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Posted in: Evangelism, Grow Together, Go All In

07.06.23 ( Jeff Vines )

The Greatest Story Ever Told

(Excerpt from the Sermon)

Sermon Series: Under the Influence

What is the greatest commandment? Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. But what did Jesus say is the second, and is likened to it? Love your neighbor as yourself. I didn't want to do this series to incite hatred for people who aren't like you or who don't struggle with the same sins that you struggle with. I've gone overboard to try to show you that we've all got sin in our lives. We've all got something we're struggling with, but we all have to do a 180 and say, this is the way I'm living, but this is the way Christ wants me to live. So if I'm going to follow Him, this is the direction I need to go. Now there's one more thing added to all that.

Until you come to the conclusion, that no matter who you are, that when God gives His law or His precepts, He is motivated out of love and design. That means that God knows best how you function because He made you. He knows how creation is to function and relate to Him because He is the Author of everything that was made. So until you come to the conclusion that because He is the Designer of all things, therefore He knows how it best works. Until you come to the conclusion that when He gives you a precept, He gives it because He loves you in the way a father would tell his son not to play in the middle of the road. Here's your precept: Delaney, don't play in the middle of the road. You'll get hit by a car. God says, here's your precept because I love you. Don't do this, do this, don't do that.

Thank God we're not saved by works, right? Because we violate all of them. Thank God we're saved by grace through faith. But He gives us these precepts because He knows if we live within these parameters, we will have the best chance at a great life, a great culture, a great society. Now there's the evil one that comes in and says, I'm going to try to destroy everything that God determines as good. Or he tries to counterfeit everything that God gives you to fill the gaping holes in our lives. To help us deal with those wounds.

One of the things I wanted to show you in this series is a comment I told you in the first sermon that might offend some people. That comment was this, that America has something in common with Israel that no other nation on planet earth has: it's very beginnings. Israel was founded on the Mosaic code. The Mosaic law, the 10 Commandments. America is founded, from its inception, at the very beginning, on Judeo-Christian values found in the scriptures. I'm not saying that everybody was a loyal Christ follower. I'm simply saying we were governed on the basis that God is sovereign and human life is sacred because it's been created. John Winthrop, the Puritan leader, in the founding days of America, gave a charge to America based on Moses' charge to Israel when he said, “But if our heart shall turn away, so that we will not obey, but shall be seduced, and worship and serve other gods, our pleasure and profits, and serve them, we shall surely perish.” Winthrop's words became prophetic. Think about where we are now. I don't want to go too much into this because we've done it already, but you can't have the Bible or prayer or talk about God or Jesus in the public arena, but you can fly a pride flag.

We've come a long way and it's in the wrong direction. But you should never be angry toward individuals. The pro point of this series is not to make you mad at people. It's to help you understand where all this is coming from. We went through Ephesians six where we talked about how Paul said that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but it's against the rulers, powers, and world forces. Remember how I shared with you how, when I was younger, why did Paul use these three words, that just irritated me? I couldn't find the separation until finally, through Greek word studies, I learned that the word for “world rulers” means architect. So the demonic forces are well organized, they're strategic, they're not haphazard. They have the architect of evil, then they have what is called “the powers,” which are the generals that employ what is executed by those who have determined legislation.

Then they need world forces. They need world forces, human entities, to work through to achieve their goals. So as you look out to America to find out where we are, we've discovered three gods that primarily work with the ancient gods. All the way back to the time of Mesopotamia. They have reentered culture. Because the other thing we learned is, as the Jesus movement came, all of these gods and goddesses were relegated to the fringes of the West. So the west began to prosper. It prospered because it was beginning to be built on the precepts of the Judeo-Christian belief, or worldview. Of course when you love your neighbor as yourself, of course when you pray for your enemies, when you pray for those who persecute you, when you turn the other cheek, when you're honest and you have integrity and you treat others the way you would want them to, of course society's going to be better.

Of course, culture's going to work when there's honesty and integrity and character, right? So as the Jesus movement spread through the West, it began to flourish, it began to prosper. But now that we've eradicated the Judeo-Christian values out of the West, we find ourselves in political and economic turmoil. But do you know who the real enemy is? The enemy are the gods who have returned because the Jesus movement has now been relegated to the fringes. And when it's relegated to the fringes, the demonic forces return. The question now is which God are you serving? 

While loving those who are far from God, you don't get loud, you don't get vitriolic. You do everything you can to live a quiet and peaceable life, but you use the power that God has given you and you use the advantage of culture. I think that's exactly what Paul did when he kept going into the synagogues. Culture is built around the synagogues. That's where I'm going. But when your identity, when your church becomes associated with a political position, then you're in trouble. You see, that's why there's such a fine line to travel.

My job is not to do. My job is to preach the scriptures. Most of you know, if you've been here for any length of time of the work, I try to put in every weekend so that you can walk away thinking, okay, I understand that passage and how it relates to my life. I don't want to just be a pep rally coach. You know, “you can do it,” “when the outlook is bad, try the uplook.” I don't want to just say that for 30 minutes. I want to give you something that's going to sustain you.

But please remember that your greatest weapon, your willpower that you have, is repentance against the hypocrisy in the church of Jesus Christ. 

My favorite three scriptures are, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Colossians 1:13-14 reads, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” I don't care what it is that you've done, I mean I care, but in the whole scheme of things, you're one defining moment away from security in eternity with Christ. When you turn and go the other way, it doesn't mean you're going to be perfect now and never sin. Believe me, I know that by experience. But if you'll turn and ask for forgiveness and truly repent with the intention of going in the direction God has called you, I'm telling you, He will give you the supernatural power that you need. He won't override you because it goes back to love and freedom. But if you invite Him in, He'll come in and He'll give you this supernatural power that you need to overcome all temptation.

Watch this Full Sermon Sermon Series

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About the Author
Pastor Jeff Vines is the Lead Pastor of ONE&ALL Church. He spent twenty years on the mission field (Zimbabwe, New Zealand) planting churches and training leaders. Jeff is the author of Dinner with SKEPTICS: Defending God in a World that Makes No Sense (2008, 2011) and Unbroken: 8 Enduring Promises God Will Keep (2012). Jeff and his wife, Robin, have been married over 30 years and enjoy life with their kids Delaney & Sian, their daughter-in-law Jessica and sweet grandchildren Ada, Owen, & Layla.

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