What’s at your core?

10.01.17 Nathaniel Wall

  1. The Core of Missions
    10.22.17 42m 19s
  2. The Core of Relationship
    10.15.17 54m 09s
  3. The Core of Discipleship
    10.08.17 50m 46s
  4. What’s at your core?
    10.01.17 53m 29s

What’s at your core?

10.01.17 Nathaniel Wall The Core Series

Good morning. It’s good to see everybody this morning. I’m glad you found a seat. It looks like we’re getting a little full today, but I’m glad you’re here. And this is a wonderful series. If you’re new to our church family, to be a part of. We’re beginning a new series talking about, “The Core,” which is the core of what our churches identity is. We’re going to go through a series really exposing the DNA of why we do what we do here as a church family. We’re going to start this series off broad, because I feel like there’s some things that I just want to take care of for us personally before it starts affecting how God engages us corporately as his family.

When we started up on Bible church, and it’s been almost right around nine years ago, we kind of started as a ragamuffin group. We didn’t really raise any funds, started meeting in our living room. And the Lord has been gracious to us and we’ve seen over the years how we’ve moved from several locations to having a bar that we turned into a church and finally getting a sign outside and making that a little bit more appealing to the eye when you go by. Some of you may have, if you’re newer here, you may don’t even know that this building has been a church building for a couple of years because there was no way to indicate that other than somehow you randomly found out. But we’re thankful for what God’s doing here and we want to just stay as a family working together to what we feel like God has called us to in the State of Utah.

My wife and I moved here 12 years ago to begin a church plant in Lehi. We didn’t start this church 12 years ago, but we moved here 12 years ago with this desire. And when you make a decision like that, when you move away, some of you may not be near friends or family either. But one of the beautiful things about moving away into a new area is you’re in a place where God can really use you and I don’t want to waste that opportunity. I didn’t move to Utah to play games. I moved away from family and friends and create new family and friends and being here, I enjoy where I live, but I didn’t do it to waste games. There’s an intentional purpose which I want to live out and how God has called me and it starts with how the Lord shapes me as an individual and then how that incorporates into God’s family as a whole.

And I really want you to just enjoy going on this journey to see how we sort of unpack the DNA of what our church is about. As we shape it, we’ll start, like I said, very broad today and then get more specific in the days ahead. But what we’re going to do is we’re ultimately putting a target on a map. And when you put a target on the map, it really qualifies for us how we win. You hit that target that talks about how you have a victory. But what does it mean for us to walk out on Sunday and celebrate as a church family? What does it mean if we leave our gathering together to have that win? What does it mean to win on Sunday or throughout the rest of the week? What does that target for us as a church family? One of the things absolutely do not want to do is I don’t want to meet just to meet.

We don’t get here on Sunday or any day we gather because we’re supposed to do that. We have an intentional purpose behind all that we do as a church family. And I really want to explain that, but you know, when you think about the church, we went through the series on Mark together and God in the gospel of Mark, he’s shaping people in his identity, drawing them to him and he has a purpose, and a plan. He has a target for us to achieve, a way to get that victory together. And you know what, you ultimately find in seeing the church is the church is designed for God’s glory to the benefit of all people. And the way I know that is because at the end of the gospels, at the end of Matthew 28 last chapter in Matthew, Mark 16, last chapter of Mark, verse 15, Acts 1:8 very first chapter in Acts. There’s this theme verse that shared in those portions of scripture.

Matthew reads this way, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe everything I commanded you and surely I am with you always to the very end of the age. In this passage, God’s calling us to something. Let me give you the summary thought here. He uses the word, “therefore.” Therefore is a concluding thought, right? We’ve all gone through the gospels together. We’ve seen the beauty of who Christ is and his desire to make that known in our lives. And that summary way of thinking, Jesus is now saying, okay, now that your disciples, you’ve seen my death, burial and resurrection, you’ve put your faith in me, therefore this is what I want you to do. Go and make disciples of all nations.

That phrase, “all nations,” is a beautiful culmination of scripture. If you’re familiar with the Bible, you know in Genesis chapter 12 when God called Abraham, he tells Abraham through you, I will bless all nations. Because through Abraham, Jesus would come and through the promise of Jesus, all nations would be blessed. And so God’s desire in coming into this world, Christ came to this world as flesh. God became flesh, died for us to bless the world in him. And the means of which he chooses to make that message known is what we call the church. And so the church becomes the tool, the resource to declare the glory of God into this world. So he says, go and make disciples of all nations, the scope of which God has called us when he’s sharing this message. He’s saying it to the Jews here in Jerusalem, but he intends for all people everywhere to grab hold of this message and take it to the ends of the earth.

God, when he says this, he says an interesting statement. There’s a command here. He says, “go and make disciples of all nations.” This word “go” is not the command. This word “go” translated literally means, “as you’re going,” so as you live your life, God wants you to make an impact for His glory. That’s what it’s saying. So as you go into this world, he then gives the command which is “make disciples.” So as you are a follower of Jesus, God desires for you to encourage others to be followers of Jesus. Disciple literally in a, maybe a root way would be to think about, would be: fully devoted followers of Christ. God’s desires for us to be fully devoted followers of him as being fully devoted followers of him to go into this world proclaiming his message, to see other people become fully devoted followers of him. And he talks about some of the meat to that: baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. It talks about baptism. It’s saying, shape your identity. It’s, connecting to God. We compare baptism as a church. When we do that as your wedding day, it’s a public declaration of your faith in Jesus. So it says, “baptizing in the name of the father, son, Holy Spirit.” You see the triunity of God here, “teaching them to observe everything I commanded to you and I am with you always to the very end of the age.”

Now when we talk about what God has called Alpine Bible Church to or whatever church that exists, the only reason we’re able to fulfill anything that scripture talks about has nothing to do with our strength, but everything to do with the promise here at the end of the verse. Because I know me and because I know me, I probably know most of us, which is, I mean we’re not too much different from each other. Which is when, when God tends to say something, I typically doubt my ability, right? Like, ahhh, you sure you can use me, God? Are you sure you want me, God? And here’s the promise. He already answered the question. Yes. And here’s why. Because it’s not by my strength. I’m with you always. So anything that we ever do as a church family has everything to do with our identity in Jesus and not really our strength to begin or end with.

So when he says this, this is the call of the church, that God creates his church for this purpose as his representation to the world to see people become fully devoted followers of Christ. And then maybe we could ask the question, what does that look like practically? This verse is a pretty important verse. And when you start thinking about how that might look practically as you’re going in this world and make disciples, I think this happens on a relational level.

One of the dangers we like to avoid as a church family is when you start to think about church religiously, and the church isn’t the building it’s the people. We start to think very task driven, very checklist, accomplishment. I got to do this, this and this and this, and because I owe God this, or God needs me to do this so I can improve my standing. That’s how we typically in religious, which is not good, we start to think about God as this checklist, performance type thing. What God describes us as is not people that are called by him to accomplish a task, but what God calls us to is to reach a heart. And that first starts with God reaching our heart. And so it says in Mark 12:30, the greatest commands when you think about going into this world, making disciples for Christ. This is how I think it practically works. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength.” You’re not gonna want to do anything for Jesus without love for Jesus. And then he says this, “and the second is you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” And so what he’s saying is, in connection to your relationship with God, which is where you grow as a disciple, then you begin to love the things that God loves and the things that God loves our people because Jesus became flesh, became tangible for us and died for us, that we could relate to him. And so because Jesus loves people and I love Jesus, therefore I love people. And one of the things that he recognizes in this section of scripture is that we’re relational beings. And so that speaks contrary to a religious way of thinking.

When you look at church religiously, you look at the church as a building you go to, you’re given an assignment, you perform your task and you make God happy and he’s no longer angry Zeus over you. Religious thinking, right? But when you see the way God has communicated himself relationally, what it’s saying to you is that God has created you in his image to connect to him for all of eternity. God made you to glory in Him as he has made himself known in your life. You’re a relational being and really that ultimately leads to worship, which we’ll talk about in a minute, but God created you for relationship and in response to that relationship because you grow in your love for God, you want others to experience that relationship. And so you interact with others in a love that displays Jesus his love as Jesus has loved you and it highlights the glory of who God is.

And so when we gather together as God’s family, we don’t get into a building, which is the church to accomplish a task, to religiously perform, to make Zeus God happy. Rather what we do is we gather as the church and the primary purpose of the church isn’t to accomplish a task, but the purpose of the church is called into this world to reach a heart. And it starts with my own as it relates to God. And as my heart connects to God, I then use that transforming power that God brings into my life to demonstrate his glory in this world, the way I react with others. And so we say this as a church when we talk about ministry at Alpine Bible Church. Ministry does not exist to accomplish tasks. God did not create ministry, primarily we do accomplish tasks in ministry, but he didn’t create ministry primarily to accomplish tasks.

Ministry only exists because people need Jesus and need encouraged in him. And so the purpose of every ministry is to reach a heart. If we accomplish the task at the forsaking of a heart, we neglect the very purpose which God called us to in this world. And so when it talks about being core is important to understand this verse that God created you primarily as a relational being. That’s why Jesus summarizes the whole point of living life down to two thoughts. The two greatest commands, loving God, loving others. You’re created to connect to God for all of eternity and enjoy that relationship as it’s made known in your relationship with others. Because you will love what Jesus loves and the thing that Jesus loves is other people. All right? Amen. Go home.

That’s the core of ABC. And that’s what we want to unpack together. And we don’t make any bones about this, but I just want you to know, new or not, here’s our desire for you. Our desire, because of this verse and understanding what God called us to, is for you to experience a transforming relationship in Christ that transforms your relationship with others, really to the ends of the earth. To understand God has called you for so much more in this world than just selfish living. That’s scope for your life is much broader, just this minuscule time that we have here on earth, but to know him and to make him known. That’s why John 17:3 says this, “this is eternal life that you may know him.” Living for eternity. This is eternal life that you may know him. It’s not this intellectual knowledge, but this word of intimacy. Knowing God as God desires to make himself known to me because God’s created me relationally. To connect to him and through that connection with him to connect to others and encourage them for the reason they were created. Just as I understand the purpose for which I was created in Christ. Over the next four weeks, I going to unpack that thought and what it means specifically here, but it’s starting at a very broad context and asking the question, what does it mean for us to win? Here’s a diagram for us about what it means. Love God, love others. What does it mean for Alpine Bible Church to win? Now I just put this on a baseball diamond. If you like baseball, good. If you don’t, sorry that couldn’t figure out fit football in here. Patriots won last week. Bronco’s lost.

So when you go around this diamond, you think about when you are playing baseball, I’m sorry if you consider that immature, but I don’t care. But when you’re playing baseball, you want to get from, if you don’t know the rules, home plate, back to home player, right? That’s how you score, your team wins. So what does it mean for us to win? Now you just described it in a nutshell, but I think these, these four words will give us the core to characteristically unpack what our church is about, what I think it really means to live in victory in Christ as his community together. And so we’re going to talk about these four areas. Worship, discipleship, relationship and mission. And all these areas are going to have a handful of just pipelines that discuss the significance and the foundation for what our church is based on, but these four areas will give us a good framework for talking about what I feel like God has called us to in this area.

When you think about these terms, this is how I don’t want you to think about it. I’m not giving you a list of a process to think through, okay? These things are not independent of one another, but interdependent of each other. All of it starts with this first word, which is worship. That’s what we’re going to talk about this morning. All of these connect in your discipleship, relationship becomes important and therefore because of that, mission becomes important, How God calls you into this world. But all of those are driven by your worship and understanding of who God is. And so if you’re not healthy in your relationship to God, then living that out won’t be healthy.

When it comes to the church, the church is only as strong as the individuals who make up the worship that takes place within it. And so when we think about this, this diamond, everything finds itself centered in the idea of worship, connecting to God as he makes himself known in this world, because he’s the one that gives us our identity and calling into this world. God, how do you desire to display your glory through me, through us? What does that look like? And so, worship.

I’ll be honest, knowing this morning that tackling the idea of worship, there’s a piece of me that just want to be like, this is a bit ridiculous because when you study the Bible, the whole thing is worship. I mean this is like, okay guys this morning I’m going to cover the Bible. Right? Because everything is intended here to provoke your heart to worship. But there’s, there’s a few key things I just want to get to and encourage us in when we think about how God could lead your life and the way he leads your life.

I’m sure that you would describe yourself as a worshipper. Just want to encourage you in some further thoughts on that, to challenge you and strengthen you in a deeper way as it relates to worship. But the foundational question then when we talk about worship is, what is worship? Worship has everything to do with your relationship with God. What is worship? When God made you, ultimately, because he created you as a relational being, he made you as a worshiper. And this world he displayed for his glory being made in his image, it’s for you to respond to the goodness of who he is in an engaging in worship. God made you a worshiper. In fact, worship is so deep at your core, it is impossible not to worship something.

You will find something in this world to attribute worth and value to. And as you attribute worth and value to something, you will derive your worth and value from that something. And so the way that we worship things as we, we think about it. Like whatever you think about now, other than what I’m saying. Like maybe that might be where your heart root could be. Like maybe it could be who’s winning the game right now? But, it’s where your mind goes to when you have some free time or even when you’re at work. Or it’s where you spend your time, your resources, your energy, your giftedness. You’re attributing worth and value to something. And at some point, if it ultimately doesn’t end with God and thankfulness because of that thing that you enjoy, then ultimately you end up worshiping it as an idol.

You’ll attribute worth and value to something and in attributing worth and value to something, it will shape your identity and where you find your value and worth. It’s sort of like, you see young people, they flock together and in these sort of groups that start to look like one another after a while. Because they center around a certain idea together and so they start dressing the same, acting the same. I mean who your friends are you ultimately become, I’m sure you’ve heard. You see value and worth here and you start to get your value and worth. In a practical way, this is how it works for us as adults. I’m going to separate us between male and female for a second. But guys, if you ever sit in the circle, females, you can be asked this question too. But a man, if you ever sit in a circle, inevitably at some point, if you’re new as, as men together, guys start to each other up. And here’s the question they asked almost always in that group, new guys, “What do you do for a living?” Let’s see what you’re made off, right?

Where do you find your identity and worth? That’s ultimately, a lot of times, where that question comes from, “What do you do for a living?” Because that demonstrates who you are in the ranking system that we have in the pecking order of manhood here. What do you do for a living right? Ladies, you could be asked that same question, but maybe sometimes women, you might be more asked this, how many kids you got. Are you married? Oh, you’re single. I could hook you up. Then you can find your identity in someone else, right? Relationally based.

Now you can, if you’re in that any circle for any amount of time, you’ll probably be asked both those questions. But the point is, as we start to find places, if it’s not in the Lord, we start to find places where we can find our identity and worth. Now here’s the problem. Anytime we do that apart from God, eventually some of those things will run dry. Actually all of them will. Like what happens when you can’t work anymore? What happens if something takes place in your life and you’re not able to work? That’s where you shaped your identity. Are you worthless? What about if you lose those relationships you found so significant? What are you worth then? Not worshiping the right thing leaves a heart dry. Now I’m saying, in the life of a believer and unbeliever, losing any of those things is difficult. But when you have a proper perspective of where you derive your worth and value, that helps you deal with circumstances a little better.

So we talk about worship. Worship becomes important because you were created as a worshipper. And the key to all of it, it’s not to pursue idolatry, because in pursuing idolatry it will ultimately rob you. Sure, temporarily you might find satisfaction, but you were created as an eternal being. And the things in life that we make idols in our world only provide temporary satisfaction, but in the end, leave us empty. The reality is when we mess up in life, it’s truthfully because we worshiped our way there. There’s something I believed that could deliver something to me that truthfully could not. And in the end that left me empty. When we mess up in life, it’s because we worship our way there. But the encouraging word is that the way to find healing in life is to worship our way there. By connecting to the One who truly can provide.

So what does it mean to worship? Worship is a multifaceted word. So when you say, what is worship? We’ve got to broaden our ideas church people. We’ve got our broader idea of worship is more than music, okay? I know we typically call the music section of the service as “worship” and the person that leads the music as the “worship pastor.” But I want tell you, when you open God’s word, you’re worshiping. In fact, it is impossible, you will always worship no matter where you go in life. You’re valuing something at some point and attributing worth to something and deriving your worth from something, you are forever a worshipful being, like it or not, forever a worshipful being. And so worship, it’s important to understand it’s a multifaceted word, more than just music, though music is important. I think it speaks to generations at one time. It provokes all that we are in response to God, emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually. We get to respond to God.

When you come to the idea of worship and scripture, the Old Testament Hebrew, New Testament Greek is a much better at describing worship than our word in English. In English, we get one word worship. Which comes from the word “worth ship”, recognizing the worth of something and responding. I would say for you and looking at Jesus, it’s all that you are for all that he is to his glory and really it becomes to our benefit. Worship in the Old Testament, New Testament, multifaceted word, it can mean revere, it can mean lay prostrate before God, it can mean serve. In English, it’s worth ship responding with worship. But in all of those things, my favorite word for worship is the word Jesus uses in John chapter 4.

And if you know this story in John chapter 4, the reason I probably like this so much, one cause it provokes something in worship that I love, but two, I connect with the story really well. But in John chapter 4, this is the woman at the well who was a Samaritan. And the reason the Bible wants you to know that she’s a Samaritan is because nobody likes her. She’s at a well by herself because nobody likes her. Samaritans were ostracized from the Jewish community. So Samaria was surrounded by the Jews and the Jews wouldn’t talk to the Samaritans. And to make things even worse, the Samaritans hated this woman. So the Samaritans wouldn’t even talk to this person. And this person finds herself at this well by herself because no one liked her. I have you ever been that place in life where you feel lonely, isolated? Just waking up the next day is a task, right?

And sometimes when people start to treat you that way, you start to picture God that way. Like no one else loves me, and it’s probably because God doesn’t love me either. I mean, who am I? Why am I worth anything? How do I have any value? Just like other people hate me, God hates me. And then God in flesh shows up in her life and she starts asking these questions about worship. She starts thinking religiously and people say, go worship here and go worship there. And I don’t know. What do you think about worship?” It’s like we talked today. People say, like Jesus said in the beginning, love God, love others. And somebody would just say, “Man, all you need is love, Bro. All you need is love, man.” I mean loving what and who says who says that loves what matters. What of I think like destruction and killing, that’s my God, right? How can you disprove what I have to say? “Because it’s just love, dude. It’s not based on nothing but love, man.” And you can get, you can get no foundation for that.

Now I’ll tell you, loving people is important. We’re creating the image of God. And so reflecting that significance of humanity and the value of being made in the image of God is important. Love people, for sure. But you need a foundation to that. And so Jesus says this, God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. Notice he says, this is how you must worship, in spirit and truth, spirit and truth. You’re creating as a spiritual being to relationally connect to God. And to understand who he is.

You know what it’s like to have relationships in this world. The more you spend time with someone, the deeper that relationship goes, or at least it should, as long as sin is not driving it apart. The more time you spend together, it seems like you start to think like one another. There’s an intimacy that exists there that that’s not with other relationships that you haven’t spent as much time with. So the more you know the truth of who God is, the more intimate that becomes. That’s beautiful, right? So you must worship this way in spirit and truth.

Now, we spent a lot of time over the last series talking about the specifics of who Jesus is. That’s very important to our lives. And it’s also important to understand spiritually. You are a spiritual being. In our culture we get spirit a lot. We like to emphasize that a lot, and we’d like to forsake truth a lot. I talked last week about how truth is not relative. Truth is absolute and God has made himself specific to us that we could specifically know him and love him in that way. Jesus became flesh to reveal himself. The word is literally, he tabernacled with you. He became flesh. He dwelt among us so that we can understand the intimacy of who he is and enjoy that relationship with him. And so spiritually, we oftentimes emphasize that, you know, I’m spiritual, I’m spiritual. But you know, when you, when you examine that biblically, everyone’s spiritual regardless of they acknowledged it or not. Even if you don’t think you’re spiritual, it doesn’t matter , you’re spiritual.

God made you that way, which means you were created to connect to God. But here’s the problem. We sort of stop there and just say, so just love dude, and pursue whatever. But what Jesus is saying is you must worship in truth too. And here’s the truth. Yes, God made you to connect him spiritually, but the reality is you can’t. That’s why Jesus had to come. And He loves you so much that he gave his life for the sin of your life that stops you from connecting with God. What I mean is this, we stand against a holy God. And while God made you for a relationship, you can’t have one. People have tried to respond to that by making religion, but religion doesn’t help you. Religion only creates a masquerade. And what I mean is this, it doesn’t expose the transparency of your heart.

Religion just gets you to perform outwardly. Something that might satisfy a Zeus looking God. But Jesus ultimately pointed that what needs to take place in our life is our heart. When Jesus preached his first sermon, that’s what he said, “Thou shall not kill. But I’ll tell you that he who has angered as murdering in his heart.” The area that needs addressed is the heart. And here’s really why religion doesn’t work, is because no good that you ever do, can undo the bad that you’ve done. Now I know compared to your neighbor, you might be more perfect than they are, but the truth is that’s not the standard. The standard is God and God is perfect and holy. And heaven is perfect and holy .and God doesn’t let sin into that presence. And so what you need to experience that relationship with God is not religious performance to try to trick God to make yourself look acceptable, but you need a place to be transparent and honest and find forgiveness.

God, I have sinned against the perfect holy God. God, you’ve provided a place to forgive me. That’s the cross. You’ve died for my sin that my spirit, created in your image, can connect to you and embrace that. That’s the truth. Embracing that gives you that place, Jesus dying for you and acknowledging that before God and embracing his sacrifice and not your performance. There’s nothing you can do to add to what Jesus has done. We said this last week, Jesus said “tetelestai” on the cross, which means paid in full. And paid in full means he paid it in full! It doesn’t mean and now add religion. It means he paid it in full. Why? Because he loves you and he knows he created you for relationship and he wants that with you. And that provokes your heart to then to respond with, guess what? Worship!

And when Jesus talks to this woman who’s probably feeling isolated, who probably feels like God doesn’t care about her, the word he chooses here for worship, it’s so beautiful because it’s proskuneo. It literally means to kiss toward. It’s a word of intimacy. A beautiful expression that Jesus used in this life of this woman at the time she needed to hear it most. Me God? I mean, you look at these verses in the beginning, I share with you. “Go into this world and make disciples and all these things you can do. And you’re like, yeah, right. Do you know me? How is that even going to happen? God, do you want me? Do you care about me?

And God shows up to this woman intimately. I care about you intimately. I want you to worship in and truth. When we talk about spirit, I want you to understand the sacredness of this word. You don’t meet God in buildings. When God is saying spirit, what he’s saying is, we talked about the temple last week, how God tore the veil, symbolizing that the spirit of God no longer just dwell in buildings, but rather the New Testament tells us, first Corinthians 3:16, 6:19, you are the temple of God. God’s presence is, right now, with you in you as a follower of Jesus. And so anywhere you desire, you can become a worshiper acknowledging the glory of who he is in your life. Beautiful.

But the truth is guys, there’s a worship war happening over your heart every moment of every day. And so when I talk about worship this morning, this is something that we engage in our entire lives. It is not something I want to tell you, hey, go do this. Fix this and you’re good forever. You don’t have to come back to review this lesson. No, you are forever a worshiper. And so this becomes paramount to your life because this is what’s at stake. There is a battle happening and we’ve looked at this passage together. There’s a battle happening spiritually for your soul and for the soul of everyone in this world.

This topic of worship is serious and the significance of our church and living in this victory becomes highly important. The mission that God’s called us to. You remember this passage a few weeks ago? We talked about a couple times, Jesus has asked the question, who do you say that I am? That’s a question of worship. Who do you say that I am? Where are you shaping your identity? Who do you say that I am? Peter answered, you are the Christ, the son of the living God. And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you for you are Peter.” That’s what I should say. “And upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not overpower it.”. So you see the significance of this phrase here, right? The power that’s possessed when you as a worshiper find your identity in Christ. Gates of hell can’t even stand against you.

What he’s doing in this store is Jesus is showing, there’s really two places, two kingdoms at work. There is the kingdom of Satan, Kingdom of Christ. That’s it. There is no in between. There is no ambiguous place. Now we like to create an ambiguous place and I’ll share a little bit why. But I want to point out something significant here in verse 17. Now, there is a worship war happening for your heart. And look what he says, the gates of hell will not prevail, or the gates of Hades will not prevail. The gates are an important thought that the Gospel is carrying here in this statement. When you would go to a city, a fortified city, a lot of people want to live in a fortified city because you would be exposed to any invader in the outside world if you were not in a fortified city.

So get met in a fortified city. I want to be there. I want to be protected. If you come into a fortified city, if you wanted meet with someone who was powerful, someone that made the decisions, someone to talk to, the place you went to was the gates. You already knew. The place the decisions were made, the place where people ruled, the place where wisdom was sought, it was the city gates. And you would go to those gates in order to seek out those individuals that lead. And so when it talks about the gates of Hades or the gates of hell, it’s saying the place of influence. That something is influencing this world. But Jesus wants to conquer those gates. Jesus becomes those gates. So it’s the question of, there’s a worship war in your life, what is controlling your gate?

Now, practically speaking, let me tell you how this looks. We don’t walk around this world saying, “I don’t follow Jesus. So I follow Satan.” No one says that. I’ve met like two people in my life that have told me they are Satan worshipers. But other than them, everyone else was normal. I’m just kidding. Other than that, it’s just not a common occurrence. In fact, I don’t think Satan wants to be like, “Man, I’ve got to get my glory out there. How can I get them to better say my name?” That’s not what Satan’s about.

In fact, when you read the story that takes place in the garden of Eden, Satan wasn’t about, “Hey Adam and Eve, here I am as a serpent. Hey, stop talking about God and start talking about me.” That’s not what he says. He comes Adam and Eve and says, surely God didn’t say that. You know, if you eat that fruit, you’ll know good and evil.” And what he’s saying is, “Hey Adam and Eve, if you eat that fruit, rather than God be God, you’ll dictate what’s right and wrong in this world.” And so what Satan’s interested in is not making his glory known. What Satan is interested in, from the garden of Eden, is to make you as God of your life. And so he encourages Adam and Eve, “Don’t listen to God. Make yourself God. You’ll know the difference between good and evil. Or you’ll declare to God what is right and wrong.”

And so when we talk about the gates of hell winning in our lives, what we’re saying is you are God of your life. And so inevitably when you worship the things that you choose to idolize in your life, the reason you choose to idolize them is because ultimately it makes much of you. It’s about you. And so when a worship war takes place in your life, the question you got to ask is, who is lord of your life? Self or Jesus? And that’s where the battle is. I don’t want to die to self. I like to be God, right? And that was the lie that Satan taught in Isaiah chapter 14. That’s the lie Adam and Eve believed, “I want to be God.”

Paul, in knowing this, in Galatians 2:20 he said this making this decision, “I have been crucified with Christ.” I’m dying to myself. As I understand I’ve been created to be a worshiper. And in a worshiping. I’ve been worshiping myself. But I’m called to worship God. So I’ve been crucified with Christ and it’s no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life which I now live, I live in the flesh,by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.

Do you want to provoke you to worship? It’s because no matter how much Paul thinks he can love himself, Jesus has loved him more. He gave his life for me. And so Paul in understanding that, surrenders his life to Jesus. And rather than make himself God, he’ll ask God to sit on that throne in his life. Self, not Satan. Self becomes the enemy of worship. Because our tendency is to make the point of life about self and we tend to pursue whatever makes me happy. The goal of my life is whatever makes me happy and since life is about me, I pursue the things that make me happy because I am God of my world or the world. And that way of thinking makes the existence of everything in this world about you.

Let me show you how it works in our lives. I don’t want you to walk out of here and just be like, “I’m horrible.” I want you to walk out and be like, “I want to worship Jesus.” But let me just share some of this. When I get angry and I blow up, more often than not, what drives behind that? The drive behind that is me. See, because what happens when I tend to get angry is that someone has violated me. And because I am king of my own world and I am God, they need to understand what they’ve done against me. And so therefore, I’m going to put them in their place. To show them that life is supposed to be about me. And so I blow my gasket to demonstrate the authority of who I am. Because worship is all about me.

Or when it comes to other things in life, like possessions. Like the more I own, the happier I’m going to be. And since life’s about me and being happy, I’m going to get everything in this world that I want, as long as I can afford it. And if not, I’ll get a credit card to put it all on there in order to make myself happy. Because the focus of life is all about me and the things that exist in life are for my purpose, and therefore I will grab those things and live life in worship of me. Or even something that may even be considered godly like a workaholic. We can make it like you’re so demanding.

Sometimes we become workaholics because our identity is in our work and we don’t know anything else. And the place that makes us feel the most valuable is working. So we’ll run away from the pressures of home because we’re not good there. And we found our value in work. And so we work a bunch there and we think we’re more important than we are because life is about me. And I’ve shown everybody how great I am by the way I can perform all the time. And so I become addicted to work or even lazy. Lazy is the same thing. Life’s all about me and I don’t have to do any other thing. I’m not called to be contributor to this world. I just want to be here and do nothing and just enjoy my day and therefore I become lazy. There’s no identity in what you do other than self.

Let me throw this one out. This is where you guys can crucify me if you don’t like this.. That’s a good prelude isn’t it? It even affects our parenting. So oftentimes in parenting, one of the common phrases that we like to say is whatever makes you happy.

Now, I know some of us might know ah, that’s not necessarily good. It just kind of comes out easy. So I’ll just say it. But when you say whatever makes you happy, one, you’re identifying to your kid what you value, but then you’re instilling another value in child. Let me tell you why that matters. When you say whatever makes you happy, you’re sharing your child that your pursuit of life has been all about making you happy, which is idolatry, right?

And then your communicate that’s your kid. And when you communicate that to your kid, what happens is your kids start to look at everything in this world that exists for the benefit of them. And life’s all about them. And therefore they need to be happy. And so they use everything that exists in order to make them happy because life is all about them. Because it’s about whatever makes you happy. And since they’re the king of the world and life’s about making them happy, they’re going to pursue those things. Idolatry and worship.

But here’s what’s crazy. I’m not saying this to be mean or hard. I want to say this because I’m going to find a way of escape for all of us. Do you realized that mentality is the same thing that drives addiction? Thinks something might satisfy? And so you pursue it. And in the beginning you think it might bring you happiness, but in the end you find out rather it owns you.

When you think about, let me just use the idea of pornography for a minute. You teach a child that life is about whatever makes you happy and they pursue those things in order to make them happy. What they end up doing is when it comes to the idea of say pornography, they start devaluing human beings as if they were a tool in order to pleasure them. And since everything’s about making me happy, I can just take advantage of you in order to satisfy myself. And in the end, as you start to shape your identity in that, that idol begins to own you and you can’t escape it. Why?

Because the point of your life has been about you. Whatever makes you happy. And so the same thing that drives that thinking drives all of our idolatry in life. And when you think about it, it becomes scary. Like just consider in America right now. If I just polled you, you don’t have to raise your hand on this, but what do you think a common teaching is in our American culture today? I would say we as Americans, we are all about our self. And we want to say whatever makes us happy, pursue it. That’s a pretty common teaching in America. I don’t think it’s any random chance that now in America, we stronger challenges in the areas of addiction than any other time in history. Because we’ve shaped ourselves that way.

Now, in the middle of that, I’m not saying there’s no place of escape. I’m gonna talk about that in a second. But I’ll tell you every problem you ever get into in life, it’s because we worship our way there. And the way we get out, is we worship our way out. That’s important to understand. God has called you to so much more than self. Because ultimately in pursuing self, and the idolatry of self, it can never satisfy. But when a church recognizes the bankruptcy of that thought and they live in response to the Lord, it is a beautiful way in which God can work in our lives.

And when we start talking about worship in a healthy way, worship in the way that God has called us to. To lay down ourselves, as Paul says in this passage, to let Christ live in us because we’re created for his glory and understand that relationship with him for all of eternity. And even when we think worship in that context, we can still mutilate the idea of worship. For example, we can make worship self-focused. Like, yeah, I know God’s worth it, but I’m coming to church today to check it off the list so that I obligate God to owe me something.

God doesn’t know you anything. God’s not obligated. Worshiping on Sunday or any day, it’s not about coming here to force God do something for you. Let me say it like this: Guys I can make you this promise, if you worship today or at any other point in your life, your worship will never add anything to the glory of God. It won’t. Your worship does not make God more glorious. Worship simply recognizes the glory of God that already exists.

God is already as glorious as he’s intended to be. And he’s created you as a creature to be inspired by that and to respond in it. Our worship doesn’t add anything to the glory of God. God doesn’t need us to be more glorious. God’s not sitting in heaven, and he’s like, Oh man, there’s only 150 people in the worship service today. I wish there was 220. Man, I’m so disappointed. I need people to tell me how important I am.” That’s not God at all. God is not dependent on our worship. And so that becomes an important point in worship.

Listen, worship doesn’t exist for God’s benefit. Worship exists for your benefit. It certainly exists for his glory. We point to that glory, it reciprocates that glory. It doesn’t add to it. But worship is for your benefit, because that’s where God changes and transforms your life to be a beautiful light for him. And so when we don’t allow our hearts to engage in worship as God has called us to, it makes us the fool. We don’t add anything more to the glory of God. But the beauty of worship is that we get to point to his glory. And here’s the great thing about considering that. It’s to say that, listen, God doesn’t need you.

Now for some of us, it’s like ripping a rug out. Like, “Oh my Gosh, God doesn’t need me. What’s going to happen? God needs to need me, because I need to feel needed. And my picture of God is so small.” But God doesn’t need you. God doesn’t need you. God can raise up anybody to do what he’s called you to do. But the beauty is that you get to. And it’s not your power that fuels the energy to do it, it’s his.

So here’s the good thing about being a pastor. Sometimes being a pastor, it can get stressful. But here’s a good place to remind myself, Nathaniel, this can happen in your life too. Nathaniel, God doesn’t need you in Utah. There’s nothing special about what you have that’s more impressive than what God can do with anyone else. So stop depending like ministry all on your shoulders. Rather rest in him. Because the promise, remember, Matthew 28:19-20, to make disciples, was that Jesus was with me to the ends of the earth. It’s by his strength, not mine. And so I’m not going out in this world and transforming hearts. That’s not my job. That’s the Spirit of God. I’m just simply the catalyst that God chooses to work through to do that. And so are you. And so when it comes to worship, when we worship the lord, it’s not about everything depending on me. It’s about recognizing the glory of God that already exists. So I can reciprocate the light of God as is being made known in my life that other people may see the light too and respond. It’s not contingent on me. Let me give you this last thought.

When we mess up worship, especially I find this true in religious context, we tend to make worship man focused and God focused. And the way that we do that in a church context is we make worship about moralism rather than about Christ. For example, if worship is about moralism, you come here today and you could be like, “Man, I came to church cause I need to get right in my life. I need to be good.” And I can tell you my motivation this morning has nothing to do with good. Now the result could be you live a good life. But that is not my primary motivation at all. I want you to live a life that honors God. But my primary motivation is for you to be transformed by Christ in a way that transforms your relationships.

And so if you just think about moralistic and you think about in terms of good, bad, I could preach a sermon on like promiscuity and be like, listen, don’t be promiscuous because there’s diseases. And there’s problems with relationships that can happen. That’s bad. You don’t want those bad things to happen through you. So be good. Right? And that’d be a moralistic statement. So everyone leave now we’ve been inspired to be good and you go out and you just don’t do that. Right? Life’s about not doing things. That’s a junky way to live. I don’t want to live my life about what I’m trying to avoid. That’s garbage. I’m living my life about who I’m becoming in Christ. I have a goal, that I’m not trying to avoid things, I’m trying to become something in Jesus. Now inevitably you will avoid things, but that’s moralistic way of thinking. That’s not necessarily godly at all.

In fact, you can pursue being good your whole life and never connect to God. And here you are created as a worship or relationship being and never connecting to God.

I heard a story of Matt Chandler. Matt Chandler talked about, as a college student, going to listen to a message with a young lady. He gets in the service and the guy starts off and he’s going to talk about purity and not pursuing promiscuity. And he’s like, before I started my hand out this rose, I want you to just pass around, smell it, touch it, look at it. And I don’t know, maybe you can lick it. But when you’re done, just bring it back to me. I want to use it at the end. So he goes around and shares the story of why you should not do promiscuous things and you should be good. And in the end, he grabs this rose and he holds it up. And by this point, after everyone’s passing around, this rose is broken, pedals are falling off. It looks not like a rose at all. And no one’s gonna want to take it. Just go to the trash. And comparing this to promiscuity. He says, this is what it’s like to be passed around. Who wants that? Who wants to love that?

That’s moralism. Now, this guy claimed to follow Jesus and that’s where he ended his message. Moralism Matt Chandler talked about in hearing that story, him just screaming on the inside. Because he knows that’s not his God. Because as this guy is holding this rose, Matt Chandler screaming on the inside and he’s saying, who wants this? The answer is Jesus. Jesus wants that. That’s the beauty of Christianity. That our lives, we don’t have to hide. I am a worshiper of everything but God, I have a worship war happening in my heart every day. What do I do with that? Who’s going to love that? Who’s gonna come into that life and speaking to that and transform that and care for that and see that nurtured into something beautiful? Who’s going to make it new? Jesus. Jesus does. That’s why he became flesh. That’s why he died for sin.

That’s why your worship becomes so important. Because finally in your life and all the idols that you could pursue, you see the beauty of Christ being made known, calling you in to that. That he loves you, that he died for you, that he covered your sin, that wants to make you new in him. And every day, every day, he wants to transform your heart into the beautiful image that he has created it for in him. That you could experience that for all of eternity. And as you walk in that you display that glory in this world. That is what worship is.

That means for ABC, everyone that comes into our door has a place. And they’re loved deeply. And cared for so significantly because the blood of Christ is available to them. Jesus makes it new., Which is why Paul said this, the last verse I’m going to show you. Talking about his own life, he says, “Not that I have already obtained or have become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. So Paul saying he’s moving forward in life. Why Paul? What’s your motivation? You? No? No, he says, I’m laying hold of, as a worshiper, because Jesus laid hold of me.

I died to self. And dying to self, being crucified with Christ, I’ll let Christ live through me. And all the other things I could live for in life, I’ll lay it down. I lay down the convenience of me for the glory of God. Now listen, God got in in that may find some happiness for you there. God wants you to experience the joy of things around. That’s why he created this world and he made it so beautifully. But at some point in your life, there’s going to come back a place where sometimes worship’s going to cost you. And you’re going to battle with yourself in the area of convenience. Do I worship God when it’s inconvenient or do I pursue the pleasure of self? Because right now the pleasure of self looks way more appealing to me. Do I lay self down because I know he is infinitely worth more and he has placed that value and worth on me, or do I pursue the pleasures of me as Lord.

When you look at the life of Paul, you see the answer. Paul’s head was cut off. He was last. He was beaten. Why? Because Jesus’ worth was infinitely far greater than any idolatry in this world. So here’s my encouragement, church. When we talked about the core of ABC. We are only as strong as those who make up our body. And the strength of our body is found in this word: worship. My hope, my prayer, my concern for our church daily is that we would be transformed by Christ in a way that leads us to be used by him. To see our relationships transformed in this world, to his glory and our benefit.