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Communion Presbyterian Church ARP

What's the Reason for Preaching?

I can’t believe it! Can you believe that? That’s unbelievable?

 

What in common? All statements based on prior beliefs.

 

100 years ago – crossing the Atlantic Ocean in 3 hours? How? Zip line

 

Let’s consider our gospel reading today. Two men walking along the road finding it hard to believe some recent events.

```They can’t believe that a man they believed to be a prophet could be sentenced to death by their own religious leaders

```They can’t believe that the person they thought to be the Redeemer of Israel would be brutally executed.

```They can’t believe some reports by women and ‘angels’ declaring that a brutally executed man could be alive

 

They had all kinds of beliefs that were being challenged by seemingly unbelievable reports.

 

And then they are joined by a man who begins to share with them from all of the Old Testament that they should have believed that the Messiah was supposed to suffer and evidently, to also rise from the dead.

 

SO NOW they are supposed to believe that their scriptures have a NEW STANDARD of INTERPRETATION – that it is all about a Christ who was prophesied, and that he would be persecuted, that he would become a propitiation, BUT ultimately, that he would be proclaimed as risen from the dead!

 

Could those guys believe all that? Can we?

 

So here we get to the nugget of today’s message: What is the reason for preaching? So that People will believe that Jesus is the Lord and Savior of the world – that’s pretty much the bottom line! Jesus is the predicted, persecuted propitiation for the population!

 

And the reason WHY we Preach is to help people believe that proclamation – THIS is the reason why we preach ALL of the Bible --because ALL of the Bible is a presentation of Jesus.

 

Can you believe that? Well it depends upon who you are, and what you already believe…! “C’mon, are you telling me that all those passages about mold and the weaving of different fabrics together, and the dangling tassles on our clothing is all about Jesus?

 

…ehh uh… YEAH!

 

OK, the Bible contains all kinds of history, poetry, visions, narrative, laws, proverbs, and even extended genealogies. All of that Bible information is simply a bunch of words! But those words amount to SOMETHING!! And that SOMETHING requires an INTERPRETATION! Those words are written so that the reader, or hearer, can conclude something – and the conclusion of the whole writing is that nugget again: Believing that Jesus is the Lord and Savior of the world! That’s my interpretation, based upon, Jesus interpretation…

 

Let me give you another famous quote, and again, it’s a famous quote because it’s mine!

“ The facts are plain, but the interpretation is not!” Or for our literary consideration, “We can all agree on what the words are; but can we agree on what they mean?”

 

Have you ever heard this in your home? “I know what you said, but I know what you really meant!” Interpretation has a lot of nuance.

 

Jesus spoke to this notion of interpretation very plainly in the Gospel of John, Chapter 5. In this section, the religious leaders were trying to figure out two things: John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth. They were trying to interpret these two men based upon all the things that they already believed about prophets, and Messiahs, and heretics.

 

The religious leaders were doing what we are asked to do with the Bible, read it, interpret it, and apply it to daily life and convictions.

 

So the religious leaders were having a tough time catorgorizing Jesus and John the Baptist. They were having trouble interpreting them, if you will. And Jesus decides to help them out with a proper interpretation. Speaking of John the Baptist…:

 

5.35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.

 

Jesus says, “Ya’ll liked John the Baptist. He’s did something that you thought was “allowable” according to your beliefs. But you need to know that I AM MORE IMPORTANT THAN JOHN the Baptist – and if you would simply interpret my miracles, you’d be able to figure that out”

 

And then in verse 39, Jesus says this to the religious leaders: 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

 

Jesus continues this allegation in verse 46: If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?"

 

You see, Jesus was challenging what they were already believing about the Bible, their world, their identity, EVERYTHING!

 

And so again, the nugget: The reason for preaching is to CHALLENGE what people believe in order that they will rightly BELIEVE that Jesus is the Lord and savior of the world!

 

We all believe certain things about the world and ourselves. Preaching from the Bible is designed to challenge false beliefs and give confirmation to proper beliefs. And a proper belief about what the Bible says, A proper interpretation of the Bible is to believe that it is all about Jesus! (Even those tassels somehow…) And that he is the Lord and savior of the world.

 

Now, if you’re a person who is blind, lame, thirsty, broken, poor, naked, and heavy laden (Can you interpret what I mean with those words? I mean this spiritually…). If you’re a person who is blind, lame, thirsty, broken, poor, and heavy laden -- If you know that your are a pitiful sinner without hope for redemption by your own efforts ? Then Jesus being the Lord and Savior of the world is a perfect message of Good News – hallelujah!

 

BUT, If you know that you are NOT blind, lame, thirsty, broken, poor, naked, or heavy laden – if you have life all figured out and have no need of redemption – then Jesus being Lord and Savior of the world is not Good News! It’s competition!

 

Listen, I’m competitive! I don’t need anyone telling me I’m a loser and that I need to submit to someone else – I understand that completely. In fact, I USED TO BELIEVE that way!

 

I USED to believe that the Bible was a book of antiquity that described a people and a culture and a way of life that had no connection to my world whatsoever. The Old Testament was just a documentation of a small tribal nation with visions of grandeur! The New Testament, a tricky way to give up on Israel but still promote some sort of loving community. I used to believe that.

 

But then I was confronted with two things! ONE, I did not rule my world, (This challenged all my beliefs), and TWO, Jesus was Lord and Savior of the world. And since I lived in HIS world, and I needed HIM to save me from my pitiful beliefs and restore me to a proper belief.

 

So all of this ask a question: What’s the Reason for Preaching? To help people like me believe that Jesus is the Lord and Savior of the world.

 

I realize that some people have personal beliefs about the Bible and beliefs about their own spiritual condition, and preaching is supposed to challenge those beliefs or to confirm those beliefs – it’s a two edge sword. But if at the end of a sermon, we don’t get to Jesus being the point of it all – then we have failed to communicate why the Bible was even written!

 

And I say this, because Jesus said this, and Jesus is the Lord and Savior of the world.

Now,We are going to conclude with considering everything we said by looking at a passage this morning, please turn to Acts 8

 

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, "Go over and join this chariot." 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" 31 And he said, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

 

So here’s an interesting story about a man reading the Bible, and he’s not sure what he is supposed to believe about what he is reading. But he does believe something – he believes he needs help interpreting the passage – so Philip obliges!

 

32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: "Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. 33 In his humiliation, justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth." 34 And the eunuch said to Philip, "About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?"

 

What a fantastic question the man asks! He knows he is reading a “prophetic passage.” The eunuch understands literary genre. But he still doesn’t know the interpretation of this person who is described as a “sheep being led to the slaughter.”

 

Now NOTICE what Philip DOES NOT do! He doesn’t turn this passage into “Advice for Daily Living.” He doesn’t say, “You see, sheepish people get run over and abused! Don’t be silent you eunuch! You’ve been humiliated, you need to stand up to your queen and demand your rights!” Have we heard preaching like this anywhere?

 

He DOES NOT turn this passage into “Get Well Card.” “God loves lambs, and God wants you to claim your inheritance. And soon you’ll be able to silence all the shearers in your life!” Have we heard preaching like this anywhere?

 

He DOES NOT turn this passage into “Exalting a Bible character.” “Well Isaiah was alive during the time of King Hezekiah! And King Hezekiah was going to loose his life; but God spared him and gave him more years to live -- all because he repented! We should all be more like Hezekiah!” Have we heard preaching like this anywhere?

 

He also doesn’t major on a minor detail of the passage, like how sharp shears need to be!

 

HE DOES something that is most important – makes it a sermon that is about Jesus – a sermon that would not be preached in a synagogue or mosque or AA Meeting – Jesus is the focus of this passage and how through his persecution he has become the Lord and Savior of the world!

 

35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?" 37 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.

 

What was the reason of Philips preaching (by the Spirit)? To encourage this man that Jesus was Lord and Savior of His life! And that happens to be a great reason for why we preach the Bible, because we tend to allow other beliefs to crowd out the most important truth of Life!

 

We wanted to start here in our first message in our “What’s the Reason?” series because we are now going to venture into some territory that is considered controversial, and even counter-cultural. Christians believe a whole set of convictions based upon what the Bible teaches. And since it teaches that Jesus is Lord and Savior -- when the Lord and Savior speaks – we must obey his voice.

As stated before, the Bible addresses all kinds of subject matter. The interpretation of that matter is what impacts ALL our views of marriage, government, abortion, evolution, laws, values, even fashion! And when we have a Lord and Savior who endorses the Bible as being God’s Truth, we as followers of Christ must challenge our beliefs and disciple them to come under the rule of our Lord and Savior.

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