Notes not available for this sermon.
Well, as Pastor Greg said earlier, my name's Jesse Workman, if I haven't had the pleasure of meeting you yet and my wife, Stephanie is here as well. And our four kids, two older ones are here with us in the service, Aiden and Sophia. And then the two younger ones are in the kids' church and Sunday School, Molly and Teddy. I want to say thank you to all of you for a couple of reasons, first of which is for blessing us so much with allowing us to live in the Ministry House at this time. We reached a point in South Africa while we were preparing to come back here for our, this is our first home assignment. And we were on the list for another mission house, and it fell through because another family needed it.
So for a period of time, relatively shortly before we were preparing to come back here, we didn't know where we would live. And so, it was a matter of prayer for us, a big prayer request. And within a very short number of days you were in your generosity, able to meet that prayer request, and so we thank you so much for that. Thank you also for allowing us to be here with you this morning and to share with you a little bit from God's word as well as about our Wyclife ministry. So Stephanie and I and our family have been members of Wyclife Bible translators since 2015. Well, this morning I want to just take a look at John 4. You're welcome to open your Bibles there. We'll be reading verses 1-42. Let's go ahead and pray, and then we'll read from John 4.
Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you so much for this morning. We thank you for this opportunity to gather as your children around your thrown and to worship you, Lord, to gather around your word; Lord, to be fed on it, nourished and to look into it. We pray that your Holy Spirit would be at work this morning in our hearts, in this place, You would help us to understand your word and that you would help us to apply it to our lives as well. Lord, we thank You, we praise You, and we pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
Starting in verse one, John 4 says, "When Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was baptizing more disciples than John, though Jesus himself was not baptizing, but his disciples were, He left Judea and went again to Galilee. He had to travel through Samaria. So He came to a town of Samaria called Sicar, near the property that Jacob had given his son, Joseph. Jacob's well was there and Jesus worn out from his journey, sat down at the well. It was about noon; a woman of Samaria came to draw water. 'Give me a drink,' Jesus said to her, because his disciples had gone into town to buy food. 'How is it that you a Jew ask for a drink from me? A Samaritan woman?' She asked him, 'For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.' Jesus answered, 'If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you Give me a drink, you would ask Him, and He would give you living water.' 'Sir,' said the woman, 'You don't even have a bucket, and the well is deep, so where do you get this living water? You aren't greater than our father Jacob, are you? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons in livestock.' Jesus said, 'Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life.' 'Sir,' the woman said to him, 'Give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and come here to draw water.' 'Go call your husband,' He told her, 'and come back here.' 'I don't have a husband,' she answered. 'You have correctly said I don't have a husband,' Jesus said, 'For you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.' 'Sir,' the woman replied, 'I see that you are a prophet. Our father's worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.' Jesus told her, 'Believe me, woman, an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming and is now here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.' The woman said to Him, 'I know that the Messiah is coming who is called Christ. When he comes, He will explain everything to us.' Jesus told her, 'I the one speaking to you, am he.'"
"Just then his disciples arrived and they were amazed that he was talking with a woman. Yet no one said What do you want? Or why are you talking with her? Then the woman left her water jar, went into town and told the people, 'Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?' They left the town and made their way to him. In the meantime, the disciples kept urging him, 'Rabbi eats something,' but he said, 'I have food to eat that you don't know about.' The disciples said to one another, 'Could someone have brought him something to eat?' 'My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work,' Jesus told them. 'Don't you say there are still four more months and then comes the harvest?' 'Listen to what I'm telling you. Open your eyes and look at the fields because they're ready for harvest. The reaper is already receiving pay and gathering fruit for eternal life so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. For in this case, the saying is true; one sows and another reaps. I sent you to reap what you didn't labor for. Others have labored and you have benefited from their labor.'"
Now, the Samaritans from that town believed in him. Now, many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of what the woman said when she testified, 'He told me everything I ever did.' So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. Many more believed because of what he said, and they told the woman, 'We no longer believe because of what you said since we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world.'"
Well, I think it would help to understand this passage a bit more clearly. If we think about a couple of different background issues that kind of sit behind this passage. The first of these is this issue of living water. What is Jesus talking about when he mentions living water? Well, I think basically, or put maybe simply; this living water that Jesus talks about, it's calling up ideas from the Old Testament when God promised that he would send salvation through His Messiah, and it includes a lot of different things. It can include things like the forgiveness of sin, this salvation; it can include things like Jesus talks about eternal life, even in this passage and especially in the Gospel of John. It's life that we have in eternity in the future, but it's also an eternal life that we can have now, and that eternal life that we can have now is had through the spirit of God, which is a gift that God gives through His Messiah. And how is this living water received is through faith in Christ in the Messiah.
There are a few passages here if you'd like to look at them at home. You're more than welcome to. I think these kind of provide a backdrop for this passage and for many passages in John where it's talking about this issue of water or living water, and especially this John 7 passage explicitly connects living water with the spirit of God, the gift of the Spirit. So besides the issue of what this living water is I think it's helpful to think about this second question, which is, who were the Samaritans? This is quite significant for this passage. The Samaritans were again, basically remnants of the northern tribes or the northern kingdom of Israel. As you may know, the kingdom of Israel was divided and the northern kingdom shortly after the kingdom was divided, they went kind of headlong into a rejection of worshiping God as He commanded and went into pursuing idols and many kinds of other disobedience.
And God sent judgment through the Assyrians who came into Israel and conquered and captured people from the northern kingdom. They carried many of them away, and they replaced them with other conquered peoples. And then these people's, the remnants of the northern kingdom and these other people who were brought in, they mixed together and they resulted in what we today know as the Samaritans. So the Jews from the Southern Kingdom looked at the Samaritans as a nation of half breeds., esentially. They looked down on them, they despised them and they considered them inferior, and they could not associate with them as we see in this passage. They couldn't share a meal with them, and so it was completely inappropriate in their eyes, what Jesus is doing by interacting with this woman. Now, not only is this woman a Samaritan, which would make her despised in the eyes of many Jews of that day but she's also an outcast among the Samaritans who are outcasts among the Jews. So she of all people, it's quite striking how, how inappropriate it might have seen for Jesus to be interacting with her in this way.
Well, I think in this passage, there are kind of three major questions that Jesus answers for us as well. The first question is, to whom does Jesus give this gift of living water? So we see this Samaritan woman, the least likely in the eyes of maybe the disciples in this passage and we see Jesus offering eternal life, this living water to her. The answer, I think to that question is that Jesus gives this gift of living water to all who trust in Him, even those we would deem least likely to receive Him. I think this is true for a couple of reasons. If we look at the context within the gospel of John where this passage falls we have in chapter three, Jesus having an interaction with a man named Nicodemus.
Now, Nicodemus was an upstanding man. He was well respected in his community. He was a leader of the Jewish people and a member of the Jewish Jewish ruling Council, the San Hedron. And yet he comes to Jesus at night secretly. And then we have in chapter four, this contrast, this woman who is the least respected in her community and in the eyes of the people. And she comes to Jesus in the middle of the day, a time when none of the other women who would've gone out to draw water on a regular basis, they would've gone in the early morning of the late evening when it was cool and comfortable, and yet she comes in the heat of the day to do this because she lives in such shame. So this woman, the least likely maybe in our eyes to receive Him, Jesus offers living water to her. I think there are a couple of points of maybe personal application we can take away from this. The first of those would be to ask ourselves the question, who are the Samaritans in our day? Who are the people that we might look at and think, you know, these are maybe the least likely in my eyes to receive Christ.
The second point of application I think we can think about is to ask ourselves - what is our deepest source of shame? The thing that Jesus might be most wanting to offer His living water to overcome. If he can take this deepest source of shame from the Samaritan woman, a serial adulterous, a woman who is completely despised; don't you think that He can take your deepest source of shame as well? What does God maybe causing you to think about this morning? What is that thing that He wants to take?
Well, you might be asking yourself at this point, why are we looking at John 4 today? You know that Jesse and Stephanie are missionaries and they're going to share about their ministry, so why are we looking at John for? Well, I wanted to share with you something from the Gospel of John because we've had the opportunity during our time in South Africa to work with a translation team called the Fui Team. Fui is a language from Zambia. One of the translation team members is a guy named Pastor David. I talked to Pastor David and I asked him, "Have you preached at all from the Gospel of John, and have you preached from John 4? And what were the takeaways for the Fui people from this passage?" And I want to read to you what he said about this passage. When he preached among the Fui people. Pastor David said, "Some people where we live, Africans, believe that they, (black people) are not God's children. They believe that only white people can be redeemed. And even that Jesus was a white person. And these ideas come from people who had come from the West, come from Europe and many places, and taught them these things. They're living lives marked by evil and enjoying evil things because they are not counted as God's children."
He says, "When I preach to them,' I said that we are created in God's image. Although we in skin color, but we have the same spirit. We are God's children. So if we believe in Jesus, no matter what tribe we are, but if we believe in Him, He can give us everlasting life. He promised that Samaritan woman that if you had known me and what I have, (the living water), you could first ask it from me. So, we also enjoy breathing the same breath and having the same spirit from God. When we ask Him to be with us, He can totally change our lives, and we can even receive what we are lacking. And God can even give us eternal life where those who are white, we can be with them, because even in heaven, we will not be separated into black or white, but we will be the same because we have the same spirit within us."
That wasn't an application that I would've taken away from this text, but that was maybe the most obvious point of application for him and for the Fui people. I'm so thankful that they have John four in their language today, and they can hear from God's word and be able to see these truths and believe and be transformed.
I think a second big question in this passage is this question of how does Jesus give the living water? And how does he use us in that? Well, I think he uses us as we see in verses 27-38, as He's speaking with the disciples. He uses us through the sewing and the reaping; the sewing of the gospel and of His word and the reaping of souls for His glory. This is primarily done through making disciples. This is something that we're all commanded to do, and it's also done in ways that support and strengthen His mission to establish His word in the world.
When we were in South Africa we had the opportunity to visit a place called [unclear17:12], which is about two hours east of Cape Town. [Unclear17:18] was the first mission station established in South Africa or what is now South Africa. it was established by a Moravian missionary, a guy named George Schmidt. George Schmidt, he arrived and settled this small mission at a place called Bovian's Cliff, which means Baboon Gorge. It was the year 1738. He worked there a few years sewing the word, sewing the gospel. But even though the people were receiving, they were receptive to the gospel; the Dutch reformed in the country at the time, they didn't believe that he could accomplish anything, but yet they were also feeling threatened by what he had already accomplished, by going to the native people of that area, which were the [unclear18:02] people.
Well, over time, Nikolaus von Zinzendorf, granted ordination to George Schmidt, so he became an ordained Moravian minister. Well, after that time, he began to baptize native people. He baptized five native disciples. The names were [Joes, Christian, Magdalena, Jonas, and Christina18:30]. Shortly after that, the local non-native people took offense to this because the fact that he was baptizing these native people, implied that they were equal to the non-native people. These native people were equal to the white settlers. And so, the Dutch Reform Church refused to recognize this Moravian ordination because he wasn't ordained in the Dutch reform Church, and they sent him back to Germany.
He went home assuming that he hadn't accomplished much. But when he left, he left a New Testament with Magdalena, one of those disciples he had baptized. And Magdalena sat for many years under a para tree, which is still there in [unclear19:11] and she read from that New Testament to a small group of disciples who sat around her. And that group grew. Well, a second mission was opened there about 50 years later. And at that time, by that time, thousands of local people had flocked to this place. In 1806, a governor named Janssens came to what was at the time called Bovian's Cliff. And he said, "This place is no longer Babboon Gorge. This place, because of the transformation, is now [unclear19:45], which means the Valley of Grace.
Well, if you go to [unclear19:51] today, there's a cemetery there where a number of saints are buried, and if you walk into the cemetery, there's an archway. And on the side, as you're entering it says in [uncleear20:01], which means sown in weakness. And in coming out on the other side, it says, [unclear20:10], which means raised in power - sown in weakness, raised in power. Well, I share this because the situation in Southern Africa is such that years ago, many came and many sewed the gospel, and it has been received to a great extent by the people there. And yet there's so much work to do, still, there's much reaping to do, there's still much sewing to do. But especially, there's a great need for people to have access to God's word and the language they clearly understand. So Stephanie and I and our family has chosen to follow God in sewing and reaping in this way, and engaging in the work of Bible translation in Southern Africa. Stephanie's going to come up and we just want to share a bit about our Wyclife Ministry, how we got involved in this work, our roles, some of the things we've been involved in, and what things look like going forward.
Stephanie: To begin, we wanted to give you an idea a little bit about our story. We could go on ages and ages telling you all the different stories and things that led to this point in our lives, but for the sake of time, we'll consolidate that a bit. We first began considering missions in 2010, shortly after we moved back here, after Jesse graduated from Moody Bible Institute. And we started looking into serving with Wyclife because while we were at Moody, Jesse discovered that he had an interest and a gift for biblical languages like Greek. And he - well, not he wrote yet, but Greek - and just languages in general. And so then we as a couple, we learned about more about Wyclife and the work of Bible translation and the needs for Bible translation.
We joined Wyclife in 2015. We went to our initial orientation called Equip, that same year/ the following year - so in 2016, we moved up to Canada for some prefill linguistics training. And so when we first became Wyclife members, we were assigned to serve in Tanzania. We had been praying for a people group there. And so when we were asked, you know, they asked us to put our top countries or areas of the world where we would like to serve, we named Tanzania as our first choice. But then when we were in Canada, our youngest Teddy was born, and he was diagnosed with a genetic metabolic condition called PKU. And for the sake of time, we pretty soon realized that Tanzania was not going to be a feasible option because they don't have the medical resources there that we need to support his medical condition.
So we started looking for a change of assignment, and at CANIL, Canada Institute of Linguistics, one of the instructors there who was also a friend of ours, he told us that we should look into serving in South Africa. He had spent some time working there, and he knew that in the greater Southern Africa region, there's lots of need for Bible translation, there's lots going on there. But in South Africa specifically where our branch is based, there's also really good medical care for Teddy. So we accepted a change of assignment to SIL Southern Africa in 2017, and then spent a little while trying to get visas. It was quite an ordeal the first time around, and finally arrived in South Africa in October of 2019. So, as far as our roles, Jesse's primary role is as a translation consultant in training.
A consultant goes into help assist in Bible translation. So the easiest way to put it is that it's quality assurance or quality control for Bible translation. So in the past, the model was that a linguist would go in and spend many years learning a local language before they could start Bible translation. But more and more today, we see like local communities like the [unclear24:19], doing the bulk of the translation themselves because they know their language better than we ever would if we spent the rest of our lives trying to learn it. And then consultants like Jesse's in training to be, go in and help make sure that the Bible translation is accurate with the original text, and that it is clear and natural in the local language, so it's kind of the best of both worlds. So his primary role is translation consultant in training, and he's also the director of HR for our branch, which he's been in that position for about a year and a half. But it's kind of taking over the translation side of things, so he's looking to move away from that and back into solely CIT work. I'm primarily homeschooling the kids and doing just the whole stay at home mom thing. And then all of us have been doing language learning to some extent. That was a big part of Jesse's role for our first term, was language learning for various reasons. And then the kids and I also learned some as well.
Jesse: Yeah, so as Stephanie said, that's the second time.
Stephanie: I did it for sure too.
Jesse: As Stephanie said, you know, we've been doing language learning together as a family. We've been studying a language called [unclear25:40] which is an indigenous language of South Africa. It's what they call a Bantu language. Bantu is the language family. So the Bantu language family is about 500 to 600 languages in Sub-Saharan Africa. And so, the primary reason for learning that is to be able to work with these related-languages in the region, which are the majority of the languages that we work with as a branch. One of the things that that's allowed us to do that's not necessarily a part of our job description, so to speak; it's part of what I would call our life ministry, the things that we do in our regular life that are not part of our work ministry.
We've been able to get connected with a church in the area near where we were living called [unclear26:33] Church. This is a closer church, and we've been able to thankfully build some connections there. We've been able to go and worship with them on a somewhat regular basis. But one of the kind of highlights of that making, of having that connection with the church is that [unclear26:51] is a church plant that our local church is helping to start. And many times the churches get together, [unclear27:02] is a, as I said, a closer church, so Black South African almost entirely or entirely. Our church is primarily white South Africans and other people, but an English speaking church. And so, the churches sometimes get together and have different events, and there's always this kind of barrier between the people. There's never a good mixing together of people establishing relationships with each other.
But in March of this year, we were able to start a language learning initiative and to have some introductory close classes at our church, which is called Gracefield Church. And the people from Grace Fields were able to learn some basic closer phrases and begin learning the language. And out of that, we've seen people begin to make some connections between the churches, which has been a great blessing. It's kind of a testament to the ability of language to bridge these gaps and to make connections between people. Well, besides that on the work ministry side of things during this first term, we've had a few opportunities to connect with translation teams. So Stephanie said my role is a translation consultant in training, which means that I would support a number of different teams, different translation teams.
The first of these that I was able to observe was a team called the Kuda Team. Kuda is the language from Eastern Zambia. And the Kuda team, since I was able to observe them in 2020, they've completed the New Testament, so they have a complete New Testament, and they're just working on publication now. So that project is kind of on hold at this point, but it was an unexpected opportunity to be able to observe them and to get to kind of see how the translation process works up close and to get to know a team. Second opportunity that came up was to work with the South African Sign Language team in Cape Town. There are about 600,000 deaf people in South Africa. So these people, obviously South African sign language is their first language or only language for all of them.
At this point, the SASL team, as we call them, the South African Sign Language Team, has completed a draft of a story set essentially from the Bible. So the scripture's being translated, It's a video translation because it's sign language, and it's beginning to go out, beginning to be tested and beginning to be used in the community. Just one quick story about that that we think that was inspiring to us was, there's a lady named Michelle. Michelle is an interpreter with the SASL team. So Michelle grew up as the child of two deaf parents. South African sign language, even though she's a hearing person, is a first language for her because she grew up using it with her parents. Michelle does a great service for the SASL team. She's a fantastic interpreter. I mean, she understand this so well. And during, I think it was in 2021, her godfather passed away in Cape Town. So she was asked to come and interpret for the funeral. And at the funeral there were about 50 deaf people in attendance. Bulk of the people who were in attendance were deaf.
So she was signing for this funeral. And as part of the funeral, she wanted to share from John 15, which was a passage that the team had translated. It was quite significant for the team and for her, so she wanted to share with this group what they had learned. She shared from John 15 about Jesus speaking about the vine and the branches. And as a result of sharing from the Bible in South African sign language, 48 of the 50 deaf people who were at in attendance accepted Christ. And because of that, and because it was under covid regulations, she had contact info for all of them, was able to follow up with all of them afterwards.
It was just an amazing way that God worked through that situation, and an example of how important it is for all people to have access to God's word in a language they can clearly understand and the difference that makes. Well, the final opportunity we want to tell you about that we had to interact with the translation team during this last term was to work with a team called the Fui Team. Now Fui as I said, Pastor David is a Fui person, he's a pastor from the Fui community. Fui is a language from Zambia, Western Zambia. And the Fui team is a really wonderful team to work with. They work in what they call a cluster project, so a group of languages, translation teams who come together and work together several times a year in what's called the Mongu cluster. There are four other translation projects that are a part of that cluster.
So I had the opportunity to not only observe this team earlier this year, but also to begin doing some translation checking with them, which is a great blessing, something I didn't really expect to happen during this term. But the consultant who's associated with this project was really generous in allowing me to participate. So the Fui team is made up of four people. One of them is this guy in the blue and green. His name is Ndu Cosmos. Ndu means chief in Fui. So he is a chief of the Fui people, an important person to have as a part of the translation team. There are three others. One is named Innocent. Innocent is kind of the lead translator, Rhoda, who does most of the type setting or the keyboarding for the project, not type setting.
They do a lot of handwritten translation, and she will put all of that into Parex, which is the software we use for recording the translation and working with it. And then finally, Pastor David, as I told you about. With the Fui team the Fui people in general, it's so exciting to hear them talk about having scripture in the Foy language language, because the Fui people are very hungry to have God's word in their language, and they're using it. It's really naturally happening. Sometimes you translate, you know, the Bible gets translated and the people don't use it so much. But in the Fui community, the people are getting these, you know, portions of scripture as they are produced and they're using it, they're reading it, they're preaching from it, like Pastor David, and it's really blessing the community. And they value these translators so much that Innocent reported to the team, to the group - at the beginning of one of these workshops, he reported that there was a lady from the Fui community who told him, "You translators, you are chosen by God. You are chosen from your mother's womb," she said.
They value this translation team. They face a lot of challenges. They don't come from wealth; they come from what we would consider poverty. They're farmers, they travel to a central area about four times a year for a three week workshop, leaving their families behind at home to watch over things. And they deal with sickness and all kinds of things, and yet they applaud forward, they continue in the work. So we're thankful for them. And this is just a picture of what the workshop looked like. It's the best we could do at the time. Everybody prefers to meet in person for these things. Technology is wonderful in that it allows us to do things that we couldn't otherwise do. But it also comes with its challenges, especially when you're meeting with a team in a remote area.
So Jim, the consultant is in the top left, then Hillary and Diane are consultants in training like myself, and you can see the team on the bottom right there. So pray for the Fui team that they would be able to continue and remain healthy, and that their families remain well, and that God's word would continue to bear fruit in the community. As far as our future plans, we plan to return to South Africa in March. We plan to continue supporting translation teams such as the Fui, possibly getting into sign language, although I'm not sure if that will be the case or not, but we're looking at that.
There are many sign language needs in Southern Africa. Our branch has received requests to support 16 new sign language projects in Southern Africa. So if not us, somebody's going to need to step in to help with those things, so just some exciting things for the future. And then finally, we plan to continue engaging in and through our church Gracefields, as well as with [unclear36:09] Church. You can pray for them as well, that church they face challenges as well. It's in a very poor community. And some of the challenges, you know, challenges with leadership, the difficulties of life really make ministry very difficult in many cases. And also, especially I think, you know, they have many children who come to the church, which is wonderful. They have many women who come to the church, but there's not many men who are a part of the church, so you might pray that God would bring more men into the church [unclear36:44], and that God would continue transforming the community of [unclear36:48, where the church meets.
Stephanie: So there's a few different ways that you can get involved with Bible translation. First of all, you can pray. We have seen time and time again how important and how crucial prayer is, not only for us and our ministry, but just for missions in general. So you can definitely pray for us. There's a few different prayer requests that we have. First of all, we would ask for prayer for our visas. We applied for new visas about a month and a half before we left, and were hoping that they will be ready for us to pick up by the time we return to South Africa. It's taking quite a long time right now for visas to be processed for a few different reasons, but we're hoping and praying that they will be ready for us to pick up when we return.
Secondly, we have a budget deficit right now. So just due to fluctuations in giving, because of people have to stop or reduce their giving for various reasons. We've had an increase in like, just cost of living increase as everyone has seen. And then we also have to budget differently for Teddy's Medical needs this term. So we currently have a need of about $900 per month to be fully funded, and we have to be fully funded before we can be released to go back to South Africa. We also have branch personnel needs. Like I said, Jesse's wanting to step out of the HR director role and back into full-time consultant and training roles, so that means we need a new HR director, but our branch also has other personnel needs especially on the leadership team right now. We've had people just move on to different roles, and so we've got a lot of needs in our branch for personnel.
And then also out on our table, we have prayer cards with other prayer points on the back. So secondly, you can give, like I mentioned before, for our our deficit right now. And then thirdly, you can go. Maybe you have been called to missions in some capacity. And the thing is that missions needs everyone, and any walk of life can be helpful in missions. It's not just linguists and translators, even in organization like Wyclife needs people like it staff and medical personnel and teachers in some cases for the missionary kids and things like that, so anyone in any walk of life can be involved in missions. And last but not least, you can advocate not only for us and for our ministry, but also for missions and for Bible translation in general, so that people know what the needs are and that there is a need for Bible translation.
But for us personally, if you know of any other groups or individuals that would like to hear from us about our ministry and about Bible translation, we're open for presentations or one-on-one meetings or anything like that. We would love to talk to you if you would, if you know anyone that would like to hear from us. And we also have materials out on our table out in the back. We have business cards with just our contact information. We have prayer cards with our picture, and then prayer points on the back. We have magnets, and we also have our brochures where you can sign up to be on our newsletter team or where you have various options for giving for our Wycliff Ministry.
Jessie: So just returning to John 4 as we close here. I'm going to ask you - maybe you've been sowing the gospel in the life of someone you know, for a long time and you haven't seen the fruit from it yet. I just want to encourage you to continue doing that and may God bring a harvest soon. You never know when that time might come. Maybe you've had the opportunity to be the harvester, and praise God for that. Maybe God's calling you to join in supporting this ministry of the Gospel through God's word and translating God's word. We ask you to prayerfully consider that. And then finally, I think there's one more big question that Jesus answers here in John 4, and that is, why does he give the living water?
I think we see that he gives the living water to us so that we can worship him the true Messiah, true God, through the Holy Spirit and spirit and truth. So let's do that again this morning. Let's continue doing that, remembering that God is drawing and gathering a people to himself from every nation. This picture was something that I just saw that caught my eye [unclear41:43]. There are a lot of things in this picture that I'm not crazy about, that I don't like necessarily. But there are a lot of things that I do like, and I think it's a picture of the motivation that George Schmidt had, when he went and established that mission station, which is that all might worship him. You see Jesus in the middle of their reigning and receiving the worship of people from many nations.
Well, let's pray. Ask the team to come back up. Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for this morning. We thank you for your word, Lord, for your salvation that you give us. Lord, we know without you, we are nothing. Yet we continue on and saying, yet, not I, but through Christ in me, we thank you, God, that you are with us, that you help us through Your spirit You empower us. I pray that your word would take root within us, that you continue to speak through it as we go through this week, and we pray these things in Jesus name. Amen.
Full of Grace and Truth
Observation of John 1:14
Word became flesh and dwelt among us
-Word- Jn 1:1 = this is describing God, Jesus
-Jesus entered earth as a person, “tented”
-Jesus “tented” or habited with us.
-Every true Christian believes this!
-churches that deny that Jesus is God are not churches
We observed his glory
-We- John 1:12 those who believed in Jesus, didn’t reject him
-the ones God gave the right to become his “children”
-the ones who were spiritually “born” – new life
-observed his glory-manifestation of God’s presence and power
The glory as the one and only Son from the father
-Jesus is the one and only “God with us” person to exist
-there are no other representatives of God’s power/presence
-We CANNOT say God and Buddha, or God and Caesar
-Christians died before denying their full allegiance to Jesus
-Syncretism is not an option- the Bible declares all other
religions to be false, created by humans rebelling from God
Full of grace and truth
-full of: Jesus/the Word/God is full of both grace and truth
-fully grace AND fully truth
-grace- charis- unconditional mercy, favor
-God’s dealing with us in undeserved ways
-an outflow of God’s goodness and generosity
-compares to Hebrew (c)hesed
-lovingkindness, gracious mercy
-truth- altheia- that which is reality
-Hebrew emet- aithfulness, steadfastness, consistency
“Or” is not an option!
Grace without truth destroys intimacy
-acceptance without absolutes = confusion and denial
-zero truth boundaries leads to a life of chaos
-absolute freedom invites slavery to our flesh and feelings
-1 Peter 4:3
-Relationships built on grace alone have unhealthy boundaries,
raise soft & rebellious children, permits abuse in marriage,
eventually leads to resentment and dissatisfaction when we
refuse to identify what we need or how someone hurts us
Truth without grace destroys authenticity
-Fear of rejection leads us to hide, refuse to confess faults
-leads to a life filled with judgment, constant guilt, anxiety
-God’s Word (the Law) is designed to reveal our sin
(Romans 3:19-20) and remind us we deserve God’s
condemnation (Romans 4:15)
-Relationships built on truth alone forces us to
-we perform/pretend (no one is perfect!)
-or we fully rebel (give up trying and resort to fatalism)
Jesus offers grace AND truth
Grace: Come as you are!
-Matthew 11:28 Come all who are weary…
-Luke 15:20 Jesus welcomes the child who rejected him!
-Jesus receives us before we change: Zacchaeus, Matthew
-Christians love outsiders MORE because of Jesus
-no lifestyle, attitude, rebellious tendency should stop us
-Christian marriages receive like Jesus received them
Truth: Leave Changed!
-John 8:32 the truth sets us free!
-we must face our guilt before we ask forgiveness!
-John 4 Woman at the well- Jesus revealed her sinful lifestyle
(truth) after he accepted her (grace), which led her to abandon
false religion, trust in Jesus, and lead her city to find Jesus
In the book of John - Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the fourth book in the New Testament, I always say, if you take your Bible and you cut it, don't cut it in half, you open it in half, you're generally often in the Psalms. And then if you take the other half and you cut it in half or open it in half, you are in the New Testament, usually around Matthew, Mark, or Luke. If you're in Malachi, you can read that as well if you want. But go forward, go to the right a little bit, and you hit Matthew, Mark, Luke, and then John this morning. John 1:14, Full of grace and Truth. That's my message title this morning, and we're going to talk about the idea that grace and truth must work together in our lives.
I don't know about you, but I don't enjoy eating the individual ingredients of a cake. I'm not really into vegetable oil by itself. Even olive oil, still kind of weird if you substitute things like that or lard, some of you - big old scoop of lard. Maybe some people, most people, not. I'd like to eat two cups of flour. Now, have you ever tried to eat flour on its own? I've had some stories of my children going to my mother-in-law's house. They thought that the statue of limitation had run out, and they were explaining to me how they destroyed her kitchen. And they actually dared each other to eat flour. And they did. How'd that go? It’s disgusting. Flour needs to be mixed with something to be tasty. Oil, flour, eggs - we don't eat these ingredients by themselves. We put them together for a tasty dessert.
Now, every illustration on the earth breaks down when you're talking about spiritual things because there's a stark contrast between the two. Living the Christian life is far different than eating cake. It's not a cake walk. I didn't even try that out last service. I don't know. Stick to the notes, Greg, sticks to the notes. You see, grace alone, if we were to just live by grace alone or we just let anything go, we just love people and don't ever seek the truth about what we ought to do and how we ought to live; grace alone leads to abused freedom. And it actually leads us to be continually enslaved to the very things that God wants to change us from. And it actually enslaves us to lifestyles that are disruptive and abusive in relationships, be it a marriage, the most intimate one you can think of on earth, relationships between parents and children, and obviously relationships between friends. But truth alone leads to abusive authority and shame and pretending.
We're going to unpack these as we go, but just think about it, that if you have somebody that has this high expectation of you with no room for forgiveness or grace, and they think that they have the best way of telling you how to live your life, they will abuse that truth and beat you to death with it; emotionally, spiritually, and sadly in horrible, difficult relationships physically. Truth without grace leads to abuse of authority, shame. In other words, I can't ever get out of the guilt that I have because there's no pathway for reconciliation for forgiveness. You see, grace plus truth equals acceptance, intimacy, and reconciliation. I'll share that as we move forward. But grace and truth put together brings in our lives, acceptance, intimacy, and full reconciliation.
John is writing about this man called Jesus who walked the earth, died in rose again. Many years later he's writing an account of the history of Jesus, the story of Jesus, the reality of Jesus. He doesn't start with Jesus in the manger. He starts with Jesus as the preexistent God. He is God. He is fully God. And the word became flesh and made us dwelling among us, we're going to see here in just a moment. But in the beginning of his gospel, he says in chapter one, verse one, in the beginning was the word - in the beginning, like before anything ever began, Jesus always has been the word being God, the word representing Jesus Christ. And the word was with God, and the word was God. Some cults who say they are followers of Jesus, followers of God falsely put in there a little word called "a" He was a God, and they changed the word God to little "G" god. And that is absolutely does complete violence to the original language of the Greek New Testament. And it is actually meant in order to purport a very false belief about Jesus Christ.
And so, John is writing to us to explain to us who Jesus is as the beginning. And so when we see in our verse the word, it means Jesus. And by the way, John says later in his gospel, "I'm writing these things that you might know Jesus, who He is, and that by believing on Him, you might have life in His name." His whole purpose of his gospel was that people would find Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. And indeed, if we were to walk away from this service and everybody had a nice little message about history and nice little message about linguistics, and they say, "Well, pastor really studied up this week. He knows what he is talking about. Or he went way longer, which means he didn't study enough to get rid of the stuff he shouldn't have talked about," that if we just had a nice little time, and you learned and made thought the jokes were funny, and that's all you thought about, then I have failed miserably because I desire and I pray, and we do all of what we do up here. We have our baptism time - all that we do together as a body of Christ is meant to bring people towards Christ and for people who are in Christ, to keep living in Christ and walking and growing in their faith in Christ.
So I pray that this morning you might, wherever you might be on that spectrum of, here it is, I'm a follower Jesus, or I'm close to following Jesus, or I'm already following Jesus. Wherever you are on that scale this morning, that you would find yourself taking one more step towards Jesus Christ. And I would pray that anyone who is not following Jesus, that they would put this step into following Jesus this morning because eternity is too long for you to be wrong, and you never know how much time we have left to make that decision.
So let's look at John 1:14. Let me read it, break it down. And then at the end, we're actually going to camp out on the last phrase, "Full of grace and truth." But let's break down this passage so that we can see it in context. In verse 14, it says, "The word became flesh and dwell among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the one and only son from the Father, full of grace and truth." What are we saying here? What is John saying? What did the Holy Spirit inspire John to tell us this morning? First of all, the word we already established that is Jesus Christ. It became flesh and dwelt among us.
Jesus entered earth as a person and as some translators talk about, He tented with us. He pitched a tent and hung out with us. He habited with us. He became part of, He dwelt, we're in dwelling places, our homes, right? He wants to make his home in us. He made his home with us, born of a virgin, came in into this earth and grew. And it said that they were impressed by how well He continued to grow in His walk, in His maturity, in His stature. Jesus tented with us. And every true Christian believes this. And every true church believes this. There are people, there are certain organizations that call themselves a church, but they deny the fact that Jesus is God. He was just a representation but he's not God. And they'll even have Easter pageants, they'll even do all kinds of grand things that look very Christian, but they deny that Jesus is God, which makes them not a church, even if they say so.
And we have to be careful that we don't slip into a religiosity of the culture that just allows anything to go, anything to go, "Well, I'm a Christian. Well, I'm a Christian." No, a Christian believes that Jesus is the word, become flesh, fully God and fully man. And it says, "We observed His glory." We? Who are we that John is talking about? Well, verse 12, go up there a little bit further, up before that verse that we're looking at today. And it says, "But to all who did receive Him," there were some that rejected Jesus. But the ones who didn't reject Jesus, 'the ones who received Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not of natural dis descent or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God."
Those who believe in Jesus, that's the ones. We beheld His glory. We're the ones that see Jesus, the ones that didn't reject Him, the ones who he gave the right to become his children; the ones who they were spiritually born. And interesting, John could have said all kinds of things here, he's making a point in his entire gospel that later on, he is the one that would include the story of Jesus talking to Nicodemus in the night when he'd say, "What do I need to do about this? What must I do to be saved, in his own ways of saying it. And Jesus said, "You must be born again." And he talks about the idea of being spiritually born, that we not only have a physical birthday into this world, but we have a spiritual birthday. And that's why I say there is... can everybody in this room say I know the day and the time that that happened?
I don't know that everybody in this room can say that. Some can, but the fact is it ought to have happened one way or the other whether we can pinpoint it or not, we need to know that we did put our faith in Jesus Christ. And at that moment, we became born again. And these are the ones who observe his glory, the manifestation of God's presence and power. We be held His glory. What is His glory? His presence and His power. There are people that say, I'm a Christian, but there is no presence of Christ in their life. They don't look like Christ, and there's no power in their lives. They have no interest or desire to change their lives. They want to continue on a lifestyle that is ungodly. They want to continue to live for whatever they want to do. And they don't want to bow themselves to what God says is true or right in their lives; they just want to do their own thing. They want to be a lone ranger.
That person might be completely rebelling against what the Holy Spirit's saying to them. And that person is probably more miserable than an unbeliever. Or that person is an believer who is a cultural Christian, but not a true Christian. They have religion, but they don't have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Those who observed His glory have been changed. They've observed His presence. He's living within them. There's movement in their lives spiritually. There's something to be said for who that person is. Now, I'm not here to say I know who that person is in this room, that everyone I can just point it out which one is you or living for him or not. I watched all your Facebooks, your Twitters, your ticks, your stuff, and I've just made a judgment call today. No, I mean, as my head chaplain at the police department says, "I've seen the job assignment for being the judge of the world. I don't want it. I'll let God be God."
I'm just here to say a warning that anyone who thinks they're following Jesus, but there's no power, there's no presence, there's no change; I would say repent and be baptized. Tell the world you're a Christian. Start living for Him. Cross that line from religion into a relationship with Jesus and observe His glory, the glory as the one and only son from the Father. What else is this verse telling us? That Jesus is the one and only God with us person to have ever and whoever will exist on this earth. This is not a lineage of there was God the Father, and then He had a baby, and it was Jesus, his son. We're talking about a family relationship that is in a sense of a tightness of the same essence, not genealogical history; that Jesus is of the same essence of God and He came as the son of God and He came as the only begotten son of God, right? That's where the one and only son of God in John, again, John 3:16, John is building his case here for the reader to say, this is the one and only example.
Syncretism is not acceptable for the Christian life. It's not God and Buddha. It's not Jesus and Caesar. The Christian faith has always been intimidating to absolute authority on this earth. Why? Because absolute authority wants you to bow to them - cultural authority. We may not have a potentate king or an autocratic or whatever you want to say. We may not have a dictatorship in our country, but there is a cultural code that says you will bow to our gods and you don't tell us your god's more important than ours. And if you don't do that, there will be consequences. And the further we get into that kind of lifestyle thinking in our country, it will be the same as, I mean we know this, our Christian brothers and sisters that are suffering even in this very moment in Meia Mar and in China and in the Middle Eastern countries and different places of the world where they believe their God is God and their whole authority of their government is based upon that God, which is a false God, an evil representation of a God. And any Christian who would say, I'm not bowing to that is excommunicated and at worst, put to death.
You see, this idea that Jesus is the one and only representative and there is no other on this earth. I mean, you can just blow off the guy that's the vegan downtown that looks like Jesus and says he's the incarnate. Okay, just don't have to worry about that guy. You're not laughing. We go to these big conferences, at church Christian conferences and there's always, Jesus is always on the corner. I'm a vegan. And there's nothing wrong with being a vegan. If you're a vegan, God bless you. But it just seems that - I've never seen that. Jesus says I eat red meat, I just haven't seen that.
Again, stick to the script. But people have a Jesus complex. I'm God. And you know that person is safely helped to a mental institution or they're given warm food and a bed for the night somewhere because their families rejected them at this point. That's just crazy. But often, it's usually not that Jesus we're rejecting, it's just that we're trying to look at these other things and say, "Well, I want Jesus and my horoscopes. I want Jesus and my," and Jesus is the one and only. We can't compromise that.
The glory is the one and only son from the Father, and then we get to our phrase, full of grace and truth. Full of - Jesus, the word God. He's full of both grace and truth, fully grace and fully truth. Now, what is grace? Grace is the Greek word charis. The Hebrew "hesed" is in parallel to that in the Old Testament when it was mentioned, hesed said, meaning loving kindness, gracious mercy, unconditional mercy or favor. Basically, God is dealing with us in an undeserved way. It's an outflow of God's goodness and generosity that He wants to receive you and love you come as you are because He's not asking you to do something in order to earn his favor and love. For God's to love the world that he gave us one and only son. It didn't say for God's love the world and when they finally got their act together, He sent His son. They weren't getting their act together, and that's why he sent His son. You didn't get your act together and that's why Jesus came to you, you didn't have to come to Him. Grace!
But then it says He's also full of truth. "Althea," maybe if you say that right in the Greek, that which is reality, that which is true, that which is the reality of this. When we first started our church, we had a phrase, "Real people, real church, real God" had the t-shirts and everything, had it on our banners. Real people, real church, real God. Now, that doesn't mean while just being real, I'm going to be abusive in the way I act. Just being real. No, no. It's just saying, we take people right where they are, please don't pretend; please be who you are. I told somebody when we started our church about three or four years into it, they were talking about an argument they were having in their church about carpet, or I'll use carpet because that's what churches sometimes argue about. And they were arguing about some paint on the wall or something. I says, "We don't argue about that kind of stuff." I said, "First of all, we don't have a building." And all of their conversation was leading me to think I never wanted one. But anyway I'm glad we have this.
But I said our arguments are about like can someone come to worship today with the other person because they really can't stand each other right now and they had a big fight. I mean, they're baby Christians growing in their faith, had nothing to do with theology or the ecclesiology or the church or anything. It just had to do with real people, with real messes and real stuff going on in their lives. And I'll say I don't want all that stuff, but I'll take that far more than I'll take carpet problems, because that's people being real. It's like the guy on the airplane that'll tell you everything about him. You're like, "Wow!" And that happens to me at Aldi's, it happens to me at Kroger, I mean, you just start listening and people tell you everything. The banker starts telling you stuff. I mean, and it's awesome. People are being real.
What do we do? We go to church. How you doing? Fine. How is your week? Pretty good. Don't talk. Don't talk, don't tell. Don't let anybody know we're having problems in our marriage. Don't let anybody know that we're heartbroken over a loved one that's running away from God. We don't want to talk about the fact that I had a nervous breakdown this week because I'm dealing with anxiety. We don't want to talk about that. We think somehow that there's a barrier between the parking lot and here that we have to get rid of all that stuff and suppress it because that's - no. So we talked about being real, real people, real church.
We're going to go there with you. We want to walk in that situation. I want you to walk in my mess. I know you don't want to think I'm a messy person, but I am. I'm still a mess. I'm still being growing in my faith. I still have people say, "Pastor, you shouldn't have done this, are you offending me?" Because I'm a Christian that's growing in my faith, I'm still growing. Now to say I'm just being real, that's not an excuse, I got to mature in my faith. But so do all of us and we all need to come to a church that's willing to deal with our mess and not just pretend that we're a bunch of nice people.
We are a bunch of nice people, but we're growing to be nicer, right? Okay, we want to be real because we have a real God who has standards, but who really takes us right where we are and wants to move us to where we need to go - full of grace and truth because or is not an option, or He is grace or truth. He is truth or grace is not an option. It's not an option with God because God is full of grace and truth. And it's not an option for your relationships with one another. And it's not an option for how you relate to God. You need to receive God fully by His grace, and you need to receive God's truth at the same time. Because grace without truth destroys intimacy.
You can't really talk about the real stuff that's going on when you're just, "Oh, it's okay. Just not worry about it." That's why we spend a large chunk of my time in premarital counsel talking about being real, about what you feel and what you think. You have two people coming together and you could easily have someone dominating over the other person in such a way that that person never expresses how they feel about something. I'm not saying they want to go into, you know what I kind of like the color blue. Maybe one of our rooms could be blue. This is a real benign, easy thing. But if you are 45 years and you never get blue in your marriage, you'll get blue. You'll get sad because you've never been able to express yourself because it's all grace but there's no truth. You're not telling the truth of how you really feel. I'm fine, but you're not. And you're suppressing that and you don't really get to know the person because you don't really care. You know, just keep going. Zero truth boundaries leads to lives of chaos.
Romans 6 tells us, "What then should we send because we are not under the law, but under grace." Absolutely not. We need to have... we're accepted by faith, and the grace saves us. By grace our faith saves us and it's because of His grace that we come to Him unmerited favor. We don't have to earn our way into His presence. But we don't just say, "Well I can do whatever I want now that I'm a Christian." No, no, no, no. What does it say in Colossians 3:5, it says, "Therefore, now that you become a Christian, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature. Sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. Don't let the sins of your life replace the God of your life because they will be your idols. They will be your gods instead of God."
1 Peter 4:3 says, "For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the gentiles or the unbelievers do, (choose to do), carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and lawless idolatry." Verse four, "They are surprised that you don't join them in the same flood of wild living and they slander you." What's going on there? When you become a Christian, your friends that aren't Christians are going to start looking at you and go, "Who do you think you are?" Now, you don't even preach a word to them. You don't even say, "You know, you shouldn't be doing that." You just stop doing some of those things. And what do your friends who don't want to do that do? They start making fun of you? They start brow beating you and they start slandering you and they start calling you names - "You Bible thumper, you preach your boy. Who do you think you are?" "I'm just trying to live for Jesus. Leave me alone." "Oh I'm sorry. Forgive me for that." "Get out of here. Quit asking me to forgive you all the time."
I mean, there's going to be a hostility naturally because they don't... here's two things. There's two people you meet. You meet the Christian who's bashing Christianity because they're rebelling against a holy God and they're living in a backslidden life way away from God. And so, they need friends in their camp so they don't continue to... they want to try to suppress their guilt by helping you join them in what they're doing so they can feel better about their badness. And then there's people that absolutely have no iota of care or guilt and they're just inviting you in because that's how you'd live life. They don't know any better. That's just how it is. And they just think you're a weirdo if you're doing that, and you're like, I'm not a weirdo, a weirdo for Jesus, I guess. And they just don't get it.
Because you're saying, "I'm living by grace." Yes, God's accepted me fully, but that means I'm also on a pathway of moving forward into the truth. Relationships built on grace alone will have unhealthy boundaries. Sometimes those boundaries lead to, oftentimes it's the wife or the girlfriend that will keep forgiving the abusive partner to their death. They just keep throwing grace out there as if there is no truth to the fact that I'm being beat up physically and I need rescued from this dangerous situation. It raises soft and rebellious children. Kids that have no boundaries will have no boundaries in life as they grow up to be adults. It eventually leads to resentment and dissatisfaction when we refuse to identify what we really need or how someone has actually hurt us. Grace without truth destroys intimacy, and truth without grace destroys authenticity.
You see how many here's perfect? Wow! Just one person? You and I know that we can't go a day without doing something we shouldn't do and we have to ask forgiveness to God, "God forgive me. I didn't mean to do that." Yeah, you did, you did it. Don't give me, I didn't mean to do that. And sometimes we do things we didn't mean to do, but oftentimes we're pretty good at thinking. Did the devil make you do it? No, I thought of that all by myself. We're pretty creative in doing bad, and we're pretty good at... you know, I always tell people, "I'm just glad my bad is legal because I don't like going to jail and I don't like paying fines, so I just keep my bad under the radar." That ain't right, is it? But it's kind of, you know, oftentimes we want to be a good person doesn't mean that we're perfect.
And when we are not perfect and we live and think that God is only truth and not grace, what happens? We start hiding. We start pretending. We start acting like we're perfect even though we're absolutely not, because there's no pathway for forgiveness if you're just living with a God of judgment and truth. And by the way, some of you might have grown up in a home where it was all about truth and not about grace. And you have a hard time understanding God's love and unconditional favor because you were never given that as a child. You were never graced with a man or a woman who loved you unconditionally and said no matter what you do, no matter how far you go, no matter what happens in your life, I will always love you, I will always take you, I will always accept you and I will always love you; I will never stop loving you.
And if you've never had or experienced that kind of intimate relationship on this earth, it might be hard for you to understand that that's how God accepts you and loves you. And so, if you're just living by a God, that's just the judge, you're trying to run from the judge. You're trying to hide from the cops. You're trying to run away from the reality of who you really are and you will not be authentic in your life. It leads to a life filled with judgment, constant guilt, anxiety because you have never had anything to relieve you of the pressure, of the sins and the problems that you're dealing with because you don't think there's a pathway out of it. I've gone too far, I've really blown it this time, no one can accept me now. These are the phrases that are used by someone who believes that it's all about truth and not about grace as well.
You see God's word, the law - later on it says in the passage here that Moses came with the law, Jesus came with grace and truth. In other words, the law was never meant to save us or make us happy. The law was meant to convict us. It shows us that we're condemned if we don't trust in Jesus, if we don't trust in God, if we don't trust in the one true God who gave us the law. And it was really by his grace that He gave us the truth, because the truth lets me know what's right and wrong. It lets me know who God is and how He relates to me. The truth is wonderful, but when we don't live by the truth and we don't; all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, that truth beats us up. It's a hammer.
In our relationships we start performing and pretending to the other person because we don't want to be caught doing something that would possibly cause them to reject us. Sometimes kids, they'll hide their sin like crazy because they know there's no forgiveness in the home, and they'll absolutely do everything they can to be one person here and another person here; two different persons, split personalities. Some kids even go so far as to have different sets of clothes that they put on their way to school, and then put the clothes their parents want them to wear when they come home, pretending the whole time. Or they get to the point where they're so sick of not living up to the expectations of their parents that they say, "I'll show you," and they rebel completely. They say, "I'll be your worst nightmare. I'm going to end up being what you say you can't stand just to get back at you."
And the hardest part about that is, as you look in on a situation like that and as pastor, as a friend, as a brother in Christ, your heart breaks because you know that they're doing to themselves things that you would never want anybody to do to themselves. And they're living in a life that is enslaved to the very thing that God has come to save them from. Think about this, we want God to accept us right where we are, which means we know we have a portion of our life that if God didn't do that, we're unacceptable. In other words, we want God to accept us right where we are so that we don't live in our shame, which means we do have a sense that there is shame in what we're doing.
But then here's the ironic thing. A person will say, "Well I want God, or I want the world to accept me for who I am or what I'm doing because I'm doing it anyway and I don't care what people think." And yet that same person is saying, "But I don't want to change. What's made me unacceptable over here, I don't want to change that. I want to do whatever I want to do God, but I want you to accept me for whatever I'm doing." But the very fact that you said that means that you know the truth is that you're not doing what God intended or designed for you to do or to be, and you're denying His ability to walk and work in your life so that you can become all that he's intended for you to be. And it's painful to watch.
And I know that I've had mentors and small group leaders that it's probably been painful for them to watch me in that situation. Again, we're all in this together. We're all dealing with this. This message is as important for me as anyone in this room, because Jesus offers grace and truth. Will you trust Him today in both realities? He offers grace, come as you are. There's a church opposite of us; we're on Anthony North, they're on Anthony South, way south by the Highway 27 going out of town, and they're called Come as You are Community Church. I love that. That's a neat name. Maybe we would've been that name, but they were existed before we did so we didn't get it. Come as you are. Didn't Jesus say come all you who are weary and heavy laden. Didn't He the one that said I will give you peace that passes all understanding?
Jesus is the one who told the story of the prodigal son. And you can read Luke 15 later. Luke 15 tells the story of the boy that said I want my inheritance now because I want to do what I want to do, and this father agreed. He says, "You're not dead yet, so I want your money now." And so he took all that money and he squandered it, winding women, debauchery, crazy. And he is living in a pigsty and he's barely able to eat and he's homeless. He says, "You know, if I could, I'm just going to go back and get hired by my dad. He's got a good pension plan. You know, minimum wage. He pays more than minimum wage. I'll get a warm meal and a bed. I'm going back to Dad. I'm not going to go back as a son; I've already blown that story. Man, I am the worst son anybody could ever want. But I'm at least going to go back and ask for a job because getting a job as a servant is far better than being homeless and hungry."
And what does he do? He gets there. And from a far off, Jesus says in the story, from a far off as if his dad had been waiting for him to come home the entire time he was gone. From a far off, he saw him and he ran to him and he embraced him. He says, "Look, my son who has lost is found, let's throw a party. Let's tell the world, here he is, my son, my son. Not my servant, my slave, not my hired hand. No, you get status of being in relationship with me, and God says that's how I am with you. Will you come as you are? Don't come with a cleaned up act. All you got to do is turn around from where you are and from a far off you're going to see God staring at you, looking for you, wanting you, receiving you right where you are.
Christian, I want you to know that that's how we need to be with anybody who's far from God. You see somebody in a lifestyle that is abhorrent to God or one that just makes you go, "Oh I don't like that." You should love them even more because of your faith in Jesus Christ. You know, you can love somebody and accept them without approving them. You can love them without applauding them. You can be compassionate without commending them. Just because you love someone unconditionally, does not mean that you accept right what they're doing. God doesn't accept what you're doing when He receives you. He just accepts you because you're a person and you're worthy of being accepted by His standards, not yours or mine.
And so, which person in our community did Jesus not die for anybody? You got a list. Because I'll avoid that house when I'm talking to him. Anybody have a list? Anybody have a list of what a house looks like that I shouldn't be talking to about Jesus? Anybody? How about any lifestyle out there? Is there anybody in our community that Jesus didn't die for? Anybody? If you got that list for me, I will tear it up because there is no list. The list is full of everyone in this community that does not know Jesus and including everyone in this room that does and all those in this community that do, Jesus died. For God to love the world that He gave us one and only son.
We ought to love more than the average person, someone who is far from God in the way they're living. We are representatives of the Father who are looking from a far off waiting for that person to turn around so we can say I love you, I care about you, you're important, you matter. Jesus offers grace, come as you are, but He also offers truth. Leave changed. That story, another story; you can read John 4, another homework assignment this week. The woman at the well - won't go into all the details, but she's there by herself. She's kind of an outcast, and Jesus starts talking to her; all kinds of things that He violated culturally for him to be in her life at this moment. And He basically starts to share with her the truth of love and trusting and and basically, she's dealing with religion and He's talking about a relationship. And at some point He says, "Can you get your husband now?" How dare he get personal with her? She says, "Well, I don't have a husband." That was true because she'd had three and she was only living with this guy. He wasn't her husband. In other words, she had some relationship issues and we think maybe, possibly that she was looking for love in all the wrong places. She hadn't found it in God. She was trying to find it in relationships, and it was failing her miserably.
So Jesus didn't just say, "I'm accepting you right where we are." He pinpointed the very pain in her life. He pinpointed the very place where she was trying to find satisfaction where she hadn't; He was being truthful. Now, he didn't hang out there and beat her up, He just brought it up, and then he went on. And you can read the story for yourself and the nuances and the way it's written out. But I'll tell you what happened. He gave her grace and acceptance. He shared the truth, she gets saved and the whole city comes out and finds Jesus. Her life has changed and the whole city has changed. And they hung out there for a while. I'm telling you, truth, when we accept the truth after we've received His love, it changes us. We become a different person.
And so my question this morning is, will you trust the grace and truth of Jesus Christ? Will you put off those feelings of intimidation about God that maybe somebody has erroneously taught you? Will you understand that the right handling of the word of God means that you are fully accepted and loved by God? Will you come to Him this morning? But the same Bible that talks about being saved by grace, also says we accept the truth of God and that it is by faith in Jesus Christ. And the truth is, we've got to pledge our allegiance to Jesus Christ to find and experience a personal relationship with God and to know his love and to know how to live his love out in the relationships that we are in on this earth. So this morning my prayer is that you and I will trust in the Jesus of the Bible, not Jesus of the culture, not the Jesus that you were taught that may not have squared with the Bible, but with John 1:14, that Jesus is full of grace and full of truth.
January 26, 2020: What takes your breath away? What makes you lean in and, whether your reaction is small or great, prompts you to react with a sense of fascination and reverence? Over the past three Sundays, Pastor Greg Byman has talked about taking a personal spiritual assessment, a strategy for reading the Bible, and the imperative to pray. All of these activities are, to some extent, expressions of worshiping God—words and actions which essentially say to God, “Wow, you are worthy of my fascination and reverence.” Today, Greg delivers his fourth message in this series is entitled, “How to Worship God.”
By Pastor Greg Byman
St Joe Community Church
October 28, 2018
The temptation for a church is to rest into a fellowship, where followers of Jesus Christ can huddle while the storm rages outside. Now in its 16th year as a church plant in Fort Wayne, St Joe Community Church is Preparing for More in 2019. Today Pastor Greg Byman preached on girding oneself to reach more souls for gospel in 2018 and 2019, and what that looks like for the local body of Christ.
Does Jesus ask you to believe in him by just squinting hard and mustering faith? Or, did he actually provide compelling evidence that he was, in fact, who the Bible proclaims—the one and only Son of God? Today, Pastor Greg Byman continues a seven-part series entitled, “Reasons to Believe” and today’s installment focuses on Jesus healing an official’s son from a distance. Pastor Byman preached, “Seven Reasons to Believe, Part 2: Boy Healed From a Distance” on Sunday, August 8, 2018 at St Joe Community Church.
B: Bible book