Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of August 6, 2017

Sermon: “To Tell the Truth”
Text: Romans 9:1

“As a Christian, I’m telling the truth.  I’m not lying.  The Holy Spirit along with my own thoughts, supports me in this.”  (Romans 9:1)

This is how Paul begins the 9th chapter of his letter to the Romans.  So far in this letter, Paul has laid out the case that humanity is filled with sin and cannot free itself.  He has also testified to the answer to the problem of sin in the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross and now he appeals to the readers of his letter and to us today that his words are not some fanciful delusion or some hope filled desire.

He says that he is telling the truth.  His account of Jesus who died and rose again and is filled with grace and mercy…it’s all true. 

Many of you know that I am a huge Star Wars fan.  In the first Star Wars film, also known as Episode 4: A New Hope, the space smuggler Han Solo in conversation with Luke Skywalker about the Force says, “Kid, I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other, and I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen *anything* to make me believe that there's one all-powerful Force controlling everything. 'Cause no mystical energy field controls *my* destiny. It's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.”  

In Episode 7, The Force Awakens there is an interesting scene that takes place as new characters Rey and Fin run into Han Solo aboard his star ship the Millennium Falcon.  Han Solo, once the doubter of the Force now believes.  As Rey asks about Luke Skywalker and the Jedi Knights, he says, “The crazy thing is…it’s true…all of it!”

Now I realize that is a Hollywood movie and not reality.  While I may invoke the willing suspension of disbelief and give in to the force while wielding my light saber in my office, (and yes I do that every once in a while) I know that it’s just a movie.

We do live in a world that struggles with the truth.  You don’t have to look too far to find stories of fact checking or fake news.

It seems that everybody wants to believe in their own thing.  Some will even say that truth is just relative. 
Richard Whatley, archbishop of Dublin in the late 19th century once wrote, “Everyone wishes to have truth on his side, but not everyone wishes to be on the side of truth.”

Here in his letter to the Romans, Paul pauses to make his plea, I’m telling the truth.  I’m not lying.”  (Romans 9:1)

How often do you tell the truth?

It is said that “The truth cannot be told without words, but lies can be told in silence.”

What was Paul talking about when he wrote, “I’m telling the truth”?  Just flip back over the previous parts of the letter.

From Chapter 1-“God’s anger is revealed from heaven against every ungodly and immoral thing people do as they try to suppress the truth by their immoral living.” (v. 18) “These people have exchanged God’s truth for a lie.  So they have become ungodly and serve what is created rather than the Creator.” (v. 25)

From Chapter 2 “But he will bring anger and fury on those who, in selfish pride, refuse to believe the truth and follow what is wrong.” (v. 8)

From Chapter 3 “For all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.” (v. 23)

From Chapter 6-“The wages of sin is death.” (v. 23)

And From Chapter 7 “What miserable people we are!” (v. 24)

You want the truth?  Do you think you are entitled to answers? 

Well, in the words of Colonel Nathan Jessup, played by Jack Nicholson in the movie A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth!”

You are a poor miserable sinner and there is nothing you can do about it.  That is the truth!

If you are like me, you’ve tried to hide it, tried to deny it.  You’ve tried to fix it or forget about it.  We are not truth tellers.  We use our words to get us out of trouble but get stuck in a web of lies.

The inconvenient truth is that you have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Your punishment?  Death!

But Paul does not leave us without hope.  He does not abandon us to the grave.  He points us to Christ. 

So if you are troubled by your sin, hear the words of Christ Himself:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:1-6)

Jesus is the truth that Paul is talking about!

You might not be able to handle the truth, but the truth can handle you!  Jesus the way, the truth, and the life can handle your sin, he can handle your sorrow, he can handle your doubt and your disease, your fears and your failures and He nailed them to the cross so that you could be His.

There is only one truth, one reality, namely the truth embodied in Jesus Christ. 

As the Word from eternity, He created all that we see. 

As the one sent from the Father, He came to restore the truth of God’s love and salvation for us all. 

As the way, the truth and the life, He came to bring us into God’s kingdom and to send us His Spirit of truth to keep us in His way.

In Christ you are forgiven!  That is the truth!

Listen to the truth that Paul tells at the end of chapter 8 in his letter to the Romans. 
“What can we say about all of this? If God is for us, who can be against us? God didn’t spare his own Son but handed him over to death for all of us. So he will also give us everything along with him.  Who will accuse those whom God has chosen? God has approved of them.  Who will condemn them? Christ has died, and more importantly, he was brought back to life. Christ is in the honored position—the one next to God the Father on the heavenly throne. Christ also intercedes for us.  What will separate us from the love Christ has for us? Can trouble, distress, persecution, hunger, nakedness, danger, or violent death separate us from his love?  As Scripture says:

“We are being killed all day long because of you. We are thought of as sheep to be slaughtered.”

 The one who loves us gives us an overwhelming victory in all these difficulties.  I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation.” (Romans 8:31-39)

That is the truth, and in that truth we find freedom; freedom from the shackles of sin and freedom in Christ alone! He is the truth that handles us.

-Pastor Seth Moorman


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