From the desk of Will Spokes, Senior Pastor
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap!
We are two weeks into our vision renewal series revisiting four key words (Worship, Grace, Community & Place) that describe who we are, why we are here, and what we are doing. It's like learning to read. If you haven't mastered your ABC's, you won't be able to use those letters to form words or even understand what a word is. Without your ABC's you won't be able to form words or sentences let alone read a whole book. Therefore, your ability to grow and understand is forever dependent on and connected to these basic things. In other words, you never outgrow your need for the gospel and the most basic truths that flow from it. That's why we are taking time to renew our vision...to brush up on our ABC's. Happy reading!
Q&A Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 4. What is God?
A. God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. (Psalm 90:2)
Food For Thought:
True faith…is but laying hold of a savior’s hand, leaning on a husband’s arm, and receiving a physician’s medicine. It brings with it nothing to Christ but a sinful soul. It gives nothing, contributes nothing, pays nothing, performs nothing. It only receives, takes, accepts, grasps, and embraces the glorious gift of [justifying grace] which Christ bestows, and by renewed daily acts enjoys that gift. -- Sinclair Ferguson
Sermon Recap: See Luke 7:36-50
This week we looked at the word Grace as part of our vision renewal series. Grace is something we all need and yet so often struggle to understand, let alone enjoy! As much as any other single word, this word opens the door to the very heart of Christianity. Christianity teaches you are not saved by living a good life but by grace. While Christianity has much to say about why and how to live a good life, that is not what makes Christianity unique among the world religions. Grace, therefore, teaches us that Christianity isn't based on our ability to measure up or earn God's favor; it's based on accepting a free gift we don't deserve. In other words, Christianity is neither moralism (living a good, religious life) or relativism (living your life in whatever way seems best to you.)
The story we find in Luke 7 is a moving picture of God's grace and its impact on the irreligious (the woman of the city) and the religious (Simon, the Pharisee). Ironically the one we would expect to understand God and his grace doesn't seem to get it at all. While the one we would expect not to understand gets who Jesus is and the free gift he gives! To put it another way, Simon's religion is his single greatest hurdle to seeing Jesus for who he really is and the grace and forgiveness he brings. In complete contrast to Simon, the woman of the city understands the beauty and power of grace precisely because she isn't religious. She understands she doesn't deserve God's welcome and his forgiveness. What Simon failed to see is that he is a debtor to God just like the woman of the city. (v. 41-43) It was obvious that the woman of the city was a sinner and she knew it. But it's not obvious Simon knew himself to be a sinner. This story teaches us we need to be saved from our good works just as much as from our bad works. Or to quote theologian John Gerstner, "The main thing between you and God is not so much your sins but your damnable good works." You see, Simon couldn't see he needed to come to Jesus with his righteousness in the same way this woman came to Jesus with her unrighteousness. (v. 44-47) This is what Simon didn't see. Do you see it?
Let's ask a basic question. What is a Christian? A Christian is someone who not only repents of everything they did wrong but for all the reasons they ever did anything right. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)
1. Grace exposes our religion. (v. 36-40)
2. Grace levels the playing field. (v. 41-46)
3. Grace transforms your identity. (v. 47-50)
1. What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
2. What questions does this passage raise for you?
3. Was there anything that bothered you?
4. How do Simon and the woman of the city help us see the unique message of Christianity?
5. How does this passage challenge and/or deepen your understanding and experience of God's grace in Christ?
Over the past few weeks I've had several conversations about starting a bible study for a small group of people. If you are interested in starting a bible study please feel free to talk to me. I would love to talk to you about it. I am even open to leading bible discussions through books of the bible over a number of weeks.
If you wrestle with how to live as a Christian person in your various callings whether at home or in the market place let me commend to you a very clear and brief book by Miraslov Volf called A Public Faith. This book is particularly relevant to our common life at RMC as we continue to think through how to connect our Christian life and beliefs to our city and culture. I would love to know what you think if you give it a look.
That’s enough for this week. Let me leave you with the second verse from O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing...
Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease,
'Tis music in the sinner's ears,
'Tis life and health and peace.
Until next week,