On August 5, 2019 I preached an open-air sermon at our hymn sing in downtown Naperville. Here’s the text from it:
Thank you for coming out tonight to our hymn sing. We call this a hymn sing, because it is not a concert, but an invitation for you to SING hymns with us in worship of the God who is there. We are Christians, and most of us are part of a church here in Naperville called Cross of Christ Fellowship. We are gathered here to express our love for and to invite you to join us in enjoying and loving Him too.
Perhaps you do not know much about God or Jesus. Let me briefly share a few passage from the Bible to paint you the big picture of what we as Christians believe.
First, we believe that God is our Creator. In the first words of the Bible we read that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). This world and universe were made by God. Moreover, the glory fo this Creator is visible all around us. The Bible teaches in Ps 19:1 that “the heavens declare the GLORY of God.” What that means is when we look around at the world, we see the marks of an AWESOME being who is majestic, beautiful, artistic, and incredibly powerful. God is the great designer of this world: He designed all the animals, all the plants, He set up moon and the sun and stars, and He put everything in place on earth in such a way that made it possible for us to live. God created humans in His image, and set us apart for all of creation. We are set apart and like in Him in a way that is distinct from the rest of creation. So, God is our Creator.
Second, we know from the Bible that God is light . In John 1:5 we learn that God is “light, and in him there is no darkness at all.” This means that God is absolute goodness and righteousness. He never does anything wrong, but only that which is just and right and pure. He full of light and all of His ways are just and true. There is not evil or darkness in Him at all. He is the source of all that right and good and true. Another way to speak about this is describe God as HOLY. The Bible calls God holy, which means He is utterly unlike us. There is a majestic splendor about God’s very essence, and this is His holiness.
Third, we know that God is personal. The Bible teaches that there is only one God in all of existence, and this is God eternally exists in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This God is personal with Himself: within God there is perfect love and communication. This is God is also personal with His creation. He is can be known and loved! He is not silent, but has spoken in the Bible and in Creation and Has sent His Son to reveal Himself to us. John 1:18 reads this: ‘no one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.’ Jesus makes real knowledge of God possible. He reveals true truth about who God is and what God is like.
This knowledge of God is better than anything. Jesus equates knowledge of God as eternal life. We read this in John 17:3 ‘This is eternal life, that they may know you, the one true God and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.’ Real living, true life, eternal life, is not found in earthly experiences or relationships, it is found in knowing the one true God who is there. Jesus teaches us this. He shows us the truth about reality.
But we have a real problem: our hearts are so twisted and corrupted that we don’t want this life-giving knowledge. We don’t want God and don’t want God to be God. Instead, we have turned away from God and God’s design for our life. This is what the Bible calls SIN. Sin is rejecting or ignoring God in the world he created, rebelling against Him by living without references, not being or doing what He requires in His law. The Bible teaches us that we all have sinned: Romans 3:23 “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Our situation is serious. We are on the path of spiritual death and ruin. Romans 6:23 reads this: “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ.” What do we get for all our rebellion against God, for all our ignoring of God, for all rejecting of Him? We get DEATH. Physical and spiritual death are all we get as a result of our rebellion against God. We have been cut off from the life and knowledge of God and now stand guilty before Him, who is also the judge of all humanity. We are in a desperate situation.
Jesus spoke about hell more than anyone in the Bible. And the reality is that our sins, if not dealt with, will lead us to hell. We will be forever cut off from a relationship with God and experience His just judgment. Jesus preached about the “broad way that leads to destruction” (Matt 7:13) and this is the way that leads to hell. This is a grim situation.
But thankfully this is not the end of the story. God has acted in love to deal with our calamity. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to save us. Jesus is the God the Son who came to earth; he is truly God and truly human. He lived a life free from sin and evil and then in amazing love paid the price for all our sin and rebellion against God. God’s justice was satisfied as Jesus died in our place. And God’s love was displayed. We read this in Romans 5:8 “God demonstrates His love toward us in this, that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.” Here is an amazing love: Jesus died for us to save us from our sins and hell and to make us a new creation. This is wonderful!
Friends, we want you be reconciled to the God who is there. The who is the Creator, light, personal, and just. And you can experience this as the gift of salvation offered to all who turn to Jesus Christ. Forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God is possible through faith in Jesus. We read this in Romans 10:9-10: ‘If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.’
Believe on him tonight. Turn from our sins and trust in Christ and you will be saved. You will come to know a love better than life itself and be made part of God’s forever family.
For those who have believed on him, be encouraged and reminded of his marvelous grace which covers all your sins.