Seven Simple Truths

This is the fifth sermon in the series – CREST: An Army Standard.  This series is a group of teaching sermons that go through the biblical foundation for the parts of The Salvation Army crest.

This sermon deals with the seven gospel shots.

Truth #1: The existence of a holy God.
Romans 1:20 – For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

There is a God.  I am not Him, and neither are you.  We have a loving Creator who is outside of ourselves.

Truth #2: The evils of sin are against God and man.
1 John 3:6 – Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.

Sin is not of God.  Sin is the opposite of God.  Sin is not of God.

Truth #3: There will be punishment for sin that is fair and everlasting.
Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you cannot follow the rules, then you have to pay the penalty.  The only free thing in life is the love of God.  Even salvation, which others think is free, cost the life of Jesus to balance.

Truth #4: Jesus dies on the cross for the human race.
Matthew 20:28 – For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Jesus gave His life for us.  The love of God, God’s economy, is always about others.

Truth #5: Salvation is for all mankind and is free to all who accept Jesus Christ.
John 3:16 – For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

There is no limitation to the scope of God’s salvation.  There is no one beyond the love of God, unless we, personally, choose to be outside of the love of God.

Truth #6: It is the responsibility of every Christian to do whatever they can do to spread the gospel.
Matthew 9:37-38 – He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.  So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

The love of God is too great not to share.  It is too big not to give away.

Truth #7: God rewards those who are faithful with eternal life in heaven with Him.
John 14:1-3 – “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.  There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.  If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

Not only is there a God, but He has a place prepared for those who follow Him.

The Light and Fire of Holiness (CREST: An Army Standard)

Matthew 3:7-12 NLT

The “light and fire of the Holy Spirit” is what separates and defines us.  Even the word, “holy”, separates and defines us.  The original, pre-Christian definition is to “be preserved whole or intact, that cannot be transgressed or violated.”

Problem in the Text

The Pharisees and Sadducees have become too complacent with their position.  They thought that they were covered, because they were “descendants of Abraham” and because of their position.  John referred to them as a “brood” or group of vipers, basically poisonous snakes.  They represented generations of religious leadership that has constantly reinforced the understanding of their own superiority based on birth and position.  They were leading others in a misguided religion and not a true relationship.

These leaders considered themselves, and others considered them, holy.  They were seen as examples, set apart from the crowd.  They saw their holiness as being “better” than others.  They considered themselves superior to others.

They have been warned, just as earlier leaders of Israel, of the path that there pride was going to take them.  It was pride that destroyed the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

Problem in the World

Calling yourself a Christian or going to church does not make you saved or create salvation.  Knowing every new Christian song and the ability to quote whole chapters of the Bible does not make you a “true” believer or “Christ”-follower.

Christians, in today’s world, are taking two paths.  They have either: a) pulled so far away from the world that they are no longer relevant or useful to anyone; or b) They are so immersed in the world that their message has become “watered down”, weak and ineffective.  Either way, they are not making any difference.  This church is losing its’ effectiveness in this world, because of its’ own pride, its’ own “self”-improvement.

Solution in the Text

The text does not provide any solutions or answers.  It actually provides a warning.  Matthew refers in v. 10 that the “ax of God’s judgment” is ready to cut them off.

John then tells that he baptizes with water.  This baptism is another marker of separation.  It was an older tradition that now has a new meaning.  People knew about “ritual bathing.”  This bathing was done in standing baths surrounding the Temple before someone could enter.  John was offering something different.  He was offering baptism in rivers and lakes.  He was offering baptism in living, flowing water.  Water that did not stay in one place, but had new life through its’ source.

After speaking of baptism, not only of water, but of light and fire, John says we will all be sorted and separated.  If we are useful and “produce good fruit”, we will be “gathered” like “wheat into his barn.”  If we are not useful or productive, we will be burned “with never-ending fire.”

These are three different examples of the separation that is to come if we are not “truly separated.”

Solution in the World

This warning applies to us today.  The irony is that if we do not separate, then we will be separated.

We are called to in the world, but not of the world.  It is possible to live I the world without becoming what the world has become.  We must be changed in order to affect change in others.

As Salvationists and Christians, we need to useful in the world, but not used by the world.

Holiness is supposed to be a mark of distinction not a mark of superiority.  Christianity should cause our life to produce certain proofs, or fruit.  These fruit, or proofs, are what distinguishes us from the world.

Conclusion

The sun represents the “light and fire of the Holy Spirit.”  Part of our Army standard is holiness.  This is especially important for front-line Christians who serve in a messed-up world every day.

Sticky Situations

When my son was 10 months old, I learned that everything can be used to make a mess.  Once, my son received a lollipop and we decided to allow him to enjoy it “his” way. He started very slowly.  You could imagine with the combination of sugar and something new, it was not going to be pretty.  As we guessed, within the next few minutes, it was all over his face and in his hair.  He absolutely enjoyed every inch of that lollipop.   He was definitely in a sticky situation.  But, if you looked at my son, he was as happy as ever. I would have been upset to have all of that on me. Maybe, because I am as tall as other adults (not mentally mind you), I always have to have things in neat and orderly packages.  Peter in Acts 12 finds himself in a sticky situation.  He is imprisoned in jail for his faith. He is in jail because of standing up for his beliefs. Do we find Peter crying or complaining, “no”!?  He is praying in earnest!  Maybe, you are like that!  Some of us are always thinking first of what we do not have.  Or we want things all wrapped up and easy to understand.  To get out of a “sticky situation,” maybe we should remember that we are NEVER alone! We should remember to sing out to God even in our sticky situations.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for “sticky situations.”  Thank you that they always remind me to depend on you and not myself.  Thank you for being the One who always stays with me and helps “clean” me off. Amen