Summary: PART THREE of THREE This three part sermon series was presented at a men's camp. It also comes with a Bible study based on the series.
"Battle Royal - When World's Collide"
Session Three: The Call of Salvation
Isaiah 48 (Open Bibles for reading throughout the message)
- Addictions to impotent gods
- Explored the battle strategy of needing an attraction toward the Omnipotent God!
- Realize the depth of his love for us it could be all the motivation we need to get into relationship. There is no greater motivator than love.
- Question: Warriors or Prisoners of War?
- Enemies are not flesh and blood. Bigger than that; more cunning than we something we can see or fully comprehend.
- The collapse of securities … not so much financial themes as we naturally assume but our position in Christ and the Kingdom is compromised.
- Impotent gods degrade, desensitize, destroy, distance us from God.
Today’s focus – the alternative!
A website called Forefront Families hosts an article called “Surviving the Storm - The Strong Willed Child”. It quotes Dr. James Dobson:
“How do you know you have a strong-willed child? They are determined - they challenge everything. They want to know ‘why they should’, and ‘why they shouldn't’, and ‘said who?’ When they are not in control of a situation, they will do what it takes to get it – e.g. throw a tantrum. These are special children who need a specific approach so they traverse childhood unscathed. Parents need to ensure ‘the will is broken, but not the spirit’.”
Father is forever running and sprinting to block our path and save us from a destructive step or deadly plunge off the edge of obstinate obsession with things we should not taste, touch or smell. He determines to break our will but not our spirit. The chapter begins this way (48:1-2…)
It sounds good at first – God’s people invoke (beseech, entreat, petition) God but we find rather quickly that it’s all for personal gratification (“invoke the God of Israel but not in truth or righteousness”-v 1). We cling to the status of “citizens of the holy city” (v2) but don’t live like it.
We’re told that Isaiah 48 has the potential to be a sermon that Isaiah gave to the Israelite exiles in Babylon as they worshipped in a synagogue on a day of penitence. The language about idolatry and rebellion supports this idea. God’s children were being stubborn. Though all were not guilty, the whole community was judged as one community. You know how it is – everyone gets to stay after school in detention because Bruce the bully made the teacher mad; and no one is going to challenge Bruce because we’re all afraid of him! And that’s the reality here. While some people are sincerely worshipping God others are going through the motions of worship because they misbehave and the fruit of lives outside the sanctuary is nothing like the guise of godliness in the sanctuary. As a result everyone assumes responsibility for the whole community.
Picking up with our text the people invoke God’s name or call on his name – but they have a personal agenda, an outcome they’re looking for; they lay claim that they are God’s people but are not behaving any differently from those who do not invoke God’s name. There should be an evidence of Salvation but somehow the message does not match the manner.
Let’s stir this idea of salvation a little. Salvation is not an isolated moment in time when someone responds to the invitation to follow Jesus and after the decision the salvation moment is over. It most certainly includes making that decision but it doesn't even start there. For some of you Salvation began when you started to feel an attraction to the church and you decided to go to Men’s Fellowship and then you thought it wouldn't be a bad thing to come to Men’s Camp! Your Salvation is a process that is leading you to a point of decision, to follow Christ. But after that moment, our Salvation is a continuing evolution of physical, mental, social and spiritual transformation. My physical appetites are affected by my relationship with Christ, what I think and desire becomes adjusted, the company I keep and the places I invest my time are evaluated and sometimes changed, and there is an ever-deepening awareness of God in all things and His ever-present (Omnipresence) reality whether I'm “at church” like this or sitting at the lunch table in the workplace.
So this is where we run into problems. What should be an ever-evolving Salvation experience of change and reformation is often not the reality lived out. Theologian and scholar, Dallas Willard, in speaking of salvation, wrote in The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering our Hidden Life in God, that “those who profess Christian commitment consistently show little or no behavioural and psychological difference from those who do not.”