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Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC)                                               Sermon 1224

August 16, 2015                                                                                 John 11:17-27

Dr. Ed Pettus


“The Kingdom of Life”


1.The Kingdom of Death

a.Planned Parenthood and Cecil the Lion


Those of you who follow me on Facebook may have seen the post I shared of an old Bible picture, one you might have seen in a children’s Bible.  You know those classic drawings in full color?  This particular one is of a coliseum in Rome and in the arena there is a gathering of Christians.  The Christians are kneeling in prayer and one of them is standing, looking to heaven in prayer.  In the left corner of the picture you can see the cage door on the floor of the arena and a lion is stepping out looking toward the Christians.  This would, of course, depict the time in church history when Christians were persecuted by being thrown to the lions.  On this picture there was a headline printed across the top that referenced two current events.  One was Cecil the Lion and the other to the Planned Parenthood issue and the selling of aborted baby organs.  The marquee across the top of the picture said this:   “A culture of death will always cheer for the lion over the innocent.” 

It staggers the mind to think that millions of babies have been killed.  It is no different in my mind than ISIS killing Christians and selling women and girls into slavery.  It is no different than Herod killing all the children under two years old to try and rid himself of the new born king, Jesus.  It staggers the mind to think that there can be more outrage over a lion killed than human babies killed. 

But what staggers our minds even more is that so few are upset over PP selling baby organs.  The abortionists who claim that the womb is filled only with non-viable cells is selling those non-viable cells in whole form as livers, kidneys, brains, and so forth.  It is appalling to even say it this morning. 

I wanted this proverb read today because I think it is a challenge to us as believers in Jesus Christ to step up the prayers, letters, and general involvement against the culture of death with regard to abortion. 


Proverbs 24:11-12  Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.  12 If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?  Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?


            None of us who have been alert to what is happening can say, “we did not know this”.  God knows what is happening.  If we have not been praying for this issue, now is the time to start.  If we have not been vocal or active in the issue, now is the time to start.  It is time for the church to step forward even more to “rescue those who are being taken away to death.”





b.Same Sex Mirage


I had to include this in my outline this week as I heard a commentator call the same sex marriage decision “same sex mirage”.  It is an illusion in the biblical sense.  We believe that God created the union of a man and a woman for the procreation of the earth, but also for the good of society in general.  God created us male and female and created all the parts to bring male and female together as one in marriage.  This is a physical, spiritual, emotional, and God created order.  What governments and societies might do is sometimes beyond our control.  What we can control is how we model what God has given us.  Doing that which will strengthen our marriages and strengthen our testimony about what God has created. 

We cannot just claim what we are against, but more important is to proclaim what we are for, indeed, what God has done in creating and sustaining marriage between one man and one woman. 


c.Political Correctness


The latest odd news is that Target stores are no longer distinguishing boys and girls departments.  Are the boys now going to be sorting through bras and T-Shirts together?  Of course, all we get is a headline.  I’m not sure what the justification was behind this decision from Target Stores.  In one sense I don’t care one bit what Target does.  I’ve probably been to Target twice and was not all that crazy about going there anyway.  But we know the power and momentum that Political Correctness has gained in the last few years.  No one can say anything anymore without offending someone somewhere.  No truth exists outside what the PC crowd deems as truth.  It is so deeply politically incorrect to claim that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life.  It is all the more sad for us and for the country that we have seen this new gospel of PC become a way of life for so many people. 

I guess this is a good title for so much of what we hear these days, political correctness.  If it is political it usually has issues.  What we really need is biblical correctness and once again that starts with us.  Let us never shy away from living biblically correct and speaking the truth in love. 



d.Abandoning God - Doing all things apart from God.


Basically we are seeing the abandonment of God from all sectors of a nation.  It is the false thinking of our leadership, it is the false assumption of Hollywood, and recently I read that more people of no faith are trying to encourage others to “come out of the closet” with their atheism, agnosticism, or whatever other “ism” they seek to believe. 


These are just a few of the factors at play in the kingdom of death.  We live amid a kingdom that promotes death and yet fears death.  We live amid a culture of death that does not care that it lives in such a culture.  We are riding the runaway train of deathly existence and its end is destruction. 


But, there is hope!



2.The Kingdom of Life

a.God the Creator


Psalm 104 is a creation Psalm.   It speaks of God’s creative work in laying the foundations of the earth and making springs for the animals to drink.  He causes the grass to grow and he waters the trees.  Verse 24 is the doxological center of the Psalm.  “O Lord, how manifold are your works!  In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.”  The Psalm displays all of the life of creation.  Vegetation, animals, human beings, and all that lives are God’s works.  It is built into the very nature of creation itself – the testimony of the God of life, the creator of life, and it is our testimony to the world that we serve the God of life in the kingdom of life. 


b.Jesus the Life


John 11:25 – Jesus is the Lord of life.  He is life!  When Martha came to Jesus after her brother had died, she confessed to Jesus that her brother would indeed rise again at the resurrection on the last day but Jesus tells her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”  Jesus has several “I am” statements.  I am the bread of life.  I am the way, the truth, and the life.  I am the good shepherd.  In our text for the day, Jesus is the resurrection and the life.  What is amazing about this is that resurrection first means someone has died.  There is no resurrection without death.  And yet, out of death, Jesus brings life.  God raised Jesus from the dead and thus he conquered death.  He has conquered the kingdom of death.  It has no power over us.  Jesus has delivered us from death and the kingdom of death.  This is good news because as we see things like Planned Parenthood or Political Correctness, we have the word of life that enables us to discern life from death and even to show the world that Jesus can bring life from deathly existence. 



c.Holy Spirit – Giver of Life

John 6:63 – After Jesus told the disciples that he was the bread of life, he said this to them, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”  The Spirit gives us the gift of life and in addition, Jesus’ words are spirit and life.  The point is that in the Holy Spirit is life, the only true life. 


We see from God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (the Trinity) that we serve the God of Life.  We serve him in a kingdom of life.  What I have presented today is a deep contrast between life and death.  These kingdoms are opposed to one another, one leading to life and life eternal, and the other leading to death. 







3.Choose Your Kingdom

a.Hope / Hopelessness

b.Light / Darkness

c.Righteousness / Sin

d.Life / Death


The Bible calls us to choose (Joshua 24:15) between kingdoms, life or death.  I once had a conversation with someone who spoke of the “real” world as if the kingdom of God were somehow not as real.  As if we could not expect people to live a kingdom of God kind of life.  People do not have to live by the so called real world of death.  There can be a life in God’s kingdom as we walk this earth.  We do not have to fall for the lies of the world.  We do not have to go the way of the culture.  We do not have to become a statistic. We do not have to fit in to the crowd.  In the kingdom of life, God is our Lord and King.  These kingdoms are contrasted in the pairings of Hope/Hopelessness, Light/Darkness, and so forth.  There are many more pairings we could imagine, but with each one there is a choice to make for life or for death.  Only one brings life and it is the one given life by the Creator God.  It is the one given life by the One who is life.  It is the one embodied by the Giver of Life. 


This is the kingdom in which we are called to live and through this kingdom we see all that is in the world, life and death, light and darkness, righteousness and sin.  Our home is a kingdom of life.  It is why we fight against abortion or distorted understandings of marriage.  We so desire the way of life for all people, especially for those who are walking in darkness and walking toward death.  Let us always remember to speak the truth of life with love and gentleness.  Let us not forget to proclaim the truth aware that death is lurking around the corner.  Good news: the kingdom of life is more powerful than the kingdom of death.  Let us never lose hope!  Amen.