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May 16, 2020 7:00 am
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Well it's open the Bible and study together. Acts chapter 15 and will be coming there just a minute were to be continuing our study on the life of the great man. The apostle Paul, but you know what I was in high school on my homeroom class that I was in was all my buddies from elementary school. All my friends in junior high school, we'd all been together all the way through and we got to high school my sophomore year on the mod my behavior wasn't so good and one day I made my homeroom teacher so furious with me that she got permission to transfer me out of this homeroom and they sent me over to evening now he wing was on the other side of school. I know anybody over anyway.
Anyway was a tough place.
I mean all the guys anyone could vote already understand what I'm saying. I mean, they majored in shop and made knives all day long and here I'm over it. Is he wing.
I don't know anybody in every day when I walked in the homeroom I felt like a complete reject him. It was like there was a big neon sign above the door to my homeroom and every morning when I walked in, it was flashing the same message of me. Solomon your failure. Solomon you're a failure. The saddest part of all is that there was nobody over there who was offering to try to help me put my life back together. Well today were going to look at a young man in the Bible who fail just like I did miserably and yet, thankfully there was a young man there in the story in the Bible who was anxious to help this young man get his life back together who was there to treat him in a restorative and redemptive way and we want to use this story as a springboard to talk about how we as a church here in 21st-century Washington can be a redemptive and a restorative center right here in the city. So that's our plan today.
Let's dig in acts chapter 15 and let me give you little background as we have been here for a while. Remember Paul and Barnabas have returned from their first missionary journey. They returned home to Antioch here in Syria. But before that they had been to Cyprus and they been up to the southern underbelly of Turkey, Antioch, Laconia, Lister Derby all these cities and now they come home and when I got home first. One of chapter 15 there was a dispute that arose. Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers in Antioch unless you are circumcised according to the custom talk by Moses, you cannot be saved. You cannot have eternal life, and go to heaven. Will Paul and Barnabas, and agree with this and so they went to Jerusalem and convened a get together with all the leaders of the early church. Peter and James and John and Matthew and Thomas. They were all there and this Jerusalem council settled this issue once and for all verse 11, Peter said no we believe it is through the grace the undeserved kindness of our Lord Jesus, that we are saved just as they the Gentiles are it's not true human performance, whether it's circumcision or anything else but salvation, eternal life. Going to heaven comes as a result of the undeserved mercy the grace of our Lord Jesus plus nothing and we sent a few weeks ago when we were here, we noted that this is what sets biblical Christianity. Apart from every other-ism, and every other ontology in the world is that in biblical Christianity. It's not about what we do for God.
It's about what God has done for us in sending Jesus, the sinless son of God to shed his blood on the cross and thereby pay for our wrongdoing in the side of a holy God and Jesus didn't do it because we deserve it. He didn't want because we merited it and he didn't do it because we were worthy of it. He did it as a result of his undeserved kindness is grace that he gives you and me. Ephesians chapter 2 verse eight for it is by grace that you have been delivered through faith.
This is not a function of your own performances, deliverance, rather it is the gift of God and focuses the good news of the Bible that God offers us undeserved mercy, God offers us grace that that that's three, it's a gift, and all we have to do to close the deal and accepted is to do what this verse says we have to show faith. We have to put our reliance in what Jesus did for us on the cross. Well this settled Paul and Barnabas return home to Antioch. Verse 35 and they remained there as they taught and preach the word of the Lord and that's what we've been let's pick up and see where we go from here. Verse 36 and sometime later is or how much later. While the Bible and say week a month a year. We don't know sometime later Paul said to Barnabas, a Barnabas, why don't we go back and visit all the brothers and sisters in the that we led to Christ in all the towns we preach the Lord on the first missionary journey.
Let's see how to do it. The apostle Paul said hey you know what, let's go back and encourage these brothers and sisters in Christ and remember friends. The reason Paul wants to go back is not because they have such a wonderful and relaxing trip people tried to kill a beat about the stone lynching propose that we have a responsibility to help these brothers and sisters go on for Christ. Let's go retrace our first missionary journey Barnabas today. It's great idea. Let's do it, so they started making plans and that's where trouble happens look at this verse 37 and Barnabas wanted to take John also called Mark along with them that we remember John Mark is a young man is the cousin of Barnabas and he went along on the first missionary journey to remember that he deserted Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey. Acts 13 from the capital Cyprus.
They set sail for Pergola in southern Turkey where John left them to return to Jerusalem, they were here in Cyprus on the western edge were path boxes and they sailed north to Pergola in southern Turkey and when they got there. John Mark said was I'm outta here now. Why did he leave. What we don't know.
Maybe the physical demands of the trip were too much.
Maybe the spiritual demands of the trip were too much. Maybe was just scared. I don't know but he went AWOL and said I'm outta here, friends, and though this is the guy the Barnabas wants to take back along. He comes up. All is is a Paul I think this kid deserves a second chance. I mean, they wrote his mistake in the holy Bible for goodness sake. The whole world knows the kid messed up. He got a big old Scarlet letter right in the middle of his chest. But you know this is a good kid. Paul got a good heart you got a future and serving God and I think we can redeem him from feeling like a total failure and we can getting back on track for God. Let's take what Paul think well verse 38 and Paul did not think it wise to take you because John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. To sum up Paul's attitude was not over my dead body is this kid going with me again. Verse 39 and so Paul and Barnabas had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Not a word that's translated here. Sharp disagreement is a very strong word in the Greek language. It's the word we get our English word peroxisome this word which literally means of violent argument finding a real donnybrook. These two guys have fallen Barnabas so much so that they finally just said all right pal you go your way and I'll go my way and Paul and Barnabas split up these two colleagues in the Lord. These two brothers that ran the first missionary journey. They split up over this stop for a moment and say that one of the great proofs of the Bible really is from the God of truth is this very fact that it doesn't sanitize its heroes. You can take even the biggest heroes the biggest stars of the Bible, and even when they make the worst mistakes. The Bible is honest with us about it because you know why the Bible is not written as a piece of human propaganda to try to spin you into believing some hope. The Bible is truth from the God of truth and even when the truth is ugly, even when the truth is not pretty about some of the Bible's greatest heroes.
You know what the God of truth always tells the truth. Here we have Paul and Barnabas I need two of the greatest heroes of the New Testament, and almost blows with one another and splitting up in the Bible and sanitize this. It just tells it the way it is pretty pure here and you're not sure the Bible is trustworthy. This is just one of the many proves that hey this is from the God of truth and you can accept it as truth.
I hope you'll remember that. Think about when it's move on the end of verse 39 so Barnabas took John Mark and he said sailed to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and he left commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord, and he went the other way. Let me show you where they went, they were here in Antioch all Barnabas and John Mark. They came over here and ending retrace the beginning of the first missionary journey here in Cyprus.
While Paul went north to Syria and on into these cities and traced the second half of the missionary journey. They went in opposite directions and, you know, the apostle Paul, bless his heart. He just thought he was going to go 100 miles make a little circle and come home. He had no idea what God was going to do with him on the second missionary journey God was going to use him to change the world is working to see in the days to come. Let's stop here for second and ask a question who was right with Barnabas right or was call right was right about John Mark will think about this a razor ham for vote by having you people think that Barnabas was right.
They should've taken John Mark regime. Okay, how many of you think that the apostle Paul was right that they should print a regime so you guys invoke how I will want to buy what I think. I think they were both right is a long you been living in Washington too long. So, no, no, I think they're both right and let me tell you why I believe they were both right.
You see, the apostle Paul and Barnabas were looking at. John Mark from two radically different points of view. The apostle Paul was looking at John Mark from the vantage point of spiritual leadership. He said a Barnabas with the man were going back out there into battle were going to the same places where people tried to kill us and stone us in a pilot is from town to town, trying to live just this is not going to be a pleasure cruise up the Potomac on the dandy were going to hear. We need people who are ready to face the challenges of spiritual leadership, the district is going to demand and you know the Bible says. First Timothy five do not lay hands on anyone to hastily Paul says the Barnabas and I think we laid hands on John Mark too hastily the first time and I don't think he's up to the challenges of spiritual leadership. This time he has no business on this trip. From a spiritual leadership point of view, he's over his head.
Now Barnabas on the other hand was looking at John Mark completely differently. He was looking at John Mark simply as a person and he said hey Paul, we've got to love people.
Redemptive lead man we can shoot our wounded. We can't leave this young man languishing in his failure. It's our job as God's church to redeem people who have failed. I mean, if the guy can hit a curveball. How do we helping the Presidium on the bench for the rest of his life and learning tar ball and Paul.
I bring this up, son, but don't forget I did this for you when nobody wanted anything to do with you. Remember that who was right.
They were both right. The apostle Paul was right in keeping the bar high when it comes to the qualifications for spiritual leadership and in demanding the John Mark get over that bar before he be restored to spiritual leadership. Paul was right. Barnabas was also right in challenging the church to bend low when it comes to loving and restoring folks who bloated and failed and in demanding that we as God's people be redemptive in our approach to others, they were both right. In a church that's getting it right today is a church that's going to be doing both of these things keep in the bar high for spiritual leadership in reaching low to help people who bloated and messed up.
That's as far as we want to go in our passage because we got a really important question to ask. I know some y'all forgot this question because we haven't done this in a while so that see we can all remind ourselves of our question, we need a deep breath ready.
Here we go. 123 that's great, feels good here like eating chocolate after you give it up for month as one of our lawn.
So what I knew what got me that's great. Okay fine I accept your premise.
They were both right.
The big book, what differences that make to us why think it makes a huge difference. Let's talk about that, you know, at first like this Wednesday morning thing that we do for men.
We all sit at different tables in one week I was sitting with the guy at one of the tables was in Alcoholics Anonymous and he said something that was profound that that really really got to me. Here's what he said.
He said you know when I go to my AA meetings so I don't have to put on a mask. I can be honest about who I am.
I can be open about my struggles. I can tell everybody about my failures and it's okay I'm safe there. I'm acceptable to people there, people are there to help me not to judge me and then he said this, he said, why is it that I can't walk into the average church in America and find the same thing.
I was depressed for days trying to think about that. I thought you know what this man is so absolutely right it ending. Funny that God's intent is the church should be the ultimate AA meeting God's intent is that we as God's family we as a church family should be redemptive centers that let's define what is a redemptive center if we or any other church were a redemptive church, what would we look like well I got three very simple characteristics. Here's what a redemptive church will look like. Number one, it would be a place number one where people don't have to paste on the plastic when they show up you on the way in your car you we we screamed at the children we argued what I why Bob or maybe we got mad and boyfriend through the bracelet he gave his back across the car Eddie while he was driving and then we walk in the church it were like oh yeah bye-bye how are you.
Praise the Lord will praise the Lordů You come on now. What a bunch of non-sins.
Second of all church would be a place it will redemptive wear when we were honest about our struggles and our failures in our problems.
We could still feel safe walking the church and if somebody goes, how are you and you go. However, you know how I am okay with so far. This morning I screamed at my children. I've argued with my wife so far this morning I threw my bracelet hit my boyfriend in the head while he was driving and frankly I don't even want to hear how Solomon is good because I want to be here and we would say well thanks read on establish and appreciate you being upfront with us and third a redemptive church would be a place where when people are honest when they are open there greeted with compassion and agreed with understanding and there greeted with kindness and are greeted with real help. Instead of being greeted with judgment and faultfinding and criticism and condemnation will be put arm around somebody ago. You know we got a wonderful class for couples. Maybe I could walk up there and you and your wife and I we could go to that because it sounds like your marriage could use some help. We got a wonderful counseling center you and your boyfriend need building lasting relationship. You know, how can we help you.
Can we help you reference. Don't get me wrong, I know some of you get nervous already. Don't get me wrong here McLean Bible church. We want to be the kind of church were both the apostle Paul and Barnabas would look at us and say hey they're doing it right. See, we believe the apostle Paul was right when we believe that God expects us to enforce biblical standards when it comes to spiritual leadership in here McLean Bible church we work really hard to make sure that we are faithfully following those standards with anybody that we allow to be in spiritual leadership here. Paul was right, but on the other hand, we also believe Barnabas was right that a Christ centered church ought to be a place where people are treated redemptive lien were people whether they are followers of Christ, or whether they're not followers of Christ can come into a safe and restorative environment where they can be honest about their problems and where they can get help putting your life back together for God to matter how bad they sale it when our marriage fails. Where is it that we should be able to go for comfort and for sustenance and for helping in beginning again with our lives. We ought to be over go to church hey what we wanted a crisis of any kind or we fail in some way. When we lose our job when our children are in trouble. We have financial crisis will not boyfriend and I find out they were pregnant. Where should we ought to be able to go to get help answer church. Please explain to me what is happened to us in America such that now when hurting people in America are looking for a safe place to be honest and open get real help churches about the last place that they're willing to go anymore. How do we mess this up. Well I want us to talk about than finishing up this morning how we can do a better job of being a redemptive center and don't get me wrong.
Frankly, I'm proud of the job are already doing. I think were already doing a better job than most places I've ever seen or heard of is just I don't want to rest on our laurels friends. I want to do better. You know if John Mark were living in Washington DC the day after he got here from deserting Paul and Barnabas I would want McLean Bible church to be the church. He felt most comfortable attending in Washington DC to how do we get to be that kind of church that we do better at that well is a lot of thinking about this, a lot of praying about it. Let me tell you what a thing.
I think that the Keno was becoming a truly redemptive environment as church has nothing to do with the programs we run.
It has nothing to do with the classes we offer.
It has nothing to do with the curriculum we use. It has everything to do with the way we see ourselves as the people who make up this church with the way we view ourselves as the people who come here every week. See the people who make up AA.
They see themselves as all be in the same physical big shots and AA. There is no first-class citizens and second-class citizens. There you walk in and say hi my name is Lon Solomon and I'm an alcoholic in nature for you they love you they come up and offer to help you.
You know why because as far as they're concerned, they're all alcoholics to with a level playing field. The problem with church is it far too often we let spiritual pride and religious arrogance in Christian self-righteousness creep into our hearts and in our church and we turn church from being a level playing field into being a pyramid were some of us rub on the top, looking down at all the people want to spiritual down on the bottom and when that happens, brings a redemptive center can't be.
Can only be a level playing field. The way to make McLean Bible Church redemptive churches for us as the members of this church to never forget who God tells us in the Bible we are and let me remind you, the three things God tells us in the Bible that we as the followers of Christ to make of this church are number one. The Bible says, and reminds us that we are all sinners. Everyone office. Romans 323 for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and the word translated sin here literally means to miss the target to shoot an arrow and you just simply mess with the Bible trying to tell us is even as followers of Jesus Christ. Every day we shoot the target of God's perfect standards. God's perfect holiness and every day we pass Robin Hood were not were target ministers will all of our best efforts were target ministers if you're here today in your Christian senator Christian congressperson were glad to hear that your target Mr. if you're here today is a Christian judge or Christian policeman, your target Mr. every Christian FBI agent. Every Christian CIA agent every good Christian Secret Service agent on IRS agent here today is a target. Mr. every Christian doctrine Denniston military officer stay at home mom, teacher, corporate exec is a target.
Mr. every member of the pastoral staff of this church, including me, were all target ministers every day. If you're here in your Christian lawyer were just praying you remember there is a target. I'm just teasing not just have a little fun. I'm just teasing, not as I understood these but the point is friends were all target ministers and why is that important because Jesus said, let him who is without sin throw the first rock hey you know what I got no rocks to throw rocks to throw on think so. The second thing God wants us to remember about ourselves as number two that only by God's grace is there any good in any office. Romans seven verse 18 for I know that nothing good lives in my sinful human nature. Paul wrote that after he was a believer. Jeremiah 79. Our hearts are more deceitful than all else and desperately wicked.
They are beyond killer. Is it when I wait a minute. When I came to Christ. I became a new creature. I became a different person. My whole life began to change from the inside out. Yes, you're right.
And you know why it's not because your heart change one bit is because God the Holy Spirit moved into your life and began by his grace to overrule your heart my heart to suppress your sinful nature in my sinful nature, which is why Paul wrote first Corinthians 1510 only by the grace of God I am what I am (I'm here to tell you is a follower of Jesus Christ for 31 years. My heart is the same nasty cesspool.
It was 31 years ago when I gave my life to Christ and change one bit, and apart from the grace of God spirit I am capable of anything. I'm capable of worse things in you ever read about the paper and I know which means how there I looked down on anybody.
I mean it's one for the grace of God. Beware, they are all worse and I know that third, God wants us to remember that our assignment is his followers here on earth is to help people not to judge people. Romans 1410 you then why do you judge your brother, why do you look down on your brother, for we will each stand before God's judgment seat. God will take care of the judge and therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.
What we don't judge each other what we do with our time. Romans 15 one. Instead, let us bear with the weaknesses of those without strength verse seven. Let us accept one another, just as Jesus also accepted us to the glory of God. Hey friends, as followers of Christ. Here in this church, God never asked us to sit in judgment on other people.
God asked us to help other people their lives back together with Jesus Christ at the center. That's where your to do so how do we become a redemptive center is a church. I'll tell you how number one we walk in here and say hey folks underneath all these nice suits and dresses were all just a bunch of target ministers and we got no grounds for throwing rocks and anybody. We walk here and say number two, it's only because of God's grace that you see any good in any of us.
And number three were not here to judge a friend were here to help you get your life back on track for God every single one of us walked in here like that, and we have a level playing field.
We have a redemptive center you I been reading in the paper about Enron who hasn't been reading about Mr. Kenneth lay and I you know I just gotta tell you it's so offensive to me when he allowed to happen to those faithful employees and Enron Eileen have a word to describe how I feel about it but what will we do with Mr. Kenneth lay and his family came walking in here this morning.
What would we do well. I hope we would do what the apostle Paul called us to do and that is we certainly wouldn't offer many role spiritual leadership right away but I hope we also do what Barnabas models for us right here in this chapter, and that is that we would reach out to this man. Redemptive living and we say Mr. lay just want you to know everybody here is a target Mr. to and some of us have missed the target a lot worse than you do, you got nothing to fear from us or number two. I hope we say Mr. lay it's only because of God's grace that everyone of us is in right where you are were not looking down on you, sir. Number three. Mr. lay were not here to pass judgment on you that belongs to the courts and to the Lord, which is here sir to try to help you get life back together with Jesus Christ at the center folks. That's what a redemptive center does. That's what church is supposed to do and it's only by being a kind of a redemptive center that were going to change people's lives. People don't care what we preach. They only care whether were redemptive in our approach to their lives. It's only by being a redemptive center working to make an impact on the city. The city don't care what we preach when their lives fall apart and where there to help them put their lives back together with Jesus at the center will then they might listen to us. So I want to remind us today of who we are target ministers only by the grace of God is really good.
Many of us and we're here to help people friends not to judge. And I want to call you not to think more highly of yourself and your Romans 12 three stay home with remember who God says we are and we can remember who we are, we won't have a bit of trouble reaching out to help other people where they are spread, Lord Jesus. As we come to you this morning. We need to frankly ask you to forgive us to forgive us for the spiritual pride in the Christian self-righteousness and arrogance that we so easily lit drift into our lives as you change our lives from the inside out over the years.
It's very easy for us to begin thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought. God remind us today who we really are. Remind us today that this is just a level playing field for all in his boat together and God grant that we might be able as a result, to reach out to people in a redemptive way here in the city. Washington DC, Lord my prayer is that you would change our lives and change the life of our church family because we were here today because we learn from you and we pray these things in Jesus name, amen