Quitters

The words used to describe Christians today often bear no resemblance to the one word Jesus wanted his followers to be known for. What would it look like if, for one day, we got it right? What if we as Christians embodied this one word? In this message, Andy challenges us to change the name and reputation of Christianity by becoming a group of followers characterized by this one thing. LOVE.

Link to Quitters Sermon from North Point

Author Anne Rice (Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession) has a powerful personal story about her relationship with Jesus. She grew up in the church, but left it as a young adult. In her fifties, she rejected her decades-long atheism and returned to church…for ten years. And then she made this announcement on her Facebook page:

“Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group.”

Rice’s statement stirred controversy, but let’s be honest: the idea that Christians can be quarrelsome, hostile, and disputatious isn’t exactly surprising. How is it that people like Anne Rice—people devoted to Jesus—sometimes feel driven from Christianity? Why are there Christians on all sides of cultural and political issues, arguing with non-believers and fellow Christians alike? Is this really what Jesus intended for his disciples?

Great questions. Great discussion. Looking forward to more next week.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13

In Justice For All

We all want to rid the world of injustice. But we can only recognize injustice if we know what justice is to begin with. We don’t always agree about what is just. So, who gets to define justice?

Andy did a great job of unpacking this question in the next installment of Who Needs God? There are gads of additional resources available on the dedicated website for the series accessible at Who Needs God?

The message this week – In Justice For All

 

The God of Jesus 

This week’s message from the series “Who Needs God?” Out of Northpoint Church in Atlanta. Here’s the link:

The God of Jesus

Here are some of the notes:

For those who have stepped away from your childhood faith: you are being invited to step back and explore again the claims of Christ.

There were no Jesus followers when Christ was crucified. But when the resurrection happened, a great many began to follow.

Isaiah 53 was a direct prophetic reference to Jesus and the Christians had the audacity to take the Jewish scriptures and combine them with the historical records of the New Testament

So if you walked away from faith because of something that you found in the Bible that you couldn’t reconcile with science or something else, you probably left your faith for the wrong reason.

We take the OT seriously because Jesus did!

Christianity does not rise and fall on the viability of the OT scriptures.

People followed Jesus after the resurrection because of the resurrection 

If Christianity was as fragile as all that it would never have survived the first century

Just as what Jesus said about Himself was trustworthy and reliable, so too was what He said about God.

John who was there when Jesus said, “If you want to know what God says, listen to me. If you want to know what God does, watch me.” John 14:7-10 paraphrased

What did Jesus say about God?

God is Spirit

See the woman at the well

You could say the first cause was supranatural.

God is Father

Jesus taught, “When you pray, say Father…”

This is the best relational picture that exists.

God is Love    1 John 4:16

God for other people reflected the nature of God

Shade requires the sun. You can have sun without shade. You cannot have evil without good, but you can have good without evil.

Love must necessarily pre-exist unlove

Whenever you do and seek good and justice you declare the glory of God

Love pre-existed everything less than God

Why do you know there is evil in the world?

How do you know what you ought to do?

Why do we excise it with, “Nobody’s perfect.”

GOD

Spirit

Father

Love

Homework:

Pray to the Father when you go to bed tonight. 

Read the book of John this week – what do you learn about the Father from the Son?

The Bible Tells Me So

Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.

Should we really believe something just because the Bible tells us so?

This week’s sermon was the next in the series “Who Needs God” by Andy Stanley – a compelling discussion for those who have undergone Christian deconversion. Here’s the link:

The Bible Tells Me So – Northpoint

Here’s a drive by of what was covered:

The Christian faith doesn’t exist because of the Bible, any more than you exist because of your birth certificate. Your birth certificate documents something that happened. If your birth certificate was lost to you, you would not disappear.

The Bible exists because of the Christian faith.

If the Bible is the foundation of our faith, as the Bible goes, so goes our faith.  If the entire Bible isn’t true – if a single thing is found to be incorrect  (through archaeological or scientific discovery for instance)- then Christianity isn’t true.  It was never meant to be the center of the whole debate, and if we make it that, everything can quickly become a house of cards.

A quick history lesson:

  • Jesus was born about 2-3 before 0 AD
  • He was crucified in 30 AD, a few weeks later the church is launched. In 70 AD the temple was destroyed.
  • Between 49 & 89 the NT manuscripts were written.

The NT manuscripts were written in a historical motif, not a story motif. Luke 3:1-2 shows a historian asking you to fact check him. He’s showing that this is a historical narrative.

This would be very high risk to write if you were lying. Luke was recording factual events of his time.

These documents were copied and distributed throughout the Roman world. We copy things that we want to preserve. These men and women didn’t make copies because they thought they were inspired. They did so because they were true eyewitness accounts.

Christianity was not born on the back of the Bible. It didn’t exist yet. 

The Jewish scriptures weren’t combined with the NT until 350 AD. This was in the FOURTH century.

Before they were combined and titled “The Bible,” Christianity had already become the state religion of the Roman Empire, even though no one had ever actually held the Bible in their hands.

For the first 300 years the debate focused on an event, not a book! 

The resurrection was the center of everything. 

Christianity does not hang by the thread of “the Bible tells me so.” It’s better than that!

The pre-Bible version of the Christian faith was persecutable, defensible, believable, endurable and compelling.

The writers did not document what they believed they documented what they saw!

Christianity disrupted the Roman Empire because of a resurrected Savior, not because of the Bible.

Christianity is not about a book, it is about a WHO.

Gods of the No Testament 

Great discussion! This week’s sermon from Andy touched on something for almost everyone. It really hit home for the people who are stuck in the middle – between the unforgiving “rock” of a godless universe and the “hard place” of the unsettling, doubtful bits of Christianity.

Here’s the link:

Gods of the No Testament – Northpoint.org

Most of us have some false understandings about God because growing up we believed in:

1. A somebody told me so God

2. A Bible told me so Jesus

There are very few stories about Christian deconversion that begin with Christianity itself. When deconversion happens, it’s usually because we have abandoned one of the following versions of God that our religion has taught us:

1. Bodyguard god – A version of god who promises bad things don’t happen to good people. Let’s remember that Christianity started with a horrible thing happening to a really good Person! Plus the early church grew by the very same principle – it’s best people suffered terrible persecution.

2. On Demand god – A version of god who responds to fair and selfless requests the way we would.

3. Boyfriend god – A version of god that is based on the expectation that you will always sense His presence. But think about it…you are the least aware of the things that are the most constant! You don’t wake up in the morning and think, “I’m an American!” Or “I’m a student!” Yet if we are trusting in this God,  if we don’t feel His presence, we question whether or not He is present.

4. Guilt god – With this version of god, we are taught that if it’s enjoyable the answer is no. No, no,  no, no, NO. This god loves you but He doesn’t like you. We run from this God the quickest but he takes the longest to get away from.

5. Anti-science god – With this version of god we are forced to choose between undeniable science and unreliable religion I can’t continue to pretend or defend. We are told to quit thinking and just believe. However, God OR science is a false alternative. If we rely on science for our health why would we reject it in any other realm?

6. Gap god – This version of god conveniently shows up for everything that we can’t explain. The list of things we can explain is getting longer and the list of what we can’t explain shorter. Unexplainable things may be explainable tomorrow. We must pay attention to the frontiers of our ignorance. It’s not the unexplainable that points to God it’s the explainable. A predictable, stable, explainable universe is the greatest evidence for God that there is.

These gods don’t exist. If you’ve lost faith in these gods…good! They aren’t the accurate versions of God at all. They aren’t arguments for or against anything. They are ancient relics of childhood fantasies.

If your grown up questioning destroyed your childhood god, he may not have been the right one.

This is not an argument for the existence of God. This is simply the liberation of knowing that if you walked away from one of these gods, you may have left your faith unnecessarily.