Monday, August 1, 2011

Morning Sermon from July 31

Morning Audio Link Here

Evening Audio Link Here

I linked both audio files here, but I'm only putting the morning outline. I'll post the evening outline later, but this one was a little long!

Morning outline:

What needs to happen here is this: Read this passage, then think backwards through it.

What do I mean?

Let's look at this text: Genesis 10 is related to the study of ethnography or the study of nations.

And all the nations trace back to one place here. While it is fascinating to study who went where, and what group had what land and who became the father of what nation---really, that's a rabbit we could hunt for days and days.

Further, when you come to this chapter and see that there are 8 people involved in the genetic heritage of mankind and then see news and science reports that report they have traced human DNA back to a small group of individuals, well, here's a thought: there were 8 different genetic patterns on the ark that led into these groups. It's as likely a Biblical confirmation as it is anything else.

But more important than our DNA or ethnic heritage is this: we need to look, as I said, backwards through this passage.

We need to see that the inhabitants of the earth, every race at the end of this: 16,719 people groups, totaling nearly 7 billion people. 6500 languages...

Yet we are all, ultimately:

One Family. There are, definitely, parts of the family that we carry more similarities to. There are parts that we may like better than others. We may not all ever get along---but we are, as people on this earth One Family, One Race. We may have visible differences, and we may identify ourselves as White, Black, Hispanic, Chinese, Korean, Irish, Italian, Greek, African, Nigerian----while those differences are important to us, while they make up a part of who we are, we're all still descendants of the one family.

As part of the One Family, we share something. More than sharing body shape or hair, more than biology, we share One Problem: we are inheritors of sin. Whatever tribe, tongue, or culture you encounter in this world, there are none that lack sin or failure. Everywhere you go, people suffer the effects of sin: destroyed bodies, weak relationships, mis-aimed religion.

In all of these things, we are the same: all men (and women) die. Sin has given us that shortfall. We cannot escape it. In any society, you find people that have fractured relationships. Parents, children, friends, co-workers, bosses, spouses....

And wherever you turn, you see people with misplaced, blunted religion. Whether it is those who live by retribution or think that continued human death pleases God, those who think there is no God, or those who would please God by traditions or buy his favor with money....our religion is corrupted before God.

Sin surrounds us, it is inside of us, and when we get people together its effects are multiplied, not divided. We try all sorts of things to get rid of it: good things, like good works: caring for the poor, being nice, going to church. Sometimes we try things that aren't as good: alcohol or drugs, violence, satisfying the lusts of the flesh, selfishness.

None of these work. It's a widespread attempt to address the symptoms of sin, but sin is our One Problem. Our One family has One Problem.

That's more than fortunate. It's a blessing. For One Problem has, quite simply, One solution. The solution is not found in treating the symptoms by being good or being bad, by buying God's favor or man's happiness.

Our One Problem's One Solution is this: the One Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. The One Son of the One True God  is the only solution. Only one. That may sound harsh to your ears. After all, who are we to say our God is right and anyone else's is wrong?

We only echo His own words: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me." John 14:6

Consider the other option: we are left with no way to know what will clear the one problem of all mankind. Is it Islam, Confucius, Buddha? Is it science or art? Math or language? Should we learn Hindi to know the Vedas or Hebrew to know the Talmud? We are limited beings and cannot cover all the bases. Yet ultimately, each solution, each suggestion excludes the others. One cannot be both Muslim and Christian, atheist and God-worshiper. You cannot worship God as all-powerful but also think your horoscope actually means anything.

The is One solution to the whole thing. We believe, as Christians, that the Bible, the Word of God to man, shows us that the Word of God made man, the Lord Jesus Christ, offered Himself as the One Saviour for all mankind. The solution we seek is the one that came to us: Christ in the flesh, dying for our sins and rising from the grave to live forevermore.

We live in runoff of history since that event. When He was on the earth, He left behind his followers with One Mission: make disciples of all nations.

That is our goal. We are to make disciples. The first step?

Make disciples of ourselves: are you spending time in God's Word? Reading, learning, growing? Do you seek out Bible teaching to help you grow and become more effective as a disciple of the Lord? That is your responsibility for yourself: if you can, grow.

Make disciples of our families: parents, are you discipling your children? Are you teaching them how God works, who God is, what God has done and is doing in and for you? Husbands, are you encouraging your wives to grow in Christ? Wives, likewise?

Make disciples in our church: we are not here just to entertain, just to fill blocks or to satisfy traditions. We are here to make disciples and to grow as disciples. That is the purpose of your Sunday School class, of the worship service, of all that we do: growing as disciples of Christ.

That is the One Mission. It sounds a little overwhelming, doesn't it? Well, it is. It would be overwhelming if was just us, the members of FBC Almyra. But it's not.

You see, the One Mission was given to One Church. There remain, and likely ever will remain differences and divisions among that One Church, but we are involved in the mission together with our fellow believers. We work together, closer to some than to others, to make disciples of all the nations. We work together for the Glory of God.

As such, our goal is be unified with all the redeemed of all the ages as best we can: not that we discard our personalities or our distinctives, but that we don't fight over things that, in light of our one mission just don't matter that much. We focus on what we can do, celebrating what we have done, and always seeking to do fulfill the one mission of the Church.

Why do we do this?

Because this is our family, the family of humanity. Because the problem has one solution, the One Saviour.

If we do so, we will see our one reward: being faithful to Him who was faithful to us, even when we didn't deserve.

How do we get there?

I would challenge you to find one task for this week.

1. Surrender to Christ.

2. Spend at least 5 minutes each day in the Word and in prayer that you will be a growing disciple of Christ.

3. Find one person to encourage to follow Christ: a lost person, a struggling believer, a faithful person.

4. Then take on one more thing: pray for God's wisdom about what more you, and we, can do.

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