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Gripped by Grace

Steve Bauer


Steve Bauer

Professor, School of Religion, Southern Adventist University




  • April 10, 2015
    7:00 PM
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It's good to be here. Greetings to G Y C N Southern. Tonight I get to preach about my favorite topic. And so if I get excited pardon me because I enjoy this very much. Just to orient you before I officially get rolling tonight. For those who were absent last night we spent our time on Paul's theology of sin as an enslaving power. And thus while Paul does talk about a lot of sin in my flesh in his dynamic he doesn't talk so much of us having a sinful nature as much as we are enslaved to something that makes our will on our efforts any factual and therefore the solution is not just trying harder and making right choices. And so we left you on that bad news good night last night and tonight we're going to start bringing the good news. And tomorrow is going to be very practical about how to conduct yourself in the middle of temptation when you're in the battle. And so we're very nuts and bolts more seminary a seminar at US oriented. I will be more preachy tonight. I will call his name Fred and some of my theology majors have heard this story in class so I don't want to give you P.T.S.D. and I apologize now. I'll call him Fred. Fred was raised in a good Christian home the kind of ravenous tome where you'd have worship every woman went to church faithfully. Good vegetarians high standards. The whole nine yards right. These were not out there. I'm the progressive edge of the new fangled theology. These were good old fashioned Christians. Now friends a little older than I am and so he went to the now defunct Pioneer Valley Academy where I went and it's a shame now every institution I've gone through in the evidence church through a bachelor's degree is now closed so I'm not sure what my jinxes But any rate them. He went to Pioneer Valley Academy fell in with some questionable friends and it was there he got introduced Sabir went to a U.C. Manichean in college which is now closed down there trying to reopen it but we'll see what happens. He went to U.C. and there was able to get fully addicted to alcohol. Shortly after graduation he got a job married his college sweetheart and it didn't take very many years for alcohol to ruin his life. He lost his marriage custody of the kids lost his job etc etc etc. By the time I met him when he was age fifty he had been through twenty five detoxes. Now if he started to detox around age twenty five twenty six that's about one a year twenty five detox years and he can't stop drinking. He knew the detox system better than the DEA. People running it. He's very bright he knows that his liver is on its last legs. He can't stop drinking. He has a soft a jail there sees my medical people tell me it's kind of like having varicose veins inside your esophagus and when you as you drink that irritation these develop and they get bigger and bigger and eventually one of these can rupture and you bleed to death into your own stomach. He has a softer Geale there are cities he can't stop drinking if he keeps drinking. He's going to be dead soon and he can't stop. His sister was our church pianist and all of the sudden because I had been preaching to them what I've been preaching to you. His sister invited him to church and he starts coming to church. The question is why is Fred suddenly coming to church. Is he coming to church for its message of social justice. Now is he coming to church for a wonderful community and fellowship. I don't think so. He was already getting something like that at the bar a thought. Is he coming to church to learn vegetarianism. No he already knew about that too. So the question is why is she coming to church. He wants what kind of help. Help to stop the drinking. Because the counseling the detox. Etc etc twenty five times he can't stop. And if I don't stop I'm going to die. Come to God as your last resort. GREENE And so Fred comes to church. Are you prepared to minister to Fred and because of my own experience with slavery to sin. I had something to say but I can say it right away. So Fred we come to church often smelling of beer and it's funny. This was a church that was racked with monumental church conflict. I call it MY WORLD WAR THREE an Armageddon church in one package. And they were arguing ironically over the doctrine of salvation for some reason they didn't get along with each other very well but they were excellent at handling and accepting evangelistic interests. Go figure. And so a group had gathered around Fred. They were calling him during the week you know staying in touch praying with him praying for him. He's up and down still trying you know up and down up and down pretty much down but coming there encouraging him etc etc etc What are we going to tell Fred. How do we talk to Fred. How long do we give in. Oh I just lose my mind. OK sounded like I know authors. How do we get him on our side say how do we lead and hope I don't think we give him the hope right. I see a lot of us talk about conversion and sin in the life but few of us really know what we're doing. And I was one of those few. I too grew up in the good advantage to home a good enough as well as told him that while most of the kids of my church aren't in church anymore. Me and my two siblings are active in church. My sister husband teaches at Andrews. My brother's an elder Deacon whatever in his church in Maryland. OK All three kids from our family have stayed deeply tied to the urbanists church and been very active in it because we saw something that worked at home and therefore we wanted that for ours. But even when you grow up in such an idyllic home there is a point where you recognize that there is something wrong in your life and you want to fix it. And no matter how hard you try to fix it it doesn't want to fix it. None of you have this problem right. Should I change the topic. And when you're a teenager the nature of these problems you don't feel comfortable going to mom and dad right. One reason might get in trouble. But then there wasn't anybody in my church that I was sure I could go to. They all seem to be struggling just like me when I went to the academy. Talk to us a week of prayer speakers right. They're here today gone tomorrow forget who I am or in another who I talk to I pretty much got the same song and dance. If you just spend enough time with God in prayer and Bible study and so forth it will just kind of take care of itself. So I would spend time in Bible study and spend time in prayer and so forth and I didn't take care of itself. Now I was groomed for a career in the natural sciences I wanted to be an ornithologist lets birds study birds so in shorthand I want to be a bird brain. I mean right now. And the Lord laid the call the ministry on me in a very unusual way and I realized I have been arguing since about the sixth grade why I ought not to be a pastor. So I went to Anders as a freshman to take Ornithology changed my major sent a snail mail home we didn't have email in those days I wanted to know and I figured that by the time my parents could get a snail mail and mail me back it would be too far in the semester to be forced to change the program you know the funny thing is all my bachelors religion classes and weeks of prayer and whatever else I still didn't feel effective with my issue that I became pastor. Well they went back to work at first but I became pastor family that hired me. Staten Island New York and members come to you. Oh Pastor I have this be setting sin in my life or my supposed to say I say whatever he also said to me write read your Bible pray spend time with God. Three weeks later they come back to me in church. Oh Pastor it's so much better God is using you praise the Lord I'm having victory in my life etc etc and I go home and I kneel down and I say Lord why does it work for them and not for me I'm a pastor to districts feeling I don't have a good answer went to the seminary do my and live that want to use the stuff in him do but none of it helped me with my problem. I stayed on for Ph D. work and even wrote a paper about my besetting sin knew all about it why it was wrong why I should stop I couldn't stop. None of you have this experience. Now because I was so supported and P.H.D. I spent six years taking part time while I worked as a flight instructor and my wife's the main breadwinner. So we had two years of the end of so we were there eight years. Well she was the main breadwinner and she's tired of being the main breadwinner with two children right. So I built the boat and said I'm going to have to figure out how to write a dissertation while on pastern and I sent out the resumes. And I was terrified because I felt I didn't have an answer for the people of God. If farmhouse where I had sixteen hives of bees about fifteen hundred pounds of honey a year and up in the attic off our bedroom was a carpeted area that I made into an office and I remember going into that office alone. One day my wife was at work the kids were in school and I was supposed to be studying but I was consumed by this pressure and I lay down on the floor and prostrated before the Lord and I started to weep and they said God the resumes are out. I cannot stand before your people without an answer anymore. I need you to do something. And there was no voice from heaven. No blasts of Gabriel's trumpet. And after a while I got up in a day is really not knowing what to do. No sense of divine anything just kind of a big blank. Finally I just did have an inkling came over me somehow the book of Romans jumpstarted Martin Luther. Maybe if I put away all the books from the A.B.C. put away all the yellow light and let me just go at Romans and so I went to Romans. Not quite sure what I'm looking for I'm just saying Lord I need help. I don't know where I do something so I open the Romans one and I started to read. I did invite you to Turn to Romans one. Paul introduces himself to the Roman church a little bit about why he is writing them and how God keeps His promises. And then in verse fifteen I am eager to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome and once Paul says the word gospel. It's like a trigger and off he goes right. And I started into this most glorious verse for I am not ashamed of the Gospel it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. Oh what a word. To the June first and also to the Greek for in Egypt. What's the it. The Gospel for in the Gospel the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith are like the King James from face to face as it is written. The just for the righteous shall live by faith. Well I'm a doctoral student I know always calling her back. Chapter two and I said to myself what I already know what this means heard it for years More's Vinen etc I don't know I don't earn my salvation. I trust you. It's a free gift etc and everyone else says that that changes their life but it's not doing anything for me. I can't get any progress in my. Problem. None of you had this experience right. And so after that little outbursts of the law I started to read verse eighteen for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven Holy Spirit gives me a slap up the side of the head and he says Do you know what you just read and I said Of course I know what I just read. Martin Luther hear the gospel the Reformation. Martin Luther is not scripture. Yes Lord I know that but your own prophet Ellen White endorsed Martin Luther Ellen White is not scripture. I thought you built your face on scripture. All right Lauren. Go look up all the verse. So with a little help from my concordance it didn't take me long to figure out that this phrase from her back if it is used three times in the New Testament and in our Order of the canon Romans is the first one here right. The just shall live by faith. So I think I know what this means right. Martin Luther justified by faith I don't earn it I get as a free gift etc So I happened to go in chronological order and I'm just going to summarize this part for brevity but I want to go lay sions three Verse eleven where Paul is contrast ing whether we're justified by works or justified by faith. So in the context of Galatians we're about how we get right with God. And so in Galatians I ran into Martin Luther. I don't you know you know one more verse in Hebrews. Now due to the Desmond Ford crisis back as a young pastor I have done Hebrews eight nine and ten seven to ten in the Greek for enough months that there was a period where I didn't need a lexicon I could just do those four chapters in Greek. I can't do it now I'm a little rusty but you know so I was hot on my Greek you know OK I knew those chapters I had worked hard on Hebrews due to the sanctuary debate and all of that hard work in one thousand nine hundred eighty three and four came back to bless me in one thousand nine hundred eighty seven. Because I had a context to work with. So let's set that context for just a moment. So this is a dark question think about the name of the book. To whom was this book written by Hebrews who were the Jews what kind of Jews believing Jews. This is written to believing Jews we believe from a little before the destruction of Jerusalem probably early to mid sixties the destruction of the temple in A.D. seventy writes a little before that five to ten years probably. What's the purpose of the book of Hebrews. That's the theme. But what's the purpose. What does it matter that Jesus is better. I'm going to hold my. If theology majors for a moment work that G. Y.C. speak of brain. OK What encouragement about what you're on the right track. What about their face getting hotter all the time. What's encouraging them not to do. Give up on Jesus. It appears that these Jews are under persecution from pagan Romans due to the politics going sour over Jerusalem right. So they're under increasing challenge and persecution from Pagan Rome as a Jewish people. But now that they believe in Jesus who else is persecuting them. The unbelieving Jews. So they're kind of caught in the middle. So from a practical standpoint if you're getting shot at from both sides and you're in no man's land in the middle it makes sense to pick a side and assimilate at least you'll get shot at from one side right. So these Jews appear to be contemplating giving up on Jesus and really assimilating into traditional Judaism and so this book is written to encourage them not to give up Jesus and go back. And to do that who was at the head the Jesus is better. OK good man here to do that. The book sets forth the superiority of Christ mixed with warnings about if you backslide there's judgment rightly have more warnings of backsliding and judgment in Hebrew than any other place because that's what he's addressing right. So Jesus. This is better than the angels he's better than Moses he's better than Joshua. He has a better covenant with a better sanctuary with a better priesthood with a better sacrifice or better promises. Why do you want to give up the better and go back to the inferior. So with that background we come to the apex of Paul's appeal. Why they should not give up on Jesus and this APEC start in Hebrews Chapter ten and I'd invite you to turn in your Bibles there with me and my enemy is ticking so I'm going to hope for the best here. There's this is going to be the text that changed my experience and this APEC starts in my view in verse thirty two and goes all the way into early chapter twelve. I want to focus on those last verses of chapter ten. Starting in verse thirty two because Paul is going to give them two reasons why they should not give up on Jesus. And it's the second reason where he's going to quote her back. So he says we call the former days when after you were in the light and you endured a hard struggle with sufferings sometimes being exposed to abuse an affliction sometimes being partners with those so treated you had compassion on prisoners and joyfully accepted the plundering of your property since you knew you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence which has great reward for you. Need in durance. That's the same word as here is the patience of the saints so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised. First reason not to give up on Jesus is deemed strange because here we've got people who are so persecuted that they're about to give up and call rubs their face in it and he says look at how much we've been persecuted. Is that just going to push him over the brink. What's the logic. It seems to me that Paul is saying is look at how much you've invested in Jesus. Look at how much you've invested in Jesus. If you give up now you wasted all that effort you wasted all that investment. So that's the first reason I got to shorten this part that's the first reason you've invested too much you might as well finish what you started. Now we come to the second reason and here he quotes more of her back. Reason number two for a year and a little while I like the King James on this one. And he who shall come will come and shall not tarry. Now in her backyard this is a prophecy that's coming but here he uses the personal pronoun he who shall come will come. Who is this he. What's the coming second coming. He who shall come what might come now some of you are snickering at the might come why say what's the point of his appeal. Jesus is coming soon and he's coming certainly therefore and he's not behind schedule. You can hang on till he gets here. Got to take a small tangent. How would these folks have responded to a message here holding up the second coming. Get your act together so Jesus can come. They might as well give up their faith now right. The premise of this promise is that the coming of Christ is definite for certain. He who shall come what and shall not will. I'm going to cut this part short too. But let me just say this much. It is the certainty of the coming of Christ that causes a people of faith to prepare. It is not our preparation that makes Jesus come. It is the certainty that Jesus is coming that makes us prepare. Let me put it another way Noah did not cause a flood by building an ark right. It was the certainty that a flood was coming that made him prepare. And aside from what I'm going to give you tonight this other point that Christ is certainly coming. Therefore we have a work to finish. Because he is coming not to make him come. That message and along with what I'm about to share with you. Term World War three into the best church ever pastored for yet a little while and he who shall come. You sound so enthusiastic. Let's try that one more time for yet a little while. And he who shall come. That's a little better now. Back at him Paul give us two options on how we respond to this promise. Option Number one the just shall live by faith option number two. But if he were shrinks back and now my mind is confused. Because Martin Luther doesn't make sense here right. Jesus is better better better be sure you don't backslide there is judgment. You've invested too much in G.'s us don't give up you need and earns. Now don't forget you're not sorry by work you say but that doesn't make sense. So what does the just shall live by faith mean in this context. It's the opposite of shrinking back. So the just shall live by faith means they persevere by faith know what is perseverance. A lifestyle choice isn't it. It's a broad lifestyle choice but. It's a lifestyle choice. And it hit me like a ton of bricks. Those who are righteous live a lifestyle by faith. But what does that mean. Can these people see Jesus coming. Anybody look at this guy today did you see Jesus coming. I can't see it. But those who are righteous believe in this unseen promise enough that they make some lifestyle choices based on right. The point is then for those who are righteous what God says is more real than what they see and what they feel. And the implications hit me in a Eureka. You see up to this point when my problem would attack me my prayer life was something like this so Lord here it comes again. You know I can't stop this thing. PLEASE HELP ME HELP ME HELP ME HELP ME HELP ME HELP ME PLEASE I mean none of you have that and what I realized was I was waiting to feel like a new creature before I could act like a new creature. I was living by feeling instead of by faith and the implication was that if God says that Steve Ballmer is a nuke. Preacher then Steve Bauer has to trust that even when he feels like an old creature and at bottom then when temptation comes my way I have to depend on the promise and not wait for the feeling. And this is what Hebrews eleven is about. Faith is the evidence of what things are all mine. Something you can't see something you can't feel but faith treats that unseen reality as if it could see it as if it could feel. Now folks the next time that temptation came my way and I said Oh Lord here it comes. Now you said I'm a new creature. Let me experiment with this and step out on this promise and try to you know feel like you're stepping into a black hole. The closest analogy I can make is I used to work in construction with my dad and he has the staging up to start to Fingal's on the roof and you're carrying that eighty pounds of singles and you're walking along the plank and you forget where you are and you step off that high plank an inch and a half down to the low plank. When you weren't expecting it. Any construction people here. What is that inch and a half feet like about a mile and a half. Now you're walking along and then all your friends laugh at you. And when you step out into fairies against your feelings against your perception. As for the first time it's going to feel like that well and about the time you're ready to scream. There's a hand holding. That's the principle we're going to unpack this tomorrow. But it was learning to trust the promise even though I don't feel like a new creature. It's to face reality that needs to govern me not the emotional reality. I have an emotional reality. I acknowledge my emotional reality I don't suppress it. But I believe there's a more real reality. By God's grace and that was the turning point in my experience will give you more tomorrow. Let's come back to Fred. After a number of months of back and forth a number of miraculous things. I had a member who had disappeared after her for my first Sabbaths I didn't know she was she went to a hospice a relative to their death and suddenly she shows up in the middle of all of this retired drug alcohol counselor from the Connecticut state prison system. Talk about God's timing right. And she was a grizzled old veteran. And Fred opened up that he was ready for the visit so Trish and I went to his ten by twelve room. Fifty years old he doesn't have a savings account. He got a ten by twelve room with a hot plate not even a microwave oven because everything goes in the liquor right. She was tough. She was ruthless. One of the major themes that kept coming out was Fred. People on the street were to see where you are today age fifty would they say that you've done a good job managing your life. He played games. She kept bringing him back. And when he couldn't bamboozle her he suddenly went from this fighting to euphoric that fast why. Because if I can't bamboozle you you might actually be able to help me. And so she finally got done with Fred and she handed him off to me. I said Fred let me talk to you about my own slavery to him. You're a B setting you're not addicted to alcohol Fred. You're addicted to feeling good and when you're wounded and when you're hurt and when you're struggling alcohol is what you're turning into to medicate yourself to feel better. Now my besetting sin is an alcohol but it's the same dynamic. And I go there to feel better and then a weird thing happened. You feel guilty for having used that Syrian to help you feel better so what do you do you go back and do it again to medicate yourself some more. Right so the internet point click click click. Oh I should have done that I feel bad. More click click click. Trying to feel better right. I said you're not going to overcome this. You're willing to yield up your ideal of always feeling good and be willing to suffer for G.'s. It's better to be in the fiery furnace with a Jesus outside and comfortable without him. And we started reiterating this idea that you've got to believe you're a new creature in spite of what you're feeling and be willing to face those demons with Jesus instead of medicating with alcohol etc etc He wanted to think about it so we prayed and left three or four days later I'm up at the conference office two hours away. He calls up Trish I'm ready. Trish goes and picks them up. He reeks of alcohol. He's going to go to his twenty sixth detox. Three and a half hours they drove around central Connecticut this one was full that when it was full he didn't like that one they didn't like him. Three and a half hours in Trisha's presence without drinking. When he finally checked his blood alcohol was point four five five. Some people are already dead at that level. Most are unconscious. He was walking straight lines and carrying lucid conversations. He was that raised to the alcohol two or three weeks later when he came out. We arranged with a group up in Maine to get him away from temptation and incubate his walk with Christ. Little self-supporting group took off there not far from my mother. Last house I spent a year in isolation was doing well earned the right to go in the buy parts for the maintenance that he did on the campus. He's in Lewiston Maine got the parts I saw liquor store all have it pulled and bought a glass took a drink. I said What am I doing threw it out. Confessed to sin they said you can't live on campus anymore. We're going to hold you accountable. Well I'm going to follow rejoined etc Spent about the next six to nine months up and down up and down up and down. I visit him every time I go to see my in-laws. After about nine months he straightened out stabilized with the Lord and when I lost track of Fred he had been seven years without drinking. Folks if God can deliver a point four five five drunk your case has to be easy. Your case has to be easy. Tonight we're going to pass out some of the decision cards and if our people can get started here it has a variety of options. Some of you may want to be receiving Christ for the first time tonight because you recognize you need deliverance from the power of sin. And you can't do it yourself. Check that off the car. Others of you have accepted Christ but like me had the frustrating experience. I think they got a place for you. I want to get more help in improving and so forth. And by the way if you can find me an office hours I'm happy to follow up. First come first serve. There's enough or you will figure out how to make a group OK. So look at those decisions. When cards fill them out with your name and so forth and I believe we'll have two receptor cols in the back by the doors where you can drop them off and if there's leftover cards you can leave them on the end of the few blank ones and we'll pick them up afterwards. I'll tell one more little story before Fred made a seven year mark I became professor here in one thousand nine hundred nine. First year in Christian theology one I'm sharing this as a unit of righteousness by faith. One of the students had me go to his dad's church in Florida some years later. That student doesn't know to this day but his dad started talking to me Did you know that Joe was smoking. You know I was about to call Dean Blanco to let him know you got a theology major who's smoking and addicted to it so you could deal with it. When I noticed he stopped smoking. So I asked him. Joe you were smoking Daddy how do you know I was smoking while I had the same problem I know how you try to hide it etc You know he says but I noticed you stop what happened. He said it was that class on righteousness by faith with Dr Bauer and second dimension righteousness as I call it and I started praying by faith that I'm a new creature and I was able to let go of that demon because I was healing to Christ. Folks I can tell you it works. Trust Jesus more than you trust your own feelings. Let me close. Would a little reading from a little wine. There's much I could say but let me step to Christ page fifty in like manner you are a sinner you cannot atone for your past sins. You cannot change your heart and make yourself holy. But God promises to do all this for you through Christ. You believe that promise you confess your sins and give yourself to God. I was reading this very passage in the early stages of World War three looking for strength and I got to a point I was glad I was home alone because I leapt to my feet shouting. If you believe their promise you confess your sins and give yourselves to God you will to serve him. If you believe the promise believe that you are forgiven and cleansed. God supplies the fact what's your job. Believe What's God's job. Supply the fact you are made whole just as Christ gave the paralytic power to walk when the man believed Now here is the paragraph. Do not wait to feel that you are made whole. But say I believe it is so not because I feel it but because God has promised that's righteousness by faith in him that folks sanctification is not me and you are trying hard and hoping God gives us a push. Sanctification is you and me stepping in raw naked terrifying faith on a promise of God even when we don't see. Like it's real. May God bless you as you experiment with living by faith instead of by feeling the good news is I don't have to feel like a new creature to be one. I am one because God said so not because I feel it tomorrow. We're going through the nuts and bolts of how to handle this in the midst of the battle. We'll see you learn that sort of prayer. Lord Jesus we thank you for the good news that you have defeated Satan and that your promise is more reliable than his threats help to face reality to start governing our choices and decisions instead of the feeling reality I pray in the name of Jesus. Let God's people say this media was brought to you by Adil purse a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse if you would like to listen to more sermon Please Visit W W W dot audio Verse dot org.


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