Why Are We Here, Where Are We Going, and How Do You Fit in? (2021)

Dr. Steve Viars January 10, 2021 John 20:19-31
Outline

4 ways we hope to enjoy life in His name this year

I. Enjoy Life in His Name Through a Verse-by-Verse Study of the Gospel of John

John 19:41-42 - Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

John 20:18 - Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord…”

John 11:25-26 - Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

John 2:19 - Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

John 5:21 - For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.

John 5:24 - Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

A. John’s stated purpose

John 20:31 - …but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

B. The importance of regularly reading this gospel

C. Additional study tools

II. Enjoy Life in His Name by Ending Our Pandemic Responsibilities Well

A. The importance of ending well

1. Illustrated negatively in Scripture

a. King Solomon

1 Kings 11:4 - For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.

b. King Hezekiah

2 Kings 20:19 - Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “Is it not so, if there will be peace and truth in my days?”

c. Demas

2 Timothy 4:10 - …for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica…

2. Illustrated positively in Scripture

a. Apostle Paul

2 Timothy 4:7-8 - I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

b. The Lord Jesus

John 17:4 - I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.

John 19:30 - Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

Hebrews 12:2 - …fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

B. Our plans moving forward

III. Enjoy Life in His Name Because We are Well-Positioned for Exciting Ministry Opportunities in This Upcoming Year

A. Because of the significant percentage of Faith Church members who have stewarded the pandemic well thus far

Galatians 5:22-23 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Luke 16:11 - Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?

B. Because there is a yearning on the part of people to get back together again

C. Because of the facilities and property God has entrusted to us

D. Because of the ministry initiatives we already adopted

E. Because of the powerful possibility of believing

John 20:31 - …but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

The mission of Faith Church is to glorify God by winning people to Jesus Christ and equipping them to be more faithful disciples.

IV. Enjoy Life in His Name by Contributing to a Thoughtful Resumption to Normal Local Church Ministry

A. Transition from online to in-person services

B. Helping us restart church and community ministries

C. Please continue to communicate with us

D. Bathe this year in prayer

Ephesians 6:18-20 - With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

- Would you agree with me this morning that in a sentence, what comes after the word “in”…i-n, dramatically impacts the meaning of what is being communicated?...

- for example -- your present location…is there a difference between saying, I’m in Lafayette” as opposed to saying, “I’m in the Bahamas”?....absolutely…that sentence started out sounding about the same, didn’t it?...but what came after the word “in” made all the difference in the world…

- or what about chronologically?...”I’m in my twenties”…and “I’m in my sixties”…

- absolutely – one probably has more energy than the other, and one probably has more wisdom than the other…I’ll leave it to you to sort all of that out…but even the rate at which you were able to gather everything up and pull it out of bed this morning probably was impacted on what came after your “chronological in”…

- what about financially?...there’s a big difference between the person who by God’s grace can say – we’re in high cotton right now (and for anyone unfamiliar with that metaphor – that’s a good thing)…and it’s a whole lot different than someone who has to say – we’re in foreclosure, or, we’re in bankruptcy…

- so there’s no doubt, that what comes after the word “in” dramatically impacts the meaning of what is being communicated...

- what if we broadened that out to the most significant “in” statement we could consider?...

- where a person is finding the joy of life…or the source of life…or the meaning of life…or the hope of life…

- that’s even much more important than location, or chronology, or finances, isn’t it?...

- I’m finding life in _______

- that one could take a lot of different directions, couldn’t it?...and it raises a lot of questions as well…

- like, are we talking about my physical existence – my life here and now?...yes…what’s your life in?...

- are we talking about where I find the strength for living every day?...yes…what’s your life in?...

- are we talking about the purpose of my life…yes…what’s your life in?...

- are we talking about my future life?...yes…what’s your life in?...

- are we talking about my eternal life?...yes…what’s your life in?...

- isn’t it amazing that even short phrases can be loaded with truth and meaning…

- if “life” is at the beginning of the sentence…what come’s after the “in” is incredibly important to consider…

- that’s why we’ve selected as our annual theme for 2021 – Enjoying Life in His Name

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to the gospel of John, chapter 21…

- we always use one of the first Sundays of the new year to consider the questions, Why Are We Here, Where Are We Going, and How Do You Fit In?...

- I don’t know if you’ve ever worked in, or participated in a group where there was not a clearly defined set of answers to those questions…or there wasn’t a clear and repetitive way for everyone involved to know the answers…but that can be an incredibly frustrating and wasteful experience…

- conversely, if everyone involved has crisp answers to the questions…

- and especially if they had a part in crafting them…

- and more-so if the answers are based on truth to which they are deeply committed, like in our case, the Holy Word of God…then it’s amazing how much a group of people can accomplish by God’s strength for His glory…

- now, I realize after the elections, we’re probably more than done hearing the phrase “the most consequential” this or that…

- I do think it’s fair to say that our family having a clearly understand set of answers to these questions is especially important this year…

- the challenges before us are unprecedented…does anyone here have any experience leading a church, or participating in a church seeking to emerge from a worldwide pandemic (if to any degree, that’s what the Lord may have for us this year)?...the point is, these are uncharted waters…and if it ever feels like we’re making this up as we go…that’s only because we are…

- if that’s the case, knowing why we’re here, and where we’re going, and how you fit in, is as important as ever…

- because we are going to need everyone pulling the plow in the same direction to get out of this one…no question about that…

- now on the other hand…while it’s true that the challenges before us are unprecedented…I think we could easily make the case that the ministry opportunities before us as a church are unprecedented as well…

- I absolutely believe we could be in high cotton from the perspective of seeing men and women come to Christ this year as a result of what occurred in 2020…and seeing followers of Jesus renew their commitment to Christ and His church like never before…

- and if that’s true – the case I’d like to make this morning is that we do not have a moment to waste to be as prepared as possible for all our good God has in store for us…

- please think with me about 4 ways we hope to enjoy life in His name this year.

I. Enjoy Life in His Name Through a Verse-By-Verse Study of the Gospel of John.

- John 20 tells about some of the exciting events that occurred after the resurrection of Jesus Christ…

- the previous chapter has summarized the crucifixion and John 19:41–42 - Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

- whenever I come to this part of the story I think about the great sermon by the black pastor entitled, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming”…

- speaking about the tomb he comments how terrible it was that the Creator of the Universe was buried in a borrowed tomb…then he hesitates and says…but that’s all right, he wasn’t going to use it long…and that’s true because…

- chapter 20 is a complete contrast…because Mary Magdalene comes and finds the tomb empty…

- she tells Peter and John, the author of this gospel, and they run and find the tomb empty as well…

- then those two men leave and two angels and then the resurrected Jesus himself appears to Mary…

- you can imagine her relief and excitement in learning that Christ had conquered death…and the complete and immediate transformation in her thinking must have been amazing to experience…which is why verse 18 reports… John 20:18 - Mary Magdalene *came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”…

- they just knew the tomb was empty…now they are learning for the first time they He is alive…

- you have to wonder if and when light bulbs would start going off in their minds…like perhaps recalling Jesus’ words at the raising of Lazarus…

- John 11:25–26 - Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”…wait a minute, if Jesus attained this kind of life, that means we can as well…

- or perhaps they would eventually remember Jesus’ statement to the religious leaders that if they…John 2:19 - Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” …no doubt now about what that meant…

- or at some point they would understand what Jesus said after healing the lame man at the pool of Bethesda…John 5:21 - For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.

- and then a few verses later…John 5:24 - “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

- the point is – their understanding of the entire concept of life is going through a radical transformation…the way they would have completed the all-important “in-statement” – my life is in ______ was dramatically and instantaneously changed…

- let’s pick John’s narrative up at verse 19 of chapter 20…[read 20:19-31]…

A. John’s stated purpose

- there’s the phrase from which we’re taking our annual theme…

- John 20:31 - but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

- that’s the ultimate “fill in the blank after the ‘in’” for us – it’s life in His name…

- my physical existence in the here and now? – I’m enjoying life in His name…

- where I find strength for living every day? – I’m enjoying life in His name…

- the purpose of my life? -- I’m enjoying life in His name…

- my future life?... I’ll be enjoying life in His name…

- my eternal life?... I’ll be enjoying life in His name…

- our plan this year is to have a verse-by-verse study of this marvelous gospel…

- because of the complexities of the preaching schedule…the studies will be staggered, so depending on which campus you normally attend, there may be a week or two before we start at your location…

- but let me tell you how we arrived at this decision…

- many of you know that around November, we start planning the preaching schedule for the following year…and we ask folks to share any input they might have…

- and this idea actually came from one of our deacons, Jon Greiner…

- and the more we thought about Jon’s idea and his reasoning behind it – the more it made sense for where we find ourselves as a church…

- we’ve been surrounded by the topic of death in 2020 – and I realize that many families have been directly impacted by a loved one dying during the pandemic, or a friend or neighbor…

- all of us have probably thought more about life and death in the last year for all sorts of reasons…lets take the apostle John up on his offer to consider his eyewitness report so that believing, we might have life in His name…

- there’s also a lesson there about the importance and value of every person in our church family feeling very comfortable to suggest ministry ideas to us…

- this is where the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer comes into the equation…part of enjoying life in His name is having direct access to God’s throne because of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross…

- so you don’t pray through someone else – you are a believer priest who comes directly before the Lord because you’ve been clothed in the righteousness of His son…

- that’s why over the years some of the best ministry ideas we’ve had have come from some of the shyest people in the church family…so please don’t ever hesitate to communicate with us on whatever topic interests or concerns you…

‑ one other thought about this theme…there are dozens and dozens of ways to benefit from these words…

- it’s very much like a piece of Fannie May Mint Meltaway candy…

- have you ever had one of these?...I think there was a Fannie May store in Lafayette at one time…

- we had one up in Merrillville where I lived…and while my parents were very frugal people…things usually loosened up a bit around the holidays…and that generally meant we would have a box or two or mint meltaways…

- well, you know why they call them that, right?...as opposed to, “mint-chomp-them-quicks”?...

- it’s because they are made to slowly melt in your mouth…

- my dad taught us early on…it was wise to make them last as long as you possibly could…

- so you sucked on them slowly and derived every last bit of sweetness out of them…

- well, one of our dear families bought us a box of those for Christmas so I was able to introduce them to the Bear – he gave them two paws up…

- who knows what this year is going to bring, but we’re hoping that this phrase will become more meaningful to every member of our church…as we walk through this gospel together…and learn more of what it means to enjoy life in His name…

- now, a couple of practical suggestions…

B. The importance of regularly reading this gospel

- we do intend to continue our Pulitzer Prize winning Friday church family e-mails in the early part of this year…

- at some point we will probably discontinue them if the pandemic subsides, but for now we’ll keep sending them out and they list the passage that your particular campus will be studying, and I would encourage you to make it part of your Sunday prep habit to read and meditate on that text ahead of time…

- by the way, if you’re not receiving them and would like to, send an e-mail to Heather Smith…you don’t have to be a member…

- but in addition to that, I would encourage you to find a time to read the gospel of John in its entirety in one sitting…

- it takes about an hour…but it will well worth your time…and depending on where you are in your Bible study habits, you might want to try to do that once a quarter, or once a month, or once a week…but that will help you locate whatever specific passage we’re studying that Sunday in the over content of the book…

C. Additional study tools

- I know that many people like to structure their personal Bible study to whatever we’re working on at church…and to add other tools to help you in that process…

- one idea, if you have a study Bible, would be to make a plan not just to read the passage, but the explanatory notes as well..

- if that comment does not make sense – feel free to talk to one of your service pastors…or if you’re a member, to your deacon…

- there are also many, many commentaries on John…here are a few to consider

1. John – 2 Vols – John MacArthur

2. John – Pillar NT Commentary – D.A. Carson

3. John – Tyndale NT Commentaries – Colin Kruse

4. A Theology of John’s Gospels and Letters – Andreas Kostenberger

- here’s the big point – who knows what 2021 is going to bring?...and of course ultimately we know the answer to that question, by the way – our sovereign God does…

- so better stated – who among us humanly knows what 2021 is going to bring – but we do believe this...if every person in our church has drawn closer to our Savior because we’ve more fully studied one of the four great gospels and we’ve taken specific steps to enjoy life in His name…then whatever else happens is going to be just fine…

II. Enjoy Life in His Name by Ending Our Pandemic Responsibilities Well.

- as we just mentioned, no one knows for sure what 2021 will bring with regards to the pandemic…but it is possible that the vaccines and other medications could bring relief and at some point a resumption of somewhat normal activities…

- who knows if and when that will happen…but we do know this…it’s not over yet…and that brings us to a very important theme in the Word of God, and that is…

A. The importance of ending well

- if you follow sports, you know that often the game is won or lost in the final quarter…or sometimes even in the final minutes…

- so it doesn’t necessarily matter if you played well for the first 3 quarters of the game…

- well, the same is true, but on a far more significant level, in the way people like me and you choose to live…

- there’s a big difference between starting well, and ending well…

1. Illustrated negatively in Scripture

- do examples come to your mind, or people who didn’t finish well?...

a. King Solomon

- his father David did so much to set him up to succeed…

- and Solomon wisely asked the Lord for special wisdom…and God granted that request…along with riches and honor…

- the kingdom of Israel expanded in incredible ways under his leadership…so much so that people like the Queen of Sheba came just to see if the reports about Solomon’s majesty were true…

- 1 Kings 11:4 - For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.

- the heartache and destruction that occurred in the generations that came behind Solomon show what can occur when a person doesn’t finish well…

b. King Hezekiah

- I mentioned his story a couple of weeks ago…this is the man whom God told to get his house in order…because he was going to die, and Hezekiah pled with the Lord and was granted 15 more years of life…

- but during that time he made some very unwise decisions…and eventually the prophet Isaiah came to him and explained that because of those choices, his sons and grandsons will be deported to ruthless Babylon…Hezekiah’s response was fascinating…

- 2 Kings 20:19 - Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “Is it not so, if there will be peace and truth in my days?”

- in other words – better them than me…that’s called, not ending well…

- or this example from the NT…

c. Demas

- 2 Timothy 4:10 - for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica…

- how would you like that to be the reason your name was included in the Bible?...

- and he had been mentioned previously as one of Paul’s fellow workers…he started well…

- but he didn’t finish…he didn’t end well…because he loved this present world, he deserted Paul in his hour of need…

- we all wish the pandemic was over – but it’s not – and by God’s grace, many in our church family have started well…I’ll have more to say about that in a minute – it’s a delightful story…

- but the question now is – are we going to finish the job?...are we going to end our pandemic responsibilities well?...

- now, the other side of this coin is how this concept is…

2. illustrated positively in Scripture

- can you think of examples of people, who in the strength and power of God, ended well?...surely, the…

a. Apostle Paul

- Just prior to his statement about Demas, Paul was able to affirm, 2 Timothy 4:7–8 - I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. ‘

- this is what we want to be able to say as a church family as the pandemic subsides…not just that we started well, but that we ended well…

b. The Lord Jesus

- what was is that He said just before going to the cross - John 17:4 - I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.

- then just before his physical death he said…John 19:30 - Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

- this is why the writer of Hebrews urged us to…Hebrews 12:2 - fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

- by the way – for anyone who would say – well, I’ve already blown it…if you look back to my social media posts…or some of my choices…my rebellion, or my critical spirit, or my gossiping or complaining…it’s ruined whatever ministry for Christ I could have during the pandemic…

- listen – for anyone for whom that’s true – does that might you can’t end well, anyway?...

- can you think of anyone in Scripture who messed up badly – but then turned it around and finished really well?...would you like a hint…

- and his hair began to grow…

- who am I thinking of?...Samson…who committing some callosal sins and missed all sorts of ministry opportunities…but when his strength was returned, he made a dramatic impact on the enemies of God…

- the point is that part of enjoying life in Jesus’ name this year is seeking to end our pandemic responsibilities well…

B. Our plans moving forward

- in many ways we have the exact same priorities as we’ve had for months…

- we want to provide safe, effective worship services for those choosing to join us in-person…and meaningful services for those who prefer to join us on-line…

- each month our pastors and deacons will meet together and review the pandemic stats, listen to our medical professionals, and consider the input from our church family, and chart a path forward…

- but there are really only about 4 issues we have to determine…

- when will we return to normal seating as opposed to socially distanced?...

- when we will no longer ask people to reserve tickets?...

- and you realize – those two issues are connected – the only reason we do tickets is to ensure that every person planning to attend has a seat when they come [tickets are your friend, not your nemesis…]

- when will we no longer as people to wear face coverings or shields until they get to their seats

- when will we return to regular children’s ministries?...

- and I understand that you might be tired of all of that…but let me just remind you the hospitals are still full to overflowing…

- and even if the vaccines are successful, it’s going to take a long time before that makes a significant difference…

- and for all the reasons we’ve discussed including our love for our health-care workers and first-responders, our teachers, our companies and small business owners, our government officials…we’re going to stay the course until it’s no longer necessary…

- and if you say – I’m sick of all of this…the corollary question would be – in whose name are you finding your life?...your strength for living…your purpose for living…your joy in living…

- if it’s life in His name…it’s life that not only starts well, but that ends well…

III. Enjoy Life in His Name Because We are Well-Positioned for Exciting Ministry Opportunities in this Upcoming Year.

- if you asked me to select a phrase that defines we are as a church right now, I’d say things like – poised for a significant harvest, or poised for dramatic impact…or as we said, well-positioned for exciting ministry opportunities…

- you understand, we’re like a water company doing business in a world emerging from a draught…(speaking of a metaphor clearly taught in the gospel of John)…

- why can we honestly say that we are well positioned?...here’s several strong reasons to come to that conclusion…

A. Because of the significant percentage of FC members who have stewarded the pandemic well thus far

- I made this comment at our Christmas Eve services but it bears repeating for those who were not in attendance…

- My family and I are beginning our 34th year of ministry here…

- and I have always considered it to be a marvelous privilege to serve here…

- but I have never been more thankful for our church family than in the year 2020…

- because God allowed us to endure a test like none other and yet so many, by His grace, came through so well…

- here are a few reasons I would say that…

1. In our personal conversations – as we call and check up on people for various reasons, it was apparent to us that the Lord was drawing so many of our brothers and sisters closer to Himself, and to one another…

2. Flexibility – people have very understanding as our plans have been adjusted multiple times as the conditions of the pandemic changed…

- I’ll never forget the week where I shot the Sunday promotional video on Thursday afternoon…

- within hours the governor made a new announcement and I had to go back to church that night and shoot a different video…

- yet there has been very little drama about the adjustments we’ve had to make…

- that too, by the way – is enjoying life in his name – because what I just described is evidence of the fruit of the Spirit…

- Galatians 5:22–23 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

- those words have described many men and women of our church family – which well positions us for future ministry because we don’t have to clean up a lot of messes from 2020…

3. Willingness to serve

- cf. worship team, sound/tech/electronic communication teams (and their families) – willing to sacrificially serve from day one…

- ushers, greeters, nursery workers, children’s and youth ministry workers…

- CFE, LN, etc.

4. Financial generosity – it’s nearly miraculous that we completed SMC…the NCC is debt free…during a world-wide pandemic…

- Luke 16:11 - Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?

- you can plow that verse in reverse…the vast majority of our church family have proven themselves to be very faithful in the use of wealth, at an unprecedented time of uncertainty in our world…we have every reason to believe the Lord will entrust us with greater ministry opportunities in the days ahead…and what about those?...

B. Because there is a yearning on the part of people to get back together again.

- I believe when the time is right, we are going to see men and women wanting to be in church and our associated ministries like never before…

- we had several new families visiting us last Sunday…

- people were not created to live in their basements…we’re social beings…and here’s my point to all of us – we need to get ready…and I’m not saying I think it’s going to turn on like a light switch…

- but if the vaccines are as effective as it would appear they could be…the day will come when people will not be concerned as much about gathering together…

C. Because of the facilities and property God has entrusted to us

- for any entity that owns large facilities…the last 10 months have been rough…think about concert halls and sports stadiums…

- but there’s reason to believe that not only will that turn around…but that venues like that will become especially attractive…

- going to a ball game or a concert with a large group of people could very well become an especially desired and cherished event…

- where does that leave us?...with all of our community meeting rooms, and play spaces, and gymnasiums, and ball fields…right in the center where men and women might especially want to be in the days ahead…and then couple that with…

D. Because of the ministry initiatives we already adopted

- we’re in the 4th year of this particular planning cycle…

- each one of the planning initiatives we selected as a church family are available on our web-site, along with the specific initiatives for each of our pastors and key staff members [Jeremy – please provide a slide that shows how to find them]…

- here’s the key point – especially after the completion of the NCC Community Center project…we’re not done…we’re just starting…now we get to enjoy and use and capitalize on what the Lord has entrusted to us…

- I would also encourage you to sit down and write out your ministry initiatives for 2021…if you need help with that, contact your service pastor or deacon…

- and some of that may not be put into practice till the 3rd or 4th quarters of this year, but there’s no time to waste in terms of being ready for what the Lord has for us…

E. Because of the powerful possibility of believing

- think about our theme verse again…

- John 20:31 - but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

- Do you think it is reasonable to conclude that many of the men and women that the Lord has placed around us have taken more stock in the past year of what they really believe than ever before?...that plays right into our church’s mission statement…

- The mission of Faith Church is to glorify God by winning people to Jesus Christ and equipping them to be more faithful disciples.

- I would encourage you to begin thinking about conversation starters regarding that very issue…there’s power in that phrase “so that you may believe” – that’s a purpose clause – when God adopts a purpose, it is wise to get in line with what He desires…

- by the way, if you’ve not yet chosen to believe in Christ and therefore have life in His name, we would invite you to do that today…

- what a great way to start the new year…

IV. Enjoy Life in His Name by Contributing to a Thoughtful Resumption to Normal Local Church Ministry.

A. Transition from on-line to in-person services

- I’m very glad for the technology that allows us to offer on-line services…it’s allowed us to stay somewhat connected…

- but there is no substitute for in-person worship in the Lord’s house on the Lord’s Day…

- I recognize that every person’s situation is different…and we’re not going to pressure anybody to do anything…

- but for me personally – I decided long ago, if it’s safe enough to go to Sam’s – it’s safe enough to go to church…

- and for those attending on-line – let me encourage you to begin making transitions to make return to in-person worship easier…

- that may mean figuring out how to get the service on the largest screen in your home…and watching at the same time the service is actually held…and maybe even moving away from the PJ’s and stretchy pants to get ready to see your brothers and sisters again…

- I would also encourage you to jump into an on-line ABF or FCI class…

- the point is – be taking steps to making return to in-person services occur as soon as you believe it honors the Lord…

- let me also caution you with this – don’t put Jesus last…

- Paul told the Colossians that Jesus ought to have first place in everything…

- for some people who call themselves Christians, Jesus is often last…

- I’ve always marveled that one of the lowest attended Sundays is a given year is in the spring when we set our clocks ahead one hour…

- fewer Christians attend church on that Sunday – what’s up with that?...like, oh, the hour we lost was Jesus’ hour…

B. Helping us restart church and community ministries

- we’ll do this gradually, but I hope you’re chomping at the bit to serve…

- when it comes time to recruit for VBS, I hope you’re ready to go…

- children’s ministries…

C. Please continue to communicate with us

D. Bath this year in prayer

- Ephesians 6:18–20 - With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Authors

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video