Summary: The WAR is NOT about separation of Church and State. The WAR is NOT about abortion. The WAR is NOT about women’s rights. The WAR is NOT about homosexual rights. The WAR is NOT about family values. The WAR is NOT about building buildings. The WAR is
This morning we have a special opening illustration - and I need some helpers-so let me see - I know - I need "Buff Daddy" Danny Beasley, MAJOR (P) "I’m a weekend Warrior" E.C. Wallace, and LT (P) "Don’t mess with me ’cause I carry a gun" Michael Edward Bennett. (They’ll be escorted out momentarily while I prepare some props----------***then tell congregation when asked by me "who are they?" - yell out "FIREMEN!!!" And when asked "What’s their job?" - yell out "PUTTING OUT FIRES!!!"*** - bring back in the helpers.)
These are our three "HONORARY FIREMEN" and their job is putting out fires. Here is your honorary fireman’s hat which you must wear the rest of the sermon. Put them on. Now, Mr. BUFF DADDY, you are MR. CLEAN. You are to wash, wax, BUFF, and keep the fire trucks shining and looking good. Mr. WEEKEND WARRIOR, you are MR. KITCHEN. You are to cook the meals and wash the dishes. Mr. I GOTTA GUN, you are MR. COMMO. You are to keep the radios and all communication equipment accounted for and running properly.
(Now ask each one "Who are you? What do you do?" three or four times faster each time. - Then ask audience - "who are they? **FIREMEN** "What do they do?" **PUT OUT FIRES** ) - That’s right! I just told you men 5 minutes ago - you are firemen, and your job is putting out fires - and you’ve already forgotten. So keep you hats on during the rest of the sermon as a reminder - who are you? What do you do? Please take your seats.
Now, the main question for today is WHO ARE WE? And WHAT DO WE DO? Those of you who are here today and you know Jesus Christ personally, you have made a profession of your faith, then the answer to WHO WE ARE is -- WE ARE CHRISTIANS. The answer to WHAT WE DO IS -- THE GREAT COMMISSION of Matthew 28:18-20, we share the GOSPEL of ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.
The PROBLEM is this: Living in the 21st century - we find that those of us who are of the Christian Faith are on a collision course with the world system! This is becoming more and more evident with reactions to Southern Baptist witnessing and prayer efforts for cities and people groups around the world. For example, the outcry over our encouragement to pray for our Jewish friends has met incredible opposition not only from the secularists of this world but also from some brothers who consider themselves a part of the Christian community! We’ve come a long way since Romans 10:1 where the apostle Paul said, "Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved."
The bottom line is that Christianity has always been at odds with culture and the world system. But all too often the church today is trying to win a war without really knowing where the battle is actually being fought.
The WAR is NOT about separation of Church and State. The WAR is NOT about abortion. The WAR is NOT about women’s rights. The WAR is NOT about homosexual rights. The WAR is NOT about family values. The WAR is NOT about building buildings. The WAR is NOT about having lots of money in the bank. The WAR is NOT about submission. All of those things are simply SKIRMISHES. You see, the WAR is MUCH BIGGER than all that. The WAR is for PEOPLE’S SOULS!
Today’s world system is known as POSTMODERN-ISM. The 21st century world philosophy tells us that ALL behavior, ALL beliefs, ALL lifestyles should be considered equally valid. The big BY-WORD today is TOLERANCE. But here’s the RUB - along comes a follower of Jesus Christ who boldly proclaims that JESUS is "the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes tot he Father except through Him." IMMEDIATELY that person finds himself at odds with the world system.
And at the very HEART of the issue is the central message of the Church and of Christians - ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.
You know as well as I do that our culture tells us there are many paths to eternal life. Eastern religions say there is one truth but many paths. Postmodernists tell us there are many paths and NO real absolute truth. Since the message of the church is SALVATION BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH, this great truth needs to be proclaimed as never before in our world today. In our focal passage Paul reminds us of three things regarding salvation. We want to CELEBRATE SALVATION together today.
1. First, SALVATION IS GOD’S WORK. (vs.8)
QUESTION? Where does salvation begin? Culture says it begins with man. God says it is "by Grace." You see, salvation is NOT my work, it’s God’s work. Eternal life is NOT my job, it’s God’s job. I cannot work for my salvation, I cannot earn it, it’s not my birthright, it’s THE GIFT OF GOD BY HIS GRACE.