Yes, we should be blessed as we gather together, but the purpose isn't that we be pampered. The purpose is that we glorify God, that we hear the preaching of the Word.
All of that equips us to go out and do something with it. And just so his disciples were clear, Jesus told them, it's always time to evangelize. Jesus established a new community in the church.
He foresaw the church, prayed for it, and even died for it. And today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip shares how Jesus intended for the church and you to be his ambassadors to the world. Now we want to tell you about a resource that will help you walk in the Holy Spirit, especially in the difficult moments in life.
What stands between you and a more fruitful walk with Jesus? Find out how four prominent women in the Bible faced their struggles in a new teaching series from Lenya Heitzig called Queens of the Bible. Here's Lenya on the Queen of Sheba. Hearing is the first step towards spiritual blessing.
Right now, hearing is a step toward blessing because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Hear more from Lenya as she explores the faith and the failings of four different queens in scripture. The Queens of the Bible collection of teachings is our way of saying thank you when you give $35 or more today to support this Bible teaching ministry. Look, the cost of following Christ is to go wherever he leads. Get your copy of these unique teachings when you call 800-922-1888 or give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer. connectwithskip.com slash offer.
Okay, we're in John chapter 17 as we join Skip Heitzig for today's study. Experimental prototype community of tomorrow. Experimental prototype community of tomorrow. Epcot. That was Walt Disney's dream. You have heard of Epcot Center.
Many of us have visited Epcot Center. We know it today as an overpriced theme park in Orlando, Florida. But what you may not know is it was not intended by Walt Disney to be a theme park in Orlando, Florida. It was designed by Walt Disney to be an actual city of 20,000 people living together using the latest technology.
That's what his vision was. Walt Disney died before his vision, his dream could become a reality. And no one in the Disney Corporation had a vision big enough like Walt Disney had for that future city. They didn't get it.
They didn't ever latch onto it. So it never became what Disney intended it to become rather than a living, breathing city that Disney wanted. It has become, as you know, a theme park. It has become a place that people go to be entertained.
It is a place that people visit. Jesus also had a vision. A dream, you might say, of a new community. He called it his church. Matthew 16. I will build my church, Ekklesia.
A group of people called out of the world who do life together. Jesus also died before his dream was realized. But he predicted it. He anticipated this new community. He prayed for it in John 17.
And then he rose again from the dead to ensure it would become what he intended it to become. The new community called the church. We must be committed to not letting the church become another Epcot. An entertainment place.
A place where people visit occasionally but don't do life together. We have to be committed to that. Which brings us to the central issue and that is what is the purpose of the church. What function are we to fulfill? What was Jesus' vision?
What was his intention? And what are the characteristics that Jesus anticipated for his church to be? Well, we began looking at that question and answering that question last time we were together in John 17. And I gave you two of the four characteristics of what every true church should be. We noted when we were together that every true church should demonstrate the glory of God and that every true church should communicate God's truth. And we looked at that. We discussed that.
We kind of delved into that. That number one, when we gather, God is on center stage. It's all about him.
He gets top billing and our lives get reoriented to true north. That's the glory of God. So we meet together and the purpose of our meeting is not to meet felt needs, not to just be built up and encouraged, though those things should happen, but primarily to live for his glory. And the best way we can live for his glory effectively is by that second thing we looked at, to communicate God's truth, to preach the word. And so the church, you might say, is a textual community.
Yes, we live our lives together. We have community, but a very specific kind of community. It's a textual community. That is, we take our cues from the scripture, from the text of the scripture. So then to sum up where we've been last time, you might say that the church, his church, the true church, is both theocentric, God-centered, and bibliocentric, Bible-centered. It's centered on God and his glory.
And to ensure that it is, it is bibliocentric, centered on the scripture, which tells us how that can happen. Now, according to Jesus, there are two more characteristics that he, the founder, is praying for and anticipating his church, his community, to become. And both of these qualities that we're going to look at today focus on our relationship to the world, those who are inside the church and how we should relate to those who are outside the church.
So let me begin with the third characteristic, and that is every true church should penetrate, penetrate God's world. Let's begin in John 17, the 14th verse. Jesus, praying to his father, said, I have given them your word, and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I sanctify them by your truth.
Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes, I sanctify myself that they also may be sanctified by the truth. So it's pretty obvious that Jesus anticipated that his followers would go out into the world and spread the message, right? That's what verse 18 is all about.
You sent me, I'm sending them. Later on, he is going to send them. He's going to give them a command, a very, very blatant command, when before he ascends into heaven after his resurrection, he'll tell them, go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Furthermore, if you look down at verse 20, he says, I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word. So again, it's pretty obvious Jesus anticipated that his followers are going to go out and preach truth, preach the word. And there will be some people who will hear that message and will believe in Jesus. Now go back to the 18th verse.
That is sort of the hinge verse of this. As you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. It's a very important word, the word sent. I'm going to say it to you in the Greek, and you're going to tell me what word comes from that. Apostolo. Apostle. Someone in the first service thought, Pasoli.
I don't know where he got that from, but I guess there's sort of a similarity there. But apostolo is apostle, and an apostle simply means somebody sent out, a sent out individual, an ambassador, an envoy, somebody who was sent out for a specific task by someone who is in authority. So Jesus' plan was for his followers to penetrate the world around them with the truth so that more might believe. So that becomes one of the characteristics Jesus planned for, prayed for his church, that we would penetrate God's world.
Someone once said, the church is the only society on earth that exists for the benefit of non-members. We must never allow the church to become a bless me club. Here I am. You've got an hour to bless me.
Better be good. I want to be blessed. Listen, I want you to be blessed. We should all be blessed. But a blessing from God and the feeling we get at church is secondary to the primary purpose of gathering. Yes, we should be blessed as we gather together, but the purpose isn't that we be pampered. The purpose is that we glorify God, that we hear the preaching of the word.
All of that equips us to go out and do something with it. And just so his disciples were clear, Jesus told them, it's always time to evangelize. It's always time. It's not like, well, now isn't the time to get the message out.
That'll come later. It's always harvest time. There are always people who need to hear.
There are always people ready to respond. Jesus in John chapter four said to them, do you not say there are still four months and then comes the harvest? Behold, I tell you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields for they are already white for harvest. That's an important word for believers because churches have a tendency over time, all of them have this tendency, it's human nature, that over time churches turn inward toward themselves rather than outward toward the world. They may begin with an outward focus, an evangelistic focus. We want to change our community and we want to change our nation. But over time, most churches, most organizations start to turn inward so that even though Jesus said go into all the world, it seems that the message of the church is come, come to church, come and hear the message.
And that's important. We want people to come to church and come and hear the message. But the coming to church and coming to hear the message is simply a preparation so that we might go out and make a difference. There was once an old church in England I read about that was a beautiful building and it had a great purpose statement, a sign on the front of the church. And the sign said, we preach Christ crucified.
It's a great section out of the New Testament. We preach Christ crucified. That was the sign on the front of the church. Over time, ivy that was growing around the church building started growing up on the sign and over time as the years went by, the last word in the statement was obscured. So you'd look up and it said, we preach Christ.
That's good. It's still good. But as you can imagine, over time, the ivy kept growing till pretty soon it just said, we preach.
And nobody cut it down so you know what's coming next over the years. The only word you could see over that church was we. And eventually the church died. Any church that turns inward and makes it all about we, us, me, mine, will die.
John Stott, who pastored a church in England, said, if all churches had been faithful, the world would long ago have been evangelized. So how do we? How can we? How do we do it effectively? How do we penetrate the world effectively?
I'll give you three words and then I'll show it to you in the text. Three words. We need to know, we need to grow, and we need to go.
There's certain things we need to be knowing, and then there's a certain way we need to be growing, but eventually we're going to have to get going. So what do we have to know? Well, we have to know our position.
What is our position? Verse 14, I've given them your word. The world has hated them because, here it is, they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Now, back in verse 11, in praying for the church, he says they are in the world. Here he says they are not of the world. Again in verse 16, they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. So that's our position. We're in the world, we're not of the world.
You've heard that before. We're in it, but not of it. We live in the world, we're surrounded by people who have their belief system, but we are not of them. We have another home.
We are just passing through. This world is not our home. So we're in it, but we're not of it. Now, look at the word world. I brought this up to you before.
I just want to underscore it. In the New Testament, the word world, cosmos, doesn't primarily refer to the physical world, the earth, the biosphere, et cetera. It refers to a world system, a system of ideas, values, philosophies, morals, activities, and people run by, controlled by the devil, Satan.
2 Corinthians chapter 4, Paul writes, Satan, the god of this evil world, has blinded the minds of those who do not believe. So we're in the world, we're not of that world. Earth then for us is simply a stopping off point on our way home, heaven, and until then we have a task to perform in this world, but we're not of it. What we have to be careful about is not becoming too immersed in the world that we live in.
We're in it, but not of it. So if we get too immersed in our world, it is as ridiculous as making a flight across the country and you stop at an airport to make a connecting flight, you're only going to be in that airport for an hour, so you're flying from here to your destination, you stop off at an airport, you're there for an hour, you're making a connecting flight, you go into the bathroom and you say, this bathroom needs a remodel. I'm going to remodel this bathroom. Your relative or friend who is with you go, you're going to remodel the bathroom in the airport?
You're only going to be here an hour. I know, but this is important. Okay, but it's not that important because that is not your destination. So to get too immersed in the world is as ridiculous as remodeling a bathroom in the airport where you're making a connecting flight.
Romans chapter 12 verse 2, Paul says, do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. You see, the position of the Christian is sort of like an astronaut in space. Space is not the natural habitat for the astronaut.
If he's up there, he's going to need special protection because that is not his natural environment or a scuba diver in the ocean. The ocean is not the natural element. So unless we realize our position in the world, but not of the world, we're going to get swallowed up by the world. You know why? Verse 14 tells you why. I've given them your word and the world is what? What does it say? Hated them.
Mark that. It's not like the world just like tolerates you. They hate you. The system of values and philosophies that make the world system run by Satan and his minions is against you.
The world has hated them, hated them because they are not of the world. Now this happens to be an occupational hazard. Get used to it.
Get used to it. When you follow Jesus Christ and you make that your aim, your ambition, the occupational hazard of that is the world's hatred. So we need to know our position. That's number one.
Number two, after knowing is growing. We need to grow in preparation. Verse 15 he continues, I do not pray that you take them out of the world, but that you should keep them. The word keep means preserve them. Don't let them go. Preserve them from the evil one. They are not of the world just as I am not of the world. Now he tells you how he keeps you, how he preserves you.
Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth. That's how you survive. That's your space suit.
That's your scuba gear. The word of God, the truth, the principles of scripture that you immerse yourself in allow you to be in the world but not of the world. Allow you to walk through this crazy place called earth without being tainted by it. You know Paul even pictured the Christian life in Ephesians 5. You'll recall this as I tell you. He wrote about the Christian experience here as a battle. He wanted you to know that this isn't a playground, this is a battleground. And so Paul writes, put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Think of the spaceman, the astronaut in the space suit. Put on the armor of God that you might be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Then he lists all the pieces of armor, but he finally says, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.
So Jesus says, sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth. That's the Bible. The Bible. Read it to be wise.
Believe it to be safe. Practice it to be holy. Or as Peter put it, as newborn babes, desire the sincere or pure milk of the word that you might grow thereby. So you need to know and you need to grow. We need to be knowing our position. We need to be growing in preparation. But at some point we have to be going. Because if all we do is know and grow, you know what happens to people who just accumulate a lot of knowledge and keep growing and growing and feeding and feeding on truth, they get fat, spiritually obese.
It's like, I got all this great knowledge. Okay, so go work it out. Work it off. You got to go out. And so after knowing our position and growing in preparation, we have to be going for penetration. And that takes us back to verse 18, the word sent. You sent me into the world. I've also sent them into the world. That is the goal of knowing.
That is the goal of growing. I made a list of five things. I've discovered there are five different responses that Christians have historically had to the world around them.
There may be more, but just to make it easy, there are five basic responses that Christians in any era, at any time, in any age have toward the world system around them. Response number one, and it's not the best response, is to isolate. They isolate themselves.
They become isolationists. Their whole goal is to escape the world. I'll go live in a monastery. I want to get away from all the bad things that are happening. The world is evil.
It is fallen. There have even been attempts in American history to create Christian communities, Christian villages, towns, cities that are only occupied by Christians. Because, gosh, wouldn't it be great just to have all your neighbors as born-again Christians?
Okay, you're describing heaven now, but I get it. Where people say, wouldn't it be great to work around Christians all day long? The only people you work with are believers. Take it from somebody who works with Christians all day long.
It ain't what you think it is. We're still fallen human beings, sinners saved by grace. It's like anybody else in any place else. So, response number one, and it's not the right response, is to isolate.
Here's another response historically Christians have had toward the world. Not to isolate, but to insulate. They become insular. It's all about protecting themselves.
I'm in this bad place called the world, so I need to protect myself and to protect my children and protect my family. So, I'm going to be way over here, and I'm going to notice the bad things in the world, and I'm going to point at them and say, that's a bad person. That's a bad thing.
Look how bad that is. Some people, all they do is spew negative bad comments about all the bad things around them. That's Skip Heitzing with a message from the series 2020. Now, here's Skip to tell you about how you can keep encouraging messages like this coming your way as you help connect others to God's Word. The Apostle Paul said that all Scripture is God-breathed, meaning God inspired it and wants us to understand it even in today's day and age.
That's why I teach line upon line through every book of the Bible. And that's why this radio program exists to share biblical teachings with friends like you across the country and around the world. You can help further that mission by sharing your gift today. Here's how to do that. You can give online at connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Or call 800-922-1888.
800-922-1888. Thank you. Tune in tomorrow as Skip Heitzig shares how you, as part of the church, can emulate God's love in your words and actions.
Listen carefully. Jesus is praying for unity based on truth. Unity based on truth. Unity based on what? Truth.
I want you to get that. Unity based on truth. And in particular, unity based upon the truth of who Jesus Christ is and what he has come to be. That's the unity. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-21 09:42:07 / 2023-04-21 09:51:08 / 9