December 18, 2016
Fr. Phil Eberhart
Ready, Set, GO!!
This morning is our final Sunday of Advent - last Sunday before Christmas! This is GO Sunday!
I want to start this morning with the little video trailer that is on our website. Many indicated that they have not listened to it yet! I've put it in the text of my sermon on my blog last week or two ago. I'm not sure how many availed themselves of that resource. So here it is again. I just want you to hear this minute and a half challenge...
What happens when the Body of Christ SHOWS UP!??? People get to know that God is Good!
We become the hands and feet of Jesus - We become God with skin on! We become the only Bible a person may ever read!!!
This morning is the last in our series of preparatory sermons for the season of Advent. A season of anticipation and personal and corporate preparation, but for what?
The presents under the tree? The advent of Santa? NO!
This preparation is for the greatest adventure you will ever live! This preparation is for the ADVENT OF GOD on planet Earth! And the fact that that God has not only sent His one and only Son to be the Savior but has now enlisted us in the enterprise of His Kingdom and has sent us with a mission.
Look at the preamble to the Roman Letter this morning in our readings!
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
First of all, I want to tell you that you are called! You may not be called to hold the office of an Apostle, or a Prophet, or and Evangelist, or a Pastor or Teacher, BUT you are called to exhibit all of those qualities in their varying measure, according to the gifting of Christ that is in you!
WHAT? No one told me about this before I signed on!!
Here is your job description! From Ephesians 4:11 and 12
Let me read it to you:
[Eph 4:11-13 NLT] 11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work andbuild up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
MEASURING UP TO THE FULL AND COMPLETE STANDARD OF CHRIST!
WOW! We have a ways to go, huh?
Let me bring those two passages together for us. Paul, the great Apostle to the Gentiles, is writing the Romans in what is undoubtably his Magnum Opus - his own "gospel" as it were - the story of what God was doing in Christ, not from a historical, factual point of view like Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, but from a theological point of view! Romans is the Theology of the Gospel of Christ - it is a theological mission statement.
We can take hints from what has become called the "Roman Road" - an outline of the plan of Salvation in Christ!
Scripture passages from Romans, chapters 1 to 11
Ro 1: 20-21; although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as
God, nor were thankful
God, nor were thankful
Ro 3: 23 For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.
Ro 5:8 while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Rom 6: 23 wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life
Ro 10: 9-10, 13 if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. ...whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved
Ro 11:36 of Him and through Him and to Him are all things,
The Road is simple, but not easy!
My point here is that Paul had a clear vision of what He was supposed to be doing! Often we do not! But out task is the same as his was! What is that? to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name.
In other words ... or word... GO!
At lunch with a friend from REZ this week, I heard the admission that when he says "Here am I! Send me!" he is often ducking behind the pew! Ever feel like that. When the teacher is about to call on someone, you wish you had the power to vanish - to become invisible!
You put your hand over your eyes and hope she can't see you! Don't make eye contact under any circumstances!!!
I learned a new word from my engineer daughter a couple months back! Have you heard it? VOLUN-TOLD !!
I love it !!
VOLUNTOLD - The state you find yourself in when the teacher sees you! And you have to stand beside your desk and recite the poem you wrote, or something else that is equally icky!!
VOLUNTOLD - The place you occupy when the platoon takes a step back after the Sargent asks for volunteers!
VOLUNTOLD - What happens when you are UNWILLING, UNAVAILABLE and DISOBEDIENT.
OK! So let's explore those three a bit...
We've heard these three ad infinitum here: Willingness - Availability - Obedience
The task we are talking about the is work of the Kingdom of God - the MIssio Dei , the Mission of God!
Jn 3:16-17 we all know the first part but do we know the second?
[Jhn 3:16-17 NASB] 16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
The mission of God is the salvation of the world. It's that simple.
And our mission is (or should be) His Mission!
"To Connect people to Jesus Christ and His Kingdom" is our REZ Mission statement. We do that through Willingness - Availability and Obedience to HIM.
The call of God that Paul was talking about was that of an Apostle (read Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor or Teacher) whose JOB it was to equip God's People for the works of their service - That means that the works of our service are, in varying measures, apostolic and prophetic and evangelistic and pastoral and teaching. These aren't names for the guys and gals in the robes up front - they are the pentagon of the work of the church!
The Pentagon is the hub of our armed forces - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard! Each has a particular specialty in the "pentagon" of activity that is needed around the world. Likewise with the Church - the agent of the Kingdom of God around the world!
These things are our marching orders and are the forms of Training that we must all go through in order for us to be EQUIPPED as soldiers in the Lord's Army (or whichever branch we are serving in, according to our calling and gifting).
Everything we do as Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teacher is designed to CONNECT PEOPLE TO JESUS CHRIST AND TO HIS KINGDOM! As leaders we are working to equip you for these ministries and to seek the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in the work that you are going forth to do.
We are called into the most vital partnership ever imagined in the history of the world! Partnership with God! And its by His design.
We've been VOLUN-TOLD!
The question is will we accept?
At the beginning of the morning we prayed: Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us;
The power of God is always pointed outward! We receive it but its not for us! Our greatest danger is that we keep it to ourselves! It's great to see God at work in our lives, right?
But we must never forget the lesson of the seas in Israel! There are two seas. One receives and gives out and the other just receives.
One if filled with life and life surrounds it on every side. The other is named DEAD.
God's Spirit and His calling on our life is always pushing us outward! Jesus promised it: Acts 1:8
"When you receive power, you will be my witnesses, in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth!"
We have been Voluntold friends. Let's pray...
Lord Jesus Christ; you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross, that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace! So clothe us with your Spirit, that we, reaching forth our hands in love, might bring those who do no know You to the knowledge and love of you, for the honor of your Name. AMEN