From Here to There


      Introduction: We see things as they are, but have you ever wondered how the condition or situation came to be or, in the case of a person, how the person got from here to there? What we are talking about is cause and effect. For every effect, there is a cause. One person I came to admire when I became a Christian is the commentator Albert Barnes. Barnes Notes on the New Testament was the first set of commentaries I purchased. I marveled at this work. Then I began to wonder how the work came to be. I researched Albert Barnes and learned that the only way he was able to spend the requisite time to produce such a voluminous work was to arise about 4:00 each morning and consistently set aside a couple hours each day to produce this enduring set of commentaries. (Use your own example….) The scriptures are replete with both positive and negative examples of from here to there (I Jn. 3: 16, 12). See Addendum for suggestions as to delivery.

I. Positive Examples

   1. Jesus

    A. Notice the "here" (Lk. 2: 4-7, humanly considered, nothing spectacular about the circumstances of his birth). Jesus was born into poverty. While Jesus was God incarnate, he still had to exert himself to achieve and accomplish.

   B. Notice the "there" (his accomplishments): Jn. 19: 30 (consider what is entailed in "it is finished"); Phili. 2: 9-11.

   C. How did Jesus traverse from here to there?

    a. Notice Jesus' spiritual mindedness and cognizance of the "above" (Jn. 8: 29, 23).

    b. Consider Jesus' priorities over friendships (Matt. 16: 21-23).

    c. Jesus placed doing the Father's will over his own parents (Lk. 2: 49).

    d. Jesus recognized the authority of the word (Matt. 4: 7, 10).

    e. Jesus was single in his vision and unselfish (Jn. 4: 34).

   2. Paul

    A. Notice the "here" (Acts 7: 58, 8: 1, 3).

    B. Consider the "there" (Phili. 1: 21, 2 Tim. 4: 6, 8, I Cor. 15: 10).

    C. How did the persecutor Saul of Tarsus travel from here to there, the great apostle Paul?

     a. Paul was determined and focused (I Cor. 9: 26, 27). b. Paul placed everything subservient to doing God's will (Phili. 3: 13, 14, 7, 8-10).

   3. Barnabas

    A. Nothing that spectacular about Barnabas, especially viewed by man (Acts 4: 36, 37)

    B. However, Barnabas become a leader and main player in the early history of the church (Acts 13: 1, 2, 7 ("Barnabas and Saul").

    C. How did Barnabas progress from one of the Christians into a leader and then assistant to the apostle Paul?

     a. Barnabas was a good man, generous, and "full of the Spirit" (Acts 11: 22, 24, 4: 36, 37).

1. Negative Examples

   1. Adam and Eve

    A. Consider Adam and Eve in the paradise of God (Gen. 1: 26-28, 21-25, 2: 17, 9). They not only were in a blissful setting, but had access to the tree of life (Gen. 2: 8, 9-15). Never since has man enjoyed such a direct relationship with God and in such utopic setting.

    B. Adam and Eve lost all their idealic condition. Sin was introduced and they immediately died spiritually and began to die physically. Their perfect home was replaced by thorns and thistles and by the unpleasant (Gen. 3: 16, 17-19, 24, see also Rom. 5: 12, 17-19).

    C. How did Adam and Eve regress, is you will, from their blissful state?

     a. Eve listened to the devil and distrusted God (Gen. 3: 1-5, 6).

     b. Eve was deceived (I Tim. 2: 14).

     c. Eve allowed the devil to appeal to her through the lust of the flesh, eyes, and pride of life (Gen. 3: 6, cp. I Jn. 2: 15, 16; Jas. 1: 12-16, I Cor. 10: 13).

   2. Example of Peter

    A. While Peter was not a pope, he was a leader among the apostles. To him was given the keys of the kingdom (Matt. 16: 13-19, 19: 27 ff.). B. Consider the fallen Peter (Matt. 26: 56, 58, 69-75).

    C. How did Peter regress from a leader to denying Christ?

     a. Over confidence was a problem with Peter and led to his fall (Matt. 26: 33-35, see I Cor. 10: 12).

   3. Demas

    A. Demas was a faithful disciple and fellow-worker of Paul (Col. 4: 14, Phile. 24).

    B. Demas fell from this position of great spiritual usefulness to be an apostate (2 Tim. 4: 10).

    C. How did Demas make such a drastic and for the worse change?

     a. Demas loved this present world (2 Tim. 4: 10). Hence, his focus went from heaven to the secular or worldly (cp. Col. 3: 1-5).

     b. Demas allowed the lust of the flesh to influence him (I Jn. 2: 15, 16). c. Demas elected to yield to temptation rather than resist the devil (Jas. 1: 12-16, Matt. 4: 4, 7, 10, Jas. 4: 7).

     Conclusion:  The examples we have studied of from here to there represent drastic change for the better or for the worse. You see, the effect does not just appear, there are causes. The better we understand the causes, the better we can manipulate and produce the desired effects in our lives and avert the undesirable (Gen. 4: 7).

     Addendum:  This sermon is designed to be presented in two parts.  This lesson lends itself well to a board presentation.   I had two circles to indicate status on each width extremity of the board with a straight but broken line between and almost connecting the circles .  Each circle represents "here" and "there" (the line has an arrow pointing to the "there," in the first presentation). 

     In the second sermon, I reversed the title from "Here to There" to "There to Here."  I also changed the arrow accordingly.   Especially in the negative example of Peter, I emphasized the broken, interrupted straight line by pointing out the progressive and sequential nature of sin, "one thing leads to another."  (The progression of progress can also be stressed in the "Here to There," first half presentation.)