Sunnyside Church of the Nazarene
Sunday, December 19
- Angels We Have Heard On High (Gloria)
- Hark The Herald Angels Sing
- Please turn to John 3:14. Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent. The first Advent is about Jesus Christ coming into the world to save sinners. Now, we’ve covered a lot of Biblical truths over the last few weeks in John 3. Jesus said no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he or she is born again - born of God’s Spirit. To be born again means to believe in and trust in Jesus Christ and that He is the Son of God come in the flesh; it’s to believe in His death and resurrection, and that on the cross, Jesus Christ was the full atoning sacrifice for our sins and that through Him and Him alone we can have forgiveness of all our sin and be reconciled to God the Father.Let’s look at John 3 one last time. - wrap it all up.And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.Let’s start with the end in mind. What is the end of each person? Death. Each person is destined to die physically. No one can avoid death. There is no cure. No person can out wit, out last, or out play. Death is a guarantee; it is inevitable.So, the question is what are you going to about death? Some try to ignore it. Some try to delay it. Some try to challenge it. Either way you go, you can't do anything to prevent your death. It will happen whether you like it or not.You cannot choose not to die, but you can choose to live.God has made a provision for overcoming death. He has given us a choice about what happens after death - eternal life or condemnation, Heaven or Hell.Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.What does He mean, remains? All have sinned, all are guilty before God, no one is innocent (with exception of those who are unable to make that choice, e.g. infants). So, every person is under wrath (judgment), but only those who put their faith in Jesus Christ are removed from God’s wrath, and not because of their good works, but entirely because of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross.For those who choose to reject Jesus as Savior, Jesus said,“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.Again, all face condemnation and death, but all also have the choice of stepping out from under that condemnation.There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.I said we were going to start with the end in mind, so that’s the end - Heaven or Hell.So why would people not choose Jesus - choose Heaven?This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.People don’t come to Jesus because they’re deceived, or because He exposes our sin, and we don't like ours sins and failings being exposed. Or we can be fiercely independent and prideful. We would rather figure out our own way of salvation (i.e. religion) than depending upon Jesus Christ.According to this passage, people apart from God are evil. So, people don't come to Christ because they don't want to believe they are evil or wicked, and sadly a lot of Christians think the same. We think, “There's a lot of good and nice people out there who are not Christians.” We see signs and bumper stickers all over - “Be Kind, Be Nice. Do Good,” as if that will solve the problem of sin and death, but it won’t because salvation is not about being good or nice. Nonetheless, we wrestle with, “If we’re good, do we really need Jesus?” Let me tell you, yes, you need Jesus, because without Jesus you are evil.That sounds harsh until you understand what the Biblical concept of evil means. Too often we have a very narrow definition of evil, and then only a fragment of humanity fits into our category. There are billions of evil people in the world, but we would never call them evil because we don’t know how God defines evil.Biblically speaking, evil and wickedness simply pertain to being morally corrupt.Just look at the Ten Commandments. Don’t dishonor your parents, don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t covet, etc. If you have ever broken a moral law of God, then you are guilty, and guess what, you are morally corrupt, and that is evil. You take a glass of pure water and drop just a little speck of dirt into it, is it still pure? No. It’s contaminated. It’s corrupt. That is what sin does to the human heart - it corrupts, and that is the definition of evil. So before you say, “I'm not evil or wicked,” you better ask yourself, have you ever broken any of God's moral laws.Here’s the truth - God is holy, humanity is corrupt, evil, and condemned, but God wants to save and purify every person through His Son, Jesus.But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.We can’t solve the problem of sin and death, but God can. So how does He do it?“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.For God - God who? God Most High, The LORD of Hosts, God Almighty, the Creator, the God who is holy, holy, holy …. Don’t reduce who God is.What did God do? Loved - from the word agapaō - Loyal, everlasting, unconditional love.God loves because God loves. His love is all about who He is, and who you are - it’s not about what you’ve done.His love is not affected by whether or not you’re evil, a sinner, or a saint.God loves you because God loves you.Who did God love? Loved the world! The sinner, saint, vile, wicked, those who do evil and those who do good …. God loved and loves everyone.How did He show this love? In the Greek text, the word “so” is at the beginning of the sentence, it means “In this way.” John 3:16 could be read, “In this way, God loved the world …In what way? That He gave, He gifted, handed over His only Son.“Only” is an interesting word in the Greek. It doesn’t mean just one.Mōnogenēs - means unique - or there is no other like this one.Think about something that you have that is absolutely unique, nothing like it in the world. It’s precious. Irreplaceable. You want to protect it. You get the point. God gave His Son like no other, the Son who was most precious to Him, irreplaceable. To whom did He give this Son? The wicked, the evil, the sinners, the rebels, the haters, the mockers, the sick ….Why did He give His Son? His Son is the only way for humanity to not perish, to avoid eternal damnation.Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!The Apostle Peter echoed this -And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”And everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.Look, God is calling you - especially the one who has never received or trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Listen, God gave, He gifted His Son to you and to me - and a gift must be received. Jesus Christ is a gift. He is the free gift of salvation. You don't have to live morally corrupt anymore. You don't have to live with the burden of sin and guilt anymore. You don't have to worry about death or condemnation -For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.That is what Advent is about - that Jesus Christ came into the world, not to condemn, but to save sinners. If you have never received Jesus, believe … pray with me.Sermon Part II - Application“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.If Jesus didn't condemn the world, should we?Jesus, or Yeshua, means “God saves.” He is also Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” This is called the incarnation - that Jesus took on flesh - God incarnate. God became visible, tangible, touchable.The incarnation was intentional.What can you do be incarnational - God in the flesh?Some of the following questions are from Rick Anderson.“What gifts has God specifically given you to incarnate His love and presence” to others?Words of encouragement? Compassion? Generosity?How can you use those gifts intentionally?“God invites us to participate with Him in a variety of ways - to be the arms and voice of God to one another and to the broken world around us. Each time we are a conduit of God's love, Emmanuel arrives again,” Rick Anderson - Silencio.What does that mean? How could that be a paradigm shift?The God who saves us is the God who is with us. God gave the greatest gift - the gift of Himself.We are to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1).What is the greatest gift we can give others? The gift of self.What are some things you can do to be a gift to others?Attention. Be present.Have you ever taken for granted the incarnational vessel that you are?
- O Come All Ye Faithful
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