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Apr, 2023

Together for Maximum Relationships

Every person that, you know, and every person that you will ever meet will live forever. Every person, you know, and every person you will ever meet will live forever. One day, Jesus was talking to his closest friends and, and he began to talk to them about the future, not guesstimating or prognosticating about the future, but actually, he was communicating to them, something that was already ordained in the future. Something that was absolutely going to happen with certainty. And what was, what was going to happen with absolute certainty was in the future, there was going to be a separation when it came to forever, that forever was going to be separated into two categories and only two categories. We live in a day and age where now and really throughout history, there have always been plenty of philosophies out there about life and death and the, the purpose of life and the meaning of the universe. And no matter how hard we may push against it or reject it or try to ignore it or steer around it with things like religion or atheism or mysticism or sports or money or politics or just about any other interest. In life, no matter how much we may try to steer away from it, push away from it and reject it. Every human being has been made with this innate understanding that there are only two categories when it comes to forever in the deepest part of who we are. We all know that when all of this shakes out, it all shakes out into two categories. And on that day, when Jesus was talking to his closest friends, he laid out those two categories with these words, Matthew chapter 25 verse 46 these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. The two categories very simply laid out our eternal life and eternal death, everlasting life and, and everlasting death. So the righteous those who are right with God will receive everlasting eternal life. And the unrighteous those who are not right with God will receive everlasting death. And the only way that you can be right with God is through the one who is speaking in these words, through Jesus himself. And when we say everlasting death, it's not like, oh you die. And then there's nothing which many people will say no, it's, it's death and then it's something. And the, the way Jesus describes it in many different ways is it, is this everlasting misery, this death that never actually ends someone's thinking, well, man, happy Easter man. This guy really knows how to get the crowd going, right? I know how to celebrate a holiday down there. Well, listen, here's the thing. We're thrilled that you're here or, or watching online. We, we love that you're here and, and we want you to be able to celebrate on this Resurrection Sunday to celebrate this Easter. But we long that you would not just celebrate today. Our desire, our passion is that you would celebrate forever and we would love for you celebrating forever to begin today. Our church is in a series called Together For Good. And, and what we're doing is we're looking at the values of a healthy local church and, and why are we doing that? Because a healthy local church is extremely important and not just for Christmas and Easter and Sunday. A healthy local church is extremely important because the world is full of bad, full of bad. I I don't have to tell you the details of that. The world is full of bad. So we want to be together for good because in the middle of all of that bad, we want to infuse and invest some good, not just on Easter, not just on Christmas, not just on Sunday, but all the days we want to be together for good in a world of bad and the best good that we can possibly be together for is the good of celebrating forever. What in the world does that mean? Let's see if we can find out our message today is together for maximum relationships. We're going to be looking in Luke chapter 10, uh all the way from verse 25 kind of down to verse 37. And, and this scene begins with a very interesting question and this is the question, Luke 10 25 what shall I do to inherit? Eternal life? This scene is, is Jesus. He's with his closest friends and, and others and a lawyer stands up and a lawyer then would be more like a religious scholar. So this religious collar, he scholar, he stands up and he says to Jesus, hey, what I have to do to inherit eternal life. What do I have to do to receive eternal life? What do I have to do to escape eternal death? What do I have to do to receive the joy that helps me celebrate forever? And so Jesus turns to him and he says, well, how does the law read to you? What do you think? The law says this, this religious law that you're familiar with? What does it say in answer to your question? And the lawyer said, well, it says that you should love the Lord, your God with all of your heart and all of your mind and all of your soul and, and all of your strength and you should love your neighbor in the same way you love yourself. That sounds like a pretty good answer, right? Love God first and most and, and love other people. So Jesus turns to the lawyer and he says you've answered correctly. Go do that and you will live. Huh? That's it. That's all we got. Right. The only way and the only thing that we need, if we want to receive eternal life, the only way, the only thing that we need, if we want to escape everlasting death. The only thing that, that we need if, if we want the joy of celebrating forever is we, we just have to love God first and most and love our neighbor in the same way we love ourselves. All right, good. Hey, let me, let me write that down. That's, that's doable, right? I, I got that. But think about it. Have you ever perfectly loved God with all of your heart and mind and soul and strength? Have you ever perfectly loved your neighbor? And, and let's don't keep it neighborly. Have you ever perfectly loved your spouse? Have you ever perfectly loved your kids? Have you ever perfectly love your parents? Have you ever perfectly love your grandparents? Have you ever perfectly loved anyone? The answer to all those questions unfortunately is no, you have and I haven't and, and we never will even on our best days, we will fail. We, we won't measure up. So Jesus just messing with this guy. I mean, this isn't the only place we find this truth in the Bible says is the Bible just wasting space with this stuff about loving God first and most and, and loving your neighbors. No, no. What Jesus is doing is He's calling him deeper. He's not hitting the surface stuff. He's, he's trying to get him higher and deeper, trying to pull his heart more and more toward God. J C R said this passages like this should teach us our need of Christ blood and righteousness to Him, to Christ. We must go if we would ever stand with boldness at the bar of God. If we would ever stand with any sense of confidence and boldness at the final judgment before God, we will need Christ. See, we're never perfectly going to obey the 10 commandments. We're never perfectly going to obey the, the greatest commandment. We're never perfectly going to love our neighbors in the same way that we love ourselves. But that's still the standard. It's still the standard that must be met. It's still the standard that should rule and fuel the principles of how we live and what we do, but we're going to fail. But even if we fail, there is still a way for us to stand before God with bold confidence, uh uh a boldness before God. And how is that? How in the world can we stand with boldness before God when we sin and fail all the time? Here's how Christ, the Lord has risen today, that this is the only way that we can stand boldly before God. We are not celebrating an Easter holiday fairy tale today just to make us feel better because the weather is warmer and it's spring today. What we're doing is something completely different. And actually, it's something that's been going on for 2000 years and extremely intelligent people believe in everything that we're doing today. We are not religious fools. This is not religious fanaticism. You're not throwing your money or your time or your energy way to be involved in God's church because Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, he was brutally executed on a cross outside of Jerusalem and his execution, his crucifixion satisfied the just and right penalty of the sin of the world, including my sin and your sin. And the definitively dead body of Jesus Christ was placed in a tomb owned by a man named Joseph. And three days later by the power of the one true God. Jesus was raised from the dead. He is risen. He is risen indeed. And that's how we can stand before the judgment of God with boldness. We will never measure up, but Jesus perfectly measures up. That's why we believe in Him and we trust in him and, and we rely on him and we cling to him as our only ultimate source of salvation and hope. We just got through singing about it. Just a few moments ago, Charles Wesley said it this way loves redeeming work. Oh, it's done the, the work of redemption, the work of salvation, the work of making you right with God. The work. Well, the work's been done. Jesus fought the fight and the battle is won death in vain, forbids His rise. You you can't do this, Jesus stay dead, but it was in vain. Why? Because Christ has opened paradise, paradise, the only ultimate, perfect reality in the universe forever with God. Jesus was crucified between two other men. We know one of those men is the thief on the cross and that thief somewhere in the, in the midst of those six hours believed in Jesus. And Jesus turned to him and said, surely today you will be with me in paradise. Four years ago, Alistair Begg was preaching at, at Baylor University at a conference. Some of you have seen the clip from his sermon that's been floating around all over the old world wide web the last few weeks. And, and in that message, Alistair Beggs said, can you imagine getting to heaven and you see the thief on the cross and you walk over and you're like, hey man, how, how did this thing shake out for you? How, how did this happen? I mean, you and, and the other guy, y'all were cursing and cussing at Jesus on the cross. I mean, you, you've never been to a Bible study, never been baptized, never, never been a member of a church. And yet and yet you got in how, how, how did that happen? And then he said, or imagine when the thief on the cross gets to heaven and the angel is there. And the angel says, well, hey, what are you doing here? And the thief says, I, I don't know. Then you just, what do you mean? You, you don't know. I, I, I mean, I don't know. And the angel's confused. Hang on a sec, let me go get a supervisor. So he goes and gets, gets an angel supervisor and kind of fills the angel on what's going on. This guy doesn't know why he's here. That doesn't have an answer. And the supervisor comes in and says, ok, well, let's just go through a few questions now. Well, first, you know, clearly, do you understand clearly, the doctrine of justification by faith goes no idea what you're talking about. And he goes, ok. Well, let's, let's go to the next one. How about the doctrine of scripture? No clue. You got me and on and on. The angel went through more questions and the same response from the thief. And, and finally, the angel just says, well, on what basis are you here? And the thief says, the man from the middle cross said I could come. That's why with boldness, we can stand before God, not by works that we have done, but because of the work of Jesus Christ, Jesus is the only one who perfectly loved God first and most Jesus is the only one that loved his neighbor. In the same way that he loved himself and he did it perfectly. Jesus is the only one that has satisfied the standard. He's the only one that met the standard. In fact, the thief on the cross would say that Jesus is the greatest neighbor in the universe because it was in the neighborhood of the crosses, that paradise was opened up to that thief and his good neighbor, Jesus is the one that opened the way for him to celebrate forever. Have you inherited that? Have you received that eternal life? Have you escaped eternal death? Have you received the joy of what it means to celebrate today? And then listen, no hoki here that at the moment when you die, you will celebrate forever. Have you received that? And how can you know for sure? Well, the thief on the cross, something happened because he did. He went from cussing and cursing at Jesus to, to suddenly with, with all of his heart and all of his mind and all of his strength and all of his soul. He, he found himself saying out loud, hang on. I'm suffering justly. I I'm getting what I actually deserve from my crimes. But but this man, this guy, this Jesus, he did nothing wrong. And then with a bloody body and a broken heart, he turned to Jesus and he said, please remember me when you come into your kingdom. Remember me? Have you ever had a moment? Like that in your life ever had a moment where it wasn't like, you know, Easter. It's a good thing. Let's go to church. But more than that, this moment where you realize women, there's, there's two categories and, and the only way that I get the life one is, is through this Jesus, this moment where like the thief on the cross, you go, wait a minute. If I get separated from God forever because of my sin, I, I'll get what I deserve but because I, I want what I don't deserve. I, I I need this message about Jesus to be more than a message. So have you ever truly repented of your sin received salvation from Jesus Christ? If not, then, then today's a great day. There's, there's two categories of forever and everybody unfortunately is born into eternal death. We're, we're born into sin. And so the only way the categories get changed is through Jesus. The only way we go from eternal death into eternal life is through Jesus. What's another way to know if you've truly received salvation? If, if your story is similar to the thief on the cross, that paradise has been opened to you, John Piper said this, the evidence of being a Christian is not that there are no tactical defeats in the war. In other words, the evidence of being a Christian does not mean you don't have sin in your life. Ok? It doesn't mean there's no sin in your life rather, he says, the evidence of being a Christian is that you keep fighting till the promised victory is given. In other words, we keep fighting sin and that fight becomes the evidence that we're a Christian. That fight becomes our confidence that we are in Christ. And so if you are struggling with sin today, even if you're struggling with the concept of what it means to follow Jesus, let the fight against sin be your evidence. Let the fight against sin be the confidence you have and live in. That evidence live in that confidence. Don't live in a constant state of questioning. Turn to Christ fight the good fight of sin, live in the evidence of salvation, live in the confidence of salvation. And what will that evidence produce? What does a person look like when they're living in the evidence of salvation? Living in the, the confidence of knowing Jesus? Well, that takes us back to our conversation between the lawyer and Jesus. The lawyer thinks, well, ok, love God first and most. All right, sounds pretty good. Love my neighbor in the same way. I love myself and his wheels are turning a little bit. So he turns to Jesus and he says, well, who's my neighbor, who, who is my neighbor? And this is how Jesus responded. A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and he encountered robbers and they stripped him and beat him and went away leaving him half dead. And by coincidence, a priest was going down on that road and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side, don't wanna see him, don't wanna see him in my peripheral. Just when I'm just going to keep walking. Likewise, a Levite another religious man. Also when he came to the place and saw him pass by on the other side. Oh no, I got, I gotta get, but a Samaritan who was on a journey came upon the man. And when he saw him, he felt compassion and he came to him, he bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. And then he put him on his own animal and he brought him to an end and he took care of him. And on the next day, he took out two silver coins, gave them to the innkeeper and said, look, take care of him and whatever more you spend when I return, I will repay you. Even if you've never been to church even. This is your first time in a church. You've probably heard that story or something similar to that story. And Jesus and kindness always talked in language that everybody could understand any person of any age, any background, any nationality. And this one is, is true, right? There's someone in need. There's two people that didn't stop to help and there's one person that stopped to help. And maybe more specifically, there's two church people that didn't stop to help. And there's one person from outside of the church that did stop and help and, and this story, it's, it's so amazing that we could hear messages about it every single Sunday and never run out of material to talk about. It is full and thick and rich with so many things that we need. But since our focus today is on helping people celebrate forever, we're just going to look at the end of this moment, Jesus turned to the lawyer and said, this, which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robber's hands? You see what Jesus is doing? The, the man says, hey, who's my neighbor? Who, who do I have to love in the same way that I love myself? And Jesus flips it. And he says, well, actually, the question is not, who is your neighbor? The question is, what kind of neighbor are you? What kind of neighbor are you? What kind of person are you? Are you the kind of person that's going to show compassion and mercy and kindness to someone who's in need? Or are you the kind of person? And, and let's just be honest with ourselves here, are you the kind of person with the person you date with the person you're married to with your kids or, or with your parents or at school or at work or in whatever sport you play or whatever sport your kid plays or, or in business or in politics or with your money or, or anything else in life? Are you the kind of person that shows no mercy? You know this mine, my stuff, I'm going to win. Do you show mercy or do you not show mercy? So who proved to be the neighbor? That's the question Jesus asked. So who do you think in this story proved to be the neighbor? And the lawyer said this, the one who showed compassion to him, the one who showed compassion, the, the one who showed mercy, the evidence that you've received eternal life, the evidence that you've escaped everlasting death. The evidence that you've received the joy that will help you celebrate today and celebrate forever is most clearly seen in whether or not you are a mercyful person. Do you show mercy? What does that mean? Well, there's 1000 different ways we could talk about what it means to show mercy. But here's just one, a couple of guys grew up in the, the same community. They were childhood buddies and, and one of them became the magistrate judge in the community. And one day in the magistrate court, the the other buddy showed up. And so everybody in the court was like, oh, these are, these are childhood buddies. These guys have known each other forever. I bet the judge is going to go easy on him. But they were shocked when the judge handed down the, the stiffest penalty, the stiffest fine that could possibly be laid down. This guy did the wrong thing. And so the, the judge kind of threw the books at his childhood friend and people were surprised and then there was some, some smattering and some murmuring because the judge immediately after that case was over, called a recess and, and he left his bench and, and he went to the clerk's office and he paid every dime of his friend's fine from his own pocket. He upheld the law, but he showed mercy. Are you a mercyful person? Do you show mercy? This is how Jesus responded to the lawyer verse 37 of Luke 10 go and do the same. It sounds a lot like the last instruction that Jesus gave his disciples go and make disciples of all the nations. How do you do that? Well, you do that by showing mercy by showing compassion that that's where it begins. It begins with mercy. It begins with compassion, it begins with, with kindness. And what is the most mercyful and compassionate thing that you could possibly do for any other human being? What is the most mercyful and compassionate and kind thing you can do for any other person just in your mind right now. Think of anything kind you've done this week or anything kind you're planning on doing this week. What is the most compassionate mercyful thing you could possibly do for another human being. Here's what it is. Helping them be your neighbor forever. That's the most mercyful, compassionate thing you could possibly do for another person. Helping them find the story of today and not just the story, but finding the person of today, the most mercyful and compassionate and kind thing you could possibly do is helping another person find the risen Jesus. And how do you do that? Well, you'll be surprised. Here's how it starts. It starts with greeting them. Hey, how are you doing? It starts with introducing yourself. Hey, how you doing? My name is it, it starts with asking them, hey, what's your name? It starts with, with conversation. It starts with making a connection. It starts with giving some encouragement and then it kind of grows from there. It moves maybe to, to meeting them for coffee. Maybe it, it grows to, to working on a project together, maybe it grows to inviting them to your home for a family meal. Maybe it grows to, to texting them something encouraging about God. Maybe it, it grows to actually praying for them and, and praying together as, as we've mentioned in the last couple of weeks, just finding, you know, guys, one guy, ladies, one the guy or maybe one or two and, and y'all just 20 minutes with, with one verse of scripture and, and just pray and talk about it just, you know, just 20 minutes with someone just helping them toward God it, it starts with, with simple things that, that sound like they could be really hard but they're, they're really not. And, and the reason that we say we want to be together for maximum relationships is because at home and work and school and church and at the, the ball game and, and at the mall and in the movie theater and at the DMV, and, and wherever else we go in life, we want to be the kind of people that on Easter Sunday and all the other Sundays and all the other days, we maximize moments with mercy. We wanna be people that maximize moments with mercy. We wanna maximize what it means to kind of live in this story that Jesus tells. I mean, there is no greater and more simple and more understandable way to understand what it means to show mercy than the story of the Samaritan stopping on the road and helping the guy. So again, is that in the ballpark of your life? Are you the kind of person that shows mercy to other people? If you have been shown the mercy of God, you will show mercy to other people. And the math works like this. If you show mercy and you give mercy, you will get more mercy. It's, it's great math, the more mercy you show the, the more mercy you get. So are you maximizing moments in your life with mercy? And, and why does it matter why does it matter if you maximize the moments of your life with the mercy of God? I think it's probably 82 years ago. Now, CS Lewis wrote this. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Sounds like something from a marvel movie, right? Never talked to a mere mortal. But you haven't, you have never spoken to a mere mortal. It's a big thought. Everyone, you know, and everyone you ever will meet is immortal. Everyone will live forever, they will live forever in one of those two categories, everlasting life or everlasting death. So us showing mercy, it's kind of a thing. It's not something that we can just blow off. Have you ever received an invitation to a wedding or, or a big birthday party? And on the back of the envelope there was, you know, like a little wax seal and some kind of imprint in the middle of it or, or maybe even just like a sticker. Well, the only way that you can engage with that invitation is to break the seal, right? That's the only way you can get in to see what it is that you've been invited to listen. I want you to know this is, this is not just like a, a hokey holiday religious fairy tale we're doing today today is an invitation of mercy. Today is an invitation of compassion and kindness. Today we are maximizing the moments of the man on the Middle Cross as the most mercyful message in history. When we gather to worship on, on this Easter Sunday and on any Sunday and, and any time we function as Christians, we are maximizing the moments of the man on the Middle Cross as the most mercyful message in history. That's who we are. That's what we do. When the dead body of Jesus Christ was, was placed in the tomb. Pilate. The Roman leader told his soldiers, look, I want you to go secure it more. So go, go put a huge boulder over it, roll the boulder in front of it and then I want you to, to seal it where they took some kind of clay like substance. And they, they put this clay on the rock and they, they sealed it with the clay with an imprint of the imperial seal of the Roman Empire. In other words, what they were doing was, was trying to be sure that very practically look, this guy is dead. OK? And, and we're going to prove it. We're going to really secure the tomb, but it didn't work. The seal was broken, the rock was removed and the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ made it all the way to North Augusta, South Carolina and saved me. And the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is still changing lives and changing futures and changing future categories right now, why do we want to be a church that's together for maximum relationships. Because in those relationships, when we are maximizing moments with the mercy of the gospel, the, the mercy of God, the mercy of what it means to know Jesus God may through our mercy, break the seal, the seal of His invitation that screams from the cross and, and screams from the empty tomb. His invitation to come and live our mercy. Our, our moments of mercy in the lives of others may be what God uses to break the seal and make the celebration of Easter. Just the beginning of them celebrating forever. The world is full of bad. It'll be full of bad this week too. Don't be surprised. We're not going to wake up tomorrow morning and everything is going to be ok. Politics will still be bad. They always have been and then politics will be good. It always has been and, and health will be really bad, it always has been and health will be always good. It always has been. There's, there's good, there's bad, there's happy, there's sad. It's all going to be flowing this week. But one thing that can't change is the greatest good in the universe, the greatest good in the world. And the reason we want to be together for good is in this world of bad. We want to launch away from this Easter into a daily hourly. Second by second, understanding that there is good, there is good, there is good in the eternal everlasting life of Jesus, we want to be together for good and the greatest good can be defined with three words. And those three words are simply this. He, yes, re he has risen. Indeed.


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