Only the God that breathes and gives live, can decide to give life again. Only the God that gave us glory that we have squandered and crushed, can restore that glory again. You must be born again, and His provision for life in Christ is the only way. This message shows us how Lazarus is a "type" of Christ and explains what that means.
No Mean Love
The Sovereignty of God in the Sabotage of Judas
When Jesus Took Up the Towel and Loved us to the Uttermost
Israel and You: A Good Example or a Horrible Warning
For This Purpose He Came: Unveiling God's Glory in His Humiliation
John: Where We've Been and Our Intention Moving Forward
A Perfect Message if you "Wish to see Jesus"
King Jesus: Why the Leaders Missed Him, Why You Must Not
Albert: A Living Picture of Lazarus a Man Once Dead
Lazarus: A Dead Man Who Becomes a Picture of Life
The Pivot Point That Is Personal Belief and The Rightness of Radical Response
What Should and Shouldn't Matter To You
Jesus versus the Ultimate Predator
The Reason for Everything and How We are to Respond to It
The Identity of the Good Shepherd and the Attributes of His Sheep
The Good Shepherd: What He is Doing, Why He is Doing It, and How it's Going to Get Done
A Blind Man You'd Better See Yourself In
Sons, Slaves and Freedom Indeed
You guys have heard me say many times that the reason we love to gather in here is because it allows us to remember the greatness of the God whom we want to serve all week long. What we're doing right now is a corporate celebration, a corporate encouragement, an exhortation, but worship is what we do with our lives all week long.
I would encourage you to not pray about worshipping. I would encourage you to know the way we use our gifts is an appropriate response to what he has done for us. The way we gather in the body and the way we hang with the flock our Shepherd has called us to be a part of is not something I would encourage you to pray about.
Where you do that, pray about that. One of the ways you can pray about things responsibly as you expose yourself to how things are… That's the purpose of Connecting Point next week. Coming out doesn't mean you're joining. It just means you're going to move toward, in obedience, what worshippers move toward.
Using your gifts in serving the community…not even in using your gifts but doing the things you have to do to help others use their gifts…is not something I would encourage you to pray about, but I would encourage you just to do. File that in complement to what Gary just said, and let's not have to keep on reminding ourselves there's a chance for us to continue to serve one another or to belong in the way God says we should belong.
It's a perfect segue to what I want to look at this week. I feel like we've been racing way too quickly through John, so I want to slow down a little bit here. I'm going to take a whole week just to look at a guy named Lazarus. We really have already spent three or four weeks in and around Lazarus, but I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to teach you a little bit about what is called typology.
What typology is, is it's just an illustration. It's a picture. It's a foreshadowing. It's a pencil sketch of that which is ultimately to come. Whenever there is a great work that is commissioned, there is typically a draft that is put out, or there is some precursor to the actual thing as it's created. The actual thing is called the antitype. There are many types in Scripture. For most of them, Christ is the antitype, which means Christ is the fulfillment of what has long been anticipated.
Let me give you an example. We made a movie here called Seasons of Gray, which has not been filed away forever. We're not keeping it from you. We're working with a company right now to allow it to get some broader distribution nationally before it goes to DVD. That whole thing continues to be exciting. When you think of Joseph, keep praying about that. That should happen here. It takes a long time to get those processes all set up and have the right partnership.
Joseph is a type of Christ. See if this story sounds familiar. A beloved son who is robed in glory is hated by his brothers who betray him and leave him for dead, thinking they had done away with this one that is a nuisance to them, only to find out he has been preserved by God in a unique way and elevated to a place of honor and privilege where he is now in a position where he can offer to them the means of life they so desperately need.
When they go to him and expect to be crushed and judged because of their rejection of him, they find he is gracious and gentle, willing to forgive them, saying even what they intended for evil is what God, in his sovereignty, has redeemed for good. They fall before him, and they recognize him. They acknowledge him for who he is, a source of blessing from God, and they are given life. Does that story sound familiar? That's called a type.
How about David? A king after God's own heart who, because there is rebellion in the land, sees trouble has befallen the city of which he is the king, ultimately. Then, because he doesn't want to see death and harm befall the people, he is willing to leave his rightful place of reign, go outside the camp, and suffer until such a time as God restores him to his rightful throne. There's a reason Jesus suffered outside the gates of Jerusalem. David is a type of Christ.
Samson. Out of bitter comes something sweet. One who is a deliverer of his people in the midst of his enemies. At a time of great suffering, he takes his dependence on the Father and, when he is being mocked by his enemies, he puts his arms on the pillars. He prays, "God, out of this bitter moment, would you bring deliverance for your people?" Something sweet. And he dies. Death befalls him, but life comes to the nation. That's a type.
When you read the Bible, those are actual stories. Those aren't myths and prefigurements in the sense they didn't really happen. Those are actual historical events, but what God is showing you is there is something coming that is going to be more glorious than Joseph, more wonderful than David, a greater deliverer than Samson. I could go on and on.
Let me explain to you what Lazarus is. Lazarus the name means God has helped. That's what his name means. When we sing, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," there's a line in there that if you grew up in a church with traditional hymnology… It says something in there along the lines of "I will lift up my Ebenezer." You kind of go, "What in the world is an Ebenezer? I'm not sure I want to lift it up if I have one."
Basically, what it means is that same root there (Eleazar or Lazarus have the same root) means my rock of assistance or blessing, the fact that the Lord has helped me. I will lift up my confidence that God is my Rock, and he will exalt me and lift me up. That's what that song means. I will lift up my confidence that God is my help.
Lazarus is not a type of Christ. You might think he is, because he was brought forth from the grave. No. Lazarus, Todd Wagner is the antitype of. Lazarus, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are the antitype of. I'm going to teach you that this morning. You want to learn some theology? All right. Well, you're going to, so I hope you do. Here we go. Numbers two through six, that I'm going to give you, may not be true of everybody, but number one is true of everybody.
1 . The first way we are all like Lazarus is that we are dead. Look. Let's take a look. In John, chapter 11, verse 14, it says, "So Jesus then said to them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead…'" which means Lazarus can't really help himself. It's interesting. When you talk to people, when you go out and you engage folks and you start to talk to them about spiritual things, you might want to ask them this simple question: "Are you at the point in your spiritual life where if you died today, you know you'd go to heaven?"
Most folks will go, "Well, I hope so." They'll say something along those lines. They want to be humble. They don't want to come right out and go, "Well, yeah!" because that sounds really arrogant. So, they'll say, "Well, I don't know. I hope so. No one's perfect." I like, then, to follow that up with this question… Many people call these the diagnostic questions. The reason they're diagnostic questions is it helps you understand how grounded they are in theological biblical truth.
If somebody says, "I don't know. I kind of hope so." I say, "Well, good. Based on a scale of one to ten, how confident are you that when you die you might go to heaven?" If they say anything less than a ten, they are not well-founded in a biblical understanding of salvation and what the merit of it is. I've had this conversation hundreds of times with people.
What I always like to do is I then say, "Well, listen to me. I don't think there's going to be a quiz when you get to heaven, but if God then said to you… If you think you're a seven or you think you're a six or an eight, when you stand before the Lord why do you think he's going to let you in?" People will go, "I don't know. That's a big question. I'm not really sure," but they'll always revert back to something that has to do with their own behavior. Their own effort. Their own works. Their own contribution to this thing they believe they must need, which is righteousness.
What I love to do is go, "Hey, can I tell you how I would answer those two questions?" People go, "Sure." I always say, "I am absolutely certain that when I die, I will be reconciled fully to God. I believe I'm reconciled to God right now. There's no probationary period for me. I'll even say on a scale of one to ten, I'm a ten. I know that sounds arrogant to you. You were just a six or a seven, which sounds very humble, but can I suggest to you that your answer was more arrogant than mine?
The reason I say that is because I am not basing my confidence in anything I have done except take the provision of the one who has determined what was required in order to be reconciled to him. What I mean by that is this. I absolutely believe the Scriptures mean what they say when it says, 'For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.'
All I have done is acknowledge what God said is already true of me and received the gift he says I need in order to be reconciled to him. 'God demonstrated his love for me in that while I was dead in my trespasses and sins, Christ died for me.' 'For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.'"
I tell them, "Listen. My confidence is in what Christ has done for me." See? This is what the world religions all teach. World religions are all about what man does. Christianity is about what God has done. We are dead in our trespasses and sins. I don't know if you've noticed this, but dead men can't do much to help themselves.
People who believe you can earn God's favor and people who believe they can earn the righteousness God requires of us are people who must believe Lazarus, if he wanted to, could say, "I'm sick of these graveclothes. I don't like being dead any longer," and could command his soul back from the netherworld, put it in his body, revive that body, kick the stone back, walk back out, and decide, "I'm going to live a little longer, thank you very much."
Nobody thinks Lazarus could have done that. Only the God who breathes and gives life can decide to give life again. Only the God who gave us glory, that we have squandered and crushed, can restore that glory to us. See also Nicodemus with Jesus. "What do I have to do to be right with God?" Jesus' response: "You must be made completely new. You must be born again." "Well, how in the world am I, a grown man, going to be back inside my mama's womb and come back out?"
He said, "Really? You really think that's what I meant?" Because people who aren't spiritually appraising, people who don't think in a manner consistent with Scripture, they can't understand the metaphor, the illustration, God gives them. Some of you, when I described Joseph and Samson and David, you're sitting there, and you're just going, "Well, of course! What beauty is illustrated in those men."
By the way, I think that's a great game to play with your kids when you're driving along. Do you want to teach Bible and make the Bible come alive? You can find an illustration for truth in almost everything. Be driving down the road, and you're looking for a game to play on some summer trip. How about this?
"All right. Here's the deal. We'll do this for 10 minutes." In my car there are eight of us traveling along, and so it takes us a little longer. "Everybody has to look around and find something they can use as an illustration for the goodness and kindness of God," because if you don't say that, what they'll do is: "I'll give you an illustration for sin. This person sitting next to me for the last 45 minutes is driving me crazy, and they need judgment and death." You want to have them give an illustration about the goodness and grace of God. You can find it all kinds of ways, as simple as this to get them started.
You can say, "Hey. The Bible says there's a way that seems right to men. In the end it's the way of death. The Bible says to lean not on our own understanding, but in all our ways acknowledge him and he'll make our paths straight, just like the Interstate Highway System is laid out, that this is the way we should travel from point A to point B. We might think it's more fun to drive on that side of the road, but if we choose to drive over there because we like to drive on the left side and not the right side, it might seem right to us, but there will be great consequence.
Even so, God has ordained that certain things be done the way he, in his perfect goodness, has revealed to us. We need to make sure we are careful and attentive to the right way that God wants us to move through, so death, suffering, and horror do not befall us." Simple. Just have fun as you travel along. When you hear certain things, you go, "That is true." Teach kids to illustrate truth. Practice illustrating truth. Lazarus is dead, and dead men cannot do much for themselves.
Let me show you a few things in Scripture that will drive this point home for you. In Romans, chapter 5, starting in verse 12, it says, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…" This is what is called… Here's some theology for you.
People who discuss Romans 5 have a number of different ways of understanding Adam's role in our all suffering. One is called the federal or representative view, which is the idea that Adam was just a representative, the federal head. What he did is symbolic of what all men do. The other view, the one I would subscribe to…
By the way, that's certainly true, what I just said. He is representative of us. All of us have chosen to follow him, but the reason we've all followed him is because of what's called the natural or seminal headship view. In other words, all men at that time were contained in Adam. When Adam left God, there was judgment. Death befell him, just like God said it would. There was a physical spiritual reality. There was corruption.
This, by the way, is why the Christian worldview is so coherent, and you can be so bold in your proclamation of it. We have an explanation for why there is evil, why guys show up in movie theaters in Aurora, Colorado, and do the things they do: because they do not know God and love what is good. As a result of us leaving God and not loving as God has loved and walking with the Lord, corruption, death, brokenness, and despair have entered into this world in a way God did not intend.
The seed has been tainted. Creation fell with Adam. The glory of Paradise has been corrupted. That's why it says, even in Romans 8, that the whole world, physical creation, groans for redemption. There are earthquakes. There are hurricanes. There are monsoons. There are droughts. It's not as God intended. There's corruption in Adam's seed. In the natural, seminal headship of Adam, all corruption has come. That's all it's really saying there in Romans 5:12. Watch this.
He goes on to say, "…so death spread to all men, because all sinned—for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law." That's kind of a wordy little one verse. It basically means, "Look. The law wasn't given until hundreds of years later, yet there was still death in the human race because men continued their wickedness." They continued to suffer apart from God. What God was going to do is now create other laws.
The only law that was really given prior to the Mosaic covenant was the Noahic covenant, when he said, "Hey, listen. If someone takes a life, you should require their life of them." God still called men to walk with him and to offer sacrifices to him. See also Cain and Abel, and Cain's refusal to do that. Prior to that, there was the rejection of God being good. Men continued to reject that God was good, but there was no specific revealed law and standard that God had given through Moses. Yet men still died. That's all that verse is saying.
God decided to reveal what righteousness looked like so all men could see, "I'm not really righteousness." That's really what Galatians 3 says. Watch this. This is Galatians 3, verse 24. It says, "Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ…" What do you mean by that? The law sets the standard. The law shows you, "This is what's required." There is not a single one of us in this room who thinks we have always done right. There are things we should have done we didn't do. There are things we shouldn't have done that we have done.
We know when Jesus was here, he even ratcheted it up a little bit further. "You've heard it said you should not murder, but I say to you, if you look at your brother with enmity in your heart, if you look at him, and you say, 'You are a fool,' you have committed murder. You've heard Moses say you shouldn't commit adultery, but I'm telling you if you try and covet or you look at a woman with lust in your heart, you've committed adultery."
We're all out. We all know we're not the people we should be, if we are truly righteous and good people. Theologically, there's this thing called total depravity. Total depravity just means this… It doesn't mean everything you do is bad. It means your nature is flawed. It is not as it should be. It is not holy and right. The reason it's not holy and right is because we no longer live in relationship with and dependence upon God, apart from faith, apart from mercy, apart from grace that enables us. All of us are dead in our trespasses and sins.
Total depravity means man is completely unable to change his state. There is nothing he can do to ever rebuild righteousness in a way that God would go, "You know what? You're better than I thought. You're not dead in your trespasses and sins. You're all right. You're all right. Come here. Come on in. You're an eight in a world of threes. Someone has to pass, so you win." No.
Total depravity suggests that when God says he is holy and when God says he will not compromise his nature by being one with that which is not like him, he meant it. You are dead. Lazarus is like all of us, but you want to lock in on these next five. You want to make sure you are one like Lazarus in these other five things I'm giving you, because this is the difference between staying in that graveyard of death and sin and being called out to life.
I do this because I want to tell you, we are zealous here. What I've just basically said to you, if you don't know Christ, is you are dead in your trespasses and sins. You are children of wrath. You are separate from God without hope in this world. This life you're in, which has a lot of grace in it because God is allowing you to still hear of his love and still see some redemption in the midst of the fall, so you, in his patience, might return to him in his kindness as he offers you a chance to reconcile to him, but let me tell you this. If you don't listen to his provision, you will stay dead.
By that I mean without life and apart from God, but there is still going to be a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous. You will live forever in your deadness. There will be no hint of the glory of God around you. I will say this to you again. If you don't know Christ, this is your heaven. If you have not trusted in him, pleaded with him, and asked him to reconcile you to him, by grace through faith through the provision of his Son, this is your heaven. This is as good as it's going to get. All the betrayal. All the horror. All the fear. All the terror. All the suffering. All the loneliness. All the rejection. All the self-hate and insecurity. This is your heaven.
If you know Christ, this is your hell. It'll never get worse than this. This is your war, and war is hell. He expects you to wage faithfully as his warrior in it, but he says, "Peace is coming, and there will be no more war one day." Now these other five, lock in. Lazarus is a type of the believer, not just a type of all men.What do I mean by that? Along with the fact that we are all dead is…
2 . Jesus, in his sovereignty and his kindness, is the one who calls forth Lazarus to life. Let me say that again. Lazarus had no assist here. Lazarus was dead. He was completely unable to help himself, but Lazarus heard the voice of a sovereign gracious one who offered, by the power of his word and the fullness of his nature, to bring him out of death into life.
Can I tell you how you're going to be, this morning, delivered from death (saved)? It's not going to be about anything you do. It's not going to be about one of the 300 who will show up. It's not going to be by giving generously. Those are all things we do as an expression of our love. I'll get to that and show you Lazarus is the picture of that, but you respond to the call of the sovereign and good one. Let me show you this. A couple of verses.
Let's start in Ephesians, chapter 1, verses 3-6. It says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us…" You see, there were a lot of dead people, but he said, "Lazarus, come forth." There was a time in my life, in a way I can't explain… I don't know why he did it, but he said, "Todd. Todd, come here," and I came. Let me say this. The call of redemption, grace, and mercy is going out all over the world.
Genesis 19 talks about that there is enough of the proclamation of God's beauty, design, and glory that all men everywhere see through creation. All men everywhere have in their conscience a standard of law and rightness, and if they suppress that truth in unrighteousness, they will be judged by their own conscience. The Scripture says there has to be… Any man who would respond to any of those sources of revelation, God would gladly bring back into relationship with him through specific provision in the special and full revelation, which is Jesus Christ.
Let me say this. God must call them out, just like he called me out. I heard the gospel story. I, by the grace of God, was allowed to see the corruption that was in my conscience, the beauty that existed in his intelligent design, which has certainly been flawed through the sin of those who are stewards over it, but it's still there. I see it. I see the remnant, and it makes me long for the true and the beautiful. Verse 4 says:
"…He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved."
Can I tell you why most of us don't worship very well? Because we think God is lucky that we've elected him King. You don't elect a king. A king is a king by right. Jesus says, "I am the good and divine King. I am choosing to allow you to know me and be reconciled to me, though you should be consumed in your rebellion." Watch this. Look at Ephesians 2. See if you can catch a theme here from point one, but it travels to point two. Ephesians, chapter 2:
"And you were dead in your trespasses and sins…" Completely unable to change your condition. "…in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…"
That sounds like Lazarus. "Bro, how did you get at this table?" "Well, I was dead, because I'm a son of Adam. The one who was here, who has told you he is God, who has power over life and death, who can reconcile man to God, who can bring back life where there is judgment? He did it." That's what Lazarus said.
When people look at you… What Gary said to set up today is just beautiful. Listen. I'm not bringing any résumé to God, except one thing: "By grace you've let me sing." The righteous one who loved me enough to die for me, who in the bitterness of his death as the enemies of this world mocked him thinking they had defeated him, something sweet came: provision for somebody like me. I don't know why, but he said, "Todd, come forth."
Can I tell you? You're out there going, "Well, why hasn't God told me that?" Look. Listen to me. It's not going to be like Romper Room. Do you remember Romper Room? This is seriously dating me. Romper Room was an old show. At the end of the show, the gal who led it would always look through her magic mirror, which was a mirror with nothing in it. She would look through the TV set, and she would say goodbye to a bunch of us who were sitting there watching it.
She'd say, "Goodbye, Timmy. Goodbye, Lucy. Love you, Laura. I want to play with you tomorrow, Mike." I mean, I sat there in front of that stupid TV set every day waiting for "Todd." Waiting for it. I hated my name. She never saw me. Never. Never. If you could find an old episode where she says Todd, I'll watch it with you tonight. I really will. I'll go, "Thank you. You love me."
Here's what I'm telling you. He's looking at you right now, and he's calling you out by name. He's saying, "Come forth, Lucina." They never said, "Lucina," either. Don't you hate names like that? Call me Mark, Bob, Bill. Todd. I'm never going to find a license plate. Am I angry? Yeah. I'm angry. I'm angry.
Listen. He's calling you, and he wants you to come. I know a lot of people hear this stuff, like predestination, election, chosen, but those aren't words men made up. Those are words God revealed to us, because he wants you to know you had nothing to do with your salvation except that you sinned, and you acknowledged it. You say, "And I ran to you."
Are you sick of being dead? Are sick of the stink that's in your life, and the decay, the grieving, and the weeping in your family? Are you disgusted at the lack of hope, death, and the darkness that is all around you? Then he's saying, "Come. Come." All you have to do is know you're dead. If you think you have a little heartbeat, maybe you don't need a Messiah outside your tomb calling you to come, but I'm telling you you're dead. It's a slow death, but it's death.
Look. At the very end of the Bible… I want to throw this out there just in case anybody would say, "Well, why didn't he call me? Why didn't he want me to come?" I want to read you the very end of your Bible. Okay? Revelation 22. This is what it says at the end of your Bible. Verses 12-17. Jesus says:
"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city."
You might go, "Well, it sounds like we're supposed to do something. We're supposed to wash our clothes." Read the book in context. Wash your clothes in the blood of the Lamb. By faith, come to his provision. "Outside [of the city of God] are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star." David is a type of me.
The Spirit and the bride say, "Come forth, Lazarus. Come to me. Listen to my Word." "And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost." Come. Here's what I want to tell you. He's calling you. You just have to come out in faith. You have to believe the power of his Word, abide with it, and start to walk with him. That is what believers do. How about this? Not only are we dead, not only are we called out by his kindness, authority, and by the power of his word…
3 . You give up your graveclothes. This is John, chapter 11, verse 44. "The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, 'Unbind him, and let him go.'" That man is no longer to walk as a man who is dead. He is to be wrapped in clothes of life, and there is a change.
Let me see if I can't read you some Scripture. I want to say this to you this morning… People ask me sometimes, they go, "Todd, why don't you close the deal sometimes on Sunday mornings? Why don't you have an altar call and let people come up?" You don't need to come up here. You need to come to Christ by faith.
I have no problem with your coming up here, but I want to tell you there are a lot of folks who have given emotional short responses, where they've been told to come up, and these next four things I'm about to give you have never happened in their life. It concerns me that they think because they did something at one time, they have been reunited to God.
As somebody who loves you, I want to show you that you need to be all of Lazarus, and not just somebody who says, "Yeah. I heard his voice," but you still walk around in graveclothes. Your life is still filled with darkness, death, and hopelessness, and you don't walk with that Savior. Watch this. This is Paul in Colossians, chapter 3, verses 5-10.
"Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience…" Those are the things, when you wrap yourself in those things, when that's the way you dress as a matter of practice, that's what dead men do.
"…and in them you also once walked…" Because you were dead. "…when you were living in [those graveclothes] . But now you also, put [those graveclothes] all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth." Hey, look. Not perfectly, but you're not wrapped in those things. "Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have…" What? "…put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him…"
Verses 9-11 of 1 Corinthians 6, say, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous…" Those who are wrapped in the clothes of dead rebels of God. "…will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators…" Can I say this to young gals here? There are guys who are here who tell you they love Jesus who are walking around with you, who are sleeping with you. Those guys don't love Jesus. Don't you be fooled that because they come here on Tuesday nights, they love Jesus. They love them.
Look. I'm not talking about the fact that all of us as believers make mistakes. We all do. That mistake might even be sex. It might be adultery, spouse. But if I go, "Hey, that's just the way it is, man. That's the way it's going to roll. I'm just a man. That's the way it goes." I'm not just a man. I am redeemed, and I have been given a different love that is not subject anymore to my flesh. I don't wear that stuff.
Every now and then, I might have that death that is in my flesh still have its way for a moment, but when it does, I acknowledge it for what it is. I repent. I make amends. I don't clothe myself in it, and I don't wake up every morning and put it on. I'm not a porn addict. I'm not somebody who's a slave to my lust. Do I, at times, lust? You bet I do. When I do, I hate it. Not because I'm caught.
I can tell you this. I saw more porn and filth from the time I was in second grade through eighth grade than any man should see in his lifetime. Can I tell you something else? Because I met Christ in high school and began to walk with him, I have never seen anything on a computer or an iPhone that I have sought out to lust at and meditate on, because there is something new happening in me.
But can I tell you something? I want to all the time, because this body of death has not been transformed yet, completely. There is a sanctification process that is going on that is so powerful that this kid who saw more crap than you can imagine has not gone back to that cistern and drank there, because I found a better, fresher well. But I want to tell you something. I still sometimes long for that metal-tasting crap in a way I don't understand.
I can't wait for God to deliver me from this body of death. Meanwhile, I thank him that he has given me dominion over it by the power of his Spirit which mightily dwells in me. We have to quit acting like it doesn't matter what we do because we've been saved. It matters greatly, because what you do, how you dress, what you put on, says a lot about who your master is. Watch this.
It says folks who do these things are not going to inherit the kingdom of God. "Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you…" You were dead men.
"…but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." Lazarus was dead. Lazarus was called forth by kindness and the authority of the spoken word of the living God, and Lazarus gave up his graveclothes. He put on the life of Christ.
4 . He ate at a new table. Lazarus ate at a different table. He fellowshipped with Jesus. Right? That's what we looked at the last time we were together in John 12. He reclined with Christ. This is Revelation 3:20. It says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me."
Are you fellowshipping with Jesus? Is it a task for you to want to be with Christ? Doesn't it seem odd to you? If you're Lazarus, and Jesus is in Bethany. You hear he's throwing dinner, and you go, "I'm going to stay home and watch the Olympics." No. I think I would want to run to be there. If there was any way I could fellowship with Christ and sit with him, I think I'd cancel whatever I had planned and be with him.
God is no longer a task. He is no longer something to be avoided. He is your delight. You love him. You boldly come before that throne of grace to receive grace to help in a time of need. You no longer shrink back at the idea of his coming. You run to him. There's new fellowship. There's a new clarity in who the character and nature of God is.
You know in his presence is fullness of joy. You know at his right hand are pleasures forever. You know no good thing does he withhold from those who love him. You can't wait to talk about him, to hear about him, to sing songs about him, to celebrate who he is, to learn more of your Father. He's no longer God to be feared. He is Papa. Abba. Father. He is mine. He saved me.
Does it surprise you that Jesus was there in Bethany at a dinner party, and Lazarus and Simon the Leper were there with him? You need to know something. You are a leper. You are a walking dead man. You are ostracized from God and from the civility of life. You are dead in your trespasses, and he says, "Simon, be healed. Lazarus, come forth." It would be your delight, not just to hang out with him when it's convenient in Bethany, but probably to follow him everywhere unless he told you to stay somewhere else and speak of him. What table are you eating at?
Look at this. John 14:22-24. Watch this. People who don't know God, people who aren't like Lazarus in all the ways we should be, they leave the table of Christ. They're disgusted with Jesus. They're not getting from Jesus what they want, so they go, "You know what? I'm here because of what I think you can give me, not because of who you are." That's Judas.
"Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, 'Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?' Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me.'"
What he says here, to the response of Judas, not Iscariot… Judas Iscariot had just left in a moment when he realized Christ was going to go through with this crazy idea to take something bitter and make it sweet. Judas wanted a king who looked his way, who brought authority and power right now in the way Judas wanted it. Jesus says, "No, no, no, no. Abide with me. Love me. Love my Word. That's how you want to be in my home." People who don't like his Word, they run from it. They don't want to read it. It's a task. That should concern you.
If you're like Lazarus, you're not just dead, called out by the grace and kind attention of God. You don't just get rid of those old graveclothes and walk in newness of life by the power of his Spirit which mightily dwells in you. You don't just have a new fellowship and a new love and a new understanding of God. It's a joy to you to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and to wake up every morning and say, "A new day has begun. I delight in him. I will sing of your love again."
5 . You are his witness. How are you doing, church? This is John 12, verse 9. It says, "The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there…" Meaning Jesus. "…and they came, not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead." Because Lazarus was a walking, talking testimony to him.
Folks, this ought to be you and me. People ought to look at us, and there ought to be a buzz around you. There is something new that has come. There is a miracle. What is the miracle of our lives? I will tell you this. Here is the miracle. The miracle people should see in you and me… Because whenever you watch a great work of God done, there's always a miracle.
With Moses, there was a series of miracles. With Elijah and the prophets, a series of miracles. With Jesus, the Son of God on earth, a series of miracles. With the apostles and the beginning of the church, a series of miracles. There is a miracle today. It's not the hyped-up, overblown charlatan's miracles of the health, wealth, and prosperity movement, and the Benny Hinn nonsense.
It's an ongoing miracle in the New Testament that God says, "They are going to know you're mine by the way that you now no longer walk as men who don't know me walk, but you're going to learn to love, be subject to one another, and clothe yourself in humility." This is John 13:34-35. He says, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know…" By this miracle of transformation. "…that you are My disciples…" People ought to want to be around you.
Remember? Folks wanted to be around Christ. Lepers. Prostitutes. I hear it here all the time. Read your Watermark News this week. There's a misprint in there. It says 2010. It was actually 2003, when Albert showed up. He saw a bunch of folks out in the parking lot praying. It was because there was nothing here but the land we had just purchased. We were on our knees praying God would use this little sliver of land in a way that would be a blessing to a lot of other folks to come.
Here came this guy, this Cambodian Buddhist, stumbling onto our spot, our place. This guy who God, in his prevenient grace, had saved, and he was loved. He's been here ever since. People are around Albert now all the time, not because he has moved to some other nirvanic state through a series of good works, but because of the love that is in that man, who has seen horror and suffered torture and beatings under the Khmer Rouge regime.
There's love there. So great a love that he would go back to Cambodia to those very soldiers who tortured him and beat him and proclaim to them the love of Christ. You don't need to go read Louis Zamperini's story, Unbroken. You just read Albert's. You get to know this saint of God who lives right here. He is a miracle, and so should you be. People ought to want to be around you.
Watch what it says right here in 1 Peter 2:12. It says, "Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers…" Because your people have conviction. People who know truth. It says, "…they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation."
It's about to be football season. I'll pull out a football illustration. You want to know a young man who's over there at SMU who grew up here at Watermark who I've watched be faithful to his friends for a long time? My buddy Blake McJunkin. Blake is no wimp. Blake has now grown from this little boy I could wrestle and have fun with in a pool, dunking, to now being 300 pounds and on the watch list for the Rimington Trophy, which is the Heisman Trophy of interior linemen in the NFL.
Of every athlete, every Division 1 athlete in every sport in the NCAA last year, they named Blake McJunkin an example of good sportsmanship, that he clothes himself differently. There has been a series of things about Blake's career which brought that, but here's one of them that happened last year in the SMU-Aggie game.
Early in the first quarter, Kyle Padron had just thrown his second interception. The star defensive back for the Aggies, one of the captains on the defensive side, made that interception. As Blake and another one of the linemen went to make the tackle, the kid's helmet went flying off. Blake realized when he went down that more people were probably coming, so he instinctively went down and just covered his head.
"A tackle has been made. I want to make sure this kid doesn't get hurt. We'll be back out here in a little bit. I'll try and hurt him on a clean block down field." He covered his head, and then got up and ran off to the sideline. Never said a word, but a bunch of Aggies noticed. They go, "Who was that kid?" Other people started talking about who that kid was. Then, that kid had a chance to share why he operates like that.
You may not play Division 1 football. You don't have to. You just have to live your life in such a way that people go, "Why did you just cuddle the head of your enemy? Why did you just forgive that person who keeps hurting you? Why do you speak kindly? Why, when you are reviled, do you not revile in return? Why, when you suffer, do you not utter threats? Why do you go back to Cambodia and offer forgiveness to those who beat you, murdered your family, hated you, and starved you?"
The answer is, "Because somebody who I serve has done far greater for me. His name is Jesus, and he loves you. I, in all my brokenness, am a pencil sketch of him." You should not be just a type of Lazarus. As you're called forth, you begin to put on new clothes, are sanctified, and conformed to the image of his Son. Guess what happens?
People look at you and go, "Who are you?" You should say, not as Jesus says, "I am very God of very God," but you should say, "I am a servant of the one who is very God of very God. If anybody regards me, let it be as a servant of Christ and a steward of the mysteries of God, that you might know my Father who loves me."
How are you doing, church? Are you sanctifying Christ as Lord in your hearts? Then, are you always prepared to make a defense when anyone asks you to give an account for the hope that is within you? Do they see such a transformation? "Why do you love that way? Why do you treat your enemies that way? This wasn't a tackle, a pounding of your chest, and walking off the field. This was a cradling of the enemy's head. No one does that." "Yes, they do. His name is Jesus, and I know him."
6 . You suffer. I was getting ready to dive ahead to this little section in John. This is what made me stop and want to go back to this. John 12:10-11: "But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also…" Really? "…because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus." Gang, can I say this to you? Brace yourself. Lazarus is a type of all of us. You will suffer. Hatred for Christ leads to hatred for Christ's followers. There are so many verses I could share this with you. John 15:18-20 says:
"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also."
"They don't keep my word, so they're not going to keep your word." When you stand for life, when you stand for a biblical definition of human relationship, when you stand for the liberty God, in his sovereignty, intended for all men to have, it's going to hate you. If you shrink back and go, "Oh! It's time for me to stop being who God wants me to be, even though he pulled me out of leprosy and death. I don't want to suffer," then I would tell you, you ought to really check your understanding of who your King is.
I've said it here before. We're living in a day where increasingly, not only can you not speak truth, but when you do speak truth, you're going to suffer for it. Let me tell you. I shot out a little Twitter deal this week. I'll walk you through a little bit of the dialogue I had with some buddies who were out there.
I said, "All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." Is for Lazarus to shut up. That's paraphrasing Edmund Burke, one of the abolitionists who was basically alongside William Wilberforce. "All is takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." Then, a young guy shot back to me and said, "This is reason number…" and I don't know how big the number is. He decided and just went crazy up on his numeric keyboard. "…that your denomination is growing irrelevant by the second."
I put a link to somebody on the Baptist Press who basically made a comment about, "Hey, gang, it's time for all of us to get in the game, even if it means you're going to be ostracized and criticized for it," so he just assumed I was a Baptist. I responded simply by saying, "Hey, Bart. It's not my denomination, but what part of the article I sent missed or miffed you?"
He wrote back, "Your love for spurious things, secondary issues, is getting in the way. It has caused death for them as a body, asking non-Christians to act like Christians has proven suicide." I responded, "I couldn't agree more, but I have no idea how that statement as anything to do with the article that was sent out. The article didn't ask for people who don't know God to act like they know God."
Then, I said, "Bro, I don't see truth as a secondary issue, nor is how we discuss it and disagree with each other secondary." Civil discourse helps us all. I didn't call anybody a nasty name. I just said it's time for us to stand up and keep making that beautiful proposal about the life God intends. When I tell people what God intends is for you to live a life in purity, sanctity, generosity, grace, and not be the sum of your sexual desires or the sum of your anger, people go, "Hey, don't you tell me how to live."
I go, "Look. I'm not telling you how to live, in the sense that I'm going to be the person who gets to make the rules. I'm telling you God has fixed certain lanes we should walk in. If we walk outside of those lanes, there's going to be a consequence to that. The God who loves you doesn't want you to experience those. I'm telling you the truth. I'll do it gently and with respect, but I want to make sure you know the truth."
I put this out a little bit later. Jesus says this: "…and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." But today says that to say the truth is an expression of hatred. Truth says this to you and me: "Speak my words with kindness and love." Can I offer this to you? When you do, you're probably going to be hated, because when God himself came here and he spoke words of redemption, kindness, and love, people who wanted to do what they wanted to do didn't like him very much, and they nailed him to a tree.
I don't know if you're going to get crucified or not, but probably in the public you will. Follow me around, and I'll tell you, "It's okay." "…be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." Learn to do it winsomely. Learn to do it wisely but be his witnesses and get ready to suffer. "When you suffer for the sake of Christ, count it as a blessing," Jesus said.
Can I say something to you, Lazarus? I know you're dead. Have you heard his Word, and have you come? Have you left behind those graveclothes, and are you putting on something new because you fellowship with the one who tells you every day how to dress? Are you a witness for him everywhere you go, a source of curiosity and amazement to the God who has remade you? Are you going to get out when it gets tough? Because if you are, you're not the type. You're not the type. You serve a hero King who suffered for the flock, and he expects you to do the same, with gentleness, reverence, and pregnant hope until that glorious day. Amen?
Father, I pray if there is one here who is dead in their trespasses and sins, they would come. They'd walk up here today, and they'd tell me, "I want to know. How do you have a relationship with Jesus?" Or they'd take that little perforated section. They'd check that box. They would say, "I want to come to Jesus. I want to know him. I want to walk with him," and we could meet with them individually and help them have a clear biblical understanding of salvation. I pray they would come.
Father, those of us who have come, I pray we would come out. By the power of your Word, we would wrap ourselves in light. We would be indwelt by your Spirit in such a way that it would inform everything we do, and we would bear fruit in keeping with repentance. It would be a source, Father, as we fellowship with you, of light to others who would demand to know that which informs all we do.
As we suffer at the hands of those who do not like light, I pray we'd do it with kindness and love to the glory of the Father and to the salvation of all those who still need to see the kindness of who you are. Would you let us serve you and worship you this week? In Christ's name, amen.