Let Us Go Outside, Where Jesus Is (Hebrews Sermon 72 of 74)
July 22, 2012 | Andrew Davis
The Most Courageous Journeys in History
We just sang a moment ago, one of my favorite hymns, Power of the Cross, and it begins with the most courageous, the most vital, the most blessed, and the most difficult journey that's ever been made by anyone in poetic language.
Oh, to see the dawn
of the darkest day,
Christ on the road to Calvary,
tried by sinful men, torn and beaten, then
nailed to a cross of wood.
That journey that Christ made outside the gate, outside the camp for us, saved my soul and yours if you're a Christian. And what immense courage and we should stand in awe of Him, and we should never cease praising Him for it. Eric that was a beautiful song. I love that song and it gave me the chance to just close my eyes and sing to Jesus who saved my soul, by that journey that He made, that's the greatest, most courageous journey that's ever been made. But the text calls on us now to make a similar journey. That's what this text is about. He's calling on us to join Him, to come outside the camp, to come outside the gate and bear the reproach of this sinful generation. And we're to do it for the same reason really that He did it, for the salvation of souls. That we are to make that journey so that others can be saved and spend eternity with Christ. And so, that's the burden of my text.
The question in front of me today, in front of all of us, is what enables, what empowers radical joyful Christian suffering. How can we do it? We come immediately face-to-face with our flesh when we come to this topic of witnessing, sharing the Gospel, bearing the reproach that He bore. What enables or empowers this, this journey, this second journey, this is how the finished work of Christ, the blood He shed on the cross, gets applied to the nations, gets applied to the elect. When people like you and me are willing to follow Jesus and suffer and bear the reproach He bore, the blood of Christ, the preaching of the Gospel, gets applied to them and they get saved.
And that's what Paul meant in Colossians when he said, "I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to the afflictions of Christ." There's nothing lacking in the atonement. It is finished. We celebrate that. But it needs to be applied and it's going to be applied by messengers like you and me who are willing to count the cost and to do it. And as I've thought about this text, I'm just so excited to preach it to you, so desirous that you would be free from your fear of people and serve Him more faithfully. I want the same for myself. And I think the Scripture has the power to do it by the power of the Spirit, that we would be more fruitful, more faithful evangelists. And here, as we look at this text, "Let us go to Him outside the camp," it implies a certain space between us and Jesus, but earlier in the text we are told, "I will never leave you. I will never forsake you." That implies a certain complete intimacy with Jesus right now. So which is it, is He with us or is He out there, beckoning for us to come? Both, both. He's with us right now in our weakness, our frailty, our failure, He's right there loving us, covering us, forgiving us. But He's also out there saying, "Come to me, come out of that place of comfort and ease and all that, and come and serve Me and bear the reproach that I bore." It's both.
I. The Central Question: What Causes Radical Joyful Christian Suffering?
So the central question of this text, and I think of the whole book of Hebrews... And really friends, I have two more sermons in Hebrews, but really this is my climactic sermon in Hebrews. The next two passages are valuable and I'm looking forward to preaching them, but I really think this sermon will culminate the whole book for us, culminate the whole book. So what is powerful enough to transform us, weak as we are, and make us embrace radical Christian suffering joyfully for the cause of the gospel? What's powerful enough to do it? What engine can do that, what can change us enough to make us do something crazy for Jesus, to take risk for Him and to live that kind of life? What can do that to us, to have a radical element in our Christian lives that can only be explained by faith? What can give us the courage and the strength sufficient to venture forth from that circle of comfort and safety, to go from where that comfort and safety is to where the need is, and to know that the needy ones who are going to benefit will be the ones pouring out the reproach on you, that's who does it, where the pain and suffering... What can enable us to do that?
Friends, this is what the world needs most from us today. That's what it needs. It needs us to make that journey. This is what the triangle needs, this is what Durham needs from FBC members. That we would be willing to do this, to go outside the gate and bear the reproach He bore. Why do I say that? Because frankly, if the world sees Christians living essentially the same kind of life with essentially the same kind of pleasures and the same kind of patterns and the same kind of hobbies and the same kind of movies, and the same kind of restaurants and the same kind of ambitions and all that same stuff, and if we somehow tell them that Jesus is our ticket into that game, they're not going to be impressed. It's the same game they want. When you're at the game, or at the show, how much do you think about the ticket? Are you thinking about the ticket that got you in there? You're not. So, Jesus is your ticket. My ticket is hard work, or discipline or education or Buddhism or who knows what all their ticket is, but it's the same game, worldly pleasures, worldly comforts, worldly ease, worldly ambitions, worldly achievements, that's the game. And if Jesus is the means to the end, then that we've missed the whole point of Hebrews I think.
And so the world needs more than that from us. It needs us to live a radically different kind of life for radically different things and radically different reasons, and the book of Hebrews was designed to call people in that first generation setting, Jewish people, to make that journey in reference to their Jewish friends and neighbors and family. We're not Jews, we're not first century Jews, but we have the same journey to make and it doesn't feel any different. It's the same kind of thing that we have to do that they did. And so, it's a timeless word, this word of exhortation, this sermon that the author to Hebrews preached to these Hebrew Christians, word of exhortation he calls it in 13:22, a brief word. It takes about 50 minutes to get through the whole book of Hebrews at a good pace. When I practiced the sermon this morning, it was 56 minutes, so I'm going to have to lose six minutes somewhere.
Oh, now you're looking terrified because we still have the Lord's Supper to go, right? How are we going to get through this? But this was a sermon I think that was preached and written down, and it was a word of exhortation. And what was the point? It was to, it was to enable, empower ordinary sinful comfort-loving, security-seeking people like you and me, like them in the first century, to be transformed enough to make this journey, to go outside the gate and bear the reproach that Jesus bore. But what power is strong enough to move us out of the comfort zone and to serve Jesus and suffer with Him? And the answer is, the Holy Spirit, as He uses the word of God to build faith in us enough to treasure Jesus both now and forever, that'll do it. The Holy Spirit, using the Word, building faith, focused on Jesus, He the treasure and you can experience Him now. And you will experience Him forever. That'll do it. And so it's to that end that I preach today.
The elders as we think about FBC, I'll speak for myself, I think this is the greatest need of our church, pastorally. If I could have just one thing over the next five years, it would be that we embrace this lesson from Hebrews, not this one text but others besides, I'll show you in a minute. And we just get bold and crazy and radical and risk things for Jesus. And as a result, there are more people baptized, more new Christians to disciple and train and build up, and the thing just multiplies. That's what I want for this church. I love this church, I love you guys, I love shepherding this church and you love the Word and I know it, and I see that in you and it's, it's a pleasure, but this is the one thing that I desire. And I think that this text has the power to do it. So let's listen together as we hear it.
Now I've said it isn't just one text here, this is a culmination, I think, of the whole movement of the Book of Hebrews. I think it's why the whole thing was done. So the portion that gives us a sense of the greatness of Christ serves this end, so that we have a sense of the greatness of Christ. I'm going to end the sermon with just tracing through that, how the book of Hebrews just shows us how great Jesus is, and then the New Covenant and how we are by that once for all sacrifice, the blood shed for us, freed from our sins, forgiven before God and He's at the right hand of God and is interceding for us and all that, it's all of that, to the end that we will live radical, different Christian lives and live for Jesus as our treasure, both now and forever. That's the end. That's why Jesus did all of these things. So, I want to trace it out.
Seven Texts In Hebrews Cover the Same Ground
So in your Bibles, go back a little bit to Hebrews 10. I'm going to show you seven texts that say the same thing, over and over and over, 10:34, it's just the same lesson again and again, look at 10:34. He says, "You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property because you knew that you had a better possession and a lasting one." These people, these Hebrew Christians at the beginning of their Christian life, found people that were being persecuted, they were perhaps being arrested for their faith or being beaten up in some way or hindered in some way, and they came out of the crowd and joined with them, stood by them, encouraged them, or visited them in prison, and risked the same treatment themselves. And the reason they did it, what is the reason? It's right in the text, because they knew they had a better possession and a lasting one. The name of the better possession is Jesus.
Okay, that's the first text. Secondly, look at Hebrews 11:6. "And without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly or diligently seek Him." Alright, I'm going to put a new light on that text, on 11:6, I'm going to put a Hebrews 13 light on it, Jesus is out there, we're inside where it's safe, He's saying, "Come to Me, and if you come to Me, I'll reward you, you'll find Me. You'll have deeper fuller, richer experiences with Me." And so the only way you're going to venture out of where it's safe and secure, going outside the camp is if you believe 11:6. He's out there and He'll reward you if you do it. And that He himself is the reward, He's what you get.
Third look at Hebrews 11:10 and 13-16. We're talking about Abraham and then, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, the patriarchal period. And these people left the security and comfort of Ur of the Chaldees, and that comfortable setup that Abram had, and they went and wandered in the promised land that wasn't even given to them in their life and they lived in tents and they admitted that they were aliens and strangers in this world and they wandered around from place to place. And they had opportunity to go back but they never went back because God had prepared a city for them whose architect and builder is God and they're looking ahead to that city, and they can't wait to go to that city; and so therefore they are willing to be called aliens and strangers and have disadvantages in this world and rejection in this world, living in tents, etcetera, for the sake of that future glory, that city that's to come. It's the same lesson.
Look again at Hebrews 11:24-26, we have the case of Moses, "By faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter, he chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt because he was looking ahead to his reward." Why did Moses do it, why did he leave the security and comfort of a good place at court, at Pharaoh's court, as a son of Pharaoh's daughter, all of the pleasures of sin and all the lustful things and the sensuous things and all that? Why did he leave all that behind? It says right in the text, he did it for Christ. And why? Because he's looking ahead to his reward, Christ again, Christ is now and Christ is the reward. Moses did it.
Look again at verse 35, same thing, "Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection." They're in prison, they're getting tortured, they're getting... And apparently in the verse, they have the ability to stop it, they could shut it down if they would just do something, probably deny Jesus. But they refused, they wouldn't do it. They would rather be tortured, than to have a sinful release. And why? Because they were looking ahead, looking ahead to what? A better resurrection. By now you should know the name of the better resurrection, His name is Jesus. He said it plainly in John 11, "I am the resurrection." Not merely, I give you the resurrection or I empower your... I Am the Resurrection. You'll hear His voice and come out of your tomb, and you'll see Him. He is your resurrection. And so, they were tortured and refused to be released so that they could have that better resurrection. The highest example of all is in chapter 12 in verse 2. Let's give the best to Jesus, amen?
It says in Hebrews 12:2, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Why did He leave the comfort and security of heaven, come down to earth, lead the kind of life He did and ultimately go to the cross? The reason in the text is He did it for joy. It wasn't some grim, stoical kind of thing, it was... He would say, I did it for joy. What joy? I want to be with you all forever and ever, I want the elect, I want those, Father, whom You have given Me, to be with Me where I am and I want them to see My glory and I know the price tag is My own blood, I'm willing to pay it. And so for the joy set before Him, He went outside the city gate, and He suffered and He shed His blood. And so, you guys, if you do it, you're going to do it for joy. I guarantee it, you will not do it out of guilt manipulation, you won't do it out any of that. You'll do it once or twice for guilt, but you'll do it for the rest of your lives for joy. For the joy set before you. And so, Christ is our pattern in this.
And then the verses we're looking at today, look at them again, 13:12-14, "So Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through His own blood. Let us then go to Him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace He bore, for here we do not have an enduring city, but we're looking for the city that is to come." Same thing, seven texts that say the same thing. If you can find some more, great, add them to the collection, but it's the message of Hebrews, it's what the author is trying to get us to do. It all adds up to one thing.
John Piper at T4G
John Piper in a beautiful message based on the same text and I'm indebted him for some of the structure of my sermon but Piper in T4G... Together for the Gospel 2008 said this, "I want the world radically rocked by the way you live your lives. I want your lives to have a risk-taking flavor. I want you to be living with such an overwhelmingly powerful heavenly focus that people will feel uncomfortable around you. I want you to be the salt of the Earth, and the light of the world, so that they'll either yearn to know the Christ that has made you so radical, so different, or they will seek to persecute you and pour out abuse on you."
So look what happened to Stephen, for example, he was like that. He lived so radically and so powerfully free from the praise of people, it just didn't seem to matter. He's there boldly preaching Jesus in the Synagogue of the Freedmen who were Jews from Tarsus and other places included, I feel certain Saul and others, and he's there and they cannot refute him, and you know what he's doing, I think he's preaching the message of Hebrews. The Old Covenant is over. You don't need the animal sacrifice anymore, Jesus is enough. Jesus says Come, and He's changing everything. Now, they weren't ready for that. If he didn't die so young, I'd have guessed at Stephen as the author of our book, but we're not supposed to guess. So, anyway moving on. He knew it, he saw the themes, he knew that the time for the temple sacrifices were done. Well, they couldn't handle that, and they dragged him up in front of the Sanhedrin, and when they looked at him, they saw that his face was like the face of an angel. Makes you want to just live so heavenly that that's what you're like, and you just don't care what they do to you. You just don't care what happens to you, at one level. And then he preaches a genius sermon. And the basic lesson is you're just like your fathers, you always resist and persecute the ones that the Holy Spirit sends, always, and now you've done it to Jesus.
Well, that's not a great... That message will not get you a lot of friends at the Sanhedrin. And they couldn't handle it, and they're getting really angry at him, frothy even, and at that moment he looks upward. And he sees heaven open, he sees Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, "Look, I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." And they couldn't handle that either, and they covered their ears, and you know what they do with Stephen? They dragged him out of the city. Now, why do they drag Stephen out of the city? Well look at our text they dragged him out of the city to kill him. So, that was Stephen. Now, Stephen didn't die in vain. Stephen's death lit a fire of persecution under the church in Jerusalem. Interesting, the same city, same walls, same gate, and the church was in there comfortable, and Stephen's death lit a fire in Saul of Tarsus and the enemies of the Gospel, which just launched the rocket of church growth throughout Judea and Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth. Stephen didn't die in vain.
So the call of the text for us is, who are the radical Stephens that go forth and then light a fire under this church and get us to finish the mission that God has for us? Who is that going to be? Who can live so other-worldly in your mind, in your heart, by faith, like Stephen, so that you can do this kind of thing? An other-worldly faith. So that's what I want.
II. Jesus Suffered Outside the Gate
Now, let's look at the text a little more carefully. Verse 11, "The high priest carries the blood of animals into the most holy place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp, and so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through His own blood." So the author's bringing us, as he's done so many times before, back to the Day of Atonement. And so, we're there at Leviticus 16 and one bull and two goats were selected out. And the bull was slaughtered for the sins of the priest, as the author to Hebrews already mentioned. One of the goats was slaughtered for the sins of the people, some of the blood of the bull and the goat were brought into the Holy of Holies, and sprinkled on the mercy seat on the Atonement cover on the Ark of the Covenant, the other, the live goat, the scapegoat, was led a far distance away, and released as a symbol of our forgiveness in Jesus.
Please hear this right now. The text says that Jesus suffered to make the people holy through His own blood. If you believe in Jesus, if you trust in Him, by faith in His blood, you are holy. You don't have to make this journey better to be holier. Do you understand what I'm saying? You don't have to do better at evangelism to be made holy in God's sight. They're just two different things. The work of Jesus for you is finished, you are redeemed, if you have trusted in Jesus. You're not saved by your own evangelism, you're saved in part by someone else's evangelism to you, but you're saved by the Gospel. You're saved by the finished work of Jesus. Amen? So you're saved, you're holy, you're forgiven. You're free. Free for what? Free to go outside the city gate and join with Jesus and suffer, but you're not going to earn any more forgiveness with God. Does that make sense?
Oh, I want to make this so strong and so clear. This is a convicting sermon. I know it is. I mean for it to be. I think the Lord does too, but I want you to know the firm basis under your feet, the rock under your feet, the finished work of Jesus. You're not going to be any more forgiven by how well you do at evangelism. So important to know that, but Jesus made you holy by His blood. Now, why was He... Why did the Lord set up the symbolize, why the symbolism? Why did He set it up that the body of the bull and the dead goat were dragged outside and burned outside the camp? Sometimes the priest got to eat the food. The whole eating thing we've talked about last time. I don't want to get into the eating thing, it's there but there just isn't time to develop all these themes, but the reason the Lord set it up is because essential to our salvation is the rejection of Jesus by His own people. He wouldn't have been crucified otherwise.
And so He set up a symbolism, God did, through the prophetic word, the symbolism of outside the camp and all that, to show that Jesus would be rejected by His people. Then He told us plainly through Isaiah that it would happen, "He was despised and rejected," it says, "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him, He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces, He was despised and we esteemed Him not." John 1, "He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to His own and His own did not receive him." Later, in John's Gospel, Jesus said, "This is to fulfill what was written in their law. 'They hated me without reason.'"
In front of Pilate, when He's being, when He's being tried for his life, and Pilate's doing everything he can to release Jesus because he doesn't want to kill Him. He's innocent, he knows He's innocent. He tries this expedient, he goes out to the Jews and says, "'It's your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of Passover. Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?' They cried out, 'No, not this man. Give us Barabbas.'" He was despised, He was rejected by His own people, and that was essential to His crucifixion, He wouldn't have been crucified otherwise. Pilate wouldn't have done it. Even deeper, He had to go outside the camp to atone for our sins. Other than Jesus, we would have been despised and rejected by God Himself, because of our sinfulness. And so Jesus bore the disgrace and the rejection we deserved for our sins, He took it on Himself so that we could be welcomed into Heaven and embraced as sons and daughters. And so He cries out on the cross, "My God, my God. Why have you forsaken me?"
The disgrace of the cross. Picture it in your mind. Condemned as a criminal, death penalty, rejected by His own people, cast out of the city like a piece of garbage, out there where they put the garbage and burn it, just cast out like He's nothing, mocked and scorned viciously Jesus was. Matthew 27:39-44, "Those who passed by hurled insults at Him, shaking their heads and saying, 'You who were going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, come down from the cross if you are the Son of God.' In the same way the chief priest and the elders and the teachers of the law mocked Him, 'He saved others,' they said, 'but he can't save himself.' He's the king of Israel, let him come down now from the cross and we'll believe in Him. He trusts in God, let God rescue him now, if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.'"
Listen to the next verse. "In the same way the robbers, plural, who were crucified with Him, also heaped insults on Him." Here's my point in the sermon, the people we have to go outside the city gate to rescue, they are the ones who do the reproach stuff, they are the ones who pour out reproach. You have to push it aside and say, "Some day we're going to be brothers and sisters in Christ, some day. Right now you're pouring out scorn on me, just like the thief on the cross did." This is the reproach. Look at Verse 13, "Let us therefore go to Him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace or the reproach that He bore." Stephen's own people killed him. Jesus' own people killed Him. Muslim converts, when they come to faith in Christ, it's usually their own family members, extended family members, that abuse and persecute them, the father, the brothers, the uncles, the cousins. That's the price our brothers and sisters in the Muslim world are paying for coming to faith in Christ.
And so, the reward of the cross is clear, the reward of all of this. Jesus makes us holy by His blood, the reward of our suffering is we get to take the blood of Christ by the preaching, and apply it to people who haven't been saved yet, and so that they can be holy too.
III. Let Us Go to Him Outside the Camp
Alright, so here's the command, "Let us go to Him outside the camp." Jesus suffered outside the city gate. So what is the city? What is the camp? And what is the significance of going outside? Well, I think the city and the camp are the same thing and they represent human society, approval from other people. It represents good comfortable relationships with other human beings, it represents peace and harmony, and prosperity. From infancy, every society trains up its children on social etiquette, social norms, so that they can fit in. Manners, how to behave pleasingly at the table. How to say please and thank you. Parents are complimented on how well-mannered their children are, all over the world, whatever good manners are in that culture. In every society of the manners are different. There are rules and regulations for greetings and dress and language patterns and educational expectations and all of these things. That's the city, that's what it is.
Society puts pressure on every child to conform to those norms, to fit in, to do what everyone expects. This training comes in terms of things so simple as body language, facial expressions, and manners and gifts given, compliments, different things, or disapproval, little words of rebuke or correction or bigger. Parents trained in that way too. And children learn to study the faces of their parents and then a wider and wider circle of other people to say... And they're asking the same question, "Am I okay, are we okay? Do you like me? Are we good?" It's a strong force inside us, it's not weak, it's strong, it becomes ingrained to yearn for approval of others. For the most part, friends, this is a good thing. Children, people, let's say, people who have absolutely no concern whatsoever for what anyone else thinks are dangerous. Sociopaths probably.
So the city or camp represents safety, security, ease, prosperity, everything you want in the world through good relationships with other people. The city had walls around it for protection, it had shops and bazaars and other things, had houses to live in, plenty of food, plenty of water, all that good stuff, represents everything the world has to offer. To have the city turn against you is a traumatic experience. Probably one of the most traumatic you can endure. We link it to the word shame, to have the shame of societal rejection, to be ashamed is one of the number one forces that there is. That's why Paul says, "I'm not ashamed of the gospel," he knows what it feels like to be tempted to be ashamed of the gospel. Jesus says, "If anyone is ashamed of me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed." So shame is right there, it's what the world does to try to get us to shut up. So there's this shame aspect. So to be rejected and mocked and hated by people is a nightmare scenario, lurking strongly in the heart of all sane, normal people.
Number of years ago I saw an episode of Candid Camera. I don't know if you remember that show. I used to like the show. It's kind of morphed now into YouTube videos that people watch and all that kind of thing, where you can see setups where people kind of do tricks on people, some of them are nicer than others, but there was this one that I'll never forget, and it was set up in a diner and everyone in the diner was in on it, everyone. And so the person, the subject of the thing, would come in, and basically on cue, everyone would just kind of stop eating and just kind of look at the person with no smiles, just looking. And the person would come and sit down at the counter, and the waitress would say, "What do you want?" Total stranger, "What do you want?" "I don't know, a menu." The cook isn't cooking anymore, the cook comes out, "What does he want?" "I don't know, I don't know what I want, I wish I hadn't come in here. What's going on here? Bowl of chili and some coffee." "He wants some chili. Chili." And he goes, gets the chili and gives it... Everybody starts eating and talking quietly and all that.
Well, after the Candid Camera thing, the people were inevitably angry. They didn't laugh, didn't think it was funny, it was probably one of the worst things they'd been through in years actually. But how is that relevant to evangelism? I think you know, I think you know. It's not funny, it's hard, and frankly it's effective. And if these kind of things weren't happening to us, we would witness 10 times more than we do. It's true, isn't it? Because it's good news and it's exciting to lead someone to Christ, and even if they were neutral and said, "Well, that's not really for me, but thank you so much for sharing, I'm so grateful. And who knows, maybe five years from now. I will come to Christ, I don't know, but I'm just so grateful that you did that," our evangelism's going to walk through the roof. It's because the world does this kind of stuff to us...
What Does it Mean to Bear the Reproach He Bore?
What does it mean then to bear the approach that He bore? What does it mean? It means to be willing to break some societal rules, to speak up for Christ. It means to be willing to endure that kind of behavior. It means to be salt that hasn't lost its saltiness, it's to be the light of the world that isn't hidden under a bushel basket but you're salting and you're lighting the world as Jesus intended, it means to be willing to stand up on a matter of biblical righteousness or to preach the Gospel, do something that takes courage for Jesus.
Now, in other countries, the reproach could be lethal, like in the Sudan right now, if you stand up for Jesus, and you're counted a Christian, there could be some machete-wielding teenage young men that'll come after you at night and kill you or chase you and you'll run for your life. Your house will be burned. In Nigeria, churches are blown up. It means different things in different places. Persecution.org is a website, you go there and you look and they have the 30 most recent persecution stories there are, that they've gotten. And they put them up with two icons, two types, one of them is black and white, and it's a skull and the other one's red and it's handcuffs. And so they have basically organized into two main categories the persecution the world does. It's death/physical attacks or government-sponsored incarceration basically, those are the two things. That's out there though, that almost certainly won't happen to you. Not any time soon in America. Maybe in the future, we may be going there, I don't know. But not soon.
Does that mean that there are no forces on us that make it hard to go outside of the camp? You know there are. What does it look like? Well, like, you go on an outreach, you're going door-to-door, you ring a doorbell and say, "Hey Summer Sizzle's coming up next week." Door gets slammed in your face. Okay. I actually had one occasion where there's a big picture window and they're watching a ballgame, rang the doorbell, they looked over their shoulder at me, just looked me up and down, and then just turned back and kept watching the game.
I don't know which is better, the slamming the door or just, "you're not worth my time." So there are those little moments. Or in the workplace, you're stepping out in faith to witness to a co-worker, and he's having marital problems and you get a chance to give him a ride home, you're not on work time, work anything, it's your car even, and you're giving him a ride home and you venture forth, you've been praying for him, and you go there. You talk about Jesus, you talk about the Bible, you try to help, you try to do it gently and lovingly, but he gets real quiet. Doesn't say much, it gets real awkward. You get to his house and he gets out without really saying anything, and the door closes... "Okay. Hmm, I don't think that went too well." Satan starts working, "Was I not loving? Did I not do it right?" Whatever. You go to work. And then it's never the same again with that guy. Never. And you're walking down the hall and it gets kind of quiet. There's a group of people, they're all talking whatever. You go around the corner and he says something you can't hear, but they can hear, and they all burst out laughing, you know what's going on.
Or you might invite your boss to church, and he gets quiet and kind of looks at you and he's like, "We don't talk about that kind of thing at workplace. I don't want you to do that." So it's like, "Okay." So you pray for him, and five months later, you have your review, and you're getting average or below average grades and things, though you're trying to be a witness and let your light shine and all that, and you get passed by for certain things that the work... Is it connected? I don't know. Probably. You don't know for sure. In the neighborhood, you have a cook-out for example, you invite all your neighbors, everyone to come, try to be a good host, hostess, show them a good time, all that kind of thing. You're just trying to build relationships, you don't set up a podium and preach, you don't do that, you're just trying to build relationships, but you do want to share Christ and you think you have a good opportunity and you open with maybe a woman that you see regularly, but haven't gotten to know yet. Doesn't go well, same kind of thing, gets real quiet. During the week, you see her, she's walking her dog as usual, you wave like you always do. She doesn't wave anymore, she turns away, keeps walking. Is that kind of stuff effective to keep you from sharing the Gospel? I tell you, it is. Enough of that starts happening, it gets harder and harder to share.
Or you're a college student and you're having, you eat your meals in the common hall and you sit down, building relationships, and kind of a community growing up there, and you share, try to invite some people to a Bible study. Maybe a guy comes, doesn't really like it, kind of detached, doesn't say much, never comes again. You go and sit down next to him to eat, and he gets up and walks away, sits somewhere else. I was the guy that walked away, that was me, I did that to Steve, who was trying to lead me to Christ. So I tell you, the very people who are persecuting you are the ones you're trying to reach. Or again, on the college campus, you're in a room, a worldview class, a philosophy class or something like that, and you're talking about an issue that the Bible touches on, and other people are boldly giving their interesting views from their interesting worldviews, and they're sharing things and you share something from the Bible. The room gets really quiet, the professor makes a mocking comment, everyone erupts in laughter and you sit down, tempted to be ashamed.
I was talking to Andy about his son who is on a baseball team, and he, the his kids are just incredibly desirous to make that a ministry. And he was sharing the gospel with some of his kids, some of the other boys in the dug-out and one of them finally said, "Would you shut up about Jesus?" He is like 9 or 10 years old. Does that have an impact, that creates a force that makes us want to stop witnessing? Well, you know, it does.
What Makes this So Very Difficult to Do?
Alright, now here's the hard part, the fact is we are called on to live in the city. You're actually not making once for all leaving and then we're done with the city. Let me put it kind of plainly, We are not called on to dress up in weird Halloween-like costumes and wear some cologne that no one's ever smelled before, and it's bizarre, and speak in some language that no one can relate to, and they look on us like the most bizarre Martian people that have ever lived.
No, actually Paul says quite the contrary, in 1 Corinthians 9, that to the Jews he became as much like a Jew as he possibly could to win the Jews. To the Greeks, he became as much like a Greek as he possibly could to win the Greeks. So what does it mean? It means get along, get along with them as much as you can, as much as you can, but you have to be willing every day to trade it in for a good Gospel presentation. That's it. And then when you've gone outside of the city gate, where Jesus is, and you've borne the reproach, guess what you get to do after that? Go back inside and live there some more, and then the next day you get another chance to go outside the city gate. It's not just one time, it's again and again and again. It's what God's calling on us to do. It's very hard to do.
IV. For We Are Looking Forward to the Future City
So what's our motivation, why should we do this? Text gives us two, quickly. Negatively: For here, we do not have an enduring city. You may think this city's secure, it's permanent, and all that. It isn't. The approval of other people doesn't mean anything. It doesn't mean a thing, they will not be with you on Judgment Day to help you give an account. They'll be busy, giving their own account, and so it really doesn't make a difference. And the possessions that you accumulate by being in great relationships with other people and all that, they're going to all go away, all of them anyway. We do not have an enduring city here, that's negative. Positively, we are looking by faith, ahead to the city that is to come later. We're looking ahead to Jesus, and living with Him forever. Only by trusting in that, will we be willing to do this. So looking ahead to Heaven, looking ahead to your heavenly reward, that is a motivator, that will get you outside the city gate. But there's an even more powerful one than that and it's right there in the text. It says, "Let us then go to Him." Him.
You know what you get if you go outside the gate? You get to be with Jesus. And this book maybe, I would say almost more than better than any other book in the Bible, specifically details the glories of Christ and how wonderful He is so that you are willing to go outside the gate and be with Him. He is the radiance of God's glory, He is the exact representation of His being, He is the one who shed His blood and sat down at the right hand of God, He is the one whom angels worship, He is the one whose throne is based on righteousness and a hatred of wickedness. He is, He is the Son of God, who became the Son of Man, and He's not ashamed to be called a family member with us. He is the one by whose death He who held the power of death, Satan, was destroyed and we freed from being afraid of death. That's who we get when we go out there. He's the one who's the Son over God's house, not like Moses, merely a servant in God's house, He is the Son ruling over God's house.
That's who you get if you go outside the city gate, you get this High Priest who's like Melchizedek, only infinitely better. He is perfect in every way, without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days, or end of life, forever ministering at the right hand of God, that's who you get if you go outside the city gate, you get the one who opened a new and living way, the one who is seated on the throne of grace, and who welcomes you and who pours out grace. Simply put, you get happiness in Jesus out there. You just get to be with Him. And Paul knew it, didn't he? Paul knew it. And in Philippians this is so powerful, when I was going over this sermon this morning, this brought tears to my eyes, powerful, Paul said in Philippians 3, "I want to know Christ… and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death and so somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead." That's what you get if you go outside the city. You get to know the fellowship of sharing in Jesus' sufferings.
V. What Does It Mean for You to Go to Jesus Outside the Camp?
So practically, what does this mean for you? Witnessing, evangelism, change in lifestyle, looking at your finances, I don't know. Sticking to the issue of reproach or disgrace, I think it means just being willing to be bold and speak up for Christ. Go on outreach, get involved in Summer Sizzle. I'm going to go this afternoon. So here's a chance right away to go knock on some doors and reach out to people without hope and without God in the world. Would it bother you if somebody, one of the people, we knock on the door, come to faith in Christ, and eventually gets baptized and grows but doesn't come to Summer Sizzle? So we have an opportunity today to lead some people to Christ. Isn't that awesome?
Do that, get involved in our international student ministry. Craft a ministry of your own, get to know your neighbors, hospitality…Use your home as a place of evangelism, do something on at the workplace. Don't seek rejection and persecution, all that. It comes naturally, seek to love people, seek to share Christ. And then some of them are going to reproach you, but they might be like the thief on the cross, very close to coming to Christ actually because you've hit a nerve. That's what happened with me.
Alright, we come now to a time of preparing for the Lord's Supper. And as we do, I want you to trust in the promises of the Gospel and the words of the institution, and that we through the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, can have an encounter with Christ now by the Spirit. If you have never come to faith in Christ, trust in Jesus right now, believe in Him. Put your faith in Him for the forgiveness of your sins, but don't come to the table. This is for those that have already put their faith in Christ, and have testified to that publicly by water baptism. For those, please come. Let's close this message in prayer.