So, what historic event has most shaped your life? What real world happening has had the most profound impact on your story?
Different generations might point to different events:
Older – WW2, Great depression, Civil Rights movement
Younger – 9/11, Great recession
My generation would probably point to Vietnam, Woodstock, or the triplet of assassinations: JFK, Bobby Kennedy, MLK,
On March 24, 1959, at the Institute of Radio Engineers' annual trade show in the New York Coliseum, Texas Instruments, one of the nation's leading electronics firms, introduced a new device that would change the world as profoundly as any invention in human history —the solid integrated circuit, or, as it came to be called, the microchip.
· it was the day science fiction became reality
· it was the beginning of a revolution that likes of which the world had never seen.
As big as those events were and are and will always be…There was an historical event that makes all of them pale in comparison. It was cosmic in scale…its impact spans ahead through the generations…and plays backwards through time.
· it was awe inspiringly cosmic yet intimate and deeply personal.
· it was brutal and monstrous yet beautiful and mysterious.
It is an event more immortalized in ceremony, more celebrated in song, more discussed and debated than any happening the world has ever known.
This event is the most important thing that has ever happened about you, for you and to you.
In 1913 George Bennard of the Salvation Army remembered the event this way:
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
The death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus … the old rugged cross and the empty tomb …that 72 hour cosmic event in the year 33AD, is…
· Ground zero of your redemption
· Epicenter of your transformation
· The place where your best possible life was conceived
What you do with that event…how you respond to it…what place it holds in your heart…will determine whether you will indeed experience your best possible life.
Today I want to tell you why.
· this series is about you – your story
· So…who are you?
o one of over 7 billion people in the world
o one of 323Million Americans
· you are a unique blend of normal and extraordinary characteristics
But where are you spiritually? Last week I showed you stats…
25% Non Christian – Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Atheist, Agnostic, “Nones”
25% Casual Christian – Prime goals: Happiness and family
· Believe in God and maybe even Jesus
o God is at a distance /religion is a private matter / spiritual life is not a priority
· Morally ambiguous – wide open to cultural perspectives
· Little desire to invest in a church though may show up from time to time
But still would refer to themselves as Christian because:
· they are not Jewish, Muslim, atheist, agnostic
· they went to church occ. as a child
25% Congregational Christians
· Believe in God – believe in Jesus (actually can have strong theological beliefs)
· Identify with a church or denomination and attend church either occasionally or even frequently (not deeply connected)
· priorities are all equal: God – family – happiness – success
o so…always a juggling act as to which priority rules at any given moment
· might even say they are “born again” - might have even made some kid of perceived commitment but
· Congregational Christians consume religion.
o Congregational Christians see their faith as important for only two reasons: fire insurance (go to heaven when they die) “waiting for soul rescue while living for fat city”
o source of personal satisfaction – My personal relationship with God helps me feel better. Spiritual experiences like worship or reading the Bible are only as good as what they meant to me.
25% Surrendered Christians (actually more like 7-10%)
· They have determined to surrender their lives to Jesus and follow him daily.
· They are filled with the Holy Spirit
· Believe Bible is authoritatively God’s word
· Lives though not perfect and sometimes woefully imperfect clearly reflect practices of a follower of Jesus
· Jesus and his kingdom is the one and only priority from which everything else flows.
Where are you?
This month we want to show you how to get from the bottom 75% to Surrendered because…Your best possible life will be found exclusively through surrendering to Jesus Christ and following him the rest of your days.
Next week we’ll examine this act of surrender in depth…what do we mean by that? How do you do it? Why is surrender so important… why not belief? why not faith?
But today…I want you to show you how the events of 33AD make Jesus Christ the focal point of your best possible life.
To do that we are going to look at one little verse:
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Let’s start with the middle phrase since it’s about you.
While we were still sinners,
You are a sinner – an ugly word but a true word – which we will come back to
Sinner is not the totality of who you are.
· You are an image bearer – made in the image of God
o A facsimile of God, imprinted with God’s characteristics
o Like Him mentally, morally, socially – you are thus different from the rest of creation.
· You are also power packed with potential – masterpiece created to do stuff God had in mind for you to do
but…you are still a sinner and you know it. In big ways a small you continually commits faults, come up short of God’s standards.
· You lie, you cheat, , you waste, you hate and you engage in immoral thoughts and behavior again and again and again
· You also frequently do not do what you know you should – give and love and engage, and forgive, and serve
You do both…you commit and you omit. And perhaps the biggest sin of your life is the breaking of the oldest and most crucial commands of God:
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God. Exodus 20:3-5
You idolize that which is not God: your family, your happiness, your success, your work, your possessions.
You are a sinner…a nice person…but a sinner.
And the results are twofold:
· you are estranged from God which then creates a gap between you and your best possible life.
· in two weeks we’ll explore this in much more terrifying depth.
God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
In this state you are not hated by God…you do not disgust him…he is not put off by you …he is not seething at you…God doesn’t wish to squash you like a bug…he loves you.
And this love is not the giddy, starry eyed, heart thumping kind…it is the others focused, self-giving, deep commitment kind.
…which comes from deep within the divine one…”his own love”…it defines him. God is love…and his justice, power, sovereignty, providence and omniscience all flow out of his love…FOR YOU.
…how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ… this love that surpasses knowledge… Ephesians 3:18-19
…neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
You are a sinner and God loves you.
…and he has proven it to you…he “demonstrated” it God demonstrates his own love for us…
· demonstrates means to put on display
o like a trophy or a picture or a graduation diploma
· he displayed his love in the year 33AD
Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
· Exhibit A of the love of God for you was the death and resurrection of Jesus
o his death was no unfortunate result of getting people furious with him
o no accident, no “well what do you expect” moment,
· it was a set up…by God himself – this was a fait accompli – a done deal
· Not even Jesus himself was caught off guard by it..
He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Mark 8:31-33
Now why? Why did this event had to happen?
1. It is a “wake up call”. An in your face, stress inducing, heart stopping shocker.
o Akin to the twin towers burning or Zapruder film or mushroom cloud of Hiroshima
o A dangling bleeding mangled, Jesus is a blast to the conscience and a jolt to the heart.
o It is a gruesome display of the committed love of God for you and the deadly serious nature of your sin.
“I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as 'God on the cross.' In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have had to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in Godforsaken darkness. That is the God for me! John Stott – the Cross of Christ
2. It was a rescue operation
It is the apex of the cosmic battle between good and evil.
Satan – the god of the world until 33AD held all souls as prisoners. He demanded of God a prisoner exchange. I’ll release these souls for the life of one man – Jesus.
Now listen to this…the theory goes that God set him up. Satan had no idea that Jesus had set aside his divine nature. He probably roared with delight when Jesus died and smugly chuckled all the next day…but imagine his horror when Jesus was reunited with his divine nature and exploded out of the grave…and out of hell with all the imprisoned souls of Satan.
Game, set, match.
3. It was an atonement (restitution, payment)
· It satisfied God’s justice
· It was you standing before the judge guilty and Jesus stepping up to the bar to say….I got this.
All of it a demonstration of the love of God …a display of the love of God…a proof of the love of God…
…And the event in history that established your best possible life.
So…let me remind you: Your best possible life will be found exclusively through surrendering to Jesus Christ and following him the rest of your days.
That’s how you should respond to the great love of God for you. Surrender.
And…now I want to give you the chance to do that…