Those who have been tortured with listening to me talk in a day-to-day setting know that I’m a bit addicted to music. I’m sure there are plenty who have more than I do…but even without ripping every CD I own, my iPod has over 60GB of music files. It’s not a bad addiction compared to others, but it sure drives Michelle up the wall when I start cycling through the first portion of one song after another. ☺
[ Ask people who their favorite artist or band is. Ask them who the best band or artist ever is. ]
Although I think (ignoring the message of their music) the best band ever is Led Zeppelin, my favorite group is The Cult. However, as I thought more about the band behind the title of today’s sermon, Tesla, I’m beginning to wonder if they have become my favorite. Perhaps not–but they are definitely near the top and far better at always releasing a good album (although, in fairness, I just don’t always enjoy some of the style choices The Cult has made as they try new sounds).
(As an aside…my favorite Christian artist is Steve Camp and my favorite Christian band is 12 Stones. Their quality is equal to, and sometimes better, than their secular peers.)
[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]
One of the reasons Tesla has appealed to me since I first heard them is they seem to, for a secular rock group, have some understanding of what’s really important. For instance, one of their hit love songs, “What You Give,” has this chorus:
It’s not whatcha got, it’s a-what you give.
It ain’t the life you choose, it’s the life you live.
It’s not what you got, only what you give, only what you give,
It’s not whatcha got, a-but the life you live.
It’s the life you live.
And their most recent CD, “Forever More,” continues to have something beyond “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.”
[ Show the album…comment on the odd hugging skeletons on the cover. ]
One song that sticks out to me is “So What!” leading into the first chorus with:
And life sucks
Hey if you like it or not
So what, that’s all we got
And then the chorus:
Your telling everybody that the worlds unfair, well
So What! So What!
It’s time to get real,
It’s not paradise,well
So What! So What!
[ http://www.elyrics.net/read/t/tesla-lyrics/so-what!-lyrics.html ]
Now…that may seem a bit negative…but I think many of us can relate to wanting some people to realize that sometimes complaining about how unfair life is is useless.
But that song didn’t inspire this sermon…
Instead, I’d like to focus on the song, “Just in Case”–which I suspect was at least influenced by the drummer, Troy Luccketta, whose “thanks” page in the album’s booklet begins with, “Dear Lord God, you will always be #1.” [ Show the page in the middle of the booklet. ]
The song begins with:
Outside the sky is blue
Always try to do my part
But now it’s raining in my heart
There’s just so much I can do
It’s really got ahold of me
It’s why i feel so incomplete
If life’s a broken band
Only i would understand
I’ll be more than glad to join right in
If only I could pray,
I know what I would say
To whom it may concern
Just in case I dont make it to heaven
I’d like to personally thank you for givin’
Somethin’ so beautiful
That makes life worth livin’ ,yea
Thank you just in case I
I’m trying once again
But everytime I try to talk to you,
It’s like I never seem to get through
I never have the strength to ever put my faith in you
Maybe I should just realize,
I don’t deserve you in my life
They say it’s in your hands,
That everythings just like you planned
It’s good enough for them, so why not me
If only I could pray,
I know what I would say…
Dear god i’m talking to ya
Interesting, eh? It says a lot about what the lyricist believes…anything jump out at you?
[ Wait for responses. ]
Worrying about our salvation
One sense that came clear to me from the song…and that is even a bit obvious from the title…is the writer’s lack of surety about his salvation. Remember, the chorus begins…”Just in case I don’t make it to heaven…”
Is that concern unique…even for Christians?
Do any of you wonder if you’ll make it to heaven?
I’ll admit it. I do. I “know” I am saved…but I can’t deny my doubts…
Look for motifs…
Now…as we turn together to God’s Word…and as we read and listen together…please listen for some motifs in the verses we share…I’m going to quiz you at the end. ☺
Should we be afraid?
Let’s look at a few scriptures and see if we should be afraid…
28 ”Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”– 30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
8 “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, 9 but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one whoblasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, sincethey are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
Those three do seem to indicate there is something we cannot be forgiven for–a “point of no return” for us sinners…so yes, it does seem we should be afraid…especially because of the last one since it indicates that someone who has “tasted the heavenly gift” and can fall away…with no hope of return.
Now are you worried?
The rest of the story…
Well, I’ve got some great news…well…that is…the Bible has some great news for you…so let’s set aside being worried for a bit, and turn to some other scriptures…
22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me,is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out ofthe Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
- You heard Jesus’ voice and followed Him–you are part of his flock.
- No one can snatch you out of Jesus’ hand.
- The Father gave you to Jesus.
- No one can snatch you out of the Father’s hand.
35 Jesus said to them,”I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me,that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
- You came to Jesus because the Father gave you to Him.
- The Father’s will is you not be lost, but be raised in the last day.
24 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.
- You were given by the Father to Jesus.
- Jesus desires you be with Him.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
- Jesus is your shepherd…you followed him because you heard, and know, his voice.
41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus,the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. AndI will raise him up on the last day.
- You came to Jesus because the Father drew you to Him.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,7 for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
”For your sakewe are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- You were foreknown.
- You were predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus.
- You were called.
- You were justified.
- You were glorified.
- Nothing! Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!
No, nothing can…not even you because…
“For by grace you have been saved athrough faith. And this is not your own doing;it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8) and the one “who saved [you] called [you] to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Timothy 1:9).
You were saved because you were called…and God will finish the work He started in you. You aren’t saved because of what you do or don’t do…
When I started turning the pages of the Bible I asked you to listen for motifs…for patterns in what I shared. Did you pick up any? [ Wait for responses. ]
Some I picked up:
- The work of the Holy Spirit.
- You were given to Jesus by the Father.
- You were called.
- You cannot be lost…you cannot be snatched out of Jesus’ or the Father’s hand or be separated from the love of Christ.
So why did those initial scriptures show a point of no return?
51”You stiff-necked people,uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming ofthe Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”
Now that may seem like a harsh Scripture…but it’s actually good news for you…because it shows that “blaspheming” the Holy Spirit is resisting it…and you would not be sitting here confessing that Jesus is Lord if you resisted it.
You were called. You listened. You were justified. You are saved. You will be raised up on the last day.
And nothing can change that.