Transformational Truth

Series: Back to Basics

 “Back To Basics” // Message @ JRCC – Sunday, Sept 11, 2011

Text: // Series: “Ambition: The Good, the bad, the Holy”



Good morning, everyone, my name is Brad, I’m part of the teaching and leadership team here at Jericho Ridge.  Our family has just come back from a 3 month summer sabbatical experience – if you missed the insert last weekend with the highlights, you can catch that on our website at – but I do want to say again that it is wonderful to be away, but it is so good to be back here with all of you. 


Speaking of being back, how many of you as teachers and students were back at school the past week or 2?  Students, time for a quick honestly check – over the summer months, how many of you forgot absolutely everything you learned last year?  I can see some of your parents nodding in affirmation so you don’t have to put your hands up. It is interesting, though, isn’t it how quickly we as humans have a tendency to forget.  That’s why usually during the first week or month of school, as you move into a new grade, you spend time going over the basics that you were taught in the last year.  I know my daughter who is going into Grade 1 this year was a little bit disappointed when she found this out.  I asked her what she did one day this week at school and she said with disgust ‘they had us doing Kindergarten work – I’m in grade 1.  When do we start that work?” 


But going over the basics isn’t bad at all.  Because it really is amazing how quickly we as human being have a tendency to forget things we have learned.  But this doesn’t just happen with school, it can happens to us in or workplace environments, it can happen to organizations that get too complex and unfocused, it can happen to us spiritually as well.  And so, as we jump into the fall here at Jericho, we are going to invest 5 weeks in going Back to Basics.  In this teaching series and your new journal that you should have in-hand, we’ll be exploring JRCC’s 5 Core Values:

  1. Transformational Truth
  2. Glocal Service
  3. Authentic Community
  4. Generous Lifestyle
  5. Holistic Worship


Knowing and being aware of these 5 organizing principles should help you understand much more deeply why we do things the way we do them around here.  And the reason for this is that both personally and organizationally, your values guide everything you do.  If you doubt that this is true, think with me for a moment of your last vacation experience.  I’ve heard some of your summer vacation stories, you may want to go back further in your memory.  But think of what it is that you value in a vacation.  What helps you make a decision to go where you go; to vacation how you vacation and with whom you vacation?  All of us have vacation values – the might be ‘it counts as a vacation when I go somewhere sunny, or to a country I haven’t been to before, or to visit family’.  Your vacation values might be “I have x number of dollars to spend so staying within that budget might be important”. Your vacation values might be staying connected with family so you might go and visit with relatives…  The challenge becomes ‘what happens when either you have different values of you don’t understand your values?’  Well, we had holidayed one time with some friends who’s ultimate vacation value was frugality.  And so they went out of their way to try to do things as cheaply as possible.  Even if it meant inconveniencing other people.  All I will politely say is that this brought them into direct conflict with other people around them who’s vacation values emphasized relaxing and spending time together. 


The point of having you think of your vacation values was to emphasize the reality that our values drive everything we do.  They drive our decisions, they drive our financial habits, they drive our planning and our execution.  They even drive what we are willing to fight for or about.  And in his teaching during his time on earth, which is recorded in the first 4 books of the New Testament, Jesus has a lot to say to you and me about values.  And His teaching is more than just winsome suggestions about how to organize your holidays.  It’s about how to build a solid foundation for your life so that you can experience all that God has for you, not only in this life, but also in the life to come.  And that’s why we are starting this series with a look at our first core value here at JRCC – Transformational Truth.  You’ll find it on page 23 of your new Momentum Journal, or on the side screens.  Read along with me out loud.  Ready? Go!

“God’s character and His Word shape our thinking and behaviour. Biblical Truth is taught in our homes and church in such a way that it leads to holistic growth. We are committed to depth and maturity in our faith, fully aware of our need for grace in our spiritual apprenticeship. We desire to work out our faith in all aspects of our personal lives – intellectual, physical, emotional, spiritual – in order to transform our world as we are transformed.”


Oh, there’s so much there we could spend 5 weeks just on this value!  But Pastor Keith did a fantastic job organizing the series and he told me I couldn’t so let me give you the main point of our teaching time today and then we’ll dive into God’s Word.  The point is this: When your heart is transformed by Truth, your life will bring forth obedient fruit”

Let’s pray as we look into God’s Word together this morning.  

Take you Bibles and turn with me to Luke 6.  If you don’t have a Bible or a journal, then put your hand up and the ushering team will deliver one to you.  So let’s look at what Jesus has to say about the notion of Transformational Truth.  In Luke chapter 6:42-49 we’re going to see two images – one image is related how transformation occurs in our lives and the second image is related to the notion that genuine transformation can only be rooted on a solid foundation of truth.  So I have two volunteers – can I get my first volunteer to read Luke 6:43-45?


Perfect, thank you.  So in this whole section Jesus is teaching we have the beatitudes, we have teaching on not judging, love for your enemies and then Jesus says “how might you know that these things have taken root in a person’s life?”  What indicators might you look for to see if a person has a value system that has experienced transformation?”  And Jesus uses the word picture of a tree. You may not have thought about it before but your life is like a fruit tree.  Now we have a few trees in our yard – one is a lilac tree.  I didn’t water it or transplant it from the pot it was in so it died.  I can’t use that as an example.  One is a yellow magnolia tree.  And every year, in the late spring I expect it to bud and to produce beautiful yellow flowers.  I don’t expect it to produce cherries or grapes or to smell like the dead lilac tree.  I just expect it to do what is in its nature to do – to produce beautiful, if short lived, yellow flowers.  It’s the most natural and organic thing that the magnolia tree can do.  Why?  Because by its very nature, it’s a magnolia tree that’s just what magnolia trees do. 


Jesus here is saying something very similar…  That your life is like a fruit tree.  He’s saying that for each of us, our lives will produce something.  A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart.  And evil person produces evil things from their what? Their heart.  And here Jesus has isolated for us an important principle of transformation:  

Transformation always starts deep in your life (your heart) and affects everything else (your speech, life, etc).


There are some people who see Christianity and the Gospel as an exercise in behavior modification.  They come to church to get a nice little religious “To Do’ list so that they can keep God off their backs.  In their thinking, Christianity is about a set of behaviours or actions that, if mastered, will result in God thinking ‘hey, that person is a “good” person’  They are nice to others, the give money to the poor, they go to church, etc.”  Humm… I should let them into heaven, shouldn’t’ I?”  But the problem is that all of these things are external behavior-driven realities.  We might look at them and say ‘well, from what I see, that person looks like a good person.” And we might even attach the label Christian to that person because their behaviours seem to match up with some of the stuff that Jesus talks about.  But Jesus is not ultimately concerned with changing your behavior and turning a bunch of people into better human beings…  Jesus is concerned with your heart.  With the very source of all of our behaviours and thoughts and actions and attitudes and choices.  So, you see, if you start thinking you are going to change the fruit and not change the root, you’re not going to get very far.  Transformation starts at the level of our hearts.  The very deep and inner place – the seat of our will, our emotions, our volition – and it flows outward from there.  Not vise versa.  You don’t start by changing external, visible behaviours and hope that if you do enough cosmetic surgery, you’ll end up with a new you.  If you want to experience God’s transforming work in your life, you start by asking Him to work on your heart.  You start by coming to Him and saying “God, I’ve been trying to behave my way into a relationship with you – and it’s hard work and it isn’t working!  And you today, I come to you and ask for you to change my very heart.”  If you don’t start there, you’ll always produce ad fruit.  And when bad fruit grows up in your life, you’ll quickly pick it off, try to glue on some plastic fruit so that people will see something colourful and look at me – I’m a good person.”  This is hard work, and in the end, the sad reality is that God cannot receive into His heaven for an eternal relationship with Him, those who do not have new hearts.   


But here’s the exciting thing - once your heart is transformed by God,  

You’ll be able to see the fruit (evidence) of transformation.  The production of real and good fruit in your life is a natural, organic process that God wants for you.  We spent time in Florida and we saw orange groves.  An orange tree doesn’t have to work hard at producing oranges – it’s just it because this is what it was designed and created to do.  It’s in its DNA.  So this is what Jesus is saying here – let me change your heart and guess what, out of that new heart, a good heart, good things will flow.  You’re don’t start with the outside and work in, you start with the inside and it will work it’s way out.  People with transformed hearts live transformed lives.  That’s why it ticks me off when I see surveys about people who call themselves Christians but who don’t live any different from those who are not Christians.  The Corporate implication: People should see Ridgeites living differently.  If would be sad if you went through the whole year at school this year and at graduation you said “I’d like to thank my Lord and Savour Jesus Christ” and the student body went “really?!  That person is a Christian?!  I would never have guessed that!”  They ought to see different fruit in your life that comes from a heart that is transformed.  It’s not that you or I get this new heart and that we are perfect all of a sudden.  Notice in our core value we use the language of apprentiship – we’re fully aware of our need for grace and to continue to grow and develop.  But the basic principle that Jesus is communicating with his picture of the fruit tree is that if you have made a commitment to turn your life over to the control of God the Holy Spirit, He is at work in your life growing good fruit, brining glory to God (John 15).  If you aren’t, then you’re just doing behavior modification and you have not embraced the gospel.  And Jesus goes on to highlight why this is going to be a huge problem for you:  Can I get my second reader to read Luke 6:46-49?       


Thank you.  Jesus second image explains what is it, or more appropriately, who is it that brings this transformation about in our lives.  His word picture is that of a house that is built on a solid foundation.  A foundation of Truth.  Jesus says: “I am the way, the Truth, and the life – no one comes to the Father except through me”.  Jesus makes the claim that His teaching, that God’s revelation to us in the person of Jesus, as recorded in God’s Word the Bible, is truth.  That is, that it reflects life as it really is and was designed to be.  That living according to the teachings of Jesus who is the Truth, capital T, is the only way to build your life on a sure and solid foundation.  Think about the metaphor of a foundation as Jesus describes Three Stages of Engagement with Truth. 

Stage 1 – Exploring 

“Anyone who comes to me…”

You might be here today just checking things out – invited by a friend, in town for the CruiseIn, met someone from JRCC at our booth at the International Festival, here against your will J.  But in your heart, you are saying “I’m not sure about this whole thing”  I may be here, but I’m still skeptical, I’m still exploring.  I would not use the language of verse 46 where people call Jesus “Lord”…  I’m just coming to check things out.  You need to know that this is a safe place for you.  We may use words you don’t get, we may do some things you don’t understand or even agree with. But we are glad that you are here exploring.  Jesus invites people to come to Him – to inquire, to bring their doubts and fears and questions and explore the Truth.  We are here to serve you.  To walk this journey of truth discovery with you.


But at some point, our prayer and hope for you is that you allow God to transform you heart.  And when that happens, you move from exploring to Stage 2 – Experiencing  - “Listens to my teaching…”

God is now beginning to lay a foundation of truth in your life.  This is why we print up these new journals for you every time and why we include a Bible reading section in them.  Our intent is that you listen to God through His Word.  That you take some of it in each day and let it begin to affect your thoughts and attitudes and actions.  That’s why we reference God’s character (who He is) and His Word in our core value.  You are beginning to pour nutrients into your life so that your life can bear good fruit!  That’s why we have a teaching time on Sunday mornings that uses God’s Word, not popular psychology as its [primary reference point.  That’s why the kids curriculum emphasis listening to God.  The Bible says “faith comes by hearing the Word of God”.  You have to put yourself into places where you are expecting to hear God speak.  But there’s a huge hurdle here – so many of us hear what God says, but we choose not to act on it.  We listen, but we never go onto the third and final step – we hear but we don’t act on what we hear.   

Stage 3 – Obeying

“And then follows it”

If you don’t make it here, it’s like you have house that is built on sand instead of the rock.  We spent some time in Florida this summer and it’s amazing to hear them talk about hurricanes.  They know how to have severe weather down there!  But it is interesting to learn how people respond to new reports like Hurricane Irene and other major storms…  Some people listen to the news on TV and radio and say “evacuation – that’s a god idea!” or “Hummm… I should board up my windows, shouldn’t I?”  But if you choose not to act on that information, it’s only good information.  Great information without action results in devastation.  And that’s what Jesus is saying here.  That Truth always requires a response.  You have to act on what you know. 


I’m going to let you in on a little pastors secret – one of the things we fear the most and that we despise the most is “Bible heads”.  You may have met people like this.  They are so full of Bible knowledge but they don’t act on it.  If you have been in church for any length of time, this is a very real danger.  You have lots of information about God and about Jesus and about the Bible, and what He wants you to know and do – you’re just not doing it!  We have become educated beyond our level of obedience!  This is getting stuck at the hearing level and not moving towards obedience.  The natural progression is that you come, you hear, always with the view to obey.  That’s why the adjective ‘transformational’ is placed very intentionally before the word truth in our core value.  Our hope and our prayer and our objective is that God’s truth will transform you. 


So let’s ask a few questions for reflection and response:

Where do you see yourself today – exploring, experiencing or obeying?

If you are informed but not transformed, we’ve missed the mark.  That’s why our prayer teams are available to you and will be in a few minutes as we move into a time or responding to God in song – we are not under the illusion that we as a church transform you.  It’s God’s work – He does it by His spirit and so if you are feeling something stirring inside of you, that’s God at work drawing you, speaking to you – act on it.  


Is there anything God has asked you to do but you haven’t done?  Why?


You might be stalled at the level of hearing but not obeying.  God has been speaking to me a lot about this lately – things He asked me to do but I’ve put off or explained away.  He’s not going to speak to you again about it until you act on the last thing He asked of you!  One of the phrases that I learned on my sabbatical from my mentor was this “I say ‘yes’ to any assignment God gives me.”  What is your heart like today?  What is God’s assignment for you today?  What is his assignment for you this week? 


We are going to sing a song called “The Summons” which speaks about our response to God’s invitation.  I invite you to get back to basics and ask God to transform your heart.  Because

“When your heart

is transformed by Truth,

your life will bring forth

 obedient fruit”

Let’s pray together.

Back to school means going over the basics, right? So sharpen your pencil crayons and join the people of JRCC on a 5 week exploration of our Core Values that shape and inform everything we do around here - you might even find some good advice for planning good family holidays!

Speaker: Brad Sumner

September 11, 2011
Luke 6:43-49

Brad Sumner

Lead Pastor

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