Sunday Outline – September 17, 2023
Message from Rick Renner at EMIC – Sunday, September 17, 2023.
“Follow peace with all men and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.”
The writer of Hebrew says, follow peace with all men.
The word “follow” is a hunting term that pictures a hunter who puts on all his camouflage clothes, gets all of his gear, and he's determined he's going to follow the tracks of the animal. He's going to follow the scent of the animal, follow every little broken branch to see where the animal has passed. And he's going to follow and follow and follow and follow.
The Greek sense means to follow until finally, you capture whatever it is that you are in pursuit of habitually and continually.
This word is used to say we are to follow peace. This means if you're waiting for peace to come to you, you're going to be waiting for a very long time because for you to have peace with your spouse or peace with your neighbor, or with your siblings or with somebody at work, you're going to have to put on your hunting clothes, pick up your hunting gear and say, I am determined. I'm going to have peace with this person. I'm going to follow those tracks of peace, the scent of peace, every little broken twig that will lead me in the direction that I need to go until finally, I've captured peace with this difficult individual.
The same word is used in 1 Corinthians 14:1 where Paul writes that we are to follow love, which means if you want love, you can't wait for love to come to you. If you want loving relationships, then you must do something to pursue them.
The word peace is not just tranquility, it's the Greek word that describes the absence of war. So, there was a conflict, but now that there is peace, the weapons have been laid aside. And in fact, contained in this word is the idea of restoration, rebuilding, and even prosperity.
All the energies that were directed toward the conflict are now being directed toward restoration, and rebuilding, which releases a period of prosperity. And in this case, it's talking about rebuilding, restoration, and prosperity in relationships with all men.
According to this verse, you're not going to have that unless you intentionally, deliberately put on your hunting hat, put on your camouflage clothes, and decide. You're going to follow until finally, you capture peace with all men.
If it is doable, as much as depends on you, be it peace with all men.
I was standing on the stage after our first meeting in Moscow, and Holy Spirit said to me, now what are you going to do with these converts?
That question sounded to me like responsibility and ability, and I understood that He was calling me to start a church. We named the church, the Good News Church because the gospel is good news.
I was praying; Holy Spirit said, “Rick, Do you want revival in your life?”
I said, Lord, you'd know I want revival.
He said, then get in your car, drive across town, get on your knees in front of that pastor apologize for your behavior, and repent if you want revival.
Well, I was not quick to obey. In fact, months went by.
Every day when I prayed, I would hear, are you going to obey me?
I finally drove across town to see this minister. I walked into the building. I talked about the weather, then talked about our kids, and then there was nothing else to talk about.
I said I'm here to ask you to forgive me for entertaining what I've heard about you, for believing it, and for the things that I said about you. And I slipped down onto one knee, and I heard the Holy Spirit say both knees.
I wasn't there to deal with him. I was there to deal with me. And that day I made a decision to put on my hunting hat. To pick up my camouflage clothes and my hunting gear, and I was going to follow the tracks of the animal, follow the scent of the animal. I was gonna follow until finally, I captured peace with that man. Then it did not come to me. I had to make a decision to be very intentional, to follow after peace until finally, I would capture peace with a very difficult individual. And by the way, he is still a difficult individual, but I captured peace and he and I are great friends.
It's the little foxes that spoil the vine. And you must make a decision to put on your hunting gear and find a way to get peace in every situation. And the word, peace means to take all the energy that was directed toward conflict and redirect it toward rebuilding, restoration, enjoyment, and prosperity.
The rest of the verse says, follow peace with all men and holiness. Holiness first appears in the Bible in Exodus 3:5;
Noah comes up onto the Holy Mountain and hears the voice of God say, put off the shoes from your feet for the place where you stand is holy ground. That's the first time that word holy appears in the Bible. Holy describes:
- something that is consecrated,
- something that is separate,
- something that's unique,
- something that is different,
When Moses stepped into that place, he crossed a threshold.
That ground though it just looked like dirt, though it just looked like any other geographical location. When the divine presence touched that spot, suddenly that spot became consecrated. The divine presence separated it. It made it different.
When Paul says to the church in Rome, you're called to be saints. You're called to be holy. This means if you're a child of God and Holy Spirit lives in you, not only are you positionally holy, but God expects you to be holy. He expects you to be different. You don't have the right to behave like others. You don't have the right to think like others. You don't have the right to be like you used to be because when the divine presence touched your life, just like Mount Horeb became a holy mount, suddenly God's presence separated you. And now God expects you to live by a different standard. In the context of this verse, follow peace with all men and be different. Don't respond. Don't react like others.
God now holds you to a higher standard. And then he says, without which no man shall see the Lord.
“See” means shall not be admitted into the immediate presence of the Lord. This means if you have a lack of peace with someone, and if you're walking around filled with strife, living below the standard, which God expects you to live those issues inside, you can become a blocker that prohibits you from entering the immediate presence of the Lord.
Verse 15 says, looking diligently, lest any man fail of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness, springing of trouble, you and thereby many be defiled.
“Looking diligently” means to look. We get the idea of a telescope or a microscope. It describes a very intensive view.
It's taking oversight of something, looking at something very intensely.
A bishop is one who has responsibility for a whole group of churches. He has oversight. And if something wrong occurs in those churches, he can't blame somebody else because he is the bishop. The buck stops with him. He is going to be held responsible for whatever happens in those churches because he is the Episcopal. He is the bishop.
Holy Spirit through this verse says, if you've got an issue, you can't blame it on somebody else. If something's going on in your heart, accept responsibility for it because it is your heart. You are the bishop of your own heart, and you're the only one who has a right to say yes or no to those issues.
And it goes on to say, “Less any man fails of the grace of God.”
How can you fail by the grace of God?
“Fail” means to fall short of the grace of God.
Grace describes an empowering touch that enables you to be what you could never be by yourself. When you're touched by grace, you're totally transformed. It is an empowering touch.
The pagans used grace religiously to describe a person who had been placed under a magic spell of the gods. He was touched by grace. That touch of the gods or grace was so profound that the person became a different person. It transformed him into something. When you talk about the grace of God, you're talking about a touch that empowers you to be different.
Grace is what God does for you freely, so how can you fail of it? Other verses say for example in 1 Corinthians 6, that you can receive the grace of God in vain. Galatians says that you can frustrate the grace of God.
God suddenly touches you with grace to forgive someone who normally would be very difficult for you to forgive. You're empowered by a touch to do what you need to do. And now you have a choice to partner with that grace and cooperate with that grace. And if you hook up with it, it will empower you to do what needs to be done. But if you choose to resist it, even though God gave you what you needed, it can be given to you in vain. You can frustrate the grace of God that has come to help you be different.
I can partner with His grace and do what I need to do, or I can resist it. If I resist it, this verse says I will be left with a root of bitterness.
Grace will empower you to put on your hunting hat, to put on your hunting clothes and pick up that hunting gear, and to follow until finally you capture peace with that person. And when the issues are laid aside, suddenly you'll have no problems experiencing the wonderful presence of the Lord because the strife and the hostility have been laid aside.
Father, we pray that you would help us not to receive the grace in vain or to frustrate the grace but to embrace the grace and do what we need to do in Jesus' name. Amen.