Sunday, June 06, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus Christ and Him Crucified"

“Jesus Christ and Him Crucified”
Graduation Sunday
June 6, 2010
1 Corinthians 2:1-5

We’re going to take a one-week break from our study of the Gospel of Luke to speak a message directly to our graduates for Graduation Sunday.
Of course, everyone here is invited to listen in (Don’t check out!), but this is my chance to say something directly to you graduates from God’s Holy Word.

1 Corinthians is a letter from the Apostle Paul to the church in Corinth, a church he had planted himself and that he loved very dearly.

But it was a church that had a lot of problems, and Paul was trying to address these problems in this letter.

One problem was that they had begun to have an exalted view of worldly wisdom and worldly approaches to leadership and worldly approaches to public speaking.  And they had gotten into boasting about all of the wrong things.

When my wife graduated from high school, the graduation speaker actually got up and said that money was the most important thing in life and that if you were going to truly be happy and successful in life you needed to pursue money with all of your heart!  Boasting about all of the wrong things–worldly things!

So, in chapter 2, verses 1 through 5, Paul gives his testimony of what he focused on when he was with the Corinthians.  How he ministered among them.  What his priorities were.  And I want you to especially hear his resolve in verse 2.

1 Corinthians 2, verses 1 through 5.

“When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.” (NIV)

Emilee, Haley, Matthew, and Dustin, have you ever wondered what this church was trying to do to you?

At one time or another, you and all of us here have probably had the question, what is this church all about?

Does this church have a goal for me?

You know that a church is not a building.  A local church is a body of believers that have banded together for a godly goal.

And our church is not a passive group of believers whose main goal in life is to have a weekly meeting where we sing and then I yell out you for half an hour.

We have greater goals than that.

You’ve probably seen our purpose statement before.  We like to put it in the bulletin and up on the screen.

Here’s what we’re trying to do.

We’re trying to do it to adults and to kids.

And it’s what we’ve been trying to do to you all of these years that you’ve been a part of our church.

“Lanse Evangelical Free Church exists to glorify God by bringing people (that’s you!) into a love relationship with Jesus Christ through worship, instruction, fellowship, evangelism, and service.”

That’s it in a nutshell.

The ultimate goal is the glory of God.

The means to that goal are WIFES. Worship, Instruction, Fellowship, Evangelism, and Service.  More on that in a minute.

And the main way that we glorify God is by bringing people into a love relationship with Jesus Christ.

Our church is only successful to the degree that we are doing that.  To the degree that we are bringing people into a love relationship with Jesus Christ.

If we aren’t doing that, we aren’t doing our job.

As you graduate and move from High School into life beyond, I want you to know that this is what we consider to be the most important thing that you would know and love Jesus Christ.

As I thought about what I might want to say to this crop of graduates – and to all of us here – about what is most important in life, I kept coming back to our purpose statement: ...bringing people into a love relationship with Jesus Christ.

Emilee, that’s what I want for you.
Haley, that’s what I want for you.
Matthew, that’s what I want for you.
Dustin, that’s what I want for you.

I remember, Dustin, when you went through your stroke and you were in children’s hospital in Danville.

I went and visited you there several times.  You were in something like a coma.

And I’ll be honest, I didn’t think you were going to live. I didn’t think you were going to wake up.

And then you did!  God healed you.  And I remember visiting you at Health South in Altoona as you began to get back on your feet and recover.

What a miracle!

And I met with you that day in your room, and I said that God has a purpose for you and for you life.

He wants you to know and love Jesus Christ in an eternal love relationship.  Being loved by Him and loving Him in return.

Which brings us to 1 Corinthians 2.  Did you notice what Paul was all about when he was at Corinth?

It wasn’t (v.1) “eloquence or superior (worldly) wisdom.”  It wasn’t (v.3) in self confidence.  It wasn’t (vv.4&5) with worldly wise or persuasive words.

What was Paul’s focus?  V.2.

“I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

“Jesus Christ and Him Crucified”

That’s what Paul was all about.

And it’s what this church is all about.

And it’s what we want you to be all about.

“Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.”

Now, that does not mean that Paul never talked about anything other than Jesus Christ.

The rest of the letter tells us that he talked about other things.

He was a tentmaker by trade.

I doubt that whenever someone came and said, “Paul could you fix this tent for me?”

That Paul would say, “Jesus Christ and Him crucified!”

“Nice day we’re having.”

“Jesus Christ and Him crucified!”

No, that’s not what Paul was like.  But there was one thing, one Person, at the center of His life that everything else revolved around.

There was one Sun and all the other planets of Paul’s life including the planets of tent-making and the weather revolved around. 

“Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

Jesus Christ and gospel of His sacrificial death and life-giving resurrection.

Emilee, you’ve been around Lanse Free Church for a long time.  I’m think that it’s been about 11 or almost 12 years.  That’s like the entire time you’ve been in school.

And over the years, you might have felt like this church was a broken record.

Repeating, repeating, repeating the same thing over and over and over again.

Has it seemed like that?

We do that on purpose.  Because we have resolved to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

That’s what all of the songs are about.
That’s what is at the heart of all of the teaching and preaching.

This week, I’m finishing up 12 years of preaching here at Lanse Free Church.  And I want to be able to say that for a dozen years (and for the next dozen years!) that the preaching here was about Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.

And that’s what we want for you.

For all of you.  For everyone here.  That’s what it’s all about.

Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.

Now, I’d like to give you some counsel as to how keep Jesus at the center.

We like to say here that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.


And the main thing is Jesus Christ and Him Crucified!

Now that you are moving on from High School, how do you keep the main thing the main thing?

Let me suggest 5 priorities for you to practice.  And they should not be a surprise because they are also part of our purpose statement here. You’ve probably seen them hundreds of times as you’ve participated in Kids for Christ, Uth Group, Sunday morning worship, and Family Bible Week.

Worship, Instruction, Fellowship, Evangelism, and Service.

It looks like WIVES, but any High School Graduate can tell that it’s spelled wrong.

Worship, Instruction, Fellowship, Evangelism, and Service.

#1.  Worship.

To keep the focus on Jesus Christ and Him Crucified, you need to participate in worship.

Now, that is both daily personally and weekly corporately.

Every day, you need to set aside some time to meet with Jesus and worship Him.

Some people call that a quiet time.  I don’t believe in quiet times. I’m a noisy guy, so I have a noisy time with God.

The psalms are full of noise.

The point isn’t being quiet or loud, it’s meeting with Jesus and telling Him that you love Him.  Worship.

Jesus said in John 4 that “a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Did you hear that?  God is seeking worshipers.  And He wants that to be you and me.

Daily personally.

But also weekly corporately.  And that means the church.

The church gathers weekly to worship, and if you’re going to keep your focus on Jesus Christ and Him Crucified, then you need to meet with the church to worship.

Now, Haley, I think this might be the hardest for you as you go into the military.  You might have to work harder to find a good church or the best kind of on-base worship service with chaplains that serve the military.

But you will need it.  And not just occasionally. 

All of you, don’t graduate from church!

There is a real pattern among American young people to graduate from worship when they graduate from High School and then sometimes come back when they are done with school or when they get married or when they have kids of their own.

Don’t make that mistake.  Make worship a priority for you now.

And that goes with #2, as well.

#2. Instruction.

That means sitting under the Word of God.

It means being in a class where you’re learning God’s Word.
It means being in a small group that studies God’s Word.
It means listening to sermons and applying them to your life.

Matthew, did you ever notice that everything around here is Bible?

Family Bible Week, Family Bible Night, Bible, Bible, Bible, Bible, Bible.

That’s on purpose.

Because to keep the focus on Jesus Christ and Him Crucified, we need the Word of God.  We need to be instructed.

That’s why we gave each of you a study Bible today.

Not to collect dust or to be used as a heavy door stop.

But to be a place where you go daily for instruction in life.

The Bible is not a book that’s just for pastors or scholars.  It’s for everybody and it’s an amazing privilege to have one.

Do you know that for 1,000 years, ordinary Christians did not have their own copies of the Bible?  Did you know that for 1,000 years the Bible wasn’t even translated into the languages of the common person?

There was one Bible per church and it was chained to the church wall and it was in Latin.

Anybody here study Latin in school?

I can’t read Latin.

But now we all have our own copies of the Bible in our own language.

And we need to read it and be instructed by it.

#3. Fellowship.

This is being in relationships with other believers.

It’s community.

Now, I think that community is one of the greatest values of your generation.

In previous generations, community wasn’t as deeply felt as a need.

In our fractured culture, there is a real need for rebuilding healthy community.

And Christ followers need it, too.

We need each other.  That’s why there is a church.

Churches aren’t just preaching stations where people file into a room and get yelled at.

Churches are gospel communities–at least they are supposed to be.

Where we care for one another.  We encourage one another.  We put up with one another.  We help one another.

And we remind one another of Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.

So, who are your gospel friends?

And what church are you going to get involved in during the next step of your life?

Emilee, there is a great church in the Clarion area called Zion Ministries.  You might  want to check that out.  Or, if you’re going to be home nearly every weekend, then you should get and stay more involved here.

Haley, again, there are Christ-followers in the military. Seek them out.  Be intentional.

Matthew, I’ll bet there are great churches up in Williamsport and if you’re home a lot, we want you and NEED you here.

Because this goes both ways.  You need fellowship and we need your fellowship.

That’s what the church is.  A community of gospel-centered believers.

#4.  Evangelism.

This is sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others who need to hear it.

It’s giving other people the message of Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.

In the book of Philemon, Paul says “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”

I don’t think that we all get that yet.

If you want to experience the full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ, you need to share your faith.

You need to be active in evangelism.

Now, that doesn’t mean that we all have to go knocking door to door, though there is real blessing that comes with that kind of thing.

But we all need to look for opportunities to be sharing Jesus and Him crucified with our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family.

Matthew, I love what you said on your Graduation Info Sheet.  “[Pray that I would] be a good steward of the resources God provides and that I would be an influence for Christ.”

Yes! That’s exactly it.

And we all need to do that, no matter what God has called us to do vocationally.

God has called me to be a pastor.  God has called Jim Miller here to be a missionary.

But He has called you to do lots of different things: business, farming, engineering,  military, etc.

And in all of these callings which are all important in God’s eyes, we need to reach out with the good news of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

That’s evangelism.

And #5. Service.

This is rolling up our sleeves and filling needs.

Jesus served us by being crucified.  We follow Him and serve others.

In Mark 10, Jesus said “[W]hoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

So, if we want to be centered on Jesus Christ and Him Crucified, then we need to be like Him and serve other people in love.

I saw here that Haley said that she would like to do volunteer work in a women’s shelter.  That’s awesome.

God has given all of us gifts for us to use in ministry, both to the church and to the world around us.

And when we do, it helps us to keep the main thing the main thing.

V.2 again “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

That last part “and Him crucified” is essential to the first part.

There is no knowing Jesus Christ without knowing Jesus crucified.

And that’s what this table represents.

Jesus Christ died on the cross to turn away the wrath of God.

He died to satisfy the wrath of God that comes to us because of sin.

He took the punishment that we deserved.

The bread stands for His body nailed to a Cross of wood.

The cup stands for His blood poured out of his wounds for you and me.

This is the way that God brings people into a love relationship with Himself.

He does it through Christ crucified.

Our response is to turn away from our sins and trust in Jesus Christ and His payment for our sins and receive Him as our Lord and Savior.

That’s the beginning of a love relationship with Jesus Christ.

That’s the start and center of it all.

If you have not yet trusted Jesus as your Savior, then we, as a church, invite you to do so right now.

Tell Him that you need Him and want Him to save you.

And He will.

This table is for those who have done that already and are walking with Him in worship, instruction, fellowship, evangelism, and service.

If you haven’t yet, then let those plates pass you by, and use this time to talk with God about Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.

If you have, then eat and drink with us, and celebrate Jesus Christ and Him Crucified for you and me.

And make new commitments now, new resolve to know Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.

To keep the main thing the main thing in worship, instruction, fellowship, evangelism, and the glory of God.