Monday, January 6, 2014

Joy for the sake of the Gospel

Joy for the sake of the Gospel (Sermon)
What word or phrase have you heard that elicited Joy? 
"Looks like you'll get to keep your eye." - Spoken by Dr Arnold concerning my orbital blowout fracture of the left eye when I was 11.
"It's not cancer." - diagnosis from a doctor concerning my dad in my early teens.
"Yes!" and a subsequent "I do." - From my now wife of almost 13 years.
"Your baby(boy/boy/girl) looks really healthy." - Medical staff in natal unit of Women's and Children's Hospital.
"I Love you. I'm proud of you." - Said by my grandfather.
"He died peacefully in his sleep." - Said of him the following morning.

All of these things brought a great deal of joy in the moment. There was pain involved in some of the statements, but always a sense of hope. There is always a great deal of hope in joy. Hope that there is something better coming. Hope of restoration, second chances, and the unexpected. Joy and hope can never be separated.
What about this statement? Does it elicit joy? Read it carefully:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Did you feel that? Did you feel anything? Joy, indifference, familiarity, regret, fear...what do you feel when you read those words? These are monumental words that speak to deepest hope. Surely we feel something. But unfortunately too many will read this phrase and be unmoved. Why? Could it be that the weight of the word "Condemned" has been lost in our Gospel.

Condemned means you're days away from 6000 volts coursing through your dying chest as you're strapped to an electric chair. Condemned means the jury has heard the multitude of witnesses and has handed down a guilty verdict. Condemned means endless suffering in hopelessness. Condemned means you're dead.

Somehow the Gospel that is heard by so many does not contain the force that makes it "good news". When we, by God's grace, can realize that we are dead, separated, and condemned for our sin, only then can we see the good news. 
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
No longer condemned. The Governor called. You are pardoned. They take your prison clothes and dress you in Armani. Record expunged, sentence remunerated, charges dropped...forgiven. But how?
No Christ Jesus.
Sometimes we can become so comfortable "in" our salvation that we forget the joy "of" our salvation. Remember: Joy and hope can never be separated. Those things that bring me joy in this world would be for nothing were it not for the Gospel.What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world (should be some joy somewhere in there right?) yet forfeits his soul? Because of Christ I have hope. Hope that my children could grow to know and cherish Christ. Hope that my parents would continue to walk faithfully with the Lord as they have loved so long. Hope that my marriage would honor God and model Christ's care for the church to all that know us. Hope that I can walk in the love of Christ like my grandfather did. And hope that I will one day see him again. All of this is because of the Gospel! Joy for the Gospel's sake.

Apart from Christ you stand condemned already. In Christ you are forgiven and free to feel His joy.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
... How do you feel about that?
Joy for the sake of the Gospel (Sermon)

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