Sunday, July 17, 2011

To Build Up, or Tear Down - Part 1: Where is our Heart?

To Build Up or Tear Down
Part 1 – Where is our Heart?
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org

INTRODUCTION
Today, so many lay claims to following Jesus, yet, fail to follow His example.  One of the biggest problems that I see among followers of Christ is the issue of pride.  So many who have been forgiven of so much forget where they come from, who they were before Christ and who they are supposed to be afterwards. 

Some old habits, such as gossip, slander, judging, etc..., continue to keep followers in bondage, prevent their own spiritual growth, as well as damage others growth, and even prevent some from ever coming to a God, who in their minds because of the believers behavior, allows such things to take place.

We, as followers of Jesus Christ, need to remember why Jesus came, and what He commands of us.

Today we will explore these things, and see what scripture has to say about our behavior.

We will take a close look at what Jesus says about why He came; how He behaved while He was here, and what He says, our behavior should be until His return.

Today, we will take a serious look at ourselves, and ask the question which a follower of Christ MUST answer;

Is your life a reflection of Jesus Christ and his life, and are you building up or tearing down?









SCRIPTURE READING

John 3:16 - 18    
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

For God so loved...He gave His Son
God's LOVE for sinners prompted Him to reconcile the relationship between Himself and us, which was destroyed by sin.  He did this by paying the price for our sin, so that if we entrust our lives to Jesus Christ, we shall be reconciled to God.

But keep reading, and we see;

For God did NOT send His Son into the world to condemn the world...
Jesus did not come to condemn sinners for sinning, but BECAUSE of God's LOVE, came to SAVE those who are condemned already because they have not entrusted their lives to Jesus Christ.

18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

I.       WHY DID JESUS COME?
1.      Because of God's love of sinners (the lost)
1.      Not to condemn, but to save those already condemned

2.      Jesus Himself said, For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  Luke 19:19

3.      Jesus' ministry displays all of the following characteristics
1.      LOVE (I Corinthians 13)
1.       1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

2.       2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

3.       3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4.      Love IS; patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not prideful, does not dishonor others, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil, rejoices in the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, love never fails.

5.       13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

4.      Scripture says, without love...I am nothing.
1.      Jesus acted in love with compassion towards sinners.

2.      I Timothy 1:14 – 1614 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinnersof whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

3.      Jesus Christ has patience with sinners...because as I Corinthians 13 says, Love is Patient...

5.      Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

So we can see plainly from scripture that Jesus came;
1.           Because of God's love for sinners
2.           Not to condemn them, but save them (they are already condemned)
3.           To do this in LOVE, because that is how and why Jesus came to begin with, God's Love for sinners.

After reading these scriptures, can you answer, saying “yes” I am following in Christs footsteps?
Are you showing the lost sinners in this world the love Christ displayed?

Is your love for them patient as Christs?

Or do you condemn those who are already condemned for not trusting their lives to Jesus Christ?

II.   WHO IS THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGE?
1.      Many times in scripture, we see the Lord showing love and compassion to sinners, as onlookers, and even the disciples judge, not only the sinners, but the Lord's actions!

2.      Matthew 9:10-12  10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
 12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

1.      Are you following Christs example, or are you acting like a Pharisee when it comes to sinners?

2.      Jesus tells the Pharisees that it is not the healthy who needs a doctor, but the sick. 

3.      Jesus then quotes a scripture to them, For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6

4.      Are you showing mercy to sinners?  That's what Jesus did.  Are you truly following Jesus and His example?


3.      Luke 7:36 – 4836 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

 40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

 44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

4.      Are you showing forgiveness to sinners who may be seeking Jesus Christ?
1.      You do not know the heart of a sinner, or any man.
1.      Psalm 44:20 – 21 “ 20 If we had forgotten the name of our God, or spread out our hands to a foreign god, 21 would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart? “

2.      It is NOT YOU who saves, but the work of the Holy Spirit.
1.      If you do not know the heart of someone, and you are not the one who saves, is it your place to decide whether or not God is trying to bring a sinner to salvation?

3.      Are you following Jesus and His example of lifting others us in love? Or, are you like the Pharisee who only sees another person’s faults, and sits in judgment over them?

1.      The judgment of those who say they follow in Christs' footsteps is not always about whether someone is going to heaven or hell...but rather a judgment of character, based solely on past behavior.

2.      This type of Christian is in turn, categorizing people based on their own perception, understanding and judgment, therefore does NOT build and minister to the lost sinner in love as Jesus demonstrates repeatedly in scripture, but rather casts a class judgment upon them, and sets them aside as “untouchable”.

3.      Are you trying to reach out and lift others up to Christ, or are you too busy judging them as unworthy of the Kingdom?



III.     WHAT DOES JESUS COMMAND US?
1.      We should all KNOW the great Commission
1.      Preach the Gospel of Christ to ALL nations
2.      Baptize in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit
3.      Then teach them to obey all that Christ commands

2.      But this applies to us as well!
1.      Christ commands us to love those who are condemned as He does!
1.      Remember, it was God's love for sinners that began this!
2.      It was Christ’s love for sinners that fueled His ministry!
3.      Christ’s PATIENCE allowed you to be saved!

2.      If we call ourselves His followers, should we not then follow His example?


CONCLUSION

Today, we ask ourselves the question, which a true follower of Christ MUST answer;

Is your life a reflection of Jesus Christ and his life, and are you building up or tearing down others?

In closing, let us reflect on Christ, and His behavior in ministry, thinking about God and His love for the sinners, and how we treat the ones who are so precious to Him.

Let us also reflect on the following verse...

Romans 14:12-14
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
 13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

In your life and ministry, as you follow Jesus, do not become the one who prevents another from coming to the Lord because of pride, such as the Pharisees, tearing down others because of their sin, but rather, follow Jesus' example of love, showing compassion, mercy, and patience with those who are already condemned.

We have not come into the Kingdom to condemn the world, which is already condemned, but to save the lost through the preaching of the gospel, for I am not ashamed of the Word, which has the power to save the lost!