Why The Church?

blog title.001Every Sunday in the United States, over 120 million people go to a church worship service. More people in the United States go to a church service in one single weekend, than will go and attend every single professional sporting event in an entire year.

Why do people go to church? A lot of people have no clear reason why they attend church. Some go out of habit or tradition, some out of pressure from someone else.

As we answer the question Why The Church, if you will take to heart what we’re teaching, years from now, you’ll look back to this post and say, “That’s when God started something very powerful in my life.”

Let’s take a look at the DNA of our church. We’re going to tell you who we are, what we are and why we do what we do. These are our foundations. We believe, God wants to meet your deepest needs and He can only do that through Jesus and the Church.

Depending on your background, your definition of church will vary. Let’s start with what the church is not.

The church is not a building. Many churches have a building. However, many churches meet in all kinds of venues, but they are still churches. Jesus didn’t die for a building. Churches have buildings, but they aren’t buildings.

The church is not an institution. We often think of the institutionalized church. A church has structure and leadership, but that’s not what the church is.

The church is not an event. The church gathers together and has events, but there’s a higher calling.

A church is not a place I go to, nor an event I attend. It is a spiritual family that I belong to.

The church is somewhere we are planted and build our lives on. Take a look at Acts chapter 2, and the description of the very first church in Jerusalem.

“Those who believed…were baptized and added to the church… They joined with the other believers and committed themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to the fellowship… They worshiped together regularly at the Temple courts and met in small groups in homes for communion, and shared meals with great joy and thankfulness.”  Acts 2:41-42, 46

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Why the Church is the Most Important Group on Earth

1. The Church is God’s family.

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”  Ephesians 1:5 NLT

You become a part of the human race by being born into the world. You become a part of God’s family by being born again and, through Christ, God adopting you into his family.

That family is the church of the living God, the support and foundation of the truth.”  1 Timothy 3:15 NCV

If you don’t have good support and foundation, you will crumble. You are building a house that is your life. Build your life on Jesus and His Church.

God is not using the Church for his plan. The Church is God’s plan.

2. The Church is the reason God created the universe.

God created the universe, just so he could create this galaxy, this solar system, this planet, the human race. He did it so that those who choose to love Him, could be part of His Church.

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”  Ephesians 1:4 NLT

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:10 NIV

3.  God is using his Church for His eternal purpose.

Far bigger than our plans, there is an unseen reality. God is using His Church to show off to spiritual authorities and powers.

“God’s intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to all the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Ephesians 3:10-11 NIV

There’s an unseen factor that’s bigger than us. One reason He will share His glory with the Church is that it’s on display even to what we can’t see.

“Through Christians like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!”  Ephesians 3:10-11 MSG

4. Jesus died for His Church.

He didn’t die for a nation, a business, an organization or a tradition. He died for the Church.

“Christ loved the church and gave himself for itHe died so that he could give the church to himself like a bride in all her beauty. He died so that the church could be pure and without fault…”  Ephesians 5:25, 27 NCV

5.   It’s the only thing on earth that will last forever.

No business will last forever. No sports team will last forever. No nation lasts forever. The United States won’t last forever. The only thing on earth that will last forever is God’s church. That’s what he created it for.

“Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”  Ephesians 3:21 NLT

This is why when you serve the church, you store up treasure in Heaven. When you give to the church, you store up treasure in Heaven. When you bring people to church, you make a difference for eternity.

“…we will be with the Lord together forever!”  1 Thessalonians 4:17

6.   The Church is the only group Jesus said would succeed.

Jesus: “I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it!”  Matthew 16:18 NLT

The church is the most powerful force in the world. It has survived every crumbling culture for 2,000 years. Jesus is not interested in building nations, businesses or organizations. Have you read the last book of the Bible? The Church wins!

7.  The Church is the only group big enough to solve global problems.

The government, Congress, the UN are not big enough. No business or nation is big enough. The Church is.

There are about 600 million Buddhists, 800 million Hindus, 1.5 billion Muslims and 2.3 billion Christians. The Church is bigger than China. The church was global hundreds of years before anyone started talking about globalization. We are the only true global thing on the planet.

“This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.”  Colossians 1:6 NLT

8.  The greatest privilege in life is to be part of God’s Church.

“God has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God’s own family.”  1 Peter 1:3

The word “member” is a biblical term. It’s talking about how the hand is a member of a body. If you cut off a hand, what good is a hand detached from a body? It has no value. What good is a Christian detached from the body? Nothing.

We find our strength and support in the church. Sometime people say, “I’m just a part of the global church.” Almost every time the word church is used in the Bible, it’s talking about a local congregation.

Jesus said I’m building the church. The Holy Spirit came and birthed a church. The Acts of the Apostles were planting churches. The New Testament letters are written to churches and pastors. Revelation Jesus is talking to churches. The person who says they can do ministry alone, detached from a church, is wrong.

“Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?”  1 Corinthians 3:16  


What is a Purpose Driven Church?

Every business, every nation, every organization, every city, every life, every church is driven by something. If you look up the word “drive” it means to guide, control or direct. Our church wants to be Purpose Driven.

Churches can be driven by many different things:

  • Tradition
  • Personality
  • Finances
  • Programs
  • Buildings
  • Events

A Purpose Driven Church has traditions, personalities, finances, programs, events, buildings. But what drives us and our mission, is to balance and emphasize five eternal biblical purposes.

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but is it the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  Proverbs 19:21

The only way to make something that will last and to do something in someones life is to do it according to the Lord. Here are some benefits of belonging to a Purpose Driven Church Family.


The Benefits of Belonging to a Purpose Driven Church

1. It will help me focus on God.

It’s easy to lose your focus. We need to consistently refocus our focus. Meeting together with your church family and small group will help focus your life.

Focus changes everything. The bigger God gets in your mind, the smaller your problems become. The purpose of worship is to continually refocus on God. 

2. It will help me find freedom from life’s problems.

Life is tough and God never meant for you to go through this life on your own. Life is a series of problems. You’re either coming out of a problem, in the middle of one or going into one. The solution: get something bigger than your problems to live for. Then, problems become mere distractions. How do you face addiction? How do you face a parenting problem? How do you face a marriage problem? How do you find freedom from all those things? This is the purpose of fellowship.

The life that God intends for you is not a solo act. Life-change happens in the context of relationships.

3. It will help me fortify my faith.

Fortify means to strengthen. When you get with other people in God’s family, you set-up right values, get the right support and establish your priorities. This is what helps you fortify your faith. This is discipleship. it fortifies your faith.

4. It will help me find my place to make a difference.

We weren’t here to just take up space and then disappear. God has something unique for you to do. He wants you to make a difference with your life. He wants you to leave a legacy and learn how to serve God by serving others.

The best way to learn how to do that is in a church family. When we get to heaven, God is going to ask you two questions. “What did you do with my Son, Jesus Christ?”

The second question is, “What did you do with what I gave you?” What did you do with what God has entrusted to you. This question determines your effectiveness as a believer and your rewards. This is the purpose of ministry.

5. It will help me fulfill my life mission.

You were put on earth to make that difference in the church, but also outside the church. If you don’t fulfill your life mission, it won’t get done. This is evangelism. To Go & Tell the people in your life about the Good News.

These are the things that drive the church and meet your biggest needs: Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry and Evangelism.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on ordering finances? What will you remember most about the STRAPPED series?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Read Acts 2 & Ephesians 1-3

What is a church? It is not a location. It is not an institution.

A CHURCH is a group of baptized believers who’ve joined together in a commitment to help each other fulfill God’s purposes for their lives.

It is a spiritual family where people can focus on God, find freedom from life’s problems, fortify their faith, find their place to make a difference and fulfill their life mission. (Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry, Evangelism.) The church is the most important group on earth.

Application

  1. Do you recall what first brought you to a church?
  2. God is using the church as a vehicle to invite his family to spend eternity with him in heaven. Just as God died for the church, we die to ourselves when we are born again.  Share the details of how and when you accepted Christ to secure your salvation. What steps have you taken on your journey with Christ to become more like him?
  3. How does God fortify faith through the church?
  4. How is the church a place that helps people find freedom from their problems?
  5. What are some barriers that can prevent the church from being a support group to others?
  6. How has being part of a church family has helped you to live more fully?
  7. How can knowing the church will last forever increase the faith of its members?
  8. How does the church honor God by reaching its full potential?
  9. Why is it a privilege to be a member of God’s family and do God’s work?

Have you been baptized? You can be baptized this weekend at Rock Brook. Sign-up at RockBrook.org/Connect/Baptism

Tell Someone Else

Who do you need to share this message with? Who do you need to invite to church? Who does the group need to pray for?

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Strapped Week 3: The Buck Starts Here

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Too many of us are living in a prison of financial debt and stress. The good news is we can learn how to get out of financial bondage. Let’s get smart with our money and learn practical and Biblical principles to free ourselves from being STRAPPED.


One of the most overwhelming things about money, is that everyone wants a piece of it. Our desire for this series is to help you in this season of life as we head into the end of the year and start a new year. Let’s learn how to manage our money in a way that we won’t be so strapped.

Week 1 As Christians, we don’t want to serve money. We serve God! Money serves us, as we serve God.

Week 2 There are Godly values that we can to apply to our finances and some practical tools for how to attack debt. Why attack debt? Because debt is attacking us!

God wants to bless you. Not in a prosperity gospel kind of way, but in the way that God wants good things for you! God does not want you to live as the servant of the lender. God wants you to live free and and leave a wake of generosity in your life.

Your Father is the King of the universe and owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He created everything out of nothing and has already given us an inheritance in heaven with Him. The best of our blessings are not dollars and cents or land and property. The best of our blessings are the spiritual blessings we have in Christ. Your Father wants you to live free. Let that idea take root in your life.

Here’s the normal way people think about the flow of their finances:

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We start most equations with ME, and what will advance me. What I want to do, what I want to accomplish, what I want to accumulate, what I want to experience. A lot of people don’t have something bigger to live for than ME.

The number one priority in this way of thinking is for me is to live. Where you want to live, how you want to live, with what you want to live with…

Second is save, when you can and if you can. You want to save, but that’s not the first priority. First priority is living, and if after living well, if there’s something you can save of course you want to do that.

Third is to give your money. You want to be generous. Who doesn’t? After you live and if you can save, any money after all of that, you want to give away.


God wants to flip this equation. God came to flip the script. When Jesus came from Heaven to Earth to live a perfect life in the face of temptation, to die our death on a cross and rise from the dead conquering the grave, it wasn’t so he could simply be another thing on the list of our life.

Jesus came so He could redeem our life and restore the relationship with Him that was lost. That only comes when we make Him number one in our lives.

He came so that everything in our life is ultimately about God, not about us. Here’s a new perspective that leads us to invert this order.

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The first priority is giving now. When God gives to us, the very first thing we think is “I’m going to GIVE back to God.” When God blesses us, the very first thought we have is I want to bless God. I want to bless others.

The second thing on this list is saving. There are things coming around the corner that you don’t know about. If you’re not saving, you won’t be in a position to do anything that is of you own free will, because you do whatever the bills say you need to do.

The third thing in the inverted way of thinking about this is livingWe still have to live, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You have to eat, you need a home to live in and you need to get around town. We’re not removing living from the list. This is not a poverty gospel that says, “I need to be miserable to truly have put God first.”

What we want is to live on what’s left after we prioritize giving and saving. We have to adjust our lifestyle to live on what we can afford after giving and saving. Instead of basing our saving and giving on our lifestyle.

The difference between these two models is the difference between whether you’re going to be the tail or the head. We invert this list, because it leads to blessing. With a lifestyle like the first diagram there is no blessing. With a lifestyle of the second one, there is a blessing.

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:

You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him. Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you. The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you. 

The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. 14Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.”  Deuteronomy 28:1-14

Here the script is being flipped. It’s being inverted so you are able to help others. Jesus says you cannot serve both God and money. You will be the servant of one or the other but not to both. The New Testament tells us that the love of money will be a root to all kinds of evil in our life. So we know, that most likely, the false god in our life is called money.

God wants to help us change from a lifestyle that tries to keep us as the tail of the equation. When you’re the tail, you’re wagged by the economy, wagged and controlled by interest rates, controlled by circumstances or by the accumulation of the bills that come.

God wants to make you the head. A child of promise. This equation begins by saying, “God, I want to follow your ways. I want to follow what you say is the right way.”


Blog funnel 2.002Think about the diagrams from above like a funnel. If this is how your funnel looks, your catch-point is you. Then the catch-point for the blessing of God is very small. That makes the back door for all your money very big. In this scenario, you look around after years of working hard and wonder where all your savings went and why you still have debt.

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But when we invert the principle we start using the funnel correctly. Our catch-point for the blessing of God is really big. If God were to pour out a blessing, we can catch so much more than if we were holding the funnel upside-down.

Let’s take a deeper look at this order of things.

Giving. Saving. Living.


Giving

We recognize that everything we have comes from God and we want to return to God part of everything He gives us. The Bible calls it a tithe, a tenth. The Bible calls the first of every paycheck a first fruit.

When we come to know God, we trust Jesus for our eternity, but what can happen is we live our lives without trusting Him here and now. Most people who love church do not give first. Most people feel they can trust Jesus Christ for salvation and eternal life, but they will not trust him with their money.

But how can you really know that you trust God with all things, if you’re not regularly trusting Him with something that cost you something. Where do you start?

If 10% is not even an option right now, start with a percentage. Be a first fruit, percentage giver. Start with 3% and give that first to get the catch-point for the blessing of God to be the right way and then, work up to 10% and beyond.


Saving

God is calling us to steward our money well, manage it well and save it well. Here are three things to save for:

1. Emergencies

2. Purchases

3. Future

The point of saving money is:

Money + Time + Consistency = Wealth

Don’t try to get rich, quick or put all of your eggs in one basket. Don’t invest in anything you don’t understand. This formula creates margin, it creates freedom.


Living

If you give and save, the money left over will be enough. If you follow God and do what he calls you to do, there will be enough. It may mean rethinking what our living and expenses really look like. It may not live up to what all the pretenders are doing, but it will lead to life to the full.

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”  2 Corinthians 9:6-11 (NIV)

It takes a season to have a harvest that produces more seed that can be planted again. Our church loves to do this. Collectively as a church body, with what is given, we do this too. We give, we bless others. We save, we don’t operate from offering to offering. We save for emergencies and purchases and the future. We’re not running this series because funds are low. This series is here because God wants you to be the head, not the tail. Then, we live. We pay the bills and operate the ministry.

One of our favorite things is at the end of the year, we do what we call a celebration offering. It’s a thanksgiving offering for what God has done this year. We’ll take the first part of this offering and give several missionaries and amazing organizations we support an extra month of support. Then we’ll save some of it and then further the ministry here. Join us this year for our Night of Worship and participate in our Celebration Offering to begin to turn the funnel the right direction to receive all God has for you.

Celebration Offering Kick-Off

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Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on the three financial values? (Self-control, sacrifice and planning.) How about attacking debt?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Read Deuteronomy 28 and 2 Corinthians 9.

How we handle our finances is an outward expression of an inward spiritual condition. Finances centered on ME will put the priority on living, then saving, then giving. Finances centered on GOD will be prioritized to give, then save, then live on the rest. This enables us to be the head, not the tail. Meaning we are not controlled by circumstances, but we are led by God. Like a funnel pointed in the right direction, this enables us to capture the blessings of God and live a focused life.

Application

  1. Are you a spender or a saver?
  2. Which do you enjoy more? getting or giving gifts.
  3. What’s your vision for your financial life?
  4. Which way is the funnel pointed in your finances?
  5. How are you investing for the future?
  6. Is your life focused? Are your finances focused? How could focusing your finances lead to a more focused life?
  7. Whose life do you need to invest in? What steps will you take to invest in them?

Tell Someone Else

Who do you need to share this message with? Is there someone you’re better equipped to have a conversation with because of this message?

Mark your calendar for the Night of Worship November 16th at 7:00

 

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Strapped Week 2: Embracing Financial Values

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Too many of us are living in a prison of financial debt and stress. The good news is we can learn how to get out of financial bondage. Let’s get smart with our money and learn practical and Biblical principles to free ourselves from being STRAPPED.


Let’s start today’s post with a quick review of last week’s post because each week we are going to build on the week before.

“The borrower is servant to the lender.”  Proverbs 22:7

Last week we looked into the Hebrew word translated as servant. It means a slave, it means to be in bondage. If we’re in debt, if we’re strapped, we’re actually in bondage. Most people don’t go around saying, they are a slave to money. What they often do is say how they would love to have a different job, have another kid or adopt, they would love to be serving, leading a small group or want to be a generous person, but they’re strapped.

The enemy loves it when we are bound up in financial bondage. You can’t do anything that God wants you to do without checking over your shoulder to see if you have the margin to say yes. The enemy knows that as long as you’re in debt, you can’t run with the Spirit of God. You can be on one of two paths in your lifetime. Either you are on a path to bondage or on a path to freedom. Our financial decisions are going to put us on a path to bondage or on a path to freedom.

Christ has come to set us free.

The big idea of the Gospel is that our debt is eternally paid by the perfect life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our whole Christian story depends on a debt being canceled. Therefore everything that comes up out of our story is predicated on debts being canceled so much so that in the Lords prayer we pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” 

A canceled debt on the cross is what gives me a ledger of freedom and the ability to be called a child of God.

Free children of God need to live fearless and live free. Because you cannot serve both God and money. Today is about debt. This topic is a generational one. Before the great depression in America, only 2% of homes had a mortgage against them. Now, just forty years later, only 2% of homes do NOT have a mortgage against them. How quickly things change. What we also see now is a generation of pretenders. They have the stuff, but they also have the debt. In fact, Scripture addresses this very plainly:

“One man pretends to be rich, yet he actually has nothing.”  Proverbs 13:7

So there are three groups of people today in our country. (1) The haves, (2) the have nots and (3) the have not paid for what they’ve got; they are the pretenders.

Let’s look at three essential values and these will apply to every area of our lives, but these are absolutely essential for us to become unstrapped and debt-free, bondage-free.


Biblical Values

1. Embrace the value of self-control.

“Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”  Proverbs 25:28

If you do not have financial self-control, you are like a city without walls, you are defenseless to attacks.

“The fruit of the Spirit is…self-control.”  Galatians 5:22-23

The result of knowing God, is self-control. The hardest person to say no to is yourself. We find every reason to justify a “yes.” We have to embrace the value of self-control. This is not to say, don’t enjoy life. Once you get out of debt and have the money, buy the car, get the whole thing! But when you’re getting out of debt, you need to embrace the value of self-control. 

Self-control means we say “no” for a little while so we can say “yes” for the rest of our lives.

2. Embrace the value of sacrifice.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross…”  Hebrews 12:2

The joy set before him was the joy of pleasing God and knowing that you and I would have access to God through His sacrifice. He made the sacrifice, the brutal sacrifice for something He wanted even more.

Sacrifice is giving up something you love for something you love even more. 

You don’t want to be paying for this Christmas in May of 2019. So, you give up cable for something you want even more, a debt-free Christmas.

Maybe you want a bigger house, but what you want even more is for one of you to stay home with the kids so you make the sacrifice.

Maybe you’re in college and you like your alone time, but even more than that you want to graduate with no student loans. So, you take in two or three roommates, you sleep on the sofa, you do whatever it takes, you give up something you love for something you love even more; getting out of school without student loan debts.

Maybe you love going to lunch out every day, but you may love even more paying off your car. So you give up something you love, going out to lunch, instead you brown-bag it. Have you heard how much money you can save over a lifetime of working if you just brown-bag it every day? Over $112,000!

Now you don’t have to do that. These are just illustrations on how to give up something you love, for something you love even more.

3. Embracing the value of planning.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?”  Luke 14:28

“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”  Proverbs 21:5

Let’s get practical here. How can you plan to get out of debt? You can wander into debt, but you can’t wander outYou have to get a plan. The best plan out there is found in Financial Peace UniversityIt covers the whole spectrum of finances. It will teach you a plan in seven steps, called baby steps. Let’s take a look at the first 2 baby steps today.


Baby Steps

1. Save $1,000 for emergencies.

You need to get a little cash built up because things are going to break, you’re going to get a ball through your window, your refrigerator is going to break down…stuff happens and that should not surprise you!

How are you going to get a thousand dollars? You’re going to sell some stuff or get a second job. You can clip coupons to save on things you already purchase. As soon as you get $1,000, put it away in case of an emergency.

2. Attack debt using the debt snowball.

This is the absolute fastest way to get unstrapped and to free yourself from the bondage of debt. So often when it comes to our finances and our debt, we feel like a mosquito at a Chiefs game…we know what to do, we just don’t know where to get started.

Here are 3 steps to a debt snowball:

1. Survey your debt.

Write all of your debts down on one piece of paper. Write down how much you owe and your monthly payments.

Below, is an imaginary list of debts. In the first column is a list of the different people or businesses we owe money to as well as the interest rate. In the second column is the total amount owed and in the third column is the minimum monthly payment.

In this example, notice we owe $450 to Lowe’s, $650 to Target, $1,600 to our parents and so on.

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2. Budget

Make a budge that starts by listing your income and then start writing down all of your expenses. The budget you’re creating will include all of your debts, because you have to keep paying all these minimum payments. If you don’t pay these it tacks on compounding late fees and just increases your debt.

3. Attack debt.

That word attack is crucial, because you can wander into debt but you can’t wander out. How do you attack it? First, find an extra $200 a month. Maybe you will find this money the same way you saved $1,000 for emergencies. Get creative and find $200 extra a month. You may need to eliminate something like satellite television, your mobile data plan or the energy drink or coffee you get each day. You’ll find $200.00 a month.

Here’s how it will play out: Let’s start with Lowe’s. We owe them $450. Your minimum payment is $50. Now, you’ll pay them $50 and add to it the $200 that we just found totaling $250 a month and within a couple of months, Lowe’s is gone!!

You might have noticed how these debts are organized. They are organized by total owed, not by minimum payment or interest rate. Why? Because this is not just math. This is spiritual and emotional. When you break one of these chains of bondage you’re going to celebrate and it’s going to feel good. You want to get to that as soon as possible!

Now, we’re going to let the money start to snowball away the debt and focus on our debt to Target. We’ve already been paying Target $30.00 a month. Now we’re going to take that $30 and add to it $250 a month. We just freed up $250 a month by paying off Lowe’s! Now with $280, in just a couple of months Target is gone as well!

Next is our parents. We are already paying them $200 a month + the $280 that we freed up because we no longer have to pay Lowe’s or Target and at $480 a month that debt will soon be gone as well. So every single month we will apply our snowball amount to the next debt that we owe. We start with the smallest amount of debt so we can knock it out and our largest snowball amount will take out our largest debt. We’re going to wipe out everything we owe but the house.

What is the benefit of taking out debt over just making minimum payments? If you just continued to pay minimum payments on our pretend debt list, like so many people do, it’s going to take you 120 months to pay off your debt. That’s 10 years before you pay off all of this debt and that’s assuming you don’t take on anymore. Now, if you do the debt snowball, your payoff time is only 21 months. That’s a difference of 99 months of not paying any debt!

If you take the $1,110 full blown snowball each month and invest it at 8% for that same 99 months that you would have been paying off your debt, at the end of that time period you will have $153,992.30. In most parts of the world that will buy you a house, paid for in cash. You could be totally debt-free including a house in only 10 years! This is possible!

There’s a plan if you want it. That plan may not have you out of debt by this Christmas. It may be four Christmases from now until you see the light of day. Don’t let that stop you. With God’s help you can do this, but you’ve got to get a little crazy and get a little weird. You’ve got to get a plan and have a sacrificial attitude. You cannot live like everyone else. The more passion that you get about this the faster it can be done and the more good decisions you’re able to make.

Secret Ingredient: A Small Group

The secret ingredient it having some like-minded people help you achieve what you’re trying to achieve. Because there will be a lot of temptation. There’s going to be a lot of pressure. There’s going to be a lot of second guessing yourself. You will need the support of people around with a similar vision.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:12

Tell your existing small group what you’re doing and get their support. Maybe you’ve never had a group like that. Here are a couple places to look for a solid group to support your financial goals:

Financial Event, January 5th – at Rock Brook

Financial Peace University: Winter/Spring Small Group Semester (February 2019)

Managing money is one of the most visible, outward evidences of where our heart is spiritually. If you’re faithful with a little, God will trust you with much. Self-control, sacrifice and planning can make a huge difference.

Imagine the peace, if you broke free from this world’s broken system and all the chains of bondage, all for the glory of the One who gave His Son, Jesus just for you.

It can be done! Have hope, don’t give up, fight like crazy and watch as God delivers you from the bondage of debt. It all begins with the cross. That place where God canceled our ultimate debt. God didn’t cancel our ultimate debt so that we could live every day on this earth in financial debt. Before God talks to you about your money, He wants to talk to you about your heart, your soul, and your eternity. He wants to offer you something, not get something from you. He’s offering you Jesus and all of your sin wiped away.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on having a godly perspective on money? Has the Holy Spirit pointed out any areas where you are tempted to love or serve money?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

“The borrower is servant to the lender.”  Proverbs 22:7

“One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing…”  Proverbs 13:7

Three Biblical Financial Values

1. Embrace the value of self-control.

“Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”  Proverbs 25:28

2. Embrace the value of sacrifice.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross…”  Hebrews 12:2

3. Embrace the value of planning.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?”  Luke 14:28

“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”  Proverbs 21:5

Baby Steps

1. Save  $1000 for emergencies.
2. Do the debt
snowball.

Secret ingredient: A Small Group

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:12

Application

  1. What was your family’s perspective on money growing up?
  2. How has your life been affected by debt?
  3. Which of the three Biblical values do you struggle with most & need to focus on improving?
  4. Are you familiar with the Baby Steps from Financial Peace University?
  5. If you are struggling with debt, what immediate steps do you need to take to address it?

Tell Someone Else

Who do you need to share this message with? Is there someone you’re better equipped to have a conversation with because of this message?

  • Mark your calendar:
    • Financial Event: January 5th
    • Financial Peace University: Next Small Group Semester

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Strapped Week 1: A Godly Perspective on Money

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Too many of us are living in a prison of financial debt and stress. The good news is we can learn how to get out of financial bondage. Let’s get smart with our money and learn practical and Biblical principles to free ourselves from being STRAPPED.


Today we’re starting a brand new series on money, but it’s really all about perspective. Today we’re going to start with a foundation and talk about the heart and money. We’re going to look at a godly perspective on money; today is all about the heart. Then, we’re going to get a little crazy and we’re going to come up with a very different result than what most people have in the world.

“The borrower is servant to the lender.”  Proverbs 22:7

The Hebrew word translated as servant is the word ‘ebed. It means a servant, a slave and in bondageThe borrower, the one who is in debt is a servant, is in bondage to the one that they owe money to. Now, most people don’t go around saying they are a slave or in bondage when it comes to money. But what they do say, really implies that truth.

They say, “Oh, I’d love to get married to my girlfriend but we just can’t afford it!” What they’re really saying is, “I’m in bondage.”

They say, “Oh, we’d love to have another child,” or “We’d love to adopt a child,” or “We’d love for one of us to stay at home with our children, but we can’t do something like that.” What we’re really saying is, “I’m in bondage, I’m strapped.”

Maybe a lot of us are a step ahead of addiction or drunkenness or some of the big things we consider bondage. What we don’t realize is that the bondage of a wrong perspective on finances is a sneaky one, because it works itself into our lifestyle and all of sudden we’re not free to follow God in our lives.

We’re not leaving a wake of generosity in our lives because of the bondage of our perspective.

Take a look at these four statistics that deal with the bondage to money we’re experiencing.

  • 4 out of 10 Americans don’t have enough money to cover a $400 emergency.
  • For those carrying a balance, the average credit card debt is $15,000.
  • The average 21-year-old owes $12,000.
  • By 28, they owe $78,000.
  • The average number of U.S. households living paycheck to paycheck is 78%.

No wonder marriages struggle, it’s no wonder there’s so much tension. No wonder people in their late 20s leave the church and stop focusing on God. They’re in bondage. They have moved their focus to somewhere else.

What these stats mean is that well over a half of us, if we lost our job or didn’t get paid, couldn’t pay the house payment or the rent payment. It’s no wonder there’s so much tension.

Just looking at those stats, maybe you’d say, what’s the big deal? But if we were to translate those statistics, can you imagine what would happen if we ran the church finances this way? If we managed what you gave this way? What if we didn’t have any money to cover an emergency and said, “We’d love to fix the AC but we don’t have any money to cover that.” or “We can’t have church services this week because no one gave last week.” You would be appalled at a church that ran your money this way. The truth is though, we are all stewarding something that’s been entrusted to you by God. Yet, those statistics above are what is normal in the lives of many.

Normal in our culture is debt, normal is car payments, credit card payments, student loan payments, house payments, normal is fighting about money. Normal is divorcing over money, normal is laying awake at night worrying about money. Normal is not serving God in his church because of money.

That’s why we believe, if you’re a follower of Jesus, we are not called to be normal, we’re not called to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. We are called to be different.

Money is one of the most visible measurements of the condition of your heart.

We’re trying to set you free today. This series is about your freedom. God wants to set you free, because financial bondage stinks.

Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about perspective on money. There are two temptations today of money and we’ll build the foundation around the heart.

1. We are tempted to serve money.

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”  Matthew 6:24

No one can serve 2 masters. Isn’t it interesting of all the things Jesus could have said, “You can’t serve God and _________…” And He said money. He could have said, you can’t serve God and power, God and popularity, God and yourself, or God and your sexual desires, but He said, “You cannot serve both God and money.”

Why? Because He knew that for many people money and material things would be the number one competitor for our hearts. We cannot serve both God and money.

Most people don’t think they serve money. At one point in your life, you probably have, however. If you’ve ever bought something you didn’t even really need with money you didn’t really have, you were serving money. You were under its powers of the false promises that those things would make you important, special or happy. If you ever didn’t give to someone who is in need because that was your money and you expected those people to make their own money. You were serving money.

2. We’re tempted to love money.

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evilSome people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”  1 Timothy 6:10

This is one of the most misquoted verses. Most people quote it as saying money is the root of all evil. Money is not the root of all evil. Money is neutral, you can use it for good or you can use it for evil. It’s the love of money that births evil. You don’t even have to have a lot of money to love it. If you’re consumed with wanting more or jealous and critical of people with more, you love money.

Let’s be people who have money, but don’t love it. Let’s use money or leverage money, but not let money have a hold on us.

Money makes you more of what you already are. 

If you’re broke and not kind to people, once you have money you’re just rich and not kind to people. If you don’t have much money and you’re generous, when you get more money, you’re more generous. Money is a magnifier; it makes you more of what you already are. Let’s not wait for more money to do great things for God. Start today! Let’s be who God is calling us to be so that when more comes around, we can make it go farther we can magnify God’s goodness.

“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.”  Ecclesiastes 5:10

According to scripture, if you don’t think you have enough money, you love money. Many of us are under the power of money and we don’t even know it. We’re under the power and influence of money and it’s a heart issue. Most of us don’t need more money, what we need is a Godly perspective on our money. We need wisdom for our money.

Let’s call it what it is: bondage, debt, strapped. Let’s get so sick of it that we do something different. Let’s step out of the normal mold and say, “I want to honor God with my money.”

If you’re a Christian, we don’t serve money, we serve God. You cannot serve both God and money. We’re not in bondage to it, we’re not its slave, we don’t serve money we serve God.

Money serves us, as we serve God.

Money serves us as we serve God. Having a godly perspective brings us peace. The fruit of a godly perspective is margin, freedom and direction.

Have you ever met someone with a godly perspective on money, they’re kind of weird, and giddy, right? These kind of people are not fighting, not worried, they’re not strapped. They are able to embrace the life God has for them.

Money serves us as we serve God. You can get there. This perspective on money is going to take some passion, because the enemy is working double-time so that you don’t have a godly perspective on money. The enemy knows he can’t keep us from God’s grace and salvation. So he is going to try to just keep you copying the world with your money and keep you focused on the wrong things. He’s gonna keep you questioning the goodness of God and keep you from real peace.

This isn’t an easy journey. So the best place to start is with the word of God. You can read verses on God’s perspective of money in our {Bonus Post}. It’s divided those into 7 categories so you can take it one day at a time this week. Let God’s word shape your perspective. God has a vision for your finances and that vision is peace.

If you think a godly perspective is going to mean less fulfillment for you or less happiness, you’ve got the wrong God. We’re not talking about a prosperity gospel, we’re talking about peace, fulfillment and significance that you wouldn’t have otherwise known without God. We serve a God who is concerned about your peace and wants to meet your needs. God does not want to harm you, He has good things for you.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Matthew 6:33

Read Matthew chapter 6 this week to see what “all these things” means. Discover every need met, a worry free life, treasures in heaven and a connection with God that you’ve only dreamed of. Too many people are going to get to the end of their life only to realize they weren’t willing to adjust their perspective to align with their Creator, and the Author of their life. Let’s make a shift in our perspective today.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on the Bible? What do you think you will most remember from the series “Not So Far-Fetched?”

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

“The borrower is servant to the lender.”  Proverbs 22:7

Servant: `ebed (eh’-bed); a servant, a slave, in bondage.

The Temptation of Money and Things

1. We are tempted to serve money.

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”  Matthew 6:24

2. We are tempted to love money.

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”  1 Timothy 6:10

“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.”  Ecclesiastes 5:10

Money serves us, as we serve God.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Matthew 6:33

Application

  1. If someone were look at your bank statement, what could they tell about you based on the way you spend your money?
  2. In what ways have you been tempted to love and serve money?
  3. What steps can you take to ensure you are serving God and not money?
  4. Do you have any fears in doing what God asks you to do? What is your perspective of God?

Tell Someone Else

Who do you need to share this message with? Is there someone you’re better equipped to have a conversation with because of this message?

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{Bonus Post} Proverbs for a Godly Perspective on Money

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God encourages us to, “Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.” (Proverbs 2:3-4) Biblical Proverbs can be a big help to us as we strive for a Godly perspective on money, work and managing our lives. 

Below are several Biblical Proverbs divided into categories. Try reading all the Proverbs in one of the categories each day over the next seven days.


Day 1: The Riches of Wisdom

“Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold.”  Proverbs 3:13-14

“Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it.”  Proverbs 8:10-11

“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.”  Proverbs 9:10

“Better to have little, with fear for the Lord, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil.”  Proverbs 15:16

“Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest.”  Proverbs 16:8

“How much better to get wisdom than gold, and good judgment than silver!”  Proverbs 16:16

“It is senseless to pay tuition to educate a fool, since he has no heart for learning.”  Proverbs 17:16

“Wise words are more valuable than much gold and many rubies.”  Proverbs 20:15


Day 2: Work Ethic

“Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.”  Proverbs 6:6‐8

“A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.”  Proverbs 6:10-11

“Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich.”  Proverbs 10:4

“A wise youth harvests in the summer, but one who sleeps during harvest is a disgrace.”  Proverbs 10:5

“A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.”  Proverbs 12:11

“Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.”  Proverbs 13:4

“Wealth from get‐rich‐quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.”  Proverbs 13:11

“Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty!”  Proverbs 14:23

“If you love sleep, you will end in poverty. Keep your eyes open, and there will be plenty to eat!”  Proverbs 20:13

“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.”  Proverbs 21:5

“A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies ends up in poverty.”  Proverbs 28:19


Day 3: Greed

“Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life.”  Proverbs 1:19

“Greed brings grief to the whole family, but those who hate bribes will live.”  Proverbs 15:27

“A person who gets ahead by oppressing the poor or by showering gifts on the rich will end in poverty.”  Proverbs 22:16

“Don’t rob the poor just because you can, or exploit the needy in court. For the Lord is their defender. He will ruin anyone who ruins them.”  Proverbs 22:22‐23

“Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit.”  Proverbs 23:4

“Income from charging high interest rates will end up in the pocket of someone who is kind to the poor.”  Proverbs 28:8

“The trustworthy person will get a rich reward, but a person who wants quick riches will get into trouble.”  Proverbs 28:20

“Greedy people try to get rich quick but don’t realize they’re headed for poverty.”  Proverbs 28:22

“Greed causes fighting; trusting the Lord leads to prosperity.”  Proverbs 28:25

“O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die. First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.”  Proverbs 30:7‐9


Day 4: Giving & Generosity

“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.”  Proverbs 3:9-10

“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.”  Proverbs 3:27

“Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.”  Proverbs 11:24

“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”  Proverbs 11:25

“It is a sin to belittle one’s neighbor; blessed are those who help the poor.”  Proverbs 14:21

“Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors him.”  Proverbs 14:31

“If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord— and he will repay you!”  Proverbs 19:17

“Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor.”  Proverbs 22:9

“Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed.”  Proverbs 28:27


Day 5: Debt & Lending

“There’s danger in putting up security for a stranger’s debt; it’s safer not to guarantee another person’s debt.”  Proverbs 11:15

“It’s poor judgment to guarantee another person’s debt or put up security for a friend.”  Proverbs 17:18

“Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.”  Proverbs 22:7

“Don’t agree to guarantee another person’s debt or put up security for someone else. If you can’t pay it, even your bed will be snatched from under you.”  Proverbs 22:26-27

“Get security from someone who guarantees a stranger’s debt. Get a deposit if he does it for foreigners.”  Proverbs 27:13


Day 6: Investments

“The earnings of the godly enhance their lives, but evil people squander their money on sin.”  Proverbs 10:16

“Good people leave an inheritance to their grandchildren, but the sinner’s wealth passes to the godly.”  Proverbs 13:22

“An inheritance obtained too early in life is not a blessing in the end.”  Proverbs 20:21

“Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches don’t last forever, and the crown might not be passed to the next generation.”  Proverbs 27:23-24

“She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard.”  Proverbs 31:16

“She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.”  Proverbs 31:20


Day 7: Money & Godly Living

“Tainted wealth has no lasting value, but right living can save your life.”  Proverbs 10:2

“Riches won’t help on the day of judgment, but right living can save you from death.”  Proverbs 11:4

“Evil people get rich for the moment, but the reward of the godly will last.”  Proverbs 11:18

“Trouble chases sinners, while blessings reward the righteous.”  Proverbs 13:21

“There is treasure in the house of the godly, but the earnings of the wicked bring trouble.”  Proverbs 15:6

“Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart.”  Proverbs 17:3

“Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and a fool.”  Proverbs 19:1

“Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.”  Proverbs 22:1

 

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Not So Far-Fetched: Is the Bible Believable?

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Today we’re going to follow where the evidence leads as we ask: Is the Bible Believable? Before we look at the Christian view of scripture, whether you’re a believer or not, here are 4 observations we can all agree on concerning the Bible.

1. It’s old.

The oldest sections of scripture are from 1500 BC making it the oldest writings in existence. The most recent writings were around 100 AD. Even the newest parts are old.

2. It’s big.

The Bible is a big book. The Bibles we carry around are deceptively small, holding multiple columns with small type, printed on tissue paper. It’s about 800,000 words, while the average non-fiction book today is 50,000 words.

3. It’s popular.

Not only is the Bible the best-selling book of all time, it’s the best selling book in the world every year. No book has ever outsold the Bible in a single year.

4. It’s powerful.

It’s the most outlawed book ever and it just keeps going because it’s powerful. People’s lives are transformed from reading the Bible.


The Christian view of the Bible is, God wrote it.

If God wrote a book, you’d expect it to be a best seller. If this came from God, it explains everything listed above. It’s why the Bible is so powerful and survives so many attacks.

A Christian is one who believes the Bible is the inspired Word of God and it is the basis for our faith. 

That’s not to say you can’t doubt the Bible as a Christian or have questions. To be a Christian means believing certain things that you can only believe if you accept that the Bible is supernaturally trustworthy. That’s the Christian view of scripture.

Let’s look at what Christ himself said about scripture. Let’s take a look at Jesus at one of his weakest, most human moments and how he responds.

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”  Matthew 4:1-11

When the Devil came gunning for Jesus, Jesus used scripture as His defense.

The Devil even tried to use scripture against Jesus and He wouldn’t have it. That’s why Paul called it the sword of the Spirit. We are in spiritual warfare because it’s a supernatural battle. The Bible wouldn’t have any power if it were just sayings of a man. But they’re the inspired words of God. Let’s jump a little bit forward in the text and continue to see what Jesus says about scripture.

“Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:1-2,17-20

It says every letter, the whole Bible is from God. The whole thing is supernatural. Every word is from the pen of God. That’s the Christian view of scripture.


Objections to the Christian View

  1. God or humans?

We say God wrote it, but we also know it was written over hundreds of years with 40 different human authors. Which is it? Did God write it or did humans write it?

We say both. This is where the Bible stands apart. For instance, the book of Mormon was written by Joseph Smith and he says there were gold plates that no one has ever seen, except him and he learned to translate from those plates and learned the language for the purpose of translating, and then he forgot. Now set that next to the Bible where you have actual manuscripts from actual authors in the original language. So we have the human record, but what about God?

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Think about a bridge. Specifically, the Brooklyn Bridge. A guy named Washington Roebling built the Brooklyn Bridge. His father came up with the plans and then died, so Washington carried it through but then he got sick, so his wife carried it through to the end.

Now we know the architect behind the bridge, but what about the people who laid the bricks? There were people who laid the stones, and the whole thing was completed during Washington Roebling’s lifetime. It was one plan that he oversaw. He oversaw the laying of every brick.

God is the architect, or author. He’s overseen it now for 3500 years now. We know this because there is the remarkable internal coherence of scripture that is impossible to explain otherwise.

For a book with multiple authors to stand, like the Bible has, there has to be one mastermind behind the whole thing. That’s how it was with the Brooklyn Bridge. It was built for horse-drawn carriages, but now it withstands semi trucks. That is a testament to the designer and the person who built it.

The Bible stands majestically and with power. All of these people cobbled something together that is so unified, written by different types of people, speaking different languages on different continents and countries at different times.

So, was it written by God or humans? The answer is: both. God built it with humans. So you might agree that God wrote the text, but humans put it together and the assembled the canon of which books are considered and which ones weren’t. That’s another popular objection:

2. Determining the canon.

How do we know we have the right books? If you have this objection it might have come from reading The DaVinci Code, a fiction book that some people believed like it was truth. The story he tells is that it was a political, a power play that some writings were included and some weren’t.

Only when some other books tried to weasel their way in did the church counsels say, these are the books that everyone has agreed on for hundreds of years, and all they did was make official what was already known. It’s overseen by God. If he can write the words, he can oversee the process of assembling it.

3. Copying and Translating.

Maybe you can see how God wrote the words and we have the right books, but your objection is that it has been copied and translated so many times, how do we even know if that’s what the original authors even wrote?

Every Bible that you have, has been translated exactly one time. It’s been translated from the original language to the language you speak. It wasn’t translated from Greek to Latin to German to English.

It has been copied. No one is claiming we have the original manuscript that each author wrote. What you have in your Bible is the same text as the page of the person who wrote it. There were 24,000 copies of this text preserved. The Bible has a paper trail unlike any kind of ancient document. How does that happen unless God is at work?

4. Parts I don’t like.

Maybe you read the Bible and there are things that contradict your basic values. So, you can’t possibly believe it’s the word of God because it says things you don’t agree with or you find offensive. The logic of this objection is, because it upsets you, it can’t possibly be true. 

If the Bible really is a supernatural book, it’s not a product of any culture. It will have to contradict every culture at some point. The fact that it contradicts your cultural values doesn’t cut against it being the word of God, that proves even more so that it is in fact the word of God.

In 2004, there was a remake of a 1975 movie that was a book before that, called the Stepford Wives. It’s about these husbands that got tired of their wives arguing with them and not doing what they say, so they put chips in the back of their heads to make them perfectly sweet all the time.

People want to do that with God. People want a Stepford God.

They want him to stop saying stuff they don’t like and only say things they agree with. If you have a God that agrees with you on everything and never agues with you, you know one thing for sure, you don’t have a real God. Your god is a product of your imagination.

If your god never disagrees with you, you might just be worshiping an idealized version of yourself. — Tim Keller

If you don’t believe the parts you don’t like, how can you really believe the parts you do like? The Bible says some amazing things like “you are fully forgiven, completely loved and a child of God.” But because you don’t believe the Bible as a whole, you can’t fully believe those things are true about you.

In the original version of the Stepford Wives, it was more of like a horror story. They didn’t put a chip in their heads, the husbands actually murdered their wives and made robots, instead. The husbands didn’t like their real wives so they killed them to make one that was better.

What’s the point of this gruesome illustration? It’s remarkably similar to what we and did with Jesus. We were waiting for a savior. Then, the real Savior shows up and at first we’re so excited, but then he does all this stuff that we don’t like and says all these things that make us angry. We feel cheated. This isn’t the God we signed up for. Let’s kill this Savior and maybe we can make up a better one for ourselves. That’s what happened with Jesus.

We do that today. We have the option to kill the real God and invent a God of our imaginations. If you do that, initially, this new God you make up for yourself, will have a lot more in common with you and be a lot easier to get along with than the real God. What you miss when you do that is warmth, love, relationship and salvation. The only way you get those things, is if you take Him as He is. That’s what God does with you, He takes you as you are. That’s what the Bible says, anyway.


What Now?

So what do we do now? We can be under the Bible’s authority.

In the book of Nehemiah we see that the wall of the city of Jerusalem was in ruins. Their city was in ruins, their faith was in ruins and the people of God were in ruins. Nehemiah had a vision to rebuild the people of God and he knew that it started with rebuilding the wall. So he rebuilt the wall against great opposition and regathered the people. Once the people were regathered a tower was built in their midst and a scribe by the name of Ezra went up to the top of the tower.

“Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.”  Nehemiah 8:5-6 NIV

Now think about that for a moment. God is resurrecting the hope of his people. It would be like if the gospels were taken away from our city and all the churches were shut down and rotting and then the gospels were opened after a generation of being kept from us.

When this happened, all the people who could see Ezra stood up in honor of the word of God and then everyone praised God and there wasn’t even a message yet. It was just an honor and respect for the word of God.

When we take the Bible in our hands we don’t have to physically stand up, but we have to stand up in our hearts and recognize that it is above us and we are under its authority.


Check Back

Does anyone have any thoughts from their daily devotions or from reflecting more on the message on life after death? Did anyone pick up the book “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Look over the message outline together. 

Take some time to dig into God’s word. Read Matthew 4 & 5.

Application

  1. What do you believe Jesus believed about scripture after reading those two chapters?
  2. Growing up, what was your family’s belief about the Bible?
  3. What stood out to you from the message?
  4. What kind of Bible do you read? (What translation? Do you read it on an app, online or a printed Bible? Is it a Study Bible? A red letter Bible?)
  5. Of the four objections to the Christian view of the bible, which one have you wrestled with the most, personally? Which objection do your unbelieving friends or family hold?

Tell Someone Else

Who do you need to share this message with? Is there someone you’re better equipped to have a conversation with because of this message?

Do you consider your life being under the authority of God’s word? What would that look like?

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Not So Far-Fetched: Is There Life After Death?

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What actually happens when you take your last breath and your heart stops? It’s a big question, one we maybe don’t think about enough.

What you believe about death and eternity will determine how you live now. 

So many people believe different things which answers a lot of questions on how they conduct life. Some believe that at death, it’s over and there’s no reason to live with an eternal motivation. Some people believe in purgatory, that once you die, people can pray you out of purgatory. Islam teaches that at the end, Allah will judge the works of those who have gone before and weigh your good and bad deeds to determine your eternal destination. Some people believe in reincarnation and think, depending on how you live, you come back as a higher or lower life form.

None of that is what the Bible says though. Let’s look at eight evidences for life after death. These are pulled from a variety of sources. No single one of these are a slam dunk proof. But they do build a case.


8 Evidences for an Afterlife

  1. Nature

There is a pattern and cycle in nature. There’s winter where there’s death, but then it turns to spring. Seeds go into the earth, die and then bring forth life.

There’s a cycle in nature that’s obvious to us all… I’m not sure what is after death but nature seems to give us a picture of what it will be like. Some kind of new life after death.  -Plato

2. Anthropology

Anthropologists say that every culture on earth, from those who live in primitive parts of the Amazon, the Himalayas, to urban cultures, all believe in some kind of afterlife. Most societies treat death not as an end into nothingness, but as a transition into some unknown state. It seems that there is something built into the human soul that not only transcends culture, but intuitively knows that physical death is a door, not a dead end.

3. Psychology

We have a sense that there has to be more than this. The human experience is one of seeking fulfillment. What we know is, as soon as you get the thing that you think will satisfy, it doesn’t quite do it. We’re made for something this broken world cannot provide.

If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.  -C.S. Lewis 

4. Ethics

The reasoning of ethics says that to have morality there has to be justice. When all of us look at what’s going on in the world, we often see people do bad things, but good can still happen to them. We also see good people experiencing bad things. The reasoning from ethics is that things have to get leveled out somewhere. For justice to occur, it doesn’t always occur in this life so there has to be some judgement of good and evil.

5. Philosophy

Justice doesn’t always occur in this life, so there has to be another time of judgment or reconciliation of good and evil.

If there is a good God and there is morality, there has to be an afterlife for any of life to make sense.  -Immanuel Kant 

6. Science

Scientific research, specifically the study of near death experiences continually suggests an afterlife. In 2014, the largest medical research study ever conducted on cardiac arrest patients was released. The UK-based team spent four years analyzing survivors’ interviews. Nearly 40% experienced some form of awareness during the time they had been declared dead. The experts held a belief that once the heart stops beating, the brain ceases functioning within twenty to thirty seconds and awareness is no longer possible. The results of this study contradicts this belief.

Research, published in the Journal of Resuscitation, included 2,060 patients in fifteen hospitals in the US, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Of those who survived their cardiac arrest, 46% experienced a broad range of mental recollections, 9% had what was called a “classical near-death experience,” and 2% had an out-of-body experience.

7. Jesus

We think the greatest evidence is in the only person who has died, come back to life and came from heaven, Jesus. Take a look at last week’s post, about the proof of the resurrection. Jesus was alive for 40 days in a resurrected body with over 500 eye witnesses in 12 different locations here on earth before ascending to heaven.

8. The Bible

We believe in the authority of scripture and what it says about life after death. Normally we’d just start with Jesus and the Bible and go from there, but consider that,

The cumulative evidence from nature, anthropology, psychology, ethics, philosophy, science, the Bible and the testimony of Jesus make belief in an afterlife the most rational, plausible, and intellectually defensible conclusion to the question “Is there life after death?”

In short, it’s not a far-fetched leap of faith to believe in life after death. So what do we know about death and the afterlife?


What Do We Know About Death?

  1. Death is certain.

Death can be sudden, it can be too early, it can be tragic, but it’s never a surprise. Scripture says it very simply,

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”  Hebrews 9:27-28

What will happen at judgment depends on what you did with Christ in your lifetime.  Jesus is so important in our spiritual destiny, because we are born with a sin nature and that sin separates us from a holy God. The Gospel says “for God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, Jesus…”

Jesus was born of a virgin, therefore, not inheriting the sin nature, but lived the perfect and sinless life. Jesus shed His innocent blood, died on a cross and He didn’t stay dead. On the third day, He rose again, and because of His perfect sacrifice, by faith, when we believe in Him, we are called righteous by God and we are adopted into the family of God by our faith in Christ. Scripture says that anyone, no matter what you’ve done, no matter how dark your life has been, anyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved. Your sins, can be forgiven and gone. And then, when you die a physical death, you will not die eternally, you’ll live with God in heaven.

2. The soul and the body separate.

You are not your body, your skin and flesh is not the real you. Your body is called a tent.  It is a house for the real you, but it’s not the real you. When you die, your heart stops beating, but you continue to live.

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”  Matthew 10:28

One day, when your physical body dies, you will be as alive as you ever have been. In fact, Jesus said this way in John 11 when He has resurrected a man named Lazarus from the grave. Lazarus died physically, and Jesus called his name and raised Lazarus physically, and then Jesus took the opportunity to make a much larger point about life and death…

“…He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”  John 11:25-26

3. You will face judgment.

Hebrews 9:27

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…”  Hebrews 9:27

The thought of being judged by God is very sobering. After you die, you will face judgment and there will be two different judgments.

  • The Great White Throne Judgment

Only non-believers will be at this judgment to determine where they will spend their eternity.

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it…And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”  Revelation 20:11-12, 15

At the Great White Throne Judgment, there’s the Book of Life and other books which evidently contain our deeds and maybe even our sins. If your name is not found written in the Book of Life, you are judged by your works to see if you were good enough by your works to qualify for Heaven.

Scripturally, we know that no one is. The Bible says very clearly that we are only saved by grace through faith in Jesus. So, if your name is not written in the Lambs Book of Life, you are judged by your works and will be thrown into the lake of fire. This is everlasting destruction and separation from God in a very real place.

  • The Judgment Seat of Christ

This judgment is for believers. Their eternal destination is not judged here. That was already determined on earth, when they responded to the grace and the work and the love of Jesus. Instead, their works are judged to see whether or not they are worthy of rewards in Heaven.

“For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.”  Romans 14:10b

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”  2 Corinthians 5:10

Just imagine, being face to face with Jesus, and he comes to you and says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Then, He will ask you to kneel slightly as He puts a crown upon your head. We’ll wear crowns in God’s Kingdom.


The Bible tells us about five crowns in heaven. There may be more, but we do know about these five.

Incorruptible Crown: for those seeking maturity in Christ. They desire to know Christ more. They fast and pray and stay consistent in their pursuit and desire of Him and His Word. They also help other people know Him better.

Crown of Righteousness: for those who know that this world is not their home. These people know that true joy doesn’t come from possession of things, but they long for the return of Christ.

Crown of Rejoicing: for those who care for people who don’t know Christ. This is the Soul Winner’s Crown. Their heart breaks for anyone who has not heard the gospel. They look for opportunities, not just to talk about spiritual things, but to show people spiritual things.

Crown of Glory: for those who care for others. The pastors, shepherds, leaders. These people serve and lead in kid’s ministry. They are the parents who points their kids to Christ.

Crown of Life: for those who endure trials and hard times and yet, hang on to Jesus. Today, around the world, there are people who will die the death of a martyr. Today, there will be people who embrace Christ, even unto death, and they will receive this crown.

“(A person’s) work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”  1 Corinthians 3:13-15

Believers, one day your work or your lack thereof will be judged. Many will be rewarded so handsomely, because they are amazing servants.

Others, who are also believers, have done hardly anything but receive from Christ. They have received Christ, but have done almost nothing with it. On judgement day, they will be filled with regret when they get into Heaven, as only one escaping through the flames. These people would give anything to do it over when they see just how real and just how good He is.


Take a look at this final observation. Note how many of these verses have to do with life. It’s even called the Book of Life.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 6:23

When you read about philosophers and other religious writings, there is some truth to them. If Jesus was just wisdom, He’s not that unique. We wouldn’t desire to worship Him, we’d just be learning from Him. We worship Him because he’s full of truth and He’s full of wisdom, but we also worship him because he can raise the dead.

Only our God can raise the dead and give life.

If all you’re looking for is some lessons that you can apply to your life or if you are just trying to be better, there are many places to go for that. But if what you’re looking for is resurrection and you want your name written in the Book of Life, then there’s only one person who does that and who can do that. There’s one name you can call to be raised to life again.

Your physical heart is still beating blood through your veins, but is your spiritual heart stone cold? God can take a heart of stone and give a heart of flesh.

You owe Jesus Christ your life, your future, and every ounce of energy. Ask God, “What do you want me to do? This is your life, and I don’t want to just narrowly escape the flames, I want to do what gives you glory, I want to be crowned.”


Check Back

Check back on your week. Did anyone have any thoughts from their daily devotions or from reflecting more on what you discussed last week about the resurrection?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

What you believe about death and eternity will determine how you live now.

The cumulative evidence of nature, anthropology, psychology, ethics, philosophy, science, the testimony of Jesus and the Bible make belief in an afterlife the most rational, plausible, and intellectually defensible conclusion to the question “Is there life after death?”

What do we know about death?

1. Death is certain. (Hebrews 9:27-28)

2. The soul and the body separate. (Matthew 10:28)

3. We will face judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)

  • The Great White Throne Judgment. (Revelation 20:11-12, 15)
  • The Judgment Seat of Christ. (Romans 14:10, 2 Corinthians 5:10)

Application

  1. What was your family’s perspective on heaven and afterlife growing up?
  2. How can ones belief about eternity affect the way they live today?
  3. Did anything in this message change your perspective on eternity?
  4. Spend a little time studying the crowns. Look up these verses and read aloud.
  • Incorruptible Crown      1 Corinthians 9:25-27
  • Crown of Righteousness   2 Timothy 4:8
  • Crown of Rejoicing     1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
  • Crown of Glory      1 Peter 5:4
  • Crown of Life     James 1:12, Revelation 2:10

Which of the five crowns stood out to you the most?

  1. Reread 1 Corinthians 3:13-15. If you died today and stood at the judgment seat of Christ, when your works and motives are revealed, would you feel good about your life? Why or why not?
  2. Since you still have an opportunity to change, what is God showing you to do differently?

Tell Someone Else

Who do you need to share this message with? Is there someone you’re better equipped to have a conversation with because of this message?

For more on what the Bible has to say about life after death, the theology of Heaven and hell, and living in light of Heaven, see “HEAVEN” by Randy Alcorn

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