Good morning! It’s always good to have someone excited with me. If you have your Bibles, John, chapter 3, is where we’re going to be. We’re going to hang out there in verses 22 through 36, but I want to set us up because I think this text is going to answer a question maybe you’re asking or maybe you’re not asking, but I’m going to answer the question regardless.
Right now, The Village Church in all of her campuses are doing something the elders of The Village Church just called Multiply. We believe Multiply is one of the things God has led us into where we are rolling off our campuses, and one of the ways you guys in particular here in Flower Mound probably haven’t thought about is we are replanting as well. Not only are all of these campuses spinning off and becoming autonomous, but we ourselves (the nature of who we are and what we are doing) are also changing in this season called Multiply.
We’re rolling off our campuses. We are purposefully shrinking our church from over 10,000 to here in Flower Mound probably 5,000 to 6,000. We’ll have to see how all of that plays out. We’re going from a $22 to $23 million budget to… We’ll see. That depends a lot on you. Simultaneously, we are planting four churches.
Dallas, in the last month, has rolled off Mosaic and rolled off Eastside Community, two churches there. We are sending out and purposefully shrinking in a way that does not make sense if you think and look at all of it through the lens of the flesh, but if you consider what God has called us to and what he has asked us into, it starts to become more clear.
Now, I want to tell you a story. About seven years ago, I met a man named Rob Daniels. Rob came to this church not because he liked my preaching, not because he liked our music, and not because he thought this would be a great context in which he could grow and fall more in love with Jesus. He followed his girl here. That’s what happened. He came here because who is now his wife was here, so I know who holds the power. We’re complementarian but… I know.
I began to sit down with Rob Daniels, and I’ll never forget. We were sitting at La Hacienda Ranch down in Lewisville, and he brought papers with him. He started sharing his heart to plant a church down in South Dallas among the least of these. That was his heart from day one. He had been here for a while, so I said, “Come join us on staff. Let’s just give it a run for three to five years. What I’ll try to do as best I can is open up rooms and doors for you to see and understand more fully how a church as an organization runs.” He came on board as our Connections minister.
I’ll never forget. The first Sunday he walked out. He made this whooping noise. I have to pull him aside afterward and say, “This might be a contextual issue, but I don’t know if that’s going to stick here, bro! There are a lot of white folks going, ’Huh?’ I’m just not sure that’s going to work here.” The next weekend, he came out and everyone did it back to him, so to my shame, I had to be like, “You be you, dawg. I apologize. Go get it!”
For five years, Rob was the Connections minister here at The Village Church and grew to be a beloved part of our family. His time here always had an expiration date, and that expiration date was…this would be internal language we use around our church planters…until the contractions got so great that we knew that church plant was coming whether we wanted it or not.
We always let those guys make that call, so about a year and a half ago or two years ago, Rob began to say, “Those contractions are getting stronger. I don’t think it is South Dallas now. God has given me a heart for Lewisville, and I really would love to plant a church in Lewisville.” We began to work with him on what that looked like and where that was going to be. We began to come around him with some more expedited training and access, just trying to come alongside him.
I think one of the things I’ve thought while we’ve been in this process is how often The Village Church presumes upon the Lord. Here’s what I mean by that. I don’t think we celebrate well, and I think one of the reasons we don’t celebrate well is God is so stupefyingly good to us that we forget just how good he is to us. That kind of dampers down on our celebration because when we ask he has always been so good to just give to us over and over in crazy ways. Now, we just come to expect it because…
I don’t know why we just expect it, but there had to be a thousand answers to prayer for us to be able to commission Rob Daniels and Christ Freedom Church, and God said, “Yes,” to every one of them and then some, so I want us to celebrate today that God heard us and has responded to us and has raised up, built out, supported, and sends men and women to the far reaches of the earth with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We’re going to dive into this text and answer a question here in a moment, but I’ve asked Rob to come and share a little bit about Christ Freedom Church, so will you guys welcome Rob Daniels?
Rob Daniels: Matt ain’t got nothing on the whoop-whoop, y’all. Hey guys, I’m really grateful to be here before you today. Village Church, I just want to say this. Thank you. I’ve grown to love in the way Christ calls disciples of himself to love because of many of you here. You have been faithful to love me. You have been faithful to love my family. You have been faithful to allow me to love on you.
To that end, I just want to say, “Thank you.” Not only thank you for loving us and helping me to grow in love as a disciple of Jesus Christ, but thank you for your generosity. Family, you are a generous people. You give of your time, you give of your gifts, you give of your finances, and you give of your prayers.
The last six months for us as a church plant as we have prepared, as we have labored, and as we have sown in the city of Lewisville, we have felt the generosity of the saints, particularly from The Village Church wherever you are. You could be here in Flower Mound or any other campus of The Village. We feel your faithfulness, and to that, friends, we are so thankful. Thank you.
When Matt said, “Rob, we’re going to let you come in and maybe speak a little bit during the time of my message,” all that I heard was, “We’re going to let you preach the whole time of my message,” so if you have your Bibles, turn with me... I’m going to honor Matt. I want to honor The Village Church. We are planting Christ Freedom Church. We’re planting our church in Lewisville, Texas, which is five and a half miles from The Village Church in Flower Mound.
Some of you may be asking, “Why are you planting a church five and a half miles from this campus in Flower Mound?” That’s a good question. What we know to be true is that the Word of God is true. In Isaiah 59:1, the Word of God says, “…the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.” In Lewisville, there are over 100,000 people who live in Lewisville. Of that 100,000, just 40 percent would say they’re Christian. What that means for us as a church plant is that more than 60,000 people in the city of Lewisville…
Friends, there are not enough churches to hold 60,000 people in Lewisville right now, so what we know is more than 60,000 people in Lewisville have either rejected the gospel or have never heard of the name Jesus. “…the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.” We are compelled by the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. He says,
“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
Friends, people need to hear this gospel, so we are compelled by the gospel of Jesus Christ to take the gospel out and to let the gospel go, because many are dying among us, many are sick among us, many are weary among us, and many are hurting among us, and they need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We stand in full submission. We affirm and stand in full obedience to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to go and make disciples and to raise up faithful followers of Jesus in the city of Lewisville and to the ends of the earth. How did I get here? Matt said that when I first came to The Village or when we first met about seven years ago, the Lord compelled my heart for South Dallas.
For five years, my wife and my family and I have grown and have lived in the city of Lewisville, and every day and every week, when I drove into work, I would drive out of Lewisville into Flower Mound, but I would see the city I lived in every time I drove into Flower Mound. The people I drove away from were not the people I was driving into to serve and to love and to be loved by. Friends, I love this place, but the gospel of Jesus Christ has compelled my heart to be faithful in the city of Lewisville.
One day I was standing on our patio in the apartments we used to live in, and as I looked out on this patio, there was a basketball court right in front of us. On the right side of this court, there were about five or six Indian guys playing cricket. I looked at this, and I was like, “What kind of sport is that?” I had never seen this before, so I had to do a little bit of research. I was like, “Oh! It’s cricket. That’s great!”
Then, I saw on the left side of this court Latino and black and white guys playing basketball. Immediately it struck me as I began to pray to the Lord. I was like, “God, for the love of a sport the nations will gather.” Then, I began to pray, “God, may it be your will on earth as it will be in glory that every tribe, tongue, and nation will worship to the glory of God (Revelation 7:9). God, may your church look like what I’m seeing on this basketball court right now! May the people of God, whatever nation they came from or socioeconomic background…”
Wherever you come from, “God, may your church look like what I see right now! God, may the nations gather under the banner of Jesus Christ in glad submission to the King of glory, Jesus!” Then, the Lord said, “Why don’t you lead this people? Why don’t you be the pastor of this church?” That’s essentially how my wife and I came to the place of saying, “We’re going to be church planters in the city of Lewisville to really raise up and lead a multicultural church.”
Hear this. Glory will not be one language. Why do we need to be? Because there are multiple languages in Lewisville, friends, we want to welcome the culture of the city of Lewisville to shape the culture of our church. We want to have languages represented there because we know in glory these languages will be represented as well. We want to taste a little bit of heaven on earth because we know this is the will of the Lord.
Where do we go from here? We desperately and so deeply desire to see the 60,000 come to meet their Maker. Don’t the people of Lewisville who have not heard the gospel deserve to know they have a loving and gracious God who is for them? Don’t the people of Lewisville need to know when they’re hurting we have an empathetic High Priest who intercedes at the right hand of the Father for them? Don’t the people of Lewisville need to know there is freedom in Christ from our sin and come into a restored relationship with God?
Friends, we want the people of Lewisville to know this and to the ends of the earth, so we also want the more than 10 percent of the city (that is 11,000 people in Lewisville) who live below the poverty line who are hurting, who are hopeless, and who are helpless to know that there is freedom in Jesus Christ, that there is help in Jesus Christ, and that the church will be the church to meet the needs of the city (Christ Freedom Church and many other churches in Lewisville).
We want to herald the good news of the gospel to the 60,000 and be the arms and the feet and the hands of Jesus and the mouth of Jesus Christ to those who have not heard and those who have rejected the gospel. From here, The Village Church, from this place where the Lord has done a ferocious work in my heart and where the Lord has raised up many from Christ Freedom Church, we go from here.
Here’s how you can help, if you’re asking. Are you asking? I hope you’re asking. Here’s how you can help. You can help us through prayer. Friends, since we started planting a church, we have encountered explicit spiritual warfare. There are forces of darkness who do not love the fact that we are planting a church in the city of Lewisville, so we have encountered some spiritual warfare.
I would ask you guys to pray that we would be strengthened while we are encountering spiritual warfare. Then, I’ll just ask you guys to pray that we would have great rapport in the city of Lewisville, where people would see us, where people would know us, and where people would love us because we love them, and that would begin to nurture relationships in the city.
Then, you can also help us by going. We need as many people to be alongside us to herald the good news of the gospel because Jesus said in the book of Matthew that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. We need as many laborers as possible to help us share the good news of the gospel and to help us serve the needs of the city of Lewisville. If you are in Lewisville or know people who live in Lewisville, friends, we welcome you to co-labor alongside of us.
Lastly, we would love for you to consider giving. We’re raising support for a three-year budget to be sustained as a church, so we would love for you guys to consider giving financially. As the Lord has been faithful to give, we just want to invite you guys to give. We have a wish list of items we absolutely need before our launch date. We’re aiming to launch ideally the first weekend in January. I think that’s January 6, but there is so much to do before that time, so we would invite you guys to consider helping us get some of the items we need.
Then, maybe you can give of your time or your talents in a short time, as we need many things done before we actually launch as a church. If you want more information about that, you can reach out to me personally at [email protected] or you can go to our website. It’s www.christfreedomchurch.org.
Lastly, to Christ Freedom Church… If you are here and you have said, “Yes,” to being a part of our launch team, could you guys just stand up for us this morning? Family, thank you for trusting the Lord for me to lead you and for me to love you and for me to shepherd you. Thank you for saying, “Yes,” to the prompting of the Spirit.
Thank you for leaving what is comfortable and saying, “Yes,” to what is unknown. Thank you for being excited to see the gospel go forward in the city of Lewisville. Thank you for being a faithful, faithful brother or sister in the Lord Jesus Christ to see the gospel extend to the ends of the earth. Family, I love you, and I’m so grateful that we get to do this together.
I can’t see anymore, but I think we’re going to transition to a time of prayer. We’re going to pray. We’re going to have Matt and maybe some elders here at The Village Church. If you are standing by anyone from the launch team, could you just reach out and touch them as a sign of affirmation and a sign of blessing? There is no magic in the touch, but there is power in the name of Jesus, so if you’re around those who are standing who maybe couldn’t be down here with us, we just want you to circle around or gather around. Feel free to just love on our church as we are prayed for.
Matt Chandler: There are a couple of things I want to say to you in front of everybody and especially you in front of everybody. For Rob’s charisma, for the gifts and abilities God has given him, it’s the work he has done in the shadows that no one has seen that I have found to be most spectacular about his character.
Dorene Cothran was in our last service, and in Tiff’s last days, weak and frail, Rob went to visit them and pray with them and encourage them, and Tiff just wanted out of his bed. He had been in his bed for days, but Dorene was too weak to get him out, so Rob picked him up, carried him to his favorite chair, cooked him breakfast, stayed there and ate breakfast with him, and made sure he got back to his bed.
That’s the kind of man Rob is. It’s not just about his personality and his gift sets. He loves people because he loves Jesus, and I just couldn’t affirm his ferocity around evangelism. I know I need to quit going on and on because he’s wanting to get it. You can say something, dawg. We have time today.
Male: I got my dad and my mom.
Matt: Nailed it! First sermon! Then, I want to say this. Whitney, you are not some bystander in this. God’s call is on you, and we wouldn’t even be having this conversation had it not been for your faithfulness to the Lord and your steadfastness and you dragging Rob along when he’s edgy and bitter, so I appreciate you, Sis. We’re going to pray a prayer of blessing over them. Why don’t you do this? I’m going to lay hands on them. Be a proxy. We’re going to bless them. You guys pray for this launch team.
For those of you who are leaving here, bless you! That’s not easy. I do want to say this. This is cool. Forty years ago, a group about this size left Lakeland Baptist Church to plant this church, and now a generation later (biblically, 40 years is a generation) we’re sending young, new, passionate blood back into the city that sent young, passionate, zealous, missional people to this place where we’re enjoying the fruit of their sacrifice. Let me bless them. Y’all pray with us. Then, I want to dive into this text. That was a powerful first sermon, bro!
Father, we bless Rob and Whitney. We bless these boys. We bless Christ Freedom Church. God, I just want to ask that, whatever you’ve done here or however you’ve poured your Spirit out in this place, you triple it, shake it up, and pour it all over this church. God, I ask for Rob to have supernatural giftings. I pray you’d give him the gift of tongues. I pray Hindi and Spanish flow from this man in mysterious ways that rock his understanding of how you work.
I pray a blessing over Whitney. It is not an easy thing to lead your people, so I ask for grace. We pray against any assignment or plan of the Enemy to disrupt or to break or to be divisive. I ask for harmony, peace, tranquility, and power over Christ Freedom Church. For the happy tears of being sent today, we bless your name.
We thank you for how you used Rob and Whitney and this family to shape us and mold us all. We are a better people now for this family’s five years here. God, we commission them in the name of Jesus Christ and boldly pray for renewal and revival among your people in Lewisville. It’s for your beautiful name I pray, amen.
Here’s my question. Why in the world would we do this? It’s five miles from here. It’s 5.5 miles. Why down at the Dallas Campus would we plant 20 minutes to the east? I’m not quite sure how far Mosaic is. Why would we do what we’re doing here? Wouldn’t it make more sense and couldn’t we make more of a difference by being an ever-increasing, powerful, wealthy mass of people on mission together?
Maybe, but maybe not, and the text answers the question of, “Why?” in God’s providence. When I was outlining this, we didn’t know when we would commission Christ Freedom. We didn’t know where that would fall, and in God’s kindness to us yet again, this is the text we happen to be in today when we landed on this being the commissioning service for Christ Freedom.
Why would we do this? Why multiply? Why would we plant churches? Why would we roll off our campuses? Why would we give away millions of dollars of real estate? Why? Why? Why? I’m glad you asked. Let’s dive in. In John, chapter 3, we’re going to pick it up in verse 22. “After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing.
John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized (for John had not yet been put in prison). Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, ’Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.’
John answered, ’A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ”I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.“ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.’
He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.
For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
I have two points. If you’re panicking because you know we’re already 25 minutes in and you know how I am, just breathe out. We’re going to be fine. Two points. Why are we doing this? We know our place, and we know our message. That’s as simple as I can get. We know our place, and we know our message. Let’s look at…
- Our place. Look at verse 27. All of the people are now moving away from the revival that was happening through John the Baptist, and more people are going to Jesus. They’re bypassing John’s revival and are going straight to Jesus. John the Baptist’s disciples don’t like this. It looks like John’s influence is shrinking and Jesus’ influence is growing, and it bothers them, so they come up with a question.
“He’s baptizing more people than us. The church plant down the street is growing more quickly than we are. What’s going on here, John?” Here’s what John says. Look at verse 27. “John answered, ’A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.’” What is our place? Our place is to be happy under the sovereign reign of God. Our place is to be happy under the sovereign reign of God.
What do I mean by that? The best anecdote to envy or spiritual hoarding of resources (time, people, money…all of that) and the best way to destroy that envy is to be captivated by the sovereignty of God and to view success and failure and placement and calling all under the guise of a good God’s sovereign plan.
When we say, “We know our place,” which is why, what we’re saying is God is up to something, and our job is to join God in what God is up to, happily. To happily join God in what he is up to… Long before all of this started happening, God began to compel the elders of The Village Church that the Spirit of God was leading us in this direction, to not have one church that was ever growing and ever increasing in influence but, rather, to break apart and set free gospel movements all over the Metroplex.
So he is sovereign. We are not. He knows the future. We do not. We’re happy to say, “We’re following you.” Not us. Not the best laid leadership practices of our day. We’re not putting up our sail and trying to catch the wind of what the evangelical church in the US is doing. We’re trying to say, “Where are you going, God? Because we want to be where you are,” and we’re happy under his sovereignty.
When all is said and done, if there are just 500 faithful followers of Christ, and we feel like we’ve surrendered to his sovereign will, then that is a win and not a loss. We know our place.
We also know we are not the groom; we are the groomsman. Look at verse 28. “You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ’I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.” A healthy sense of who you are and who you are not helps you understand your place in God’s story.
I love The Village Church. Personally, I have given my life to her. I think God has made it clear that my run here before glory is with you in this place for the purposes of God. I have nothing on my horizon except maybe to purchase eventually some pasture land and get some beef cows and sip coffee and some other things and watch them graze. That’s kind of my fantasy when I get stressed out. It doesn’t involve another woman; it involves cattle. That’s weird I know, but that’s where I am.
In the midst of it, God has called me to you and you to me. I love what God is doing. I love this, but we are not the only place in town where the Spirit of God is moving in profound and powerful ways. What happens all too often is local churches believe they are the only ones in town who have found the right mixture of open-hand and closed-hand theology and has woven it together in such a way that’s better than all other churches.
Do you know how horrifically arrogant that is? At the same time, I want to say I believe where we land theologically in the open hand. We’re going to train that way, disciple that way, and move that way, but all over this Metroplex, churches with different philosophies and different on the open-hand theology side of things (things that Christians have always debated about over time and space, not the closed-hand orthodox historic confessional Christianity)…
That’s not what I’m talking about, but where we disagree on styles of worship or we disagree on ways of discipleship. The Spirit of God is doing all sorts of amazing work through churches that are very different than ours, so we must be careful to know that we are not the groom. The Village Church is not the groom, but we are groomsmen, which is kind of cool.
What does the groomsman do? When the groomsman hears the groom loving the bride, speaking of the beauty of the bride, and talking about his love for the bride, it stirs the groomsman’s affections for the groom and his love for the bride. It’s not the groomsman that gets the bride. That’s dysfunction. That’s wickedness. That’s The Jerry Springer Show, if that’s even still a show. I don’t know, but most of you know what I’m talking about.
This is not reality television. This is the groom, Jesus, loving his bride, the church worked out locally and experienced globally. It’s his bride. It’s not ours. We know who we are. We have a healthy sense of who we are and who we are not. We are no one’s functional Savior. It is Christ and Christ alone who saves.
- Our message. The first thing we know about our message is our message is a simple one: Jesus above all and over all. Look at verse 31. “He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.”
We know our place. We are not The Village Church organization. We are no one’s Savior. We know that we don’t somehow have all of the keys to what is true. We know the Spirit of God is moving through other places and our allegiance is to a kingdom and not to our own brand. What’s our message?
Simply put, our message is Jesus is above all. Jesus is the point. Like I put in a simple sentence here, Jesus comes from above. We are from below. That’s our message. He’s from above. We are from below. What is of earth is earthly in how it sees and how it talks, but what is above is heavenly in how it sees and how it talks.
For the last 16 years, we’ve had a pretty kind of consistent drum we’ve beaten, a pretty consistent theme, and here’s what we’ve said. We want to lift high the name of Jesus. We want it to be seen and loved and known and worshiped and submitted to and surrendered to. We want the joy of his lordship to captivate the imagination and the hearts of people everywhere.
With every move we’ve made, we’ve made the cry, “We want more of Jesus.” If this gets us more, we want to head in this direction no matter what it costs us, no matter how foolish it looks. If this gets us more of Jesus, we want to head in that way. That has been our refrain. This is about that. Look at what he says next in verse 34. This is about our message. Our message is that Jesus is above and over all. Jesus is from above. We are from below.
Here’s the other part of our message. Verse 34: “For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.” I love that. He gives the Spirit without measure. He’s not stingy with the Spirit. He’s not giving you a tiny portion of the Spirit. That’s incredible! More on that in a second.
“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.” Please don’t buy the lie that people in our day are not interested in spiritual things. They are more interested in spiritual things than maybe ever. The rigid, “There is no God…” No, no, no. People are so hungry. They have a vague sense of spirituality that has no form or shape to it. It’s just true.
You ask your neighbors. Everybody has a sense that there’s something spiritual. Just don’t try to define it. The world you and I are inhabiting wants to hear from God. They want to understand. They want something to bring clarity to what that something spiritual is. John the Baptist in this text talking to his disciples who are going, “Why are so many people going to him?” is answering the question because he has the Word of God. In fact, he is the Word of God because he is from above, so the words he utters are not earthly words. They’re heavenly words.
If you want to know how it all works, look to Jesus. “Why are they not coming to us? Why are they going more to him?” Because Jesus has the words of life. Because Jesus is from above. I became a Christian in a traditional model. That’s what it would be called. I think it’s probably a bad name for the traditional model because you’re skipping out on the first thousand years. What traditional means is 1950 and 1960. Church had been around for quite a while before that.
“We’re traditional.” “Really? What language are you speaking?” I grew up in a traditional model. I loved this old hymn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face.” Then, what happens? “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.” In Jesus the Word is made visible.
Do you want to know about God? You look to Jesus. Do you want to know what’s underneath everything? You look to Jesus. Do you want to make sense of a broken world? You look to Jesus. The answer to the question is Jesus. The Village Church is committed to sending out men and women to the ends of the earth who are going to scream with us in word and deed, “Look to Jesus! Look to Jesus! Look to Jesus! Look to Jesus! Look to Jesus! Look to Jesus!”
Lastly, I want us to actually talk about this phrase, “For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.” This idea that we have been given the Spirit without measure is probably my favorite phrase in this whole sermon that was one of John’s last sermons.
There’s a real thing called Texas-sized portions. I don’t know if you know this. If you’ve traveled around… Say you were in St. Louis. They say, “We have good barbeque,” so you go, “I don’t know about that. I’m from Texas.” You go to one of their barbeque places, and you’re like, “I’ll take that three-meat plate. I’ll take some ribs and some jalapeno sausage. I’ll take some of that brisket.” They’re going to give you a plate, and on that plate will be a rib, a little sausage link, a little smidge of brisket, and enough sauce to just kind of get one of your sausage links wet.
Now, if you order that same thing here, you are going into a meat coma. They have a cow on your plate, a brisket, 42 ribs, and sauce everywhere. What’s true about Texas-sized portions is they just don’t hold a lot back. I mean, they just lavish it on you, and it’s like they are literally making us sin the sin of gluttony every time you order a plate of something in Texas. We just embrace it. It’s actually called on the menu Texas-sized. How crazy is that?
That’s some of what we’re looking at in this text. What does it mean to look at Jesus, to exalt Jesus, and to be all about Jesus? It’s to have the Spirit without measure, to have the Spirit in not a tiny portion but a ridiculous portion with gospel gravy all over our lives. Off the side of the plate. You just keep needing napkins. Everywhere without measure. How much do I get? Yes! How much of the Spirit? Uh-huh!
This is beautiful news for those of us who feel stuck, beautiful news for those of us who feel confused, beautiful news for those who are trapped in cycles of addiction or in broken ways of thinking. You get the Spirit without measure. We’re planting churches because we believe this is our message and people don’t know it.
Lastly, the third part of our message… The first is that Jesus is above all and over all. The second is that in Jesus we see the words of God by the Spirit of God. Lastly, Jesus is the arbiter of life and death for all human beings. Look there in verse 36. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
Why are we doing this? Because we are convicted and convinced that in Christ and Christ alone there is life and God has sent Jesus into the world not to condemn the world but to save the world from condemnation, a world that is stuck in condemnation and unable to, with good behavior, get itself out.
We’re doing this because The Village Church believes the best hope for the DFW Metroplex and beyond to hear, surrender, and come to life by the power of Jesus Christ is not for The Village to kind of ever increase in size and magnitude but for us to leverage our dollars and our personnel and the gifts God has given us to plant and establish highly contextualized, localized communities of faith that will be salt and light in the neighborhoods in which they dwell. We believe this is the best hope for people to become disciples and not be spectators.
So we surrender to what we believe is the will of God, trusting his sovereign reign knowing The Village Church in her current form is not…is not…the Savior of anyone. We trust and surrender that we’ve caught wind of his sovereign direction, and by surrendering to it even when it doesn’t make a lot of sense, our legacy will not be one of a brand or a name, but our legacy will be one of the days of our lives being spent pushing forward the agenda of the kingdom of God and not our own brand. We believe this is true, so we’re happy to surrender to God’s will for our church.
Now, I’ve been talking about this organizationally, but I think it’s just as true about us individually, so I think full life in Christ requires both of these same things. It requires you getting a sense of your place and who you are. What would it look like for you to consider that your work and your neighborhood are a part of God’s sovereign reign over your life? What if you looked at your job not through the lenses of, “I need a paycheck,” and your neighborhood not just as, “This is a nice place to live”? What if you actually looked through the lens saying, “God is up to something here”?
How does that change things when I’m driving into my neighborhood if my mindset is, “God is up to something here”? At work when difficult days or good days are going on,“ I can think, ”God is up to something here.“ It’s not about me. It’s about him. What if I was always aware that I have a position of honor? I’m a groomsman, but I’m not the groom.
Think about the kind of humility that weaves into your life. What kind of neighbor could you be? What kind of church man or woman could you be? If you’re like, ”I’m not the point, but I have a position of honor, and it brings my heart to joy to see the bride growing and the bridegroom’s love lavished upon her,“ what would it be like?
What would it be like if you actually knew what our message was? I love all of the different ways we’re trying to train you and build you up and give you a knowledge of the Word of God, but what would it be like for you to be set free to just believe that Jesus is above all because he’s from above and we’re from below?
What would it be like to go, ”We have to submit to Jesus, we have to submit to the Word of God, and we need to lower ourselves and trust that we don’t know what is best but God knows what is best,“ and the boundaries have fallen for us in pleasant places? What would it be like to have a life marked by that, to be marked by the reality that it’s not just that Jesus is above all but that in Jesus, looking at Jesus, you see the mystery of God become visible and we ultimately see life offered to men and women trapped in spiritual, emotional, and oftentimes physical death?
Yes and amen, organizationally this is what we’re about, but I would just lay upon you, brothers and sisters, that the Christian life is about knowing our place and knowing our message and surrendering to both of those happily under the sovereign reign of King Jesus. Let me pray for us.
Father, thank you for these men and women and for your grace on our lives. We bless you. We thank you for Rob and Whitney. I thank you for this team. I thank you for what you’re up to. I thank you that right now…we prayed this back in my first year here at this campus…there are men and women far from you.
They are broken. They are addicted. They want nothing to do with you. They might even be hostile toward you, and in the next year or the next couple of years, they’re going to be powerfully converted by this Word. They’re going to be transformed by your presence. They’re going to become deacons and elders in Christ Freedom.
You’re going to break the back of addiction. You’re going to break cycles of addiction. You’re going to redeem bloodlines from the Enemy. There are going to be those who have been trapped in cycles of hate and anger and abuse, stuck and unable to get out, and your light will shine in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it. There will be testimonies of redemption, and per name’s sake, freedom that you bring about, Jesus, and you’ll use broken vessels to do it.
We praise you that you hit straight balls with crooked sticks. We bless your name. Help us all capture a vision for this in our homes and in our neighborhoods. We thank you for your grace on our church. We never want to presume upon it. We love you. Help us to love you more. It’s for your beautiful name, amen.