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Finding Truth - June Sermon Series

 

Finding Truth                

Part I - The Truth About Christians

Todays Scripture

Our series verse is Proverbers 23:23(KJV) “Buy the truth, and sell it not; and also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding”

James 1:19-27(NLT)

19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. 21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.

22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. 27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

INTRO

Over the next few weeks I want to talk about truth

  • Truth is becoming more difficult to find
    • Many ‘versions’ of truth
      • Knowing that the truth may offend…we water it down or add conditions to it.
      • Most people do not believe there is an “Absolute Truth” (God’s Word).
    • Many truth’s that have always been certain are now becoming distorted today
      • Life
      • Marriage
      • Even Reality!
      • Elon Musk (Tesla) – In a recent interview was asked if there is a chance that we are currently living in some type of virtual reality right now. (i.e. The Matrix) Elon Musk said that it is probable that we are living in a virtual reality created by a species of much higher intelligence.
  • Truth is becoming tailored to one’s lifestyle
    • Today, we can almost justify any action no matter how crazy by simply claiming that “this is just who I am”.
      • We’ve heard the stories on the news
      • The phrase “If you identify as…this or that” seems to appear on a weekly basis.
  • Christians also  disagree on Biblical truths in order to appear more accepting and tolerant
    • Bottom line is we should accept anyone who walks through our door
      • But we need to continue to hold up the Biblical standard of Holy Living
      • We need to encourage each other to do the same
      • Those of us in this room need encouragement…because we face struggles like everyone else and we need to know what the Word says about it.
    • We cannot live in fear of being ridiculed by the world we are in.  The church needs to hold high the standard of Biblical truth.
      • When we start to peel off layers of truth in order to make the church more palpable to the world… a few things happen
        • The Truth is no longer THE truth….its watered down, dumbed down, etc.
        • We start to lose our light
        • (Matt 5:14)
          •  “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” If we are truly to be a light in the darkness then this light MUST come from the truth
          • If the truth is lacking…the light becomes dim….
          • If the light is dim….we no longer stand out. 
          • When that happens, the church slowly starts to become irrelevant…offering no discernable difference than what the world offers today.
        • The light is in the Truth…the Truth is Jesus…He is THE Way, THE Truth and THE Life.
        • If we want to be a light we need to be Christ-like 
    • Need to speak Truth in love – not be all-in-your face about
      • Not  to condemn but to encourage (because we all struggle)
      • We all know John 3:16….but the next verse is essential: 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
      • Paul teaches us in Ephesians 4:1-4

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

This week, I want to talk about Christians and what others think about us.  Like it or it not people will form an opinion of Christianity by watching those of us who profess to be Christian.  Their understanding of who Christians are will be defined by what they see in us.

Even as Christians, we tend to judge other Christians based on what we ‘think’ Christianity is….

Finally, we will go to Gods Word to find out the absolute truth on what it means to be a follower of Christ.

The label of “Christian” can mean different things to different groups of people (unfortunately).   While we, in the church, hold that title in high esteem there is a much different view outside of the church and an even different view from the Word.

When I say “Christian”, I’m talking about those who are fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ who have accepted His gift of salvation…Christ Followers.

So What Do Others Think About Christians?

  • Current Research (*Pew Research)
    • As of 2015, the U.S. is home to more Christians than any other country
    • However From 2007 – 2014 there has been an 8% drop of people 18 and over  who identify as “Christian”
      • We NEED to start pouring into the lives of younger children and young adults.
        • We have the best Sunday School Teachers
        • We have started our group for Middle / High schoolers
    • Meanwhile those who identify as unaffiliated with a religion (atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” has jumped 6% during that same time period.
  • People are confused about us and about Christianity in general
    • Many churches….who is right?
      • If you are new to an area and have never been to a church…how do you know what church to go to?
      • Shouldn’t they all be the same?  Why not?
    • Another reason for confusion…We don’t walk the talk
      • Let’s face it, if we are talking and singing about our God on Sundays, but we are out in public acting completely different then….
        • Being a Christian isn’t life changing…it’s an act
        • We are hypocrites
        • We must not really believe what we are reading, hearing and singing about
        • We are not a light in the world…just noise.
  • Others see us in a negative light because the church and other Christians have hurt them before
    • This is tough.  The chances of someone returning to a church after being hurt is very slim
    • I’m talking about major hurts…not thinks like
      • They never play my favorite song
      • The pastor didn’t shake my hand or say ‘hi’ today
    • I’m talking about deep wounds …and unfortunately, they are out there.
    • The fact is that the church Is not perfect and if a church claims to be the perfect church they are lying.
      • When the Apostles set out to begin the church it wasn’t long before the church’s that they planted started struggling.
        • Many of the letters in the New Testament addressed those current issues.
        • So it’s no surprise that 2000 years later we struggle with the same issues …why? Because we are still just ‘men’
  • Not feeling Welcome
    • When we see someone new, we need to welcome them, talk to them and thank them for being here.
    • Non-verbal communication is just as important. 
    • I’m very proud of our ushers and greeters here at Royal Oak – We are known as a welcoming church. A place where all belong, and where we are family.  First time guests will return if their experience from the parking lot, to coming in and leaving is welcomed and instructional.
      • This should ALWAYS be the case.
  • We need to be aware that, for some, this could be their very first time walking into a church…ever. 
    • Our regular attendees and new visitors should be able to walk into church without labels, without regard to their past or fear of judgement by us.
    • Church should be a place where..
      • We are real.
      • We are taught.
      • We encourage and we are encouraged.
      • We challenge each other to be what we profess…to be Christ-Like
      • We share the truth…in Love..
  • Current Trends
    • Church attendance is becoming less and less (Research by Barna)
    • 1990’s – 30% of the American population was churchless
  • Two decades later, 4 out of 10 (43% are now considered churchless)
  • What is our action?
    • Need to live the 2nd greatest commandment

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

  • Not:
    •  Love your neighbor as long as they believe what you believe
    • Love your neighbor only when they are lovable.
  • How much do you love yourself?
    • Enough to..
      • Feed yourself
      • Clothe yourself
      • Give yourself another chance when you fail
      • Get yourself to church on Sunday
  • We need Listen more than we talk

So What Do Christians Think About Themselves?

  • When we get together, what do we hear from each other?
    • Do we encourage each other or discourage?
    • What is our topic of conversation
    • Are we being a light or just noise?
  • Do we watch people walk in the door and recall their past or do we see them as our God sees them?
    • We need to recall what Paul told Timothy:15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all.
    • If we can all remember that one verse, It would have a powerful impact in our lives and the lives of those around us.

What Scripture Says About Christans

  • As a Church (we just read this)…. Ephesians 4:1-4
  • Therefore I [Paul], a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
  • As Individuals, How are we to act? – Galatians 5: 22-26

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

Closing

  • The Truth about Christians can only be found in God’s Word.
    • If you want to know the truth, we need to read and understand the Word
    • There are no shortcuts
    • There is no other way
    • We need to hide God’s word in our hearts
  • Change the world view of “Christianity”
    • Personally – Understand and Practice what a true Christ Follower is
    • Church – Be a true Christ Follower in your church
      • Church is a commitment, church is serving, church is inviting
    • Community – Take this out into the community…let them see Christ and not just a religion.
      • Be a light…not a dim light that is fading…a bright light!
    • Being the church is 7 days a week, it is what we choose when no one is looking .
  • My Challenge to you this week….spend time in the Word .
    • Read the book of Ephesians
    • Paul wrote this letter while he was on trial for his life in around 62 A.D.
    • He was addressing a church that he had founded years earlier in Ephesus.  He was concerned about the spiritual needs of the church and he wanted to encourage them and to build them up .


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