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June 24, 2022 7:00 am
You know in the weeks after 9/11, a very curious thing happened. According to a survey by the Barna research group. There was a massive increase in church attendance all across the United States.
But I'm afraid the Barna survey does not have a happy ending, because it also found that within several months. Church attendance had dropped right back down to where it was before 9/11 and Barna himself had an insight into why this happened and here's what he said and I quote he said September 11 gave churches an amazing opportunity to be a transforming presence in people's lives, but Barna says few people who showed up. The church experienced anything that was sufficiently life-changing to capture their attention.
In essence, Barna says people came back to church and rediscovered, why they didn't come in the first place."
My friends to put this another way, when all these people showed up at church and God around Christians. The problem is they didn't see enough spirit filled authentic Christian living going on to compel them to want to stick around and learn more. And what does this teach us well.
It teaches us that when it comes to influencing people towards Christ. The thing that matters most is not the oratory of our words. I'm sure these people heard some wonderful sermons when they went to all those churches, but what matters the most is the authenticity of our lives as individual followers of Christ people being able to see a transformation in our life that could only be produced by the Lord Jesus Christ on this is what we want to talk about today. As we continue our verse by verse study in the book of Genesis. So are we ready right little bit of reviewing Genesis 21 and if you remember the beginning of this chapter, Abraham moved his family south into the Negev of Israel.
The southern portion to a city named Garrard and hear the king of Garrard fellow named Abimelech took Sarah into his harem because Abraham said she's my sister but God personally intervened and delivered Sarah before Abimelech could sexually defile her and then Abraham continued with his family living there in the garage are with Abimelech and Abimelech's people so that's what we've been here we go we pick up in verse 22. The Bible says at that time Abimelech said to Abraham, God is certainly with you in all that you do now. Therefore, Abimelech said, please. Swear to me before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my descendents as I have dealt kindly with you, Abraham, please.
Swear to me that you will deal kindly with me here in the land where you been living in.
Abraham said I will swear not long afterwards.
Abraham confronted Abimelech about a well of water that Abimelech servants had seized from Abraham that Abimelech said I don't know who is on this. You did not tell me about it, and nor have I heard it until this day.
So Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them to Abimelech and the two men made a covenant and Abraham set apart seven baby lambs and Abimelech asked Abraham. What's the meaning of the seven baby lambs you set apart that Abraham said, please take these seven baby lambs from me as a witness that it was who dog this will therefore, the place was called Beersheba, which in Hebrew means the well of the seven in this case the seven lambs so the two men swore an oath together and made a covenant at Beersheba, I would still exist to this day is just a little bit south of where Abraham was living there in Garrard verse 33 then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in bear sheepdog, and called on the name of the Lord be everlasting God and Abraham lived there for many days. That's the end of our passage, but it leads us to our most important question for the morning and I know that this is a little early so laconic got you caught off guard, just a tiny bit donor yeah but you can recover. Yes, I know you can can all recover are so all you guys allowed know you guys at Bethesda all you guys of Prince William everybody down in the edge around the world. The Internet at Tysons. Are we ready right here we go. Come on guys allowed Juan to cure is a lawn, so one I mean honestly, I have to tell you I don't see one single thing in this chapter that has anything to do with me. You're going to have to really pull a rabbit out of the hat on this one lawn. No, I'm not no I'm not. There's a lot in here for you and me.
Let's go all the way back to the beginning of our passage to something that Abimelech said to Abraham, he said at that time. The Bible says Abimelech said to Abraham, God is certainly with you in all that you do now.
Swear to me before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my descendents as I have dealt kindly with you, Abraham, please. Swear to me that you will deal kindly with me, but what I want you to notice is what Abimelech said God certainly is with you in all that you do. What this tells us is that while Abraham was living there in Garrard, Abimelech was watching his life now. Abimelech already knew that Abraham was a worshiper of Jehovah God is matter-of-fact everywhere. Abraham went.
Everyone knew that he was a worshiper of Jehovah God, but were Genesis 21 tells us is that Abraham just didn't talk the talk. Abraham walked the walk.
In fact Abraham lives so much and authentic, godly life that even Abimelech and unbeliever was forced to confess that God is certainly with you in all that you do now. We find this very same dynamic going on. We look at the early Christians in the early church watch acts chapter 2, verse 46 as a day. These early Christians continued daily with one accord in the temple breaking bread from house to house with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God watch now and having favor for with all the people remember the people here that are around them in Jerusalem. These are unbelieving people and yet the behavior of these early Christians was so above reproach.
So Christlike and so authentic that it impressed even these people in Jerusalem and not only did it impress them. It also grew them to Christ.
The verse goes on and the Lord was adding to the church.
What's the next word daily daily those who were being say, hey, do you remember what Barna said at the beginning of our message and I quote he said few people who showed up at church experienced anything that was sufficiently life-changing to capture their attention." Well friend, the early church did not have this problem when people showed up at one of those churches. When people got around those Christians.
They knew that something authentic was happening, which is why people were coming to Christ in Jerusalem every single day. Now what is this have to do with you and me as followers of Christ in the 21st century well. To quote the Bible much in every way because you see, God calls us to this same kind of authentic godly living. Listen to the Scripture. First Timothy three verse two says that Christian leaders should live a lifestyle that is above reproach. Moreover, they must have a good reputation with those who are outside the church. But this is not just for Christian leaders. It's for all of us.
Jesus said in Matthew 516 let your light so shine before men, that they will see your good works and glorify your father who's in heaven, and Peter said make sure your behavior before nonbelievers is honorable, so that even if they speak against you they will behold your good works and glorify God and then a couple verses later, he says, for this is the will of God. What's the will of God.
Peter that by doing right.
We may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. All of these verses. My friends are calling you and me as followers of Christ today to live an authentic Christian life in front of a watching world that will have an impact on how they react both to us and to God is our lawn. I got that understand what you're saying but I gotta question my question is when you talk about living in authentic Christian life on the what exactly do we mean by that. Well, it means two primary things. There are two primary components to living in authentic Christian life and I want to tell you what they are.
First of all, the first component is personal integrity and let's define integrity. Integrity means doing the right thing in the right way for the right reason I want to dissect that definition for just a moment. So let's take it apart and will put it back together. First of all integrity means doing the right thing you say belong in a world like ours, full of moral relativism and all these complicated issues. I mean how do I always know how can a person always know what the right thing is Wu friends.
Psalm 19 verse eight says the precepts of the Lord are what what is that what I was eight.
Right correct in Psalm 119 verse 151 says all your commandments are what right folks listen if you and I want to know what the right thing to do is in any given situation.
We must go to the word of God. We must go to the Bible.
The Bible has commands for many areas of life. Don't steal. Don't live don't covet that honor your father and mother and it has principles that cover every other issue in life, forgiving others who heard us having compassion for those in need caring about the poor and the downcast being generous with the resources God's given us being faithful to our spouse being upright in our behavior towards the opposite sex.
Being a man or woman of our word and I could go on but the point is clear. The point is, when we say that we are living a life of integrity.
When we say we are living an authentic Christian life that is synonymous with saying that we are living a life of obedience to the word of God that is doing the right thing now. Second, integrity means doing the right thing in the right way. Your next chapter 20 the apostle Paul was on his third missionary journey. It was 56 A.D. and the believers that were back in Jerusalem were having a tough time financially and so the apostle Paul decided to take up an offering from all the Gentile churches that he had started Thessalonica, Berea, Ephesus, Corinth of Galatia, all of them and then take that offering to Jerusalem, and give it to the poor believers. There in the Bible says it took him nine months to collect that offering and then he headed for Jerusalem. Acts chapter 20 verse four and as he headed for Jerusalem. Paul was accompanied the Bible says by some critter of Maria Aristarchus and Sue condos from Thessalonica deists from Derby Tyco cousin trope from us from the province of Asia were Ephesus was an Timothy also your life while I mean what he's got like a cast of thousands. Here, why is he taking all these people along with you.
Well folks if we look and see where each of these men were from the cities they came from.
It'll make perfect sense why the apostle Paul had them along look so putter was from Berea were Pollitt started a church and from where he'd asked for money. Aristarchus and Sue condos were from Thessalonica were Pollitt started a church and had collected money deists was from Derby in Galatia were Pollitt started churches and asked for money. Tyco cousin trope from us were from Ephesus were Pollitt started a church and asked for money and Timothy was representing the church of Corinth, where say it with me. Pollitt started a church and asked for money.
Yeah, what the point and this is so important is that the apostle Paul took these men along so that they could return back home to their churches and certify to their churches that the offering. Those churches had given had been handled in a righteous godly way, he says.
Second Corinthians 820 I'm doing this taken all these people along to make sure no one might discredit us in what's the next word in how we handle this generous offering friends. The operative word here is the word how in fact, we could say that when it comes to being people of integrity. How we do something is just as important as what we do, which is precisely why Paul said in the very next verse.
Second Corinthians 821 for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the side of God but also in the sight of men to understand what he saying he said I could've taken the offering to Jerusalem all by myself. I could've done the right thing with it and before God I could've said hey I did the honorable thing but no person would've been able to verify that so I also care about doing things that's honorable in the side of men swap all these people along so that every one of them could certified to other people that I did the honorable thing so friends doing things with full disclosure doing things honestly and ethically and forthrightly and generously and kindly and compassionately you you know integrity is doing honorable things, but doing them in an honorable way that people who are observing can see and finally third integrity means doing the right thing in the right way for the right reason. I love how Jesus addresses this, he said. Matthew chapter 6, verse one.
Be careful not to parade your acts of righteousness before man so that you may be seen by them. Otherwise you will have no reward from your father who's in heaven now hear the Lord Jesus is not talking about what these not talking about how, but he's talking about why people did something to be seen by men. And my friends. It really does matter. Why we do things people really do care about why we do things when we do things with ulterior motives. When we do things with impure intentions. When we deceive people for personal gain in people smell this kind of lack of integrity, a mile away and it stinks it stinks and it stinks. We know all about this as we live in a town that stinks because of this, yes, and how refreshing would it be in this town to meet anybody who did something not for themselves but before the wheel good of other people.
What a breath of fresh air that would be well folks, that's what you and I are supposed to be in this town and not just for the good of other people. As followers of Christ.
We even have a deeper motive why we should be doing things Paul said first Corinthians 1031 so, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the good of people know that's a good reason. But here's the best reason to do it all for the glory of God. And I love what we read about the early Christians in acts chapter 2.
The Bible says that they did things with singleness of heart with singleness of motive. They didn't do it for self glory and they didn't do it for self exultation and they didn't do it for personal reputation. They did it for the glory and the exultation and the reputation of the Lord Jesus Christ and this is the ultimate why that we as followers of Jesus ought to do everything for the glory of Christ, so let's summarize what's it mean to live an authentic Christian life when number one it means to live a life of integrity, which means doing the right thing biblical obedience doing it in the right way, honorably and ethically before men and doing it for the right reason to bring glory to God you still along this wonderful but no matter how hard I try never be able to do that. 100%.
I mean nobody can get that right all the time. The stroke know and remember I said at the beginning there were two components of living in authentic godly life. The first one is seeking with everything we've got to live a life of integrity.
The second window is when we fail living a life of humility and friends.
The truth is that very often our greatest opportunity to demonstrate our authenticity comes not when we get it right. But when we mess up when we get it wrong, but we respond to that in humility and honesty to be a person of integrity doesn't mean we always have to get it right. It just means we have to have enough honesty and humility when we mess up to make it right. Listen to what Jesus said Matthew chapter 5.
He said if you're bringing your gift to the altar. If you're coming to church to worship God. Praise Lord dear you remember that your brother has something against you is it was not my fault he started it was his fault running out.
I didn't do this. He was the one who calls all that well will will will will what Jesus said Jesus and asked who started it was fault it was.
Does your sister has something against you, leave your gift before the altar, and go first be reconciled with your brother or your sister and then come and offer your gift to God.
Then show up at church now according to these verses I figure about two thirds of this auditorium are to be empty today because two thirds of us or maybe more ought to be out there seeking out people who have things against us, humbling ourselves in front of them are being honest about how we messed up asking for their forgiveness and try to do whatever we can to make it right. We don't belong in church we belong on their front doorstep. Bring in their doorbell. A man Jesus as this is how you restore your authenticity yet nobody gets it right all the time but when we mess up we go humble ourselves and say we were wrong. That doesn't hurt our authenticity folks helps it. You're not telling people something they don't know they know you got it wrong that they just want you and me to be honest enough to admit and be humble enough to say, were sorry that's authenticity that you know I don't like the Dallas Cowboys. Sorry anybody agree with me, like, let me tell you I don't like the Dallas Cowboys. Unlike the Dallas Cowboys because I don't like Jerry Joe and let me tell you I don't like Jerry Jones. I don't like Jerry Jones because I don't like what he did to Tom Landry firing him on national television without even telling the man he was going to get fired after that man had given 32 consecutive faithful years.
The coaching the Dallas Cowboys. I did like that you say will long. What would if he cared about it. Jerry Jones have to do to restore his authenticity and his credibility with you country don't care about but if he did what we have to do with her simple. He would have to go on national television and apologized to town Landry toms. Of course, already died, but apologized to him anyway and his family and asked them to forgive him for the wrong that he did to this man is a why would have to go on national television.
You know well, it's easy because we always match up the scope of the forgiveness to the scope of the sin of the incident against the man in private.
I would say go in private. He sinned against the man on national television. He apologizes on national television.
Now, as I say it's not that he's telling us up. We don't know if he goes on television says I was wrong.
I know that you tell me that is the idea that he be humble enough to admit now I gotta tell you, if Jerry Jones did this, I still would be a Cowboys fan. No way to tell you what I would be a Jerry Jones fan you would man a guy would grow in my eyes and I have respect for him and folks there are people like that in our lives. Everywhere where we left down we don't live authentic lives. We make mistakes okay, how do we restore our authenticity with them folks we go back and do just what Jerry Jones is gotta go back and do remember they already know you messed up. They just want to know if you humble enough authentic enough to admit. So let's conclude showing authentic Christian living. What's it mean it means number one being a person of integrity doing the right thing in the right way for the right reason as much as we possibly can and then number two when we fail being a person of humility who is willing to go and make things right.
That is an authentic Christian life and remember our mission here McLean Bible Church is to make an evangelistic impact on secular Washington with the message of Jesus Christ.
And if it's really true that the most important single factor in drawing people to Christ is not programs. It's not parking lots. It's not buildings. It's not preaching, but it's authentic Christian living being done in front of people. If that's really true, then friends the only way we can accomplish our mission is to be a community of disciples who go out and live this way. Why because authentic Christian living is what separates disciples from pew sitters you understand what I'm saying pew sitters. Don't worry about living authentic Christian lives disciples to wear here to help you with that and that's why were changing the culture here McLean Bible church. That's why were determined to make this a culture of discipleship. We bleed discipleship at this church because it's the only chance we have, to go out and achieve our mission in Washington and in studying the early church a lot lately what I figured out I don't know why did figure this out a long time ago is that they did not blow their cities apart with programs and buildings they didn't even own any building or with fancy speeches know know they blew their cities apart with authentic living on the part of Christians every day and that's what we have to be. We have to be that community of authentic livers here in Washington. If were going to make an impact on our city. So come this fall were to ask you on that. I ask you if you're not already in the group to join a discipleship group and let us start turning you into a disciple is your pastor.
This is my heart for you that you and I will all aspire to be disciples who live authentic lives in the side of an onlooking world.
So get ready as Morgan ask you to do.
You say well okay smarty-pants are you going to be in a discipleship group will you yes actually I we are.
My wife Brenda said to me a few weeks ago.
I don't even think about it or consider. She said to me, you know, we can ask people McLean Bible church to do were not doing.
We need to lead a discipleship or don't you hate it when you Weiss always right. Don't you hate that maybe maybe we'll have a problem. I have a problem and I said I know Brenda I know I've Artie been thinking about it and so are groups all formed up, were ready to go on the to do this right along with you who on the world and preach it in the pulpit right along with your going to do this together. This is this is all of this. I want to start praying and thinking about it now cassettes come this the end of the summer were to start enlisting you ready to do this ready do this okay good. Let's pray together. Heavenly father, thanks for challenging us today about authentic Christian living that we don't have to wait to win a discipleship group to live authentically, we can start right now the Lord is certainly easier to do this we have community around us were all trying to do the same thing.
So make us that kind of a community here McLean Bible church and send this out every single day in the Washington DC, like the early Christians were now living lives that are so transform and so conspicuously authentic for Christ. The people are drawn to Jesus all over the city just like that barista there and Starbucks God, we commit our church family to you and we ask all of this for the glory of Christ, not for the glory McLean Bible church for the glory of Christ. We pray these things in Jesus name. What is God's people say right