RESOLVED | Week 2: Resolved to Gather
Topic: New Testament Passage: Hebrews 10:19–23
Christopher Rich – January 14, 2018
RESOLVED | Where Desire Meets Discipline| Wk 2
Resolved to Gather | Hebrews 10:19-23
Introduction | Resolved to Gather
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. We continue our series winter series Resolved: Where desire meets discipline. We began by recognizing we are not a satisfied people. We know we’re not the best version of ourselves. We want more. We want to be different that we currently are. We go through a cycle of great effort followed by less discipline. Why do we fail to achieve what we say want?
We are driven by our desires. What we say we want and what our true desires are can easily be in conflict. Our deepest desires will always overcome our efforts of self- discipline. What we want will drives us to what we do. Our desires are usually very immediate, temporary, and selfish so we too often desire immediate comfort over long term correction. True flourishing cannot be found without looking beyond right now, outside of ourselves, and ultimately to things that are eternal. We can know this and yet have our discipline fail us. What we need is not greater discipline but greater desires. We need our attention and affections directed towards things that can stir us to strive for contentment over surrendering to compliancy. We need to be people who are capable of being joyfully uncomfortable in the present for the purpose of greater rewards both in the near term and for eternity. Desires that are truly great can drive us to discipline that it ultimately enduring. We need to be Resolved. To be Resolved is to endure being uncomfortable for the purpose of a greater reward. How has desire for comfort kept you from being disciplined to pursue change in your life? God’s people are a resolved people. We are to have discipline motivated by the captivating desire to experience beauty from in God displayed in Jesus. The means disciples of Jesus are Resolved to Gather.
We gather around what we find glorious. We are drawn to what we desire. What do you gather around? Is what you gather around leading you to greater resolve? Is it producing the change you need is it stirring desires that are profitable and ultimately lifegiving? Why are we talking about gathering? With a series like Resolved I thought you would tell me about how I would grow or change or achieve my individual goals or help buttress my efforts at self-improvement and all you’re going to talk about is gathering with God’s people? What’s the point of that? I want to change, I want to be different, I am not satisfied with the condition of life as it is give me something to help the pain or produce results. We believe flourishing (even in the midst of difficulty) comes in life with Jesus and life with Jesus is life with His people. Growing people gather with the church.
Resolve is weak when its individual. Alone we can easily be discouraged in our progress (or lack of), overwhelmed by our circumstances, or be picked off by the enemy. Sin separates, the gospel gathers. God has gathered individual scattered sinners to be a new people. God’s plan for us has never been an individual one. God’s plan for our individual transformation is in the context of a Gospel Community. To be saved by Jesus’ work, and changed by Jesus’ grace is to have a new corporate identity with Jesus’ people. Gospel Community is a necessary part of how God shapes us. This is because God is a communal God existing eternally in three persons Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He created us for community with each other and with Him. This Communal God is in contrast to the other “gods” of this world. Other major religion are based on an expressly individual revelation to a person. Budda meditated under a ficus tree and “achieved enlightenment” basically “reincarnation” that we can achieve “Nirvana/peace” from our own efforts, Mohammed (supposed one on one with Gabriel in a cave) Joseph Smith (individual encounter with an “angel” in the woods) Each was unique, individual. Just I know God (or impersonal godlike force), God revealed himself to only me, now let me tell you how to save yourself, fix yourself, what you need to please God avoid wrath, achieve inner peace or become a god yourself. We don’t worship a god that came to an individual. We worship THE God who came to us as an individual. Jesus. In Jesus we see God is communal AND personal. He is not impersonal like a “force.” In Jesus, God came incarnate (in the flesh) and didn’t reveal himself in a vision or send one angel to A person, but came to A people. God didn’t send a messenger to one person. He came as a person to dwell again with His people. Peace is not found in ourselves but in communion with God and His people. Jesus ministry was large gatherings, groups of disciples, teaching in synagogues or the temple, group meals. He has some individual interactions highlighted but always driving into life with a people. We are all made as individuals, but we are also made to be in communion with God and with His people. This means much our desires and disciplines will be lived out in the context of a community created by and held together by the Gospel.
PART I |Gathering of Changed and Changing people |Acts 2:42-47
Acts 2 we see the communal God gather a people to save them and change them. Jesus says I and the Father are one. Jesus had promised His disciples “I’m sending the Holy Spirit as helper and comforter” In Act 2 we see the manifestation of the Holy Spirit came not to a person in isolation but a gathered community of people who were “together in one place”. This small gathering goes and engages on one on one evangelism, not really. They go to a larger gathering. God’s power Gathers God’s people. People gathered from many nations all hearing the gospel preached with power and with authority by Peter. God the Father had a plan to save the world and restore all things. The plan is Jesus death in our place, His resurrection being the glorious turning point of the sermon. Jesus is alive, God has power over sin and death and He’s conquered it. We are to have our faith in Jesus work in our place. He is exhalated at the right hand of the Father (At the Cross He is our savior, at the resurrection and ascension He is our King) The Holy Spirit empowers the preaching. The Holy Spirit empowered conviction of sin in the hearers down to their hearts. The Holy Spirit inspires people to convert, to repent of sin, be baptized, and follow Jesus and praise God. The community of the trinity is at work and it creating a new community from the people in this great multi ethnic/cultural gathering. What people experienced that day was extraordinary. What’s next?
Act 2:42-47 | 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
The gathering around God’s glory led them to deeper desire for communion with God and His people, which led to great devotion. Devoted sounds a lot like where desire meeting discipline. This became regular rhythms. They weren’t actively seeking the next great spine tingling experience. What were they disciplined around? Gathering. Gathering around God’s word, experienced with God’s people, at gathering at God’s table (communion/breaking bread), and joining God’s conversation (prayer). Gathering for fellowship (being encouraged by co laboring for and from the transformation of the Gospel. These are very simple elements of the gathering. Ordinary, routine. It would require discipline fueled by desire. It says following their devotion to these things what came? Awe upon every soul. This Awe (desire) drove them to what? Continued faith and sacrifice. God continued doing amazing things in and through them. There was power displayed.
In Unity they Gathered: They gathered to hear the apostles teaching and study God’s word, to pray together, to sing and worship corporately in the temple. Being reminded they are part of something great. They are not individuals going to attend a service; they are “together” AS the church gathered in a place.
In Unity they Scattered: They are meeting in homes, they are experiencing “fellowship” gospel community as different expressions of one body. Their, God created, and Holy Spirit filled, unity is on display in the world and they have “favor with all people.” There is something inherently attractive about Spirit-filled spirit empowered unity which is counter to the world’s experience. What is God doing in the world through their Gospel Community? Are people being individually converted and saved by faith in Jesus? Yes! But it is so much more! These exiled divided sinners are being “added to” this unified body. This led to great joy, gladness in the hearts, and generosity in the actions, of the people who experienced Gospel Unity. This is what a heathy unified church looks like, a family which shares in burdens, and celebrates in joys.
Gospel Community drives a regularly gathering of God’s people in a variety of contexts for the purpose of sustaining worship, of continual change and growth, and to pull our focus away from ourselves and towards God and His people. We gather to reorient ourselves away from our default of self-centered and self-focus. It is much more difficult to be self-focused and believe all of the world revolves around you when you’re in a gathering of people. Our time today is not about you. Your time in Road Group or D-Group is not about you. It’s FOR you! It changes shapes you but the focus is not on you, it’s on Jesus.
We gather around what we find to be excellent and energizing. Took the family to see “The Greatest Showman” in the theater. It’s a great musical (which for some might be like saying it’s an amazing garden burger) based on the life of PT Barnum the circus guy. It was excellently done. In fact it’s a movie about what people gather around. He started with an oddity museum to gather the curious, but no one came. His daughters said “Dad everything in your museum is dead, you need something alive to captivities people” So he began a lively circus “interesting and exaggerated people” but he wanted more than just energizing people so at one point he pivoted to get the best singer in the world to come do shows. People gathered. But what I’ve found interesting is what has happened in my house since we’ve seen this movie. My wife and daughters have been listening to the songs on a loop, researching videos from the directors to see how it was done. Even finding tutorials to learn the dances. They’re now telling their friends about it and inviting them over to learn the dances eat dinner with us and then seen them home to bug their parents about the movie and the music. My wife keeps saying “don’t you want to just go back and see it again!” This is the disciple making power of desire moving to discipline to gathering around excellence. But this is temporary, (Hopefully, Frozen lasted longer that is should of causing much weeping and gnashing of teeth for me and Elliot) The people in Acts 2 have beheld something excellent and energizing. They’ve heard the Gospel, seen God as excellent, been energized by the Holy Spirit. They are telling others and making disciples!
We gather around what we find to be enjoyable. Jim Gaffigan 4 sold out shows at McCall Hall 3K people each show 12k people in two days. At great cost, inconvenient location, parking, timing. Didn’t matter. We were gathered to see, to behold, to experience one guy with a microphone and some jokes. Nobody had to tell us afterwards “Go get ice cream at Molly Moon’s and talk about the jokes we just heard.” It seemed like the most natural thing in the world. We enjoyed, we worshipped. But I was brief and fleeting. It did not sustain us. It didn’t change us and lead us to greater discipline in life driven by desire to change. It was community brief and shallow. Not Gospel Community deep, sustaining and enduring.
We gather around what we find edifying. If we’re going to be transformed we need more than just appreciating excellence. More than just pursuing enjoyment. If we’re going to be resolved to gather we have to know this is where growth and transformation happens. We have to see a discipline of gathering (even when our feels aren’t all there) as necessary for growth and life. We’re disciplined to gather because we desire experiencing the greatness of God working and our individual and collective growth.
PART II | Gather for Protection |1 Peter 5:8, Matthew 16:18
1 Peter 5:8-9 | 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Watchful against bitterness, against sin. There are stakes involved in not gathering, not being a true vibrant and active part of the Body of Christ. When you’re not part of the herd, you’re not healthy, you’re easy to pick off. Easy to discourage. We have sin internally that clings to us that hinders us from flourishing. We also have an enemy, the devil who is evil and who seeks our destruction. Who wants to consume us. What is wise in a situation where we are called to be watchful knowing there is a real enemy who seek to harm us? Run as an individual? What are the risks with being disconnected from a church? When have you felt most disconnected from God or most discouraged in your faith? What did your participation in a Gospel Community look like during that time? We are disciplined to gather because we desire protection.
Matthew 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
This is a great contrast. Alone we are prey to be devoured. Individuals to be picked off, if not eternally, we can be rendered ineffective for the mission. You want to grow as a disciple of Jesus this included being on mission. Here Jesus has said we are a gathered offensive force that cannot be stopped! We are to desire gathering because it is effective for advancing the mission of the Gospel. A lion might charge a herd but he’ll only get the ones who lag behind and are individuals. Even a lion will flee from charging force powerful enough it can overwhelm the gates of Hell. In Christ you are part of this built and building church. We are disciplined to gather because we desire the mission of Jesus and His kingdom advance.
PART III | Resolved To be in Communion | Hebrews 10:19-25
Hebrews 10:19-25 | 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
This mission of God is the restoration of relationship. In Jesus we have the ability to enter (to gather) with confidence, not alone but together, by His work. He has provided a new way of communing with God and His people. Sin separates a Holy God from sinful people. There was a curtain between the Holy of Holies of separation. Jesus has torn that curtain and is now our Hight Priest ushering His people into the presence of the communal God. His blood, dying for our sin on the cross, makes us clean like pure water. So we can have great confidence, hope and assurance of who we are because of Jesus faithfulness. How is that manifest, how is that maintained practically? We as a gathered people consider how to encourage one another to love (God and each other) and good works. What encourages and stirs up? We’ll it’s clear what doesn’t. Neglecting the gathering. You miss out because you don’t get to experience encouragement and remembering the Gospel is bigger than you. As your distance from your last gathering grows so does your apathy, leading to paralysis. Conversely your confidence, assurance, commitment wane.
We should be Resloved that our journey in Christ will be evident through regular participation in the corporate gathering of God’s people and involvement in the Gospel Community. Healthy disciples of Jesus have a deep desire, love, and affection for one another that compels them to gather regularly. To flourish as a disciple in your relationship with God is nothing LESS THAN having a flourishing relationship with God’s people. This is only possible when we are a people who gather regularly. We are prone to wander and there will always be road blocks to keep us from gathering.
What are your road block to gathering? What keeps you from gathering with God’s people? We neglect what we don’t think is important, valuable, or profitable. When you’ve made a habit to neglect gathering with God’s people for worship, communion, growth, and assurance you are saying these things are not valuable. However, when we make it a habit to neglect gathering we are making a conscious or unconscious choice to prioritize something else OVER God and His people. You are always gathering around something. And it’s usually something less than God and His people. Even if you’re just alone you’re choosing to gather with your god…..yourself. God knows our schedule, our responsibilities, and our desires. In His wisdom He has prescribed regular gathering with God’s people as essential for our flourishing.
We have the high calling and expectation about what a gathering should be, what we should feel, what we should experience, and when it doesn’t measure up how should we address this? A communion of not yet perfect saved sinners is going to have challenges. There will be brokenness experience. There will be awkwardness at times. But what we have is not a people unified by how great, perfect, we are in an ideal environment but unified by a God who loves pursues, changes, and endures with broken people who need healing, encouragement, and empowerment. Each of us gathering together is used by God to build each of us up AND remind us the impact of the Gospel is bigger than us alone.
Believers should cheerfully accept the lot and portion of the whole church, in prosperity and affliction, and not draw back for any reason whatever. -John Owen, Duties of Christian Fellowship
Wait that sounds much more like marriage vows than casual dating. Like we should endure hardship together. So we can rejoice in resilience that come from the Holy Spirit carrying us through
Bonhoeffer’s deepest desire in the face of a great threat to the German church faced from the Nazi regime was not to hide out in safety of America but to endure with his German Brothers and sisters. He did this not because he was some masochist but because He knew if there was to be a future German church after the Nazis it would have to be lead and shaped by people who had endured the experience together. His resolve FOR the Church in German, his desire to see it endure and flourish drove him to the discipline to remain in Germany, not passively but actively pushing against the sweeping tide of evil he saw. He remained and remained steadfast. It cost him greatly. He lost freedom. He was imprisoned as an enemy of Hitler (which He was). He pasted on great comfort. He couldn’t get married to his fiancé. And it ultimately cost him his life as he was executed as a martyr near the end of the war. He was driven by a greater desire than the things of this earth.
PART IV | Resolve to Practice for Eternity | Rev 5:11-12
Revelation 5:11-12 | 11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
We’re going to a gathering so we better get ready now. If you don’t like gathering now you’re not going to like it then. Gathered in a city of Glory. There is a myriad of people, a multitude of people. This gathering is many and this gathering is diverse. When we gather now it is a small very imperfect preview of what’s to come. So what we do now each week is gather as ordinary people worshiping and extraordinary God. We desire the gathering of people to grow because it means more people praising God who saves sinners in Jesus (the Lamb who was slain.) To behold the source of all power, wealth, wisdom, and honor. Jesus is that source. When we gather together we are practicing what we will be experiencing for eternity.
We are praising God for how glorious and great His is. God’s glory driving us to pursue gathering for our Joy. So come expectant. Not of the extraordinary but the ordinary miracle of God’s people enduring. Come humble, come hungry. Don’t expect to be entertained or ready to perform but to be transformed, renewed and to serve. Sing like and rejoice with the vigor of people who see God as excellent and enjoy being with His people. We are disciplined to gather because we desire to practice for eternity.
Each week, stop what you’re doing. Recognize everything you could be doing in the moments of time when we are called to gather (Sunday Morning) even good things are a lesser glory, a lesser good, than gathering with the people God has saved for His glory and our joy. Desire gathering to worship God with others MORE than remaining focused on your own priorities. Let our gatherings here and during the week reorient you, protect you, build you up, encourage you to endure, equip you for mission and prepare you for an eternity with a mighty multitude of people who are gathered because they Trust Jesus.
Who do you know that claims to be a Christian but is not part of or gathering with a church? How can you encourage them to participate in a Gospel Community?
How should we encourage those who don’t gather to gather?
- What are the biggest road blocks you face in gathering with God’s people and being active in a church? How does sin (ours or others) keep us from intimate connection with one another? How can the Gospel overcome sin and unite us as a people?
- PRAY praising God for pursuing us as scattered sinners and bringing us into His family. Ask the Holy Spirit to help us stir one another up in love and good works knowing Jesus loves us.
The First Gospel Community was defined by their devotion to God’s word, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayer. As we transition we want a few moments to be set aside for you to pray, not as individual but as part of the body. Pray asking God that he would unify the church in this body, in this city, in this county to display the love of God in Christ, and that you would have the clarity of your unique and specific role as a member of the body for this time and the strength to walk in a manner worth of your calling.
If you are a Christian and trust Jesus alone for salvation, we invite you to come to the table share in communion with our church. As you take communion this morning; consider the cup of wine or juice remember Jesus blood shed for you to cover your sins. When you take the individual piece of bread and dip it in the cup remember it signifies His body broken for you, so you could be a part of a whole and holy body.
All of life is worship! Yes!! So show what you love!