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Sermon Notes 08-07-11

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					             Sermon Notes: August 7, 2011
                    Ray Choi, Life Baptist Church
Bryan, who just graduated from high school, was the lone representative
from Pasadena on a missions trip to East Timor with the West LA sister
church. He shared a testimony about the missions trip. He said he was
struck by the bible study of Proverbs 3:5-6, and it explained the last year in
his life. He made a commitment to rededicate his life to God.

We read all of 1 Corinthians 2.

The chapter starts with Paul’s thesis statement in verse 2: I resolved to
know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Paul was a very well-read person before Christ, and he could have studied a
wide variety of topics after believing. But why does he put so much focus on
the cross? Here are three reasons:

   1) Life is short.
   2) The cross is true wisdom.
   3) The cross is true power.

First, Paul didn’t resolve to learn many things about church growth or
spiritual gifts because he had a sense of urgency. He also expresses this
elsewhere, like Romans 13:11.

Only one thing matters, and Paul implicitly says here that he thinks time is
running out. An older pastor (Pastor Don) at a conference on church planting
told the pastors there that statistically, we are losing LA for the gospel, and
his time was running out. Then he stepped down. It was powerful. When you
are diagnosed with cancer and you have one month to live, you will
maximize your time on what really matters.

Paul knew that time was short. He was a tent-maker, but he wasn’t about to
make a tent-making empire. He was not married, and being single allowed
him to devote himself completely to the work of the Lord.

Time is still short today. If you’re above 25, your body is dying. Your brain
cells no longer regenerate. Ray notices that his body is breaking down slowly
with every crick in his neck or back.

“Time is short” was also a theme of his trip to the East Coast for his
brother’s wedding. It doesn’t matter how much you do to prepare for a
wedding, 24 hours later, people all go home.



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            Sermon Notes: August 7, 2011
                    Ray Choi, Life Baptist Church
Think back to the big moments in your life. How long did the joy from these
experiences last – a day, a week? Time is fleeting, and we keep searching
from one goal to the next.

Ray’s aunt recently got leukemia, but was shocked to hear that. He saw her
having a good time at the wedding, and it was tough for him to reconcile
that with the fact that she’ll be gone soon. His grandmother, an
accomplished painter and writer, had her life work on display in her house
on the walls and she was signing books. About a year ago, she started
suffering from dementia, and she didn’t even recognize Ray this time. His
dad showed her a picture that she had painted of himself, but she couldn’t
even remember him. It’s shocking how quickly things can change.

They visited NYC too. Ten years ago, Ray and his family were on a tour
there and someone told them to turn on the radio – the World Trade Center
was on fire. Later they saw it with their own eyes. Everything in life
crumbles. Ray remembers praying at that moment that since time is short,
he would commit his time to preaching the gospel. The tenth anniversary is
coming up, and that’s a commitment Ray wants to make again.

Look at your own life. How are you investing it? Don’t waste your life on
things that will be here today and gone tomorrow. Paul resolved to know
nothing but Jesus and the cross in light of that urgency.

The cross is true wisdom. Read verses 6-9 again. The cross was a secret
wisdom, so hidden that no rulers of this age could understand it. Who were
these rulers? Well, partly they were the Roman and Jewish leaders of the
time, who crucified Jesus. It’s also referring to Satan, who is often called a
ruler. He didn’t know what the cross would produce, and if he did, he
wouldn’t have taken over Judas like that. Even Jesus’ own disciples
misunderstood the cross, even though Jesus told them clearly what would
happen. Why was it so hidden?

Two figures emerge from the prophecies of the Old Testament. There’s the
kingly Messiah, and there’s the suffering servant of Isaiah. People wondered
who that second one would be. They thought it could be a future prophet, or
a metaphor for Israel’s suffering. The kingly Messiah, the Davidic king, they
thought they understood, as someone who would be used to judge the
nations through military conquest. They saw these as two completely
separate people, according to the best of human wisdom.


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             Sermon Notes: August 7, 2011
                     Ray Choi, Life Baptist Church
But in God’s supreme wisdom, he sent his son Jesus, not as two different
people, but as one. He volunteered his life, and ascended to heaven,
promising to come back a second time as a kingly Messiah, when he will
establish his new kingdom on earth. Jesus fulfilled both these roles.

The cross is not just something that happened to us, or something we
remember once a year. That’s why there is merit to observing the Lord’s
Supper more frequently than once a year, although we don’t.

The third reason Paul lived in view of the cross is that it was true power.
Read verse 3. Ray doesn’t believe he is very eloquent, so he has that
advantage. He also has a long history with the older guys in this church, so
he knows he can’t pretend. He can’t get away with pride here, because they
remember his arrogance, even before he was a Christian. So Ray can
honestly say that he came to his present position, like Paul, with weakness
and fear and much trembling.

It might be easy to say this when we have 50 or 60 church members, but if
we grew to 500 or 5000 Ray might be tempted to say, “I’m not that bad.”
Even then, the old guys in the church would point him back to verse 3.

Paul is honestly stating reality. It’s not a false humility. Humility isn’t
pretending that you aren’t capable if you are. Michael Vick shouldn’t pretend
that he can’t throw the football and lead the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super
Bowl.

Instead, Paul is pointing out that spiritual power doesn’t reside in the leader,
it comes from the Spirit. He first defines power negatively: It’s not about
having wise and persuasive words. Then he defines power as the power of
the Spirit. He goes on later in the chapter, in verses 9-14. Before receiving
the Spirit, we are incapable of understanding spiritual truth.

Salvation occurs not through rhetoric but through revelation. God has to
reveal himself to you, as we covered in Romans. You could sit in church for
70 years, but you won’t have true spiritual understanding without the Spirit.

One word of caution from verse 10: Some in Christian circles will say that
the spiritual, charismatic gifts are these ‘deeper things of God.’ We learn
from the letter that the Corinthians had these gifts. But this verse isn’t about
that. It’s about salvation. Paul doesn’t cite these things in talking about the
power of God, he cites salvation.


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             Sermon Notes: August 7, 2011
                    Ray Choi, Life Baptist Church
A prominent Pentecostal church in the area emphasizes those things. It’s
fine that they seek the gift of healing; Ray wouldn’t mind that. But on Good
Friday, they didn’t have a message about the cross, but about another
random topic. Ray believes this is wrong – the cross should be foremost.

As we’ll see next time, Paul believes that the cross isn’t just for new
Christians. It’s the main entrée, not just the milk for babies. Certainly we
welcome gifts and power, but we have to remember Jesus’ criticism of that
generation that they just wanted miracles. We need to remember that
salvation is the greatest demonstration of spiritual power. God can take a
stone-hearted rebel and bring them to obedience. God can also take a
hardened and skeptical Christian who gossips all the time and change her
heart to make her want to tame her tongue. It’s a smaller scale, but it’s still
a miracle. God alone can take a heart of stone and make it a heart of flesh.

This is how Ray tells his children to pray. He tells Timothy (8) to pray to God
that he will save him.

There is confidence in only knowing one thing. You don’t have to have a PhD
to be confident to approach Christ. Even the kids could come to him. There
is no reason to feel inadequate; stop looking at yourself and look on Jesus.

We’ll end with one of the hymns we sung today, When I Survey the
Wondrous Cross. The Christian confession is that we count it all as loss
compared to the cross. We do the same with our knowledge, resolving like
Paul to know nothing but Christ and him crucified.

The cross demands a response. Even all of nature would be an unworthy
offering, as the hymn says. For a Christian, the least we can do is offer our
soul, our life, our all.




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