Worship Service for Sunday, October 23, 2022
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.
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B: Bible book