Radical Christianity Part 3 – Dr. Michael Jiles


Radical Christianity Sermon Series The River

Pastor Mike continues in the series “Radical Christianity”.

Audio Transcription

Radical Christianity that we’re talking about, we’re doing this series. Well, let me kind of catch you up to speed just a little bit. The Bible indicates that there will be a great apostasy during the end times, which means people will walk away from their faith. They will denounce God. And I was talking to you about the Thessalonika Church guys who remember that and how they were afraid they missed the rapture. Well, Paul speaks right into it. And here’s what he says. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way for that. The day will not come until the rebellion occurs. Now, that’s where we get the word apostasy. Where do they turn away from? Their faith will not come until the rebellion occurs. And the man of lawlessness, the Antichrist, is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.

So we’ve kind of started the whole series with if we are going to live in any part of the end times, shouldn’t we be prepared? Shouldn’t we know a few things? So I talked about one week amazing faith. And here’s the deal. Even if you’re not a Christian and you see somebody with amazing faith, don’t you kind of want to know how did they get that? Where did it come from? And I like to have that, you know, because there’s people that just have awesome amounts of faith. Now, remember, we talked about Jesus. There was twice that he used the word the Moso. When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, truly, I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. We were talking about the centurion, right. The word the maso is where we get the word amazed, and he used it twice, won for their great faith and won for their. Gas louder. Lack of faith. Right. So we talked about faith always has an object.

You know, some people say, oh, it’s all going to work out, it’s all going to be good. All everything works out in the end. Well, that’s good thinking in that. You know, being optimistic and all that. But faith has an object. The object of faith isn’t a particular outcome. Jesus established himself as the object of faith. Remember I talked about he was talking with the disciples and trying to encourage them. He says, now you believe in God. Right. And they’re like, yeah. But he used a different word there. Meaning you trust in God. Right. Also trust in me. Jesus was making himself the object of faith. Jesus came to show us what God is like. Right.

How many of you grew up in church? Raise your hand if you grew up in church. That was a lot of hands out there. OK. Did you have to raise your hand on this? But did any of you like not go to church for a while? Yeah, I think some of us that grew up in church like, OK, we need a break. Right. And we need to kind of figure this out on our own and decide if that faith is our faith and and all of those kind of things. But one of the big things that happened in church, people would focus on believe. You got to believe. You got to believe this guy, believe Jesus is going to make it all work. You just got to believe. And I heard that all the time.

And there’s kind of another part to it. It’s like when you believe and don’t do. Our dreams really don’t come true. You think about that. You can believe that there is a God. You can even believe. That you trust in God. But if we really don’t do, our dreams, don’t come true. Right now, here’s where I think the church kind of owes you an apology. I think the church needs to say I’m sorry that I just talked about belief. I’m sorry that I just focused you on believing it’s a good start. And Jesus talked about believing over a hundred times in the Bible. But he didn’t end it there. Once you believe that he gives what they call a command, the command is. Follow me. And I think what happened, the church reduced follow me to believe in me. If you just believe in God, it’s all good. You got your fire insurance. You said the prayer. It’s all wonderful. But she says, no, no, no, no. Once you believe, it’s time to follow. Now, here’s the here’s the deal God is most honored by our living active, death defying in spite of faith. Think about that. Do you have that kind of faith living, active, death defying in spite of faith? And we used the word radical. It’s a radical kind of faith.

I got to tell you, I was at this conference this last week, and Holland, I got to get away and she had to work tonight, just so you know, she had to swap tonight to get off for the conference. But anyway, she. We just had this experience and we’re we’re worshiping everybody standing there worshiping. It’s really cool. And there’s this Asian guy right in front and he’s swaying and worshiping. And they told me the story behind him. He escaped out of Asia. And this was the first time he was able to worship publicly. All his worship up to that moment was in secret and he was just all in. I mean, he was he was worshiping.

What would I do if I were confident God was with me, if you were confident God was 100 percent with you? What would you do? Maybe there’s a better way to word that. What would I do if I were confident I was with God? Maybe that’s a little bit better, right? If if you knew you were with God, is there something that you would do? Just way out there, radical death defying. If you knew God was with you. So I’ve got this friend, I’ll call him John. John’s first exposure to the whole concept of hell is one of these watching in a Tom and Jerry cartoon when he was younger and what was intended to be this humorous cartoon all of the sudden turn into this hellacious nightmare when Tom did something bad a jury and was thrown into hell as a result. And later, John was at his church and he was talking with an older man about what he’d seen. And the older man looked at John and said, John, you don’t want to go to hell, do you? John said, no. So the man looked back at him and said, OK, pray this prayer after me, dear Jesus. I’m kind of pause for some awkward silence, and you realize you’re supposed to say exactly what the man had said, so he said, dear Jesus, and the man continued. I know that I’m a sinner and I believe that Jesus died for my sins. I ask you to come into my heart and save me. And then when they were finished, the man looked at John and said, Son, now you can know that you were saved from your sins and you don’t ever have to worry about hell again. Is that true? Is this really what it means to become a disciple of Jesus? This is really what it means to follow him. You look back at the first disciples in the Bible, and when Jesus came up to them and said, follow me, that was not an invitation to pray a prayer. That was a summons for these men to lose their lives somewhere along the way, 2000 years later, amid varying cultural tides and popular church trends, we have virtually missed that call with good intentions, with sincere desires to reach as many people as possible for Jesus.

We’ve taken challenging words from Christ and turned them into trite phrases in the church. And in the process, we’ve drained the lifeblood out of Christianity and replaced it with a watered down version of the gospel that is so palatable. It’s not even real anymore. And the consequences are catastrophic. Scores of men, women and children culturally identify themselves as Christians today, who biblically are not followers of Christ. Is that possible? Absolutely it is. And in fact, according to Jesus, it’s probable, he said, and end of his most famous sermon.

Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name? Drive out demons and perform many miracles. And I will tell them I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers. Those are some of the most frightening words in all of the Bible. As a pastor, I stay awake some nights, haunted by the thought that many people, many people were sitting in church on Sunday will be shocked to stand before Jesus one day and hear him say to them, I never knew you. Away from me. We desperately need to take a look at our lives and our churches and ask the question, are we really biblically, personally following Jesus? Eternity is dependent on how we answer that question. So what do you think, do you think the church is up today if watered down Christianity? I think so. And if anything happens, if anything is different, it has to start with the church, right. We have to change our thinking from belief, which is good and important. And praying a prayer of salvation is good.

But it’s bigger than that. It’s more powerful than that. It moves into follow me in Matthew seven. There’s a kind of a cool set up for this. How many have you ever heard? The Sermon on the Mount? On the Sermon on the Mount Jesus saying all these cool things and all the people are gathered around like, wow, this is amazing. But imagine in this culture where you had Pharisees that would judge and critique and and all of this Jesus starts talking about. Do you not judge? Do not charge or you will be judged, you’ll be judged in the same manner in which you judge. He says, why do you look at the sawdust in somebody else’s eye? But you don’t deal with a plank that’s in your eye. And this was earthshaking because they grew up in a whole different culture. And then he takes all the Sermon on the Mount and he sums it up to this.

He says, therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. OK, a wise man that built his house in the rock does what puts these things into practice? You don’t just hear it and then walk away. We put it into practice. The rain came down, the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against the house. Yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on what the rock. That’s where our foundation has to be, is on the rock. How do you know your foundation is on the rock? Because you’re doing those things. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a what? Foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the wind blew and beat against the house and it fell with a great crash. Now, I want you to think of something right now.

Think of a person who went through a traumatic experience where everything crashed and their faith was very little. Usually what they’ll do is they’ll either blame God. Or reject God and say there’s no God at all because of what happened. So when our active radical faith intersects with God’s faithfulness? Guess what happens? Our faith grows. When active radical faith intersects with God’s faithfulness, our faith grows.

So what we did this last week, we flew in to San Francisco. And we rented a car and we started heading up north. And we didn’t plan hotels or anything until we got to the church conference. So we thought, well, just find a hotel on our way. California is a different country. I switch it up. When you go into a hotel, you got to have a mask on. Go into any store now. You’ve got to have the mask on, which I mean, that’s that’s cool. That’s that’s their deal. But you know how they have the the breakfast buffet. You know, in the morning they canceled all those. But then there’s one hotel who had it. We just had to show our Covid card that we got the shot and it was just all kinds of kind of weirdness.

But we’re going up the coast and it was all foggy and kind of icky. You know, it was slick. So we had to drive slow. And and it was cool, though, because you’re kind of in the fog, but you can see the waves and. And it was neat. And we spent the night and then we drove up further and we started to cut across and we decided we’re going to spend the night in the redwoods. And I’ve only seen the redwoods a little bit. But we just decided and we thought this was our idea, that we’re just going to pull over off the side of this road and there’s like a little gift shop and stuff. And we came upon see that tree behind us, that big tree, humongous tree, humongous super old tree. But that was the cool part. The cool part is we ran into this couple and he’s actually a pastor in San Diego and they’re in a little motor home and they’re going up the coast kind of doing what we’re doing. But they said what what they’re doing is trying to discern where God wants them to go. They’re trying to figure out if it’s time to leave their church and we’re just got to want to lead them. So we spent time in front of this massive redwood praying for God’s direction upon their life.

And it’s what Annette would call a God appointment. Right. It’s like me that those are God appointments. And we thought it was our idea to pull over. We thought it was our idea to start the conversation. No, it was a God appointment. Have you ever had a God appointment for God’s just telling you that you need to speak into this person’s life. You need to do life with this person. See, believing can be deceiving. Because you think if I just believe in God and I say the prayer all is good, right? It’s all good. I’m going to heaven. Let’s move on with life. Believing can be really deceiving. But Jesus moves from believing to follow me. Follow me. And I think about that rich young ruler that I talked about who came up to that teacher, how do I how do I have eternal life?

And he didn’t lead them in a prayer, he says, sell everything you own and follow me. Not just believe in me. See, I think a lot of people say, well, I believe in God. But do they really if they don’t follow him? You ever think about that? Do you follow God at work? Do you follow God with Christ morals? Do you follow God when you talk to your kids, say James, one puts a little bit different. He says, do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Don’t just listen to it to save yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in the mirror and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

If you ever done that. Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and then forgot what you look like? Some of us want to forget, I mean, but but I think we do. First twenty five. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom to that, whoever looks intently into the perfect law, that gives what? Freedom, guys, here’s the deal. If you’re worshiping a God that does not give freedom, you’re worshiping the wrong God. Think about that. If you’re worshiping a God that does not give freedom. You’re worshiping the wrong God, whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it. Not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it. They will be less than what they believe. Right. They will be blessed in what they. Experience, they will be blessed in what they do. You ought to be blessed and what you do.

Remember what the word says when you walk out of here, actually do it. OK, let’s get practical on the need. Are you ready? Well, I sit up here and talk about building your faith and getting excited and let’s go let’s do these things. Does our world need your kind of faith? I would hope so. Right. So I want to share the skies, little story and you got to be old to really get this, but hopefully you’ll get up. Does anybody remember Paul Harvey as they remember Paul Harvey? OK. Paul Harvey was this guy on the radio. You would usually listen to Paul Harvey while you’re driving somewhere else. Right. And it was like he would tell a story and then just go, wow. And I think this one came back in the late 60s. Early 70s. Right. And the whole point Paul Harvey’s making, if he was the devil, here’s what he would do…

(Paul Harvey) “If I were the devil, if I were the prince of darkness, I’d want to engulf the whole world in darkness and I’d have a third of its real estate and four fifths of its population, but I wouldn’t be happy until I have seized the ripest apple on the tree there. So I’d set about, however necessary, to take over the United States. I’d subvert the churches first. I’d begin with a campaign of whispers. But the wisdom of the serpent, I would whisper to you, as I whispered, to do as you please, to the young. I would whisper that the Bible is a myth. I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would find that once bad is good and what’s good is square. And the old I would teach to pray after me. Our father. Which art in Washington. And then I’d get organized. I’d educate authors in how to make the law in literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull and uninteresting. I’d written TV with dirtier movies and vice versa.

I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. I’d tranquilized the rest with pills if I were the devil. I don’t have families at war with themselves. Churchill is at war with themselves and nations at war with themselves until each and its turn and was consumed and with promises of higher ratings. I’d have mesmerizing media fanning the flames if I were the devil. I would encourage schools to remind young Applegate’s, but neglect to discipline emotions just like those run wild and killed. Before you knew it, you’d have to have drug sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door. Within a decade, I’d have prisons overflowing. I’d have judges promoting pornography. Soon, I could evict God from the courthouse, then from the schoolhouse, and then from the houses of Congress and in his own churches. I would substitute psychology for religion.

And by science, I would lower priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls and church money. If I were the devil, I’d make the symbol of Easter and egg and the symbol of Christmas a Bible. If I were the devil, I’d take from those who have and give to those who wanted until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. What are you bet. I couldn’t get home states to promote gambling as a way to get rich. I would caution against extremes and hard work and patriotism and moral conduct. I would convince the young that marriage is old fashioned, that swinging is more fun than what you see on TV is the way to be. And I wish I could undress you in public and I could lure you into bed with diseases of which there is no cure. In other words, if I were the devil, I just keep right on doing what he’s doing.”

(Pastor Mike) Wow. So that came out late 60s, early 70s sometime. How accurate was he? Yeah, this that’s pretty accurate. See, here’s what I. I feel the rubber meets the road. God loves you. God loves you so much. The hidi for you, and there’s other people out there that he also loves. He loves him so much, he gave his son for them. My question is, are you willing to go on mission with us? Are you really ready to become a missionary here? In monument, I don’t know what the beeping was, but are you ready to be a missionary in Monument? You think you could do that? You they could could step out on faith and say, I’m going to do my best to be a missionary. In this area. We talked last week about everyone bring one, right? That takes some faith, doesn’t it?

Then I take faith, invite someone to church to to say, hey, what why don’t you just come and check it out? Because we don’t want to just be a place like another church, just a place of ministry. We want to be a base of ministry where you go out into the world to change the world. That’s our desire. We want to reach everyone we possibly can. Now, your goal is are your success is not measured. And whether they show up to church, your success is measured. Did I invite them? Right. And that’s that’s where we need to go. That’s what that’s what we need to do. But I want to do a little incentive with you. Um, I’ve never done this before, but I started brainstorming our elders when we talked about marketing and different things. And we’re going to do some things just to get the name out there.

But right now, if you look around, there’s a whole lot of empty chairs in here, right. Do you like the new chairs? Yeah. Comfy, right. OK. So if you look at all the empty chairs, that’s how many people we can hold. There’s a hundred and eighty three of them. Now, if you saw how many people came last week. Right. We can do this like we could fill this room with people that are actively worshiping, serving, going out and sharing Jesus. We can do this. So here’s what we’re going to do. Are you ready? I started thinking, what could we spend money on? To reach new people. Now, have you ever noticed like before we’ve had mugs or T-shirts we’d give to new people and stuff like that. Yeah, that was OK, because really the only thing we can afford is crap. So so here’s what I’d like to try, something totally different. I want you guys to be river guides. I want you to be a river guide to help people flow into the river.

OK, you make up the river. Every person here is a tributary that makes up the river. And we want to get back to the cause of why we started the church is to reach people who don’t go to church. Right. So here’s what I want to do. Instead of spending money on some of those other things, if you bring somebody to church, I want you to introduce me to them. Right, for after whenever. And I’m going to give you ten dollars. OK, here’s the plan, though, because you’re the guide. I want you to take him out to coffee that week. Talk to him about the river. Encourage him to be a part of the river, or I want you to buy him a gift card. Maybe they can go to Starbucks for your share that says from the river, we care about you. I think that money may be better spent. And tonight, we’re starting it. And I know I already owe one person 30 bucks. So that’s that’s pretty cool. So I’m going to have a lot of cash in my pocket to give you. OK. Now, they’re already common. You don’t get credit for that. OK, so but we’ll we’re going to give it a try and see what happens. Are you with me? OK, everyone. We reach one. And then we try one other thing. I want you to look around and look for somebody that you don’t know that’s not here. I mean, somebody you know, that’s not here.

So I don’t make sense. I look around and think about who’s not here that you know. OK. Does everybody have somebody? Can you think of somebody? Raise your hand. If you can think of somebody who’s not here that, you know, raise your hand. Think about somebody who’s not here that you’ll get. This week, I want you to text them and say you miss them. Right. Because here’s the deal. Just like Paul Harvey, our world gets filled with a whole bunch of stuff. And while we want to do is say there’s something important here that we don’t want you to miss. And that in spirit worship as believers.