Focused on Christ
Last week, Radiant Church’s Lead Pastor Keith Welton kicked off a new series on the Book of Hebrews and continued that this week with a sermon entitled, “Focused on Christ.” Below, you can listen to his sermon, watch our whole service, and use the outline for a reference.
Missed last week’s sermon from Pastor Welton, entitled “The Superiority of the Son”? You can listen to it and watch the whole service here.
Have you ever found yourself in a place you did not intend to end up? I remember as a young man saying I would never do certain things. Wouldn’t do drugs. Wouldn’t drive drunk. But then going through a number of things at a young age that I didn’t understand. A very difficult family.
For me it was that I had no grounding. What little grounding there was I began questioning. I had no focus of what I wanted to be. Caved to the pressures around me. I had to hit rock bottom before changing. I just remember getting to that point my senior year of high school and wondering what happened? How did I get to this place? I didn’t like who I was, what I was around. Didnt want to keep going in this state. And even more than knowing I was a mess, I needed to know if it was possible to get out of the mess.
Happened before I was a believer. Happens as believers. Sometimes you end up in a place you did not expect. The story of our church. When I got here it we had a mess to sort through. Good ideas that didn’t go the way hoped. Came to replant. REthink everything and cut away what isnt needed. I love to tell the story of our church, because I think more people can relate to their life and even their faith not going the way they hoped.
There is hope. But I think one of the keys to these problems is there was drift. A slow, gradual, but definite move in a wrong direction.
In this passage a great danger is being addressed. Not the danger of an adversary or persecutor coming to power and threatening their lives. It is not the problem of financial ruin. It is not the problem of a pandemic and sickness. It is the danger of drift. The danger of not paying attention. This is one of the greatest dangers of today. It a danger that people dont even see. Subtle. Gradual. Definite. If you thought there was danger then you would get startled, scared, anxious. You would stand up and call for help. But when you have grown complacent, you think nothing matters, you think no one cares, you think there are no consequences, and you are satisfied with where you are at, then you drift.
I think that much of the church today is drifting. Not focused on Christ. Not committed. Not anchored in the things he calls us to do. Little distinction from the world.
Questioning if church matters. Questions institution. Questioning leaders. Questioning everything. Always critiquing and never committing. I believe that is causing many to struggle
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”
If you are not focused on something, you will drift. You are going to get bumped in life. You are going to have to make decision on options.
1. Pay Attention
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”
Last week we discussed chapter 1 and how it attests to the greatness of Jesus. He is greater than all others, greater than all the prophet, greater than all the angels. He is unique in all creation. He is the Son of God. Chapter 2 builds on that.
“Therefore” is a hinge. It takes what came before and lays it as a foundation of what is to come. Therefore since Jesus is greater than all, you should pay attention to him!
There is tight logic being used in this book. “If, then, for.” These statements build upon what has been said previously. Some atheist philosophers have said things that to be a Christian is to give up any ability to think or reason.
Philosopher Baron D’holbach: “Faith is the effect of a grace which God hardly grants to enlightened persons, who are accustomed to consult common sense. It is made only for the minds of men who are incapable of reflection, drunk on enthusiasm, or invincibly attached to the prejudices of childhood.”
I completely disagree with that. In fact I believe the only way to think rightly is to use our brain in the way God created it to be used. Logic and reason are tools that God created, and Christians need to use them well. Logic is being used here, if Jesus is who he said he is, he is the Son of God, Savior, radiance of the glory of God, then you ought to pay attention to him. And that statement gets supported through out this section. Heard of a law professor who would assign portions of Romans to his students. He was not a believer, but the defense and reasoning being given by Paul were second to none. Clearly, if Jesus is who it is said he is, then pay attention to him.
“pay much closer attention to what we have heard”
be in a continuous state of readiness to learn of any future danger, need, or error, and to respond appropriately – ‘to pay attention to, to keep on the lookout for, to be alert for, to be on one’s guard
to turn to or towards a thing, to turn one’s mind to a thing, be intent on it,
“Closer.” We must pay even more attention. It uses the Greek word “perissotera,” meaning abundant attention, considerably in excess of some point on an implied or explicit scale of extent – ‘very great, excessive, extremely, emphatic, surpassing, all the more, much greater.’ When you think you are being eccentric. Fanatic-fan.
If you are being casual, just getting by, then you probably are not paying close enough attention. Too many people are too casual in their walk with God. Like it’s not that big a deal. It was a just a small lie. It was just a few minutes looking at that page. To not help someone. It was just a small thing that I took from them. It was a small comment. It’s not a big deal to skip church. It’s still a lie! It’s still stealing. It’s still adultery. It is still disobedience. “Men fail in private before they fail in public.” -JC Ryle on Prayer.
Pay attention. Take it seriously. Wake up.
“let us” is an exhortation. He needs it too. Not above others. Not beyond the same mistake.
“lest we drift away from it.” carried out to sea. Neglect. Doing research on drift.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — An Indonesian teenager survived 49 days adrift at sea after his fishing raft broke loose from its anchor. The 18-year-old, from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, worked on a “rompong” – a floating fish trap without any paddles or engine but is anchored to the seabed by ropes. His job had been to light the rompong’s lamps, which are designed to attract fish, the Jakarta Post newspaper reports. A storm came and broke the anchor’s rope. He was eventually found by coast guard and taken to Japan. No one could understand how he stayed hydrated. Danger in drifting.
Danger. Consequences to not paying attention. He makes an argument here that shows a continuity between the Old Testament people of God and the New Testament people of God. It is that there is an urgency in trusting and obeying God? The Old Testament is full of time where God’s people rejected him and they suffered for it. Grace, but don’t use it as a license to sin.
- Adam rejected God and suffered shame, guilt and even death.
- Aaron and Miriam complained against Moses and suffered.
- Some gave into sexual rebellion and were struck down for it.
- The people didn’t go out to battle when God called them. Then He said don’t go and then they went. They suffered defeat.
They did not pay attention to God then, and there were problems. Someone greater than Moses has come and it is worse to not pay attention to him. No excuse.
Drift and not paying attention. A pattern in ministry where people stop being anchored to their faith and they drift. They suffer. Things doing go well. Fall away from church. Fall away from real relationships in church. Fall away from the word of God.
Drift is from negligence, from not being anchored. If you don’t have an anchor you can be pulled anywhere. Negligence typically happens when we stop caring about something. No longer prize it.
So great a salvation. All of humanity’s problems are solved in Jesus Christ. Saved from sin. Saved from evil. Saved for eternity. Saved into a family of god.
- Not political figures. We as a church are not striving to get a man into the whitehouse but to get a savior into human hearts. Kingdom of God.
- Listening to his word.
- But remember politics is about making things better. Jesus is about saving people.
- To his word. Message declared. A message has been declared to us. Are you looking at it. Contemplating it.
- Yourself. Watch your life and doctrine.
- Begin to make doctrine to fit your life.
- An example from Tim Keller
- My heart is prone to wonder. Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.
- Lessons from those who have fallen. Claude. S
- Why I dont want to neglect bible reading, going to church on Sunday, being in a small group.
Common Ways to Drift from Focusing on Christ
- Business. Be honest. Lack of priorities. Business does not keep you from serving God. Business is not the issue. It is the failure to make your faith a priority. Sit down and figure out what is most important to you. Make sure you are committed to that. If baseball is most important then commit to that and know where you stand. If Christ is most important to you then priotize what he calls you to. Cares of the world choke out the word like avine chokes out a plant. Know so many people who went through a low point because overworking. Not observing God’s command to rest. Drifted from that.
- Distractedness. Looking at the wrong things. Captivated. Kid on the baseball field. Game here. Leaf there. Sometimes we are going hard after something, it is just the wrong thing. Our gaze has drifted. Money, wealth, title. Need to be reminded what is most important. Many climb the corporate ladder only to realize it doesn’t lead to what they hoped for. What are your spiritual goals?
Many Christians have had their lives defined by politicians and doctors than what God calls us to do. It was appropriate for a time. Its time to look to Jesus and follow him.
- Weariness. Out west. Grow fatigue. Buy into the lies of the world for spiritual renewal. Just need to watch tv. Vacation. Physical with no spiritual renewal. Too tired to go to Bible study.
- Laziness. No way around it. The Christian life is not easy or convenient. Make it a priority.
- Small group. We made a decision that we were going to be there every time.
Selfishness. I don’t want to deal with other people. I don’t want to hear about other problems. I don’t want to meet people I don’t know. Called to lay down your life. If you only go to church when it is convenient it reveals a self serving attitude. Unanchored, go with whatever is easy and convenient.
2. Seek Help
You may be adrift. You may feel like you are so far out no one can rescue you. Miles and miles from shore and no one cares. I care. We care. We want to be a church people can show up at and know someone cares about them. Will you make sure someone is here to greet them, talk with them, love on them?? Jesus is able to help them. Jesus can save them. This letter was written, inspired to reach drifting people. We are reminded of it today that as believers we want to help those who are drifting and if you are drifting know these words and recognize God is calling you back.
he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Heb 2:18 ESV)
In this passage we see Jesus was made perfect through suffering. Don’t drift in hardship. Don’t drift in prosperity.
Jesus helps us in different ways. Sometimes he helps us miraculously. Sometimes he helps you by telling you what you should do, and that requires you developing habits around his word.
Pay attention to what you have heard. The word. Personal time in the Word. Don’t drift from your spiritual disciplines. Remind yourself of who he is. Remind yourself what he has done for you. I’m just realizing how difficult the last few years of COVID have been for us as a church. Just realizing as we plan for the fall and no one is freaking out about us having a cookout. Tough season. Didn’t know what to do. Had to rely on him. Dig deep in his word. Deep in prayer.
Corporate time in the word. Later in this book he will tell them don’t give up meeting together as some are in the habit. God has a plan for his church. For a people gathered together to focus on his word, his ways, his mission.
People begin to fall away from church. Show up less and less. We need to go after them. Find out what is wrong. What’s going on?
Critiques of churches. What you think of church reveals what you think about God. Churches who have lost their focus. If you are more interested in telling people about a political candidate than Jesus you have missed your calling. Be passionate about whatever you do. Have a reason for what you think and how problems can be made better. But remember politics is about making things better now. Salvation in Jesus is about being delivered for eternity.
Make disciples. Who are you seeking to make a disciple? This isn’t even a category for most Christians today. Just go wherever is easiest. Most convenient. The hard work of helping another know Jesus. This gives us so much purpose in all of life. Are we living with intentionality?
Some of these things, mission, purpose, frame what life is to be like. We are created to celebrate, created to influence and not just where to buy ice cream but how to relate with God. The air goes out on these and we go through life deflated. Can energize everything.
Teach my kids to say hello to new people. I don’t want them scared. I don’t want them self focused. We are not perfect. I apologize if you were not greeted well. We talk about it on numerous occasions. We review performances. And we all strive to do better next time. We are in process. But it is part of living on mission. Washington, manners are done for the respect of those around you.
Inviting others. Helping others. Our Discovery Groups are Bible studies where we go deep with others, but are also replicated and you can lead with your family, friends, neighbors.
We live under the curse of Genesis 3. Life is hard; it is not easy. And I don’t know if God brought you some Job-like challenges where you have done nothing to deserve what you have been through, or if perhaps you have been straying from the Lord and he has been sending you hardships to wake you up. It’s like the warning strip on the side of the highway. I don’t know what’s what. Would be glad to talk and pray with you to discover. I know many times I was mad at God for taking me a direction I later began to see where my own faults put me there and held me. I don’t know what things have happened to you. But I do know the solution is to fix your gaze on Jesus. He can restore you, make sense of pain, and set you on a new course.
But do you see the grace in this passage? He is telling people who have strayed, who have become disinterested in him, who have lost their priorities, gave up going to church, gave him the finger, that they can come back. Pay attention. Wake up. Look where you are going.
3. Focus on Christ.
Look. Whatever has happened in your life. Entrust it to Jesus. I don’t understand why it has all happened. I know it has been hard. I’m not saying don’t think about it. What I am saying is don’t focus on your past mistakes. Don’t push Jesus away because you don’t understand. Instead of asking why did you do this, ask what are you trying to show me?
What if you go all in on serving Jesus in the next season of life. What if you give him your all. What if you say I’m going to be a church every Sunday, I’m going to read my Bible, and I’m going to get in a prayer and Bible reading group. And I am going to go all in on helping my kids and others know him.
Nothing wrong with going through what you went through. The problem is you can’t stop focusing on it and that thing is defining you. Let Jesus define you.
Been hurt by others. Trust Jesus and seek to love.
Stop saying its ok and no big deal. Recognize you are drifting. Sound the alarm. Don’t make excuses. Make a commitment.
The early church was defined by its commitment to Jesus, and that commitment was expressed in commitment to knowing and proclaim Jesus. Proclaiming him through commitment to the church and to other people.