Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons





I think we all know that someone who professes Christianity, but who is faking, it turns off unbelievers.  Someone noted that Christians must be good news before they share the good news.  Many people talk about being “authentic” and I want to share the following observations with you:


Some people say, “just be yourself”.  Some of this is true, but the problem is that there are parts of us that need to be changed. Being what God wants me to become is far more important than doing or being what is comfortable.  Sadly, sin can become very comfortable and “natural” (Ephesians 2:1-3).  It is easy to excuse some bad habit by saying, “This is who I am”.  The truth of the matter is that all of us have “become” someone and who I am is more accurately, “who I am right now”.  Being genuine or authentic is not about doing what feels comfortable or natural, but rather, being honest with what God wants you to become and making an honest effort to conform to His mold (Ephesians 4:22-32).  Some people complain that Christians are hypocrites, or, Christians are simply people living one way, while all the time secretly wanting to live another.  Actually, the truth of the matter is that Christians are tempted by hypocrisy and other temptations.  Paul was a genuine Christian, yet he had to fight against temptation (1 Corinthians 9:27).  Paul said concerning Timothy, “For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare” (Philippians 2:20).  Yet this same Timothy was admonished, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.  Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner” (2 Timothy 1:7-8).  Being “real” means being honest about ourselves and the world in which we live. 


Any one of us can fall away if we are careless, or if we allow ourselves to believe what is false (Hebrews 3:12).  This is one reason why we are constantly exhorting each other to remain faithful.  Without the Word of God we are lost and blind.  That is why we challenge every effort to undermine its authority.  The world is filled with error and falsehood; that is why we study the Bible so often and so diligently (Hebrews 5:14; 2 Peter 3:17).  3.  We are constantly confronted with the temptation to place other things or other people ahead of Jesus, that’s why we need teaching on priorities, and that is why we practice church discipline(Luke 14:26).


Being Real And Repentance


 Being real also means that we are forthright about failure and our shortcomings (James 5:16).  This includes not only confession, but repentance and restitution (Acts 26:20 “that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance”; “Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8).   Please note that confession can weaken a congregation or strengthen it.  If all we do is share our faults, then the impression that is felt is that sin a common thing among Christians, and hence, not a huge deal.  When we sin and repent, we need to impress upon others how horrific this sin was, how disgusting, and inexcusable.  Saying, “Well, don’t feel so bad, I’ve done the same thing myself” doesn’t help people abhor what is evil.  Peter’s statement to Simon is a good example of the abhorrence we should have concerning evil in our lives (Acts 8:20-24).  Confession that is done for the purpose of seeking sympathy, recognition, attention, or manifesting how spiritual we are, is not the right motive.


Being Real and Faithful


Sometimes unbelievers will complain that a Christian, or Christians in general are uptight, narrow, rigid, or, they may say, “I feel like I’m being condemned every time I walk by them”.  First of all, some of this cannot be removed, for many unbelievers feel the exact same way about God, and if they view God as uptight, then they will view us in the same light (John 15:18-19).  Secondly, how a person views us depends upon their perspective.  If they are looking for the truth and a better life, then they won’t see us as rigid or up tight, rather, they will see us as having self-control and discipline.  If they feel condemned, they will realize that such a condemnation from God’s word is just, “Yes, I have been doing things that are wrong”.  Peter felt condemnation in the presence of Jesus, but Peter knew that such was just, and that he was the one with the problem, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8).  Being intimidated or silently rebuked by the lifestyle of someone who is really living the Christian life is not a bad thing.


 We are making a mistake if we try to make the services so comfortable that sinners don’t see a big difference between what is going on here and what is going on in the world.  People in the world need to feel some discomfort in attending services, for such demonstrates that they understand the seriousness of what is going on here, that is, God is being worshipped, and God’s word is being taught (Isaiah 66:1-2).  The person that we can never accommodate is the person who is living in sin, but doesn’t want to feel any guilt.  Third, some condemnation cannot be avoided, because your life, your priorities, and the way you treat your mate and children will naturally make selfish people feel guilty about how they have been living.  Some people will not be drawn by the life of a faithful Christian, because they feel guilty but they don’t want to change, “And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:19-20).  In seeking to encourage a preacher in Louisiana, Alexander Campbell wrote, “The fiercer the storm the sooner it passes away.  The hotter the war the sooner over; and the more ferociously the truth is opposed the sooner it triumphs over its enemies.  The enemies of the truth never yet fairly met it.  There is no fair play on the part of error.  I have long since settled in my own mind that no errorist can either reason or act fairly:  for if he did he would soon get rid of his errors” (Bound to Slavery, pp. 60-61).  Jesus was the perfect example and the perfect balance, and yet humble people were convicted by His life and example (Luke 7:37-38; 7:6-7). 


Being Real and our Speech


One complaint about Christians is that, “They’re so simplistic, rattling off trite Bible answers for every complex problems”.  First, nothing in the Bible is trite (unoriginal, state, tired, or worn).  The Bible is the Word of God, the Creator’s revelation to mankind, Divine and eternal wisdom, everything that we need for life and godliness and things that man on his own would have never understood (1 Corinthians 2:9).  Secondly, many Bible verses are very simple, because God wants everyone to be able to understand the solution or the answer.  Jesus gave many simple answers to difficult questions (Matthew 7:12; 5:32; 19:9; 22:36-37, 21).  Third, after half a lifetime I have learned that truth is very simple, and that complex problems or problems that appear to be complex have very simple (but hard) solutions.  Drunkenness, drug abuse, homosexuality, and sexual-addiction are all problems that can be complex, but the Bible answer is very simple-repent, stop the practice.  Being real and genuine simply means giving people the answer that God wants them to hear—even if they don’t like it (2 Timothy 4:2-4).  It is amazing how many complex problems can be resolved when a person is convicted by the fact that God exists, Jesus died for us, we are sinners, and eternity is either heaven or hell.  In the Bible we find many people who came from complex situations (Simon the sorcerer, the eunuch, Lydia, Cornelius, the jailor, the Corinthians), and yet when they were confronted with the gospel, every other problem faded away, and they were faced with only one decision, the decision of whether or not to obey the gospel. 


Living Like We Mean It


“I’ve learned through the years that seekers are not impressed with spinelessness.  I need to emphasize this because many Christians are so afraid that if they state what they really believe, if they come out of the closet, or if they live by biblical priorities, then they’ll automatically alienate those outside the faith” (Becoming a Contagious Christian p. 63).  First, part of this is true, living like we mean it may alienate people who are not interested in the truth (Matthew 15:12; Acts 17:32).  Unfortunately, some are being told that if they live the Christian life, and present the gospel in a nice way, that people won’t be offended.  The problem with this view is that Jesus, the apostles, the prophets and the early Christians did this, and yet they were often persecuted (Acts 14:22).  The good news is that good hearts will admire the Christian who stands up for what the Bible says, doesn’t compromise, is not intimidated, states the truth clearly and intelligently, and lives it.  Believe it or not, there are people in our politically correct society who are looking deep down for somebody, anybody, to step up and proclaim the truth, and then to live it boldly.  We need to ask ourselves, “Why can’t that be us?”


Luke 23:47


When Jesus died, the Bible notes a centurion who was witnessing the events at hand and who proclaimed, “Certainly this man was innocent (righteous)”.  We can handle the adversities of life in such a way that unbelievers will proclaim, “Now that is what a Christian is supposed to be like”.


The Effect On Brethren


“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known through the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear” (Philippians 1:12-14).


The example of one faithful man in the face of persecution (Paul), motivated many brethren to show the same conviction in speaking the truth boldly in the face of opposition.  Never underestimate the power of your example in a crisis.  Remember, courage is not the absence of fear, but rather, courage is being afraid, understanding the true dangers, and understanding the cost involved and yet still doing the right thing for the right reason.  Recently I ran across the following comments:  “Kathleen Parker addressed the common question raised by many voices in our society, “Who are we to judge?”  She responded, “We are the parents, adults, and moral standard-bearers of our homes, schools, cities, and states, not to mention a pretty large chunk of what remains of Western Civilization.  It was once understood that moral absolutes exist independent of subjectivity.  If we don’t know what those are any more, we’d better figure them out and soon.  Someone has to judge, or there won’t be anything left worth judging” (Chicago Tribune, July 26, 2000). 


Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017