Communion With God – Part 1 – Communion with the Father

Trinity_MainPage_Banner1 John 4:7-21

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19      We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

So last week was an incredible week for our church. I remember last summer Ross and I were talking about his new role as the Serve pastor and what that would look like and we said, that last year we had maybe just over 100 go on short term mission for Christ and I said well what if at WorldReach this year we tripled that number and we got 300 people to go on mission for Christ. Not knowing how we could do it and only being like 1 week into his new job I was really impressed when Ross said, alright yes. Lets do it; lets get 300 people on mission for Christ. Leading up to WorldReach I was so excited just about all that God was going to do in our church and all that he was doing in our church but I started to think, you know 300 is a really big jump from around 100. I was talking to Paige one day and she said, do you think we’ll have that many people commit, and I said, well maybe not 300 but maybe we’ll get like 200 which would be incredible, that would be twice as many as we had go last year. World Reach came around and it was amazing and our missionaries were incredible and the whole week if just felt like God was moving and Sunday came around and for those of you who were here, and last Sunday when we called you forward, we had 350 people commit to go on a short term mission trip this year. So I just want to thank you, and tell you that it is such an honor to be the pastor of a church that is really on mission for God.

Here is what I know. You will be on mission for God when you walk with God. You will be on Mission for God when you Know God.  It is the deep and personal knowledge of God that drives us toward mission for God, when you know God and love God you begin to treasure and give your life for the things that he knows and loves.So for the next several weeksWe are going to spend some time thinking about God, meditating on God, knowing God.And specifically over these next few weekswe are going to be talking about one of the most misunderstood and I believer under talked about truths in all of Christianity. I am talking about The Trinity. The trinity can be a very difficult doctrine and therefore it is rarely taught or talked about in our churches.It is very foundational to what we believe as Christians. We believe in a three person God. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.So, we believe in three separate persons, but we believe that each person is one and that they are all eternally God. There never was a time that the Spirit wasn’t God, there never was a time that the Son wasn’t God, and there never was a time that the Father wasn’t God.Three persons. One God.

So if you want to walk with God, if you want to know God, you have to understand God, who he is, his character, his nature, how he operates, how he works, this is so important.You have to understand the trinity to understand the gospel.

JI Packer is one of the greatest theologians of our time His book “Knowing God” was actually the first book I read that helped me begin thinking through the Trinity and how to understand God in this way. We are actually going to have that book for sale today on your way out. But he said one time “The evangelical world has become a world of virtually Unitarianism.” Meaning, we all affirm the trinity, but we don’t really live out this idea. Of course Unitarians reject the doctrine of the trinity.

For example, there have been several times when I have been sharing the gospel with a child. And I will say, that when Jesus died on the cross, the God the Father punished the son, God the Father punished Jesus so that he would not have to punish us and we might be set free from sin.”

And many times the child’s parents have said, “wow, the Father punishing the son, I’ve never heard it that way” and I am certainly not trying to beat those parents up, but it just shows how little we have talked about the Trinity in our churches.

Another common mistake that I used to make and mistake I have heard Christians make is that when we pray people will pray to the Father, and then at the end of the prayer they will say, “in your name.” Now Jesus of course, told us in John 14 to pray in his name. So, are people just ignoring the command of Christ when they pray?Well I don’t think so, I think people are thinking to themselves, “I’m praying to God, Jesus is God, therefore, I’m praying in your name” But in so doing we ignore this glorious idea of the unique personhood of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.This is what JI Packer means when he says, we live in a world of Virtual Unitarianism. And I think it is because we don’t really understand the Son, we really don’t understand the Father, and we really don’t understand the Holy Spirit. So over the next month we are going to do something that we need to do more often as a church, we are going to talk about the trinity, we are going to talk about each person of the trinity and how we understand who the Father is, and who the son is, and who the spirit is and how they relate to one another, and how we can relate to each person of the Trinity. And to help us with this conversation we are going to be considering some of the ideas of John Owen.John Owen was a 17th century theologian in Britain and could easily be argued as the greatest British theologian.And he wrote a book about the Trinity called Communion with God. In this book John Owen, wants his readers to understand our unique relationship with each member of the Trinity – it isn’t a doctrinal book it is a relational book and it has been very influential in my life. Following his outline, this week we are going to be talking about communion with the Father next week and the week after we are going to be talking about communion with Son and then we are going to be talking about communion with the Holy Spirit, and then we are going to be celebrating each member of the Trinity in a Big way on Easter.

So communion with the Father how are we to understand our relationship with the First person of the Trinity?

So what comes to your mind when you think of God the Father?

I think a lot of people don’t like to think of the Father because they see the Father as cruel, as this vengeful and wrathful person, and you know thank goodness Jesus is a member of the trinity or else we would all be in trouble… I think Christians are afraid of the Father. There is kind of this mentality in Christianity like, “Don’t mess with the Father, he will send lightning bolts on you if he has to… if you have to pray that is ok but be sure to do it in Jesus name.”

John Owen and of course the Bible has a completely different view of the Father. Owen writes, “The chief way by which the Saints have communion with the Father is love –free, undeserved, eternal love. This love the Father pours on the Saints. Saints are to see God is full of love to them. They are to receive Him as the one who loves them, and are to be full of praise and thanksgiving to God for his love. They are show gratitude for his love by living a life, which pleases him.

This is the great truth of the gospel. Then Owen goes on to say what we just said, Commonly, the father, the first person of the Trinity, is seen as only full of wrath and anger against sin. Sinful men can have no other thoughts of God. That is very insightful, when you are in sin. It is almost as if there is a known separation from God, and therefore the sinner only knows the wrath of God. But Owen continues “But in the gospel, God is now revealed especially as love, as full of love to us. To bring home to us this great truth is the special work of the gospel.”

Turn with me to 1st John 4

Now we are going to pick up in a text where John is urging the church to love one another, and the reason that he gives, the reason that the church should love, his ground for this he bases on the love, not on the love of the Son, or of the Spirit but of the Father.

So 1st John 4 beginning in verse 8.

8 “Anyone who does not love does not know God – This is God the Father – God unspecified is typically always the Father in scripture, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, So this is how you understand the love of the Father that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

You understand the Father by his great and amazing love for you.

So if you really want to know the Father, Meditate on His love. And so today and this week I hope that we would do just that. Meditate on the fact that we have a heavenly Father, maker of heaven and earth, ruler of theuniverse who loves us, and who loves us so deeply. There are four things in this verse that help us to understand the Father and His deep love for us.

First of all the Love of the Father is Full

God’s love is Full – He sent His only son. In other words this is a full sacrifice.This isn’t a halfhearted love; this is God’s full love.God isn’t moody. God doesn’t have his days with us; his love is consistent and full all of the time. Even when ours isn’t.

You ever date a fickle girl?

When I was in high school I dated this sweet little girl named Jenny and some days our relationship was great, and she was so sweet. But some days she was just cold. Jenny how are you doing today, “I’m fine.” And I never knew which Jenny I was going to get. And that was pretty miserable, and it was the most frustrating relationship.

God’s love is not fickle it is full it is consistent to the point where he was willing to freely send His only son into the world.God knew he wanted to save you, and he was fully committed to saving you.

Owen said,

“God’s love is like the sun, always the same it its light. Our love is like the moon. Sometimes it is full. Sometimes it is only a thin crescent.”

God’s Love is Full.

Secondly,

And this is very important.

The love of the Father is initiated by Him. I want you to hear that church, You didn’t go out and win God’s love. Its not like God was sitting in heaven and saying, “man Ole Jason really has been awesome lately, and I think really loves me, therefore he really deserves for me to send Jesus into the world to pay the price for his sin”

No The text says,

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us.

That is a huge text. God loved us, God pursued us.

I am of course reminded of Romans 5:8 –

God demonstrates his love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, while we were still running from God, while we were far from God, he loved us. He pursued us, he came after us.

I think of course of Ephesians 2.

2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

 

It is the Father that initiates this love not us. It is the Father that pursues not us, now of course we respond and we are called to respond to this love. The love of God is initiated not by us, or even by the Spirit, or by the Son, the Love of God is initiated by the Father.

I don’t where you are with God, but if you are a Christian God has initiated that relationship, he pursued you. And if you aren’t a Christian, by virtue of the fact that you are here today hearing this is evidence that God is pursuing you now. He wants a relationship with you, so much so that He sent Jesus for you. You know when you think about that. All that means for God the perfect Father to send the perfect Son for sinners like us.I am going to say something that is going to sound provocative but it is just the truth.

God would have been totally justified in sending us all to Hell. God would have been totally justified in sending us all to hell, we have sinned. We were dead in the trespasses and sins… by nature children of wrath. You know it wasn’t really until I got into college that I really thought about that, now of course I believed that Jesus had saved me from hell. But in college I really saw my heart before God, I really saw how capable of sin I was, I really believed that because of my sin, if I were to hold up my performance record before God it would do me no good. I really saw how deeply I needed a savior, how deeply I needed God’s love.But the good news is God does love us, and he initiated this covenantal relationship by sending his son for us, for me, and for you.

Which brings me to the next point.

The love of the Father is for you (Specific)

The Father’s love isn’t just general love for mankind, it is love for you.

I want you to hear that God the Father loves you, particularly. And if you have never thought about that you need to. What did God do to save you?If you are saved, God has been pursuing you he has been chasing you down to bring him to himself.I can think of what the Father has used in my life – When I go back and meditate on God’s incredible saving and keeping power in my life.First of all as I have said many times, I think of my family, what an extension of God’s love for me to be born into such an incredible family that loved me and showed me Jesus.

I think of a guy like Jim Spann who was my Sunday School teacher from the 6th grade through the 12th grade, and at least once a month he would send me a card saying, “hey I just wanted you to know that I prayed for you today” I think of a guy like Peter Doyle, 75 year old man who when I was at Auburn would meet with me and Brett Pennington every Tuesday at Moe’s and talk about the Bible.I think of a friend Ben Bowden who when I was so discouraged one time, feeling unfit for ministry, encouraged me and lifted my soul.And I could go on and on and on but you know that that is? That is the Father’s particular love.

The Father has known exactly what I needed and when I needed it. Because he knows me, who I am with my particularities and he loves me, and God loves you and he has pursued you. I have shared this story before, but you want to get inspired for missions, you want to get a vision for what God is doing globally. I was on a short-term mission trip in 2012 and I met on a small remote Island in Indonesia called Selayar. And Bashri lives in a village on an island where the Gospel has literally never gone, so this is the end of the world, and about 6 months before I met him he began having dreams about Jesus, Jesus began appearing to him, and telling him to follow him, and that someone would be coming with good news.

Well shortly after the visions began these Indonesian Christians made contact with him and gave him a Bible. So he has been having dreams about Jesus, a man shows up at is house from a different part of Indonesia and gives him a Bible, then in the summer of 2012 4 Americans show up, and we had the chance with him to tell him the whole Gospel again from Genesis to Revelation and throughout he asked incredible questions, and when we got to the End he said “It is true I believe it.”

So you have got this man, on a remote Island in Indonesia, the Gospel is not present in his village. And now by God’s amazing love for him he is a believer. He is saved. Everyone that knows God has a story, and maybe it was through faithful parents, or maybe it was through a youth pastor, or college minister. But if you know God, there was a particular way that God said I am coming for.

God loves you. In a very special particular way, God knows your name, he knows your personality, he knows your likes and dislikes, and he loves and pursues you.

Lastly, The Love of the Father is sacrificial. God gave his son

10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

He sent his Son and the justifier, he sent his son as the sacrifice for sin,

Now this really hits home.

The sacrifice of the Father.

Paige is so excited about our son coming next month. And one of the reasons that we are so excited about him is because these amazing two years with my daughter wonderful daughter who I honestly treasure her and love her more and more every single day. I can’t wait to see her, I love being with her, I am going out of town this week but I will have Paige send me a picture of her every day, I love watching her grow I love seeing what she is up to, I have an office upstairs in my house and the other day I was up there doing some work and I had the window open behind me, but I had my head phones on and very faintly I heard her crying out, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy! And finally I heard Emery Anna screaming at me from the back yard and so I turned around and she was back there playing and I said, hey baby what’s up? Are you having fun? And she just said, “I love you” “I love you daddy.” And I love her. And I can’t imagine her suffering. And I would do, and will do whatever I have to keep her safe. But God the Father who loves Jesus perfectly, more than I will ever love Emery Anna.Was willing to send him to earth, he was willing to watch his son, Jesus the son of God who had the whole world at his disposal, he was willing to watch him be born among livestock, he was willing to watch his son grow up a fugitive running for his life to Egypt as a little boy, he was willing to watch his son grow up poor the son of a carpenter, he was willing to watch his son be tempted by Satan himself.

He was willing to say “no” to his son when Jesus begged his Father while sweating blood, Father if there is any other way let this cup pass from me. He was willing to watch his son, be beaten, and mocked, and spat upon.Can you image this as a parent, as an all-powerful parent?

And then in the cosmic moment the sin of the whole world was put on Jesus.2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus who knew no sin, became Sin in that very moment

And as the guilt of the world was placed on Jesus, God punished Jesus on our behalf. Now let me just tell you, punishing a child is about the worst thing ever. You hate to hurt and correct your child.But how hard would this be? To punish your child for something that they never did.To punish your child for the sin of another. The one who sinned is going to go free and my child has to be punished? I can’t imagine.But all of this happened, because God the Father loves you. And his love is immeasurably and incomprehensively sacrificial. The Father loves you. His love is full, it is initiated by him, it is particularly for you, and it is enormously sacrificial.

You know I know a lot about a Father’s love both as a Father and because I have been loved so much by my Father. And one day in all likelihood I will have to say goodbye to my Father and my Father will have to say goodbye to me, my Father will go on to be with the Lord. As much as he loves me. His love is limited; it is limited by his own life and the human limits that hold every Father back.

But I have another Father an even better Father, whose love for me is unlimited that will never fail or die. Do you know this Father’s love? Have you experienced that kind of love do you feel that? Do you feel loved by the Father?

You can, by trusting in the son. One of the great verses of the Bible.

John 1:12 – talking of Jesus. But to all who did receive Jesus, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God the Father, 13 children who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but and I like to say But by the Love and the will of God.

 

 

Easter 2014

Trinity_MainPage_BannerHow great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!

 

Those words were written by John the beloved disciple of Jesus. Who knew something about the love of God, as manifested to him by the Father, by the Son Jesus, and by the Holy Spirit.

This past month we have been talking about the Trinity here at Valleydale, and in doing so we have been trying to understand the nature and character, and personhood of each member of the trinity.

Who is God?

That is the question that we have been trying to answer.

You see the Bible has told us that God is one, and that God is three. That there are three persons who make up the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are three, and yet they are all one. And for five weeks now we have been exploring God, because we want to know God.

So, Who is the Father? And how do we know him?

Who is the Son? And what has he done?

Who is the Holy Spirit? And how will he move in our lives?

So today we are going to do something that none of us have ever seen done, and certainly not on Easter, but today we want to give you a three fold perspective on the cross and on the resurrection. The perspective of the Holy Spirit, the perspective of the Son, and the perspective of the Father on Easter.

 

Easter is a love story, Easter is a love story, a love story involving you. And involving God, all of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Today we are going to look at each member of the Trinity and how through this crucifixion and resurrection they are pursuing you. How they hope to know you and love you.

And we are going to begin with the Holy Spirit.

In the Old Testament we learn that God sent his favor to one people, to the descendants of one man, Abraham, to the people of Israel. Throughout the history of Israel the evidence that the favor of God was with them was that his Spirit was with them. After God gave Moses the law in the book of Exodus, the people built an ark, a box basically, and the Holy Spirit of God came to dwell with them in this box, the Ark of the Covenant.

And this was so special, and the ark was so special that people couldn’t touch the ark, they could barely look at the ark because it was so full of the glory of God.

In 1 Samuel 6 we read of the Lord striking down 70 men dead because they simply looked upon the ark.

In 2 Samuel we read the story of a man named Uzzah who reached out to steady the ark on its way to Jerusalem, this glorious day for Israel, and the Ark was falling off a cart and to keep it from falling to the ground he reached out his hand to touch the ark to keep it from falling in the mud. He was immediately struck down, and killed. At times in the Old Testament God would send someone a special anointing of the Holy Spirit but if they sinned the Spirit would leave them, we saw this with Saul, we almost saw it with David after his great sin with Bathsheba. In Psalm 51 we hear David crying to God take not your Holy Spirit from me.

In all of these stories over and over and over again, we see this theme. That the Spirit of God is holy, and that no man, is clean enough to be in the presence of God’s Spirit to be in the presence of God for just a moment was overwhelming. We read of Moses when he encountered the Spirit of God on the mountain that his face would glow. It was such an overwhelming experience.

Once the Temple of God was build the Ark was placed in the most Holy Place in the Inner sanctum of the Temple, and no one had access to the Ark, to the place where God dwelt it was separated from the rest of the Temple by a veil, that we read from Josephus was “4 inches thick, and that horses tied to each side could not pull it apart.” And no one was allowed behind that veil except the high priest, and he only went to the Holy Place one day a year, on the day of atonement to make a sacrifice for the people. And the sacrifice that the priest brought into the Holy of Holies was a perfect, unblemished lamb, a lamb without any flaws. You see this flawless lamb was sacrificed in the presence of God to pay for the price of the flawed people.

The High Priest was only permitted to go into the Holy Place after he had gone through days of ceremonial cleansing, and this was the High Priest, his whole life was given to being clean and Holy and obeying every letter in the law. And he even he could only go into the Holy Place for just a few moments once a year to make a sacrifice to God, because the presence of God, the Spirit of God was so powerful. In fact, on the Day of Atonement the other priests would tie a rope around the High Priests ankle just in case God struck him down they needed a rope to pull him out. Because no one was clean enough, no one was worthy of the presence of God.

There was one man who was totally filled with the Spirit of God throughout his whole life and ministry. We read in Matthew 1:18 that Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit. As he grew, and as he studied Hebrew Scriptures, as he spoke to the teachers of the law when he was only 12 years old, as he came to the waters of baptism, as he was tempted in the wilderness by Satan himself. The Holy Spirit was ministering to him, the Holy Spirit of God was with him, was upon him, was in him was leading him. When he turned water into wine, and when he healed a man born blind, and when he calmed a storm, and when he walked on water, and when took two fish and five loaves of bread and fed 20,000 people, when he cast out demons, when he preached with boldness, when he raised a dead man. It was the Holy Spirit that was enabling him, empowering him, filling him.

It was the Holy Spirit that led him into Jerusalem where he would face the final judgment.

You see for centuries the presence of God was with the people of God in Israel contained if you will in a box, in the Temple and no one was righteous enough, Holy Enough, or Good enough to be near the presence of God for any length of time, and certainly not for their whole life. Except for Jesus.

But, Jesus who never sinned, who was totally Holy, was willing to go before God, and was willing to be the sacrifice, he was the perfect lamb, the Lamb of God, and he was willing to be crushed and punished on the cross to once and for all pay for the sin of the whole world. The sacrifice to end all sacrifices. And when Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice, when he had paid the price for sin. We read in Mark 15:37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. We know from the gospel of John that these words were “It is Finished”

So the last words of Christ were “It is Finished” the work is done, the price has been paid, the sacrifice has been made, the wrath of the Father is appeased. In that moment, in the moment that Jesus died, the moment that Jesus died. The very next verse we read.

38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

The Holy Spirit, the power of God, who had been contained in the Temple for years and years came out, and that 4 inch thick veil that guarded the Holy of Holies was ripped in half like a thin piece of paper. Three days later, the Holy Spirit of God went to a tomb in a garden just outside of Jerusalem. And the eyes of Jesus that had been shut in death opened! And the body of Jesus that had been rotting in the tomb, fully dead, came back to life by the power of the Spirit of God. That same Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God, the very presence of God, the very power of God that rules over death is promised to everyone who calls on the name of Jesus.

You see the Bible tells us in Ephesians, that sinners like you and me without Christ are dead in our sin, because we have disobeyed, because we have betrayed, because we have run from a Holy God, the giver of life, we are dead, but God in his grace because the price of our sin has been paid on the cross, God desires to make us Alive! Alive! Don’t you want to come alive?

Don’t you want the power of God in your life? Don’t you want to be made clean by God? Don’t you want to be brought close to God?

Call on the name of Jesus today and be saved, be rescued, God loves you. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and he is calling you today to himself to be made alive! Don’t you want that?

He wants to wash your soul, no matter your sin. The Presence of God, that no one was good enough for, no one was holy enough to even come close to God or they might die. If you believe in Jesus he makes you so clean that the Spirit of God comes to make you alive and then dwells in your life.

The temple in Jerusalem where that veil was torn where the Ark of the Covenant was kept was torn down 1944 years ago but the Bible tells us by then God had already been building a New Temple. The Very Spirit of God that is in the heart of every believer. Won’t you believe? Won’t you be made alive today?

God demonstrates love, in that while we were still sinners. Jesus died for us.

God demonstrates love, God demonstrates perfect and full and wide love in that while we were still sinners. Jesus died for us.

God demonstrates love, God demonstrates perfect and full and wide love in that while we were still running from God, while we were still so in love with ourselves we did not acknowledge the almighty creator. God demonstrates love, in that while we were still sinners. Jesus died for us.

It was the Father who sent, it was the Spirit who empowered, but it was the Son who came. It was the obedient Son who came, who humbled himself to be a man, and not just a man, a baby, helpless, totally dependent. Jesus came to be a man so that he could fully identify with us so that we could fully identify with him. He came to be our substitute, so that he could be our savior. He came, he came out to rescue us. While we were still sinners.

Who is this Jesus? Who is this Son?

One of the things that is often lost when thinking about Jesus is his perfect obedience. He was totally pure, totally innocent and totally obedient.

He who was in the very nature of God, who in essence, in character, in power, in ability is fully God, is equal with the Father. Yet he became obedient even to the point of death, he submitted himself to the Father’s will perfectly, completely, fully.

And I don’t know if you have ever understood the cross, and what Jesus did on the cross, or why he went to the cross. See it wasn’t an accident, it wasn’t unexpected, it was all part of God’s perfect plan to save sinners, to save sinners like you and me.

I want to show you an amazing verse, one of the most powerful verses, that I think teaches the gospel so clearly. It is 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) and it says this.

God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

You see it was the Father’s perfect plan to send Jesus. Who knew no sin, he knew no sin in eternity past, and he knew no sin when he came to earth.

As Jason talked about a few weeks ago. He was tempted in every way, just as we are yet without sin.

He was spotless, blameless.

My wife and I had a baby girl a few months ago and the Lord has been teaching me about purity. Her little heart is so young, so innocent. And though she is still affected by the curse, born with a nature to sin she hasn’t been exposed to the evils of this world just yet. As a father, it is in large part my role to protect her heart from those evils.

But as innocent as my daughter is, as pure as that little girl is. Jesus was more innocent, he was more holy.

His was sinless. He never did an evil deed, he never had an evil thought, though his temptations were greater than anyone in this room has faced, he was tempted furiously by Satan himself, and yet He was so in Love with the Father that he never sinned. He was so in line with the Father’s will that he never stepped outside of it.

He knew no sin.

But the verse goes on to say that he who knew no sin became sin.

You see this is what the cross is all about. In this Cosmic moment, Jesus was willing to take on the sin of the whole world, Jesus was willing to Become sin.

For Our Sake, because we were helpless sinners it pleased the Father to Make Him sin, he who knew no sin.

Has anyone here failed to worship the living God of the universe like you should? Has anyone here ever made God into something that he is not? Or not respected what he has clearly said in his word?

Have any of you ever called yourself a Christian and not acted like one?

Have any of you ever ignored the Lord’s Day?

Have any of you ever failed to honor your parents? Have any of you ever had hatred in your heart? Have any of your ever had lust in your heart?

Have any of you ever taken something that wasn’t yours? Or said something that wasn’t true about someone else? Have any of you ever coveted something that didn’t belong to you?

You see we learn from scripture that any of that sin is enough to eternally separate us from God. He is so Holy, is so righteous that he cannot stand any unrighteousness. God is totally just, so just that he will not leave any sin unpunished.

But He made him to be sin, who knew no sin.

You see Jesus who never sinned who was totally righteous, was willing to become all of your sin. In this cosmic moment called the cross the sin of the whole world was placed on Jesus.

Jesus who never knew a sin, whose heart was more pure and more innocent than even my precious little daughters took on the guilt of the greatest liar, took on the shame of the greatest thief.

He took on the wickedness of the vilest murderer.

He took on the embarrassment of the child molester.

He who knew no sin, became sin.

See this is what the cross is all about.

Jesus was willing to become sin to that the in him the Father could punish the sin of the whole world.

He was willing to take on my sin, and your sin. It was placed on Jesus on the cross. He became guilty for us.

And then in this Cosmic moment that we can only try to understand the Father poured out his wrath on Jesus. God the Father crushed Jesus with his wrath that is equal to millions of hells.

Jesus was obedient to that guilt, to that shame, Jesus was obedient to that pain, Jesus was obedient to that death.

So that you and I might become the righteousness of God.

Drew Begins to Pad

You see if you trust Jesus, if you give your life to Jesus, he takes all of your sin away, if you trust him, he was willing to pay for all of your sin, and better yet he is willing to give you all of his righteousness.

This is what Martin Luther called the great exchange. And what an exchange it is. Our Sin, guilt, pain, and shame exchanged for his perfect righteousness.

Do you trust him? Do you believe in him, have you called upon the name of Jesus? Have you felt the love of Jesus?

For your sake, for your sake, and for your sake he was willing, he was obedient to become sin, he who knew no sin. So that in him you might be set free! So that in him you might be counted as righteous, as full, as right with God. Don’t you see Jesus? Don’t you see what he was willing to do to save your soul?

He died to save your soul, but he didn’t stay dead.

Because three days after his death in a cold and smelly tomb outside of Jerusalem his eyes opened and his Kingdom began. He rose from the dead, he defeated death and he is inviting all who believe in him to eternal life. Just as Jesus defeated death in him, we are more than conquerors.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Easter is a love story. It isn’t just a love story it is a story of a Father who is rich in love.

Probably my favorite passages of scripture about the love of the Father is Ephesians 2:1-10

2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9   not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 

To understand Easter you have to understand the Father’s love for his son. It was the Spirit who empowered, it was the Son who came, but it was the Father who sent. In order to understand the Love of God you have to understand a relationship between a father and his child. I’ve learned a lot about a Father’s love even this week as on Monday Paige and I gave birth to our second child, and first son and my heart just grew all over again. I was talking to a young guy the other day who asked me what it was like to have a child, and I said, if you took the first moment that you asked out your wife, and then you took all of the fun and energy that you had on your first date, and second date, and then you took the moment that you first kissed, and first told her that you loved her and you took the moment that you got on your knee and asked her to marry you. If you could take all of that and roll it up into one singular moment that is what it is like to have a child. The great thing about having a child is every day that I have my child, my children now I love them more and more and more. Emery Anna is just two years old and a couple of months and my heart is so full of love toward her. I also know a little bit about a fathers love for their child because I know my dad. I know how much he loves me. I have seen it. I could never count what he has given for me, how much he has sacrificed for me, I could never count all of the times that he has said, “I love you son” or “I am proud of you Jason” My dad turned 60 years old on March 30, and I was actually in Israel that day with our trip, and I called him up to tell him Happy Birthday, and to tell him that I was proud of him, and so proud to be his son. And as soon as said anything to him, he was saying those same things right back to me. Jason I am so proud of you, and I am so proud to be your father. I have been the beneficiary of deep and immeasurable love from a father from the moment of my conception. And my Father has done everything in his power to make me feel strong and to make me feel safe. And if one of you were to hurt me, he would kill you. He wants to protect me and care for me, because I am his boy, I’m his only son and he loves me.

So here is the Gospel. God is Just but God loves You. And 2000 years ago God sent his precious Son Jesus, the Son that He loved an immeasurably more than my dad loves me, and immeasurably more than I love John Kellis and Emery Anna, a son that he had known for all of eternity. God sent His Son Jesus who was totally divine, fully God, he allowed him to cover his deity with Humanity. So he would be fully God underneath if you will His full humanity. I like the way we sing this at Christmas, Veiled in Flesh the Godhead See, Hail the Incarnate Diety. So Jesus really was a baby, he really did wet his diaper, he really did trip and skin his knee, he really did hurt, and get hungry and all the he was fully man. So, God sent His Divine Son covered in flesh to Earth. Now you can stop right there and this is amazing. Look at the Christmas Story. God was born in a manger, the discusting first century manger. I mean this is God, the almighty, who deserves an eternal thrown. Being born to this poor family in a stable. He is on the run from the time he is born he has to go to Egypt to flee Herod who wants to kill him.

And all the while the Father is watching this. I mean think about that. God the Father could crush Herod like that. But he doesn’t he allows him to chase Jesus, killing thousands of other babies on his way. While finally Jesus settles in this little town of about 120 people, not an important town.

In fact later when one of the disciples Phillip hears that Jesus is from Nazareth he says “Can anything Good come from Nazareth?” That is where the Father sent his only son to grow up. When Jesus was 12 he goes to the Temple you know this is a proud moment for God the Father here is Jesus, schooling the scribes and the Pharisees on the word of God, I can just see The Father in Heaven saying, “That’s my boy”

Then Jesus is Baptized. And God is so happy he can’t hold his emotion back and he says “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased” It was an awesome moment between Jesus and God and even the Holy Spirit descending like a Dove.

But from there, God the Father watched his Son do one of the hardest things he would ever have to endure. He watched Jesus go out into the wilderness. For 40 days. And he watched him starve, for 40 days. The whole time being tempted by Satan. And don’t you know that God just wanted to close it up then. And say, I can’t take this, I can’t take watching my son be tormented by that Snake, that Sinful Fallen Angel, my perfect unblemished son. But Jesus made his Father proud again. He spoke the Scriptures to Satan and fended him off.

God watched Jesus pray all night, he watched him sail through storms and calm them, he watched him show compassion on the Lost, He watched him teach perfectly the word of God. God watched all of this. He watched his son mourn the death of one of His best friends and then in power raise him again.

The Father watched Jesus get down on his hands and knees and wash His disciples Feet. God watched Jesus lead his disciples out into a Garden to Pray.

Then Jesus came calling to his Father as he had done so many times. But this time they both knew what was about to happen and Jesus cried out to God, “Father, Father if there is anyway, please don’t make me do this… Let this cup pass from me, please let this cup pass from me”

And the Father responded in the still small voice in which he speaks to me so many time, “No Son, this is the way that it has to be, because I love them, because I love them”

And the Son obediently responded, “Father your will be Done”

Then the Father watched one of the Disciples Judas betray Jesus…

He watched his son, get made fun of, he watched his son be mocked, he watch all kind of evil yelled against Jesus. He watched him get condemned for telling the truth… For saying that He was the Son of God, he was the Son of God.

The Father watched the Jewish people, the people that he had protected and fought for and loved and guided for all of the years yell out “CrucifyHim” “Crucify Him”.

The father watched his son scourged, being whipped with the cat of nine tails. One time, then two times, then three times 39 times.

He watched Roman soldiers place a cross on the back of Jesus. He watched his son Jesus try to carry that cross through the city. He watched nails being driven though his boys hands and he watched him hang. I mean I wouldn’t scratch my son for you, And here God whose love for Jesus beyond our comprehension watched him hang on the cross of crucifixion, because he loved us.

And then the moment, the crucial moment. When the Father who had always been one with the son placed the sin of the world on His Son. We read in scripture 2 Corinthians 5:21 Jesus who knew no sin, became Sin in that very moment. So that we might become the righteousness of God. And God the father after having placed the world’s guilt onto Christ poured out all of his Anger, all of His wrath, all of His discust for the sin of Humanity onto Jesus His Son. The Pain was so great that Jesus yelled out Eloi, Eloi Lama Sabachatani – My God, My God Why Have You Forsaken Me?”

It was because the Father loved Us. And hour, after hour, after hour went by with Christ bearing the full weight of God’s wrath until Christ paid the full price for our sin and yelled out those glorious words “It is Finished”

And justice was served for my sin, and for your sin. Christ had atoned for my Sin and for your Sin. And paying the price for our sin. Which is Death. This most impossible and tragic event happened wherein the Son of God died.

The Father watching all this, orchestrating all of this as we read in verse 4 because of the great love with which he loved us, Verse 5 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses,

But it gets even better.

because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

See When Jesus yelled out “It is Finished” the Victory was won. I mean game over, the price of Sin was paid Satan was defeated. The Victory was won, but the victory was not yet known.

It would be known three days later, when in a smelly tomb outside of Jerusalem the Son of God veiled in Dead dying decaying Flesh, came Alive and defeated Death And in that moment this glorious Kingdom that we hope in began.

But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

6 and I love this And here And raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

The Glory of Christ’s act was known at the resurrection, but one day in the Kingdom it will be fully known. And the God is just waiting for that day when He will display the immeasureable riches of His Grace to us in Christ Jesus.

I love it. And Why? Why on Earth?

Me a sinner you a sinner ruined by Sin. In your nature you just sin and keep on Sinning God crushing his own son Jesus for us, he made us alive with Christ so that he can shower blessing upon us.

Because he Loved Us and he wanted us to be His Children in Christ, Coheirs with Christ.

And as a child I want to display kindness to my children, and just as any good Father wants to be kind, God the Father wants to display his Kindness toward you.

Whenever I go home to Huntsville, my dad is always giving me $50 or he is buying me a tank of Gas and at first I would say, dad I mean I have a job, I’m good, I don’t need this… But then I realized I was actually hurting him by refusing his gifts He just wants to show me His kindness, because He loves me.

And for what ever reason God the Father Loves me. And if you are in Christ he loves you and he wants to Show me His Kindness. And God has way better gifts than John Dees has, he has way better gifts than a tank of Gas.

So I hope you get all of that because if you do, you are ready for verse 8.

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

A lot of times we skip to verse 8 and 9 and just quote it. And I think people struggle with what comes natural to a human, which is to prove ourselves. We don’t want to be given things we want to earn things. We want to be able to say I did this therefore I deserve this.   This is especially true of men we men are earners and this is why I think there are more women who are Christians than men, Men struggle to accept Grace.

But I can understand if you just heard verse 8 and 9 you might struggle with wanting to do something to earn your way to God, or earn favor with God.

But if you just heard what you just heard If you just heard the Gospel how it actually works how it is actually laid out in scripture. There is no one here who is so arrogant to believe because of something they did they deserved to have God humiliate and crush his son for you. There is no one here that would be so debased to believe that you have done anything worthy of being made alive with Christ and having God lavish his gifts on you the most arrogant and cocky man in the world would not believe that.

It is only by grace you have been saved through faith. If you are Saved And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

And then we are back to verse 10

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 

You were all created to glorify God.

And everyone here will either bring him glory by accepting this Grace that God is offering you in Christ Jesus, by receiving this immeasurable Love. Oh this Love is So Deep. You will either receive that love and live as a child of the King and in so dong bring God glory.

Or You will bring him glory by being the one who refused the love of God, and who in your sin will be crushed by God’s wrath forever, displaying the fate of those who oppose God.

How will you spend your life and then all of eternity bringing Glory to God?

Won’t you receive the love of God today. Easter is a love story. And Father, Son and Holy Spirit are crying out to every soul here. I love you, I want you.

Quit running from the love that God so desperately wants to give to you and fall into His arms.

And so I know that there are three types of people.

1. The first type is that there are some people here, maybe most of the people here and by God’s grace you have been walking faithfully with Christ, and you love Christ, but today was a reminder to you of how deep the Love of God for you really is… And you need to respond, some of you need to respond by coming up here to the front and getting on your hands and knees before the Lord and just thanking him, some of you need to pray with your families, as we sing if you really know God’s love you need to sing like you mean it… Like this is real.

The second group..

2. You have been thinking about the cross, you have been thinking about the Gospel. You may have grown up in church or you may be just trying church out but you know God is doing something in your life… And I just want to say to you now, today is the day of salvation for you. There has been a resurrection, death is dead, Jesus is alive and the Father loves you… Fall into his kind arms today. And if that is you and you know who you are in a few moments Drew is going to ask everyone to stand and I want you to come here to the front I will be here Graham, and Jason Cook will be here some of our other pastors, we want to pray with you and to tell you more about God’s love for your soul… You know who you are and when Drew invites you forward come…

3. And there is a third person here and maybe this is all so new to you, maybe you grew up in a different faith background, or maybe this is just the first day you have ever come to church, and you really don’t understand Jesus but you know something triggered in your soul. I would like for you to come and find one of our pastors as well… We’ll all be scattered throughout this worship center, or that is a little weird for you, find one of us in the lobby after the service. We would love to answer questions about our God who loves us so much…

So lets just sit in this moment… I am going to finish this prayer… Don’t stand up just yet I want to pray over you… And then Drew is going to play and lets just let the Holy Spirit speak, let God speak to you right now… Let this moment, let this moment be one that changes the rest of your life, your eternal destiny…