Listening to one of Pastor Latta’s sermons is like constantly being hit by Randy-Johnson fastballs. I’m not kidding. Okay, Pastor Latta doesn’t literally bean us with baseballs. What he does do is make life difficult for diligent notetakers like myself. I can’t keep up!
Every two or three seconds, my mind is lambasted with a knowledge-filled sentence revealing something about a verse or biblical concept that I hadn’t understood until it hit my eardrums via the pulpit. It’s insane. Furthermore, there are four or five people in our church that are literal wells of biblical information. I don’t even know how to quantify and qualify the amazing depth and contextual brevity present in our sermons at First Baptist.
What I can do is show you what one of our sermons is like. I can do this by giving you a glimpse into some of my sermon notes. I’ve been thinking about how I could frame a blog post around our weekly sermons, and this seemed like the best and most direct way to do just that.
So, let’s get started, shall we?
Our sermon last Sunday was the second installment in the study of the Book of John. Oh, I should tell you that First Baptist studies the books in the Bible. If I had to listen to generic sermons on the typical preached-about themes (forgiveness, lust, love, more forgiveness, grief, grace, faith, etc.) fifty-two times a year, I’d study the Bible on my own. Don’t get me wrong! Grace, faith, etc. are important biblical concepts, but you really understand them when you study them in the original context of the Word of God. I don’t learn anything about biblical faith when I’m preached a story about Louise having faith that somehow God would pay her electricity bill and lo and behold, He did. That’s not biblical faith. The Word of God isn’t a superficial book, so the sermons preached from them shouldn’t be either.
Let’s go back to the Book of John. We had covered the first four verses of the first chapter of John the previous Sunday, but last Sunday, we covered verses five through seven (possibly eight). Here’s what a typical Sunday looks like:
Recap from Sunday, 10/8
· We talked about fellowship and how the definition varies from what we typically believe. Christians tend to think of fellowship as a simple gathering of believers discussing their faith over a cup of joe.
· Biblical fellowship is based on sanctification, and is referenced in Philippians 3:10. (I noted the verse from Philippians, but let me add a quick note. This verse really struck me when we read through it the week before. The verse states in part, “…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Wow. With Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, we were sanctified, and through that sanctification, we’re able to biblically fellowship (koinwnia) with God.) That’s power, folks.
· Biblical belief is where you commit your whole life to the Word of God, to Jesus, and to your faith (biblical faith).
1 John 1: 5
· We want to teach teachers – we want to equip them!
· John didn’t invent the message. He heard it straight from Jesus’ mouth.
· Why is John’s joy? John’s biblical joy comes from seeing his children grow in their faith. (Side note: I bet this is a reaction he saw in Jesus.)
· Side note: Can you imagine learning at the feet of Jesus? The Messiah? Amazing.
· The word “announce” comes from the Greek work “eugallion” (sp.), which is where we get our word angel from. It makes sense because angels are present in the Bible, and they are always announcing a message from God.
· LIGHT REVEALS SIN. GOD IS LIGHT. (Think: logic train.)
· There is a moral scale (in the Bible and in our life) based on God’s nature. If you act wrongly on God’s nature, you sin. If you act correctly on God’s nature, you do so righteously.
· IF God didn’t reveal himself through the Word and the Holy Spirit, we’d be blind and in darkness. (Side note: Knowing this, it makes me think more and more on what Pastor Latta said once. He said that hell wouldn’t be what we culturally envision, a fiery pit of hellish temperatures. It will be darkness like one sees when they’re alone in the pits of a cave. Compare the triumphal light that is the shekinah glory to that of the world’s darkest cave. As Christians, we need to fight for that light. It died for us.)
· Referenced Psalms 27:1, “the Lord and light are my salvation.” Amen!
· What light was referenced in Psalms? The SHEKINAH GLORY! Many of the light references made in the Word of God point to the shekinah glory. I’ve always believed this.
1 John 1: 6
· The is the first of three false claims. (I.e. IF we walk in darkness but have fellowship…) Look below.
· If somebody walks in darkness but has fellowship, who cares? That’s stupid and complete nonsense. It’s ridiculous. You can’t walk in darkness have fellowship – biblical fellowship that is! (Side note: This is where we see the different between church-luncheon fellowship and biblical fellowship. You can walk in darkness and attend our annual Thanksgiving dinner, but you can’t walk in darkness and be in fellowship with God.)
· The work “walk” comes from the Greek word “peripateo” (sp.), which means to walk around and out in the world. It’s how you live your life! Interesting.
· *************Ancient Jews describe things in verbs. Westerners love adjectives and descriptive nouns, yet Ancient Jews were all about action and verbs. Belief is a noun for Americans. For Ancient Jews? It’s a verb. You act on belief. It’s a way of life for them. (Side note: this is applicable to us in a BIG way.)
· If we walk in darkness, we don’t want truth. If we walk in darkness, we are not in biblical fellowship.
· John is warning the children (the believers) that the people who preach there is NO sin aren’t to be trusted or believed. (Side note: If there was NO sin, Jesus wouldn’t have had to die. The people who preach there is NO such thing as sin are to be frank, stupid.)
1 John 1: 7
· “BUT” – In 1 and 2 Thessalonians, BUT always followed bad news; however, it preceded the good news Paul wrote. In 1 John, “BUT” is used as a counterclaim.
· Also, remember that to John, belief is action; it’s a verb!
· Referenced Psalms 104:2, “covering yourself in light.” IF we saw God, we’d see radiant shekinah glory. (Side note: What a sight that will be! I can’t wait to see the shekinah glory with my own eyes. There’s also a huge part of me that is scared to death to see the shekinah glory, but as a young student of the Bible, I just want to know what it looks like in person!)
· With a reference to “blood,” there is a clear reference to the resurrection of Jesus.
· Referenced Hebrews 9:22, for us to receive forgiveness, there needed to be a blood sacrifice. Furthermore, that innocent sacrifice had to be perfect in every measurement, and Yeshua was that sacrifice. Jesus was that sacrifice. Because of this sacrifice, justice was served.
· Referenced Revelations 7: 14, “washed in the blood of Christ” sounds a bit gnarly, but to a Christian, it means we’re cleaned. We are cleansed thanks to our being washed in the blood of Christ.
· Our biblical fellowship in and with Christ depends on our obedience to Christ on a daily basis. (Side note: Obedience is a major theme in the Word of God, which makes sense since it was a major pillar of the Ancient Jewish home.)
(Real quick note)
· SALVATION IS BASED ON JUSTIFICATION. FELLOWSHIP IS BASED ON SANCTIFICATION.
· Where we walk determines how you walk. We NEED to walk in the light.
· What tells me what I should be doing? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the Word of God!
· How do we get koinwnia (Greek word for fellowship)? We get it via obedience to the Word of God and Jesus Christ. There one in the same!
I wrote a little bit more, but for the sake of this post’s length, I’ll cut it short. Do you see how deep we get with each verse? I guarantee you Pastor Latta could teach a six-week course on the small verse, “God is love.” It would be great, too.
That’s what a sermon looks like at First Baptist! There are some nights when I’m reading the Word or I’m praying and speaking to God that I legitimately begin to weep. I never weep violently, but I do occasionally shed a tear. I weep because I’m so thankful to go to a church that places an emphasis on learning the Word of God. I don’t want a cookie-cutter sermon. If I did, I’d turn on Joel Olsteen and listen to him every Sunday morning. He’s on television, so I wouldn’t even have to leave my house!
I want to learn, and at First Baptist, all you do is learn. It’s an intellectual’s paradise.