops Him. Jesus must obey the Father and drink the cup of God’s wrath.
Henri Nouwen once said, “You must risk leaving if you are going to risk loving.” That means if you are going to truly love someone, then you put yourself in line for heartbreak if they because of death or any other reason. That is the love of Peter. He loves Jesus, and he cannot fathom losing Jesus.
Yet despite Peter’s passionate love, nothing was going to stop Jesus. He was driven to obey the Father. He was going to love. He was going to take all of God’s wrath.
As we closed up our sermon, we looked at these things.
Big Picture Question: What should we learn from the betrayal of Jesus?
- Truth: No one could stop Jesus from willingly giving Himself over to death to protect the ones He loved.
- Application: Live knowing that Jesus willingly and lovingly died so that you might be saved and protected from your sin.
- Action: Love and live sacrificially for others knowing that you are eternally protected.
Sunday’s passage from John 17:20-26 was incredibly challenging. Jesus not only commanded that Christians be unified, He promised that Christians are unified. How could that be? What hope could a disagreeing culture of Christians have for being unified? That’s the Big Picture Question we pursued
Big Picture Question: What is our hope for unity?
And these are the scriptures we read to understand that question.
John 17: 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
And to understand our Big Picture Question, we answered it in this way.
Big Picture Question: What is our hope for unity?
- Jesus gives our unity a purpose.
- The world will know Jesus’ love through our unity.
- We will more deeply know Jesus’ love through our unity.
First, we looked at the purpose of our unity.
Jesus gives our unity a purpose
John 17: 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
Do you see what Jesus’ prayer offers to us? First, it promises that the church is going to be one, just as the Father and the Son are one. Believers are all united just as the Father and Son are united. That united is ours, and the church learns to live that unity out in the day to day.
And what happens when the church lives out that unity? People believe that the Father sent Jesus.
When Christians live in unity, people believe in Jesus.
When Christians stop fighting and start living in the unity we have in Jesus, people get saved.
Knowing that this passage promises that our unity helps non-believers come to know Christ, it is important that we speak about the various ways that we all can help bring people to Jesus.
One: You can invite people to worship. One of EG’s foundational principles is worship. We value worship, community, and service. And in our worship, we want believers to enjoy their salvation. And we want non-believers to cry out for salvation. You play a privilege and a responsibility in that. For a non-believer to cry out for salvation in a service, you know what has to happen? You have to invite them. You have to bring them. Invite your non-believing friends to worship. They will hear the gospel. And some of them will get saved.
Part Two: you can share the Gospel with them. I mean, you can purposefully talk to people about Jesus. You can either get your bible out, which is available on every one of our cell phones, and show them the verses pertaining to salvation…Or you can share your testimony of knowing Jesus and being transformed by Jesus. And God uses that to bring many people to know Jesus.
And the third way you can play a part in bringing people to Jesus, is what Jesus is talking about here. You can be unified with other believers. Again, before God, all Christians are unified as we all equally share in the goodness of Jesus. But in the practical, believers must seek for unity, and God uses that unity as a testimony of Jesus to the world.
Additionally, our hope for unity is that…
The world will know Jesus’ love through our unity.
22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
Believers in Jesus share in the glory of Jesus as we share in the unity of the Father and the son. Those gifts are acts of love from God to us. As Christians live out unity, the world learns how loving Jesus is.
And that mutual glory enables us you, as mutual glory bearers, to be unified with each other. God has forgiven you. You now are given the glory of Jesus. And as your sin has been overcome, as your offense has been overcome, as God has given you glory, you are now able to overcome the offense of one another.
As glory bearers, as glory possessors, you are able to be unified with one another.
As those who know Jesus’ love, we can love one another.
And when we can demonstrate that we can be unified because of what we have in Jesus, when we love each other in a unified, Jesus loving way, the world will then know Jesus’ love.
And finally, our hope for unity is that…
We will more deeply know Jesus’ love through our unity.
24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
As we rest in all that it is ours though God, the Father, and Jesus, as we rest in the unity that we possess, we will know the love of Jesus more deeply. The inverse of that is true. If the church lives and tolerates conflict, then we will not enjoy the love of God. We will be less intimate with Jesus if we permit conflict to remain in the church.
The world does not have this, according to verse. The world does not have God’s glory, Gods love, God’s unity, nor the hope of heaven. The believer in Jesus, the church, has all of those these things. And the grace that we need to even attempt to try to be unified and know Jesus’ love is that Jesus just keeps teaching us the name of God. Why that matters is this. The name of God is powerful. Knowing the name of God is knowing God. God sharing His name with us is an act of love.
You know, in our EG Groups study of Joshua, we are seeing that. And one of the keys to Joshua and Israel’s oneness before God is the promise of God’s presence. And His presence is defined by God’s name. This was the promise made to Joshua – “I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.” In just 7 chapters, Joshua uses the intimate name of Jehovah 27 times. He says, “Jehovah my God or Jehovah your God” 27 times. The name of God means intimacy and love.
Jesus says to us, Jesus says to the church, I love you. You are one. And you will know the love of Jesus and the unity that comes with us when you know the name of God. Guys, right now, start your individual love of Jesus. Rest in that, and the greater you rest in the love of Jesus, the greater you will seek unity in the church. Psalm 91 teaches us what it is like to rest in the love of Jesus and the name of God.
Psalm 91: “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. 15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
We wrapped our time in the scriptures in this way…
Big Picture Question: What is our hope for unity?
- Truth: Our hope for unity is that our unity has a purpose that teaches the world and the church Jesus’ love.
- Application: Strive for unity with other believers knowing that you, and every other believer, is bound together by the love and glory of Jesus Christ.
- Action: Never ignore the opportunity to be unified, or to restore, unity to another believer.
John 17: 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
John 17 discusses the difficult truth where Jesus promises that His believers will be hated by the world. When the believer understands that, we are tempted in one of two directions. First, the church is tempted to invite the hatred of the world by throwing truth without love at every person who doesn’t know Jesus. Secondly, the world is tempted to live such a biblically quiet life that the entire world loves them. Neither of these is what Jesus is talking about. So, what exactly happens? That’s what we pursued in our look at John 17 this week. We answered this Big Picture Question.
Big Picture Question: What happens when the world and the word bump into each other?
And within this passage, we identified 3 things that happen when the world and the word bump into each other.
The world hates you.
You are protected.
You are made like Jesus.
Let’s look at each one.
The world hates you.
John 17: 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
Jesus’ prayer for the Christian is that His joy will be fulfilled in them. Jesus’ joy being fulfilled is completely different that our joy being fulfilled. That means that our greatest joy lies in discovering and living out Jesus’ desire for our lives. And part of that joy is Jesus’ sending Christians into the world just as He was sent.
Each Christian lives with an essential sentness that is the same as the sentness of Jesus. And as a result, the world hates Christians. This isn’t a hatred that is invited. The world hated Christ first, so the hatred must only be Christ in the Christians.
What hope does the Christian have? That’s the answer to the second thing that happens when the world and the word bump into each other.
You are protected.
15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
How terrible it would be if the Christian was sent into the world by Jesus only to be left unprotected? But that protection is not a protection from sickness, pain, and death. Oh, how I wish it was. But the promises of sickness, pain, and death are the promises of heaven, not of earth.
The protection that Jesus offers the Christian as they are hated in the world is a protection from Satan. What that means is that the Christian will never lose their salvation. The Christian will never lose their forgiveness. The Christian will never lose the undying love of the Father. That eternal hope is the motivation of the Christian, the hope of the Christian and the comfort of the Christian.
And as the Christian is hated and protected, the Christian is also made like Jesus.
You are made like Jesus.
19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
Jesus consecrated Himself. That means that Jesus set Himself apart so that the Christian might be made like Him. How did Jesus set Himself apart? Jesus set Himself apart by His perfect life, His death on the Christian’s behalf, and resurrection to new life. And that consecration is what guarantees that the Christian is going to be made like Jesus while the world hates him/her.
Being made like Jesus is promised and guaranteed as the believer is sent into the world to tell it about Jesus.
So, what happens the word and world bump into each other?
Truth: When the word and world bump into each other, God protects you and makes you like Jesus while the world hates you.
Application: Jesus’ joy will be fulfilled in your life if you live knowing that you are sent into this dying world to offer it the life that is found in God’s word.
Action: Stop being scared to raise Jesus up in this world.
John 17:9-12 is both a comforting and challenging portion of scripture. We hear Jesus praying some sweet prayers for us, but believing the things that Jesus prays is the challenge.
Be honest with yourself. There are times that you feel alone and unprotected and perhaps even completely ineffective as a believer. But Jesus says different. This is His prayer.
John 17: 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
For those verses, we asked this Big Picture Question and answered it in this way…
Big Picture Question: What happens when Jesus prays for you? When Jesus prays for you,
Jesus is glorified in you.
The church is one.
You are guarded.
Let’s look at each of those.
Jesus is glorified in you.
John 17: 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.
I love Jesus’ language here. It is not just that you and I will glorify Jesus. Jesus prays that He will be glorified IN us. You see, we can fake glorifying Jesus, right? We can say something or do something that looks good, but we also know that there are times when we don’t necessarily mean what we say or do. But here is our hope. Jesus is praying that He will be glorified in you. You, as the Father’s gifted people of God, will glorify Jesus in your person. This is what Jesus does. It is our hope. When Jesus prays for us, He is glorified in us.
The church is one.
11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.
Jesus is going to the Father. He doesn’t return to the Father as a disobedient prodigal. He returns to the Father as the obedient Son who has secured the salvation of His people. And that obedience, not only purchases salvation for His people, His obedience makes those people unified. Jesus’ prayer for you, make you and all believers one. The church is one.
And that unity is just like our goodness. You and I are 100% righteous and good before God because we have Jesus’ goodness. But we still sin, so in the day to day, we are working to leave sin behind and be more like Jesus. The church’s unity is like that. The church is 100% unified because the church bears the goodness and righteous of Jesus. But in the day to day, we have conflicts, so we repent and leave those conflicts behind so that we might be more like Jesus. So, just as we learn to live out the goodness that Jesus has purchased for us, we must live out the unity with other believers that Jesus has purchased for us.
When Jesus prays for us, the church becomes one.
You are guarded.
12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
And finally, when Jesus prays for you, you are guarded. You can promise yourself you won’t be lost and you will be guarded by Jesus. And if you need proof, look at how this played out with the disciples.
The disciples were a mess. At times, they were racists, hating on non-Jews. At times, there were misogynistic, hating on women. At times, they even rebuked Jesus for being the wrong kind of Savior. At times, they were power hungry, wanting Jesus to give them a place at His right hand when He came into power. The only disciple that was lost was the one that God promised would be lost, Judas, the son of destruction. So, Jesus guards the disciples and you are guarded as well. Remember this promise, 2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you.
You are guarded. You are protected. You will glorify Jesus. You will be at one with the church. You are guarded.
So, we ended this message with these things. What happens when Jesus prays for you?
Truth: The guarded, unified church glorifies Jesus when because He prays for you.
Application: Living confidently and peaceably knowing you glorify Jesus as part of a unified church.
Action: Start living as a Jesus glorifying, not-easily offended guarded believer. Pray that this would become your identity.
As always, it was a sweet day of worship yesterday. We prayed, we sang, we studied, and we rested under one central truth: God is good and generous. That may seem like an obvious truth, but I will tell you just like I told you yesterday: Our faith in God’s goodness and generosity is tested in difficult times.
Well, fortunately, we get to see Jesus detail for us God’s generosity. In John 17, we read this…
John 17:6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
And with those verses, we attempted to answer this Big Picture Question:
Big Picture Question: How is God generous?
We found the answer to that question in those verses in these 3 points. God is generous because…
You can know the name of God.
You can keep God’s word.
You can know the truth.
Let’s look at the first point.
You can know the name of God.
John 17:6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world
Knowing God’s name is not like knowing your neighbor’s name (and I hope you know your neighbor’s name). Knowing God’s name is an intimate knowing. It is knowing in relationship. And God’s name is not merely knowing a fact. Knowing God’s name is knowing God’s character, His holiness, and His will.
And who gets to know the name of God? According to these words of Jesus, the only people who know the name of God are the people who God has given to Jesus. God generously gives us, the people of faith, to Jesus. And Jesus manifests (makes clearly known) the name of God to us. What a gift. What a giver, God is. We may think we need so many things, and at times we do. But what we need more than anything is to recognize God’s generosity and get to know the name, character, holiness, and will of God better. Because as we do that, our character is transformed. God gives, Jesus gives, and then, we give God glory as we are transformed.
But another way that God is generous is that now…
You keep God’s word.
John 17:6 b Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.
Jesus is thanking God in this passage that the disciples kept God’s word – they obeyed. They believed in Jesus and obeyed. And the basis of that was that God gave them to Jesus. When God gives us to Jesus, we are going to be transformed. We will now be able to obey. Even better, we will want to obey. You can ask God to help you obey, and He will answer that prayer with a “yes”.
Listen to the promise explained from your Father in heaven.
Matthew 7:9 Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Your Father in heaven will gladly give you, His sons and daughters, good gifts, and one of those good gifts is the ability to obey.
And finally, we saw God’s generosity in that you can now know the truth.
You know the truth.
John 17:8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
You and I come to know the truth because God is generous.
God has given you the truth, and the truth is everything we know about God from the Scriptures. He has given them to you, and when you read the scriptures, He is giving them to you again. God is gracious because he doesn’t leave you to just go find out everything on your own.
And I will also tell you this: if you’re in a season where you feel like you can just go find out everything on your own apart from the scriptures, you are running away from the truth. But God giving you the truth is His grace to you. God gives you the truth, and He is good and gracious He is a giver. And because He is generous, you can know and obey that truth.
And we ended our sermon with this wrap up.
Big Picture Question: How is God generous?
Truth: God is generous because you can know the name of God, you can keep God’s word, and you can know the truth.
Application: Living knowing that God continually gives you the ability to know Him, keep His word, and know the truth. God never takes this from you.
Action: This week in struggle and crisis, seek knowing God more deeply before seeking for answers of what, when, where, and why.