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Reality Check (III)
December 29, 2007
Before we get to the second sermon, I’ve got a public service announcement for Amy. Amy, Russ and Reagan say “Hi!” They’re sitting right behind me and are trying, with some success, not to heckle me too much.
This evening we are going to have Paul Washer preach to us. Now, I need to confess that I know little about Washer, even though he seems to be very well-known here and is, apparently, a good part of the reason that so many people decided to attend the conference. Sure, I’ve heard a few of his messages, including the infamous sermon that was posted on YouTube and elsewhere—the sermon that earned him the honor of being assured he would not be invited back to a particular youth conference (or that was the description of the video that I read), but beyond that I really do not know a lot about him. But I’m looking forward to hearing him minister to us. He will speak four times over the course of the weekend.
After another time of worship, Paul Washer took to the pulpit to preach a message from Matthew 5 (verses 1-16). It turns out that this text will actually be the basis of all of the sermons he’ll preach this weekend. If you want to know true Christianity, you need to go to these words—they are a Christian manifesto. In four messages he wants us to learn to take seriously the words of Jesus Christ as given in the Sermon on the Mount.
I sometimes think that I’ve gotten pretty good at this liveblogging stuff but his message was actually kind of elusive and I really managed to grab bits of it. So I’ll let you meander through these notes and then recommend that you download it yourself. He simply went through a piece of this text phrase-by-phrase and drew out meaning and application. I guess we know that as expositional preaching.
Here is what he hopes to show this weekend: The importance of these teachings; The privilege that is ours for hearing such teaching; The responsibility that is ours to obey such teaching; What true Christianity and what true Christian discipleship looks like; The true goal and greatest endeavor of the Christian life; What it means to be salt and light in this world; Test the validity of our own profession of faith.
“When Jesus saw the crowds.” For God to care for our temporal needs is a great manifestation of His life and mercy. God demonstrates His grace in this way. But the greatest demonstration of God’s compassion to men, the greatest most loving thing He could ever do for you, is to pull back the veil and to reveal Himself and His will to you. Do you see this? Do you see that the kindest thing God could do is not take care of your temporal needs? If someone were to look at your life, would they say that the greatest thing you appreciate about God is that He, through the Word and Spirit, has seen fit to teach you?
He stressed the importance of the Sermon on the Mount in the life of the Christian. There are two great mountains in Scripture—Mount Sinai and this mountain. You can’t think about Judaism without thinking about Sinai. It’s impossible! But how is it today that the Sermon on the Mount seem so ignored and laid aside?
“After he sat down.” We’re reminded here of His condecension. This can lose its impact, but we need to understand that God here condescends to this—that He enters into relationship with men in order to explain Himself to them.
We are living at a time of true Reformation. Young people are seeing the truths of God’s sovereignty and supremacy. We will be held accountable even more than the generation that preceded us. We are a blessed people. To whom much is given, much will be required.
After Jesus sat down, “His disciples came to Him.” Before Mount Sinai the people stood and trembled so that even Moses trembled with fear. But when Jesus sat on the mountain, His disciples came and sat with Him. What happened to the thunder and to the lightning? All the thunder and all of the lightning was exhausted upon the person of Jesus Christ when He hung on that tree and bore our sin and was crushed by the wrath of His own Father. Do you see now what a privilege it is to come to God? Before no one could come to Him. But since Christ drank down all that thunder and bore in His body all that lightning, you could come. You do not come once, but you continue to come.
This is the difference between true discipleship and what is false. Jesus went up to see who would come to Him. Jesus didn’t walk up to groups, but He walked by groups to see who would follow. When Jesus spoke in parables, neither His people nor the multitudes understood. But the true disciples went to Him to learn—they knew that they must understand.
I doubt you were able to make much of that. But perhaps Washer’s intent will be more clear as you read just a few quotes I drew from his message tonight:
“My greatest regret in life is doing so much ministry and spending so much little in this book [the Bible].”
“My purpose here is not just to teach you, but to warn you.”
“For some of you it would be better that you had never heard of Christ because you treat Him so lightly.”
I’ll be back in the morning and will try to do a better job on his next sermon!