Monday, November 22, 2010

Almost Preaching the Gospel

As the youth pastor at my church I get to preach to the whole body every once in awhile. My pastor/friend, Andy has been gracious to allow me to preach out of the series he is currently doing in John. I am humbled each time I stand up to deliver to the saints the mystery in which angels long to look into - namely the gospel of Jesus. This past week was no exception.

My text was John 5:18-47 - a lengthy answer that Jesus gives to the religious leaders. The heart of the passage is Jesus defense of his equality with God, or His deity as it were. I carefully studied the passage all week and decided to cover mainly verses 30-47, in which Jesus explains those who give testimony toward Him being God. Jesus states that John the Baptizer, Jesus' works, God the Father, the Scriptures and Moses point to or declare His divinity. The reason John writes his gospel is stated clearly in John 20:31; "These things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name." So, John is not rolling out these witnesses' here for nothing. Jesus' testimony to the religious leaders builds John's case in the defense of imploring his readers that Jesus is the Son of God. This passage should do one of two things in a person; either strengthen existing faith or cause the person to examine whether or not they have put their trust in Jesus.

But Jesus is also laying out a counter charge to his listeners and to us. For the religious leaders they would have been men, who in the line of Abraham believe in the God of Isaac and Jacob, and who would have taught the Law of God and were supposed to be familiar to the Scriptures, Jesus brings the accusation that they are actually opposed to God, because they oppose belief in Jesus. We stand with them in opposition. Some of us in familiarity with the things of God and some in the their ignorance to the things of God. In our selfish, vain attempts at our own salvation. Jesus counter charges are seen in five ways. He says to them, of them, that "you do not have God's word abiding in you", that "you refuse to come to me", that "you do not have the love of God within you", that "you do not receive me", and "if you believed Moses, you would believe me."

I then said, that there are two types of people here today - those who believe and are still trusting in their works and those who could care less and are do nothing. And here is where I failed to preach the Gospel. I got somethings out of order as I was trying to wax poetically about posers and how there are religious posers. I never brought it back to land on the gospel. That it is not about what we do or don't do, it is about what HE did. I had laid guilt upon their hearts and minds and never brought it back to the Gospel. I mentioned the Gospel earlier in the message. How we need to please God only by faith. I even quoted John Piper. He says, "Faith is a being satisfied with all that God is for us in JESUS, not just an assent to truths (past or future) but heartfelt valuing and treasuring of all that God promises to be for us in Jesus."

That would have been nice after the two types of people remark. If I had only said Jesus is the third person - He was the only completely obedient one. We need to put our hope and trust in Him - we need to believe Him and what He has done - namely believe the Gospel. And instead I left everyone in the darkness of their guilt. No grace or hope was offered.

I failed Sunday to do the one thing I was trying to get everyone else to do - believe the Gospel. A friendly lady in our church messaged me on Facebook and shared with me her concerns. Ironically, they were the same as my wife's as we talked about it that late afternoon. I explained that I missed the mark and this is how I responded to her:

First of all, THANK YOU!
Thanks for listening and being willing to provide push back on something you heard that you disagreed with. With that being said, let me explain.
I missed the mark. I missed communicated. Your being rubbed the wrong way about the two types in the church was exactly the problem my wife had with my message. I should have followed that statement with the my whole reasoning for why I said it. There are only two types because Jesus is the third type. He was the only one utterly obedient. And when we put our trust and rest in Him and lean on that hope than we no longer have to perform or be the poser. AND you are right, that would lend itself to the third type, I suppose, the Gospel Centered person. I was merely trying to convince us that we don't have it all together - no one really does - and that by Faith we can walk in Jesus' grace that we don't have it all together and the Father still accepts us. I totally did not communicate that at all. I thought long and hard about it last night (so much so my heart and head hurt). I failed to do the one thing I was asking everyone to believe in - Give the hope of the Gospel. I think i rushed it and did not finish my thought and you were not the only one to think so. I know I ticked off a few others. I don't believe that our church is full of posers - but I do want our church to believe the gospel fully - that it's not about what you or I do it is about what He did. And therefore we "do" out of gratitude, love, faith and realizing that Jesus is our treasure.

I messed up, and I hope that you give me the benefit of the doubt that I do not believe we are without hope. I am a little glad, however that it stirred you up enough to write to me about it. At least so that I could explain and hopefully we can still be friends. :)
I just want people to fully lean on all that God has promised to be for us in Jesus. I played the role of the guilt layer devil on Sunday without offering the hope of the rejoicing Father. And for that I am sorry. Please, don't give up on me. We love you, too!

So, maybe people are talking about the Gospel. And maybe some will extend to me the grace I failed to speak of Sunday.


Anonymous said...

I love you, big guy. But I gotta confess that I failed you big time. I hardly prayed for you at all over the preceding week, even though I knew you were going to be preaching. I didn't make it a big enough priority. I'm sorry. God has been convicting me about my mediocre prayer life, but He's also challenged me, encouraged me, and given me tools to help me grow. This is one thing he pointed out - how I failed in my obligation as your brother in Christ to adequately have your back in prayer. So I need grace, too :D But the beauty of the Gospel is that our failures are not merely warrants sending us to death and hell, but opportunities for God's glory to shine and for us to learn and serve Him better in the future.

brianmetz said...

Thanks Zach!