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Forward By Faith

The Verdict / John Munro
The Truth Network Radio
March 27, 2023 1:18 pm

Forward By Faith

The Verdict / John Munro

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Well, I count it indescribable privilege to be a pastor here at Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. It's difficult to believe that Goody and I have served here for over 17 years. We have three grandchildren.

You're very kind. But we have three grandchildren, all who were born just a few miles from us at Atrium in Pineville. We are very, very thankful to the Lord for them, although all of them do speak with southern accents.

They live in Fort Mill, so there you are. Life is not perfect for any of us. But we love them.

Our son Christopher, as many of you know, is buried just a few yards from us in Calvary's Magnolia Garden Cemetery. So as Goody and I have come here to live in Charlotte to minister at Calvary Church, we have experienced the highest joys and also the deepest valleys at Calvary. And we often sing of God's amazing grace. Amazing is an overworked word.

People use it for ice cream or for trivial things in life or just the ordinary events of life, and it really demeans the word. But John Newton got it right when he thanked God for the amazing grace that saves wretches like us. And we can testify of that amazing grace, an amazing grace which not only saves us, but an amazing grace which sustains us in all circumstances of life. I can testify of that, that God's grace is always sufficient. That's one of the great promises of the Word, that whatever your circumstances, whether you're on the mountaintop or in the valley, God will give you all of the grace, all of the strength that you need for this day. This is a grace then that saves us, a grace that sustains us, and I am convinced that this is the grace that will lead us safely home to be forever with the Lord.

Isn't it wonderful to be a follower of Jesus Christ? Calvary Church is unique in many ways. Its iconic structure, its location, its superb location in Charlotte makes us one of the most visible and one of the best known churches in the Carolinas and beyond. But while we appreciate the superb campus and the location, what makes Calvary unique is not our buildings, is not our location, but rather our unswerving commitment to the Word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ. Our rapidly changing culture, our rapidly changing culture seeks to pull us, doesn't it, into the shifting sands of political correctness, of relativism, of cultural Christianity, of a gospel of prosperity and self-help, to have a church of entertainment, of expressive individualism, a culture, even a church culture where God's Word is marginalized and increasingly denied, a culture where many preachers see themselves more as inspirers rather than proclaimers of the living Word of God. So today we praise God, and as your pastor, I praise God that Calvary Church continues to stand fully committed to our mission of being and making authentic followers of Jesus Christ.

That's why we exist. If you're here without Christ, we want to tell you that there is salvation in this wonderful Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And if you are a follower of Christ, we want to help you to follow Christ more closely, to listen to Him more carefully, and to have all of life focused on our Lord Jesus Christ. Because this Christ who saves us, calls us to be counter-cultural. He doesn't call us to retreat into our spiritual cocoons, so we can enjoy that, and we enjoy Christian fellowship, and that is very important.

But He does more than that. He calls us from the world into Himself, to the person of His Savior, and then He calls us to go out, to be lights illuminating the darkness, and what a dark world spiritually and morally we live in. He calls us to be salt, the salt of the earth permeating the corruption wherever you are, my dear Christian friend.

You are to be alight. You are to be salt, and I'm very thankful for the leadership of Calvary and this congregation, which continues to be committed to reaching out, not just retreating in, but reaching out, welcoming all who come, and helping all to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Reaching out, welcoming in, and growing deep. Now today is a very exciting day in the history of Calvary Church, as most of you know. It's a day of commitment, a day when we examine our faith, and a day when we all have an opportunity to give generously and I trust joyfully to the Lord.

As we think of the new expansion and for the commitments that you'll have the opportunity to give at the end of this service, again I say, if you can't give joyfully, if you can't give with a willing heart, don't give because God seeks from His people to give, not by compulsion, not to, as it were, earn our way into heaven, far from that, but to give joyfully as an act of worship. Now turn in your Bibles to a very familiar passage. In fact, let's stand and read it.

I think we have it on the screen. There we are. This is familiar to us. If you've come to Calvary Church for any length of time, you know the importance of these verses, but I want us this morning to renew our commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let's read it, for I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith. As it is written, the righteous shall live by faith. Amen.

Please be seated. Forward by faith. And as we think of that, I want to get to the basic that Calvary Church today, we renew our commitment to the gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and remind ourselves that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. That's our theme verse for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ coming from Revelation 1, that the central figure of all of Scripture, Old Testament and New Testament is our Lord Jesus Christ. After His resurrection, before His ascension, He's speaking to some of His disciples.

They take a little while to realize who is speaking to them on the road to Emmaus, and Luke records in Luke 24 verse 27 that our Lord with these few disciples, it says, beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He interpreted to them the things concerning Himself in all of Scripture. That whatever you read in Scripture, it points us to our Lord Jesus Christ. John Stott said, just as all roads in England lead to London, so all roads in Scripture lead to our beautiful Lord Jesus Christ. He is the central figure of Scripture. He's the central figure of human history. He's the central figure of all of eternity. And I trust He will always be the central figure here at Calvary Church, the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The gospel, the good news that comes from God to us is all about our Lord Jesus Christ, and your eternal destiny and mine hinges on our personal relationship to the central character of the universe, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. There is none like Him, nor will there ever be anyone like Him. He stands unique. Unique in His birth, He's born of a virgin. Unique in His life, He is sinless. Unique in His teaching, only He can say, I am the light of the world. I am the bread of life. I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father apart from Him. No other human being ever could speak in such terms. He also has a unique death, the Lamb of God bearing the sins of the world.

He has a unique exit from our world, rising from the dead on the third day. This is our Lord Jesus Christ. Calvary Church focuses not on you, not on me, but on our matchless, unique Savior, Jesus Christ. Between the Holy God and us, there is sin. You know that. You have that in your own heart.

I have that. We sin. We come short.

We come short of the standard, the very glory of God. But Jesus comes from heaven to us and dies for our sins. He stands supreme, the risen Savior, and still says, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Many of you know our sister, Rama, who is a member at Calvary for many years, worked as a faithful teacher with our child development center, diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, went home to be with the Lord last Monday.

Her funeral is tomorrow. We will miss her, but we realize this, that her faith was in this Lord Jesus Christ who still says, because I live, you shall live also. This is the uniqueness of the Christian faith, that when our trust is in Christ, it is an unbreakable bond, and that death itself cannot separate us from our Lord Jesus Christ. Because when Jesus comes to this world, He comes not as a mere prophet, not as a mere teacher, not even as a mere miracle worker. He comes as a Savior to die for our sins.

We sometimes say, bearing shame and scoffing rude in my place, condemned He stood. And we firmly believe that this unique Lord Jesus Christ who comes from earth to heaven, lives a sinless life, takes our sin in His own body on the tree, rises from the dead, ascends to His Father and His God, is seated at the right hand of God, is coming back. We believe He's coming soon. He says, I will come again.

As I say, there's none like Him, nor will there ever be anyone like Him. Therefore, those of us who have placed our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are forever changed. How can we view life? How can we view the future the same way?

No, everything is different. You don't need to worry, as sometimes people do, whether or not there's going to be a nuclear holocaust. Is China and Russia going to get together and put some nuclear weapon on the United States, on Europe?

I don't know. I don't worry about that. I trust it doesn't happen. We don't worry about a possible World War III. No, we are secure in our Lord Jesus Christ. And the promise of the gospel, the unique promise of the gospel, is that as He gives us eternal life, we shall never perish. Unless Christ comes, all of us will die.

We go from time into eternity. And how important it is that you and I are right with God. There's only one way, the way of Jesus. The gospel is believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you'll be saved. You're either going to spend all of eternity with our Savior or in hell itself.

Yes, we believe in hell. We believe there is judgment for those who reject our Savior. This is why at Calvary Church, we preach this message from this pulpit. Not only here, this is why we teach our children and our students. This is why we proclaim Christ in our life groups and our Bible studies, so that in the grace of God, many are reached for the gospel.

This is good news. We can't contain it to ourselves. There are people around us, people around you, who have never really heard the authentic message of the gospel. They may go to church. They may hear some five little tips to help them through life, so that God is there to help them fulfill their dreams. That's not the gospel. The gospel is Christ died for our sins, was buried, and on the third day rose again. And we seek to take this message to reach out, not just in our community, although we do that, but further afield and further afield, so that people in the remote part of this world will understand that there's only one true God, and the only way of salvation is through Jesus Christ. We want to help such people, to welcome them into the family of God, and to help them grow in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as we enter the kingdom of God, as we're born again, we're spiritual babies. Now we must grow.

Now we must be grounded. I'm going to speak on that subject tonight. I invite you to come back at six o'clock, so that we spend at least 15 minutes in this Word, so that we are strong, so that we are grounded, so that we're not blown around by the latest fad in our society or the latest false heresy in some churches, that we are rooted and grounded in the Word of God. And as we come, as we came this morning, we come not to entertain ourselves. We come not to critique the musicians or the preachers, although some of you are going to do that and that's OK. But why do we come? As the people of God, we come to worship God. There's so many distractions, aren't there?

Because we live, pressures, pressures of your work, pressures of business, family worries, health concerns, all kinds of issues crowd into our life, don't they? And so we come, setting them all aside as it were, seeking to see them in the light of the gospel, so that we can worship our great God, that we can exalt our Savior, so that we can survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died, that we learn from our Savior, that we listen to Him, that we live, as it were, in the fear of this great God, that we love Him, that we obey Him, and we seek to serve Him wherever, wherever He leads us. And so we must never depart from the gospel. We must never do what some churches are doing, just to change the message, make it more user friendly, make it less objectionable, take away the whole concept of sin that seems so negative we're told. The reason it's negative is because we're sinners, and unless we repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, we will never be saved. And so we make it our fundamental commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ, because this Christ who saves us commands us to make disciples.

That's one of the reasons we're expanding our premises. I said last night at one of our dinners, buildings don't excite me. That's not God's call in my life. I'm called to be a preacher of grace, to be a shepherd of souls. I'm not called to be a building contractor or an architect.

Praise God we have such people in the community of believers. No. It's not the building as such. The building is a means to an end. It's not to people that say, oh, that's a beautiful building at Calvary Church.

No. We want to know that this is for the glory of God, to reach more people for Christ, to give them an authentic welcome, to help them grow in their faith, to have conversations about Christ in their new café, to get down on their knees in their prayer room and to cry out to God, to have extra classrooms for our life groups, for our Bible studies, for children's ministries, for the expansion of Calvary Christian Academy. And through it all, we must continue a commitment we made several years ago as we built the Life Center, a commitment not only to this generation, but to the next generation, and the next generation, and the next generation. So that in generations to come, perhaps when most of us are with the Lord Jesus, that if He is not returned, that Calvary Church will stay focused on the gospel, on the Word of God, so that our children, your children and grandchildren and neighbors and friends still hear the old, old story of Jesus and His love. That's our commitment. And what a great investment to make.

How do you spend your money? I'm calling on you to be passionate about the gospel. I'm calling on you to give generously, because our expansion means that we continue our commitment to the Word of God and to the gospel of Jesus Christ. So the financial commitment which we make will be used to reach more for Christ, to welcome more who come onto this campus as they come in their thousands, to be as it were a house of prayer for all of the nations.

I've noticed in the 17 years I've been here at, in Charlotte, how many, many more people from all over the world find it here. I don't know how many different nationalities we have represented at Calvary Church, but we have many. That people from all over the world come here and to think that as they come from all of the nations, this would be a house of prayer for all the nations, as Jesus said, to help people grow deep, to put their roots in the Word of God, that in a crazy world, Calvary Church would stand as a light on a hill in love, in truth, sending out the glorious message of the gospel. Not ashamed, as we just read and as our children sang a few weeks ago, not ashamed of the gospel.

Why would you ever be ashamed of being a follower of Christ? In the midst of all of the confusion in our society, in all of the political rhetoric and vitriol, to stand as men and women and students and boys and girls who love Jesus Christ and who speak for Christ and who display the beauty and the grace and the holiness of our Lord Jesus Christ. That's the gospel. And as we go forward, we must go forward by faith. We're going to read, and I invite you to turn in your Bibles to Hebrews chapter 13, because I want to remind us that the Christian life is a life of faith. And our giving today, think of it, is to be an act of faith. Hebrews 11 is one of the famous chapters in the Bible. It's a hall of faith where the writer rehearses many of the great men and women of the Old Testament who lived by faith, who walked by faith, and who died, still trusting God. Hebrews 11, let me read first of all the first three verses. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

For by it, the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the Word of God, so that what is seen, notice this, this is so important, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. Verse 6, and without faith, this is a verse well worth memorizing, without faith it is impossible to please God. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists, and that He rewards those who seek Him. You're seeking after God?

You've got to believe that He is, and that He's a rewarder of those who seek Him. Now what's the nature of faith? The writer is saying here and continues to say throughout this wonderful chapter that faith sees the invisible. You say, well that's impossible. If it's invisible, by definition you can't see it.

That's the point. Faith sees the invisible. And here in verse 1, the writer of Hebrews summarizes what faith does. Our faith gives us the assurance, the conviction, the basis, the support, and the substance of what we hope for. Faith then is an assurance. It's a conviction of what we do not yet see.

Think of it as followers of Christ. There are things, truths, which are invisible to us, but faith binds us securely to these invisible realities. Putting it another way, faith in a sense brings the future into the present. The person who doesn't have faith can't accept future realities, such as the Lord's return, such as the resurrection of the body, such as heaven itself. The person who has no faith can't see what God will do through Calvary Church in the future. The person without faith only sees the past and the present. Faith sees the future. The person without faith only sees obstacles. The person without faith is a critic. The person without faith can't see beyond the present.

The future invisible realities, they're blind to them. And today, as we make our commitment, we do so by faith. It brings the future into the present. The future is impacting the present and calling for us in the present to respond to what we cannot yet see. Someone this week sent this quote by Catherine Booth of the Salvation Army. I thought it was very good in this context. She says, if we are to better the future, we must disturb the present. Future realities.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-05 13:02:14 / 2023-11-05 13:10:53 / 9

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