This is Anthem
Matthew 18:12-14 • February 16, 2020 • Bert Alcorn
#Big Idea: Unpacking Jesus' heart for the lost and the what, why, and how of Alpha. #Key Texts: Matthew 18:12-14; John 3:16-17; Luke 19:10; Luke 15:1-7; John 20:21; Matthew 28:18-20; Matthew 9:35-38; Ephesians 2:1-10; Hebrews 12:15 #Transcript: Hello, hello, welcome again to Anthem. My name is Bert. I'm one of the pastor's here. First of all, elephant in the room. This is not our normal room. And so just a little bit of a background on some of what we believe as a church. We do not believe the church is a building or an event but a people gathered together and that a people can gather wherever to proclaim the name of Jesus open up the text together and learn from him. And then the other note is we obviously do not own a building and so sometimes we get kicked out of our own room and sometimes it happens really last minute and sometimes we don't really know what to do and sometimes you're out of town when you get that news and depending on other people to make shift to different room for our use. So seriously well done to everyone who pitched in and made that happen. If you are new or newish with us this is not our normal room our normal room has significantly more natural light which is a nice thing. I feel like we're in a cave sometimes. But the team did an amazing job making the space feels like home. If you are new or newish we actually normally meet on the second floor. So it's less of a workout or less of like an eternal elevator ride up. Am I the only one who's thinking that elevator was ultra, ultra slow? Now, I don't notice it floors one to two I notice it from floors one to three. Anyway, so if you're with us again next week, we are one floor below. But Welcome again to Anthem. Today is a little bit different. We have just been wrapping up our vision and value series where we take the beginning of every single year and just reorient ourselves as a church around what God has called us to and how we're working that out this year. And so last Sunday was Vision Sunday, where we really got to unpack that in a really succinct way. We got to report on some of the amazing things that God has been doing in the life of our church and we got to set the direction ahead. We really got to say here's where we are going as a church, you are invited to come along with us and where we ended kind of last week was really rallying around and continuing to press into this like multi year vision that we as a church are working and aiming towards and that can be summed up in 110 One. And over the next few years, we wanted to make sure that as we are growing, maturing as a church as new people that are getting connected, we as a church are measuring the right things, not necessarily measuring how many people show up to an event on Sunday, or how much money is in the bank. But as we are moving the ball forward with the mission Jesus has given us we want to make sure we are measuring and celebrating the kind of things the Bible measures and celebrates. And so for us 110 one is this multi year vision to celebrate and really move the ball forward with seeing 100 people baptized, 10 community groups started in the city and to plant one church. And for us as we are growing and continue kind of refining the direction that Jesus has taken us. We want to be measuring the right things as we are stepping into that. That's kind of over many years that we're stepping into that goal, but each year we kind of bring a different shade to that. We bring it down layer to what it means to actually walk that out and attempt to accomplish these things that God has put before us. And so this year, that can be summed up in one particular phrase that I was able to share with you guys last week. I'll share it again this year. And that phrase, really honing in and bringing into focus this year, the thing that determines what we do and what we do not do and the decisions we make or do not make is this, we this year are aiming to become a growing community, growing to become resilient disciples who are faithful in the face of cultural coercion and to live a vibrant life in the spirit. It is not in the most like succinct phrase you've ever seen probably. But for us, each individual piece of that is really important to us to be growing into a community of resilient disciples who are faithful in the face of cultural coercion and who live a vibrant life in the spirit. We believe that as we're moving forward this year, it's pressing into this that will help us accomplish what God has for us in 2020. And so really the last component of our vision value series before we kick into something new next week is really huddling around Alpha. You guys have a bunch of stuff on your seat that I will explain in due time. But for us, we actually want to orient ourselves as a church to be outsider focus. I want to take you to the text first, Matthew chapter 18. If you have a Bible, go ahead and turn to Matthew chapter 18. If you have a Bible app on your phone, you can look there as well. I always recommend having a Bible with you because you never know when I just might be making stuff up. So the way you can test me is see if I'm reading the same scripture that you are reading, but go to Matthew chapter 18. This is a parable or a teaching from Jesus and it lets us in on his heartbeat for the lost, those who do not yet know him and Matthew 18 picking up in verse 12, 13, and 14, this will be the anchor for our morning together. Jesus said, "What do you think? If a man has 100 sheep and one of them has gone astray? Does he not leave the 99 on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the 99 that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." What we see in this snapshot of Jesus's life in a teaching from Jesus is that Jesus was disproportionately caring and concerned with those who were not yet a part of his family. That's the like one sentence summary of this story. Jesus was and is disproportionately concerned with those who are not yet a part of his family. Now, this story here, none of you are shepherds in the room. Most Likely none of you have flocks or sheep. Santa Paula people you guys have land. Does anyone have any livestock on that land? Not yet, okay. There's still time. Anyway, but if you are a shepherd, if you have flock, if you have livestock this moment this example from Jesus would have provoked kind of like shackles or an outright no to his question where he says if a man has 100 sheep and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the 99 in the mountain go searching for the one the correct answer says no, you do not do that you are more concerned with the 99 you have you cut your losses and move on 99% rate is still pretty good. So if you're hearing Jesus and first century Palestine as he's teaching this story, your reaction is no you don't do that. That's weird. That's bad stewardship. That's not wise. That's not good wisdom. You're a bad Shepherd if you do that. And Jesus is intentionally flipping something that would have been very common on its head to reveal and show to us no, no, no, the kingdom of God works quite a bit differently. The kingdom of God is an upside down kingdom, where the values of this world, the economics of this world are flipped on its head. And Jesus says, "In my kingdom, I am disproportionately concerned with the ones who are lost. Who have wandered away who do not yet know me. I'm less concerned with the 99 than one who wanders," there's even more rejoicing over the one who wanders that is brought back into the family than the 99 who remained. This is a foundational text for how we think about our mission in the city for how we think about why we exist as a church, because if it's good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for us. We too want to be disproportionately concerned with those who are far from God. This from a traditional, even organizational standpoint does not make sense. For us to the detriment of maybe those who are already a part of the church to be primarily concerned with those who are outside the church. This is not good organizational management. This makes no sense in our modern day thinking of what the church should be what a pastor should be to its people, what a mission should be for a church. This doesn't make sense how we process modern day westernized church. But this story from Jesus really tees up like a provocative question for us. And this question I think it really tees up for us is, do we actually share the burden of Jesus for the lost? Do I actually share the burden of Jesus for the lost? If today you do not yet know Jesus know and from anything we're going to talk about over the next few minutes like, he genuinely loves you and cares for you and wants to see redemption and wholeness brought to your life. If you already know Jesus, do you share his burden for those who do not yet know Jesus? Do you know or do you even care that there are lost people around you? In your workplace and your neighborhood and your family? Do you genuinely believe that you have been rescued out of darkness and brought in to the kingdom of Jesus and there are still people living in darkness? Do you believe that you were once lost and now you are found in him and there are others who are lost all around you? Do you believe encountering Jesus is genuinely the most important thing that can happen in anyone's life and in the entire world? More than fixing their marriage, more than climate change more than homelessness. Do you believe genuinely encountering the risen Jesus is the most Important and pressing thing that can happen to anybody in proximity to us? Now, from a theological level or maybe an academic level, we can all get there. So ask one more question. Does your life reveal a shared burden with Jesus for the lost? Does your life patterns, rhythms, the way you think or pray about those who are far from God, the way you structure your week, the way you handle your finances, the way you encounter people when you're walking into a coffee shop or brewery, do you genuinely share the same burden Jesus has for the lost around us? What is God's heart for your friends, your family, for your neighbors, your co-workers, what is God's heart for them? How aligned is your heart with God's heart? Now today what we are doing is we're laying out our heartbeat for how we are engaging and encountering the lost in our city. But it is so vitally important we start with the scriptures and we start with Jesus himself and his disposition towards those who are not yet a part of his family. One of the primary roles and functions of a disciple is to become like their master and if we're discipling Jesus, if we're apprenticing Jesus, we're following after him. Then the main thing in your life is becoming more like Him, it's being with him becoming more like him doing the things he did and if he was disproportionately concerned with the lost around them so should we. That's our biblical should, undergirding the [inaudible 00:11:34]. We're going to talk a lot about why how what we are approaching this but before we make any ground, we make no qualms about the importance and vitality of being concerned with the lost around us. So much so that Jesus says neglect the ones if you need to who are already saved to run after the ones who are not yet saved. Be less concerned with those who have been found in Jesus, and go far to find those who are still lost. This is the mission and responsibility of each and every person who says I want to follow Jesus, is becoming like him and his disposition towards the lost. So today, as we lay out our heartbeat for the lost, and how we're meeting that heartbeat with Alpha, the primary question to consider for you is, do I share the burden of Jesus for the lost in my life? Do I? Because one of two things will happen, is if you do, no one's perfect, but if you do, I say, I want to grow in that burden. I'm following Jesus in that. The things we're about to go through are going to start clicking and if you're part of this church, and this is how we're engaging the lost around us and I am concerned with the loss and I'm saying okay, yes, I'm doing whatever it takes to at least give them the opportunity to meet and encounter the risen Jesus. And if your answer that question is no, I don't care, I don't know I don't share the same burden of Jesus for the loss in my life, then the next leg, half an hour will not make any sense to you. It will not make any sense to you, why would you put so much time, money, energy, effort and manpower towards reaching the lost if you don't actually share Christ's concerned for the lost? And so I want to help you succeed for the next half hour or so. Take a moment, take just a heartbeat moment and ask yourself that question, do I share the burden of Jesus for the lost around me? And if so, ask, "Holy Spirit, how would you have me do that in my life?" What we're going to unpack is how we as a church collectively are engaging that question, the Holy Spirit may prompt other answers in you. There may be other moments, other unique opportunities based on your status, your workplace, your gifting, your talents, any of that there may be other opportunities, the Holy Spirit will lead you into as you answer that question, and that is amazing. That is beautiful. And we as the church to equip you for every single good work in that effort and mission. But what were going to talk about today is how we the collective we are approaching and answering that question today. One of the primary ways we respond to Jesus and thus our burden for the loss is with Alpha is something we do about two to three times a year. Now what I'm going to do is I'm going to unpack what it is that we're doing, just to give everyone like a top level cursory understanding of what it is we mean when we say we do Alpha, and then I'm going to unpack why we do it, why we use this tool at our disposal and why it's actually important for we as a church to engage in that together. And then thirdly, I'm going to unpack a little bit of how we're approaching it this year. That's the plan. What, then why, then how. Everyone good? Cool. This room kills energy. You have to help me out so much more. And the downstairs room we got bouncy dining room floors and hardwood floors and like Windows and noise coming in from the street. And I just feel like I'm talking into a pillow right now. So help me out. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Help me out. Okay, so Alpha, Alpha is a series of dinner conversations that run over eight weeks, that explored life, spirituality and faith in a fun, non-judgmental and open environment. Alpha creates a space where people are invited to explore the Christian faith and environment that is pressure free and respectful. Everybody is welcome, particularly those who are skeptical or curious or cautious or questioning or deconstructing their faith. This is designed for people who are seeking Searching far from God to encounter Jesus and it's designed for people who already know Jesus to help create an environment where people can explore faith. Now I'm going to run through a few different practicals but we're going to watch a video that's going to do what I can do in 10 minutes in about a minute and a half. So you're welcome. And then watch the screens. Yeah, exactly. There are three key components to any session on Alpha and that is food we eat together, the conversation is around a meal together, we believe there are important theological implications to eating together. And so we do we eat and drink very well together on Alpha. And we also watch a short film and that film is meant to spark discussion and examine some area of the gospel. And what is vitally important to understand about Alpha is that is where kind of we get to share what we believe about faith, Jesus, God, the Bible, whatever. And as we move into the third and probably most crucial part of any night on Alpha is a small group discussion where people can say and do anything. This is not a Bible study. This is not a community group. This is not a place where the small group host answer every questions and shoot down wrong answers. This is genuinely the place for anyone to ask or say anything to be heard, to be valued, to be affirmed and for others to hear where people are coming from as it relates to their spirituality. And so to put a little bit more meat on the bones, this is what a typical night at Alpha will look like. And so if you are part of the Alpha team, there's a bit of a discipleship that happens, a bit of training that we'll do each and every week to just kind of help engage what we're going to be doing that night. And then we'll move to a time of prayer, specifically over those who are coming to Alpha and over the night itself. And then at that point, we'll eat together welcome in any guests who are coming in. We do a quick welcome, watch the short film and then head into the small group discussion. And then a few different times throughout the Alpha we'll be doing some after parties and so some live music, some wine tasting, some donut tasting, whatever. We have a lot of Amazing and creative ideas for what to do. But we're going to take kind of the after portion to just like increase the hangout vibes and to help engage people a little bit more. And then we wrap up by about 9:45 or so. And so that's what a typical night at Alpha looks like. And then some of the topics that we are engaging with this year, as we kind of have a launch night where we get to make the official invite to Alpha. And then we're answering questions in the film and discussing questions in this small group questions like is there more to life than this? Who is Jesus? Why did he have to die? Does God heal today? How do I resist evil? What does it mean to have faith? How does God guide us? And if you're anything like me, at least one of these questions might even be provoking to you to be like, "Yeah, actually, how does God guide us? What does that actually look like in my normal everyday life? Or how do I resist evil in my life and actually pursue a life of good?" And so all of these questions will be both kind of watching videos around but also trying to answer and chat about in the small group discussion. That is just Alpha 101. Just some of the basics. We eat together. We watch a short film together and we break up into small groups that are not Bible studies. They're not community groups, but the hosts are there to merely instigate conversation where anybody can share anything, or ask anything. One of the things we have just found over experience in doing Alpha is this small group discussion is probably the best part of the night. And it's genuinely where people do open up a bit, especially over time as they build friendships where people can ask things they may be afraid to ask others or might not have an environment in their lives to engage in some of these questions. Even some of you guys, as you're thinking about these questions short of showing up to your community group on a Wednesday night or showing up here on Sunday. Where in life do you have time space or margin to think through some of these, let alone talk about them with other people. I know some of you guys are deeply contemplating in here. So you may be like, every day I'm consumed with these questions, but probably for the majority of us, life just goes on and we don't stop and think, how does God guide me? How's he guiding me today? What does it mean to resist evil today in my life? And so that is a snapshot of Alpha. Next, I want to talk about why we do Alpha or let alone why we as a church would engage in this practice and idea of evangelism, which is a scary word from the 80s and 90s. If you did grow up in church, I hope to redefine that a little bit. Evangelism in the Bible is just simply sharing the gospel with somebody. That's all it is. And so what I want to do is talk through why we would do Alpha and how that helps us answer some of these questions and create space to talk about these questions in our time, and in our place. According to the New Testament evangelism is just preaching or proclaiming or telling Someone the gospel. It is a work of communication in which Christians make themselves mouthpieces or in Paul's word ambassadors for God and his good news. Anyone who faithfully delivers that message no matter the medium a big meeting a small meeting, a big old church service, a little community group someone across from you a prospect or [inaudible 00:21:21] or whatever. If you are delivering that message, you are participating in evangelism. Now, there's a couple of reasons we do Alpha and a couple of reasons we have to talk about why we would even bother with evangelism in our time and our place because there are three main opposition's to the work of evangelism or the words of sharing the good news of Jesus or sharing the hope of Jesus with someone else. And the first opposition that we encounter today is probably the most obvious one is spiritual opposition. We as Christians believe that we do not live in a spiritually neutral world we actually live in a world where there are good and bad forces duking it out regularly, there is an enemy and we believe the enemy would rather not more people join the kingdom of God. He'll do anything at his disposal to distract, to shield people's eyes to keep them busy or distracted enough to not actually engage in the things of Jesus. And first and foremost, we have to recognize as we are considering what it looks like to share with others the good news of Jesus, that there is an active enemy at work that does not want you to share the good news of Jesus with others. He is the one who plants the things in your minds that goes like, you may ruin the friendship if you bring this up. You might be you might be fired if you talk about this. It would just be really weird. Or you don't have the right words to say. You're not equipped enough. You haven't been a Christian long enough. You didn't go to Bible school or college or whatever. And just to call that out, those are the things the enemy will speak into your life and your mind. Now, of course, there's all sorts of considerations like wisdom and tact and strategy. Of course, absolutely I'm not handing out soap boxes at the end and saying everyone pick a corner. That's not what we're talking about here. But if you have ever felt ill equipped, if you have ever felt like you'd be embarrassed, you'd be persecuted, you'd lose a friendship or whatever. Those are the seeds the enemy will plant in your life to get you to shirk back. And the writer of Hebrews says we're part of the kingdom cannot be shaken. So we don't have to fear that we don't have to believe those lies. First. There is spiritual opposition to the work of evangelism, but probably more pressing for a lot of us is there is cultural opposition to evangelism. There's cultural opposition from walking in this spiritual practice. And over the years, we have seen our culture and move in a direction of post modernism. And there's a whole 45 minute lecture I can give on how that happened. I'm not going to give that today, but simply to say we are in that time right now of post modernism. And so that means a few different things. It means that most people have moved from objective truth to self opinion as the highest authority. So whatever you believe, no matter what it is, is right and it is authoritative for your life. We have moved from authority to autonomy, you're not my boss, you can't judge me, I don't want to be controlled, aversion to institution, aversion to community stems from the move from authority in our lives to autonomy, I think, therefore I am. And that it's penetrated its way into the church. aAnd from evidence to experience it doesn't matter what is true. That has not been my experience. Some of the defining factors of post modernism and what that translates to in the Christian world or in this spiritual world is we are also now in a time in a place where our culture is moving to a post Christian culture, which means Christians in the West have moved from a majority to a minority of people. So where everyone sort of checked the box Christian, maybe 20, or 50, or even 100 years ago, Christians are now in the minority. Christians have moved from the center of culture to the fringe. So no longer are Christian ideals and morality at the center of human life, but they're now on the fringe and Christians are now seen as bigoted or intolerant or closed minded. And Christians have moved from being respected to disrespected and maybe even hated in some cultures or in some cities. So in the past, where if you had some version of Christianity if you had some version of morality, or you were like, "I maybe don't agree, but at least I respect his worldview, and he's like, generally a good person." And now it's moved from disrespective so you're not a good person. The things you believe actually make you a joke or culturally irrelevant. Now, none of these are up for debate. This is the time and the place that we live in. And I'm not even moralizing any of them to say it's good or bad. There are deep, dark things about all these. And I think there are opportunities in all of these as well for the church. This is just simply calling out the culture that we live in right now. This is the cultural opposition that we face. So the work of evangelism is made that much harder because we don't have a common view of authority. We don't have a common view of evidence. We don't have a common view of objective truth. And so we have to start way further down the field and just talk about autonomy versus authority, or to just talk about self opinion and objective truth. We don't have the same ground to start on, that maybe Christians had 20 years ago, or 50 years ago, or 100 years ago, or 500 years ago. This is our time, and this is our place. The third opposition that we face spiritual, cultural, is individual. We just don't like being rejected. Who likes being rejected in here? That's what I thought, none of us like being rejected. If you are married think about when you were like first asking your spouse out on a date and how there's fear that crept into that like, "What if he says no? What if she says no?" Maybe if you're single that's still like the world you live in as well. The fear of rejection plagues so much of our life and I think it fuels why we approach social media the way we do, why we approach our calendars the way we do, why our yes can't be a yes or no can't be a no, why we have the last minute text bail instead of a face to face, "Hey, I can't make this thing." That's why we have all that stuff. We don't like to be rejected. And this has to do with evangelism as well. We do not like being rejected. If I share with you how Jesus has changed my life, and you said, "Yeah, that's good for you, but I ain't really buy into that we take it personally. Rather than just like, in the words of Jesus, dusting the dust off your feet, dusting the dirt off your feet and moving on and saying, "Okay, cool. Like, that person's not ready for that. We take it personally we internalize it and we are afraid definitely afraid of being rejected by someone else. Also, we have individual opposition because it just seems hard. I don't know enough Bible. I'm not equipped for this. I'll leave it to someone else who's good at it. And they can do because it just seems kind of hard. Now, I'll ask you for a moment when was the last time you bought something on Amazon and it changed your life in some way? You bought some particular cleaning supply that magically got rid of all the grossest and the grout in your tile? Or you like found a sponge, what was that sponge that our friend Courtney found that rocked her world? Scrub daddy. Oh my gosh, she like wouldn't stop talking about the scrub daddy sponge for like weeks and weeks. You guys all the time tell others about something or someone that has genuinely changed your life. Why do we then think it's that much more difficult to share how Jesus has changed our life? And maybe the fear is there and just in the conversation, maybe the fear is, did he actually change anything about me? Or am I the same as I've always been? And third, kind of individual opposition we face fear of rejection, difficulty is post evangelicalism deconstruction, which is a fancy way of saying every Christian whose approach Christianity is now approaching Christianity differently. They're deconstructing their faith, and they're even deconstructing ideas about evangelism. So a recent statistic that was taken from a study done about two years ago said that 40% of Christians under the age of 50 believe it is wrong, to share one's personal beliefs and hoping that they would share the same person personal beliefs. 47% of Christians under the age of 50 believe it is wrong to proclaim the gospel, to evangelize, to share what God has done in hopes God may do something with somebody else. And finally, individual opposition. We have delegated this to the experts and the extroverts. I'm not good at Bible. I don't know a lot of Bible, I have no training. I'm not even that outgoing. I don't like talking to people. I'm introverted, whatever. And we have delegated these things to the people who stand up on stage and seem somewhat good at this. And so in joking, it's still important, invite someone to church for sure, but it joking, have you ever thought like, I don't really want to talk to my friend about Jesus maybe I'll just invite them to church and Bert will do it for me. And that's a real struggle that we sit in because we feel ill equipped. And so we delegate to the experts and the extroverts. There is a Significant opposition to the work of evangelism today to the simple work of telling and showing people who Jesus is. But because it is hard because there's opposition, we do not just abandon it, but we have to think critically about how we engage it in our time. And we have to think critically, why do we even bother with this idea, this practice of telling somebody else about Jesus has done in my life? And so to answer the question, why would you even bother with evangelism today? I kind of have two responses from scripture that can maybe help guide our times, you guys tracking? I know I'm talking on double speed right now. But it's because I have a clock staring in my face. That's for your benefit, not mine. So anyway, why bother with evangelism. First reason, it is the center of our faith. If you follow Jesus, this is the center of your faith. If you do not follow Jesus that's all right. It's not the center of your faith. If you follow Jesus, it is the center of your faith. A few different reasons. It was Jesus's passion. It was God's passion in sending his son, one of the most famous verses of all time goes, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son he so loved." It was motivated by love that Jesus was sent, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Jesus, his saving work was his passion for you and for me. It was not only his passion, it was Jesus' purpose. In Luke chapter 19:10, Jesus says, "The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost." To seek out, to go and find and to save those who are lost. Literally those who are wandering, aimless, those who do not know the truth about everything. And it was Jesus' priority. In Luke chapter 15 we have another account of this parable of the lost sheep. But I want to read it again. And I love how Luke prefaces this story from Jesus, he gives us a little bit more backdrop to why Jesus would share the story. In Luke 15:1 he goes, "Now the tax collectors and the sinners," which is code for just all the worst people in the social strata of first century Palestine. "We're all drawing near to hear Jesus, and the Pharisees and the scribes," which is code for the religious elites, those who are already a part of the family and doing a pretty poor job at stewarding that role. "The Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying this man Jesus receives and eats with sinners." And then Jesus goes on to tell the parable, "What man have you having 100 sheep, if lost one, et cetera, et cetera." But the backdrop is sinners, tax collectors, those who would be the farthest far from the kingdom of God Jesus is seeking out and saving, encountering, having conversation with them, healing them, casting out demons, bringing them true life and the Pharisees and the scribes saying, "Why are they messing around with those people? Why is he messing around with sinners? He should be hanging out with the likes of us, not the likes of them." And finally, it was Jesus's passion, purpose, his priority... It's pretty good piece right? Come on guys, flexing my good pastor muscles right there and another P. Man, I'm going to ruin it here. It was Jesus's commission to his disciples to tax, one in John chapter 20. Jesus says to his disciples, "Peace be with you as the Father has sent me so I am sending you." Pretty unequivocal. If you are Jesus' disciple, you are a sent one just like Jesus was. A little more for that is at the very end of Matthew, after Jesus is on the cross, and he resurrected from the dead, he goes to his disciples and he says, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." That's a authority presumption that we will stumble across as we talk about Jesus with those who are far from God, the presumption of Jesus's authority, but he says it so we believe it. "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you and behold, I am with you always to the end of the age." He Commission's his disciples to go do the work he was already doing, make more disciples, teach them to obey, and I am with you always in this endeavor. So it is the center of our faith and it is the loving thing to do. Telling others about who Jesus is and what he has done is the ultimate act of love for those who are lost in your life. It is better and more loving than anything you can possibly think of. As Christians, we believe the claim of Jesus is not on equal footing with every other idea. It's actually the most important thing that anybody on earth can grasp and grapple with. Jesus said, "I'm the way and the truth and the life." Do we as Christians even believe him when he says that? So how do we approach this idea or this practice of evangelism in our time and our place with all the opposition with all the spiritual opposition, the cultural opposition, individual opposition, how then do we engage in this practice together? Because whatever we have seen, especially if you've been a Christian for any length of time, is not working. Maybe you've even been looking at it going, it has not been working, the fruit of it has actually been not good. But definitely whatever we're seeing right now, we're struggling to find what is working, what is fruitful, what is actually effective for the kingdom of God and our posture as a church to not simply throw up our hands give up and say we're going to do our thing on Sundays and whoever shows up is going to show up. We don't just stay in that posture, because we believe everybody should have the opportunity to explore life in the Christian faith. To ask questions, to share their point of view, in an environment that is open, friendly, honest and non judgmental. And as a church dedicated to making much of Jesus and inviting others to do the same helping people find their way back to God and reaching this city of Ventura. We think it is vitally important to have spaces where people can freely explore and ask these questions and share what they believe. And one of the things we've discovered the last couple of years of doing Alpha together is that there is just not another context or environment like this in our city. And I always put the disclaimer like, there may be something I don't know about. I'm not presuming anything. But we have researched pretty hard opportunities like this in Ventura of just simply not seen an environment or a space where people can come no matter what their background is, ask questions, share anything, and explore faith, life and meaning in an environment where they're not going to be shot down, or they're not going to be answered with a question and shut down. And they're not going to be cast out. They're not going to be kicked out because of something they say or something they ask. We genuinely don't see that. And so we see this as meeting a need that is going unmet in our city. And so this is why we have approached Alpha the way we are doing. This is why we are doing Alpha, Alpha is how we as a church are engaging the lost in Ventura with intentional gospel conversation. An Alpha is also just as a byproduct. This is not the main intent but it's also amazing tool for growth and equipping if you are a follower of Jesus. It's incredibly encouraging to sit in a small group with people who are of all kinds of different faiths or backgrounds exploring. It brings confidence, it brings encouragement that people do actually have these questions about life and along the way you will grow and be stretched as well. We believe Alpha is the right tool for our time, it may not be the right tool for every time, we believe it is the right tool for our current time and our current place. Three primary reasons we believe Alpha is the right tool for our time and our place. First, there's gospel culture that is being cultivated there. It is a safe judgment free pressure free environment, where people are welcomed with love and hospitality, not judgment or a bar to be met. Part of how we approach the small group is with active listening, we are genuinely there to hear what people think. We're not just waiting for our next turn to talk. We're genuinely invested in those who are in our small group and want to hear what they think and what they believe. And it's Spirit led, the Alpha journey is like anything but linear. It's kind of floppy and all over the place. And part of how we approach Alpha is to just simply be open and respond to the Holy Spirit as he's given us opportunity. There's a gospel journey that is nonlinear it is self discovery, and it is non pushy. And we believe there's gospel experience that happens here both in words, works and wonders. The gospel is proclaimed and presented through the films in creative ways. But in those films we get to do lay out like what we believe from a Christian point of view. And the works of love and listening and friendship help create an environment where people can engage. But along the way, we also see the Holy Spirit do supernatural and miraculous things. People getting healed, people who seemed very closed off to any idea of Jesus or Christianity, kind of becoming open and receptive. And we see the Holy Spirit do amazing things in these moments when we are present and we are ready to be used by him. And our prayer is to create a space for people to honestly answer the question, who do you think Jesus is? Now finally, I want to share with you guys how you can be involved. There are a couple of different ways you can be involved. There's a interesting kind of moment from Jesus in Matthew chapter nine, and he's chatting with his disciples and as Jesus is going around to the villages and the cities, he's teaching, and when he sees a group of people, he sees the crowds he's overwhelmed with compassion for them. And what Jesus identifies is very, very interesting. It says in Matthew chapter 9:36, "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd." This is how Jesus is thinking of those who do not yet know him. So they're harassed. They're helpless. They're sheep without a shepherd in the gracious term, they're just lost. They don't know yet. But he identifies what the issue is. And it's not with those who are lost. And please hear this as an invitation, not as like a stinging prod. But this is how Jesus diagnosis the issue. Verse 37, he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful," using another agrarian metaphor, saying, "There is things to be reaped," a plentiful harvest is a good thing. It is a generous thing. It is an overflowing thing, because the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. If you don't have enough labor and to go into the harvest, the harvest is wasted. It can't be cut down, it can't be refined, it can't be used. And in the same way, he says there's ample opportunity. There are people who are harassed and hopeless looking for hope. And the problem is not with those who are lost. The problem is the laborers are few, those willing to go into the field and harvest the field. He said, "Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest, to send out laborers into his harvest." It is our posture as a church, is to pray for more laborers to go out into the harvest. I think that Jesus knew the problem was never going to be the harvest, the amount of harvest, but he always knew there would be a lack of workers. This is not a guilt trip at all by any means, but it is an invitation in, an invitation to be an answer to a prayer. The harvest inventory is plentiful, there are those who are chasing after all the wrong things, those who are hopeless, helpless, harassed, and the invitation is to partner with Jesus in seeking and saving the lost. So there are a couple of different ways you can be engaged in the first and most important one is to orient our prayer life towards those who are lost, which is why you have one thing on the seat. One of the many things on your seat is this little tiny thing that you can keep with your phone, keep in a wallet, in your purse, or your Bible or whatever, is an opportunity to pray for those who are lost and our lives, to orient our prayer life around those who have not yet met Jesus. Understanding the reality that apart from Jesus, we can do nothing. The second way to be involved is to be on the team. We are looking for something between 20 and 30 people to be a part of the Alpha team, this particular spring, and I'm not going to go over all the different ways you can be involved. If you are you can learn more in the app, we kind of break down all the different roles, or come to one of the trainings that I'll tell you about in just a moment. But there are a lot of different roles and however you are gifted, there's a place for you at a part of this Alpha team. And so, one of the ways you can help with Alpha is to actually be on the team. We are looking for 20 to 30 people who can be on the team, things like small group hosts and helpers, greeters, people to help with food, people to be on a prayer team, all kinds of other ways. The big idea is that this is a whole church thing, if you are a part of Anthem, and if you're not yet welcome, and I hope you get a little bit of a behind the curtain peeking at how we operate in what's important to us. But if you are a part of anthem, you are a part of Alpha. There's no distinction. Somehow, some way you are a part of us in countering and creating hospitable environments for those who do not yet know Jesus. So in some way you are part of Alpha. So the question is not am I a part of Alpha, but how can I play my part in our mission to help people find their way back to God. And so to that effort, we have two identical trainings that are coming up, we may do a third if the need arises. And so we have two dates right now, but if we need to amend one of them, or if we need to add in a third, we can respond to that need. But right off the bat, the two dates are next week. One is Sunday afternoon, or one is Tuesday evening. They are identical. So pick one or the other. So if you're part of [inaudible 00:46:29] on Tuesday, come to the one on Sunday. If you can't come on Sunday, come to the one on Tuesday, and if we have overwhelming need we'll schedule a third one at some point during the week. But there'll be a training because we actually do some intentional training because one of the most dangerous parts of Alpha is Christians. I'm serious, one of the most dangerous parts to Alpha is treating this like a Bible study. And just thinking everyone in the room is exactly where you're at. And so we actually unpack some of how we approach Alpha particularly in a small group, to cultivate and create an environment that is hospitable to those of any faith background, or someone who's searching to any capacity. And so we actually train you to be a regular human for those nights. So, that's helpful. The final way that you can be involved is of course, inviting people to Alpha. There's a whole lot I can say on that. But particularly, what we are doing we're experimenting this year is we are kicking off Alpha with a launch night, and a launch night that is not a typical night. So we're still going to have food but it doesn't have the small group. It doesn't have one of the films and this launch night that's happening on March 10. We're actually partnering up with Tender Life Maternity Home and we're going to raise some money for them. We're going to let them share some stories and help grow some awareness for an amazing thing that is happening in the city. And so basically our premise for that night is we want to say to everyone in the room, we want to tell you about two amazing things that are happening in our city. One is Alpha and one is Tender Life Maternity Home and here's how you can be a part of each one those. And so we're going to have amazing booze, we're going to have great food, we're going to have some epic music, it's going to be a fun party that night. But it is a launch night where we can throw some love, money, and attention on an amazing nonprofit here in the city that helps transition pregnant women that are homeless into stability and out of homelessness. But it's also an opportunity where we can invite people to the next eight weeks of Alpha. And so as you're thinking through your invite, especially if the eight week course feels like a big invite or a big ask, is simply make a point to invite them to the launch night. Next week we'll have invite like postcards for the launch night that you can actually hand out and invite people too, but that is going to be the big night we are aiming for together to have them there at our launch night. And our launch night, our goal is to have at least 60 people in the room for our launch night. So we're putting that out there that's our goal. We're going to orient the night around 60 plus people and so we are really depending on each and every one of us to bring someone, to invite someone, to share this good thing that is happening. And once again, that's the opportunity where we get to share the invite for Alpha, the eight week course so you don't have to, but also where we get to throw some love and spotlight onto Tender Life Maternity Home and kind of do a joint event there together. Okay, that's that I want to wrap up what I'm talking about so I can give you guys to engage in a couple of different ways. I'm trying to decide what to keep on the fly here. Sometimes this happens, sometimes I say it out loud. Sometimes you guys don't even know that I'm slashing left and right. Go to Ephesians chapter two, go to Ephesians chapter two. Ephesians chapter two, we all have those texts in us if you read the Bible that maybe stick with you that resonates to you that just become core to your faith. For me, this is one of them. Ephesians chapter 2:1. Jesus was disproportionately concerned with those who are not a part of his family. And at one point, that was you. Ephesians 2:1, "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins," he's writing to Christians, by the way that are in a great church. That seemed like maybe everything's okay. He says you were dead in your trespasses and sin in which [inaudible 00:50:29] following the course of this world, following the culture around you, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience among whom we all once lived, and the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind and who were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Notice you were following the culture of this world you were following yourself the passions of your own flesh, and you were following the enemy. Verse four, but God, being rich in mercy, over abounding in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us his driving motivation for us was love. Even when we were dead in our trespasses made us alive together with Christ by grace, you have been saved and raised this up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace and kindness toward us in Christ Jesus, for by grace, you have been saved through faith. This is not your own doing it is the gift of God, not a result of work so that no one may boast for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. I love the partnership between God's word In our work. He saved you and now once you are saved, you are put to work you have role responsibility, you have mission. Are we grateful for the grace that has been extended to us? Would we want that same grace of Jesus extended to those who are lost in our life? I love the little one liner out of Hebrews chapter 12 that says, "See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God." The grace that's been shown to you, you were once dead. Jesus is disproportionately concerned with those who are lost and you were one of those people. Even if you grew up in church, there was a moment when you are in opposition to God. And there was a moment of reckoning where he saved you, and he brought you into his family. Do we share Jesus's burden for you who were once lost for those who are lost in our lives? Do we actually share the burden of Jesus? And that will dictate how you respond this season on Alpha, but also just generally in your life, as you're feeling the Holy Spirit leading you towards conversation leading you towards being on mission in your workplace, in your neighborhood wherever this will be the driving motivation. Are we grateful for the grace that's been extended to us? Do we share the burden of Jesus for those in your life in my life who are lost. So, a couple of things to put a bow in our morning so far, we will do a little bit of a deeper dive of the mechanics of Alpha what it looks like at our team's training that are coming up this next week. But you have a few things on your chair, one of them I want to talk about before we go into this next thing. This right here, a little prayer card right here is nothing but a reminder to pray for people in your life. And so what you're going to do in just a couple of minutes is everyone you're going to jot down three people in your life, you would like to explore faith, that you would like to encounter Jesus. And that's kind of it. I'm not saying these are three people you must divide by any stretch, we're going to jot down three people that in our lives, we would love to explore faith in Jesus. And what we are doing for the next 21 days, three weeks is we are going to pray for them daily. We want to orient our prayer life around those who are lost. And we're going to pray for these people daily together as a church, even though we'll be scattered all throughout the county, in our workplaces, at home at school, whatever. We're going to take a moment every single day at 11:02 to pray for those we would love to see explore faith. And so that is your homework, and that is what we're going to be engaging with over the next three weeks is just an effort to pray. Baby Steps guys, we're going to start with baby steps. We're just going to orient our prayer life around those who are lost and we're going to try doing this together for the next three weeks. It could be a one minute prayer if you want, it can be five minutes, like no prescription on what that has to look like. But once per day, we're going to orient our mind our thought life and our prayer life towards those who are lost in your life. Okay, the last thing we're going to do today is we're going to break up a new couple of groups. So don't move too far. But look around you right now and just kind of like huddle up with like five or seven people around you. I'm going to give you guys a couple of questions that I would love for you guys to engage with. Now, just so you know, I know there's some people who are new to Anthem, there might be some people in this room who don't even know Jesus. That's okay, share as much as you want to share. But we're going to give you a couple of questions to chat about in smaller groups. And then we're going to end with a little bit of worship and prayer to close out our morning. So just look around you. And we're gonna say about five minutes to do this. So look around you grab five to seven people and just answer maybe one or two or all four of the questions, share as much as you would like. But let's take five minutes and I'll call you back together in five minutes. So just look around you don't move far, five to seven people be flexible, and just kind of like move around them and address... ... to send us out today. So go and just stand where you are, if your chairs are kind of messed up, that's all right. As we respond today, there are a couple of different ways we respond, you can look on the screen, we're closing with one song together. So if you'd like to go and receive Communion, make sure you do that right away. But one of the lines of the song that we're going to sing is Look Up and See His Face and Do Not Forget His Grace. I honestly think one of the reasons we have a hard time sharing the grace of Jesus is we forget the grace of Jesus that's been shown to us. And so as we kind of go and send out, let your hearts be reminded of the grace that's been shown to you and just ask the spirit, how that might change this week as you have coming up and how it might change how you Pray for the three people that we're going to be praying for each and every day. Father, we're so grateful. We stand here in a posture of gratitude. We stand here in a posture of thankfulness and being overwhelmed by the love, mercy, peace, hope and grace that we have been shown as people who follow you have redeemed us and reconciled us. And God, would we not seek to sit and be comfortable there, but to actually think and pray for and work towards other people experiencing this kind of grace that we have been shown ourself. So thank you, Jesus, for your work that is brought us into your family. And would we all leave here empowered by your Holy Spirit, to be Proclaimers of the good news of Jesus Christ and however, the Holy Spirit may call us to. How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news, Amen.
1 Peter 1:13 • February 9, 2020 • Bert Alcorn
#Big Idea: We are a community growing in becoming resilient disciples, who are faithful in the face of cultural coercion, and who live a vibrant life in the Spirit. #Key Texts: 1 Peter 1:13; Acts 20:35-Acts 21:1 #Transcript: We are moving forward in our 100 10 1 vision for the next few years. And so what I'm going to do for the next, I don't know, 15 or so minutes, maybe 20, is just hone in on what those things are. Last year it was eldership development, new teachers, community groups, whatever, and this year there are a few different ways we are pressing in a little bit more. And so this will be the big picture, and over the next year we'll unpack more of these things, but first I want to take you to the text. So if you have a Bible, please open up to 1 Peter chapter 1. 1 Peter, chapter 1, Peter writes, "Therefore preparing your minds for action and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Just 1 verse for today, I don't have time to exigent any more verses with you guys today. 1 verse that I hope sets the tone and foundation for where we are pressing in as a church this year. I want to take just a couple of minutes, unpack this 1 verse here, and then unpack its implications for us. So first of all, the word, the phrase, verse, starts with the word, therefore. Now in Bible College, the first thing we learn is whenever we see it, therefore, in scripture we ask, "What's the therefore, therefore?" Well done. So therefore is this linking word that points you back to what Peter has already done. And so he says, "Therefore, in light of all this, prepare your minds for action, be sober-minded." But he wants us to look backwards about what he has already said. Okay? And what he said starts up in verse 3 where he says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ according to His great mercy. He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a while if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is in inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls." When Peter says, therefore, he wants us to go back to those verses and remember what he has already said. This call to obedience and holiness that he starts in verse 13 is rooted in the realities of grace extended to us by God, our salvation, our identity, who we are now, because what Christ has done for us. And so in light of all of that, Peter says, "Thus this is now how you live." And that's the rest of 1 Peter, is that, therefore, is how you live in light of that theological reality that God has saved you, made you a part of His family, He's extended grace and mercy towards you, and now you are part of His family. And even though you don't see Jesus, you know Him. And you don't see Him now, but you love Him. You have been so transformed by the love of Jesus, therefore it demands we live differently. And that's what he gets into in the rest of the chapter here. But now in this 1 verse, there are a couple of key phrases that are important for us to understand. First is this phrase, "Preparing your minds for action." Now there's a whole bunch of really interesting ancient culture that makes this phrase really provocative, but this, is for the sake of time, this is the equivalent of rolling up your sleeves. And so if you were in the ancient near Middle East and you had to prepare for action, one of the things you did was pull up your really long robe that looked really regal and elegant, pull it up so you could run so your legs were unhindered. So the modern equivalent is pushing up your sleeves, being ready to go, ready for action. Now both of these phrases, "Preparing your minds for action," and the next one, "Being sober-minded," are a funny linguistic phrase here. They are both something that has already happened, something that is ongoing, and a command for the future. "Preparing your minds for action," and, "Being sober-minded," are both directives and they're also describing ongoing actions, which means we can read into a verse like that as, or while you are preparing your minds and as, or while you are being sober-minded. So it's sort of like this language of repent and keep on repenting, or be filled with the Holy Spirit and keep on being filled. Peter wants us to remember, can you go back to the verse Elijah? Peter wants us to remember to be both, "Preparing our minds for action," and, "Sober-minded." Verse 13 please, "Preparing our minds for action," and "Being sober-minded," it's not a one time deal. It's not a command for once in the future, but an ongoing act that you and I participate in. And in that ongoing act, leading up to the very first command that is in chapter 1. So we read all of that about what God has done for you, the realities of grace made manifest in your life and how we are to be preparing ourselves, and this is the first command Peter gives us here in the back half of verse 13, "Set your hope fully on the grace of Jesus." Don't set your hope on your own effort, but on Jesus we are to devote every ounce of mental and spiritual and emotional energy to contemplating and concentrating on the grace that has been revealed and the grace that is to come when Jesus returns. Be totally ready to receive the gift that's coming when Jesus arrives. How? By preparing your minds for action, by being sober-minded. The rest of the letter, Holy living, suffering for the sake of the gospel, living wisely in a culture that is in opposition to the gospel. Now, the reason I tee up that verse for us today, is because it helps bring into focus the, why, and, what, we're going to be doing this year. Our key phrase that will define our year is this, now you can put it up Elijah, our key phrase, "We are a community growing and becoming resilient disciples who are faithful in the face of cultural coercion and who live a vibrant life in the spirit." This is 2020 for us. I know, that's good right? Dramatic effect. This is the year we are stepping into. If we are to fully set our hope on Jesus, be ready to receive the gift that He brings, as we are preparing our minds for action and being sober-minded, this is how we're doing that. I want to unpack this phrase, resiliency. Resiliency has a couple of different meanings to it. One is to recover quickly from difficulties, so like a toughness or hardness or resistance to withstand an attack, but it's also the ability to not just resist but spring back into shape, right? We get back up, we fight, we contend, we recoil. Resilience is what a person or a team or a group needs an order to emerge from inevitable challenges not only intact, but with refined skills and deeper wisdom. So in the realm of faith and how that pertains to how we walk at our discipleship to Jesus, resilient disciples grow more like Jesus, not in spite of, but because of, a culture that is opposed to us. Because of the location in a society that exerts enormous pressure and power upon us. We are not of this world. We have to be resilient. Not only resist, but be able to bounce back stronger and wiser because we live in a culture that opposes the gospel. The next word, resilient disciples, we've done a lot of work here so I'm not going to do too much work. But disciples just simply mean students or learners or followers, my favorite word is apprentice, this idea that you would apprentice after a master. And so it comes from this word of instruction, disciples, comes from this word, of instruction. And so we are one, constantly learning to orient our life around three primary goals, to be with Jesus, to become like Jesus, and to do the things he does. And as disciples, as we are growing in our discipleship, we are growing and becoming resilient disciples. And so, as we bounce back and resist the things of this culture and this world, we are not just staying static or going right back where we were, but we're moving the ball forward and being with him, becoming like him and doing the things he would do if he were us. The next piece to that statement is cultural coercion. We are being discipled by the culture around us, just because you don't realize it does not mean it's not happening. Every podcast you listen to, every song, every movie, every T.V. show, every YouTube video, every conversation with a coworker or a neighbor or family or friend, are shaping you into something, more than likely not into Jesus, into something or someone else. We are always being formed into something, just by waking up in the morning, you are being formed into something. We have to realize the forces at work pulling us away from this end goal of becoming like Jesus. Martin Luther, an old theologian from about 500 years ago, said those primary forces that pull us away from our goal of becoming like Jesus are the worlds, the flesh, and the enemy. The culture of the world around us, the flesh, our own personal desires, our own inward visceral gut desires, and the enemy, that there is an enemy out there and he would rather you not look more like Jesus. They're all actively pulling you away, so our discipleship cannot just be resistant, it has to be pro active. We have to recognize the cultural coercion around us. And so the key question is not am I being formed, but how am I being formed? Or, who or what is forming me? Who are you becoming? Are you on track to become Jesus expressed through your person and personality? Or are you on track to become something or someone else? And the invitation of scripture is always to counter the formation of our culture and our world with intentional formation to become more like Jesus. And finally the last part of that phrase, a vibrancy, vibrant life in the Spirit. This is not just counting down the clock until Jesus comes or you die, this is actively engaging the Holy Spirit in this life here and now, to about the kingdom of God in our time and our place. It is living life to the full and the language of Jesus, or in the language of Paul, "Keeping in step with the Spirit." Now this here, is I actually want to put a little bit of flesh on the bones with how we live a vibrant life in the Spirit. So we are becoming resilient disciples in the face, faithful in the face of cultural coercion, but how are we living a vibrant life in the Spirit together as a church? Four things really quickly. One is we are committing to pursuing presence. We are pursuing the presence of God together. The best part about following Jesus is Jesus, right? Not all this extra stuff, it is Jesus himself. We are pursuing the presence of God and we are pursuing presence with others. Community only works if you show up. Community is not community if you never show up, but you want it there until you're ready for it. Community only works if you show up. And community is counter-cultural in our day, that says you can do anything you want to do and there's no one to tell you otherwise. There's no one else you need. There's no accountability. There's no other input. You do you, you have everything you need. And community is radically counter-cultural in our time and our place. So we are pursuing presence, not only with God, but with each other. Second, we are cultivating dependence. Cultivating a dependence on the Holy Spirit through desperation, in prayer and worship uniquely, and what we are doing when we do that is we are combating cynicism. We're combating entertainment culture where you sit and I do. We are combating church on your terms, we're saying, "No, we're actually desperate for the Holy Spirit and we're desperate to be a part of the family of God." We are cultivating dependence on the Holy Spirit by being, taking this posture of desperation in our prayer and in our worship. And we see worship as not only just songs, but we see worship as rebellion and warfare against, not only our culture, but against the enemy. Someone once said, worship is not performance, it's participation, and we want to model that this year. And prayer in our lifeblood, our link to Jesus, if it was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for us. He modeled a life and lifestyle of devotion to prayer, and so are we as a church. Third, we are committing and growing to becoming gospel fluids and how we live this vibrant life in the spirit. All human beings live in a story, a narrative in which we make sense of the big questions of life like, who are we, why are we here, what's wrong, how do we fix it? It's the story we live in, it's a story we live out, and it comes at no surprise that most of scripture is actually story, it's narrative. And the longterm journey of any disciple of Jesus is to find their story in His story, and to do that we have to know His story. And so we are growing and becoming gospel fluent. We're becoming gospel fluent. It's all about growing scripture as an anchor for our life, our worldview, rather than the world around us. We're committed to this, being formed and shaped by this first before anything else in the world. And finally, how we are pressing into living a vibrant life in the Spirit is a growing connection and witness to our city uniquely through Alpha. This happens in a lot of different ways, but this is the way we are doing it together. And if you guys don't know about Alpha, it's a series of dinner conversation that explores life, reality, faith in a fun, nonjudgmental, open environment. Alpha creates a space where people are invited to explore the Christian life in an environment that is pressure-free and respectful. We believe that every person has the opportunity to explore life and Christian faith, and we believe most people don't because the environments in which those happen are hostile to those who don't yet know Jesus. And so to ask questions, to share their point-of-view in an open, friendly environment, we hope this is a space and continues to be a space where those who are exploring faith and do not yet know Jesus, can explore those things, because we do not want to be a church for the church only. It's been said that the church is the only institution that does not exist, it exists exclusively for the benefit of its outsiders, and so that is how we are pressing in this year. And so in the next few weeks we're going to unpack how we're approaching Alpha this year. But to circle back around to our phrase, and that was freaking lightspeed fast, I know, sorry. I know it's like fire ho- drinking water from a fire hose, but I wanted to give you guys a big picture of where we are heading this year. Over the year we're going to be unpacking different facets of this, but it's all in the aim of growing to become a community of resilient disciples who are faithful in the face of cultural coercion and live a vibrant life in the Spirit. Now, just for a moment, just for a moment before I end this thing, take a moment. Close your eyes if you want, imagine what your life looks like if that phrase describes you. Resilience, apprentice of Jesus, resisting and becoming stronger because of the forces around us trying to take us off the goal of becoming like Jesus, and who live a vibrant life in the Spirit. Does that sound good? How good does a vibrant life in the Spirit sound? How good does it sound not to be dictated to by our culture, but to resist and to be formed into something better? Now why I share all of that today, because as much as that is an individual step that we are all taking, individual moment of growth, this is something we're doing together as a church. There's a beautiful moment in the book of Acts when Paul, who writes most of the New Testament and plants most of the churches we hear about in the New Testament, is leaving one church that he spent somewhere around a year and a half, maybe up to three years in. And he's just put in their elders and they're a healthy church, they're vibrant, they're growing, and he is leaving to go somewhere else, to continue on his mission. Now what you guys need to know about the book of Acts is it's not written by a guy name Acts, it's written by a guy named Luke who writes both Luke and Acts as an investigative journalist trying to piece together the story of Jesus and the new church, and there's something beautiful and unique that happens. Start in verse 36, and Luke writes, "When he," Paul, "When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all." These are the Ephesians elders, "He knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all and they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again, and they accompanied him to the ship." And then chapter 21 verse 1, "And when we had parted from them and set sail," English nerds, what just happened there? Yeah. The story went from, they and them, to, we and us. This moment in scripture is when Luke joins the story. This is the moment when Luke literally gets on the boat with Paul. Up until this point, he's been reporting on what's happened, and in this moment in history, Luke stops reporting on what's been happening from other people and he starts reporting firsthand about the journey of Paul and the new church. He gets on the boat with him. I think this is an incredibly profound moment in the text for us to wrestle with because it leaves us with this moment where we have to ask ourselves, "Am I going to join in? Am I going to get on the boat? Is this story going to go from a, they and them, to, we and us?" Any good thing God will do in your life will come through the, we, and the us, not, they and them. That is the invitation of today, to join in. You've heard a butchered short, very fast picture of where we are heading as a church. And what I hope is that something that grabbed your attention, maybe everything, maybe one thing, just you grabbed a hold of your mind and you just want to pick it apart. You want to unpack that a little bit more. And I want to say to you, the invitation is open for you not to do this by yourself, but to do it with us. A community growing and becoming resilient disciples in the face of cultural coercion, living a vibrant life in the Spirit. You're invited in. God is doing amazing and beautiful things, and we would love for you to be a part of those things. I'm going to pray, and here's how we're going to map out the rest of our morning here, I'm going to pray and we're going to sing one song together. And as we're singing that song, I want to encourage you to go receive communion during that song, we're all doing it, one song, so there's actually a third station right behind Rachel in the very back. So at any point during this song, go receive communion and thank God for what he has done for you to bring you into, not only this family uniquely, but into His family. And so we're going to kind of as a jumping off point from sharing vision for where we are going this year, the first thing we want to do is respond in a posture of worship and respond in a posture of receiving communion. So if you guys would stand with me, I'm going to pray. Father, we are grateful for moments like these. Just like Leah was saying, "Moments to remember and celebrate the things you have done, but also look ahead to what you're going to do." Thank you that Christianity is a team sport and you want all of us to play. Thank you for the sacrifice of your son, Jesus, to make life in your family possible, for salvation to be possible, for a renewed life here and now to be possible, and for us to be eagerly awaiting your second coming. So Jesus as we sing, would you break open in us a posture of surrender, of openhandedness, of seeing our life as your life to guide. And as we receive communion when we'd be overwhelmed by gratitude and thankfulness. Amen.
The Gospel Goes Through Us
Various Texts • February 2, 2020 • Bert Alcorn
#Big Idea: The gospel doesn’t just come to us but goes through us. #Key Texts: 2 Corinthians 5:14-20; Mark 5:18-20; Genesis 1:28; 2 Timothy 2:1-2; Acts 20:35; Philippians 3:8 #Transcript: My name is Bert. I'm one of the pastors here. I am so delighted to be with you as we are rounding out our series. This is Anthem really unpacking who we are, what we're about, who God has fashioned us to be, and uniquely where we're heading this year as a church together. And so, over the last couple of weeks we've been opening the text together and really unpacking who we are, looking at some of our core values as a church and how those values get played out in the life of our church. And that is all culminating next week in vision Sunday. And so if Anthem is your home, please make a point to be here. We've been putting that date out for the last few weeks because it is important for us to be on the same page about where we're going together as a church. And so, vision Sunday is always an amazing time to just be updated on the life of our church. Have some vision, like a picture of where we're going and to hear some stories as well. But what we're doing next Sunday for vision Sundays, we're kind of not only culminating our 'This is Anthem teaching series' but we are breaking our all church fast together. We are right in the middle. Today is the middle, the hump to get over of our 14 days of prayer and fasting. And no matter how you are engaging in that season of prayer and fasting with us, well done. The stories I've been hearing from you guys have been so encouraging. The stories of what God is up to, even some of the things you're learning about yourself, your mind, your habits, your body. Some of the things that you're hearing from God maybe in a uniquely clear way because you're stripping out some things that might be superfluous in your life like social media or things that might actually be crucial to your life like food. Well done. We are in the middle. I hope the time in your community groups have been really fruitful, being able to process honestly through this season and some of the hard things and some of the amazing things and I'm excited next week to break the fast together as a church. We're going to be breaking our fast together with lunch right after the gathering here. So right after vision Sunday you don't have to go anywhere, right in this room we have the best El Salvadorian food you could possibly imagine being brought to us by Mrs. Castro. Yeah. Sorry, not Hannah, Jensen's mom is cooking a huge meal for all of us. And so, it is definitely a day you guys do not want to miss both for where we are going and breaking the fast together with a delicious lunch here as a church. I am excited to dive into the text with you guys today. If you have a Bible with you, open up to the book of 2nd Corinthians chapter five. We're going to be hopping all over just a little bit as has been our custom throughout this series, but we're going to anchor ourselves in 2nd Corinthians chapter five. Our goal with this series from the get go is that you would know what it means to be a part of Anthem Church, not only what we're doing and where we're going, but you as an individual or you as a family would actually know what it means to be a part of this family, this group of believers that God has gathered together for a unique purpose in the City of Ventura. And we are a church, like Josh said earlier, for the City of Ventura helping people find their way back to God and our mission as a church is to enjoy Jesus, make much of him, helping other people do the same as we live out the mission of God together. And so, each and every week we've been unpacking a facet of who we are, underlying foundational value for what makes us tick and informs the decisions we say yes to and the decisions we say no to. It's been really cool seeing the responses from the church wide survey comment a little bit. It's been actually really epic to be able to pray for you guys and to be just seeing where you're at with some of those spiritual disciplines and how connected you feel to the life of our church. And it's cool to even see the results of some of the values that we press into. Thus, some of the things as a church, we do not press into even be represented in that survey. And so, there are things we intentionally say yes to and things we intentionally say no to. And they're all rooted in who we are as a church. These value statements. And so, over the last couple of weeks we kind of went series within a series, right? A little meta, if you will, like a series within a series. So in these value series, there are a few values that represent directions of growth that we want to be moving forward in, not only in our discipleship or apprenticeship to Jesus, but as a church community. And so, couple of weeks ago we huddled around this direction of upward growth and really our value and dependence on the Holy Spirit. So we believe the Holy Spirit is necessary for the body of Christ to function properly. So we lead worship, pray in full dependence on the Holy Spirit even when it's easier to operate in our own giftings. That was two weeks ago. And last week at Anthem anywhere, scattered all around the county in your groups you were unpacking this value of in, of community and how we believe God is a relational God. So we live out our discipleship with a community of believers even when our culture around us tells us it is easier to do life on our own. That's been the last two weeks and today we're kind of wrapping up that little kind of three areas of growth up in and out with the out. And so, I want to give you a bit of roadmap for today. But before I get there, I want to remind you of a tool we used a couple of weeks ago to help us evaluate where we are and where we want to grow. And so, it is both a self evaluation tool but it's also a tool to kind of give us a picture of what forward movement or forward motion looks like as we are pursuing this together. And this is with our four quadrants right here. Do you guys remember the four quadrants from a couple of weeks ago? It's basically four squares here and on either side of this square are a couple of directions and words. And so, first, invitation, high and low invitation. This idea of invitation is just simply, it has to do with being included in the community, welcomed, valued not only for what you do but who you are. So you are invited in to these things we are doing as a church. But the second word in this box, in this quadrant right here is challenge, right? High and low challenge. And this idea of challenge has to do with being needed in the community, having a vital role to play to accomplish the things that God has called us to as a church. So not only you are welcomed in, but you are needed. And it's this tension of challenge and invitation that puts us in one of these four quadrants. And we said we can both evaluate ourselves through this metric, but we can also do some evaluation of our church in this metric. So just in way of a recap, if you want the fuller explanation, grab the podcast from a couple of weeks ago. But just in way of a recap, there are four squares here and that first square in the top left hand side where there's a high invitation and low challenge culture creates what we call a cozy culture, where the end product of that culture are consumers. So you come, you sit, you consume and hopefully your life is better. But you don't actually give, you don't contribute, you don't give of yourself, you don't give of your time and you just kind of like keep everyone at arms distance and this is just an event to be consumed. The second quadrant here is right under that, is a low challenge, low invitation culture. And what this creates is a bored culture where it doesn't create consumers, but the end product is actually apathetic people, right? Not only are you not invited into anything, you're not challenged to anything and you just kind of sit back and are bored. All right. In the next square if we keep going around here is the high challenge, low invitation culture. And what this creates is a stressed culture, right? No sense of rest, no sense of gospel understanding of how we work out our faith. And the end product of this culture is discouragement. You feel depleted, you feel emptied out, you feel discouraged because you're challenged to a lot but not actually invited into anything. And the final square, because these all seem pretty grim, right? The final one has to be a good one. The high challenge, high invitation culture. And what this creates is a discipling culture. A discipling culture emerges where disciples of Jesus are the end product and when discipling is done well, the product of that kind of discipleship is more disciples. And so, we kind of looked at each one of these four squares and just simply asked a couple of weeks ago, where are you at, as we think about this upward direction of growth with our dependence on the Holy Spirit. Are you invited into much but not really challenged into anything? Do you feel the sense of challenge, but actually no invitation? Do you feel neither or do you actually feel the high invitation of God who wants a relationship with you and the high challenge that he's got work for you to do, that he has responsibility and role for you. He's uniquely wired you in certain ways. And the point of those gifts is not to be self-serving or for them to be unused, but then to be used for the glory of God and for your good. So we looked at that a couple of weeks ago in the context of our value of dependence on the Holy Spirit. But I wanted to revisit this framework, revisit this metric as we talk about some of our outward value, some of what we do as a church to look outside our walls and actually engage the community and the life around us. Okay. So where we're going today is we're doing a lot in the next 30 or so minutes, okay? We're doing three values today. The last couple of weeks we've been taking one value and really giving them time and space to breathe. But these three values we believe are actually intimately connected. And so we are approaching all three of them today. So buckle your seatbelts. We're going to tackle three today and what we're really going to be doing is three values with three primary texts. And for each one of those values we're going to be trying to identify what each of the quadrant looks like in light of those values. Three, values, three primary Biblical texts we're going to root ourselves in, and then we're going to use this quadrant as a metric and actually flesh out what a cozy or bored or stressed or discipling culture looks like in each one of those values. Now, these three values that we are dipping into today are intimately connected because they all involve a certain dying to oneself. 2nd Corinthians chapter five verses 14 and 15, Paul writes this, "For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one, that Jesus, one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him for their sake was died and was raised." That those who live might no longer live for themselves, but for him who for their sake died and was raised. By Jesus' death on the cross, the penalty for sin has been paid once and for all. Forgiveness and new life is available to all those who put their trust in Jesus. And he died bringing us new life, but that new life is not simply for your benefit alone. This is one of the primary things Christians in the West get wrong. Christ did not just die so you would have new life, he died so that those who have this new life would actually live in the truest sense not serving oneself, but serving the one who died for us. A great way to summarize that is the Gospel does not just go to you, it goes through you. The Gospel does not just go to you, it goes through you. Okay. So for each one of these quadrants that we have in mind, we're going to be unpacking how the gospel doesn't just go to you, but it actually extends through you and what your engagement actually looks like. Okay. First value. This is going to be like three sermonettes within a sermon, so just roll with me here. I'm doing the best I can guys, roll with me. Mission. All right. First value that we're looking at today is mission. We believe every follower of Jesus is sent by God, so we are on mission to proclaim and demonstrate Jesus in our lives every day, even when it disrupts easy, comfortable, and stable. Okay? That's the stated value. A few verses down in 2nd Corinthians chapter five starting at verse 16. "From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation." A couple of notes real quick about these few verses right here. Christ's work of reconciliation, according to Paul right here, overcomes the chasm of sin and death and brokenness. We were all far off but because of Christ the new has come. That old man, that old woman, that all creation has gone and the new is here. And what he does in these couple of verses is he gives us two things. He gives us identity and he gives us mission. He talks about who you are as a result of Christ's work and what you do as a result of Christ's work. First, you are those who are redeemed. You are reconciled with God. That is your new identity. Before, you were far off, but Jesus has brought you near; and part of what makes you you is that you are near to God. You are reconciled and redeemed. But he closely attaches that with now what you do. First, Jesus has done everything that's needed to be done and he brings you towards God. He reconciles you with God. Then... that progression is important. Then you have work to do. He has given us the ministry of reconciliation. He teases that out a little bit in verse 20. "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." What are ambassadors? He uses this word to describe who we are, to describe this ministry of reconciliation. Ambassadors just represent somebody else in a different land. The easy one that we go to nowadays is ambassadors of the United States; live all over the world and they represent the United States, its leadership, its culture, its identity, its values to a foreign nation. Paul, because of the work of Jesus says, not only are you reconciled with God, but you are ambassadors for that reconciliation here on earth. You now belong to a different kingdom. Your citizenship has been transferred over to the kingdom of God, but you still live here on earth as a witness, as an ambassador to the one who reconciled you. So what you're doing is you're pointing back to the one who did the saving. You're pointing back to the one who did the reconciliation. That ministry of reconciliation has been given to us, and now it is God making his appeal to all humankind through you. God is making his appeal to humankind through you. You are his ambassadors. How are you making Jesus look? As ambassadors, we are temporary placed here. We're representing the one who sent us. It is the very nature of every single Christian, this new identity and this new mission. That you are God's; he purchased you, he redeemed you, he reconciled you. And because we're becoming like the one who's reconciled us, we now go on about telling and showing other people who he's like. Okay. Four quadrants here. We're going to walk through four quadrants. Cozy quadrant, cozy culture, which is the high invitation, low challenge, right? What does a cozy posture look like as we think about mission? A cozy posture is a posture of 'they'. They do it so I don't have to. Oh, it's so cool that they do Laundry Love, so I can claim we're a part of a church that does Laundry Love. Oh, it's so cool that they do Alpha and they're chatting with people who have spiritual questions. I don't have to be a part of that. It's so cool they have a homeless ministry that they're doing this, they're doing that. High invitation, low challenge is a posture of they. There's no they. According to scripture, there's only us. In 1st Corinthians chapter four, Paul is rebuking the church for sitting on the sidelines while a select few are doing the hard work of the Gospel. Not only are they sitting on the sidelines, they're critiquing those who are actually in the work. He compares it to like one of those gladiator matches where they're being drag into the ring and they're being beaten down for what they believed and their church, Paul says, in the sidelines booing and cheering and yelling and critiquing those who are actually in the trenches for the sake of the Gospel. Paul says, "Get off the sidelines." If you follow Jesus, there's no they, there's only us. This is the mission that you've been called to. There's no such thing as a spectator Christian. Second quadrant, the bored culture. Low invitation, low challenge is a posture of apathy. So it's, you just don't care about those who are far from God. You don't think about them, you don't pray for them. You certainly don't have spiritual conversations with them. It's bored; low invitation, low challenge. Maybe an easy way to see if you're here, do you forget that the lost people around you are actually lost. That they do not know Jesus and because of that, their eternity is different than yours. Sometimes it's a on purpose-like apathy, sometimes it is accidental apathy. Third quadrant. Here's our stressed culture and this is a posture of earning. If I'm on mission, then God will accept me, love me, bless me, et cetera. We have already been called sons and daughters of the most high. We don't do mission to earn favor or blessing, but it's because we have experienced the goodness of God that we proclaim the excellencies of him who brought us out of darkness into light. This may be one of the more rare ones, but it's more common in the pastor, church planter, missionary, evangelist kind of category. Those who just have this burning desire for a new move of God can accidentally slip into this posture of earning. Fourth quadrant, always end on an up note, right? This is the good one. A posture of readiness. As in discipling culture is a posture of readiness. This posture of here I am, send me. When we realize that the church doesn't have a mission, but the mission of God has a church and we are all needed and we all have a role to play, we're all missionaries and we can genuinely ask God, what do you have for me today? Where are you sending me? Who are you sending me to? Then these things in life, like promotions for work or moving houses or increasing your family, aren't self-focused but rather you're asking the question, how does this benefit the kingdom of God? One of the most exciting... a lot of you guys know we moved a little while ago, about a month or two ago. We've been living in downtown for the past five years in a little tiny house with one bathroom, and through crazy, crazy stories the Lord really gifted us and blessed us a bigger house for not that much more money per month. But one of the primary things we are really excited about is we had space for our community group to grow. We had a living room for our community group. We had two bathroom. Two toilets for a community group are really important guys. We have a space for kids to play and hang out because we have a lot of kids in our community group. And for us, as we're thinking through man, what like a blessing from God, what we were trying to process, how does this benefit our church? How does this benefit the kingdom of God? Because if we're just switching houses so we can increase our comfort, that's not very interesting to me. But if like we can start being on mission to a whole new set of neighbors, if we can host better in our home, these are all things that get me going. It's hard to think, where do we actually begin with a posture of readiness. And so, a very easy way to start, a very easy way to begin is just think about your everyday normal life. You live next to people. Unless you are on a farm in Santa Paula somewhere, you live next to people, you work with people and if you're staying at home you have kids that you're discipling. But not only that, you have relationships with other mamas who are staying at home as well. Think about the park days, the beach days, the lunch with coworkers, the drinks with coworkers after work. The best way to start is with your everyday life and understanding that whatever your everyday life is, God has already called you to that life. Don't wait for the huge writing in the sky and say, "Oh, God's going to send me to Africa or whatever." It's like, no, he just sent you to your job. That's where you are. You're a graphic designer, you're an office admin, you're a teacher. He's already sent you there and he's put other people near you, not so that they would just see you and know you vaguely go to a church thing on the weekends, but so you'd actually be a blessing to them, a light to them. You'd be salt to them in the words of Jesus. There's this amazing story in Mark chapter five. I want to read just a little bit of it. The story comes to mind all the time because this was the story that was the catalyst for Josh Lewis. We all know Josh who just planted Anthem Denver and they're there, and this was really a catalyst from the Holy Spirit for him to go and plant where he grew up in Denver. The story goes, I'm going to pick it up in verse 16 but the story goes, there's a man who has a bunch of demons in him, he gets healed by Jesus and he is obviously stoked about that. So in verse 16, "Those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region." The crowd wasn't super happy, but this guy was really happy. "And as he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with the demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him," Do you guys catch this? This guy, he just gets healed of all these demons. It gets into a herd of pigs and they fall off the cliff. It's a crazy story. The guy is stoked and he wants to go with Jesus wherever Jesus is going next, and Jesus says no. Is that weird? Is that strange? Jesus says no, but he says this in verse 19. "'Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.' And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled." What if you just start by going to the places you already are and telling them what Jesus has done for you. He's done something for you. If he hasn't, the invitation is open today. Why not start with going to the people God has already put around you and telling them what Jesus has done for you. That's a good starting point for mission. If everyone in this room did that this week, I'd just have the biggest smile on my face this week. I'd like... we would move miles down the road in this value of mission. Go where you are, tell people what Jesus has done for you. Now, there are a few primary ways we walk this out together as a church. So that's really like, go be sent to where you are. But there are a couple of ways we flex this value together as a church community, and two primarily that I just want to throw the spotlight on for a minute; one we hear about a lot, one we'll talk about more next week, but two primary ways we are flexing this out muscle is with Laundry Love, happens the fourth Tuesday of every month over at Midtown Coin Laundry. A crew, primarily one of our community groups, but an open invite, a crew goes and pays for people's laundry and I just... that's the whole night. It's the simplest thing in the world, two hours out of your month to go and put quarters in a machine. But what comes with those quarters is conversation, opportunities to pray, opportunities to be in communication and contact with people who legitimately need help with simple things like doing their laundry. And yeah, you can donate and give to that. It's a really awesome thing. But what we're more excited about is when you actually show up, put some quarters in machine and just ask someone, "Hey, how's your day going?" And just see where the conversation leads you. Just to be in contact with not only someone who might be far from God, but someone who is probably most definitely in a different socioeconomic status than you are. And the other is Alpha, something we do two, three times a year, a concentrated effort to cultivate an environment for people who are searching, seeking, growing in their faith to ask and say anything. It's a series of dinner conversations together where we talk about life, spirituality, the person of Jesus in a fun, loving, nonjudgmental way. And when we started doing Alpha a few years back, we kind of discovered accidentally that there's really nothing like this in Ventura. And if I'm wrong, please come up and tell me afterwards. I'm not trying to toot our own horn here, but when we really started to run down this road and see the beauty of what Alpha was, we were seeing there's really no place in Ventura where someone can come and have a fun, like a delicious free meal or a fun environment where we can genuinely ask some of the big questions in life we like to push down; Christians, non-Christians alike. And so, every couple times a year we come back to this and we garner support from 100% of the church body. This is not just something a select few do. Remember, this is not a culture of they, it's a culture of us. This is something we do as a church. And so, next week we'll be talking a little bit more about what this next Alpha season is going to be looking like, but already some of you are making excuses not to be a part. Stop it. Sorry, I better be mean for just a second. Already some of you are trying to find reasons not to engage. Prayerfully go to the Lord and ask him if this is the season for you to be engaged. Don't make excuses about this. One of the most important things we can do as a church is be in the lives of non-believers. It's been said the church is the only institution that exists for the benefit of its outsiders. That's Alpha. That's for us where we can host a meal, where we can host people in a loving, friendly environment where they can legitimately ask anything and through the course of it, be prayed for, maybe come through and get healing and maybe even encounter the person of Jesus. We are going to be talking about it next week. And I'll be way nicer about it next week. But today, I want you to stop making excuses for why you are not in the lives of non-believers. If you are a Christian, you are a missionary. That is each and every single one of us, identity. Linked to that is the second value we have. So, second sermonette here is multiplication. We believe God's story is a multiplying story. So we reproduce disciples, leaders, and churches into the nations even when it hurts to send out our friends, our family, our best. I just shared with you that story of Josh Lewis. Maybe guys, maybe you don't know, Josh and Courtney Lewis are sharing as best friends. We've done a lot in life together. I was roommates with Josh before we got married. Sherry was roommates with Courtney before we got married. We met them, because of Josh and Courtney, we met each other. They are deep, lifelong friends of ours and it hurts every day that they live thousands of miles away. But we know they are obeying the call of Jesus in their lives and this is the story of multiplying that we've given ourselves over too, that we multiply and we send, even when it hurts. We don't send out the people we're annoyed with or bored with or frustrated with. We send out the people that feel crucial. There's so many texts to go to. Matthew 28 is a beautiful one. I actually want to go, I was recently inspired by a mentor of mine, to Genesis chapter 1. From the very beginning of creation, God's story is a multiplying story. In this account of God creating everything, blessing everything, calling it good, he creates male and female and he blessed them in Genesis 1:28. And God said to them, he gives them their mandate. "Be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds, the heaven and over every living thing that moves on earth." In that mandate, be fruitful, increase, multiply, like have kids and have your kids have kids and those kids having kids, multiply and go fill the earth. Go. Don't just stay all huddled up in your little garden, go. Go to the ends of the earth. Be fruitful, multiply and go. This is a recurring narrative in the story of God calling us to multiply, to reproduce, not to let what God has done for us stay with us, but to reproduce that into the nations. The reason you know Jesus today is because someone was faithful to preach the Gospel to you. A parent, a youth pastor, a coworker, a friend, a neighbor, a family member, maybe a stranger. The reason you know Jesus today is because someone was faithful to not let the Gospel stop with them but actually go through them into someone else. One of the first things God says to humanity is be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth. A healthy organism reproduces. This is true of plants and animals and human beings and it's true of churches too. It's true of how we group together as churches. In 2nd Timothy, Peter instructs Timothy to not let the Gospel stop with him. He says, "You then my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who'll be able to teach others also." In that simple verse, you have four generations of people receiving and passing on the Gospel. Paul to Timothy, faithful men, others also. Gospel doesn't stop with you, it goes through you. Our responsibility as we exist together as a church body is to not let what happens here stop here, but to reproduce new community group leaders, new ministry leaders, new missionaries, new church planters, new churches. This is a part of who we are and it always means we're going to be sending people out. That same mentor who was sharing that passage with me a couple of days ago also says his goal for his church is to empty out his church every five years, which feels so ambitious and so scary and so draining. But he says he wants every single person that's a part of his church to see their unique calling from God to go. Some of it may be here local, some of it may be somewhere else. He says, "I want to empty out my church every five years. I don't want anyone just stuck in the status quo moment." Okay, so four quadrants as we think about multiplying. The first, our cozy culture is a posture of keeping the status quo. Good for them, we can send people out as long as it doesn't hurt my thing. As long as I'm not affected by it, as long as my community group is not affected by it, my mission is not affected by it, my church is not... We can send people all we want as long as it doesn't hurt us. Whenever we send people out, one of the things we always say is it should be bitter sweet. It should hurt a little bit. It should be sweet because we know we're sending them the Gospel. Remember when we sent Josh and McKayla Cohen to New Zealand just a few months ago, it should be bittersweet. We're excited for the work ahead, that God is doing something with them, but we are sad because they're a part of our family and we are now missing something because they're gone. Second is a bored culture and this is a posture of naval gazing. Low invitation, low challenge; this is a insular view of the church. This is where, I have in my notes here, "Fighting about the carpet color." There's not carpet in here, but you get the idea. And maybe you've even been a part of churches where the primary discussions and the primary fights are how we can get our agenda or preferences through, right? Maybe you grew up in a church that had huge beef because there were drums on stage. Not at all the point. We're missing the point if we're all fighting about drums, for fighting about the carpet color, for fighting about building improvements. Our church that that sent us here, Anthem Thousand Oaks, bought a building a few years back, probably five years ago now and they've since replaced the carpet, but it's funny, we actually had a carpet conversation as an elder team because there was huge bloodstains in this 70s orange carpet and we actually held onto it for a really long time. More as like a statement piece. Yeah, it was blood. Did you know that? There was bloodstain. We actually held onto that carpet for a really long time as a statement piece to say like, "This is not something we're going to put a lot of thought and attention for." Eventually, the building's breaking down and they have to do something to it because we're stewards of what God's given us, but we wanted to make a point that the mission was going to be more important than the building. Now, we don't have a building. We rent this space on a Sunday. But what is it for you that feels like that sacred cow you don't want slaughtered? What is it for you that you may tend to argue and fight about to keep you from multiplying? Third culture, and Sherry and I have walked through this season, maybe a few of you guys in this room have as well. This is the church plant life a little bit. A high challenge, low invitation culture. Stress culture is a posture of depletion. The best way I can describe this is after you exhale and sends people out, there's no inhale. Sending is hard. We have not yet planted a church. We will soon. We have not yet planted a church. We have been on the receiving end and we have been a part of the teams that have helped send other churches out. And there is a sense of loss when you send out those who are loved and valuable and have important roles to play. And when you send and there's no actual inhale like this Gospel rest, this resting on Jesus, but also like building up and training and equipping the people that are there and you just keep exhaling and exhaling and exhaling, eventually you suffocate. And so it creates a stressed culture, the posture of depletion. And finally fourth in our quadrant, discipling culture is a posture of sending. These shouldn't be surprises when we come to them, by the way. They're all going to be like the obvious answers. A posture of sending, we are all sent ones or senders. Better yet, we are all sent ones and senders. So whether you are here in Ventura or in New Zealand, halfway across the world, we are all sent ones and sendered, which means we are not only helping people as they're saying yes to the call of God, but we're actively trying to hear from God, what do you have for me? Is it my time to go? Where are you sending me? Okay, practicals. Where is God sending you? Now, pastorally, I'm going to give you your answer. Unless God has given you a really specific calling, you're sent to where you are. I'll answer that. I'll answer that one for you. You cut hair for a living, that's where God has sent you. You're a nurse, that's where God has sent you. Until he calls you somewhere else, Paul says in the book of 1st Corinthians, be where you are. That's where you are called. So what do you do with that calling is the real question. There'll be some opportunities this year for a few chances to go to different parts of the world and see what God is up to and even maybe consider if God would move you somewhere. One of the things we've learned over the last couple of years about leading a church is there's nothing more dangerous than Sherry and I never leaving Ventura. That's probably true of everyone in church, but I'll use ourselves as an example. It is really important for us to get out of the city every once in a while, to get out of the county every once in a while and to get out of the country every once in a while or else we start thinking of Christianity through a only-Western mindset. I would say the same thing is important with you guys. One of the dreams we kind of shared with you guys last year is that everyone in our church would go somewhere over the next few years, whether it's like a six month internship with a church we're connected to in Dubai or whether it's a one week conference for young leaders and church planners we're doing in Portugal this year, or whether it's just to go see an orphanage that's been started in India or Sri Lanka or whatever, just to go somewhere and let God open your eyes to what he's doing in some other part of the world because it changes how you view this city. It absolutely changes how you view the city. So, when those opportunities come up, will you consider going and seeing what God is doing somewhere else in the world? And will you consider the fact that where God has already placed you, he has called you to and given you mission and purpose. Okay, last one. Oh, doing great on time. This hardly ever happens guys. Yeah, thank you. Well, this might fall apart with this one. We'll see. Okay. A third value. And remember I said these were all connected because they all require a bit of dying to ourselves. They all require us living for the sake of the one who saved us, not for ourselves. So the final one, generosity. Everyone's favorite topic. We believe God is a generous God, so we act and give generously even when it stretches us. Our text over in Acts chapter 20. Acts chapter 20 verse 35. Sometimes it takes me a long time to get there too. Don't worry. Acts 20. "In all things, I have shown you that by working hard in this way, we must help the weak and remember the words of our Lord Jesus, how he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" We take Jesus at his word when he says that, that it's more blessed to give than receive. A quote from one of my favorite authors, John Mark Homer says this, he says, "If you're not on board with Jesus' view of money, it could be that you, like many Christians in the West, don't actually believe the Gospel of the kingdom. The good news that the life you've always wanted is fully available to you, right where you are through Jesus. Through him, you have access to the father's loving presence. Nothing, not your income level or stage of life or health or relational status, nothing is standing between you and the life that is truly life. It could be that you believe another Gospel, another version of what the good life is and how you obtain it. Let's call it the Gospel of America. This gospel makes the exact opposite claim. In a nutshell, the more you have, the happier you will be. When we find Jesus, he fills us to be a blessing to those around us. The generosity that comes from the knowledge of Jesus is the overflow of a life with Jesus. Jesus calls this life abundant in John 10:10. Paul called it being filled with the fullness of God in Ephesians chapter three. And this is how Paul can say to his letter to the Philippians in chapter three, 'I count everything as loss because of their surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish in order that I might gain Christ.' Being with Jesus creates generous disciples because being with Jesus reminds us that everything else pales in comparison to being with Jesus." That truth is the pinnacle of generosity for us as a people, that Jesus, not your bank account, is the most important thing in your life. That Jesus, not your calendar, is the King of your life. Generosity will then be what pours out of a life that is consumed by Jesus out of the true treasure of the Christian life. So, four quadrants. Again, cozy culture. I'm going to get cute here, the posture of tipping, tipping versus tithing. Tipping doesn't hurt and it doesn't affect your lifestyle. The gospel writers and CS Lewis, so I know we're in good company here, say that your generosity should hurt your lifestyle. There should be things you want to do but can't because you're generous. That's an uncomfortable statement for us to settle. We're okay being generous as long as we get to do all the things we want to do or all the things we feel we are entitled to do. There should be things in your life you cannot do because your generosity excludes you from doing that. I can tell you, story after story, of how we've had to wrestle with that statement in our life and our marriage, especially church planting. Guys, there are lots of things that we would have loved to do differently in our life, but our generosity precludes us from doing that and I wouldn't have it any other way. I would not have it any other way. Tipping doesn't hurt you, generosity will hurt you a little bit. It'll pinch, it'll pinch you where it hurts most. But Jesus said it's better to give than receive. And we take him at his word. A bored culture is a posture of hoarding. So not only low invitation, but low challenge. You get to keep everything. You're not engaged at all. You don't believe God when he says everything on the earth is mine. It is you believe actually everything on the earth is mine, me, Burt, everything on the earth is mine. And so we hoard it and we keep it all back. Third quadrant is stressed. This is an interesting one. I believe a stress culture produces a posture of disconnect where you maybe feel like you're just the blank check for other people and you're disconnected from the why behind it. Paul says to let your giving be cheerful and maybe your giving is like begrudgingly giving, or maybe your giving is just like routine and rote and maybe it's just like a thing that happens and every time you see it deducted from your bank account, you're like, "Ah, whatever. Okay, moving on." Or every time you see that payment to Josh and McKayla to support them, you're like, "Oh shoot, I really wanted X but whatever. It's gone." Maybe it's just a heart posture for you. Sometimes generosity doesn't need to be a discipline, but overwhelmingly the posture of the scriptures is that generosity is actually a joy, is life-giving to worship Jesus rather than to worship money. So a discipling culture is a posture of generosity. Everything I have is God's and you're actively looking for an opportunity to partner with him in his story. God, what are you doing? What are you doing with the people here? Is anyone trying to go somewhere, maybe on a missions trip or visit a church plant, how can I help get them there? What are the needs of the church? How can I help fund the needs of the church and the mission God's given us? How can I be generous with my coworkers? Who do I know that's struggling to make rent? How can I meet them in that moment and help them? Who are the sick, the poor, the oppressed around me that we can reach out to? Practicals here for this. For those who might need a little guidance in this area, I've shared this with you before, but this is a simple Biblical framework for how we handle money. You can go crazy with this, but this is the simplest we can boil it down to. Give first as an act of worship that honors God. The Bibles clearly teach that we give. Whatever God has given to you, our first fruits, our first response is back to him. Second is to save to actually create margin in our lives. Margin that helps us be generous with other people in more spontaneous moments, margins that help us avoid debt in our lives, margins that actually create margin down the road. Margin multiplies margin. And so, to discipline yourself and maybe very small ways to be saving so that when the emergency hits, when the generosity opportunity hits, you're not reaching for a credit card, but you're reaching into that margin that you've cultivated. That's a Biblical principle. And the third is to live on the rest. Told you, three steps, really simple. But to cultivate contentment in all things. Paul says himself, "I have learned the secret of contentment. Whether I have much or whether I need much, the secret of contentment is Jesus himself." Now, here's the reality. I share this with you because I want to be helpful and practical. It's not legalism. This is freedom. And I just want to give you guys hopeful tools. The Gospel reality is God does not need your money. He wants your heart, he wants your worship. He doesn't need your money, but he'll use your money to accomplish his will here on earth. And so, here's a fun question to ask ourselves when we think about generosity. How well could the church operate, give beyond mission if everyone gave as much or as little as you, or as often or as rarely as you? No legalism, just consider the moment. How well could the church fulfill its mandate from God? How well could we, as a church, be generous in planting other churches? How well can we care for the city around us? How well could we fund ministries that actually bring value and life, not only to those inside the church but outside the church if everyone gave as little or as rarely or as much or as often as you? There's no number attached to that. Just consider. I think we have this book that was given to us, what if everyone did that? It's for teaching kids to clean up after themselves and stuff like that. But it's a hopeful question when we think about generosity too. What if everyone did that? Would the church be better with the mission of God, be better for it or worse for it? Would needs to be met or would needs go unmet? Would there be lack or would there be abundance? Could we take new ground for the kingdom of God or would we always be holding back. What new ministries could be launched? How many missionaries or church planters could we send out from this place? In each and every one of these values, mission, multiplication, generosity, it is important to remember the Gospel does not just go to you, it goes through you; that something about encountering the risen Jesus changes how you live and changes how you live for the betterment of others, not just yourself. In each of these areas, there's an opportunity for the movement of the Gospel to stay with you where someone was faithful in preaching of the word, someone who was faithful in reproducing you as a leader, someone was generous to you and you just become a spiritual cul-de-sac, arms wide open, reaping all the benefits of somebody else. What if everyone did that? You would not be here today. The Gospel doesn't just go to you, it goes through you. We know through the work of Jesus, we can not only experience the joy and fruit of the Gospel ourselves, but we can let it overflow into this world. Now, I'm going to close with this text that we started with in 2nd Corinthians five. "The love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died. And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." Go ahead and stand. I would love to pray for you and then we're going to respond. Father as we wrestle today with some texts that may be comforting or convicting, that may be encouraging or may feel like we have a lot of room to grow here. God, we know this is about freedom. This is about the life you've called us to. That the life you've perfectly lived out and called people to is both high challenge and high invitation. You have made us your own. Once we were not a people, now we are your people. Once we were shown no mercy, now we have been shown mercy. That is who we are. We are sons and daughters of the living God. We are redeemed and reconciled. And Jesus today, I thank you that being redeemed and reconciled doesn't leave us sitting on our butts all the time, but it actually puts us to work. You graciously invite us to be a part of your story. You've called us ambassadors, you've called us missionaries, apprentices. God, you're drawing us into the story and you are making your appeal to all humankind through us. Jesus, help live a life worthy of the calling that we have been given. And as we respond, Holy Spirit, would you speak to us? There's a word or scripture that needs to be shared, bring it to mind. If we are feeling the burning passion to share something with someone next to us, help overcome maybe our social awkwardness and extend a hand of prayer, maybe an encouragement. And God as we respond, I ask that today more than yesterday you would be king over our lives and that tomorrow more than today, you'd be king over our lives. And as we sing to you, not to ourselves, we are proclaiming and demonstrating your death and resurrection and your kingship over us. You've made us a son and daughter adopted into your family and you have given us beautiful, unique, glorious roles in that family. Help us to live those out. Help us as a church to live that out, making much. The time is short. Help us to be effective for your kingdom here and now. Amen.
Dependance on the Holy Spirit
Various Texts • January 19, 2020 • Bert Alcorn
#Big Idea: We believe reliance on the Holy Spirit is necessary for the body of Christ to function properly so, we lead, worship and pray in full dependence on the Holy Spirit, even when it's easier to operate in our own strengths and abilities. #Key Texts: Galatians 5:16-25; Ephesians 4:1-6; John 17:23; Ephesians 5:18-21; 1 Corinthians 14:26; 1 Peter 4:10; Psalm 122:1; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 10:24-25; John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 14:3, 24-25 #Transcript: My name is Bert, hello. If we have not met I'm one of the pastors here, so excited to be with you today. January and February is our vision season, and so each and every January and sometimes it bleeds into February we take a few weeks to rally around not only who we are, but what it means to be Anthem Church for all of us. Who we are and where we're going for the year. A few of the highlights already as we kicked off the year, underscoring our value of being a gospel centered people. That was our start, and it was our foundation for not only the teaching series but really who we are and how we operate as a church. Then last week if you were with us, we installed our first ever homegrown team of elder pastors for Anthem Ventura. It was a momentous day celebrating that. It was preceded by about three months of an examination and affirmation season, preceded by another nine or so months of development with these families, preceded by multiple years of praying for that moment. It was a huge moment in the life of our church, and if you were with us I hope it was meaningful for you that day as well. Some of the other things that are coming up along with our fast is ending this series with vision Sunday. The time in between where we started and where we're going are fleshing out a few more of our values as a church. Particularly where we're going today is we're going a little meta. We're going a mini-series within a series if you will. But first, just to set the context, our goal for this series is that you would know what it means to be Anthem Church. That if you're with us over these six weeks during the service you would have no question about what it means to be a part of this church, this unique local congregation that God has gathered together here in downtown Ventura. We are a church helping people find their way back to God, and our mission is to enjoy and make much of Jesus helping people other do the same as we live out the mission of God together. We're repeating that every single week that you would know and deeply understand the why behind everything we're doing. Today kicks into our mini-series within a series, so our kind of meta series within a series. This week, Anthem Anywhere next week, and then the week after we are looking uniquely at three aspects of our apprenticeship to Jesus. Three aspects of how we are growing in becoming disciples of Jesus. Those three weeks that we are huddling around are three directions in which we are growing as disciples of Jesus. It's these directions of up, in, and out, and how the rest of our values that we have left to unpack find their way into one of those directions or movements we grow into as disciples of Jesus. Today we're looking at the up direction that we are growing as disciples of Jesus, particularly our value of being dependent on the Holy Spirit. Next week as we are gathering in small little house churches all around Ventura County at Anthem Anywhere, we're going to be talking about our value of community and really our inward direction that we grow as disciples of Jesus. Finally on February 2, when we come back together after Anthem Anywhere, we'll be looking at the outward direction that we grow as disciples of Jesus. Particularly looking at our values of mission, multiplying, and generosity. That's just a little bit of vision for where we're headed over the next three weeks. What I want to do to kick off today, before we even get into our topic today, is I want to give us some way to measure how we're doing in these areas. It's nice to say we want to grow in these areas, but we have no idea where we're at currently as individuals and as a whole church, or even what it looks like to grow. What it looks like to win. What it looks like to succeed. What it actually looks like to make progress in these areas. I want to give us some metrics with which we can evaluate both ourselves and then together we can evaluate our community. Okay? I'm going to give you guys a quadrant. We're going to start here with four squares. Now, before we start, I did not invent this particular metric that we're using. It's written by a guy named Mike Breen who does a lot of great work around sanctification, discipleship, like growing and becoming disciples of Jesus. He has a really helpful filter with which to see our current lives and where we are growing together as disciples of Jesus. I want to use this this week and then when we come back together to give you guys not only a tool to kind of evaluate where you are and how you need to grow, but to do the same for our whole church. So, to have some honesty in our self assessment and see where we are at and what growth looks like. First, this quadrant starts with two particular words that I want to define. One is invitation and one is challenge. It starts with high invitation, low invitation. What we mean by invitation is this sense of being included in the community and the mission. Having some vital role to play, but realizing your value, your worth, is not about what you can do but who you are. Right, so it's this sense of calling people. Come and see, come and join us, come learn along with us. Paul in one of his letters says, "Follow me as I follow Christ." It's this idea of welcoming in no matter where you are at, or what you have to bring to the table that you have intrinsic value because you are made in the image of God. We want to include you in where we are going as a church. High invitation, low invitation. The second word is challenge. Challenge. Which means exactly what you think it means. It has to do with this sense of you being needed, of having a vital role to play in accomplishing what God has for us together. This sense that you will be challenged. You might be off put by some of the stuff we're going to say, because it's going to come in direct contrast with our defacto selfish motives. That there's a sense where we want to invite you into what God is doing, and challenge your defacto status and behavior and approach, in not only how you engage with the church but you're spiritual journey altogether. What this quadrant really is for us, or this chart really is for us, is a way to determine where we are at and where we want to go. In these four squares are four postures that will come out as a result of gravitating towards one corner or another. The first is in this high invitation, low challenge. Come one, come all, but really nothings expected of you. What this develops is a, I'll call it a cozy culture. What that produces are consumers. This might be the defacto state of the Americanized or Westernized church. Me, John, put on a nice show with which you guys get to come and evaluate over lunch. "Oh, how was Bert, was he good or was he not good? Oh, John hit that off note, or I really liked that song." Or whatever. Our role is to perform a show and your role is to sit and consume. Right, providing, bringing nothing to the table. This is the status of most churches in the Westernized world, and that's where the emphasis is put on the Sunday event and you have to do nothing expect give your money and sit a seat. Right? That's the posture. That is the product of high invitation, come and see, come and check this out, come and sit here, but low challenge. Nothing is expected of you. The next quadrant I want to look at today is the low challenge, low invitation. Which also might plague the American church as well, where it produces this culture of boredom which ends up producing apathetic people. Like, "I don't care. I'm not needed and I'm not really invited into anything." This might be the status of more like, I don't want to generalize too much, but more maybe mainline or denominational churches. Churches that tend to have long history, long tradition, and overtime not only the challenge is low but the invitation is low. Right. It's always going to be there whether you need it or want it, and it produces people who are apathetic. Next quadrant, working our way around the square, is high challenge but low invitation. This is a stressed culture and this produces burnout. I would say this here might encapsulate a lot of the church planting world, right. If we're to categorize and largely generalize, we maybe have the defacto Americanized church in the top left corner. Maybe more mainline or denominational, or churches who have a long history in that bottom left quadrant. In this bottom right quadrant, both from kind of anecdotally for us here but also statistically across the nation, this tends to be more where church plants live. New churches, churches that are set up, tear down. Churches that meat in random buildings in the middle of the city, don't have their own buildings. Rely heavily on volunteers to accomplish anything. They don't have huge staffs, they don't have huge budgets. The product could be burnout, where people are giving time, money, energy, effort, and there's just not that sense of high invitation into a life but get stuff done. Not all these are great, right. All three of these so far are like pretty awful, right? There has to be a good one in here somewhere. The good one is the top right corner, if you haven't guessed that already. High invitation, high challenge, and high invitation. Which means the invitation is high. You are a part of this. You are a part of the journey. You are a part of where we are going together as a church. But, your role is to not just sit on your butts every Sunday. There is a high calling for you to play a part in where God is taking us together as a church. Throughout the gospel accounts in scripture of Jesus, we see how we kind of walked this beautiful tension of high invitation, high challenge. Come and follow me, I will make you fishers of men. Come, live the life that I'm living, but I'm going to put you to work. We see this modeled perfectly in Jesus by both welcoming the social outcasts who had nothing to bring to the table, and calling out the hypocrisy of the religious elite. Jesus demonstrated this dual reality of the Kingdom of God. The beauty of high invitation with high challenge, and that culture produces disciples. That's what we are aiming for. As we talk about up, in, and out in these movements of growth that's our aim, that you look more like Jesus. We say often we have an agenda for you. Unabashedly, unapologetically, I have an agenda for you. That agenda is that you look more like Jesus today than you did yesterday, and tomorrow than you did today. I don't know, I'm not going to say this is going to be the most helpful chart for you to reference back to. For me and how my mind works, I'm a little bit analytical, I like to know if I'm actually growing in something. As we're putting out these directions that we want to grow as a church in our spiritual formation and as a community, we want to have some sense of where we're at and where we're going. Because the reality is God invites us into a relationship with Him, but He also challenges us with responsibility. When we emphasize one or the other, we get some of these other bad cultures that you maybe even have experienced in life somehow. Where there's high invitation but low challenge, low expectation. God wants a relationship with you, but you don't have to change anything about yourself. Right? God wants a relationship with you, but like keep making all the dumb decisions that you make every single day. God wants a relationship with you, but you really don't have to give any time or any money, you don't have to give anything of yourselves. You don't have to hang out with people you don't like. That produces one kind of culture. The inverse is true, that God has a lot for you, but He doesn't actually want to be with you, produces these performance based burnout kind of Christians. We don't want either one of those. We want to joyfully walk in the tension of God wants a relationship with you, and He's got work for you. He's got stuff for you to do. That's where we want to go. That's the direction we want to go. Jesus created this environment that was wonderfully invitational, if you read the scriptures. But also the bar was really high. In the next three weeks some of the things we're going to be chatting through, both in Anthem Anywhere next week and then this week and the following Sunday what I'll be teaching through. I am unapologetically teaching high invitation, high culture. What I want you guys to hear at the end of this message and the next couple messages, is you have a role to play. You are welcomed in, you are invited into the life, the voice, the direction of this church. That role is not sitting on your butt on Sunday only. That's a part of it. We're going to get into that too, like part of it is you being present here. But you actually, like we can't do the things God's called us to do if we're not all playing our role. There are churches that are very different that that, of course. This is how we choose to operate as a church. We see in scripture that in these churches in the New Testament, every one seemed to have something to bring to the table. As one of my church planting mentors always asks me, "How biblical do we want to be?" When we look at this, and these directions we want to grow, and what we see in scripture, we want to be as biblical as possible. For us that doesn't mean a culture of burnout, or a culture of apathetic people who are checked out. Or a culture of consumers just looking at us as the next show. As we consider these up, in, and out movements as a church, I want you to be doing two things. I want you to be asking with the beautiful help of the Holy Spirit, I want you to be asking where you're at. As we look at some of these values over the next couple of weeks kind of use this metric. Where am I? Is my posture towards Jesus, towards his church, towards the mission he's put in my life, towards my city. Is it consuming? Is it apathetic? I'm checked out, I don't care. Is it burnout? You're just walking in here with limps like you just have shrapnel in you, because you've been so worn. These can go some weird directions. Like are you apathetic because you come out of a stage of burnout, and so you just throw your hands up and say, "I'm out, I'm checking out." Or are you consumers because that's maybe the next logical step, because you were apathetic and you're like, "Well, I've got to start somewhere, maybe I'll start by consuming." Honestly self assess where you're at. I want you to also self assess where our church is at. How are we doing as a community in this area? Our tendency as a church plant may be to hover in that bottom right culture, but I would say in our church we probably have a mix of everything right now. We probably have people who are just spiritually checked out and could care less. We probably have people who are sitting here consuming the music or the teaching or whatever, the kids ministry, consuming the kids ministry. We have people who are legitimately learning how to grow in their discipleship to Jesus. I want you guys to self assess where you are, and to assess where our church is as well. Because where we want to go is we want to come out of these other quadrants and we want to look towards growth. We want to see what Jesus said about following him and as best we can live that out here and now. We want to move from being bored or stressed, or consumers, to being fully engaged with God and his people. Now what I'm going to do is I'm going to pivot to the value, the direction that we are talking about today. But what I want in the back of your minds is to be like what does this look like to be fully engaged with God and His people as we talk about this growth upward. Being reliant and dependent on the Holy Spirit for anything. Being in relationship with God as the source of any mission and any ministry. Am I, as I think about the Holy Spirit, am I here to consume? I'm just hoping for some encouragement or God to speak to me in some way. Am I sitting here apathetic, maybe I don't really believe the Holy Spirit does anything today and so I'm kind of closed off to what He might say through scripture. What He might say through someone else in a prophetic moment, or what He might say in a moment of worship. Kind of assess where you are at, and start to ask the Holy Spirit what does it look like to move forward in growth. Okay. The direction we are going today, up, and this is going to be a message from a position of high invitation and high challenge. So think you are invited in and you have no excuse not to engage. All right? That's where we are going. Start with our core value, Johan you can put that up. We believe reliance on the Holy Spirit is necessary for the body of Christ to function properly. That is our stated biblical belief. That we cannot do anything apart from the spirit of God. We lead, worship, and pray in full dependence on the Holy Spirit, even when it's easier to operate in our own strengths, in our abilities, our talents, our own giftings. That's the stated value, and what I want to do with the remainder of our time, which is 75 minutes right? Just kidding. We've got a lot of work to go through, but I want to do with the remainder of our time is I want to unpack four ways we are growing and I will call you to grow as we are trying to live this out. Four ways we are accomplishing how we lead, worship, and pray, live life in full dependence of the Holy Spirit. Okay, so if you're a note taking kind of person this is a good day to take some notes. But as always these slides are available in the app after the fact. Four ways we are growing in our practice and culture of being dependent on the spirit as a church. I'm going to start with the first one is kind of the more generic picture that we get throughout the new testament, is walking by the spirit. Have you guys heard that phrase or read that phrase before? It might be walking by the spirit or sometimes Paul says, "Keeping in step with the spirit." Walking by the spirit. One of the ways the bible teaches us to live in full dependence on the Holy Spirit is using this metaphor or picture of walking by the spirit. If you have your bibles, flip over to Galatians chapter five. Each one of these movements, each one of these practices, are going to be anchored somewhere in the New Testament. This here, walking by the spirit, anchored in Galatians chapter five. Wedged in there is probably one of the more commonly known verses, but I want you to pay attention to the stuff that's around it. Starting in verse 16, I'll read through 25. Paul says, "But I say walk by the spirit." That's our key phrase right there, walk by the spirit. "And you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the spirit and the desires of the spirit are against the what?" Okay, so back and forth there, right. These two are at odds. "For these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do." That's a really curious phrase. These things are opposed to each other to what? To keep you from doing the things you want to do. That's a crucial phrase. Maybe you have really lofty goals and expectations, and this battle of the flesh and of the spirit, the goal of the flesh is to keep you from doing the things you actually want to do. But, if you are led by the spirit you are not under the law. Now, the works of the flesh are evident. Here's a long list here. Sexual immortality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, origins, and things like these, in case he missed anything. "I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But, the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control, and against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with his passions and desires. If we live by the spirit, let us also walk by the spirit." This snapshot in Galatians chapter five shows us that each individual follower of Jesus is given the opportunity to go through life in partnership with the Holy Spirit or in partnership with your flesh. That it's a choice. In other text Paul even says it's a daily choice, and it's from this text that we get this value of being dependent on the spirit of God for anything. The more we realize that our goal as Christians is not to do a bunch of things, but to be with the living God and experience his presence, the more joy and peace and love come from our lives. What's crazy. Yeah, thank you, absolutely. What's crazy is that the more we realize that life goal is actually not doing all the things but being with God, the more productive we are for the kingdom of God. Right, so if you're like me, A-type personality, Enneagram type one, like you just want to get stuff done and you're very linear and like are moving forward. If you're like me at all in that zone, the best way to be productive in the kingdom of God is to be with God. To be with Him. To be sitting, marinating, and enjoying presence. According to the bible this is actually how we move forward in the kingdom of God. I love this language of walking by the spirit, or keeping in step with the spirit. Because it removes any idea that this is an intellectual only situation. That I just have to intellectually wrap my mind around the reality of walking by the spirit, which is an important step, but its not the end goal. Walking by the spirit, keeping in step with the spirit, these are action words. If I'm at home, sitting on my couch, talking about wanting to go on a hike, but I never actually go on a hike, did I go on a hike? It's not a trick question, no, absolutely not. How often do we think about things like walking by the spirit and then just say, "Oh, that's so good Bert, yeah, I'm going to walk by the spirit. Okay, onto whatever I was doing before." And doing actually it? You're not actually doing it. These action words, walking by the spirit, keeping in step with the spirit, demand not only a posture, a mindset, but they demand action and choices and decisions. What Paul wants us to know is that there are two ways of living, by the flesh or by the spirit. Both require a mindset change, a posture change. But they also require decisions and actions and choices. One of the ways we can practice being dependent on the spirit is by actually walking with him. Each one of these could be its own sermon and I, people yell at me when I do that, so I do not have time to unpack each one of these fully. But maybe we'll make some resources available. Okay, number two, the second way we are walking out this value. Learning how to grow and practice being dependent on the Holy Spirit, is by being unified in the spirit. The spirit is the source and nature of unity in the body of Christ. If we're not being filled by and led by the spirit, we will not experience the unity that the spirit wants to bring. Go to Ephesians chapter four, just a few pages over to the right if you have your bibles. Ephesians chapter four. Starting in verse one, Paul says, "I therefore a prisoner for the Lord urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the what? The unity of the spirit and the bond of peace. There is one body, one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all who is over all and through all and in all." In this passage we see this amazing call to unity, and Paul describes it specifically as the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace. What that means is that as a church that is dependent on the spirit, that church will be a unified church. To work, to reverse engineer and work that backwards, if there are divisions, derision's. If there are factions in a church, that is a church that is not filled with the spirit of God. That is not relying and being dependent on the spirit of God. The spirit being filled by Him produces unity in His church. Jesus himself specifically prays for this kind of unity in John chapter 17, where he's saying, he's praying to the father, "I in them and you in me, that they would become perfectly one so that the world would know me, and know that you sent me and love them even as you've loved me." The unity, this unity that Paul talks about is an outcome of being filled by His spirit. Being dependent on His spirit. It kills pride, it kills self righteousness. It kills your opinions, your agendas, mattering more than they really do. It's the reason why a church can have a whole lot of different people who dress differently, vote differently, look differently, have different kinds of families. Some have kids, some don't have kids, some have dogs. Some people vote democrat, some people vote republican. It's the reason why we all come together under the name of Jesus, because of the spirit and the bond of peace. We can practice being dependent on the spirit by being unified. You can practice being dependent on the Holy Spirit by being unified with people you don't like or make different decisions than you. You may approach something differently than they do. One of the ways you can practice being dependent on the Holy Spirit is to be unified with them regardless. Say, "I will love you, I will worship alongside you, I will walk with you even if our lives look different." Unified, the bond of peace. Third way we practice being dependent on the spirit is being filled with the spirit. One chapter over in the book of Ephesians, in verse 18, Paul says, "Don't get drunk with wine." Which is always helpful advice for sure. "For that's debauchery. But, in the same way one might get drunk with wine and be so overcome and overflowed, be filled with the spirit." This is a really interesting verse for so many reasons. The particular phrase here be filled is a really interesting phrase. In it's original language it's in a certain tense that actually gives us some helpful insight here. It's in this tense that is present passive imperative, which tells us three things. It's not something that just happens once, it's ongoing. That's present, right. It happens in an ongoing way. It's not a one time deal but it's ongoing. Second, it's something that happens to you, right. You are the recipient of this gift. You can't do anything to earn this gift. Third, it's a command. It's a command to go on being filled by the spirit of God. You can translate that verse more accurately, "Go on being filled by the spirit." It's not a one time deal, it's not something you can produce, but go on living and sitting in this posture of receiving the Holy Spirit. For daily living and for life in the church we need the ongoing filling of the spirit to accomplish the mission of Jesus. It's this being filled with the spirit that produces overflow, ministry, and mission that flows out of us. Pressing more into the life in the spirit produces good kingdom things in this world. Go back to Ephesians chapter five, verse 18. I want to keep reading just a little bit. Ephesians 5:18. "Don't get drunk with wine, that's debauchery, but be filled with the spirit. Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart. Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ." It's an interesting passage for so many reasons. When Paul talked about being filled with the spirit, don't get drunk with wine, but in the same way one might get drunk with wine be drunk with the spirit. Be filled with the spirit, and he's talking about that in the context of the gathering. Right, this is not like your own moment in a prayer closet at home, it's not in your car on the way to work. It's not like little tiny small group praying for something. He's talking about actually when the church gathers together, be filled with the spirit. That's going to be producing all sorts of things. In that little snapshot we get to see the kind of church that I at least want to be a part of. That I want to be a part of. I want us to have that kind of worship culture and prayer culture that unity culture. But, all of that stems from being filled by His spirit. Rather than saying we're going to make a certain kind of worship our value as a church, or a certain kind of prayer our value as a church, we're saying we want to be filled by the spirit. That's our value. We want to be dependent on the Holy Spirit, and from that posture comes all sorts of things. Comes beautiful unity. Comes passionate responses, moments of worship and prayer. Because people taking on their role that they have something to bring to the table, and that's a church I want to be a part of. But, it all stems from being filled by the spirit. Rather than making prayer or worship or any of these other things of value, we want to press into the spirit, be filled, so that what pours out of us looks a little more like that. Now, here's the thing, is I believe we actually need to grow in our culture of prayer as a church. It is a weak muscle of ours, and it is a weak muscle of many churches in the west. There's a long cultural reason why, but in short it's because your life is pretty awesome for the most part, and you don't really need that much. There's no need for you to go to the Father in prayer. We're going to change that. I want to change, I believe we need to change, increase, and cultivate a different sense of worship as a church. But here's how we're going to get there, is not by saying we want our worship to look like this, X, Y, Z. We want our prayer meetings to look like this, X, Y, Z. It's by saying we want to be a church of people filled by the spirit of the living God, and that produces something different. Now, that being said, I do want to take a moment and sidestep and actually address those cultures of prayer and worship as a church. Because we are looking to specifically grow in our upward discipleship, this how we relate to and depend on the Holy Spirit for all of life, mission, and ministry. I do want to take this moment and sidestep into the culture of prayer and worship that is here at Anthem, and how specifically we can grow in these areas. First, starting with prayer, if you were here last week I loved last week. Let me tell you one of my favorite things about what was happening last week. We pray together every Sunday at 9:00 am, and you know if you're serving here it's kind of mandatory. Like forced prayer, but it's a good thing so you're like, "Okay, I will do it." What I loved about last week is there were so many people around the circle that were not playing any kind of role, that met here early to pray as a church. Maybe it's because, I don't know, they sensed that it was a big moment or they wanted to cover the day in prayer or whatever it is. But there was something about last week where we had a large crew here praying for our church, praying for the city, praying for the day. Not because they had too, because they chose to be here. Now, if I were to point to one tangible expression of something that I want to see grow in our church, it's that. I can point to that and be like, "Yeah, I want more of that." Now, more of that doesn't come from me guilting you into being here an hour early for church or whatever. More of that comes from you being filled with the spirit and desiring to not only receive from him, but be used by him with other believers, for the up-building encouragement of the church. As we are growing in our filling of the spirit, regularly realizing we need the spirit for all of life and ministry, we are inviting you the church into a growing season for prayer. Now, that can look a lot of different ways. But, in particular we are calling for you the church to pray more with the church. There is something strange, this weird priority, that somehow the 9:00 am prayer meeting is less important than the 10:00 am worship gathering. Now, got kids, we've got three young kids as well, it's like nearly impossible. Let's not talk about the exception here, but let's talk about the rule and rearranging the priorities in our life. That when we call the church to pray, scripturally that is one of the most important things we can do. For mission, for up-building encouragement, for community, for commuting with God. We want to grow in that. But, prayer culture is closely related to worship culture. Some of you guys have even noticed some of the changes we've been making in our culture and in our worship team already, some of the new direction that's happening. There are a few guiding principles that we as a team are working on to curate and craft a different kind of worship culture than has been here before. One of the primary ones that I want to share with you about our worship team, our worship culture, one of the main ones, is we see the entire church as part of the worship team. Now, I'm not saying like if you don't play an instrument we're going to put you up here anyway and you've got to do something and produce some sort of musicality. That's not what I'm getting at, at all. But it's that subtle shift from moving from a passive consumer to an active participant, is we are saying verbally and want to live out you are a part of the worship team. When you gather here, when you show up here and are singing with whoever might be up here leading some of the songs, all they're doing in front and all they're doing in the back is facilitating something. It is you who is the worship team. One of the beautiful things about the people of God in the Old Testament is the entire people of God was the worship team. There were musicians, there were priests that were set aside to help facilitate that, but when those calls to worship came it was the entire nation that would be a part of this worship team. Now, I'm not saying you're all up here on change. But rather on purpose or accidentally, settling into this consumer, performance show thing, we want to verbalize and walk out that you are a part of the worship team. That's one of the reasons why we just asked John and Brie to go solo up here. Not do a band, not do other instruments uniquely today, because we even want to walk out that we don't want to be too dependent on the band to do the worship for us. We want to hear you singing. We want you to be engaged and responsive and responsible for the worship culture here at Anthem. To that end, if you are a musician if you're interested in tech, now is a great time to be a part of this team as things are changing. But more importantly than that, I want us as a church to understand that when we gather we all have something to bring to the table. First Corinthians 14 is this beautiful chapter of Paul correcting and encouraging the church how to function when they gather together. In one of those lines he says, in verse 26, "When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up." He says each one has something to bring. He goes on to say it's an order. It's not chaos, it's not a circus, there's an order, that's a flow, there's a liturgy to what happens when the church comes together. But when they do come together, you have something to bring. You have something to bring when we come together. In Ephesians, in that verse we read a little bit earlier, Paul says something interesting in verse 19 of chapter five. He says be filled with the spirit, don't get drunk with wine, addressing one another with psalms, hymns, spiritual songs. I don't know if that line has ever tripped you up before. Because worship is directed to God, right? We don't worship idols, we don't worship people, we worship God. But for some reason Paul says when you come together and you are filled with the spirit, you address one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. You ever thought about how weird that might be if we actually did that. Is that weird? You just walked up to Danny, "Come now [inaudible 00:39:24] Danny, come now [inaudible 00:39:26] of every." I'm not going to sing, it's awful. No one wants to hear me sing. But how strange would that be? But to Paul there's something interesting about the relationship in worship we have with God and with the church. Honestly, it's why we set up the chairs the way we do is we don't just have kind of flat rows where you're watching the show. But I want Nicole to be able to see Sherry when they're singing together. I want Jess to look over and see Justina when we're singing together. But it's not just about you and God when we gather together. It's not. That's an incredibly self-centered way of approaching a Sunday gathering. It's about you and God and it's about you and the church, and about stepping into that space like you have a role to play, because you do. If you are all a part of the worship team at Anthem. It's not just the people who play music. They're facilitating something, sure. They might take some moments of leadership. But if you are all a part of the worship team at Anthem, what might that look like here? Four things, really quickly. Time is never my friend. Okay. Four things, really quickly. First, come ready. I'm talking specifically about the Sunday gathering. There is so much more to talk about when we talk about being filled with the spirit in the gathered context. I'm not talking about mission and what we do with Alpha, [inaudible 00:40:46], and how necessary the spirit is there. I'm not talking about community groups and how necessary the spirit is for the life of the body. Specifically I'm honing in and talking about what happens when we gather here together. Paul in first Corinthians throws some special emphasis to when the whole church gathers together for worship and teaching, so that's what I'm doing today. First, come ready. Every one has something to offer here, this is not a show. I almost hope that when you walk in you see some lack in our church, because that tells me that you're seeing okay A, the body is incomplete, B, because I'm not playing my part yet. It's not guilt or shame or anything like that, but it's some sense of like we don't have this all figured out. There are kinks, there are hiccups, there are lots of gaps. I hope you see those gaps, because those gaps are for you to fill as the church. Peter writes to the church, and he says, "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another." That's how we steward God's grace that he's given us. Each one use it to serve one another in the church. Every one has something to offer. We need you to step into a Sunday like you have a role to play, even if you're not in planning center on the schedule, because you do have a role to play. God has gifted you and wired you and given you unique talents and abilities and personalities, so that we could serve one another and serve our city. When you show up to a Sunday, don't be thinking, "Oh, what is Bert going to say today? What songs are we going to sing? What am I going to get out of today?" Start asking yourself, "How can I help today happen? How am I facilitating a part of the morning?" Which leads into the second thing. Come prepared. Have you guys ever just stumbled in here on a Sunday morning like maybe your kids were throwing up, you slept in late, your barista was taking way too long at Prospect. No, they would never do that. It's singing [inaudible 00:42:47], they were taking too long. Just kidding, I'm saying that because Jordan's not here. Maybe you were catching one more wave, whatever, and you sort of stumble in here, and you're like, "Oh yeah, I should worship Jesus." Or something. It just sort of takes that first two songs to get you in the mood? Don't do that. Don't. There are exceptions to the rule. Life is crazy, life happens. What I have seen more often than not is the exception becomes the rule when it goes unchecked. Don't do that. The psalm says, "I was glad when they said let's go to the house of the Lord. Come in here, entering his presence with praise and thanksgiving." Psalm 95 tells us. But, come in prepared. Come in ready. Don't use the first two songs to get in the mood. Do that in the car, do that at home. Come ready to worship. Come ready to receive. Come ready to contribute. Third, is come expectant. Now, expectant is different than prepared. Prepared is you saying I'm going to be ready to worship God when the time comes. Expectant says, "I'm ready to hear from God and be used by him." Colossians three, Paul says, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching, admonishing one another in all wisdom singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness, your hearts to God. Come ready and expectant that when the word of God dwells richly in you, you will have some sort of response." That you will have something to do, someone to pray for, some song to sing, some way to serve and love and care for one another in the body. Come ready to be used by the spirit in a prophetic moment of prayer or worship or ministry. Come ready to be hospitable and welcome someone else in. Come expectant that God will speak to you and that may not just be for you. Have you ever thought about that? If you're in a gathered setting, how crazy does it seem that God is going to give me something just for me when there's a room full of people around you. Maybe he is speaking to you, encouraging you, uplifting you, giving you a particular scripture or picture of encouragement, so that you can share that with someone else. We need to bash up against the individualistic nature of the Sunday gathering. That we are in a room with a bunch of people, and we still think it's all about us. What if when God gives you something, something to say, maybe a moment of prayer, maybe a scripture, maybe it's for someone next to you. That last one, if you don't already hate me already it's going to come. Fourth is come regularly. I'm not going to deep dive into this one. You've heard me talk about this before, and I don't need anymore ammunition from you guys to come after me. But I just want to ask the question. What's the norm in our culture? Show up when it's convenient for you. Do whatever makes you happy. Like, if it fits in your calendar, your schedule, whatever. What's the norm in our culture, and how often does the gospel come and say, "Yeah, this stuff that's happening in culture, this is all good. Don't change a thing." This is the kingdom of God at hand, right? How often does the gospel come to bear on our culture and just affirm everything it sees? The answer is like hardly ever. Almost never. This culture of flakiness, the last minute text bail, the inconsistency, the your schedule is like you to determine and you alone to do ... all that stuff I legitimately think is an attack, a plague by the enemy to cripple the church. Because what goes into that is I'm more important than the person next to me, so I'm going to go catch one more wave. I'm going to go on that camping trip. I'm going to do whatever. Guys, if there's one thing that cripples the church, it's never having the body together. Just about every single one another in the new testament is meant to be lived out in the context of other believers. You cannot have Jesus without the church. We need it. We need you. There is a discipline to showing up that will be a core spiritual practice of our church this year, because it will be such a rebellion to the culture that is around us. That's harsh. I know you guys hate me. That's okay. In this moment. But maybe some of you are being convicted by the Holy Spirit. The church is meant to look different than the world, it really is. The church is meant to live out different ideals in this world. There is something beautiful that happens when the people of God are actually the people of God. We can practice being dependent on the spirit by being filled with the spirit. That has all sorts of implications of what happens when we gather together. Lastly, last thing. One of the ways we actually practice this dependence on the Holy Spirit is probably one of the more important things, is actually hearing from the Holy Spirit. John 14:26, Jesus is describing the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer, and he says the Holy Spirit, whom the father will send to my name. He'll teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. There's so many other texts about the Holy Spirit we could go to here. Jesus highlights two important roles the Holy Spirit will have is he'll teach you, and he'll bring to remembrance everything Jesus has said and done. We cannot interact with the Holy Spirit in the way Jesus wants us to if we never make space to actually listen to the Holy Spirit. How can someone teach you if you don't listen to them? Part of this new season of our church that we're stepping into is a renewed commitment to make space to hear from the spirit when we gather together. There are a couple of different ways that happens. One is in that pre-gathering all church prayer. We make space to hear from the spirit. But another way we're stepping into that is in our response, or our ministry times. The stuff that happens after the sermon. Like, that is the moment that we are not only receiving from God, but I want each and every one of us in the church to be asking God, "Might you use me in some way for somebody else?" In our prayer times we're pressing into the spirit, and we actually already have ample space to hear him speak and respond in prayer, in scripture or prophetic word or encouragements or whatever, but also in our response time. This is part of the reason I asked John and Brie when they lead us in just a moment to be really simple on purpose today. To be really trimmed back, because I don't an amazing musicality to actually get in our way this morning as we step into this role. When we come together, you guys have something to do. You have a role to play. It's to build up the church. The up-building, encouragement, consolation of the church. There are a few ways to do that, and honestly if you are feeling like you are hearing something from God. Maybe just this scripture is illuminated in your mind, like the mental highlighter goes off. If you are just having this overwhelming sense of a picture or something you kind of see in your minds eye, to use Paul's language. If you have something that's maybe welling up in you, something you feel like legitimately is coming from the Lord, ask the Lord, "Who's that for?" Ask that, and be ready to obey if He says, "Hey, that's for Rachel. She really needs encouragement in this area. I want you to go pray for her." You say, "Hey, this might be a little weird." It shouldn't be weird because we're all, you know, we love weird. It shouldn't be weird but I think Jesus was giving me this scripture for you. I feel like I want to, can I pray that, can I share it, can I just pray for you really in this moment? She's not going to shout at you, say, "Go away, I'm trying to work." She's going to say, "No, like, yeah please, thank you." Worst case scenario, someone feels loved and cared for in that moment. It's not a bad end goal, right? Best case scenario they encounter the living spirit of Jesus in this profound and prophetic way that maybe stirs them in their worship and their love for Jesus. Maybe, maybe just maybe, it's not just for one person it's maybe for the church. It's a little bit weird for some of you guys, but it happens all over scripture. If you're feeling you might have something for the whole church, maybe an encouragement maybe a scripture or whatever as a whole, there's actually a process to this at Anthem. It's not willy-nilly open mic time. There's a process. We believe the role of elders actually plays an important, discerning role. If you're feeling like you have maybe a particular scripture, an encouragement for the church. The way you go about that is find one of the, someone on the elder team. You say, "Bert, I think I have something. It's this passage or whatever, it's this encouragement." You'll get one of four responses. There might be more, but one of four responses is saying, "Yeah, I agree, actually let's share this right here, right now. Can you share it, we'll talk through what that looks like." One of the responses might be, "Hey, can you write that down, or can you just tell that to me again, I'm going to have someone else share that." Because this is not about you getting your moment in the spotlight, this is about being obedient. So say, "Yeah, can you write that down and maybe I'll have one of the elders share it." Or something like that. Or maybe it's, they might ask you to wait on it, saying, "Man, that's really good, I'm so glad you were paying attention to the Holy Spirit. Let's sit on that for a little bit, maybe that's not for right now. Maybe that's for next week or down the road, maybe it's for something else. Let's sit on it for just a little bit." Or, it may be a no. Like, thank you, love you for being obedient, well done brother, well done sister. We don't actually believe that's for right now. That's actually not an appropriate moment. That may just be for you, that may be for something else. That's right, that's the role of the elders to be the bad guys in those moments. To say like, "Hey, thank you so much for being obedient, that's actually not right now. That's not the time for it, this is not the moment. It may be something different, write it down, let's come back to it, whatever." The role of the elders is to be those gatekeepers in the gathered context. Hopefully sharing with you gives you a little comfort that it's not willy-nilly, but it also I want it to be an encouragement for you to hear from the spirit for somebody else. Like, with the purpose of encouraging or building up somebody else in the church. Yowza, I went way too long. We can be dependent on the Holy Spirit primarily in these four ways. These four ways. Go ahead and put them up Johan, these four ways. We can practice by being dependent on the spirit by walking by the spirit, being unified by the spirit, being filled with the spirit, and hearing from the spirit. We believe dependency, reliance on the Holy Spirit is necessary for us to do anything, so we lead worship and pray in full dependence on the spirit. I'm done. That's it. Sorry, I know that was really long and each one of these could be it's own thing. We'll probably end up fleshing more of this stuff out in the future. But, I want you guys to know as we respond, and we're going to make a little bit of space to hear from the spirit together in how we worship. I want you guys to know, just like the Gospel reminder, because of the work of Jesus, you get the Holy Spirit. Amen. Because of the Holy Spirit, you are the holy of holy's. You've been washed clean. You have been made to be the inhabiter of the Holy Spirit. No, the Holy Spirit's the inhabiter of you. You are the house for the spirit. That's not because you're awesome, and it's not because you show up at church a lot or read your bible a lot. It's because Jesus' work has washed you clean. It's because the finished work of Jesus on the cross enables the spirit to reside in you, and that is not only a one-time seal and deposit for salvation, that is the ongoing life ministry. The fuel, the motivation, the power for anything we would do. The kingdom of God. the Gospel says, "You're not as awesome as you think you are, but because Jesus died on the cross, defeated death in his resurrection, he has given us access to the father by his spirit and you, you, are a temple of the Holy Spirit." Before you go on about disqualifying yourself because you don't know enough, or you haven't been a Christian long enough, or whatever the excuses are. If you have been saved and rescued by Jesus, he gives you his spirit, and his spirit is for you but it's not just for you. As we step into some moments of response, let's just start by thanking God that He's given you a spirit. But I also want you to ask Holy Spirit, do you need me for anything today? Do I have a role to play? Maybe that's for the whole church. Maybe it's a moment that we'll stop and settle on. Maybe it's just to go up to Matt and say, "Hey, I felt like I just need to encourage you in this." Let's do it. As we normally worship there's some movement. As we're singing people are receiving communion, they're giving as an act of worship, and they are giving and receiving prayer. My encouragement for you guys is don't sit in whatever of those quadrants you may find yourself in, but move towards being actively engaged with God and his people. You have a role to play. Today is a great day to start. Let's stand together. I want to pray for you. Jesus, you are so good and faithful. Thank you for taking my long winded meandery teaching and actually using it for your purpose here. Thanks for bringing us together as a body. Thank you that it's not just a one man show, but we all have something to bring to the table. Thank you for your deep and unending grace in our journey to figure that out. Thank you for the grace in us individually to figure that out. Thank you for grace in those moments where we are disobedient to you. Thank you that you don't let us sit in that moment. Your mercies are new every morning. To Holy Spirit I ask specifically as we just take a few minutes to respond to you in prayer and worship, that you would use the church to build up the church. That John, Brie, myself, we'd just be background players in this moment where your church can build up the church, and so Holy Spirit would you speak. Give scriptures, give prophetic encouragements, give pictures, give something, so that each and every person is built up and encouraged. We love you Jesus. We're grateful that you have saved us and given us your spirit. Help us walk by your spirit today. Amen. Amen.
Jesus Gave Gifts - Matt Larson
Ephesians 4:1-16 • January 12, 2020 • Matt Larson
#Big Idea: We believe Jesus gave gifts (apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers) to equip and bring His church to maturity, so, we cultivate, and are shaped by the Ephesians 4 gifts, even when this pushes against our patterns and traditions. #Key Texts: Ephesians 4:1-16 #Transcript: No one here. All right. Anyway, hey, well good morning again. We are so delighted you are here with us. I hope you notice a couple of different things about the day. First of all, I hope you notice that you guys who call Anthem Ventura home, well done. You heard the bat signal and you all showed up on one Sunday. Way to go. Well done. Rarely happens, but so thankful. I hope you get to see some people who are a part of our church that maybe just come on the every other Sunday that you're here. Anyway, so stoked to see you. I hope you see some faces you don't recognize. We have some friends in from Anthem Camarillo, Anthem Thousand Oaks for what we're doing today, and I hope you notice that none of you who are on the Anthem kids team are back in a classroom today. Do you guys notice that or do you just like totally just assume someone else was on it? But notice we had friends from Anthem Cambria and Anthem Thousand Oaks teaching and leading our kids' classrooms today so that you who are on the Anthem kids team could be in here for this day in the life of our church and so please, especially if you're a parent, when you go pick up your kids, be sure to thank them. This was the day they were not scheduled to serve at their church and they graciously gave us some time here, so be sure to thank them and enjoy them. It is a great, great thing. Before I invite Matt up, what I want to do is I just want to set a little bit of the context for today, set this place in our history a little bit so we have some understanding of where we're headed. First and foremost, we kicked off last week this vision value series and as we're unpacking who we are and where God's taken us, we said that's going to come with some pretty big moments for us as a church including Vision Sunday, including our 14 days of prayer and fasting, including Anthem Anywhere and including today, which is the day we get to install our first homegrown team of elders for this church in downtown Ventura. Little bit of how we got here. Our church is about four and a half-ish years old. We came out to Ventura about five years ago with a very small team meeting in our friend's apartment, praying, discerning, really asking the Lord, if we were to plant here, what would that look like? And it's been a joy over the last five years to see how God has surprised us in so many different ways as an answer to that question. But one of the beautiful things about when we got to launch is we got to come out here with Kev and Vanessa. Technically they were on loan from Anthem Thousand Oaks and you guys just wouldn't let them leave. We, just honestly as a church, in front of everyone, we wanted to publicly thank you guys, honor you. They gave us about two years. Yeah, come on. They gave us about two years to help Sherry and I shoulder, lead, and shepherd this church. They initially only said they would give us... How long? Six months. Six months. And ended up being over two years. Which was great because right before we launched I found out I was pregnant again. And we also had a nine month old at the time. So I was going to ask them to extend because the six month mark was my due date mark. So I was going to ask them to extend and then they felt like, we just love this church. We love Ventura. We don't see ourselves leaving. Their hearts were just... They loved all of you guys who have been there. They are still with us. They never went back to Anthem Thousand Oaks. Sorry guys. Hey, but if you see any listings of houses for sale on Zillow, be sure to send it to them. Send it to them. Yeah, exactly. We're still working on that piece. We just wanted to say thank you guys. We could not have planted this church without you guys. It was a- It's been an honor. Really. Good. I hope so. We love you guys so much. They gave us about, two, two and a half years and then when their season was done, part of that is we want to see who God is raising up next for this church. A little bit after that we started praying and discerning who are those from Anthem Ventura leaders that'll be raised up from among the body to shepherd the bod. Over the last year or so has been that development process and so we also wanted to publicly thank and honor Elery and Lahona Sugarman. You guys met them? Yeah. This is pre-coffee clapping. We'll work on this. But it's all right. But they have been with us for the last year. You guys met them when we presented this team back in October to the church for examination and affirmation. They got to share a little bit of their heart and we just wanted to once again say, thank you, we love you guys. They've been coming out to Ventura regularly to invest, deposit, and pour into this team of leaders that have said yes to the call to lead this church. We love you guys. Want to thank you guys. We love your kids. We love that our kids are friends. We love that there's just a deeper level of friendship that has been developed throughout this process. Elery and Lahona, they first approached us because we invited all the elders from the family of churches. We said, "Hey, we'd love you to pop into our just elder development nights, be able to share and speak into our team that's forming." Elery and Lahona asked us, "Could we come every month?" And we said, "Are you serious?" Yes, please. We will not say no to that. And they actually helped Camarillo form their first team as well. They spent time with Anthem Camarillo as elders, Anthem [Tio 00:05:09] as elders, and so this was the second team that they've helped build. Or third. I don't know. Yeah. So if you ever plant a church and want to develop elders, call Elery and Lahona. They are pros in it now. But we just wanted to thank you guys. You guys both in many different ways have really helped lay a foundation for this church. Today is a marker. It is a milestone. Jesus has used you guys really faithfully, really graciously, really liberally, stretching you guys in your capacity, and we are the recipients of his grace through you guys. We're so grateful. Thank you. You've been invaluable to us. Absolutely. Can we please thank both these couples one more time? Kev and Vanessa, Elery and Lahona. Hopefully that just sets a bit of what today is in some context. I don't know if you guys have ever thought about church structure, church leadership, and maybe you were like me who grew up in a church where stuff was just always there and I grew up into systems and leaders and structures that had always been there, but it is a weird prospect and process to be starting a church from scratch and to be seeing really some of the things we see in the New Testament actually happen in our lives as we're following in the footsteps of the early church, planting a church, putting in leaders, activating people for mission, and one of the things he's actually going to share with us just a little bit, but one of the things that I'm so grateful we are part of a family of church for is we don't have to celebrate and mark these days on our own, but we actually get to call in friends and family who've sent us here to play a part in this process. What Matt's going to tell us in just a few minutes is even from scripture, there is a special role in putting elders into place, which is why I'm not teaching today, which is why I've asked Matt Larson, Lead Pastor at Anthem Tio, one of our sending churches to come and teach and give us a biblical foundation for what we're about to step into today. Thank you guys for being with this. Matt, c'mon up. Sherry, did we forget anything or no? [inaudible 00:07:04]. I forget stuff all the time when I'm up here. All right, cool. Thanks, Sherry. Please say hello to Matt. Welcome him in. Hey, buddy, how you doing? All right. Good to see you. Take it away. All right, sounds good. This reminded me one of my favorite movies, not really. I don't know why I would even start with that. One scene of one movie that I have watched before that was enjoyable was Men In Black, that scene where he pulls the table over to take the test. I was just envisioning that while I walked this over to a to preach off it. Yeah, exactly. Great moments in cinematic history. All right, well for those of you guys who don't know, my name is Matt Larson and I'm really excited to be here. I actually love what is traditionally known as ecclesiology, which is our understanding of the church. Ecclesiology comes from the Greek word [foreign language 00:07:54], which means the assembly, and it's one of those words that Christians hijacked. You could have an [foreign language 00:08:01] of sports fans. You could have an [foreign language 00:08:03] of, I don't know, Dungeons & Dragons players. But in that first century, before D&D came, the church grabbed a hold of that word [foreign language 00:08:13] and it became something unique. It was the [foreign language 00:08:18]. It was so important to the church that they understand their role, that we are the gathering of God's people, the assembly of God's people, that that word became the word for the church. It's where we get the word church from, is the idea that we are the gathering people, or the assembling people, of God and that's who we are. There's a structure to it. There's a way that the Bible has formed how we understand the church and so I do love talking about that. I love how the Bible gives us this sense of how to go about, I'm going to say the word business, but it's not the business, how to go about the business of being a family and how to shape our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus together. That's what we're going to be talking about today. We're in a series, both here in Ventura, Camarillo, and all up in Thousand Oaks as well called This Is Anthem. We just wanted to take a few weeks to walk through some of the core cultures of who we are as a church. I'm doing an abbreviated version of this message today because we have our elder ordination in just a little bit. If you'd like a more robust version of this message, if this whets your appetite at all and you're interested in knowing more, Andy Rogers, our church planter in San Diego, is in Thousand Oaks right now teaching this message. He does a phenomenal job with the understanding of Ephesians 4 and how it affects the church. I want to encourage you to grab that. Bert said he'd put it on the Ventura app, so you don't even have to download the Tio app. You're fine with the Ventura app. It will show up and you can take a listen on that. I'm going to do a short version of that and then transition into eldership, the ordination moment, and what it means to have elders in a church, and then we will bring the crew up and get going on that part. Does that sound like fun? [crosstalk 00:10:05]. All right, excellent. Let's start with the value as it's written out on our website just to share with you what we're going to be talking about today. This is our value of the Ephesians 4 gifts. It says this, it says, we believe Jesus gave gifts, that's apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers, to equip and bring his church to maturity. So we cultivate and are shaped by the Ephesians 4 gift, even when this pushes against our patterns and traditions. Now each of these statements has an even with component to it and the importance of that was that some of these values, they are values even when they actually challenge a little bit of maybe how we tend to understand things or how we tend to operate. They change or alter the way that we tend to operate. I don't know what your tradition was growing up, if you had one. I grew up in a church setting. Some of you did, some of you didn't, and we, even with just talking with people in the hallway, Presbyterians in the room, we have people from vineyard in the room. We have people from all kinds of different backgrounds in the room. You grow up with a different understanding of how the church should be shaped. From my understanding growing up, we understood that the Ephesians 4 gifts were foundational to the church, but there wasn't a lot of framework for them beyond that first generation of believers in the New Testament. Then we tend to operate after that with pastors and elders. Sometimes those are different people. Sometimes they're the same people. But they don't necessarily, or I didn't grow up with an understanding, of what apostles, prophets, evangelists were necessarily. We have apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors or shepherds, and teachers. It's hard to really understand what to even do with Ephesians 4. So that's what we're going to spend some time talking today. We're going to ask four questions. The four questions are, what are the gifts, why are they given, how do we use them in the church? And then we're going to add on what role do elders play in the local church in light of all of this? If you have your Bibles, go to Ephesians 4 and we're going to take a moment and work through this together. Let's see. Elery, would you mind grabbing me a cup of water and bringing it up? Oh, you got kids. Steve. [crosstalk 00:00:12:17]. No. 87 people. Would you run and grab me a cup of water real quick? My thank you. That was amazing. Thank you all. That was so responsive. I've never seen that before. Jonathan, can I call you an idiot in front of everybody? That was fun. Thank you. Simultaneously thanking you and insulting you. All right. Ephesians 4, we're actually going to read all of the verses 1 through 16 even though the teaching will be primarily on 11 following, but I want you to see how important this beginning is. It says this, "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called. With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace." "There is one body and one spirit. Just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all who is over all, and through all, and in all." I just want to take a quick pause before I move on to 7. You can see that Paul's establishing the connection between our doctrine of God and our doctrine of togetherness. That's why those first verses are important. It ties together our relationship with the father and our relationship with each other critically. So now we go into verse 7. "But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore, it says when he ascended on high, he led a host of captives and he gave gifts to men. In saying that he ascended what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth." "He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the Heavens that he might fill all things. And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ so that we may no longer be children tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness and deceitful schemes rather speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head into Christ from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." All right. If you read that passage, you come away with an understanding that God desires for his church to be healthy. That the ultimate desire of Jesus for his body is that it would be growing to maturity, growing in health, growing in vibrancy, growing in effectiveness. That there's a deep sense that Jesus didn't just set it and forget it, but that he actually put into place a system that the church can be perpetually developed to maturity. Now we need perpetual development because if you've noticed the previous generations learnings don't always translate to the next generation. Each generation essentially needs to find the gospel, be cultivated in the gospel, developed in the gospel, empowered in the gospel, and then released in the gospel to kingdom work. The job is not one and done. The first century. They did the job and then it's gone. The job is perpetual in that every generation has been given these gifts so that we see a continual development of the church to maturity in Christ. Now let's take a brief moment and talk about these questions again. What are the gifts? Why are they given? How do we use them in the church? And what role do elders play in the church? Let's talk a little bit about, what are the gifts? First of all, we call them gifts and not necessarily offices. We are not concerned as a church with identifying who an apostle is, or a prophet is, or an evangelist is, or a teacher is, or a shepherd is by office. I'm not here showing up and when Burt introduces me, I say, Burt, would you make sure to call me Apostle Matt, or Pastor Matt, or teacher Matt, or anything like that. Because that office component is way less significant than the gift is itself. We are way more concerned that the gifts are present in the body than that we have title. There was a guy named A.W. Tozer and he wrote for a long time. There was the question about whether he was a prophet or not, and when that was put to him, he essentially said, "Just wait until I'm dead and figure it out." He didn't want the title. He didn't want the church to be putting on him a set title that would define his activities. He just wanted to operate in the gifting that Jesus had called him into and then let all the people figure out if that was God's prophet for generation. Which if you read Tozer, I happen to believe that yes he was. But it's important to know we're not in this to claim office, or authority, or title. In fact, I love that if you were to read through the scriptures, you would see Apostles might appear to have the greatest authority and when Paul describes apostles, he describes them as the scum of the earth. He is himself one and he says, "That's basically our job. We're doormats for the Kingdom of God." I love Paul's attitude on that. It's not a glory thing. All right, so let's get a sense of what these gifts are. Because I'm giving you an abbreviated version, I'll give you two books that you can go to for deeper study on this if you're interested. One of them is called Primal Fire by a guy named Neil Cole. He leads a house church movement down in Long Beach and just does a great job with an understanding of these gifts. The next one is called 5Q by an Australian named Alan Hirsch. Alan takes these five gifts and helps understand how they are essential for the health of the church moving forward. All right, so first, what are the gifts? Number one, we have apostles. Apostles are typically understood to be pioneers for the gospel. Quick little etymology thing if you like words. The word apostle in the Greek is [foreign language 00:18:44]. If you know what happened with Greek, it transitioned into Latin there in the middle centuries and when you transliterate, or take the word [foreign language 00:18:54] and put it into Latin, it translates as [foreign language 00:18:56]. All right, the word [foreign language 00:18:58]. Then you go to English. Anybody know what word comes from [foreign language 00:19:02]? [crosstalk 00:19:03]. Missionary. All right, good. Excellent. The unfortunate part of that is that our modern understanding of a missionary and the first century understanding of an apostle they're quite different, but that's more because of what we've done with missionaries in the last few hundred years than what the Bible intended with apostles. I say that though because I want you to understand what apostle means. The word apostle means sent one. It has this idea that you go into new places, lay foundations, and be essentially, as Paul describes, a master builder for the ongoing movement of the local church. We see both Paul and Peter functioning differently in their apostleship. Peter was more of a home based sender from Jerusalem. Paul was more of a translocal goer where he would go into different cities and lay foundations. They both still count as apostles and they understand the role differently, but they are critical in it. Generally speaking, apostles are guardians of the spiritual DNA, they build and equip for the mission of God. Let's go on to prophets. I told you this was going to be a abbreviated, you might be like, hey, I want more. That's why I told you to go get the other message. All right. Yeah. All right. prophets. Prophets are said to be a mouthpiece for God, but that's actually not the extent of their job. Their extent is also to have an ear for God's word. So they listen and speak in the hopes of bringing a sense of direction and course correction to the people of God. You notice the Bible talks about prophecy a ton and when you get to the New Testament, you see in Acts Chapter 2 there's this incredible prophetic moment where Peter brings Joel 2 into the foray of the New Testament and it talks about how the spirit will be poured out on all flesh and your sons and your daughters will prophesy and even goes so far as to say that all will prophesy. It's a huge deal. The idea of prophecy is not limited to a select few, but what you do see over time is that there are prophets that emerge that bring a distinct gift to the church. They function prophetically more than say in a moment, but as a pattern. We see this in that Phillip's daughters were known for their prophesying. I think it's in acts 18 or 19, these four daughters were regularly prophesying and bringing the word of God and it became what they were known for. That's a part of that understanding of the gift of a prophet from Ephesians 4. We see that also with Agabus. Again, Acts 20, Agabus has this role to come down. Obviously if your name's Agabus, you have to be a prophet, but you see this man come and bring this particular word for Paul in that moment and it becomes a key part of how they hear from the Lord. Prophets are guardians of the church's covenant relationship with God and they equip the church to hear and respond to God's voice. I'm going to stop because I meant to say something at the beginning that I didn't. If you go back to Ephesians 4 and you see what each gift is given for, it is to equip the saints for the work of ministry. So with each of these offices, or not, sorry, each of these gifts, that's why I say it's less about an office. They're known not by just doing the work of an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a shepherd, or a teacher, but by their equipping of the church to bring what they bring to the table in an equipping mode to the body of Christ. That's a critical element for understanding the Ephesians 4 gifts, is that they are equipping. I say that as we get into evangelists because our tendency as the church over the last couple of hundred years has been to look at some of the incredible evangelists, Greg Laurie, Luis Palau, and Billy Graham, and say they are the evangelists of the church. I don't think anybody in this room would argue. The reality though of an Ephesians 4 gift is not just that they are doing that thing, but that they are equipping the saints for the work of ministry. That's to understand these gifts as Jesus gave them. Evangelists, they're the people who most often break new ground for the Gospel. They have a deep heart for those that don't know Jesus and they will occasionally struggle with the pace of the local church. This is a great temperament thing to test. If you've ever felt like maybe the church is just moving a little slow for you, there's a lot of lost people out there and we need to get out there and get them. Get them. I know that sounds weird. But if you're an evangelist you're like, yeah. That is the idea of an evangelist. Is somebody who has that passion, brings that into the local church to equip the body with a heart for the lost. All right, evangelists are guardians of the compassion of Christ in the world, they foster urgency in the church and equip the saints to connect people to the gospel. All right, everybody got evangelists? Good. Shepherds. Shepherds are caretakers of God's flock. As Paul told the elders in Ephesus in Acts 20, we'll talk about that in a few minutes, shepherd the flock that has been entrusted to you. In fact, this shepherd role is often what is most commonly connected with the role of elder. Now, that word shepherd is the same word that we get pastor from. Pastor, elder, we see a synonymous. This role, or this gift, has to do very much with the shepherding element of the church. The metaphor of shepherding is frequent in the New Testament and provides the idea of the kind of care and attention that the body of Christ needs to thrive. Shepherds bring the sheep to food, to water. They help, like Jesus the good shepherd in Psalm 23, laid me beside still water, restored my soul. These are the things that a shepherd brings to the table. Knowing that we're not machines and we're not built to just charge into the darkness and not needing to care for our own soul. A shepherd will bring the attention of the soul and its connection to Jesus himself. That's the role of a shepherd. Again, it's not just doing, but it's also an equipping thing. It's helping to bring people into a pastoral culture and setting so that the church can thrive in it's functioning. Teachers. Teachers ensure that people are feeding on God's word through the careful examination and presentation of God's word. They are guardians of doctrinal integrity and they teach people to consume and understand the word of God for themselves. A true teacher, as we understand in Ephesians 4, is not the person that you have to go back to every time in order to understand God's word, but they're actually teaching you how to understand and consume for yourself the word of God to bring that gift into the local body, equipping the saints for the work of ministry. I don't know if you caught a theme in those gifts, but one of the things that we see as we look at the Ephesians 4 gifts, and one of the reasons why we believe that these gifts are 100% and absolutely for today, is they are Jesus in his ministry. This five-fold gifting of apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd, teacher is the person of Jesus Christ. The life that he lived. You could read through. If you were to understand those definitions of each of those gifts and you were to read through the Gospels and look for Jesus' apostleship, you'll see it. "As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." There's this sent one element to Jesus and what he does to lay foundations for the mission of God. "All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me." Go. I could preach on each one of these. I'll keep going. Jesus as prophet very clear. He prophesied multiple times. Jesus as evangelist, his compassion for the lost, his desire to see them saved. Jesus as the good shepherd is not hard to find in the New Testament. Jesus as a teacher, one of the names most commonly used for Jesus is rabbi or [foreign language 00:27:17], which means teacher. Jesus perfectly fulfills the five gifts and he gives them to the church. We see that in Ephesians 4. "But grace was given to each one of us." Verse 7. "According to the measure of Christ's gift." He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and the teachers. When we understand why these gifts are given, what we see is that Jesus gave these gifts because he wanted to continue his culture, his DNA, his personhood, into the local church. That's why these gifts were given. He entrusted his character to the church to perpetuate the body of Christ. Does that make sense? We look at this picture in Ephesians 4 and it says that we're growing up into Jesus, who is the head. That's the picture that we're given. Jesus is the head. The church is the body. If we are going to be a healthy, mature church, it means that we are going to look like the head, that we are going to go with Jesus because that is who we are patterned after. We need apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherd, and teachers. Now there are two things about that. One is that not every church has a fully cultivated, like our staff teams are not perfectly divvied up between apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers. Are elder teams are not perfectly divvied up with those gifts. So two things need to happen. One is we need to cultivate the gifts from inside the church. We actually need to see people with a heart for each of those elements from the body being raised up to bring voice and direction to how the church functions in health. But two, we need those gifts from the outside to come and speak into our story so that we can be developed in those gifts, so that those health components might be there. No one person perfectly fulfills all those gifts. I understand the limitations that I carry. In fact, one of the great things, just even seeing, I do believe I have an apostleship gift that I bring some of that foundation laying. I look at Kevin and I see a shepherd and prophetic heart in him. I see that gifting in him. I look at Bert and I see just an incredible teaching and prophetic gift in Bert. You start to see some of these different gifts and how they contribute to the health of the church, but you would watch that as we sent out Kevin in Thousand Oaks, we had a void in pastoral care for an extended season of time. As we sent out Bert, our teaching went downhill quickly. Just kidding. As these gifts have kind of gone out from us because we're a multiplying church, there's been a need to constantly be developing more people with these gifts and to see them step into roles of leadership so that we can cultivate more of these gifts. I know that bleeds into how do we use the gifts, but I do just want to say this about the how we use the gifts and it feels like I'm starting to move Mach 10 the numbers turned red on the clock and I'm trying to finish up. I'm wrapping up here. You didn't even know there was a clock back there. Now you're not even going to be able to stop looking at it. It's great. All right, here's how we use the gifts. As we prepare to put in an elder team here, one of the roles of the elder team will be looking at this local church, Anthem Ventura, and being able to self-assess. Being able to look at the church and to say, you know what, we feel strong right now in our teaching and in our shepherding, but we feel a big lack in our evangelism. Or you we're getting ready, like one of the things our mentor, Chris Venon will talk about oftentimes with apostleship is when these key moments of growth, or health, or foundation laying, expanding the foundation need to happen, an apostolic voice to come in and bring some clarity is incredibly helpful. As there's growth, or multiplication, that comes out of Anthem Ventura, of an apostleship voice, the elders are going to need to help see those things and discern what gifts, what voices do we need to bring in to strengthen the body. That's how we believe we can use these gifts. Not so that they are all here all the time. Although that would be a dream. If every local church had each of these gifts represented evenly, that would be a very healthy church speaking back into its own local church. In lieu of that, the elders are responsible for making sure that each of these areas are healthy and thriving in the local church so that we are doing each of these jobs effectively. Those jobs being mission, that's the apostolic voice, the sending, the going into new territories and breaking new ground. Hearing God's voice. That's the prophetic. Seeking, the lost, having a compassion and a broken heart for those that don't know Jesus, that's the evangelist. Having a tender maturing. I'm going to say both of those words, because shepherding is not just about going to you and saying, it's okay. It's going to be all right. That is not a shepherd's job. A shepherd's job is to actually lead the sheep. As uncomfortable as that can be sometimes,. but so it's a tender maturing of the body. And a teacher to have good doctrine and proper belief. I don't know if it's ever been more important to have teachers that know the word of God, that can actually help discern truth from error. Because there's a lot of error out there. That's how we use these gifts. I'm going to transition, before I bring the teams up for eldership, I want to transition to what role the elders play in the local church. We believe that it's the elders that hold the highest authority in the local church. If you look at Acts Chapter 20, Paul is an apostle speaking to the Ephesians elders and he says, "Shepherd the flock that is entrusted to you." He's not hiring them as under-shepherds saying, "Guys, God gave me the Ephesians church and I need you to take care of it until I get back." He's not saying, "Guys, this church, I love it dearly. It is my baby. It needs to look like me, talk like me, and act like me, so go and imprint my heart on these people." He doesn't say any of that. He commissions the elders to shepherd the flock that has been entrusted to you. Paul sees Ephesus not as his church, but as the elders' to oversee. In that, what we see in that relationship, is that Paul as an apostle, is stepping back into a voice of help, equipping and strengthening an elder team in Ephesus that is responsible for the primary authority and caretaking of that local church. In Hebrews 13, when it says obey your leaders, that's oftentimes translated not as apostles, but to eldership because there is a local responsibility that is given to the elder team to oversee the souls that have been entrusted. We take eldership very seriously as a church. This process has been going on for over a year, praying over, identifying, developing, presenting, and testing these families into eldership. Even though we identify that men are elders, we see these families as committing to the elder call because it is a huge deal. We need both the voices of the men and women into the church. That's how we understand this. When we bring the husbands and wives up, not just the man, it's because it is a commitment that goes beyond the man for him to step into eldership and it's really important to see that. The elder role is critical. It is substantial. I'm going to say this because it might be strange for Bert, or Matt, or Josh, at any point to stand up and say this to you, man, your burden is really heavy, but I'm going to tell you this. The burden that they carry for you and your souls is incredibly heavy. I know this from experience and also theologically it is a real thing. Hebrews 13, says that the leaders are responsible for the souls of the people. You might tend to kick back on that. Our culture is pretty autonomous and individualistic. You might want to say, nobody's responsible for my soul, but me. The Bible just teaches something totally different than that. So it just depends on how you want to approach the scriptures. The Bibles actually teach that there are people that are responsible for your care and development as a follower of Jesus. That's part of being a part of the church is saying, I'm in. I'm entrusting my development to a team of people that will watch over my soul. We take this very seriously and you'll see that as we ordain these elders. We call it ordination. Ordination is not just for pastors and we separate it out as elders. We are ordaining these men into eldership because we see the role that they carry as something in need of this affirmation, this public office being put into place to lead and cultivate this local church. This is a big deal, and I'm really, really glad that you're here.
Ephesians 4 Gifts - Andy Rogers
Ephesians 4:11-12 • January 12, 2020 • Andy Rogers
We believe Jesus gave gifts (apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers) to equip and bring His church to maturity, so, we cultivate, and are shaped by the Ephesians 4 gifts, even when this pushes against our patterns and traditions.
A Gospel People
Galatians 1:6-9 • January 5, 2020 • Bert Alcorn
#Big Idea: We believe the whole Bible points to Jesus and his work reconciling people back to God, so we grow in applying the gospel to every area of life, even when it’s easier to be the center of our own life. #Key Texts: Galatians 1:6-9; 1 Corinthians 2:2; Galatians 4:4-7; 1 Peter 1:8-9; Matthew 22:34-40; 1 John 4:7, 20-21; 1 Peter 4:8; Matthew 12:34; Proverbs 4:23-24; Matthew 3:8; 1 John 1:8-10; Proverbs 28:13; Romans 1:16 #Transcript: All right guys, find your way back to your seat. Good morning again. Hello. It is a delight to be back with you after few weeks off for Christmas, a joy to be gathering with you guys and worshiping with you guys and now opening up the text with you guys today. So as you are making your way back to your seat and getting settled, I do hope you guys had an amazing Christmas time. Today we are kicking off a new series. So we kind of every January or so rally around a vision value series. And so we take this first block of time in the new year to really not only bring you in on who we are and what makes us tick and why we do the things we do, but to also, like Kylie was saying earlier, set some tone and vision and direction for where we're going in the year ahead. And so what we are doing over the next few weeks together is we are unpacking some of our values, our core values as a church. Some of the things we believe are of the utmost important to know, understand, grapple and live out. And that is all culminating envision Sunday in February 9th. And so a few of the things we're going to be doing here the next few weeks is we're going to be teaching around some of our values as a church from scripture, where we see in scripture the things that we do, the motivation for the things that we do. We're also going to be having some big leadership moments, some church direction, vision moments with eldership installation Sunday happening next week, Anthem anywhere really solidifying our value that the church is not a Sunday event but a people and that people can be gathered or scattered throughout the city and then culminating envision Sunday leading up to vision Sunday will be our annual, which is now annual because we did it last year, we're doing it a second year is our all church fast. And so we take a chunk of time to pray and fast together to discern where God is taking us. So I hope you will join us along the way as we are teaching through who we are, what God is doing and where he is taking us this year. And so I just want to reiterate this really important dates that Luke and Kylie were talking about. These are pivotal in the life of our church moments. And so I know as the guy who teaches up here regularly for me to say any particular Sunday is important, may just be white noise. But please hear me. These are really, really important Sundays. If you're going to miss a Sunday, don't let it be one of those. Because we really want you to be in the loop and onboard and on the same page as where God is taking us this year. So those are big moments. And they're only big moments, but they're big celebration moments. They're really milestone moments for us as a church. And so I do hope you'll join us for those Sundays coming up. But today as we kick off a vision value series we're going to be kind of talking around some of the things that make us us. But first we want to anchor ourselves in and sort of why we do what we do. Like Luke and Kylie said, we are a church that is helping people find their way back to God and our mission, our heartbeat, what we are all about is we exist to enjoy and make much of Jesus, helping people to become more like him as we live out the mission of God together. It's a bit of a clunky statement. I get that, but this is who we are. This is the why. This is when we do anything we go back to this statement and whatever we do is it helped moving this goal, this statement forward. And so this is our anchor over the next six weeks as we're teaching through some of the things we do, we want to remember why we do those things. And really at the genesis of Anthem, what led us to even plant this church in the first place is experiencing the love of Jesus and the hope that he brings in our lives. We started this church with the desire to help people find the way back to God, and not only do that but bring a movement of reproducing churches. So we are kind of the recipients of a church planting heartbeat and we have also got to help other churches be planted both here in California and around the world. And we really dreamed about helping people who are far from God find their hope in Jesus. And we dreamed of helping people who are disconnected from the church find community in the people of God. We dreamed of helping people find their purpose in the mission of Jesus. And we wanted to be a church that equips people, empowers them, encourages and releases people into their gospel adventure, whatever Jesus would have for them, empowered by the Holy Spirit. Now we know if any of these dreams were going to happen, we needed to be the kind of church where you don't just sit and watch where this consumer performer divide. But this is a church of committed participants, of everyone pitching in, finding their voice, finding their value in the church. And we really are a people on mission together. And that was really the heartbeat of why we started as a church and this is a lot of the heartbeat of why we still exist as a church today, to enjoy, to make much of Jesus, helping people do the same as we live out the mission that God has for us. And today where I want to start us and firmly anchor and plant us is in the gospel. So we're starting this vision value series around the most important thing we could rally around as a church. And so if you were to ask us, "Bert, what's the most important thing that you guys believe or you live out as a church?" We would say it is being a gospel centered people. And for us it's not a pass code, it's not a lingo or a vernacular that gets you into a certain version of Christianity or anything like that. For us, it is the core foundational truth and life that we build our lives on top of. And so we're going to anchor ourselves here today in Galatians chapter one. So if you have a Bible, go to Galatians chapter one, it's in the new Testament almost towards the end. You can flip there, keep your thumb there. We're going to hop around a little bit. We're going to let a few verses from Paul in the book of Galatians anchor our time today. But I want to give you guys the bottom line right up front. And if you're a note-taking kind of person, this is a great statement to jot down, but this is really what we're getting at. And so if you walk away with nothing else that I say over the next 40 or so minutes, you can walk away with this one statement. It is a fixed value of our church, but it's also what I'm teaching around out of Galatians chapter one today. And really that bottom line, that statement is we believe the whole Bible, old Testament and new, Genesis to Revelation, points to Jesus and his work reconciling people back to God. So here's our action. We grow in applying the gospel to every area of life, even when it's easier to be the center of our own life. So this is what we're getting at. We believe the whole Bible points to Jesus from start to finish. The entire story of God is about Jesus. Paul says to Colossians that everything was made through him for him and by him. He's the head of everything. He's preeminent. He's the head of the church. He is the boss. He's the King. We believe the entire redemptive story of God points to Jesus Christ. And because of that, because of that truth and that reality, we grow in our lives to apply the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ that he has come to seek and save the lost. We apply that truth to every part of life. So not just to the churchy parts of your life, not just to Sunday attendance or showing up at a community group or not just like when you are thinking about giving money away or serving someone less fortunate or whatever. We apply the gospel to every part of our life. Every part of your family, every part of your work life, your school life, every part of your marriage and how you parent. Every part of your friendships is touched by the gospel. And we as a church are committed to growing in that because we know that is a day by day thing that we are growing in. And the temptation, the problem, the thing we are doing battle up against is it is so easy to be the center of your own life, right? It is. So it's almost by nature, babies come out with the reality that they are the center of the universe. That's how they are born and it's a lifetime of training to convince them otherwise, and you are the same. Left to your own devices, you are the center of your own life. And sometimes that feels really good. Sometimes it doesn't. Most of the time it feels like that's how it should be. Most of the time it feels like that's the way to be happy. You do you, you're number one, right? Whatever makes you happy is fine. This is the reality that we live in, that you are the center of your own life. The gospel tells us we are not the center of our own life. Much like so much of humanity thought the earth was the center of the universe. It is not the center of the universe, it is not even the center of our galaxy. Much the same, you are not the center of your own life. And we believe the gospel does battle with that. Now the gospel, if you don't know or need just a bit of a refresher, simply means good news. That's all it is. And so this is not even a uniquely Christian term and it's an original Greek. It was a term for Cesar and his kingdom. And so whenever there would be a victory won, they would spread the gospel of that victory won. And so it would be the gospel of this battle or the gospel of this war. And the Christians and Jesus in particular just hijacks that term and say, we're now using this to describe the kingdom of God. So the gospel, the good news is the good news of Jesus Christ and his work. And at Anthem, you'll hear the word gospel a lot and you'll hear it repeatedly because it's the most important truth that we can know and experience in this life. And if I said, "I have good news for you," but never told you what the good news is, you might be left in limbo or mystery. If I ran up and shook Joseph and said, "I have great news," and then I just walked away, he'd be like, "What's the good news?" So it's no use talking about the gospel without defining what the gospel is and in actually explaining what the good news is. The good news is we believe Jesus is God and we see his teachings and his way of life to live the good life, his ways to live the life we were intended and designed to live not as good advice or moral teaching, but literally good news. Jesus came proclaiming that good news of the kingdom of God then through his life, death, resurrection, provided a way for people to join in that good news, to join his kingdom. And because of this, everything we do is for Jesus, is all about Jesus. It's making much of Jesus. Now in Galatians one, where we find ourselves today, we find a sort of different definition of the gospel. There's a few different short kind of quippy one liner or two liner definitions of the gospel throughout scripture. You have first Corinthians 15 is one, Colossians is one, Ephesians is one, but here in Galatians what Paul is doing is he's writing to this church and he's correcting bad theology and he's correcting bad actions and he's calling them out for abandoning the gospel. And look at how Paul defines the gospel here in Galatians chapter one starting in verse six. He says, I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel. Not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preach to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. Not that there is another gospel, but there are ways to distort the gospel of Jesus by adding things in, by taking away things, by saying, "Yes, Jesus is the only way to heaven and you have to do these five things," or, "Yes, Jesus and also the book of Mormon," or, "Yes, Jesus, but also church attendance." And Paul's saying, "No, no, no. There is no other gospel." But look how he defines the gospel. The gospel is not a what, it's a who. Look at verse six, I'm astonished that you're so quickly deserting, what? What are they deserting? It's on the screen. It's not a trick question. Him. They're deserting Jesus. Guys, the gospel is not just an intellectual truth. The gospel is Jesus Christ. It is a person. It is not a thing, it is a who. He was astonished they are so quickly turning away from what? From Jesus. They're turning away from Jesus and getting distorted by all these other things. All these other very good religious things or all these other gods or idols they could be worshiping. He is astonished they're turning from Jesus. It's not that you get something when you get the gospel, it's you get someone, you get Jesus. That is the good news. The gospel is the good news of God taking on flesh through the person of Jesus Christ and rescuing mankind by his perfect life that we could never live, his substitutionary death that we deserved and the resurrection that now gives us true life through his very spirit living inside each and every person that follows Jesus. Well, the gospel can be stated in a sentence. It's also the grand narrative of scripture from beginning to end. This is what Jesus is all about. This is what the Bible is all about. This is what the Christian life is all about, is Jesus descending into human form, living the life we could not live, dying the death we deserved and resurrecting to bring us life. This is the gospel. The gospel's the glorious story of how God is reconciling the whole world back to himself through the life, death and resurrection of his son Jesus. The good news of the gospel is that you were at one point enemies of God. There's no gray area here. There's no space here, you're not quite an enemy, but you're not quite in God's family and you just sort of sit in limbo for the rest of your life trying to do good. According to the Bible, you are an enemy of God or a friend of God. And the gospel says you were an enemy and God overcame that in his love for you and his love for his creation, making sure a way to be with him through the person of Jesus. That's the good news. The good news is not that you finally get that promotion at work or that you finally get married after all these years of being single or you finally have a kid after all these years of waiting or whatever. That's not the good news. The good news is that you get Jesus. That's it. That's the good news, that is the gospel of Christ. That is what the entire Bible is about. As the Bible writers say, being found in him. As we talk about where we're going as a church, some of the things that we're doing, some of the things that are important to us, it is absolutely crucial that we get this. If we get this wrong, it doesn't matter what else we get right. If we blow this, it doesn't matter how much good we do or how many counter cultural values we have or how generous we are, how many churches we plant. If we do not remember that the gospel is the most important truth that in life to believe and in life to experience, we miss out on everything. So when we say we are a gospel centered church, it means everything that we do, everything we think about, every question we process flows to the reality of Jesus's life, death and resurrection as the fulfillment of the entire story of God. The gospel is not a what, only it is a who. Now we have to ask what does it mean to actually live like that? If you're like, "Okay." Shaking the cobwebs out, "Bert I get it. The gospel is that a what, it's a who." What does it mean to actually be a gospel centered person? I want to unpack that with the remainder of the time here because really it digs into how we live and how we need to change to continue growing to apply the gospel to every part of life. To be a people not centered on ourselves or our work or our needs or our desires, but a people centered on Jesus. And for Paul, if we remember back to our time working through first Corinthians together, he said this is the main thing. First Corinthians 2:2 he says, I've come to you preaching Christ and Christ crucified. That's it. That was the first importance, the most important thing. He writes 16 chapters after that. So there are other things to talk about, but he says right off the bat, the most important thing is Christ and Christ crucified. This is the foundation, the heartbeat for who we are. If you follow Jesus, this is the most important thing about you, Christ and Christ crucified. No matter what the conversations or struggles or trials or joys or griefs that are in our lives, as gospel people, our eyes are fixed on Jesus and his work. Which means our joy doesn't ride on our circumstances, which means we don't ride the wave of the emotional life saying, "Jesus loves me. I got this promotion. I must've done something wrong. God doesn't like me. I did not get the promotion." This is the most important thing. Jesus and him crucified and letting that truth, the reality and power inform how we deal with everything else in life. Jesus and his work is the end goal. It's the most important thing, the shaping reality in our lives. And lest we fall into the same trap the Galatians did, distorting that gospel, being convinced of something else, we have to remember the shaping in our lives comes not from only a doctrine, but a person. You can know a lot about Jesus and not actually know Jesus. There are really, really smart people who spend their lives studying the Bible, who do not know Jesus. We can know Jesus. God has made a way for us and we experience the life and the presence of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. And just a couple of pages over in Galatians. Go over to Galatians chapter four. We're going to dig into this more in a couple of weeks, but look at what Paul says about being part of the family of God, about following Jesus. Galatians four verse four, when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his son, Jesus, born of a woman, born under the law to redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God sent the spirit of his son into our hearts crying abba father. This intimate relationship we now have with God, we have it because we've been adopted. We've been adopted because of the work of Jesus. So you are no longer a slave. Paul in other places says a slave to sin and death. You're no longer a slave but a son. And if a son then an heir through God, we have his spirit in us. A huge element in our understanding of the gospel is to understand that when you follow Jesus, Jesus gives you his Holy Spirit. The deposit dwells in you. Jesus and his finished work redeemed us, and because of that work we're into the family of God and because of that adoption, we get the inheritance of the Holy Spirit marking us forever as God's sons and daughters. This spirit shapes in you and in me key ways to become more like Jesus. It's the means by which we become a gospel person. I'm going to give you four markers of a gospel centered person's life. But we need to grapple, the gospel's not a thing or a what, it is a who. And because it is Jesus, he has given us his spirit to live inside of you and his spirit is the means by which you are a gospel centered person. Meaning you can't do this apart from the Holy Spirit. Don't even try, give up. You cannot change to be more like Jesus without the presence and the spirit of Jesus. Trying to be more like Jesus without his spirit is just dead religion. There are lots of religions trying to be good without the spirit of God and that is not the gospel of Jesus. The gospel says Jesus has saved you and redeemed you and given you his Holy Spirit so that you can be more like him in this life and the life to come. The spirit shapes in you key ways to become more like Jesus. The spirit is the means by which we become a gospel person. So I want to answer the question, what does it mean to be a gospel people? That's what we're huddling around. If we're recognizing this is the most important truth and person we could center our lives around, what does it look like? What does it mean to be the kind of person for which the gospel is your center? Four things, going Southern Baptist on you guys. If only I could alliterate them, but four things. If you are a note taking kind of person, you will want to jot these down. Four things, markers of a gospel centered person, what it means to be a gospel people together. The first thing is that a gospel centered person is someone who has a deep joy in Jesus. Peter writes to Christians who are being persecuted in Asia Minor, modern day Turkey, and he says to the Christians in first Peter chapter one, Christians he's not met by the way, he doesn't know these people. He's writing to them as an encouragement because of being persecuted, and he says in verse eight, though you have not seen him, Jesus, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. He doesn't know them, but he knows one thing about them, they have a deep inexpressible joy in Jesus. He doesn't know these people, he doesn't know anything about them, but he's also suffering under persecution and he's writing to encourage them. He's like, "I don't know you, but I know you love Jesus." I know you're suffering all kinds of persecution, but you have an inexpressible joy. You have not even seen Jesus, but you know him. You don't see him, but you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible. The gospel centered life knows how to look to Jesus, our savior for the reservoir of joy in our life. Our joy does not ride on the ups and downs of life because we have a deep well of joy in Jesus. And if this is true, why are Christians some of the grumpiest people in the world? Why? Peter might look at us sometimes and say, "Have you met Jesus? You seem awfully grumpy. Your emotions really ride on every part of life. Don't you know Jesus? Isn't your joy in him?" Because your joy sure seems like it's in your job. And when it's going well, you're doing well and when it's not going well, you're doing awful. Or your joy really seems like it's found in your spouse. And when you get into a fight, you're really down in the dumps, and when you're doing well, you're doing awesome. Have you met Jesus? Our joy doesn't have to ride on those other things anymore, it rides on Jesus, which means no matter what the circumstances are, no matter what kind of trials or suffering we're experiencing, we have joy in Jesus. Joy is not happiness. Joy is different than happiness. I'm not advocating for fake smiles all the time. Joy surpasses happiness. Happiness is shallow. It is conditional on circumstances. Joy is deep. Joy found in Jesus helps you get through and endure and persevere trials, sufferings, persecutions, the ups and downs of life. Joy actually helps us lament and grieve better. A gospel centered person has a deep joy in Jesus that changes how we live and changes, listen, how we respond to the ups and downs of life. Where is your joy found? Better yet, if someone were to look at your last week, where's your joy found? Where would they say your joy is found? A gospel centered person has a deep joy in Jesus, they also love people. A gospel centered person loves people. Matthew chapter 22 Jesus is out and about causing a ruckus as usual and when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced Sadducees, they gathered together Pharisees, religious experts, teachers of the law, and one of them, a lawyer asked him a question to test him. Verse 36, teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? And he said to them, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law in the prophets. There's another way of saying scripture. Jesus's scripture was the old Testament. In first century, the old Testament, Genesis all the way through to Malachi and all the prophets and all the history books, that was scripture. And he says, all scripture, all the law and prophets rest on loving God with everything you have and loving your neighbor, people like yourself. To Jesus, all of what it means to follow God can be summed up in loving him with every part of your being and loving the people around you. They ask what is the one most important thing? And he says, I'll give you two, is love God and love people. Because these two are linked, you can't do one without the other. John the apostle writes this in one of his letters, he says, beloved, let us love one another for love is from God and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. It skipped down just a little bit to verse 20, if anyone says, I love God and hates his brother, he's a liar. Sharp talk from John here. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, whoever loves God must also love his brother. John says, it is impossible to love God and to hate people. So if you hate people, you hate God. John's words, not mine. This is the test. And even a lot of how Jesus and the Bible writers talk about loving God is expressed through loving other people. Once again, if someone were to take a microscope to your last week, would they say you loved God by how you loved people? It's pretty hard to love people, right? Because people suck most of the time. But really helps us with this truth is that you're people too, which means you're just as bad as everyone else you think is bad. Helps give us some grace, helps kill self-righteousness, helps kill our pride to think we have it altogether and that person's really a mess because you're a mess too. But John and Jesus both say loving God and loving people are linked. And so to be a gospel centered person means actually have to love other people. Peter, writing to that same group of Christians says, above all, keep loving one another earnestly because love covers a multitude of sins. Meaning if you can do this right, it'll work out a whole lot of other things in your life. If you have as your goal, loving God and loving people, then a lot of the other junk in our lives starts to get sorted out on its own. A gospel centered person has a deep joy in Jesus, loves people and a gospel centered person is gospel fluent. Third thing, this is a weird phrase, I get it, a gospel centered person is gospel fluent. It's a bit of a weird phrase, but I want to tease this out just a little bit. How many guys are fluent in English? I'm worried for the people who did not raise your hand. It makes me actually think you're not fluent in English. We're all fluent in English in here. Which means when you speak, when you listen, you don't have to think about the words you're saying, right? So is anyone to hear fluent in a second language? It's okay. Well done. So if you're fluent in a second language, that means when you're speaking that second language you're not having to do the same things we are, which is picture weird images to help you relate or actually like when someone... I'll give you an example. Sherry and I were in France earlier this year and we worked moderately hard to have restaurant level conversational French so we could order the right thing when we were out and about, right? And every time someone said something they said a thing and it had to enter my brain and I had to translate that thing back into English to figure out what they were saying and then in English give my response and then somehow translate it into French. It's a very long, cumbersome process. If you're trying to learn a second language as an adult, it's really hard. Kids pick it up like sponges, adults, it is very difficult to do. It's a long process. We have to think carefully about the words we're hearing and the words we're receiving. When you are fluent in a language, it just comes out of you. You don't have to think about it, you don't have to think about the word picture. You don't have to think about the sign. You don't have to think about translating verbs and doing all of that, it just comes out of you. So in the same way a gospel centered person is fluent in the gospel, meaning when they talk, it just comes out. When they live their life, it just comes out. They don't have to say, "This person said this." Okay, I know in scripture it says this, let me translate it in my head and five minutes later you give them response. A gospel centered person is actually so rooted in the work and the understanding of what Jesus has done for you and me that when you say something, I can say, "Yeah, and Jesus says this," or Jesus did this. Here's what the work of Jesus means for you and for me, and this isn't like a religious Babel. It's not trying to make yourself sound all righteous and high and mighty. It's just what is in your heart leaks out of you. This is not just a truth about learning a language. It's actually a truth in scripture, that what is going on on the inside naturally comes out of you. Jesus said this talking to Pharisees, you brood of vipers, how can you speak good when you are evil. For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. And this is not something Jesus invented here in the new Testament necessarily, this is a truth found in the old Testament as well. It's all over the Proverbs. One example is in Proverbs chapter four, keep your heart with all vigilance for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech and put devious talk far from you. What's going on in here always comes out whether you like it or not. If Jesus dwells within you, his spirit dwells within you and you are in scripture regularly, if you're praying regularly, if you're with him, then the things of him leak out of you. And you don't have to think about, it just comes out. It takes work, it takes practice, right? It takes a little bit of discipline. Yes, for sure, but just like learning a new language, soon it's not a discipline anymore. It just comes out of you. Not out of guilt or religious weirdness, but out of joy and gratitude, seeing the world as he does. Because here's the reality. The reality is we talk about what we love and we love what we talk about. So I know what you love based on what you talk about. You know what I love based on what I talk about and you talk about the things you love. You're ever around someone and you just walk away going like, "Man, I don't know what it is about them, but I know they love Jesus." And can't really put your finger on it, but you're like, "Yeah, that person's with Jesus, they love Jesus." As a gospel centered person, that's a bit of our goal here, is become actually so fluent in the work and the story of God that it just leaks out of us. Maybe when you're sitting across with coffee helping someone out with a really hard time or when you're talking to your boss and you don't have to say Galatians chapter four it says this, but you just say like, "Man, we have been so welcomed into the family of God. I don't have to work at it. I don't have to try to earn God's love. He just loves me." Sit across from someone, a prospect who just is like trying to find meaning and validation and all these really dumb things and like, "Man, I'm just so happy my identity is not found in trying to find a spouse anymore. I'm so happy my identity is not found in how well or poorly I do at work because Jesus loves me. He calls me his son. I'm in his family. I can ride out these things. I can weather these storms a little bit differently." A gospel centered person has a deep joy in Jesus. They love people, they're fluent in the gospel. And the fourth thing, the last thing is a gospel centered person repents daily. Repentance is a crucial facet of life with Jesus. John, in preparing the way for Jesus tells the people who think they had it all together, the religious elite, the people who knew all this stuff. He says bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Repentance is not a onetime only thing to get you into heaven, it is a daily practice of those who follow Jesus. We should not be shocked when we sin. It should be no surprise when you're hurt by someone else, when you hurt someone else. The gospel does remind us it was our sin that put Jesus on the cross. And John says in his letter, if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not actually in us, but if we confess our sins, he's 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, Jesus, a liar and his word is not in us. One of the great preachers and theologians few hundred years ago, Charles Spurgeon said this, if any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him for you are worse than he thinks you to be. Anyone else in the room really hate being misunderstood, misjudged? You say one thing they interpret another thing, you try to explain your motives and they just still don't get it. Take heart, you're worse than whatever they're misjudging you to be. As followers of Jesus, repentance is a daily practice. Christians are constantly aware of our sin, but not sitting in it, not letting it define us. We don't sit and wallow in our sinfulness, but we look to Jesus, right? We are really good sinners, but he is a better savior and his spirit leads us out of slavery to sin into his family, and it's his kindness that leads us to repentance. Christians should be the most grateful, the most humble, the most repentant people in the world, grateful for the work of Jesus to bring us clothes. We did not deserve it, you didn't deserve it. You're not as awesome as you think you are. You did not deserve life with God but he gave you life anyway. You should be humble because it's nothing you did. You did nothing. Even all the really good stuff, you did nothing. We're humble. In fact, the things we did do put Jesus on the cross, so we deserve death. We deserve to be enemies of God. We should be a repentant people. It's our alignment and acknowledgement of those truths and our response to his grace and mercy. We don't repent to try to earn anything. We repent out of this worshipful response that he has done everything already. And it's us saying, "Yes, I'm still choosing things other than Jesus for my hope in life and satisfaction. I'm sorry, I'm turning away," and it's the regular acknowledgement of the grace and the mercy that we've been shown. We can repent regularly because God is at the ready to forgive. That's his posture towards us. Do you guys know that that knock-knock joke, the interrupting cow joke. You guys know that? Calvin, my oldest, is obsessed with that joke. If you've never heard it before, go ask him about the joke. But that's God's posture towards you, ready to forgive before you can even express and say the things you're confessing he's, "Boom, you're forgiven." That's it. I'm interrupting your confession to forgive you. That's his posture towards you. We shouldn't be fearful about confessing our sin because he's already forgiven you for that sin. We shouldn't be fearful for recognizing that we're not as awesome as we should be, and we actually let other people down all the time because he has already forgiven you. Spurgeon once again says, God is more ready to forgive than I am ready to offend. The Proverbs say this, whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. It's the beauty of repentance. That we are ever aware of what should keep us from him, we can fast turn from it and we're ever aware of the grace that's already been shown to us. So as we kick off these next few weeks together, rooting ourselves in the vision God's given us and really some of the distinctives that Jesus has called us to, we want to get this thing right. We want to be rooted and anchored in the gospel. The love of Jesus, not the gospel like the doctor, and that's helpful knowledge, but gospel is the person and the spirit of Jesus living inside you, empowering you to live like Jesus here and now. Friends, this is the hill we die on. There's a lot of things that will change and morph. One of my favorite things about Paul, one of the new Testament writers, is he is incredibly adaptable for mission sake. He goes to one city and he teaches like this. He goes to another city, teaches like this. He goes to another city and hangs out with these people. He goes to another city, hangs out these people and changes the model for mission all the time. But the thing that never changes is the gospel. This is the hill he dies on. For I brought to you a first importance, the gospel of Jesus. One of the things we get to do in the beginning of the year is we set visions. We get to tweak and make changes and say, "Yeah, we're actually going this way or this way." We're not going to do this thing anymore. We're going to start doing this thing or this is not a helpful practice or a model, we're going to try this helpful practice and model. Maybe some of you guys have even seen some of that already and we like to regularly realign because we want to be saying what's the best way to reach people in this city, in this time, in this place? Those things should change all the time. If we're doing the same things we were doing five years ago, we're not doing our job as a church to respond and react to the culture around us. If we find our groove and just settle into it for the next 20 years, we are being irresponsible missionaries. And as the church, you are all missionaries, you are sent people. But the thing that does not ever change is the gospel, the most important truth and person in which we can root our lives in Jesus Christ never, never, never changes. Paul writing to the Romans in chapter one says this, for I'm not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek, meaning everybody. The gospel is the power of God and we are not ashamed of it. The gospel is our identity and it's the very power of God for salvation. Author, writer Jeff Vanderstelt says this. When we talk about the gospel, we're not just talking about a doctrine, we write down and quote, we are talking about the very real dynamic power of God to create, redeem and safe. The power I'm talking about brought the world into existence. It's the same power that breathed life into dust and formed man. The power that struck down the Egyptians and part of the Red Sea so that all Israel can pass through on dry ground, the power we proclaim in the gospel's the same power that was visible on top of Mount Sinai ablaze with fire that was extended to conquer Israel's enemies and that helped David defeat Goliath with one stone. The power of the gospel's the power that enabled Jesus to overcome temptation, preach with authority, cast out demons, heal the sick, raise the dead, rise from the dead himself. The gospel's not just dogma. Though it is doctrine, we believe it's not just history though it is historical. It's not just past though it did happen. The gospel is the power of God made available to you and to me through the son of God who gave his life for us. He's alive and at work, and those who follow him and believe by his spirit and that power was exerted to save you and is presently available to us right now and will keep us safe until the end. The gospel is the power of God for our entire lives. Believing and living around this gospel is not a one time decision, but a daily ongoing recognition, an inheritance, an expression of our ongoing need for Jesus forever. We believe the whole Bible points that God, so we grow in applying the gospel to each and every part of our lives because the temptation, the world and culture we live in says life is all about you. And we actually say, "No life is all about Jesus and we're going to align and center our lives around him and his finished work." As we are growing to be with Jesus, to become like him, to do the he did, we are growing in our deep joy in Jesus. We are growing in our love for people, we are growing in our gospel fluency. We are growing in our daily practice of repentance. I wish I could say I have all of these down, but I can with confidence say as I was writing down all of these, I was convicted in my lack of growth in every single area. And maybe it's not just me, maybe you're feeling like that. Maybe as we're talking about a deep joy in Jesus, you're like, "Yeah, my life and my joy and my happiness actually rides on the circumstances in my life." Or maybe you're saying like, "I think I love God, but I really can't stand people. I can't stand my next door neighbors. I can't stand my cousin, I can't stand my coworkers or whatever." Maybe you're like, "Yeah, I want to know Jesus but I actually don't know his word at all. I don't even know who he is or what he's like or what he's done for me." And maybe you're saying like, "I can't remember the last time I've repented for something." And repentance is not just saying, "I'm sorry." It's saying, "I'm sorry," and changing. And so if you're anything like me, you're working through those four things, you're going, "Man, Holy spirit, I need help in all of these areas." Maybe not biting off more than we can chew, we're going to respond in just a moment and maybe the next step, the practice for right now or for as you head home or whatever is to start maybe pick one or two and just say like, "Okay, Holy spirit, let's do some work in this area this week. I am awful at loving people." Be careful what you ask for, because he's going to bring you some really unlovable people in your life. You say, "I want to grow in loving people. Help me." I want to grow in practicing repentance. We're really prideful and it's really easy to think you have everything all together. You don't, but we're going to practice that this week. Say, "Holy Spirit, I need to practice having deep joy in Jesus." Pick one or two, practice this week. Talk about it in your community group this Wednesday. See what happens. Take one, do an experiment. All right? Just do an experiment, pick one. Say, "Holy Spirit. We're going to do work on this one." Let's see what happens in the next six, seven days. See what kind of things the Lord is doing in your life. If you're asking for help to find a deeper joy in Jesus, chances are life is going to hit the fan this week and you're going to be tested. You're going to get fired. You're going to get demoted. You're going to get in a fight with your spouse, you're going to lose your temper at your kids. Something is going to go wrong. Where will you find joy? I want to love people this week, I'm going to really try to love people this week. Chances are someone really unlovable is going to come in your path and ruin your life somehow. If you want to learn your gospel fluency, like if I want to grow in this. Like Monday morning, you're going to sit a prospect and someone's going to ask you about Jesus, you're going to fumble and have all the wrong words, you're going to be totally walking away feeling like you blew the moment. You're going to be tested in these things. If you want to repent daily, you will probably mess up sometime this week and be given an opportunity to publicly repent of some action or behavior on your part. Just know as you ask the Holy Spirit for help, he's not going to leave you hanging. He's going to help you, but you're also going to have the opportunity where those things are actually going to matter. So as we are setting the tone, the direction, the vision for the year, unpacking who we are, we want to start by rooting ourselves in the gospel. It is the most important thing about Anthem. It is the most important thing about anyone who calls Anthem home. It's the most important thing about any Christian, that you are defined wholly by the work of Jesus and you are now a son and a daughter. And being a son or a daughter changes how we worship Jesus. Because we're not worshiping out of fear hoping to earn anything, but as John and Luke and Joseph lead us in some songs, we can actually worship as sons and daughters, glad, joyful, humble, repentant, excited because we've been shown such great love and mercy and grace. And so we can worship instead of with folded arms and a scrunched up little face that you guys all have during the first couple of songs, we worship with a smile. Because you suck and Jesus still loves you. All right? Can we do that? Go ahead and stand. I want to pray for you and the crew's going to lead us in some songs and I'll come back and walk through some more directed responses, but we're going to start by just meditating on a few verses here. So father, we love you. Thank you so much that you extend such love and grace and mercy to us. Thank you that you don't call us slaves, but sons and daughters. Thank you that you're not a far off God, but you're up close. You're with us til the end of the age. Thank you that you're not looking for perfection because we cannot achieve that. But you give us your Holy Spirit to help us grow. Thank you that you are sanctifying us. Thank you that as we worship you, we can worship you as sons and daughters. And as we worship you and we're smiling and raising our hands and singing loud, you're smiling along with us. God, your spirit is enabling us to sing. God, we're so grateful. And so God as we just meditate on these few verses here, would you implant these truths in our heart that it is finished? Everything that needed to be done to make us right with you is done. It's in that truth that we celebrate. In the name of Jesus. Amen.