Summary: Do you give GOD the glory for the good things in life, but are tempted to rebuke the DEVIL when things get tough? Chances are, you are suffering from the ancient heresy called DUALISM!
Note: Full PPT Slides are freely available for this sermon from www.TeAtatuBaptist.com
Let’s open our Bibles to John chapter 11.
One of the biggest questions I ask myself, and indeed – often ask other people – is this:
‘What on earth is the purpose of coming to church - why do we do it – for what reason, for what purpose???’
And sometimes, just sometimes, when I am sitting amongst a group of other believers, and the Spirit of God is there in our midst (which according to the Bible is the number one way to ensure the Spirit is in our midst!),
…He speaks to me in that ‘small, still voice’ that I am still learning to listen to and obey.
Slide # 2
As I was sitting with the other men at menTors a couple of weeks ago, I believe the Spirit of God spoke to me very loudly and clearly.
In fact, God gave me a vision that is birthed in this passage of Scripture.
And let’s read it together - John chapter 11.
Actually, for the sake of time, let me paraphrase the chapter for you!
Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus was terminally ill.
Martha, the sister of Lazarus, sent a message to Jesus for Him to come quickly and heal Lazarus.
She knew exactly what she expected Jesus to do, and wanted to make darn sure, that He did it!
But instead of coming, Jesus stayed where He was, and as a result, Lazarus died.
Martha then ‘had a go’ at Jesus, telling Him that if He had ‘Done His job properly’ and healed Lazarus, none of this tragedy would have happened!
Jesus tried to let Martha and the disciples know that it was better for Lazarus to get sick and die, because God could be, and would be – glorified through the whole event.
So, upon coming to the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus performed a miracle and called Lazarus forth from the grave!
Let’s pick up the story in verse 44
Slide # 3
The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."
The reaction – to the lesson Jesus was wanting to impart – was threefold.
Slide # 4
1. Some people accepted Jesus and the lesson
2. Others rejected Jesus and the lesson
3. Still others plotted to destroy Jesus entirely
This chapter perfectly describes the role and purpose of being a Christian, coming to church, and belonging to a small group or Bible study.
Each one of us, like Lazarus, have been ‘bound’ by sin and the circumstances of life – we have the imprint of sin in our hearts and lives, and this has affected who we are.
There is much in life we must learn, un-learn, or re-learn.
It is as if, like Lazarus, Jesus calls us out of sin, calls us into eternal life – calls us to Himself!
And yet, we are still bound with the grave-clothes of our past, by the affects of sin and sinful living!
And the interesting thing about the story of Lazarus, is that Jesus is NOT the one who unbinds him.
Don’t you find that interesting!
Jesus performs a miracle by raising Lazarus from the dead, and yet He didn’t do a simple thing like causing the grave-clothes to miraculously disappear!
Some people still struggle with this concept today, and have a distorted understanding on ‘instant’ sanctification – where God somehow ‘zaps’ us and removes all our difficulties and challenges.
But this wasn’t what Jesus did then, – and it isn’t the way He works in our lives – today, or ever!
Look at the facts of Lazarus!
Slide # 4
Jesus turns to those around Him, to the other believers, and He asks THEM to unbind Lazarus!
You see, that’s the purpose of church, and that’s a beautiful description of the Great Commission!
Simply this – to come to Christ, and then be used of Him to ‘unbind’ both ourselves, and others, from the affects of sin in the world!
But how many of us are still holding on to those grave-clothes – thinking how warm, secure and even fashionable they are in our lives!
And still some other Christians don’t actually want to have their grave-clothes removed – at least not all of them!
Or we think Jesus has somehow removed them all magically (through prayer, deliverance or ‘ministry’) when in reality we are still bound by them!
Because here’s the thing, all of us still have some grave-clothes wrapped around our lives, our spirits and personality. (Romans 3:23)
If we didn’t, we’d be perfect, and no longer in need of a Savior!
And the Lord wonderfully allows these grave-clothes to be identified in our lives - through our attitudes, our reactions, our lusts and compulsions. (Malachi 3:3)