The Action is the Evidence 08/26/2015

Original Text of the sermon preached by Pastor Jermin for the first night of Revival at the Metropolitan Community United Methodist Church in New York City on 26 August 2015.

The Action is the Evidence… 

How many people have seen a person revived before?

Someone who’s had a heart attack, or been drowned and such. You’ve seen it? Have you seen it on TV or in the movies if not in person? Ok, so you know what? That it isn’t easy… Right? There is work involved, there is pressure, and sometimes shock is applied, right. Good. Where are we?  Ok

Glory to God…

What is the Gospel?

Many people s when asked that question, believe that it is encapsulated in John 3:16.

You know John 3:16, right?

It’s everywhere. On cars, billboards, at sporting events, at protests, you’ll find it. Somebody will hold up some sign that says John 3:16.

Even non-Christians know it. It’s ubiquitous… At least the King James Version’s rendering of the verse is.

Come on, say it with me:

For God So Loved The World, That He Gave His Only Begotten Son, That Whosever Believeth In Him Should Not Perish, But Have Everlasting Life.

See? I knew you knew it…

How is that commonly understood? In other words, where do we put the emphasis when we read it?

In my travels, I have found that the vast majority of people understand the verse this way: God loved the World So Much that he gave His only son, and whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.

But what if that’s not what it says?  What if our common interpretation of this statement is in fact, incorrect?

How many of you here are from the Caribbean, or know someone who is?

Better yet, a general question, have you ever heard the term: Like so?

Yes, you who are seasoned like I am (touch your grey hair, if you’ve still got hair)

Yes. That right there’s your seasoning.

If you’re seasoned, look at the person next to you and tell them,

‘I’m seasoned baby’

So you seasoned folk, and you Caribbean folk… What does ‘Like So’ mean?

It means ‘This way’, ‘ Like this’. It is a descriptor, right? Right.

And that is what the so in that verse means. God loved the world in this way…

God Loved the world Like this: God Loved the World, Like So…

He gave (he offered up) his One and only son.

The giving then, was the evidence of His Love.

That’s a recurring theme in the Bible, it is a principle. The action is the evidence…

When Jesus tells His disciples (and us) that if you love me you’ll keep (do) my commands

He’s reaffirming the principle. The action is the evidence.

 “For God loved the world in this way. He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

Let’s look at another phrase in this important verse: Whosoever believes…

Is that what Jesus is saying here? It is framed along the lines of: Everyone believing.

The original text of the New Testament in John 3:16, the Greek phrase (transliterated into English as Pas Ho Pisteuwn), literally means “all the believing ones” or “everyone believing,” It does NOT mean that  “Every Single Person Can Believe.”

It is definitive, and it is specific. It is actual, and not potential. The action is the evidence.
Keep in mind family, that

Philippians 1:29, says that God is the one who grants that we believe.

2 Timothy 2:25, says that God who is the one who grants us repentance.

John 6:28-29, says that GOD and is the one who works belief in us.

When we consider this carefully, then we realize that the “whosoever” are those that God has granted the act of believing.

Now, I’m sure that some here tonightmay not like this explanation, but it is consistent with Scripture. 

Here. let’s go to the Word together… If you have your Bible, turn to Acts 13:48, you’ll find that it says a very interesting thing:

“And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”

Notice that God is the one who appoints people to eternal life and, according to the text, this is why they believe.

2 Thessalonians 2:13 which says, “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.”

It is God who chooses us for salvation an appointment eternal life. That is why they believe. Therefore, whosoever believes has eternal life. The Believing One has Eternal Life.

The Action is the evidence…

So what does John 3:16 say? That the evidence of God’s Love is the giving of His Son, and the evidence of Eternal Life is that you believe.

The Action is the evidence…

If you love me, keep my commandments…

The Action is the evidence…

Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks

The Action is the evidence…

No One can come to Me unless the Father who sent me draws Him

The Action is the evidence…

“If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.”

The Action is the evidence…

I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

The Action is the evidence…

A tree is known by its fruit…

The Action is the evidence…

Let’s look at how that gets applied in the life of a man whose name you know, but probably haven’t ever studied his life… LOT.
Lot was the quintessential ‘ordinary guy’’, the kind of guy that you tend to skip over.  Unremarkable, really. We know more about his wife and her misfortune than we do about him…

There is nothing special about him, nothing that makes him an ‘extraordinary man’.  In many ways he’s just like us, and that actually makes him worth examining…

Traditionally, we spend a lot of time studying the lives of the extraordinary people of the Bible.

People like David, who was both deeply devout and deeply flawed, who passed his flaws on to his children… Even to his son, the wisest yet dumbest of men, Solomon.

People Like Samson who just couldn’t keep his priorities straight. Like Ruth and Naomi, who teach us, as does Saul’s son Jonathan, what loyalty looks like, even when it costs us everything.

People like Peter, whose passion propelled him at times past his purpose.

People like Samuel, who from an early age, can hear and obey God’s voice, even when was inconvenient

People like Joseph, from whose ‘Trial to Triumph’ story we learn what

‘All things work together for Good’ truly looks like.

People like Jacob, deceitful, and dishonest, yet loved of God even before his birth, despite this. Yes He did indeed suffer, but God loved Him despite his flaws

People like James and John, who didn’t see at first, and asked for a thing that they didn’t grasp the depth of… So much so that they asked to be on the left and right, and ended up the first and last of the 12 to die, Apostolic bookends as it were…

People like Saul of Tarsus, who put his trust in his religion, only to be blinded by the truth, and become some thing and some one new… With a new name, and a new purpose…

and of Course,  Yeshuah Ha Maschiach, Jesus the Christ, the most MAN of any man, and the ideal in all things…

But we need, every so often, to look at the Bible’s regular guys…

So if you would bear with me, we’re going to take a few minutes to look at Lot

Lot was Abraham’s nephew. His Uncle was the Father of Faith

Abraham was a righteous man…  

Abraham had a relationship with the Most High God

Lot had a relationship with Abraham. He experienced the benefits of his uncle’s relationship with God

Note to some of you here: Grandma’s relationship with Jesus doesn’t mean you’re Ok with Him … Mama’s God isn’t necessarily your God… Just saying…

After a bit of a land dispute, Lot and Abraham parted ways, and Lot, instead of staying relatively close to Abraham, went and pitched his tent near Sodom. I guess it seemed to Him like a good idea. But Lot traded righteousness for sin… Never a good idea…

Why? Because:

-> The nature of sin is such that it promises to satisfy and please but in truth only enslaves and dominates

Lot, though he knew the character of the people, picked husbands for his daughters from among them…

-> The paradox of sin is that we know that it is dangerous and destructive, but we continue in it, or hover close by it, thinking that we can control it…

We know that it’s bondage, but we like the taste, the feel, thinking it has benefits.

Lot wanted, even in the midst of pending destruction,  to not go too far away from where he felt comfortable, He didn’t understand that:

-> The strength of sin is Pride.  – You think that you can handle it, control it, but it in fact controls you. Thinking that we can control it, get the benefit of it, and avoid the cost… But it’s all a deception. A lie.

If you don’t hate sin you’ll play with it, but you won’t win…

If you don’t hate sin you’ll play with it, but you won’t win…

Lot’s wife, unable to let it go, turned back, immediately and irrevocably discovering that

->The Wages of Sin is DEATH…

Later, we see Lot’s daughters getting him drunk and sleeping with him in order to get pregnant: Here you see:

-> The impact/legacy  of sin,  which is that the corruption spreads and infects those around you. Our children take on the culture and  the environment that we expose them to.

Though the scriptures make clear that Lot lived righteously while in Sodom, and was distressed by what he saw while living there, he made no effort to leave, and in the end his wife and children paid a price…

As a mentor of Mine, Dr. Ed Cole once said:

​“A greater sorrow than a man not seeing a need is the man who sees it and does nothing about it. But a still greater sorrow is the man who sees the need and can do something about it but won’t.” ​

Looking at Lot and his family it was and is clear that with sin, there is always a price to pay… and your harvest is the pain and penalty.  What we see no a personal level with Lot, is the exact issue that we encounter with the Children of Israel throughout the Old Testament:  THEY JUST WON’T LEAVE SIN ALONE! JUST…  LIKE… US!  JUST…  LIKE… US!

Look at somebody and say, JUST…  LIKE… US!

The hymn writer laments it, ‘Prone to Wander, Lord I feel it’

The Apostle Paul laments that ‘even when he would do good, evil is present, and that the thing that he would do, he doesn’t, but the thing that he would not do is what he does… JUST LIKE US!

This is why Joshua had to declare to God’s chosen people: Choose ye this day whom you will serve…   

This is why Moses had to declare to God’s Elect: See, I lay before you death and Life, blessing and cursing, CHOOSE LIFE!

Imagine having to be TOLD to choose LIFE… As though there is another choice…

But this is because…

> The deception of sin is that it will cause you to despise the things of God…

Numbers,  11:1-6  Now the people began complaining openly before the LORD about hardship. When the LORD heard, His anger burned, and fire from the LORD blazed among them and consumed the outskirts of the camp. 2 Then the people cried out to Moses, and he prayed to the LORD, and the fire died down. 3 So that place was named Taberah, because the LORD’s fire had blazed among them. 4 Contemptible people among them had a strong craving ⌊for other food⌋. The Israelites cried again and said, “Who will feed us meat? 5 We remember the free fish we ate in Egypt, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. 6 But now our appetite is gone; there’s nothing to look at but this manna!”

What did they forget about? Onions can make you cry…

Notice that God calls them contemptible.

People who have been delivered by the hand of God but want their own way…

People who have been delivered by the hand of God but want their own way…

The people complained because what God had provided from His own hand was insufficient for them…

But you see, They missed the Old days. They missed being Pharaoh’s slaves because the food was spicy. Does that sound like us? We look back on our lives before we came to know Christ, sometimes wistfully, because it had a flavor that we miss… and too many churches today are trying to accommodate that desire.

Or worse yet, we stay where we are, knowing that our actions are sinful, that they offend the most High God, because they make us feel good…

Be not deceived, God is not mocked… Seeming to Reference this very event, the writer of Hebrews says: For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:26:27)

These people were freed slaves, yet their lust caused them to have selective memory loss… They wanted to go back to slavery to appease their bellies…

They were out of Egypt, but Egypt wasn’t out of them, and because of that, they died without ever reaching the Promised Land.

It is as Harriet Tubman said: “I freed a thousand slaves, I could have freed a thousand more, if only they knew they were slaves”

We must, as scripture declares, be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

This is no different than Esau selling his birthright for stew

To lose your birthright, (your heritage, and your future) over some short term, immediate circumstance is both short-sighted and foolish, but people do it all the time don’t they?

Our instant gratification society encourages us to get it NOW, do it NOW with very little if any thought as to what it will cost in the long run.

This society is filled with, and run by, people who in their headlong rush to gain the world are losing their souls… and leading many people down the path to destruction.

For the record, No you CAN NOT have it all…

Unfortunately today, much of the modern ‘Church’ looks a Lot like LOT and his family, and not very much Like Jesus. Suffering in silence or acquiescing, instead of speaking boldly, knowing that it might very well cost us everything,

Remember, Jesus said that those who Love Him will keep His commands.

The Believing ones will Obey… The Action is the Evidence…  

We tend to like the commands  that we feel that we can deal with, like do not judge (which actually doesn’t mean what we say it means today), and Love one another (which we also force way out of its context in order to make it comfortable.)

But we do not like One of the Key commands   

‘TAKE UP YOUR CROSS’ meaning

  1. That You die to yourself, you take your ambitions, your desires, your wants, your agenda, and you submit them to the will of God. That is what the cross meant to Jesus, which is what it means for us… That is why he said:  Nevertheless not my will, but Your will be done.
  2. That you Do the will of God even at the expense of your comforts. Doing what is unpopular, saying what is uncomfortable, being willing to be seen as out of touch, as backwards, intolerant, and all of the other epithets thrown our way for standing in truth. The disciples had it hard even unto the point of death. Why should we think that we have it easy?
  3. Accepting responsibility for your actions. (Maturity is the acceptance of responsibility.  Adam and Eve were immature. Eve blamed the snake, and Adam blamed Eve)
  4. Expect to suffer Reputational Martyrdom. Willingness to do what is right even when it has great and undesired cost/ramification/consequence. That is something that I talk to my church about fairly regularly. Every decision has a cost. Every action a response. Expect that if you take a stand for Christ, and it is one that is contrary to what is societally accepted or promoted, ostracizing awaits. It’s inevitable.

See, Being a Christian is not for the faint of heart.

Logical Fallacy

1)    How can you say that you love God, while loving the thing that God hates? How does that work? It doesn’t. It is a logical fallacy.

Consensus is not truth…

2)      Just because a whole lot of people are saying this, does not make it true… Consensus is not truth… Many of the same people who were shouting Hosanna on Sunday, were shouting Crucify Him! just a few days later… No different than the people who came looking for Jesus, not because HE was the Messiah, the Gift of God, Emmanuel, God with us, but because they had a fish sammich the day before.

But it is as the Apostle John declares in John 1:10-11 10 He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not recognize Him.11 He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.

The Apostle John makes very clear what 3 things Satan uses to tempt, to lure us into sin: The lust of the Flesh, The Lust of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life. – 1 John 2:16

We see even in the Garden at the very beginning, Adam and Eve were unable to navigate that mine field, but the 2nd man Adam, Jesus the Christ after 40 days without food, was able to.

Why? Because the long term goal was more important than the immediate gratification. Because He knew his purpose, and He knew His Father…

(That is a word for someone today)

Because the long term goal was more important than the immediate gratification. Because He knew his purpose, and He knew His Father…

The Bible records that Jesus taught THOUSANDS, FED THOUSANDS, it can be gleaned that HE healed HUNDREDS! and yet, when the day of Pentecost came, there were only 120 people huddled away in an upper room, fearful, but expectant, waiting… Why is that?

The people who missed Jesus didn’t understand the potential in the person, the meaning of the miracles, or the cost of their redemption…

But you who are sitting here today, you should understand the cost that was paid on your behalf. If you don’t, listen closely , and if you do, Listen again to The Apostle Paul’s words: Ephesians 2:1-10  

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient.

3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!

6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, 7 so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through ⌊His⌋ kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast.

10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

There was a price paid for your place.

Blood, sinless, innocent blood in exchange for your sin.

Righteousness imputed to you that you did not earn,

Grace given you that you do not deserve, in exchange for your sin’s penalty…

Do not think for a moment that you either deserve or earned it, you did not, you can not.  It is Grace and Grace alone.

Isaiah the prophet saw it so clearly, as he so strikingly lays out Calvary’s exchange, seeing it 700 years before it actually took place, yet writing about it in past tense

Isaiah 53:4-6  – 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Thank You Jesus…

In Sweden in 1885, a poet named Carl Gustav Boberg, wrote a poem to the melody of a popular Swedish folk song. Years later, British missionary Stuart K. Hine, added two stanzas of his own after translating it into English.

One of Hines’ verses, captures my hearts’ cry as I consider the reality of Isaiah 53:4-6.

Hine wrote:

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in; That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin.  THEN SINGS MY SOUL, my Savior God to thee. How Great Thou Art…

Glory To God!

But what should our response to this understanding be? What should our response to the knowledge that we needn’t end up like Lot’s wife, or like the unnamed rich man who lifted up his eyes in torment, asking for water to cool his tongue be?

What should our response to this AMAZING GRACE be? What is the suitable Action?

What you know, you are responsible for…The Blood paid the price,  our repentance is the response to this revelation. Repentance and lives of Holiness…

From Lot and His family, to the wanderers in the desert, to us right now, what makes us all the same is our need for a change via the Transforming power of the Spirit of God, and the subsequent renewing of our minds. But it starts with the acknowledgement of our sin, and repentance.

Did that happen for Lot’s wife?  It did not, and it did not happen for the wanderers, either. Most of them died in the wilderness, never reaching the promise, hence the need for repentance so that our fate is not theirs. The old song says, ‘Everybody talking ‘bout heaven ain’t going there.’

The Apostle Paul pleads with the church at Corinth to:  Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. (2 Cor 13:5)

and that is my plea to you today.

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

Like the wanderers, you see, you can sit in the midst of the congregation and not be saved… Like Lot’s wife, you can be related to righteousness and not survive the judgment.

Like the ones who had a fish sammich, or were healed, You can Sit in church all your life and in the end be eternally separated from God…

So I am calling on you today, beloved, in the tradition of John the Baptist, Of the Apostle Peter, Of The Apostle Paul, and of Jesus Himself, to cry out to God, ask for His forgiveness, and turn from your sin. The call to repentance is the first Grace.

No more hovering around your sin, thinking that you can control it, knowing full well that it is controlling you. No more hiding it on the back shelf, away from people but not thrown away… You know, ‘just in case.’ No more Just in case, beloved, no more ‘Maybe another time’ The Spirit of God is calling on you to repent and be made right with God…

Not sure what to say? No need for eloquence… Simple words will do… The action is the evidence.

Like the tax collector who wouldn’t even come close, but beat his breast crying out

‘Lord have mercy on me a sinner’ The Action was the evidence…

And if that is too much, what does a drowning man say? HELP!!! HELP ME!

How about starting right there…

Amen

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