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The Christian Worldview

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In this week's lesson, we were introduced to Stephen and his example of standing up boldly for what you believe, even in the face of adversity.  There is much that we, as 21st century Christians, can learn from our 1st century brother in Christ.  You see, we live in a culture that celebrates individuality and the freedom to believe in and be whoever you want to be...as long as who you are and what you believe is inclusive and accepting of everyone else, who they are, and what they believe.  That's a pretty big caveat...right???

Unfortunately, for us, as Christians, we are compelled and commanded to live our lives in obedience to the Bible, and God's standard is far from inclusive.  In fact, it's incredibly exclusive.  So exclusive, in fact, that the only one who qualifies is God himself.  That's bad news for everyone, because it means that we are all in a world of trouble when it comes to our standing before a perfectly holy God.

This truth is perhaps the most often misunderstood aspect of what Christians actually believe.  The world sees the Christian worldview as narrow-minded and even downright bigoted, because we herald the truth of scripture, which tells the world that we all stand condemned, guilty in our sinful flesh.  Notice though that is not the Christian that condemns the world, it is the very word of God himself.  I am in no way qualified to point out the guilt of another, and neither are you.  It is the word of God that convicts and condemns the sinner.  But that's only half of the story.

Again, the worldly ear hears of God's perfect standard, his just nature, and his righteous wrath against sin and the worldly man does the math.  He recognizes his guilt and his inability to tip the scales in his favor.  Then, rather than seeking mercy, he foolishly rejects the reality of his situation in exchange for a virtual reality of his own making, one of ignorant bliss.  It is the pinnacle of human pridefulness.  Think of it this way, if I reject the reality that the grass is green and the sky is blue, does it make it any less true?

However, rejecting God based on only one aspect of his nature is like standing with your face pressed up against a masterpiece of art and wondering why you can't see what everybody is raving about.  It's only once you see the whole picture, the sum of all of the pieces, and how they are essential to and complimentary of one another that the true beauty really takes shape.  True indeed, God is a god of justice and wrath, and those attributes are worthy of our praise and worship.  But he is equally and simultaneously a god of mercy, grace, and forgiveness.  He has not and does not change...this, both parts, is who he is, who he always has been, and who he always will be.  That means that his justice and wrath is an act of love and mercy to his creatures.  At the same time, his mercy and grace that is shown to us, is given in satisfaction of his justice and wrath.  How can these seemingly incompatible and diametrically opposed aspects of God's eternal nature somehow be reconciled to one another?

The answer is Jesus!  It is in Jesus, at the foot of the cross, where we see both the satisfaction for God's wrath against all sin, and the overwhelming love, mercy, and grace of God for his broken creatures, brought into perfect harmony with one another.  When we grasp this truth, when we see it and experience it, then, like Stephen, we have no choice but to boldly proclaim it for all the world to hear.  The Gospel is the greatest story ever told and it is this story, of God's great love for us when we were yet his enemies (Romans 5:8) that compels us to love our Lord and Savior.

Stephen spoke boldly about Jesus, because Jesus had radically transformed his life...and that kind of power is something that needs to be shared with others.  Jesus is the cure for the spiritually terminal disease that has infected us all.  He, and he alone, has the power to save and redeem!

In Grace,
Chris Morris

If you missed this week's sermon (or just want to listen again), follow the link below to listen. Or subscribe to our podcast in iTunes.

Part 14 - A Face Like An Angel

Questions discussed in this sermon:

1.  Why were Jews disputing with Stephen?
2.  How had the Gospel made Stephen like Jesus?
3.  What does it mean to have a face like that of an angel?

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