SBTS chapel live blog: O.S. Hawkins — Ephesians 1:7

Communications Staff — February 18, 2010

Preacher: O.S. Hawkins, president and chief executive officer of GuideStone Financial Resources

Text/title: Ephesians 1:7 — Christ and Cultural Chaos

The early church went through uncharted waters, through trial, difficulty and death for the sake of the Gospel. These uncharted waters continued in the early church, then through the medieval period, the Reformation and the English Separatists coming to America.

I was born just before the 1950s at the beginning of the baby boomer generation. In the 1960s people became more introspective and thoughtful. Music reflects this. We moved into the 1970s where you had the Vietnam War and Watergate. Skepticism rose in America.

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan was elected and the economy began to rebound. The Southern Baptist Convention began to rebound and revive as well, a Conservative Resurgence, rediscovering the Word of God in the house of God.

In the 1990s, the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended. Then the new century: 9/11 – an event that has greatly affected our nation.

This brings us to today. There are many people today who have never heard the Word of God. There are many who have never heard the Gospel.

I have identified five primary characteristics of people in this culture:

1. People are searching for meaningful relationships in life.

Many people in our culture have never had a meaningful relationship. Many people have never had a meaningful relationship with a father. People are homesick for a home they have never had.

2. People want immediate gratification.

People today live in a world of instant gratification. The Internet has changed things. People don’t make popcorn like I used to: they just pop it into the microwave.

3. People want something for nothing.

Give it to me, give it me right now, but give it to me without cost or condition. This is true on both ends of the economic spectrum. There is a sense of entitlement on the lower economic end and the higher economic end.

4. People want guilt-free living.

At night, when people turn the light off and lie in the darkness, some people have a haunting longing that makes them want to go back and change something in their past.

5. People are thirsty for prosperity; they are just not sure they are going to be able to attain it.

With the economic issues before us today, it is likely that our grandchildren will live in a world that will not be as prosperous as the one we live in today.

Of course, we have the answer for what people are searching for today. We find it in Ephesians 1:7, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace, which He has lavished upon us.”

People want meaningful relationships. Look at the verse: “In Him.” Not in religion, not in ritual, but in a relationship, the very thing that people are searching for: a meaningful relationship. It is in Him that we have redemption: not our works, not ourselves.

Each person has three types of relationships: (1) outward expression. We are made to connect with one another in productive interpersonal relationships. (2) inward expression. That is the relationship you have with yourself. (3) upward expression. We have the capability of having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. No other creature in creation has this upward expression.

We must find our self worth in Jesus Christ. We must find our self worth in the person of Christ in us, and that life then is transferred to others through outward expression.

People want immediate gratification: look at the next phrase, “We have redemption.” We have redemption right now. Today. This very moment. On Jan. 3, 1965, I came to know Christ. You talk about immediate gratification: the pardoning of sin. Christ coming to take up residence in me. Christ alive in me. Think about it! How glorious. God had granted unto me repentance and faith.

We are the only ones who have the answer in this cultural chaos.

People want something for nothing. Look at the next phrase, “Through His blood.” We are not saved by our works. We are saved by Christ’s blood. What people are looking for is the free offer of the Gospel. Sin takes an expensive toll on life. Peter put it this way; we are redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus.

People want guilt-free living. Look at the next phrase, “The forgiveness of sins.” We are the only ones who have the answer. Sin will haunt you. There are two kinds of guilt: there is artificial guilt and authentic guilt. Artificial guilt is guilt that people live with that has been heaped on them by someone else. I am not talking about artificial guilt. I am taking about authentic guilt. Authentic guilt is God coming to you and whispering in your heart and in your mind, “You have sinned.” Guilt is God’s way of saying you have sinned. Confession is our way of agreeing with Him.

The basic problem of people in this culture is not biological, educational, psychological, or economical. Man’s basic problem is sin and it is so serious that it necessitated the cross. We are the only ones who have the answer that explains to people how their sins can be forgiven.

People are thirsty for prosperity; they are just not sure they are going to be able to attain it. Look at the next phrase, “According to the riches of His grace, which He has lavished upon us.” God has lavished riches on us in Christ by His grace.

We are the only ones who have the answer for what people in the culture are searching for. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace, which He has lavished upon us.

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