Thursday, February 8, 2007

How Do Christian’s Count?
The Infinite Value of Jesus Christ over and against our self-righteousness
Philippians 3:2-11

Scripture Introduction:

Lord willing, we will be picking up our series on Hosea again on February 21st. Next week we are going to be talking about relationships. Do not forget to have questions prepared for Nikki and me, as we will share our story and then have a time for questions. That will be next week, but this week we are going to teach you how to count. Perhaps you figure that you already know how to count, but we are going to allow God to teach us how to count biblically, by using Philippians 3:2-11.

So before we begin with the text I want us to do a fun little exercise. It might require a little bit of thought, but it will help you understand exactly what Paul is saying here. We are going to use this sheet of paper to see how much righteousness we have. One column is your good deeds the other column will be your bad deeds. I have given you a sheet of paper and I want you to write down on this sheet of paper first of all as many of your good qualities and good deeds that you can think of in 2 minutes. Now I want to give you 2 minutes to think of all of your bad qualities or bad deeds. Perhaps you can use the 10 Commandments as a guide. Now, how are we going to count this up? How will we see how much righteousness you have?

Many use a simple procedure. Many take your good deeds. I came up with 15. Then you subtract your bad deeds from your good deeds. If you have a positive number then that means you are a good person; the higher the positive the better the person. Of course this gets a little more complicated because many people count certain sins as -2 and some good deeds as +2. But for simplicity sake we will only count everything as one. I had 15 good deeds and 9 bad deeds. That means that I am a good person. I have a positive 6. Maybe not as good as Gandhi but I am at least on the positive. According to the world’s counting I am righteous and therefore will probably go to heaven. But let’s take a look at what Paul says:

Read Philippians 3:2-11


Sermon Introduction:

Now, it is important that we understand why Paul is writing what he is writing. As he is writing this he is held in prison for being a Christian and preaching the gospel. While he has been in prison a certain group called the Judaizers has been gaining much popularity and they are preaching their gospel all throughout the places that Paul had been preaching. Their gospel is actually no gospel at all. It is not good news. Their gospel is that Jesus is not enough. If you want to be saved then you must have Jesus plus Judaism. You need to have Jesus and you need to be circumcised, you need to become a Jew and you need to start following after the Law. The Judaizers “gospel” is Jesus plus. If we are to use them in our math analogy they certainly would say that having faith in Jesus is indeed a good deed. And it probably even counted as 10 or 20 points. But you still needed to have circumcision, and you still needed to have the Law, and you still need to have your good deeds. And you still added your good and subtracted the bad and that decided whether or not you were righteous enough to go to heaven.

Paul has some very strong words for the Judaizers. He calls them dogs. In that culture being called a dog was not like it is now. Now, you can say “what’s up dog” and it’s perhaps a term of endearment-although a lame and outdated one. In that culture to be called a dog is to be called a scavenger. It would be like calling someone a buzzard or vulture in our culture. So the text that we have here today is in response to the Judaizers. He is defending the biblical gospel and answering those who believe you have to have Jesus plus, in order to be saved. In verse 3 Paul says that we as Christians are the “true circumcision”. Or to put that in other words, we as Christians are the “true Israel”. Or again to even make it more modern, “we are the true church, we are the true followers of Christ, and we are the true worshippers of the Lord”. Then Paul begins to use his life as an example. And it is here that we will learn how to do Christian math, or Christian accounting if you will. We are first of all going to see that Christians count any form of self-righteousness as a loss.

I. Christians count all self-righteousness as a loss

Earlier I had you make a list of all your good qualities and your good deeds. Paul has his own list here in Philippians 3. It might be difficult to pick up Paul’s boasting in our modern context. But we must remember the reason Paul is speaking. The Judaizers have said in order to be saved you must not only have faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah but you must also become a Jew. Which means you must still adhere to the letter of the Law in the Old Testament. In order to become a Jew (and in order to be saved) you must get circumcised. Paul is then putting on paper his resume for being a good Jew, that was their standard and Paul was saying that he not only met their standard but he far exceeded it.

I want to avoid going into a lengthy discussion of each of these points. We could perhaps preach a sermon on each of these boasts that Paul makes. So, please allow me to only summarize them for you. In essence what Paul is doing with his statement, “circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews”, is boasting in his hereditary accomplishments. He is saying, “If the requirement is to be a good Jew then ethnically, culturally, physically, I am a Jew through and through, you do not get more Jewish than me”.
Perhaps you have some of these positional or hereditary things on your list as well. “Raised in a Christian home, baptized, prayer captain, FCA member, youth leader, Bible studies leader, etc.”

Paul not only lists his hereditary, positional achievements, he also lists his personal convictions as a reason for boasting. Paul says as far as the Law of Moses is concerned he was a Pharisee. He observed the Law so strictly. He would have been like one of those that Jesus spoke of, that would go through such great lengths not to eat anything that was considered unclean that they would even strain all of their food and drink so as not to accidentally swallow a gnat. Paul was a Pharisee, and as a Pharisee he kept the letter of the Law. Furthermore he was zealous. He was zealous (passionate is another word for this) about being a Jew and about observing the Law. It was no mere head religion to Paul. He put it in practice. He was in fact so passionate about the Law that he sought to drive out these new Jesus followers. In fact we read that Paul was at the stoning of the first recorded Christian martyr; Stephen. He was “breathing out murderous threats” against Christians as the Bible says. Paul was passionate about upholding the Law and he was so zealous that these infidel Christians must be stopped. Paul was no hypocrite either. He was not just meticulous in keeping the letter, nor was he zealous for others to obey yet he himself did not. Paul says that as far as obeying the Law is concerned he was indeed blameless.
Perhaps you have some of these as well that you wrote down. “You believe in God, you try to keep God’s Law, you try to read your Bible, you are a good friend, you try to be nice to others, you try to follow Jesus’ teachings, etc.”

Paul is saying here if anyone can put confidence in the flesh I can. But I want you to notice the word here that Paul uses. “I…” Anytime in your list, on the good deeds side, that it begins with “I” or it could begin with “I” then circle it. For example: I am a youth pastor, I am a good husband, I am kind and loving, I am a Sunday School teacher, I try to help people, I have been baptized, I have prayed a prayer, I tithe to the church, I pray, I believe in God, I try to be a good person and follow Jesus, etc.” This is what we call self-righteousness. Anything that YOU do, try to do, or can do, or anything you are trusting in yourself for is self-righteousness. It is stating, because “I” did this then I am now righteous before God.

Now, I said earlier we are going to learn how to do Christian math or Christian accounting. Here is perhaps where it differs from the world. Remember the world system is to take our good deeds and add them up then subtract them from the bad deeds. But listen to what Paul says in verse 7, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ”.

I want you to notice that it is not merely that he counts them as 0. It is not as if you can say, “well in the grand scheme of things my righteous deeds actually do not count as anything”, therefore all of my bad deeds are then subtracted from 0 and every time I am going to come up with 0”. Actually our guilt runs even deeper than that. Paul says that he counts all of those things that once were in the gain column as a loss. That means they are instead of positive, negative. So rather than counting each of your good deeds as a positive and then subtracting your bad deeds from that number, you are actually going to add up all of your good deeds and then add them to your bad deeds and then put a big fat negative in front of that. What this means then is that right now I have a negative 15.

Before we move to the next point I want to ask this question. Why does Paul count those things as “loss” which he once counted as gain? Or to put it another way, why does “self-righteousness count as a loss”?

Those things that Paul listed are not bad in themselves. It is not damning to be a Jew. Certainly it is a good thing to be blameless in following the Law. It is a good thing to want to follow after God and please Him. It is a good thing to be zealous for truth. All of these things are in themselves good things. Many of the things listed here by Paul, he lists elsewhere as blessings. But whenever they are used improperly they turn into negatives or curses if you will. Whenever you consider anything that you do to be your ticket into heaven they instead of becoming stepping stones become stumbling blocks. The Law was intended to point us to Christ. Whenever we make following the 10 Commandments the end, we miss it. We stumble over that which was to lead us to Christ.

But the real reason why these are loss is because they stand in our way of Christ. Listen to what Paul says in Galatians, when he addressed these same Judaizers. “Behold, I Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you…You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace.” And again he says that “if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly”. The real reason these are negatives is because you either trust in God or you do not. You cannot trust in Christ and trust in your self-righteousness as well. So Paul says I count these as loss so that I might gain Christ.

II. Christian’s count the value of knowing Christ as infinite

In verse 8 Paul more emphatically states this fact that no self-righteousness will count as anything before Jesus Christ. But this time Paul goes even further. He says, “I consider all things, which I might place my fleshly confidence in to be positively harmful.” People trust in all sorts of things besides their religiosity. People in Paul’s day trusted in their Roman citizenship. Today some might trust in their American citizenship or Baptist membership to assure them a place in heaven. What Paul is saying to us is this: If it’s not from Jesus Christ then it is dung, it is garbage. Everything on your “bad list” and everything on your “good list” should be in the loss column. If your sentence does not start with “because Jesus” then it’s not His righteousness it’s yours and it counts as dung. And I will show you why that is.

Notice why in verse 8, Paul says that counts all things as loss. He counts them loss “in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”. Everything of our own self-righteousness is a “loss” compared to the infinite worth and beauty of Jesus Christ. I want to ask you a math question. What is infinity plus one? It is still infinity, because you can not add to infinity. What is infinity minus one? It is still infinity. I understand that does not make much since, but when did math ever make sense? You can not add anything to infinity nor can you subtract from it.

Jesus Christ is infinite in His being and in His person. He is infinite in His beauty and He is infinite in His splendor. That is why everything is a loss compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ. You can not add to the righteousness of Christ with your own, nor can you subtract from the righteousness of Christ by your lack of it. Either you have one column of losses, or you possess the infinite gain, which is Jesus Christ.

To further help us see the infinite beauty of Jesus and why it is that everything is loss comparatively we are going to look now at two things. 1) What does it mean to know Jesus Christ? 2) What are the effects of knowing Jesus Christ?

1) What does it mean to know Jesus Christ?

Again we are going to look at the example of Paul. What would cause a man who was a Jew through and through to forsake all of his human accomplishments and further more to count them even as dung? What would cause a man to “suffer all things”, and “count everything in life as dung if it be not Jesus”. There is only one thing that can change you in such a manner. And that is seeing and valuing Jesus Christ. It is not merely knowing about Jesus, it is knowing Him. If I wanted to get into the White House to see President Bush, my reciting facts about him would mean little. You can find out about George Bush, you can find out about Jesus Christ, by doing a Google search. Certainly you will come up with many different opinions, but I very seriously doubt that raw facts are going to cause you to treasure Jesus, in such a manner that you would give up everything for Him.

Knowing Jesus is not merely, knowing about Him. It is, knowing Him intimately. It is having a living, breathing, real relationship with Him. It is to have the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ”. It is indescribable, and that is why I am having a difficulty in presenting this to you. All I can say to you is that the word for “know” means to know through experience. I cannot describe it to those of you who have never seen the beauty of Christ, all I can really do is tell you about its effects; just like I cannot describe the wind to you, but only its effects.

2) What are the effects of knowing Jesus Christ?

In our text Paul mentions what it is positively and what it brings about negatively. What I mean by that is this: You can see the power of knowing Jesus Christ in what Paul now desires, and what Paul now gives up to attain this desire. In your own life you can see how much you know Jesus Christ by what you will give up to have Him, and by what you positively do to attain Him.

I set for myself a goal of reading 5 books per month. One of my books this month is Jonathan Edwards’, “Freedom of the Will”. It is a wonderful book and of his statements struck me to the core. Edwards said, “The choice of the mind n ever departs from that which, at that time, and with respect to the direct and immediate objects of that decision of the mind, appears most agreeable and pleasing, all things considered”. That is a Puritan’s way of saying this, “You always choose what you treasure most”. And as I thought about that statement I prayed, “Oh, God change my desires and my passions in such a way that I always treasure you most”. If I always treasured Christ then I would stop sinning. Christ is indeed the greatest treasure; it is just getting my sinful flesh to realize this truth that is the problem. All of this means that you can know how much you treasure Christ by your actions.

Another fitting example is found on the lips of Jesus. In Matthew 13:44-46 he teaches two parables. “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Knowing Jesus Christ is so valuable that a man will do whatever it takes to possess it. Furthermore it is so valuable and so precious that a merchant (whose business is buying and selling, he is one of course who would know the value of things) goes and sells all that he has to attain it. You know the value of Christ if you can be like Paul and “suffer all things for the sake of knowing Christ”.

How then can you tell if you do not treasure Christ? If you are still clinging to your own righteousness then you do not treasure Christ. In verse 9 Paul states his goal, “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own…but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith”. A Christian counts the righteousness of Christ as infinitely valuable, and therefore counts his own righteousness and lack of righteousness as totally opposed to Christ’s righteousness.

What is meant by Christ’s righteousness? On the Cross two things took place. Christ took my sin (my lack of righteousness) and my punishment for it. But, he not only did that but He positively gave me His righteousness. So that I stand before God, as Paul says here, “not having a righteousness of my own” but instead one that “comes through faith in Christ”. It is a righteousness that has been given to me by God on the basis of faith, faith being the instrument that links me to the righteousness of Christ.

Furthermore, you can tell that you do not treasure Christ by the way you live your life. A man cannot serve both God and money, Jesus said. You can substitute the word, self, world, etc. in the place of money. You cannot serve two masters is what Jesus taught. You will hate the one and love the other. You cannot say that you treasure Christ if your life is patterned by constant disobedience of Him. You cannot say that you treasure Christ while you are madly in love with the world.

Kevin asks us a question last Sunday that I think is fitting again here. What is it that you cannot give up? Is it things of this world or is it Jesus Christ? Where you treasure is there your heart will be also. If you treasure Christ then you would not give Him up if the whole world were offered you. If you treasure the world and cannot give it up, then you do not treasure Christ.

Now, in closing I want to note that treasuring Christ is not only a matter of being a “good Christian or a mediocre Christian”. It is, I believe, a matter of heaven or hell. Paul seems to be saying here that if you are still counting on your own righteousness, if you are not treasuring Christ, in such a way that you count all things as loss but to gain Christ then you do not know Him. Jesus himself said, “For whoever wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul?”

Knowing Jesus is like that merchant who sold everything to have Him. Knowing Jesus is like the man who bought the entire field just to have the treasure buried in it. Knowing Jesus is saying that everything that does not come from Christ is but dung. Knowing Jesus counts all of our self-righteousness as a loss. Knowing Jesus counts Jesus as infinitely valuable, and therefore is treasured. If you do not treasure Jesus then you do not know Him.

In closing, let us look one last time at our accounts. Look at your list of bad, and your list of good. We have seen that both are to be counted as negative before a holy God. We have nothing to offer. No amount of self-righteousness will count, because self-righteousness opposes God. It slaps the Jesus in the face and says, I don’t need you. If all you have is your own self-righteousness then you stand in the negative and there is nothing you can do to get out. Righteous deeds, they count as negatives. Bad deeds, certainly they too count as negatives. Neither good nor bad that you do will give you a positive number, nothing that you do will give you righteousness. Instead you must have a righteousness that is not your own.

How is this righteousness attained? John Piper gives a wonderful illustration of what faith is (how it is both the easiest and hardest thing to do). Piper says, “It’s like the monkey with his hand caught in a jar. It would be easy for him to slip his hand out of the opening except he has his fist around a nut. If he loves the nut more than he loves freedom from the jar, then getting his hand out of the jar will be hard, even impossible. But what could be easier than dropping a nut? The battle that Paul and Jesus are talking about is the battle to love the freedom of faith more than the nut of sin.”

The only way that you will drop the nut of sin is if Christ appears most precious to you. And that is my prayer for you. Perhaps God has already done a work on your heart and Christ does appear precious to you. Repent (drop the nut of sin) and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (pull your hand out of the jar and embrace Christ). Trust in Christ and not your own self-reliance. And always remember that faith in Christ is not a one time event but a lifetime of knowing and experience Him. Never settle, never think you have attained. But always press on to lay hold of the goal—to know Jesus Christ. Do what you can to know Him.

If you treasure the nut of sin too much then you are getting ripped off. Not only will you never be satisfied, (Note that if you hand is stuck in the cookie jar you aren’t going to be eating the cookie) but furthermore you are missing out on the greatest pleasure. Jesus Christ. Paul does not count everything as dung because he is an unhappy little man. He counts it as dung because Jesus is so unbelievably awesome. There are many things that are sweet and precious in this life. But compared to the surpassing greatness and infinite worth of Jesus Christ they are like dung. Think how awesome Jesus Christ is. Yet, you would rather have your own self-reliance? Yet, you would rather remain in your sin? Yet, you would rather have the world? Oh, how infinitely precious Jesus Christ is. I urge you drop the nut!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Fad Jesus #2 (Uncut Sermon Text)

Fad Jesus
Case #2 (Homeboy Jesus and South Park Jesus)
Selected passages from John 6

If you were here last week you remember that we discussed “Fad Jesus”. We looked at John 6 and noted that “Fad Jesus” appeared even in their culture. What we mean by “Fad Jesus” is that people are following a Jesus of their own making. Perhaps, Jesus has some sort of popularity in your school or even in your own heart. But the question for us to answer is this; is it biblical Jesus. Only biblical Jesus will endure to the end, only the biblical Jesus is powerful to save. You will note on our new website a quote by ex-Blink 182 guitar singer Tom Delonge. In the quote he says that he is “into Jesus…but it just so happens that [he] has a foul mouth and likes to make kids laugh.” Knowing some of Blink 182’s lyrics it makes me ask the question, what Jesus is Tom Delonge “into”? Now, perhaps you are a big Blink 182 fan (which I am not) and you are scanning y our mind through all of their lyrics…you are thinking of maybe a few of the bad words or choice comments they make and probably figure that is what I am talking about. It’s not. Maybe it is their clothes, what about the album covers? No. That is not what I am taking issue with. And this is where our problem lies—this is part of the reason why Fad Jesus is so deadly and we miss it. This is why it is so deceptive and many of you here tonight might be absolutely sold out to Jesus—Fad Jesus.

DeLonge and others like him, exposes his heart not by what he says but by what he does not say. One who has been bought by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, one who has been redeemed and has been made a new creature cries out with Paul, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” That is the heart of one who has been given a new heart (which is necessary to be saved), his life is about one thing, or rather one person Jesus Christ. Nothing but Christ will do for me, nothing but Christ will satisfy me and it is for Him and Him only that I seek. Those who are followers of Fad Jesus are not satisfied with Christ alone and that is fitting because nothing but Christ alone will satisfy. Those who follow Fad Jesus will never find their souls satisfaction because they do not know the biblical Jesus. So, tonight it is my prayer that God might use His Word and His servant to expose the Fad Jesus and point you to the biblical Jesus.


Last week we looked at Cool Jesus and Superhero Jesus. We noted that Superhero Jesus does miracles to please people, to have fun, to show off his coolness while the biblical Jesus’ miracles are always driven by compassion and purpose (v5, v14-v15, v38-40). We hopefully exposed Cool Jesus as driven by popular culture and the need to be liked, and pointed you to the biblical Jesus that refuses empty worship, will not take a back seat to our other affections, and even though he is the only source of eternal life he is often rejected. (v15, v26, v47-48).

I. Homeboy Jesus

Tonight we are going to begin by looking at Homeboy Jesus. What I am referring to with Homeboy Jesus is mainly the Jesus is My Homeboy T-shirts and many of the others like it. So, we ask “who is Homeboy Jesus?”

Homeboy Jesus has gained much popularity in recent years. People such as Ashton Kutcher have even been seen wearing shirts that say Jesus is My Homeboy. Now granted some who wear these shirts mean no offense, others probably such as Ashton Kutcher intend it to be a joke. What is meant by Homeboy Jesus? I believe what is meant is that Jesus is common, just like us, and easily attainable.

This idea of Jesus as our Homeboy more than likely comes from a misunderstanding of God’s condescension and the Incarnation. Let me put that in simple English for you: It comes from a misunderstanding of what Jesus means by saying we are His friends. Instead of understanding Jesus to mean that He is bridging the gap between sinful humanity and a holy God so that now we have become “friends”: whereas the enmity has now been removed. As well as understanding that He really is our great friend, He calls us that. So, let us not think that the biblical Jesus is not our friend because He indeed is. But the problem with Homeboy Jesus is that it takes our friendship with Jesus too far into the realm of irreverence. We must understand that God did indeed become one of us-but He also still remained to be God.

And this is what we see in this story in John 6. The spirit of the people as Jesus went into Capernaum appears to be that of people who are seeking after Jesus, but ones that feel that Jesus somewhat “owes” them something, or perhaps that they can stake their claim on Jesus. We pick this up when they ask the question, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Which also can be translated something like, “What are you doing here?” “What business do you have leaving us and traveling elsewhere; don’t you know that we are seeking after you?” But more than the crowd I think we see the roots of Homeboy Jesus in 42 when the grumbling Jews, say “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he know say, “I have come down from heaven”? Their great mistake is that they think that Jesus is common and just like them. “We know your parents Jesus” so how can you say that you are eternal?

The problem with the “Jesus is My Homeboy” shirts is the simple truth that Jesus is not our “Homeboy”, He is Lord. Is Jesus our friend? Yes! Is Jesus like a brother? Yes! Is Jesus our homeboy? No. Hopefully we will see this more clearly by taking a look at the biblical Jesus. Again we will look at verse 37 of John 6, as well as the latter part of Jesus’ message. From these verses we can see two main things, 1) Jesus is often difficult, confusing, and offensive. 2) Without divine intervention it is impossible to come to Jesus Christ.

1) Jesus is often difficult, confusing, and offensive
We often have the idea that Jesus was well received and that everybody liked his messages. Certainly, we think, Jesus was a polished speaker, and even if sometimes people did not accept His message at least they understood it. We forget that Jesus’ often left his listeners confused, angry, and offended. That is what we see here at the end of John 6. Verse 60 has his disciples saying, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” Verse 66 has many of his once passionate followers turning away and no longer following him. But these are not isolated incidents. At one point in the gospel of Matthew the disciples plainly ask Jesus, “Why do you speak to them in parables”? Which is another way of saying, “Why do you speak so that they do not understand?” As far as Jesus being offensive; it is said that in his own home town the people “took offense at him”. And we know from 1 Corinthians 1:18 that “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” The Jesus Christ and His Gospel is known as a “stumbling block” as well as a “rock of offense”. Yet Christ says that “blessed is the one who is not offended by me”.

But I ask this question—what is so offensive about Jesus? We could probably list quite a few things but I will attempt to narrow it down to three.

A. He is exclusive in His claims

Here in this section we see Jesus making exclusive claims such as, “I am the bread of life”. This section is one of many of the “I AM” claims of Jesus in the Gospel of John. You may not pick it up just by reading that sentence but whenever Jesus says, “I AM” He is making a claim about himself-a claim that is exclusive to God. In fact “I AM” is what God revealed His name to be to Moses. Here he says “I am the bread of life”, later he says, “I am the light of the world”, “I am the door of the sheep”, “I am the good shepherd”, “I am the resurrection and the life”, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life”, “I am the true vine”. Each of these I AM statements, as well as whenever Jesus plainly said to the Pharisees, “Before Abraham was I AM”, are not only exclusive claims of being God incarnate but they are also exclusive in the sense that they are unique. Notice especially John 14:6, “I am THE way, THE truth, THE life and no man comes to the Father but through me. Jesus is saying I am the only way to heaven—you will get to heaven through no other way but me. That is exclusive and to our tolerant ears that is offensive.

B. He is inclusive in His call

We also see in John 6:37 that Jesus says, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out”. You might not catch it but what Jesus’ is saying is this: I don’t care who you are or what you have done, or what you have been. If the Father has called you out and through that you come to me, then I will not cast you out. This is offensive to some. This means blacks, whites, Arabs, Mexicans, Indians, Chinese, former pedophiles, homosexual, adulterers, murderers, rapist, nice people, rich people, poor people, fun-loving people, men, women, children. As it says in Revelation people from every tribe, tongue, nation and language. Some find this offensive. The white slave owner comes to the Father down the same path as his black slave. The upright judge must bow His knee alongside the convicted felon. When Christ calls the pedophile out of darkness into the light then he too walks on the same path as those who have lived good lives. The ex-murderer has the same lot in Christ as the one who was so appalled by killing she became a vegetarian. No matter who you are, or what you have done you come to the Father through Jesus Christ. He is inclusive in His call. Neither rich nor poor has a right to God, yet He freely bestows His grace upon both.

C. He is at the center-not you.

We will look at this briefly under two headings. 1) Jesus and His gospel are opposed to all human ability. There is a gospel that is often preached in our land today. It is a gospel that says Christ died to make all men “savable”. You must merely reach inside yourself and exercise the power you have, and you will be able to deliver yourselves. But the gospel of Jesus Christ says this, “No one can come to me unless the Father who went me draws him”. Homeboy Jesus is easily accessible but the biblical Jesus—no man will find appealing or come to unless the Father draws him. That is offensive. Because we would like to think that we can come to Christ and choose Him at anytime. We like to think that Jesus is a decision to be made. Perhaps I can put this off. I will live life now and then choose Christ later. But the gospel says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws Him”. Therefore, if you are to find salvation today you had best take hold of it. If God is calling you out of darkness into light, you must indeed not turn it aside. 2) Jesus and His gospel are opposed to all human righteousness. In John 6:53 Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” That is another way of saying that if you are not in union with Jesus Christ then you have nothing of eternal life in you. Why is that? Because you have no human righteousness of your own. Natural man likes to boast of his good deeds. Natural man likes to say, “well I think I am a good person, I try my hardest”. But the gospel says, “If you have not Christ you have no life in you”. The gospel is utterly opposed to human righteousness. Because there is no such thing—it is a deception of Satan. The gospel tells us that we are utterly fallen and that we have forsaken God and turned to our idols. We have no claim upon God, yet He is might to save us from our fallen condition if we but trust in His righteousness instead of our own.

2) Without divine intervention it is impossible to come to Christ

We will come back to this last point in greater detail later: that without divine intervention it is impossible to come to Christ. One of the great dangers of Homeboy Jesus is that it makes us think that Jesus isn’t really much different than us. It makes us think that He is easily attainable. Therefore, we never attain Him. We do not treat Him as He is, the Lord of our lives. Homeboy Jesus is not Lord Jesus. You don’t bow your knees to your Homeboy. You don’t submit your lives to your Homeboys. So therefore, people keep Jesus, the biblical Jesus, the Lord Jesus, they keep Him at a distance.

And this distancing and rejection of Christ, only further proves Scripture and exposes the problems of the people in John 6. They were thinking that Jesus was just like them. “How do we get this bread”, they asked. “How do we do the works of God?” All the while fully believing they had what it too to do the works of God. All throughout, not only this chapter but the entire Gospel, they were grumbling, disputing, and arguing with the King of Kings! Why? It was because they only saw Joseph and Mary’s little baby boy. They figured that they could get to Jesus through their human ability, and through their own righteousness. But Christ says to them, “without the Father drawing you then you will never come to me”. South Park Jesus will help us see this more clearly and it is there that we now look.

II. South Park Jesus

Before we begin looking at South Park Jesus I need to clarify something about him. Few people are passionate followers of South Park Jesus, so in that sense he is not “Fad Jesus”. But we will put him in here because it exposes a common misconception of the biblical Jesus and is perhaps one side of “Fad Jesus”. Perhaps it is because deep down many view Jesus the same way that the creators of South Park, the Simpson’s, and Family Guy do-as weak and impotent, with feelings that are easy to hurt.

Perhaps you have never seen the Jesus character on South Park, nor the Simpson’s Jesus, and perhaps not Jesus on Family Guy. I have actually never seen Jesus on Family Guy, it has been awhile since I watched even a moment of South Park, but the Simpson’s Jesus I am acquainted with. I remember in particular one episode that caused me much anger. I do not remember the context very well at all, I only remember Homer talking to “God” and “God” mentioning that he was upset because nobody would play with his son. And then it cuts to a scene with Jesus twirling very sadly on a swing set, obviously rejected and saddened by the fact that nobody would play with him. I also remember much this same view of Jesus on South Park. I know that he apparently has his own television show, and he seems to be the “joke” of the town. He always is giving advice like a sage and is kind of a weakling that nobody really listens to and easily dismisses.

I am not certain where this view came from; it certainly does not come from Scripture. Maybe again the church has unwittingly propagated the South Park Jesus. I know whenever I was a child I was told of gentle Jesus meek and mild. Often times Jesus is presented by many to be a gentleman, and I know that often we hold a false view that “Jesus will never go where He is not invited”. Perhaps parents telling their children, “You make baby Jesus cry” has added to this. I would venture to say that the reason why popular culture has begun to view Jesus as weak and impotent with feelings easy to hurt is because that is what the church itself has come to believe. Of course we would never say those words but our prayers, our life style, our evangelism, and our preaching exposes us.

Let us take a little test to see if we have fallen victim to the South Park Jesus. I ask you this question, Christian, what must happen for your lost friend to come to Christ?
Now perhaps your response is something to the effect of, “They must make a decision for Christ”. “They must indeed choose Christ.” Or perhaps you use a little more biblical wordage and say they must “Receive Christ” or “Believe upon His name”. Whatever formula you use you note that a decision must be made-and indeed that is without a doubt biblical. But this is where our views so often split and this is where our view of God and Christ will be exposed.

We all understand that some decision must be made. Men must come to Christ. But why do they not? And it is how you answer this question as well as how you propose to solve the problem that exposes what you believe about God. Perhaps you are here tonight and you do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ but you have indeed heard the biblical call, “Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ”. Whether you adhere to this command or not it is still required of you. It is commanded to repent and believe. So why is it that tonight you do not? Or, Christian, why is it that your friend does not come to Christ?

Perhaps they are too caught up in sin and distracted by sin. Therefore, if we can somehow get them out of their environment and into a church perhaps, or maybe into some sort of counseling, maybe then they will “come to Christ”. If we can get sin out of their lives for one moment so that they can see it for what it is, then perhaps they will make a decision for Christ. But I give to you an example of the Pharisees who had completely purged “sin” (at least outwardly) from their midst yet Jesus called them “sons of hell”. For all of their efforts and struggles the problem still remained.

Perhaps it is their education. Maybe they were not raised in a Christian home or maybe they even went to a non-Bible believing church and they are ignorant of the Bible and biblical doctrines. Therefore, our duty is to educate them. If we can but teach them Christianity, then perhaps they will “come to Christ”. Perhaps we can teach them the Bible, if we can get them into a Sunday school class, perhaps then they will surrender to Jesus. If only they have correct knowledge then they will come to Christ. But I submit to you the example of the Rich Young Ruler who was taught by Christ Himself, yet the Scripture says “he left in much sorrow”, never converted. This man fully knew what the Law of God was and he fully knew what was required of him, his problem was not with a lack of education. For all of his learning he too was unconverted.

Perhaps it is just that they find Jesus boring or offensive. Maybe it is that there is some sort of block there that the church has put—maybe the fact that we are hypocrites. Therefore if the church gets her act together then lost people will start coming to church and eventually will get saved. Therefore, what we need to do is take out everything in church that might be conceived as boring, perhaps then we can show them that Jesus isn’t boring and neither is the church. Maybe we can take out everything in the church that is offensive, we can reword our language and we can remove every single “stumbling block” along their path. If we make it as easy as they can to make a decision. Perhaps we should find new innovative ways to affect their emotions. Maybe if we dim the lights a little more, play the guitar a little softer, and speak in a much more warm and welcoming voice then they will come. But I submit to you the crowd of our text who is passionately seeking after Jesus, you want emotion? You want excitement? You want to see an example of people who find Jesus altogether cool, not boring, then look at the crowd in John 6. Now, granted once Jesus becomes offensive they leave. So maybe if we would stop preaching like Jesus then more people would come to Christ.

I submit to you 2 Corinthians 4 for an answer to our problem, where Paul says, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” And that Paul says is the problem. They are blinded so that they cannot see the beauty of Christ. We look again at Jesus’ statement in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws Him”. Why? It is because without the drawing of God (the work of the Holy Spirit) no man will come to Christ. Is it God that is hindering them? Is it that they are just dying to believe but God just refuses to do His drawing? Of course not, as we learned in 2 Corinthians it is Satan (obviously working with their sinful flesh) that blinds them and keeps them from seeing His glory.

So what then is our hope? What then is your hope? Listen again to what Paul states is the hope of his ministry, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”. What is our hope? That God might shine in our hearts the light of the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
What is the hope for your friend? What is the solution? Our only hope is that God might shine the light of the Gospel into their hearts so that they treasure Christ. What is our solution? What must we do? We must cast ourselves upon the mercy of God and pray fervently for them. God can do it, let us beg and plead with God to save the souls of our friends and beloved family members. Plead with Him for them!

And now, I want you to see the difference between the biblical Jesus and the weak impotent Jesus of South Park (and as it pains me to say it often the modern church). Listen to the power in these words of Jesus in John 6: v.37, “All that the Father gives me will come to me”. Do you hear any options there? If you have been given to Jesus Christ then you will indeed come. This is not me saying this, it is not some sort of abstract theology, this is what Jesus is saying in God’s Word and we must not try to get around it. “All that the Father gives me will come to me”.

Now perhaps you are asking, “How do I know if the Father has given me to Jesus?” And Christ is giving you an answer in the latter part of verse 37, “And whoever comes to me I will never cast out”. If you come to Jesus Christ he will not drive you away. It is not as if this verse is saying, “Unless you are belong to Jesus God is going to reject you even if you try to come”. What this verse is simply saying is this, “This is a rock-solid hope THEY WILL COME!” This is why I greatly dislike the saying “Jesus is a gentleman He will never go where He is not invited”. If by that statement you mean that Jesus isn’t going to bring people kicking and screaming into the kingdom against their desires then I agree with you. But if you mean that Jesus is sitting around knocking on the door of our heart until we finally decide to let Him in, then that is not scriptural. If Jesus doesn’t kick down the door and “shine the light of His glory” into our hearts then we have no hope. Jesus is not weak impotent and waiting He is powerful to come and save, He is powerful to draw and all those that are His WILL COME!

Now listen to more of the power of Jesus Christ. v.39, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day”. Jesus is not only powerful to save He is also powerful to keep. When He saves you He also keeps you. The Holy Spirit works in you to make you holy. You will stay with Jesus because he will stay with You!

Again Christ promises eternal life, a weak and impotent South Park Jesus cannot promise eternal life. It seems like South Park Jesus is more of an inviting, “Check Yes or No” type of Jesus while the biblical Jesus is a promise maker with power to come through. Jesus says I give eternal life and that is a promise. You can count on that.

But the truth of Jesus is not that He is weak and impotent and that He has feelings that are easy to be hurt. The truth of Jesus Christ is that He is intimidating, powerful, and able to accomplish His purposes. I love the story in the Chronicles of Narnia (unfortunately I think left out of the movie). When the kids are preparing to meet Aslan they have questions for Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. I will let C.S. Lewis tell his story:

“But shall we see him?” asked Susan.
“Why daughter of Eve, that’s what I brought you here for. I’m to lead you where you shall meet him,” said Mr. Beaver.
“Is—he a man?” asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of the Beasts? Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King I tell you.”

Jesus is not safe-but He is good! It is my desire that in the last couple of weeks you have seen the biblical Jesus. Perhaps God has opened up the eyes of your heart and you now see that Jesus is neither weak nor impotent. And you have to come to realize that you are not the center but He is. You see that Jesus refuses empty worship and that he will not take a back seat to your affections, and that is the last thing you now want to give Him. Perhaps now you confess with Peter, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

If God has done a work on your heart, and the Father is drawing you to see the preciousness of Jesus Christ would you come to Him. Jesus says “whoever comes to me I will never cast out”. Is the Father drawing you tonight? That whoever means you. If you come, no matter who you are or what you have done, if you come to Jesus He says I will not cast you away. I will not reject you. Though the world has, though others have I will not. Come to me! Cast your soul upon Him and trust Him and His righteousness. He is mighty to save and He will do it. He will further endear your heart to Himself. If you so desire Jesus tonight, that is God drawing you to Himself. Would you come to Him?