17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
I don’t know anything. I know the Bible, so we’ll do that. John 17. John 17 is just great. It is one of my favorite sections in John. It’s actually one of my favorite sections in all of Scripture. The reason is, is it’s Jesus praying for us, and I was thinking about it. Man, if I could have anything that I ever wanted, I was thinking, “Boy, it’d be great to talk with Jesus and have him answer all my questions, but I figure I’d just bug the crap out of him, and he wouldn’t wanna sit there and answer all my dumb questions.” So, all right, well, probably something better than that — me pretending like I actually know what I need to talk to Jesus about would be — if Jesus took some time and laid hands and prayed over me. If I could get anything, that’s what I would ask for, and that’s exactly what happens in John 17. Jesus knows our life. He knows we’re gonna be here.
He knows what he’s commissioned us to do and he prays for us, and it’s interesting because Jesus is just hours before his death. He’s gonna be murdered. Beginning in the next Chapter — John 18 — he’s gonna be handed over to be killed. Up until this point, he’s been teaching his disciples just some remaining things they need to know. Now he’s done with his instruction, and he just prays for them, and, as he’s going to die, he’s mindful of them. He’s mindful of us. As Jesus goes to die, we’re on his mind. It’s kind of a mind-bending concept, and, so, Jesus prays for us and he prays to God the Father as we should, too. He says, in John 17, “After this, Jesus looked toward heaven and he prayed, ‘Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.’” That’s Jesus’ ministry. That’s his existence. That’s his purpose is to glorify the Father.
We had granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to those you have given him. He explains salvation is this gift that God gives. It’s this concept throughout John of eternal life where the life of God comes and just floods into our present and just captures us, and just brings us to life, and that this eternal life is a status of being that begins in the present and it continues without end, all the way through into eternity. That we never die and we’re always with God, and that there is life, and that is what God intends for us. And he gives us life, because the Father has given Jesus, the Son, authority to do so. Authority is something that most of us despise, many of us ignore, but authority comes from God the Father and it’s given to the Son, and as we go out into the world, and we talk about Jesus.
And we love people, and we explain those Scriptures, inevitably the question will arise as to what authority do we work from? What right do we have to say certain things? And it’s very simple: it’s Jesus’ authority is the only authority that we have. He says at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, “When he rose from the dead, before he returned into heaven, he said, ‘All authority on heaven and earth has been given unto me. Therefore, go into all the nations and tell them the story of what I’ve done.’” And so we come in Jesus’ authority, and Jesus is praying for himself that he would complete the works that the Father has given him. He then tells us what this eternal life is. Verse 3: “Now this is eternal life that they may know you; the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” This is eternal life. Eternal life is knowing God.
Not just knowing that there is a God or knowing about God, but knowing God, and the Biblical concept of knowing God is not just the cognitive exchange of factual data and information. It is the exchange of life and love and intimacy. In Genesis, where this concept first appears, we see that Adam lay with his wife, Eve, and the Scripture says that “He knew her.” That when a husband knows his wife and they have intimacy and love and affection: that’s knowing each other. It’s this vulnerability and this place of safety and of rest, and so we are to know Jesus in that way: intimacy, love, covenant, respect of his authority, and that, through Jesus, we also know God the Father in that same way. That is eternal life. That is salvation. Jesus then explains his Work. He says, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the Work you gave me to do.”
Jesus’ work is finishing. He’s going to die for our sins, resurrect from death, conquering our enemies of Satan, sin, and death. Upon the conclusion of his work, he’ll return to the Father. His work is done, but all the Work is not yet done. He’ll get into our participation and our job description. He says, “Now, Father, glorify me with the presence with the glory I had with you, before the world began.” Jesus makes a statement of eternality. That he is God. That he has always been. That he is without beginning or end. As he says in Revelation, that “He is the alpha and the omega.” He is apart from time as eternal God. Always has been, always will be. He then prays for his disciples after praying for himself. He says, “I have revealed you to those you gave me out of the world.”
This concept of the world then leaps into this discussion; becomes very primary in a very short bit. “They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have obeyed your Word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you, for I gave them the Words you gave me, and they accepted them, and they knew with certainty that I came from you. And they believe that you had sent me.” Jesus says, “Eternal life is knowing God, and you can tell that you’re a child of God because you’ve received the Word of God. You’ve understood the Scriptures. You know that Jesus is God sent to die for our sins, and you obey him and that you love him and you follow him, and you covenant to be with him.” Jesus then lays out this real strange paradox in Verses 9 and 10.
“I pray for them, but I am not praying for the world, but rather for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine, and all glory has come to me through them.” Jesus basically lays out a diametrically opposed two kingdoms, if you will, here. One he calls the world, and the without, Scripture says, “And its desires are passing away.” The world is all of the ways of thinking and acting and conducting and behaving that are diametrically opposed and stand in stark opposition as enemies of God, and, in contrast to that are those people who God has given eternal life, and they now have this privilege and this wonderful opportunity to glorify Jesus. To have their lives bring him honor, and to do things in such a way that are pleasing to him and worth of his name.
And Jesus says, “I pray for these people that I have chosen, but I do not pray for this world.” He says, “Don’t love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world and the things of the world, he does not know God.” That’s what John says in his epistle, and, so, Jesus doesn’t pray for the world, but he prays for people who are in the world, that they would come to know him. He then makes a promise about what is immediately to happen. He says, “I will remain in the world no longer, but they,” — you and me — “Are still in the world and I am coming to you, Holy Father. So protect them by your name. The power of your name, the name that you gave me, so they may be one as we are one, and, while I was with them, I protected them and I kept them safe by that name that you gave me, and none has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled.” Jesus says, “Judas Iscariot, he’s jacked. He’s just done.”
Zechariah Chapter 11, Verses and 12 — Verses 11 — 12 and 13, rather, make this promise — this prophesy that Judas is gonna betray Jesus. One of his close buddies is gonna stab him in the back. He says, “So he’s doomed to destruction.” But, Jesus, if you look at it, has never lost any of his children. If you look at Judas, you say, “Well, it looks like one got away.” Jesus says, “No, none get away. I keep all my kids. Judas, he had a uniform, but he wasn’t on the team. He looked like one of the boys, but he wasn’t.” Jesus says, “Know that everybody that has been given to him will have this gift of life, and it will be protected because, in this world, we’re gonna have a lot of grief and trouble.” That’s where he goes in the next verse.
In Verse 13, he tells us, “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I’m still in the world, so they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” He says, “I have given them your Word, and the Word — world has hated them, rather, for they are not of the world anymore than I am of the world.” Here’s why we need protection. This world hates us. It does. So Jesus prays for us. He knows that being in Seattle in this time, you’re gonna need somebody to pray for you, and so he prays for us. He makes this very interesting statement. He says, “They’re gonna hate you. You’re gonna have trouble. That’s okay, because I’ve prayed that you’d be protected, and you’ll have a lot of joy in the midst of your hatred.” It’s this paradox, this tension. Jesus begins in this moment to thrust us into these tremendous tensions, one of which is: you’ll be hated, but have joy.
Augustine, one of the early church fathers, he says that “The Scriptures is,” — he called it a pharmacon. It’s the same word that we get pharmacy or drugs out of. I can remember when my wife got pregnant with our daughter, my first child. We got our third on the way now. I started thinking about it. Went to the doctor and they’re talking about the vaccinations, and I was thinking, “Man, if they’re gonna stick a needle in my kid, I gotta figure out what’s in the vile. What in the world are they putting in my kid?” Do some work and you see that it’s kind of the same concept with the vaccination. What they used to do — not necessarily doing it presently — they would take a live culture and they would put it in the human body, hoping that the body would develop an immunity and thereby be exempt from catching certain diseases, such as polio, which was so common.
What happens though is if that live culture is too strong, you catch polio and you die, but if you don’t get that vaccination, you might still get polio and die. That’s you’re playing this risk game. It’s the same way with Scripture. For some people it comes in. It brings life. It protects them. It vaccinates them against sin and Satan and death, and lies, and it preserves them and gives them life. For other people, it kills them. It brings them death, and they hate the Scriptures, and they hate the Lord, and they hate the people who love the Lord and love the Scriptures. Jesus says, “You’re gonna be hated,” and I’ll tell you what. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that “Love is not rude.” So you don’t have to be a jerk to have people hate you. In fact, you can completely obey the Word of God and have people hate you.
Some of you may have seen this where someone really doesn’t lie you and there’s a lot of antagonism, and the meaner they are, you practice the Scriptures, and you bless those who curse you, and you love them. And the more you love them, how do they respond? Violently. Get somebody that’s trying to pick a fight with you, and be nice to them. They’ll kill you. The issue is: why? Well, they hate the Word of God. You know, if they’re picking a fight, name-calling, attacking you, and you say, “Well, Scripture says to love your enemies and bless those that curse you. So I forgive you. It’s cool. I understand.” You better duck when you say that, because they’re taking a poke at you. Jesus says, “You’re gonna be hated.” Even just for loving people, somebody’s gonna hate you for loving them.
They’ll say, “Oh, you’re so cheery, you make me sick.” Well, okay. I don’t know. Sorry. Jesus gave me joy. Sorry that offends you. The next section is where I wanna camp. Verse 15; I think it is, for me, the heart of what we do at Mars Hill. This church is all about John 17:15. That’s all we do. Jesus’ Words to hear are tremendously important; says, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.” It’s tension thrown right into tension. Christianity, just like — America has two teams right? Liberal — use my life hand. Conservative — I’ll use my right hand; Liberals and Conservative. The church has the exact same teams, right? We have Liberals and Conservatives. Liberals are people who like change. Conservatives are people that are not. We also call those Fundamentalists.
I don’t know why they get that name. There’s nothing fun about them, but they get to be called Fundamentalists. We should call them Un-Fundamentalists, and you have these two teams, and the issue is that they both come to John 17:15 and they pick teams. In the world but protected from the evil one. Which side do the Fundamentalists emphasize? Protected from the evil one, the evil one, right? Now, some of you may — how many of you were raised in churches that wanted you to not sin or look like you were sinning, or know anyone else who looked like they were sinning? And so they told you there’s ways to be protected from the evil one, and they made a long list of rules. Just tell us some of those rules. You’re not allowed to do what? No drinking. No smoking. No Rock-n-Roll. You know Satan played a guitar. You know he did.
And he had — he was tattooed. He was inked. He had piercings, and he drank cheap American beer. That’s why he got kicked out of heaven. God couldn’t put up with that. Between the amps the ink and the Budweiser, God says, “Enough. You gotta move.” What other things were you forbidden from doing? Television, television, yes — what’s that? Dancing, oh my, dancing; dancing, if you dance, you’ll end up having sex. So we make this long list of rules: protect you from the evil one. I don’t know. I don’t know. We’ll talk about this a little bit. Some of the things you may have been told is that the child of God should avoid every — now what youth group did you go to? You knew that so quickly.
Where did you hear that? Who said that? Where did you hear that? Who told you that? Oh, everybody told you that. Did you ever find that verse?
Response: Yeah, it’s in the Bible, I think.
Yeah, it’s in there. It’s in there with goats and something about fruit and stuff. Yeah, it’s in there. You know, the Bible actually doesn’t say, “Avoid every appearance of evil.” That’s a bad translation of the King James. What the Bible says — all the modern translations get it right — is to avoid every kind of form of evil. If you are dealing with a legalist, is it possible to ever not look like you’re sinning?
A legalist thinks everything is a sin. You buckled up? That’s a sin. You don’t have faith in God. You didn’t buckle up. You violated the law. That’s a sin, too. Well, I can’t win with you. It doesn’t matter what I do with a legalist, I’m always sinful. It always — “Well, it looks like you’re sinning.” Everybody told you that? “Oh, you’re look — you know, somebody will think you’re sinning and then they’ll do it, too.” “But I’m not sinning.” “But you look like you are.” “Well,” — I had one guy tell me, “Don’t talk to the girls in your church. You’ll look like you’re sinning.” And if I don’t talk to them, then I’m not sinning? I had one person come up to me and drop that verse on me. They said, “You need to avoid the appearance of evil.”
So, when your sister comes to church, you should tell her not to kiss you on the cheek. I said, “Look. My sister is a high school student. I love her. She always kisses me on the cheek, and if everybody in the church thinks that I’m making out with high school girls, they have a sick head, okay? Their head is tweaked.” I can’t avoid the appearance of evil. I had one person come up and say, “How come you’re always hugging women?” I said, “I have two sisters in this church, a wife, and a daughter. Those are the only four women that I hug.” “Well, it looks like you’re sinning.” “Only because your head is tweaked; your head’s tweaked. That’s not my fault your head’s tweaked. I’m not making out with my sister. This is not the Jerry Springer Show,” — but to avoid every kind of evil. Let me ask you this. Did Jesus avoid the appearance of evil?
What was the bang on Jesus? Jesus was doing some things that the Un-Fundamentalists were very unhappy about, and they were what? What things did they not like?
Response: He’s working on a Sunday.
Worked on — he’s working on the Sabbath healing people. All his friends are whores. He’s eating with people he shouldn’t be eating with. What else is he doing? Not just eating. How much?
Response: A lot.
He’s a — they say he’s a glutton. That guy — he just keeps going to the salad bar. He only paid for one. He went eight times. What else did they bang him for? Drinking; not just drinking. How much? Drunkard. Drunkard, glutton, friend of sinners; his first miracle — we looked at in John — 180 gallons of wine he makes at a wedding, because they’ve drank all the rest. What kind of wine does he make? Good wine, not that wine named after a bird. Good wine.
The knock on Jesus is “He says he’s God, but every time we see him he’s got a bucket of wings in one hand and a Mac and Jack’s in the other and he’s telling knock-knock jokes to hookers, and they laugh. They like him. We could see if he was hitting them with cans of beer, rather than drinking them, but he’s actually talking to them and they like him. There’s something wrong with him. He’s not avoiding the appearance of evil. He looks very sinful. He looks very wicked. He looks very bad.” But let me ask you this? Did Jesus Christ ever sin?
Absolutely not; he’s God. He’s perfect. Scripture says that “He was tempted in every way as we are, yet without any sin.” Jesus never sinned. Don’t have a beer. Don’t talk to people who aren’t Christians. Don’t eat a bucket of wings. Why? You’ll look evil. No, I’ll look like Jesus Christ, really? See, the Baptists don’t tell you that. That’s why you’re not Baptist, but how about the flip side? What’s the flip side? You gotta be protected from the evil one. What happens if you’re not protected by the evil one, but you are fully involved in this world? Let me hit one more thing, too. What does it mean to be fully involved in this world? To be in this world? Jesus prays, “Don’t take them out of the world. Keep them in.” What are you gonna have to do to connect, understand, and relate to this world? What’re you gonna have to know?
What’re you gonna have to study? Culture. What things in particular? Music. Why music? Music is a language that people identify with, and it articulates what they are thinking and feeling. If a certain genre, style, format becomes popular, it’s because somehow that is connecting with people. It speaks for them. What else do you need to know?
You need to know film. Film is the greatest pulpit in America. That is the new church. People go there to get their story. We go here to get our story in Scripture, but people go there and there are preachers called filmmakers promulgating world views, philosophical systems, and morals and values. You need to understand film. What else do you need to know? The values that people have: what do people care about? What sports are they involved in? What life experiences are governing them? Why is it that this is the least-church city in the United States of America? Why is this that people are more likely here than any other city in the United States of America to cohabitate and shack up rather than get married? Why is this city, other than San Francisco, the least populated city by children?
Meaning, per capita, we have less kids than anywhere in the country but San Francisco. Why is it that the Number 1 Talk Radio Show Host in this city for young men is Tom Leykis? Need to understand that. Why is it when Tom Leykis, who trains men how to be sexual predators, get vasectomies, never marry women, but just basically use them for cheap sex, by a lot of legalistic rules, he’s a — by the way, he’s a sexual predator legalist is what he is. He’s got his own commandments. Why is it when he pulls into town, three — 4,000 people go down to Polyester’s next to the Bite of Seattle and all the women show up with their shirts off so he can sign their chests with a black marker? Why is that?
Those are good questions, because what happens is people are thirsty, and we have streams of living water, and if we don’t give it to them, they drink out of the toilet just because they’re parched. And the more they drink out of the toilet, the more we say, “Well, I can’t be in the world. It’s a dark, sick place.” Well, it’s sick because people are thirsty, and if you have fresh water, you should give them an alternative to the toilet. Makes sense, doesn’t it? And so Jesus wants us in this world. There are people that are listening to Tom Leykis who need to know the Song of Solomon. There are people that are listening to Rush Limbaugh and need to learn that the evil’s not all out there in all the politicians and the special interests, but the evil is in us, and that we cannot change a thing unless we are redeemed from the inside out.
Because the world is nothing but a reflection of our heart, and changing this world without changing our heart will do nothing. We’ll contort it back to our own image again. There’s something broken and flawed in us. We can’t play this white-hat, black-hat, good-guy, bad-guy — we’re the good guys. They’re the bad — no. We’re all bad guys. We’re supposed to be in this world. What that means, though, is you cannot participate in culture just for purposes of entertainment. You’re a missionary going to a foreign world trying to figure out a people groups so you can talk to them about Jesus. Gotta watch professionally: what are — what’s the sermon? What’s the — what are they trying to convert? What’s the Gospel? What are they trying to get me to commit to here? What is going on?
To be able to say, “You know, mm, Jesus has got a better answer. Scripture’s got an answer to that question that’s a lot more faithful. There’s a way to connect here,” but that’s being in this world. Now how about being protected from the evil one? Do you see the difference? Being in this world says, when you go out with your friends and they all sit down for dinner, and they each have a beer, and you have a beer, that’s fine. Being protected from the evil one means when they get hammered, you don’t. That you love them even though they’re sleeping with their girlfriends and they’re screwing up their lives, but you speak the truth to them, and when they try to get you to do likewise, you say, “No. I love you, but I do not participate, even though I understand why you do what you do.” It means that we understand completely, but we do not engage.
It’s this difference between innocence and naivety. Some of you were raised in Christian homes. Your parents didn’t want you to sin, so rather than making you innocent, they made you naïve. Do you understand the difference? Innocent: Jesus tells us to be innocent, but not naïve. Naïve means you’re dumb. You don’t know anything. Whoa, people are having sex? Hmm, wonder what that’s like. No, you’re — no. You’re not supposed to be naïve. How many of you, when you walked into college, got your head blown off by your Philosophy 101 Prof the first quarter, and just about bagged Christ? Or walked into your frat, or walked into your dorm room and just started drinking cheap beer because you were an idiot and nobody gave you discernment or wisdom, and you just were naïve as all get-out. You did not have wisdom and innocence.
That’s what happens, because, at some point, we all walk onto this world, and if we don’t have innocence, if we don’t have wisdom, if we don’t have discernment, we believe this lie that Christianity has told us, and that is garbage-in, garbage-out. Well, if you hear something, you’ll do it. If you see something, you’ll be it. No. You’re not supposed to, because you’re supposed to be in this world and not of it. How many of you feel like your natural tendency is to go toward legalism? Just stay far away. Don’t get involved. Don’t listen to music. Don’t talk to anybody. Just shelter yourself in a little Christian ghetto; buy Christian music. Read Christian books; watch Christian videos. We have bad knockoffs for everything, don’t we? “Don’t read fiction. Read crappy Christian fiction.” Oh, okay.
You know, “Don’t go to movies. Go to those crappy Christian movies.” Oh, okay. You know, “Don’t listen to rock music. Listen to crappy Christian rock music,” which is like near-beer. It’s like — what in the world? Like, why would you do that? Bad knockoffs. How many feel like your natural tendency is that way? Some of you guys? How many feel like you’re the other way? Like, yeah, I’m in the world, all right. I’m doing good there. That’s not a real problem. My problem is being protected from the evil one, right? You’re like, “Yeah, I do, you know, pint evangelism. I extend the right hand to fellowship and I do outreach and do it a lot. Do it too much. Sometimes I can’t remember my name, my car keys, or the way home, but I’ve won a lot of pints to the Lord. That’s for sure. I’ve been doing a lot of evangelism.”
Yeah, no, you’re an alcoholic. You’re not an evangelist, okay? That’s a problem. You’re not supposed to be that far into the world, right? I think, if anything, the morning services today, I had to tell them, “Be involved in this world.” For you, I gotta tell you, “Be protected from the evil one, please? For the love of God,” you know? “Oh, yeah, dude. I’m totally — I totally understand the culture.” How come? “Well, I’m swimming down the same stream — heading over the same waterfall as everybody else.” Well, that’s great. I’m glad you relate to those people, but you’re supposed to be in that same stream, headed toward the same waterfall. You’re just supposed to be swimming against the current. That’s all, and inviting others to do likewise. If anything, I think this service — you guys are in the world.
You do not have a hard time connecting with people who don’t know God. Some of you, the people who don’t know God are going, “Dude, knock it off. That is way too far. No more for you, man. You’re embarrassing me.” “Dude, I’m a evangelist.” No, no, no, no. You’re an embarrassment. Little self-control is the fruit of the Spirit. There’s freedom, but that freedom should be used for God’s purposes, not for us just to abuse God’s kindness to us. Give you guys a story. I didn’t start drinking until last year. Never drank in my whole life: high school, college, nothing. Some of you, you know, sort of forced me into it, but I was sitting there one day and guy goes ahead and gets a drink and orders me a drink.
Didn’t think anything of it, and I thought, “You know, if I don’t drink this, I’m gonna not be able to talk to this guy. He’s gonna think I’m — just — he’s being nice and he thinks he’s being nice. I’m — I’ve never been drunk. I don’t over-consume or anything of that nature,” so I had a drink, and, Biblically, I started drinking because I had a conviction that I should, which is different, I know, than all the pastors tell you. I felt like I was sinning, because I wasn’t drinking. The Scripture says that we have that kind of freedom, but what does the Scripture say about drunkenness? Don’t get drunk on wine, Paul says, which leads to debauchery. It’s this issue that we have this freedom, and this freedom is given to us so that we can walk according to our conscience and the Scriptures in this world, but we have to be careful that we are different, that we are holy, that we are other.
And, see, that’s the problem with this hyper-liberalism. It says, “Oh, have sex with whoever you wanna have sex with.” Remember reading an article — dumb article in the paper a few months ago. This church in Seattle says, “Well, we do a lot of weddings, and, you know, everybody’s living together and everybody’s sleeping together, and everybody’s knocking boots and doing what they shouldn’t be doing, you know? And who are we to tell them what to do? So, you know, when they come, we just give them a nice church wedding, because that’s what they want.” What the — I can do something. You know, buck-95 I can get a 2×4. I can do a lot of things, you know? I’m not just gonna throw my hands up in the air and say, “Well, if that’s what people wanna,” — no. I love them.
Just like I put a fence around my yard so my kids don’t run out on the street and get hit by a car; well, whatever they wanna do, you know? No. I love them. Well, if they wanna be on the grill of the car, you know, who am I tell them not to get run over? No. I care for them. I want them protected from evil and harm and danger and death. That’s what God intends for us as his kids. Freedom, life, joy: absolutely, but wisdom, discernment, so we don’t participate in death and decay and rot and start to stink like the world we find ourselves in? Absolutely, that’s what God intends. The question then is, obviously: well how in the world do you do that? Because do you guys see the tension? It’s a lot of tension here. It’s always this fine line. We’re walking this tight rope. C.S. Lewis says that “Heresy is the truth taken too far.”
You give up one of those, you’re worthless. You’re the total legalist who thinks that all the bad people are out there and all the good people are in here. Some of you have been to churches like that. You ever know a church that does a evangelistic rally? Ever had one that does a tent meeting? Tell you what. If you get invited to a tent meeting, fill up your tank with gas and drive as fast and as far as you can from the tent meeting. It’s freaky. You know, what do we put up front at the — we’re gonna do evangelistic rally. What do we put up front? Christian band, because everybody knows that non-Christians love Christian bands. So they’ll just come out by the millions, and then we have the pastor get up and he yells at them for an hour, whoo, because they love that. Boy, that goes over like a fart in a wetsuit. That’s real good.
And then, if that doesn’t work, we do a skit. You know, to be cool, edgy, hip. Kids love drama. The kids love the drama, so we do a skit: some bad skit involving a Bible and a kid who had sex with his girlfriend and felt really bad about it. So we do a skit, and the whole thing is — what we’re trying to do is bring people in, bring people in, bring people in. Get them in here. Why? Why in the world would we want them in here? Can you guys even imagine? I remember being a non-Christian in high school. They kept inviting me to these things. “Come to our evangelistic rally.” No way. No way. That’s like saying, you know, “Be a piece of meat and come to our shark party.” No way. I know how this goes, man. You’re gonna outnumber me two-to-one and shoot me.
How many of you would take your friend’s invitation to go an atheist evangelistic rally, to come hear the atheist band? Come on. There’s only 2 or 300 of us. We got this really good atheist band. They sound just like one of the, you know, secular bands. Oh, right, they’re all — we’re — I don’t know what that means, but, anyways — and then we have this guy get up and he’s gonna convince you of nothing for an hour. You wanna go?” Like, “No, I don’t wanna go. I don’t wanna go to a room where 200 people are gonna pick on me, and then you’re gonna have your crappy knockoff band get up and bore me to death and have some guy yell at me, and have me come down and receive nothing. I’m not gonna do that.” There’s a reason you and I won’t go to those things.
It’s the same reason that people that don’t know God won’t come to one of those sales pitches we put together. Instead, what is God’s design? It’s not that we’re supposed to bring everybody in. What are we supposed to do? Out we go, so Jesus is gonna tell us in just a minute. He’s gonna send us. We’re out to do the work. We go out there, on their terms, their turf. Then you need a little discern, a little wisdom. Now you’re in a tough place, and, so, as you get into that place, the issue is: how’re you gonna walk that tight rope? How’re you gonna make it through there? I love what Jesus says. Verse 16: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth. Your Word is truth.” Here’s what he’s talking about.
“Don’t bring them in, but, as you have sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself that they, too, may be truly sanctified.” Jesus is gonna send us. It’ll be real tough. We’re gonna have a lot of difficult issues to work through, but when we get there, what do we have as our compass to get us through the mess? We have the truth. World is filled with lies, darkness. We have the truth, and where is the truth found? Jesus tells us. It’s in the Word of God. It’s in the Scriptures. I don’t know about you. I came to Christ reading the Bible. I love studying the Bible. What I hate is legalists teaching the Bible, because they don’t talk about God. They talk about us. They don’t talk about grace. They talk about our duties to place God. They don’t talk about what Jesus has done. They talk about what we need to do.
And they don’t talk about the Holy Spirit. They talk about a lot of rules. So I hate those guys. They stink. They ruin it. It’s like Christianity without the God. You get all the rules and none of the God. You get all the responsibilities and none of the grace. You get all the obligations and none of the Holy Spirit, but also worse is the liberals who just chuck it and say, “Well, it’s an old book. Cultural, you know, bunch of junk in here. We’ve evolved. You know, whatever.” So the liberals walk out, “Oh, we’re gonna be culturally hip, relevant, cool. We don’t need the Scriptures.” The fundamentalists say, “We’re gonna study the Bible. We’re gonna love the Bible,” but they interpret it like a Jew does and end up crucifying Christ, missing the whole point. The key is you have to know your Bible well, and then go talk to anybody you want to.
Go anywhere you feel like. Not a problem for you. You got a rudder and a compass. You’ll be all right. Have discernment and wisdom. You’ll know the Word of God. How many of you have seen your study and understanding of Scripture increase by knowing freaky, weird nut jobs as friends who ask you all kinds of peculiar questions? That’s what makes you study, doesn’t it? You get one friend who’d think that the Bible is all about UFOs and aliens. Dude, you’re reading like you never read, right? You’re like — he’s like, “No, dude. It’s in there.” You’re like, “Dude, I have read everything. I — it’s — and, by the way, it’s not in there,” but you’re reading. You’re going, like, “What in the world?” All of a sudden — I mean, just walk down the Ave and have a few conversations. You’ll go home and read your Bible.
You’re like, “Dude, there are some confused people out there, and they need truth. They need a plumb line for life. They need to know Scripture.” Talk to somebody who disagrees with you. Talk to somebody who’s a freaky nut job. Talk to somebody who’s totally confused and promulgating lies. It will force you to study the Bible. One of the best ways I learned Scripture for a number of years, with one of our elders, I got to host a national radio show. It was on three hours. At its peak, we were like in 20 markets across the U.S. 9:00 to midnight in Seattle, midnight to 3:00 a.m. You wanna get some weird calls? When the bars close on the east coast, tell people to call you and ask anything they want on a Saturday night: weird stuff, weird stuff. I’ll tell you my favorite call. This one’s free.
Had a guy call; he says, “How do you know if you’re alcoholic?” I said, “Dude, are you drunk?” “Oh yeah.” I said, “When did you start drinking?” He says, “The ‘80s.” “Dude, that’s quite a run, you know?” I said, “Well, I think you might have a problem.” “You think?” “Yeah, I think you got a problem. You got an alcohol problem.” “Well what does it say in the Bible about alcohol?” “Don’t get drunk on wine.” “Oh, crap. It says that?” “Yeah.” “Oh, man. I’m in trouble, huh?” I’m like, “Yeah, you’re in serious trouble, because you have been in a stupor since Reagan. You have serious problems. Yeah.” But, see, there’s a guy that doesn’t know jack. “What’s the Bible say? Oh, jeez.” Now we can get somewhere. “How do I,” — “Well, Jesus. Let me tell you about Jesus, buddy. Here. Let’s talk about this.”
How many of you have found in your life that when you were just hanging out with Christians, you all agreed, there was no challenges, you really didn’t find yourself all that zealous about studying your Bible? Just kind of got fat, happy, comfortable, lazy, like, “Hey, we all agree. I don’t have to defend myself. Don’t have to explain everything. Whatever, I could use words. We all know what they mean, blah, blah, blah.” How many of you, though, when you started dealing with people who disagreed with you and you had to defend yourself — they’re questioning everything you’re saying and asking you questions saying, “Well, you say the Bible — where’s it say that?” Say, “Well, your problem is that you’re sinful. You’re the enemy of God.” “Where’s it say that?”
“Oh, jeez, I don’t know. It’s somewhere in the front. I don’t know. You know, it’s in there somewhere. There’s only one God.” “Oh, really? Where’s it say that?” “In the back. I — you know, I don’t know. It’s in there. Come on, don’t do this to me, man. They never do this to me in Sunday school. They just nod there head, and do that, please.” You know, and, really, that’s what it’ll do. Some people say, “Oh, don’t go in the world. All of a sudden you’ll give up on the Bible. You’ll give up on Jesus. You won’t,” — no, no, that’s where you’re gonna be forced to study, learn, grow.
You’re gonna see people drinking from the toilet, and if you have any wisdom at all, you’re going, “Why doesn’t it tempt me to drink out of the toilet? Mm, nummy, boy, wish I could be like them. It’s fine. I’ll just stick with my Mac and Jack’s. You just drink the toilet. It’s fine.” And it’s this issue that God demands us to study his Scriptures and know the Bible well. I’ll give you guys what I think is the best portraits in the Bible on this. Obviously the best is the Lord Jesus. God becomes a man. Does Jesus take on a culture? Of course, he’s fully Jewish, right? Studies the Jewish law; he goes to the synagogue. He celebrates the feast — festivals. He dresses like a Jew. He speaks Hebrew. He’s a Jew. Do you think that for all eternity that Jesus embodied that culture? No, he took it upon himself, upon his incarnation.
In the same way, in the Old Testament, one of my favorite guys, I’ll tell you, is Daniel. I love Daniel. If you’ve ever heard me talk on Daniel, I love Daniel. Daniel’s a model for us. So what I want you to do is help me recreate the story of Daniel. Daniel’s raised where? Where does he grow up? Israel. If you say in Israel, “Hey, I believe in God,” everybody says, “Oh, we know what God you’re talking about.” They all understand that. Daniel’s a good boy: good education, smart, bright, good-looking, well-fed, well-read, well-bred. He’s a good boy, and then something weird happens to Daniel. He’s a teenager: 13, 14, 15, something like that. He gets kidnapped and where’s he get taken to? Babylon. That just sounds bad, doesn’t it? If the Rolling Stones name an album after your nation, you live in a bad place. He goes to Babylon.
Oh, the Academy Awards are gonna be celebrated in Babylon? It’s perfect. In Babylon, we’re gonna celebrate the — beautiful. It’s perfect. Goes to Babylon; he gets reined in — stolen, really; taken in exile by King Nebuchadnezzar. If you’ve seen the Veggie Tale, it’s Rack, Shack, and Benny, and Nebuchadnezzar doesn’t really run a chocolate factory, by the way. He’s actually the governing ruler over the Kingdom of Babylon. He doesn’t make chocolate bunnies, but my daughter thinks he does, but he gets there and Nebuchadnezzar looks at these three guys, Rack, Shack, and Benny, and he realizes, you know, “These guys got potential. They could be very helpful. They’re very smart. They’re very articulate. They’re very well-educated. All right, I need to have them help me. They could be real helpful.” So he sends Daniel off to school.
Where does Daniel go to school? Goes to the Witchcraft Academy, man; he goes off to University of Satan, is where he goes. He studies — what does he study at the University of Satan? Witchcraft, sorcery, divination, how to consult the dead, necromancy. I’m sure his parents are really proud, because what are Daniel’s grades? Straight A’s. “Oh, honey, look. He got straight A’s in necromancy. He could consult the dead better than anyone in his class. He could read tarot cards. He’s amazing. He casts spells on people. Ooh, we’re so proud. We didn’t think he’d amount to anything. He’s one of the best satanic high priests in all of Babylon. Praise the Lord. He’s just doing so good. Our boy’s found a career. Finally, he’s got an income.” Mom and dad are not pleased. Daniel gets straight A’s.
His name is changed to Belteshazzar, which is attributed to the Pagan god Marduk. It’s going pretty far. He’s in the world pretty deep in Babylon. It’s like me going to a Muslim country and calling myself Mohamed. It’s tough. How does Daniel feel about Nebuchadnezzar? How does he speak to Nebuchadnezzar? If you read the account, Daniel’s a book that covers a long history of Daniel’s life. The first couple chapters, though, cover his early years as a teenager. He loves Nebuchadnezzar. He’s nice to him. Love him. Nebuchadnezzar gets dreams. Daniel interprets them. “Well, King, I wish it wasn’t this way, but what that means is you’re an enemy of God and he’s gonna squish your head like a bug. I wish it wasn’t that way, but that’s the way that it is.” He’s nice to Nebuchadnezzar.
He doesn’t want the religious-right option of voting Nebuchadnezzar out of office. He doesn’t want the religious-left option of just saying, “Well, Nebuchadnezzar’s spiritual. Good enough.” He doesn’t want the moral agenda of “We need to get that guy some therapy so he stops killing people.” What Nebuchadnezzar has with Daniel is a loving relationship where Daniel cares about him and wants him to — in the language of early on in John — to get saved. He wants Nebuchadnezzar to come to know his God and to worship him and to love him, and to be loved by him, but there’s a — and you look at it. You look at Daniel. You’re going, “Dude, you’re going way too far there.” Looks like he’s crossed way over the line, but did Daniel cross the line of conscience in Scripture? He didn’t, did he?
Because where did Daniel draw the line? What things would he not do? Said, “Kill me — you can do whatever you want, but I will not do this.” What were they? “I will not bow down to the King as God, or his idols; won’t do it. Kill me if you want, but I’m not worshiping a false god, no way.” What else? He will not eat the King’s food. Bible says, “Good Jewish boy doesn’t eat certain things. I’m a good Jewish boy. I won’t eat. You kill me if you want, but I’m not eating it.” What else? He will not stop praying. King says, “No more praying. I sent a decree. We pray to one god. You knock that off.” Daniel says, “No, I pray to God every day. I’m gonna open my windows. I’m gonna pray publicly. I’m not ashamed of my God. I will not stop praying to the one, true God. Kill me if you want, but I’m praying.” Daniel does a tremendous job.
He goes as far as Scripture and conscience will allow him to participate in Babylon, and to love and serve Nebuchadnezzar, but he does not sin. He’s protected from the evil one, and even when Nebuchadnezzar tries to kill him, just like Jesus has prayed for us, God protects him. God spares him. God saves his life, preserves it, but Daniel walks this tension. I’m sure there’s people looking at Daniel going, “You have gone too far.” There’s other people looking at Daniel going, “You have not gone far enough.” If you’re in that place where you’re getting shot by both sides, you’re probably doing very well. We get that all the time with this concert venue. That’s why we call it the Paradox. It’s a complete mind bend. A church hosts non-Christian punk rock concerts. What is that? Well, I’ll tell you what. Scripture says we have to practice hospitality.
The church is the household of God. That means we gotta invite people in. Welcome them. Let them have a good time. Come on over. Get to know the family, and, so, Christians have a — some youth groups have a really hard time coming here, because it’s all non-Christian kids, and some of the bands have a real struggle playing here, because it’s owned by a church. Don’t you love that? I just love that. I love the tension. That’s a great place. “Well, come on in. We love you; play. Here you go. Jeff and Joel and Josh and — the boys will take care of you. They’re great. You’ll have a great show, have a great time.” “Well, I don’t know, are we allowed to play in a Christian club?” “We’re not a Christian club. We’re a Christian.” “But you’re all Christians.” “Yeah, but we’re Christians with woofers.”
“Oh, well that’s a different matter entirely. We usually don’t do Christian gigs, but if you have woofers, now we’re talking.” You know, “Why is there a recording studio upstairs?” Because, when you live in Babylon, you be nice to your neighbors. You do anything you can to love them and serve them and help them and encourage them. What you don’t do is give up on your convictions. So you go as far as you can without bending your conscience. That’s all this church is about. It’s all we do. It’s all we do. Walk in that tension. Sometimes we’re gonna go too far one way, and we get pulled over. Sometimes we get pulled too far the other way, but look at Daniel. What resources did God make available to Daniel that really helped him keep it straight? What did he have? Guys, tell me, what did Daniel have for resources? Prayer.
He prayed and the Lord would give him wisdom and instruct him and guide him. Absolutely; what else did Daniel have? What’s that? Sometimes God would just reveal himself in supernatural, miraculous ways. God shows up unexpectedly in wonderful ways. What else does Daniel have as a resource available? He knew the Scriptures very, very, very well. Probably had whole books of the Old Testament memorized. So he knows the Word of God very well, absolutely, and he’s got a few buddies, doesn’t he? He’s got his little fundamentalist accountability group going on right there, and it’s good, because as they are probably wrestling through, had it been just one of those guys, they probably would’ve got sucked in. “Either the King is gonna kill us, or we eat a ham sandwich. Death, ham sandwich, death? I’m eating the ham sandwich.”
You’re like, “Forget about it.” No, Bible says good Jewish boys — and so that tension in those friendships continually pulls you back. You know, like I — you don’t know any non-Christians. You’re pathetic. You never leave the house. You only read those bad Christian novels and listen to that praise music. You need to get out and live a little bit. The others are like, “Dude, you’re not an evangelist. You’re an alcoholic. You need to go to church and get out of the pub once in a while,” and these friendships pull us back to this place of continual tension where we’re supposed to be. I will end quickly. I’ll go with this. Here’s Jesus praying for us. If you could even believe it, Jesus knew we’d be in Seattle. He knew we’d be here. He knew we’d be in these circumstances. He knew you would be part of this team. He knew all that and he prayed for us.
Here’s Jesus just laying his hands, praying over us, sending us out to do our ministry, because we’re all missionaries. Missionaries just don’t go Papua New Guinea and India. They go down to the Ave and up to Capitol Hill and over to Broadway. Missionaries are people that love God and are sent wherever they might go, and so we’re God’s missionaries, and here’s Jesus praying and commissioning us off for our work. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray, also, for those who will believe in me through their message.” That’s you and me.
“That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am you. What unifies us is working together and walking through Babylon holding hands. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me that they may be one as we are one. I am them and you and me. May they be brought to complete unity so that the world will know that you have sent them and have loved them, even as I have — as you have loved me.” God puts glory on us and love on us, so that we can go out into this world. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you love me, before the creation of the world.” Scripture says that “At the end of the age, we will die and resurrect from the dead.”
Corinthians says, “We will see Christ face-to-face. We will know him fully as we are fully known.” Jesus is looking forward to the day where you and I get to be face-to-face with him, and he’s sending us out in the world to invite other people to come into that moment. “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them and will continue to make you known in order that the love that you have for me may be in them, and that I, myself, may be in them.” All this is going to where Jesus is in us. As we confess our sins; he died for our sins. He rose to conquer enemies of Satan, sin, and death, and then he forgives us and reconciles us to the Father and comes to dwell within us. What that means is the work that Jesus began is now completed through us.
That’s the concept that we are his body. These are his hands. You are his helpers. We are participants in his work. That he is in us and he has brought with him the love of the Father, and I love John 17, because Jesus prays, and I’ll ask you this question. Where does it find its fulfillment? Where does this happen? It’s the next book of your Bible, guys. It’s the book of Acts. It all happens. The Father sends the Son, and the Son completes his Work, and then, in Acts, the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit, then, sends the church from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth, all the way out to Seattle, and that we bring the good news. The good news has come to us, and it’s come through us, and it’s extending to others. That we have been touched; that we might touch. We have been loved; that we might love.
We’ve been blessed; that we might bless. We carrying forth a promise to Abraham and the church is the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer. Jesus prays in John 17. Dies, resurrects, ascends, finishes his Work. Boom, John 17 is answered. We are in that place. We’re just – the church. We’re doing the things that the Lord Jesus has commissioned us.
I pray that they would live it and love it, and that they would embody the message in it. Lord Jesus, thank you for praying for us, knowing that we’d be here at this time and this place, and that we would need you. Lord God, we love you. We thank you that you’ve sent us here. We ask that you would continually keep us in the world, that you would protect us from the evil one. That we would have lots of joy, and that we would be one as we hold hands walking through Babylon together, inviting others to continue the journey with us to see you face-to-face. We do love you and we thank you in Christ’s name. Amen.