Sermon 4/07/2019: Going on to Perfection in Grace

Sermon at Kinmundy United Methodist Church on 4/07/2019.

Title: Going on to Perfection in Grace Romans 6,  1 Corinthians 3:11, 2 Timothy 2:19, Ephesians 2:10, 20-22, Philippians 1:6

Sermon Series: Distinctive Wesleyan Emphases

Audio link – Right click, open in new tab to play: [Kinmundy]

Right click, open in new tab to view slides as a PDF: [Slides]

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

TRANSCRIPT:

Some churches, in the way they view the experience of salvation, they view the experience of salvation almost a little bit like a light switch. One day you were in darkness and then the switch was flipped, now all of a sudden you’re in light. It’s like an on-off sort of thing. This building that was built, there are some people that drove by and there was nothing there, the next time they drove by, there was something there and it seemed to them that the building appeared out of nowhere. Other churches, including ours, believe that God is working in our life. There is a process. In fact, there’s a gospel song called “Working on a Building”, because the idea is that God is building something and God wants you to help work on that building and that that work has begun and it continues on until the building is perfect. And we’ve been talking about that now for five weeks. We talked about prevenient grace, which is grace that happens before you are saved, before you are a Christian. Which is not unlike God digging around in your life with a backhoe, stirring things up, getting you ready. But then there is that moment of justifying grace, that moment when God makes things right. That might be a little bit like the forms into which the foundation is poured, and then after we are children of God, we enter this phase called sanctifying grace, where God consolidates and builds on the foundation. What can you build on that foundation of what God has done in your life? There are a whole lot of wonderful people. This is about as far as they get. God has laid a foundation, but they haven’t built much of anything on them. But the only foundation we can lay is the foundation that is Jesus Christ. But once you have that foundation, you can begin to put the walls up and you can see the shape of the final product. This is the part of our life to where we’re learning what to do. What does God want from us? What does Jesus want from us? What are we supposed to do? And you open the Bible, and you learn, and you come to church, and Sunday School, and you learn, and you begin to build a life. It’s not very far along but you can see what it’s going to look like. And sanctifying grace continues to work in a person’s life, to fulfill a purpose that God has designed. Because you and I are not put here just to benefit ourselves. There’s something that God wants us to do. And as the work on the building continues, you can begin to see what it’s supposed to do and you keep working on the building, and you keep working on the building, and finally, it’s done. Although it’s not done yet. And in the Methodist tradition, we call that going on to perfection. We’re not there yet, but that’s where we’re going, because satisfied of the [state?] where we are or just the way we are, we want to do better. We want to be better people. Oh, and by the way, when you look finished on the outside, God’s still working on the inside. I’ve been a preacher for almost 40 years now and for all those years, I look pretty good on the outside. Maybe a little whiter but still look like I could preach it. But God’s still working on the inside because even if we are great on the outside, there’s still a problem sometimes on the inside and God is working to bring us forward because we are God’s workmanship. We’re working [on the building?]. [Please open?] scriptures from 1 Corinthians 3. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Everything is held up by what Jesus Christ did for us, still does for us, because he is alive, still living within us. The foundation is Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 3:11. Sanctifying grace is where we begin to learn how to obey. 2 Timothy 2:19. But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal, “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” As we grow, there are things that we are going to leave behind. As we grow, there are things that we are going to begin to do. It’s a part of framing up that structure that God wants to build in our life. And not only that, what begins to be clear is that there’s something we are supposed to do. Ephesians 2:10. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good things, for good works. You and I were not created just to lean back [inaudible] and enjoy our spiritual [fun?]. There’s something we’re supposed to do. And guess what, it’s different for every single one of us. Because some of us are really good with this. Do what we’re good at. Some of us are really not very good. It’s good for us to stay out of the kitchen and let the people who can cook be in the kitchen. You sort yourself out because whatever it is that God wants to do through you, seek that at the bottom there, these are good words which God has prepared beforehand. So when you arrive, everything’s ready for you to do what you’re supposed to do. God prepares them beforehand that we should walk through them. And finally, Philippians 1:6. And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. God will not leave you half finished. God will not leave you half done. God will continue to work in you. At the day of Jesus Christ, you will find that you have gone on to the perfection that God asked of us. You have built something on the foundation [inaudible]. Ephesians 2:20. This building has built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus [developing?] the cornerstone, and in whom the whole structure is joined together, Jesus links us all together and the whole structure grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you are also built into it. You are a part of what God is doing in our world. You are a part of providing God with a place for the Holy Spirit to dwell. You’re working on a building. That’s what goes on as we go on to [this slide?] and you see, here is at the heart of it. “Do you not know”, Paul says in Romans 6, “that if you yield yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves to the one to whom you obey, either sin, which leads to death, or of obedience to Jesus Christ, which leads to life and righteousness.” Now, something to keep in mind here, it’s who you yield yourself to. There’s a whole lot of us that avoid our behaviour by focusing on other peoples’ behaviour. We spend all of our time pouring into someone– I need to not point over here; where can I point where there’s not a person? Oh, this way. We spend all of our time focused on those people. We have spent praying “Lord, have you heard what those people are doing?” And friends, if you could hear God, God would be saying “Why don’t you and I talk about what you’re doing?” Because part of sanctifying grace, part of growth that we build on the foundation is we begin moving toward God, toward what Jesus asked us to do, toward more and more of the life that, in our hearts, we know we ourselves want to live. It’s part of what it means to go on to perfection. So there’s this song. I put a song by the Gaither vocal band on the church Facebook page this morning, there’s just a whole bunch of versions of this song, and I’m gonna put a different versions on Facebook throughout the week if you never heard it. But, there’s the old version and the new version. The new version, interestingly enough, only talks about things that holy people do. Understand what I mean? We’re up there singin’, “Oh yeah, I’m doing all these holy things cuz I’m working on the building. That’s good, but you know something? Here’s what the old version says, “If I was a sinner, tell you what I’d do. I’d quit my sinning, and working on the building too.” Another verse says, “If I was a-drinking, well I’d quit my drinking.” Another verse says, “If I was a gambler, I’d quit my gambling, because what do I need to do? I need to work on the building for my Lord.” If the song kept going on, they’d eventually get down to what I knew that I shouldn’t be doing, and then I’d have to decide, am I going to do that or am I gonna work on the building? It’s gonna be a place for the Holy Spirit to dwell, to work on myself to be a fit place for Jesus Christ to dwell. “If I was a sinner, I’d tell you what I’d do, I’d quit my sinning, work on the building too. If I was a preacher, I’d tell you what I’d do, I’d keep on preaching and work on the building too. I’m working on a building for my Lord.” And then of course the nice version talks about how when you see me praying, I’m working on the building. When you see me in my prayer chair– which you actually don’t because God sees us there, when you see the Bible being opened, when you see a servant, we’re working on building on the foundation of what Jesus Christ discarded in our life. God’s not finished with you yet. God’s not finished with me yet, but God is at work in your life to work on the building to build something on the foundation of Jesus Christ, and you know something else? You’re not finished either. And with regard to my building, I’m not finished either, but we’re going to continue to work. Please pray with me, Lord Jesus, thank you for the foundation. Thank you for the sure certainty that you have died for us, that you rose from the dead so that we might walk a newness of life. Thank you, Lord, that we know that we are a part of what you are doing in this work. The foundation is there, that Lord, in this life, with what we do and what we say and where we spend our time and where we give our money, we will build something on that foundation. Lord, may what we build on that foundation be something that is beautiful and useful for you. We ask this is Jesus’ name. Amen. If you looked at that building, you saw concrete and you saw wood and you saw siding, and you

[Resources]

[Discussion questions.]

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.

Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Raod, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.

VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
 
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)

Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.
 

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