The Real Battle

A Biblical Response To Gay Marriage
1 Corinthians 6.13
Matthew Raley (4- 22-12)

We, the followers of Christ, are not currently in a battle over the deep structure of America law and culture.  Most Americans are in that battle, but we are not. Our battle is another in the war God has waged to redeem human beings ever since the Fall.  We are in a battle over what it means to be human.

For the better part of two centuries, the Enlightenment view of human nature has been dominant in Western intellectual circles, and in the twentieth century that view became dominant in the masses. The Enlightenment view is that human nature is the property of human beings. To be human is to own yourself.  The biblical view, on the other hand, is that human nature is the property of God. To be human is to be His.

In today’s message we will find that the current battle over gay marriage is just another front-line in this larger landscape.  If we pour our forces into this small sector of the fight, we will lose the battle.

Published in: on April 28, 2012 at 4:28 am  Leave a Comment  

What Is Marriage in the Bible?

A Biblical Response to Gay Marriage
Various texts
Matthew Raley, (4-15-12)

We confront the reality that we are living in a culture that no longer holds the biblical concept of marriage. In today’s sermon we will be asking what are our duties as Christians in this new reality?

This question, we will find, is not, “How shall we teach our society to live according to God’s law?” Nor is the question, “How can we show our society God’s truth in terms it will recognize, like social science?” We are not asking about persuading outsiders at all. We are asking how we, those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, should live now. This is an issue of how to be a strong counterculture.

This means that for us the only issue is how God defines marriage. His word must set church policy and our duties as Christians.

Published in: on April 28, 2012 at 4:26 am  Leave a Comment  

The Lord Vanishes

Resurrection Sunday
Luke 24: 13-35
Matthew Raley (4-8-12)

The Jesus of the Gospels has many strange qualities.  For instance, he finds ways to delay performing miracles.  Sometimes he maginfies the impossiblity of a situation.  The disciples tell him the five thousand people in his wildereness audience are hungry.  He says, “You feed them.”

At other times he seems to say “no” to a request.  A Gentile woman asks him to cast a demon out of her daughter.  His reply seems devastating.  “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”  On still another occasion he simply sleeps, as he did in a fierce storm while the disciples’ boat was sinking.  Jesus is kind but not always sympathetic. He requires a great deal from needy people.  He requires them to put their needs second.

Today we celebrate Jesus’s resurrection from the dead.  The significance of this event is incalculable.  His resurrection means that by placing your faith in him you can live eternally. It means his life can empower you now.  Most tangibly it means you can meet him and begin a relationship with him today.  What would it be like to meet Jesus?  How would he treat you?  How would he respond to your needs?

Today we will hear the story of two men who met Jesus after his resurrection and see how he interacted with them.

Published in: on April 28, 2012 at 4:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Completing the Goal

The Victory of Jesus Christ
Ephesians 4:13-14
Matthew Raley (4-1-12)

In today’s sermon we will be discussing one of the key themes in Ephesians:  inheritance .  The Father has adopted us into his household, and we have the hope of an inheritance in Christ.  This hope is the focus of attention in Chapter 4, where we see the body of Christ working toward a goal.

The grace-story, or doctrine of the gospel, is about Christ’s victory over sin and death.  Christ gives this story to the Church through the apostles and prophets, distributes it through the evangelists, pastors, and teachers, and makes it the focus of “the unity of the faith.”  The story delivers “the knowledge of the Son of God,” a knowledge that is practical not theoretical.  This story both informs us about and prepares us for our inheritance.

Published in: on April 6, 2012 at 6:03 am  Leave a Comment  

The Captives’ Goal

The Victory of Jesus Christ
Ephesians 4:11-13
Matthew Raley (3-25-12)

When Paul speaks of grace, he is not describing an idea, or a divine motivation, but a story.  He calls it “the grace”.  The whole history of what the Father has done to save human beings from sin is grace.  This story is what forms the unity of believers in Christ.  Believers all share the story, and their individual relationships with Christ bond them with each other.

If believers get the grace-story right, they construct solid unity.  If they get the grace-story wrong, they threaten that unity.  Another word that describes the grace-story is doctrine. In today’s message we will be asking the question, “How does God’s grace come to each one of us?”

Published in: on April 6, 2012 at 5:53 am  Leave a Comment