Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
This is the simple truth that was overshadowed in Genesis 3. God’s goodness and truth were traded for moral autonomy – the chance for man to be his own god. The serpent undermined Eve’s view of God, leading her to question God’s loving boundaries. The cost of moral autonomy was and is great. Banishment from the garden and the Tree of Life, physical and spiritual death, toil and pain continue to this day.
As Americans, we talk a lot about freedom, but we rarely pause to give any definition to the word itself. What do we mean by freedom? Is freedom the just rule of law, or the lack of all rules?
Adam and Eve had freedom in the Garden to eat of every tree except one. They had the freedom of trusting in a loving God who had created them to enjoy His presence. Instead, they chose freedom from God and His rule – both His sovereign rule and His single command. They wrongly saw freedom in moral autonomy. Instead, they subjected themselves to the serpent – an animal over which Adam had been commanded to rule. The power structures of the world were turned upside-down (God>Man>Serpent became Serpent>Man>God).
This is where we find ourselves today. Our hearts (yours and mine) long for moral autonomy – the right to make our own rules. We want to be like gods. We desperately believe that we will only find true joy when we rid ourselves of the rule makers in our lives, especially if they disagree with our moral vision. This is the very heart of sin. It is a rebellion against God’s right as our Creator to rule our lives. We have declared our own sovereignty within His territory, making us His enemies. And for this, He has every right and obligation to punish us as traitors.
We are traitors and fugitives. There is no freedom for traitors and fugitives. Traitors and fugitives live in the shadows. They don’t show their face in public. They fear being exposed, and often strike out violently against those who threaten to blow their cover. Does this sound like your heart? In your search for freedom, have you found hopelessness instead?
This is where the good news comes in, and it’s free. On the cross, Jesus paid the penalty for our rebellion. He stood in our place, so that we could stand before God in his place. God’s justice and wrath were poured out on Jesus in place of all who give up their rebellion and see that he is their only hope. His resurrection guarantees the verdict, and grants freedom to rebel captives. Do you want freedom and true joy? This is the only place you will find it! Confess your rebellion and look to the Savior! Delight yourself in the Lord!
This is a great song by a friend of ours called “White Page.” As good as the song is, the video is even better. Check it out.
There is a tension I wrestle with. I love the church. I’ve spent all my life in churches and serving the church. I’ve given the last four years of my life to studying to serve the church. But I am also intensely aware of the shortcomings of the church in this age that is passing away. I am constantly working through this tension, recognizing that the church is filled with fallen and broken people like me, who do things that fallen and broken people do, while maintaining hope.
Jesus died for his church, for those who were his enemies. He is preparing her “as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:2). This gives us a great hope. The church is “a pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). It is God’s arena for revealing His wisdom to the heavens (Eph 3:10).
But in the meantime, we have this group of people that sometimes leaves us scratching our heads… And sheesh! Have you looked in the mirror lately?! I’m a part of the problem. You’re a part of the problem. We all are.
Is it healthy to look at the church and see her flaws? I believe it is. It can certainly be unhealthy to look at the church and either not see her flaws or see only her flaws. But there is a healthy sense in which, we need to see the flaws of the church. These are the things that drive us to strive for purity and to dig deeper into the Lord and His Word.
The flaws in the church were what led the Reformers. They saw a church in need of washing and purifying, and they fought to do it. In the midst of this tension, there is an opportunity for us to wrestle with the Scriptures and seek the face of God. If the church is His wisdom and part of His plan for the advance of His kingdom, then He certainly is deeply invested in her. She is not a plan B. She is His plan for the redemption of sinners and the restoration of creation. We pray for His will to be done. May His will be done in our churches, as we continually press in to the Word together and seek to love one another more deeply.
These are my notes for Matt Chandler’s sermon at T4G. You can listen to the audio here (probably later this afternoon).
Places where hope is found for the man of God:
1) The first fruits of hope – a rescue is coming! The promise of the OT (Gen 3 and beyond).
2) Jesus came!
3) Jesus called! It pleased God to reveal Jesus Christ to you!
4) Future hope. There will be a day we are no longer looking forward to this day!
“Hope without a time of fulfillment is a delusion.” -Graeme Goldsworthy
People blinded by sin think we are absurd. The message will always reek of death to some if you will preach it fully.
The crown jewel of the new creation is the bride of Christ! Pastors wash and guard the bride.
There is no time set for worship, no need for a Temple. God is there!
Straddling two worlds is a miserable view of heaven. Sell out! It is this view of heaven that led Paul to call his afflictions light and momentary. Go all in. Quit hedging your bets! Believe fully in your hope so much that of you are wrong you should be greatly pitied! Find hope.
There is a finish line when the hard things will be remembered no more.
There’s a line from this song that keeps running through my head when it comes to dealing with poverty (see previous post “Grace and Trust in a Fallen World”). A homeless man receives donations from people, but says, “I’d give it all right back to just be looked at like a man” (2:20). Those words were echoing in my mind as I talked with Rick last night. Beyond just giving him money for food, I wanted to give him my attention and treat him with love. God, give me eyes to see.
Below are some links to videos and music, as well as some local Good Friday events. If you’re looking for a place Sunday morning for Easter, come join us at Fellowship Louisville at 10 AM. We’d love to have you!
SM Lockridge’s classic “Sunday’s Coming”
We’ll be singing John Mark McMillan’s “Death in His Grave” this Sunday.
Here’s a song called Drove the Nails I wrote and performed with my band in college. (Warning: this is ROCK music!)
What happened on the first Good Friday?
A Word for this Holy Weekend
Almost two thousand years ago, a bruised and bloody half-naked man was led outside the small capital city of a tiny, but notoriously difficult Roman province to a hillside, named the skull. Together with two other criminals, he was to be executed as “the King of the Jews,” a sarcastic title meant both as a jab at those who sought his death and as the accusation against him. By all appearances, it was an ordinary Passover weekend. Lambs would be slaughtered as the Jewish people gathered together in Jerusalem to commemorate the day the Lord led them out of slavery in Egypt. Little did they know, a greater salvation was taking place just outside the city.
As we enter this weekend, does it seem ordinary to you? Does it seem like just another Good Friday service–just another Easter Sunday? Could we also be missing what is taking place before our very eyes? Right in front of us is the central event of all of history! God, in Christ, is redeeming a people and restoring the creation to a state of perfection in relationship to its Creator. The death and resurrection of Christ was a cosmic event, bringing together heaven and earth.
The hope of history was a man hanging on a tree. We proclaim that same hope this weekend as we gather together. Who will you invite? Who will hear? Who will be redeemed, and participate in the great story of the ages? How shall we live in light of the death and resurrection of the King of Glory? Let us pray and worship and wait in hope for He is risen, and we shall be raised with him!