The Witness of 'One'

We need to live so that the glory of God is revealed through us.

George Wright
Sep 1, 2019    33m
In the final sermon of The Heart of Jesus series Pastor George Wright teaches us that we need to live for the glory of God so that it can be revealed, seen and experienced through us. He explains that the world wants to see if the love of God is for real, and if the love of God is for them? The way that they can see that is by watching the way the follower of Jesus live their life being doers of the word. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 I'd like to invite you if you're willing and able to stand with me as I read from the word of God. We want to honor the word of God, and all around the room as we stand, and those who are joining us online that see people standing around the room, we do this so that we all can be reminded as a people of God. The word of God is our authority, and it is the foundation on which we stand. The solid rock foundation of what God says is right and good and true.

George Wright: 00:31 So this is the word of the Lord through the prayer of Jesus in John 17 verse 20. Jesus, prays, "I do not ask for these only (talking about his disciples), but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. Just as you Father are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us so that the world may believe that you sent me." In a sense, Jesus is raising the stakes for his followers at this portion of the prayer, as he's saying to the disciples, the world will be watching. What will you show them about God?

George Wright: 01:20 Let's pray as we consider the word of God here this morning. Father, as we stand before you now in this prayer, it is my prayer that you would speak clearly into our lives. We need to hear from you. There is so much noise fighting for our attention day in and day out, moment by moment, and I pray among all of the noise that we would hear your voice in the power of your spirit speaking into our lives as we turn to your word. So use this day, use this moment for your glory. We ask all this in Jesus' name I pray. Amen. You may be seated, thank you for standing.

George Wright: 02:12 So as we conclude this prayer of Jesus this morning, it is interesting the way Jesus turns his attention from the disciples who he's been praying for really all throughout this prayer, and he begins to pray specifically for those who are not his disciples. For those, as Jesus says, who have yet to believe. He has a very specific prayer. We just read it, but I want to just make sure we're clear on this because John 17 verse 20 is so important for the church to understand. So let's look back at it again, John 17 verse 20, the prayer of Jesus for his followers in light of the world around us, "I do not ask for these only Jesus prays, but also for those who will believe in me through their word." And I believe this statement of Jesus highlights a very important question for the church. This is a very important question for every person who says they are a follower of Jesus Christ. The question is simply this. Do you believe that there are some who will believe in Jesus because of you? Shandon, do we believe as a church, that there are some who will believe in Jesus because of us? Because if that's what we believe, according to the prayer of Jesus, it means the way we behave is incredibly important. It starts right here. As we gather together as a church, we are gathering together not to be entertained, not for a great show. We are gathering together to be reminded of who God is, and what God has done. So that then we can be equipped together, and prepared together, to go out into the world and to live as an example of what we say we believe.

George Wright: 04:28 Because the way we live, according to Jesus, matters. Why? Because the world is watching. The world is looking at the church and wondering, can I really find hope there? The world is looking at those who say they are followers of Jesus, and asking the question, do they have something that I need to hear? Do they know something that I need to know? That may be you today. You may be here at this service., you may be watching this message, and you may be very curious, is there something that I need in my life that I don't currently have? Can God provide it? Is there something that is missing that I'm looking for, that I've been longing for? I haven't been able to put my finger on it yet, but I know things are not the way they should be. So can I find what I'm looking for if I turn to the people of God? Can I find what I'm looking for? if I check out a church? If I understand the word of God, can God provide for me what my heart desires? And church, the way we live matters.

George Wright: 05:56 But how many of you know that there is a problem when what we are saying does not line up with what we
are living? Right? I mean how many of you would say it is a problem when what you say you believe does not line up with what people see when they look at how your living? I can remember as a college student learning this lesson in a painful way. Some of you've heard me tell my story, and my story of being a college student here at the University of South Carolina, is I joined a fraternity while I was a student at the University of South Carolina. And I did so because I really wanted to make an impact on campus. I wanted my life to make a difference, and I really felt strongly that I need to be around a group of guys that were not church guys, but a group of guys that needed to see and hear the love of God. And so I joined that fraternity, and sometimes it went well, sometimes I was a good influence. But there are a lot of times you better believe I was an idiot, and I probably didn't help the cause at all. And this story is actually an example of this. So my junior year of college I moved into our fraternity housing. We didn't have houses at the time, we just had dorms in what was called McBride Quad. It was disgusting, I'm so glad it is ceasing to exist on campus, it's going away slowly but surely. I lived in the fraternity housing, and when I moved on to the hall of our fraternity, I'll tell you, it was wild. I mean, it was 24/7 fraternity party happening all the time, and I was trying to live my faith, live as a Christian in the midst of all this, and it wasn't easy. There were many times that I stumbled and fell, there were many times that were a struggle.

George Wright: 07:55 But at the beginning of that first semester of living on the fraternity hall, I wanted to make a bold statement about what I believe. And so I found this bumper sticker, this is so ridiculous, but this bumper sticker said, Real Men Love Jesus. And so I plastered that bumper sticker on the door of my dorm room in the fraternity hall, Real Men Love Jesus. I'm going to share how a real man loves Jesus by living here, right? Had good intentions. There was a guy in our fraternity though that was so easy to pick on, I don't know if you ever had any friends like this, or anybody around you. I'm probably the only one, but this guy was just such an easy target, and he was kind of a goofball, and he was kind of easy to make fun of, you know? And I can tend to be a little too sarcastic at times, you may be shocked by that, my wife is not surprised by that at all. But I was being sarcastic with this guy, and just cutting up, and joking around, and poking fun at him, and making fun of him. And after this had gone on for a little while, for actually a few days, he looked at me and he said, do you really love Jesus? And I was like, oh yes I do. And he said, then why are you such a jerk to me? Man, and this guy was far from God, I mean, this guy was a wild guy, a wild dude in our fraternity. This was not a Christian who was calling me ou, this was a guy who was looking at my life and realized that my life was not lining up with what I said I believed. He called me out, it was painful. And that's when I learned a very important lesson that the whole evangelistic strategy, Jerks for Jesus, does not work. Just in case you were wondering, I mean there's some of you that have been trying that strategy, I've seen it, it doesn't work. It doesn't work. Jerks for Jesus is not going to go well.

George Wright: 10:01 And I learned a very important principle, it's a principle that we need to wrestle with often as we think about the way we're living our lives, does it line up with what we say we believe? This is the important principle I learned, one of the greatest invitations for people to see the love of God will be the people of God, but at the same time, one of the greatest barriers for people to see the love of God can be the people of God. We need to live in that tension. I hope that rests heavy in the room. That we have been invited as a church to be a picture of the love of God, and we should be a beautiful expression of the love of God in the way we live our lives. But if we're not paying attention, or if we're not careful, or if our eyes are not fixed on Jesus, we can actually become a barrier that prevents people from experiencing the love of God. The people of God will either be an invitation for others to see the love of God, or the people of God will be a barrier that prevents people from seeing the love of God. So what would be true of your life? What would be true of us? We all know the old adage, actions speak louder than words, it is certainly true. But the word of God reminds us, time and again, that our actions and our words are incredibly important.

George Wright: 11:40 James chapter 1 verse 22, listen to what the scripture says, "Be doers of the word, and not just hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror, for he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like." See, the question is do we hear the word, and then forgets what we are and who we are according to the good news of the gospel, or does the good news of the gospel actually drive and dictate the way that we live?

George Wright: 12:27 Let's go back to John 17 verse 21, Jesus shows us how important it is that we live according to these words. He says, "That they all may be one." Talking about the followers of Christ, the church. "That we all may be one just as you Father are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me. Again, we go back to this central theme of unity, of being one, that runs all throughout the prayer of Jesus in John 17. And Jesus is showing us again why unity is so important. We've talked about this before in this series, unity is not just about us getting along and being nice to each other, that's important, but there is always something more important. And Jesus is reminding us here that the reason why it's so important that we are united, that we are together, that we are moving in the same direction with common beliefs, that that drive and dictate our common purpose, is because the world is watching. So what does the world see when the world looks at our church? Is the world seeing a picture of God's love and grace on display? Because Jesus is praying that we would live in such a way that the world would look at us, and then believe that he is exactly who he says he is. The church is to be a tangible expression of the love of God, a picture of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done, and unity is absolutely essential for the church to live this out. The world will not see an example of the love of God when it sees a group of people who can't get along, or who are divided into factions, or who can't agree on what matters most. For the world to see a picture of the love of God in the church, unity must be the foundation.

George Wright: 14:46 We go back to this prayer, John 17:22.Jesus says, "The glory that you have given me, I have given to them. That they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you and me, that they may become perfectly one so that the world may know that you sent me and love them even as you loved me." Some of you had an experience like this when you were a kid, if your dad was telling you something to do, it was probably important for you to listen to it. But if your dad said it twice, you better pay attention, and if your dad said it three times, Oh dear Lord, right? Don't make me say this three times. This is amazing what Jesus has done. If Jesus says anything once, I'll just go ahead and lay this out, it is of the utmost importance if he says at once. If Jesus says it twice, Jesus is saying, don't miss this, it is absolutely essential. If Jesus says it a third time, Jesus is saying, you cannot follow me without this. And what does Jesus say three times? "That they may be one." This is the heart of Jesus. This is to be the foundation of the church. This is the fuel that fires up the mission engine for us to do what we are called to do as a people of God. We must be united as one in the foundation of God's word, and what Jesus has done for us.

George Wright: 16:42 So how do we live this out? Let's just be as practical as we can. This is not the easiest thing to do, right? I mean, that's why there's plenty of fighting in churches. That's why there is division in churches. That's why some churches splinter, and some churches split. That's why some churches ceased to exist. So how do we live this out? Jesus gives us beautiful insight here in verses 22 and 23, Jesus says, "I have given them, the people of God, the disciples, my glory. I want to make sure that my followers do not lose sight of what is most important." How can we ensure that we stay focused on what matters most? The answer according to Jesus is very simple. Live for the glory of God, live for the glory of God to be revealed, seen, and experienced through us. Your life is consistently saying, look at Jesus, if you are living for the glory of God. But if you're living for the glory of anything else in your life, your life is screaming, look at me or look at this. And Jesus is saying, if you want to understand what is of most importance, it is that you live for the glory of God.

George Wright: 18:08 How does this happen? How do we live for the glory of God? How do we come together, united as one around common beliefs for a common purpose? Well, I want to turn your attention to the very call of following Jesus, Luke chapter 9. Luke chapter 9, turn over a few pages from John 17, we'll come back there. Luke chapter 9, verses 23 and 24, we see this show up in several of the gospel accounts, but I want to turn your attention to Luke 9 specifically because of a word that Dr. Luke uses in verse 23. It says here, "Jesus said to all, if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily." That's the word that Luke uses that is different from the other gospel accounts, "Take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." This is the call to follow Jesus. Foundationally, the call to follow Jesus, is the call to take up a cross daily, to lay down our life daily, so that God can direct our steps, so that God's best will drive what we do.

George Wright: 19:40 So here is the question. Do you want to truly live? Do you believe that God's way is the best way? Do you believe that God is good, and knows what you need to do? If you believe God is good, and you believe God's way is the best, and you want to truly experience real life according to God's best, here's what has to happen. Something has to die, and none of us like to hear this, I don't like to hear this. Honestly, I don't even really love to preach it, because it's so hard for us to grab ahold of. If you want to follow Jesus, something has to die. Something needs to go to the cross today. So here's the question. What is it in your life right now that needs to die, so that you can follow Jesus? What is it in your life right now that you're holding onto that is preventing you from living from the glory of God? What is it in your life that needs to be brought to the cross, that is preventing you from living the mission of God that God has called you to be about? That's between you and God. But the scripture says, take up your cross daily, lay down your life daily, and then you will truly live, because you will be invited into something that is so much greater than yourself. This is the good news of the gospel, that when something dies through Christ, there is a resurrection. There is new life. There is a new birth that takes place, that invites us into a life lived for the glory of God. And there is no greater joy than living your life for the glory of God.

George Wright: 21:50 We go back to the prayer of Jesus, John 17:24, Jesus says, "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world." This verse is so beautiful, because Jesus is saying, listen, this is the gift of salvation revealed right here. Those who are followers of Jesus, get Jesus. Those who are followers of Jesus, get to be with Jesus for all of eternity. Here's the deal, what will that be like? Everybody wants to know what is heaven going to be like? What is eternity going to be like? And the reality is the Bible gives us some little snippets and some insight, but we don't entirely know, so much of it is a mystery. I've heard described this way about the apostle John when he wrote the Book of Revelation, it was like he was writing as a middle school girl when he wrote the Letter of Revelation. Do you know why? Because all throughout the book the apostle John is saying, it was like, it was like, it was like, it was like, it was like, it was like. I have a middle school girl, they talk that way, like, like, like, like. And the reason John has to say it is like this, and then is like that, and it is like this, and it's like that, is because there's no words to describe it. It's so much better than any category that we have in this life. It's so much greater than anything we experienced in this life, and John is doing the best he can to put it into words, but the language can't even contain it.

George Wright: 23:30 This is the promise of eternity, and here's what I can guarantee you, because the word of God shows us this. What I can guarantee you about eternity, is Jesus is the point, Jesus is the point. And it will be so much greater than anything we can comprehend in this life, that the Bible says, "When the glory of the Lord is finally revealed in all of its fullness, we will fall on our face in awe." And Jesus says to you, and Jesus says to me, I want you to be there. I want you to be there, where there is no sadness, no shame, no division, no pain, I want you to be there. Will you? Do you know for sure that you will be there? Because Jesus is inviting you. John writes in his gospel, chapter 14, as Jesus says, look, I'm going to prepare a place for you in my Father's house, there are many rooms. If it weren't true, I wouldn't tell you this. But I'm telling you this so that you can know there is a place for you, if you will trust me, if you will die to yourself, if you will lay down your life, if you all follow me as your Lord and savior. And quit trying to be the God of your life, and quit trying to run the show, if you will trust me, there is a place for you, and it will be beyond anything that you've experienced in this life. And I wants you to be there, Jesus says.

George Wright: 25:29 And then he concludes the prayer, verse 25 and 26, and we wrap up our series with this. Jesus says, "O' righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know you that you have sent me. I make known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them." You see, as Jesus concludes this prayer he's showing us. It all comes down to this, the world around us needs to know the love that God has for them. We've been reminded of this time and time again, we were reminded of this again last night as the news broke about another shooting in Texas. The world is hopeless in so many ways, and the world needs to know, the world needs to know, that the love of God is for them. The world needs to see that God is pursuing them with his love. You need to know that the love of God is for you. God is pursuing you even now with his love. He wants you to know his love, and so he sent his only Son to die in your place at the cross. The perfect sacrifice for your sin and for mine, Jesus Christ at the cross. He resurrected from the grave defeating sin and death, and inviting all who will trust in him into the gift of new life. The world needs to see this, and hear this, will they? Will they through us? Because remember, Jesus is praying that the world would see those who have yet to believe, would see through us what Christ has done.

George Wright: 27:37 And John writes it this way in his letter at the end of the New Testament, First John chapter 4, He writes about the love of God, "God is love", verse seven. In verse 11 and 12 he says this, "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another, and here's why, (Verse 12) for no one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us." What is the scripture saying? As we conclude this time, as we close the prayer of Jesus, please do not miss this, it is of the utmost importance. The world wants to see is the love of God real, is the love of God for me? Is there really a God, does he love me? The two most important questions that anyone could ask. And the scripture shows us that people cannot see visibly or tangibly God in the flesh the way the disciples got to see Jesus in the flesh. So how will the world see the love of God? Through the followers of Jesus, the followers of Jesus have the love of God abiding in us. And when we live together, united for the sake of the mission going into the world, we become the very picture of the love of God that the world needs to see. Is that not an amazing privilege? That God wants to use your life, and God wants to use my life, to show a world that is hurting and hopeless, that his love is for them. This is the calling, the world is watching. Go into the world, and be an expression of the love of God. But you can't do this alone, and you're not supposed to do this alone. The church has been called to come together as one, so that we can go into the world as one, spreading out around the world to show the love of God to those who are desperately longing to see it. God will use you, God will use us, if we will trust him at his word. We can be an answer to the prayer of Jesus, and we can know. John 17:20, "That there are those who will believe in him through us, If we live out this calling that he has invited us to be about." Let's do it. Let's do it.

George Wright: 30:38 Pray with me as we close our time this morning. Father God, what a gift it is to be reminded of your love. And I want to pray specifically for those who are with us today, or those who are listening to this message online, that have never experienced your love in a personal way, in a real way. I pray, that today they would see that the heart of Jesus, and the prayer of Jesus, is that the church would demonstrate your love in such a real way, that they would know how much you love them. So I pray for everyone who is here that has never experienced your love, everyone who is here that has never trusted their life to Jesus as their savior and Lord, I pray that today they would know that the heart of Jesus is for them to experience your love. The heart of Jesus is for them to experience the gift of salvation that comes through Christ alone. I pray that today there would be some who say, Jesus, I am ready to follow you. I am ready for the gift of new life. I am ready for my sins to be forgiven. I'm ready to be covered in your grace. I am ready to live my life on mission for what truly matters, and what truly lasts for all of eternity. Oh, how thankful we are for the gift of salvation, and for the amazing promise of your word, that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord who confesses with their mouth and believes in their heart that Jesus is Lord, they will be saved, they will experience the gift of salvation. There are some that need to do that today. And so Lord, we pray that you would give them the faith to trust in you as their savior and Lord. Use us as a church to point to your love over and over again. We pray that there would be more that would come to faith in Christ because of our witness pointing to you. We love you. It's in Christ' name we pray. Amen.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206