Sermons from Sunday (April 3rd, 2016)

Deep South Reformation would like these Sermons to benefit you and be an aid to help you understand the scripture for God’s glory. If you are a pastor and would like your sermons on DSR, let us know and if you have any other questions please contact us.

Paul Sanchez on “Instructions For Life in the Land”

Jarrod Hawthorne on “Jesus the Problem Solver” (Mark 2:1-12)

Greg Gilbert on Romans 8:31-39 “With God on Our Side”

Sermon from Easter: Michael Cooper on John 20:19-31

Tim Challies on “Did God Break the Law for Love?” Challies take on a recent sermon by Steven Furtick 

What is Apologetics?

By Joshua Cypert

For most of us growing up with siblings, we can think back to our fair share of scuffles. I’m two years older than my sister and it’s safe to say that we got into it from time to time. I remember from a young age my parents would stress to me the importance of reconciliation. After wronging my sister, my father would give me the right hand of Christian fellowship and then tell me to apologize to her. I would usually respond with something like, “Well I may have been wrong to call her names but it was only because she called me one first,” or “I’m sorry for what I did, but she was asking for it by pestering me all morning. I had to stick up for myself. It was only a matter of time before I blew up at her. I’m only human.”

My responses would vary, but you get the picture. I wasn’t apologizing the way my parents wanted me to. In fact, I hadn’t grasped what it meant to truly be sorry. Truly being sorry is to feel sorrowful for the misfortune you have caused someone and then respond in repentance by seeking to make right your wrongs by changing your actions so you will not grieve that relationship again.

It is safe to say that I did not grasp this concept when I was younger, and to be honest, I’m not very good with it today. There is still a part of me that wants to revert to the same logic that I used when I was young. I want to make a defense for myself and why I acted the way that I did. But what I didn’t realize back then and what many people don’t realize now, is that my excuses for wronging my sister were actually a form of apologizing.

Now hear me out: I am not saying that it was right for me to make those excuses as to why I wronged my sister. What I am saying is that I did wrong her and I should have said I was sorry and sought to make things right. The fact is that I was partaking in what is known as apologetics (however bad my arguments were back then). The illustration may be corny, but I share it that we may get a better grasp of what apologetics really is.

Though I didn’t know it at the time, both were a form of apologetics. There was a lack of communication between my parents and I. I wanted to apologize by defending my actions of harming my sister. My parents wanted me to apologize by saying I was sorry. Similarly, I feel like there is a lack of communication regarding definition within the church today when it comes to the term “apologetics.” When the average lay person hears the pastor or theologian say “Christian apologetics,” most people tend to think of expressing sorrow or regret for the Christian faith. When in reality, the pastor or theologian is referring to making a defense for the Christian faith in light of accusations against it.

The word apologize today has two meanings. The common definition is what we saw earlier: to express regret and sorrow for the wrongdoing and harm you have caused someone and to seek to make amends. The second, and less common definition, comes from the Greek term apologia, which means to make a defense. Perhaps you have heard of the speech Socrates gave before his death entitled Apology. Socrates had been sentenced to drink poison for corrupting the youth and not believing in the Greek gods of his day. A simple reading of The Apology will show that Socrates was in no way expressing remorse for not believing in the gods of his day or “corrupting” the youth for that matter. Rather, the gadfly boldly stood trial and defended his love for wisdom and did not back down. As a result, he was forced to drink hemlock and, though given the chance to escape, he willingly accepted death.

It is this second meaning of the word apology when one refers to the study of apologetics. Therefore, apologetics is to make a defense for something when that something is being attacked. Like a defense attorney defends individuals accused of a crime, Christian apologetics defends Christianity against arguments brought against it.

The word apologia is used in Scripture eight times, the most popular being in 1 Peter 3:15. It reads:

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense [apologia] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

Paul defines his purpose as being “put here for the defense [apologia] of the gospel” in his letter to the Philippians (1:16). And though the word may only be used eight times, the concept of apologetics is all throughout the Bible. Jude tells believers “to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes himself as “destroying arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5). On multiple occasions, Paul instructs Timothy to “guard the deposit” entrusted to him (1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:14). Likewise, Paul writes to Titus charging him to “hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).

We can conclude, then, that apologetics is not just something for the experts and scholarly Christians. Rather, it is something that the Bible both expects and instructs all believers to do. Christians are called to apologize unashamedly for their faith. The world has placed our God on trial and has accused him of wrongdoing. The difference is that God is perfect and can do no wrong (Deuteronomy 32:4; Job 34:12). He doesn’t need us to defend him, but gives us the privilege of boldly claiming his name and standing up for his cause. It is our job not to express regret for what the Lord has done, but to handle his word of truth rightly and present ourselves unashamed before him (2 Timothy 2:15).


Joshua Cypert (Arkansas Native) is a student at Boyce College.

 

Jesus Isn’t Harvey: Reflecting on the Risen Christ

By Cade Campbell

In 1950 actor Jimmy Stewart played Elwood P. Dowd in a movie titled Harvey. As the main character, Dowd is portrayed as a friendly, middle-aged man whose best friend is named Harvey. That sounds like the premise to a pretty basic buddy-film, but there’s something about Harvey that makes his and Elwood’s friendship different: Harvey is an over-six-foot-tall invisible rabbit.  For obvious reasons Dowd’s friends and family members believe he is either drunk or just plain out-of-his-mind-insane.  The movie tells the story of Elwood Dowd being vindicated as they come to grips with whether or not Harvey is really there. It’s a great movie.

Yesterday afternoon Amy and I went to see another movie, Risen. It’s the most recent biblically-based film released in theaters. It follows a few weeks in the life of a devoted Roman soldier, a tribune named Clavius based in Jerusalem, who is charged with investigating and disproving the spreading rumors of a dead-yet-risen Jewish messiah, after his sealed tomb has been discovered empty early on a Sunday morning. Clavius had witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion. He saw him die. He ordered the spear to be driven into his side. He had cleared Jesus’ body to be given to Joseph of Arimathea  on orders from Pilate. So now he is ordered to find and identify that same body.

But he can’t. It’s gone.

I enjoyed the movie for the most part. Sure, there were some unnecessary discrepancies with the biblical text. There were a few things that annoyed me: There were far too many cacti in the scenes. “Galilee” didn’t resemble Galilee. I kept getting distracted by Draco Malfoy being a Roman soldier. The disciples (especially Bartholomew) acted like a comedy-troupe from Colorado. But, on the whole it was a pretty good movie, and as I reflected on the film later, there was one significant aspect to the movie that I appreciated above all others…

The film treated the resurrection of Christ as an historical fact, an historically verifiable reality, an event that could pass the scrutiny of a skeptic looking for evidence.

There was one scene in particular that drove the point home. Clavius is leading a manhunt (in his mind a “dead-man-hunt “). He is especially looking for the disciples whom he believes stole the body. At one point he has narrowed his search down to one second-floor room in an ordinary house, and he busts the door open. And the disciples look up. And so does Jesus, smiling.

Now, that depiction is pure fiction. It didn’t happen. Jesus came and went freely. He appeared and disappeared, and as far as we know Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances were limited primarily to his inner-circle of disciples and one occasion of five hundred people at once (1 Corinthians 15:6). No soldier orchestrated a Roman swat-team raid.  But here’s the thing:  If a soldier named Clavius had walked into the upper room at just the right time, Jesus would have really been there. Christ’s resurrected, incarnate body was really real. It was physical. It was material.

Docetism was the early heresy that denied the physical reality of Jesus’ humanity. It taught that Jesus only “seemed” to be physically present. Docetism proclaimed a hologram Jesus. But that’s not the good news of the empty tomb. Jesus’ risenness was real. Travelers on the Emmaus road really passed three men walking away from Jerusalem deep in conversation, not two men talking to an invisible third-person. Other fishing boats on the Sea of Galilee early one morning could have seen a small fire on the shoreline and next to it a lone figure preparing breakfast.

Jesus was not a figment of his followers’ imagination. He was not a product of a mass delusion by his disciples. His tomb was empty, not merely because the body disappeared, but because the corpse inside the grave suddenly stopped being a corpse, sat up, and walked out of the cemetery. The Jesus that was raised to life could be seen, touched, and heard. A passerby wouldn’t have seen a handful of men talking into the thin air, speaking with blank space. No, they were speaking with a real person who just so happened to have some really nasty scars.

At one point in the movie Clavius makes this point. As his hardened skepticism is being torn apart, he says: “I have seen two things I cannot reconcile – a man dead without question, and that same man alive again.”

No, thankfully Peter wasn’t Jimmy Stewart. And Jesus isn’t Harvey. After all, believing the resurrection might have anything to do with a giant, friendly rabbit is just crazy.


Cade Campbell (M.Div, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is a Mississippi native and currently serves as Associate Pastor for Preaching and Discipleship at First Baptist Church Henryville, Indiana. You can follow him on Twitter at @DCadeCampbell.