Brace Yourself Lambs: Final Words on Their Final Walk

The Gospel Of John: Take Heart

Todd continues in John. Read John 15:18-16:4. We are here to suffer for and serve the world, not be celebrated by it.

Todd WagnerJun 30, 2013John 15:18-16:4; Matthew 10:16-28; 2 Timothy 2:14-3:17; John 15:18-19; John 15:22-24; John 15:26; John 15:27; John 16:1-4

In This Series (11)
How to Live with Joy in the "Little While"
Todd WagnerAug 11, 2013
The Spirit's Coming as the Son Heads Home: Where He is Going and Who He is Sending.
Todd WagnerAug 4, 2013
Brace Yourself Lambs: Final Words on Their Final Walk
Todd WagnerJun 30, 2013
Love: Our Sign and its Source
Todd WagnerJun 23, 2013
It's All About Abiding
Todd WagnerJun 16, 2013
Living Proof He is the King of Peace
Todd WagnerMay 19, 2013
Todd WagnerMay 12, 2013
The Lifeless Lunacy of Love Without Labor
Todd WagnerApr 28, 2013
The Holy Spirit is With Those Who Believe
Todd WagnerApr 21, 2013
The Greater Works of Those Who Believe
Todd WagnerApr 14, 2013
Take Heart: The Difference Between Jesus' Trouble and Ours
Todd WagnerApr 7, 2013

In This Series (11)

Take part. Play the man. Be of courage. All the ideas that are being taught in this little section. We are going to dive into John 15. I'm going to show you something tonight that I think will encourage you. What Jesus did in this last little journey of his life with his closest friends is not breakthrough some new brilliant philosophy, but he just revisited old truth that had already gone over with them.

When you read Paul in the New Testament, you're not reading the brightest mind of his day. You are hearing from a man who just stole from the acorn of truth that Jesus planted, and he just grows into this oak tree of righteousness and teaching. You don't have to be brilliant to be effective for Christ; you just have to abide.

Remember, we're in the middle of a little three-week emphasis on John 15. It is laid out very simply. There are three reminders and three responsibilities. The reminder. "You need me. You're not supposed to do this on your own. Don't break off full of passion and enthusiasm to honor me and try and bear fruit. You can't. Abide with me. You're the branch. I'm the vine."

Secondly, verses 11 through 17. He talks in there about how "I have reconciled you to God. God is love. You guys can't get along and love one another because you're separated from God. Sin divides. Sin breaks relationship. You've now been reconciled to God. You're no longer a slave to sin. Therefore, the mark, the sign that you guys are mine, is that your relationships will be different. You will love one another."

Then, 18 down through John 16:4 Watch this. Bonus verses this week. We're going to get through John 15 and all the way to John 16:4. He's basically saying, "You need to know that you are left in this world to serve the world. Your responsibilities abide. Love, declare, serve, and suffer. You can pick any one of those in that last section. I'd be thrilled. Tell them who I am and be prepared for the fact that they don't like what you're telling them. That's okay.

They don't like what I've been telling them. That's why we're on this journey to go Gethsemane, so I can one more time, in a very outward way, abide with my father. I'm abiding with them as I'm walking with you. That's why I'm bearing fruit as I'm walking and teaching because I'm telling you what the Spirit wants you to know. In a minute, I'm going to make sure the Spirit reminds me of what I need to know.

Then we're going to break off for a while, and I'm going to go and do what you cannot do, which is be a sacrifice for sin. I'm not going to leave you alone. When I return from the grave and when I return to the Father, I will give you the Spirit, and he will help you. You abide with me through him. The fruit will be love. The task will be to tell, and the result will be they're going to do to you what I'm about to have done to me." Let me pray.

Father, teach us now. Would you strengthen our hearts as a result of us being attentive to your Word? We thank you that in your perfection, you preserved this Word on this walk that we, your friends here, some 2,000 years later, can be reminded once again what our task is. I pray for those who are here who do not yet know what you went to that garden to do, which is to offer yourself up and say, "Let's go. Let's take on that cross, let's become sin for those who are separated from me, that they might be brought back."

I pray this evening there's somebody out there who doesn't yet know peace, who doesn't know forgiveness who will see your love through our words and our declaration of what you have said and that they would come to you and you would be happy. We pray you'd use us to that end continually; tonight and throughout the week. For Christ's glory I pray, amen.

There's this little thing out there called Twitter I mention every now and then I like to jump on. Twitter is good for men like me. It limits you to 144 characters. It shuts you off after 144 characters. It goes to block red after 144 characters, and it will not let you send. Elders are trying to figure out how to do that during these services after about 45 minutes (have it go block red and not let me send anymore). So pray for them that they come up with that technology. Or better still, pray that we would be bracketed in the ways we ought to be.

Meanwhile, let me share with you a few things that I shared this week on Twitter. I'm going to show you. I didn't share them because I'm brilliant. I shared them because I did what Paul did. I did what Jesus did. I just abide with the text. When Christ himself was here, about one out of every 10 words in the New Testament that he shares are quotes from the Old Testament. What's that tell you? When God himself is here, all he's doing is going back over what he's already told you.

Jesus, when he's here in John 15, is just going to go back over what he told you during the recruiting period. We need to be reminded a lot more than we need to be instructed. So as I reflected on what he reminded us of, one of the things I threw out there is this: we are here to suffer and serve the world, not be celebrated by the world. You're going to see why I say that tonight. If your goal is to be celebrated by the world, you will not serve the world as well as you should.

Secondly, I said this. I mentioned it last week. God doesn't expect or want the world to love the church. There are certain things the church is going to do that the world is not going to love, but he wants and expects the church to love the world. He doesn't expect the world to love the church. He expects the church to love the world.

When the church loves the world in all the ways the father intends, there are going to be things that ruffle the world's feathers because the world doesn't like the idea that there is an absolute sovereign deity that they are absolutely in subjection to where there will be no negotiation, no quarter given, and your sin will find you wanting before him.

No matter how much you wanted to suppress that truth and unrighteousness on your journey through this earth, there is a day of reckoning coming. If you are a reminder of that, that will not be well received.

The church is going to declare to all men everywhere that there is nothing that anyone can do. Pastor, Pharisee, priest, Jew, Muslim, humanitarian. I don't care who you are. There is nothing you can ever do to build a resume that you can submit that will make God go, "Well, thank you very much. That was a life well-lived. You are now reconciled to me."

The church is to declare what Christ declared, which is apart from him, you have no hope. He has come to be the provision for sin. God's standard is perfection. If you are anything less than perfect… Anyone want to debate with me that you are that standard of perfection in word, thought, and deed? No one ever has offered that they are that.

When you tell them that that's God's standard and there is no way that they, in their total loss, their total depravity, can ever present to God a life that has been restored, it offends them that what they need is not a religion and not a philosophy. They need a relationship. Without that one relationship, they're without hope and without God in this world. That offends men, and the church is to go after that.

Let me just tell you what Jesus is going to do during this little section right here. As I said, he's going to review. If you go back and look at what he's reviewing, he's reviewing the very first team meeting he ever had. You can find that among other places in Matthew 10:16. In Matthew 10:16, Jesus is basically giving his little recruiting speech. Like a college coach that's out there saying, "Come join me. Get on my team. You need to know that we are the Nazareth Lambs," which isn't very inspiring. Especially when you find out you play in a league with wolves.

That's exactly what he says. "I'm asking you guys to sign up. I'm going to send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. So get ready, because you're probably going to go zero for this life in terms of winning in an impressive way. The world is going to mock you and tell you that you're a part of a losing team, but let me tell you something. You are not a part of a losing team. This is my method. In your weakness, I will be strong.

I, in fact, have come as a Lamb. But I am not a lamb, and there's going to be a day that you're going to find out that you are not just a lamb, you are a sheep, and I'm the Shepherd, and I will save you. I will be victorious over everything in this world, including the god of this world, sin, and death. You don't fear those who right now serve the god of this world. You don't fear those who still live in sin, and you don't fear those who can take your body and destroy it. You fear me."

This is the end of his recruiting speech. "Do not fear the wolves [if you will] who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul. You rather fear him who is able to kill or destroy the soul and the body in hell forever. You'd better sign up, boys, to play for the King from Nazareth. You might have more wins down there in Jerusalem, but you'll have happy days and a miserable, miserable eternity. Serve me."

This is his speech. He's saying, "You boys have to know who I am. I am the Lamb of God, but I am the Lion of Judah. I'm asking you to clothe yourself in humility and to serve this world and to declare to the world that there is a God who is, as I've said already, not to be tinkered with. He is holy. If they don't know me, it will be a bad day for him." That's his message.

He says in that message, "They're going to treat you like they're about to treat me. A servant is not greater than his master. A disciple is not greater than his teacher. What's he doing right here on this little 15-minute walk from up there on Mount Moriah at the upper room, all the way down through the city of David, down the Kidron Valley to Gethsemane? He is reviewing old material. God, in his kindness, has preserved that material for you and me because we are his people, and he wants us to be faithful in the same way.

If you are tired of being rejected by this world, or if you're ready to bail on Jesus because this world does not embrace you in your revelation of righteousness, then this is a message for you. Maybe you're getting along with the world just fine, and you like the world loving you, and this message is for you. Because I'm going to tell you, if this world is accepting everything you do, it might be because you are more a part of this world than you are his kingdom.

Jesus says in John 15:18 through 16:4, "When you trust me, you become a sworn enemy of the course of the world, the Prince of the Power of the Air, and the spirit of disobedience which now works in the sons of men." So if you're getting along fine, if you're just floating with the current and everybody is sliding their innertube full of beer down the Comal with you, and you're not working your way upstream, something isn't right. Something is not right.

There was a study done by a group of sociologists and psychologists a number of years ago where they put a bunch of people in a room with three lines of varying length: very clearly a long line, a line that was in the middle, and then the shortest of lines. Then they brought these 10 people in, and they asked them to raise their hands and vote on which line is the longest. What one subject did not know is that nine of the people were part of the experiment.

When the psychologists stood up there and said, "How many of y'all think that this line is the longest, and he would point to the longest line, there would be one hand that would go up real quick. "That's easy." He'd look around. He'd be the only hand up. Very quickly, he'd go, "How many of y'all think this line is the longest, and nine other hands would immediately shoot up at the middle line.

He goes, "I'm sorry. I didn't count that. How many think that this line right here is the longest?" And 75 percent of the time, the person who was in that room with the 9 who were part of the experiment would clearly vote for the middle line that is not as long as he knows that other line is long. What he was supposed to do is to stand up and go, "Are y'all crazy? That line? Can't you see? Look. I can put my whole fist up there. It is that much shorter. This is the longest. This is not an optical illusion. Rightly, you would say that this line is the longest."

From elementary through high school, which is all they really tested, they found out that 75 percent of the subjects didn't do that. The sociologists said, "It teaches us that people would rather be president than right. They'd rather get along than get it right." Jesus is saying, "If you're mine, you don't have that privilege. So come with me. Trust me. This world is not your home."

Let me say this to you very quickly. Paul, as I told you, was an individual who took the ideas that Jesus teaches right here in John 15:18 through 16:4. He closes up his last book to his disciple Timothy. If you're trying to go, "What in the world would I say if I'm writing a letter that God would say is inspired?" By the way, Paul didn't write something, and God goes, "That's good enough to make into my Canon." All Scripture is inspired by God, which means God-breathed. His Spirit brought it forth.

It alone is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness that the man of God might be adequate, equipped for every good work, as you memorized last week. Every writing of Paul was not inspired. It was the ones that God said, "We're going to work through you, an imperfect man, a fallible man, a finite man, to produce perfect, infallible, eternal truth. All you have to do to do that, Paul, is abide with me. Why don't you take some ideas that I've given you, and let's expand on them in relationship with me."

Watch this. He says this. This is Paul's last 13 to 14 minute walk with Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:14. "Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers." Verse 15: "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth."

Then he goes through, and he basically talks about some folks who weren't doing that. They were taking God's word. They were distorting and twisting it in order to be popular. They were twisting it in a way that seemed right to man, and he said, "Don't you do that." You're not here to have this make sense to you or to others. You are here to teach my word correctly. Drop down there to about verse 20, and he says this.

"Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged…" They must love. You have to abide with Jesus. You have to love others. "with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God [might use your love, if you will, your gentleness to lead them to] repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth…" Then he says this.

"But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power."

"But you, boys. You deny that stuff." Down there in verse 10, "Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me… Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Where did Paul get these ideas? This is just John 15.

When Chuck Colson (my friend who was here about 18 months ago) spoke at Watermark, and he got done, I just basically stood behind him. I go, "Y'all are sitting there all impressed by this guy who is living piece of American history (special counsel to the president of the United States, Ivy League graduate), but Chuck didn't do anything today except quote a bunch of old dead men and prophets. You don't need to go to some Ivy League institution. You just need to do what Chuck just did, which is to abide with Jesus.

When you abide with Jesus, you will say things that are filled with truth that will save the world but won't always tickle the world. Chuck came up to me afterward, and he goes, "Todd, thank you. I can't tell you how many times I go speak, and people go, 'I wish we could have Chuck here every week.' You just basically got up there and told people what I tell them all the time. You don't need me. Just stay connected to what I'm connected to."

It's a good thing we don't need Chuck. Do you know why? A year ago April, Chuck went to be with the Lord, but the Spirit of Christ, which informed his life, is still right here. He expects us to walk with him. When you do, let me tell you what's going to happen. John 15:18 down through the end. Are you ready? This is what it says.

I've mentioned before (the last couple of weeks now) that if Mr. Roarke and Tattoo and Julie and Gopher got me through junior high, and they did, John 15:18 got me through high school and college. I didn't know Christ in junior high. I just chose not to do the things that were starting to really make their way into my little circle of friends.

So they rejected me because I wasn't going to go out and party the way they did. That made me a little angry and obstinate kid that said, "If I have to do that to be your friend, I've never been your friend to begin with." It was very lonely for about three years.

Then in my high school years, I came to know Christ. Now I wasn't just not doing things because I thought it might hurt my opportunity at some scholarship. I started not doing things because I loved God. As I engaged with those old friends and we talked, they found that there was a young man who now was at their lunch table at times in a way that they didn't want him to be there, laughing with them, but every now and then, reminding them that there was a better way.

This isn't just something you chose to not do because you think it's going to hurt your chance as an athlete, but because there is this thing called righteousness. There is this thing called truth. No matter how much they want to deny it and act like there's no accountability in their life and no matter how clueless their parents are, there's a God who is not clueless, and he loves them.

They didn't like it. It got to where once I had the conversation a couple of times, I didn't have to say anything. Just my very presence or lack of presence in other places where they were became a sign of judgment to them, and they slandered me and were malicious toward me and they hated me.

I had several Bibles from the time I trusted Christ through college, and every single one of them would've had John 15:18 underlined and highlighted, because this verse sustained me. "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you." John 15:19 went with it. "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."

He said, "Hang on, because you have signed with the one who came after you and said, 'I want you to be with me,'" and God signed me. He recruited me. He chose me. He said, "I want you to be a Nazareth Lamb. The wolves are going to chew you up, and they're going to say awful things about you. They're going to call you names like intolerant, self-righteous, bigoted, pious, out of touch, ignorant. Don't you worry. You just keep loving them. They're going to hate you, Todd, not because of anything you're doing but because of whose you are."

Now watch this. I want to tell you something. Those verses got me through high school and college, but there's a part of this verse that has informed me from that day forward that I didn't really see right then. It's the very end of verse 19. It says, "…I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you."

I looked at this verse periodically as I would grow older. The Lord said, "You make sure the world hates you because I chose you, not because of the choices that you make. Not because you're some Westboro Baptist bozo who walks around saying, 'God hates fags' and protesting at the funeral of servicemen saying, 'The reason these servicemen died is because they fight for an unholy force that God is no longer with, so we're glad that judgment has befallen these men. It's a sign of God leaving this land.'"

People hate Westboro Baptist, not because they are out there sharing the gospel. If you listen closely at times, they do say things that are gospel truth. It's because of the choices they make and not because they are chosen. It's interesting. The daughter of the leader of that church recently repented when she was confronted with the way they love to celebrate certain sins.

Yet, there are things within that community, which she could also see just as clearly, are offensive to Scripture (even more clear in the New Testament) that God is against that they don't seem to picket and protest against. God removed the scales from her eyes, and she very humbly left and lost her family.

Sometimes, when you're running with people who say they know God, who are making choices that are inconsistent with him, that makes the world hate them, not because they're chosen but because of their choices, you're going to be hated by those people who say they're chosen. Mark it.

I've had to remind myself continually that how I say things matters as much as what I say. Because I am not Jesus, I am possibly at times the problem. In other words, Jesus never had this problem. He never had to wonder, "Is the problem the messenger or the message?" He always perfectly abided with the Father. He always knew it was the message.

If you haven't paid much attention, there were some things that messenger did that if I did, you would go, "Hey Wagner, what are you doing, man?" See also flipping some tables, grabbing whips, driving people out of places of worship, calling them sons of hell and their disciples twice the sons of hell that they are, broods of vipers, whitewashed tombs.

If I do that, you're going to go, "Hey. Whoa. Pastor, I think you have an anger problem." The reason you're going to do that is because I do have an anger problem. Jesus did not have an anger problem. There are times that I do stuff, and you go, "I don't know, Todd." So I have to always be an individual who says, "Listen. I realize that I am vulnerable to the accusation that what I'm doing is not in perfect sync with the Father."

There are lots of times when I think what I am doing is synced up with the Father that is still mistaken, and there are some people who hide behind me so they don't have to deal with that truth. That's between them and God. It's interesting. Whenever you sometimes tell people some truth from God's Word is relevant to their life, they will either often call a process foul, that you did it wrong, (therefore, they don't have to listen), or they will say, "You don't have that right to speak into my life that way. The relationship isn't enough."

Even this week, I had a relationship with somebody who I loved dearly, who is a chosen one of God, who loves me. I have been speaking into their life and not in an isolated way, loving them and encouraging them and sharing with them some things. They just were having a really hard time.

So I just went over there and knocked on their door. I wasn't there to tell them anything more about the message. I honestly wasn't under a lot of conviction that the way that I had gone about this as a messenger was wrong. My wife had been with me at times when I'd done this. My community had been with me when I'd done this. They hadn't really said, "Todd, the problem is you, the messenger."

I just went over there, and I knocked on that door and said, "I'm not here to have this conversation again. I am here to tell you that I know that you sometimes can look at me and go, 'I'm not sure Todd is doing this out of love,' and that this messenger is vulnerable to that. I want to let you know something.

I am here to tell you I love you. I am grieved that you're hurting. I care deeply about you, and I'm here to ask your forgiveness that sometimes truth is hard to hear. Not just because it's true, but because it's comes from me. I'm here to ask your forgiveness for being an imperfect vessel of that truth and tell you I love you." I hugged him, I kissed him, and I left.

I tell you, we have to be people who clothe ourselves in (I think) that kind of humility. I wanted to stop there and go, "By the way, before you shut the door. My wife doesn't think I've done this wrong. This community doesn't think I've done anything wrong either, but just in case you do, I'm sorry, and that doesn't hamper the message." I didn't do that. Why?

At the end of the day, my job is to be gentle and loving. My job is to communicate things and just do the best I can to get this messenger out of the way of God's message. Make sure the world doesn't hate you because of the choices you're making, and not just the fact that you've been chosen. Look at verse 20. Verse 20 says this.

"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're not going to keep my word, so they're not going to keep yours if your word is consistent. "But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me."

Again, the world doesn't have a hard time with freedom of worship. In fact, this has been a very subtle change coming from our current administration. It started a couple of years ago when they started to say, "We have no problem with freedom of worship." That is not, folks, what we are founded upon and what we are promised in our bill of rights. We are promised freedom of religion.

Freedom of worship is you can go into your little room and do whatever you want to do, "But just don't drag it out here on the streets, and don't be bringing out your ideas into the public square. Don't let your Sunday and your prayer closet mingle with Times Square. We'll give you freedom of religion. We won't bust into your meetings and beat you, but don't you try and express it out here."

They twist and wrongly distort this idea of separation of church and state, which is not in our Constitution. It was a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists in Connecticut who were raising their hands with the president saying that the Congregationalists (Connecticut was a Congregationalist state) want us to have to worship this way and we can't be Baptists.

Jefferson said, "Absolutely not. There is a wall of separation between the church and the state," which really did not mean that the church should not affect the state. It meant that the state is not going to tell the church what it should or how it should do it. But everybody takes that little language. They have no idea about the history of our country, what the establishment clause is in our Constitution, and it frankly doesn't matter.

Jesus says, "I want you to do what you need to do to communicate who I am in this world and what you believe about me should affect everything you do in this world. You get out there and love them." Religion is not offensive. You worship this way. You worship that way. That's great. Philosophy is not offensive. You have these ideas. They have these ideas. But when you tell people this relationship is essential and without this relationship you are in trouble, that is offensive.

Philosophy guys love to debate. Paul says, "Don't do it. The empty wrangling of words is worthless." Paul said, "Religion is something that men will do, but they'll deny the power of relationship. You go and talk about the relationship that I have with them through Christ." Jesus is going to say, "They're going to hate that. That's okay. You keep telling them that it's all about me, Christ alone, cornerstone. There is no other way. Weak made strong."

Can I just say this? What marks you as a member of the church is not that you'll sing that song with me. The fact that you will walk out of here and suffer with Jesus because that song is true is what marks you as his. We have all kinds of folks who call themselves Catholic and Protestant serving in our government who will bend their knee to kiss the pope's ring but will not bow to, if you will, the pope's ideas about how to lead a land.

"What ultimately marks you as his," Jesus says, "is that you are hated because you love righteousness. You don't want to be president or speaker of the house. You want to speak for me. You want to say that line is long. All you who think that line is long are wrong. I don't care if nine out of 10 of you tell me that. That isn't right."

Look what it says right here in John 15. Y'all with me? Wake up. Come on. Here we go. Verse 22. "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin." He is saying, "I did my job. I provided revelation. You provide revelation. You get out there now. You do the same. You seek them. You speak to them. You serve them. You sacrifice for them, and you stay there until you're dead and gone."

"He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well." Jesus is saying, "I went out there, and I did what I was supposed to do. I had the sign of God on me. Do you remember when we talked about this in John 14? Jesus says, "If you don't like me, take the works that I have done, and the signs that I do are evidence that I'm from the Father."

I talk about the signet ring, which comes from sign. The sign that the king wrote this letter. He stamped that wax with that ring. I talked about the essential characteristics of a signet ring, that the symbol was unique, not easily counterfeited or reproduced, that it was unmistakable, and that it only was possessed by the king himself.

Jesus said, "Hey, look. These things that I have done… Who else is making the blind see, the lame walk? Who else is multiplying food? Who else is turning water into wine? Who else is raising the dead? Those are rather remarkable, unmistakable, only in the possession and power of God, imprints onto my life that tell you you'd better pay attention to what I say, what's contained in this letter that is the word of God made man, because the sign of God is on me."

Jesus is going to say, "I did that, and they are without reproof. You go bear my sign." All right. Bless your pastor. Don't make me lament and weep tonight. I'm going to ask you a question. What is our sign that the world should see, and because they see it in us, they are without excuse? Somebody. Anybody. Love. That's exactly right. Thank you for listening at the beginning of this week and all of last week.

But it isn't just love like, "I love you. We're going to get along. It's all going to be fine." It is love that speaks truth. It is love that gets mocked. It is love that is rejected that keeps on loving selflessly, sacrificially, that believes all things that God has said, that bears all persecution against it, that endures all things, that never fails. It is 1 Peter 2:21-23 love.

"… since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously."

The world is going to look at you and go, "How come you pray for your enemies? How come when somebody is thirsty, though he has been abusive to you, you give him a cup of water? How come when you guys make money, you don't try to make more? You increase your standard of giving, not your standard of living?

How come you guys, when all the world is complaining about health care and all the problems with it our land, are creating better health care for those who can't get any health care? How come when you are slandered, you don't revile back? How come when they falsely accuse you and oppress you and lock you up, you don't curse them, but you pray for them?"

You might say, "Todd, I don't really see anybody doing that?" I would say, "That's why the world doesn't know that we're his and the world doesn't know that God sent Jesus. That's why we're the ones under judgment and not him." That should be the mark. That's the standard that we should keep calling each other to. In the midst of a community that is righteous and holy and not participating with the world, but in speech, conduct, love, faith, impurity, shows itself as an example.

He says, "When they look at you and go, 'There isn't nobody like these people,' somebody ought to raise their hand and say, 'Listen, administration. I just have to tell you something. I think you have to quit killing and locking up the Christians because they're the only ones who care about everybody else. Everybody else would try to bleed blood out of them like a turnip. Christians are generous, selfless, others-centered. You hate those folks? We don't like their dogma either? But what they're doing? We need more of them.'"

To which we should say, "Why do you think we're different?" Answer. We're not of this world. This world isn't our home. We have a relationship with a divine King. Let me tell you his name." You see it? Here we go. "But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law. 'They hated me without cause.'"

Verse 26: "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father…""He's going to testify about me." This isn't going to be on your own. This is going to be because the Spirit of God is going to bear his fruit in you. "I'm going to continue my work, but I'm going to do it through you with the Holy Spirit, who will come alongside you. The Spirit."

What's interesting is the word Spirit here is a neuter noun, meaning it's not feminine or masculine. When you read 2 Timothy 3:16, all Scripture is inspired by God or is Spirit-breathed. That word Spirit, the way it's used in general, is neuter. What's really interesting here is the pronoun that is used a little bit later is masculine. One scholar said, "That is really bad grammar. It is just great theology."

The Spirit is not just an invisible force that Luke Skywalker taps into on the good side. The Spirit is God. God is Spirit. He is a person who you can grieve and quench and you are to live in relationship with. Right there at the end of John 15, it says, "…and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning." You have been taught, so you testify. The Spirit is going to come alongside you.

This is not new. This is Matthew 10 all over again. You're going to be delivered up before governors and authorities, and when you do, don't worry about what to say because the Spirit of God, Matthew says, will give you the words to say in that moment. But mark my words. That doesn't mean that you're not to do anything at this moment and just float along and wait until you're put before your friends and go, "Okay, God. What should I say?"

I think about the guy who wanted to be a Spirit-led pastor. He basically went throughout his week not really focused on his responsibility. He got there Sunday morning, and it was time to communicate, and he said, "O Father. What do you want me to tell your people? I want to be a vessel for your Spirit. What should I tell them?" Just whispering across his heart came these words. "Tell them you are not prepared."

This week when the Supreme Court of the United States released some information about the Defense of Marriage Act, and they struck down certain applications of that…not entirely, but certain applications of that… If folks were standing by the water cooler with you, and they said, "What do you think about that?" If you said, "O God, use me in this moment. Here's an opportunity…"

If you asked what you should tell them, and the Spirit said to you, "Tell them you're not prepared. Tell them you can't form a cohesive, winsome, loving response to why this is a problem and not a blessing…" It's not a sign of progression and an increase in tolerance that is a glory to civilization of mankind. Don't respond with some gay slur that they're going to hate you for. Not because you're chosen but because of your choice to not be ready.

If you can't clearly articulate about the nature and the goodness and the kindness of God and about foundational truths, that if you shake them there are consequences that are coming and do that in a way that is winsome that makes a divine proposal that curiously draws them away from what they think is politically correct when they've been in a room being taught from a very early age now that they should not say that any line is shorter than the other, that any standard of righteousness is different than the other, when clearly it is…

If you've never learned to winsomely, lovingly respond to those, tell them you're not ready. Tell them you haven't missed a CrossFit workout for six weeks, but you certainly have not been abiding with Jesus in the way that you should, so you have nothing.

We have a tremendous responsibility. Nobody can do what you can do. If the church can't do it, this world is just going to keep on floating. It's not going to know that there's another way. When you're the only person who will raise your hand, and everybody doesn't know they're in some big psychological experiment, and you tell them that line is different, you'd better be able to make a reasoned defense as to why in a loving way. You'd better get some of those subjects that have taught to vote a certain way to start to go, "The truth is, I don't care what you tell me to do. He's right, and I'm joining him." If we start saying that is truth, it's going to mess us up.

We're going to wrap up quickly. John 16:1-4 says simply this. "These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling." It's coming. "They will make you outcasts…" It's coming. "everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God." Everybody who shuts down your churches, takes away your tax-exempt status, puts you in prison if you say these things. It's coming.

"Don't be surprised. Don't ask me where I am and how I could let this happen. I told you it was going to happen. It's been happening all over the world for centuries. It just hasn't happened here because you largely, as a society, lived as if my Word was true. You've lived according to this Judeo-Christian ethic.

Now because the church hasn't done its job, it hasn't discipled, it hasn't reasoned, it hasn't loved, it hasn't served, the world has drifted. There's a whole generation that's rejected the dead churchianity of its fathers. Now they are your government. They're going to think getting rid of you so they can be free in every expression of their flesh, as a sign of the advancement of man is a service to our country."

By the way, can I just tell you this? Do you guys know what the very first country was that wasn't necessarily formed on the Judeo-Christian ethic, but it was? It was formed on the Protestant ethic. Look back through history. Does anybody know the very first country that was formed on the Protestant ethic? Where did the very first protest against dead religion happen?

A little town called Wittenberg by a guy named Martin Luther who was a German. Does anybody know anything about Germany? It drifted a bit, didn't it? It became a country that was oppressive to righteousness and goodness like no other country in the history of the world has. Let me just bring you to America 2013. There were 6 million Jews killed in Germany and around the world through Germany. How about 60 million kids killed (Jew and Gentile alike in this country) in this little conspiracy of silence because we don't want to say, "That isn't right."

For a long time in Germany, there was a gal named Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann who was a German propagandist, a newspaper reporter, who was writing as a part of the Nazi propaganda regime. She talks about the spiral to silence, and what tyrants use is intimidation and name-calling.

We said, "You don't know genetics like the learned Nazi doctors who will tell you that the Jews are a flawed race. If you were smart and you loved humanity, you would want to purge humanity from this vile, decerped, longnose, hunched back little people. If you loved your country, you'd get rid of these people who systematically worked to build their own wealth and are destructive to the Aryan race. So if you want to be dumb and unpatriotic, you go ahead and save the Jew."

Everybody knew it was wrong. Every German. The majority of people went, "That line is not the long line. The Nazi propaganda isn't the long line. It's not right," but because nobody else was raising their hand, they just succumbed in silence, and it just increased. The next thing you know, we have Nazi Germany. Bigot, intolerant, unloving if you take this position against this group of people.

Nobody wants to be dumb and unpatriotic. Nobody wants to be a bigot, intolerant, unloving. So even though we all know it's wrong and those pieces don't fit, and it's not good for children, and it's not going to make our land strong, we all start to go, "I guess it's okay. I don't want to be against what they say is right."

Jesus says, "You'd better." John 16:1-4 wraps up simply with this. "These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me." That's why they do them. Because they're of the Spirit of the Prince of this world, and you're not. "But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them [and you'll be faithful] ." Y'all ready? Y'all ready to be faithful? Because that's the charge.

I'll tell you what faithfulness looks like. There's a guy named Hugh Latimer. He was alive during the time of Henry VIII. When you think of Henry VIII, you should think multiple wives. Henry VIII called himself the supreme leader of the Church of England when the Church of England broke away from some of the dead religion that was coming out of Rome.

Hugh Latimer said, "Hey, Henry. I'm glad you're no longer under some of the dead religion that we have protested against here in England, but you are living your own dead religion." He bought him a Bible and gave it to his king on New Year's Day and dog-eared it to Hebrews 13:4, which is Hugh Latimer's day said this. "Whoremongers and adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of heaven." Isn't that a great way to dog-ear a Bible to give it to your king when your king is known for being a philanderer?

Henry VIII heard Hugh Latimer speak one time. What he spoke on was Matthew 14:4, which is the text where John the Baptist rebuked Herod the Fox for taking his brother's wife and calling her his own. Henry VII was so irate, he demanded (as a king) that Latimer appear before him in a broad section of people the next week and preach the exact same message and apologize. Latimer said, "I'd be glad to do it."

He came back, and he basically said this. This is the way he started his message. "Hugh Latimer, I want you to remember who it is that you speak before today: your sovereign king, who has the power to destroy the body. I want you to remember that what you say will have great effect. Ultimately, you serve not the one who can destroy the body but can destroy both body and soul forever." And he preached the exact same message he did the week before, but this time with greater volume.

Henry VIII shook in anger. But because of the passion of the man, he said, "Praise God that I have strong servants in my kingdom," and did not kill him. Henry VIII died. His weak son became king. He later dies, and then little Queen Mary takes over. Do you know what Queen Mary's nickname was? Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary aligned herself with Rome, and she was going to purge all Reformers from the land.

So Hugh Latimer is called up one more time. She says, "I want you to recant your teachings, that there is not salvific power in the instruments of Communion. You're teaching that common men should read the Word of God. If you don't know, we sprinkled Tyndale's blood all over this land because he said the same thing. We're about to do the same with you."

Latimer said, "Ma'am, I cannot bow before you or your corrupt ideas." She said, "Then I will burn you at the stake." He said, "Get your wood," and she did. When he and his friend, Ridley, were going to the stake, he said, "Master Ridley, play the man," which is translated in 2 Timothy 10 as, "Take courage. Take heart."

He said, "We shall this day, by the grace of God and according to his promise, light a candle that by his goodness may never go out in England." He was burned at the stake, singing praises to God that he got to stand for righteousness and truth. Are you ready? Those are the men God needs. It isn't going to happen if you just hope at the last minute God gives you something to say. You'd better pay attention. You'd better dig in, and you'd better figure out if you follow him and deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and come after him.

A couple of years ago I showed this little video clip. We're not really concerned about patriotism, if you will, but it is very symbolic that we are individuals who live in a land where there is a tyrant king who has kept people captive and is killing men. We are to make war against him. We don't do it in the way we did it during the Revolution. We do it by taking captive every thought through the obedience of Christ, by speaking the truth in love, by following after Jesus, abiding with him, and loving them that they might be won to repentance through our kindness and clarity.

Father, would you use this moment to reinforce truths that we need to stand for? Amen.

Do you know when we say that we're going to fill this place with songs again, we're not talking about 7540 LBJ, right? We're talking about this world and this land that we live in that we are to seek them, speak truth to them, serve them sacrificially, and stay until God takes us home. That is the land that we are to fill with the songs of redemption and forgiveness and hope and deliverance. It's the song that I sing now to you if you don't know Christ. He loves you. He sought you.

He is not just some weak prophet who got taken. He is the Lamb of God who gave his life for you. Come to him. We would love to share with you the means through which you can have a personal relationship with the Sovereign of the universe who cares for you. If you know him, and you are his, I beg that you would sing. I beg that you would go. I pray that you would discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness so when it is time to speak, and it is time, you are ready. Are you ready, church? Will you worship him in that way?

Brace yourself, lambs. Brace yourself. But be bold. Play the man. May he light a candle in you that by his grace and goodness sets the whole world aflame for righteousness. Amen? Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.