Friday, May 22, 2009

Sermon I: The Kingdom of God

This is the first sermon I preached at FSBC in Pasadena . I've only preached once before, at Shiloh Baptist in Iowa, and if I can find it, I'll post it. Hopefully readers will see some improvement in style from this sermon to the ones I've preached more recently. Anywho, I welcome comments, questions and open discussion. It's my hope that posting this will stimulate thought and prayer on the Word of God and that I'll get some good advice out of it too :-) P.S. I coun't figure out how to get blogger to stop underlining my text... it's wicked irritating. Also, I totally owe Travis Stevick for giving me the idea to post these, since he's been posting his sermons for a while (they're pretty good, I might add, you guys should check 'em out).

The Kingdom of God
March 30, 2008 - Youth Sunday/Octave Day of Easter, Year A
By Ian “Ivan” Hyde
Delivered at First Southern Baptist Church of Pasadena, CA
  1. Introduction
The words “kingdom of God” come up many times in the Gospels, but the phrase is probably one of the most misunderstood of Jesus’ teachings and yet, at the same time, essential to understanding his mission.
1. For over a thousand years it was standard practice in Christian nations to push the Gospel at the edge of the sword in the belief that this kingdom was somehow wrapped up in the state; we will see, however, that Christ meant something entirely different.
2. So central to the Gospel, the phrase is used at least 56 times in Matthew alone.
3. We will look at three aspects of the Kingdom of God: Suffering, Power and the Resurrection.
  1. Old Testament Background
1. God is King over Creation and the Nations in the OT.
2. Israel was seen as God’s special domain, with God ultimately its Ruler.
3. Prophets spoke of God’s desire for obedience to His rule in the form of social justice: the widow and the poor were under His special care. Obedience is prized by God more than blood sacrifices.
4. Daniel speaks of God’s overthrow of earthly kingdoms – God will set right the injustice done to those He cares for.
5. This led the Jews to hope for a military and political savior that would uproot their oppressors (the Romans) with force and usher in a new era of peace and justice. This set the stage for Christ’s arrival.
  1. The Kingdom Manifest in Suffering
1. In a world where people wanted to hear the sound of trumpets and a battle call, Jesus spoke of peacemakers, turning the other cheek, and being persecuted for staying true to the Gospel.
2. People wanted to be vindicated and feel self-righteous and Christ called us to account for hating each other and stepping over each other to get what we want.
3. When Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God he would almost always immediately follow it with a parable that gave clues to some aspect of it. In Matthew 19:24 Jesus speaks of just how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God. He says, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the K of G. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible for rich people to enter God’s kingdom, as Jesus follows that up with saying all things are possible through God, but it does mean that if we truly want to enter God’s Kingdom we need to be willing to give up our family, financial security, and even physical safety when called. Jesus clearly makes his point in Matthew 16:24 – 25 when he says, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
4. There’s a new trend in modern American culture that some call the “prosperity gospel”, the idea that God wants us to have all the best material things in life to make us happy. Some will say just trust and God will give you that brand new car, or that promotion, or that home you’ve always wanted. If you’re a youth, since this is youth Sunday, they might say just visualize it and God will give you a sweet PS3 or a Nintendo Wii.
5. But it doesn’t work that way, the life we’re called to is hard and full of suffering. We experience the pain of rejection for our beliefs, the loss of friendships and family. Jesus tells his disciples as he sends them out in Luke 9 and 10 that they’ll meet opposition. Keep in mind most of these guys, except Peter, were between 15 and 20 years old and within a few short years some of them would be beaten, imprisoned, and killed for following Jesus. In fact, eventually all except John ended up getting killed. While you might never be called to face your death for the Gospel (though some might) I can guarantee you will see suffering, persecution, and sacrifice for living the Gospel.
6. You might never be called overseas to backpack Christian materials, medicine or aid to communities cut off by war zones, but you’ll still be called to love the smelly kid or the awkward kid in class or at work. The person you find most annoying in your life you still gotta love as a brother or sister. When our faith in Christ allows us to do this, we truly begin to enter into God’s Kingdom.
  1. The Kingdom Manifest in Power
1. This brings us to God’s provision. Even though our road is marked with suffering, we are called in Luke 12:32 to strive and struggle to enter the Kingdom and all the junk that people worry about: food, clothes, and shelter will come when needed.
2. In the face of life’s sufferings, injustice, and humanity’s hate, we are able to withstand, do what’s right, and love by the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
3. When we recognize that Jesus’ death and resurrection opened the way for us to finally be reconciled to God and each other, and we have faith that His death was enough to forgive all our hates and injustices and trespasses we become heirs to the promise and power of God’s Kingdom.
4. This means that when we are faced with persecution, when our friends put us to the test about our faith, how we can possibly believe all this stuff about God, we don’t have to worry about what to say. Even though we should still pray and prepare by reading the bible and understanding God’s Word, in those tough moments He will provide the words that person needs to hear. God’s Word never returns to Him void. In this God not only promised to provide his disciples with the words they would need at the right times, but also the power to cast out demons and heal people. This power always bears witness to the sovereignty of God as rightful Ruler of our hearts.
5. And when we’re in our darkest hour, and we’re faced with doubts about where to go next or how to hold on, God, in His power, will give us the encouragement we need and even when we feel like nobody’s with us, like there isn’t a friend left, God will be there to comfort us and push us on. And when we’re at the end of this life, and death is near, God will give us the courage to fully enter His Promise. Jesus tells us this much in Matthew 24:13 – 14 when he says “But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this good news (or Gospel) of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.”
  1. The Kingdom Manifest in the Resurrection
1. In the end, Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom of God always carried with it the tension between the “already” and the “not yet”. In one way, God’s Kingdom was ushered in through Jesus’ ministry and miracles, as signs that God was and is supernaturally engaging our world to free people from oppression and injustice, but at the same time it is so much more. This is attested to in Luke 17:21 when Christ says “the kingdom of God is among you,” while also he speaks of the return of the Son of Man, who the Jews in Jesus’ day would have recognized from Daniel 7, as an event that would be like lightning tearing across the sky in a final, cataclysmic event that everybody would recognize at the end of the age before the final Resurrection which would fully restore Creation; and all the suffering, pain, and sin we see now will be completely gone.
2. We can trust that God will keep his promise in that Christ, who died to redeem us was also resurrected. It is in this hope of redemption and resurrection that we engage our culture, our friends, and our family sharing the Gospel with them, loving them no matter what, and sticking up for the oppressed, the socially awkward, and the forgotten. We live the promise of the “already” when we suffer to become like Christ knowing we are criminals redeemed, and we live in the hope of the “not yet” when we look forward to the end of all suffering and sin.

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