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I Don’t Belong Here, Part 3

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
June 5, 2023 9:00 am

I Don’t Belong Here, Part 3

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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June 5, 2023 9:00 am

Most Christians think that trusting God means we just have to put on a happy face no matter what, even when we’re hurting inside. But that’s not at all what the Bible teaches us.


Today on Summit Life, J.D. Greer talks about the source of true joy. Simultaneously grievous pain and intense joy come from knowing Him. Can you believe in a God that's doing that right now in your life? That in the pain and in the disappointment that you're going through, that He's purifying you for Himself.

And do you sense the glory of that God and feel the weight of His love so much that it fills you now even in the midst of the deepest and darkest pain? Welcome to another week of solid biblical teaching here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer, pastor of the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. Last week, we began a teaching series called I Am an Alien, and we were talking about what it really means to follow Jesus in a world that rejects Him. Today, Pastor J.D. is concluding a message about the biblical response to persecution and suffering. And we'll see that trusting God doesn't mean you just smile through the pain and put on a happy face. Instead, the Bible teaches us how to respond out of a deep rooted foundation in the gospel when life gets hard. We're in First Peter, chapter one. So let's jump into the conclusion of this teaching called I Don't Belong Here.

Here's Pastor J.D. When Jesus went to the cross, you know, and the Father reveals to him that he's going to have to die on the cross, Jesus is not like, well, praise the Lord. It's just he was overwhelmed with sorrow. He wept.

He cried out to God. Christians hurt. They hurt, but see, their hurt can only go so deep because their ultimate hope is in a God who brings back life from the dead, the God who turns tragedy into triumph, a God who takes us through the cross to bring us to the resurrection so they can simultaneously be filled with intense joy and deep pain. In fact, what Peter's showing you is that it's almost like a thermostat.

You know, a thermostat, it's the cold that kicks on the thermostat, makes the heat come on. Peter's saying the cold of suffering is what kicks on the heat of your faith. There is a kind of joy, inexpressible joy, some of you have never really felt because you've never been through the pain of despair. And when you go through the pain of despair, that's when God uses the cold of despair to kick on an intensity of faith and an intensity of joy that will become to you inexpressible because you will simultaneously be filled with deep sorrow and unspeakable joy. So he goes on, verse seven. So that, watch, the tested genuineness of your faith, faith that is more precious than gold, that perishes though it is tested by fire. Peter's saying God's purpose in this is he's allowing these trials to purify faith in you. He says it's like gold. I know not many of you are goldsmiths, but what they say is that when you want to purify gold, you heat it up because what will happen is as you're heating it up, gold is one of the last things that would evaporate.

So all the impurities, what they call the dross, float to the top of the gold and they scrape them off and the remaining gold is much more pure as a result of it having gone through the furnace. Peter says that's what these trials are like. They are heating up your life so that the impurities of your faith, the places where it looks like you have faith but you don't really have faith, they'll be burned away. Peter says I know what it's like to go through this but don't resist it because God is actually producing something in you that is more valuable to you than gold and is something that can give you more joy than any blessing of God could ever give to you. Can you believe that in your dark moment God might be doing it because he loves you and teaching you to trust him and have a joy in him that you probably couldn't get any other way? You see, joy inexpressible doesn't come from any of God's blessings. Happiness comes from some of God's blessings. Joy inexpressible comes from God himself. Verse 7, so that your faith, he says, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Here's a question. Is that praise and glory and honor that we give to Jesus or is that praise and glory and honor that Jesus gives to us?

Every commentary that I consulted said this. This is praise and glory and honor that come from Jesus. Peter looks forward to that and says I am willing to be an exile, a stranger, I'm willing to be nobody here because the joy of that is so intense that I don't care about anybody else's opinion any longer.

You see, Peter had been a guy who depended, like many of us, on the opinions of others. I haven't told you this story in a while, but I'll give you a cliff notes version of it because some of you have been around here long enough you haven't heard me tell this story. One of the greatest moments of my life happened when I was 22 years old and I think it was my first year of seminary, last year of college, I can't remember, but I was coaching a soccer team. So I coached this 12-year-old boys soccer team. I can't remember what league it was, but I remember that they were awesome. And they were awesome, you know, partly because they were great athletes, but partly because I was a great coach. And we made it all the way through the season undefeated.

We made it to the Harnett County semi-finals. They walked around that field so cocky. They got killed. The other team dominated the game. And they really did. It was one of those ones where we just hardly got any shots on goal and they must have gotten, you know, just tons of them. They had this one player on their team and she was awesome.

Oh yeah, my little chauvinist had no category for this. They had no way to process that the most awesome player they had dealt with all season was a girl. I have no idea who this girl was. In fact, it was about the time that Mia Hamm would have been 12 years old.

I went back and looked it up. She played nowhere near Harnett County. But she was like Michael Jordan with the soccer ball.

Anything a girl wanted to do, she could do. She was the best player we had encountered all season. She must have gotten 50 shots on goal.

10 minutes left to go in the second half for losing two to one. I pulled out one of our fullbacks, a kid named David. And I said, David, I am sick and tired of that girl getting shots on goal.

He said, me too, coach. I hate that girl. I said, David, you don't need to hate her, but we need to stop her. So David, that girl cannot get another shot on goal.

You understand me? Yes, sir, coach. David, you got one assignment for the remaining 10 minutes of this game. Yes, sir, coach. David, she is your assignment.

Anytime that girl steps foot in the penalty box with the ball, I want that girl on her rear end. You understand me, David? Yes, sir, coach. I said, David, that's your only assignment. I don't care if the guy next to you burst into flames. That's not your responsibility.

She is your responsibility. Yes, sir, coach. David turns around, starts to run back on the field. He gets about 10 feet from me.

I was like, David, do it legally because we'd worked on this. It was called a slide tackle. That's right. And so he goes back on the field. Two minutes pass by.

I honestly forgot about what I'd said to him because I'm noticing this genius come down the left side of the field. She goes through. She gets down to the corner. She goes through the right fullback. Like, I don't know what, when she's done, he's in the fetal position crying for his mom. She comes back up to the middle. David played stopper. It was the sweeper and the goalie, the only two people that were there. And she does something with her. She pump fake or something, but they just disappeared.

I don't know where those two guys went. So it's just her and a wide open goal. And about that time, this thought crosses my mind. I'm like, doggone it. She has done it again. She got a wide open goal. This is going to be it. This is the end of the game.

Now, the left side of my peripheral vision comes this blur. He's got this tractor beam on her and he just... He hits her from behind. I mean, full spread eagle attack.

I mean, it's beautiful. It's like a swan dive. He hits her, big cloud of dust. And it was one of those moments where everybody was like, did that just happen? That just happened.

And so the dust settles for a minute. And it was like everybody on the field, everybody in the field gets angry at once, right? Because they just realized what happened.

Their team, all for different reasons. Their team is angry because they think, you know, we try to take out their star player. The referee's angry because he's like, can you give a kid a red card when he's 12 years old and throw him out for the rest of the season? Our team is angry because they knew they handed the other team a penalty kick in the penalty box. Our parents are angry because they think psycho coach sent this kid in to take this little girl out.

And I'm thinking lawsuit. That's the only thing going on in my mind. So I was like, oh, you know, so I pulled David out of the game. I'm like, David, you got to pull him out of the game. And he comes in running over and he gets about 10 feet from me. And I'm like, David, son, what's wrong with you?

Like, I'm doing this for the parents because I want them to hear me say this. It's like, David, what's wrong with you, son? What were you thinking? Where's your brain?

Point your brain. And he points out and I said, David, what was that? He looks at me with this indignant and innocent little 12 year old face and he says, coach, you told me to take her out illegally. Illegally. He thought the last thing that I'd said to him before he went on the field was he thought that I said, David, do it nasty.

Just take her out. Now, here's the thing. He knew he was a good enough player that he knew the rules. He knew that he'd probably get a red card. He'd probably get grounded. He'd probably get jumped on the playground after this was over. But none of that care.

You want to know why? Because in his little warp 12 year old mind, the praise and the honor and the glory that came from the coach was worth anything else that he would go through. Essentially conversion to Jesus, conversion to Jesus is when you come to a place where the approval and the delight of a God that you can't see right now but whose face you'll know will stare into in eternity becomes so weighty to you that you're willing to endure anything, to be despised by everyone because his approval, his presence is such a delight to your soul that it makes you speak with joy inexpressible even in the midst of everything else going wrong. That's conversion to Christ. Conversion to Christ is not using God as a better means to a better family.

It's not a means to finding purpose, not a mean to finding balance. Conversion to Christ is when he becomes so valuable to you that everything else seems like nothing because of how much weight he has in your life. That's why Peter goes on to say, though you've not really seen him, you love him.

What? You love him. That's Christianity, love of him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that's inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith. What's the outcome of your faith? A great marriage? What's the outcome of your faith?

A new BMW? Health and prosperity? No, some of those may be side effects of your faith but he is the outcome of your faith. He is what you love and seek. The salvation of your souls. Salvation of your souls is when you understand that you get to be in the presence of God for eternity and you realize that God has been working all things for good in your life to get you to the place where you can understand and believe and delight in God. Simultaneously grievous pain and intense joy come from knowing him.

So that's the question. Can you believe in a God that's doing that right now in your life? That in the pain and in the disappointment that you're going through, that he's purifying you for himself, that he's preparing you for an inheritance that's beyond your comprehension. And do you sense the glory of that God and feel the weight of his love so much that it fills you now even in the midst of the deepest and darkest pain with inexpressible joy because of how valuable he is to you. You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. To find out more about this ministry, visit us anytime at I'm excited to share with you about our latest featured resource. It's a book called Scent, Living a Life That Invites Others to Jesus, written by Heather and Ashley Holliman. This husband and wife duo wrote this book as a resource for everyday Christians just like you and me to get us thinking about how to share the gospel in our everyday lives. If you've ever wondered how to initiate gospel conversations with the people around you, this book is for you. You'll learn practical ways to share the most meaningful message of all with people that you've known your whole life or people that you just met. We'd love to send you a copy of this really helpful book with your gift of $35 or more to this ministry today.

Simply give us a call at 866-335-5220 today or visit us online at Now let's get back to today's teaching. Once again, here's Pastor J.D. You say, well, J.D., where does that kind of faith come from?

I'd love to have that kind of faith. Well, he tells you there's two different places, and I'll do this really quickly. Verse four, he says it comes through the resurrection. It comes through the resurrection.

Let me point out something to you real quick. Do you understand how important the resurrection was to Peter? Because without the resurrection, none of this makes any sense, which is significant because I hear a lot of people say, well, you know, Jesus was a great moral teacher.

He was kind of years ahead of his time. He taught some awesome things, but the whole idea about him being God and raising from the dead, that was something that later Christians made up like three or four hundred years later. That wasn't part of the original apostles' baloney. You can see in 1 Peter that everything that Peter, what caused this transformation in Peter was the belief that Jesus actually got out of the grave.

Without the resurrection, all this is baseless to him. Peter went from being a guy that denied Christ in the space of an hour three times to being a guy who would literally give up everything for him. You know, church history tells us, John 21 tells us, that Peter was crucified upside down. Eusebius, the church historian, says that before Peter was crucified, the day before, he watched his wife be crucified. And his last words to her as she's drug out and nailed to a cross was, remember Christ, my beloved. Remember Christ.

What kind of joy, where does that transformation come from? It comes from the fact that Peter believed that Jesus rose from the dead and he says he believes it because he saw it with his own eyes. See, one thing is absolutely for certain. Peter believed Jesus rose from the dead. Now, you might say, well, he was deluded. He actually wasn't really Jesus.

It was somebody else that he saw. He saw some other dude walk around Jerusalem, thought it was Jesus. Boom, resurrection story.

You could believe that, but what you can't believe is that Peter didn't really believe that Jesus rose from the dead because everything he's saying in this transformation grows out of the resurrection. The reason, listen, the reason that I follow Jesus, I want you to understand this. The reason I follow Jesus is because I believe that what Jesus revealed was true and that it is verified by an empty tomb. I don't follow Jesus because he gives me a better moral system. I don't follow Jesus because he answers all my questions because you know what? He hasn't answered all my questions.

I got a long list of questions I can't explain to you. I don't follow Jesus because that's what my parents followed. I follow Jesus because what he revealed was true and it's verified by an empty tomb. That's why I follow Jesus. So you got to decide that. You got to decide.

I'm not telling you follow Christianity because that's just my preferred religion. Is it true? Is it true? Is the empty tomb, is it really empty? Because according to Peter, if it's not, it's all useless.

It's all useless. But if Jesus Christ really raised from the dead, that changes everything. You're like, oh, well, Christianity doesn't really work for me. I don't care if it works for you. My question is, is it true?

Because if it's true, then we'll figure out if it works for you or not. The resurrection is where that faith comes from. There's another place. Let me show it to you real quick. Verse 10. Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours, searched and inquired carefully. Inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.

Show me 12. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you and the things that have now been announced to you, the gospel, through those who preach the good news, gospel, to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Things into which, watch this, even the angels long to look. There is a reality that even the angels who stare into the face of God long, that word long is another very intense verb that means obsess. They're obsessed. Look means behold.

That's how you translate that word. There's a reality that the angels long to look into. That is the gospel. The other place this faith comes from is the mystery and the magnificence and the glory of the gospel. The gospel to me, y'all, is so mysterious because here I'm looking at a God who apparently loved me so much that not even death itself could stand in his way. Who took upon himself the penalty of my sin into himself so that he could rescue me? That's what the cross shows me. But then at the same time, over the years, I've had so many questions about faith. Why do innocent people suffer? Why do so few people seem to know about Jesus?

Why is there hell? I was listening to a guy named Sam Harris here today who's one of the new atheists. Just go off for about 10 minutes on an invective against Christianity. Go for 10 minutes. All these questions after about 10 minutes, why he doesn't believe. After about 10 minutes, I'm like, those are all my questions.

You and I have the same questions. But I look then at the cross and I see in the cross that that's what I deserve and my mouth is stopped because I know that's what I deserve. I understand my sinfulness against God and I understand that the world's under a curse because of sin. That the whole race of us, all of us, have rebelled against God. So I look at the cross and I see God's tenderness. I see a cross that I know should have been mine and I still got a lot of questions.

But then my mouth is stopped. And then I remember one of my favorite verses, Deuteronomy 29, 29, which says, the secret things belong to the Lord our God but the things that are revealed belong to us and our children forever. And what that means is this, there are some secret things that I probably will never understand this side of eternity because I just don't know God's thoughts. And even if God explained to me, I probably couldn't understand him because I'm not smart enough. Isaiah 55 verse 8, my thoughts are not your thoughts and my ways are not your ways and my ways are higher than your ways, about as high as the heavens are above the earth.

So you need to quit demanding that I explain everything to you because you don't have the mental capacity to understand it all. You know, if my power, my love, or what they say they are, imagine how much greater my wisdom is than yours. So I look at this stuff and I look at the mystery of the gospel and it blows my mind. And I say, okay, I'm always demanding that God give me explanation but God doesn't give me explanation, he gives me revelation. When I want answers, what God gives me is the gospel.

And he says, look into this. You stare at this and you base your understanding of me on what I revealed about myself at the cross. You'll see my magnificence and my mystery and yeah, there might be some things that you just don't understand. Oh God, but if you love me, how come I'm suffering the way that I am? Would you be willing to believe that there is a God who is as tender to you as the cross says he is?

Even if you can't understand what his wisdom is doing in your life right now. Oh God, why is it that innocent children suffer? Could you believe that there is a God that is so holy that the world is under a rightful curse because of that and everybody suffers because of that curse? You say, well, what about the kids? They didn't do anything wrong. They're going to grow up. When they grow up, they'll do the things wrong that all of us have done because all people choose to rebel against God. And by the way, God says that in eternity he gives an inheritance to those innocent ones that would make up for all the suffering in the world.

Could you believe in a God that was saying that those things were true? My faith grows in one place, the cross. So you see like Paul and John and every other Bible writer, Peter leaves you gazing at the cross. He tells you to stare deeply into the cross because there are mysteries there that not even the angels understand and they long to look into it. It is not often that I have the chance to quote from both Tim Keller and myself at the same time, okay?

Listen to this. One of the most startling passages in the Bible to me connects the magnificence of angels with the mystery of the gospel. Angels are incredibly majestic and powerful beings living in God's eternal presence, yet there is something that has happened on earth which is so stupendous that even these immortal beings experience the persistent longing to look into these things.

What are these things that could possibly and consistently consume the attention of God-fixated creatures? The answer is the gospel. The angels never get tired of looking into the gospel. That means there is no end to gospel exploration. There are depths in the gospel that are always there to be discovered and applied not only to our ministry and daily Christian life, but above all to the worship of the God of the gospel with renewed vision and humility. The underlying conviction in my preaching, pastoring, and writing, says Keller, is that the gospel, this eternally fascinating message craved by the angels, can change a heart, a community, and the world when it is recovered and applied. The cross, the mystery of the cross, the resurrection and the cross. My faith has found, says the hymn writer, a resting place.

Not in device or creed. I trust the ever-living one. His wounds, they plead for me. I need no other argument.

I need no other plea. It is enough that Jesus died and Maddie died for me. The cross and the resurrection is the place where your faith will go deep, so I invite you to just gaze into the gospel. Dwell on the gospel and let it ravage your soul to where you have inexpressible joy even in the midst of deep pain. Our joy, even during pain, is always found in the depths of the gospel and in the hope that we have because of our Savior, Jesus. You're listening to Summit Life and J.D.

Greer. To hear this message again, head over to where you can access our entire teaching library anytime for free. So, Pastor J.D., this month our featured resource talks about being on mission, and I think that a lot of us hear that and just sort of assume that it's for someone else. We don't think of ourselves as being spiritual enough to be a missionary. Yeah, that conversation that Jesus had with his disciples right before he went to heaven was not for a select few sacred Christians who had some mystical moment whereby God revealed to them that they were called to ministry. The sent identity was something Jesus gave to every single follower of Jesus.

Jesus said, Matthew 4 19, follow me and I'll make you a fisher of men. That means when you accepted Jesus, you accepted that call to mission. And so now it's just discovering what particular part of the mission he has for you. One of the resources that we are providing to go along with this series is a book called Sent, Living a Life That Invites Others to Jesus, and it'll help you discover the particular way that you're sent. How has God uniquely designed you? What opportunities has he created in front of you?

How do you identify those? How do you join God in what he's doing around you? I think you'll find it a very practical and helpful resource in not just understanding more about the sent identity in the Bible, but understanding more about your unique makeup and how God wants to use that in his kingdom. Check it out today. Just go to and you can find out about that. And we'd love to start a conversation with you about what God's doing in your life and how you can also be a part of what we do here at Summit Life. 335-5220 or visit us online at

Your support is essential to our mission, and we're so grateful for every contribution. I'm Molly Vidovitch. Tomorrow we're getting into the topic of spiritual warfare, and Pastor JD will reveal the most important weapon in the Christian arsenal. Do you have it?

And more importantly, are you using it? Find out Tuesday right here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-05 11:30:18 / 2023-06-05 11:41:32 / 11

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