A New Heaven and a New Earth

2 Peter 3.10-18

Peter finishes with a final warning and encouragement for us to avoid the false teachers and stay on Torah Road…knowing that judgment is sure and Jesus will soon return. We are to live with the end in mind.

We don’t often talk about judgment when it comes to believers. We focus on whether or not we’re “in”, and pursuing Jesus is a good idea if you want to live the abundant life today. We can make it sound like a good but optional idea. But throughout both the OT and NT, there is a common refrain…each man will be judged according to what he has done, whether good or evil.

Now let’s be clear…when you trusted in Jesus, your sins were forgiven, you experienced peace with God, you were adopted into His family, you received the Spirit, you became a kingdom citizen…all the things that Paul talks about in Romans are true of you. You’re a new creation. You’re not who you used to be. When it comes to sin, Jesus paid the penalty for everyone of them. He satisfied God’s wrath.

But that doesn’t mean that you will not have to give an account for how you lived your life as a believer. Luke 19. You’ve been entrusted with a mina. And when the King returns He’s going to ask you how you invested it and what’s His return on your investment. Paul talks about our works being tested by fire. We will have to stand before our King one day, so what you do today matters.

We’ve talked a lot about Torah Road in 2 Peter and the importance of staying on it. But what if I’ve fallen off of it? What do I do if I am experiencing the “living death” of having my righteous soul tormented because of the lifestyle I’m choosing to live that is clearly not what God would want for me? What do I do?

And the answer is…you need to get back on Torah Road. It starts like it did in the beginning. Turning away from known sin. That may be hard…especially if, as I said earlier, you’ve developed some bad habits or addictions that you were hoping would numb the pain of living a life contrary to your new nature. That’s where “we” come into the picture. The Christian life is not intended to be a solo gig. It’s not just me, my Bible and a cup of coffee. We go together. We help each other, encourage each other, challenge each other, pray for each other, love each other. One of the best ways to do that is to get into a small group. Find some other believers to come alongside you.

We’ve been given everything we need to live the life that God calls us to…the Word and the Spirit and each other. God wants you to experience life to its fullest. He wants you to have a useful and fruitful life. It won’t be easy. It will be hard at times, but if you stay on Torah Road you can be confident you are right where God wants you to be. And what an entrance into the kingdom you have to look forward to!

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This post is based on a sermon from our 2 Peter series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

Examples of the False Teachers

2 Peter 2.4-11

Peter gives us three examples of what awaits the false teachers. God rescued the godly and destroyed the wicked in the past, and He will do it again in the future. So don’t be fooled by the lies of the false teachers. Or a culture that promotes indulging the flesh in its lusts and that despises authority.

So why the delay? Why doesn’t God judge now? Because God’s patience is mercy. His patience leaves room for the wicked to repent and for the righteous who have stepped off of Torah Road to return. He’s provided a way for the wicked to escape…through Jesus. He has already paid the penalty for their sin…He has already bought them. But they have to receive what is freely offered.

It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life and might reign with Him forever.

If you are a believer who’s bought into the lie of the false teachers/this present world’s madness aka not walking the Torah Road, Peter is not trying to comfort you. He is warning you because the path that you’re now on does not lead to joy and peace. When you trusted in Jesus, the Spirit was given to you as a pledge, and you became a new creation. You’re not who you used to be. Which means now that you have the Spirit, you can’t enjoy sin any longer. And instead of facing it, unfortunately too many try to justify it while at the same time having to numb the pain that their sin is causing…their righteous soul being tormented. It’s not a good place to be. God wants much more for us than that.

So if that’s you, what do you need to do? Making every effort, to your faith add moral excellence. And to your moral excellence, knowledge…then self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and finally love. That keeps you strong and keeps you from stumbling. Makes you fruitful and useful for the kingdom. And an abundant entrance awaits. Motivated not by fear, but love.

What you do today matters. Who you choose to follow/listen to matters. Life or death. Blessing or curse. It’s your choice so choose wisely.

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This post is based on a sermon from our 2 Peter series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

The Rise of the False Teachers

2 Peter 2.1-3

Peter introduces the false teachers, who, like the false prophets of old, will arise in the church. Folks who are not believers, who sin with abandon, who are greedy, deceitful and exploiting, and who prey upon the spiritually weak. In other words, not the good guys.

And so believers have the option…listen to Peter or listen to the false teachers. To stay on Torah Road…the way of truth or be led away from it. A useful and fruitful life in which they never stumble leading to an abundant entrance into the kingdom, or a useless and unfruitful life, being blind or short sighted and forgetting their purification from their former sins. Option A or option B.

The choice seems obvious, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t we choose life…shouldn’t we choose the blessing? Shouldn’t we choose Option A? Don’t we all want to hear, “Well done…”? So why don’t we do it? What keeps us from choosing Option A? Simple…“me”. If I pursue Option A, I have to give up stuff. I have to say, “no” to things I really don’t want to say no to, even though they bring nothing but heartache. Because I like to call the shots. I like being the main character in my story.

But one day we will have to give an account. Everyone one of us. Every knee will bow…whether willingly or unwillingly. Jesus will either be your King or your Judge, your Lord or your Master. What you do today matters.

Do you want to experience more grace and peace in your life…a more abundant life? You’ve been given everything necessary to live the kind of life that God calls you to live…the Spirit and the Word. Being informed by the Word and empowered by the Spirit you can be transformed to live and love more and more like Jesus. But you have to be intentional. It won’t just happen. You have to choose.

So choose life today.

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This post is based on a sermon from our 2 Peter series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

Making An Entrance

2 Peter 1.1-11

What kind of entrance do you want to make into the kingdom? How you live your life today matters. Through the Word and the Spirit we have everything we need to pursue the life God calls us to live.

Two options for entering the kingdom. One mentioned. One implied. One involves a celebration…a rich homecoming. The other…not so much. 

Both are true of believers. Both have trusted Jesus at some point in their life. Both will enter the Kingdom. But both do not enjoy the same caliber of life today, nor will they have the same kind of entrance into the Kingdom. What, or maybe better, why the difference? What you do today matters.

The difference is the philosophy or worldview that the believer lives by. Option A: biblical worldview informed by the Word and lived out in the power of the Spirit. Option B: worldview informed by our “it’s-all-about-me” culture that defines pleasure as the highest good. Living for today…all that matters is the here and now.

We all have the opportunity to live an option A kind of life. In fact that’s what God saved us for (Ephesians 2.10; Titus 2.11-15), and He is the One who empowers us to live such a life (Philippians 2.13; Colossians 1.29). But we have to be intentional. We have to make every effort to pursue that kind of life. It’s gonna cost you something.

What you do today matters. Every choice that you make has an impact in time and in eternity. Who are the voices speaking into your life today? Do reason up or reason down? Have you trained yourself to see the world through the lens of Scripture? Are you asking God for help to do so?

Having been equipped by God with the means necessary to be transformed to live and love like Jesus…namely, the Word and the Spirit, and having been given the road-map to get there from faith to love, and the present and future benefits thereof, it’s time…it’s time to make every effort…to press on toward the goal…to diligently pursue this thing called the Christian life.

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This post is based on a sermon from our 2 Peter series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

A Final Word

Revelation 22.6-21

John finishes Revelation pulling together the two major themes of the book…1) Jesus is coming soon, so 2) be ready. Live your life in such a way that Jesus could return at any moment and find you faithfully and fearlessly investing the mina He’s entrusted to you.

If you have trusted in Jesus, live life on purpose…like what you do matters. Share your story. Invest in the lives of those around you. Use your gifts to serve and your resources to further the kingdom. Make a difference. You are saved by grace, but you will be judged by your works. So be ready.

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, come to the waters. Only those who have washed their robes may enter the eternal city, only those who have trusted in Jesus. God invites you to “come”. If you are thirsty, come. If you want to take of the water of life without cost, come. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life and might reign with Him forever.

Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

The Great White Throne

Revelation 20.7-15

At the end of the thousand years, Satan is released to once more deceive the nations and gather them for one last battle, which isn’t much of a battle. Fire comes down from heaven to consume the enemies who have surrounded the camp of the saints, and the devil is thrown into the lake of fire. The great white throne is set up, and the sheep are separated from the goats.

I seem to say this a lot with this book. There are only two sides to this conflict. You are either for Jesus or against Him. You are either a sheep or a goat. But know this…Jesus wins. And you will either kneel before Jesus as King or cower before Him as Judge. So you have a choice to make…life or death, blessing or curse. The choice is yours. So why not choose life?

As believers, I hope that this motivates you to share your story…to tell others about Jesus. As I’ve said before, most of the folks you come in contact with on a daily basis don’t know Jesus. If they were to stand before the throne today, they would stand condemned to the lake of fire. I pray that that breaks your heart and creates in you a sense of urgency and intentionality about the way you are pursuing your relationship with them.

Knowing that we too will be judged/evaluated based on our deeds, let us live a life worthy of the calling. Not out of fear, but out of love. Love for the One who has so loved us, so that we too may hear, “Well done good and faithful slave.”

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, please don’t wait. I don’t want you in the lake of fire. Jesus doesn’t want you in the lake of fire. He will bring judgment, but He would rather you choose mercy. I want you…He wants you…in the kingdom. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life and might reign with Him forever.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

The Doom of Babylon

Revelation 17.7-18

The time is short. The end is coming quickly. The fall of Babylon is on the horizon, as well as the destruction of the beast. Though it may seem like the bad guys are always winning, the truth will soon be apparent…their demise is sure.

It’s not a time for us to be fearful…it’s a time for us to be faithful. We have been chosen and called. Our names are written in the book…if we have trusted in Jesus. But that’s not true for a majority of folks you see every day. Most have no clue that the end is near…that there is anything more to this life than what’s right in front of them. And then it’s over. They are without hope and destined for hell. But you have the words of eternal life. You can tell them about Jesus. God can use you to change their trajectory, to rewrite their destiny. But it means you can’t give up or give in. And you’ve got to be willing to share your story with them.

If you are one of those who have not yet trusted in Jesus, please don’t wait. Your name too could be written in the book of life. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, conquering both sin and death…so that you might not only have forgiveness of sins, but that you too might conquer death and have eternal life. That you could be one of the called and chosen and faithful whose name is written in the book of life.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

Babylon the Great

Revelation 17.1-6

Babylon is being remembered before God. Soon she will drink from the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. And all those aligned with her will share her same fate.

The Bible is one Story. And in these closing chapters of Revelation, we see that though much has happened, much remains the same. The seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent and the enmity between the two…the persecution of God’s people by those who reject Him…is still being played out in these last few scenes.

This description of Babylon is more like our world everyday. That shouldn’t surprise us. But it also shouldn’t scare or worry us. Our job doesn’t change no matter how much the world shakes around us. We are still to live lives worthy of the calling. Lives that point others to Jesus. And to share our story…to tell them about Him and the difference He’s made in our lives.

And though it looks like the bad guys are winning, appearances can be, and often are, deceiving. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Jesus wins.

If you haven’t trusted in Jesus, please don’t wait…time is running out. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, showing that He not only satisfied God’s wrath, but that He also conquered both sin and death. We don’t have to fear what’s to come, but we can face it with courage and anticipation looking for our King to return.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

The Triumphal Entry

Luke 19.28-44

Jesus enters Jerusalem, and His final week of ministry is underway. Some gladly accept Him as their King while others complain and reject Him as an imposter. The fig tree is about to be cut down.

None of the events of this final week will catch Jesus by surprise. Not one. He is in control of His destiny. He will lay down His life as a willing sacrifice. He’s not a victim. He’s not a bystander. He’s not “along for the ride.” He is the King. And He is in control. That hasn’t changed. Doesn’t matter how the world shakes or what storm is brewing in your life…Jesus is still King, and He’s still in control.

I love the OT story of Joseph. Though things start out well for him…his dad loves him and gives him a great coat…they take a turn when his brothers turn on him and sell him into slavery. It seems that every time he gets ahead, he gets knocked back down again until of course he is promoted to the second position in the kingdom. Joseph has an opportunity to confront his brothers who are the catalyst for the grief in his life…how does he respond to them? “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” Who says that? Somehow Joseph recognized God’s fingerprints all over his story, even though he didn’t know the why at the time. He trusted God all along the way to guide his steps.

Reminds me of Proverbs 3.5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” God cares about every detail in our life…yours and mine. No detail is too small and no problem is too big for Him. If your child came to you crying because their favorite toy was broken or they dropped their ice cream or they’re just mad because their brother or sister won’t play with them, would you ignore them and tell them their problems are too small for you to deal with? The best of dads wouldn’t. The best of dads wouldn’t ignore their child because they’re too busy…the best of dads stop what they’re doing. The best of dads enter into their child’s world. The best of dads…and our heavenly Father is the very best of the best of dads. And you can trust Him. And if you look carefully, I bet you can see His fingerprints in your life as well.

Jesus is coming back. That’s one expectation that will not be disappointed. And when He does, you will either worship Him as King or tremble before Him as Judge. The choice is yours. If you want Him to be your King, then it’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life and that you might reign with Him forever.

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This post is based on our Palm Sunday sermon. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

Another Sign in Heaven

Revelation 15

The last of the signs in heaven are seven angels with seven plagues that will bring to completion God’s wrath. The righteous will be vindicated…the wicked punished. It’s not too late to escape God’s wrath. But time is running out.

It reminds me of the parable of the bigger barn builder from Luke 12.16-21. Jesus tells a story to illustrate…a rich man has a successful year. In our story he’s a farmer. By all accounts, God has blessed him…provided the right amount of rainfall and sunshine, the right temperature and nutrients for the soil, things which the farmer has little if any control over. It’s his best year ever…doesn’t have enough barn capacity to store it all. Presents a problem that most of us think we would like to have…he has too much. What to do with an unexpected abundance of crops? So he gives it some thought and the internal dialogue starts…time to tear down the old barns and build bigger ones. Up to this point, the farmer appears to act prudently. Proverbs talks a lot about saving and investing.

But then the internal dialogue continues…“Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.” So what’s wrong with that? Sounds like the perfect retirement plan, right? Don’t we work hard now so we can relax and enjoy life later? 

Then God steps in and says, “You fool!” Sad irony…the man thought he had many years to enjoy his stuff, but God requires his soul “this night”. The futility of the man’s efforts become clear. Like the Preacher from Ecclesiastes, “vanity of vanities…”

We too can be fooled into thinking that we have time. Time to do all the things. And get around to Jesus later. But so did this guy. And time ran out. Don’t let that be you. Make today the day.

It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life and that you might reign with Him forever.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.