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Equipping the Saints…

As Calvary continues to grow with so many new ministry opportunities on the horizon, it is our sincere desire to continue to equip our brothers and sisters and stand alongside them as we reach out to the communities in which we live.  Below you’ll find a summary of the sermon that was given on the previous Sunday morning at our West Campus. There will be an update to this post each week containing the current Sunday’s sermon. We hope that this outline will help to augment the notes you’ve already taken, provide a resource you can utilize as you share the gospel with your neighbors or begin a bible study on your own or with your family; as well as provide a continual road map of your church’s direction, desire, and destination as we seek to be a faithful presence in the surrounding communities.  We want to be more than a once-a-week church family. We hope that you will join us as we take what we’ve learned together on Sunday mornings and apply it to our lives the rest of the week.  Until we have the wonderful opportunity to worship together again,

The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; The Lord turn His face toward you, and give you peace. –  Numbers 6:22-26

January 16, 2011

20/20 Vision:

We exist to glorify God by proclaiming the gospel and demonstrating the kingdom of Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the joy of people.”

Core Values

The 7 Tenets of Calvary’s 20/20 Vision

  • Gospel Transformation
  • Biblical authority
  • Christ-centered worship
  • Historic Convictions
  • Loving Community
  • Mercy Ministries
  • Missional Living
  • These seven tenets will serve as a framework as we talk about the cumulative ministries of Calvary Baptist Church.

Centerpiece of the Vision

“Leading people to have a faith that is personal, a personal faith that is growing, and a growing faith that is serving…”

  • PERSONAL: We want to see the membership of our church walking with a deep-seated personal faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, recognizing the beauty of His death, burial, and resurrection.
  • GROWING: We long to have our membership growing in that faith.  Each day being a journey whereby we are conformed in the image of Christ as we delight in His word and the community of believers He has placed us.
    • One of the objectives that’s been confirmed over and over again through this 20/20 Process is the significance and importance of Bible Fellowship.  For us to grow we need one another…we need the body of Christ.  We need to be in environments where we share life together (our joys and triumphs, hopes and dreams, disappointments and failures).  Bible Fellowship is a significant part of our vision!
  • SERVING: We desire to see our membership living out their hope in the Good News through serving our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as those who are far from God.  We pray that this will ultimately be fulfilled here in our communities and throughout the world.

What makes the vision of personal and growing faith so profoundly difficult to accomplish/fulfill?

John 3:1-21 (emphasis on verses 16-21)

John 3

Jesus Teaches Nicodemus

1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

  • Take notice of these three points the passage makes
    • The goal of Christ is not to bring condemnation, but salvation. 3:17
    • Jesus didn’t come into the world to show who was condemned and who was not. Condemnation was already there. Humanity was already in a condemned state. 3:19
    • …and people loved the darkness rather than the light 3:19
  • Nicodemus
     

    • Would’ve been a very moral person of his day
    • Religious leader
    • Privately asks Christ about salvation
    • In this encounter we see Nicodemus’s vulnerability.
      • Concerned about what other people may think
      • His religious peers
    • The questions Nicodemus asks aren’t much different than the questions we ask Christ.
      • Questions of life and death.
      • How can one be born again?
    • Jesus is teaching and stretching Nicodemus at the very core of his person/being
    • In Jesus’ response to Nicodemus, we find a poignant statement delving into the issues Nicodemus possessed.
      • Jesus gets to the core of the problem for Nicodemus as well as the contemporary man/woman as well.
        • …light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because of their evil. (3:19)
        • Nick was threatened by the teaching/life of Jesus because he was in love with darkness.
        • Jesus isn’t telling Nicodemus that he’s a really “evil” person, rather Nicodemus was a very moral person, but he was STILL under condemnation.
        • It’s in the darkness that we see the other things that you love and cherish.

–          Romans 1:18-25

18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

  • The darkness in our hearts is created by the suppression of the truth
    • The truth has been made known to us
      • You can’t suppress something that isn’t already there
      • Truth in Creation Romans 1:19-20
        • None of us here are without excuse because we can acknowledge God’s nature through nature, therefore all men are in a condemned state.
      • Truth in the Incarnation John 3:16-19
        • Christ is the light of the world
    • We know the truth and yet we suppress the truth.
      • To fail to give thanks to God is to fail to acknowledge your dependence upon God.
    • We suppress that God is the ultimate authority and seek to control every aspect of our life.
      • We seek to be self-sufficient.
      • We may say and do the right things, but in the core of our being, we have not relinquished control to God.
      • You must acknowledge that all areas of your life belong to God.
  • Darkness is the result of worshiping the created rather than the creator
    • Our hearts WILL worship something
      • Something must capture the imagination/affection of our hearts.
      • We are idolatrous people, worshiping the created rather than the creator. It’s easy for us to worship and find our identity in who we are, what we have, what people think about us, how beautiful we feel we are on the outside, how well we succeed in what we do, how well our children perform, etc.
        • When we do this, we take our affections and place them on these things and when these things are threatened, our lives are shaken and we are in despair for our hope is in something other than Christ.
        • If, on the other hand, all is well, we feel as if we are in control and we suppress our dependence upon God.
      • We’ve placed supreme/ultimate glory on the created. We’ve fallen madly in love with our idols and seek to establish our identity in them, but it’s the creator that gives the created meaning!
    • C.S. Lewis: “If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak.  We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased.”
      • Christ has so much more to offer than anything found in Creation.
      • We are too easily satisfied by what feels right in the dark that we seldom open our eyes to see what it looks like in the light.
  • The light/truth always threatens the darkness
    • The teachings of Jesus threatened what Nicodemus valued most (intellect, moral standing, opinion of his peers)
      • When we encounter truth we will do one of two things
        • (1) We will suppress it to the point that God gives us over to our idolatry (Romans 1:24-25)
          • God is giving us the very thing we are clinging to
      • (2) We will embrace the truth, relinquish control
        • Allow truth and light to reveal the idolatry in the darkness and replace it.
        • Ultimately, the very things that we thought would bring salvation were ultimately a façade, an illusion.
        • Satisfaction, peace, and joy never come from the created, but only the creator.
        • When we relinquish control and give over our idolatry in lieu of Christ, we find satisfaction in the only place it can reside – The Cross.

For Nicodemus, certainly this was a process.

1) We see him coming to Jesus in John 3 questioning and threatened by Christ

2) In John 7 we how the teachings of Christ were impacting Nicodemus

3) Finally following Christ’s crucifixion in John 19 we find Nicodemus with Joseph of Arimathea taking down the body of Christ.  Nicodemus was publicly identifying with Christ.

The darkness (his idolatry) was shattered and he was willing to lay aside everything that he was convinced would bring him joy and satisfaction in order to identify with the Messiah.

–         Where do I go from here?

  • Calvary – It’s great for us to have the 20/20 vision of the gospel, but we must also recognize the barriers to that vision. The barrier is simple: We love the darkness.
  • Christians – As long as we’re in the flesh, there’ll always be the pull to suppress the truth and find our identity not in the creator but the created.
    • So we must always keep going back to the cross, back to the gospel, clinging to it, and persevering in the image of Christ.
  • Non-Christians – What are you afraid to lose? To let go of? What are you clinging to in order to define your identity? I pray you will let the light of Christ penetrate the darkness, for he is the one who has the authority to give you the hope and satisfaction you seek.

“What you want most can only be found in letting go of what you are most afraid to lose.”

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