This sermon was preached on Sunday, September 19, 2010.
Lord willing, next week, I’m going to preach on the Holy Spirit, a message titled “Sealed with God’s Kiss.” As I’m walking up here, I thought, “Wow, it would be really nice if I could just kind of skip to that right now.” Problem is I haven’t started prepping for it at all, so I don’t have anything yet really to say. I really had considered skipping the text this week. Ephesians 1, verses 9 and 10 is where we’re at, and the reason I considered skipping it is that probably half of what I have to share with you I’ve shared before. So if you have been attending regularly for a while, some of this will be old material and will be like, “Hey, I’ve already heard that and processed that.” But we have, particularly, students [from Penn State University] who are new with us and others that are new, and it is in the text and I don’t want to skip over it. I do want to cover everything as we go through Ephesians. This is such a rich, rich book of the New Testament.
So please turn with me to chapter 1, Ephesians chapter 1, verses 9 and 10. Would you stand with me, please, as we look together to God’s Word. And He—this is God—and He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—that’s the key phrase, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment —to bring all things in Heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
[Praying] Father, thank You for Your word, and we thank you so much for Jesus. We long for the day that everything is brought under His authority. Lord, we live in a beautiful world that You’ve made but there’s so much wrong. There’s so much wrong. There’s so much sin, so much disease, so much death. We long for that day where everything is life and it’s under Jesus’ reign. Lord, we pray today that in our hearts, I pray that when we leave this place, we will be yearning for that, yearning for You. I pray that You will anoint Your servant to speak today, as we so often pray and anoint our hearts to receive the Word, the seed of your Word. Please pray with me: Heavenly Father, speak to my heart, change my life, in Your precious Name. Amen, amen. You may be seated.
I happened to be watching some TV this week and I saw on a news show an expert standing there and he drooled on live TV, and I said [to his wife, Arline], “Hon, I feel so much better.” [Congregation laughs. One of the side effects of Pastor’s cancer is lack of control of his facial muscles, but he had also lost the ability to produce saliva for a while, so drooling now is actually a good thing. He is handling the symptoms of his disease very gracefully, and transparently.] I really do. It made my week. So just drool in front of me once in a while and I’ll hug you, I’ll wrap my arms around you. Please do.
Last week, I said there are some things in God’s economy that I know what God’s Word says and I know that it works, but I sure can’t figure it out. One is where God tells us to pray for each other. The apostle Paul repeatedly says, “Pray for me, pray for me.” Hey, Paul, I mean, you’ve been to the third Heaven. You’ve got these revelations. Jesus appeared to you personally. What do you need other people to pray for you for? You know, God is God; you’ve got a direct connection. Why do you need to ask people to pray, particularly, these are new believers, and they don’t understand. They haven’t been through what you’ve been through and yet, it’s in God’s economy that we pray for each other. I don’t understand it, I really don’t, how it works that way, but I know that it does.
One of the other things that is very clear in the New Testament is that we are to long for the imminent return of Jesus, that the True Church has always believed that Jesus could come at any time. Well, hey, it’s 2000 years later and I know that scripture tells us the day would come when people will say, “Hey, where is the promise of His coming?” like the days of Noah—I understand all that. But, hey, 2000 years, that’s a long time, at least as we see it. So why should we be yearning for Jesus to come at any time?
I tell you what, I think I have it figured out. And that is that when we don’t, we fall in love with this world too much. I think that’s the bottom line. That’s why the early church and all the way through, God wants us to be thinking about Jesus, about His coming, and when we do that–as C. S. Lewis said, “When you shoot at Heaven, you’ll get earth thrown in, but you shoot at earth and you get nothing”–we are focused on Him. [The quote is actually “Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’: aim at Earth and you will get neither.” This appears in The Joyful Christian, a collection of devotional writings by C. S. Lewis published in 1977.] And that’s why the early church was so much looking forward to Jesus’ coming that, repeatedly, it had to be addressed, “Why hasn’t He come yet?” I Corinthians 15 is addressing the issue of believers who have died. I Thessalonians 4 is addressing that. Revelation 22:20 ends the Bible with even so, come Lord Jesus, we want you to come. [Revelation 22:20, in its entirety, says: He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.]
I grew up–and I’ve said this before—I grew up on a heavy diet of Heaven songs. When I was young, going to church, we sang about Heaven all the time. “When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound”–and what? “Time shall be no more.” [“When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder” by Charles H. Gabriel and J. M. Black, 1893] I’ll come back to that a little bit later. “Won’t we have a time when we”—does anyone know? “Get over yonder.” [from a traditional African-American spiritual also known as “Won’t It Be a Time”] “Sing the wondrous love of Jesus; sing His mercy and His grace. In the mansions bright and blessed He prepared for us a place. When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!” [“When We All Get to Heaven” by Eliza E. Hewitt and Emily D. Wilson, 1898] “He the pearly gates will open so that I will enter in.” [“He the Pearly Gates Will Open” by Fred Blom and Elsie Ahlwen, translated from Swedish by Nathaniel Carlson] “Oh, I want to see Him, look upon His face.” [Oh, I Want to See Him by Rufus H. Cornelius, 1916] [As some in the congregation join in saying the words, he says] Some of you know. I’m just throwing this in for those of you who are young, and some of those [hymns] we haven’t sung so often. I do want you to be aware of them. And we do want to sing these.
Heaven is a wonderful place, and sometimes Heaven is a shorthand for everything in the future, after Jesus comes, so the millennium and all that stuff kind of thrown in. We just want to be with Him for eternity and “let’s get on with it” kind of thing. So is it wrong for young people to yearn for heaven? I mentioned this on Wednesday night about a month ago, or a few weeks ago. I think the answer is, “No, it is a good thing.” Well, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you—maybe. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. But to yearn for Heaven is a healthy, healthy thing. In fact, the Bible tells us not to fall in love with this world. I John is so clear in chapter 2. It says: [verses 15-18] Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
Well, you say, “God so loved the world.” [John 3:16] Yeah, He did, and we are to love people, but not the world system. And so, we love as Jesus loved. We have to see the world through God’s eyes, see the world through Jesus’s eyes. And when we see the world through Jesus’s eyes, then we are on good footing and we can love the way God loves, the way He loves us so very, very much. In our text here in chapter 1, we see this key phrase in verse 10: to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in Heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. We are promised that Christ is going to come and reign. And II Timothy 2 says those who endure will reign with Him. [NIV verse 12a: If we endure, we will also reign with Him.] That’s a promise, that we will reign with Christ. When does that happen? This is the key question—when does that happen? Is that happening right now or is that going to happen in the future?
There is thing called Christian dominionism that is out there that says we are doing that now, and we are kind of doing it, maybe little by little. There is one verse in Deuteronomy, Deuteronomy 28:13 that says to Israel, I’ll make you the head, not the tail. [Deuteronomy 28:13, in its entirety, is: The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.] That one verse, many have taken that to apply to New Testament church, that we’re the head, not the tail. Well, we’ll get into that today. What are we? Jesus said, the last shall be first [Matthew 19:30, Mark 10:31 and Luke 13:30], and you gain your life by losing it [Matthew 10:39, Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, Luke 17:33, John 12:25] and that’s how we get to where God wants us to be. But this idea of being the head and not the tail has been a prevailing idea for a long, long time, and preachers have wrestled with this, Christians have wrestled with it, and we are still wrestling with it today. We truly are.
I’m going to contrast Christian dominionism with Christian restorationism. I know those are big words and I know that 50 of you just turned me off when I said something that had more than two syllables [congregation chuckles], but hang with me. We are going to talk more about Ephesus as we go through this series, but today I am going to talk more about America. The spiritual history of America is so intriguing. In the 1600’s you had two communities established. Jamestown, in 1607, you had primarily for commercial reasons. Mammon was the main thing. And then in 1620 you had the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. And it’s not that they didn’t care about making money, and they were industrious, all those things; they were. But their primary reason for coming was spiritual, religious reasons. And out of those two settlements, over time, with others coming, arguably you can make the argument that they built the greatest nation that the world has ever known. Some people from Great Britain might argue that, but that’s kind of in the past in so many ways.
The good outweighed the bad, but we focus mostly on Massachusetts, those who came for religious reasons, spiritual reasons, the Puritans. Now we’re told that they came because they wanted religious liberty. They did, for themselves. But not for others, and we’ve touched on that before. They wanted to establish a pure Christian community, and that meant there would be no heresy, there would be no teaching outside of their norms, and if you did that, if you taught anything other than what was sanctioned by the Puritan leaders, you would be banished. But they had a problem because some people refused to be banished. They would kick them out and they would keep coming back in, and it was really annoying. And today I’m going to tell you how annoying it got. They killed a few of them.
They killed several Quakers, and this was before William Penn. William Penn came to Pennsylvania to establish a truly Christian community but very different than the Puritans. The Quakers were very, very different, and they didn’t mix well. Before William Penn came to Pennsylvania, in the later 1600’s, some Quakers came from England to Plymouth Rock, and a few [Puritans] converted to Quakerism. The Puritans were very Calvinist and they said there is nothing good in us at all. We are totally, as I said last week TULIP, the T is total depravity. There is absolutely nothing good in us at all except when God comes and regenerates us. The Quakers, on the other hand, emphasize that we are made in the image of God and they said there is a light in all beings, and that light has to be nurtured so they kind of came from a different angle, and the Puritans didn’t like that. Some of the Quakers did some really odd things. In fact, some of them appealed back to the Book of Isaiah, and Isaiah tells us that for three years God told Isaiah to walk around naked. It does. [Isaiah 20:2-3] I’m not recommending that. We have no ministry that we are going to start. We are not starting an Isaiah ministry in State College. [congregation laughs] We just aren’t. If God tells you to do that, you better have a track record a mile long of prophecies that have already been fulfilled for us to give you any credence. Walking around naked is not where you start your ministry, okay?
Some of the Quakers went around Plymouth colony naked, as a sign. They called it “naked as a sign”. Well, it was a sign all right; it was a sign to the Puritans that they were crazy. [congregation laughs again] So they [the Puritans] would beat them [the Quakers] and the beatings didn’t tend to work, and they cut off some ears—that kind of sounds like the Taliban, doesn’t it—they cut off some ears, they banished people and finally, they killed a number of them because they were annoyed as all get out. I mean, what do you do with these people? Like, leave already. Go somewhere else. We’re trying to have Christian dominion here. We’re trying to be a “city on a hill”, as John Winthrop [1587/8-1649, wealthy Puritan lawyer who was a leader of the Massachusetts Bay Colony when it began] said, to the nations, and you are bugging us big time, so stop it. And they wouldn’t stop. So they [the Puritans] did what power does. When all else fails, they used physical force to try to maintain purity, to try to maintain purity.
These were people who loved God, who tried to have right hearts and to raise their kids right, and they wanted to have a Christian community. But over time, and this so often happens, there was backsliding. We see this with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; we see it with David and Solomon, and Rehoboam. Generationally, there tends to be sometimes this tendency to backslide with each generation. So by the late 1600’s, there were a whole lot of people who were in the community but they weren’t really living the life.
The early 1700’s was not a high point spiritually in our nation’s history. And so we had the First Great Awakening. Why do I bring that up? Well, it is very important to understand that the two key men—now in England, they had revival and it was [George] Whitfield and [John] Wesley–but over here it was Whitfield, he came over here for a while, and Jonathan Edwards, particularly in New England. They were preaching the Gospel. Ten percent of those who had gotten away from God turned back to God. In the early 1740’s, Jonathan Edwards preached the most famous sermon that’s ever been preached on American soil, called “Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God”. Now, I’ve read that sermon and I encourage you, you can get it on the web very easily. I mean, he started out tough and it got tougher. He was tough that day on this congregation. He said, “The only thing keeping you from falling into Hell, most of you, is a thin thread, and that thread’s about to break.” And people were shaking with fear; some of them grabbed on to the pillars of the church. There was repentance and revival broke out.
But over time they got tired of Jonathan Edwards’ preaching [pencil sketch of Edwards]. They really did. A steady diet of that, by the end of the 1740’s, he was saying, “We are only going to serve communion to people who are born again, fully committed to serving God. You half-hearted folks, you are not going to get communion anymore.” Well, the congregation rebelled because he was talking about their kids and grandkids, and they didn’t want their kids and grandkids to not receive communion. So they voted him out as pastor. I mean, we’re talking about one of the most famous pastors in American history got voted out by a vote of 200-23. And he went and took a small church and became a missionary to the Indians for a while, and finally he went to become president of the College of New Jersey which is now known as Princeton University. He wasn’t there long and he got the small pox vaccine and died from it, a month after he got there. But that’s what happens when someone preaches a steady diet of repentance. After a while people get tired of it. You understand, we’re human beings, right? It’s like when you get nagged at home, I mean, you can only take so much, right? And people say, “I don’t go to church on Sunday morning to get nagged. You said that before. I dismissed it. Don’t say it again!” You know? That sort of thing.
In America as a whole, in the 1740’s there was this rise of revival in the First Great Awakening, but it didn’t last a long time. In the 1750’s it dipped way down. And church attendance in America–we’re told by statisticians that I have to trust, because I wasn’t there and I don’t know, I have to trust them—they say church attendance reached an all-time low of 17% in the 1750’s and 1760’s. Well, we have just reached, in this decade, in the last ten years in America, church attendance overall has dipped, and we are now at about the 17%level. We are about at the point where it was before the American Revolution. Now what connection there is there, I’m not sure, and I won’t go there.
But here, Jonathan Edwards–let’s go back–his dream was that we are going to establish God’s Kingdom on earth and everybody is going to get saved, almost everybody! The Millennium has started! He thought the millennium had started. And one of the people that worked with him–because he [Edwards] said, “Christians are going to have more and more kids, and their kids are going to serve God and the ungodly are going to die out”—one of the guys that worked with him figured out mathematically they would reach the point that for every sinner, there would be 17,000 saved people. The ratio would be 17,000:1. Well, that’d be nice but it didn’t happen, because a few years later, as I said, he got voted out. And things spiritually dipped for a while.
Well, this belief that we are going to usher in the Millennium has been around for a while, and it has never worked. It never has. When Christians have decided, “We’re taking over. We’re doing it for God. It’s going to be good for our nation, we’re taking over,” it just doesn’t seem to work. Now, you have people out there, when we vote–we have an election coming up [for Pennsylvania governor and US senators in November 2010]—we have people that will vote for a Christian no matter how qualified or unqualified they are. If they are a born again Christian, they are going to vote for them, okay? And then you have people that will vote against a Christian, whether qualified or not, because they’re scared of Christians. And that happens in this community. And then there’s people in the middle and they weigh out qualifications, and they decide whatever they are going to do.
Here’s the problem. Here’s the problem. I’ve seen qualified Christians often can get maybe 30, 40, maybe even 45% of the vote, but sometimes, when they are running against a very well-qualified candidate, there is a temptation to compromise their values. Now I gotta tell you, I hold in such high regard Christians that would rather lose than compromise their integrity. [congregation responds with amen] Amen? Amen, praise God! Don’t sell your soul. The end does not justify the means. Don’t sell your soul to get there. Down in the South when you ask for a soda, there is only one that they’ll give you, and that’s Coca Cola, and they say it’s the Real Thing. I don’t drink so much soda anymore, but I was always a Pepsi drinker. [after a mixed reaction from the congregation, he says] Yeah, you’re at Penn State, come on. [Penn State University has had an exclusive contract with PepsiCo for many years.] But down in the South, it’s pretty much Coke or nothing. Back when I was young, 7Up would advertise itself as The Uncola [ad campaign began in the ‘70s]. We have Sprite now and Sierra Mist, so many clear drinks anymore, but the whole idea was “we’re clear, so sweet, so fizzy, but we’re not a cola.” Sometimes Christians become the UnJesus. Someone asks for a cola and we’re the 7Up, and they look at it and they say, “Well, that’s not a cola,” and we say, “Well, just put a little dirt in it, and is that okay now?” [some members of the congregation laugh, uncomfortably] And I see Christians do this. They will get so close to winning, and they know all they have to do is step over the line and win, lie a little bit, compromise a little bit, you know, twist the rules a little bit, and maybe they do win, but what have they won?
And the world wants to know, more than will we govern them, is will we be like Jesus? Is it even possible to live a consistent Christian life? That’s why you take so much battering at the workplace sometimes. Yeah, sometimes it’s persecution, but sometimes people are pushing you to see if you are the real deal. Right? And part of them wants you to fail–I was just saying this to someone recently–part of them wants you to fail so they will feel better about themselves. Right? But part of them wants you NOT to fail, so that they can believe it’s possible to live the Christian life. And you’re saying, “Boy, I can’t take this pressure anymore, people pushing me and pushing me to try to get me to fall, and trying to seduce me into sin.” [tongue in cheek] The pastoral team does this to me all the time. No, I’m kidding, I’m kidding. [pause] They don’t, not often. [congregation laughs] No, I’m kidding—they don’t. That’s a way to move on to the next place if they do that.
So are we the head or the tail? Well, I believe we are going to be the head, but right now we’re not the head. Right now we’re not. And I believe that when we live the Christian walk according to the Gospels and the New Testament church, we will prevail, like the New Testament Church did. It will work; it actually works. You have to give it time though. They lived like Jesus. They were taking in orphans, they were loving their enemies. They really took God’s Word seriously. They tried to maintain unity of the faith as much as they could.
You know, I don’t understand, people who are Christians–there is one long sermon that Jesus preached and one long prayer. The one long sermon is in Matthew 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount and there are other discourses, I understand. But there is only one that we call a sermon. And then there is only one long prayer; John 17 is the one long prayer. Did Jesus preach more than one sermon? You bet He did. Did He pray more than one prayer? You bet He did, but we have these two that were recorded for us, and I don’t understand when Christians just dismiss them. John 17 is all about praying that we’d be one in Christ, that the body of Christ in State College would be one. How can you dismiss that? I don’t understand that. And then, Matthew 5, there are so many things in there we don’t like, the “turning the other cheek” and the “loving your enemies”. Boy, I wish that wasn’t there. [he chuckles] But it’s there. And how can you ignore it and say that you’re a Jesus follower? I don’t get that. I believe in Christian restoration, that when we get back to being like Jesus—I know that’s a steady refrain of mine—but being like Jesus, living like the early church did, it will prevail. It will work. It worked back then, it’ll work now.
But for those who get ahead of the game, Paul wrote this in I Corinthians 4, for those who get ahead of the game. By the way, I Corinthians 4 was written while Paul was in—want to guess? Ephesus, almost everything has an Ephesus connection in the New Testament, so much does. He wrote this in I Corinthians 4, starting in verse 8, to the Corinthians whom he had been with on his second missionary journey. He is now on his third missionary journey in Ephesus, and he writes this: Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings—and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession—let me read that again. For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display—not at the head of the procession–at the end of the procession like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. We are fools for Christ, [next read sarcastically] but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, but we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world. Wow, that sure doesn’t sound like being the head.
And yet, and yet, when we focus on Jesus, good stuff happens. It does. Last week I told you about the Second Great Awakening in America, one of the greatest revivals of all time, led primarily by the Methodists and secondarily by the Baptists. Church attendance in America in 1800 was not all that high, and yet a revival fire started to burn. Mark Noll, the greatest American religious historian who is a born again Christian—I’ve met him, talked to him—he said in his book, America’s God, [America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln, Oxford University Press, 2005] that they were indifferent to national, even patriotic stuff, that they just focused on Jesus. And the Methodists, in 1800 in America, they had 65,000 members. By 1860, they had grown to 1.7 million members, 65,000 to 1.7 million, by focusing on Jesus. By 1860 85% of Americans counted themselves as evangelical Christians. Now not everybody was attending church faithfully, but at least in their heart that’s where they were. They tell us today, in America, that 8-10% of the American population are consistent, church-going, serving God, born again, evangelical Christians. So when you hear somebody say, “There’s more of ‘us’ than of them,” you gotta ask, “Who is the ‘us’ you’re talking about?” Because if the ‘us’ you’re talking about is born again Christians, it’s not true. You vote for who God leads you to vote for. I believe Christians ought to vote, I really do. But we need revival. We need revival first. In England, they had the Wesleyan revival, and then Wilberforce came along and did away with slavery [William Wilberforce made it his life’s work to abolish slavery in the United Kingdom, resulting in the Slavery Abolition Act 1833]. In America, we had revival and unfortunately to do away with slavery, we had to have a war, and brothers, literally—not just physical brothers killing physical brothers, but spiritual brothers killing spiritual brothers. What a terrible price to pay for that sin.
Jonathan Edwards, who wanted to bring in the Millennium, had no problem with slavery. He had slaves himself. And he resisted those who said, all the way back then, slavery is wrong. Exodus 21 [verse 16] says if you kidnap someone and sell them, you will be put to death. [Exodus 21:16: Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.] Did you know that? You kidnap somebody, you go somewhere and you steal somebody from their native land and then you sell them, that is a capital offense. You die, but that was overlooked. And so he had slaves; he supported slavery. Well, God is no respecter of person. He created all of us equal and He loves us all.
Sometimes those who are pushing Christian dominion are missing something. They are missing something important. But when you focus on Jesus you won’t miss anything important, when you focus on Him. And that’s why our four cardinal teachings—you’ll see the paintings in the foyer [recently acquired paintings depicting four moments in the life of Christ have been hung in State College Assembly of God foyer—don’t have much to do with this world: Salvation, Baptism in the Spirit, Divine healing, Second coming of Jesus Christ. You focus on those four things and you can’t go very wrong. You can’t. Should Jesus tarry, the people that will shape the spiritual climate, not only of America, but of the world, probably, are going to be Pentecostals and Baptists. And that’s why in this community [State College, PA], the cross-pollination between Pentecostals and Baptists that’s been going on for a while is very important. Very, very important. And once in a while, I’ll joke about it because I have some disagreements with the Baptists, and they have some disagreements with us, but they are dear brothers and sisters in Christ. We are working for the same thing, and that is for Jesus, for Jesus and His Kingdom. We want His Kingdom to come.
What do we do in the meantime? Two things, real quick. One is, when Jesus comes and changes a heart, there is what Donald McGavran [1897-1990, missiologist, author, and professor and dean at Fuller Theological Seminary] called, years ago, “redemption and lift”. It’s happening around the world, in third world countries, people are coming to Jesus. They stop beating their wives, they stop wasting their money on alcohol, and their family is healthy. And so the kids do better. Their kids get an education, and their kids rise into the middle class. Well, once you get into the middle class, then you are tempted to take over. Success has its own temptations. By the way, you think, “I want be successful in life and I won’t have any more temptations.” You will have more temptations than you have now, but I still want you to be successful. I just want you to be strong and deal with them. You will! And the temptation is, “Okay, we’re going to take over.”
Whats God’s plan?
Well, the Jerusalem Church, in Acts 8, had grown so large, they got comfortable staying there. And what did God do? He sent persecution to scatter them. I believe the Church has no right be a majority anywhere until the Gospel has been taken everywhere. Let me say that again. We do not have a right to be a majority anywhere until the Gospel has been taken everywhere. So when there’s a whole bunch of us, and we’re breeding like rabbits spiritually, what do we do? SEND SOME AWAY! Get them out of here! We have a mission field here, but SEND THEM AROUND THE WORLD! There’s places that HAVEN’T EVEN HEARD the name of Jesus. And when we get focused on dominion, it’s like we want to make this a totally Christian community, a totally Christian nation. It’s never worked. It NEVER has worked, in 2000 years! It can’t endure. It lasts a few years and then it falls apart. Let’s send people to the ends of the earth.
In the meantime, what do we do? Let’s make, first of all, sure that Christ rules and reigns in our hearts, because if we are half-hearted, we are not ready to be in charge of anything. God knows, we’ve had so many scandals in the last 30 years of Christian leaders who can’t maintain basic morality. I don’t know that we are ready to rule anything, when our leaders can’t just [he rushes on to his next idea without finishing his sentence]. The good outweighs the bad; 95% of pastors have not done the things that bring shame on us all. The good outweighs the bad, but my goodness. First of all, make sure He reigns in your heart. Secondly, make sure He reigns in your home. I mean, does Jesus really reign in your home? You think we can fix this nation by getting other people [changed] in DC [Washington, DC]. How’s that going to make God reign in your home? That’s our responsibility right now, amen? Does His love, does His peace, does the warmth of who Jesus is, does that reign in your home?
Now when you’ve got that down—you’ve got your heart, He reigns in your heart–you are fully His, like Ephesians 3:17 says: So Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. He’s in your heart. He’s in your home. How about your church? Well, by and large, okay, Jesus reigns. I don’t anyone thinks we are going after some cult or some diversion. It’s all about Jesus, amen? So, okay, we are not totally where we should be, but we are making some headway.
Okay, then how about your workplace? Changing your workplace, uhh. [making a sound as if taking on an insurmountable task] You say, “If we change DC, if we change Harrisburg [Pennsylvania’s state capitol], my workplace will change.” Not necessarily, no. No. [he laughs] You go to your workplace, and some of you have good workplaces—God bless you—but some of you, you face it every day. And I don’t know how you do it. I bless you, I honor you, I respect you so highly. There’s corruption around, and some of the joking and some of the pressures that you deal with are tough. I mean, Penn State students and faculty, many of you in many, many workplaces, God bless you. You stand in there and you say, “Lord, help me through this.” But we want to pray for transformation in your workplace. You will be a witness and there will be one person that you win and then there’ll be another you win to Jesus, and you’ll change your environment, your world, right there. Transformation will come because Jesus has come. Jesus has come. We have a couple people in our congregation who have moved here from Las Vegas. I don’t know how you would even pastor in Las Vegas. What do you do when people come to Jesus? Everybody quit their job? [he laughs] What do you do? I don’t know. And some [jobs] are okay, some not so much. So God bless you. Let Him have dominion through you in your workplace.
And someday, when we see revival, because I believe we are going to see it–you say, “Pastor, have you given up on revival?” I say, “No, I haven’t.” I’m focused on that; bring it! But if you get the cart before the horse, we’ll never see revival. You with me? If we do what Jesus did, what the early church did, we’ll see revival! And we’ll have to deal with these problems, Christian dominion issues. But until then, let’s just do it the Bible way. I want to win, I don’t want to lose. I want to win. And how do we win? One life at a time, one person at a time. And we are ourselves, we win as we keep our eyes on Jesus, eyes on the prize. Jesus, we want to not just be like You, but we want to be with You. We love you so much that that love, that passion for Jesus, changes how we view everything in the world, whether we get upset about someone cutting us off in traffic or Penn State not doing as well as it should, or whatever. Those things just fade away, they do, when you keep your eyes on Him. Would you stand with me this morning please? Let’s sing it together.
[singing] Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace. [Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, words and music by Helen H. Lemmel, 1922]
Just bathe in His presence right now.
|AUTHOR:||John Winthrop (1588–1649)|
|QUOTATION:||For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. Soe that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.|
|ATTRIBUTION:||JOHN WINTHROP, governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, “A Modell of Christian Charity,” discourse written aboard the Arbella during the voyage to Massachusetts, 1630.—Robert C. Winthrop, Life and Letters of John Winthrop, p. 19 (1867).|