Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. We think that we become righteous or acceptable in God's sight by acting a certain way. But the gospel is the counterintuitive truth that you can never be righteous before God.
So God offers you righteous standing before Him as a gift, not according to what you have done, but according to what Christ has done in your place. Thanks for joining us here on Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer of the Summit Church in Raleigh, North Carolina.
I'm your host, Molly Bitovitch. Today we're beginning a new teaching series that gets to the very heart of this ministry. It's simply titled Gospel. If you've been a believer for a while, you might think that you've moved beyond the gospel message, but Pastor J.D. argues that we never move past the good news of the gospel. We should strive to move deeper into it. In fact, getting deeper into the gospel is the key to the entire Christian life.
Pastor J.D. calls this first message gospel-centered change. If this teaching resonates with you and you'd like to share it with others, you'll want to visit us online at jdgreer.com. But for now, let's not waste any time and jump right into God's Word together. All right, I have two purposes for the message. So if you have your Bible, I want you to pull it out and I want you to open it to John chapter 15. All right, here are my two purposes. First is I want us to explore together one of the most important passages where Jesus explains how people change. I think this is a question on a lot of people's minds, not just Christians. If you don't believe me, just go into Barnes and Noble and walk into the self-help section of Barnes and Noble.
It's like half the store. How a fearful person can develop courage, how a person who is undisciplined can develop self-control. There are books on how people who are fanatics or people who are racist become tolerant. Everybody wants to know how it is you can change. Can you really change?
Is that even possible? Well, in this passage, Jesus will take you down deep to show you how he says you change. And along the way, he gives you one of the most concise yet comprehensive pictures of what a disciple of his looks like.
We're going to study that for the next eight weeks. Specifically, we're going to look at five different disciplines that he says that his disciples will practice, okay? That's my first purpose is to give you an overview this morning of where we're headed. My second purpose is I'm going to be explaining a core truth here at the Summit Church, something that if you're listening will be in almost every single sermon. So that means if you've been around here, you have heard me talk about this before, and that's good because this is the core of everything that we do. I have people who have been at this church who tell me that this was something that knew that God taught them at this church. One of our elders said, I've been in church for 40 years. 40 years I've been in church. I've been a deacon. I've been chairman of the deacons, but in the last five years, God has taught me more about this than he had in all the years prior to this combined.
Things like this sometimes, they take a few times of repetition to really let them soak in. Plus, I talk ridiculously fast, and it may not be possible just to get all this from a fire hydrant. Here it is. Here it is.
Here it is. We believe that the gospel is not just for unbelievers. We believe the gospel is for Christians too. The gospel is not just how we begin in Christ. The gospel is also how we grow in Christ. We believe that in the gospel are all the resources that are necessary for Christian growth.
Let me say that again. We believe that in the gospel are all the resources that are necessary for Christian growth. We would go so far as to say that the way you grow in Christ is never growth beyond the gospel, but deeper into the gospel. You see, for most people, the gospel, which is the message that Jesus died as a substitute for our sins and offers us salvation now as a gift, that gospel was their initiation into Christianity. It was the prayer that they prayed to begin their Christian life, the diving board off of which they jumped into the pool of Christianity. I want to show you why we say that the gospel is not just the diving board off of which we jump into the pool of Christianity, but the gospel is the pool itself.
Why it's not just the ABCs of Christianity, why it is the A through Z of Christianity. That everything that you're going to experience for the rest of the Christian life is simply swimming deeper in the gospel. We always talk about the gospel setting you free from sin. I want to show you this morning why the gospel must not only set you free from sin, it must also set you free from the false substitutes of religion. All right, here we go. John chapter 15 verse 1.
Let me walk you through it, then I'll draw out some principles here toward the end. John 15 verse 1. I am the true vine, says Jesus, and my father is the vine dresser. This is one of Jesus' seven I am passages in the gospel of John. I am is the Hebrew name for Jehovah. So Jesus is talking about this is something that is true of him because he is God.
Verse 2. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away. Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes that it may bear more fruit. He's using the metaphor of gardening and he's saying that that for a wise gardener to know how a plant grows you have to prune it. I do not repeat this to you by experience by any means whatsoever.
I'm simply saying this is what people who do this kind of thing tell me. But in order for many plants to grow they have to be pruned. A good example is a rose bush. A rose bush if it is not pruned properly will not ever have roses that grow and flourish. What happens is literally the plant grows in on itself and you have all these vines that begin to cover up these few roses that could be beautiful and what you've got is it literally chokes itself. In addition to that you buy all these little false spurious vines sprouting off everywhere. What happens is the resources of the plant are redirected away from the few roses that really need it into all these little false pursuits.
Right? And so when it's not pruned properly you end up not with a few luscious roses you end up with a bunch of little scraggly puny nasty looking ones. If you want to see an example of this drive by my house anytime and look at the rose bushes that are in my flower bed. In order for those things to really flourish it has to be prunes. Jesus is saying this is what's going on with you. Verse 3 already you are clean because of the word that I've spoken to you. Now in Greek there is a connection of words there's a play on words that is missing in English. Jesus did not just switch metaphors from pruning to taking a bath. It's not why he brought the word clean.
The word clean in Greek literally means stripped. Stripped like pruned and what he's saying to them is already already just in what I have taught you you've already been stripped of a lot of your false pursuits. I've taught you that the world is passing away. I've taught you that sin is useless. I've taught you to follow me.
I shattered your pride by telling you how badly you need forgiveness. But in addition to that teaching you see there's still a lot of parts of your life that are chasing a lot of things that you shouldn't be chasing. So I stripped those things out of your life and that's what's going to go on for the rest of your life is I'm going to be taking things out.
I'm going to be pruning you so that you are focused and directed on the things that I am doing through you. As some of you know a lot of times this is painful. If you've ever seen a plant after a gardener has gotten done with it it's not pretty. You got all these things lying on the ground that look like they ought to be attached to the plant.
They look like they're perfectly healthy and normal. They're just lying there on the ground and you got even little pieces of fruit or roses that are there on the ground. The plant looks bald ripped up like it's bleeding but that is the process that the gardener uses to bring out the best things he wants to do in that plant. The gardener has not removed anything that was a loss to keep or a gain to lose. The gardener has not removed anything even though it's painful and looks bloody the gardener has not removed anything that was not a loss to keep or a gain to lose.
It's painful and I'm not even saying you'll always understand it but when God prunes you see that's that's what God is doing. Verse four, abiding me and I in you as a branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine neither can you unless you abide in me. You see the branch only lives as it's connected to the vine. A branch has no life in itself but as the branch is connected to the vine the life of the vine flows into it. In the same way we have no spiritual life in ourselves but as we abide in Jesus the life of God flows into us. The life of God and of course the person of the Holy Spirit. Abide is the Greek word mino.
Mino which literally means to make your home in. As you make your home in Jesus as you plant yourself in Jesus his life the Holy Spirit begins to flow in you. Verse five, I am the vine you are the branches whoever abides in me and I in him he it is that bears much fruits for apart from me you can do nothing.
Now if you allow me a little liberty here nothing here does not literally mean nothing. Okay let me let me explain to you why I say that because we all know people who aren't connected to Jesus who do things right they have families they get married they have children they do lots of different things right they even do religious things. Jesus several times in the gospels talks about people who are not connected to him at all but Matthew 7 he talked about some that did miracles in his name some that preached in his name some involved in ministry in his name but he said I never knew you. So when he says nothing here he doesn't mean nothing religiously he means nothing of eternal value he means nothing that has real life in it that's a very important point which we're going to come back to. Verse six, if anyone does not abide in me he's thrown away like a branch and withers and the branches are gathered thrown into the fire and burned. Verse seven, if you abide in me and my words abide in you ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you by this is my father glorified that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples it is by sheer discipline that I am not jumping off of each verse and preaching an entire sermon because I know that if I did we would be here until Thursday okay but we're going to come back as I'm skipping over so much wonderful material that that's why we're gonna spend eight weeks in and around these verses okay so verse nine as the father has loved me so I have loved you abide in my love what an astounding statement think of the father's love for his son what that must be like it's eternal it's divine it's God the perfect father's love for his perfect son you parents love your children the love that you have for your children is a pale reflection of the eternal love of the father for the son that is the love that the father that Jesus loves us with and Jesus says make your home in that make your home in that you were listening to summit life with JD Greer and a message titled gospel centered change we'll be right back with the conclusion of today's message in just a moment but first let me tell you about our new featured resource you know our greatest joy comes not when we're working overtime to impress God but when we're serving him from a place of gratitude in the gospel Bible study pastor JD wants us to see that the difference maker is the gospel itself this amazing gift that God gives us doesn't merely punch our ticket to heaven but it actually drives everything that we do as believers for your gift of $50 this month we'll send you the DVDs of teaching along with the five Bible study guides so give us a call today at 866-335-5220 or go online to JD Greer.com to reserve this Bible study but right now we're going to return to our teaching once again here's pastor JD some of you may have thought what does it mean to abide it sounds like Christian mumbo-jumbo a lot of times that they're like what does that mean I mean abide is that like a memorized scripture you walk around humming Christian tunes or what does it mean to abide is that a list of behaviors this verse shows you what it means abiding means resting in his love abiding in him is not so much about things that you are to do for him as it is resting in his thoughts about you this seems to be the hardest part of Christianity for people to learn God's acceptance is given to us not as a reward for what we have done but as a gift it's what we refer to around here as gift righteousness God's righteousness given to us as a gift we think that we become righteous or acceptable in God's sight by acting a certain way it makes sense right the more righteously you act the more God accepts you the more God is pleased with you the closer he feels to you the more he approves of you but the gospel is the counter intuitive truth that you can never be righteous before God so God offers you righteous standing before him as a gift not according to what you have done but according to what Christ has done in your place gift righteousness given in love great way to remember that grace grace God's righteousness at Christ expense gift righteousness at Christ expense and you see when you receive that when you abide in that and you rest in it his life starts to flow into you and then you start to change not because you're told to change but because your your heart changes you begin not just to act rightly you begin to desire the right things you don't need to be commanded to do what's right you start to do what's right because you love what's right I'll give you an example not to be crude but but if there was a pile of throw up in front of you this morning I wouldn't have to command any of you don't let that throw up up right of course not now if you're a dog you know you dogs like hey warm throw up half-digested hot dog bonus the dog would have to be commanded to stay away from the throw up but not you because it's not in your nature right when your nature has been changed so that you desire the right things you don't need to be commanded those things you avoid them because you no longer desire them it's not just your behaviors that change but your your heart and your desires listen here it is faith in what God has done releases the life of God into you faith in what God has done releases the life of God in you that changes the desires within you I would write this down real change begins not with you being told what you are to do for God but believing what God has done for you that's the counterintuitive truth that so many people seem to not get real change this goes against almost everything you've ever been taught on change real change begins not with you being told what you are to do for God but believing what God has done for you in the New Testament believing rightly precedes behaving rightly verse 10 if you keep my commandments you will abide in my love just as I've kept my father's commandments and invited his love now this verse trips people up sometimes because they're like well hold on you just talked about God's gift righteousness and rested in God's grace but here it sounds like Jesus is saying that abiding in him is conditional on us keeping his commandments ah very good question grasshopper but that's not actually what it says look at it again look at it again it doesn't say that his love is a reward for having kept his commandments it says that one of the ways we remain connected to his love is by keeping these commandments that he's given us over the next several weeks we're gonna talk specifically about five different commands that Jesus gives to us in this passage five different ones right the five different ones are he's gonna command us to read the Bible and pray spend time with him that way I don't need that out you can take it down read the Bible and pray number two he's gonna command us to have godly character number three he commands us to be in community he commands us to be involved in taking Christ to people who do not have him and he commands us to be generous okay those are his five commands that he is probably referring to here now here's the question what's the purpose for us keeping those commandments is it that when we keep them God approves of us more and feels closer to us well no I just explained to you that's exactly opposite of what it's saying because God's acceptance is given to us as a gift if righteousness the purpose of keeping those commandments is twofold watch this number one it's a proper response to God's grace we do those things because having been changed by God's grace that's what we now desire and that's a proof that we are embodied in his love but number two watch this this is maybe where I might lose some of you it's also a means by which we remain connected to his love let me explain that take reading the Bible for a minute reading the Bible every day memorizing scripture does not make God love you more Christ righteousness is perfectly complete it's not like you can add to it by reading your Bible every day and that makes him like you more you're completing Christ but what listen what reading the Bible daily does is puts you in the presence of the awareness of the love of God for you you can remain in it by reading the Bible you can begin to saturate your thinking and the love of God and you begin to think in line with the gospel you see the challenge is not earning God's love that's given as a gift the challenge is living in the constant awareness of God's love the hard work of Christianity is not earning God's love it is believing that God's love was given to us as a gift so obeying that command to read the Bible allows you to daily reflect on the truth of God's love and as you believe in that love his power is released in you reading the Bible simply offers you the opportunity to rest in God's love which is what releases the life of God into you is that making sense at all think of it like this a wire a wire has no power in itself the other day I helped my dad change a light fixture and I'm just you know I have no knowledge of these things I'm scared to death because I'm like the wire which one which one fries me I don't know I don't want to touch it but when you cut off the electricity to it it has no power in itself but a wire is a conduit from a power source it has no power in itself but it connects you to the place from which the power flows when the same way these commands these spiritual disciplines have no power in themselves but they connect us to the place from which the power flows that's what all those things are all these commands you know being in community that's another great example that's how you remain connected to the gospel because God is using his church to remind you of the love of God verse 13 generosity even generosity helps connect you to the gospel hey give you an example of this that if you've ever been generous in your life you'll know what I'm talking about right I mean it is by being generous that you become more generous you ever notice this I get an extra thousand dollars for whatever reason tax refund or one of you just comes up gives it to me because you love me whatever Uncle Sam gives me a thousand dollars now to my shame I'll just be honest with you it is not often that my first thought with that money is this is a great thousand dollars I can invest in the kingdom of God oh no I think I need another flat-screen TV right I'm like there's a place in a hallway between my bedroom and the family room where there's not one and I really want to be able to keep up with what's going on TV when I walk through there so I gotta buy me a flat-screen TV right now what happens though is God has commanded me to be generous so I take that thousand dollars and I invested in the kingdom of God and guess what happens God uses that to put me in touch with the generosity of the gospel and I start to love generosity even more that's what Jesus said Matthew 6 21 it's where your treasure is that's where your heart follows so it is by being generous that we become more in touch with the generosity of Christ which actually changes our hearts to love another gospel more does that make sense the whole deal is these things are like wires that connect us to the place from which the power flows verse 11 these things I've spoken to you that my joy might be in you and that your joy may be full verse 12 this is my commandment that you love one another is I have loved you greater love is no one than this than someone lay down his life for his friends you are my friends if you do whatever I command you by the way I've tried this verse on my friends and it doesn't work you are my friends if you do what I command you work for Jesus not for me jump down to verse 16 you do not choose me but I chose you there Jesus establishing that he is a Calvinist not really it's not his main purpose there Jesus has made he might be a Calvinist but his main point here is not that he's telling you he's a Calvinist his main point is what follows I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he might give it to you verse 17 these things I command you so that you will love one another all right here we go this passage shows us first of all number one this passage shows us what spiritual change is let me just make sure I may summarize this in case you didn't totally get it here we go what spiritual change is spiritual change is the life of Jesus coming into you you see God had told Adam that will meet back up the reason that spiritual change is because the condition we're in a spiritual death God had told Adam and Eve that the day they ate of the forbidden fruit that they would surely die you've ever read Genesis 2 you'll notice they didn't drop dead the moment they ate fruit so you like what happened did they not die to God as he was word no their bodies begin to die but immediately their spirit that part of them that was alive in God died and the result was their heart began to desire the wrong things no longer did they desire God's glory they desired their glory no longer do they put God first they put other things first no longer were they God center they became radically self-centered you're listening to summit life with pastor and theologian JD Greer pastor JD sometimes we think of the gospel as like a one-time event that occurs at conversion but that's a really shallow view isn't it yeah you know all the Bible writers particularly the New Testament ones show you that the gospel is not just the way that you begin the Christian life it's also the way that you grow in the Christian life that's a major theme for us here at summit life is that is that it's by going deeper into the gospel that you grow more alive in Christ the gospel is the one thing the one thing that is directly referred to as the power of God other than Jesus Christ himself the gospel is the only thing that's called the power of God the more of the gospel you have deep in your heart the more alive that you become in Christ and so this month molly we are offering a resource of video based curriculum that I created called gospel that that will will take you deep into what that means like what does it mean to say the gospel is the center how do you go deeper in it the gospel bible study kit that's what you'll you'll get it has two dvds five study guides so that you can complete the study with others and a copy of the book called gospel so it's like an amazing and it's an incredible package and I think it'll really help you both with yourself your family and with other people that that God's put you in their lives to influence I'm really excited to recommend this just go to jdgrier.com thanks jd and I think for many of us we're ready to dig deeper and get to know God on a new level and this study is a great launching point get your copy of pastor jd's gospel bible study today when you support summit life with a generous financial gift of 50 or more call 866-335-5220 that's 866-335-5220 or give online at jdgrier.com I'm molly vidovich encouraging you to listen tomorrow as we continue this new teaching series called gospel we're just getting started so be sure to join us Friday on summit life with JDE career today's program was produced and sponsored by JDE career ministries
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