Posts Tagged ‘Sports Illustrated’

Sermon 09-03-17: “Dead Faith Can’t Save Us”

October 3, 2017

My previous sermon was about the classic Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone. But that sermon didn’t mention the 800-lb. gorilla in the room: What about good works? Don’t they play a necessary role? In fact, doesn’t the apostle James warn that “a person is justified by works and not faith alone” (v. 24)? Is James contradicting Paul? This sermon answers these questions.

Sermon Text: James 2:14-26

My sermons are now being podcast! My podcast is available in iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher.

Yesterday, Sports Illustrated wrote the following: “J.J. Watt might be the best defensive player in the NFL, but literally nothing he has done or will do on the field can ever top what he’s done for the city of Houston in the past week.” Have you heard about what the defensive end for the Houston Texans has done? Last Sunday, he launched a fundraiser to raise money for victims of Hurricane Harvey. His goal was a substantial, but very doable goal for someone of his means and influence: $200,000. That goal was surpassed in less than two hours. Donations continued to pour in, and as they did so, he kept upping the goal and upping the goal and upping the goal. As of yesterday, he’s raised over $17 million.

Seventeen million dollars. And counting. So here’s a question: One day, when Christ returns, and J.J. Watt stands alongside everyone else who’s ever lived, and faces God in Final Judgment, will this generous, selfless act of his count in his favor—toward his salvation?

I’m reminded of something that Warren Buffett, the world’s second richest man, said after he announced a few years ago that he would donate 85 percent of his $44 billion fortune to five charitable foundations. When asked to comment on this extreme act of generosity, he said, “There is more than one way to get to heaven, but this is a great way.”

So… Is Buffett right? Will 85 percent of $44 billion—which is $37.4 billion—and Watt’s $17 million and counting help either of these men get into heaven? Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 01-15-17: “To Fulfill All Righteousness”

January 19, 2017

matthew_graphic

Jesus’ first words in Matthew’s Gospel are puzzling: What does Jesus mean when he says that it’s proper for John to baptize him in order to “fulfill all righteousness”? In this sermon, I explore that question and show how these words and actions of Jesus point to the Cross.

Sermon Text: Matthew 3:13-17

[To listen on the go, right-click here to download an MP3.]

On Saturdays in the fall, when I go to Georgia Tech football games in midtown Atlanta, there are sometimes people on the corner of North Avenue and Techwood Drive. They have P.A. systems and microphones. They have an urgent message that they want passersby to hear! And their message, in so many words, is “Repent… or else.” I confess these people make me feel uncomfortable. When I see them, I want to cross to the other side of the street. I want to get away from them as quickly as possible. I want them to go away. They’re spoiling my fun, after all. I don’t want to think about my sins, or God’s holiness, or God’s wrath, or my need to repent and turn to Jesus in order to avoid hell. After all, I’m just trying to enjoy a college football game! This is the deep South, after all. Let’s not mix one religion with another! Sunday is for one kind of church, but Saturday is for another kind!

Look, we may quibble with the in-your-face method of evangelism that these people use. But give them credit: At least they understand what’s at stake. They understand that unless or until people do repent and turn to Jesus, and believe in him, and entrust their lives to him, they will face an eternity separated from God in hell.

Do we understand what’s at stake?

Over the course of his life, John Wesley, the founder of our Methodist movement, rode 250,000 miles on horseback and preached 40,000 sermons because he understood what was at stake—because of his firm conviction that people risked being eternally lost unless they repented and believed in Jesus.[1]

The ministry of the apostle Paul was fueled by this same conviction: In Acts 20, Paul is preaching a farewell sermon to some people that he knows and loves—the elders at the church in Ephesus, a church he started and where he ministered for three years. And he says something very interesting: He says, “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”[2]

Innocent of the blood of all. What does he mean by that? He means that as a pastor, as a preacher, as a missionary, as a leader in the church, Paul can leave that place knowing that he’s done everything he could do, that he’s told as many people as he could tell, that he’s taken every opportunity to share with his community the full gospel of Jesus Christ. So that if they die—and face God’s judgment, God’s wrath, and hell because of their sins—their blood won’t be on Paul’s hands. Because he’s done all that he can do save them. Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 03-06-16: “Believing the Word”

March 11, 2016

John Sermon Series Graphic
As hard as it is to believe, when we find ourselves in a place of utter helplessness—when we’ve reach the end of our ropes and realize that there’s nothing else we can do to help ourselves—this is often, surprisingly, an amazing place to be! Because this is the place where God’s grace meets us! This sermon explores this idea and more. Enjoy!

Sermon Text: John 4:43-54

[To listen on the go, right-click here to download an MP3.]

Growing up, my friend Andy had a street sign hanging on his bedroom wall. It identified a street near where we lived; I don’t know how he got it or where he got it. But the sign hung on his wall, right next to the Christie Brinkley swimsuit poster. It was awesome—and the street sign was pretty cool too!

But I’m sure the people from the county who put the sign up originally didn’t want my friend to have it—in part because the county paid for it, and they had to replace it with a new one. And besides, the purpose of a sign isn’t to be displayed on the wall as a piece of art, as part of the decor of a teenage boy’s bedroom; the purpose of a sign is to point to something, to identify something, to give information about something. If you hang the sign on your wall because you like the way it looks, you’ve missed the point of the sign.

And that’s what these Galileans in today’s scripture have done. They’ve missed the point of Jesus’ “signs,” which is John’s name for the miracles that Jesus performs. So of course, as verse 45 says, the Galileans “welcome” Jesus; they roll out the red carpet for him; throw a parade for him when he returns home to Galilee. Why wouldn’t they welcome him like this? The local boy has made them proud; he’s done well. After all, did you see what he did a couple of weeks ago at the Passover festival in Jerusalem? Unbelievable… All those miracles he performed! And the way he drove away those merchants and money changers in the Temple! But especially the miracles! Everyone’s talking about the miracles! And he’s one of us! He’s a hometown boy!

Read the rest of this entry »