Redeemer Presbyterian Church Sermons
The Pharisees pose a controversial question to Jesus when they ask him if they should pay taxes. Jesus responds with a revolutionary answer: He refuses political complacency, political simplicity, and political primacy. Jesus then models a revolutionary idea, showing his followers that the way to gain power is to give it away.
A common misconception about religion is that it is seeking approval and acceptance from God through our behavior, but this approach is self-centered and self-righteous, leading only to a rejection of God and Christian community. Real acceptance from God only comes from accepting God's grace and Christ's sacrifice to atone for our sins.
Jesus tangles with the beliefs of the most scrupulous scripture readers, the Pharisees. He argues that Scripture is divine testimony but that it is still possible to believe this testimony as true and be as deaf to what God is saying as if you had no faith at all. The purpose of the entire Bible is to point us to Jesus. Each story is not an end in itself but the means to illuminate the Son.
God has an infinite willingness to forgive, but forgiveness is not easy and comes at infinite cost. If we resist the work of the Holy Spirit, showing us where we're wrong and leading us to repentance, it is possible for us to deny God and put ourselves outside of his power to forgive. Only through an understanding of the gospel can we come to confession and repentance.
In the parable of the Prodigal Sons, Jesus redefines God as Father, redefines sin, and redefines salvation. We need the initiating love of the Father to learn to repent for something besides sins and to be moved by the cost of bringing us home.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus contrasts two groups who appear the same on the outside, but have different motives on the inside. Religious people are superficial, hiding behind the letter of the law; but people who are changed by the gospel are shining in the spirit of the law.
Keller addresses three important principles about Christian conversion. First, we are not capable of finding God unless we experience spiritual conversion initiated by God. Second, Christian conversion is not a call to morality and religion; it is a challenge to morality and religion. Third, conversion happens by the transformation of the Holy Spirit.
The Christian understanding of hell gives us insight into the danger of our own hearts. It also gives us resources to live in peace in the world, and to know the love of God who suffered hell for us.
The modern critique of religion comes from Freud, Marx, and Nietzsche. Freud claimed that religion is psychological self-justification, that we created God to assuage our guilt and fear. Marx claimed that religion is a sociological self-justification, that we created God to exclude those unlike us. Nietzsche said that religion is nothing but a power trip, an attempt to use God to accrue power over others. However, Jesus himself critiqued religion and turned it on its head.