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Vision… God said…

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(7/20) So, today we’re continuing in part4 of the "Vision" series and we’re going to discuss how God communicates with us. And here’s why… our God is a God who not only has affection for us, but communicates with us. He’s a God who wants us to know him, he wants to speak to us, and one of the ways we see that is in the Word of God and in preaching the Word of God.

So, what we learn early on in the Bible is that our God, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, loved one another, lived in unity with one another, and communicated with one another from eternity past. Our God is by nature a God who speaks, he’s a God who communicates, who reveals himself, who knows others, and desires to be known. And so one of the first things we learn about God in the Bible, is in Genesis chapter one, before sin enters the world, is that he speaks.

Let’s read together from Genesis 1:1-27…

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning — the first day.

6 And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning — the second day.

9 And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.

11 Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning — the third day.

14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. 16 God made two great lights — the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning — the fourth day.

20 And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." 23 And there was evening, and there was morning — the fifth day.

24 And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (NIV)

It says 10 times in Genesis chapter one, "God said." 10 times God saying something, God speaking, God communicating, God sending forth his word. And then seven times it says, "And God saw." So God would say something and then we would see that exactly what he wanted happened, because God’s Word proceeds powerfully and it does exactly what God sends it to accomplish (Isaiah 55:11). So God’s Word goes out and it creates life. When God speaks things happen, things change, and life comes into being. And so the Bible teaches that God spoke...

"By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible" (Hebrews 11:3).

That everything that is… comes from the very Word of God. And so first of all we learn in the Bible that God said… God speaks… He sends forth his Word and it affects change.

1. From The Beginning

So from the beginning we see that God speaks, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit communicate, and as we move forward to Genesis 3, we also learn that Satan (the devil) speaks. In verse one, we read this,

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say?" (Genesis 3:1).

So in Genesis chapter one, ten times God says something, then in Genesis chapter three, Satan comes along twisting what God had said and asking, "Did God really say that? Is that really what God meant?" And so all of a sudden there’s confusion. This serpent, this snake is indwelt by the presence of Satan. This angelic spirit being that God created good, yet with free will, rejected God’s authority, corrupted himself and became the personification of evil. And now having become God’s arch enemy, becomes the voice of confusion, because now there’s two conflicting voices.

So Satan tempts Eve saying, "Do what I want and I’ll give you what you want." And it’s still the same thing he says to us today. "I’ll give you whatever you want, just do what I want." So it’s really an issue of worship. It’s an issue of obedience, of allegiance, and of alliance. As God said,

"No servant can serve two masters" (Luke 16:13).

And so what we find is that the remainder of the Bible is what God said… a rebuttal… and a response to Satan’s rebellion.

As in Luke’s Gospel, for forty days the Lord Jesus Christ was tempted by the devil; but unlike Adam and Eve, who believed the lies of Satan and fell into sin, Jesus rejected Satan’s temptation. He said no to the lies and repeatedly quotes from the book of Deuteronomy saying, "No, it is written… this is what God said." And so the Son of God resists Satan with the Word of God (Luke 4:1-13). And that’s why the Bible says, when Satan comes with his lies, you take "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). So Jesus stands firm… He does not sin… he quotes the Scriptures… and he fends off this satanic attack.

So we see from the very beginning this celestial dialogue, a wrangling with words, and the supreme authority of the Word of God. We see that God speaks as the book of Hebrews tells us, "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways…" (Hebrews 1:1). They speak the very Word of God. Over two hundred times in the Old Testament a prophet says, "The Lord said..." And what they’re saying is, "God said… God gave me a word… a message for you…" So there’s this line of prophets through all time writing many of the books of our Bible; those like Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah and the last… the latest and greatest of the Old Testament prophets being John the Baptist.

2. Through All Time

So we read about him and his message in Matthew chapter three, "In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Matthew 3:1-2).

So he came preaching repentance and what happened is some people loved him and some people hated him. Because what happens when repentance is preached, you get very strong, and sometimes violent emotional reactions. Because repentance is saying, "What you believe, that’s wrong. What you’re doing, that’s wrong. And God wants you to change." And so when you preach repentance what tends to happen… What happened to the prophets? They got killed right? The only way to shut them up was to murder them.

And so a prophecy was given by the prophet Isaiah, hundreds of years earlier, that John the Baptist would come, and he would prepare people for the coming of Jesus. So not only does he come, but he is preaching repentance, and he received a prophet’s reward. They locked him up and then they cut his head off. They behead him because they couldn’t get him to stop preaching repentance of sin.

And you know… it was the same with Jesus. What did they do to Jesus? They killed him right? Now Jesus fed people, healed people, cared for widows, orphans, and the outcast, but they didn’t kill him for that. Why’d they kill Jesus? Because of his preaching… Because he kept saying things like, "I’m God. You’re a sinner. Repent because I’m here to save you." And when he wouldn’t shut up, just like John the Baptist and the prophets before him… they killed him… they crucified him.

But still, they couldn’t shut him up, because he rose three days later and anoints his disciples to carry on the ministry of preaching the Word of God. So Jesus commissions his followers and he tells them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation" (Mark 16:15). They’re sent out to preach, to proclaim the good news about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection in our place, for our sins. They’re sent out to tell people that our God came on a rescue mission. That He fulfilled all the Scriptures, every prophecy, everything God said happened. Our God conquered sin and death. Our God is alive, he loves us, and we’ve just got to tell somebody.

So God speaks, Satan speaks, and ever since the prophets, Jesus Christ, his followers, and in our day pastors preach the Word of God. The apostle Paul tells young pastor Timothy, plain and simple, "Preach the Word" (2 Timothy 4:2). This is the Word of God… This is why preaching is so important… The Bible is true and through the word God speaks. So the preacher is called to open the book with all authority and teach the people in Christ’s Church.

3. With All Authority

Speaking of pastors, the Bible says, "He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it" (Titus 1:9).

Now, there are lots of books that are words about God… people’s opinions about God… but this is the Word of God. And this is the only perfect thing on the Earth, right? We believe the Bible. So we come under the authority of the Word of God. And preaching is where the Word of God is opened up, the people of God sit under the Word of God, listening to the Word of God, and it’s an act of worship. It’s sitting with the people of God saying, "We’re in this together, we belong to Jesus, and we’re here to obey, to apply, and explore the Word of God together."

In John chapter five, Jesus was arguing with religious people and he said,

"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life" (John 5:39-40).

You see the whole Bible from beginning to end is about Jesus. There are other things in there, but that’s the big idea... Jesus taught this at the end of Luke’s Gospel…

"Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself" (Luke 24:27).

Jesus told them, "The whole point of the Bible is me." That’s why Paul says…

"We preach Christ crucified" (1 Corinthians 1:23).

Jesus is the focal point of the whole Bible… it’s ultimately all about Jesus... That he’s the God who made the heavens and the earth. That he’s the one we’ve rebelled and sinned against. He’s the one who came in human flesh on a rescue mission; to save us from sin, death, and hell. He’s the one, who lived the sinless life that we haven’t lived. He died the substitutionary death on the cross where we should’ve died. He was buried, three days later he rose, and for forty days he gave proof of his resurrection to crowds both large and small (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). He then ascended into heaven, commissioned the church by the power of the Holy Spirit, to continue getting his message out, until he comes again to judge the living and the dead, and establish his kingdom that never ends.

That’s our Jesus. That’s the Jesus we know and love. It’s always been about Jesus. So it doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about marriage, communion, baptism, friendship, or whatever, we always talk about Jesus. But preaching is not just for information, it’s about transformation. Jesus’ own brother James says it this way…

"Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says" (James 1:22).

You see, you can hear a lot preaching and teaching, but if you don’t obey it, you’re not benefiting from it. It’s like counting vitamins you’ve never eaten. You’re coming close, but the effect is not the same. If you don’t obey it, you’ll have information but not transformation. So as you listen, you need to be asking, "Holy Spirit what’s in this for me? What do I need to do? How do I need to think differently or act differently? What do you want me to know and how do you want me to respond?"

This is why we organize our celebration around the Word of God… it’s like the meat on a sandwich. And we believe that there needs to be time to respond to the Word of God. So after the message we may take Communion… and there is time to repent… time to give your life to Christ. And we worship together… we sing to give you an opportunity to repent of sin, to remember Jesus, to be forgiven, to reconcile with others, and to rejoice in God. So we don’t want you to run out right after the sermon if God is speaking to you. We want to give you time to respond…

Read past sermons by Pastor John Talcott

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