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Sermon No: 1555-Radical Christianity



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SERMON TOPIC: Radical Christianity

Speaker: Ken Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 2 November 2014

Topic Groups: COMMITMENT, HOLINESS

Sermon synopsis: Radical is a term that is used in a very negative way nowadays. If you live a radical life as a Christian, you are called a fanatic, but how does God want us to live, is He happy with a half-hearted commitment, the left-overs of our time and resources, a lukewarm lip service that does not require 100% commitment.

Revelation 3:15-17 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

Matthew 7:21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

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Radical Christianity.

What does it really mean to be sold out for God .

This phrase is used very loosely in many religious circles. To a Muslim, it means you are willing to die for Allah. To a Catholic, it could mean giving up your rights to marry. So what does it mean to the true Christian?

Are there any lines that must be drawn to be totally sold out for God?

Has there ever been anyone that has ever really accomplished this? Let me remind you that many times we say things that are not totally true.

To a retailer, being sold out of a product means you have nothing left to offer. Your shelves have been emptied.

There is nothing left to give. Could this be what we are referring to by saying we are sold out to Christ? We have nothing left to offer, and our spiritual shelves have been emptied. I hear this said so often by preachers, “I am sold out to God!” with the emphasis on the “I” instead of God. Let me challenge you today. Are we really sold out to God? Am I willing to die for Christ? Have my shelves been totally cleaned out for Him? Let us understand this is not a one time decision, but something that must be done daily in the life of the Christian. http://www.dalevance.com/ author/ vancefamily/

Radical Christianity.

Bill Hybels

Recently a man commented on the "tough topics“ I'd taught on over the years—hell, money, sex, relational confrontation, self-discipline. He asked, "Of all the topics you've preached on, which has been the hardest to get across?"

I didn't even have to think about it. "Becoming totally devoted to Christ.“

My greatest teaching challenge is to convey what Paul was driving at in Acts 20:24 and elsewhere: "I no longer count my life as dear unto myself; I have abandoned my personal aspirations and ambitions; I have offered myself as a living sacrifice to Christ." When I teach that to secularly minded people, they think I'm from Mars. The thought of living according to someone else's agenda is ludicrous.

To many people, living for Christ is a kind of fanaticism the world could do without. Who, they wonder, would be foolish enough voluntarily to suffer loss, refrain from pleasure, or impinge on the comfort level of his life? They think total devotion to Christ means squandering the only life they have.

Radical Christianity.

A man from my church provides a perfect example. His biggest problem, as I perceive it, is his successful company. Clients whose business he's not even seeking are lining up for his services. Just responding to them is tyrannizing his life. Several months ago I asked him why his heart didn't seem to be as warm toward things of God as it had been.

"Business has been dominating my life," he admitted, but added in defence, "but I'm not seeking it. I'm just trying to handle what's coming in. I mean, what do you expect me to do?"

I suggested he could say, "Enough is enough." He looked at me as if I were insane. What businessman in his right mind would say no to a client whose order would produce a bigger profit? You don't do that in this world. More is always better; it's the American way.

The desire for more had a greater pull on this man than his desire to follow Christ, use his spiritual gifts, serve his wife, or be father to his kids.

Radical Christianity.

If it's so hard to persuade people to commit themselves unreservedly to Christ, why bother? Why not settle for church attendance, or membership, or at least periodic service?

As ministers, we all have to come to terms with the quality of fruit we're producing. We have to decide what level of commitment we expect from the people we're leading.

Church history has taught us that a leader can do more through a handful of totally devoted believers than through a church full of half-hearted ones. So we're left with a tension: How can we teach in such a way that we produce fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ, when we know that most people don't want to hear about radical discipleship?

Radical is a term that is used in a very negative way nowadays.

If you live a radical life as a Christian, you are called a fanatic, but how does God want us to live, is He happy with a half-hearted commitment, the left-overs of our time and resources, a lukewarm lip service that does not require 100% commitment.

Revelation 3:15-17.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

Matthew 7:21

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Daniel’s commitment.

He would not eat meat from the king's table as it had been offered to idols; nor would he drink wine (Daniel 1:8).

He worked hard at his studies, being assisted by God (Dan 1:20).

He prayed for wisdom (Dan 2:14-18).

He gives God the credit for interpretation (Dan 2:28-30).

He is fearless in his interpretation (Dan 2:37-45; 4:18-27; 5:17-28).

When promoted he remembered his friends (Dan 2:49).

His friends were also consistent under pressure (Dan 3).

Daniel’s commitment.

He obtained an excellent reputation in Babylon (Dan 5:12).

Daniel puts God before the laws of man (Dan 6:10-15).

Daniel receives protection (Dan 6:22).

Daniel receives an outline of human history culminating in the return of Jesus Christ to reign (Dan chapter 7-12)

Daniel studied the Scriptures (Dan 9:2)

As an old man Daniel is still interceding for his country (Dan 9:3-19).

He is taught by an angel (Dan 10:12,13)

Radical Christianity.

Now Daniel’s experience with prayer may seem like a success story.

But Daniel had to face the lions and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego the fiery furnace. Even then they acknowledged that though God was able to deliver them, he was not obliged.

There are times when the outcome is not always favourable.

Peter was released from prison, but James was beheaded.

Paul suffered a great deal for the sake of the Gospel.

Galatians 2:20.

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."

God is calling you to a life of sacrifice and a willingness to go wherever He takes you, to minister to whomever He brings you, and to go whenever He asks you.

Paul’s Radical Christianity.

God called Paul to serve Him wholeheartedly and he vowed to do so no matter what the cost.

The Apostle Paul wrote in

2 Corinthians 11:24-28

Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.

Philippians 3:8.

". . . I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ"

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

A couple weeks ago, I met a man with an interesting tattoo written across his bicep, though not in your typical tattoo green.

“But if not,” I read aloud.

When I asked what his tattoo meant, the man told me the phrase was from the Bible. This is the story the tattooed man told me:

King Nebuchadnezzar II reigned over Babylon from 605 BC- 562 BC. He conquered Judah and the city of Jerusalem, taking young Jewish men of noble or royal birth as captives. The book of Daniel tells the survival and incredible faith of four Jewish captives: Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

In Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar decided to build an enormous 90-foot tall golden statue in modern day Iraq.

He gathered all the important people in his empire and commanded them to fall down and worship the statue whenever they heard music. Soon, the beautiful melody of horns, harps, and pipes spread throughout the area. In response, people fell on their faces, hands outstretched in worship.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

To Nebuchadnezzar’s fury, a report was brought to his attention. Three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, refused to bend their knee and worship the gold statue. In a rage, the king commanded that the trio appear before him. "Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not worship The three men replied without hesitating, “O King, we don’t need to answer you. Our God is able to deliver us from the burning fire, and he will deliver us from your hand. But if not, we will still not bow down and worship the statue.” When you hear the sound of music, fall down and worship the image that I have made. But if you do not worship the golden image I have set up, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.

And what god will deliver you out of my hands?"

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Much faith and courage is crammed into those three tiny words, “But if not.” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew the Sovereign Lord had the ability to rescue them from the king. They had no doubt in God’s powerful might.

But if God decided not to rescue them, they still possessed the courage and the faith to stand for their convictions.

I asked myself, when my prayers are answered with “But if not,” will I still continue to trust in God?

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

King Nebuchadnezzar grew so angry his face became mottled from rage. He ordered the fire to be stoked to seven times its usual heat. The extreme temperature of the flames killed the soldiers throwing in the faithful trio. The king looked into the fire and, to his utter surprise, saw four men walking around the furnace instead of three. The fourth man, he claimed, looked like the son of the gods.

He called out the three men. Not only did God protect them from a fiery death, but from the smell of smoke as well. King Nebuchadnezzar praised God, blessing the Lord who saved his faithful servants.

Margaret Feinberg

Radical Christianity.

Real Radical Christians love, Christ is in them and their very life, words and actions reflect the Love of Christ for people.

They are the ones you can call in the middle of the night, and talk to. They will still love you when no one else does. Why? Because they know Christ, and met and meet with Him everyday.

Christ’s love has captured their heart, they cannot help but love. They cannot help but to help you, they cannot help but to take care of you, they cannot help but to bless you, they cannot help but to love you.

They aren’t self-promoting, God promotes them involuntarily. God’s light shines through them, you never want to leave their presence… You don’t want to leave the peace, hope, joy, and love that surround them. What they have is intoxicating, not toxic.

Radical Christianity.

In Chapter 4 of Ezekiel we find that The Lord taught Ezekiel through a number of signs.

He first asked him to make a clay tablet and then to lie down on one side for 390 days, and then to lie down on the other side for 40 days. Ezekiel was to be an object lesson to the people of Judah who were in Babylon, showing them how God was punishing Jerusalem and the people of Israel and Judah.

He was a living demonstration of his message. The Lord asked him to do some strange things like cooking food with dung, shaving his head and beard, and keeping just a little bit of that hair with him, to show that only a few people in Israel would be saved (5:1-4).

Joseph’s commitment.

Genesis 39:8-9.

But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care.

No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”

Even as a slave, sold by his own brothers, Joseph remained committed to the Lord and ended up in Prison for years where once again his commitment to the Lord placed him in a position where God could elevate him to second in charge in Egypt.

Joshua’s challenge.

Joshua 24:15-24

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites,

in whose land you are living.

But as for me and my household,

we will serve the Lord. Then the people answered, Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we travelled. And the Lord drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.

Joshua’s challenge.

Joshua 24:15-24

Joshua said to the people, You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God;

he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion

and your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you. But the people said to Joshua, No! We will serve the Lord. Then Joshua said, you are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord. Yes, we are witnesses, they replied. Now then, said Joshua, throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel. And the people said to Joshua, we will serve the Lord our God and obey him.

Jeremiah’s commitment.

Jeremiah 38:4-6.

Then the officials said to the king, “Please, this man must be killed, because he is making slack the hands of the soldiers who are left in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking to them words like these, for this man is not seeking for welfare to this people, but only for harm.” And Zedekiah the king said, “Look, he is in your hand, for the king is not able to do a thing against you.” So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the pit of Malchiah,

the son of the king, which was

in the courtyard of the guard.

And they let Jeremiah down by ropes.

Now in the pit there was no water, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.

Job’s commitment.

Job dealt with loss of family, loss of wealth, and loss of health– that covers just about everything we want in our lifetime, doesn't it!

In response to the news that all ten of his children died Job felt intense loss, sorrow and surely disbelief for a period. It all sank in at a time when he was also enduring intense suffering and deep humiliation.

In his physical affliction his body was covered with painful boils.

And yet in the process of his grief he came to the conclusion that he brought nothing into the world; all that he had received was by the goodness and generosity of God. Since God gave these treasures to him, He also had the right to remove them. If only we had similar understanding of our human and material possessions, we might deal with grief and loss more courageously.

Job’s commitment.

During his time of bereavement and financial ruin he also had to suffer discomfort, disgrace, and disagreeable pain that ravaged his body, even as well-meaning friends sought to comfort him but only stirred up emotions and unanswered questions that tormented his mind and spirit. What more could go wrong? How about a nagging wife who suggested he just give up, curse God, and get it over with.

Job’s response was

Job 1:21.

"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD"

Jesus teachings were radical.

Jesus taught love your enemies, turn the other cheek, if someone forces you to go one mile, go two miles….

Matthew 5:43-45.

You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbour

and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Jesus preached love amidst hatred; unity amidst divisiveness; faith amidst the legalistic religious leaders of His day; inclusiveness amidst exclusionary religious leaders; wholeness amidst the broken-hearted; freedom amidst those held in yokes of bondage; love amidst hatred. Jesus spoke truth to power, and we, as Christians, are to do no less!

Radical Christianity.

Charles Thomas (C.T.) Studd 1860-1931 English missionary to China, India, and Africa.

Quotes:

Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.

If Jesus Christ is God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.

When his critics told him to go home, that he had done enough, he replied, "God has called me to go, and I will go. I will blaze the trail though my grave may only become a stepping stone that younger men may follow."

Radical Christianity.

So far as he could judge, Studd’s inheritance was £29,000. But in order to leave a margin for error, he decided to start by giving £25,000. One memorable day, January 12, 1887, he sent off four checks of £5,000 each and five of £1,000. As coolly and deliberately as a business man invests in some “gilt-edged” securities, as being both safe and yielding good interest, so C. T. invested in the Bank of Heaven.

This was no fool’s plunge on his part. It was his public testimony before God and man that he believed God’s Word to be the surest thing on earth, and that the hundredfold interest which God has promised in this life, not to speak of the next, is an actual reality for those who believe it and act on it.

He sent £5,000 to Mr. Moody, expressing the hope that he would be able to start some gospel work in North India. Moody hoped to carry this out, but was unable to, and instead used the money to start the famous Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, writing, “I will do the next best thing and open a Training School with it.”

Radical Christianity.

He sent £5,000 to Mr. George Müeller.

He also sent £5,000 to George Holland, in Whitechapel, “to be used for the Lord among His poor in London,” and £5,000 to commissioner Booth Tucker for the Salvation Army in India. This £5,000 arrived just after they had had a night of prayer.

In a few months he was able to discover the exact amount of his inheritance. He then gave some further thousands, mainly to the China Inland Mission, leaving another £3,400 in his possession.

Just before his wedding he presented his bride with this money. She, not to be outdone, said, “Charlie, what did the Lord tell the rich young man to do?” “Sell all.” “Well then, we will start clear with the Lord at our wedding.”

Radical Christianity.

They then wrote the following letter to General Booth:

“July 3, 1888

My dear General, I cannot tell you how many times the Lord has blessed me through reading your and Mrs. Booth’s addresses in The War Cry and your books. And now we want to enclose a check for £1,500. The other £500 has gone to Commissioner Tucker for his wedding present. Besides this I am instructing our Bankers, Messrs. Coutts and Co., to sell out our last earthly investment of £1,400 consols and send what they realize to you.

Henceforth our bank is in heaven. You see we are rather afraid—not withstanding the great earthly safety of Messrs. Coutts and Co. and the Bank of England—that they may both break on the Judgment Day. And this step has been taken not without most definite reference to God’s Word, and the command of the Lord Jesus, who said, ‘Sell that ye have and give alms. Make for yourselves purses which wax not old.’”

C. T. Studd

Radical Christianity.

I want to be brutally honest about myself. I constantly say I want to be a better disciple, a better husband, a better father, a better preacher, etc. but I don’t always do the things that are necessary to experience the growth I claim I want to see in my life. An athlete can say, “I want to run faster,” but unless he does something to improve his speed, it’s just talk.

Here are some things you and I need to do if we really want to grow as Christians

Radical Christianity.

1. If you want to grow, you’ll read.

How much time do we waste watching television, scrolling through social media, or doing other unproductive things? Imagine if we spent some of that time reading something that would help us grow.

We must read the Bible, of course, but we also need to read books written by men. We need to learn from the wisdom and knowledge of others. We also need to avoid reading only things that reinforce what we already know, understand, and believe. We will never learn if we only read things written by those who think just like us.

Read. Read with an open mind. And read with an open Bible. Be like the Bereans, who “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

Radical Christianity.

2. If you want to grow, you’ll accept – and learn from – correction.

When someone says something, even slightly negative, we have a tendency to respond with (or at least think) statements like these:

“Mind your own business.”

“You can’t judge me.”

“That’s just your opinion.”

“That’s the last time I talk to you.”

How will we ever grow if we do not listen to the correction, rebuke, or advice of our brothers and sisters in Christ? And if you’re like me, you’re a lot better at dishing out correction than you are at accepting it and learning from it.

Solomon wrote, “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool” (Proverbs 17:10).

Radical Christianity.

3. If you want to grow, you’ll confess your sins.

I am horrible at confessing my sins to my brethren. I want to be liked, and I’m afraid someone will think less of me if I reveal my struggles. But the truth is, I always think more highly of someone when he confesses his struggles. Confession is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of courage and strength.

Find a close brother or sister in Christ, tell them the things with which you’re struggling, and ask them to pray for you and with you. Let them know you’d like for them to hold you accountable, but don’t use them as a crutch. If they fail to check up on you and you sin, don’t blame them. Go to them again, confess, and ask them to pray.

James wrote, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

Radical Christianity.

4. If you want to grow, you’ll ask advice from wiser Christians.

The church is an intergenerational community, teeming with wisdom. In nearly every congregation, there are Christians who have raised faithful children, been happily married for decades, successfully run businesses with Christian integrity, and done almost everything you hope to do in your lifetime. Yet many of us leave that wisdom untapped because we are too proud to ask for advice.

You could buy someone’s lunch and “pick their brain.” You could write up a few questions on a piece of paper and say, “If it isn’t too much trouble, could I get your thoughts on these questions when you have a chance?” You could even ask someone to mentor you. Most Christians would be flattered that you would ask for their thoughts and advice. Some, out of humility, may try to turn you down, but those are just the kind of people you want advising you!

Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Radical Christianity.

5. If you want to grow, you won’t put too much emphasis on your experiences.

In our culture, I believe we put way too much stock in our own experiences. Experiences, that are not tempered with the unbiased truth of Scripture, have a tendency to cloud our judgement and our perception of reality. I have seen people make changes in their lives not because they have learned or grown, but because a certain experience has reshaped their thinking.

For instance, we’ve all known someone who used to take a biblical stance on an issue like homosexuality, until one of their children chose a homosexual lifestyle. Then, all of a sudden, they changed their stance on the issue. This change was not based on a clearer understanding of Scripture, but upon an emotional reaction to an event. They chalk their change up to “growth” and believe themselves to be more enlightened; but those of us on the outside can see the change for what it really is.

Scripture – not our experiences – should shape our understanding and our behaviour (Romans 12:2; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). If we want to move in the right direction, we won’t give our experiences any more weight than they deserve. Wes Mc Adams

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http://www.lockman.org)




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