Yesterday we launched a new sermon series entitled Resurrection Culture. At Gateway we believe Jesus’ resurrection was the most transformative event in human history. But it doesn’t just change our hearts or our minds, it transforms everything. When a church understands and embraces the earth-shattering power of the resurrection its values, ideals, symbols, and life all begin to radically change. We began with a Culture of Grace.
Culture of Grace | Jesus not only saves us from our sins, he weaves us into a new human community.
19Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
In the early part of chapter 10, the writer of Hebrews is talking about the fact that in Old Testament worship, the worshipers could not draw near to God. In the tabernacle, in the temple, there was a Holy Place where the presence of God dwelt. Only the High Priest could draw near, and that was one day a year, Yom Kippur (cf. Leviticus 16). You couldn’t get in; you couldn’t draw near to the immediate presence of God.
But it is God's immediate presence we need more than anything else. That is what changes you! I am selfish, and when I get near the holiness of God, it gets me out of my selfishness. I can be bitter or impatient, but when I get near the love of God, it melts me into mercy. When you get near God, He transforms you!
But in the Old Testament, you couldn’t get near. You couldn’t get back there. But now, through Christ, through the blood of Jesus, we can come right into the presence of God. We have access (vv19-22).
But how do we access that access? How does God’s transforming presence that we have through Jesus Christ get into your life?
Through community (vv 24-25).
According to the New Testament, when you go to church, it is a place you go not only to be taught and not only to be counseled or shepherded—you go to teach one another, counsel one another, confess sins to one another, admonish one another, bear burdens and weep with one another. It is mutual.
“Christ works on us in all sorts of ways... But above all, He works on us through each other. We are ‘carriers’ of Christ to each other... It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objects— education, building, missions, holding services … But in a way things are much simpler than that. ...the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time.” - CS Lewis
A church is not just an aggregation of people; it is a congregation of brothers and sisters in Christ. The church is called to be a community unlike any other, a place where people welcome the outsider, spur one another to good works, encourage one another in difficult times, and work to help all members grow in Christ.
The church is a group of people saved by grace extending grace to one another and into the world around them. The church is a culture of grace.
“The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion” - John Wesley