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The Great Drama of God

About six weeks ago we began our visual theology message series – based on the book by Tim Challies and Josh Byers. And as you can see on the title page, there are four main components that make up this series. These are like the four reasons why we want to study Theology (or why we want to study God)… These are four things that every Christian should want to do.

#1. We want to grow close to Christ, 

#2. we want to understand the work of Christ, 

#3. we want to become like Christ, and 

#4. we want to live for Christ.

Those are the four main reasons why we are studying theology – and these four components form the basic outline for these messages. 

In the first component, which Greg just finished for us last week, we talked all about how to grow close to Christ. In that section, we talked about everything from how the Gospel connects us to Christ to our new identity in Christ. We looked at how God speaks to us through the Bible, and how we speak to God through prayer. These are the basics of growing close to Christ.

The second component of this series (that we’re going to start looking at today) is designed to help us understand the work of Christ. In other words, not only do we want to have a personal relationship with Christ, but be also want to understand what He is doing in the world. This is a key element of the Christian faith – we need to understand what God has done, what He is doing right now, and what He’s going to do in the future.

You see, the Bible tells us that we are living smack-dab in the middle of an incredible story! We are all part of God’s unfolding drama. Our life on this planet is just one scene in an eternal, cosmic story that’s been playing out since time began. It’s like God is the ultimate writer and director and the world is the stage for his drama to unfold.

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The Bible Does…

So last week we were reminded of the many characteristics of the Bible.

It’s authoritative. It’s trustworthy. It’s without error. It’s alive. It’s powerful. It’s cohesive. It’s truth. It is the Word of God.

Simply knowing what the Bible is should be reason enough for us to want to spend time daily reading God’s Word – hearing what God has to say to us.

But we can’t stop with just reading it. Simply reading God’s Word isn’t enough. That’s a critical step #1, but step #2 is equally important – and that is that we have believe it and obey it. We have to live our lives in a way that reflects what we’ve just read.

James talks about this in James chapter 1, starting at verse 21….

So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
James 1:21-25

We can’t just read the Bible – we have to accept it as truth and then live accordingly! If we don’t, James says it’s like glancing at your face in the mirror. Most of us do this every morning, we get up glance into the bathroom mirror – and we’re usually appalled at what we see! Crusties in the corners of our eyes, hair looking like we just went at it with the weed-whacker, drool residue on the side of our face – maybe even some pimples that grew up over night.

When we look in the mirror, the mirror tells us the painful truth. We’ve got some issue that we need to deal with. The question is: What do we do when we see that truth?

Do we walk away and forget what we look like? Do we just go on through our day oblivious to the disaster on our face? Hopefully not! As I look out at your smiling faces this morning, it looks like most of you – when you saw the truth in the mirror this morning – you did something about it!

You combed your hair. You washed your face. You popped the pimples or whatever…. But you addressed the issues that you saw in the mirror.

Well, we have to do that when we read the Bible too! When we read the Bible, it’s very much like a mirror – it shows us the things in our lives that we need to change. It tells us the truth about our situation. It points out the areas where our attitudes and actions are out of line with God’s.

Like we read in 2 Timothy 3:16 last week:

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16

The Bible makes those things quite clear. But the question is: what will we do about it when we see the truth?

When we read those things that point out where we’re off track, will we walk away and just ignore the issues in our life – or will we actually do something about it?

Like James says, we can’t just listen to God’s Word – we must do what it says. Otherwise, we’re only fooling ourselves!

But on the flip side of that, if we do listen to and obey God’s Word – James tells us that we will be blessed. He writes in verse 25….

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The Bible Is…

To begin this morning, I want to ask you a question that I’ve often asked at the end of my messages, but I don’t think I have ever asked it right at the beginning. Preachers will quite often ask a question like this one as the concluding thought of the sermon – it’s the main point that everything has been driving towards. After all has been said and done, this is the question that they want you to take home and think about and hopefully act upon….

And the question is:

Do you have a personal relationship with God?

Normally this question is asked to encourage you to think about accepting Christ as your Saviour – to make that first time decision to follow Jesus and become a Christian.

But that’s not necessarily where I’m going with this one today. 

The question is not “Do you want to become a Christian?” – The question is “Do you have a personal relationship with God?”

And maybe before you answer that question, I should define what a personal relationship is. You see, having a personal relationship with someone requires having personal interactions with them.

For example, I do not have a personal relationship with Donald Trump. I believe he exists. I believe he has said things and done things that have impacted my life (to a certain extent). I’ve even read some of his tweets and heard him speak on tv. But I do not have a personal relationship with him – because the two of us have never had any personal interactions. We’ve never had a conversation – we’ve never emailed back and forth. We’ve had no personal interactions with each other – and therefore I do not have a personal relationship with him.

So when I ask the question “Do you have a personal relationship with God?” – I’m not asking if you believe he exists or if you believe that he has said and done things that have impacted your life. I’m not asking if you’ve read some books about God or heard a preacher preach about God.

I’m asking if you personally have some sort of interactions with God. Are there times when you speak and He listens and are there times when He speaks and you listen? Because that’s what a personal relationship is all about.

It’s two people speaking and listening to each other – it’s the two-way street of communication. Without those back-and-forth interactions, it’s pretty hard to say that you have a personal relationship with someone.

As Christians we have the awesome privilege of having a personal relationship with God. God has invited us to have personal interactions – those back-and-forth conversations with Him – which is pretty amazing when you think about it. 

We think it’s pretty awesome when we meet a famous actor or athlete – We’re thrilled when they say three sentences to us and autograph our posters. But how much more awesome is it that the Creator of the universe wants to connect with you and interact with you on a regular basis?!

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Our Identity in Christ

This morning I want to begin with a mini-interview. I know that Greg has been part of our church for a couple of years now, but I think there are still some people who don’t really know Greg all that well. So I’m going to ask Greg to come up here and I want to have a brief interview with him.

So Greg, come on up here. Actually, I just want to ask you just a single question, but I think this question will really help us get some insight into who you really are. So here is your question: Who are you? That’s the one question I want you to answer. Who are you?

[ Greg to respond several “I am….” statements  ie… I am Rob & Nancy’s son, I am Nicole’s husband,… (uncle, brother, son-in-law, neighbour to, oilers fan, etc…) ]

As you can see, there are a lot of different aspects that make up our identity. Things like the family that we’ve come from or the relationships we’ve grown into –  things like the jobs we have or positions we hold – things like the hobbies we enjoy or the sports teams we cheer for. There are a lot of aspects that blend together to create our identity.

But the interesting thing about our identity is that some aspects never change – while other aspects do. For example, Greg will always be the son of Rob & Nancy Waddy – that will never change. He will always be their child. However, he may not always be an Oiler’s fan. One day He might see the light!

Maybe that’s not the best example. How about this: Last year at this time, he was not the husband of Nicole. But today, he is.

As of August 10, 2019, Greg’s identity changed. And with that, his entire life changed. In fact, he’s probably still adjusting to his new identity as a husband. He’s learning to act like a husband, he’s learning to think like a husband, he’s learning to take on the responsibilities of a husband. And for those of us who have been there, we realize what a huge adjustment it is to take on this new identity that comes with marriage.

But it’s critical that we do take on that identity, because there are always responsibilities and privileges that comes with every aspect of our identity. 

For example, as a child of Rob & Nancy, Greg had many privileges – they fed him for years, they gave him a place to live, they provided for his needs, they gave him love and support. He got that all simply because he was their child. But at the same time, he had some responsibilities to them. He needed to obey them – he was subject to their authority. I’m sure he had some responsibility to help around the house (cleaning his room or washing the dishes or whatever) – and now, as they grow older, he’ll have the responsibility to help to care for them in their old age – and that all comes simply because of his identity their child.

In the same way, when Greg takes on his new identity as a husband – that too comes with certain privileges and responsibilities simply because he is now Nicole’s husband.

So it’s critical that Greg embraces this new identity as a husband. If Greg fails to do this, he is not going to have a happy life! Not only will he miss out on the joys and privileges of being a husband, but if he neglects his responsibilities as a husband, he’s going to cause Nicole to miss out on the joys and privileges of being a wife.

And certainly, embracing and adjusting to his new identity takes time, but it’s so important that Greg makes that transition from living and acting like ‘single Greg’ to living and acting like ‘husband Greg’. 

And I don’t say all this to pick on Greg! Just for the record, I think Greg & Nicole are doing a fantastic job of learning to be husband and wife! But I know it’s a challenge – because I’ve been there. I’m still there! It’s a long process to embrace this new identity!

And the fact is that all of us have to go through this process. Not necessarily the process of taking on a new identity in marriage, but the Bible tells us that then when we accept Christ as our Saviour, we take on a new identity as a Christian.

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Remembering the Gospel

Most people are pretty intimidated by any words that end in ‘ology’. When we hear things like ‘neurophycology’ or epidermeolgy’ – our eyes almost immediately gloss over – assuming that this topic is far too complex or complicated for us to understand. That’s stuff for people with PHds – We best leave that for the experts to talk about.

So when we hear the word ‘theology’ we might be inclined to react the same way. We might think theology is just something for pastors (and Brian) to talk about. It’s something that is studied in Bible school or Seminary – but it doesn’t really have a place in every day life. Theology is something you discuss with your professor – not your kids or your co-workers.

That’s often the concept we have of theology, but that’s not the case at all!

The word theology simply means “the study of God.” 

Just like how we study life in biology or we study the stars in astronomy – in the same way, we study God in theology.

Theology is our attempt to understand who God is and what He is like and what He is done. 

And theology is critical for every Christian. Without theology, we would know nothing of Jesus. We would know nothing of the cross. We would know nothing of our own sin. We would know nothing of salvation. We would know nothing about anything of eternal value!

As Christians, if we claim to know and love God – theology has to be part of our lives.

  • I mean, really, how could we love a God that we don’t know?
  • How can we obey God without knowing his instructions?
  • How can we honour and glorify God without knowing what things bring Him honour and glory?

Theology is critical to the Christian life.

Now that being said, I understand that ‘theology’ is still an intimidating word. Even for those of us who went to Bible school, when we hear the word theology, we probably envision a big thick textbook, filled with words like ‘justification’ and ‘sanctification’ and ‘propitiation’ – and we’re feeling lost even before we get started!

But that’s exactly why I’m so excited for this sermon series that we’re starting today. Sometime ago I order a book called “Visual Theology” by Tim Challies and Josh Byers. And the idea behind this book is to help people grasp the keys ideas in theology by presenting them in an easy to understand way – complete with lots of visual aids in the form and style of infographics.

I thought this would be a cool ‘coffee-table’ kind of a book that I could just leave out and people might flip through when they come over to visit or whatnot. But when I got the book and read through it, I enjoyed it so much and I found it to be so helpful to me that I wanted to share it with you.

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The Work of the Holy Spirit

I’d like to think that we’re a friendly church, and so I imagine when most of you arrived here today, you were greeted by a smiling face and the question that starts off near every single small-talk conversation that you’ve ever had. And that question is: How are you?

Sometimes there is some variation in the wording of the question – sometimes it’s ”How’s it going?” or “How was your week?” or “How was work?”

But the main thrust of the question is all the same. Really we’re inviting the other person to describe their recent experiences in life. 

And how do most people answer the question “How are you?” 

“Good”.

That’s the typical answer: “I’m good – how are you?” That’s not always the truthful answer, but that’s the standard answer that most people give and what most people expect. Occasionally, however, you’ll meet someone who actually tells you the truth – and most often in those cases, it’s not “I’m good”. It’s usually “I’m not good at all, let me tell you about my terrible life….”

And I don’t bring this all up to convince you to be more or less brutally honest in your small-talk conversations – but I do want you to truthfully consider the question: How are you?

Really. How are you? If you had to describe your life as you reflect on your last week or your last few months or even your last few years – how would you describe it? Is your life mundane? Exciting? Painful? Discouraging? Challenging? And I’m sure there are moments of all those things – but overall, how would you describe your life?

How would you finish this sentence? My life is _______________.

Hard? Easy? Crazy? Pointless? Amazing? How would you describe your life?

Well, Jesus once said – in John 10:10…

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