Saturday, November 1, 2008

Campus Crusade For Christ

I came to know Christ while I was in college. At the time I entered college, I didn't have much of an interest in religion accept that I knew that the people involved would help keep me out of trouble and provide me with some positive social interactions. So I joined FCA (fellowship of Christian Athletes) and the Gospel Choir. The fact that I got saved was not a result of the ministries of either program, it was truly despite the (at the time) faulty ministries. No one ever spoke to me about my sin, even though it was clear that I was living in willful rebellion towards God. 

Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU) always seemed to be a little different and too serious for me. I wanted to be in the crowd, but I didn't want to be known as part of the crowd. So I stayed away. Now I don't know how much the Gospel Choir and FCA have changed, but I am always thrilled to hear the reports coming from CRU. They have weekly evangelism, worship time, and even held a 24/7 prayer room that got filled up for the full 168 hours.

CRU has been so gracious to invite me in to speak to their weekly meeting attendees on four separate occasions. I do not envy the pastor that is called to write a sermon for every single Sunday during the length of their ministry. I go through great pains attempting to put together a challenging message for my audiences.

It used to be athletic competitions that had my stomach doing back flips and kept me awake all through the night. I would have never thought that I would ever care about exegesis, hermaneutics, theology, or expository preaching. I never even heard these words before, but now this is what consumes my thoughts all day long as I ponder God and the scriptures. I was such a bumbling fool the first time I spoke at CRU that I was shocked when they asked me back for a second time. As my style of speaking has morphed over the years, I have found myself preaching a harder message each and every time (I figured God had given me the green light since they continued to invite me back). I battle a lot with the issues of self-righteous pride and being too forward when I speak about God and the Bible. Anybody that knows me personally, knows that. My wife especially (she keeps me in check). 

On Thursday, October 23, 2008 at SRU campus, I was given my fourth opportunity to speak at CRU. Below you will find the basic outline to my sermon. Because I can tend to ramble, I wanted to read my presentation as much as possible. You will find in Italics some of the phrases I peppered in the sermon (as much as I can recall at least). So here it is, if you are interested.

(Short intro: blah, blah, blah...)

Short illustration: Imagine that me and attendee X were on a comfy coach bus together heading to do rebuild work in Louisiana.  On the way down, we made many stops picking up and dropping off passangers. After too much coffee, I excuse myself to the bathroom. I soon come back with a solemn expression on my face and say to "I love you and want you to lead a good, full life. So I am going to now jump out of that window while we are traveling at 65 mph to die." I then wave and jump out the window. 

That doesn't make any sense. Would understand that I love him? He would be confused as to why I would show my love for him in such a drastic way and perhaps think that I had lost my mind.

Here's the missing part of the story. On my way to the bathroom, I overheard some gang-members attempting to initiate a new member by getting him to throw someone out of the bus while we were speeding down the road. He was pointing at you X. So I spoke to them and said that I would go willingly on your behalf. After some discussion, they conceded. So I will see you later X.  I then jump out of the window.

Does know now that I love him? Do I even have to tell him that I do or does he get the picture? My point with this illustration is that we often leave out the most  vital information when informing people about the Gospel of Christ because it is a hard message.

(This was my working title for the night) The Most Offensive Message that God Will Ever Have You Hear!

God loves you, and He loves you so much that He died for you. 

Most of you are probably scratching your heads and saying, “That's not offensive. That doesn't make any sense. How is the notion of God dying for me offensive?”

I Cor. 1:18 the bible states, “The preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.”
That is to say, it doesn't make any sense to them why that is good news...
“But to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Matthew 13:23 tells us that the good soil hearer is the one who “hears and understands.”

This is why I, in the spirit of Paul and the apostles, determined to know nothing among you but Christ and Him crucified. - I Cor. 2:2

OPENING PRAYER... Lord, you have called each and everyone of us individually into this room despite how we at present may be feeling. Whatever distractions in our lives Lord, help us to put those aside as we humbly come seeking your word. Please open our ears and hearts to receive your word tonight. Amen.

Read Ephesians 4:17 – 5:14

So what makes the crucifixion of God in the flesh so offensive? The biggest offense is not that evil, double-minded, hypocrites aided in the death of an innocent man. Because though they participated in His death, Christ had preordained the exact way that He would die. Even unto the hour he would do it. Christ willfully went to the cross and died.
John 10:18 – “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father."
 Acts 2:23 - “Him being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken up by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death.”

The offensive part to the notion of God dying on the cross is that it is not simply about His great love for you, but about your wickedness. The cross speaks not only to the nature of God, but to the corrupt nature of man. In order to have a proper theology of God we must couple with it a proper theology about man. 
Let me give you a short list of how the God of the universe see you. This may differ from how you see yourself.

A worm – Job 25:6, Born in sin – Psalm 51:5, Born to trouble – Job 5:7, No trust is to be placed in man – Psalm 118:8 Isaiah 2:22, All the ways of man are clean in his own eyes – Prov 16:2, Sons of disobedience – Eph 2:2, By nature children of wrath – Eph 2:3, The imaginations of man's heart are evil from his youth Gen 8:21, In Psalm 14:2, 3 we read: "The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.", Job 4:16 – we drink iniquity down like water.

The list goes on my friends, but I think you are starting to get the picture. Perhaps you are beginning to agree with God as you look back on human history and see atrocities like Nazi Germany, American slavery, African genocide, terrorism and the like. There were 50,000 murders in the grand old U.S. of A that went unsolved in the 90s alone. Americans kill 4,400 babies in the womb every single day in America. But the problem isn't just that the human race as a whole is corrupt. It is that you too, as an individual at your core, are corrupt. You are wicked. I am wicked. Your professors are wicked. Your mother, your girlfriend/boyfriend, your pastor, at their core, are wicked. The bible states that there is none good but God. Are you with me yet? Now either the bible is right or you are a good person and the bible is wrong, but both viewpoints cannot be true. 

So let us investigate...Romans 3:19-20 – “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the Law no flesh shall be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

Galatians 3:24 - “The law was our tutor / schoolmaster to bring us to Christ...”

1. Have you always loved the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength?
2. Have you served the God of the Bible only as master, or have you bowed to a God that is more suitable for yourself?
3. Have you ever used God's name casually or to display anger or disgust?
4. Have you offered God one day in seven to honor His name in worship?
5. Have you always been obedient with your parents?
6. Have you ever been angry enough with some one to lash out vocally or even physically?
7. Have you pursued sexual thoughts about another person?
8. Have you ever taken anything, regardless of its value, from someone else?
9. How many lies have you told in your life?
10. Have you ever desired someone else's possessions for yourself?

What do you have to say for yourselves then? Can anyone proclaim his own goodness before the just God of the universe who will judge everyone according to His standard? Have you understood your sinful nature yet? “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” I John 1:8; 2:3,4. 

Do you have any loved ones that fit into this category? Will you warn them about  their standing before a righteous God?

Now understanding better the nature of man, we can understand the nature of God.
God has two types of attributes.
 1.Foundational – Shared among Himself. These discribe who God is. 

In describing myself, I am a man, black, and 25 years old. This is simply who I am. I don't need anything outside of myself to prove that.

 2.Relational – Desired to create us so that He could display them aomgst us.
 c)Loving Kindness

The following are verses that describe how God revealed His loving-kindness amongst His creation.

(I read each of these) Matt. 20:28, John 15:13, John 10:11, 14-15, 17-18, Romans 3:24-26, Romans 5:6-8, 2 Cor. 5:21, Galatians 3:13-14, Galatians 4:4-5, 1 Timothy 2:5-6 , and there are many more.

So what then becomes the necessary response to the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, that God would come down into this corrupt, sinful world and die for wicked man?

I beg you turn from your sin and place your trust in Jesus Christ and in Him alone. Then He will create in you a new heart with new desires. He will give you a steadfast spirit that will hinder your heart from the cravings of sin. 

And now, Scriptures that articulate the beautiful doctrine of regeneration:

(I read these out loud as well) John 1:12-13, John 3:3, 6-7, John 6:44, Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9, Titus 3:4-7, James 1:18, 1 Peter 1:3-5, and there are many more.

There is a holy regeneration that takes place in the life of every believer that humbly repents and puts his trust in Jesus Christ alone for his or her salvation.

(Much of the following can be acredited to Jim Elliff and his article on the Unrepenting Repenter) The true believer in Christ is a life-long repenter (Romans 8:12-13). 

The deceived repenter would be a worse sinner if he could, but society holds him back. He can tolerate and even enjoy other worldly professing Christians and pastors well enough, but does not desire holy fellowship or the fervent warmth of Holy worship. Though he may claim he holds the bible as truth, you will never see him delight in quiet meditation, fervently searching the scriptures for truth. And seldom will this man take a stand for righteousness before the eyes of his heathen associates.

For God demands truth from the inward parts says the psalmist. You may reform in the actions without repenting in the heart, for the love of sin remains, and the sinner remains in his arrogance considering himself better than others for not succumbing to such an indulgent lifestyle. This man has a false pride rooted in his or her own ability to keep from sin and refuses to boast in Christ as the author and finisher of his faith. No listen, naming an act as evil is not the same as leaving it. For the bible says, “Let anyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (II Timothy 2:19). 

If you are in a fornicating relationship, if you are fooling around, if unjust anger defines you, if you are a drunkard, a cheater, etc. then you are of the devil. You have no assurance that you belong to God. Read the scriptures and see. Read  First John. These aren't my words friend and I am not a legalist. You must be born again.

So who will flee? Who will run from this city of destruction that has so ensnared us with its promises of pleasure and self-fulfillment? And will you warn others of their inevitable doom? Fall to the feet of your savior and plead with Him that He might save you from your sin and save those around you. That you may be a light; nay, a beacon of light on a great mountaintop proclaiming the great love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Lord let us wrestle with your word in our hearts until we come to the truth of your love and succumb to your Majesty in humble repentance. Amen.