Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sermon, Part 2

This is the text of my sermon preached today at International Christian School

2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 John

“The Miracle of the New Birth—Signs You Are Born Again”

International Christian School

October 28, 2009

Wow, I’m so sorry I’m late. You see, I had to go back to my room because I forgot something, and on my way down the stairs, I fell. And I fell really hard. So I went to the bathroom to make sure everything was ok. And while I was putting water in my face, three people grabbed me and pinned me against the wall and one person started punching me. He completely beat me up, and after I hit the floor, they started kicking me in the face. I’m pretty sure they broke a couple ribs and my nose. Anyway, I hope I’m not too late.

Wait, you don’t look like you believe me. Why?

But Mr. Zanger, let’s be serious—if three men started beating you up and punching you and kicking you in the face, there’s no way you would be here right now, talking with us. There would be signs of your beating.

Now, let me be serious—if three men overpowering me would show effects, how much more effect would God—who is incredibly more powerful than any three men—have on me.

If you say that the God of all creation has come into your life, then there is one thing that we better see—an effect.

Pray with me…

I’ll be honest with you…this is, without a doubt, one of the most difficult sermons I will ever preach. It’s frightening because some of you will be sitting out there thinking about how every one else needs to hear this sermon. Instead, YOU should be listening to this sermon. It’s scary because in preaching this, some of you might take it as me judging you and will throw me and this sermon and God and the Bible away. It’s scary because this will make some of you very angry with me. It’s scary because if I’m in error, I have brought the judgment of God upon me.

The question I want to raise today is “How do I know I’m a Christian?”

· Is it because you prayed a prayer when you were 6?

· Is it because a preacher pronounced you saved?

· Is it because you “believe”? How do you know you believe?

· Is it because you wrote “I was saved on ________” in your Bible?

· Is it because you walked down an aisle?

· Is it because you repeated a prayer after someone?

I’m here to tell you that if you believe that because you did one of those things, that is assurance that you will get into heaven, you are not basing your assurance of salvation on the right criteria.

2 Corinthians 13:5

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Right now, are you a Christian? The Apostle Paul is crying out for you to examine yourself. Test yourselves. Examine your lives. Examine your heart. Test your lives. Test your hearts.

Here’s my great fear for some of you in the room. You were here during any Spiritual Emphasis Week…emotions were high, you cried, and you called yourself saved. Or, somebody declared you were a Christian—I did that once, much to my shame. You went to a Worship Zone or Cross-Led Generation, and in the emotion of the event, you “accepted Jesus into your heart.”

And two weeks later, you were back to the same old sin. No change. Nothing. An emotional event, with nothing else. No hatred of sin, no great desire for God. An emotional high like winning a tournament or getting that A+ in the toughest class…but when it comes down to it, there’s no power behind it.

So here’s what I want you to do. Compare yourself tonight…not against what your heart says or what your mind says or what your parents say or even what your pastor says or against our godless culture. Compare yourself against the only thing that will never pass away—the Word of God.

Also, compare who you are in the dark. Don’t compare the mask you put on at this school to make everyone believe you’re perfect. Compare who you really are, when you’re not at this school, when you’re not around your parents…compare who you really are…in the secret.

The Apostle John wrote his gospel for one purpose, and we find that statement in John 20:30-31: Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; (31) but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Did you catch it? He wrote his gospel so that you would believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, you may have life in his name.

John then wrote an Epistle, and he says these words. Turn to 1 John 5:13:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

That last phrase is so awesome. That you may know that you have eternal life. What John is telling us is that his epistle was written so that we can have assurance.

So, I’m going to give you, from the book of 1 John and from other places in Scripture, tests for you by which you can examine yourself. The stuff from 1 John comes from Paul Washer. I owe him a great debt of gratitude.

Test 1: 1 John 1:6-7

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

· If you claim to be a Christian but your occupation is the things of darkness, then you are a liar!

· The word walk is important…is your life marked more by the fellowship of the light or loving the darkness?

· Do you love God? Really? Do you love God?

· If you say you are a Christian and yet your life is more about doing the things that God hates, then you are a liar.

Test 2: 1 John 1:8-10

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

· One of the greatest evidences of a Christian life is that they are sensitive to sin and that they are moved to confession and repentance of that sin.

· Oh, please hear this…we are NOT talking about SINLESS PERFECTION.

· Here’s the question: Are you sensitive to your sin? When was the last time your sin caused you to weep?

· It’s getting cold now. My wife are trying to make our apartment a home, so we went shopping for comforters the other day. We went to one store and got a price 48,000, and we didn’t like the idea of spending that much, so we tried to haggle her down, but she wouldn’t budge. So, we left. We went to the next store and saw the same comforter and asked how much, and he stated the same price. I then lied and said that we had a store that had offered it for 45,000. He said he’d go check if he could go check. The minute he left the room, I felt like I had murdered him. He came back and accepted 45,000 for it, but I felt so horrible that I gave him 48,000 and told him I had lied. I don’t know if he understood what I was talking about, but we made sure to give him the full amount.

· Do I give you that story because I’m some kind of pious person? NO! I’m telling you that because God guards his children.

· Here’s the test—are you sensitive to the sin in your life? When you sin, does it pain you? Does God guard you so that you seek confession and repentance or do you just say, forget it…sin some more! That God pulls you back is evidence you are saved. To keep going is evidence that you are lost.

· Do you excuse your sin?

· If you tell me you have a new relationship with God, let me ask you, do you have a new hatred for your sin?

· Romans 6:20-21: For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.


o We’re going to have Dominos for lunch, and it’ll be very good.

o Here’s what I know. You bring a pig in here, and he’ll go and run to the food trash and start eating that, and he’ll dive around in the garbage. He wouldn’t care that you’re watching.

o But if I were to make that pig automatically into a man, there would be incredible shame in that man for living like a pig.

o Oh, there should be shame in our lives for how we lived.

o You saw it on the panel here weeks ago…teachers in shame over their pasts. For offending God.

Test 3: 1 John 2:3-6

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

· If you keep (present tense) his commandments.

· Do you obey God?

· Does this mean to be in sinless perfection? Nope…it means your lifestyle…your pattern of life is obedience. It’s the same word that we see back in 1 John 1:7.

· If I filmed your life, what would I see?

o Desire to know God

o Desire to obey him

o Desire to have victory

o Repentance if you fail

o Do you desire to walk as Christ walked?

· Do you have a new relationship with his Word and His commands?

· If you say you know Christ and yet your style of life is a violation of God’s commandments, you are a liar.

Test 4: 1 John 2:9-11

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

· Do you love other Christians?

· Do you love to be with people who love to be with those who love God or would you rather be with people who care less about God?

Test 5: 1 John 2:15-17

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions--is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

· Do you hate the evil world? Do you hate the world that crucified Christ to the tree?

· “Desires of the flesh, eyes, and pride…it is not from the Father.” Do you allow them to lead you, or do you let the will of God?

· “The World is passing away”—I blinked and I graduated college. 10 minutes ago, I was 18. This life goes so fast. Don’t waste your life.

· Is what you are devoting your life to going to rot? Or, is it going to abide?

· One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time. ~John Piper

· Go hard after Christ—do the will of God! Serve God…NOW! Seek him hard!

Test 6: 1 John 2:22-23

Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.

· The true Christian embraces the fullness of the person of Jesus Christ.

· He is God in the flesh. He is Lord. He is Savior. He is Prophet. He is Priest! He is King!

· If you believe that, how much are you going to his word to read what he has for you?

Test 7: 1 John 3:10

By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

· Is your desire to follow God’s law?

· Do you walk in righteousness?

· Again, what is your relationship to his word?

· Are you desiring to know his commands and practice them? Are they part of your life?

· 1 John 5:3-- For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Test 8: 1 John 3:3-8

And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

· Do you seek to be pure? Do you strive after holiness?

· Could you sit down with me over lunch and tell me what you’re doing to live a pure life?

· Could you explain to me how you are right now striving after holiness?

· V. 4: Or, do you make a practice of sinning. Is it habit? Is it an every day thing?

· Christ came (v5) to take that all away.

Test 9: Colossians 3:1-4

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

· What do you think about Christ?

o Is he but a trinket?

o Is he something that adds value?

o Is he a superstition?

o Or, is he your EVERYTHING?

· Is Christ more important than everything in your life? Do you desire God?

o More than your friends

o More than your computer and technology

o More than your house

o More than what people think of you

o More than your money

o More than every hope and every dream because God is worthy of my all even if it means 70 years of torture and eternity with him

I want to say one last thing:

· Some struggling believers need to hear that I am not talking about sinless perfection;

· I am not talking about “Every Day with Jesus is Sweeter than the Day Before”

· I am not saying that Christ will always be first in your thoughts all the time.

· You will not always be practicing righteousness.

What I want you to see is that Christianity is a style of life and it is a struggle to be righteous. The mere fact that you struggle with not loving him enough is evidence that you are saved; the mere fact that you desire to be holy and yet are not and it pains you on the inside is evidence that you are saved.

I want instead to wake up those who claim to be Christians and yet, who live in habitual sin and love the world or those who see Jesus as an add on…they’re in danger. He who has the son has life and he who has not the son…has nothing.

Is Christ yours?

Let’s Pray

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Murder Mystery Dinner Party for Eric's Birthday

Hello Friends!

We just wanted to give you a taste of the great birthday party we had for Eric this last weekend. It was a surprise to him until the night before. We invited 12 of our closest friends over for a Murder Mystery Dinner and had fun seeing the crazy costumes some of them came up with, as well as figuring out who dunnit! Enjoy!

This next pictures show the actual "cast" - those with character parts who were suspects. Bet you can't guess who the murdered victim was! ME! And the murderer??? Meena... on the far left. Each person was trying to act like their character in this picture.

Everyone who came!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sermon I Preached Today

I hope this blesses you as you read this. The gospel is the good news of salvation.

John 3:1-8

“The True Gospel: We Must Be Born Again”

October 21, 2009

International Christian School

Good morning.

Pray with me?

I’m going to preach the gospel today. Some of you might be thinking…the gospel? Why the gospel? I have several reasons:

1) I think we miss the gospel as just a four-step program; a prayer we pray after we cry; or a walk down an aisle we took when we were six. The gospel is, as the Apostle Paul says, the POWER of GOD for salvation. As a result, I preach the gospel because I’m a dying man, preaching a living word to dying men. We stand at the brink of eternity, and I don’t care about how you feel or your self-esteem…I care whether you will go to heaven or hell when you die.

2) We live like people who aren’t justified by faith alone. There’s still too much fear here of man—“what will my friends think” comes before the pecking order, over “what does God think?”

Turn with me to John 3:1-15

John 3:1-15 ESV Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. (2) This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him." (3) Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (4) Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" (5) Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (7) Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' (8) The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." (9) Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" (10) Jesus answered him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? (11) Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. (12) If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? (13) No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. (14) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, (15) that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

Imagine we’re in a doctor’s office because you were in science class and some chemical spilled and got all over your arm, but you wiped it up and told nobody. Then, a rash broke out on your arm. Two situations: Situation 1: After the doctor sees you and does tests, he walks into the room and states, “All you need is a band aid and some ointment.” What would we say about the problem? Situation 2: The doctor does tests and walks into the room and states, “We need to cut your arm off.” The remedy shows the magnitude of the problem.

Or, if the U.S. government ordered all Americans to leave South Korea within 10 hours, we would know that the problem was severe. The remedy shows the magnitude of the problem.

We’re going to look first at the remedy Jesus points us to, and then use that to see our desperate problem.

Born Again

Now, what is the remedy that Jesus points to? We must be born again, and we see this twice—in verse 3 and verse 7.

In verse 7, we see Jesus telling Nicodemus (and all of us), “You must be born again.”

If we were to take the phrase literally, it means “regenerated from above.”

What does regeneration mean? According to Webster’s first Dictionary in 1828, it means “to renew the heart by a change of affections; to change the heart and affections from natural hatred to the love of God; to implant holy affections in the heart.”

The Apostle Paul hits this beautifully in 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Ok, now hear this. Jesus is not talking about adding a little bit of Jesus into your life. He’s not talking about cleaning up a little bit of your life. He’s talking about a new life.

What is key is that we are born from above. This is not a work that we do, otherwise we would not need the power of God to do it.

So, the remedy that Jesus Christ demands is that we be born again. In short, get a new life.

If the remedy is that we must be made new, then we have a big problem.

Our Problem

Let me give you a reality check. We have a HUGE problem. And let me change the word problem to problems. We have huge problems. I see at least ten in Scripture:

1) We are dead. (Ephesians 2:1-2—And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked.)

· Dead people don’t raise themselves from the dead…unless they are God.

· Lazarus did not participate in his resurrection. Jesus did it.

2) We are, by nature, children of wrath. It’s natural for us to sin! (Ephesians 2:3—we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind)

· It’s my nature. I don’t just do bad things. In the words of Piper, John Piper is bad. I’m bad. I am bad.

· Some of you know my story—what God pulled me out of.

· I don’t need that story any more. I just need to look at myself and think about where I’d be right now if God hadn’t changed my life.

3) We love darkness and hate the light (John 3:19—And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.)

4) We have a heart of stone. (Ezekiel 36:26—And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.)

· Bring a 10 foot statue in here and I could punch it and throw things at it and it will never feel anything. Why? It’s stone!

· But you bring me in a man and I could grab him in such a way that he would be crying to his mommy. Why? Flesh. Flesh feels. It hurts. It experiences things.

· The Bible tells us that apart from GOD doing this, we will always have a heart of stone. Unfeeling, uncaring, unable to go to God.

· If Time Permits (Emphasize “I”): Ezekiel 36:21-29 ESV But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came. (22) "Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. (23) And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. (24) I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. (25) I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. (26) And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (27) And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (28) You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. (29) And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you.

5) We hate God and will not submit to God (Romans 8:7—For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.)

6) We are unable to accept anything that comes from God, which includes the gospel (1 Corinthians 2:14The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.)

7) We are slaves to sin (Romans 6:17—you who were once slaves of sin; John 8:34-- Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.)

· What that means is that you have no choice. You are completely and totally enslaved to sin. You cannot free yourself.

8) Slaves of Satan (Eph 2: 2—following the prince of the power of the air)

9) Children of the devil. (John 8:44You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.)

· It is one thing to be a slave to Satan; it is a whole other thing to be a child of Satan.

10) No good thing dwells in me (Romans 7:18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. )

Our Problem, Distilled

Here is our natural condition:

We’re dead, children of wrath, who love darkness and hate the light, filled with a heart of stone, God-hating, unwilling to submit to God, unable to accept the things of God, slaves of sin, slaves of Satan, children of Satan, and frankly, not good at all.

In telling you this, I’m actually loving you. I’m not about your self-esteem. I could care less about how you feel right now. I care entirely too much about where you stand before the God of the universe.

Think about this: God told galaxies to go where they were supposed to go and they obeyed and stay there today. God told the Sun to be exactly where it’s supposed to be and it went there and obeyed. All the planets orbit the sun according to the will and work of God. But he tells you to obey him and what do you do—NO!

And for our total disobedience, God has all the right to send us to hell and to the wrath of God. But some think God won’t show wrath. Why? Because God is love? Yes, God is love, but God must also be just.

Imagine you go home to your house tonight and somebody’s there. He’s broken into your house, and he kills your entire family in front of your eyes. You tackle the person to the ground and take him to the police. The judge sees the evidence and says, “He’s guilty, I see it. But, to show how much I love, I’m going to let him go.” How would you feel? I’d be furious! I’d write to the president—I’d demand justice! Get this judge off the bench! We would feel the same with God if he were unjust.

God cannot be unjust. It goes against his nature.

And if God cannot be unjust, he must punish sin. And if you don’t buy the 10 problems I pointed to in Scipture, let me just ask you this—if I were to film your life, with your thoughts as the director’s cut commentary, and show the DVD in front of all the people in this room, how would you react?

I’ll tell you—you would react with such rage. You’d come up here, rip the DVD out of my hands, and rip it up into a million pieces. You’d do this because you know in your heart that you are evil. However, if you’d laugh and buy the popcorn for us all to watch your life, I’d say this about you—you’re even worse. Your conscience has been seared. You don’t have even the remorse of your wickedness.

Oh teenager, you must be born again.

In response to Jesus’ words, Nicodemus asked, in John 3:9, “"How can these things be?"

Jesus answers in verses 14-15, “(14) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, (15) that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”

Christ was pointing forward to that day when he would be lifted up—and lifted upon a cross. Christ bore the weight of your sin on the cross. If I had time, we’d go through it all, but instead, I’ll just read it:

Rom 3:23-26 ESV For all have sinned [The DVD of your life] and fall short of the glory of God, (24) and are justified [declared righteous—or in the courtroom, not guilty!] by his grace [God is love!] as a gift, through the redemption [you were bought with a price] that is in Christ Jesus, (25) whom God put forward as a propitiation [Satisfied the wrath of God] by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance [patience] he had passed over former sins. (26) It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just [and God is JUST!—your salvation is not unjust; it might not be fair, and it certainly isn’t what you deserve, but GOD IS JUST in saving you—because CHRIST BORE YOUR SIN ON THE CROSS!] and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

See, on the cross, when Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied for YOUR SIN, if only you would have it!

(2 Corinthians 5:21) For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Oh, see the gospel. See how evil you really are. See how God’s wrath is coming. And see how God made a way, in love, through Christ. See Christ’s blood as the forgiveness of your sin. See Christ rising triumphant! See God saving you from His wrath. See Christ’s righteousness becoming your righteousness! Oh, see it. May it be your life!

And if, as you’ve heard the gospel, your heart has jumped within you, here’s what I want you to do. Don’t stand, so that you can put on a show. Don’t repeat a little prayer after me. Don’t walk down the aisle. Don’t pray a two-second prayer.

Here’s what I want you to do. Do what the Bible demands:

1) Repent. Confess your sin. Hate your sin. Turn away from your sin.

2) And run to Christ. He’s not merely all you need. He’s all you have.

Let’s pray