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This Is the Best Life of All | God's Work, Our Witness #2 Sermon Notes

Of First Importance From the sermon, "Of First Importance," preached by Pastor Mark Driscoll out of 1 Corinthians 15 (preview here) at Mars Hill Church Orange County and released online December 12: Pastor Mark preaches through 1 Corinthians 15:1–11 on gospel-centered theology, one of the core values of Mars Hill Church. Just as for Paul, our theological convictions lead to hard work empowered by the Holy Spirit.
All your sin went to Jesus. All of it. Sins you haven't even committed yet, all your condemnation, all your guilt, all your filth, all your shame, all your failures. How many of you feel that? Now, when your buddies are around, or you're out on Friday night, or you've got a few drinks in you, or you're trying to keep yourself busy with your life, you don't think about it. How many of you, in those quiet moments, you feel it? "Man, what am I doing? I'm not really excited about who I am, or what I'm doing, or where I'm going. And as I look back on my life, I have some real regrets, if I'm honest. I wouldn't talk about that with my buddies because those guys would just make fun of me. But in those lonely, quiet moments, I feel it." You need to know that all of that went to Jesus. He was alone. He was cursed. He was defiled. He was broken. He was ashamed, and all of his righteousness came to you. So in Christ, you are clean. In Christ, you are loved. In Christ, you are forgiven. In Christ, you are redeemed. In Christ, you are adopted into a new family, the church, with brothers and sisters, spiritually speaking, and God, who's the Father, and you have a new future. And Christians never get over that.
There are two enemies of Jesus: sin and religion. Sin is about innovation. Religion is about tradition. Sin is about nonconformity. Religion is about conformity. Sin breaks the rules. Religion keeps the rules. Sinners tend to be liberal. Religious people tend to be conservative. Sin tends to be immoral. Religion tends to be very moral. Sin tends to be disobedient. Religion tends to be very obedient. Sometimes sin is lazy. Religion can be very hardworking. Sin tends to be visible. You can just tell. Religion tends to be invisible because it lives in the heart, and the mind, and the motives. Sin uses people. Religion judges people. Sin is unrighteous. Religion is self-righteous. If you're here, and you're a sinner, repent of your sin. What that means is agree with God that you need a Savior, and his name is Jesus. But if you're here, and you're religious, repent of your religion, your haughtiness, your self-righteousness, your boastfulness, your record-keeping of wrongs, all the good things you've done and how you're better than others.
Some of you have a very anemic, reduced, diluted view of God's grace—that's his unmerited favor, his undeserved love, his affection toward you. And your view of God is that God is very far away, and you're supposed to try very hard. And when you fail, God is disappointed, and he'll judge you, but Jesus will forgive you because he knows how pathetic you are. That's not very motivating, right? It's like God saying, "Run through the wall. I know you can't. And when you fall down, I'll tell you that I forgive you for being pathetic. Now get up and run again." Really, that's my life? Do I get a helmet? Do I get a cup? Do I get a day off? This is a really hard job description. Will I ever go through the wall?" "No!" "What if I stop running?" "You'll go to hell!" "Wow, this is a really—I don't know. Wow, okay. And we're not supposed to drink either? How do we deal with all of this?" Here's the truth. God's grace does forgive you when you fail, but most of the time, it's God's grace empowering you to be who you cannot be, to do what you cannot do, by a power you do not possess. God's grace doesn't just pick you up when you fail. It keeps you strong so that you don't have to. So [Paul] says, "I got a lot done, and I worked harder than everyone, and my life has really counted, and it's made a significant difference, by the grace of God, the strengthening, empowering, gifting grace of God." The grace of God empowers you to be a new person. Yes, God's grace is there to forgive you when you fail, but it's there before you fail to change your heart, to change your mind, to change your desires, to reorient your course of life, to make you a different person, to give you meaning and value and purpose and pleasure that Jesus is with you, that Jesus is in you, that Jesus is for you, that if you do fail, Jesus will forgive you. But because Jesus is with you, you don't have to say yes to sin. You could say yes to Jesus. You don't have to say yes to condemnation and guilt and shame and waking up and thinking, "Is there any hope for me?" Yes, there is, and the hope is for you. It's not in you; it's for you in Christ and the grace of God. You will meet people whom the grace of God has empowered. You're like, "How do they do it? How do they live that kind of free, joyful, fruitful, happy, hopeful, biblical life?" By the grace of God, by the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian. And so the Christian life is not something you live for God. It's something that God lives for you in Christ. It's something that Christ lives in you. It's something that Christ lives through you, and this leads to an explosive, passionate, joy-filled life. This is the best life of all! There's no guilt, or shame, or condemnation in it, and there's eternity at the end of it! And so at Mars Hill, we believe this means people need Jesus and people who meet Jesus get absolutely filled with the Holy Spirit and joy and hope, and they introduce other people to Jesus and lives get changed and legacies get changed and lineages get changed and people meet Christ. We've already seen over 1,000 people at our church get baptized as new Christians this year. This thing keeps exploding. We can't explain it, but Jesus is alive. He's the senior pastor. He's good. He's grabbing people. He's making a difference and he invites you to be on mission with him. And we're hoping, we're trusting, we're praying. Yeah, 4 churches, 3 states, 2 reasons, 1 day. Why? He's alive, so anything's possible. We're trusting you to give. We're trusting you to serve. We're trusting you to care. We're trusting you to pray. I'm here to love and serve. I'm here to hope and give. But ultimately, this is your church, this is your Jesus, this is your city, and this is your time.

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