January 8, 2012

A Christian Manifesto

We've seen a massive revival of paganism in our time involving the glorification of demons, idols and various vanities.

Scripture: Jeremiah 3:1-23; Acts 17:16-17

Sermon Notes:

  1. Far from ideal, the glorified period of the ancient Graeco-Roman world was actually filled with slavery, debauchery, human sacrifice, idolatry, and torture.
  2. We've seen a massive revival of paganism in our time involving the glorification of demons, idols and various vanities.
  3. Today growing pagan absolutism seeks to persecute Christianity.
  4. It was through Christian Italy, during the renaissance, that paganism revived.
  5. One of the roles of the pastor (or historically, the role of presbyters, bishops and Christian scholars) is to contend earnestly for the faith, defending not just against skeptical attacks, but false teaching and heresy in the church.
  6. The judgment of God sometimes leads people to become unwilling and unable to see the truth.
  7. Since the church is called to be salt and light for the nations, God's Word focuses on God's jealousy for the church.
  8. Because God's people took idolatry lightly they polluted the land.
  9. In 1643, the English parliament made a covenant with God to be a Christian nation and placed it on the statute books; this covenant is still in some sense in force, though we are violating it.
  10. Cromwell preached to parliament from Psalm 85 in 1656, calling England to repentance.
  11. There is always hope for restoration of the people of God (cf. Jeremiah 3:15-18).
  12. One of the names of God is Jealous, denoting the exclusivity of our relationship to Him (cf. Ex 20:5; 34:14; Deut. 4:24; Heb. 12:29).
  13. Jealousy is not an impersonal force; it is an intensely personal claim of exclusive love.
  14. The Lord doesn't change (Mal. 3:6). He is Jealous and He is also merciful and forgiving.
  15. James is concerned that the thinking of the world will infiltrate the church (James 4:4-5).
  16. Paul feels a divine jealousy over the church's backsliding and tolerance of a false Christ (2 Corinthians 11:1-4).
  17. Idolatry, syncretism, and compromise lead to God's jealous wrath and consequences for covenant breaking.
  18. Turn God's wrath into enlightened disapproval, and you turn His love into a magnanimous humanitarianism. – C.S. Lewis
  19. The problem with man is not that he “occasionally drops the ball and needs help.” If we think about sin and idolatry this way, we'll never understand the gospel.
  20. Because all knowledge is ethical, then thinking and living in direct conflict with God is sin and rebellion.
  21. Man is his own favorite idol. Most idolatry is man believing the world to be as he wishes, and worshiping that.
  22. We don't need to worship idols, be they man’s ideas, material gain, friends and relationships, or anything else, because our rest and identity is in God.
  23. Jeremiah highlights the sin of being yoked with unbelief. We are not at liberty to make covenant with false religions (2 Cor. 6:14-18)
  24. Any god who is not the God of Scripture is an idol, even if biblical terminology is used. In the church today we've allowed ourselves to create gods after our own imagination, another Jesus.
  25. A false prophet is often gifted; he has popular appeal and plausible arguments.
  26. The living God is destroying the idols of our age, and He does it before our eyes.
  27. The Church is the Lord's bride; and love in its own nature demands the perfecting of the beloved. — C.S. Lewis

Application Questions:

  1. What is God's jealousy like, and how does it govern our relationship to Him?
  2. Do we try to domesticate God so He will be friendly to idolatry?
  3. What is the essence of idolatry?
  4. How does knowing our identity in God bring contentment in our daily circumstances and relationships?
  5. Why is it necessary to understand God's jealousy and His wrath against our sin in order to understand the gospel rightly?
  6. How should we contend for the purity of the church today? Consider Paul's zeal in 2 Corinthians 11:1-4.
  7. In your own words, outline the challenge and opportunity that faces the church this year.
  8. Am I submitting to the perfecting love of the Bridegroom?
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