The Wrath of God Revealed Part 3

Romans 1.28-32

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Suppress the truth. Ignore revelation. Distort God’s glory. Our attempts to write God out of the script have had a predictable outcome. Turns out we are not very good gods. Scratch that…we are horrible gods. We have trouble running our own lives, much less managing a universe. And so we have a world that reflects our image instead of the Creator’s…

Writing God out of the script has also had some unintended consequences. You see, if there is no God, then we are not made in His image. If there is no God, we are not made to rule on His behalf. If there is no God, then we are not made at all. Being “made” implies intentionality…and it also implies a Maker. So if there is no God, then we are accidents of time and chance. A fluke of the cosmos. No purpose and no meaning. We are here one day and gone the next.

And so life is no longer cherished or valued or to be protected. It’s utilitarian. It’s disposable. It’s just business.

And God gave them over…because they exchanged the Truth of God for a lie, they exchanged the natural for the unnatural, and they no longer acknowledged God. Sin is a consuming fire that cannot be quenched and an appetite that cannot be satisfied. It will always take you further than you wanted to go. And it twists and perverts the good that God created and intended.

We live in a time and place where the world at large no longer cares about the difference between right and wrong. We are the godless society that Paul describes. We are constantly challenged to accept as right what we know is wrong, and then are shamed or worse if we disagree. 

Things like when life begins and what constitutes marriage and what is gender…things our culture wrestles with but that are clear in Scripture. Contrary to popular opinion, truth is not relative and doesn’t change with time. It is not based on opinion or feelings. It has no political affiliation. There is no such thing as “my truth” or “your truth.” There is only the Truth, which is based solely on what God determines is true. After all, He’s the Creator. It’s His universe. His rules.

As I said in the beginning, my goal in this mini-series has not been to point fingers or create controversy or an us-vs-them mentality. My goal has been to present the Truth, clearly, plainly, lovingly…and the Truth is sin is sin. And all sin…from the grossly immoral to the seemingly innocuous…requires a Savior.

Because of sin…because of our sin, both yours and mine…we are all under the wrath of God. None of us can escape because we are all guilty. We may not be as bad as we could be, but we are all as bad off as we can be without Jesus.

That’s why the gospel is such good news. Because Jesus paid it all. He lived a perfect life and died a sacrificial death on our behalf. He died to pay the penalty for sin…all sin…so that God’s wrath on sin might be fully satisfied, so that everyone who puts their trust in Jesus might be forgiven of their sins and be reconciled to God.

So are you under the wrath of God or do you have the righteousness of God? The difference is Jesus. Have you trusted in Him? If not, why not make today the day?

If you have trusted in Jesus, be careful. We have an enemy who is on the prowl. We are living in the midst of a godless society that would love to see us fall. It’s easy to allow its twisted morals to infect and influence our worldview…to draw us away from Jesus. Don’t let it. Commit to living by the Truth…living and loving like Jesus.

We’ve talked about some pretty weighty topics over the last few weeks. Maybe God has been convicting you in some areas where you’ve suppressed the truth and strayed from Him. Some areas where maybe you’ve allowed the culture to infect and influence your worldview. Like the prodigal son you’ve come to the end of your rope…you’ve seen the devastating effects that sin has had in your own life and the lives of those around you, and now you’re ready to come home…it’s time to come home. The Father is waiting…with open arms…waiting for you to come home.

I want to invite you to spend some time this morning, this afternoon or sometime today just sitting with God, asking Him to reveal those areas of your life where you’ve strayed from Him, then confess that sin and give it up to Him. If you’ve wronged someone, make it right. If they’ve wronged you, forgive them…and still make it right. It’s time to come home.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Wrath of God Revealed Part 1

Romans 1.18-23

The wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men… Sin has consequences. And the consequences? The wages? Death. The first and most basic sin…the suppression of the truth of God. To deny His existence even while creation itself gives evidence of its Creator.

But since the garden we have been suppressing that truth. And our hearts have been idol-making factories ever since. And so we’ve either written God totally out of the script (atheist) or we’ve given His glory to His creatures (polytheist). In either case we’ve elevated our own understanding above the truth that God has revealed both in His world and in His Word. We are without excuse.

I said it earlier, but I think it’s important to keep coming back to it. Apart from Jesus, we are all under God’s wrath (John 3.36). But we don’t have to stay there. Because of God’s amazing grace and His astounding love He has provided a way for us to escape His wrath…through His Son. Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross satisfied God’s wrath. It paid the penalty for sin. That’s the gospel. The power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. Jesus died so that we might live. His death allowed for forgiveness of sins. His resurrection provides new life. For everyone who believes… If you haven’t yet trusted in Jesus, why not make today the day?

If you have trusted in Jesus, be careful. Our culture is saturated with the lies of the enemy, suppressing the truth at every turn. It’s easy to allow it to infect and influence your worldview…to draw you away from Jesus. Don’t let it. Commit to living by the Truth (capital “T”), which is found in God’s Word, the Bible.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Greetings Part 2

Romans 1.8-17

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel…” Can you say that? Our world today is not so different than Paul’s. Believers are still ridiculed, mocked, made fun of, despised, persecuted…not always overtly, but often covertly. In movies or TV shows, on social media, in politics…throughout our culture. Often it is friends or family, coworkers or classmates. And yet we are still called to share our story.

What are you not ashamed of? In other words, what are you proud of? You see, it’s the things that we are proud of that we tend to promote, right? Kids on the honor roll, some new product that’s going to change your life, your team wins March madness, etc. Does the gospel make your list? Is the gospel good news to you…have you experienced its power to save? I hope so.

You see, the gospel is for everyone. There is no one who is so dead that they can’t be made alive. There is no one so lost that they can’t be found. The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. If you haven’t taken the time to write out your story, this week would be a good time to do that. Remember this is not your biography…it’s your testimony of what Jesus has done for you.

This series in the book of Romans is a great opportunity to invite folks to church. In it we see the seriousness of sin and the greatness of God’s love. It reminds us that both the sinner and the seemingly self-righteous are in need of a Savior…and that there is hope in Jesus.

Remember that I said that Romans 1.16-17 is at the center of this letter? Let me challenge you to memorize it over the next week over so. Not only will it be a great reminder of Romans, but I’m sure the team will also have some kind of something they do with it in the coming weeks leading up to Easter.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Greetings Part 1

Romans 1.1-7

Paul packs a lot into seven verses. A summary view of the gospel he will spend the next several chapters explaining. I fully expected to get through verse 17 with this first sermon, but you can see by the part 1 I didn’t quite get there. Welcome to Romans.

Two things I want to leave you with. The gospel is for the lost…for those who have not yet trusted in Jesus. To you I want to say…God has been pursuing wayward sons and daughters from the beginning. Because of His amazing grace. Because of His astounding love. He has provided a way through Jesus that we might know Him and be reconciled to Him and be saved. Forgiveness of sins and eternal life. If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, why not make today the day?

The gospel is also for the found…for those of us who have trusted in Jesus. We have been saved on purpose for a purpose. To do good works, to let our light shine, to obey the One who has saved us. In our free and independent culture we sure don’t like the idea of having to be beholden to anyone. We don’t like folks telling us what to do. We want to be our own man/woman. We want to be our own boss.

And yet the Christian life is one of obedience. If we trust the One we are called to obey…if we really believe that He loves us, that He knows us, and that He wants the best for us, then obedience should be one of the easiest things we could do (John 15). So if you are having a hard time with obedience…doing what Jesus says…my guess is that there is a breakdown somewhere. Either you doubt God’s love for you or that He really knows/cares about you or that He wants what’s best for you. Which might that be for you?

This series in the book of Romans is a great opportunity to invite folks to church. In it we see the seriousness of sin and the greatness of God’s love. It reminds us that both the sinner and the seemingly self-righteous are in need of a Savior…and that there is hope in Jesus.

As we go through the book of Romans, we will learn a lot about what God calls us to do. Let’s commit right now to do it.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Essentials: Salvation

Ephesians 2.1-10

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. A dead man can’t do anything to save himself…he’s dead! He must be made alive again.

The bad news…if you have not yet trusted in Jesus, you are dead. Your sin has killed you. And if something doesn’t change, nothing will change. You will remain dead. Separated from God forever. Not a very pretty picture. In fact it’s a very grim picture. An unsettling picture. But an accurate picture. The bad news is you’re as bad off as you can possibly be.

The good news…Jesus came to change all of that. He came to give you life. He has already taken care of the sin problem so that through faith in Him, you can be saved by His magnificent grace. Salvation that not only impacts your eternal destiny, but also transforms your present reality. Jesus said in Matthew 5, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” We are saved to bring glory to the One who saved us…to highlight His goodness and His grace and His mercy and His love. So why not trust Jesus today?

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This post is based on our January Series, Essentials. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Fall on Your Knees

Revelation 12

What does a celestial woman with child and a great red dragon have to do with Christmas and the theme of Fall on Your Knees? Glad you asked. This time of year the Church has traditionally celebrated Advent…which means “Coming”. While Christmas no doubt reminds us of the First Advent when Jesus came as a Baby to a young couple in Bethlehem, our hope as believers is that He will come again…this time as King.

In the cosmic conflict…the heavenly war that is raging…there are only two sides. You are either for the King or against Him. There is no middle ground. And there’s only One/one to whom you can fall on your knees. Either the true King or the pretender. The tricky thing is…the pretender is good at what he does. Pretending. He’s a deceiver, so often while it might look like he’s winning…our world in chaos…he’s already lost.

As believers, it often feels like we are on the losing side. The pressure to conform to this world…already so pervasive in the church…is everywhere present. Hollywood. Social media. Politics. Materialism… The fear of persecution, whatever form that might take…being passed over for promotion or losing a job, ridiculed at school, belittled by your family or friends…is real. So what do we do? Don’t give up, don’t give in, Jesus wins. Don’t give up because of persecution, don’t give in to compromise, because Jesus has already won.

May you remember that this Christmas season…the battle is already won…and may you fall on your knees before the true King, Jesus.

Join us as we continue our Advent story with…The Night When Christ Was Born.

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This post is based on our Advent Series, The Thrill of Hope. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

A New and Glorious Morn

Isaiah 7.10-17

Our world is not so different from Ahaz’s world. The threat of war and rumors of war abound. Fear is on the rise, and wickedness reigns throughout the land. If we are honest with ourselves, we too are tempted to make alliances…compromises to ensure our well-being. We put our trust in jobs or bank accounts or status or retirement plans or followers or people or you fill-in-the-blank to save us…anything other than the Lord. And being overwhelmed by the circumstances of life, we forget that Jesus promised that He would never leave us or forsake us.

Inevitably God brings us into crisis…illness, death of a loved one, loss of a job, broken relationships, dashed hopes, forgotten dreams. Sooner or later we all have to answer the question: If I put my trust in God, will He save me? Does He really love me, and does He really care about me and my circumstances? Our answer is either a confident “yes” or a wavering “I’m not sure.” Is God “the LORD God” (Yahweh Elohim), the covenant-making, covenant-keeping God who is intimately involved in His creation (Genesis 2-3) who knows me and loves me and cares about me, or is He “God” (Elohim), the God who is out there, too big and too busy to be bothered with me, who only is looking out for His own interests according to the serpent in Genesis 3? And just as folks in Isaiah’s day found out…when God’s people don’t trust Him as they should, they pay a price for it. If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all (cf. Isaiah 7.9b). But God’s grace always has the last word—His grace triumphs over our failure. God, the LORD God, is present in our crises. If we will trust Him, He will save us. If we refuse Him, He will discipline us. But know this…He delights to save us.

Are you making alliances or compromises to save yourself, or are you trusting God? Your level of worry/fear/discontentment vs. contentment/joy/rest is a good indicator. The more you trust in God, the more the fruits of the Spirit will abound. The more you trust yourself…not so much.

Jesus says, “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” The secret to experiencing the life that God has saved us for starts with believing that He loves us…really loves us…and resting in His love. And to do that, we have to do what He says, knowing that what He commands is for our good as His children, then we can experience both the life and the fullness of joy He intended for us…we might call it a new and glorious morn.

There is a haunting Christmas carol that says, “O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear…Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.” The music to this carol is written in a minor key…or so they tell me. Can joy be found in a minor key? Can there be joy in difficult circumstances? The answer is a resounding “yes” if we remember Immanuel…that God is with us and is for us, and if we remember that He has an eternal home waiting for us.

Even though Ahaz is a wicked king, God graciously invites him to trust in Him. If you have not yet trusted in Jesus as your Savior, then God offers the same gracious invitation to you. He wants you to trust Him, then you too can experience a new and glorious morn…the joy that only Jesus can bring, knowing that He is with you always. But don’t wait. The time is short. Just as God is with those of us who have trusted in Him for salvation, so He is also with those who refuse Him for judgment. 

May you experience a new and glorious morn this Christmas season, Immanuel…God with us, and may you trust Him fully in all of life’s circumstances.

Join us next week as we continue our Advent story with…Fall on Your Knees.

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This post is based on our Advent Series, The Thrill of Hope. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Weary World Rejoices

2 Samuel 7.8-16

David was a great king in many ways. He was fearless and passionate, strong and brave. He loved the Lord and his family. But David wasn’t the King God had promised. Solomon, his son, was also an outstanding king. Maybe even greater than his father. His wisdom was renowned. He was a brilliant strategist. He was wealthy beyond imagination. But he too fell far short of the King God had promised. There have been many kings and great leaders throughout history, but as amazing as anyone of them may have been, none comes even close to our coming King. He’s the King of righteousness and the King of peace. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He alone will rule over the nations of this earth. And when He comes, the weary world will rejoice.

The good news is…the King has come. Jesus has come…and for a time the weary world rejoiced. The long-awaited Messiah, the Davidic King, the Hero…had come, but not as a Mighty Warrior or a Roaring Lion. He came as a helpless Babe, a Sacrificial Lamb. He came to bring peace…a peace that was only possible through His own shed blood. A peace that could only be had when sin was atoned for and death was defeated. A peace that was only available through the cross. And having secured that peace, three days later Jesus rose from the dead. He conquered both sin and death so that our hope…our long awaited hope…could be realized. And so the weary world rejoices.

In Romans 8.18-25, Paul says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”

We live in the midst of a weary world. A world that longs for peace. A world that longs for wrongs to be righted. A world that longs for a Savior. But it is a world seeking salvation in all the wrong things…wealth, politics, fame, advantage, relationships, you-name-it. And we too sometimes get caught up in the world’s solutions, don’t we? But what this weary world needs is only available in Jesus…only He can bring peace. Only He can set things right. Only He can save. It’s the hope that we have that a weary world needs. And it’s a hope that we need to share with a weary world.

One day our King will return. As believers, that is our hope. That Jesus will return and establish His eternal kingdom…an enduring kingdom…the true kingdom. Not an earthly dynasty destined to end, but an everlasting rule over heaven and earth. And when He comes, the weary world will rejoice…the creation’s groaning will be over. Jesus will reign supreme.

May you rejoice and worship Jesus as your King this Christmas season.

Join us next week as we continue our Advent story with…A New and Glorious Morn.

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This post is based on our Advent Series, The Thrill of Hope. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Thrill of Hope

Genesis 3.1-19

God created a perfect world. All that God had made was good, including the man and his wife. It’s paradise…heaven on earth. What happened? It’s hard to describe the catastrophic results of one single disobedient decision. Welcome to life as we know it. Every act of violence, every natural disaster, every awful thing that has happened since is a direct result.

What was the sin of the garden? It was rebellion. It was pride in its purest form. The Image-bearers were not satisfied with merely bearing the Image…they wanted to be the Image. Instead of trusting their loving Creator who had so “fearfully and wonderfully” made them, who had entrusted them with representing Him to His creation, who had made them king and queen over planet earth, they rejected Him and spurned His love. They sought to oust Him and take His place. They wanted a shot at the title.

But lest we too quickly fault our first parents, we see that same act of rebellion repeated legion in our own lives. If man and woman in a perfect environment fail to follow God on their own, what hope do we have? Our only hope is Jesus.

The thrill of hope is…God’s not done yet. The thrill of hope is…God’s pursuit of His wayward children. The thrill of hope is…forgiveness of sin and eternal life. The thrill of hope is…the LORD God… a restored relationship with our Creator, sons and daughters of the high King.

That’s why I love Genesis 3.15…what we couldn’t do for ourselves, God will do, when He sends His Son, Jesus, as the Head-Crushing Seed of the Woman, whose dying words, will be, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do!” The Thrill of Hope is…Genesis 3.15.

Those of us who have trusted in Jesus…aka the seed of the woman…are at war with the seed of the serpent, not by choice but because of the hatred and hostility they have toward us. Guess what side the culture is on? Adam gave up not only his innocence in the fall, but also his right to rule. He gave that to the serpent…“the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.”  So those who follow God suffer not only the consequences of theirs and others bad choices and the effects of a fallen world, but also the attacks of the enemy. And yet hope is possible because the Head-Crushing Seed of the Woman has come…Jesus has come…and He has defeated the Adversary. And now we wait with all of creation for the time when Jesus will come back, not as the Suffering Lamb, but as the Roaring Lion…not as a Baby in a manger, but as the Conquering King. He will come back to set all things right…

May you experience the thrill of hope this Christmas season and the amazing love of God who didn’t give up on us even in our rebellion, but who has pursued us and did what we could not do, provide the way back to Himself through Jesus, the Head-Crushing Seed of the Woman.

Join us next week as we continue our Advent story with…The Weary World Rejoices.

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This post is based on our Advent Series, The Thrill of Hope. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Paul before Felix

Acts 24

Paul makes his first defense after the Jerusalem incident before the Roman authorities…before Governor Felix. The charges leveled against Paul are serious, but none can be proven. And yet, he remains in custody awaiting his divine appointment in Rome.

Despite his circumstances, Paul still has one job to do…share the gospel, to share his story. Despite your circumstances, you too have one job to do…to share your story. The story of how God has brought you from death to life, from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of the Beloved Son. The question is, do you see your circumstances as an opportunity to share your story, or are you so busy trying to escape them that you can think of nothing else? Maybe the difficult things you are going through are providing an opportunity you would have no other way…

Paul believed his faith in Jesus mattered. It mattered in the future because the promised kingdom awaits. But it also matters right now. Because how we live out our faith today, has an impact on our experience of the promised kingdom tomorrow. 

Does your faith cause a stir? I have heard it said this way, if you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? You see, one day each of us will give an account of how we lived our lives (1 Corinthians 3.10-15). As believers, our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus, but we are stilled evaluated on how we lived out our faith…how we invested our mina…what we did with the gospel. We will still give an account of our life to the King. Where are you investing your resources? Who are you sharing your story with? Are you storing up treasures in heaven? Or are you pursuing after the things of this world? Only you can answer that.

If you haven’t trusted in Jesus, you too will give an account. But it’s a very different account. Since you didn’t trust in Jesus to forgive you of your sins, you will have to pick up the tab yourself. An eternity apart from God in a place called hell. A terribly frightening thought. Don’t go that route. The price has already been paid. Trust in Jesus today.

One last thing…If Paul lived in fear of what folks thought of him, where would we be today? What if we had the same courage that he had? How might our schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, etc. be different?

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This post is based on a sermon from our Acts series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster