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Sun, May 21, 2017

Sermon Title: Truly Free

It is impossibly hard to wrap our brains and hearts around the absolute freeness and freedom of the Gospel. Jesus came to rescue us with no effort or qualification whatsoever on our part (except the qualification of being utterly disqualified). Our saved status and intimacy with Him is maintained and even grown through his effort and his grace. This allows no room to boast in our supposed personal holiness, nor room to demand others anything but knowing Christ and him crucified. Salvation from beginning to end, all the way until He returns, is “Jesus Plus Nothing”.
Duration:48 mins 6 secs
Worship Order

Call To Worship: Ephesians 2:4-5a;8-10 ESV

5.21.17 Songs

Prayer: The Lord’s Prayer ESV

Sermon Title: Truly Free

Central Text: Acts 15:1-11, 22-29 ESV

5.21.17 Slides

Illustration: GBR Montage - Performance

Response: Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 33

Benediction: 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 ESV

Scripture Readings

Call To Worship: Ephesians 2:4-5a;8-10 ESV

LEADER: 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ


8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.


ALL: 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  


Prayer: The Lord’s Prayer ESV
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
For Thine is the Kingdom
and the power and the glory
forever and ever Amen.


Central Text: Acts 15:1-11, 22-29 ESV
1 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.” 6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”


22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, 23 with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”


Response: Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 33

LEADER: What is justification?

ALL: Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins,and accepteth us as righteous in His sight,only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.     


Benediction: 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 ESV
LEADER: 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.  


ALL: His grace alone.


Post-Service Text: Acts 15:8-9 ESV
8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.  


Related Scriptures:


Galatians 1:6-7
 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.


Galatians 2:10 (Paul’s summary of what happened at this event in Jerusalem).


Galatians 5:1
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.


Galatians 5:6
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.


Philippians 3:7-11
7But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.


Colossians 2:13-15 ESV
13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities[fn] and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.


1 Corinthians 8:7-13
7However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eatingc in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged,d if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12Thus, sinning against your brotherse and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.


Romans 14:1-4
1As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own mastera that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.


Matthew 11:28-30
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

 Discussion Questions

  1. As we begin to understand the gospel, we will have (many) moments where we say “This is just too good to be true.” Why is that?
  2. Unpack this quote: “Jesus Plus Nothing”
  3. Wouldn’t this theology lead people to not care about their behavior and sin wildly because they’ll just be forgiven anyway?
  4. If this is really true, then why “should” we pay any attention to our morality? Why “should” we love God or others?
  5. Discuss the beauty and the struggle with this quote from Augustine: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
  6. What “non essentials” do you tend to make into essentials?

Book Resource

Luther’s Intro to Galatians


Three Free Sins - Steve Brown (Scandalous Freedom is pretty awesome as well)


“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” Augustine


“Jesus Plus Nothing”


QUOTES from Martin Luther’s Intro to Galatians:

Do we then do nothing?  Do we do nothing at all for the obtaining of this righteousness?  I answer, Nothing at all!  For this is perfect righteousness, to do nothing, to hear nothing, to know nothing of the law, or of works, but to know and believe this only, that Christ is gone to the Father, and is not now seen; that He sits in heaven at the right hand of His Father, not as judge, but made unto us of God, wisdom, righteousness, holiness and redemption -- briefly, that He is our high priest entreating for us, and reigning over us, and in us, by grace.

Although I am a sinner by the law and under condemnation of the law, yet I do not despair, yet I do not die, because Christ lives, who is both my righteousness and my everlasting life.

So both these continue while we live here. The flesh is accused, exercised with temptations, oppressed with heaviness and sorrow, bruised by the active righteousness of the law; but the spirit reigns, rejoices, and is saved by this passive and Christian righteousness, because it knows that it has a Lord in Heaven, at the right hand of His Father, who has abolished the law, sin, death, and has trodden under His feet all evils, led them captive, and triumphed over them in Himself (Colossians 2:15).

Related Sermons

Clarifying the Gospel by Timothy J. Keller

Acts 15:1-11; 22-29


But God by John Piper

Ephesians 2:1-10


His Glorious Grace by Jeff Vanderstelt

Ephesians 1:3-2:10

Related Media

 5.21.17 Album
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