Redeemer Presbyterian Church Sermons
Babylon was not content to conquer the Israelites. They wanted to assimilate them. Babylon didn’t mind if the Israelites worshiped their own god in private, but in public they had to be no different than the prevailing culture. Christians today face a similar challenge when their faith is not welcomed in the public square. At one point Nebuchadnezzar sentenced Daniel's friends to being thrown into a furnace for their unwillingness to assimilate, but the faithful young men found Jesus in the midst of the flames.
John’s Gospel begins by teaching that Jesus Christ is the Word of God. Just as we come to know a person through speaking to them and listening to their words, we come to know God by listening to Jesus speak to us. Yet, Jesus did not come solely to speak. He came to live among us so that there is nothing we will suffer that He has not also suffered. But most of all, He came to die for us. In the incarnation, God became vulnerable to us—even to death—and yet He loved us so much that He was glad to so.
The Bible teaches an extremely nuanced vision of the human spirit. We are physical beings whose spirits can be brought low by physical ailments. We are relational beings who need the love and support of friends. We are moral beings who can be crushed by the weight of our sin. We are existential beings who seek to find meaning in our lives. Lastly, we are faith-based being who will always put our hope in something. Unless we put our faith and hope in God, we will never satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts.
Romans 8:28 is one of the most famous verses in the Bible. People love the thought that God works out all things for good for those who love Him. Yet, Romans 8:28 is intimately connected with Romans 8:29-30 where God promises to bodily resurrect those He has called. In other words, the Bible does not promise that Christians will have more pleasant circumstances in this life than non-Christians. The Bible promises a better life to come—not better life circumstances in this world.
Is happiness possible? Is the very notion of happiness a fraud that intelligent people have learned to see through? The Bible believes that happiness is real, but that true happiness is extremely different than what people normally seek. Biblical happiness is an unwavering happiness that does not depend upon everything going well in our lives.
Additional scriptural references made in this sermon are: 2 Peter 1:4; 1 Peter 1:6; Matthew 6:31-34; Jeremiah 17; Luke 15:21.
Jesus behaves in a completely different way than church leaders. When church leaders meet people who are excited to attend their church, they are ecstatic. Yet when Jesus meets people who claim to be eager to follow Him, Jesus rebukes them. Jesus does not take advantage of their idealism. Instead, Jesus cautions them about the sacrifices that will occur if they follow Him.
Additional scriptural references made in this sermon are: Romans 14:17.
The natural inclination of the human heart is to put God on trial. We demand that God explain why we have suffered and we threaten God if he cannot explain His actions to our satisfaction. In a passage from the Exodus, the Israelites enact such a trial. Though God was innocent, we found Him guilty. And when God made Himself vulnerable by becoming human, we killed him.
Additional scriptural references made in this sermon are: 1 Corinthians 10:2-4.
A Christian is not a person free from sorrow. On the contrary, when a person becomes a Christian, God softens that person’s heart so that they become even more vulnerable to the world’s pains. Yet, a Christian is someone who has a deep joy that can never be taken away. Sorrow is temporary, but a Christian’s joy is permanent.
Additional scriptural references made in this sermon are: Psalm 30:5; Proverbs 8; John 1:1; Zephaniah 3:17; Hebrews 12:2; Ezekiel 36:26; Job 1:22; 1 Peter 1:6; Romans 5:3-5; 1 Thessalonians 4:13.
We mistake the purpose of prayer when we interpret it as little more than a means of persuading God to grant our petitions. This is why when Jesus instructs us how to pray, He has us pray “thy will be done” before we ever ask for our daily bread. When we pray as Jesus taught, we find that the true purpose of prayer is to get God Himself, not merely to get God’s gifts.
When external circumstances are daunting or when internally God feels remote, Christians often struggle to believe that they are truly loved by God. Yet, in this passage from Isaiah, God gives us an astounding metaphor to show us the depths of His love. God takes one of the most loving relationships—the relationship between a mother and her nursing infant—and shows how even that love does not compare to His love for us.
Additional scriptural references made in this sermon are: 1 John 3:18; Psalm 27:10 .