4 Sep 2014

Message Audio: Incarnation

Submitted by Paul Brown

I originally gave this message at the Regen gathering on January 25, 2009 in our "What Christians Believe" series. (If you like, read why I'm posting these old sermons now.)

Sermon Audio

For those who may be interested in the formal formulation of the incarnation, here is the text of the Definition of Chalcedon, from the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD. This has been the standard of orthodoxy since that time:

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us. (Source, including the original Greek wording)

One of the difficulties that I felt in preparing this message was in not being able to adequately express the glory and mystery and greatness of God that the Incarnation demonstrates. I can only pray that God will take the words of Scripture and press them into our hearts through the Holy Spirit so that we will embrace Jesus as Lord and Christ with all that we are.

The other difficulty that I felt was in not being able to draw out all of the implications of the incarnation for us as believers in Christ. The three implications that I highlight in the message are the following:

  • We can worship Jesus
  • We can know God
  • We can live a new life

What do you think? What are some other implications of the incarnation for the way we think or live?

19 Aug 2014

Message Audio: 1 Peter 3:8-22

Submitted by Paul Brown

I can't find my outline for this message anywhere, but I do have a recording of it. The text is 1 Peter 3:8-22.

Sermon Audio

1 Peter 3:8-22

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For,

“Whoever would love life
    and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
    and their lips from deceitful speech.
They must turn from evil and do good;
    they must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
    and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

12 Aug 2014

I originally gave this message at the Regen gathering on Oct 19, 2008 in our 1 Peter series. (If you like, read why I'm posting these old sermons now.)

Sermon Audio

  1. Introduction
    1. Review last week
      1. Author: Peter
      2. Audience: Believers throughout Asia Minor
      3. Context: Suffering
      4. Purpose: Encouragement
      5. Themes: Future grace, right living
    2. Tension
      1. Past
        1. Jesus' victory on the cross
        2. Our redemption experience
      2. Future
        1. Jesus' future appearance in victory
        2. Our future glory and inheritance in Christ
      3. Now
        1. Jesus not seen
        2. Our present suffering
        3. Life as an alien and a stranger
    3. Part I of Ch 1 was indicative and descriptive, now the second part is prescriptive--the two are linked! We are still in the conceptual part of the book, though.
  2. The Text: 1 Peter 1:13-25
  3. First imperative: Set your hope on grace
    1. This bridges the previous theological truth about past, present, and future grace to present action
    2. This command is the foundation for the others
    3. The means of persevering in suffering is the gospel
    4. Set your hope on grace by
      1. Preparing your minds for action
        1. Idiom: gird up your loins
        2. Similar to "roll up your sleeves"
      2. Being sober-minded/self-controlled
    5. Similar to Heb 12:1-3, Col 3:2, Rom 12:2
    6. Application
      1. The emphasis here is on your mind
      2. What do we think about, dwell on, etc.? (Phil 4:8)
      3. For me, no television
      4. Look for grace principles in all of life
  4. Second imperative: Live your true family identity
    1. Negatively, do not conform
      1. to the evil desires of ignorance
      2. to the way of life "handed down from forefathers"
    2. Positively, be holy as God, our Father, is holy (quoting Lev 19:2)
  5. Third imperative: Live in reverent fear throughout time in exile
    1. Closely tied with previous imperative (could even be considered as one)
    2. Because God is our father and is an impartial judge
      1. Response of fear is respect
      2. Every branch that does not bear fruit is cut off (John 15:2)
    3. Because we were redeemed by Jesus Christ
      1. Redeemed from "empty way of life handed down by our forefathers"
        1. Usually the way of life is positive, the foundation of society
        2. Empty or futile in that Christ is not in it
        3. Contemporary equivalent: the American dream?
        4. Even apart from the specific issues of culture and family, we are children of Adam and inherit a sinful nature bent toward evil desires and rebellion against God
      2. Perishable vs. imperishable
        1. When life is trying, we need a firm reference
        2. Jesus is that rock
      3. Precious blood, as of an innocent, unblemished lamb
      4. Chosen before creation of world but now made known
      5. Raised from the dead and given glory
  6. Fourth imperative: Love one another earnestly, from the heart
    1. Again, closely tied with the previous two
    2. Perishable vs. imperishable again
    3. The four imperatives move from most general to most specific
    4. Why such general applications?
      1. A general epistle, passed around to many diverse churches
      2. The gospel is central, not the specifics of how it works out
      3. More specific applications are coming later
        1. Submission to authorities
          1. Emperors/subjects
          2. Masters/slaves
          3. Husbands/wives
        2. How to respond to mistreatment
        3. Serving and offering hospitality to one another
        4. Abstention from debauchery
        5. How to lead the church
      4. Be vs. do
  7. Conclusion
    1. The grace of God (the gospel) and our holiness are inextricably entwined
      1. You cannot experience the grace of God without being moved toward holiness
      2. You cannot grow in holiness apart from the grace of God
    2. Grace is appropriated by faith and fueled by hope
      1. We look backward to the cross
      2. We look forward to Jesus' future return in glory
      3. We live the present by faith
    3. Fix your mind, your heart, and your hope on grace
  8. Regen Reflection
    1. What competes with grace for your hope?
    2. What most draws your hope toward Christ and away from those things?
    3. Activity: As a group, create a way to present the main point of this passage without words. (E.g. draw something, act something, etc.)

Resource: Reading the Bible Redemptively, a few questions to ask when you read the Bible that will help you find grace and the connection to Jesus.

11 Aug 2014

Preaching the Gospel to Myself

Submitted by Paul Brown

You may have heard the exhortation to "preach the gospel to yourself". The basic idea is to focus one's mind on the grace of God in Christ through the gospel. (Some resources on what I'm talking about are this blog post by Drew Goodmanson and the sermon linked therefrom and this blog post and video by Paul Tripp.) Recently I experienced "preaching the gospel to myself" in a more literal way as I went back to the recorded sermon archives of Regeneration, the young adult ministry that I was part of in Denver.

During my time with Regeneration, I had the privilege of teaching occasionally at our Sunday evening worship gatherings. I enjoyed the opportunity to study Scripture and then bring God's word to his gathered people, pointing us to Jesus in whatever passage we were studying. Many of the lessons I taught left a long-lasting impression on my own soul.

Although I was careful to record the sermons that were preached--including my own--and upload them to a podcast that was active at that time, I could never bring myself to listen to my own messages after they were delivered. But last week, after talking with a friend about my experiences teaching and my inability to ever listen to myself, I decided to dig up those old sermon recordings out of my archives and listen to what I had preached to Regeneration years ago.

Much to my surprise, I found the messages engaging and deeply encouraging. Listening brought back fond memories of the people that were gathered together in Regeneration, of the Scripture that we had studied, and most of all of the passion I had for growing in the gospel and pointing others to Jesus.

Having been so encouraged myself by what God shared with me through those messages, I'm finally going to re-post them here on my blog. Perhaps they are only useful to me. (After all, is anyone still reading this blog after all these months and years of not posting?) But I feel like posting them is a way of asserting that my identity is in Christ, not in the quality of my work, and when in the end my work is tested by fire (1 Cor 3:12-15), all that is not burned up will be to the glory of Jesus.

21 Dec 2011

2011 Christmas Letter

Submitted by Paul Brown

Holly and I are distributing our annual Christmas letter online rather than through the mail. We appreciate all our friends and family—I'm sorry I don't keep in touch better—so I hope that this is a small way for us to share some of what is going on in our lives.

We wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!


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