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“Comfortable Out-On-A-Limb!” Romans 11:33-36 Key verse(s) 11:“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”
Get real! When as a youth I heard this phrase, it often gave me reason to pause. If someone was insisting that I was caught up in a fantasy and needed to bring my thinking back into the realm of the “real,” the “thud” as I came back down to earth was almost audible. If there is anything that will sober me up pretty quickly it is the rebuke of a peer when my thinking has become flawed and largely out-of-step with the rest of humanity. While I don’t mind being different even in the way I think, and in fact often enjoy the risk of pushing the envelope as far as it can go, being accused of unrealistic, even irrational thought, is the exception. This is not being different; this is contentious and disruptive. Disruptive thinking has no purpose or goal other than to cause friction and perhaps fuse an explosive argument.
There is an exception however. All reasonableness is out of the window when we are talking about the triune nature of our God. When we seek to understand how this can be, that three can be one and one can be three, there is no way that I know of to explain the unexplainable without being, well, far out-on-a-limb of thought where there is no reason or logical argument to support the concept. Indeed, the concept that we are able to worship a God that is triune ranks among the greatest of all illogical thought. That three can be one or one can be three is impossible to explain. This kind of thinking has been the cause for much division, even hatred and bloodshed on this earth. The early Christian church was divided several times on this issue. Certainly the concept separates us from all other religions on this earth. There is no religion that embraces a triune concept or anything like it. Christianity is alone in that thinking.
All other religions without exception are focused on what can be explained in earthly terms of thinking. In man’s search for faith, the fact that he is searching seals the matter. Searching the here and now with nothing but a simple mind and reason as tools can lead to only one conclusion: belief is a matter of understanding, not faith. The irony is that while mankind has been so busy searching for God, God has been searching for mankind. The former is futile and the latter is essential to faith. C. S. Lewis writes: “Looking for God––or heaven––by exploring space is like reading or seeing all of Shakespeare’s plays in the hope that you will find Shakespeare as one of the characters or Stratford as one of the places. Shakespeare is in one sense present at every moment in every play. But he is never present in the same way as Falstaff or Lady Macbeth . . . If God . . . exists, mere movement in space will never bring you any nearer to Him or any farther from Him than you are at this very moment . . . A fish is no more, and no less, in the sea after it has swum a thousand miles than it was when it set out.” (Christian Reflections, “The Seeing Eye” , para. 10-11, 14-16, pp. 167-168)
Searching the entire universe, within the realm of reality, will never get you to a “real” understanding of who or what God is. Explaining the unexplainable is neither worthy of our thought as Christians nor conducive to a fruitful existence here on earth. The nature of God is beyond our reason and we should, therefore, not concern ourselves with His nature but rather with His Word. We will discover God only when the “reality” of this present life is exchanged for that which cannot be known now in the next. This is one instance when we must be comfortable to be out-on-a-limb.
Easter: Freed By Grace
A life connected to the "Ever-Flowing Life of Easter" is a meaningful life and it is a life "Freed by Grace." Romans 11:6 says, "And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace." Ephesians 2:8-10 says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." F.F. Bruce points out, "These passages are the watchword for the reformation theology: 'By grace alone, through faith alone, to God alone be the glory.'" When we really meditate upon it, God has "Amazing Grace."
"Grace" (charis) means that we are justified freely by God's own hand, nothing done by us. The application is we have free forgiveness through Christ's sacrificial death on the Cross and thus we have reconciliation to a holy God.
It is impossible to achieve victory over sin merely by striving to do things. All salvation is by God's grace. It is unmerited divine help that even causes even a sinner to have a desire to want to seek the Lord, to enquire about the Christ and then have the ability to live a life pleasing to Him. If you know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord or if you have been given the opportunity to consider what you will do with Christ, then it is by God's grace alone. Without Him there would be no drawing to Christ or ability to respond to the gospel and live it out. (John 16:5-15)
God is willing and wanting to give us all grace. The Holy Spirit moved the apostle Paul to write about this powerful truth, "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."
On the Cross of Calvary Jesus Christ paid the only payment that could purchase your freedom from the bondage of sin. Robert Lowry wrote, "What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus."
Let the Holy Spirit of Christ keep you from the cancers of "Traditionalism," "Denominationalism." "Legalism," and "Fad-ism," trust only in God's grace in Christ.
Does Your Life Reflect the Grace of God?
TONSILLITIS: GROWING WITH GOD
I remember when I was growing up as a small boy I had problems with my tonsils. During the winter months I would get tonsillitis and that would turn into strep throat. Mom and Dad would take me to Dr. Newsom in Pilot Mountain. He would always give me a shot of penicillin in my rear every time, and I got terrified of just the thought of going each time my throat would get sore. It was for my own good--Mom and Dad didn’t take me to watch me suffer; it was to make me better and stronger.
It was after Brenda and I were married a few years before I got my tonsils taken out. As time went by my throat didn’t get sore and I grew and didn’t think much about a sore throat anymore, but I would always think about how Mom and Dad would only do the best thing for me in my childhood.
Folks, sometimes things have to be dealt with in our life so we may grow in the knowledge of the Lord. Just as my tonsils had to be dealt with by having them removed, God deals with countries and individuals, removing things that hinder our fellowship with Him.
It was because Mom and Dad loved me that they would take me to the doctor for shots. It’s because God loves us that He sent His only begotten Son, that who so ever would believe on Him would have everlasting life.
I heard a story of a missionary in Africa who received a knock on the door of his hut one afternoon. Answering, the missionary found a native boy holding a large fish in his hands. The boy said, "Reverend, you taught us what tithing is, so here. I've brought you my tithe." As the missionary gratefully took the fish, he questioned the boy. "If this is your tithe, where are the...
The church today needs to rise above it’s big bad spiritual self and become humble in the sight of the Lord. We say we are grafted in, but we never seem to rise to the occasion to bear fruit. Let’s face it, the church t...
Sermon Central Staff
VANCE HAVNER ON HOW TO REACH THE MASSES
Preacher Vance Havner used to tell this story:
Years ago a convention met in Indianapolis to discuss "How to Reach the Masses." One day during that convention a young man stood on a box on a corner and began to preach. A crowd gathered, mostly workingmen going home to dinner. They were electrified by the sermon. They forgot that they were tired and hungry.
The crowd became so large that it had to move. The preacher announced that he would preach again at the Academy of Music. They followed him down the street, singing as they went, and they filled the main floor of the building, while he preached again with such power that many were moved to tears.
But he had only a few minutes to preach because the convention on "How to Reach the Masses" was gathering in the same auditorium. While the convention was discussing how to reach the masses, Preacher...