You are in the future. I’m in the past.
NOVEMBER 2, 2020
Zach Van Dyke:
You are in the future. I’m in the past. Let’s talk about it on Key Life.
You’re listening to Key Life. We’re here to communicate the freeing truth that God’s not mad at his children. Steve Brown invited Zach Van Dyke to do the teaching 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 thank you all for joining this week. I know you’re probably expecting to hear the old white guy’s voice, Steve’s voice, but it’s me this week and I’m so glad to be with you. I’m always so thankful for this opportunity. And I just have to tell you, I’m going to let you all behind the curtain a little bit. I don’t know if Steve ever lets you behind the curtain. I don’t know if he ever let you know. like what’s actually going on, but you all are in the future. Like you are, you are in a place that I’m not that I don’t even know about yet. You’re going to be listening to this way in the future from when I’m talking about it. So, this is what I know. I know that this is airing, right before the presidential election in 2020. Now, at this point, I have no idea who is up in the polls for you. I don’t, I don’t even know what everyone’s thinking about tomorrow. You know, I don’t know if Kanye West has gotten back into the race again and is running for president. I don’t know? But you do so, you know things that I don’t know. With that being said. I’m really excited about what I want to talk about this week with you, because I think it has implications at where you are right now, but I can talk about them from a perspective that isn’t clouded by the current situation and circumstances. So, that’s what we’re going to do. And, I want to start by talking a little bit about, you know, our country. 244 years ago, the founding fathers ratified these words.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Man, those are some powerful words. Now, one can rightly argue that many of those founding fathers had a very limited, and also ungodly view of who that included, but they are still powerful words to build from. They’re powerful words on which to build something, right? How you begin something, how do you start something is important. So, this week, what I want to do is I want to talk about what Jesus started. What he started when he came to earth and began his earthly ministry. When he came to earth and he declared that today, the kingdom of God is at hand. So, to do that, we’re going to go back and we’re going to look at Jesus’ very first sermon, first sermon he ever preached. He went back to his hometown of Nazareth, where he’d been a carpenter, where his dad was a carpenter. We’re told he goes to the synagogue and he stands up to teach, to teach. The people that he grew up with, to teach, you know, all the neighbors and the aunts and uncles, and you know, everyone from his hometown. And he stood up and were told he was handed the scroll from the prophet Isaiah. And that he took some time to find a particular passage. And then this is what it, this is what he read. This is Luke 4, starting in verse 18.
The spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
This is the word that inaugurated the kingdom of God. This is what he chose to preach his very first sermon on. Now, what you choose as your first sermon is kind of a big deal. My very first sermon I ever preached. I was so nervous. I threw up a couple of times before I got up to preach it. But I started by saying, that a couple of months earlier, I had stopped believing in God. And it was true. I went through a major crisis of faith before my first sermon. And then I decided, when I had the opportunity to preach that I was going to talk about that. And in fact, it’s a sermon that’s been offered through Key Life, a number of times, it’s called The Addict, the Accuser and the Advocate. And it was a sermon that I really just kind of exposed my own struggle with believing the accusing voice. And not looking to Jesus as my advocate. And so that’s what I chose to preach as my first sermon. How you start something matters, how you start something is important and Jesus, in his first sermon, he declared a kingdom of essentially life, liberty and true happiness for all. After reading that passage from Isaiah, this is what Jesus said. He said,
Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.
He’s not talking about something that will happen in eternity. He’s not just talking about the future. I’m talking to you from the past. You are in the future right now. Jesus, isn’t just talking about something in the future. Although it will be true in the future. There will be a new heavens and a new earth, but when he delivers this sermon, this inaugural address about the kingdom of God, he’s talking about something that is happening in the here and now. Kind of like how he taught us to pray in the Lord’s prayer when he said, pray, make it on earth as it is in heaven. These are things not just to be longed for, but to be pursued, to be fought for now. Jesus began his public ministry by declaring here and now there is good news for the poor there’s freedom for the prisoners there’s recovery of sight for the blind and there is the setting free of the oppressed. Jesus in his first sermon declared powerful words of what will one day be, by also acknowledging what needs fixing. Now, as the church, we’re the church, you know, Jesus left and he said, listen, I’m going to use you. You’re going to be my hands and feet now. You’re going to be the ones who, who go about building this kingdom that I came to usher in. Are we as the church building from those initial powerful words? This isn’t a political thing. This is a kingdom of God thing. Are we identified as people who declare good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind and are we actively working to set the oppressed free? One of the first of many lines in the book, Just Mercy, that really struck me when I read the book. And if you haven’t read it, you should read it, it’s by Bryan Stevenson. he’s a lawyer who works to get people off death row, who have been wrongly accused or their sentences is above what it should be. And, he’s an incredible, he’s also a man of faith, although he doesn’t really lead with that, he doesn’t talk about it a whole lot. But he is, he’s a man of faith. And he wrote this book called Just Mercy. And in it, he said something very interesting. He said the opposite of poverty is not wealth, the opposite of poverty is justice. That’s a striking statement. And I remember the first time I read it, I wondered, well, what does that even mean? Well, if you go and you study the word justice in the Bible, it essentially says the same thing. All truth is God’s truth. It doesn’t matter where it comes from, it doesn’t matter if you read it in a book or you see it in a movie. If it’s true it’s God’s truth. So the opposite of poverty is justice is true. It’s biblical understanding of justice. The Hebrew word for justice is mishpat. And that word doesn’t just mean acquitting or punishing every person based on the merits of the case against them, regardless of their race or social status. But it also means giving people their rights. Essentially to give them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In Proverbs 31:9 it says,
defend the rights of the poor and the needy.
In other words, make sure the vulnerable are not left behind. Over and over again, mishpat is used to describe taking up the care and the cause of the oppressed. Often mentioned in the Scriptures are widows and orphans and immigrants and the poor. Zechariah 7:10 through 11 says this,
This is what the Lord almighty says, administer true justice, show mercy and compassion to one another, do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the immigrant, or the poor.
Now how much of the Bible was written, the world was primarily an agrarian society. So the specific people often mentioned in relation to justice were those that were at most risk of being oppressed in that culture. In his book, Generous Justice, Pastor Tim Keller suggests that in today’s world, it is appropriate to expand that group of people at risk for being oppressed, to include the refugee, the migrant worker, the homeless, in some cases, single parents and the elderly. And in some context, a particular race or ethnicity can be most at risk for being oppressed. And then he goes on to say that the mishpat or justice of a society, according to the Bible, will be evaluated by how the society treats these groups of people and any neglect to the needs of these people is not just a lack of mercy or charity, but a clear violation of justice. In other words, a sin deserving the wrath of God. This isn’t a political thing. This is a kingdom of God thing. The hope of the world is not in a particular government or a political party or a social service organization. The hope of the world is Jesus Christ. And he has called us his church to be his hands and feet to a desperate and hurting world. Listen, if you stick with me all week, as we look at justice, as we look at what is fighting against justice, you will see that it is all about grace.
Thank you Zach. That was pastor Zach Van Dyke, teaching us from Luke 4 about true life, liberty, happiness and justice. And just since Zach mentioned it, make sure you vote tomorrow. Recently on our other show, Steve Brown Etc, we spoke with author Sharon Hersh about her new book called Belonging: Finding the Way Back to One Another. The book explores how our individual story connects to a larger story that we find ourselves within. If you’ve ever felt a lack of a larger context for your life, you should really check out this conversation. We’d love to send it to you for free on CD. Just call 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also email Steve@keylife.org and ask for that CD. If you’re mailing us, send your request to
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