May 28, 2012 by
Following Jared and Ian’s messages this morning on the privilege and wonder of God’s gift to us of the church, it was appropriate to respond tonight with praising and glorifying our God and marveling at how wonderful the Father’s love is for us. From there we moved into praising the glorious person of Jesus Christ, our only Mediator, with spontaneous applause breaking out during the first verse of “My Hope Is Built”:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name
Come Praise and Glorify (from The Gathering)
The Father’s Love (from Sons & Daughters)
Bob pointed everyone to the reminder that the Church is much bigger than our local church: “We have been connected through Jesus Christ with the universal church. This faith has been passed on from generation to generation to generation. One of the ways our faith has been passed on is through catechisms.” We read the first question and answer from the Heidelberg Catechism:
Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?
Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.
Glorious Christ (from From Age to Age)
My Hope Is Built
Now Why This Fear (from The Gathering)
The chorus “Jesus, all my trust is in Your blood / Jesus, You’ve rescued us through Your great love” was followed by everyone singing a spontaneous song:
All I need is You
All I have is You
All I want is You
Because You’re all I need
We then transitioned into rejoicing: “Hallelujah! All I have is Christ / Hallelujah! Jesus is my life”
All I Have Is Christ (from The Gathering)
Nathan reviewed two books:
1. Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “After the shellshock of Reformed Dogmatics, I like to think this slim, friendly, inviting volume is the sweet and sour of the menu. A combination that makes us think, ‘Hm, I didn’t expect those things to be put together.’ Bonhoeffer has a fresh way of couching ideas.”
2. Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck: “Kevin is at once theologically sound and rich, and, at the same time, very funny.”
Nathan also plugged The Clash: Forging a Mind to Engage the World, a conference being held at Messiah College in Grantham, PA from July 29-August 4, 2012.
“At the Clash we will have an entire week of teaching that lays out the Christian worldview, the Christian perspective on the cosmos. Our speakers will be Ian Duguid (Christianity and Science), Wayne Grudem (Politics, Economics, etc), David Powlison (Christianity and Psychology, a Biblical approach to the human person). If you have any interest in psychology, you need to be here to hear David Powlison. Jeff Purswell will be there bringing the Bible to bear on our lives. And I’ll be there giving books away.
“So, why plug a conference on worldview at a conference on the local church? A lot of people think worldview and the church are in tension. That is not the case whatsoever. The Clash is a conference which affirms that Christ is Lord of the Church and that the Church is the center of God’s saving purpose in the world. However, Christ is also King of the cosmos, Lord over all areas of the world.”
C.J. introduced Kevin DeYoung: “I read Kevin’s books. He quickly became one of my favorite authors. Then I heard him preach, and he quickly became one of my favorite preachers. Then he became one of my friends. And I have brought him here to serve you.”
MESSAGE | Kevin DeYoung “The Church and Friendship”
This is the fourth time I’ve had the privilege to speak to many of you. I do not know of a conference where I have been more warmly welcomed, loved, and ridiculed all at the same time.
I too was on the basketball team Ian and C.J. were on…must’ve slipped CJ’s mind. I was the tallest member on the team. My play was responsible for many points that were scored. Not gonna tell you which team I scored for…
It’s curious that of all the relationships around us, friendship is the one that is most common and yet the one we hear so little about in our churches. You don’t hear pastors advertising for a retreat for friends, where you can attend with your friend and do a trust fall and cry and hug.
Your greatest joys have to do with your friends. Good friendships can be a sweet balm to your soul. Bad friendships can bring great sorrow to your soul. Almost anything bad can be wonderful with friends and almost anything good can be terrible without friends.
You often measure a church by 1) the quality of teaching in the church and 2) the quality of relationships.
Friendship is wonderful when you get it, but it is getting increasingly hard to come by. This is true partly because of the role of technology in our lives. I am not opposed to technology. There is a real sense in which technology can foster friendship, and yet, you must realize that when technology is your method of friendship, people you cannot see, touch, share with, or concentrate with are not true friends. The danger today is that we have friends everywhere and friends no where. Each of us has the possibility to be a mini-celebrity within our technological world and yet have no friends.
Friends: always there for you because they want to even if they don’t have to.
1. Are you a fake friend?
There is one over-riding characteristic in the Proverbs of a fake friend: he uses people who can get him things.
"The poor is disliked even by his neighbor, but the rich has many friends" Proverbs 14:20
"Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts. All a poor man's brothers hate him; how much more do his friends go far from him! He pursues them with words, but does not have them." Proverbs 19:6-7
There is a warning in Scripture about wealth entangling your friendships. If you are rich in some way—good-looking, athletic, intelligent, gifted, famous—you wonder “Do people like me or do they like what being my friend says about them when they’re around me?” There is a great danger of using people for self-promotion. Do we have friends or just have mutual admiration societies to drive up our traffic?
In all seriousness, those who are most desperate for friends usually have the hardest time finding them because they might be a fake friend. Often, we are lonely because we present ourselves as so desperate to find a friend who will fill all sorts of needs we have. You’ll find a friend when you learn to be yourself and when you learn to be genuinely interested in other people. Maybe you haven’t learned to be an outward-focused person, not just looking for someone to fill up your life, but someone you can pour into.
2. Are you a foul friend?
Three characteristics of a foul friend:
1) Quick to criticize
When you exude criticism, complaints, and intimidation, you are not being a friend.
You are giving your opinion on stuff constantly through social media, which begs you to publish your opinion.
Sometimes, it is the better part of valor to just be quiet and keep an opinion to yourself.
“A Christian is someone who has learned to put his hand over his mouth and be silent.” – Martyn Lloyd-Jones
"Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent." Proverbs 11:12,
Often we share everything as a means of self-expression. Self-expression is not the highest form of godliness. It is not in the middle. You can be an authentic, but really messed up person. Self-expression, by itself, is not virtuous to God.
"Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm." Proverbs 3:30
We can make a friendship awkward for no reason when we judge others.
It is better to get to heaven and realize you were just a little bit gullible than to realize you were too cynical.
2) Are annoying
A foul friend has a choice to not be annoying, but continues to choose to be annoying. Rude, annoying people are not aware of or don’t care about social customs, cultural norms, and common courtesy.
"Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing." Proverbs 27:14
The bible cares about you being insufferably obnoxious. And there is no special clause for teenagers.
"Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor's house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you." Proverbs 25:17
A foul friend has no boundaries, is presumptuous, does not say “please” and “thank you” and does not remember that he is a guest. “Love is not rude.”
3) Cannot be trusted
This could be a blatant liar:
"Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless, for their Redeemer is strong; he will plead their cause against you." Proverbs 23:10-11
Or, it can be subtle:"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you." Proverbs 3:27-28
A foul friend does not keep his end of the bargain, does not return favors or give back what they borrowed, and cannot be trusted to keep their word. Foul friends are careless with their words.
"Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, 'I am only joking!'" Proverbs 26:18-19
Foul friends do not care how and where their words land. If you love people you do not just launch out funny, witty, bright words, knowing that sometimes the words will fall and stick people in the back and you say “man, I’m just joking!” They have been pierced with your words!
3. Are you a faithful friend?
1) You are there in times of trouble
"Do not forsake your friend and your father's friend, and do not go to your brother's house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away." Proverbs 27:10
Don’t overlook your friends. They will be there for you as much as your family will.
"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Proverbs 17:17
You’ve gotta understand love. Love is not unconditional affirmation. Love is being with you in your triumphs, with you in your trials, and with you when you screw up.
Social networking can be valuable, having contacts is good, racking up friends on facebook is fine, but real friendship is true in adversity. And it is more than posting a status update, “Hey man, I’m praying for you.”
"For riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations?" Proverbs 27:24
Who do you have in your life who you know will be with you and for you and available to you at any point in your life?
Some of you are in the midst of very real suffering. And you’re trying to figure out “What is God doing? Why would He do this?” God is probably doing many things, but one thing God is certainly doing is helping make your real friendships stronger and sweeter. He is blessing you with your friends.
2) Knows how to handle conflict
A faithful friend doesn’t hold a record of wrongs. If you have a long list of wrongs your friend has done to you, you’re building a friendship with a revolver under your coat.
"Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips. Do not say, 'I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done.'" Proverbs 24:28-29
Quick to cover offenses: "Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends." Proverbs 17:9
Are you the person who uncovers secrets or thinks “I bet he didn’t mean it that way.”
Are you slow to speak of the faults of others?
Are you the type who understands when to speak and when to be silent?
It’s amazing how many people we talk with rather than talk to.
"Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another's secret, lest he who hears you bring shame upon you, and your ill repute have no end." Proverbs 25:9-10
3) Make each other better
"Do not be deceived: 'Bad company ruins good morals.'" 1 Corinthians 15:33
Faithful friends drive you deeper into the Gospel, not away from it.
"Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel." Proverbs 27:9
If you have a great friend with you, it would be pleasing to God for you to go to him/her and tell them they have been a faithful friend.
"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Proverbs 17:17
You can be a sponge friend: soft, wonderful, not offensive, doesn’t hurt anyone, but their usefulness is rather limited.
You can be a sword friend: really powerful at cutting and destroying
Or you can be a stone friend: make your friends sharper, better, more effective, more Christ-like. You’re not beating them up, but you’re rounding off some of their rough points.
4. The best friend.
There is no greater gift nor better friend than the Lord Jesus.
"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." John 15:13-15
Jesus is SO much more than a friend. He is our sovereign and our King and our Savior—and yet, it is precious beyond measure that Jesus would say to His ragtag disciples, “You’re my friends.”
He’s never a fake friend – he always wants what is best for you.
He’s never a foul friend – he is slow to anger, He is thoughtful and tender, He is always trustworthy.
He is always a faithful friend – there for you in trouble, not just to comfort you, but in your deepest distress and utter sin and rebellion, He saved you.
He doesn’t just make us better, He makes us new.
Our problems are deeper than we think, and Jesus is a better friend than you ever dared dream.
Jesus has the worst kickball team ever. He picks the wimpiest kids, but that’s how He rolls. He chooses wimpy kids to be saved, redeemed, and made to bear fruit.
Two dangers when you hear about Jesus:
- You hear it with a hard heart “I don’t need Jesus to be my friend.”
- You hear it with a bored heart: “eh, Jesus.” And He ceases to be precious to you. –God in the flesh is your friend! Don’t get bored with that!
The people who will party with you are not your real friends. If you live long enough, you will find yourself in a desperate moment when you say “I need a real friend.” God always holds out to you the friendship and lordship of His own dear beloved Son through salvation.