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What Towers Are You Building
08/23/2009
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23; Genesis 11:1-6; R...
Track 2 of 11 in the The Freedom that Comes from Grace series
Running time: 1 hour, 05 minutes, 18 seconds.
Today, many Christians are busy at work building towers with the highest hopes of making a name and gaining fame. Now a lot of Christians will balk at that but ask yourselves this question, why are you doing what you do every day Why do you keep the schedule you keep, why the house you live in, why the car you drive, why the clothes you wear, why the events you go to pr the reason you go to church For many, they strive for a man made ticket to heaven based on high achievement and hard work for which they get all the credit. Instead, Christians need to accept Gods free gift of grace.



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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.


The Freedom that Comes from Grace
What Towers are You Building?

It has been two weeks since our last lesson concerning grace and the freedom that comes from it, I want you to think a minute, in those two weeks, what did you do with that freedom? How did you use it and what effects did it have in the lives of those around you?

How many of you are struggling with the Biblical concept of Grace and giving grace to others? It is okay to be honest here. How many just don’t quite understand what it really means to be free in Christ and to actually experience it every day?

That lack of understanding is okay to admit to. A lot of Christians don’t know what it means nor have they truly experienced it. I think it is especially hard for those of us who live in a society where freedom is a common day occurrence. What does that mean? One would expect those who live in freedom in the United States to understand what a free life is like. But Americans take freedom for granted. Too many don’t know what life is like under tyranny. But there are those who have never known freedom like we know it but are truly free beyond anything we have ever experienced.

Taliban Cut Off Fingers of 2 Afghan Voters

How many of you would be willing to go to the voting booth knowing that you have a good chance of dying or maybe even getting your finger cut off? What happens to the US voting turnout when the weather is bad?

I thought it was real interesting how the US media reported the Afghan voter turnout this week. The news reports claimed the voter turnout was low at about 40-45%. Does anyone know what the voter turnout was for the last Quincy election for mayor? 34.68% Why such a low turnout? Was there danger lurking that kept people away?

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

We have to understand the power of what Paul was talking about here. Most of the Christians back when Paul was preaching weren’t physically free. Most of the world at that time was dominated by Rome and Roman law prevailed. Most of the Christians were physical slaves yet Paul taught, as a Christian, the person was totally free. In Christ, the person experienced something that wasn’t true in the physical life. That understanding revolutionized everything the church did and the influence it had within the community.

Freedom was an awesome thing to experience especially to a people who did not live in physical freedom. Paul was free to choose how he would live his life for Christ in order to win as many as possible.

What was Paul’s concept of life? How did he live his life and what were the priorities? What enslaved Paul from living the life he desired? What about Christians today, are we really free? Do we live the lives we really want to live for Jesus? Why? What enslaves us and keeps us from living it?

Let’s take a few minutes and think about heresy. To many, what Paul taught was heresy. To the Jews, Paul’s teachings were very dangerous and needed to be silenced. What would you consider the most dangerous heresy on earth?

Hints: It is a philosophy found in numerous self-help books, many poems.
It is a reoccurring theme in political speeches, in commencement speeches
It feeds our pride, it fuels our self-centered bent, it pleases our flesh.

Humanism

Humanism is the most dangerous heresy and it is on the loose. You would be amazed how many Christians have as their foundation this belief system and how many try to weave into the daily life of Christianity this lie. The words of Humanism have been taught to us since the days we were born especially those of us who are older.

Examples of humanism:

• Just reach down real deep and pull hard on your own bootstraps.
• You can endure whatever
• Nothing is out of reach, press on, reach higher, the sky’s the limit
• We live in America; we have the freedom to make anything of ourselves.
• God helps those who help themselves.

What is the main problem with these statements of humanism? The emphasis is on what we do for God rather than what God does for us.

The fact is, God helps the helpless, the undeserving, those who don’t measure up, those who fail to achieve his standards. Christians often times say, “Well of course God does that, I truly believe that but I also believe that people are the masters of their own fate, captains of their own soul.” This shouldn’t surprise us because the most favorite topic of all of humanity is “self”.

Let’s take a look at when the first time this idea reared its ugly head and what happened.

Genesis 11:1-4 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

This is the account of the Tower of Babel. I love this account. I also love what was found by the archeologists. The site was the city of Babylon. Not only was there one tower, but many towers. These towers still exist today. In the midst of these towers is one huge one that is believed to be the one talked about it Genesis. On the remains of that particular tower were found the signs of the zodiac etched into the stonework up towards its peak. Most believe the tower was used as a religious shrine called “the heavens”. Verse four reveals for us some clues.

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens…

The literal translation of that text is, “whose upper parts is with the heavens”. Scholars focus on the small preposition “with”. It gives the idea of representation that somehow the topmost part of the tower was designed or constructed to represent the heavens. Too many teachers have taught the idea of the tower was to build something that would go all the way to heaven. The tower was built to represent heaven and to help make a name for themselves.

This was humanism's finest hour. The question is, what did God think of this construction project.

Genesis 11:5-6 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.

Make no mistake, human effort can accomplish unbelievable feats. No one should underestimate the ability of the human being. God himself acknowledges the same thing. But is all that ability necessarily a good thing? Is it a good thing for man to develop the ability to do his own thing and not be dependent on anyone else. Is independence a good thing or does it lead to something else? God intentionally confused their language so the project would stop and it did. The confusion caused the people to scatter and the tower was left unfinished.

Has man learned the lesson from the tower of Babel? Have Christians learned the lesson?

True or false: Too many of us continue to believe that doing what we want to do will result in being what we ought to be?

I want to do this! Why? Because I want to be great, I want to accomplish something, I want to be proud of what I do…or I want to make someone else proud. What happens when God steps in and says, “No way.” Most determined people will go and do it anyway because there is the belief that God helps those who help themselves. But self centered efforts represent heresy…the gospel of works, a grace killer in its worse form.

I want to go back to something we already talked about: The emphasis is on what we do for God rather than what God does for us.

Today, many Christians are busy at work building towers with the highest hopes of making a name and gaining fame. Now a lot of Christians will balk at that but ask yourselves this question, why are you doing what you do every day? Why do you keep the schedule you keep, why the house you live in, why the car you drive, why the clothes you wear, why the events you go to pr the reason you go to church? For many, they strive for a man made ticket to heaven based on high achievement and hard work for which they get all the credit. Instead, Christians need to accept God’s free gift of grace.

What is the danger in recognizing one’s own hard work? It can lead to stealing the credit that rightfully belongs to God.

Romans 4:1-2 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

The obituary section of the newspaper is a very interesting section to read. Writing a statement about the life of someone who has passed away is serious business and can be hard. It is easy to find those who were important in life by the length of the obituary. At the funeral home when working on the copy to go in the paper, making sure all the accomplishments are listed can be a hard task while under the pressures of grief. I actually thought about writing my own obituary and saving it so when the day would come, Pam wouldn’t have to struggle putting it together; I didn’t want her to miss anything important. Thankfully I caught myself and threw that thinking out quickly.

Romans 4:1-2 teaches us a very important lesson, it is not the result of Abraham’s hard work that caused him to find favor with God, it was the result of God’s great grace. No matter what Abraham owned or earned, bought or achieved, God declared the man righteous. God justified Abraham.

How many of you would consider Abraham a great man? How many would consider Abraham a great man of God? Based on what we know about Abraham’s life, what kind of man was he? Originally, he was an idolater (Joshua 24), married a woman who also was from that background, was a sinner and continued to sin after believing in God.

Definition of Justification: It is the sovereign act of God whereby He declares righteous the believing sinner – while he is still in the sinning state.

Even after Abraham believed in God, he would continue to sin from time to time. All this occurred while Abraham was still in a sinning state. Because he was justified, he would never again have to worry about where he stood with God. He was declared righteous, Abraham received what he did not deserve and could never earn.

Romans 4:4-5 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

When you get your paycheck, how many of you get down on your knees and thank your employer for giving you that check? How many of you write a thank you note? Why? Because your paycheck is not a gift.

God’s economy is totally different; we don’t have a wage relationship. Spiritually speaking, you and I haven’t earned anything but death. Like it or not, we are absolutely bankrupt, we don’t have anything of value that gives us favor in his sight. There is nothing that will cause God to stand up and cheer about. In basic terms, we are a wreck. But God gives me salvation freely just because he wants to. It is totally free and when salvation is looked upon any other way, it is plain and simple heresy.

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

Trust me; Jesus is the only name that will take you from earth to Heaven when you die. It won’t be your achievements at church, or your fame and fortune that will get you there. You will be grated entrance because you accepted the free gift of eternal life. There is only one password for entering heaven: Grace.