Sunday, February 26, 2006

Back To Basics

Intro.: “Back to Basics”

  1. It is a slogan for a toy company, hair care products, a fertilizer, and even science education.

  2. This morning I want to get back to the basics in our spiritual lives. What is the bottom line when it comes to faith.

  3. This morning, I would like to suggest five principles that stand at the core of our Christian faith.


  1. We must never forget that God loves us

    1. If there is one thing that we have heard from the very beginning of our faith walk, it was this: For God so loved the world ...

    2. It was the first verse that most of us memorized. It is the verse that has been translated from the Greek into more languages than any other. If you ever stay at a motel with a Bible placed by the Gideons, you will find right inside the front cover this verse is translated into 20 of these languages.

    3. God not only loves us – he is the embodiment of love. John reminds us that “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God l and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”i

(Ill.) A certain farmer had an unusual weathervane on his barn. Inscribed on the arrow were these words: “God is love.” A passerby turned in at the gate and asked the farmer, “What do you mean by that? Do you think God’s love is changeable; that it veers about as that arrow turns in the winds?” “Oh, no,” replied the farmer, “I mean that whichever way the wind blows, God is still love.”ii

    1. Life will bring us challenges – Last week has been a perfect example starting with Deb's surgery and then Val's mom's hospitalization. I found out on Thursday morning that I had a headlight burned out. My son's girl friend spent Friday night and Saturday morning in the hospital emergency room. I suspect that you could add items to my list.

    2. Yet the scripture remains true – For God so loved the world.

  1. We must never forget that we are broken people

    1. There are times when I wish my wife would forget this. There are times that I would like to forget it. What is most scarry is that there are times that I begin to act like it weren't true.

    2. I begin to act if I knew everything, there are times that I get this cocky attitude that says, “I'm perfect”

    3. But it doesn't take much to remind everyone around me (though it may take a bit more to get through to me) that I am not perfect.

    4. Sin is universal – Paul, writing in the greatest piece of theology of all time, says “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Herman Melville, author of that classic Moby Dick, wrote, “Evil is unspectacular and always human and shares our bed and eats at our own table.”iii

    5. When we sit back and honestly look at our own lives – we know it is true. We feel the pain of aging, we see the results of sin in our lives.

    6. We are broken people.

  2. We must never forget that Christ died for that sin

    1. The gospel is not merely about the love of God. Nor is it merely the love of God for us broken people.

    2. God did something – he did something in history that cannot be ignored.

    3. Jesus told us about it in John 3:16 - “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son ...

    4. Paul puts all three of these first three points together in Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

(Ill.) An unknown poet has written

On the mount of crucifixion,

Fountains opened deep and wide,

Through the floodgates of God’s mercy,

Flowed a vast and gracious tide,

Grace and love like mighty rivers,

Flowed incessant from above,

Heaven’s peace and perfect justice,

Kissed a guilty world in love.iv

  1. We must never forget that we must respond to that love

    1. There is a bit more to the text of John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

(Ill.) Occasionally I get hooked on an author. This past year William Willimon was elected to the office of bishop in the United Methodist Church. At the January 2005 Congress on Evangelism, two of his books caught eye. Then he spoke at the 2006 Congress. This winter I have begun to read one of the books that I purchased a year ago. I continue to be impressed by Bishop Willimon. Listen to what he wrote in 2003 -

We are conversionist Christians. Wesleyans have, deep in our bones, the story of a priggish little Oxford don named John who was set aflame for Jesus. We believe that though Jesus takes us singing, “Just As I Am,” he never leaves us just as we are. New Birth is at the heart of a Wesleyan witness to the gospel. The good news is not only that I must change, but that I can, by the grace of God, change. Our logo is the cross and flame. We are a great church for people who want more from their lives, from their worship, and from their discipleship than the same old tired path they have been walking.v   

(Appl.) Has Christ made a difference in your life? Have you been converted – not just on the outside, but on the inside? Have you responded to the love of Jesus?

  1. We must never forget that we are called to share this message

    1. Jesus began his ministry with the words of John 3:16 spoken to Josephus. At the end of His ministry he spoke again. Look at the words of Matthew 28:18-20 'Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."'

    2. Certainly Jesus has called his church to go into the whole world – this verse is part of the church's motivation for sending missionaries around the world.

    3. Matthew 28 also provides another kind of motivation – it provides the motivation for the Garland church to reach out to its own world.

(Ill.) A man traveling along a dark road one stormy night met a man coming from the opposite direction who said to him in a hesitant manner, “I think maybe the bridge is out. At least I heard something to that effect.” The traveler was not impressed and decided to proceed. A little farther on a man came rushing out of the dark to him and said, “Stop! Don’t go any farther. The bridge is out!” So passionately convincing were his tones that the traveler turned back, and his life was saved. That is how we are to witness, with passion and

    1. Last month I asked the church to participate in a number of activities which can serve to reach out to our own community.

    2. If we are going to reach out and proclaim the name of Jesus, we will expect obstacles, we can expect delays.

    3. But God does not ask us to be perfect. God does ask us to be faithful.

Conclusion: Let us be faithful --

I don't know what will happen on Wednesday

  1. But I know that we have a full year that will require all of us to participate, if we are going to grow.

  2. And it will not end with this year. Faithfulness is not a 12 month activity – but it starts this year.

  3. If we are going to grow – then we need to get to work.


iThe Holy Bible : Holman Christian standard version. 2003 (1 Jn 4:8). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.

iiAMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

iiiW. H. Auden, “Herman Melville” quoted in Merriam-Webster, I. (1992). The Merriam-Webster dictionary of quotations. "A Merriam-Webster."; "Quotables from notables"--Cover.; Includes index. (Page 126). Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster.

ivWater, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (Page 90). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.


viAMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

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