Guest Speaker - Matt Rasch

guets speaker charles kiefer

Sleeping in the Storm

Testimonies

• Marseille: Salvations of François and Virginie, Easter Outreach coming up, pray

• Paris: great core group forming, last fall had 2 outreaches where 5 students made

a commitment to follow Christ. That was with 23 evangelists from all over the

world descending on Paris for a solid week.

- Marine’s testimony: law school, don’t believe in God. Sister called her, said

you’re going to meet some christians and you need to listen to them.

• Ministry School of Europe

• Answering the call to be a disciple of Jesus is exciting and life transforming, but it

doesn’t stop there. There’s more! There’s following Him daily. Learning to hear

God’s voice and be led of His Spirit is truly walking the way Jesus walked. Its not

easy, that’s why he mentored or taught 12 disciples.

- Jesus taught and demonstrated walking with God in a way we can all learn from.

- On of my favorite stories of where we can learn to walk with God is found in

Luke 8:22-25

Passage

Luke 8:22-25
“Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they launched out. But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?”

Breakdown

1. You can trust Jesus’ leading no matter what it looks like

  • • We walk by faith and not by sight. 2 Cor. 5:7

  • • Jesus said, “Let’s go to the other side.” In Matthew, it says “Jesus gave orders to

  • depart to the other side”

    • We see that Jesus knows where He is going and they are clearly following His lead like so many other times.

    • Normally when Jesus leads, things get exciting. For example: healings, miracles,

  • demons cast out, supernatural financial provision, amazing teaching and

  • revelation, rebuking the religious, etc.

    • However, they don’t normally get life-threatening! This time is very different!

    • * NOTE: Sea of Galilee Storms at bottom

  • Sea of Galilee background

    • 1992 - 10 foot waves recorded in Sea of Galilee.

    • Cause: Colder winds coming down off the Golan heights in East at 2500

  • feet above sea level falling onto the warmer air on the lake at 700 feet below

  • seas level.

    • Storms can come out of nowhere and bring great devastation quickly, even

  • in modern times.

    • Today, most boats can handle 1 foot waves for every 10 feet of boat.

    • These fishing boats of Galilee were on average about 27 foot long.

  • Therefore, they could handle safely 3 foot waves. Most professional

  • fishermen today with power boats would not go out in 6-8 foot waves, and

  • certainly not bigger.

    • We don’t know how big the waves were in this story, but you could imagine

  • they were big enough to put the fear of God in those men!

    • You can be assured that wherever Jesus leads you, He intends it to all work out

  • just fine. You can trust in His commands and leadings. He is good and will protect you.

    • The safest place to be is in His will.

    • If you are not in His will, you are living in His mercy, and no telling how long you can test God and receive His mercies(which are new every morning) before all hell breaks out.

    • In fact, today you may be feeling like things are breaking down around you, just keep not working out. I always say that one big disappointment can be by coincidence or hazard, but 2 or more big disappointments close together need to be examined and prayed about. Typically stiff comes out because it was in there and needed to.

  • Partial obedience to God is the same as disobedience.

  • If God has led you somewhere or made you know what you need to do, and

    you are not doing it, you need to seriously make a change of course. If its a

    question of timing, then you need to make sure you got the timing right. You

    could be living outside His will, and therefore outside His protection.

2. Jesus was sleeping

  • Here he releases his command and will, and the disciples start walking it out.

  • Then, things turn south.

  • We can just see the disciples stressing, starting to get afraid, seeing the water

    coming into this boat that’s being tossed to and fro, making everyone sick at the

    stomach. They could even be throwing up, which would be totally normal.

  • In a situation like this, you see your master sleeping, and probably they argued

    about whether to wake him up, but that argument didn’t last long as they began

    to sink.

  • Jesus somehow is sleeping through it all, but how?

  • One can’t ignore 6-8 foot waves in a boat that small

  • Example: 5 of us coming back from deep-sea adventure

  • How?

Key #1

  • Jesus walked with His heavenly Father in deep intimacy.

    • He knew He had to go to the cross and die for the sins of humanity.

    • Therefore, what He heard and saw when He was in prayer with God, He knew was more real and must be accomplished, therefore He was at peace.

  • Jesus’ peace came through His intimate relationship with the Father

  • So will yours and mine

  • Verses:

  • Isaiah 9:6-7

    For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.

  • Phil. 4:6-7

    “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Key #2

  • Jesus was secure

  • Jesus knew His authority and power that was in Him because He knew who He

    was and whose He was.

  • Jesus was not like most of us, a walking insecurity bomb looking for a place to

    blow up and make a scene.

  • He was so full of acceptance from the Father that He exuded confidence and joy.

  • No peace, no confidence and no joy.

    • Spending quality time with the Father is an exercise in being filled up with God’s acceptance of you no matter what you’ve done or haven’t done.

  • God loves you the same the day you were born as the day you were at your worst.

  • He loves you as much the day before you gave your life to Him as the day after

    you decided to walk with Him.

  • Only God’s love will fill the huge insecurity gaps we all have. There’s not enough praise from man, promotions at work, companies we can start, that will fill the insecurity vacuum in each of our hearts.

  • Some of us need to stop the running around looking for a person to love us and to fill us up and heal us, and run to God the Father and His huge embrace!

  • Because Jesus knew who He was, He knew how to manage the storms in His life.

  • When we know truly who we are, we will also know that any storm that comes is an opportunity to demonstrate who we are as God’s children and bring order out of chaos.

Conclusion

2 Keys to sleeping in storms:

1. Walk in intimacy with Father God

1. Word, prayer, authentic relationships

2. Be secure:

1. Receive the love of Father God to overflowing everyday

Prayer

  • Who here has never made that decision to become a follower of Christ Jesus? Would you do that with me today?

  • Who needs to encounter the love of God at a deeper place?

  • Who needs to walk in full obedience to things you know you should be in?

  • Who needs courage to take a big step forward in God to re-order your priorities to truly follow Jesus daily?

  • Who needs prayer to learn how to sleep in the storm?

Second City Church: Guest Speaker - Matt Rasch 2019

The Inside Job - Part 3

the inside job

Putting God: F.I.R.S.T. takes:

Focus

Identity

Reverence

S

T

Background

The Apostle Peter is writing from Rome (which he calls Babylon) in chapter 5.  Peter is writing to gentile and most likely Jewish believers scattered throughout the Roman provinces to the east in Asia Minor which is now modern day Turkey.  He is writing them to encourage them to endure unjust suffering because Christ was also and firstly rejected by humans and endured suffering from sinners. Upon suffering he inherited the blessing of life, setting us an example that by faith in Him we can also endure suffering and rejection (which social rejection is what most of us feel now) with an expectation of the blessing of life to come.  In the previous chapter, chapter 2, Peter reminds those suffering of the God given IDENTITY that Christ is an immovable cornerstone that God Himself has placed, and that we believers and followers of Christ have an IDENTITY of a holy priesthood. By faith in Christ as the one and only Lord and Savior, we are being built into a spiritual house of worship of which he is the cornerstone.  In this spiritual house (or temple) we are expected to bring spiritual sacrifices to walk out our new IDENTITY as a holy priesthood.  Peter then says that because of this new IDENTITY of being a chosen royal priesthood and having received mercy though they formally were objects of God’s wrath,

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 2:12

This is where Peter begins to tell the believers what it looks like to live such good lives (making spiritual sacrifices) that will one day glorify God when Jesus returns.  The Holy Spirit through Peter says we will live these lives, make spiritual sacrifices, out of REVERENCE for God, submit yourselves.  Peter addresses a few specific groups of people but starts with all people under the Roman government. Then picks up with the most vulnerable  of the society working his way up to the least vulnerable. The weakest to the most powerful. He starts with slaves, then wives, husbands, and finally all people.  He also knows that Christ likeness starts in the home at a family level where our inner motives and most played out.

Main Scripture

1 Peter 3

3 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and REVERENCE of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,

“Whoever would love life

   and see good days

must keep their tongue from evil

   and their lips from deceitful speech.

11 They must turn from evil and do good;

   they must seek peace and pursue it.

12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous

   and his ears are attentive to their prayer,

but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”[a]

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats[b]; do not be frightened.”[c] 15 But in your hearts REVERE Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive,[d] he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.[e] It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

Message Summary

When we have a genuine inner REVERENCE of Christ we will genuinely love, respect and honor those whom Christ died for as our spiritual sacrifices and worship in Spirit and Truth.  This inner REVERENCE will produce in us a gentle and quiet spirit because we have been delivered from fear of man.

What is REVERENCE?

Reverence is honor and respect that is deeply felt and outwardly demonstrated.  ‘Reverence’ and ‘revere’ are closely tied together with fear, awe, honor, and respect.  In the Bible when people encountered God their reverence drove them to the groundDo you fear God or simply respect God?  Respect alone will not drive you to sacrifice for God, but may influence you to make better decisions when convenient.   

Reverence toward our amazing God and Saviour starts in the heart as a work of the Holy Spirit but if it’s genuine it will not stay there.  We will begin to love ourselves the way Christ has loved us, by demonstrating the fruit of the spirit toward ourselves (Love your neighbor as YOURSELF).  It will work its way out through love, respect, submission and honor to our spouses and family second, and then our community.  

How do we know if we have genuine REVERENCE for Christ and aren’t just giving lip or hand service?

  1. Wives - If your husband isn’t obeying the Word, are you loving them by having pure and respectful conduct, putting on the inner beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which God sees and says is very precious in his sight?  Essentially, living with REVERENCE of God even when they aren’t?

  2. Are you doing ‘good’ despite threats or is the fear of man quenching your spirit?

  3. Husbands- are you living with your wives in an understanding way, showing her honor as God’s heir with her in the gift of life?  Do you feel like your prayers are being hindered?

  4. Do you have unit of mind with other believers?

  5. Do you have sympathy?

  6. Do you have brotherly love?

  7. Do you have a tender heart?

  8. Do you have a humble mind?

  9. Do you bless those who do evil to, revile, or despise you?

  10. Do you keep your tongue from evil?

  11. Do you lie?

  12. Have you turned away from evil and are doing good?

  13. Are you seeking and pursuing peace?

  14. Are you honoring Christ the Lord as holy?

  15. Are you always ready to give a defence for your faith...with gentleness and respect?

  16. Are you willing to suffer for doing good knowing that Christ did this for you while you were still a sinner?

    1. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

Invitation to Water Baptism next week on April 7th

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” - John 15:5

The only way to truly have REVERENCE for God in your heart is to accept His son Jesus Christ by repentance of sins and placing your faith in Christ alone for your righteousness.   Noah and the other 7 who were saved from the destroying floods showed their heart’s inner REVERENCE, repentance and trust in the LORD by obeying God’s good news and getting into the ark to be saved.  Today, we show our reverence of and trust in Christ by being clothed with Christ going down in the water of baptism as they went into the flood waters. They emerged into a new earth cleansed of sin and we emerge into a new life with Christ and cleansed conscience, being still in the world but not of the world any longer.

Supporting Scriptures

  • Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ- Eph 5:21

  • If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,

    Lord, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness,

   so that we can, with reverence, serve you. - Psalm 130:4

Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth:

“May you prosper greatly!

“I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.

“For he is the living God

and he endures forever;

his kingdom will not be destroyed,

his dominion will never end.

He rescues and he saves;

he performs signs and wonders

in the heavens and on the earth.

He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” - Daniel 6:25-27

  • “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. - Malachi 2:5

  • 24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence.26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” - Acts 10:24-26

  • Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. - 2 Cor 7:1-3

  • 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.” - Hebrews 12:28-29

Second City Church - The Inside Job - Pastor Cole Parleir 2019

The Inside Job - Part 2

the inside job

Putting God: F.I.R.S.T. takes:

Focus

Identity

R

S

T

1 Peter 2:1-25
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

We will be judged by the Word of God. Therefore we must know it to know that for which we’ll be held responsible. 

John 12:47-50
47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

Mentions of Christ’s Identity:

  1. A living stone

  2. Rejected by men

  3. Chosen and precious in the sight of God 

  4. The cornerstone

  5. The one who as people believe in him, will not be put to shame. 

  6. A stone of stumbling and rock of offense

  7. Our example 

  8. Committed no sin

  9. One without deceit in his mouth 

  10. Suffering Servant 

  11. The one who did not return reviling with reviling 

  12. Bearer of our Sins that we might die to sin and live to righteousness

  13. Our Healer by his wounds 

  14. Shepherd and Overseer of our Soul

Mentions of the Believer’s Identity:

  1. Like newborn babies 

  2. Like living stones being built up as a spiritual house

  3. A holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

  4. Chosen race

  5. Royal priesthood

  6. A holy nation

  7. A people of his own possession

  8. Those who are to proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light

  9. God’s people

  10. Those who have received mercy

  11. Beloved 

  12. Sojourners and exiles

  13. Servants 

  14. Sheep

“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” - Mahatma Gandhi


As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God's work–which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:3-5 NIV84)]

Truth and Faith are inextricably bound in the Kingdom of God.  

You must know who your God is and worship Him accordingly (John 17:3). 

You must know who He has made you and serve Him exceedingly (Ephesians 2:10; I Peter 2:9-12). 

You must know how these two things converge and believe Him extravagantly (John 6:25-29). 

The Importance of Definition:

What is the good of pretending to be what you are not? Well, on the human level, you know, there are two kinds of pretending. There is a bad kind where the pretense is there instead of the real thing; as when a man pretends he is going to help you instead of really helping you. But there is also a good kind, where the pretence leads up to the real thing. When you are not feeling particularly friendly but know you ought to be, the best thing you can do, very often, is to put on a friendly manner and behave as if you were a nicer person than you actually are. And in a few minutes, as we have all noticed, you will be really feeling friendlier than you were. Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already."

- C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, ch. 7, part 4

“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.” - Steve Job


Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God– the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. (Romans 1:1-5 NIV84)

"Identity precedes activity in the Kingdom of God."  -Ron Lewis 

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,

To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ–their Lord and ours:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:1-3 NIV84) 

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:1, 2 NIV84)

Paul, an apostle–sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead– and all the brothers with me,

To the churches in Galatia:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:1-5 NIV84)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:1, 2 NIV84) 

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father. (Colossians 1:1, 2 NIV84)

We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.

As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. 

(1 Thessalonians 2:6-8 NIV84) 

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle–I am telling the truth, I am not lying–and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles. (1 Timothy 2:3-7 NIV84)

So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.

What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you–guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.

May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus. (2 Timothy 1:8-18 NIV84) 

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness– a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior,

To Titus, my true son in our common faith:

Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. (Titus 1:1-4 NIV84)

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (1 Peter 1:1, 2 NIV84)

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 

(1 Peter 5:1-4 NIV84) 

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 

(2 Peter 1:1, 2 NIV84) 

The elder,

To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth–and not I only, but also all who know the truth– because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever:

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, will be with us in truth and love. (2 John 1:1-3 NIV84)

The elder,

To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (3 John 1:1-4 NIV84)

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,

To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:

Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. (Jude 1:1-3 NIV84)

The work horse and war horse have two different purposes and training.  The war horse can not be skittish when bullets or arrows are flying.  It must be steady, where the work horse would be unsettled and run.  The war horse is trained for speed and agility to advance in the face of danger; the clydesdale for strength and perseverance, a steady discipline plowing the same field day after day.  David was built for war, Solomon for diplomacy.  The Christian needs to learn from and exemplify both in their character, while specializing in their gifts and call. 

DreamWorks Pictures' "War Horse," director Steven Spielberg's epic adventure, is a tale of loyalty, hope and tenacity set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War.

Come to Christ at the cross and allow him to identify you.

Second City Church - The Inside Job - Pastor Rollan Fisher 2019

The Inside Job - Part 1

the inside job

1 Peter 1:1-25
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

"The Bible must be your chart, and you must exercise great watchfulness that your way may be according to its directions. You must take heed to your daily life, as well as study your Bible, and you must study your Bible that you may take heed to your daily life. With the greatest care a man will go astray if his map misleads him; but with the most accurate map he will still lose his road if he does not take heed to it. The narrow way was never hit upon by chance, neither did any heedless man ever lead a holy life. We can sin without thought, we have only to neglect the great salvation and ruin our souls; but to obey the Lord and walk uprightly will need all our heart and soul and mind. Let the careless remember this."
- C.H. Spurgeon, on Psalm 119:9

"I prayed for Faith, and thought that some day Faith would come down and strike me like lightning. But Faith did not seem to come. One day I read in the tenth chapter of Romans, 'Now Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God'. I had closed my Bible, and prayed for Faith. I now opened my Bible, and began to study, and Faith has been growing ever since. " - DL Moody

"You know more about your magazines and novels than what God has written; many of you will read a novel from the beginning to the end, and what have you got? A mouthful of foam when you are done. But you cannot read the Bible; that solid, lasting, substantial, and satisfying food goes uneaten, locked up in the cupboard of neglect; while anything that a man writes, a best seller of the day, is greedily devoured." - C.H. Spurgeon

Second City Church - The Inside Job - Pastor Rollan Fisher 2019

Guest Speaker - Peter Ahlin

guets speaker charles kiefer

 
Keep Back Nothing 

Possessions 

Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” 

One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” 

Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” Therefore, they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. 

(John 6:5-13) 

Prayers 

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” 

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” 

Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 

Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. 

So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.” 

(Matthew 26:36-46) 

Priorities 

Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 

Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” 

And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” 

Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” 

(Luke 9:57-62; 14:25-27) 

Purpose 

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” 

(Matthew 28:18-20) 

Second City Church: Guest Speaker - Peter Ahlin 2019

Explore God - Can I Know God Personally?

explore god chicago

Can I Know God Personally?

We all feel distant from God from time to time. And very often, we resort to religious deeds to try to get into God’s graces, to try to please him. How many of us have: 

• tried to do really good things to get right or even make up with God? 

• tried to stop doing some things in order to make God happy? 

We all have!  But let me ask this: Did it work? Did you feel closer to God by jumping through those hoops? 

Reverence for vs. Relatonship with Jesus

We have to be able to trust God

Is God a Moral Monster? by Paul Copan 

The greatest African-American intellectual and abolitionist of the pre-Civil War period said this:

“I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land... I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of 'stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in.' I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus. . . . The slave auctioneer’s bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together. The slave prison and the church stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other. The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other—devils dressed in angels’ robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise.” Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845)

Yet when because he met the real Jesus, the God of the Bible, Douglass in the second installment of his autobiography was able to state this:

“I was, for weeks, a poor, broken-hearted mourner, traveling through the darkness and misery of doubts and fears. I finally found that change of heart which comes by “casting all one’s care” upon God, and by having faith in Jesus Christ, as the Redeemer, Friend, and Savior of those who diligently seek Him.”

Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom (1855)

Harriet Beecher Stowe, daughter of Lyman Beecher, one of the great abolitionist preachers of the Second Great Awakening, wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852.  Having experienced the grace of God, they too were compelled to aid in ending evils perpetuated by those who misrepresented Jesus.  


These and many other accounts give us a picture of the effects of the gospel coming alive in a man or woman’s heart, turning them to Christ and overflowing to impact a fallen world.  These things were not done to receive God’s favor, but as a result of his grace. 


The bad news is that none of these things helps us measure up to God’s standards.  But the good news is that God’s love is given to each of us freely. 

• Titus 3:5: “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” 

• John 1:12: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” 

John 6:35-40 
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

• James 4:8a: “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” 

Revelation 3:14-22 
14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation. 15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

John Newton and the history of Amazing Grace 

“The Gospel must not be assumed.  It’s to be articulated clearly and constantly...if not you get moralistic pragmatism.” - Matt Chandler

Here’s the truth about knowing God personally:

• God loved. God gave. We believe. We receive.

“The world’s full of lonely people afraid to make the first move.”  
From Movie The Green Book

• God loved us so much that he sent his son to save us; if we believe in him, we will spend eternity in deep, personal relationship with him.

If we all trusted that simple, profound truth, it would change everything. Our friendships, our marriages, our work relationships, our work ethic, our contentment, our finances—everything.

The entire reason Jesus came to earth was so that everyone who trusts in him can know God personally—the relationship we were born to enjoy.

How can we also respond to God’s grace?

  1. Turn in faith and repentance to Jesus Christ, receiving forgiveness of sins because of his sacrifice for you on the cross and resurrection from the dead providing eternal life for you.  

  2. Serve God with his people to be salt and light in a fallen world Christ is looking to redeem.  

“The Place God call’s you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” - Frederick Buechner  

Second City Church - Explore God - Pastor Rollan Fisher 2019

Explore God - Is the Bible Reliable?

explore god chicago

Is the Bible Reliable?

All of us have a perspective on the Bible. Some are very familiar with it. For others, it’s foreign or even frightening. If you’ve been reading the Bible for a long time, you can think back to those early days of trying to figure it out. And some of you are just now beginning. Wherever you are, this is a great message for you.

This is all important because Jesus had a very high view of the Scripture 

Genesis 3:1-5 
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Matthew 5:17-20 
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus said that your success in life and eternal destiny depend on your right interaction with his Word:

Matthew 7:24-29
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

Matthew 24:34,35 
34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

The Bible, though hard to understand at times, is a beautiful collection of books that tells the same consistent story throughout. And it’s very, very reliable. Let’s examine why that is.

  • It’s a collection of 66 different books, written from 1500 BC to 100 AD, by 40 different authors, in 3
    different languages.

  • The first 39 books make up the Old Testament and include the Law of Moses, the history of the Jewish people, and the foretelling of the Messiah.

    • It comprises the sacred Scriptures of Jewish and Christian people.

  • The last 27 books make up the New Testament and were written by eyewitnesses of Jesus’s life, documenting his ministry and explaining God’s plan to bring about his kingdom. It also includes letters about how to live out the gospel.

  • How can we be confident it’s reliable?


The uniqueness of the Bible:

"Any part of the human body can only be properly explained in reference to the whole body.  And any part of the Bible can only be explained in reference to the whole Bible." - FF Bruce


"The Bible, at first sight, appears to be a collection of literature - mainly Jewish.  If we enquire into the circumstances under which the various Biblical documents were written, we find that they were written at intervals over a space of nearly 1400 years.  The writers wore in various lands, from Italy in the West to Mesopotamia and possibly Persia in the east.  The writers themselves were a heterogeneous number of people, not only separated from each other by hundreds of years and hundreds of miles, but belonging to the most diverse walks of life.  In their ranks we have kings, herdsmen, soldiers, legislators, fishermen, statesmen, courtiers, priests and prophets, a tent making Rabbi and a Gentile physician, not to speak of others of whom we know nothing apar from the writings they have left us.  The writings themselves belong to a great variety of literary types.  They include history, law (civil, criminal, ethical, ritual, sanitary), religious poetry, didactic treatises, lyric poetry, parable and allegory, biography, personal correspondence, personal memoirs and diaries, in addition to the distivntively Biblical types of prophecy and apocalyptic. 

For all that, the Bible is not simply an anthology; there is a unity which binds the whole together.  An anthology is compiled by an anthologist, but no anthologist compiled the Bible.  

-FF Bruce



Prophecy: Some 1,800 prophetic statements can be verified or refuted. None, to date, have ever been refuted.

Textual evidence: We have more high-quality copies of the text than any other historical document.

old testament compare

Self-declaration: The text itself claims authority. 

2 Timothy 3:16-17 
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Objections:

Written by man

“Inerrancy means that when all the facts are known, the Scriptures in their original autographs, properly interpreted, will be shown to be wholly true in everything they affirm, whether this has to do with doctrine or morality or with social, physical, or life sciences. 

The bottom line is that the Bible has been breathed by God.  He used men to write out exactly what He wanted them to write.  He kept them free from error but at the same time used their unique personalities and styles to convey exactly what He wanted.  

Peter tells us that “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).  The idea conveyed is that just as the wind controls the sails of a boat, so also the breath of God controlled the writers of the Bible.  The end result was exactly what God intended.”

-Josh McDowell, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict


Translated or transmitted inaccurately - Describe the Process of the Scribes 

Supposed Discrepancies/Contradictions in Scripture 

Summary of Principles for Understanding Apparent Discrepancies in the Bible (Taken from The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell)

  1. The unexplained is not necessarily unexplainable. 

  2. Fallible interpretations do not mean fallible revelation.

  3. Understand the context of the passage. 

  4. Interpret difficult passages in the light of clear ones. 

  5. Don't base teaching on obscure passages. 

  6. The Bible is a human book with human characteristics. 

  7. Just because a report is incomplete does not mean it is false. 

  8. New Testament citations of the Old Testament need not always be exact. 

  9. The Bible does not necessarily approve of all it records.

  10. The Bible uses non-technical, everyday language. 

  11. The Bible may use round numbers as well as exact numbers.  

  12. Note when the Bible uses different literary devices. 

  13. An error in a copy does not equate to an error in the original. 

  14. General statements don't necessarily mean universal promises. 

  15. Later revelation supersedes previous revelation.


2 Timothy 2:15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.


“Among the major religions of the world . . . only three religions claim to have a supernatural foundation to be found in a sacred scripture that purports to be a divine revelation. The three religions distinguished by this claim are Judaism, Christianity, and the religion of Islam. Among the other religions, only some claim to have logical and factual truth, but the truth they claim to have is of human, not divine, origin.” —Mortimer Adler


Corroboration: You don’t hear people say they regret following the words of Scripture. 

You don’t hear: “Ten years ago I decided to read and follow Scripture, build my business, nurture my marriage, raise my kids, handle my money, and take care of my body according to the wisdom of Scripture—and I completely regret it.” 

Psalm 19:7-14
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Universality and Invitation: No other sacred scriptures invite all people of all time. 

In Genesis 12:3, God tells one man, “I will bless you and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Genesis 12:1-3
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

When you’re wondering about the reliability of the Bible, consider these facts. But more than that, remember that the Bible is God’s love letter to you. Open it, read it, and consider how God wants you to live out his kingdom calling.

Psalm 138:1-2
I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.

John 14:25-26
25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

John 17:6-21 
6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

If every one of us left here confident in the Bible’s reliability and excited to live out its ways, imagine what our church would look like! Imagine your business, your family, your relationships.

Luke 24:44-49 
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

The Bible is more than a book: it is God’s love letter to humanity. We have more reason to trust its claims than those of any other book in history. We can trust the Bible because of prophecy, history, integrity, and what it’s done in people.

Second City Church - Explore God - Pastor Rollan Fisher 2019

Explore God - Is Jesus Really God?

explore god chicago

Is Jesus Really God?

For all of us, there was a time when we didn’t fully understand who Jesus was.  And yet, billions of people over the course of the past two thousand years have reached the conclusion that there is something special about Jesus. That he was no ordinary man. How did they come to that conclusion?  Well, let’s take a look.


Jesus is God in the flesh, who came to restore our relationship with him. How do we know that?


The Trinity is a recurring theme throughout Judeo-Christian Scripture:


Genesis 1:26-27 
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.


John 1:1-5,14-18 
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ( John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side,  he has made him known.


• Prophecy

   • Psalm 2:1–8 (written at least one thousand years before Jesus lived): predicts Jesus’s life and reign


Psalm 2:1-8 
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.


Matthew 22:41-46 
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, 44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? 45 If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.


• Isaiah 53:5–6 (written hundreds of years before Christ): predicts his suffering and the reconciliation it enabled 


Isaiah 9:6-7
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.


Isaiah 53:5-6
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.


In the midst of a fiercely monothestic Jewish culture, in the Babylonian Exile the stateman and prophet Daniel foresaw the following:


Daniel 7:13-14 (NIV)
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

• Teaching • Matthew 26:64–65: Jesus accepts the messianic title, Son of Man, claiming equality with God 

Matthew 26:63-65
But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy.

John 6:44-46
44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.

Jesus has a fantastic sense of self-awareness

John 8:56-59 
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

John 10:27-39
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.

John 14:9 
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Mark 2:7–11: Jesus claims godly power

Mark 2:5-12 
And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

• Resurrection

John 2:19: Jesus metaphorically predicts his death and resurrection

John 2:19
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

Matthew 28:16-20 
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Acts 10:25-26 
When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.”

• History

• Regarding the truth of Jesus’s death, resurrection, and divinity, Peter Kreeft muses: “Why did thousands suffer torture and death for this lie if they knew it was a lie?” “What force sent Christians to the lions’ den with hymns on their lips? What lie ever transformed the world like that?”

 • Aquinas argues, “If the Incarnation did not really happen, then an even more unbelievable miracle happened: the conversion of the world by the biggest lie in history and the moral transformation of lives into unselfishness, detachment from worldly pleasures and radically new heights of holiness by a mere myth.”

External early testimony to Jesus’ divinity by Roman non-sympathizers:

“Nero fastened the guilt ... on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of ... Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome....”

-Tacitus A.D. 62


“On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald ... cried, "He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy."

-Babylonian Talmud A.D. 70-200


“They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food – but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.”

-Pliny the Younger in A.D. 112


What do you say about Jesus? Is he merely a good teacher, a prophet, or a wise man? Is he more than that?


“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.” —C. S. Lewis


If everyone of us—me included—decided to set our life’s compass to Jesus’s bearing, I believe we’d impact the entire world.  Will you join me?

Bottom Line:

Because of His own testimony about Himself, Jesus is either God or a fraud. There is no logical middle ground. Jesus demonstrated His deity through prophecy, teaching, and the resurrection.

Reflected by writers of the New Testament:

Titus 2:11-14 
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Second City Church - Explore God - Pastor Rollan Fisher 2019

Explore God - Is Christianity Too Narrow?

explore god chicago

Is Christianity Too Narrow?

• To nonreligious people, religion almost always includes some odd—and even narrow-minded things—such as:

   • Legalism

   • Judgment

   • Hypocrisy (in its worst incarnations)

• But when people attempt to bridge the gap between God and us, the seen and unseen, the temporal and eternal, by definition, it’s bound to include some unusual things.

• The problem is when these things are human additions rather than genuine attempts at

connecting with God.

   • Religion is humanity’s attempt to reach God.

   • Christianity is God’s attempt to reach humanity.

This is not new. In fact, the Bible speaks to the narrowness of religion and how to maintain faith in a culture of unfaith.

Acts 17:16-31 
Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new. So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

   • Paul demonstrates how to maintain faith in Jesus among a people who are not comfortable with exclusive claims about God.

   • Paul asked the Athenians questions, complimented their search, and then, when asked, proclaimed the truth with gentleness and respect.

• When Paul preached about Jesus and the resurrection (v. 18), he began to contrast Christianity with other religions. Most religions can be described as humanity’s attempt to reach God. But Christianity is God’s attempt to reach humanity. Through the person of Jesus, God extends grace to everyone. His gift is broad, available to anyone who will receive it.

“All claims are exclusive.  The Gospel is an exclusive truth but it’s the most inclusive exclusive truth in the world.” - Timothy Keller

How do we know this?

God’s exclusive claim

John 14:6 
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

*The cross and its necessity

Someone has to pay the price for our sin and rebellion against a holy God.  Either we’re going to pay it ourselves, or Jesus, the sinless, blameless Lamb of God, already did for us. 

Galatians 2:20-21 
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Hebrews 9:22
Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

God’s inclusive heart

Ezekiel 33:11 
Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?

1 Timothy 2:1-6 
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

The emotional response to faith

People don’t care, ignore the issue, neglect it or cast it off as long as possible to live how they want to.

"I had motive for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves. … For myself, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political." --Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means (London: Chatto & Windus, 1946), pp. 270, 273

John 3:16-21
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Does your lifestyle prompt others to ask why you live the way you do?  If not, what needs to change?

• Are you satisfied with practicing religion and striving to reach God?  Or will you accept God’s free gift and reconciliation through Jesus Christ?

I pray that our church can be a community of people who are so winsome that the world cannot ignore it. I pray that we’ll be bombarded with questions about why we do the things we do (or don’t do), go the places we go, and hang out with the people we do. And then I hope we have the faith, the courage, the gentleness, and the respect to share our faith boldly and humbly.

• Imagine if we all were able to do that this week. Would the world accuse us of being narrow- minded?  I hope not. I hope people will say that we’re the most welcoming, loving, and inclusive people they know.

Bottom Line:

God provided a way for everyone to have peace, forgiveness and eternal life. This is profoundly inclusive—not exclusive. Following Jesus is different from every other faith on earth in that He sacrificed to get to us, rather than us sacrificing to get to Him. Most religions boil down to humanity trying to reach God, but Christianity is God reaching humanity.

Second City Church - Explore God - Pastor Rollan Fisher 2019