Monday, July 28, 2014

Do you trust the Lord of life and death?

This is an adaptation of the last sermon I preached at Immanuel Baptist Church in Chicago, on November 3, 2013. It was based on John 11:1-46.

The apostle John selects 7 signs that Jesus performed and 7 corresponding “I AM” statements of Jesus to show his readers who Jesus really is and to elicit their faith in him.

We’ll be looking at the 7th sign, the resurrection of Lazarus. And since this is all about getting us to trust in Christ, and since Jesus calls for our faith in him with a pointed question in this passage, we’re going to go through it first by asking three questions:

1. Do you trust him when he says “wait”?
2. Do you trust him when he says “go”?
3. And, do you trust him when it seems hopeless?

Those are all real aspects of life in this world that Christ reigns over. We will also see in this passage that he reigns over death. So the basic question that I believe God is asking us this morning is just this:

Do you trust the Lord of life and death?

Will you please pray with me?
“Our Father,” be glorified in putting your Son on display for us, by the Spirit of Holiness that you raised him from the dead with, who fills your church and inspired the Scriptures. The unfolding of your Word gives light. Enlighten our hearts even now and thereby give us enduring faith through this difficult life until we see you. Speak, Lord, for your servants are listening. Speak, Lord, and raise the dead. Speak order into our chaos. Speak light into our darkness. And let us who have ears to hear, hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Amen.


John 11:1...
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick." 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." 5 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 Yet  ["So" (TNIV, NASB, ESV)] when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.
So these two sisters send a note to Jesus that says, "Lord, the one you love is sick." Mary and Martha just assume that he loves Lazarus. They're just making a statement, that he's sick, because it's pretty obvious what they want him to do in light of it. Read between the lines. They're essentially saying: "Jesus, If you love Lazarus, then do something about this sickness! We know that you are able to do it. You are the Lord! We know you've healed others. So come heal Lazarus, Jesus. He's dying! Come quickly!!"

But what does it say in verse 6?
He "stayed" when he heard he was sick?! "[W]hen he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was." "[T]wo more days"?!! Does he not really love them?! When you love someone, you go care for them when you hear they're in trouble. Don't you? You don't just sit idly doing nothing. (Well, he wasn't idle. Verse 41 makes it look like he spent this time praying.) But he is not making it easy for Mary and Martha to trust in him, is he? Especially since the messenger who brought him word from the sisters probably also went back reporting Jesus' words, "This sickness will not end in death." How do you think the sisters coped when they heard those words from the messenger, and they waited hopefully, and waited, and waited, and their brother died, and days pass, and they still don't see Jesus!?

Did Jesus not realize that he would get their hopes up by saying that the sickness wouldn't end in death? Did he forget that verse that says "hope deferred makes the heart sick"? (Prov. 13:12, ESV) Why didn't he come?! Why did he let him die?! Did Jesus not really love him? Was Jesus not able to heal him? Was this just too much for Jesus?

I'm sure many of you have had struggles like these two sisters. Our faith is tested by times of suffering, grief, disaster, illness, death, confusion, when our circumstances seem to be totally contradicting the promises of God's word. And there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. No light at the end of this tunnel. Walking by faith is not easy! Like Martha and Mary, we live in that tension between promise and fulfillment. We often feel like Abraham after God promised to bless all nations through his offspring, but then many years pass and he still doesn't have a son as he becomes old and decrepit and the Scriptures say he was "as good as dead" he was so old. He could have easily lost all hope that it was even possible for God to do what he said he'd do. Maybe you're in a similar place now, or maybe you will be very soon. Your circumstances make it seem like God is either a liar or impotent or not good or he doesn't care or he doesn't exist. Maybe you're growing weary or even bitter crying out "How long, O Lord?!"

But you have found yourself surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses--even Jesus himself--whose circumstances have made them also cry out, "My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?!" But hear the word of the Lord that can give strength even to those who "face death all day long" and "are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." Times of suffering don't mean that God doesn't love us, because he has said that "neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:38-39). Jesus himself has said in John 15:9, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you."

Okay, so he loves you. He loves us, which means that he does care enough to do something about our suffering. Believe this as well: It is not that he's unable to do for us what needs to be done. He is omnipotent - all powerful! Jesus himself has said in Matthew 28:18, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." And we know that he "is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy" (Jude 24, NASB).

So if he loves us enough to end our suffering, and if he is able to do so, then why doesn't he?! I don't know the specific answer to your specific situation, but he does. He knows you. He knows what's best. He is never in a fog. He’s infinitely wise. Wisdom incarnate. And he is that for you, and for me. He is able to love you wisely. He knows what you really need when you don’t. And his wisdom is just one aspect of his greatness. He is infinitely great. He is the great I AM, the great Lord of lords. Now, granted, his greatness is revealed to us in his humbling himself in our place for us. He came to serve and not to be served. BUT! He is not at our beck and call, as if we were the Lord. HE ALONE IS THE LORD! Which is really good news, actually. He is not a slot machine that you manipulate through prayer to get whatever you want. He is not subject to our demands. "Our God is in the heavens. He does whatever he pleases" (cf. Ps. 115). And if he really is that great, then he is not beholden to do for us whatever our puny, clouded, sinful perspective thinks is best. Now, that doesn't mean we stop asking him for what we think is best. But the point is that when he answers our prayers, he can actually give us what he knows is best for us--even if it hurts and is confusing for a few days or decades.

Jesus could have healed Lazarus and kept him from death. He is Lord over sickness. The gospels record him healing people simply with a word or with a touch. When the sisters, in verses 21 and 32 say, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died," they might be right. He could have prevented Lazarus from dying. When the crowd, in verse 37 said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" The answer is, Yes! He could have! God gave Jesus authority over sickness, but he is more than a healer! He is the Lord of life and death! "Do you believe this?" He wanted his followers to know who he really was. He wanted them to see his glory. That's why Jesus said that this sickness was "for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." It’s really something that can be said over any sort of suffering. God allowed the suffering of this family because it provided an opportunity for Jesus to be glorified, to be seen and cherished for who he really is. And this was the most loving thing Jesus could have done for them, to give them a glimpse not of a mere healer but of the glory of God. To show them the reality that their hearts really longed for, a reality that would sustain them when Jesus himself would die and be laid in a tomb not many days after this miracle.

So do you trust him when life gets confusing, when your circumstainces make him seem untrustworthy, or when he says 'wait'?

And do you trust him when he says, 'Let's go'?

John 11:7...
Then he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea." 8 "But Rabbi," they said, "a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?" 9 Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light. 10 It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light." 11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up." 12 His disciples replied, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better." 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. 14 So then he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." 16 Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."
In this section, Jesus' says, let's go back to Judea, and he's immediately met with resistance on the part of his followers. They resist because they, like us, are trying to save themselves. One commentator observes, "The Lord did not say, 'Let us go back to Bethany,' where he had friends, but to Judea, where he had enemies" (John Phillips, "Exploring the Gospel of John," 210).

So the disciples are like, "Wait a minute, Jesus. Just hold your horses there, partner. I don't think your thinking quite clearly. Let me talk some sense into you, buddy. Uh, you do remember that you almost got us all stoned to death there, don't you?" And Jesus doesn't play the, "I'm God. You're not. We're going." trump card. He actually pauses to show them what walking by faith looks like. He begins to get them thinking by asking, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light." Jesus is speaking to them with a parable. It's in the context of another parable, in verses 11-14, where sleep represents death. His response to their fear of death here is a word that assures them that they don't have to be afraid of the darkness of death. Jesus is walking in the light of life. He is the light of the world. He is (and by extension they are) completely secure because he knows that he's in complete obedience to God the Father's will and he knows that the Father's will for him to die hasn't come yet. His hour was close, but it had not yet come.

It's pretty easy to glean the application right off the top of Jesus' words here, because he speaks in the third person. Generally speaking, "A man who walks by day will not stumble." A person who walks in glad submission to God's will does not need to fear death. Sure, you might die by obeying God. But that death does not need to be frightening, especially if it just escorts you into the exceeding joy of God's presence. Now, none of us obeys God’s will perfectly yet. But Jesus did.

And do you see the irony here? It’s God's will that made the disciples fear death, but the only time we really need fear it is when we are walking in disobedience to God's will.

So what has God called you to do that you're afraid of doing? Get some perspective here. It's a much scarier thing not to obey him. To follow your own whims and not his will is to walk in the night with no light. Who knows what you might run into or stumble over. Where has God called you to go? Whom is he calling you to go to? Don't be afraid to go. He’s promised never to leave you, and he’ll give you enough light for every step.

So do you trust him when he says, "Wait"? Do you trust him when he says, "Let's go"? 

And the question that arises from verses 17-37 is:

Do you trust him when it seems hopeless?

John 11:17...
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. 21 "Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."
We rely so much on what we can understand. As long as there’s a heartbeat—we think—there’s still hope. But Lazarus’s heart stopped. On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Nevertheless, Martha seems to be holding on to some faint hope the Jesus can still do something. And Jesus blows on that ember and fans the flame of her faith. Look at the clarity of response that Jesus gives her compared to the opaque parables he spoke to the twelve disciples:

John 11:23...
Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
Do you believe this? Do you believe that the Lord who spoke with Martha in the past and who will come "at the last day" is the risen and ascended Lord of life for you today, and for all that seems hopeless to you today? Jesus redirects our gaze from the future hope to himself, as a very personal, "very present help in trouble" (Ps. 46:1, ESV). He is our hope even now, when everything seems hopeless. Do you believe this?

John 11:27...
"Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." 28 And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. "The Teacher is here," she said, "and is asking for you." 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. 32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 "Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" 37 But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"
Jesus does not resort to cookie cutter Standard Operating Procedures when he deals with grieving people. He deals with each different person in the way that is appropriate for their particular personality and experience. This is a wise love he has for us. With his frightened disciples he patiently got their attention with a parable and assured them of the true security of walking in the light of God's will. With Martha's active faith, he uses her confession of faith in a future resurrection to direct her faith to his personal presence in the present. And now we see how he relates to Mary.

Do you see how long it took her to go to him? And do you see how little she says? All she can eek out are the same words Martha said. And Jesus doesn't say much to her either. He knows she doesn't need a lecture. She just needs him, and he knows it. So he just calls for her, and he asks where the tomb is. He enters into her grief and weeps with those who weep, and then he goes to do something about it.

But before we look to see what he did, I want you to hear again the same words Mary did. "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." (11:28, ESV) He knows that sometimes you don't know what to think let alone what to say, but he's calling for you. You might feel paralyzed by something weighing heavily upon you. But listen. "The Teacher is here and is calling for you."

He calls out,
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" 
(Mt. 11:28-30).
When Jesus calls for you, you don't have to know the right words to answer in reply. Just come to him. The wonderful thing about his all-powerful voice, as we see in the next passage, is that his words can create the response that he calls for! And in that, we see him for who he really is, not only the Lord of life, but also the Lord of death.

John 11:38, "Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance."

Jesus has displayed some complex and strong emotions in this chapter. Prior to his arrival, he told his disciples that he was glad (in verse 15). But as he joins the mourners and nears the tomb, you get a sense that he really feels the weight of the reality of death. When he sees everyone crying he also, it says, "was deeply moved in spirit and troubled" and he cries with them. He does not make light of death. He does not say that death is just a part of life. He's troubled by it. It's not right. It's unnatural. It's the result of our sins. And it’s at the heart of our deepest fears and anxieties.

But as raindrops join thunder, his tears are mingled not just with sadness, but with deep anger. Righteous anger. When John says that Jesus was "deeply moved," those two English words render one Greek word that elsewhere describes a horse snorting angrily. Maybe Christ was exhaling loudly. The depths of his soul burned. And, you might say, he was venting his great controlled fury at sin, at unbelief, at death. John Calvin says, "Christ does not come to the tomb as an idle spectator, but like a wrestler preparing for the contest. So it is no wonder that he groans again, for the violent tyranny of death which he had to overcome stands in front of his eyes" (Commentary on John, 281). But Jesus doesn't come just come to wrestle death to the ground. His ultimate aim is to kill it and usher in eternal life for God's people.

So Jesus said,
39 "Take away the stone,"... "But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days." 40 Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" 41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have 9 heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me." 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."
Look at the vivid way that God portrays this event through the pen of his apostle. In verse 39 He has us imagining the smell of a body that's been decaying for four days. In verse 40 He has us wondering what it would be like to see God's glory. In verse 41 we feel the cold, rough, heavy stone; and we see Jesus unashamedly lifting his face to heaven giving thanks. And in verse 43 we hear a loud voice. It’s the same big voice that spoke the universe into existence, and that will one day ring through it again and make all things new.

The resurrection of Lazarus would be an amazing scene to behold. In this chapter, God has shown our hearts the gravity of the situation, and he's filled our senses with this miracle. But it's not just a spectacle for us to gawk at. It is dripping with meaning about Jesus. In the center of it all is Jesus. The whole situation has served to show who he really is. Yes, he could have prevented Lazarus from dying. But he is more than a healer. He is the Lord of all! The Lord of life and death.

He knows our pain and weeps with those who weep, but he does not stop there. He came to do something about it! He came to kill what kills us, and he did that by laying down his own life and being raised to new life, never to die again.

That’s really what this chapter foreshadows. Jesus died…
for sins because the wages of sin is death. But he didn’t die for his own sins. He was sinless. He died for ours. And when he was raised again, since he is perfectly sinless, death cannot lay a claim on him. He is the Lord of death and, as John Owen said, he is the death of death. Lazarus’s resurrection was temporary. But it served to show Christ’s power. But his power would not mean anything if he was himself still stuck in the grave. We would, in that case, be of all people most to be pitied, because we have testified that God raised him from the dead. Not only would we be liars, but we would still be in our sins.

But the truth is…
the good news is that he has in fact—historical fact—been raised from the dead!
Even as the resurrection of Lazarus was a historical fact people saw and heard—people touched him with their own hands afterwards, just like you can reach over and touch the person sitting next to you—even so (and infinitely more important is the truth that) the resurrection of Christ is a historical fact. People saw and heard and touched him afterwards. He has been raised victorious over the grave.

Application: “Do you believe this?”
So do you trust in the Lord of life and death? That’s the goal of this book, “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (20:31, ESV). And surely it’s not just for Martha’s sake that John records Jesus’ pointed question, but for ours as well. “Do you believe this?” This chapter in John was preceded by a statement that I hope will describe the outcome of this blog post. If you look at John 10:42, it says, “...many believed in him there.”

Sadly, however, the two verses that follow Lazarus’s resurrection show two possible responses to Jesus. Look at verse 45…
Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.
The Abyss of Christlessness
Many put their faith in him, but some did not. They betrayed him. How could they do that after what he just did?! How blind must they be to have the Son of God right in front of them doing his greatest miracle yet, and still to leave him and betray him?! And because they went and tattled onhim, the authorities became resolute in their commitment to put an end to him. Their rejection of him was very serious.

But is our rejection of him any less serious? And how much easier, actually, is it for us after reading this story to just shrug it off and go on our merry way. But the way without Christ although it may seem merry and easy and wide is a dark and treacherous path. A Christless life is not life at all. It is a life of sin, under the curse of almighty God.

Since the first humans turned their backs on God, this is the state all mankind is in outside of Christ. A state that brings the tomb, where the Bible pronounces us DOA, dead on arrival, dead in our trespasses and sins even before we breathe our last breath. There is nothing we can do to help ourselves. It’s a state of selfish implosion, a downward, self-centered spiral, a movement away from God and others, where little-by-little we just cave in on ourselves, a vortex, an abyss, and a bottomless pit.

You see this in all sorts of ways, don’t you? We’re just needy. Thirsty. Groping for almost anything to try to scratch our itches. We’re addicts. Users. We even use God to try to save or shine our idol of self. It’s evident even in the simple fact that we tend to focus more on the issues of others than on our own.

The Upward Spiral: The Upward Call of God in Christ Jesus
I know a guy who, before Christ saved him, was plagued by recurring nightmares. There were many nights when he would dream that the devil was pulling him underground, pulling him down so that he would just be falling, falling, in an apparently bottomless pit. And he would hear demonic voices as he fell, “We have you now. There’s no hope. No one can save you. There’s no hope for you.”

But it turned out that there was hope. Jesus called him. God came to him and said, “Awake, O sleeper. Rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light!” He was pulled from that abyss and the night terrors stopped. Maybe you sense yourself falling in one way or another. You’ve tried to find help, but all your resources are spent and you are hopeless.

But listen, no matter how much you are spiraling out of control, there is still hope because there is still Christ. He is Lord! Repent and believe the gospel. He has been raised from the dead! There is still hope for all of you under his Lordship.

He says to us even now, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

As he told Martha, if you believe, you will see the glory of God! The funny thing is that the Bible says almost the opposite of that in John 2. After Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding, it says, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him” (v. 11). So did something change between that wedding and this funeral? He told Martha that if you believe you will see God’s glory; but here he’s saying that seeing his glory results in belief. Which is true?

Both! His glory is revealed in his words and deeds, which elicits faith in his people, a faith that results in seeing more of his glory. He puts himself on display for us and we trust in him as he is revealed, which somehow allows us to see even more of his glory... It’s a reciprocal covenantal relationship that gets better and better throughout eternity. It’s the opposite of falling in a Christless vortex. It’s the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, an upward spiral so to speak. It’s the "further up and further in," like the adventure portrayed at the end of C. S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia.”

But it’s not make believe. It’s reality to believe. We will be like the kid I once saw during the fireworks at the Venetian Boat show in Chicago. As the show neared the finish, he would say with almost every explosion, “This has got to be the grand finale!” And I don’t think he could believe his eyes when the grand finale really did erupt in front of him, because all he could say was, “Oh, ho ho… Oh, ho ho… Oh, ho ho…” But for us, there is no finale--no end--there is only the Grand to admire and enter more and more throughout eternity! “When we’ve been there 10,000 years bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun!” And we won’t run out of energy in our new bodies, and we won’t run out of things to praise him for. We’ll keep discovering more and more in God.

Now someone may object that this is a “pie in the sky” fantasy. Or that it’s just a bunch of concepts that sound nice but it’s really just abstract triumphalistic optimism. It’s out-of-touch with concrete reality. “I’m a Christian. And it has not gotten better and better for me,” someone might say. “It seems to be only getting worse and harder!” If that’s the kind of response you find welling up as I describe this, I want to thank you for your patience as you’ve been reading this message. It could be that, like Mary, you don’t need a lecture. I can’t change your situation. And I do feel for you, but not well enough. And I don’t know what it’s like to be in your shoes. You don’t need a lecture. You don’t need advice. But let me tell you what you have. You do have a Lordand Savior. Go to him. Call on him. He is trustworthy for even you. You have him. But much more than that, he has you.

And what I mean by this spiraling upward relationship that keeps getting better is not that our circumstances get easier and easier. That was certainly not the case for Jesus, so why should we think it should be any different for us, his disciples. This world is cursed. We are still in sinful and diseased flesh. And evil will not be fully dealt with until Christ returns. But he will return. He is coming. We do have a sure hope.

These slight momentary afflictions are attaining for us an eternal weight of glory. And, like the Psalmist who spoke of the Lord as his Shepherd (Psalm 23), we find ourselves speaking not just of him, but to him when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. He is close to the brokenhearted. Draw near to him, and he will draw near to you. Through it all, though it may not always feel like it, we have him and he has us. And when he comes, we believers will know a happiness that only always exponentially increases, as we are welcomed into the joy of our Lord and Master.

If we turn to the next chapter in John’s gospel we see the appropriate response to what Jesus has done. Fellowship and Worship. We find Christ eating a meal with this family, and see Mary anointing the Lord in worship. It seems appropriate then for us also to respond in the same way, eating at his table and worshiping him. So join a church this Sunday. And enjoy the Lord serving you, as you speak with him and eat at his table if you believe that God raised him from the dead.

- - - - - - -

This sermon was addressed originally to the people at Immanuel Baptist Church, Chicago, Illinois, by Adam Smith on Sunday morning, November 3, 2013. It is not meant to be a polished essay, but was written to be delivered orally.

The mission of Immanuel is to be a multiplying community
that enjoys and proclaims the Good News of Christ in the great city of Chicago.

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations in this post are from: The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan. I usually use the ESV, but I primarily used the NIV here because that's the translation that was distributed under the chairs where the people gather to hear God's word.

This sermon is printed and distributed as part of the ongoing ministry of Immanuel Baptist Church
© 2013 Adam L. Smith