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2021 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - Butterflies and Eagles

Levi Lusko - Butterflies and Eagles

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When we think about a confession, we tend to go, you know, Law and Order: SVU. We go NCIS in our hearts. We go Blue Bloods or, you know, throwing back a little bit, we go CSI. I can't hear that song from The Who without thinking about CSI, Las Vegas, right? And so we think about trying to get someone, you know, who's suspected of a crime to confess. And when they give their confession, they're basically saying, here's what I did wrong, here's what I did that's illegal. I'm confessing to this crime.

You know, that's true, of course, but crimes aren't the only things that you can confess. And what we're looking at in this series of messages, hello, if you're just coming in now, this is a collection of talks aimed at answering the question, what is our confession of faith if we're Jesus followers? Because just as you can confess to a crime, you can confess to believing something. And it's so important to nail that down, because if you don't stand for something, it's been said, you'll fall for anything. And so what we have in the creed is basically the guardrails of our faith that tell us this is the borders of our belief. This is what we believe.

Between these two posts is where we're going to live, where we're going to move forward. And so if we call ourselves Jesus followers, what we're doing is we're discovering what exactly we mean by that. And this week, we come in the creed to the portion that we're going to examine today, which says "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins". That's what we're going to talk about in this third and final portion of the creed: the belief in the Holy Spirit, the church, and the forgiveness of sins.

The title of my message is Butterflies and Eagles. If you like to take notes in church, you can jot that down. Put in your phone, put it in your little worship guide that we give you on the way in. And if you like bonus titles, we don't often do it, but every once in a while you get two titles. So if you like a bonus title or a subtitle or an alternate ending, if you like, the second title for this message is Shazam. That's the second title for this message. How you like that? Shazam. You like that? Woo! All right. Acts chapter two. We're going to read three different portions from Acts two that kind of show movement. And it's such an important day in the life of the church, because it's the birthday of the church. And it was birthed by the Holy Spirit. And it was only possible because of the forgiveness of sins.

You see what I did there? And here's what we find in Acts two, beginning of verse one. Are y'all awake? You with me? Yeah. You all ready to help me preach this thing? Acts two says, "when the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly, there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing, mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues as the spirit gave them utterance". "And they were dwelling in Jerusalem. Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when the sound occurred, the multitude came together and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language".

So here's a bunch of people speaking all sorts of different languages. But no matter what language you spoke as your native tongue, you were able to hear it in your tongue. It was a, it's been said, reversal of what happened at the Tower of Babel. When the tongues were divided, no one could hear each other. But here in this moment, the tongues were united in the name of Jesus. And then jumping down to verse 12, obviously, because of this craziness, they were all amazed and perplexed, "saying to one another, whatever could this mean? Others, mocking, said they're just full of new wine. But Peter, standing up with the 11, raised his voice and said to them, men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and heed my words, for these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it's only the third hour of the day". Translation: it's 9:00 AM.

Now, a lot of them are fishermen, so give them time. They could get there. But not yet. That's where he's saying. Aren't you grateful God can work with us no matter how messed up we are? These are not drunks, it's just 9:00 AM. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel. "And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. Your young men shall see visions. Your old men shall dream dreams. And on my men servants and my maid servants, I will pour out my spirit in those days, and they shall prophesy". Well at this, the man Peter, he got up and he began preaching. He had already been explaining, and now he begins preaching.

And basically, if you read, and we're not going to read his sermon, but let me just give you the gist of his sermon. Are you ready for it? Jesus died according to scriptures, and he was crucified like the scriptures prophesied that he was going to. And on the third day, he rose from the dead. That was basically the gist of his sermon. And then all the people hearing this, the Bible says they were cut to the quick with conviction. It was almost as though God was just, you know, slicing them on the inside, and so full of guilt, so full of a need for God they said, what should we do? They said to the preacher, what should we do? And now we're going to jump in at verse 38. Peter said to them, "repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. And you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, for the promise is to you".

Now he had just told them, y'all crucified Jesus. How messed up is that? Now he's saying you could be filled with the Holy Spirit, for the promise is to you. The promise is to the people who were alive on the Earth doing the worst thing that's ever been done in human history. And Peter's like, this promise is for you. When God spoke of giving the Holy Spirit out, he was talking about you guys. He was talking about anybody, everybody, no matter where you've been, no matter what you've done, no matter how dirty you feel, no matter how messed up you are. Did you just crucify the Son of God? Cool. God's got a plan for you. Come on with me. Let's go. And anything you could think of that you've done that's worse than that, please, let me know. Right?

What's worse than what they did? And yet, he says this promise is to you. And anybody, even your children, "all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. And with many other words, he testified and exhorted them, saying be saved from this perverse generation. Then those who gladly received his word were baptized. And that day, about 3,000 souls were added to them". It's a good day. It's a good day. Sometimes people talk about nostalgically like, I just wish we could get back to the early church, when church was small, there was just a couple people around. I don't like big churches. You would have hated the early church, right? You would have hated it. 3,000, it was small for, like, 15 seconds.

Then God's spirit got involved and a ton of people started getting saved. And that's always what happens when God is a part of something. "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine," basically the creed, "and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in prayers". The dictionary defines the word shazam as an exclamation used to, it's in the dictionary. I had to look it up. It's used to introduce an extraordinary deed, story, or transformation. Say it with me. Shazam! But you gotta say it with an exclamation mark. Don't you be cruising up in here with a question mark. Don't even bring me a period. I need your A game. I need an exclamation mark on the count of three. One, two, three. Shazam! Woo! Epic moment. Transformation. Story.

That's the dictionary. But if you open up the comic books, in the DC Comics, Shazam is all about this 14-year-old kid who's a foster child who randomly meets a wizard. Based on a true story. Randomly meets a wizard, and the wizard basically confers powers upon him that turns him into this champion of eternity. Champion of eternity. And this little kid, this little dude, this little pipsqueak of a kid gets the powers of seven warriors. The seven warriors are as follows. Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury. Or if you're paying attention, Shazam. Oh! Yeah. Shazam, right? And now he's no 14-year-old prepubescent punk, he's this mighty Greek god of a man who can shoot lightning out of his fingertips. Right?

Who can fly, who's bulletproof. And he needs all those powers, he needs all those skills because he's going to battle a man with a serious inferiority complex because, 40 years prior, he didn't get to be the champion of eternity. Sounds a lot like the devil. Who had the desire to be the champion, didn't get to be the champion, and so has a desire to tear down the actual champion. And this man with the inferiority complex, named Thaddeus, is filled with seven demons that each represent the seven deadly sins. And this mild-mannered hero, Billy Batson, can transform into this hero whose actual name in the comic books is Captain Marvel, but DC couldn't make a movie with that as the lead character for obvious reasons. They're sort of in a rivalry with Marvel, right?

So they played down his actual identity, and you had him trying to figure out what he was going to be called. You know, Sparkle Fingertips or whatever it was. And so I won't spoil the movie for you, but basically anytime he says the word shazam, he's able to transform into this powerful hero. Anytime he says this key phrase, he's able to transform and accomplish the great things that he intends to. CS Lewis said that, whenever you listen to the popular stories being told by culture, they offer insights into the longings that go on inside of humanity. Yes. In the book Mere Christianity, he went on to tell us that God has a way of planting good dreams into the human race. He puts good dreams into the human race's hearts.

And if you listen to the stories, if you listen to the mythology, if you listen to the stories being told, they show us inside of our hearts what we actually crave. What I'm trying to say, and the reason I take the time to tell you all this and save you the trip to IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes is perhaps for this reason. God intends for our gatherings, our life story to be basically a real-life version of what we go pay $10 to see in the movie theater. You see, what the movie is all about at the end of the day, what the story's all about at the end of the day is someone weak being used in a way that's powerful. What's weaker than a butterfly, and what's more powerful than an eagle?

And really, that's what God intends for our story to be like, is we follow one name, one word, one confession. It's not shazam. Y'all, it's Jesus Christ, the king of kings, the lord of lords. That's the word. That's the name. That's the power. That's the confession. That's our hope. That's life. The name that's been given not by a wizard, but by the one who created the world with his mouth. The reason something in us resonates when we see an underdog story like this, where someone weak is transformed and used powerfully is because that's the story God wants us to live. That's what we were created to participate in. And the proof of such a mighty transformation all occurring through the power of God's spirit is what we just read, the story of the apostle Peter.

For as we see him today in this moment we're stepping into, the birthday of the Church, we see a man operating as though he were bulletproof. You see him unflinching. You see him standing there with a steel resolve. And he proudly points to Jesus, the one that can save anybody, even those who destroyed Christ when he was on the Earth, pointing to all these people. Now, as you read this, is anybody with me going like, who's this guy? And what did he do with Peter? This is not my Peter. This is not the dude who just 51 days ago was so scared when a little servant girl said, are you a follower of Jesus, he turned into the Cowardly Lion, sputtering, no, never met the guy. I wouldn't follow Jesus. He's the worst. I've heard about Him, but I wouldn't follow Him.

And she's like, OK, chill out, right? Thou protesteth too loudly, a little Shakespeare action up in here. And basically, here's Peter denying Jesus three times. And just not even two months later, he's preaching to the saving of 3,000 souls. Shazam, somebody, right? Shazam. It's like, an exclamation used to signal a powerful story, transformation, or deed being done. And this isn't what God wants just for Peter or just some super apostle or epic individual. This is the story that God wants for all of us to participate in. And that's why He's called us to see ourselves as the Church, the Church. And the Church is supercharged by the Holy Spirit, supercharged.

And it's for a very specific reason that we chose to lump these two together, this next section, I believe in the Holy Spirit and then what we're going to talk about the Church, because it's the Holy Spirit that's working in the Church. It's the Holy Spirit that is actively involved. As the creed begins, it's with God, the Father, for so we see primarily God, the Father, in the beginning of the Scriptures, in creation. And then, on the seventh day, He rested. Essentially, He sat down after creating the world, so to speak, resting from his labor. And of course, He's still active. And we're dividing things if we put this in too rigid of categories.

But so to speak, it was God, the Father, who created the world, then sat down, pointing forward to Jesus, who then showed up in the beginning of the New Testament, who pointed forward all His earthly ministry to the cross. And then after He died on the cross and rose from the dead, what does the creed say? He sat down at the right hand of the father, having fulfilled His primary part in this redemptive story. And then the Holy Spirit began to be active. And guess what? He hasn't sat down yet. Why? Because He's still moving in the world today. He's still working. He's still active. He's still saving. He's still healing. He's still feeling. He's still leading. He's still going.

So who is He? Who is He? And I didn't say, who is it, for the Holy Spirit is a He and not an it. The Holy Spirit is God, fully God, just as the Father is fully God, just as the Son is fully God. And of course, we see this idea never described in exactly that phrase but all throughout the Scripture as this trinity or, as some theologians have described it, "the dance of the Godhead," this community that God calls us to live in but then also models Himself, living in community even within the Godhead. The Holy Spirit is God. And you see His activity, participating in, serving the Father's role of creation, for the Spirit hovered over the waters as God created the world in the book of Genesis, all throughout the Old Testament, the Spirit doing what God called Him to do, pointing forward to Jesus.

Then when Jesus shows up, the Spirit was active in His entire ministry. In fact, on Jesus's first day on the job, what did He speak? He said, the spirit of God has come upon Me. And I am now going to do all that I do in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that it was the Holy Spirit that gave Him the strength to go to the cross as He did and the Holy Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. And then after Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father, it was the Holy Spirit, Peter tells us, that moved in the heart of every single person who wrote the letters of the New Testament.

So just that we're all clear on all this, He created the world, was actively involved in Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection, and wrote the Bible. I would say the Holy Spirit's pretty important. That's a big deal. You're like, wow. Man, You've really accomplished some things. Way to go, Holy Spirit. That sounds like someone who we would want to get to know. And that's exactly what God intends for us. So how do we interact with the Holy Spirit? Three things you need to know about your relationship and your being supercharged by the Holy Spirit, you need to know this, "with," "in," and "upon," "with," "in," and "upon," for those are the three prepositions that are used across the Scriptures to describe the relationship of the Church to the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is with you, is willing to come in you, and desires to come upon you. Those three show up in two verses that I want to put on the screen. First is John 14. This is Jesus speaking. "I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, the Spirit of truth. He dwells" say it with me, "with you and will be in you". The Holy Spirit is with you, regardless of what you want. If you ignore Him, you hate Him, you never in your life want to follow God, never want to trust God, never want to have anything to do with Jesus, you can't help but to have the first relationship with the Holy Spirit, for He is with you, because right now, He's active in the world with us. He's with us in the world and has been ever since Jesus sent Him. And this day of Pentecost was the day that He arrived.

Now, of course, He was already in the world. But He came in a new way, just as Jesus had come in His earthly ministry in a new way, having always been, prior to, with the Father omnipresent, in all places at all times. So He came in a way to serve. He came in a way to act. He came in a way on the day of Pentecost where He would, from that moment forward, begin to do a particular thing. And that particular thing was to build the Church and to do so by pointing the attention to Jesus Christ. So right now the Holy Spirit is with you in this world. He's with you. And then what is He doing? He's convicting the world of sin and righteousness of judgment to move every single person in this world closer to coming to a place of bringing Jesus into their heart. It's been put this way.

When someone's saved, it was the Holy Spirit who rang the doorbell. It was the Holy Spirit, because Jesus said, I want to come into your hearts. But it's the Holy Spirit who's with you ringing the doorbell, so you come to the place of opening the door of your heart. And when that happens, the Spirit comes in you, comes into your heart to live inside of you. Every single person who's a Jesus follower has the spirit of God in their heart. It happens the moment of salvation, for the Book of Romans tells us, if you don't have the Spirit of Christ, you are not His.

So the only way to be a Christian is to have the Spirit of God in your heart, responding to the doorbell, inviting Jesus into your life. And when that happens, He sends his Spirit into your heart. And God lives inside of you. So that's "with" and "in". But the third capacity and perhaps the most ignored, the most malnourished, the most underutilized, is the final. And that's "upon," where the Holy Spirit desires to come upon you. This is from Acts chapter 1. We studied it at length last week. "But you shall receive power". That word is the Greek word "dunamis". And when the inventor of dynamite wanted to name his explosion, he turned to the Greek word "dunamis" to describe what dynamite was. And that's the word describing the Holy Spirit, as well. What He'll give you is power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.

So He's with you in the world to draw you to Jesus. When you invite Him into your heart, He comes inside of you. But then He desires to come upon you and to give you power and power for service and power to make the right decision and power to see clearly, to see Scripture, even the power to understand truth. Someone once said that "to read the Bible without trusting in the Spirit's power makes theological truth drier than a James Bond martini". I like that.

So the Spirit wants to open up your eyes, open up your heart, help you to know not to go here, to go over here, who to speak to, and then when you step out in faith to do something, that He's the one activating the gifts inside your heart, giving you strength, giving you power, giving you love that's not yours, and ultimately allowing you to transform from who you are today into the version of yourself that mounts up with wings as eagles, can run and not grow weary, can walk and not get faint. And without the Spirit, we flutter about like little butterflies, when we are meant to soar with wings as eagles.

Well, how do we get the Spirit coming upon us? You're like, that sounds pretty dang good. I want me some of that. Well, the first step to receiving the Spirit is to believe in the Spirit. And that's why we confess, I believe in the Holy Spirit. To confess that we believe it moves us to a place of being able to participate in it, for the Bible tells us that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him and that it's impossible to please Him without faith. So we begin by believing what God has said, taking Him at His word, and then asking and receiving it and believing it is so, then stepping out in faith, trusting that that invisible resource has been deposited into our account. And we do it again the next day. And we do it again the next day, for as Ephesians tells us, we need to "be being filled with the Holy Spirit". That's what we're told in the book of Ephesians, that we should be filled with the Spirit.

Now, in English, that's what you're going to read when you read that in Ephesians 6. "Be filled with the Holy Spirit". But when you actually look into the Greek, what it means is "be being filled with the Spirit," meaning it's an ongoing thing, just like the gas in your car, right? You ever sit there stranded on the side of the road, wondering what happened because you got gas a year ago? No. You used the gas you got. You need to get you some more gas. So what happens is you wake up, and you need God's strength today. You've got impossible things on your plate today. You've got people you want to reach today. You've got Scripture you want to understand today. You've got gifts you want to use today. You've got forgiveness you need to give today.

So you say, God, would you give me the Holy Spirit? I believe in the Holy Spirit. Would You please come upon me with that power that I need to do what I can do? I don't want to be a butterfly today. I want to be an eagle today. And you ask in faith. And then you get frustrated, and you cuss out your sister-in-law. And you end up doing this, and you forget to share your faith. And you revert back to old patterns and old ways. You fall into old sins. You wake up tomorrow. You know what you do again? God, would You please fill me with your Spirit again? You gave it to me yesterday. I need it again today. I need Thee every hour. I need Thee every minute. I need You right now. I leaked. I leaked. What happened to all that power I used to have? I leaked it all out, because I'm holy and not the good kind, right? Not always the good kind, I've got holes in me. I believe in the Holy Catholic Church. And I'm like a colander, I leak so much, right?

Now, I know in speaking about all these things, a barrier to many of you wanting to walk in this and live this out is that you've seen weirdness blamed on the Holy Spirit. And I can assure you that things that you've seen that cause you to feel a cringe factor and someone's like, no, that's the Holy Spirit, he's going, wasn't me. That was all them. That was all them, because what the Holy Spirit does in the life of someone who's yielded to Him is supernatural in power but natural in how it comes across. It's not weird. It's not strange. In fact, the Bible says that a spirit that comes from the Spirit is subject to the person who's operating it. So it's never like your eyes roll back, and you're all of a sudden, rawr, like you're like The Walking Dead or something. And it's like, that was the Holy Spirit. It's like, no, no, you're just a weirdo, right? That is not what it looks like to have God's power come upon you.

So the best definition I've ever heard of what it looks like to be filled with the Holy Spirit is to have the help of a friend when you're trying to move, to have the help of a friend with a truck when you're trying to move. Can you imagine how ridiculous you would look pushing a dresser and a bed down the side of the highway, trying to move, trying to get your stuff from one house to another, when there's someone in your life who says, yo, I got a hand truck. And I got a real truck. I'll come over with both of my trucks. Yes, some of us just dragging our refrigerators down the side of the highway when there's a dolly that we could use to get a little leverage, and we could put it in the back of my Toyota. And we could drive that sucker down the street with an internal combustion engine and some horsepower all up in, some of you have been frustrated in your Christian life because you were trying to do God's work without God's power. You're not relying on what God intended.

So you're like, oh, the Christian life's too hard. No, you're just doing it wrong, because you're not leaning into the power of the Holy Spirit. How can you know? You're like, well, I think I've been asking for the Spirit. How can I know if I'm filled with the Holy Spirit? Two quick tests that you can administer to yourself, and please do keep these tests for yourself, lest you're like, I'm going to administer this test to you, honey, to your wife, to your friend. I don't think you're filled with the Spirit. Let me put you through your paces. This is a test for you to administer to yourself. Point at the person you're going to give this test to.

Number one, if the Spirit's involved in someone's life, there will be a focus on Jesus. There will be such a focus on Jesus. It will not be about your abilities or these things or this obsession or how much knowledge you have or look what I've done. And it's not polishing up a Boy Scout badge, spiritually speaking. It's not impressing people with how much you memorize, right? It's going to be a laser focus on Jesus, that people are going to be like, man, that person really seems to be passionate not about themselves, but about Jesus. There will be a focus on Jesus. In fact, Jesus put it this way. "When the helper comes, He will glorify Me".

So the Holy Spirit will never glorify the Holy Spirit. He's not trying to get people to think the Holy Spirit's amazing. He's trying to focus the attention on Jesus, just as Jesus had a submissive spirit to the Father in His earthly ministry. So within the Trinity, the Holy Spirit models for us submission to authority and shows us what that looks like by always wanting to lift up and bring attention to Jesus. So test number two, there will be an increased love where there's activity from the Holy Spirit. So you will find yourself growing not in arrogance, not in how hard you are and doctrinally pure you are, right? You will become a person of greater love, for the Spirit has a really green thumb. And what He likes to grow is love.

And that's why the Bible tells us, Galatians 5, "the fruit of the Spirit is love". Now, it goes on to tell us what love looks like, because some of us don't know. I don't know what love is. It's kindness. It's joy. It's peace. It's longsuffering. It's goodness. It's faithfulness. "But the fruit of the Spirit", singular, not "the fruits of the Spirit are". "The fruit of spirit is", singular, "love". What does love look like? Paul was kind enough to give us a little list that's pretty specific. And we can use it to apply to our lives, too. So to the degree that you are seeing these sorts of things: are you a kind person? Are you a good person? Is being around you, do people just want more? Or do they just want you to go away, right?

That tells us how much or how little the Spirit has control over the things that we say, over our countenance, over all those things in our lives. The Spirit will cause there to be greater love. I wrote this down. Take it for what it's worth. If your experience with the Spirit doesn't make you kind, it's not real, for the Spirit is kind. All right. So the Church will be supercharged because of the Spirit. Secondly, because of the Holy Spirit, the Church is global. Y'all, this thing's global. Isn't that great? And that's what we find in the phrase, "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church".

Now, in our day, 2019, when we hear the word "Catholic," we think of one specific form of church, of those on the Earth who honor Jesus, who love Jesus. And that wasn't always so. You see, since the 16th century, when the Protestant Reformation took place, we primarily hear the word "Catholic". And what do we think? We think "Roman Catholic". Roman Catholic is a group of people. It's a group of people who follow Jesus. And we think just specifically of that tradition, of that church. But going back way beyond that, the word "Catholic" was just a generic term. It was just a word that would be used. And you wouldn't necessarily think of those who were Roman Catholic. What it actually means is "according to the whole," the whole thing. Or it's been translated well from the Greek word "universal".

Now, you know what "universal" is because if something is a universal fit or if it's a universal remote, it's a lot of things done by one thing, right? If you have a VCR, we'll pray for you. But if you have a DVD player, if you have a Blu-ray player, if you have a DirecTV box, you could have all these devices in your life: a Roku and a haiku and an Apple TV and a Chromecast, right? You have all these things. But then you can get one device to rule them all. It's one app that controls all these different devices. Listen to me. When we say "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church," what we're doing is we're putting on God's glasses to look down on this Earth and look at all Jesus followers on the Earth. And we're saying, there's one Church. There's only one Church. There's one Church to rule them all.

Now, within historic Christianity, lots of different churches, and guess what? Lots of people in those churches that aren't Jesus followers, in every church, in this church, I guarantee you. And we always want it to be so. We always want it to be so. We don't want this to become a club for the initiated. We don't want this to be a museum for people who already have heard. We always want there to be an influx of people coming in who don't know Jesus. But the people in this church who aren't followers of Jesus are not limited just to those who are coming in to seek, just coming into this who want to know God.

There are people in this church who are deceived, who are just, I've heard these things. But you've never responded to the Gospel. Jesus said, there are going to be so many people on the last day (this should scare you to death) so many people on the last day who are going to be sent to Hell. And they're going to all the way argue, kicking and screaming, about how religious they were. And they're going to be telling God of all the things they did for Him. And my family were members of that church for 500 years and blah, blah, blah. And He's going to say this. Depart from me. I never knew you. Yeah, I saw you at church every Sunday, but I was not in you. You never answered the Holy Spirit ringing the doorbell in your heart. You never opened up. That's true of every church.

And there are also many people who are going to be in Heaven with us at the end of the day who are a part of churches that are not your church and many, many people. So as God looks at it, in all these churches that call themselves Christian, all these churches from all sorts of different tradition, churches that we would disagree with a lot of things, but what God says is, of those who follow Jesus, who believe that He is the way, that's why the creed's so important, because it helps us to see a unity of Jesus followers all around the world. Lots of things different, wouldn't do this that way, wouldn't do that that way, and they would say the same thing about the way we're doing it. But we're allowing ourselves to see that we're a part of something that's just bigger than ourselves. And it causes us to realize it's a beautiful thing to be a part of the Church, because it's a global thing. And the Church is made up of people of every tribe, every tongue, every language, all over the world and all a part of this thing called the "universal Church".

If you have believed in Jesus Christ for your sins based on what He did on the cross and in rising from the dead, guess what? You're a part of the family of God. You have a big family. When we say the phrase in our confession, "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church," what we're saying is, I love my church. It's amazing, and I'm grateful for it, right? But I'm also a part of something bigger. There's a universal remote that controls all these devices, and it's called "the Church". There's only one Church. That's beautiful to think about. It's wonderful to remember.

When you get to Heaven, there's not going to be a Fresh Life section and a Baptist section and a Methodist section and a Lutheran section and a Catholic section. If someone's there because they've looked to Jesus and received forgiveness of sins, that's Heaven. That's the Bride of Christ. That's the Body of Christ. We should be aware of them. We're a part of something that's truly massive, millions and millions of people all around the world who wear different clothes and different customs, but living their life to honor the same Jesus that saved you, saved them.

JI Packer said, "The church is the supernatural society of God's redeemed," a supernatural society. You've got family all around the world. Some of them won't even like you if they meet you, right? That's OK. And I think God wants us to be a people who have a sweet spirit and room in our heart for all of God's family, regardless of whether they like us. Or they'll even say, oh, you're doing it the right way. We could say, you know what? If you love Jesus and I love Jesus, that's good enough. We can be family, right? We might be the kind of family that can't talk for too long without getting in an argument. But we can still have in our heart a sweet spirit and not be the part of the family that's always initiating those fights. And I want, within Fresh Life Church, for us to have that kind of sweet spirit and big hearts for all of God's family. Ephesians 4 says, there's only one body, only one body.

So if you're like, it's my way or the highway, that that's not God. "One body, one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all". So the global Church, we're a part of something that is massive. And that doesn't make the local expression less special. I say it makes it more special, that we as Fresh Life would go, man, that's an incredible honor. And may God bless every church around the world that's preaching the Gospel. May God bless every church in the cities that we do ministry in that are preaching the Gospel. May God use every single one of them and their calling and their unique gift mix and their vision. May God bless every part of His body around the world of which we are a part. May God's grace be upon them. And may more people come to know Jesus. They are our family, and we hope God will use them in incredible ways.

When we confess, "I believe in the Church," we're not confessing, I believe in the existence of the church. Hey, duh. We have to do that with God, because it's like, I believe You exist because I can't see Him. We can see the Church. That's part of the problem, by the way. So what we're confessing, and we're going to talk more about this if you come back to church after Easter. We're going to start up a series kind of around kind of this idea. And here's what we're saying. I believe in the idea of the Church, even in spite of the existence of it. And that sentence right there is really what we're going to come back to in a few weeks' time. I hope you'll be here, but the global Church.

Thirdly, jot this word down. Someone say, "shazam". Shazam. "Eternal", because of the Holy Spirit, the Church has linked us up with an eternal work, not just global. It's also eternal. And now we come to the phrase in the creed, "I believe in the communion of saints," "the communion of saints". Now, the word "communion," it doesn't actually have anything to do specifically with the Lord's Supper that we talk about, the communion that we do to remember Christ. And we're actually going to take communion this weekend. But when we say, "I believe in the communion of saints," the word "communion" comes from two words mushed together. And those two words are, you're never going to believe it, "common" and "union". You're never going to believe it: "common" "union". I believe in the common union of saints.

So where just a moment ago, when we talked about the Holy Catholic Church, we were looking all around the world geographically, socioeconomically, demographically, and we're saying, that's family if they're believers in Jesus Christ, now we're not looking horizontally when we say that. We're looking vertically. We're looking vertically. And we're saying to every single believer in Jesus in Heaven, that we have a common union or a commonality or a kindred spirit with. We have fellowship with every part of the Body of Christ, even those who have already died. So we're saying when we say the creed that we believe that not geography or distance can destroy our bond or even difference of opinion on some lesser issue. And now, we're saying, I believe that not even death can destroy the bond that Jesus followers have together, that we together are a part of something that endures even beyond the shadow of death itself. And when we pass that veil, we will find ourselves leaving this world and more a part of the Church after death than even before.

In fact, the Book of Hebrews describes what it means to come to Jesus in faith as this, coming "to Mount Zion, to the city where the living God resides, the invisible Jerusalem populated by throngs of festive angels and Christian citizens. It is the city where God is Judge, with judgments that make us just". What I'm trying to get you to see is that those who have gone before us presently surround us. And I want you to think about that. I want you to be aware of that, because when you get that in your spirit, when you get that in your heart, you will only be given greater resolve to run your race. When you think about every Jesus follower cascading all the way back to Peter himself, that you are in the family with them, you have a huge family on this world. But you have an even bigger family you're going to meet when you die.

You have a family full of men and women, boys and girls, who have lived for Jesus, loved Jesus, preached Jesus, pointed to Jesus, and imperfectly followed Jesus. And they've already run their race. And now, their event's done. They're sitting in the grandstands, and they're cheering you on as you run yours. They're saying, one life, it's soon going to be past. And only what's done for Jesus will last. They're saying, lay down the sin that so easily entangles. Throw down those things that hinder. Give it all you've got. Don't give in to peer pressure. Don't give in to the drugs and the things that your friends are trying to get you involved in. Don't get into a relationship with the wrong guy, girl. Don't mess around. Come on, be a man.

They're saying, live with integrity. They're saying, your life's going to be over before you know it. Don't make dumb decisions when you're in your teenage years. They're saying, you can't see us, but we're your family. They're saying, there are angels all around you, wanting to give you power. They're encouraging you to run your race. Even from their mistakes and the heartache, from what they would do differently if they could, they're wanting their hindsight to be your foresight. They're saying, don't fall into the same ditch I fell into. I didn't get victory in this area. Live free, and do it for me. You're a part of an eternal work, the communion of saints.

And if you get that in your spirit, it'll give you confidence. Why? You get confidence when you have stuff in the cloud. You lose your phone, you're only stressed about it until you remember it's all backed up in the cloud. When you've got stuff in the cloud, you have confidence, even when damage happens to your device. That's why Hebrews 12 says, we should run this race knowing there's a cloud of witnesses surrounding. You can have confidence when you remember the cloud. All right.

Lastly, the Holy Spirit is building a church full of people who have been forgiven. And that's why, with this beautiful line, we come to what Martin Luther says is the most important line of the creed, the forgiveness of sins, because he says, if there's not that, then we wouldn't get to participate in anything else, no matter what else was true. Oh, God could be great, and Heaven could be awesome. But if you haven't been forgiven, you can't be part of none of it, because it's your sins that separate you from God.

So the forgiveness of sins, we say that we believe in: the forgiveness of sins. Could we define our terms? What's a sin? Not doing what you should've done and doing what you shouldn't have done, not doing what you should have done and doing what you shouldn't have done. Those are sins. And guess what? That's all of us. All of us are sinners. Fortunately, there's such a thing as forgiveness. What is forgiveness? To be let out of something or let off the hook for something fully, forever, and freely, fully, forever, and freely. That's forgiveness. And it's only possible because of Jesus, who God gave to this world.

Your biggest problem is your sins. If your biggest problems were financial, God would have sent you money. If your biggest problem was health, God would have sent a doctor. But your biggest problem was forgiveness, so God sent you a Savior. He sent you exactly what you needed. And that Savior is named "Jesus," and He forgives you freely and forever and fully. And to the extent that you walk out of that forgiveness, you will have the power to soar like an eagle, for nothing reverts you back to butterflies than feeling the shame of sins that you're carrying around that God has forgiven you for.

And that's why one of the most important tasks of the Holy Spirit, according to Romans 8, is to remind us that we are sons and daughters, "for you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear". This is the spirit of religious obligation, to try and work your way to salvation. This is where every week, God's saying to you, what have you done for Me lately? And if you haven't been good, then you know what? No salvation for you, it's the Seinfeld episode all over again. But the Spirit says, not so. You didn't get a spirit of bondage. You're not in a religious obligation. "You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.'"

I'm telling you something. The devil will try and trick you into living in a life where you're earning what you get as you go, earning what you get as you go, where your confidence only is good if you've had a good week. And you've been reading your Bible, and you've been saying no to pornography. And you haven't been falling to old vices. And if you've had a bad week, now you can't pray. And now you can't open Scripture. I love how AW Tozer put it. "I will not be scared out of my birth right. I will not be scared out of my heritage. I want all that God has for me".

I'm telling you something. The Spirit says, go get it. You're a son. You're a daughter. You've been adopted. You're a part of the family. You don't have to feel like you deserve it one minute, don't deserve it the next. The Spirit is constantly saying, He's your dad. Go run to His arms. He's your dad. He loves you. He didn't need another employee. He wanted a child, and that's why he adopted you into His family. And when you are filled with the spirit of adoption, you are an eagle. And you're not a butterfly. To the extent that you remember you've been forgiven, you will be fearless.

That's why David said, "Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits; Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the", shazam.

As you walk in the forgiveness of God, you are given a power to walk in a mighty way, with the people of God at your side. I won't spoil it for you. But by the end of the movie, what Billy Batson has discovered is that incredible strength comes from getting over himself and leaning into the power of his foster family. We are all adopted kids who have a great father who is willing to bring us into His home. And to the extent that we get over ourselves and lean into the power of the foster family, we will change the world.
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