I’m grateful for Joe filling in for me last week, did a great job communicating being coworkers with God. I’m super encouraged with that. And then I know there’s a lot of people visiting here today, and so I want to introduce myself. My name is Tony. I get a chance to be the primary communicator here.
And today we are in a series that we have. We started two weeks ago that we’re calling the purpose of God’s people. And I want to just dive right in if you stay with me. And I want to start off with a bit of a story. Last year, my wife and I took a trip with our children.
We have two kids. Cadence is three years old, and my son Ezra was turning or she’s four now. She was three at the time, and my son was barely one at the time. Cadence, when you’re about three years old, if you have had children, you know that three years old is the perfect time to ask a lot of questions. My child asked questions about everything at the time.
And when I got to the airport, we’re about to take a trip to California. We got to the airport. My wife asked my daughter to just kind of simmer down because she was asking questions about everything, Where’s our bags going and what are these people doing? She knew we were going for a wedding. She asked if they were all going for the wedding.
Who are these people? Why are they taking our bag? And so we got through baggage drop and check in. And we made our way into security. And if you have two little kids, security is the most annoying place in the whole world.
But of course, the questions didn’t stop. My Cadence did not care about the answers to any of my questions. She just wanted to ask her questions, right? So, Daddy, where are these people going? Why are they here?
Why are they stopping us? Why are they taking our stuff, sticking it through this machine? And then she asked the question that required a little bit more context, and I was trying my hardest to give her concise answers that went right to the point. She asked me the question, Why do we need to take off our shoes?
Up to that point? I had not really given these long answers, but I was like, Man, what am I going to say to my daughter about why we have to take off our shoes? The question needs a little bit more context. So I fumbled for some words, and I thought I didn’t say, I thought, Honey, its because some bad people flew planes into buildings.
That’s not exactly what I said. I’m not sure what I said. Again, she didn’t care about the answer, but my internal response was correct. Today is September, the 19, 2021. It was 20 years ago, a week from yesterday that two commercial planes flew by Al Qaeda under the direction of Osama bin Laden. They flew into the Twin towers in Lower Manhattan, subsequently causing those two towers to fall and the death of about 3000 people in a single moment. If you were alive, you remember that moment. If you’re from New York, which you remember that moment, you know exactly where you were when you heard the news, you remember it and you remember trying to make sense of all of it. You remember trying to make sense of these two buildings that have become a pillar of kind of freedom falling down.
You remember trying to think a little bit about why there would be people jumping out of the 80th floor. You remember seeing the faces of people clouded in dust and grit and whatever. You remember the stories of the brave men and women who ran into those buildings who eventually met the same fate as the people they were trying to rescue. People in the NYPD and the fire Department in New York City. My dad served the New York City Police Department for about 20 years and was one of the responders there.
He helped in the tunnels. He also eventually worked his way to helping in the morgue. My dad actually took me to the World Trade Center when it was still a heap of rubble. It was still smoking when he took me.
I remember it. I’ll always remember the smell. I’ll always remember being there. I’ll always remember 911. So my daughter asks me at the airport, why do we have to take off our shoes?
I thought to myself, you will never know because you don’t know the story. You see, if you all want to understand anything about life, you have to first understand the story. See, there’s a story tied to everything in this world. You don’t live in a vacuum. Your life and my life, the things we experience shape us and create this culture of who we are and what we believe and how we act.
Our life doesn’t happen, as I mentioned, in a vacuum. Everything comes with a story attached, and you know this. It’s hard for people to understand you until they get your story right? So they understand where you came from.
They understand your history, your upbringing, your ethnicity, all that stuff. And this is true, certainly for us individually. But it’s also true for the things that happen within our nation. If you were alive when the assassination of Martin Luther King happened, or JFK, these are moments, when we landed on the moon. These are all moments now in 20 years, when we think about COVID-19, it’s going to be hard for us to tell the story of what we do as we do unless we are able to explain it in the context in which it happened.
You don’t really understand it unless you learn the story attached to it. So what does this have to do with the purpose of God’s people? We began two weeks ago having a discussion about what is your calling? What is your purpose? What is your mission?
Why are you here on planet Earth? What has God given you to do? I asked the question, what does it mean to be human? And can we actually figure it out? Are we some cosmic mistake or do we really have a purpose?
And here’s where we’re going with this idea of story, who we are and what we are called to do won’t make sense at all until we understand the story that we are a part of. The title of today’s message is the story that we’re a part of. You and I have stories that help us clarify and shape our purpose. And today I want to take a look at where we fit in the broader story of God and how we can find our purpose in there. In just a moment were going to look at Matthew chapter 28.
So if you have a Bible, we can turn there. But before we get there, I just wanted to explain what we’re doing and how we’re going to set up this sermon today.
So I’m going to start this sermon with just an illustration of people getting their purpose or mission from a broader context than just the calling of a mission. And then after that, I’m going to kind of circle back. We’ll look at the narrative arc of the Bible. And then I’m going to leave you with some hopefully practical stuff that will hopefully encourage you. The most dramatic and the most impactful and the most probably dominant calling in the whole Bible is found in Matthew 28, verse 18. It’s the command of Jesus, the risen Jesus given to his disciples.
This is the command. If you’re familiar with this Church, if you’ve been around here a long time, you know, this verse probably cold. And Jesus came to them and said, all authority in heaven and Earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I’ve commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age. This command, this command, we have said, shaped the rest of the Church, the rest of the Gospels, the rest of the Book of Acts is shaped by these words in Matthew chapter 28, verse 18 through 20.
And actually, if you look at this without looking at the rest of the Bible, you actually might believe that this is the primary reason that the early Church was evangelistic. But I’d love to show you. I just love to show you something really unique about this passage of Scripture and about the calling of those people. And this is it. These men who took the Gospel from a place in Judea to the ends of the Earth did not do so only because of this command.
But they did it because they understood the context of the story that they were in. And here’s why I say that. And I’m going to explain the whole thing. But this passage is never repeated in the New Testament. I’m not saying it’s not important.
It’s amazingly important, but it’s never even really referred to. It’s never referred to as the driving motivation. Instead, what we find is that these Jewish men understood where they were in the context of God’s larger story. And because they understood it, they decided to take the gospel to all people. And how that relates to the way we think about our purpose has profound implications that we’re going to unpack in just a few moments. See, the first Christians didn’t see their purpose as being world mission, primarily because of the Great Commission, because they knew where they fit into the story.
They understood something that is critical for our understanding about our own purpose. They knew where they fit into the story. They understood where they fit into the story. Here’s a question for you. Where do you fit?
The question of who I am could also be asked a different way. Where do I fit? Where do I fit into this world? When I think about the world as a whole? Where does my life and my story and my unique skill set in my abilities?
Where do they fit into the story? Where do they fit into God’s plan to redeem the world? Where do they fit? Especially when you think about who we are in 2021 with a global pandemic and a divided nation. See, these men understood exactly where they were in the story, and they understood their next steps.
If you understand where you are, maybe you will understand your next steps as well. And I want to show you how clearly they understood it. And then we’ll get to a point. So the calling of Jesus in Matthew, chapter 28 is to go make disciples of all nations. And you go, wow, that’s a pretty amazing calling. But actually one of the first theological problems in the Church as a whole was whether or not Gentiles or non Jews could come into the Church.
This has been a Jewish religion forever. And so they’re like, can Gentiles even come into the Church? So they had this theological problem. And so they had a Council. The first ever Christian Council is in Acts chapter 15.
And I want you to listen to the way they answered the question about whether or not the gospel can go to all nations. Listen to it. Acts chapter 15, verse 15, the words of the prophet are in agreement with this. With the bringing in of the Gentiles. As it is written.
After this, I will return and rebuild david’s fallen tent. It’s ruins I will rebuild and I will restore it. He’s quoting this is James, the Apostle James, quoting Amos chapter nine.
He says that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord. Even all the Gentiles who bear my name says the Lord, who does these things does these things, things known from long ago. Capture what’s happening here. We have people coming into the Church who they think shouldn’t be able to come into the Church.
And so there’s a discussion. How do we know they’re allowed to come into the Church? Now, if I was Peter, I would raise my hand and go, Jesus told me, so shut up and let’s just do it. But that’s not what happens at all. Instead, these men go, oh, wait.
If you look at Amos, chapter nine, which is in the Old Testament, you will see that this has been God’s plan all along. Why am I bringing this up? Because I want you to see that these men understood the Scriptures. And they put their purpose into its context. And through the Scripture, they understood the role they played.
They were like, I am now bringing the message of God to the Gentiles, which is what I am supposed to do. Here’s another quick look at it. Paul is in Antioch. Paul has just been converted by Jesus himself. Paul’s on the road to Damascus, Jesus shines a light at him.
He blinds him. And he goes, Why do you persecute me, Paul? Paul goes uh, and God goes, Bring the message to all people, right? That’s the message Jesus gives. He’s blind.
He gets baptized, he comes back, he begins to preach the message. And when he’s in Antioch in Acts chapter 13, he’s trying to explain why he’s allowed to reach the Gentiles. He says, this, he says, we tell you the good news, what God promised our ancestors, what God promised our ancestors. So he’s saying, hey, I want to tell you about the Old Testament. He has fulfilled for us their children by raising up Jesus.
He’s saying, hey, just so we’re clear what God told our ancestors is being fulfilled today. Antioch is a Gentile city, and Paul is trying to explain. It’s. Okay for the Jews for the Gentiles to come in.
And so then what he does is radical. He could again just quote Jesus. Jesus said, Go make disciples of all nations. But that’s not what he does. Instead, he quotes Isaiah, chapter 49 verse six, for this is what the Lord has commanded us.
I have made you a light for the Gentiles. So what is he doing again? Paul’s saying, hey, this mission, this purpose that I’ve been given does not come from myself. It doesn’t even necessarily just come from the teachings of Jesus. It comes from the arc of the Bible, the story that led inevitably to the gospel going to all nations.
And I have a role in it. Paul understood the role he played in the purpose of God. And in that purpose, the purpose of God. He found his purpose. What’s my point here?
Actually, let me give you another example before I share my point. Even Jesus did this. You might think Jesus would come down and go I’m the Son of God so I can do whatever I want. But that’s not what Jesus does. Instead Jesus refers to the Old Testament over and over and over again to prove that he is part of God’s greater in grander story.
In Luke, in the Book of Luke at the end of the Book of Luke, Luke chapter 24, it gives us the fullest account of Jesus’s life after his resurrection. What would you do after your resurrection? I don’t even know, but Jesus spends the majority of his time teaching the Old Testament. Luke chapter 24 describes what he did with first the people on the road to Emmaus, two men heading in the wrong direction, heading away from Jerusalem, disappointed, frustrated because they thought Jesus was the Messiah and he was killed.
And so Jesus meets with them. They don’t even know it’s Jesus. And this is what he says. He goes, how he said to them how foolish you are and how slow to believe. What are they slow to believe? All that the prophets have spoken?
Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory and listen to what Jesus does. This is so radical and beginning with Moses, which means the Book of Genesis and all the prophets. He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. How does Jesus prove to those men that he himself is part of the story?
He uses the Old testament. But that’s not the only time it happens at the end of Luke chapter 24, Jesus meets with the disciples and this is what happens here. He says to them, this is what I said to you while I was still with you. Everything must be fulfilled from what must be fulfilled? That is written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms, basically saying everything in the Scriptures.
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, this is what is written. The Messiah will suffer and raise from the dead on the third day and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
Notice what he’s doing. He surveys the Old Testament he does a theological line for the Old Testament to say to prove his own purpose for being. How incredible is that? Jesus uses the Bible to discern his own purpose. What’s my point? The Scriptures tell the story that not only lead up to Jesus and not only leads up to the Church, but also the Scriptures describe what your role is. You want to figure out the purpose of God’s people or yourself. Your purpose individually and our purpose collectively is part of the same great story of Scripture. The reason you are here is to continue the legacy of the Bible itself and you have a role to play in it. What I’m trying to say is that just like Jesus was able to draw his purpose from the Scriptures.
And just like Paul was able to do the same thing and the Apostles, you should be able to do the exact same thing. Your life has meaning. Your life has purpose because you’re part of the narrative arc of the Bible. You have a mission, you have a calling on your life. Something important is supposed to happen through you.
You have an integral part to play. And the reason I know it is because the Bible continues through your life. Two weeks ago, as we were trying to figure out and discern our purpose, I said to you, then if you wanted to discover your purpose, you need to understand what you’re responsible for. Okay? What are you responsible for?
You? If you want to figure out what your purpose is in life, figure out what you’re responsible for. And this week, here’s the point that I really want to hammer home. If you want to understand your purpose, you need to discover the role you play in the story of God. As we continue in this series to discover a biblical theology for the people, of the purpose of the people of God, there is no better way.
There’s no better way for us to figure out what we’re meant to do than to do exactly what Jesus, Paul, Peter, James did. Today, we’re going to do something a little bit different, but I’m going to walk through the entire narrative arc of the Bible. And in light of that story, I hope you can begin to chip away at what it really means for you to be alive and why God puts you on this planet. Right up front. Here’s a question for you to consider: if the Bible is so important to the risen Jesus, to the Apostle Paul, to James and to John and all the rest of the Apostles, if it was so important to them and they knew it so well, here’s a question for you to consider, and this is an elementary question, but it’s an important one. How well do you actually know the Bible?
If you want to know why you exist, you better know the story that you’re a part of. Here’s a thought, right? Let’s say you are Jack and Jill. You know the nursery rhyme about Jack and Jill. What did they do?
It went up the Hill, right? So assume that you’re Jack and Jill, and you never go up the Hill. What is the purpose of your life? If you are Jack and Jill and you don’t do the thing the story told you to do, why do you even exist? That’s a silly example. But the point is the same.
In the broader context of the Bible, the Bible is your story. The Bible is your story. If you don’t understand it, you won’t actually know what you’re supposed to do in life. And if you don’t know what you’re supposed to do in life, then the question can be logically derived. What am I actually here for?
If Jesus saw fit to repeat it over and over again, how much more do you and I need to become familiar with the Bible? Here’s another little thing that’s important for us to think about. We have to be aware that knowing the Bible takes hard work. Like really knowing it requires some prolonged effort. There is no YouTube video that’s going to teach you the Bible in five minutes. There is no preacher that’s going to explain the Bible in 40 minutes, and you’re going to be perfectly fine for everything else you need to know.
It just doesn’t work like that. It’s going to require some hard work, some really, really hard work. You can’t open the Bible app and read the Scripture of the day and think you understand what the Gospels are talking about. You can’t also live in this kind of post modern viewpoint where you think that no one can teach you something. Where you think that your opinion is the best opinion on the Bible, and you’re the only person that knows everything. You have to learn to sit at people’s feet and listen and be taught and be a Berean who considered the scriptures every single day to see what they heard was true.
This is where you have to be. It requires hard work, and I can get up here and be like, hey, you want to figure out your purpose? Well, you’re part of the greatest story ever. So your purpose is great, Amen, and everyone can clap, and it’ll be like, wow, but that would do nothing for your soul. All I’m trying to do here is lay a foundational work for you, because this is going to require you to work at home, to get some effort to work with a community group, to get some help with someone mentoring you to really understand the Scriptures.
So I ask you how well do you really know the Bible? And if you don’t know it, you could read it every day. You can listen to it every day. You can go on the Bible project to get some help. You can do whatever you want to do, but I just encourage you.
It’s going to take some time. There is no other way, just as a reminder, if you want to understand your purpose, you need to discover the role you play in the story, which means you need to know the story. Okay, there’s no shortcuts for this. So we’re going to dive in. I’m going to give you I know you can’t do this, like in 30 minutes.
So I’m going to give you just the overarching picture of the narrative arc of the Bible just for fun. And then you can work on it yourself. Are you ready for it? This is a graph. I have given a little bit of Joe Sterns in my heart.
And here’s a graph. This is not my graph. I did not make this. I stole this because I think it’s great. I find it helpful to visualize the Scriptures in four movements.
Creation, the fall, redemption in history and new Creation. Within redemption in history, which is this large portion is the majority of the Bible. It’s also where you live right now. It’s the largest part of the Bible, but it’s actually not the start of the Bible. This Bible begins well before that. So we’re going to start at the start.
The arc of the Scriptures begin with a story of a creator. Imagine it’s genesis chapter One. You don’t know anything about who this one maker person is. In the flash, he creates everything.
He’s big, he’s grand, and you aren’t even made. So you can’t even contemplate. It’s easy to think that the start of the story of God begins here when we fall because we love to be the main characters of the story. But the main character of the story is not man. It’s actually the Creator.
And also because sin is so toxic. And it’s discussed for the rest of the time. It’s easy to think that’s what the whole story is about. But that’s not what the story is about. In the beginning, we learn two things.
We learn that there is a Creator God who is higher than we are, who we cannot be like, who we can’t make like, we can’t create like, we can’t do anything like he is bigger than we are stronger than we are. His thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways. So in the very beginning of the story, we learn two things. One, we are not God. That’s an important thing to know, right?
You are not God. As much as again, this post modern world wants to pretend like you are God. You are not God. There is a higher authority than you. Something lives above you. You are not God.
And the second thing creation story helps us understand is when in Genesis chapter one, we are made, we are made as incredibly valuable. So here’s the two things, right. We are the valuable people. We’re not just a little more than animals. We’re actually made with the image of the Creator. We have value, meaning and purpose. And also God, this Creator, is far above us. That’s the first movement. That’s all we see until Genesis chapter three and the Falle of Man. The fall of man is a story that’s illustrative. It’s also an example for us of what the fall is like for all of us. Men are tempted to be God themselves. Though we were told in Genesis One, we’re not God, we’re tempted to still be God. And so we grab the fruit, we disobey, and then evil comes on the planet.
The evil is so pervasive that it impacts every single area. The Fall teaches us about the fact that every single dimension of human life and personhood has been altered by this sinfulness. Physically we are all now subject to death and decay. When you look in the mirror and you look and you go, wow, I’m a little older than I used to be. That’s the curse. That’s death and decay.
I’m not even kidding. It’s just the truth. Death and decay. We’re living with an environment that is under a curse that is slowly dying. Death and decay is everywhere.
Everyone and everything will die. And that is one of the nature, that is one of the issues that happened at the Fall. But it’s not just physically. It also happened intellectually. We use our incredible power of rationality to explain, excuse, normalize our own evil, to do things we know we shouldn’t do, and then we explain it away.
Evil is pervasive even in our thoughts. It’s so bad by the time we get to Genesis chapter, by the time we get a little bit further after Genesis chapter three, God is going to kill the whole world. Every inclination of the human heart is evil all the time. Socially it’s corrupted. It’s corrupted sexually and parents are corrupted and families are corrupted and societies are corrupted and ethnicities are corrupted.
And even internationally it’s corrupted. We see the Tower of Babel where all of a sudden God is not only like spreading people up, but he’s just allowing people to have the division that is true in their own hearts and mind. Spiritually we are corrupted, alienated from God. The best analysis in the entire Bible in my opinion of this is is in Romans chapter One and I’m going to read it for you. So just bear with me.
It’s a long passage. It says the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all kinds, all the Godlessness and wickedness of the people who suppress the truth of God by their wickedness. For although they knew God, this is both Adam and Eve and you and me. They neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him. But their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal human beings. So they made this exchange. We all make this exchange between worshiping the God who is forever the Creator of all things. Picture Genesis Three. We can worship the Creator of everything, or we can worship ourselves.
Therefore, God allowed them. That’s what this means gave them over. He allowed them to just fall into their own disgusting filth. He gave them over to sinful desires of their hearts, to sexual impurity, to the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie.
And they worshipped and served Creator things rather than the Creator who has forever praised Amen. Because of this because they continued to rebel, god gave them over to shameful lust. So it started in the mind or started in the heart. It extended to the physical body and then God give them over to lust. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.
In the same way, the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worth while to retain the knowledge of God, think about how intense sin is. So God gave them over to a deprived mind so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.
They’re filled with envy and murder, strife and deceit and malice, their gossips, slanderers, god Haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful. They invent ways of doing evil. They disobey their parents. They have no understanding, no Fidelity, no love, no mercy.
Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such thing deserve death. They not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. This is the full vent of sin. Everything has been corrupted by sin. This is the fall.
The fall is supposed to explain to us that sin has corrupted everything and everyone there is no escaping it. Here’s the good news. Gods like, alright, I’m going to redeem them. The glorious truth is that the Bible gives us a gospel that addresses every dimension that we just read of the problem of sin or the problem that was created by sin. The fall brings the reality of the curse of the world, the curse of Satan, of the pervasive nature of wickedness.
And then God says, I have an idea. How about I redeem them? Man, this is so beautiful, right? If I was telling the story, it would end in chapter two. Like, seriously, I’d be like men I made this beautiful world work. Everything was good and I made very good men. I love you so much. You’re my image. You’re beautiful.
Now go make the world beautiful for me. I want to be God myself. Okay? You’re dead. Story over. But instead, God doesn’t do that.
He redeems his people. The redemption story is is the Bible basically is the major chunk of the Bible. And it’s the story where we find the characters that we all know and love. It begins in Genesis chapter twelve. In Genesis chapter twelve, we get the calling of Abraham.
Abram at the time. God makes a promise to him. He says, I’m going to redeem the world through you and through your family. Man. See, every piece of the Bible makes sense in redemption.
It’s not the Old Testament. And then the Old Testament was a failed plan and the New Testament was a success. It’s really this whole plan and this is why, at the very end, in Revelation, chapter 15, the Bible says that the people of God are singing the song of Moses, meaning the Old Testament and the song of the lamb, meaning the New Testament in Jesus. In heaven, we sing both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In heaven, they come together so that we could finally make sense of the whole story.
By the way, this is really random. But are you enjoying this teaching? Like, are you getting something out of it? Okay. Cool.
I know it’s a lot. I’m not trying to have applause. I’m just asking honestly. I think there’s two things this is critical for us to understand, but also this is a lot of information. You have to work on this yourself. You got to go home.
You got to be in a community group. You got to make this happen because it’s going to be difficult for you to do this. Just listening on Sunday morning. Okay. I’m back to it.
So we trace the arc of this narrative story. So go back. Okay. So in Genesis chapter eleven, we have this other real big issue, which is that the nations are also divided. So we have two problems with sin.
I mean, there’s lots of problems with sin, but two that are major. One is the corruption of the human heart. You and I are sinful. It’s hard. We just can’t break through from our sinfulness.
We’ve been corrupted. And two, every nation is now away from God. There’s a divided like there are nations. And so you start thinking, well, what’s the terrible things? Well, in the human heart is where we get our moral decay, our own sinfulness, our own destructiveness.
But in the fracturing of the nations, there’s a lot of problems. You ever wonder why there’s things like war and ethnic cleansing and gulags and internment camps and African slavery and American slavery and the trail of tears. And Mau and Lenin and the death of millions in those Communist revolutions and people flying planes into buildings? Not only because of the corruption of the human heart, but it also has to do with the fracturing of the nations. And so when God calls Abraham, he calls him to restore both things.
You could very easily call the calling of Abraham the first great Commission. Go and be a blessing, and all people on Earth will be blessed through you. God’s plan was to deal with not only the problem of our own human heart, but also the destruction of man through the family of Abraham. So you look at the arc, right? So the calling of Abraham happens.
And then the next portion that happens is the exodus. Abraham is family grows so big to end up in Egypt. And you know the story, right? Let my people go, Moses says. But what do we learn there?
We actually learn what it looks like when God redeems people. He hears their cry. He listens to them, and he goes, I’m going to come down and I’m going to choose some people to save them. And in this moment, we see God’s righteousness. We also see is justice. As he redeems the people from the Exodus, freeing them from their slavery as an archetype of what he’s going to do for us in the future.
He sets them free. And then he brings him to Sinai. He lets him wander in the desert for a little bit and eventually makes this beautiful Covenant with them. And he says, in this Covenant, he calls himself Yahweh, I am who I’ve always been. They have a relationship with this God, who was this Creator.
And God tells these people, hey, look, you will be for me a blessing to all nations. I’m going to set you apart. I’m going to give you a law. And what this law is going to do is going to teach you how to be Holy. The word Holy means distinctive or set apart.
You are going to show the rest of the world what it means to be close to me. However, the history of Israel will show us through the monarchs, through the exiles and through the prophets that not only could Israel not be this, they couldn’t do it. They didn’t even really want to do it. They actually prove themselves to be no different than the rest of the nation. They could not be Holy.
In fact, what the law had done for them as Romans, chapter three perfectly explains is that it made them conscious of their own sin. It exposed the fact that Israel actually needed a savior. That’s why in Romans chapter three, it says there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So with this, it feels like the story is lost. You get to this point and you go, the arc of the Bible is over.
The people who got his chosen to be the Redeemers could not be the Redeemers. And then we start getting grumblings that there is someone coming. There’s someone coming who is actually going to be what these people could never be. Jesus enters the scene. He embodies what Israel was always supposed to be. He’s going to be faithful in the places that they had rebelled.
He’s going to be obedient to death, even death on a cross. And through his death and his resurrection, he’s not only going to restore Israel and the nation’s, but he’s also going to heal the heart and the problem of sin that stops us from being able to be close to God. I love Galatians chapter four because it has something really interesting, it says. But when the set time had fully come, which means that the whole story was meant to happen. God was just preparing the story.
He was setting the tension so that Jesus could come. The incarnation of God in Christ brings two factors into our theology of mission. It inaugurates not only the healing of our heart, but also this new thing called the Kingdom of God. What is the Kingdom of God? Well, I’m going to skip this verse and move to this one.
Well, through the resurrection, which is the climax of the story. We have this new Kingdom, these people. And what’s amazing about these people is that they are supposed to be the fulfillment to the story of Abraham. So you go. Okay.
So what is the Church, then? The Church is the Kingdom, right? The Church is supposed to be nothing less than the multinational fulfillment of the hope of Israel, that all nations will be blessed through the people of Abraham. To the characters of God. This is why God says that we are his children, that we are also children of Abraham.
This is why in Romans chapter 910, eleven, God says that we are Israel because he’s basically saying the Church has become my new family. It’s a pretty amazing thing. Again, something you’re going to have to study for yourself. And here’s the beauty. This is the part of the story that you and I are in.
Right now, we’re here the mission of the Church. This is where we find ourselves. This is why we are called to be a light of the world. The city on a Hill, a blessing to all nations, people who care for the creations, people who show Grace and truth and justice. We are supposed to be ambassadors.
We’re supposed to be Redeemers. All this is supposed to take place before the last movement happens, which is the new creation. This is so cool. I’m going to read this in a second. But the return of Christ brings everything to completion.
Everything is made new. This passage of scripture is the beauty of what is supposed to happen. But I want you to just notice the parts of the highlighted in yellow. For the old order of things has passed away. And Jesus said, I am making everything new.
There are two things that happen at the very end. One is the judgment of the world. Why is the judgment important? Well, because sin is going to be ultimately destroyed, done forever. Part of the gospel is that sin is destroyed.
And the second thing that happens is that God restores everything. God brings everything back to the way it was supposed to be done. It’s a beautiful ending. In fact, in Genesis, I’m sorry. In Revelation chapter 22, we read the garden has now become a city.
So it’s had this evolution from just being this barren garden where the men were supposed to work, to this city paved with streets of gold and walls and buildings. It’s an amazing transformation. So this is the grid, right? This is the story that you’re a part of. And so if you ever wondered yourself, why am I here?
Well, you have to understand where you fit into the story, right? You are one of the characters, one of the supporting cast of the greatest story that has ever been told and that it ever will be told. You are one of the hobbits in the Lord of the Rings. You have a part to play. You have something to do in this beautiful story of God.
I am here we are here to play a role in the story of God. It’s an incredible story and I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty amazing for me. Your children play a role in the story of God where you work, play a role in the story of God. How you serve God’s Kingdom plays a role in the story of God. Everything you do from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed every single day of your life is part of the narrative arc of God’s story.
And here’s the beauty of it. You can be one of the people that restores creation in a beautiful way, that redeems people that encourages that builds that creates that shows justice and peace and mercy and love and compassion. You can be one of those people, or you can buck the story and be on the negative side and be one of the people that the story is fighting against. Who are you in the story and what’s your role? See, this story is where the early Church and the early followers of Jesus they found their purpose.
It’s where they had confidence of who they were supposed to be because they knew the narrative arc of the Bible. What’s your purpose? Well, you better figure out the story that you’re a part of. I want to close with the quote. Through believing this story, we are drawn into the action and find ourselves caught up in the saving movement of God.
We learn to indwell, notice that word indwell means we’re inside of it indwell the story. So looking out from within the biblical world with with new eyes onto our post modern lives and worlds. So he’s saying, look, we learn to live in the story and look out onto our world as opposed to living in our world and looking into the story. Listen to why this is so important.
He says, we stop trying to make the Bible relevant to our lives and instead begin to find ourselves being made relevant to the Bible.
We stop trying to go, you know what? I have this job. I have this place of work. I have this family. I have all these things now, how does the Bible fit into all this?
We stopped doing that. And instead we go, okay, where does my life fit into the broader story of the Bible? It’s a revolutionary, different way. And I would say counter cultural, different way of looking at the scriptures, as I always say, you are not David slaying Goliath, right? You are not the main character of the story.
You have a role to play. The point of your life isn’t to go, you know that parking. You know my coworker. He’s Goliath and I’m gonna hit him with a stone. That’s not the point of the story.
The point is to go into the Scriptures and to live in the Scriptures, embody them and then to look out into the rest of the world. Listen to what the rest of it says. It says we give up the clumsy attempt to wrench the ancient text into our contemporary world and instead bring our world back into collision with and cleansed by the strange new world of the Bible. Through believing the story, we allow our minds to be continuously renewed by the normative narrative of of God. Jesus calls all his disciples away.
I love this. Jesus calls all of his disciples away from a faith in which God is available to bless their business into a faith in which disciples are available to God to be part of his business. And God’s business is a multinational company with branches everywhere. You want to figure out your purpose, figure out the role you play in the beautiful story of God. Let’s go to God in prayer.
Father, we are just in awe of what you did in creating this amazing, amazing scriptures for us to find ourselves in God and Lord, I know there have been so many times where I’ve been so clumsy and my exposition of it in my own interpretation of it, just trying to figure out how how is this relevant to the 21st century God and I pray you forgive all of us for taking that clumsy, casual approach the Scriptures. God, instead, I pray that we use the Bible as the place where we find our purpose.
We go to it for answers for who we are and what is our next step. And we do it in obedience to you.
God. I also thank you for the moments right now, like right now, we get to just think about Communion. We get to think about the way that Christ was able to from the Old Testament stir up in himself what he was supposed to do for you. God I thank you for the way that he was able to be crushed for our sins, that he got the wrath that was deserving for us. But he took the punishment that was ours so that we would be free for our own punishment.
Dad, you are a good God. I got to thank you for the bread that we’ll eat in this moment that represents the body broken for us and the juice that we will drink that represents your blood poured out for us. Lord, let us do this as a reminder of who we are, who are supposed to be and ultimately Lord, who you have dreamed that we could be. Lord. I love you, dad.
I praise you in Jesus name. Amen.