What Every True Church Should Be - John 17 - Skip Heitzig
God isn't really something to worship.
He's just waiting to destroy all of us.
I guess there's a god out there somewhere.
I hope there is a god.
God isn't really something to worship.
God is everywhere.
Would you-- did you bring a Bible with you? Way good thinking. Way to go. Turn to John chapter 17, if you would do that. And I also want to just thank our worship team and the New Beginnings choir for what they did today. So uplifting. Thank you so very much for that.
I've had the privilege of pastoring this church for almost 40 years. And [APPLAUSE] through those 40 years, we have had some challenges. I've never been afraid of a challenge. I don't look for them. But when they come, OK.
Two weeks ago-- it's interesting timing, we spoke about Satan. And we spoke about how one of the things he wants to do is to take those who are making an impact for the gospel and have them make less of an impact, attack them. Then last week, we spoke about the Church. We've been doing a series on Bible doctrine. And we looked at the essential church, and why the church is essential. And we even used what Jesus said, when we remarked on what Jesus said, the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church.
And it seems that this last week, we have rattled the gates of hell a little bit. You may be aware of a group of unbelievers who have circulated a petition. They want to cancel church. They want to cancel our church. They want our church to shut down. Not just our church, but they have said other churches as well, church in general. That we shouldn't be meeting at a time like this, because meeting together, we're killing people. And so we should not meet. They want to cancel church, even though the governor said we can have church and we can follow the guidelines and have our percentages. And so we do that.
A number of people that are involved in this come from different backgrounds. Some are fallen away from the faith altogether. One of them is a co-founder of the Satanic Temple. And he wasn't a leader of this, but he sort of heard about this and promoted it. So I mean, are we really surprised that those who follow the devil want to close down the church? I mean, that shouldn't surprise us.
And there are some people who troll us on our media accounts. They just sort of wait for any post, and then they want to glom on and post something inflammatory. These are people who hate the gospel. They hate gospel preaching. And Jesus said in John 3, "This is the condemnation, that light has come into the world and men have loved darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil." And he continues and says, "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed."
I just found it interesting that a local news outlet thought it was newsworthy, honestly. Think of the headline, Unbelievers Disagree with Church's Sermon. Really? That's a headline? They've never agreed with a church's sermon.
The same crowd that sees religious freedom as killing people, the same crowd thinks nothing about allowing abortions, killing babies in the womb. That to them is a health issue, it's a woman's personal choice issue. The minute you have church, you're killing people.
I just want you to hear it from me, because I want you to know, it doesn't bother me. I mean, people look at me with these forlorn looks, like how are you doing? Honestly, it's another day at the office for me. I've had this for years, and I'm not intimidated. But I just want you to know, we will not be intimidated. Church, you can't cancel church. You cannot cancel Christmas. And I'm just very grateful for your faithfulness and your commitment to Him, to the Lord, and to this church, and to the leaders of this church that prayerfully make decisions. We don't just make cavalier choices to hurt people. We honestly, prayerfully consider all the different sensitivities people have, and we go from there.
So I just wanted you to hear that. And let's pray as we get started in our study. Father, thank you for the opportunity to represent you in a world that does not care about the things of God. What a privilege to be light in darkness. I pray that we would be full of love, but full of boldness, proclaiming truth, being unapologetic in our love for you, in our stand for what is right and righteous. Fill us with your Spirit, Lord. Fill us with a sense of joy during this season as we celebrate the birth of our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. It's in His name we pray, Amen.
John chapter 17. If you remember last week in the gospel of Matthew, we noted that Jesus made the statement that he was going to make a new community, a community that he would call his Church. We discussed what that meant. The Church is a group of people called out from the world to gather together for the purposes of God. Today, we get to discover what those purposes of God are exactly in the prayer of Jesus in John 17.
So let me tell you where we are here, and let me tell you why I've chosen John 17 and what's going on. In Matthew 16, Jesus makes the announcement, I'm going to build my Church. When we get to the book of Acts, we see the birth of that Church. In Acts chapter 2, we see the spread and the expansion of the Church around the world, and the challenges that come with that. When we get to the epistles of Paul and Peter and John, we get to all of the instructions given to the Church, how to form leaders, how to enact Church discipline, how to engage in public worship, et cetera.
We even have other names that are given for the Church, names like the Body of Christ, the Flock of God, the Pillar and Ground of Truth, the Bride of Christ, the Household of God, the Temple of the Holy Spirit. And then finally, we get to the book of Revelation, which tells us the future of the church. And we see that awesome picture of the church gathered around the throne of God, with the angelic choirs, singing praises to Him.
But in John chapter 17, we get the original design or intention of the Church. It is the big picture. And it's the prayer of Jesus Christ, one of my favorite sections of the Bible. It's the most intimate prayer on record, and the longest prayer recorded of Jesus to His Father in heaven. And He prays for his followers, not only his followers then, but we'll see next time we gather that He prays for his followers eventually, all those who will believe in Jesus through the word of the original followers.
So he is praying for His church. And it's noteworthy to find out what He is praying for His church. Because as we go through this prayer, we find that there are four marks of a true Church, for characteristics. Every true Church should be like this. Now, we're going to look at two of the marks this week and two of the marks next week. Because I don't want to go through this too fast. I want to really drill down and make application.
But you know, not every group that gathers together and calls itself a Church is a true Church. In Revelation chapters 2 and 3, there are some institutions that are called the synagogue of Satan. Nobody would like to be called that. Hey, what church do you go to? Oh, I go to Satan's synagogue. Oh, OK, great. The Synagogue of Satan, even Jesus spoke to leaders who were opposed to Him and opposed to His message. And Jesus called them children of the devil. So just because you assemble together and you call yourself something doesn't mean you are that. So we want to discover what the marks of every true Church is.
I was reading a study some time ago that said the most important thing that a church can do to attract people is to provide parking. The parking lot was number one. You want a successful church? Number one, parking lot.
Number two on that list, nursery. Parking lot number one, nursery. Now, you had to read down the list pretty far to get to preaching and worship and things like that. Number one, parking. Number two, nursery.
I'm not saying those things are not important. I laugh a little bit because when we first started in this building, we didn't have parking. We just had like 20 or 30 site parking spaces. And people parked in neighborhoods and walked down the street and it was quite comical. We didn't follow any of that advice at all.
But here's the deal. If Jesus said he's going to build the church in Matthew 16, if he is the head of the church, then he gets to say what is important as being a characteristic. So we want to look at it. There are four, and I'm going to go through two this week.
Number one, every true Church should demonstrate God's glory. Every true Church should demonstrate God's glory.
Let's begin in John 17. Let's read some of the verses. And there is a word that is repeated more than any other word in this section. You'll notice it as we go through it. Verse 1, "Jesus spoke these words, lifted His eyes to heaven and said, 'Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify You. As You have given him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given me to do. And now, oh Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.' "
Go down to verse 9. "'I pray for them,' " them being His disciples, His followers. "'I pray for them. I do not pray for the world, but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours and Yours are Mine. And I am glorified in them.' "
Go down to verse 22. "'And the glory which You gave Me, I have given them, that they may be one as We are one.' " And then finally, down to verse 24. "'Father, I desire that they also, whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me, for You loved me before the foundation of the world."
Eight times a word shows up in one form or another, and that is the word glory or glorified. And that's a term we have heard, right? Most Christians know the term glory, glory of God, glorifying God. The problem is, what does it mean exactly? What is the glory of God? What does it mean to glorify God?
Basically, the Bible uses that word in two different ways. Number one, it's something you see. Number two, it's something you do. It's something visible. When God shows up, there's some glorious manifestation sometimes. So it's something you see. Then it's something you do to glorify God.
So let's drill down a little bit. Number one, God's glory refers to a visible expression of God, a visible expression of God. It is the outward, wow that brings the inward, woe. You know what I'm referring to? In Isaiah chapter 6, Isaiah gets a vision of God's glory. He said, "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on the throne, high and lifted up. The train of His robe filled the temple. There were seraphim around the throne. They were singing out to one another, "'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts. The whole Earth is filled with His glory."
Immediately Isaiah said, "Woe is me." The wow of the vision led him to the, woe is me. So it's the outward wow that brings the inward woe. It's the visible expression of God.
Many times in the Old Testament, we read, the glory of the Lord appeared. And so often when you read, the glory of the Lord appeared, the reaction of people on Earth is sort of like the four in The Wizard of Oz, you know? They just sort of shake in their boots, like oh, God showed up.
And then this is Christmas time. So we talk about Luke chapter 2 every year. And in Luke chapter 2, we know the narrative. It says, "The angel of the Lord stood before the shepherds. And the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were very afraid."
So number one, it's the visible expression of God. There's another way it is used. Sometimes, it refers to the valued attention toward God. That's what it means to glorify God. The word is [GREEK], and that is a word that means to make renown, or to make famous, or to form a good opinion of.
So look how Jesus uses it that way. Verse 4, "I have glorified You on the earth." Go down to verse 6. "I have manifested Your name to the men that You have given Me."
Simply put, I have pointed toward You, I have focused attention on You. I, the Son, have turned the spotlight on You, Father. I have made You the center of focus on the stage of history. And not only have I done that. I have passed that on as a goal to My followers.
So the purpose of the Church is to glorify God. The purpose of the Church, number one, is to glorify God. The church has many purposes. And this has been debated throughout history. Some people will say, well, the real purpose of the Church is fellowship, community. No, it's not. It actually is a purpose, but it is not primary, it's secondary.
Others will say, well, the main purpose of the church is to evangelize the world, because Jesus said, go into all the world and preach the gospel. OK, that's important. We exist for that reason. But that's not the primary reason.
The primary reason is not going. The primary reason is not growing. The primary reason is glorifying God. We exist to bring glory, to point focus, to make renown, to give attention to God.
Every true Church has a true North. It points in a direction. It should be oriented toward God.
I don't know if you know what a catechism is. But if you were raised in a traditional church, you do know what a catechism is. I grew up with one. It's a little manual that is used to teach children faith in God and how to follow Christ.
So in the 1600s in England, there was a catechism printed known as, it's still used widely, the Westminster Shorter Catechism. And the Westminster Shorter Catechism was primarily a tool to teach children the Christian faith.
And the catechism begins with a question followed by an answer. Here's the question. What is the chief end of man? What is the chief end of man? In other words, it's an old English way of saying, why are we here? What is the purpose of life as we know it?
What is the chief end of man? Here's the answer. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. It's a great answer. The chief end of man, the reason I exist is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. So the first mark of Jesus's true Church is to point to, give attention to, to make renown God.
OK, great. Glorify God. Now, that sounds good on paper. That sounds good philosophically. OK, good. I should glorify God. But how do you do that exactly? I'm so glad you asked.
Because Jesus gives us two ways. We glorify God by our declaration, what we say, what comes out of our mouth, we declare it, and we glorify God by our demonstration, what we do.
So I want you to see that. Go to verse 6. It's the declaration. "I have manifested Your name. I have made Your name great. I have revealed Your character, Your name. I have made Your name great."
You know, one thing you realize about Jesus is, He always honored the Father, always said the Father's will should be done. That's part of our prayer to Him in the Lord's Prayer. And He spoke about how great the Father is. He always declared God, always, always pointed to Him.
How do we do that? How do we declare it? Well, I can think of a few ways. When we witness to somebody, we share the gospel with them, we're declaring, God is great, worthy to be believed in and followed. Whenever you train your children in the things of God, you are declaring how great God is to your children. You are in effect, glorifying God with your kids. If you teach a Sunday school class or you have a place of instruction of new believers, disciples, you are declaring God. You are glorifying Him.
We also do that by worship. Whenever we sing, like we just did, whenever we sing the words, pointing to Him, we are declaring, God is worthy, God is valuable. You know, worship is the one exercise we do where God gets all the attention. The focus is now off of us and completely on to Him, if it's true worship. Now, it can be false worship where you're there worshipping and you're looking around to see who's looking at you, because, look how holy I am. My hands are raised up right now, see? So well, that's not real.
If it's real worship, then all of the focus, all of the attention is on Him. And so the first reason we exist and we meet together is to glorify our great God. You see, the church is the only community on Earth where God is the star of the show. God isn't the star of the show and a lot of other meeting places. At the Elks Club, God is not the star of the show. At the Moose Lodge, God is not number one. At the Chess and Checker Association, it's not all about God, right? At the motorcycle club, all of these are gatherings where God is not at the center. But at church, every two church has a true North, and that is to glorify God.
And now, there's another reason why it's important to meet together. Because when we meet together, it allows us to magnify God uniquely. Something happens when I am part of a worshipping community. It reorients my life. It reorients my life.
You know, I may come in forlorn. I may come in disparaged. I may come in angry. I may come in selfish. And then the songs start being sung, and people around me are closing their eyes or lifting their hands or bowing their heads and worshipping. And it reorients me. I start thinking, yeah, It's not really all about me. Really is all about Him. Yes, God is on the throne. Yes, He is in charge. Yes, He can handle this.
Don Whitney, who wrote a book on Spiritual Disciplines, wrote this. "There's an element of worship and Christianity that cannot be experienced in private worship or by watching worship. There are some graces and blessings that God gives only in the meeting together with other believers."
Do you believe that? I know you believe that because you're here. You know who else believed that? Martin Luther. Look what Luther wrote. He said, "At home, in my own house, there's no warmth or vigor in me. But in the church, when the multitude is gathered together, a fire is kindled in my heart and it breaks its way through."
Now, you know what they're referring to in layman's terms? Positive peer pressure. We know what peer pressure is. It can be bad, but it can be good. And in this case, it's good. It's positive peer pressure. Everybody's orienting themselves toward God, putting the focus on Him. So it helps me, it changes the way I think.
And there's a great example of this in Psalm 73. I'm just going to read a couple of verses to you. Let me just tell you the background. In Psalm 73, the author is a guy named Asaph. Asaph is hot and bothered about the world. Things are happening in his world to get him really, really bummed out. So he begins by saying, "Truly God is good to Israel to such as are pure in heart."
Now, I think he started that way because he felt like he had to say that. OK, I'm a worship leader. I need to say this, God is good all the time. So he said it. But listen to what he says right after that. "But as for me, my feet almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped, for I was envious of the boastful when I saw the prosperity of the wicked."
And the psalm goes on where he describes, God, I follow you and I love you. And my life seems so much worse than unbelievers who seem to be prosperous and at ease and not suffering like I'm suffering. I don't get that. I don't like that. So he's bothered about that.
And he says this down in verse 16, "When I thought to understand this, it was too painful for me." Man, I'm bothered by the fact that those unbelievers seem to have it made, while I go through trial after trial after trial, and God's supposed to love me. It was too painful for me, until-- now there's a shift.
"Until I went into the sanctuary of God. Then, I understood their end." You know, I came to church one day, and there were worshipers there in that temple. And all of a sudden, when I was envious of unbelievers, now in this place of worship, my life is reoriented. I'm re-educated, and I started thinking about the end of the life of an unbeliever. And I wasn't envious of them any longer. They're going to be in eternity without God. I understood their end.
What happened to Asaph? He was in a crowd of believers in a place where God is worshipped, and he was reoriented. "Until I went into the sanctuary."
So we glorify God by our declaration. We glorify God also by our demonstration, what we do. So go back to verse 4 in our Lord's Prayer. "I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do."
Now, look at that verse with your eyes. There are two sentences in it. And this is what we call an appositional statement, where you have one statement made, a phrase or a sentence followed by another one that is parallel to the first but explains the first. So the first statement, I've glorified You on the earth. Well, how did You do that exactly, Lord Jesus? Here's the second statement, I have finished the work which You have given me to do.
So now let me ask you the question, how do you glorify God? By finishing the work He's given us to do. I've glorified You on the earth. I finished the work which You have given me to do. You know that God has a task for you that only you can fulfill? God has an assignment that only you can accomplish, so that the goal of your life is not just heaven. Now, heaven's awesome, and you're going to go there. But don't think that, OK, the goal is just to get to heaven. I have to live through another day, another week. I just want to go to heaven. I'm glad you do, and you will. But do you realize, if heaven were the only goal for your life, you know what would happen? The moment you gave your life to Christ, you'd keel over dead. Let's get him to heaven quick, before he can mess up again.
But you're here for a while. Why? Because God wants you to do something. He has a task for you. And the great joy of your life can be to discover why God put you here uniquely.
Somebody once said, the two greatest days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you discovered what you were born for. What were you born for? What is your great task, that God has uniquely carved out for only you to fulfill? I'll put it to you this way. If you live to glorify God, you'll die having no regrets. If you make that your life's goal, I'm going to glorify God, you'll never regret that. You'll never get to the end of your life, go, oh, I should have done this, I could have done that. If you live to glorify God, you will die with no regrets.
So number one, a true Church demonstrates God's glory. Second, a true Church communicates God's truth. Now, go down to verse 6 again, and let's read this in a few verses. "I have manifested Your name to the men You have given to me out of the world. They were Yours. You gave them to Me. And they have kept Your word." I said to them what You told me to say to them. They listen to that, and they're obeying that. They've kept Your word.
"Now, they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You, for I have given to them the words which You have given Me. And they have received them. And they have known surely that I came forth from You, and they have believed that You sent me."
Let me unpack that. Jesus gave to His followers words of truth that the Father gave to Him. His followers listened to those words, listened to His sermons, listened to His conversations, all the things He revealed for 3 and 1/2 years, and they received that truth, they believed that truth. And eventually, they wrote down that truth for you and I. It's called the New Testament, the words of God. So then, true believers are those who receive God's communicated truth, which happens to be the business of the Church, to communicate God's truth.
So the most important things about the Church are not the parking lot and the nursery. They may be important, but they're not the most important. The most important things of the Church are worship and the word, worship and the word.
You know, people will grade churches. They'll go to a church and then they may take a little Yelp survey and grade what they like and dislike. But usually, when we grade churches, we grade on what they do for me. Do they make me feel good? Are they friendly to me? Do they have programs for me, et cetera? That's how we grade it.
When God grades churches, He has two simple questions, do they glorify Me, and do they preach My word? Do they glorify Me? Do they preach My word?
That's part of the Great Commission. Matthew 28, some of the last words Jesus said to His followers. "Make disciples of all nations," listen, "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."
Now, the disciples heard that. And as we keep reading on, they did that. In Acts chapter 2, when the Church was born, they made that a priority, teaching people, teaching the truth, communicating God's revealed truth, the words of God. And so we have a summary statement of the activity of the Church in the book of Acts in chapter 2 verse 42 that says this. "They continued steadfastly," or another translation, "They devoted themselves wholeheartedly." They continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers, those four activities. They devoted themselves constantly, the Apostles' doctrine, fellowship, breaking bread, prayer.
First on their list was the Apostles' doctrine. That's noteworthy, because that would not be first on a lot of people's list. A lot of people list say the church should be, number one, love. That's important, but it's not at the top of that list. Or number one, missions. That's important, but it's not on the top of the list. Or teaching your family, that's important, but not on the top of the list. The Apostles' doctrine is on the top of the list.
They were devoted to doctrine. They devoted themselves to the Apostles' doctrine. Honestly, how many Christians that are devoted to doctrine? You may want a fun little exercise this week. Go up to a Christian you know and say, quick question. Are you devoted to doctrine? You'll get some strange looks, guaranteed, and maybe even stranger requests, or excuse me, responses.
Are you devoted to doctrine? Now, why is doctrine the first of the list in Acts chapter 2? It's simple, because the word of God teaches us how to love, teaches us how to pray, teaches us how to worship, teaches us how to do missions, teaches us how to serve people, teaches us how to raise our kids. So then the preaching of the word is central to the very definition of the Church. This is why, when missionaries generally go into an area that has been unreached with the gospel, the first thing they do is get a translation of the Bible in the language of those people. They'll spend years doing it. They want to take and get a written copy in the language of the local people of the New Testament, in the very least, a gospel, because they want to communicate the truth and show them what the Bible says about life.
Now, if you've ever come to church here for more than a few times, you notice that we have a pretty predictable pattern. And you've gotten used to it, and most of you've come to love it. But you know, it's possible to come and think things like, well, every time I come, it's sort of the same gig, sing some songs, guy gets up there, opens a book, talks, and talks, and talks about what that book says.
And you do that every week. Couldn't you just change it up a little bit? Couldn't we have a puppet show one week? I don't know, a raffle, an interpretive dance. Short answer, no if you want to stay Biblical. And we want to stay Biblical.
When Paul spoke to Timothy-- OK, let's give God glory for that. [APPLAUSE] The last letter that Paul gave to Timothy, the very last thing he wrote was 2 Timothy. And this is what he said, "I charge you, Timothy, before God and before Jesus Christ, who will judge the living in the dead, preach the word." That was his last command to him, preach the word.
That's what we need, preach the word. Don't preach to me your opinion. Don't give me some little aphorism that can be tweeted later because it sounds cool. Preach the word, be instant or ready in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine. So preach the word.
Now, when we do that, when the word is preached, when God is glorified and when the word is preached and we listen to it and we receive it, something happens to us. First thing that happens to us is joy. Truth produces joy. Truth produces happiness.
I want you to see how Jesus correlates joy and truth. Look at verse 13. "But now, I come to You," that is in prayer, "and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world."
So Jesus spoke truth to his disciples in sermons, in conversations with the lost, in conversations with people from all walks of life. The disciples for 3 and 1/2 years listened to those words, and it produced joy in them. Even though the world around them hated them, hounded them, hassled them, they were joyful.
So let's apply that. How can a person have joy in a world that hates God? How can a person have joy in a world that hates Christians? How can a person have joy in a world that is falling apart? Answer, God's word produces joy. God's word produces happiness. It's filled with promise after promise to sustain you in the worst times of life.
Last week, we noted how mental health in our country and other countries in the world is suffering over the last 10 months due to the lock down. There are several studies on this. We shared some of them with you. We talked about how depression is on the rise, suicides are on the rise, all because of isolation.
What I didn't tell you is the flip side of that truth. Numbers of studies have been done showing that going to church on a regular basis is good for one's mental health. A new poll suggests that though mental health has tanked, it has tanked with the exception of one group. And guess who that group is? Y'all, regular churchgoers.
The Gallup organization put out an article entitled Americans' Mental Health Ratings Sink to a New Low. And they're talking about the last 10 months of lock down around the world and in our country, in particular. The article says, "Americans' assessment of their mental health is worse than it has been at any point in the last two decades." In the last 20 years, right now, we're at the lowest level of mental health. And it says this. "Those who seldom or never attend religious services have the lowest ratings, whereas frequent attenders rank highest in excellent mental health."
Now, I'm going to be risky here. I'm going to take a little risk. I'm going to divide the whole world into two groups. We have on one side, people of the world. And we have over here, people of the word. People of the world, people of the word. People of the world who don't have the word of God, the promises of God, the truths of God, the scripture of God. People of the word who do have the truth of God, the scriptures of God, the promise of God.
People of the world are happy when happy things happen to them. When the happenings are happy, they're happy. Oh, I'm so happy because you just did something nice to me and made me happy. There's happy happenings around me, so I'm happy. But it's up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down. Right now, it's really, really, really, really down.
People of the word have a fixed point. They're reoriented to glorifying God, they're shaped by the word of God, and they have a joy whether things are up or things are down.
David wrote this in Psalm 119:1-2. He said, "Happy are the people who follow the law of the Lord. Happy are those who obey His decrees and search for Him with all their hearts." Down in verse 35 of that psalm, "make me walk along the path of Your commands, for that is where my happiness is found." So truth produces happiness, produces joy.
There's a second upshot of this, and that is, truth produces holiness. Look at verse 15. We're going to close on this. "I do not pray that You should take them, my followers out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world." Here it is. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent me into the world, I have also sent them into the world. And for their sakes, I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth."
The word sanctify is a word that means, make holy. It's the word [SPEAKING GREEK], and it means to be holy, to be different, or to be separate. The scriptures make you clean. This is the best bar of soap I know of. This will clean you up like nothing else. Jesus said to his followers, now you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. That's how you get clean. Psalm 119:9, "How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to your word."
Now, let me just press this a little bit. That's true, especially as we gather together to hear it. Now, why? Why do you keep saying, gathering together? Because that was Jesus' intention when He said, I'm going to build my church, Matthew 16.
But here's why. When we're together hearing truth, there is a public accountability. I'm hearing the same thing you're hearing I saw you in the room when that truth went out. It's a public responsibility, a public affirmation. Again, it is positive peer pressure.
Tim Keller wrote this, "Sanctification can happen on the spot. As we sit under a gospel preaching and engage in corporate worship, there are times when the Holy Spirit takes the scripture read, the prayers spoken, the chorus sung, or the truth preached, and presses it right to the point of our need, and not merely informs our Christian walk, but heals us in that moment."
This is the value of hearing truth together. So why do we exist? What is the purpose of the Church? What did Jesus have in mind when he said, I'm going to build my Church? We're a group that demonstrates God's glory, and we're a group that communicates God's truth.
What does that mean to you personally? Number one, learn to glorify God. Here's a simple question as you leave. What if, from this day forward, from right now on-- OK, this is the line. We put it down. And now, we're going to walk on the other side of that line. And what if from now on, everything we said and did and planned went through the filter of, does this glorify God? Would we Tweet the same way? Would we text the same way? Would we talk the same way? Would we whisper to our wives and husbands the same way? Would we plan our lives the same way? Probably not, if we lived for the glory of God, if our goal was to make God famous.
And then the follow up, learning to respond to God's word, learning to respond to something that produces joy and holiness. You want to really be happy and filled with purpose? Be shaped by the word of God.
Father, thank You for Your word. Thank You for the opportunity to hear it week in and week out, to study it not only in our quiet time alone, but also in our corporate time like this. And we who are sitting next to others realize that there is that public affirmation and public accountability, that positive peer pressure that is set up.
I pray that we would be Your people, who are all about giving You glory and all about communicating Your truth, not just communicating it to others, but as we hear it, being shaped by it. For we ask it in Jesus' name, Amen.
We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.