When in doubt, look to the true Christ.
AUGUST 13, 2020
Zach Van Dyke:
When in doubt, look to the true Christ. Let’s talk about it on Key Life.
This is Key Life, here to communicate the freeing truth that God’s not mad at his children. Steve Brown invited Zach Van Dyke to teach this week. Zach’s the teaching pastor at Summit Church here in Orlando, Florida. If you’re a struggling believer, you’ve come to the right place.
Zach Van Dyke:
Thanks Matthew. And again, y’all thanks for tuning in. I’m always so surprised that any of y’all show up. So the fact that you are here, just I’m so delighted. And have no fear are our fearless leader, Steve Brown, will be back tomorrow with Pete Alwinson for Q & A. And then of course he’ll be, uh, back in all next week with his teaching. But I’m glad that I get to give him a break every, every month or so. And the last couple times I’ve been in, uh, I’ve been in a series that I’ve titled When In Doubt. And it’s a series where we’re looking at first John, a letter that was written to the early church at the end of the disciple John’s life. And it’s kind of, kind of the last things that he wanted to say to us, to say to those Christians that would follow behind him. And really, it’s a great letter to go back and look at when we’re struggling with doubts. Especially when we’re struggling with doubts about our own salvation and our own Christianity, because that happens. And that can happen a lot of times when things are unsettled around us, like the situation that we’re all currently in, like everything’s kind of different and we’re not quite sure like what, what we can trust. And many of us maybe have been asking a question where is God? I’ve shared that during this whole pandemic, that I’ve struggled with anxiety for the first time. And so that’s made me doubt God, because you know, Christians shouldn’t have anxiety, they shouldn’t worry, right. They should, you know, trust that God will provide for them what they have, or what they need for the day. And you know, all those things that can start to make you in your own mind wrestle with am I actually really a Christian? And so John writes a letter that really helps answer that question. And this week in part two of When In Doubt, we’ll finish it up the next time I’m here in September, we’ve really been focused on what John says at the beginning of his letter, about walking in the light. And how you and I, if we really want to know if we’re a Christian, we got to step out into the light. We have to see things as they really are. We have to see things the way God sees them. God is light. So there’s no darkness in him. He can’t deal with things that are fake. He can only deal with things as they really are. In fact, the Psalmist says even the darkness is light to God. So you and I might do the best job in the world at wearing a mask, or posturing, or hiding our struggles, or hiding our secret sins. But God can see right into it. You know, we’re told that man looks on the outward appearance, but God, he knows the heart. We spent a little bit of time kind of going to the gospel of John and looking at the story of the Samaritan woman, where, where Jesus very clearly knew everything about this woman, knew all the ways in which she had sinned and he still wanted her. He still loved her. And he chose to reveal to this shamed woman, his true identity. He hadn’t even told his disciples, his true identity at that point, and we’re told as a response to hearing who Jesus really was. And that he knew everything about her and still loved her, that he radically changed her. In fact, it made her the first evangelist. She went back into her town and said, Hey, you gotta meet this guy. You gotta meet this guy, who told me everything I ever did and still loved me and still wanted me and the scripture tells us many people believed, many Samaritans believed in Jesus because of her testimony. And I ended yesterday by saying her testimony wasn’t this radical transformation. It wasn’t this life of obedience where all of a sudden everything about her changed in her behavior. No, it was just that she was seen and known and still loved. That was the testimony. And if that’s our testimony, anybody can be saved. Right? You know, a lot of us think, well, if I were a real Christian, I would be a lot better than I am. I would look a lot more like that guy or that girl. But the reality is no, that’s not true, to be a Christian means to say, I’m a mess, I’ve got all kinds of sin, but I have got this Jesus who loves me in spite of my sin. In fact, does something about my sin. And that’s really where we’re going to end this week. We’re going to talk a little bit about the second thing that John says in this letter is offered in the light. So in First John, chapter one, in that first section, he says, two things are offered in the light. He says, we’ll have fellowship with one another. And the blood of Jesus, God’s son will cleanse us, will purify us from all sin. You know, it’s been a while since we read it, I just want to reread just this little section, because I think it’ll be helpful for the remainder of our discussion. So this is First John one, starting in verse five.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you. God is light. In him, there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, his son purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves. And the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar. And his word is not in us. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ, the righteous one. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. And not only for our sins, but the sins of the whole world.
This is God’s word. Now I don’t know about you, but I could listen to that passage every day, actually multiple times every day. I love that John, at the beginning of this letter kind of gets to the end of the first section. And he says, my dear children, I write this to you so that you won’t sin, because he knows that sin leads to death. He knows that sin leads to hopelessness, but he also knows that trying to achieve a righteousness on our own, trying to measure up to other people’s performance, to other people’s posturing and mast squaring of being these great Christians. He also knows that that leads to death, that that leads to, to hopelessness. So he says, but listen, if you do sin, which really he’s saying, but when you do sin, know that we have one who speaks to the father in our defense. That’s what it means to be an advocate, Jesus Christ, the righteous one. He says, listen, no matter what, now Jesus is fighting for you. Not only is he fighting for you, but Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and not only ours, but also for the sins of the whole world. This is the heart of the gospel. This is what John wants us to always come back to. You know, when you and I, when we are struggling with doubts as Christians, as believers, we’re not told that if you’re struggling with doubt, you should go to a place of despair. No, you should go back to the gospel. Tell yourself the gospel again. Martin Luther famously said, preach yourself, preach the gospel to yourself daily, lest you forget it. You know, many theologians, when they write about First John, they say, it’s a great letter to examine, if in fact you are really Christians. And if we were to go through the entire letter, we would see their sections that seem like test, like ways to test ourselves where we can examine, do I believe the right things? There’s a theological test. Then there’s a moral test. Does my life demonstrate that I hate sin, that I don’t want to continue in sin? And then there’s a social test. Do I love other people, is the way I’m interacting with the world around me? Does it model the fact that I believe the gospel, that those are three tests that you and I can give ourselves to know whether or not we’re really a Christian? Do I believe the right things? Do I hate sin, the white God hates sin? And do I love other people the way God loves other people? And we’re going to talk a little bit about that the next time that I’m here in September. But even if we get to the end of each of those tests, if we get to the end of the moral test and we’re like, listen, I don’t, I mean, I know I should hate my sin, but right now I’m kinda, that was kind of fun. Right? And like, I don’t know that I hate it enough. Like, does that mean I’m not a Christian? The results should not be despair. The result should be to go back to the heart of the gospel, because listen, I’m as much a sinner in the light as I am in the darkness. But if I go back to verse seven,
If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, his son purifies us from all sin.
I can try and do better and be better. And I should, but it is only by the blood of Jesus that my sin is wiped away. Spurgeon preaching on this text, ended his sermon with these words,
Remember in the manner of taking away sin, the first thing is not the throne, but the cross, not the reigning savior, but the bleeding savior, not the King in his glory, but the Redeemer in his shame.
That is the true Christ. We started this week talking about, have we accepted, have we settled for the comfortable Christ? Or have we seen the true one? You see, I think it was that picture of Christ that compelled Franz Jägerstätter, to deny allegiance to Hitler. I talked about at the beginning of the week, the movie, A Hidden Life that tells the true story of this man who said I’m not going to join the Nazi party, I can’t. I can’t serve, even though it means that I’m going to die. And even though it means that probably no one will even know that I died. I’m not going to end the war. I’m not going to save the Jews by this decision. I’m going to, I’m going to make the decision out of obedience to Christ. But here’s the thing. Jesus already loved him. Jägerstätter’s decision didn’t change what Jesus’ blood had already done for him, no matter what choice he made. Jesus’s blood purified him from all sin, past, present and future, because it’s all about grace.
Thank you Pastor Zach Van Dyke. That was Zach wrapping up his week long series on the issue of doubt. Again, this week was part two in the series. So if you missed any episodes of this week, or if you didn’t catch part one, come see us at keylife.org and do some binge listening. Steve will return tomorrow, for Friday Q & A. Tomorrow, he and Pete Alwinson will answer your questions including this one. How do I pray for my children? Hmm. It doesn’t get any more important than that, right? Well, recently on our other show, Steve Brown Etc., we spoke with one of our favorite folks, Dr. Hugh Ross. In Dr. Ross’s book called Weather and Climate Change, he introduces some interesting new information, that’s sure to make you lean forward, no matter what you believe on this subject. Get the entire conversation on a CD for free, right now, by calling 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also email Steve@keylife.org and ask for the CD. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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