The way God engages the world

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We are three weeks into our new series together on four things I Wish You Knew About God. And if you’ve got a Bible with you this morning, I want to invite you to turn to John chapter three as we engage this message today and today is just gospel centric, gospel heavy. And I’ll give you the title, what we’re going to look at today as we examine this together from four things that we should understood about God. We’re just going to focus in on one topic, because what we’ve been doing together. But I want to begin our backdrop like this by saying to us as people. As a church. We have a special message. It makes us not only truthful, but unique and powerful. And that message is beautiful in the way that it engages the world and offering hope and redemption and a future. And we should find ourselves sharpening us in that message, not only for the well being of the world, but also in nature of what it does to us through our relationship with Christ and understanding the value and worth of who he is before us. This message that God has given us will help you speak to the world, because this message is something all of us have asked at some point. As we look at this morning’s message, still haven’t given you the topic. We’re going to examine it just through a couple of ways. We’re going to see how how God engages the world.

So that we as people can learn how to engage the world. And to find the effects of what that message does for us as we share it and live it in the world that we live in. And the reason it’s important for us to really sharpen ourselves, I think, especially in days like today, is because following after Jesus isn’t necessarily as easy as it may have been just a few years ago. And the way you respond in that. We’ll demonstrate the beauty of who God is, and it’s important for us to learn how God engages the world. And I find there’s probably no better way to figure out how God engages the world than to read how God engaged the world. And that’s John three. In fact, I find the book of John is that for us? The Gospels present that to us. The first three chapters of John really heavily lay that foundation for us. And so what better way for us to learn how God engages the world than to discover how God engaged the world? Once you read John chapter three, you find that Jesus is encountering a man named Nicodemus, and he’s asking God the question about eternal life and how he can receive it. And where we’re going to pick up in this discussion is towards the end of of where Christ is engaging Nicodemus and giving a response to his answer. And he really defines for Nicodemus what his presence in this world is all about.

And this morning. If I were to say to us. There is one thing. I wish we knew about God. Not only in our minds, but dwelled on it within our hearts. It’s that God doesn’t hate you. God doesn’t hate you. That’s an important message for us as a church, because I feel religiously sometimes when you see what’s portrayed about some God. It’s a very judgmental, angry, vengeful God who can’t wait just to get down there and show you what he’s made of. But when you look at Jesus. Jesus is a God who rarely just very clearly communicates to Nicodemus in chapter three. I don’t hate you. In fact, in John chapter three and verse 17, it says this. For God did not send the son into the world to judge the world. But that the world might be saved through him. Jesus didn’t come to condemn some. Some translations say condemnation, some translations say judge. But what Jesus came for is that the world might be saved through him or rescued through him. This word saved or rescued is thinking about the well-being of your life. And if God really hated you or stood against you, the last thing that you would expect for him to do is come to this world to rescue you. That’s not what people who hate you do. God doesn’t hate you. Second Peter three nine talking about the Lord.

It says he’s not willing that any should perish. And Ezekiel 33 God does not delight in the death, especially even of the wicked. And Isaiah 64 and verse four, for from the days of old, that they have not heard or perceived by ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides you who acts in behalf of the one who waits for him. And Romans eight and 31 If God is for us, who is against us? In Romans 839, nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. In John 14 I go to prepare a place for you. If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself. That where I am, there you may be also. In revelation 21 and God himself will be among them, and he will wipe away every tear from their eye. God doesn’t hate. Doesn’t hate you. John 316 is probably one of the most famous passages in all of Scripture, and so I know many of us could probably quote what we’ve been quoting it since we’ve been children. But in fact, it takes the thought of God not hating you just one step further, and it declares us this. For God so loved the world. That he gave his only son. Whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. The thought of life and salvation coming in Jesus.

God doesn’t hate and it says it or hate you. In John 317 it says that he he came not to judge the world, but the world might be saved through him. And in verse 18 he goes a little further. It says, he who believes in him is not judged. He who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. One of the important things for us to recognize when it relates to, to God is, is that God doesn’t hate you, but but he’s come to to give you life. What’s also important and next that sometimes, unfortunately, we focus so much on the God not coming to condemn us that we forget what what verse 18 communicates to us. That though God didn’t come to condemn us, condemnation still rests. Condemnation still exists. The weight of sin in the world is still apparent. And the weight of sin in the world affects our relationship with God. You think of it like this. If there was some other way to escape the condemnation that is upon us that Jesus is communicating here. We could rest assured that Jesus would not have gone to the extent of giving his life for us. The church when we talk about God not coming to condemn us. It’s important not to downplay what Jesus has done. The condemnation that still rests upon us is real.

Like we need to be very sensitive in not defining what Jesus has done for that. What I mean is this. If there were multiple ways of salvation. And if there were multiple ways for us to be rescued. You would have expect that Jesus would have never given his life on our behalf. But to suggest before the King, who has given his life for you, that there is other ways, is to insult the very one who has given his life on your behalf. God doesn’t hate you. In fact, he cares about you so much. And looking at the condemnation that rests upon us, he was willing to do something on your behalf when he didn’t have to. And God has come and and he has given his life for you in this condemnation. And understand when we talk about condemnation as people, it’s not a it’s not a popular word. It’s not a very happy word to say the word condemnation, but it’s a truthful word. Let me give you an example of how all of us know. We die. All of us are under the wages of sin. On Romans 623 tells us the wages of sin is death. We all die. There is condemnation within that and what we recognize within our hearts when death takes place in this world is that it’s not natural. Our souls, even grieving, that we we, we can’t even fathom or comprehend in words the the pain that’s felt when you lose something that’s close to you.

It is not natural that that is not why God made us. And that is exactly why Jesus came for you. He he isn’t a God of of death. He is a God who has created you for life. In fact, that’s what this verse says. He he that he might save us or rescue us. And at the end of of verse 18. Tells us he who has believed. And the only name shall not be judged, but be rescued from that condemnation. In fact, when we talk about Jesus, if I could just say one word, one word about what Jesus is, is about what what he stood for, I would just say this life. Jesus is all about life. Listen, John 1010 I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 14 six I am the way, the truth, and the life. He who has the son has life. In first John 512 Jesus is all about life. And that life. Is in him. You know the interesting thing about John chapter three. What it teaches us. Most importantly, I think in all of it. Is that when it comes to understanding condemnation. Man made religion has a hard time with that. When you open up John chapter three and you start to read the story in the very beginning of John three. You recognize that Jesus is talking to Nicodemus, who is a religious leader? When you look at the way the religious people in Jesus’s time responded to Jesus, they’re the ones that crucified him.

In acts chapter two and verse 12. And he told the men of Israel, This is Peter saying, you have taken by lawless hands, and have crucified and put to death Jesus of Nazareth. In Luke seven, looking at Jesus even in his life, they called him a glutton and a drunkard. The religious people had a hard time with with Jesus. And look what it says in John chapter three and verse 19 talking still with Nicodemus, it says, this is the judgment that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. And what does this have to do with religious people? Sometimes when we approach a text like this, our tendency in religious thinking is to go yin and yang. There’s the good and the bad, right? And obviously the good people are attracted to the light, and the bad people are attracted to the darkness, and the good is based on whatever standard of good that I have within my mind. But keep in mind of this when Jesus is talking to Nicodemus. In John chapter three and verses one and two. It tells us in verse two especially. Nicodemus came to Jesus.

At night. I don’t think. It’s coincidence that when Jesus gives this illustration to Nicodemus about the light that he’s offering. That Jesus is choosing to use light and darkness as an illustration to Nicodemus, to show good and bad is what keeps you from God. I think what God is attempting to do by talking to Nicodemus in this passage is to show to Nicodemus. Nicodemus, you’re coming to me at night because you’re afraid. You’re afraid of what others might think. You’re stuck in the rut of your religion. And you can’t see the beauty of what I’ve done. And that was demonstrated by the religious leaders of Jesus’s time, by crucifying Christ out of hatred for him and calling him a drunkard and a glutton. I don’t think the good and the bad here are the darkness. And the light is the good and the bad as we define it. Moral characters. People. I think what Jesus is saying to Nicodemus, it’s it’s those who come to him and don’t. Nicodemus, you came at night. And listen, I just want you to know this. This is the judgment that the light has come into the world, and men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their deeds were evil. Nicodemus picked me. And the light. You think about the way that religion responded to Jesus? It’s interesting that the people who had the prophetic statement of Jesus’s coming were the very ones who rejected them, because they placed the religion over what Christ has done.

But the ones who embraced Jesus. Well, Matthew chapter nine tells us. Then it happened that as Jesus was reclined at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, why is your teacher eating with the tax collectors and the sinners? The very people that were attracted to Jesus were the ones that understood that they needed his grace. So the tendency of religion is to create two behaviors within us as people. Proprietor. Despair. You get proud in the sense that you see your system and you live up to the standard, or at least you can claim that you do outwardly. And so you’re filled with pride, as if God owes you something because you’ve lived this religious standard, or it’s despair. You’ve known, you know, that you have fallen publicly before people. They have seen, that you have fallen, and there’s no way to escape it because you’ve already broken the laws. You can’t undo what’s been done. And so it leads you to pride or despair. And the reason that the sinners loved Jesus so much and were attracted to him. Everyone could see their sin, and yet, yet religion gave them no hope. What it did for the center was it continued to come to them to show them the standard of what law is, and then prove to them they weren’t worthy.

Religion gave them no hope. But Jesus. Gave them a way to finally acknowledge their shortcoming, but still find freedom in him. In John one, chapter 14 and verses 16. When Jesus comes into the world, it says, and we, we beheld his glory, full of of grace and truth, and receive from him grace upon grace. Look, I’m not provoking or encouraging the fact that morality doesn’t have a place because God made us all in his image. What I’m saying to us is that morality isn’t what saves. Because left up to moral all. For the sinners that were honest. We’re all guilty. And if the moral law could have saved, then Jesus would have had no reason for coming, because there would have been an avenue through which we could find rescuing or salvation within our own power. But left into ourselves, there was no means of escape. Therefore, the death of Jesus means everything to us as people. Because not only not only does he set us free, but he gives us the opportunity to acknowledge where we have fallen short. The tendency within a system of performance. As to take your imperfections and sweep them under the rug as if they’ve never happened. But when it comes to Jesus, he wants it all. He. He wants the heart as it is for healing and growth and strengthening in him. This isn’t to promote for us to live however we want as Christians.

We would never say this morning, live however you want. And the reason that we we wouldn’t do that is, is because Jesus is the one who’s given his life for us. It cost him his life paying for sin. In addition to that. Sin is death. Sin is the opposite of his light. And seeing the beauty of what he’s done on our behalf. Should provoke within our hearts to pursue him. But listen as we think about John chapter three and the light and the darkness and religion hindering Nicodemus and other followers in Judaism from coming to Jesus versus the sinner who acknowledged their shortcoming and embracing Christ for the rescue. Just keep in mind that this this thought, as you look at these positions warring against one another in the time of Christ’s life. Religious teaching. Will diminish Christ and His work on the cross. And elevate man in his accomplishments. But people who understand the beauty of Christ. Will diminish their accomplishments and glory in the beauty of what Christ has done. God doesn’t hate you. In fact. He loves you. He loves you so much, he’s given his life for you. He has paid it all because he is a God of life, having created you for life and desiring that life for you to experience with him as he gives that life freely to you, as you embrace him and you, you cannot do it on your own.

And to suggest that you can makes us like Nicodemus in chapter three and verse 19, where we’re walking in darkness by our own strength, rather than coming to the to the light and embracing Christ and the strength that he has given to us. That’s the way God engages this world. Everything for you because he’s crazy about you and giving his life for you and in love towards you because you can’t rescue yourself. And so this, this teaches us as a church, the beauty of our message, so that we as a church could learn how to engage the world. What God said in the above passages should drastically affect the way we display God as we encounter the world. Let me say it this way. If Jesus didn’t condemn. And his church represents him. Then the church doesn’t exist to condemn, but rather to offer life. For us an encouragement. Let me just say it this way. Church. Remember, Jesus’s grace attracted the sinner and the truth is what set them free. And the sinners love Jesus. Because rather than condemn. He set them free. As a church. The last thing we want people to think. Is that God hates them. Because God is a God of life. And God has created you to represent him in this world as his church. We’re not on a mission of condemnation. We’re on a mission to rescue. Bible tells us in Matthew chapter 16 and verse 18 that when he built his church that we were to storm down the gates of hell.

When we stormed down those gates. God’s got a plan for us when we get on the other side. As we stormed down those gates, I should say it’s to rescue people. It’s to see them set free in Christ. And so as the world lives, contrary to to whatever standard you think God has called you to in this world, let me just say, don’t get mad when the world acts like it doesn’t belong to Jesus, because it doesn’t belong to Jesus. But God’s. God’s not going to hold you accountable for the way other people behave. You know how God’s going to hold you accountable. He’s going to hold you accountable for the way that you respond to the world. And here’s where we walk cautiously with our message. Our message isn’t one of morality. Although we live for the Lord. Sometimes I see us make this mistake. Not us as as a local congregation. But I just see sometimes people that claim to follow God make this mistake when they see the world not acting as they think the world should act. The solution to the world is to shame them and show them morality. Morality. Doesn’t fix the problem in the world. Jesus does. Church. God didn’t call us. To help people to stop from being bad. God didn’t call us to help make people good.

God called us. To bring people to him. We’re not about stopping bad people. We’re not about making good people. We’re about. Bringing in God’s people. The truth is, the type of transformation that needs to happen within our heart only happens by the power of God. Now here’s where the standard of morality fits for us as people. It’s the place where we recognize we fall. In short. For us to understand that we need Jesus to rescue us. We need to know there’s something we need rescued from. I mean, Jesus has the title of Savior for a reason. It’s not just some elaborate word that they thought, that sounds really cool. Let’s put that on there. The title which Jesus received is to suggest to us as people there’s something in which we are trapped in that we can’t escape within ourselves. So Christ had to do it. That’s what the Savior means. That’s what the firm rescue means. And so the standard of us falling short helps us to recognize that. Paul told us the purpose of the law wasn’t to end the law in of itself, but to simply recognize how much we need Jesus. The last thing that we want to do then, as people is to bring condemnation of her moral failure and end with that, because it gives no solution or transformation. It just says you’re bad and you’re guilty. Why be a people of no hope when God has given it? Well, why be a people about judgment and condemnation when Christ has one of life? And God never said for us.

My desire is is for you to be good. But what he says to us is his desire for us is for us to belong to him. His primary goal for us is for us to belong to him. And in belonging to him, he through his power transforms our lives into his image. And consider what it does for us as people. We’re going to paint that picture of this God in our present situation, who has lavished such love for us. The message helps us to see God for who he is and why he made you. Being created for life in him and enjoying him. This message gives you a place to. To handle your sin, not have to sweep it under a rug or hide it, but to acknowledge it before the King who desires and gave his life for it, that you may enjoy him and grow in him through it. Message transforms your life and identity. So for some of us, maybe even Nicodemus, that night when he coming to Jesus so others wouldn’t see him. Listen, you may be fake with those around you. But real biblical following according to God as he’s described himself, lets lets us tear down those walls. He has given us grace upon grace. When I read what Christ has come for grace upon grace. You know what? I think it gives us the freedom to say.

It’s okay to come to Jesus. Messy. And that’s what Grace is about. In fact, it’s beautiful to come to God in your imperfections because it’s acknowledging really what he’s done as Lord. God’s not waiting on you to fix your heart because he knows. In and of yourself. It won’t happen. That’s why he’s come. Listen this morning in your heart. If you feel like you struggle with something and you’ve got this repetition thing that’s just beating you down, some sort of sin that’s just wearing you out. The place that you need to be above everything is running into the arms of Jesus. It’s okay to be messy because what Christ has brought is grace upon grace. The place the heart finds healing is in him. The place that the heart finds acceptance is in him. If if anything the religious leaders taught is that there’s an acceptance, if there’s anything that Jesus taught is in him, he’s bringing you to him, that he may transform your life. This is the way Paul says it. In Romans. Seven. Talking about the comparison of who he was before God. It says in verse 15, I’m not practicing what I would like to do. But I’m doing the very thing that I hate. For I know that nothing good dwells in me that is in my flesh, for the willing is present in me. But the doing of good is not for the good that I want.

I do not do. But I practice the very evil thing I do not want. Wretched man that I am. Some people would call him the greatest Christian in history. And here he is describing himself as one whose heart rests in sin. But you know the beautiful thing about Romans seven? It’s what happens in Romans eight. When Paul, after describing himself, gets to the very beginning of Romans chapter eight, he says this therefore. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. But in all these things, we overwhelmingly conquer through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. I mean, Paul sees himself in verse 37 as a conqueror. He goes from the most wretched of men in chapter seven to chapter eight, now a conqueror in the Lord, nothing because of what he has done, because of the finding, there is now no condemnation in Christ. The encouragement for John three. Would be to say this to us. Don’t let anything. Get in the way of you coming to the light. Things that we even call good. As Nicodemus found. May not even be godly. Don’t let anything prohibit you from coming to the light.

I’m going to close with this thought. There’s a story that takes place in the Old Testament. It’s told in second Samuel chapter six. First Chronicles, chapter 15. It’s the story of David. David conquers the city of Jerusalem. He’s the one that made Jerusalem the capital city. It’s called the city of David. And David decides to bring the the place of worship into Jerusalem, the Tabernacle which will eventually become the temple. And he brings the Ark of the covenant. The Ark of the covenant is a very symbolic, beautiful thing to the people of Israel. In fact, everything they built for their worship center as they gather around the temple and the tabernacle centers around the ark of this covenant. It’s upon the ark where they would sprinkle the blood of which was shed on the on behalf of the nation of Israel for the remission of sins. It was a symbolic sprinkling of blood. It reflected Jesus, who would ultimately come and give his life on our behalf. And so everything centered around this particular item within the temple to reflect of what Jesus would do and how important it would be for our lives. And David brings the ark into the city. End of Second Chronicle. Uh, second Samuel in First Chronicles 15, describes David and the city as they enter into Jerusalem. It’s one of celebration. They see it as the Ark is representing the presence of God.

They’re celebrating. Within the story, you’ll find it takes place in both portions of Scripture that it tells us that David wears a linen ephod. And he’s dancing before the Lord. In fact, in wearing the linen ephod, some translations will say, And David exposed himself. Now, some people read that and have misinterpreted the passage and assumed that it meant David at some point was naked in the street. That is not what it means. But as David’s wearing this linen ephod and he’s exposed himself in the street and he’s running through the streets celebrating the presence of God, it tells us that that Macau looks out of her window and sees her husband, David, dancing in the street like a fool. And it says she despises David in her heart. When David goes before his wife and she says something to him, she gives the thought of this. It’s in second, Samuel. She gives this thought. Well, my father would have never behaved like that in the streets. And David looks back and just says, well, your father ain’t king anymore. God kicked him out. What does that tell you? What David teaches us in the celebration. Something very important for all of us to learn in the presence of God. The reason his wife was mad at him. This is because as David was dancing down the streets. When he came before his very king. David himself was no longer a king. He was just a common man.

And to represent that when he danced in the streets as the art came into the city, rather than wear the kingly robes that put him above and beyond the people around him, he wore just the plain linen he fought. He wore just a common attire. And David, in the presence of God, teaches us something important to all of us. When it comes to God. He plays no favorites. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from. It doesn’t matter how much value the world may have placed upon you. To God. You’re just a man. Or woman. But the beautiful part to that and being just a man or woman, no matter what your past may hold, is that to God. That’s enough. Because he created you that way. In his image. To reflect his goodness in this world. In fact, in creating you in his image is the very reason why he has placed such value upon you and given his life for you, even in sin. When you come before God, you don’t come presenting yourself in your kingly robes, showing to the world how great you are and why God should accept you. You come playing. There’s nothing that you could do before such a king to impress him. Even being a king yourself. Godse pursued us for your heart. And the plainness of what it is. My hope for us this morning is people.

One is if you’re here and you don’t know God. I want you to understand that God doesn’t hate you. In fact, his life has demonstrated the exact opposite. He loves you. He cares for you. He wants. He’s given his life for you. He wants you to embrace that life so it’s sufficient for you and efficient to you. Don’t let what you might call good keep you from embracing the one who is. It’s too much of an insult of a king who has already given it all for you. In church. If you know Jesus. Our job isn’t to condemn. Our job is about life. Our job is to rescue. When the world acts like the world shouldn’t shock us. God’s not going to hold us responsible for the way the world behaves, but God will hold you responsible for your response to him. When we communicate to this world. They need to see a God who loves them. A God who’s come to rescue them. A God who has given everything for them. The unfortunate part is when we preach to a world condemnation. When Jesus preached life, what we’re really reflecting is what rests in our own hearts. You’ve forgotten what Jesus has done to rescue you. Maybe shamed us for presenting God in such a way if we ever do so. May we be people of grace that find healing in this world and give healing through Christ in this world. That they may come to know him and to find their life transformed through him as he transforms us.