When in doubt, remember Jesus’ dying words.
SEPTEMBER 10, 2020
Zach Van Dyke:
When in doubt, remember Jesus’s dying words. Let’s talk about it on Key Life.
This is Key Life. We’re here to communicate the freeing truth that God’s not mad at his children. Zach Van Dyke is the teaching pastor at Summit Church here in Orlando. And he’s been teaching us all this week. If you’ve discovered that just trying harder, doesn’t make you better. Welcome to the party.
Zach Van Dyke:
Thanks Matthew, and thank you all for being with me all week. And if you’re just tuning in, welcome. You missed it and we’re pretty much wrapping it up today, but you can always go back, to the archives on keylife.org and listen to past teachings, including past teachings of Steve Brown, who will be back tomorrow with Pete Alwinson for Q & A. I hope you will join us tomorrow. But as I wrap up today, I’m wrapping up a three part series that I started back in July. And it’s a series in First John, a letter written by the apostle John to the early church towards the end of his life. And this series I’ve titled When In Doubt, because as believers, we sometimes struggle with doubt. Mostly doubt with whether or not we actually are Christians. And there’s a lot of reasons we could doubt that, we could doubt that because of sin patterns in our life, we could doubt that because other people make us feel like maybe we’re not really a Christian, we could doubt that because of the circumstances we find ourselves in. If God really loved us, if we were really following him, he wouldn’t allow these things to happen. There can be all kinds of reasons, but John, kind of this old seasoned Christian. A man cramming for finals, sits down to write a letter to us that essentially says, this is how you know, this is how you know that you know. And in this letter, I said, you know a lot of theologians talk about how there’s three tests in this letter that John gives us to examine ourselves. A theological test, do I believe the right thing? A moral test, am I behaving the right way? And a social test, do I love others? And if we go through those tests and we feel like. Yeah, I’m, I’m, I’m moving in the right trajectory in all these areas, then yeah, we can, we can be pretty, we can be assured of our faith. But I think John’s being tricky, because at the end of the letter, if you’ve gotten through this letter and you feel like I can check all these boxes, first of all, I think you’re crazy. But if you happen to get there and I’m sure that there’ve been times in my life where I thought, yep, I checked check, check, I’m doing it all right. He slips in this one little verse towards the very end First John 5, verse 3. He says,
This is how we know that we are children of God that we obey God’s commands. And His commands are not burdensome.
So yesterday I spent some time talking a little bit about how that’s really rocked me. Cause I’ve thought, you know, a lot of God’s commands still feel like a burden to me. And why is that? And I said, well, part of the reason that is, is because I’m still living, like I got to earn it. And in that way, I feel very much like the older brother and the prodigal son story, who never did anything wrong. Who stayed at the father’s house while his younger brother was off enjoying life, living it up to the full, he kept working, as he said, slaving away. But in reality, what we find out about him is that he’s done all the right things. He’s checked all the right boxes, but that there’s no delight in it. That in fact, all of his obedience has been burdensome. The other part of that, the other reason why God’s law is burdensome is because you and I, at least I, still struggle with believing that God really has our best in mind. If when we obey, we’re obeying out of obligation and not delight, that means we feel like we are missing out on something better. You ever find yourself envious that people get away with certain sins. I hate to admit it, but sometimes, I do. But you know what, so does King David in Psalm 73:3 he says,
For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
There’ve been times I’ve found myself really enjoying someone else being caught in their sin. Why? Not because I’m hopeful for their restoration, but because I’ve thought, well, it’s not, it wasn’t fair that they were getting away with that. I would like to get away with that. I’m not getting away with that, so they shouldn’t get away with that, right? So really that really what, what, what is at the core of that? It’s that I believe by being obedient to God, by obeying God’s law, I’m missing out on something better. Again, that’s the, that’s the first lie. We talked about this a little bit earlier this week when Adam and Eve sinned, they believed a lie that God really doesn’t want what’s best for you. That he’s a withholding God. And that lie has led to the destruction of so much in our world. In fact, it’s the lie that you and I still struggle with. It’s the lie that you and I believe every time we do choose disobedience. I love how profoundly simple it’s written in the Jesus storybook Bible. If you haven’t gotten that Bible, even if you don’t have kids, you should get it. Cause it it’ll bring you to t, every chapter will bring you to tears. But in recounting the story of Adam and Eve listened to these words,
Eve picked the fruit and ate some and Adam ate some too, and a terrible lie came into the world. It would never leave. It would live on in every human heart whispering to every one of God’s children. God doesn’t love me.
But it’s not true. God has nothing but our good in mind. Did you hear that? Do you believe that? No matter what your circumstances are right now, God has nothing but your good in mind. To be born again means you believe not only that God is good, but that he has your good in mind. God’s commands become way less burdensome, when we realize they’re not arbitrary. When we see them rightly as an operating manual for how our life’s work best. You know, if we actually believe that God thought us up, then he knows how we best work. And so his law is not to keep us down. It’s not to keep us from being all that we can be, it’s so we can be free to be fully who we truly are. And because God’s commands reflect his character. When we live by them, we look a lot more like him. We look a lot more like what he had in mind when he thought us up. But if we obey God’s commands, because we fear we will be rejected. Because we fear punishment, or that he won’t love us anymore. Of course our obedience becomes very burdensome indeed. I think the most despairing moment of any film I’ve ever seen is the moment at the very end of the movie, Saving Private Ryan. If you haven’t seen the film, it’s a fictional story, but it’s a fictional story set in World War II. And it’s a story about this group of soldiers who is sent on a mission to go save this one man, private Ryan, he had brothers that had all been killed in combat. And so, the army decided they weren’t going to send another son home to this family and a casket. So they sent all these soldiers to find this one guy. And throughout the whole movie, you see these soldiers wrestling with the question, why are we all sacrificing for this one guy? And many of these soldiers lose their life in the process. And in fact, the captain of the platoon gets fatally wounded, right as they find Ryan. And his last words to Ryan, as he lays there dying after saving Ryan’s life are earn this. Now the movie ends, many years in the future, Ryan has lived to be an old man, much like the apostle John and he’s with his family. He’s got a wife, he’s got kids, he’s got grandkids at this point. And the movie ends with him and Arlington Cemetery standing before the grave of captain John H. Miller. And he says to them grave, every day, I’ve thought about what you said. And then he turns to his wife. And with great desperation with tears in his eyes. He says, tell me, I’m a good man. Tell me I’ve lived a good life. Now. I’m sure others might feel that that moment was very inspiring. Are you crazy? What kind of life would you have to live to justify the deaths of so many soldiers and what a burden to carry those words, earn this. Those were the dying words of the man who saved Ryan. It hit me this week. How much I still live as if Jesus has final words to me as he was dying were earn this. But what had John heard? We know John was at the cross. He was at the very foot of the cross as Jesus died for his sins. What did John hear? He heard Jesus on the cross, say it is finished. When Jesus on the cross said it is finished. He forever obliterated the lie, earn this. So, I told you at the beginning of this week, I would tell you what it means, how to be born again. It simply means to believe Jesus’ dying words, it’s finished. There’s nothing left for you to do. Jesus has done everything necessary to make your standing before God a righteous one. Going back to the beginning of the letter, John says, I write to you so that you won’t sin because sin causes pain. It’s going to mess things up for you and those you love. But, if you do sin, know that I 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. To be born again is simply to trust that it indeed is all about grace.
Thank you Zach. That was Pastor Zach Van Dyke landing the plane on his three part series called When In Doubt. Zach started the series way back in July. So if you missed any of it, be sure to visit us at the all new keylife.org to access those episodes. Steve will be back tomorrow with our friend Pete Alwinson for Friday Q & A. Tomorrow, they’ll tackle this question. How can I talk to people about Jesus when they don’t want to hear? I think we’ve all been there, so be sure to join us tomorrow. Well, recently on our other radio show, Steve Brown Etc., we spoke with Chuck DeGroat about the insidious danger of narcissism in the church. We discussed how to spot it and explored how healing happens. This conversation is going to give you a lot to think about and also give you some hope. Get the whole episode on a CD for free right now by calling 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also drop an email to Steve@keylife.org. By mail send request to
Key Life Network
P.O. Box 5000
Maitland, Florida 32794
If you’re in Canada, mail us at
Key Life Canada
P.O. Box 28060
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 6J8
Just ask for the free CD with Chuck DeGroat. Finally, a question for you. Do you believe there’s value in the content you hear on Key Life? If so, would you consider giving the Key Life so that others could hear it? Any gift you give, big or small is really appreciated. Plus, giving is easy. Just charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. Both of those organizations assure financial accountability. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.