Every Season of Salvation

2023 Men's Retreat at Broken Arrow Ranch. Guest Speaker Karl Haffner shared a messaged titled "Every Season of Salvation"

 You would join me in just expressing gratitude to all of our musicians for taking us into the presence of God through music. It has been rich to say the least, and a special thank you to Pastor Tim for. Everything you did this weekend? Honestly I don't know if you realize this or not, but it is very rare to see conferences investing in men's ministry anymore. It seems most conferences that I'm aware of anymore, Anyway no longer offer these kinds of retreats in his ministry.

And the fact that you have taken the leadership helm in this ministry is very much appreciated. He has been a dream to work with. Even when I did not show up to speak yesterday, he was Mr. Called and No worries. It's fine.

There we go. All right, so yeah, here we are. Okay, so we were sitting around one Saturday night. Nothing to do all night to do it. When someone suggested, let's please spin the bottle. We were young, married at the time, so we had to tweak the rules, at least from what I remember in childhood, where the way we would play is, spin the bottle and then if it pointed to you, the girl had an option, she could either give you a quick pep on the cheek or she could pay you a nickel.

So by the time I was in fifth grade, I owned my own house,

but on this Saturday night, we had to change up the rules because we were grownups. So we would ask a leading question, spin the bottle, whoever it pointed to, had to honestly answer that question. Now, I thought as a sendoff Sunday morning here, it would be fun if we could play a few rounds together. What do you say?

Yeah, it's a little underwhelming, but we're gonna play. I happen to have here a list of some of the same questions we asked that night. And so I'll ask the question. You just raise your hand, it applies to you. And a reminder, this is only fun if everybody plays. Honestly, I'll be honest this Alright, we got one honest guy.

Good. Alright, here we go. First question we asked that night, have you ever told a lie? Okay, now you think about it. Have you ever downloaded a piece of software and you come to that page with the empty box that you have to check saying, I have read all the terms and conditions, and you checked that box even though you had not read all the terms and did okay.

Liars in the House. Alright, that's pretty, I'm gonna give you 100% on that one. Good. Have you ever stolen anything? I've been at seven 11, filled a big gulp, taken a few sips, and then refilled it without paying for the soda. You just, oh yeah, that counts. Okay. Stole outs. Hundred percent too. Good. All right.

Have you ever cheated in school? Doesn't confession just feel good to the soul sometimes? Yeah. Okay. Very good. Had you ever cursed. Set a down bird. Most of you are Kansas City Royal fans, right? So I know you curse.

Have you ever had a wayward sexual thought? No, you don't have to raise your hand. Just went. Thank you for your honor. No, it's actually not a competition. I do appreciate. Yeah. Both hands. Yeah. I think we're all guys here, so I know. I don't even have to ask. I know it's a hundred. That's quite a. Like you did really well.

Congratulations. Yeah. You won a nickel. Oh, the bad news. Yeah. You won a nickel. The bad news is the wages of sin. We all have our lists and the wages of sin is what the good news is that when we present our list before God, he will always. Forgive us. Bible describes how he will nail it to the cross. In fact, second or third verse of the song we sang yesterday peace.

What's the song? Peace. Like a river. Peace When Peace Like a river. Yeah. My sin not in part with the whole nailed to the cross. And that is, I bear it no more. Yeah. Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord on my soul. I think that I was thinking of this yesterday as we were singing that song, he bleeds forgiveness over the entire list.

That we stand righteous and perfect before a holy God. Amen. That's the good news. That's the gospel. That's what we're gonna talk about in this final installment of our weekend together. The gospel as it is anchored in the character of God who scripture teaches, always forgives, confessed sin and never deserves us in our sin.

And this gives all of us absolute security when it comes to understanding our selfish. Yeah. It allows us to live in the reality of this blessed assurance that we just sent. So let's go to First John chapter one. We're gonna pick up the final two verses of the first chapter, and then we're going to work our way through the next six verses.

So we will pretty much just spend our time here. Referencing other Bible texts as well. But if you want to join me in first John chapter one, verse nine. If we confess our sins is faithful, just and will forgive us our sin and purify us from all unrighteousness. Now if we claim we have not sinned, John says, if anybody refuses to raise their hand during my spin on spend the bottle we make God out to be a liar, and his word is not in us.

In other words, we all have our vests. Then he says, my dear children, I write this to you so that you will not stand. So he states up front the ideal that you will not stand. But he has already stated twice that's not the reality for any of us. Oh. And so he quickly pivots from the ideal that you will not send to the real.

Everybody has a list. Everybody sends, but if anybody does sin, he goes on. We have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ, the righteous one. We have one who speaks to the father in our defense is the way the old N I V puts it. In other words, when we confess our sins, he is always faithful to forgive us our sins, but he doesn't abandon us in our sin.

But rather, the text says he advocates for us. He doesn't desert us. But rather the Bible says he defends us. I love the words of Ellen White. She says, we shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes. And I know that to be so true, but we are not to be discouraged even if we are overcome by the enemy.

We are not cast off, not forsaken, not rejected by God. Oh my dear brother, don't be discouraged by your lying, cheating, stealing lustful ways because the pen of inspiration reminds us we are not cast off. We are not rejected, but rather God never deserts us. He comes to defend us. And I understand this at least in part not perfectly, but I understand it a little bit just being a father.

But when our daughter was born, first child, I could not stop just marveling at this little miracle that God had entrusted to us. Yeah, I could just stare at this little baby forever. And after about a week, my wife kicked me out of the crib and suggested that I get back to work. So I made this deal.

I said, okay, I'll go back to the office and get to work if I can take Lindsay with me. Oh, I said, you can take a nap. This was a win-win, so I took Lindsay to the office. I set her on my desk and I turned around to make a couple of phone calls when I glanced back. Lo and behold, Lindsay had been raptured, which was unsettling because I don't believe that theology.

I glanced around the desk and saw that she had fallen off, and it was that split second of silence where I wondered maybe she didn't notice. But then I realized, no, she's just sucking up all of the air in King County to express,

and I'm telling you, she let out this shriek that made my fingernails sweat and I scooped her. I immediately called. 9 1 1. I called a pediatrician friend of mine. I called every healthcare worker that I knew. I called everybody well except my wife.

I figured I'd someday, I'll let, I'll tell her this story.

Maybe wait until I was in a safe place to share this. Story with anybody. She didn't really need to know what had happened. And all of the professionals assured me kids at that age are very resilient and she's going to be fine. Look for these, trouble signs like bleeding through the ears and that kinda thing.

Hope much. She appeared to be fine. Yeah. It's like I would've, yeah. No, I said she's gonna be fine. What would you think of me if I told you the next thing I did was to give her a good old fashioned spanking and scold her saying, Lindsay, I told you not to fall, to stay on the desk. You defiantly disobey me.

Bad girl. Youre grounded until you're 50 years old. You can't date to any guy, which I would've liked to have.

Wait, can you I can't even imagine. A dad's so demonic, and yet how many people have this wildly distorted view of our Heavenly Father, like every time we mess up, every time you fall, he's hovering over you, just waiting with his switch ready to scold you and punished you. No. A million nos. This is not the heart of the father.

The only thing I could think of in that moment was to scoop that little kid up and hold her close until her hurt found healing in my ignorance. And the only thing that heavenly father can think of when he comes to you after you have fallen, maybe for the 1000000th time to that same old sin ditch, and the only thing he can think about, like we see in the story of the prodigal son.

Is to hold you in his arms and to hold you close until the shame and the hurt and the pain, find healing and forgiveness in his presence. That's the heart of Father.

You will never discern you in your sin. Amen. Racist to your rescue, to defend you, to advocate for you. How can he do this? John goes on to explain he can do this because verse two, he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. The Greek word here, last mosts, which interestingly enough is only found twice in the entire New Testament.

In this chapter, first John, and then again in First John, two chapters later in chapter four, and it suggests this exchange in this specific context. He just states it. There is this exchange, our sin for his sacrifice. That's what the atonement means. In other words, we take upon ourselves what God deserves, namely, life eternal, and he takes upon himself what we deserve.

Death. The wages of sin is death. And so there is this exchange, my list. For his life. My favorite way to illustrate this one remembers the Daves and pastor. Get up in church and invite everybody. Two o'clock Sycamore Park to a good old fashioned church picnic the next day. You decide last minute, eh, maybe I would like to attend.

So you go to the refrigerator and he told you everybody bring their own sack lunch. So you go scrounging through the refrigerator, find a couple tired pieces of bread or rusty head of lettuce, just enough mayo to scrape up your knuckles, going after it some long ago, expired. Very smelly.

Oh, that was well timed, wasn't it?

Okay. Hey, you throw together this sandwich, throw it in the sack, and you're off to do the fun things we love to do at jerk picnics, three-legged ray egg sauce, and later pastor calls everybody together offers a blessing, and off you go to the shadows of the pond. With your sack blood, she would plopped down on this Ricky old picnic table and pull from the sack.

That bologna sandwich doesn't look very appetizing, smells even less you're just getting ready to bite into this. When out of the corner of your eye, you spot something that looks like a living. Norman Rockwell Paint. A little grave complete with the white bottom on the back of her head, walking toward your picnic table.

Hauling behind her a picnic basket that is the size of a Volkswagen bug. Wouldn't you know it? She comes to your table and unfolds a red and white shepherd tablecloth right up next to your elbow and starts to pull from her basket, blueberry pie and blackberry cobbler and sandwiches and hot dogs and chips and oranges and apple.

It. It is a feast that defies the sense. And there you said clutching all your baloney.

When grandma looks over to you and says, Hey, what do you say? We just throw it all together. I got plenty of potato salad sandwiches, the hot dogs and cobbler and pie and this besides, I just love. Baloney sandwich.

So you came as a popper, but you eat like a prince. Yeah. So there you sit

on your rty picnic table of life. God comes to your table cuz he does not abandon you. He comes to you and unfolds this white tablecloth right up next to your elbow. And there you Sid clutching all of your baloney wife. You've got a list that stretches longer than interstate 80. And God looks down to you and he says, what do you say?

We throw it all together.

I had more forgiveness than you could ever use up in one lifetime.

You'll never sin beyond the boundaries of Michael,

and so you deserve to be treated as a poper, but instead you are treated. As a cherished child of the Heavenly Father. Amen. And there is this exchange, my failures for his forgiveness, my guilt for his grace mark, my list for his life, and I stand perfect before our holy. Because he is the atoning sacrifice for our sin.

John reminds us, and then he goes on to say,

Let's see where we are here. The fall messed me up here. First two. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the sins of whole world. Now here, John Borrows language from his gospel. Perhaps it is the most concise and definitive statement of the gospel that we have on record anyway.

We know that statement, right? For God. So love the world. Same word here, customers the whole world. And here he says, not just for our sins, but for the sins of the whole cosmos, the whole world. And then John goes on to say in his gospel, he sent his one and only son so that anybody who believes in him will not perish but have ever lasting life.

Anyone who believes in the son Jesus Christ will have everlasting life. Amen. It is so black and white. It is so clear and yet always struggle with this. Don't. I think especially Adventist, we struggle with that security of salvation, with living the lyrics of that classic him Blessed assurance. I think back to a study that was published at Andrews University here a few years ago.

Suggested roughly one third of the Adventist worldwide do not feel any security when it comes to their salvation. Other studies put that number as high as 50, 60%. We could quil over the numbers. I don't know. I do know. That in a recent sermon series last month at University Church, pastor Randy Roberts had all of us texting in our questions and responses to some of the Psalm that we were studying through in that series, and over and over again of variation of the same exact question came up on the spleen.

And th this was just a few of the thousands of responses that he got. He was quite shocked, as was I sitting in the pew reading these over and over. It's the same question of variation of the question, will I ever be good enough to be safe? Could God save even me? Can God forgive me? Because I keep groveling back to him asking for forgiveness for the same old sin.

And for decades I've been struggling. One question stated, I'm gay. Can God save me? Can I ever know assurance of salvation? Why do we struggle? So maybe it's because. Of what John talks about in the next verse now, where he begins to expand and to talk about what a victorious Christian life looks like.

He talks about keeping the commands. Of God. So verse three, we know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says I know him but does not do what he commands, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him. Here's the problem, as I understand, we are constantly deciding whether or not we are safe based on our behavior, right?

We are constantly deciding, am I saved or am I not? Do I have assurance of salvation or not based on how we behave? And so every time we mess up, every time we sin, we question whether or not God's going to save us. We wonder about assurance of salvation. So I wanna make a couple of provocative statements.

You may or may not put number one. Our behavior and our good deeds have nothing whatsoever to do with earning or pausing our salvation.

How's that land? Would you agree with that? All of our good deeds have nothing to do with earning our salvation. We're still friends now. Let me press you even a little further. If that is true, then would the corollary of that not be just as true second statement? Our bad deeds therefore have nothing to do with causing us to be lost.

Are we still friends? If our good deeds don't cause salvation, then why would our mis deeds jeopardize our salvation? Here's the truth. We are saved or we are lost. Totally base. On the presence or the absence of a vital relationship with Jesus Christ. I love and the words of Lori Venden, the great experience of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

Alone is the only thing that produces good words. It's not that good. Works aren't important. Of course, sanctification is part of the spiritual journey, but as Elder Venden points out, This experience of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is the only thing that produces good words. He goes on. But good works have nothing to do with causing our salvation.

We do not change our lives in order to come to Christ. No, we've come to Christ just as we are. He changes our lives. We can't transform ourselves. He changes us. John goes on verse five, but if anybody obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. Notice the Terrance. This is how we know that we are in him where claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

Amen. Notice this love for God. This sanctified life is made complete in him. Similar to verse nine, chapter one. Where he says, if we confess our sins, he's faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us to purify us from all unrighteousness. Again, it's in the passive tense.

Yesterday I shared a quote from Thomas Kelly. Just learn to live in the passive voice. Rather than trying really hard for God's love to be made complete in me, trying really hard to purify myself from all sin and unrighteousness to simply try God to change it, it is made. His love is made complete in May.

My sin is, I am he cleanses me from all unrighteousness. My job is to just trust him to do what he promises to do. And this is consistent with John's other writings the key passage in the Gospel of John. Has speech chapter 15 that we looked at last night where again, Jesus promises, if you just abide in me, I will abide in you and you will produce much through, not produce.

You will bear. I made a big deal out of that yesterday, right? You don't produce the fruit, you bear his fruit. You're not, but apart from me, You cannot make yourself righteous, holy. You can't. You cannot cause your salvation. Or I think of John's worth, the revelation of Jesus Christ. The key text there, chapter three, verse 20, where Jesus says, behold, I stand at your door and I know.

And if anybody hears my voice answers opens the door, what does it say? I will come in and I'll just be with you. That's what God wants, just a relationship with you to do life with you, to abide in you and you abide in him. The text does not say, I will come in and inspect what you're having for dinner and it better be vegan.

Because God craves connection, not compliance.

I'll share a quote that is similar in my own spiritual journey to this book that we gave out yesterday. And by the way, there are a few copies left and I highly recommend it but a similar book. Written by WW Prescott called Victory in Christ. This is just a very brief, and it's a small booklet. I think you can download it online for free like you can this book by the way, just interested.

But anyway, he writes this and this is a game changer in my own understanding of assurance and sanctification and all of this stuff. For a long time, I tried to obtain victory over sin and I failed. I have since discovered the reason instead of doing the part which God expects me to do and which I can do, and which he cannot do for me, I was trying to do God's part, which he does not expect me to do, and which I cannot do, and which he has promised to do for me.

Did you get that Ivo Read it through self times. Oh, one more time. Let me paraphrase. Says, for a long time I just struggled because I kept trying to be victorious over sin and I kept failing. Okay? He had my attention right there because that's my story right there. I kept trying to overcome sin in, and I just kept failing.

Then he says now I understand at least partially why, because. Instead of doing what only God can do, I kept trying to do that God's part instead of doing what only I can do and God cannot do for me, which is what? Surrender, surrender. Rather than doing the one thing and only thing that I can do, I kept trying to do what only God can do, which is what change me, purify me from all unrighteousness.

I kept trying real hard to overcome these sins rather than just focusing on the one thing that I can do and God cannot do for me, and that is. To just live in that space of being yielded to his will, being receptive and responsive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and just live in that spiritual space.

Reflecting on this quote in my journal, I wrote this, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. I've been trying harder to be a new creation. Then I have been trying to be in Christ. Don't fight sin. Find Christ.

None. Yeah. Don't fight for it. Don't fight sin. Find Christ. John puts an exclamation point on this teaching at the end of this first epistle, and he writes three verses here in chapter five, and I think we're gonna put them on the screen and I'll just invite all of you to join me in an exercise that I have been doing now for a couple of weeks.

Maybe just commit yourself to doing this. Every morning for a week. Can we do that? We'll see how it goes and whatever works for you is fine. You might want to just take a picture of this text and first thing in the morning when your phone sounds the alarm just open up your pictures and read these words out loud.

Or you might do like I like to do, and that is just go to my Bible app and read the same passage. In a different translation every day. And I have been amazed in this practice at how similar all of the translations are. It says what it says, and it's hard to not understand what it says. So I'm inviting you and hoping you will join me.

Can we just all read this passage nice and loud? Like we really believe this can we read it all together to practice for tomorrow morning? So everybody reading this, and this is the testimony God has given us eternal and this fight is in his son. Whoever has the son has life. Whoever does not have the son of God, does not have life.

Say this to you who believe in the name of the son of God so that you may know eternal, so that you may and know, so that you may know that you have eternal life. God does not want us constantly worried and fretting about whether or not we are saved. Don't fight sin. Okay. Don't base your assurance of salvation on whether you're engaged in good deeds or bad deeds in the moment.

Don't fight sin. Just focus on finding Christ. Just nurture that relationship with Jesus and these verses can become the lyrics of your life and you can live with this beautiful freedom. Of knowing you are saved because Jesus, you can live the lyrics of blessed Aisha. Fannie Crosby was blinded when she was six weeks old because of a medical mistreatment.

She would live to be 95. And in her life, she would write over 8,000 hymns. She loved to tell the story of how one day her friend came by. Phoebe Na, I noticed their names were listed when we sang the hymn earlier. And her friend Phoebe came by and she said, Fanny I've got this melody. And I've got no words for it but I just can't shape the melody from my mind.

Could you help me? And Fannie immediately fell to her knees and spent some time just in prayer, clutching her little Bible up against her chest. And then when she stood back up, she said, look, let me hear the melody. And it is amazing to me. I don't know how people can do that other than it is just God, she sang all the verses of this hymn. Unimpeded didn't stop. In other words, she wrote the lyrics to this song that were still singing to this day. In less than five minutes. They just flowed out of her, she said. And when she finished, she said that this is the song that Blessed Assurance Jesus is mine.

Oh, what a forte of glory, divine Perfect submission, all is at rest. I am my savior. Happy and blessed, watching waiting, looking above, filled with his witness loss in his life. This can be the song of your story. These can be the lyrics of your life. You can live this way if you live in Christ. Why? Because God will always forgive your confessed sin and God will never desert you in your sin.

Amen. And God will change you if you live in His presence. Hey, this is my story. This is my song Praising My Savior all today. Thank you, Jesus, for the assurance that we can know in you. Amen.