Summary: Sermon on the vision statement of our church regarding the preeminence of Christ
Text: Matt 28:18, Title: Reaching the Raised Bar 1, Date/Place: NRBC, 6/14/09, AM
A. Opening illustration: Tyler Jones is the lead pastor/planter of Vintage21 Church in Raleigh. He spoke on the decline of the evangelical church. And so as not to bore you with all the statistics, suffice it to say that he made his case for his final statement in his intro: “within two generations the evangelical church will lose ½ its people.” He gave six reasons usually cited for this decline: too much political alignment, failure to pass the faith on to children/teens, failure to educate sufficiently in the faith (inability to give a defense among an increasingly hostile and academic culture), doctrinal fights within denominations, decrease of funds, cultural change. But he said that although these factors have influence, they are not the main problem. The main problem with evangelicalism (including Southern Baptists, and NRBC) is that our world doesn’t revolve around seeing, knowing, and loving Jesus! What Jones said first, Stetzer, Driscoll, Piper, Akin, and Chandler all echoed with much passion.
B. Background to passage: Post-resurrection, just before the ascension, last words of Jesus, Great Commission. The context that we live in is a culture that seeks relevance over truth. Evangelicalism in general and Southern Baptists in particular are experiencing decline. We are losing scores of people because the church is not something they see as helpful. Generations hang in the balance if revival doesn’t come to our churches. Driscoll said, “You can’t make the wind blow, but you can set the sail,” in reference to what we can do to help usher in the Christ-centered revival that our churches need. To set the sail in our world we must jettison the status quo; we must refuse to passively carry on as usual; we must destroy the maintenance mentality and the peacetime mindset. Years of hypocrisy and infighting have turned unbelievers away, and now we must refocus, raise the bar, and seek the face and favor of Christ in our day. We must understand the times, and passionately pursue the gospel! So in this series of messages, I want not only to remind us where the bar has been raised to, but try to be intentionally practical about how we at NRBC are to reach that bar, and set our sails awaiting the wind of God to blow. I also hope to stir your hearts to service, and call out those among us who would carry the torch for the nations, those who will carry a cup of cold water to the thirsty, those who will carry encouragement to moms and dads and grandparents in the task of passing on the faith to the coming generations, those who will carry the gospel to the world through a thoroughly biblical church and worldview, those who will carry resources from the kingdom to the poor, and those who will do all these things at NRBC for the glory of Christ!
C. Main thought: And that is my thought for today, from the Great Commission passage, that we do all that we do for the exaltation of Jesus, because God has given him all authority in heaven and on earth.
A. Read the list of Scriptures, and give a biblical basis for the exaltation of Jesus! Deal specifically with the references in the text to Daniel 7:13-14, and applications to the church from Ephesians 1:20-21. Camp out here a while. So how do we do it?
B. Display/Proclaim His Sufficiency
1. God went to great links to make sure that Christ would be and always will be exalted. The saints and the angels are currently exalting Christ, and basking in the joy of His presence. And they will continue to do that. The church (NRBC included) has been given the role of putting on display the glorious sufficiencies of Jesus to the world as well as invisible realms.
2. Illustration: “we are a band playing one song, and we will play it till we see Him.” Speak of Jonathon Edwards’ sermon that he preached about the “Admirable Conjunction of Diverse Excellencies” Robertson McQuilkin… It took about twenty-four hours to shake free of preoccupation with my own wounds and to focus on the excellencies of God. As I did, slowly love began to be rekindled. And with love came joy. “The more we learn of Jesus the bigger and more glorious he becomes in our eyes. To one extent or another everyone and everything in this sinful world will let us down. The closer we get the smaller and less appealing it will become. But the closer we get to Jesus the more beautiful and worthy we’ll discover that he is.”
3. The evangelical world (NRBC included) gets caught up in fads, gimmicks, tricks, technologies, etc. We get stuck in traditions, routines, motions, programs, etc. We must recenter our thoughts, methods, programs, and traditions on seeing, knowing, loving, and living Jesus Christ. We must concentrate, fix, meditate, memorize, teach, and proclaim the beauty, winsomeness, attractiveness, and glory of Jesus. He is the highest and the best of all beings. He is utterly sufficient for any need or task. He is higher and greater 10,000-fold than any other thing. “For He’s more wonderful than my mind can conceive, He’s more wonderful than my heart can believe, He goes beyond my highest hopes and fondest dreams, He’s everything that my soul ever longed for, Everything He’d promised and so much more, More than amazing