As For You

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Timothy chapter six.

Opening: I came across another sad notice the other day as a professor in Christ, a beloved Pastor, took his own life. His name was Quinnzhahn Barnes (Selah Fellowship Temple, Houston, Texas), known to many as “Rodney Barnes”. He died from a self inflicted gunshot wound to his head. Rodney was 45 years old.

It is heartbreaking when someone takes their own life, and particularly heartbreaking when it is a Pastor or a leader in a local Church. In 2013 Pastor Teddy Parker, Jr (Bibb Mount Zion Baptist Church, Macon, Georgia) was found in the driveway of his home with a self inflicted gunshot wound. When something like this happens, it causes every member of the Church effected to question their faith. This person led people to the Lord, spoke of faith weekly, and then kills themselves. It’s tragedy on a massive scale.

And not just when suicide strikes. I have known of Pastors and Church leaders found guilty of molesting children, or taking advantage of women in their flock. The latter is causing quite a stir among the Southern Baptists. I know of several Pastors who allowed themselves to be drawn into fistfights. Again, this causes all types of problems in the Church. At one Church I knew years ago the Youth Minister’s wife began a sexual affair with a well respected Deacon in the Church. It destroyed the Youth Minister’s effectiveness at that Church, and hurt the Church for years by scandal.

The possibility of these things occurring at any Church is very real. This is why the Apostle Paul addressed the young Pastor Timothy. Read with me:

1 Timothy 6:11-12 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

But thou”, or literally “as for YOU”. If you are a Christian, there are standards that Jesus not only EXPECTS, but DEMANDS. We are not to follow darkness!

Christians are to walk in the light with Jesus by their sides. And yet from the beginning, too often professors of Christ are those who(se):

Faith becomes shipwrecked” (1 Timothy 1:19)
Departed from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1)
Cast off their first faith” (1 Timothy 5:12)
Erred from the faith” (1 Timothy 6:10)
Are not standing the test concerning faith” (2 Timothy 3:8)

In our text today Paul gives four actions that every believer in Christ needs to commit to if they want a powerful, victorious faith in Christ:

1 Timothy 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things

#1: FLEE The Love Of The World

Do not play with the evils of this world. So many Christians today are becoming entrapped by Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok, Instagram, Parler, et al), and are guilty of dragging the name of Christ through the mud. Jesus expects His followers to use …

1 Timothy 6:3 … wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness

Word Study: That which is translated wholesome is the Greek ὑγιαίνω hugiainō, [pronounced hoog-ee-ah’-ee-no], which means “HEALTHY or SOUND” words. Jesus spoke “healthy words”. He did not spend His time tearing people apart, but instead encouraged others to follow the way of life. We as believers are to run away from the word of the world and run toward the Word of God. What God has said is true, though all the world consider it a lie. God in His Word always knows what is best. God’s Word is timeless, and applicable to every generation – even ours! God’s standard for us is that we …

Ephesians 4:14-15 … henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into {Christ} in all things, which is the head, even Christ

The believer’s target is to hear the Word of God, to apply the Word of God, to feed our souls on the Word of God, until we develop a Christlike worldview.

Our target is to, as sons of God, to be like THE Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. We are to flee the doctrines of man, and embrace the truths of Scripture.

We are to flee the love of money and prosperity. Some preachers today are so called “Prosperity Preachers”. They teach that – since God loves you – God wants you to be wealthy. This is patently untrue. False teachers are guilty of …

1 Timothy 6:5-10 {these are} supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

God does not want every Christian to be rich. In fact, very few Christians can handle being rich. Of the original 12 Disciples, which one fell miserably into sin? It was Judas Iscariot. The Bible says:

John 12:6 (ESV) {Judas Iscariot} was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.

Judas allowed his love of money to get between himself and the Lord Jesus Christ. Judas had all the benefits that the other eleven disciples had. And yet, loving money above all else, Jesus considered Judas “a devil” (John 6:70). In time, Judas would betray the Master to His death. Going to Jesus’ enemies, Judas asks:

Matthew 25:15 (ESV) “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver.

The faith of Christ is not meant to be greedy, nor sneaky and conspiring. The faith of Christ is meant to be loving and caring, nurturing and sharing. We are called to “love one another, as Jesus loved us” (John 13:34; 15:12), not to betray one another. Poor Judas ended up hanging himself (Matthew 27:5). Peter said, “falling headlong {Judas} burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out” (ESV – Acts 1:18). What a horrible death!

Flee worldliness! As Joseph ran away when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him (Genesis 39:12), run away from worldly thoughts and practices. Keep viewing your life through the lens of God’s Word.

#2: Follow The Lord Who Loves You

1 Timothy 6:11 .. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

We are to follow after “righteousness. Righteousness is what God has said is right, not what man has said is right. The Bible says:

Deuteronomy 6:25 And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us.

It is “the righteous God Who will judge our hearts and emotions” (Psalm 7:9). God knows what is right. From the beginning of our creation, humanity has tried to define what we think is right and wrong. It didn’t work in the Garden of Eden, and won’t work now.

God loves righteousness, and hated wickedness (Psalm 45:7), because of what sin does to people.

Psalm 50:6 … the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.

It is sin that is tearing families apart. It is sin that addicts people, and turns people into murderers and rapists. God calls His people to pursue righteousness. Not self righteousness, but God’s righteousness. If you want a great living example of righteousness, seek out and study the life of Christ. The Apostle said:

Philippians 3:8-10 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

We are called to live our lives “in Christ Jesus”, following His “way, truth, and life” (John 14:6).

We are to follow after “godliness. We are to imitate God.

Ephesians 5:1-4 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

We are called to walk in the light, as {God} is in the light, {and} have fellowship one with another” (1 John 1:7).

We are to follow after “faith”, not our feelings.

Our feelings cannot be trusted – but God can be trusted! I remember when I first learned to ride a bike. I had no training wheels, but had a daddy that ran behind me telling me to peddle and steer. I trusted that daddy wouldn’t let me fall, though I felt like there was no way that two wheels were going to hold me up. Then daddy let go – and I rode. I soared! Had I listened to my feelings, I would have never rode a bike, or learned to swim, or learned to weld and operate bindery equipment. The Bible says:

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

We are to follow after “love”.

Romans 13:8-10 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

When you love others as Christ commands, then you are doing the main thing. Jesus emphasized this when He said:

Matthew 22:37-40 … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

We are to follow after “patience”.

Pastor Marshall Segal of Desiring God ministries writes:

Impatience is a dark and prevalent sin that we love to explain away. We were worn out. We were busy. We were distracted. The kids were being difficult. We were carrying too much at work. Our spouse was short or cold or harsh again. We didn’t sleep well last night. What excuses do you reach for when your patience runs low? … Impatience is a child of our pride and unbelief. It rises out of our frustration that we do not control what happens and when in our lives. ..”

God’s ways are not our ways. We love things quickly – but God, Who is eternal, only answers our prayers when the timing is right. The Stepbrother of Christ, James, writes:

James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

If we will not be impatient as we go through the valleys, and wait upon the Lord, He will use our patient waiting to make us mature believers in Christ, entire, wanting nothing. Along with pursuing patience, we are to:

Follow after “meekness” (πραότης praotēs),
which is humility
.

When the valleys come, use them as an opportunity to humble yourselves before God, trusting in His provisions. We would do well to remember that Israel murmured and grumbled herself out of the blessings of the Promised Land. God says:

1 Peter 5:5 …. all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

We are not just to FLEE worldliness and FOLLOW our God, but we are to:

#3: Fight The Fight Of Faith

1 Timothy 6:12 … Fight the good fight of faith

The Apostle Paul taught that salvation is a “free gift” and a “gift by Grace”:

Romans 5:16-17 (ESV) … the free gift is not like the result of {Adam’s} sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Salvation is a free gift from God. It is free in the sense that you cannot earn it nor deserve it. But ..

Salvation, though free, comes with a cost.
Salvation is
a LIFE EXCHANGE.

Jesus laid His life down for you. When you receive Him as Lord and Savior, you lay your life down at His feet. Jesus takes our punishment, and we take Jesus’ Lordship. From the point of salvation we are NOT OUR OWN – we are BOUGHT WITH A PRICE” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 7:23). When you are saved, you are transferred from Satan’s kingdom of darkness, and into the kingdom of Christ” (Colossians 1:13).

But the devil doesn’t like this. The devil will do anything he can to draw you back into his kingdom. Faith is a fight! Faith is a race, a marathon, not a sprint. The Bible says:

Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Saving faith is often painful. Jesus said:

Luke 9:23 … If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

To take up his cross daily means to be willing, just as Jesus was, to stand up for God even though all the world mock you. The cross is not comfortable. The cross is harsh, painful to bear as Jesus did, heavy. It is much easier to drop the cross and meld into the crowd. But this is not what God has called us to do. We are to fight the devil. We are to cast the talking snake out of Eden. We are to stand should to shoulder with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and stand firm on what God has said. Finally, believers are to:

#4: FIX Our Minds On Eternity

1 Timothy 6:11-12 But thou, O man of God … 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called

Word Study: The words lay hold is a long Greek word, ἐπιλαμβάνομαι epilambánomai, [pronounced ep-ee-lam-ban’-om-ahee]. It means “to take possession of, to seize upon and draw something to yourselves”. As believers in Christ we are to always fix our minds on Heaven, remembering that all we are currently experiencing is just temporary duty.

Illustrate: When I was in the Air Force, there were times I had to go TDY, or “On Temporary Duty Assignment”. I had to leave my wife and children, the Church and community I loved, and go to strange places to serve our nation. While on assignment in Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Egypt, and Germany I was a “stranger in a strange land”. Where I was was not my home. But I honored the nation that owned me. I did my duty, then returned home. The longest tour of duty I had was fourteen months in Korea. That is a long time to be away from your family and friends. The way I got through that tour was to daily fix my mind on my home. Every day I would pray for my wife and kids, and ask God to protect them and bless them. Every day I focused on getting to my final destination – home!

Christian, this world is not your home. Your home is with Jesus in Heaven. Right now you are on Temporary Duty Assignment for the Lord. Never forget that.

This world is not my home I’m just a-passing through
My treasures are laid up Somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me From heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home In this world anymore.
Oh Lord, you know I have no friend like you
If heaven’s not my home Then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me From heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home In this world anymore.

Do not be like the world – you are children of the Most High. As for you, live for Jesus! May God touch your hearts through His Word and His blessed Spirit. Amen and Amen!

Posted in 1 Timothy, General, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Testimony Of God

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

1 Corinthians 2:1-9 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

The Church at Corinth was one of Paul’s biggest successes. As we studied before, Paul “reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.” (Acts 18:4). Paul emphasized to the Jews that “Jesus was Christ”, but they rejected that message (Acts 18:5). At that point, the Apostle focused on the Gentiles. This brought it’s own challenges.

Corinth was a Roman Colony, populated largely by freed slaves . As the city existed because of the benevolence of Rome, the citizens would have participated in banquets honoring the Emperor. To show loyalty to the empire, the citizens were expected to honor the gods of Rome, and in particular the chief god, the Roman Emperor. One commentary notes:

Corinth is probably the Church of the New Testament that is most like the modern Church.”

Though Corinth had many faults, it was by the Grace of God and the Power of His Spirit that the Church stood at all. As Paul writes Corinth, he reminds them that he relied on the Testimony of God – The Gospel – to found Corinth.

The Testimony Of God Is That We Are Broken,
And Only Christ Can Fix Us

1 Corinthians 2:1-2 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

Corinth was known for it’s philosophers and scholars, for it’s athletic achievement and strength. When Paul came to Corinth, he did not depend on “excellence of speech” (hyperochē logos, elevated or inspiring words). This does not mean that Paul consciously avoided deep truths. Some of the Pauline writings are very deep. The Apostle Peter wrote of Paul’s letters in

2 Peter 3:16 (ESV) … There are some things in {Paul’s writings} that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

The Chief Apostle Peter, himself a ordinary fisherman, found in Paul’s epistles things .. that are hard to understand. This was not because Paul sought to be fancy, but because Paul was a very educated man. Paul was educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of Israel (Acts 22:3). Paul had a distinguished background. He told the Church at Philippi:

Philippians 3:5-6 (ESV) … {I was} circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

When Jesus spoke the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, Paul could have played the part of the Pharisee, for he was a Pharisee, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee. When the Pharisee and the Tax Collector went to God to pray, the Pharisee said:

Luke 18:11-12 (ESV) ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’

But the poor Tax Collector would not even lift his eyes to Heaven, but said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). Jesus said the Tax Collector would have been justified or made right in God’s eyes, but not the Pharisee.

Paul could have been that Pharisee in that parable.

Paul was so certain he was right before God, that he went about attacking Churches, and persecuting Christians.

Paul (then called Saul) was there when the Evangelist Stephen was martyred. (Acts 7:58). As Saul, he led a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem, and scattered believers, running for their lives, throughout Judea and Samaria. The Bible says Saul was RAVAGING the church, entering house after house, dragging off men and women to prison” (Acts 8:3). Saul’s very BREATH – expelled from a self righteous and hate filled heart – stank of “threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1).

Then Saul met Jesus on the Damascus Road.
And Saul became Paul.

Illustrate Self Righteousness: Beloved, self righteousness is no more than self worship, making of yourselves more than you are. I read a wonderful illustration of self righteousness the other day. I read a daily devotional called “Beside Still Waters”, and came across an article written by Brother Winfred Zimmerman (Clayton DE) called “Brownfields of the Heart”:

Scattered across the U.S. are areas designated by the government as “brownfields”. These are parcels of land that are so contaminated with hazardous chemicals that nobody will use them. On the worst of these, the damage is obvious. The landscape is depressing … the ground is barren and useless.”

I never knew about brownfields, but when I read that article it really struck home. You cannot fix a brownfield by covering it up with good soil, for the bad will eventually creep up through the good, and contaminate the whole. The only way to fix a brownfield is to remove all the pollutant, no matter how deep it goes.

So it is with the human heart. We are all terribly flawed, broken by sin. We all fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We can cover over our sin with a shallow covering of good works, but truthfully, unless the heart is changed, the pollutant is still there. Jesus said:

Mark 7:18-23 (ESV) Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus [Jesus] declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Good without God is Bad: It is the heart that needs to be changed, or the brownfields of the heart, the sin within, will eventually bubble to the top. When Jesus was being tried by the High Priest, the one who was supposed to be God’s Representative to Israel, the High Priest knowingly collaborated to bring in liars (a violation of the 9th commandment). Matthew 26:60 notes that “many false witnesses came forward”. The Priest, robed in splendor on the outside, was but a covered brownfield.

Such was Saul before he was Paul. But now Paul operates differently.

1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

Paul said “my focus was not my pedigree, nor my education, nor my status as a Roman citizen”. He said, I declared “unto you the testimony of God. What is God’s testimony?

God’s testimony is that we are all born into this world sinners. We are, as the theologians call it, “Totally Depraved”.

The Prophet Isaiah cried out, All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way” (ESV Isaiah 53:6) “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. 7 And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.” (Isaiah 64:6-7).

We are born wandering away from God. Our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. We fall far short of God’s standard, the standard that He set in the Garden. The Psalmist David said:

Psalm 51:5 (ESV) … I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Psalm 58:3 (ESV) … The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.

Our first birth brings forth a broken, sinful creature. Those who know not Christ are “dead in trespasses and in sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Those without Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are those who, according to God, “by nature deserve God’s wrath” (Ephesians 2:3).

We All Need A Second Spiritual Birth

Preach: The first birth is corrupt. This is why we all need to be born again, born a SECOND time, born SPIRITUALLY into the Kingdom of God. The testimony of God is that we are all broken, born broken into this world. But God’s testimony is also this: God HIMSELF was born into this world, and lived a perfect life, a life without sin. The Bible says “those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). And yet Jesus Christ, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23), pleased God. The Father said of Jesus, “THIS is MY BELOVED SON, IN WHOM I am WELL PLEASED” (Matthew 3:17; 17:5). God went on to say “Listen to Jesus!” (Mark 9:7). In the flesh we cannot please God, but the God-Man Jesus pleased God. All that He did pleased God. Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus Christ was perfect Man, sinless Man, holy Man, righteous Man, the Son of Man. And Jesus Christ died for our sins. Jesus WILLINGLY died. Jesus came into this world with one thing in mind.

He wanted to save you. He was willing to die for you. Jesus said:

John 10:11, 15, 17 … I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. … the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. … the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.

Paul told Corinth,

1 Corinthians 2:2-5 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Paul did not put on airs, or make himself something that he was not. Paul showed the Corinthians that he was but a man. He was with Corinth in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. Paul was not doubting his calling as an Apostle. But what he relied on was not his own strength, but on the power of God’s Holy Spirit and the Testimony of God. The Cross is the Testimony of God.

  • The Cross testifies as to what God thinks of SIN. SIN is what God says is wrong. There are all kinds of sins. Sometimes called “the works of the flesh”, sin is defined in Scripture like

Galatians 5:19-21 (ESV) … sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (ESV) … do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Sin is horrible. It separates us from God. It is an eternal offense against the righteousness nature of the Creator. Sin is no “mistake” or “accident”, but the outward action of a heart dispossessed from God. Do you want to know what God thinks about sin? Look to the Cross. Look to ..

1 Corinthians 2:2 …. Jesus Christ, and Him crucified

Jesus Christ was crucified for us, for our sins. The Prophet said:

Isaiah 53:3-5 (ESV) He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.

Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins in full. Paul did not mince words as her preached to the Corinthians. Any hope that anyone has to be right with God depends on casting yourselves upon Jesus.

Jesus gave Himself for us. When we give ourselves to Him, we gain righteousness in God’s eyes. We gain the status of children of God.

God’s Testimony Is That He Will Change Places With You, If You Will But Believe In Christ

The Apostle writes:

1 Corinthians 2:6-8 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

When Jesus was crucified on Calvary, the princes of this world though nothing of it. To them, an unknown carpenter’s Son had gotten on the wrong side of the law. It was a matter of, wrong place, wrong time. But that wasn’t true. Jesus Christ was, is, and will always be God’s only way to rightness with Him.

We are saved by taking our defective and sin riddled lives to the Cross. We give ourselves to Jesus, and Jesus gives His life to us. The Apostle Paul wrote of his old life as Saul, saying:

Philippians 3:7-11 But whatever gain I had {in my previous life}, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Paul in effect said, “I exchanged the old, broken down, sin and fame loving me for a life believing on Jesus. And I am not regretting it!”

When you trade your old, flesh driven life for a life bound to Jesus, your life changes for the better. We who are saved by faith in Jesus have a right relationship with God. The Apostle said:

1 John 2:1-6 (ESV) My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the {COVERING} for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

Salvation is necessarily a free gift from God. You cannot earn it, nor deserve it. To be saved you give yourself to Jesus as Christ, the Messiah. You give Jesus the broken you, and follow Him. Jesus causes you to be born again, and gives you a Christ following, God loving you.

The only way to be saved is through faith in Jesus. Jesus was clear:

John 14:6 … I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

There is but one way to have peace with God, and that is by laying your life down at the feet of Jesus. “Our faith does not stand in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God” (vvs 5). Jesus said:

Matthew 16:24 (ESV) If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Before we were saved, the unbeliever selfishly lived for themselves. You see it all the time on television.

You do you”
“Be yourself”
“Love yourself”

The way of the Cross is different. The way of the Cross is to be like Jesus, to lay your life down for a greater good. You are called to do love. You are called to reject selfishness. You are called to be “lights in the midst of darkness” (Matthew 5:16). The Christian is not as he or she was – you are changed, and will continue to change until you reach eternity. We are no longer bound to the darkness. The Apostle said in:

Colossians 1:12-14 (ESV) {daily be} giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

One thing that every Christian has in common is that we are heavenward bound. The Apostle writes:

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

If you love God, you are headed toward an eternal life that is unimaginable in it’s beauty. We are, dear believers, sons of God headed for home. Until that day comes we are to daily take up the Cross, and follow Jesus. Let us live our lives so as to honor and glorify our Savior and Lord.

Do you know Jesus Christ? Is He your Savior and Lord? If so, glory awaits you. But if not, the pit of hell is your destiny. Please, do not go one more minute without receiving Jesus Christ as He is – your Lord and Savior. May God through His Word and His Spirit draw multitudes into His family this very day. Amen and Amen.

Posted in 1 Corinthians, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

We All Need This Exercise

Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Jeremiah 9:24.

I do not discuss politics in the Lord’s Pulpit. When I stand here, I stand for Jesus, not for Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, or Libertarians. I hope you understand this isn’t a political message.

As I was preparing for this message, the Lord led
me to think about one term Presidents.

There have been 23 one term Presidents in our nation’s history, as of this moment in time. President Joe Biden is our 46th President. This tells us that half of our Presidents have been elected to more than one term of office, and half to just one term.

The longest serving President was Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). He served three terms, and died 2 months and 23 days into his fourth term. Roosevelt, a Democrat, was President during the Great Depression, and led the United States through World War II. Roosevelt died in office April 12, 1945 right after that war ended. Though Roosevelt was crippled and wheelchair bound from a paralytic illness thought to be polio, he was very popular. Roosevelt used radio to speak directly to the American people. He gave 30 “fireside chats” where Roosevelt comforted the nation. One source said that he…

“… spoke with familiarity to millions of Americans about recovery from the Great Depression, the promulgation of the Emergency Banking Act in response to the banking crisis, the 1936 recession, New Deal initiatives, and the course of World War II. On radio, he was able to quell rumors, counter conservative-dominated newspapers and explain his policies directly to the American people. His tone and demeanor communicated self-assurance during times of despair and uncertainty. Roosevelt was regarded as an effective communicator on radio, and the fireside chats kept him in high public regard throughout his presidency.” (Wikipedia)

Presidents can no longer serve four terms. After FDR’s time in office, the Twenty-second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was drafted to limit the Presidency to two terms. That Amendment was approved by Congress March 1947, and ratified into law February 27, 1951). According to Wikipedia, it was FDR’s Presidency that led Republicans to push for term limits for the President. Since 1985, when Ronald Reagan (a very popular Republican, and our 40th President) was in office, there have been attempts to undo the Twenty-second Amendment, but it still stands. Though Roosevelt was a Democrat, and Reagan a Republican, both men had one thing in common:

Roosevelt and Reagan were visiblykind,
even to their enemies.

Jeremiah 9:24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.

Our God Is Kind

Kindness matters. Our world is coarse and harsher today, I believe, because there is a lack of kindness among our leaders. The world is starving – and dying – for kindness.

Every creature under the glow of God’s sun is broken. The Scripture is adamant: “All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We all mess up. No one has a reason to be holier than thou. No one need pretend they are perfect. We aren’t. We are all broken.

As we look at Jeremiah, not what God says of Himself. This is God speaking. Again, this is GOD SPEAKING. God tells us:

Jeremiah 9:24 I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness

Word Study: God exercises. That doesn’t mean He goes to the gym and works out. The word translated exercise is the Hebrew עָשָׂה ʻâsâh, [pronounced aw-saw’], which means to advance or accomplish, to do. God doesn’t talk about kindness, He actually does it.

Word Study: Of the three things God delightsin doing, He enjoys lovingkindnessfirst. This word is the Hebrewחֶסֶד cheçed, [pronounced kheh’-sed], which is translated in the King James text mercy (149 times), kindness (40 times), and lovingkindness (30 times).

The heart of kindness is mercy. Mercy shows compassion or forgiveness toward others, even when it is in your power (and even your right) to punish or harm.

God does not justdelights in lovingkindness, but close on it’s heels we see that God delights in “judgment, and righteousness”. God has a standard that He expects creation to follow. When the world turned so far away from God that:

Genesis 6:5 … the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Then God decided to do a hard reset. He brought a worldwide flood that killed all of humanity but eight (Noah and his family). The judgment and righteousness of God led to the mass destruction of the flood, but the lovingkindness of God caused Him to provide a way that humanity could still exist.

Lovingkindness does not eradicate God’s righteousness and judgment – but it does temper them.

People are fond of saying that “God is love”, and He is indeed “love”. But He is also righteous, the God of judgment. Our God determines right from wrong. If God determines a thing is wrong, it is wrong regardless as to what we think or believe.

In Jeremiah chapter 9 God is foretelling Judah that they will be carried off into captivity. Why is Judah going away into captivity? Because they have drifted away from a right relationship with God our Savior. Judah has allowed itself to compromise with the darkness. God’s people are not to compromise with evil, but to wrestle against it. The Scripture says:

Ephesians 6:12 … we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Preach: When God’s people wander away from their Lord and Savior, there is no “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). We as God’s children are to “let our light shine before all, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in Heaven”. Those who do not love Jesus are in the grip of “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), that fallen angel we call Lucifer. We who are Christ’s by faith are “delivered from the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13), and called to walk in Christ’s Kingdom of Light. When God’s lights (that’s the believer ion Christ) compromises with the darkness, we do so by becoming less light and more dark. In time, God – Who is the righteous Judge – will move to punish His children (Hebrews 12:7-8). God’s method of punishing Judah was to have that nation overthrown, and taken into captivity for 70 years.

What did God think of what He was being forced to do? We read:

Jeremiah 9:1-3 Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! 2 Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men. 3 And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the Lord.

The lovingkindness of God caused Him to weep over what He must do. Nevertheless, He had no choice but to do it. His people would not repent. They would not return to a right relationship with Him. So God would not only allow Judah’s collapse, God would engineer it. This should not have been a surprise to Israel. Right after God freed Israel from Egypt, God defined His character to Moses by saying:

Exodus 34:6-7 the LORD passed by before {Moses}, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness {KINDNESS, Hebrew cheçed, pronounced kheh’-sed]} and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

God is abundant in KINDNESS. The Psalmist praised our God, saying:

Psalm 36:5-7 Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. 6 Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast. 7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.

If God Is Kind, And We Are Made In God’s Image,
As His Creation We Should Be Kind

We live in a day where people can go online and, through “social networks”, express the darkness of their hearts without consequence. I think this is why unkindness is reigning in America (and the whole world) today. The devil is doing his best to create disciples of unkindness through the internet. When I was growing up, people tempered their anger or displeasure with patience and kindness – else they might get a punch in the nose! The internet is conditioning America to be unkind – and it is spilling out of the social networks and into the streets.

The lost world will follow its master Lucifer as far as he will take them. But God’s people are called to imitate God. The Scripture says:

Ephesians 5:1-2 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.

We are to walk in love as Jesus Himself walked in love. When the Bible defines the word love, it states:

1 Corinthians 13:4 (ESV) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant…

One of the components of love is kindness. Pastor Don Carson wrote in his book Showing The Spirit: A Theological Exposition Of 1 Corinthians 12-14”:

Love is kind – not merely patient or long suffering in the face of injury, but quick to pay back with kindness what it received in hurt” (pg 79).

God expects His children to be kind. Though the Apostle Paul and those who worked with him were often persecuted by “stripes, imprisonment, and confusion” (2 Corinthians 6:5), he and the other Apostles as leaders of God’s Church responded with:

2 Corinthians 6:6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,

They could have been ugly when they were brutalized. In fact, in one instance the Apostle Paul allowed his humanity to outshine his spirituality. When the High Priest Ananias slapped Paul in the mouth, Paul saidGod shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?” Paul quickly recanted what he did, saying, I didn’t know he was the High Priest. It is written: you shall not speak evil of the ruler of My people” (Acts 23:4-5). The Apostle was quoting Exodus 22:28.

God commands that we be kind.

In another place, the Apostle lists the characteristics of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, saying:

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, {KINDNESS, χρηστότης chrēstótēs, khray-stot’-ace} goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…

I do not believe there is anyone in the world who has more enemies than the Lord Jesus Christ had, and has. Jesus was constantly harassed by the religious establishment. The Pharisees and the Scribes sought to find fault with Jesus at every turn. And yet, Jesus was kind, and encouraged we who are His disciples to be kind. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:43-45, 48 … Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. … 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

We are to be like our Heavenly Father. Love the unlovable. Do good to those who do evil to you. In short, be kind, whether they deserve your kindness or not.

What You Do, Or Do Not Do, Matters

God tells Judah that He is going to send them into exile. He says:

Jeremiah 9:13-16 And the Lord saith, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein; 14 But have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them: 15 Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink. 16 I will scatter them also among the heathen, whom neither they nor their fathers have known: and I will send a sword after them, till I have consumed them.

The very fact that God is warning Judah of His coming discipline is in itself an act of kindness. God as Savior and Creator of His people has the right to do with them as He wishes. But God is driven by not just righteousness and judgment, but also with kindness. If the people would REPENT, God will not do as He says. But if they hold the course of ignoring His Will, and continue to chase after the false gods of this world, then God will discipline.

And it won’t be pretty!

God tells us as His children to be kind – and to leave vengeance to Him. Rather than responding to hurt with wrath, God tells us:

Romans 12:19-21 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Let love prevail. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). Let your kindness delight God. He will bless you for it.

May God the Holy Spirit and His Word draw you closer to Him this very day. Amen and amen!

Posted in Jeremiah, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Glory In The Lord

Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Last Sunday night we began a journey through the book of 1 Corinthians. Though all of the “Church Letters” (writings like Romans, Colossians, Philippians, Thessalonians – to name just a few) are necessary for the local Church to learn, I believe 1 Corinthians is a particularly timely book for the day we live in. I came across an article submitted to the Gospel Coalition entitled “Self-Worship Is The World’s Fastest Growing Religion”. Author Thaddeus Williams noted:

In their recent book Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons document that 84 percent of Americans believe that “enjoying yourself is the highest goal of life.” … Further, 86 percent believe that to enjoy yourself you must “pursue the things you desire most.” … And 91 percent affirm this statement: “To find yourself, look within yourself.””

You can see this everywhere you look. A commercial came on television the other day for H&M, a Swedish multinational clothing company. A stylish black man comes on screen, and as he walks toward the camera telling us “You do you. The most important thing is to love yourself. I know I do.”

It is this attitude that got us in trouble from the beginning of humanity. When Adam heard the serpent (Satan) say, “The reason God didn’t want you to eat of the tree of knowledge is because He doesn’t want any competition. He’s trying to keep YOU from becoming a god, too! (paraphrase of Genesis 3:5). Who wouldn’t want to be a god? So Adam ate, and we all lost Paradise. We should have learned from that.

When Israel waited for Moses to come down from Mount Sinai, someone suggested “let’s build a god to lead us”. Everyone chipped in a little jewelry, gave it to Aaron the High Priest, and he made them all a golden calf. (Exodus 32:4). When Moses came down off the mountain, he made Israel drink the ashes of that calf (Exodus 32:20). I don’t think it tasted that well, but the point is clear. Any god that we make with our own hands is not only lacking in nutrients, but it’s not fit to drink. And it eventually ends up in the toilet!

In the Medical News Today newsletter we are told that today, “Gender is different than sex. Although genetic factors typically define a person’s sex, gender refers to how they identify on the inside. Only the person themselves can determine what their gender identity is.” Some people say that there are 72 genders, and others 57 genders. This is what happens when people become gods, and reject the true God of the Holy Scripture. The Bible tells us that we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) – but we are definitely NOT God nor little “g” gods. God tells us:

1 Corinthians 1:19-20 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

Said to be unsinkable, the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank April 15, 1912. As families gathered at the White Star Line office in Liverpool, England, they waited breathlessly to hear if their loved ones survived or not. Dr. Joe Pettigrew noted:

“”On both sides of the main entrance notices were posted. One {notice} said ‘KNOWN TO BE SAVED’; the other {notice} said, ‘KNOWN TO BE LOST’. From time to time a company official walked out with a piece of paper which contained the name of another passenger. When he held it up, a deathly stillness swept over the crowd as loved ones of the missing waited to see which side he would write the name on.”

In Heaven there is a book called “The Book of Life” (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; 20:15). The only ones that will enter into God’s Paradise we call Heaven is “those whose names are written in the Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27). Those in the Book of Life are those ‘KNOWN TO BE SAVED’. How do you get your name in that Book? It is not by human wisdom, or human knowledge and strength. You get in that all important Book by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Only The Cross Will Get You Into God’s Kingdom

1 Corinthians 1:17 …For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

In the Church at Corinth, the believers there had become to believe their salvation was better than another’s salvation because the Apostle Paul, or the Evangelist Apollo, or the Chief Apostle Peter, or the Messiah Jesus baptized them. Paul wanted the Corinthians know that, though Baptism is an important part of our faith (for Jesus commanded water baptism – Matthew 28:19-20), it is only the Gospel and how you respond to it that saves. When Paul says that Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel, he is emphasizing that it is only your response to the Gospel that saves or damns you. Let me put it this way.

Some Christians are baptized by immersion in water. I believe this is the New Testament standard. But other Christians are baptized by having water poured over them. Yet others are baptized by having a few drops of water sprinkled on them from a chalice or a cup. Each group is baptized by a different method, and they are following their conscience.

But salvation is not brought to a person because of baptism. Salvation only comes by the preaching of the Gospel (Greek εὐαγγελίζω euangelizō). That same phrase “preaching of the Gospel” can also be translated “to bring or declare good news”.

Illustrate: On my keychain are several keys. They are all good keys – I don’t keep old keys – and each key opens a certain door. I can take a perfectly good house key and try to open the doors of this Church building with it. It won’t open. Why? Because it’s the wrong key. Only the right key will open the doors to this sanctuary.

Only the right key will open the door to God’s Kingdom. That key is the Gospel or Good News of the Cross.

1 Corinthians 1:18 … For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

Word Study: The word preaching is actually the Greek λόγος logos, which means “WORD”. The Apostle doesn’t want the Corinthians nor us to believe that only the preacher can lead a person to salvation. The power of salvation is not in me, nor in any holy person, not even the so called “Pope”. The power of salvation is in the WORD OF THE CROSS. The Scripture says:

Psalm 33:6 By the WORD OF THE LORD were the Heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.

God and God alone made all that you see around you by speaking it into existence. He made SOMETHING out of NOTHING. When God made mankind, and entered mankind through Jesus Christ His Son, He sent His Only Begotten Son to die for our sins.

Oh, we are broken and sinful creatures.

Two tricks that Satan uses to try and get us all to reject the Word of the Cross is (1) “You can become gods”, and (2) “You can be good enough”.

Hell will be filled with people who felt they were “good enough”. The Bible is quite clear, that,

Romans 5:12, 17-21 … By one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: … 17 … by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Adam brought sin and death into the world. Adam broke fellowship with God, and lost the key to Paradise. But Jesus came, the anti-Adam, and living a perfect and sinless life, went to the Cross to make payment for our sins. John the Baptist famously said of Jesus,

John 1:29 … BEHOLD, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world …

Jesus took away the penalty of sin by taking our punishment for us.

Illustrate: The legendary preacher C.H. Spurgeon was saved at the age of 15 years old. He stumbled upon a small chapel where an unknown and illiterate man shared the Word of the Cross. His text was Isaiah 45:22, “Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” As the man preached, Spurgeon heard his words:

Jesus said ‘Look unto Me, I am sweating great drops of blood. Look unto Me, I am hanging on the Cross. Look unto Me, I ascend unto Heaven. Look unto Me, I am sitting at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me!”

Spurgeon testified, “I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away. That happy day when I found the Savior and learned to cling to His dear feet was a day never to be forgotten by me. … I listened to the Word of God; and that precious text led me to the Cross of Christ”.

That is how a person is saved. The person hears the Word of the Cross, and believes that Jesus Christ died for them. And not just died, but rose again to lead His people toward glory. So many people today are trying to be gods, or trying to be good, and think they are leaving this life for glory. Yet they are not. Pastor John Piper wrote:

Christ did not die to forgive sinners who go on treasuring anything above seeing and savoring God. The people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God.”

God is the Gospel. God the Son gives Himself for our sins. We give ourselves to Him, loving Him, and He promises to bring us to God. Not just later, when we pass from this life and into Heaven, but right now, right where we are. The Apostle said:

1 Peter 3:18 (ESV) Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

1 Corinthians 1:21-22 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

The Bible says the world by wisdom knew not God. The Gentiles in rejecting Christ cling instead to human wisdom. “How can one Man – even Jesus – make payment for another man’s sins? It makes no sense”.

It makes better sense than what Progressive Liberal believe!

Pastor (Dr.) W.A. Criswell shared this little poem:

Once I was a tadpole, beginning to begin;
Then I was a frog with my tail tucked in;
Then I was a monkey in a banyon tree;
And now I’m a professor with a PhD!

The world does not understand the Gospel – but God’s wisdom is much greater than ours. The Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom. Jesus showed the Jews sign after sign when He walked the earth.

Jesus was born of a virgin in Bethlehem.
Jesus walked on water.
Jesus rebuked the wind, and calmed the seas.
Jesus healed the lame so they could walk.
Jesus gave sight to the blind so they could see.
Jesus cured the leper, restoring him to his family.
Jesus cast out demons.
Jesus fed thousands with a child’s meal.
Jesus restored life to the dead.

They always wanted just one more sign. Jesus finally told them:

Matthew 12:39-40 (ESV) An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

God has given us all the signs, and all the reasons He is ever going to give us. Jesus clearly died on Calvary, and laid in a tomb for three days and three nights. Rising from the grave, our Lord taught on the earth 40 days after His resurrection, then ascended into Heaven. He did all this so that you could be a part of His family.

But I’m Not Worthy To Be Saved

As I said before, Satan uses some little tricks to keeps us from the Word of the Cross. He uses, (1) You can be gods, and (2) You can be good. But there’s another ruse Satan uses. I hear this quite a bit. It is, “I’m not worthy to be saved”. Beloved, if your mind is in the place of “I’m not worthy”, my answer to you is “None of us are worthy”. The Apostle writes:

1 Corinthians 1:26-27 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

When God calls people to salvation, He does not focus on calling the best and brightest according to the world. He calls those who are broken, and know they are broken. Of those who God calls to salvation, the Scripture says not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. It doesn’t say not any but not many. God does not go out of His way to exclude people. The Gospel is inclusive. The Gospel of salvation is a “whosoever will” proposition. Jesus said, “He or she that has ears to hear, hear and respond!” But sadly many people disqualify themselves because they place importance on other things, rather than heed the Gospel call.

Jesus was told Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (Luke 14:15). When Jesus heard this, He said:

Luke 14:16-24 (ESV) “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”

Why is it that “not MANY wise, not MANY might, not MANY noble have been called”? Because those with “superpowers”, the bold and the beautiful, the jocks and the movie stars, they are busy worshiping THEMSELVES. They are out inventing genders, and twisting Scriptures, and ignoring the Word of God. They could have been saved, but always had something better to do. They are those who refuse to assemble with a Church because a football or baseball game is on television.

When Jesus walked the earth, who was most blessed by Him? I seem to remember one Centurion, one Synagogue leader, the wealthy Joseph of Arimathæa, and one member of the Sanhedrin named Nicodemus. There may have been more Jews or Gentiles of note, but if so, it was a short list. Who were most of the people who were blessed by Jesus? Lepers. Cripples. Blind people. Widows. Fishermen. People who were never named. Common folk. Mary Magdalene. Mary of Bethany. Lazarus. Martha. Just plain folks who realized they needed Jesus. Just plain people willing to break open an alabaster box of ointment to anoint the Master’s feet.

1 Corinthians 1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

Word Studies: God called base things, the Greek ἀγενής agenḗs, [pronounced ag-en-ace’] meaning “low born, ignoble, people of no class”. Jesus cast demons out of that wild man who lived among dead bodies in the tombs (Mark 5). When the man was healed, and wanted to go be with Jesus, the Lord told him: No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.” (NLT – Mark 5:19). The people no one wanted to be around – Jesus called them, and saved them. God the Son came to save things which are despised . The least and the less. Jesus came to call things which are not, people that are nothings.

I am one of those nobodies. I am one of those nothings. Jesus called me! Before I met Jesus, I was nothing. Now I am a child of God with Heaven as my home.

1 Corinthians 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

When we get to Heaven (if we get to Heaven), we will not look back on our lives and strut up that street of gold to the Throne of Christ. We won’t be able to brag about how “we made it”. If we get to Heaven, it will be because JESUS made it for us.

1 Corinthians 1:30 But of Him {of God} are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

If you are saved, it is because of God. God sent the message and the messenger to you. God rolled back the fog of sin around your mind, so you could hear that Word of the Cross. Then God through Christ gives us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. It is all a gift of God, our salvation. So if you want to brag – if you want to be proud of anything – be proud of God. Brag on God.

1 Corinthians 1:31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Let us brag on the Jesus Who saves us, and keeps on saving us. Let us brag on the Jesus Who loves us so. May God draw you close to Him today and, if you are not saved, into a saving relationship with Him. For His glory. Amen and Amen.

Posted in 1 Corinthians, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our God Reigns

Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash

Micah 4:9-13 Now why `dost thou cry out aloud? is there no king in thee? is thy counselor perished? for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail. 10 Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies. 11 Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion. 12 But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor. 13 Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.

Does God put more on us than we can bear? Many people say that, no, He doesn’t. The text they usually quote is:

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

It’s true that God says “God is faithful, Who will not {allow} you to be tempted above that which you are able”. This text is specifically addressing TEMPTATION to sin. God will not allow temptation to come to you greater than you can bear. When you read the context around 1 Corinthians 10:13 it becomes clearer. God speaks of Israel who fell in the wilderness. Israel “lust(ed) after evil things”. Had they looked to Jesus, they would not have fallen in the wilderness. Instead, Israel looked to her own resources, and “became examples for us, that we not lust after evil things as they did” (1 Corinthians 10:6).

Does God allow more to come our way than we can bear? Yes. God’s Son cried out on Calvary, “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). In His humanity, the Cross was more than He could, at that moment, bear.

Yes, He sometimes does do this. God doesn’t do this because He enjoys it, but because He wants us to take our burdens to Him.

Trials force us to acknowledge we desperately need our God. Trials force our prodigal hearts to return to the Lord that loves us.

God allowed more stress to fall on to the Apostles than they could bear. The Apostle Paul wrote:

2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (ESV) For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

When God puts more stress on us than we can bear, it is to make us look to Him Who can save us. Israel had disobeyed God for some 490 years, so God was going to punish His child. God has told Israel that she would be conquered, and exiled into another strange land. When Israel heard this, the nation mourned.

God Questions Us When We Question Him

Micah 4:9 Now why dost thou cry out aloud?
is thy Counselor perished?
for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail.

God asks His people a series of questions. Jesus often did this when He walked this earth. Israel is crying out like a woman in labor. God asks Israel,

  • First, why are you crying out aloud? Is there no King in thee?” Has God the King of Israel abandoned His people? Has someone come along and stolen Yahweh? Is there no King in thee?. God is the King of His people. The Psalmist wrote:

Psalm 47:6-7 (ESV) Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!

No matter what comes our way, God is still the King. He is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15). The God Who is King of His people is faithful. Our God is ever faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13). In the midst of our trials, our God is still King of Kings and Lord of Lords. God tells Israel:

Micah 4:10 … for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.

Jerusalem will fall. The people will have to leave the city, and go into exile into Babylon. This is bad news. But still, God knows all about it. God is still in control. Israel will go exactly where God sends them. Israel will stay in captivity exactly as long as God requires. But our God is still King of all. The Scripture says:

Proverbs 21:1 (ESV) The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; {God} turns it wherever he will.

Proverbs 16:9 (ESV) The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

The Moody Bible Institute resource, Today in the Word, notes of this section in Micah:

God is imminently concerned that His people know and love Him, and He will go to great lengths to bring them into right relationship with Him.”

Illustrate: In 1 Samuel 30, David had one of the worst days of his life. He and his men rode to Ziklag, only to find that it had been destroyed by the Amalekites.

1 Samuel 30:3-4 (ESV) … when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep.

They were in a utterly hopeless situation. They wept until they had no more strength to weep. When something this catastrophic happens people look around for someone to blame. Some blame God, but find little satisfaction in that, for God cannot be hurt by us feeble humans. But most find someone nearby to blame. The Amalekites are not accessible and, after all, we cannot hurt them.

Let’s blame David. That’s what the people did. The Bible says:

1 Samuel 30:6 (ESV) … David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul

What can David do to fix this situation? Did he mount a political campaign and try to win the people over to his side? Did David go about mollifying the upset people? No, but David did the best thing anyone of us can do.

David strengthened himself in the Lord his God”.

David turned his eyes upon Jesus. He sought God, when that which was on him was more than he could bear. He asked God:

1 Samuel 30:8 (ESV) “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?{God} answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.”

When David received his answer from God, he immediately demanded that his people move to follow God.

1 Samuel 30:9-10 (ESV) David set out, and the six hundred men who were with him, and they came to the brook Besor, where those who were left behind stayed. 10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men. Two hundred stayed behind, who were too exhausted to cross the brook Besor.

David did not focus on placating the stragglers. Those who could not go on, did not go on. David continued moving with those who were focused on serving God, and left the rest behind. Were their “feelings hurt”? Probably. But David focused on doing God’s will until it was done, and pursued the enemy until “God’s will was done, on earth, as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

  • The Second question God asks us:is thy Counselor perished? God is our Counselor, the Hebrew יָעַץ yâʻats, {pronounced yaw-ats}, which meansthe one you consult for advise or counsel. The one who helps you plan.” The Prophet Isaiah said of God our Savior:

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Our God is a Wonderful Counselor. A devotional I often read is called Our Daily Bread . This quote comes from it:

Long before the Child was born and the Son was given, Isaiah foretold that God was planning to send a Counselor for the brokenhearted people of the world. What is the evidence that Jesus Christ is the Wonderful Counselor? We see it fleshed out in a Person. We read of, reflect on, and appeal for help from the One “who became for us wisdom from God” (1 COR. 1:30). When we take all that we know about Christ, it adds up to a marvelous truth— He is the God who is a “Wonder of a Counselor.”

If we would be “instant in prayer” (Romans 12:12, προσκαρτερέω proskarteréō, [pros-kar-ter-eh’-o]), we would first seek out our God when trials come our way. Daniel often did this. Daniel survived first Babylonian Captivity, and excelled because he trusted in the Lord.

In Daniel chapter 6, the Prophet is still in exile, but now under a Medo-Persian King. Daniel is walking with God, and many enemies have gathered against him. Jesus told us that the world will hate you, for it hated Me” (John 15:18). This is always true. King Darius appointed 120 princes to rule the Kingdom of Medo-Persia, and 3 Presidents to rule the 120 princes. Daniel was one of the Presidents!

This irritated the whole group! All of the people in power were Persians, but Daniel was a Jew, and up until recently a prisoner of war. How dare the King give Daniel the same blessing he gave to true citizens of the realm! So they began to plot against Daniel.

King, make it a rule that no one can pray to or petition any god or man but YOU for thirty days. Whoever disobeys, throw them in the lion’s den!”

King Darius thought this was a great idea. He signed the decree (Daniel 6:9) into law. What did Daniel do?

Did he go to King Darius and request he change the rule?
Did he plead an exemption for the Jewish exiles?
Did Daniel keep praying, but hide himself?

No to all three. The Bible says:

Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

You know the story. Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den, and nothing happens to him. Daniel’s explanation is simple.

Daniel 6:22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.

Beloved, the Bible says we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Our battle is with Satan and his forces of evil. The best way to handle the evil one is to remember to consult with God. To pray. To keep our eyes on Jesus. God tells Israel:

Micah 4:13 Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth

Our God reigns! Keep doing what God tells you to do, and trust in the Lord. He will see you through the valley. Gary Miller (2021) wrote this wonderful poem called “The Master Plan”. Let’s end with this.

Life is like a game of chess,
Yet different, you will see.
Pieces moved at the behest
Of God are you and me.

Unlike the chess pieces that we play,
Whose pieces aren’t alive:
They have no will; don’t push their way,
Nor for advantage strive.

We are alive, we are aware,
We struggle to submit.
“Not here”, we cry, “but over there
would be the better fit”.

At times we may not understand
Why He has placed us here,
For we can’t see the Master plan,
Our vision’s not that clear.

We must allow our Lord to move,
And trust the choice He makes.
For He sees all things from above,
And there are no mistakes.

May God draw us all closer to Him every day. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Micah Sermons, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Is That Really The Church?

Photo by Thais Do Rio on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter 1. When we come to the Book of Corinthians, we see the Apostle Paul addressing a dysfunctional Church. Paul was very concerned about Corinth, because God used Paul to establish the Church there. In Acts chapter 18 we find out that Paul first went to the Jews.

Acts 18:4-6 (ESV) {Paul} reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. 6 And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

Corinth was a very hard ministry for Paul. God actually came to Paul in a vision one night, saying …

Acts 18:9-11 (ESV) … “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

At one point Paul was taken before the tribunal or or court but the proconsul (think Prosecutor) Gallio refused to prosecute Paul. One convert to our faith that Paul had in Corinth was “Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue” (Acts 18:17), who was beaten for standing up for Christ and for Paul. I believe Sosthenes went on to be an elder or a pastor in the Church at Corinth. In verse 1 we see talking about this same Sosthenes.

Sosthenes came to Paul and told him what had been going on in the Church. It was Sosthenes report that caused the Apostle – as the Spirit led him – to pen this letter.

Now we can read the first three verses:

1 Corinthians 1:1-3 Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Word Study As Paul addresses the Church (and Sosthenes is probably the one who carries this letter back to Corinth), he begins to define what the Church at Corinth (and every place) is supposed to be. The word “Church” is the Greek ἐκκλησία ekklēsía, {pronounced ek-klay-see’-ah}, which means “a people called out from their worldto assembletogether for God. The word “church” was used for Israel in Acts 7:38 by Stephen as he witnessed Christ to the High Priest of Israel.

The Church exists to glorify God, and to represent
Him on planet earth.

When Jesus prayed for His Church, He said:

John 17:11-15 (ESV) … I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. … 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.

Jesus expected His Church to be IN the world, but not OF the world. Jesus said:

John 15:19 (ESV) If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

The Church is meant to be a lighthouse in the midst of a dark and evil world. The Apostle calls the Church,the church of God”. It belongs to the God Who said, “Let There Be Light”, and there was light. Jesus said that we are to “Let your light SHINE before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father Who is in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16). The Church is a group of believers:

vvs 2 … that are sanctified in Christ Jesus,
called
to be saints

The Enduring Word Commentarynotes:

The words sanctified and saints communicate the same idea, of being set apart from the world and unto God. Notice the words to be are inserted by translators. The Corinthians were called saints, not called to be saints.”

We who are part of Christ’s Church are called out of this world to stand up for Jesus Christ. Please note how many times Paul references Jesus in these first three verses.

In verse 1, “Jesus Christ”.
In verse 2, “Christ Jesus” and then “Jesus Christ our Lord”.
In verse 3, “the Lord Jesus Christ”.

The Church does not represent a political party, sexual or sensual permissiveness, or a social justice program.
The Church represents and glorifies Jesus!

1 Corinthians 1:3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

When Paul addresses the Church (where ever it might be) he usually includes the phrase we find in verse 3. You’ll see this phrase Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ in his letters to the Churches at

Rome, Galatia, Ephesus, Colossae, Thessalonica,

And in his pastoral epistles to

Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.

Paul always lists Grace before Peace, as peace with God does not come until you have the Grace of God in your life. Grace is only secured when you come to the “Lord Jesus Christ”, repenting of being your own god, and trusting in Him. The same Grace that saves the Christian is the Grace by which we live our lives. Grace is a gift of Jesus.

The Grace Of God Is The Overflowing
Goodness And Glory Of God

1 Corinthians 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;

Grace is a free gift, given by Jesus to whosoever will believe on Him. Our standing before God as “saints” is not based on our abilities, nor on our personal merit. If a person has a spiritual gift, it is not something that they earned or deserved. It is something that was given by God the Holy Spirit. Even though later in this letter the Apostle will rebuke the Corinthians, he is still thankful that God saved them by Grace.

1 Corinthians 1:5-8 That in every thing ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Church at Corinth was “enriched” by Jesus. They knew about Jesus. They had spiritual gifts in the Church. They were rich (πλουτίζω ploutízō, [pronounced ploo-tid’-zo]), wealthy in blessings from the Lord. I have often wondered about well known Christian evangelists and preachers who, doing great works for God, are found to have some horrible flaw or worldliness in them. The truth is, God in His Grace can use a broken or a flawed person or even a Church. To those who do not believe this to be true, consider Jonah!

Jonah fought God.
Jonah ran from God.
But God used him in Nineveh anyway.

The Apostle told his student Titus:

Titus 2:11-13 (ESV) … the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

Paul told Titus that the “grace of God” not only brings salvation, but it trains the believer to lead a God honoring life while waiting on Jesus’ return!

The Grace of God is a free gift from God. It blesses us with salvation. But it also leads us to live our lives glorifying God, not ourselves. The Grace of God leads us out of worldliness to walk with Christ Jesus “in the light” (1 John 1:7). Yes, the Grace of God saves us for Heaven. We who are under His Grace shall be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Grace of God is based on the faithfulness of God. The Free Bible Commentarynotes:

The Bible has two seemingly paradoxical truths about the believer’s relationship with God. It is covenantal in nature; therefore, it involves an initial and an ongoing faith and repentant response. We must be diligent to maintain our relationship. It is secure in God’s faithfulness (Jude 24). No one can steal our relationship from us (John 6:37, 39; 10:28; Romans 8:38-39). Security and perseverance are both biblical (Ephesians 2:8-9, 10 and Philippians 2:12-13). They are the two necessary aspects of {God’s} “covenant.”

1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Our God is faithful in His ministration of Grace. God calls broken creatures into an eternal relationship with Him. The ones that He saves, He will keep. If you are born again as a child of God, the Bible very clearly states two things:

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

But it is also equally true that:

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

The salvation of the Christian is settled at the Cross and the empty tomb. But once saved, you become God’s product, God’s project, God’s progeny, God’s property, God’s PEOPLE, God’s PRIESTS.
God demands you walk with HIM.

The Tongue That Saved Us By Calling On Jesus
Is The Tongue That Should Speak Grace To Others

1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

It is through the tongue that we learn of God’s Grace. It is through the tongue that we are forgiven by God. The Bible says:

Romans 10:10, 13 (ESV) if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. …13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

If we are saved by Grace, we got there by confessing Jesus Christ as Lord, and by affirming His resurrection is a historic reality. Jesus Christ loves us, and makes intercession for us every single day. The Bible says, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the One Who died – more than that, Who was raised – Who is at the right hand of God, Who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:34). There is not a day that goes by where you and I do not fall short of the glory of God. There is not a day that goes by where you and I do not, in some way, sin against God. And yet,

Jesus intercedes for us still. Jesus never gives up on His children. The Corinthian Church is proof of that.

God wants His children to use their tongues productively. God used His tongue to bring light out of darkness, and order out of chaos. “By the Word of the Lord were the Heavens made; and all the hosts of them (the stars) by the breath of His mouth” (Psalm 33:6).

  • We are to use our tongues to promote the Kingdom of God, to bring others into Christ’s family. We read:

vs 10 I beseech you, brethren,
by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

Christians are brethren, we are family. We all share the same blood type: we are under the blood of Jesus Christ. We are family, God’s family. We are called to work together for His glory. The Bible says in Hebrews 10:24-25, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day {of the Lord} drawing near. We are God’s people together. A flood is coming – a flood not of water, but of evil. Let us bind ourselves together in God’s family. Let us get on the Ark of Jesus’ Cross, and rest in His Presence.

There is no room for infighting in God’s Kingdom. We are to love and care for one another.

Colossians 3:13-15, 17 (ESV) {be} bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. … 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

It is not the RELIGIOUS person who will get to Heaven, but the person in a RELATIONSHIP with God through Jesus Christ. If you are saved, you love Jesus. And if you love Jesus, you will do as He says. “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me” (John 14:21). What are Jesus’ commandments? Primarily, to love Him with your all. Jesus said:

Matthew 22:37 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

As well as Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Jesus wants us to love God – and by extension the Son of God – with our all. He also wants us to love others who are our “neighbors”. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Jesus even went farther than this. He said, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you”. (John 15:12; 13:34). Those who belong to God are to love God and love others. We are to use our tongues in constructive ways.

1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

  • We serve a risen Savior. He is Lord. One day, Jesus said in Matthew 12:36-37, “That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned..

If you belong to Christ, if you have believed on that old rugged Cross, then you are to be good trees, and not evil. The fruit of your lips should reflect the truth that you are born again, a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 12:33, 35 (ESV) “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. … 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. ”

The root of the problem from which all other problems stemmed at Corinth was their use of the mouths. They were not guided by Grace in how they used their mouths.

1 Corinthians 1:11-15 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; 15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.

The Church at Corinth was meeting in private homes at this time in history. Some had begun to brag about who baptized them, insinuating that they were better saved because a more prominent preacher baptized them. This is foolish! Baptism is a public profession of salvation, but who baptized you does not make your salvation greater or lesser than another’s.

We are all saved by faith in Jesus Christ, by the wondrous Grace of God. The Apostle in another place prescribed how to handle those who fostered division in the Church. He wrote:

Romans 16:17-18 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

The Church of Christ is the Body of Christ. There is no room in it for divisions, sectarianism, secularism, or foolishness. We are called to serve the Lord TOGETHER. There is no spiritual gift of criticism, no calling to be obnoxious. We are to work together to shine for Jesus, to bring the Gospel message to the world around us. Anything that hinders that calling is satanic, not spiritual. May God the Holy Spirit touch your hearts with His Word. Amen and Amen.

Posted in 1 Corinthians, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Four Witnesses For Jesus

Turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 5.

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

A few weeks ago we read about Jesus going up to Jerusalem for a ceremonial feast (probably the Passover) and, coming to a pool named Bethesda, healed a crippled man on the Sabbath Day. The Jews had a number of different Sabbaths or Shabbat. Not only did they observe a Saturday Sabbath, but four special Sabbaths, as well as a Sabbatical Year.

The Sabbaths were to be times of rest where no work
was done, but God was celebrated.

When Jesus healed this cripple man on a Sabbath (probably a High Sabbath), the Pharisees were incensed! They started “headhunting” Jesus.

John 5:16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

This is repeated again in:

John 5:18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus did not try to be politically correct, and so that current cancel culture decided they would revoke Jesus’ life! They felt they were justified in doing this because the Law of God demanded death for blasphemy. God said:

Leviticus 24:16 (ESV) Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.

In order to execute a person for blasphemy there had to be two or more witnesses that the evil was done. Jesus counters the charges leveled against Him (- that He made Himself equal to God, and – that He did something unlawful on the Sabbath). You see, Jesus neither committed blasphemy (for He IS equal to God), neither did He do wrong on the Sabbath.

Jesus calls on four witnesses to stand up
for Him against the Pharisees.

John 5:31-39 If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. 32 There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. 33 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. 34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. 35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. 36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. 37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. 38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. 39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

Jesus said in verse 31, If I bear witness (μαρτυρέω martyréō, [pronounced mar-too-reh’-o]) of myself, my witness (μαρτυρία martyría, [pronounced mar-too-ree’-ah]) is not true. Jesus is not saying that what He Himself speaks in not true. He is saying that, according to the Law of God, the witness of ONE was not accepted. There had to be two or more witnesses to the truth. Jesus said in verse 32, There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of Me is true. There are other witnesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah sent from God. And if Jesus IS the Christ, the Messiah sent from God, then He is NOT guilty of blasphemy.

John The Baptist Is The First Witness
That Jesus Is The Messiah

John 5:33-35 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. 34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. 35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

When the Messiah came, it was prophesied that He would come with a Herald appointed by God. We read:

Malachi 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in …

Isaiah 40:3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

According to the Gospels, John the Baptist came as a fulfillment of these prophesies (John 1:23; Mark 1:2-5; Matthew 3:1-3). When John was still forming as a baby in his mother Elisabeth, when Mary came to visit her cousin. As soon as Mary spoke to Elisabeth, that baby John leaped in her womb (Luke 1:41). Elisabeth told Mary,

Luke 1:44 … as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

John was born about six months before Jesus Christ Himself came into the world. His ministry started about six months before Jesus’ ministry started. John was asked at one time if he was the Messiah. John told that he was NOT the Messiah, but that “the One Who is coming is over me, who’s shoestrings I am not worthy to untie” (John 1:27). When John saw Jesus, he told the crowd:

John 1:29-31 … Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.

John’s entire mission of baptizing was to make Jesus Christ manifest to Israel as the Messiah. John the Baptist told the Pharisees:

Matthew 3:11-12 He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy {Spirit}, and with fire: 12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

John foretold that Jesus would be the judge of all – the fan is in His hand to burn up the chaff and gather the wheat (the believer) into the Kingdom of God. John the Baptist is a witness that Jesus is the Christ.

The Miracles Jesus Did Are The Second
Witness
That Jesus Calls For His Defense

John 5:36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.

This is not the first time Jesus referred to the works that He as the witness that He is Messiah. In Chapter 10 the Pharisees come to Jesus, and directly challenge Him:

John 10:24-26 … How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. 25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. 26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.

That is very clear. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. The Messiah – Eternal God become perfect man – did miraculous works, works that only God could do. When later John the Baptist was thrown into prison by Herod, he sent messengers to Jesus asking,

Matthew 11:3 (ESV) … Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?

The message that Jesus sent back was consider My works:

Matthew 11:4-6 (ESV) “… Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

When Jesus healed at crippled man at Bethesda, His very action proved that He is the Messiah. God is the Source of life and light. The Bible says of God:

Psalm 104:1-2 Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, 2 covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent.

Jesus Christ is God the Father’s Only Begotten Son. He brings light to those who wander about in darkness. He brings love to those who need it most. Jesus said:

John 8:12 … “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 9:5 … “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Jesus, like God the Father, has “in Him no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Jesus alone is thethe light of the world. Everywhere Jesus went, He made the broken whole. In the Gospel of John alone Jesus:

Turned water into wine in Cana (2:1-11)
Healed an official’s son in Capernaum (4:46-54)
Heal
ed a crippled man at the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem (5:1-18)
Fe
dover 5,000 near the Sea of Galilee (6:5-14)
Walk
ed on the water of the Sea of Galilee (6:16-21)
Heal
ed a blind man in Jerusalem (9:1-7)
Rais
edthe dead Lazarus in Bethany (11:1-45)

Jesus angered the Pharisees when He healed people on the Sabbath. But the fact that He could do these miraculous things – even the cast out of devils – proved that God was behind His ministry. When the Pharisees accused Jesus of “casting out demons by the power of the devil” (Luke 11:15), Jesus responded by saying:

Luke 11:20 … if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Jesus worked the works of God. These miracles proved He is Messiah.

God the Father Is The Third Witness
That Jesus
Calls To The Stand

John 5:37-38 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. 38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.

On the day that John the Baptist baptized Jesus, the Bible tells us:

Matthew 3:16-17 (ESV) … when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

The Holy Spirit descended to rest on Jesus like a dove, then the Father spoke, saying This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. It has been said that God has many sons by faith in Christ, but only ONE Son “in Whom He is well pleased”.

Later in His ministry, our Lord Jesus will lead Peter, James, and John to the Mount of Transfiguration where the Father will speak.

The Bible says that Jesus was transfigured before them, and His face shined like the sun, while His clothing was white as light (Matthew 17:2). As Elijah and Moses stood talking with Jesus, Peter spoke up.

Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three places of worship here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

While Peter was speaking, the Father interrupted him, saying (Matthew 17:5):

This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to Him.”

Later Peter would write of this witness. We read:

2 Peter 1:16-18 ….we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

Peter said, “We heard the Father endorse the Son”. The Apostle John, who was with Peter at the mount of transfiguration, wrote:

1 John 5:9-12 (ESV) If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Though the Pharisees “have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen God’s shape” (John 5:37), those who believed in Jesus and walked with Him heard the Father’s endorsement. Jesus said in another place:

John 8:18 … I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.

Jesus Christ is the Messiah! But there is one more witness that Jesus calls to His defense against stoning.

The Fourth Witness Jesus Calls Is The
Scriptures
The Pharisees Studied

Jesus said in John 5:39 … Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

When Jesus speaks of the scriptures, He is referring to the Old Testament, the Bible that was written at that time in history. Jesus gets a little more specific toward the end of this chapter. Read with me:

John 5:45-47 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

Moses, under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, wrote the first five books of our Bible. Called the Pentateuch or the Books of the Law or The Torah, these books are the foundation on which the rest of the Scripture is laid. The New Testament often quotes the Old Testament to affirm Christ as the Messiah. In Galatians we read:

Galatians 3:7-9 (ESV) Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Paul is quoting the promise that God made to Abram (Abraham) back in Genesis 12 – the writings of Moses. He is saying that when God said:

in you {Abraham} all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
(Genesis 12:3)

that God was speaking of the Gospel of Christ. Those who receive Jesus Christ as THE Christ shall be blessed whether they are Jews or Gentiles. “in thee ALL the families of the earth shall be blessed”. Jesus said the Old Testament Scriptures – especially the writings of Moses – spoke of Him and His ministry. Listen:

  • In John 2:17, Jesus drives the money changers out of the Temple. This was prophesied in Psalm 69:9.
  • In John 6, Jesus spoke of the manna that God gave Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 16:15). Then Jesus said, “The Bread of God is He that comes down from Heaven, and gives life to the world”. He made Himself to be the manna of Heaven!
  • In John 6:44-45 Jesus said no one comes to Me unless the Father that sent Me draws him, and then quotes Isaiah 54:13, “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God”.
  • In John 7:38-39 Jesus compares the Holy Spirit to Living Water. In the Old Testament the Spirit is compared to water a number of times (Isaiah 44:3; Ezekiel 36:25-26).

Throughout Jesus’ ministry He often said “it is written”, then quoted Old Testament texts. Jesus told us:

Matthew 5:17-18 (ESV) “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not a {jot or tittle}, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Our Jesus did not come to erase the Law, but
to be the Fulfiller of the Law.

I could quote many more quotations from the Old Testament texts that Jesus used. The Old Testament – especially the writings of Moses – testify that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. But there is one text I’d like to read that is particularly pertinent.

When Moses got ready to leave Israel (for his time was up), he told that nation:

Deuteronomy 18:15-19 (ESV) … “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 16 just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

God promised through Moses that He would raise up a replacement who would stand in Moses place. Early in John’s Gospel we read:

John 1:17 … the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Jesus is that Prophet Who would come and lead God’s people instead of Moses. Israel looked for the coming of the Messiah. When Philip met Jesus, he ran to tell Nathaniel:

John 1:45 … We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

When Peter spoke of the need to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, he said:

Acts 3:18-23 … those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. 19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. 22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. 23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

Jesus Christ is THAT Prophet, the Messiah. Moses gave us the Law, but Jesus Christ as Messiah fulfills the Law, giving us Grace and Truth. What does this mean for us today?

If Jesus Is The Christ, The Messiah, There Is
No Other Way To Be Made Right With God

So many people today believe there are “many ways to God”. But based upon the fourfold Witness Jesus gives to us (John the Baptist, Christ’s miraculous works, God from Heaven, and the writings of Moses) there is only ONE way to God – that is, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus told the Pharisees:

John 5:40 … ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.

There is no other Source of Eternal Life but faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. To be saved from eternal judgment you must receive Jesus Christ as He is, the One and only Savior and Lord. I am going to close by quoting the Apostle John:

1 John 5:11-12 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

If you have Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have life. A better life now, and a blessed and eternal life later. Do you know Jesus? If not, then I beg you, give your life to Him this very day. None of us knows the last day of our life, none but God. Choose wisely. Choose Jesus. For life. May God the Holy Spirit and His precious Word draw you to Jesus this very day. Amen and Amen.

Posted in General, John, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The Glory Of His Grace

Photo by Photoholgic on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Ephesians Chapter 1.

When Paul wrote the Book of Ephesians (under the leading of God the Holy Spirit – 2 Peter 1:21), he was in his first Roman imprisonment. Paul was under house arrest, living in his home, but guarded by Roman soldiers. Acts 28:16 tells us that “Paul was {allowed} to dwell by himself with a soldier that {guarded} him.” He was not chained in a prison cell until his second imprisonment, and could still receive visitors. Acts 28:30-31 tells us that “Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” Paul’s imprisonment is a picture of the great Grace of our God. Though we may go into valleys, our Lord will be with us. If we are in a valley, our Lord will adjust the situation so that we can minister to others for Him. Though Paul’s home is invaded by the enemy, Paul is joyous. Why? We read:

Ephesians 1:2-6 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Paul is joyous in prison because of Grace

Ephesians 1:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is the “Grace” of God that brings the “peace” of God into the life. If you are enjoying God’s Grace, then God is your Father, and Jesus is your Lord. No matter what you are going through, you need not fear it. Our God can do all things, and sees all things, and loves you as His child. And Jesus Christ is your Lord. Not the trial you are going through, but Jesus is your Lord.

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Our “God and Father” has given us “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”. How did God the Father give us these spiritual blessings?

• God the Son became the perfect Son of Man. Jesus Christ is 100% God and 100% Man. We are told in John’s Gospel:

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Jesus Christ is “The Word” – not a human’s word, but God’s very breath. This Jesus, this wonderful Word of God:

John 1:14 … the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us …

God became Man. He did not become Man through the normal, everyday means. Jesus Christ became flesh through supernatural intervention. Jesus Christ was born of a virgin woman. It was by man (Adam) that sin entered the world, and death by sin (Romans 5:12), so God circumvented man when He created the body that Christ would inhabit. God did this by prophecy:

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

and fulfilled this in Mary:

Matthew 1:23 … Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

You must believe that Jesus was virgin born, by God’s supernatural intervention, else you cannot be saved. Gabriel told Mary in Luke 1:35, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

If Jesus were born like we are, of sinful parents, then He would be just as sinful as we are. Among humankind the Bible says that

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

All humans who have ever been born through the beautiful union of man and woman in matrimony have been born broken. But Jesus Christ was not born broken. He is without sin. When a woman taken in adultery was cast before Jesus to judge, Jesus said “he that is without sin among you, cast the first stone” (John 8:7). Every accuser left. If any could have cast a stone against the woman that day, it could have been Jesus. Jesus Christ is the High Priest of our faith. The Bible says of Him:

Hebrews 4:15 {Jesus was} … in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus Christ is God become Man, but Who is still fully God. The Father told the Son:

Hebrews 1:8 … Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.

• We have “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” because the perfect Son of Man Who is the Son of God died in our place on the Cross.

Sin separates every human who has ever been or ever will be from a relationship with God. God said through the Prophet:

Isaiah 59:2 … your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

It was sin that caused God to cast Adam and Eve out of Eden. It is sin that keeps us all from entering into God’s Heaven. Thom Mollohan wrote in his article, “A Hunger For More: Sin Separates us From God”:

“the idea of sin, as given to us by the Bible, is simply this: a rejection of the authority of God in our lives and a giving of our ourselves to something less than our Creator. Sin in this way is really about our refusal to be subordinate to God Himself and exalting something to the position of devotion and worship that only God deserves. Sin separates us from God. It is not religious issue. It is a life and death issue. Sin debases us, even when we strive to exalt ourselves, because it diminishes the image of God within us. See, we are created in His image and reflect it much like a mirror reflects our own. So if He is not shining upon us because we’ve turned away to serve ourselves, then the image of God cannot be seen in us. Furthermore, sin is a crime because it robs God of what He alone is worthy of…”

The pandemic that is gripping America today is not the Coronavirus, but full blown paganism masquerading under the title “Progressivism”.

God the Son was once born (only begotten) through a virgin to become the perfect and sinless Son of Man. Only the Son of Man – Jesus – has power on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6; Mark 2:10; Luke 5:24). Paganism or as others love to call it, Progressivism seeks to find blessing in more sinful and forbidden ways. There will never be any blessing found in sin. The Bible says:

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Peter 3:18 … Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

Jesus Christ – the perfect Son of Man – died on Calvary to make full payment for our sins. Jesus was very clear that He and He alone would bring in the New Covenant for those who received Him as Lord and Savior. At the last Passover, Jesus told those who believed in and followed Him:

Matthew 26:27-28 … he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

When a cancer patient hears that their cancer is “in remission”, they rejoice, for their life is extended. Jesus Christ died on the Cross to cure a much greater thing than cancer. He died to cover our sins. He died for us who, once we believe in Him, are in remission from sin, but in the Family of God. The Apostle said,

John 1:12-13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Jesus Christ was born supernaturally into this world as a Son of Man, so that we, sons of men, can be supernaturally re-born into the Family of God. Jesus took our place so we can now take His place!

• Just as God the Son – the perfect Son of Man defeated death, we who belong to God will one day defeat death. If you do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, you are NOT a Christian. 

The Apostle said in Romans 10:9, “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Two things are required for salvation. First, you declare for all to hear the “Jesus is Lord”. Jesus is not one Lord among many, but is THE Lord. Second, you must “believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead”. The Lordship and resurrection of Christ are non-negotiable for the Christian. When Thomas saw the Risen Savior he declared, “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28). That is exactly what the Christian believes, that Jesus is both Lord and God. Peter preached:

Acts 2:23-24 (ESV) this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Jesus did not “swoon”, nor “Pass out”, but died on that Cross of Calvary. He died for your sins and mine. He died so that we might be saved, if we would believe in Him.

Paul Was Joyous In Prison Because Of Grace’s Effect

Ephesians 1:4 According as He {God the Father} hath chosen us in Him {God the Son} before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

The Apostle now shows us how deep the love of God is. We are “chosen us in Him {God the Son} before the foundation of the world”. Before God created the world, before He called the first light into being, He knew that Adam would fall in Eden. God told Adam:

Genesis 2:17 … of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Our God is omniscient – He knows all things before they happen. “God knows everything” (1 John 3:20). God knows the number of the hairs on your head (Matthew 10:29-30). God “declares the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things not yet done” (Isaiah 46:9-10). Knowing that Adam would fall, the earth would need a Savior, God the Son, “before the foundation of the world”, agreed to pay for our sins. This theme is repeated by the Apostle:

2 Timothy 1:8-9 … Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

God knew Adam would fail, but created him anyway. God knew that you and I will fail, but created us anyway. He saved us with a salvation that was planned in Christ “before the world began”. If you are saved, you are saved by an omniscient God. He knows your weaknesses, but by His power He will save and keep on saving you. You are His Child by faith.

Ephesians 1:4 … that we should be holy and without blame before him in love

The believer is not saved by his works, but once saved is both “holy” and “without blame”. The Christian is – because of God the Spirit Who indwells him – “holy”. This is the Greek ἅγιος hágios, {pronounced hag’-ee-os}, a person set apart to be a son of God. We are to be like our Father. The Lord tells us:

1 Peter 1:15-16 (ESV) … but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

The Apostle quoted Leviticus 20:7 as he wrote this text. Jesus said, “Because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19). The Christian is not called to be Republican or Democrat, “Woke”, liberal or conservative. The Christian is called to be like God, to be like Jesus, Who is God manifest.

If you profess to be saved, but walk like a worldling, then you are not saved at all. You are “without blame” because Jesus took your blame on the Cross. You are a son of God heading toward Heaven. You are to act as a son of God.

Grace always has an effect on the believer. If you are saved, you are “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)”

Ephesians 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Each Christian has an appointment with God. During that future appointment in Heaven, we shall be “adopted” into the Family of God because of our faith in Christ.

We Who Belong To God, Glorify God

Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

We are “accepted in the beloved”. God the Father accepts us for God the Son’s sake. We who believe in Christ unto salvation glorify our God. Note the phrase, “To the praise of the glory of his grace”. The Apostle repeats this formula twice more in this text:

Ephesians 1:11-12 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

A Christian has a purpose in life, and that is to glorify God. We are to live “to the praise of his glory”. God should be honored an what we say and do. Again, in

Ephesians 1:13-14 … ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory…

God the Holy Spirit indwells the believer, the “earnest” or proof of our future inheritance. We are to live our lives not as worldlings, but as those who belong to Jesus. We glorify our God by how we live our lives.

1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Those under saving Grace will live to the glory of God. We live so as to please and honor the God Who saved us. We read:

Colossians 3:17 … whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

We do not follow the crowd. We follow Jesus. We live for God. We know that we are eternal creatures, that will live in glory with the God-Man that saved us. So we praise our Lord, and glorify His Name daily. Listen Beloved:

It is possible to LOOK saved, but to LIVE damned. The first generation of Israel were saved from Egypt, but not from themselves. They created a golden calf, a false god to follow, and lost the Promised Land. God will not share His glory with another. “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images” (Isaiah 42:8). “For My own sake, for My own sake, I do this. How can I let Myself be defamed? I will not yield My glory to another” (Isaiah 48:11). Those who love the Lord, live for the glory of the Lord. We pursue His pleasure, His will, His command. We love Him, for He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Do you belong to God, or to this world? Choose wisely. Choose Jesus.

Posted in Ephesians, General, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

God Makes Everything Beautiful In His Time

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. 11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

Someone wrote Pastor John Piper and asked:

“… why did God make some people ugly and unattractive? How can I accept the fact that God, though capable of making me beautiful or at least average looking, chose to create in me an unattractive manner? As an unattractive person myself, I can say life is tough for us. Our opinions and ideas are most often sidelined. We have it tough in offices and schools and colleges. I can’t express in words how difficult it is to be confident.”

I can understand where this person is coming from. My earlier years were – in my young mind – a living hell. I nearly failed first grade until the teacher noticed me squinting at the blackboard. A trip to the eye doctor showed I was not unintelligent, but unseeing – I needed glasses. When the teacher wrote on the blackboard, I couldn’t clearly see what she wrote. Mama asked why I never said anything about it to anyone. The truth is, I was painfully shy, an introvert. A shy child doesn’t speak up!

When I was given eyeglasses, this didn’t solve my problems, but added to them. They were large, black rimmed things that stood out on my face. This gave the bullies a target to aim at. I was a “four eyed freak”. Children try to adjust their lives according to peer pressure, but what do you do if your “peers” are all against you? As self esteem plummeted, my weight increased. Add to this that I had to wear my dad’s white socks, and as I grew my dad’s old clothing. Well, the school years were rough. I have yet to have any desire to attend a “High School Reunion”.

There are many others in life who suffer terribly because they are different from the crowd. One who comes to mind is Joseph Merrick (August 5, 1862-April 11, 1890), also known as “The Elephant Man”. Born with a disorder called the Proteus syndrome, his head and body deformed more and more with each passing day. When Merrick accidentally pushes down a little girl one day, an angry mob chases him. He cried out, “I am not an animal! I am a human being. I am a man!”. There are many born into this world deformed, against what many consider the “norm”. In this world little children are sometimes born with terrible diseases. St. Jude’s Hospital ministers to children born with cancer. There are many things that appear ugly to us in this world.

Why would a loving God allow the ugly, the disfigured, the carnival “human freak show”?

It Is Because God Is Loving That We Have That Which Some Consider “Beyond The Norm”

Ecclesiastes 3:10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

Word Study: As Solomon – the wisest man who ever was – looks at the travail that is on mankind, he writes which God hath given. God ultimately either causes or allows everything that ever happens within the framework of humanity. The word translated travail is the Hebrew עִנְיָן ʻinyân, {pronounced in-yawn’}, which means “miserable or evil work”. The word is only used in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon in essence is saying “I have seen how people have struggled at work – toiling slavishly”. God gave to man and woman hard – often horrible – circumstances to go through. But the fact that God gives it does not diminish His love.

God took a perfect Adam, and placed him in a perfect Eden. The Bible says:

Genesis 2:15-17 (ESV) The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

This was an absolute. God is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of a man, that He should change His mind (Numbers 23:19). What God has said will always stand. The day that you eat of it you shall surely die is the promise of God’s Law. We all know the story. What did Adam do? He disobeyed God. He ate of the forbidden. The promise of the Law was The day that you eat of it you shall surely die. The very day you disobey Me, said the Lord, you shall surely die. Did this happen? Well, yes and no.

On the day that Adam did what he was not supposed to do, both Adam and Eve’s “eyes … were opened” (Genesis 3:7). Humanity fell under spiritual death. The Bible says:

Romans 5:12 (ESV) … by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin. It was ADAM who brought sin into the world, not Eve but ADAM. When ADAM ate that which was forbidden, both he and Eve his wife died spiritually. But they did not die physically until much later. Why? Because:

1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

God is JUST, and does as He promises. But God is also LOVE, and offers redemption to the sinner. Adam physically lived 930 years before he died. God had told Adam, “in THE DAY you eat of it, YOU SHALL SURELY DIE”. If God were purely justice, and purely Law, then Adam and Eve and any progeny would have been destroyed by death on the day Adam sinned. Instead, God kept His Word by allowing Adam to live physically, but cast Adam and Eve out of Eden for they were both spiritually dead. .

The Law demandsimmediate death for sin.
The Love of God demandsgrace to the sinner.

As Solomon speaks of our lives as travail {ʻinyân}, the very fact that we are here at all is due to the love of God. God could have destroyed humanity, but Love found a way to give us life. However, the punishment for sin corrupted not just humanity, but nature itself. God told Adam:

Genesis 3:17-19 Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

The Law of God demanded death, but the Law of God gave grace and life. Since Adam’s fall, the Bible tells us that creation itself became warped by sin. The Apostle write of this, saying:

Romans 8:19-23 (ESV) For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

The whole creation groans in suffering because of Adam’s sin, but still exists because of God’s Love.

Creation groans until the day when the Children of God are fully redeemed, when with glorified bodies we come back to this earth to reign with Jesus. The Apostle said that on that grand day, the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Man and nature are bound together by God in the Garden, and bound together by sin outside of the Garden. What a glorious day it will be when sin reigns no more! Sin will be no more on God’s earth when Christ rules from His millennial Kingdom. When Jesus returns,

Isaiah 11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

There will come a day when sin will be totally eradicated from this earth. But until that time, there will be cancers, sicknesses, deformities, ugliness. There will be the fading strength of old age. On top of this, sometimes God allows these sicknesses so that He might reach yet MORE with His glorious Gospel.

God Turns The Bad To Beautiful In His Time

In John chapter 9, Jesus sees a man who was blind from birth. The disciples asked Jesus:

John 9:2 … Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

The Jews knew – and taught through the Old Testament scriptures, that sin – the sin of Adam – brought sickness and deformity into the world. Was this man blind because of his parents, his heritage? Or did this man himself sin, and by his sin bring the sickness upon himself? Jesus tells His disciples:

John 9:3-5 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

This man was born blind so that we could see Jesus healing him. Our Jesus is the light of the world. Light is useless to a blind man. But Jesus is miraculous light, the Light that gives sight to those who cannot see. This man was allowed to be sick to showcase the glorious Gospel of Christ.

Adam’s sin brought sickness and deformity into a perfect world. But there is yet another reason for suffering and deformity. In Luke 13 our Lord Jesus encounters a woman while teaching in the Synagogue:

Luke 13:11 (ESV) behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself.

When Lucifer the Arch Angel rebelled against God, he enlisted a third of the angels of Heaven (Revelation 12:4) to follow him. These are creatures we call “demons”. This woman was disfigured for eighteen years because she had a disabling spirit. We read:

Luke 13:12-16 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?”

God makes all things beautiful in His time!

Her deformity was because Satan had afflicted her by sending one of his followers to her life. Jesus banished that demon and that precious woman was healed. But once more we see the Love of God in action. When Lucifer rebelled against God, and led a third of the angels in Heaven to follow him, the love of God allowed that devil and his traitors life for a time. But the day is coming when Satan and his followers will be cast into a lake of fire, to be bound forever more.

If You Are Afflicted Run To The Arms Of Jesus

Ecclesiastes 3:11 {God} hath made every thing beautiful in his time

Earlier I shared my testimony, how I felt “less than” and an ugly duckling in my school years. I was given eyeglasses to correct my sight. But I needed more than eyeglasses – I needed Jesus! Finding Jesus at a Youth Rally just before I entered the Air Force, I found my esteem not in

my peers
my strength
foolish drugs
mind numbing alcohol

but in JESUS. The woman afflicted by the disabling spirit is just like many in our America today. People feel “less than”, so they are seeking normalization through that which Scripture calls perversion or abomination. A pair of eyeglasses did not “fix” all of me, but I needed Jesus. A surgeon’s knife will not fix you. No medical science can fix you. Listen Beloved, just as Jesus healed the woman afflicted with the disabling spirit, Jesus can and will heal you. God promises that He will make every thing beautiful in his time.

When you give your life to Jesus, God promises to eventually make you beautiful. Jesus will give sight to your eyes, so you can see as He writes on life’s blackboard.

God will give joy to your heart so that you can feel as He feels. To those who love the Lord, Solomon said:

Ecclesiastes 2:26 For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up…

Word Study: Jesus gives good to those who trust in Him. But to the sinner who rejects Christ, their lives are confusion and travail {ʻinyân}. When I was young and bullied, every day was travail {ʻinyân}. But when I found Jesus, He gave sight to my eyes, and joy to my soul. Fearing God, I ceased fearing man, and the bullies vanished. Elizabeth Cheney (1859) wrote:

Said the Robin to the Sparrow,
“I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so!”
Said the Sparrow to the Robin,
“Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me!”

The God Who has made you, loves you no matter what you think of yourself. Look to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Are you thirsty for joy? Jesus said:

John 7:37 … If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

I am convinced that the cure to our miseries is Jesus. Come to Jesus with your pain, not to a drug dealer. Come to Jesus with your loneliness, not to a bar or a liquor store. Come to Jesus with what you think is ugly, and let Him have your life. Become His possession. Become His bond servant. Jesus will forgive you of your sins, and by His blood adopt you into His family. The Apostle said to the seeker:

Romans 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

To those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, there is no condemnation. God loves you for Christ’s sake. When you come to God, God comes to you. He brings His Heaven to your heart. The Holy Spirit comes to walk with you:

Romans 8:11 (ESV) If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

The Holy Spirit comes to bring the life of Heaven into our hearts. Once we receive Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit changes our hearts. We begin to walk with God daily, seeing things as God sees them. We are loved. We are adopted into the Family of God. We are not ugly, but beautiful in God’s eyes. We are Heaven bound! The Apostle said:

Romans 8:14-18 (ESV) For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

There is a glorious Heaven waiting for those who are owned by Jesus. But better than that, there is a glorious life awaiting those who belong to Jesus NOW. He has said “I will never LEAVE, nor FORSAKE you”. He will be with you every step of the way, if you will give yourselves to Him. He makes all things beautiful in His time.

Do Not Allow Yourselves To Be Robbed
Of The Beauty Found In Jesus

On this earth, all suffer because of sin. Do not sell yourself to sin. Sin is the “thief who comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy”. Jesus Christ came to be your Shepherd. Our Shepherd gives us “life, abundant life” (John 10:10). Jesus knows your aches and pains. He suffered so that you can enjoy the love of God.

You may not know this, but Jesus was not beautiful according to man’s standard.

The Scripture says of Jesus:

Isaiah 53:2 (ESV) … He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.

When you get to Heaven, don’t look for Jesus using the pictures that people made, pictures that hang in museums and homes, and even in my office. Jesus had no beauty that we should desire him. When you get to Heaven, look for Jesus by looking for the scars on His hands, head, and feet. When you see those scars, you will know this is Jesus. Because He died for you and I, we will inherit the Heavens, and a new earth. God will make everything beautiful in it’s time. That is, if we have received Him as Lord and Savior. There is a better day coming for the child of Christ.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

Word Study: The word translated the world is the Hebrew עוֹלָם ʻôwlâm, {pronounced o-lawm’}, which would be better here rendered as “eternity”. God has put “eternity” in our hearts. We know that there must be something more than just this life. God has put a hunger for Heaven in each person’s heart. We know that this world is not as it should be. When I read what Solomon wrote, no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end, this sounds so much like:

1 Corinthians 2:9 … Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Our limitations only point us to a wonderful future where all things are possible, and all hurts are erased. Augustine wrote:

You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” (Confessions, Book 1, Chapter 1)

This world and this suffering that we are going through is but temporary for the believer in Christ. “Our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). God has prepared a city for us (Hebrews 11:13-16), a place where no suffering shall be. A better day is coming. Look to the Lord Jesus! Rest in the Lord Jesus! May God draw you into His embrace this very day. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Ecclesiastes, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s All About The Bread

Photo by Tiago Leonardi on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 6. I love the Gospel of John, for it shows very clearly that Jesus Christ is THE Son of God. It is a book very much focused on His deity. John also has great narratives. Tonight we’re going to read a familiar narrative – the time Jesus fed above 5000 people. We are very familiar with this story, and it might seem to be a re-run with you. But I believe there is more great truth to be found in these texts.

The Feeding Of The Five Thousand Is the ONLY Miracle Found In All Four Gospels (Here, and Matt. 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17)

John 6:1-2 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. 2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.

After these things”. After Jesus healed the crippled man by the pool of Bethesda (remember the FIVE porches around the pool. FIVE is the number of Grace). After the Pharisees sought to kill Jesus for healing someone on the Sabbath (John 5:16). After Jesus told the Pharisees that He, the Son of God, was both equal to God the Father, as well as a follower of God the Father. After Jesus told the Pharisees that the Scriptures they studied – the Old Testament writings – were all about Him. Jesus said:

John 5:39-40 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

John 5:46-47 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

John 6:1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.

The Bible has no accidental words, but every word is the pure Word of God. It all has meaning. The body of water Jesus crossed was called the sea of Galilee by the Jews, but the sea of Tiberias by the conquering Roman forces. The two sets of names are given because Jesus did not just come for the Jews – but for all people. The Bible says:

Colossians 3:11 … there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

John 6:3-4 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. 4 And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.

The focus of Jesus’ ministry was teaching the Word of God. Jesus did not come to this earth to primarily heal people (though He did). Jesus came to share the Word of God with whosoever would listen. A crowd of people began to follow Jesus because of the miracles He did (verse 2). But

Preach: Jesus did not come to this earth to bring us temporary relief from suffering. He came to this earth to show us the love of God, and to show us how to love others. Jesus came, not to bring us to Heaven, but to bring Heaven to our hearts.

If you love God, you will love others. The two always come together. Jesus said that the protos, or foundational commandment is:

Matthew 22:37-40 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

If God is in you (that is, you are saved by faith in Christ, and the Spirit of God indwells you [“now if anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His]), then you will love others. Love demands that you treat others the way you would be treated. We read:

John 6:5-6 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

Jesus Knows What He Is Going To Do. Do We?

God the Son had been teaching His disciples. The day is slowly waning. So Jesus asks Philip a simple question, one that God often asks His people. He asks, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?. Love is concerned about the welfare of others. How can we feed this mass of people? The answer is very easy. How do we feed them? Jesus! Jesus will feed them! But it is ingrained into us as humans – fallen creatures from the days of Adam – to say “let ME fix it. I know what to do!” The right answer is, “the same Jesus Who healed the cripple in Bethesda, the same Jesus who rebuked the Pharisees, the same Jesus of Who the Old Testament prophesied – this same Jesus can feed this multitude”. Philip answers just as we would often do:

John 6:7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

Philip’s suggestion is no suggestion at all. Philip just acknowledges that this is impossible. Looking at it from a human point of view, Philip says Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them. That is equivalent to about 200 days of labor, as the “penny” (the “dēnarion” or denarius) was about a day’s wage. Philip is looking at the size of the problem and comparing it to human ability. Of course, neither Philip nor any (or all) of the disciples can fix this problem. Love demands that these people be fed – but it is impossible by human standards that it be done. The task is just impossible. Philip is the “business meeting wet blanket”. “It can’t be done – let’s just walk away”.

Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother (verse 8) speaks up. Andrew was the first disciple to come to Jesus in faith. Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. He was there when John said of Jesus:

John 1:36 … Behold the Lamb of God!

Andrew immediately left following John the Baptist, and began to follow Jesus. Andrew, after staying with Jesus for a day, went and found his brother Simon (Peter), and told him:

John 1:41-42 … We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 42 And he brought him to Jesus.

Andrew knew Jesus was the Messiah. But confronted with the problem that Jesus put before them, Andrew followed Philip’s negative lead. He says:

John 6:9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

When that young boy (“lad is the Greek παιδάριον paidárion, [pronounced pahee-dar’-ee-on] – “little boy”) left home that day to go and see Jesus, his mama, loving him, packed him a lunch. It was just enough for a child to eat. It was five barley loaves, and two small fishes. Just a tiny amount – five crackers and two little boy sized fish. I don’t think that Andrew robbed the boy. I think the little boy heard Jesus’ ask Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?. When the little fellow heard it, I believe he walked up to where Andrew was, and tugging on robe, showed him his little lunch. Andrew takes the little lunch, shows it to Jesus, and says what are they among so many?.

We as humans have, throughout our history, considered all of our problems through the puniness of our possession. We need to consider our problems with a single focus on God. Jesus said in another place:

Matthew 6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

The word single is the Greek ἁπλοῦς haploûs, (pronounced hap-looce’) which means “simple, whole, sound”.

When we are challenged, we often get flustered, and run around in confusion, looking here and there for a fix. We’re not simple, but often simple minded!

If your eye is focused on the simple fix (which is JESUS), then your whole body will be filled with light. You will be joyous, blessed, overwhelmed with love. But if your eye is focused on the negative, on the impossibility, then your whole body will be filled with darkness, negativity, misery (Luke 11:34).

Philip, who had seen Jesus do miraculous things, is not focused on Jesus, but on the size of the problem before him. “It can’t be done”. Andrew, who was first to follow Jesus as Messiah, is not focused on Jesus, but on the size of the little boy’s meal. “It’s too little – it’s just not enough”. Neither has a suitable answer for the problem because their eye is not single, but wicked. Their eye is looking at the wrong thing.

Then there’s the little boy.
The paidárion, [pronounced pahee-dar’-ee-on].
Just a child.

The little boy hears Jesus’ question, runs to Andrew, and says “give this to Jesus”. The boy’s eye is single. His eye is focused. He’s not looking at the crowd. He’s not looking at the size of his meal. He’s looking at Jesus. He’s looking at Jesus.

The secret to the blessed life is to become like that little child, and simply focus on the Lord

  • When Solomon was given the daunting task of ruling Israel, he went to God in prayer:

1 Kings 3:7 And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.

Lord, Yahweh, I do not know what to do. I’m just a little child – show me. Make me a good King, a King you can be proud of. And God did.

  • When Naaman the leper wanted to be healed, God told him to dip himself in the Jordan River seven times. When he became like a little child in his spirit, and did as God said:

2 Kings 5:14 Then went {Naaman} down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

  • When Jesus our Lord wanted to show us the faith that pleases God, the Bible says:

Matthew 18:2-4 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

A little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). There is nothing that our God cannot do. There is nothing that Jesus cannot fix.

  • In the Book of Zechariah, Zerubbabel led an exiled Israel back to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple, seventy years destroyed by Assyria. When the returnees saw what was before them, they wept. Such a monstrous task was before them – it was impossible to fix! But beloved,

With men, this is impossible; but with God ALL THINGS are possible” (Matthew 19:26)

There is nothing that God cannot do. There is nothing beyond the scope of the love of God. When Israel wept at the destruction of the Temple, God spoke through the Prophet, saying:

Zechariah 4:7-10 Who art thou, O great mountain? {for the task before them was MOUNTANOUS} before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain {God will do the impossible}: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. 8 Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 9 The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. 10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice…

Who can fix the Temple? God can!
Who can heal Naaman of Leprosy? God can!
Who can give the King wisdom? God can!
Who can feed five thousand? God can!

Zerubbabel shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. God will use Zerubbabel to kill the problem, and the headstone placed on that grave will say Grace, grace unto it. DO NOT DESPISE THE DAY OF SMALL THINGS!

Our God Is A Mountain Leveling God!

Take another look at that little boy’s lunch. When his mama packed it that day, what did she put in it? Five barley loaves, and two small fishes. Did you catch that? FIVE barley loaves. FIVE is the number of Grace! Jesus healed a cripple on one of FIVE porches in Bethesda. The little boy’s lunch had FIVE barley loaves.

Let’s read on.

John 6:10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

Jesus said Make the men sit down. He doesn’t need anybody’s help to do this. Sit down. You MUST sit down. Wait on the Lord.

Proverbs 20:22 … wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.

How many men sat down? FIVE thousand. What is the number of Grace? FIVE. Do you understand now? Sit down – wait on God.

John 6:11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

Who did the work? The Father. Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples. Jesus gave thanks to the Father, for the Father caused the multiplication. Jesus is the visible Member of the Godhead. If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). “I work, and My Father works” (John 5:17). How did Jesus teach us how to pray?

Matthew 6:9-11 … Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread.

The Father is feeding the FIVE thousand with FIVE tiny loaves of bread. The Father is using the Son to do this. There is but ONE MEDIATOR between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). The Son takes the little, and depending on the Grace of God, thanks the Father for what He will do. The Father multiplies the loaves, as Jesus breaks them and passes them out. The disciples take this bounty from the grace of God, and distribute it to those sitting. All eat their fill.

John 6:12-13 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

When they were done, and all had eaten, they gathered the leftovers. Let me ask you: Is the focus on FISH or BREAD?

According to this story, there’s NO FISH left over – at least, not that it’s mentioned. There were FIVE barley loaves, FIVE being the number of Grace. There were twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves. Why twelve? Because Jesus was feeding Jews, and there are twelve tribes in Israel.

God’s Grace is more than enough to feed Israel. God fed Israel in the wilderness under Moses. Now God is feeding Israel in the wilderness by Jesus. There is nothing our Jesus cannot do!

No matter what problem you encounter, Beloved, encounter it as a little child. Let your eye be single, simply focused on the Lord Jesus. Give Him the little you have, and let Him bless it, and make it sufficient unto the day. Our God is able. Our Jesus is able. Do not despise the power of Jesus! Let us now go to Him in prayer. Amen and Amen.

Posted in John, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Choosing The Best Part

Photo by Alex Woods on Unsplash

Luke 10:38-42 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

We’ve GOT To Do SOMETHING OR…”

I’ve often heard these words spoken over the last 25 years I have been in ministry. The words are uttered by sincere people seeking to “fix” something. As humans, we love to “fix” things. It started with Adam in the Garden of Eden. When he discovered that eating of the forbidden “opened his eyes”, the very first thing Adam did was “fix” it. He made aprons of fig leaves (Genesis 3:7). It didn’t help.

Our efforts never help. But we feel that we must “do something”. The Bible says:

Psalm 127:1 (ESV) Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

I understand the “We’ve got to do SOMETHING” mentality. I read an article the other day written by the Executive Editor of Christian Post, Richard D. Land. The article was entitled “How badly have we lost our way?”. A quote:

“… The moral compass of a significant number of our fellow citizens has been desensitized and demagnitized… somewhere along the way, America veered seriously off course and we are now confronted with a collapse into full-blown paganism. … I have seldom been both as shocked and saddened as I was after reading the Rev. Rebecca Todd Peters op-ed in USA Today, “Faith Guided Our Decision on 2 Abortions”. Rev. Peters identifies herself as a Presbyterian minister. … The Rev. Peters also states that she is a “wife and a mother of two” and that she has “also had two abortions”. She immediately follows this by asserting, ‘I did not make my abortion decision despite my Christian identity and faith, but rather because of it.’”

I have no doubt that she is sincere. You can be sincere, and be wrong. When rebuking Jesus for saying He had to go to the Cross, Jesus told Peter:

Matthew 16:23 (ESV) …. “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a hindrance to Me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Peter was no doubt sincere, but wrong. Pastor John Piper notes how the moral fabric of America has changed in just a few years. He notes, “ten years ago, recreational cannabis was illegal in all fifty states”. At present, 37 states have legalized medical-use of Marijuana, and in 15 states you can use it recreationally. John goes on to note:

Now stop and think of the number of behaviors that were once illegal and are no more. Divorce was once illegal. Adultery and fornication were illegal. Homosexual practices were illegal. Indecency was illegal, in such a way that what’s considered acceptable in movies and on beaches today would have been forbidden. Sabbath-breaking was illegal. Abortion was illegal in every state.”

As William Barclay notes, “{Man} has so erected an altar to himself in the center of things that he worships himself to the exclusion of God and man”. We could say the same thing about America today. The Church is falling. Our society is falling. In a panic, I along with you think, “I’ve GOT to do something”.

The Mary Mentality Waits Upon Jesus

Luke 10:38 Now it came to pass, as they{Jesus and His disciples} went, that he entered into a certain village {Bethany}: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.

Jesus goes to Bethany with His disciples to pay a visit to a family He had never been with. He was going to visit with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. This family had heard about Jesus, and Jesus was coming to their home. Actually, Jesus was coming to Martha’s house. That’s what we read:

a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.

Martha was the owner of the home.
Mary was a resident in Martha’s home.

The fame of Jesus had gone throughout that whole area. Jesus is coming! Now Jesus is on the front stoop, knocking on the door. Martha thinks, “I’d better DO something”. But where is Mary’s mind? We read:

Luke 10:39-40And she {Martha} had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha….

This is the first time that Mary met Jesus. This is NOT the same Mary called Magdalene, out of whom {Jesus cast out} seven devils” (Luke 8:2). the name “Mary Magdalene” literally means “Mary of Magdala”, that is, she lived in Magdala in Galilee. The Mary now sitting at Jesus’ feet is “Mary of Bethany, which is in the province of Judea. Mary DID Something!

  1. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, a place we all need to be. She RESTED.
  2. Mary heard his word. She listened to what He said. The word heard is the Greek ἀκούω akoúō, {pronounced ak-oo’-o}, which means “to give audience to, to focus on and hear”. Mary was doing as the Gospel demands. Jesus said in another place:

Matthew 11:27-30 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. 28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The only way you can know of God the Father is through Jesus Christ. And NO ONE knows Jesus Christ completely BUT the Father. This is what Jesus said. Jesus says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. Rest for the soul is in Jesus. Put your body at His feet. Hear Him, and do as He says. Cast your hurt and suffering on Him. Jesus said “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me”. Jesus is Lord! Jesus is Lord! Let Him put His yoke upon you. This is what God wants us to DO.

A Christian Is Saved By Sitting At Christ’s Feet.
A Christian Grows By Sitting At Christ’s Feet.

We as Christians are to DO, not SOMETHING, but WHAT JESUS SAID DO. Mary did not rush about cleaning the home and cooking the meal. Mary was not trying to impress Jesus with her works. So many of us try to do this. We try to do SOMETHING because OTHERS are looking at us. We want to do SOMETHING because we sincerely want to please our Lord.

But we must first rest at His feet. We must let Jesus be Lord. This is what Mary is doing. Jesus is Lord, so she sits at His feet and waits, and listens. She “learns of Jesus”.

God wants His Kingdom to expand upon the earth. He wants us to DO – but only WHEN He says. At the beginning of this chapter we are told:

Luke 10:1-2 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. 2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.

After these things – after Jesus fed 5000 with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread; after Jesus stood on the Mount of Transfiguration with Moses and Elijah, the Lord appointed other seventy. Jesus had His 12 original Apostles, and appointed 70 men to go out 2 by 2 to spread the Gospel. What was Jesus doing?

Word Study: When Moses was raised up by God, each tribe of Israel had a leader (12), and God told Moses to set aside 70 elders (Exodus 18:13-26; 24:1) to help rule God’s Israel. These 70 men eventually became known as the “Sanhedrin”, or the Ruling 70. Moses ruled Israel under the Old Covenant.

John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Moses was the Mediator of the Old Covenant, but Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant (Hebrews 9:15). As Moses chose 70, Jesus chooses 70, and sends them out to share the Gospel throughout Israel. Jesus conveys special powers upon His “Sanhedrin” so that they might share the message that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you” (vs 11). Jesus told them:

Luke 10:16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.

The 70 were ecstatic when they returned to Jesus. They said, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. Jesus told these men:

Luke 10:18-20 I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

You Bless The Lord When You Treat Him As the Lord. Sit At His Feet, Do What He Says When He Says.

The Bible says:

Psalm 27:14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Do not DO SOMETHING. DO what Jesus tells you to do. Sit at His feet. He is Lord. Read His Word. Pray. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 37:34 Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.

We are losing the land in America. As American Christians, we are too often:

sitting at the feet of anger
sitting at the feet of fear
sitting at the feet of greed
sitting at the feet of ungodliness
sitting at the feet of vain philosophies
sitting at the feet of social media
sitting at the feet of television
sitting at the feet of celebrities
sitting at the feet of politicians
sitting at the feet of socialism
sitting at the feet of selfishness

This is no good. We must sit at the feet of Jesus. Jesus said:

John 18:37 … To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

It is imperative that we sit at Jesus’ feet and hear His Word. “Forever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in Heaven” (Psalm 119:89). What God affirms as true is true, though all the world rail against it. What our Lord says in this Bible is of paramount important to the Kingdom of God, and for the future of this nation. The Psalmist said of the Lord:

Psalm 119:160 Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

Pastor Kevin DeYoung notes,

God does not lay down arbitrary rules. He does not give orders so that we might be restricted and miserable. He never requires what is impure, unloving, or unwise. His demands are always noble, always just, and always righteous.”

The danger of DOING SOMETHING without first sitting at Christ’s feet is illustrated by our Lord. Many “DOERS” will end up in hell. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:22-27 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

Doing a work without first sitting at Jesus’ feet is not doing a good work, but a bad work. Those who sit at Jesus’ feet and heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them has built his house on a rock that nothing on this earth can destroy. That is what the Lord wants of us.

Martha In Her Doing Cut The Lord Out

Mary is WAITING on the Lord by hearing and applying His Word. Martha is WAITING on the Lord by presuming what He wants – then complaining because Jesus does not want it.

Luke 10:40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

Illustration: Imagine this: You go to a fancy, five star restaurant, and are quickly seated at your table. Before anyone asks you anything, the waiter come up and opens a bottle of wine, pouring it into your glass. He walks away as another waiter comes with a meal. Putting it down in front of you, you have escargot (snails), sushi (raw) octopus with black ink gravy, and braised chitlins. The waiter drops the plates in front of you, and walks away. You try complaining, but no one wants to hear it. Then you get a bill for $500.00, and the waiters want generous tips.

This is the type of “waiting” that Martha was doing. This is the type of “waiting” we often do for God. This type of “waiting” irritates God as much as we would have been at that five star restaurant. It also wears us out.

Word Study: We are told Martha was cumbered about much serving. Martha is working very hard. The word translated cumbered is the Greek περισπάω perispáō, {pronounced per-ee-spah’-o}, which means “to drag all around, to be over occupied and thus distressed, to be driven about mentally”. It is interesting that this word is only found HERE in the Greek New Testament. Martha was singularly – as no other New Testament character had been – about to have a melt down! She says to Jesus:

Lord, dost thou not care that my sister
hath left me to serve alone?”

Martha calls Jesus Lord, but in her heart Jesus is patently NOT Lord. If Jesus were Lord (and He is), then she would be at His feet instead of standing over Him upset and demanding. Beloved, Jesus is LORD. As LORD, He NEVER asked Martha to do what she was doing. Martha was doing what she was doing because it was HER house, and SHE wanted to look good for Jesus and His disciples. SHE wanted to be a good hostess. There’s nothing wrong with that – but Jesus is LORD.

Jesus went 40 days and 40 nights without food, and just made a banquet for over 5000 people out of two fish and five little biscuits. If He is hungry, He will tell Martha.

Jesus tells us in another place:

Matthew 4:4 (ESV) … Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

We all desperately need the Word of God.
We do not need another strange philosophy out of Hollyweird.
We do not need a 3.5 TRILLION dollar tax burden from Valhalla.
We need to be at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him.
We need to be at Jesus’ feet, worshiping Him.

Luke 4:8 (ESV) … It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve”.

Martha was not serving the Lord. She was serving herself. It was her house, and she was putting on airs – unrequested airs. Furthermore, Martha is making out that Jesus is heartless. “Dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?”. Jesus, if You loved me, you would (fill in the blank). How often have we all done this, jumping out ahead of God’s direction, doing it – like Frank Sinatra sang, “My Way”.

Please note that Jesus does not chastise Martha until she, overwhelmed, comes to Him. Jesus just continues teaching Mary until Martha gets enough. When we jump out on our own and get ourselves wrapped around the axle, sometimes the Lord will just let us go until we – overwhelmed – come crying to Him. “Jesus, don’t You care?” Yes, He does. Jesus corrects Martha:

Luke 10:41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things..

Notice how Jesus speaks to Martha. He says Martha, Martha.

Martha is one of 7 people that God calls their name twice – and the only woman Jesus calls by name twice.

Abraham, Abraham (Genesis 22:11)
Jacob, Jacob (Genesis 46:2)
Moses, Moses (Exodus 3:4)
Samuel, Samuel (1 Samuel 3:10)
Martha, Martha (Luke 10:41)
Simon, Simon (Luke 22:31)
Saul, Saul (Acts 9:4)

Word Study: Martha’s mind is on overload because she is doing many things – but NOTHING that Jesus told her to do. Jesus told her thou art careful and troubled. The word careful is the Greek μεριμνάω merimnáō, {pronounced mer-im-nah’-o}, which means anxious, filled with anxiety. The other word troubled is the Greek τυρβάζω tyrbázō, {pronounced toor-bad’-zo}, meaning “to be stirred up and confused, to be troubled in mind. Two of the greatest enemies of our faith is anxiety and confusion. Where anxiety and confusion is, Jesus is NOT. The Bible tells us:

Philippians 4:6 (ESV) … do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

In other words, if you are ANXIOUS, stop what you’re doing, and sit at Jesus’ feet listening. Open the Word of God. Pray, and look for God’s face. Recognize that HE IS LORD and WE ARE NOT. We are not to be anxious today, nor about tomorrow. Do as Jesus said:

Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

One of my favorite Bible texts is God is not a God of confusion but of peace(1 Corinthians 14:33). Martha was taking too much on herself, running herself ragged. Jesus told her:

Luke 10:42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

The Apostle Paul understood that the greatest thing any of us can do is to hear and know Jesus. He wrote:

Philippians 3:8-10 (ESV) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ … and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

The best thing in life – the thing that brings joy to every day – is to know Jesus, to hear His Word, and to be worshipful in doing what He has said. Mary chose that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. As we learn of Jesus, we, through the Holy Spirit of God, become daily more like Jesus. We DO His Word. Let us commit to give our lives to Jesus. Let us have a Mary mentality, sitting at the Lord’s feet daily, seeking HIS will. Let us be GOOD WAITERS. May God the Holy Spirit draw us all into a deeper relationship with Him, for His glory, that His Kingdom might grow. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Luke, Sermons Preached | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A Mighty Mite!

Widow’s Mite at time of Christ

Mark 12:41-44 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

A Little Technical Information To Start 🙂

That which I gave you this morning is a reproduction of what we today call a “widow’s mite”. The “widow” in our scripture would have dropped two of these into one of thirteen “chests” or “trumpets” found in the Temple. The Jewish commentary Mishnah Shekalim (6:5) notes, “There were thirteen chests in the Temple, and on each of them was inscribed …”. Each chest or trumpet was labeled with the name of the fund it was supporting. One of the funds that people gave to as a widow’s and orphan’s fund.

Word Study: A little technical details on the reproduction I gave. I had to give you reproductions because the genuine “widow’s mite” – which can still be bought online – can cost anywhere from 40 to 400$ apiece because of collector demand! The “widow’s mite” I gave you has an anchor on one side, and the points of a star on the other. The actual name of these coins is lepta(singular = lepton). Lepta were the lowest denomination of coin that circulated in Jerusalem when Jesus walked the earth. Two lepta [KJV “mites”] were equivalent to one quadrans [KJV “farthing] (Greek κοδράντης kodrántēs, [pronounced kod-ran’-tace]), the smallest Roman coin. The quadrans was worth 3/8 of a cent. The widow gave less than a penny to the collection at the Temple.

Word Study: As Jesus watched people putting money into the various chests, He saw a poor widow come into the Court of Women. It was obvious that she was poor by the state of her clothing. Jesus calls the woman πτωχός ptōchós, {pronounced pto-khos’}, a “pauper” or “like a beggar”. The others wore either fine clothing, or better than average clothing. This woman’s raiment was worn. When Jesus preached His Sermon on the Mount, He said:

Luke 6:20 … Blessed be ye poor {ptōchós}: for yours is the kingdom of God.

This Unnamed Widow Was A Genuine Believer:
She Loved The Lord!

As Jesus saw this poor widow head toward a chest, He called His disciples to Him. Jesus often made teaching points from things that were going on around Him. Jesus pointed to the widow, and told His disciples:

Mark 12:43-44 … Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living

Word Study: This woman cast in all that she had, even all her living. The word translated living is the Greek βίος bíos, {pronounced bee’-os}, which means “that by which life is sustained”. She gave all she had. This woman literally put her life on the line. She had no more funds, nothing else of note. And yet, she cast all in.

This woman put her life on the line, because her heart was filled with love for her God.

Jesus noted that. Jesus was watching. The woman did not know that Jesus was watching, but Jesus is always watching over His people. Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. Jesus said:

John 10:11 I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

The Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. The Good Shepherd is not an employee, a hireling. The Good Shepherd watches over His sheep, His charges, because He loves His sheep. The Good Shepherd is always watching His sheep. And the Good Shepherd has a relationship with His sheep. Jesus said:

John 10:27-28 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

The Sheep of God know that – even if they cannot see Him – the Shepherd is near. Jesus is a Good Shepherd. He is not here one day, then gone the next. Jesus was watching the treasury in the Court of Women because He was watching for His sheep. He wanted to show His disciples – and US – what the Sheep of God do. This woman gave her all to God. She had little by the standards of those who were in the Temple that day. As people walked around her, they dropped hand-fulls of coins into the trumpets. Some fed their money into the trumpets – the collection plates – one coin by one, pausing for effect between each drop. CLINK …… CLINK …… CLINK….. CLINK. Those who were giving with such animation were well off. They had much money, and gave much money to the Temple.

But in reality, it cost them nothing! Jesus said:

Mark 12:44 … For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living

They cast in of their abundance. They are to be commended for their tithing, for this is a good thing. The tithe will go to help those in need. But their tithe cost them little to nothing. But she, the Sheep of God, gave all that she had. It cost her everything. Jesus recognized this, an applauded her faith. She gave her all because she knew she belonged to God.

Matthew 6:25-33 (ESV) … do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

This widow was not worried about her life. She loved the Lord. Many can recite that beautiful Psalm of David, Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

This woman LIVED her faith. She knew that God was watching over her. Not one hair of your head will fall to the ground, but that Jesus sees it (Matthew 10:30; Luke 12:7).

Are You Religious, Or In A Relationship With Jesus?

God the Son does not want you religious. He wants you in a relationship with Him. In this same chapter we read an encounter between Jesus and a Scribe. The Scribes worked closely with the priests and the Temple, as the Scribes were not only copiers of the Scripture, but experts in Biblical Law. A Scribe comes to Jesus at the end of a conversation He had with the Sadducees.

Mark 12:28-30 … one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

Word Study: The Scribe asked Jesus Which is the first commandment of all?. The word translated first is the Greek πρῶτος prōtos, {pronounced pro’-tos}, which means “the foremost or greatest and most important”. The Scribe was asking Jesus – in essence – “what is the primary or foundational commandment of God on which all other commandments are based”. Jesus knew what the Scribe was asking. Jesus replied, The Lord our God is one Lord, that is, there is NO OTHER GOD BUT THAT OF THE SCRIPTURE. All others are imitators, false, liars and thieves. If the God of the Scripture is YOUR God, then you are to love Him with all. God wants all of your heart. You may love…

your spouse,
your children,
your parents,
yourself,
your friends,

but your love for them must be SECONDARY to your love for God. Christianity is a loving relationship through Jesus Christ to God. Your love for God will be the sun and the sum of your life. This is the prōtos.

Christian faith is not a lease – you have to own it. Does God own your heart, or is your Christianity leased?

Illustrate: A surgeon was briefing a little boy and his family on what he intended to do. He said, “Tomorrow morning, I’m going to open up your heart …”. The little boy interrupted. He said, “You’ll find Jesus there”. The surgeon looked at the parents, but they said nothing. A little annoyed, the surgeon said, “Son, I’m sure when I look in your heart, I’ll find damaged muscle and weakened vessels. But I intend to fix that, and make you well.” The child said, “You’ll find Jesus there, too. He lives in my heart.” The surgeon left. The next day, following the surgery the surgeon sat quietly in his office. The child had a damaged aorta, widespread degeneration. It was so bad there was no hope for a transplant. The prognosis was bleak. The child had little time to live. The surgeon bowed his head, and prayed. “Why God. Why did You do this? Why did You allow this?”. The Lord answered him. “That boy is my little Lamb. He was not meant for your flock very long. He’s a part of My flock, and will soon forever be with Me. His parents are also of My flock, and will one day be united with him in My glorious Heaven. This child did what he was supposed to do. I brought him into this world to retrieve another lost person – YOU.” The surgeon wept. Later as he sat with the boy and his parents, the little boy asked, “Did you cut open my heart?” The surgeon said, “Yes, son, I did”. The little boy asked, “What did you find?” The surgeon, with a smile on his face, said “I found Jesus there”.

The widow loved God with her all though she suffered poverty. The little boy loved Jesus with all his heart though he suffered sickness. Love for God will lead to the second commandment:

Mark 12:31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Until God in Christ possesses your heart, your other relationships will; be but cheap imitations of God’s best. The Scribe, hearing Jesus, replies:

Mark 12:32-33 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: 33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

The Pharisees and Scribes believed that the rituals of the Law, burnt offerings and sacrifices, were the most important thing to God. They aren’t. The Prophet Samuel told King Saul:

1 Samuel 15:22 (ESV) Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.

You enter the Kingdom of God by falling in love with Jesus. You enter the Kingdom of God by allowing Jesus to possess your heart and guide your life.

Mark 12:38-40 And {Jesus} said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, 39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: 40 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

The Scribes leased their faith for celebrity, for affirmation, for profit. Do not lease your faith!

The Scribes are like many religious people today. They dress up in long clothing. They wear doctoral robes. They love salutations in the marketplaces. They love to be called “Doctor”, and introduced to others as “The Immanent ___”. They want to be in the “Amen Corner” in the local Church, and in the best seats at the feasts. They for a pretense make long prayers. It is all smoke and mirrors. Pastor Greg Morse wrote:

If an old-time preacher, one who believed in uncomfortable realities like the wrath of God … rode his horse through some of the streets of American Christianity, what might he experience? … Sounding the alarm as Paul Revere, this watchman might gallop down our paved roads yelling,

Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming! Make way for the King! Repent and believe! Stay awake! Keep the faith! Only those who endure to the end will be saved! Put the flesh to death by the Spirit! Obey Him! Finish the race! Look to Jesus! Trust Him for His grace! He is coming to judge the world in righteousness!’

to his amazement, some voices would shoot back … “We have heard of your kind before … more emphasis on our works than Christ’s. Listen here, Christ lived a perfect life for me and died in my place. I have failed, will fail, and often fail – but Christ, sir, Christ such a life in my place, I refuse to return to the law. I am gospel-centered, you see!’

Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone. Once saved,
your God will possess your heart and your life.

1 Peter 2:24-25 (ESV) {Jesus} himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Like the Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day, we were straying from God. We were walking about “DEAD in TRESPASSES and SINS” (Ephesians 2:1,5). But born again by faith in Christ Jesus, Jesus now occupies our hearts. We love the Lord with all. We love our neighbor as ourselves. The lost do neither.

Mark 12:40 … {Beware of the scribes} … Which devour widows’ houses,

Word Study: The word translated devour is the Greek κατεσθίω katesthíō, {pronounced kat-es-thee’-o}, which means “to gobble up, devour”. If you pretend to love God, you will not love your neighbor. This is not the first time Jesus called out Scribes and Pharisees for “devouring or gobbling up widow’s houses” (see Matthew 23:14; Luke 20:47). Under God’s Law, He told those who were believing landowners:

Deuteronomy 24:19-21 (ESV) When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. 21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.

Those who suffered, like a sharecropper’s widow, was not to be thrown out of her home because her husband died. God told His people to leave a sheaf in the field, to allow those who were poor to enjoy the second harvest of the olive trees and of the grapes of your vineyard. When a field was reaped, the corners of the field were to be left untouched for the poor. God did two things by this.

Preach This: If you love the Lord your God with all your heart, you love your neighbor, too. And loving your neighbor did not mean giving a handout, but a hand up. The stranger, the orphan, the widow were to go out and put a little labor in gathering that which was left in the field or on the tree. In this way, all learned RESPONSIBILITY.

Religion Destroyed The Temple, And Religion Will Destroy The Church

After commending the widow, we read:

Mark 13:1-2 And as {Jesus} went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! 2 And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

In America today many mega-Churches, rega-Churches, and little Churches are falling apart. A number of “celebrity” Christians (like Kevin Max from the group DC Talk and Joshua Harris who wrote “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” or the late Ravi Zacharias) have become “deconverted”, or have said that they are “deconstructing their faith”. In reality, they are proving what the Scripture told us about false believers. The Apostle John wrote:

1 John 2:19-20 (ESV) … They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One…

As the disciples left the Temple, a beautiful structure that was built by King Herod, they remarked on it’s fine construction. Jesus told them there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. The Roman Empire would lay siege to the city of Jerusalem in April 14, 70 A.D., three days prior to the beginning of Passover. The Temple would be destroyed by Rome in August, 70 A.D.

I often wonder what happened to that poor widow that Jesus commended. Though her destiny is not revealed in Scripture, I know that my God is faithful. As a Good Shepherd, Jesus tended to her needs, and she rests in glory with Him in eternity.

I believe that God is separating the wheat from the tares in America today. If we deny Jesus, Jesus will deny us (2 Timothy 2:12). If we sow corruption, we reap corruption (Galatians 6:7-8). Those who are Christ’s sheep will, as Hebrews 3:12-14 notes, “share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end”. The Bible is very clear. Eternal life is certain for those with overcoming faith (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26, 3:5, 12, 21). Genuine faith in Christ causes a person to fall in love with God. We love God with our ALL. And God indwells us, gently guiding the believer through the valleys of this life. Genuine faith is not here today, and gone tomorrow. The Christian delights to do God’s will. The Christian loves to worship God with other saints. Do you love Jesus? Do you know Him? Oh, I pray that you do! Run into Jesus’ arms this very day. Do not delay! Trust Him, and commit to loving Him with your all. May God the Holy Spirit convict you this very day!

Posted in Mark Sermons, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Solomon’s Folly A.K.A. The gods Among Us

Photo by Egor Myznik on Unsplash

Is The Grace Of God Fully Operational In Your Life?

The Grace of God (God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense) was not just given to get you into Heaven. The Grace of God is given to the believer to get Heaven into us. I believe – along with the Apostles – that it is possible to be saved by Grace, and yet not enjoy the fullness of Grace. The Bible calls this “Receiving The Grace of god in Vain”. The Apostle Paul spoke of this when he wrote::

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

The Grace of God will take you to Heaven. But the Grace of God should take God’s Heaven to your heart. If you are under Grace, you should joyously labor for God’s Kingdom. Jesus said “the Kingdom of God IS WITHIN YOU” (Luke 17:21). It is Grace that saves us. It is Grace that keeps on saving us. It is Grace that makes us children of God, as opposed to children of Adam. The Apostle reiterated in:

2 Corinthians 6:1, telling the Church: “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain”.

Grace changes you.

  • When Enoch found Grace, he walked with God till he walked into Heaven.
  • When Noah found Grace, God had him build a boat.
  • When Abraham found Grace, God had him leave home and go to Canaan.
  • When Joseph found Grace, he left prison and became co-regent with Pharaoh.
  • When Moses found Grace, he stopped being a fugitive and led Israel from Egypt.
  • When Joshua found Grace, he led Israel to take the Promised Land.
  • When Shamgar found Grace, he defeated 600 Philistines.
  • When David found Grace, he left the pasture, defeated Goliath, and became king of Israel.
  • When Daniel found Grace he kept on praying, until he led a den of lions into a prayer meeting.
  • When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego found Grace, they found Jesus in a fiery furnace.

The Grace of God transcends the Old as well as the New Covenants. The only way people have ever been saved by God is through His GRACE. The Apostle wrote:

Galatians 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

The Grace of God can indeed be received in vain. What robs the believer of the power of God’s Grace? When the believer begins to share his or her affections with the world. When we blend our faith with the gods of this world, we rob ourselves of the joy of the power of Grace.

Solomon Was Saved By Grace: He WALKED With God

Please turn with me in your Bibles to 2 Samuel chapter 12. We’re going to look at the wisest man who has ever lived, a man called Solomon.

Solomon was the second child of David and Bathsheba, the first child dying as a judgment from God on that couple’s adulterous behavior (2 Samuel 12:13-16, 24). In Walter Vogels David’s Greatness in His Sin and Repentance”, he notes: “The child {of adultery}cannot belong to David. He cannot enrich himself through his sin, and in a sense, justice is done to Uriah
{Bathsheba’s murdered husband}.”

After their first child died, God allowed David & Bathsheba to have a second child. This is GRACE.

2 Samuel 12:24 … and {David} called his name Solomon: and the Lord loved him.

Word Study: The name Solomonis Hebrew: שְׁלֹמֹה‎‎, pronounced [Šəlōmō], meaning “peaceful”. There are two reasons for this name.

  • The birth of another child proves that David & Bathsheba’s sins are forgiven by God’s Grace. They are “at peace” with God.
  • Solomon as king of Israel would lead the nation in a time of unprecedented “peace”. Israel would be united and blessed by God, and the Temple would be built.

According to the Talmud (the Jewish Rabbi commentary), Solomon was considered a Jewish Prophet, as well as a King. He wrote – as inspired by God – Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. He also was a contributor to the book of Psalms.

Solomon was loved of God, and he loved God.

Little Known Fact: He was not only named Solomon, but was also named Jedidiah(2 Samuel 12:25), meaning “Beloved of Jehovah” (יְדִידְיָה Yᵉdîydᵉyâh, [pronounced yed-ee-deh-yaw’]). When King David knew that his death was imminent, he called for Solomon, and crowning him King said:

1 Kings 2:3 … keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself…

Solomon heard what his father David said, but did not DO what his father said.

1 Kings 3:1 And Solomon made affinity (חָתַן châthan, [pronounced khaw-than’], “joined families by marital covenant”) with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the Lord, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.

As King over a united Israel, and as peace was throughout all the land, Solomon went about reconstructing and rebuilding that which had been destroyed by war during the time of David. Solomon’s biggest projects were to build his own house, the palace that he lived in. He also built the house of the Lord. Up to this time Israel worshiped God in a tent called the “Tabernacle”. Solomon built the Temple for God. Solomon also extended and fortified the wall of Jerusalem, a necessary defense against marauders and other enemies. Solomon was doing some great things for God. None of what he did in construction was intended to be sinful. But we read:

1 Kings 3:1 Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David

Solomon married Pharaoh’s daughter, making an alliance with Egypt in order to help protect Israel from war. There was a problem with this. You see, Pharaoh’s daughter was a believer in false gods and goddesses. God told His people …

thou shalt not take a wife … of the daughters of the Canaanites (Genesis 24:3) … Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods(Deuteronomy 7:3-4)”.

God knows us. Listen my Beloved: We are all broken.

Saved or lost, born again or child Adam, Blood bought or flesh empowered, Christian or non-Christian, we are all broken. But those who belong to Jesus are supposed to obey Jesus, and to love Jesus, and to follow Jesus. If we who are children of God intermarry with children of false gods, they will drag us down to their level. The Apostle Paul told the Church age believer:

2 Corinthians 6:14-16 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

I have heard some say, “Solomon didn’t really sin, because he didn’t marry a Canaanite”. But Solomon, a very wise man and a prophet of God, knew that – though he did not marry a Canaanite – he knowingly violated the intent of the Scripture. Did Solomon love the Lord? The Bible says:

1 Kings 3:3 Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.

Solomon went to the “High Places” where people often sacrificed to false gods and goddesses. Solomon went to Gibeon and sacrificed to the God of Truth. God met Solomon at Gibeon, and said to him “Ask what I shall give thee” (vs 5). The God of this Creation, the God of all that you see, comes to you and asks, “What can I give you?” There is “nothing impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). What would you ask? What you would ask, reveals the condition of your heart. If you asked for a new car, or to win the lottery, or to live forever, this would reveal your heart as selfish and conceited.

Solomon’s words showed that he loved the Lord.

1 Kings 3:7-9 O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in {I don’t know how to WALK}. 8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. 9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?

Solomon loves God. Solomon loves his stewardship, Israel. He doesn’t want to disappoint God, nor to harm his people. So Solomon asks God for wisdom. God replied:

1 Kings 3:11-14 … Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; 12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. 13 And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honor: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. 14 And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days

Solomon is to WALK with God – not with false gods!

God in Grace, heaps blessing upon Solomon. God makes Solomon the wisest person who has ever lived. From this moment on, Solomon would know how to rule Israel and yet avoid breaching God’s Word. Solomon would soon be put to the test, as he ruled from the throne of David. The Bible says:

1 Kings 3:28 all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.

Solomon’s house grew, as God gave him wisdom to rule. The Bible says:

1 Kings 4:29-31 … God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. 30 And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 For he was wiser than all men…

The essence of Grace is to WALK daily with God.

When you walk with God, following Him as you go about your day, God will bless you. This is what happened with King Solomon. The Bible says, the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him: and there was peace” (1 Kings 5:12). God told Solomon:

1 Kings 6:12 Concerning this house {the Temple} which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with thee…

Solomon lived by Grace. He walked with God. The Lord said, walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments. You cannot walk with God and the gods. “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). Solomon told Israel:

1 Kings 8:57-58, 61 The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us {Solomon is saying God, WALK with us}: 58 That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers… 61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.

God heard Solomon’s prayer, and promised to “establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever” (1 Kings 9:5). God also warned Solomon,

1 Kings 9:6-7 … if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: 7 Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them

God will not walk with other gods. He does not mind walking with us, frail as we are. But our affections must not be divided. We dare not become inclusive with other gods, or with the world.

Our God Will Not With Us And The gods

1 Kings 11:1-11 But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites: 2 Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father. 7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. 8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. 9 And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, 10 And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the Lord commanded. 11 Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.

Solomon did not lose his salvation by blending his faith with the gods of this world – but he did lose his blessing. His son Rehoboam would succeed Solomon as king, and Israel would go through a terrible civil war because of the son.

You cannot walk with God and the gods.

Are YOU Walking With Strange gods?

The God of the Bible is the God Who calls us to salvation. The God of the Bible is the God Who sent Jesus Christ, His only Son, to be our Savior and Lord. Are you walking with the God of the Bible, or are you walking with the gods of this world? Our God will not walk with strange gods. He would not do it with Solomon (who wrote three books of scripture [Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs], and contributed to the Psalms), and will not do it with you.

There are many strange gods trying to crawl into the Christian Church today. I don’t have time to talk about all of them, but I do want to mention four:

  1. There is the god of wokeness, and Critical Race Theory.

I recently finished reading “Christianity and Wokeness” by Owen Strachan (research professor of theology, Grace Bible Theological Seminary). The Bible prohibits “man stealing” (1 Timothy 1:10), which is race based chattel slavery. The Bible commands that we “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39). We are to treat others the way we want to be treated. The Bible tells us that “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). As our Heavenly Father loves all people regardless of color, we must do the same if we expect to walk with God. However, so called “wokeness” and “Critical Race Theory” is more worldly and of the gods of this world than it is of Scripture. Strachan in his book quoted from the “woke” book Divided by Faith (Christian Smith): “All white evangelicals are complicit in the racial inequalities that exist, mainly because ‘they support the American system and enjoy it’s fruits’ … In combating racial inequality, whites, as ‘the main creators and benefactors of the racialized society, must repent of their personal, historical, and social sins.’ (pg 36)

As believers in Christ we MUST REPENT of our personal sins, and of any racism that we ourselves have engaged or are engaging in. Romans 14:12 notes “each of us will give an account of ourselves to God”. Each person is accountable for their own sin. However, it exceeds Scripture to say we need to repent of “historical sins”. The Bible says:

Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

Each person is accountable to God for THEIR OWN SIN, not for the sins of others. I cannot “repent” of anything an ancestor did. Such “repentance” is no more than show. My duty before God is to love God and love my neighbor. Period. One of the founders of “Woke” doctrine, Ibram X. Kendi notes in the book How To Be An Antiracist: “there is no neutrality in the racism struggle … One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is not in between safe space of ‘not racist.’ The claim of ‘not racist’ neutrality is a mask for racism.” This is confusion and nonsense, and my God is NOT the God of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), but of peace.

Each person is accountable for how they live their own life before God. And no, you are not automatically racist just because you are white. You are racist when you behave racist. Period. Jesus loved every person, and treated each person with the respect He wanted for Himself. This is what we do.

  1. There is the god of sexual sin.

Whether is be homosexual sin, heterosexual sin, transgenderism, or an alphabet soup of letters, the god of this world is pushing for the destruction of the family. Transgender “women” are fighting to be included in women’s competitions, women’s locker rooms, and women’s bathrooms. What did Jesus say about gender and marriage? He said:

Matthew 19:4-6 … Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

God designed men and women in a specific way, and called men and women to marry one another. For thousands of years this has been the standard of marriage.

In America, we have extraordinary freedoms. If you wish to pursue sexual sin, there is no law stopping you from walking that path. However, God will not walk with you.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Timothy 1:9-10 … the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,

In Romans 1:18-32 the Apostle indicts those who reject the Gospel of salvation in order to chase after a variety of sins. The Apostle makes it clear that sexual sin and violation of God’s design puts you where God will not walk with you. Again, as Americans there are things that the Bible condemns that are “lawful” in our present society. But as Christians, God’s will and God’s glory take precedent over what we feel or want.

  1. The god of abortion.

All life is precious, even the life of the developing child. God made us in His image (Genesis 1:27), and that alone makes every person precious. The Psalmist said to God, “Your hands made me and formed me…” (Psalm 119:73). It is God Who gives life, and Who forms every human being (Psalm 139:13-16; Job 10:11-12). God “formed you from the womb” (Isaiah 44:24). And God has a purpose for every child. God told Jeremiah “Before I formed you in your mother’s body I chose you. Before you were born I set you apart to serve Me.” (1:5). When John the Baptist was still in his mother’s womb, he “leapt for joy” when brought near to the expectant virgin Mary (Luke 1:41, 44). The Prophet Isaiah said, “the Lord called me from the womb” (Isaiah 49:1, 5). The Apostle Paul said “God set me apart from the time I was born” (Galatians 1:15). Though Roe vs Wade may make allowance for abortion of a child, the Bible considers all life to be precious.

  1. The god of social media.

People walk about staring at their phones. Parents and children go out to eat, and never talk to one another – but watch and respond to social media incessantly. Don’t get me wrong – I use social media to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with as many as possible. I use a blog, and post to Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. To use social media is one thing. To have it consume you is quite another. People have become quite belligerent, difficult, and yes, mean on social media. This is because actual face to face interaction with another human develops a set of skills that you do not have to have on social media. If you disagree with someone on social media, you can just “flame” them. There are no consequences for your actions except, perhaps by being blocked.

Our Lord Jesus tells us in John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

You cannot do this on social media. Love is something you cannot text, something you cannot do through a machine. Loving as Jesus calls us to love requires an in-person touch. People need that personal touch. I have read horror stories where students have abused others through social media. I myself have experienced so much nonsense on my own website that I took away the “comments” section intentionally. People can be brutal through social media. This is not the way of Christ. The stepbrother of Jesus said:

James 3:14-18 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

Have you “married” your life to strange wives? Have you blended your faith with the gods of this world? James goes on to tell us “do you not know that friendship of the world is to make yourselves the enemy of God? Whoever befriends the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). We cannot blend our faith with the false gods of this world. Let us come to the God of the Scripture through His Son Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Let us believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and rose again to lead us in the paths of righteousness. Let us live our lives sold out for Jesus!

The days are short, dear friends. I believe that the end of this present world could come any day now. Let us all love God with all our hearts, and walk with Him daily as He has called us. May God the Holy Spirit and this His Word touch your hearts this day. Amen and Amen.

Posted in 1 Kings, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Understanding Jesus In The Trinity

Photo by Sharon Santema on Unsplash

Turn with me to John chapter 5.

Not long ago we talked about the man Jesus healed on the Sabbath day, the man who had been crippled for 38 years. Jesus approached him as he lay on a porch overlooking the pool Bethesda. Jesus told the man to “Rise, take up your bed, and walk” (vs 8) – and the man immediately was healed and did just that. Because Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath day, “the Jews … sought to slay Jesus” (vs 16). Jesus told the self righteous Pharisees:

John 5:17-18 … My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus Made Himself Equal With God

Jesus did TWO things that offended the Pharisees. He broke the sabbath, but He also said God was his Father, making himself equal with God. This was highly offensive to the Jews. To say that “God is my Father” is to claim equality with God.

I was born to E. J. Buffaloe, Jr. That was my daddy. Being born from him, I am of the same composition, the same genes, the same DNA as my father. I have certain traits that were passed down from my daddy. I look a lot like my daddy. I have diabetes and high blood pressure, just as my daddy did. My daddy had seniority on me, and I respected him as my daddy – he was the head of our family. But we were equal physically because of birth.

No Jew would claim God to be his Father. There are places in the Old Testament where God is called “Father” of Israel as a nation. But you will not find God calling Himself “Father” to an individual.

A few examples. God told Moses to tell Pharaoh:

Exodus 4:22 – 23 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.

Israel the nation is the son of God. God said through the Prophet:

Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

It is the nation Israel – not an individual but the group – that are “God’s son”. When the priests of Israel failed to bring glory to God (for they did not “keep God’s ways, but were partial in the law” [Malachi 2:9]), the Prophet told Israel:

Malachi 2:10 Have we not all one Father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?

God is the “Father” of Israel. “He was their Savior” (Isaiah 63:8). God saved Israel His son from Egypt. And though Israel wandered from God as a prodigal son, God loved Israel anyway. It was and is His child (Isaiah 63:16; 64:8).

Word Study: “Father” is the favorite title that Jesus uses for God. The word “Father” is found 116 times in the Book of John alone, most of these times in reference to God. Jesus said that “God was his Father”. The word translated “” is the Greek πατήρ patḗr, (pronounced pat-ayr’), which means “the generator or male ancestor, the parent of”. This word is used instead of the word Ἀββᾶ Abbâ, (pronounced ab-bah’), which is often used as a term of endearment.

How is God the “Father” of Jesus Christ? Did Jesus only come into being when He was born of the virgin Mary? No, absolutely not. The Bible teaches that God the Father is God:

Philippians 1:2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father..

but Jesus is also God. We are told in:

Colossians 2:9 For in {Jesus Christ} dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

In Hebrews, the Father told the angels when Jesus was brought into this world through Mary:

Hebrews 1:6 … let all the angels of God worship him.

Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. The Father told Jesus, Thy throne, O GOD, is for ever and ever..” (Hebrews 1:8). Jesus is God. He was there at the creation of humanity. We are told in:

Genesis 1:26 … and God said, let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness …

Jesus is God the Son Who, with God the Father and God the Spirit created all things. The Bible says that Jesus is …

Colossians 1:15-17 (ESV) … the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Word Study: Jesus is equal with God. He is the image”, Greek εἰκών eikṓn, {pronounced i-kone’}, the “likeness, profile of, manifest vision of”. The same word is used when Jesus, speaking of a Roman coin, asks “whose image is this?” (Matthew 22:20). Though Caesar was not with the disciples at that moment, the eikṓn on the coin was Caesar. Though the Apostles could not see God (for the Bible says NO MAN HATH SEEN GOD AT ANY TIME – John 1:18; 1 John 4:12), they could see God the Son for He is the manifest Member of the Godhead. The Angel in speaking to Joseph, quoting Isaiah 7:14, said of Jesus:

Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Jesus Christ is EmmanuelGod with us

There are so many other things I could tell you, where Jesus, according to the Scriptures, is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit.

Jesus as God has no beginning and no end. Jesus as perfect Man has a beginning through the virgin Mary.

In His Unique Nature, Jesus Is
BOTH Equal To AND Lesser Than God

When Jesus is called “the Only Begotten Son” (John 1:18; John 3:16, 18; Hebrews 11:17; 1 John 4:9) or “the Only Begotten of the Father” (John 1:14), this is addressing the humanity of Jesus. The humanity of Jesus Christ has a beginning in the virgin birth. To Mary, Gabriel declared “the Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the highest shall overshadow you; therefore that holy thing which shall be born to you shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Jesus as God has no beginning nor end, but as Man has a beginning. Jesus as God is equal to Father and Spirit, but Jesus as Man follows the direction of God. Though Jesus made Himself EQUAL to God in His eternal state, in His human state Jesus followed God. He said:

John 5:19-20 Then answered Jesus and said unto them {the Pharisees}, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. 20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

When Jesus took upon Himself humanity – allowing Himself to enter the world through Mary – Jesus lowered Himself to our level (but WITHOUT SIN). When Jesus says, The Son can do nothing of himself, He was speaking of Himself as “the Son of Man”.

  • As the “Son of God” Jesus is one with God, i.e. co-equal and co-eternal, with infinite power and knowledge. In His “Godness” we see scriptures affirming:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 10:30 I and My Father are ONE.

John 14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

  • As the “Son of Man” Jesus is subservient to God. Jesus lowered Himself from Heaven’s Throne to be like us – yet without sin. In His “humanity” we see scriptures affirming:

John 5:20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

As “Son of Man” Jesus walked this earth PERFECTLY doing the will of the Father. Whatever Jesus did while He ministered among us, it was endorsed and directed by the Godhead. Jesus repeatedly said in His humanity that

I do nothing of myself” (John 8:28)
“The Father Who sent Me gave Me a commandment” (John 12:24)
“My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28)
“I have kept My Father’s commandments” (John 15:10)
“Father, I gave them the words You gave Me” (John 17:8)

Jesus Christ as “The Son of Man” (a term used for the Messiah through the Prophet Daniel. See Daniel 7:13) is the visible member of the Godhead, the Trinity. He came as God’s Representative to fallen mankind. Here is an important point we all need to understand.

Though the Trinity is three Divine Persons, each Person has His function. The Father leads and decrees. The Son is sent as the Mediator. The Spirit empowers and assists the Son. There is no jealousy nor diminishing within the Trinity. Each Person does His part in union with the other Persons, each working flawlessly and perfectly in union with the next. The Trinity is “One God”.

Before Jesus started His earthly ministry, He went to John the Baptist to be baptized in the Jordan River. John initially refused to baptize Jesus, but Jesus told him, “It is necessary for US to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Jesus had to be publicly baptized as “The Son of Man”, just as all believers in Christ are publicly baptized. Once Jesus fulfilled what He, as the Son of Man was to do, we read:

Matthew 3:16-17 … the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

The Father is not seen, but heard. The Spirit is seen, but not heard. Each member of the Trinity does His part for the salvation of mankind.

The Trinity Made A Decision In The Garden Of Eden To Save Whosoever Will THROUGH JESUS

God told Adam to not eat of that which was forbidden, saying,

Genesis 2:16-17 … Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Adam was promised that he would die in the day that thou eatest what was forbidden. In the day. Though Adam continued to live physically after he disobeyed God, he died spiritually immediately. In the day. From that moment onward, every human born into this world were born physically alive but spiritually dead. In Dr. Charles Stanley’s In Touch devotional (August 30, 2021), he writes:

Human beings are composed of a body by which they interact with the world around them, a soul with which they relate to themselves and others, and a spirit through which they can commune with God. If the spirit is dead in “trespasses and sins,” the person may still lead a successful earthly life, but he won’t be able to connect with God … However, the good news is that no one has to stay dead. Whenever anyone turns from sin and trusts in Jesus Christ for forgiveness and salvation, God in His mercy makes that person alive with Christ.”

This is what Jesus is talking about in this next section. Read with me:

John 5:21-24 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. 22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Word Study: The word quickeneth is the Greek “ζωοποιέω zōopoiéō, {pronounced dzo-op-oy-eh’-o}”, which means “to bring to or make alive, to cause to live”. God the Father has the power to quicken. God said in the Old Testament:

Deuteronomy 32:39 … I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.

The power of life and death is in God’s hands ALONE. When Jesus says the Son quickeneth whom he will, He is making His power equal to the Father’s power. God is the Source of all life, and He alone can give life to the spiritually dead. Jesus Christ is God. Jesus further states that the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. This declares the exclusivity of Jesus Christ in salvation. The Bible says:

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

All authority to give life is vested in Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ ALONE. In an article in Relevant Magazine entitled “Survey … Jesus Isn’t The Only Way To Salvation” notes:

“… of the born again Christians between the ages of 18-39 surveyed, 60 percent agreed with the statement ‘Buddha, Muhammad and Jesus are all valid paths to God.’ … ”

If this is true, then Jesus Christ is a liar. For Jesus said the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. Not just some, but ALL. There is no life apart from the Father and the Son, and the Father has given all judgment to the Son. The pathway to spiritual life is, indeed, a “narrow way” (Matthew 7:13). The devil would have us call Jesus a liar, and preach instead that “wide is the gate that leads to life”. But this is not what Jesus said.

Only God can save. God has decreed that
all salvation come through His Son Jesus.

1 Timothy 2:3-6 (ESV) This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

As I read that article in Relevant Magazine, it became apparent to me that the phrase “Born Again” has been hijacked from the Scripture by the devil, just as he has hijacked the rainbow of Genesis. You cannot be “born again” outside of faith in Christ. What did Jesus say?

John 5:23 all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

Jesus is to be treated with exactly the same respect that you treat God the Father. God the Father has decreed that salvation from spiritual death and the second death (eternal damnation) can only occur through faith in Christ Jesus. Jesus said:

John 5:24-26 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. 26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

Those who hear the voice of the Son of God – not of Buddha nor of Muhammad nor of Joseph Smith nor of some Hindu god – but the voice of the Son of God. Jesus said My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28).

The Lord Jesus Christ is the only Savior. The world despises this message, and constantly pushes the Church to adjust the Gospel call. But Beloved, we cannot because God has not. Jesus Christ is the only Savior, and faith in Him the only way to be saved.

When the Russian Comedian Yakov Smirnoff came to America, someone asked him what he loved most about our nation. Smirnoff said, “I love American grocery stores. I walked down an aisle and saw powdered milk; just add water and you get milk. Right next to it was powdered orange juice; just add water and you get orange juice. Then I saw baby powder and I thought to myself, ‘What a country!’”.

In America we have great technology, great products, and do great things. But we cannot change God’s formula for salvation. If a person wishes to be saved, that person must know the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. Then you must believe that He – Jesus Christ – died for your sins, and rose from the grave to lead you daily throughout the rest of your life. Listen Beloved. “What does the Lord thy God require of you?” (Deuteronomy 10:12). You are to “fear the Lord your God, and to walk in His ways, to love Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and soul”. There will be many who will stand before Jesus as He sits on a Great White Throne and judges the dead. All judgment is committed to Jesus’ hand. The Father has given all judgment into Jesus’ hand. We close with this:

John 5:27-29 {the Father} hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. 28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

Those that have done good are those who believed on the name of Jesus, and were saved because of that faith. The ones who have done good will have “believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). Jesus very clearly stated:

John 6:29, 40 … This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. … 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Have you believed on Him? Have you received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior? If not, I pray that you will do so this very day. May God cause this to be, through His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

Posted in 1 Kings, General, Sermons Preached | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Put On Your Best Suit

Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.

Word Study: The phrase put ye on is the Greek ἐνδύω endýō, {pronounced en-doo’-o}, which means “to sink into clothing, to clothe yourself with”. If you are a Christian, you are to put on your best suit. You are to clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ.

What Are YOU Wearing Today?

Opening Illustration: As I walked through the local Walmart the other day, I was amused, amazed, and sometimes astounded at some of the clothing I saw people wearing. Young women – not all teens – have taken to wearing either very tight and very short shorts, or thin body stockings (I guess you call it that) that leaves little to the imagination. Some people (men or women) wear jeans with holes in them, some holes in places that would make a Playboy Bunny blush. When I got holes in my jeans, my mamma patched them with those iron on patches. There were some people wearing their pajamas. I get tired in Walmart, but have yet to find a section where there are beds you can lay down on. When they get that “bedding” section, I may wear my pajamas to the store as well.

What are you wearing today?

Clothing is a very big topic in the Bible. How you clothe yourself will reflect how you feel about yourself, about your ego. Clothing also will cause others to think of you in a certain way. The Bible tells us to “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ”.

To clothe yourself with Jesus means to
not hide your sins from
God

When our first parents, Adam and Eve sinned, what did they do after their sin? The Bible says that the first thing they did was:

Genesis 2:7 (ESV) … they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Adam and Eve covered up their sin – then they hid from God. It is foolish to cover up our sins, attempting to hide them from God. The Bible says in Proverbs 28:13:

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and
forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

God sees our sins. He knows what we have done. To cover up our sin with fig leaves, or to deflect our guilt by blaming others, it just doesn’t wash with God. When Adam and Eve’s attempt to cover their sins were quickly discovered, Adam blamed both Eve AND God:

Genesis 3:12 (ESV) “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

The woman likewise blamed the serpent. The truth is, Adam had free will, and chose to disobey God of his own will. Adam was at fault, not God nor Eve.

There is a way to cover sin, but it is not by fig leaves or blaming others. The Bible says “blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32:1). We do not cover sin with our own works of righteousness. We “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ”. The Bible tells us that God sent His Son Jesus to make payment for every sin we would ever commit. The Bible says:

1 John 1:7 (ESV) … the blood of Jesus Christ {God’s} Son cleanses us from all sin ..

The Lord Jesus Christ is the only acceptable covering for our sin. The Bible often uses the word “propitiation” when it discusses Jesus. For instance:

1 John 2:2 And {Jesus} is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son {Jesus} to be the propitiation for our sins.

Romans 3:25 {this Jesus} Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Word Study: The word translated propitiation the Greek ἱλαστήριον hilastḗrion, {pronounced hil-as-tay’-ree-on} or ἱλασμός hilasmós, {pronounced hil-as-mos’}. The latter word means “the means of appeasing God, the covering for sin”. The former word means “to atone or cover”. What Jesus Christ did for us on Calvary is the only acceptable covering for sin.

When God saw Adam and Eve in fig leaves the Bible says that God took away their fig leaves and clothed them Himself:

Genesis 3:21 (ESV) … the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

God had to kill innocent animals in order to clothe Adam and Eve. This is a foreshadowing of the death of Christ Jesus on the Cross. Jesus “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26). “Jesus also suffered outside the gate {of Jerusalem} in order to sanctify the people through His own blood” (Hebrews 13:11-12). It is only in Jesus that we have “redemption through His Blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His Grace” (Ephesians 1:7-8).

Jesus and Jesus alone is the covering for our sins. Do not hide your sins from God. Confess them to God, and plead the Blood of Christ over each sin. “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ”.

To Clothe Yourself With The Lord Jesus Means
To Live Your Life
Primarily Loving God

If you “Clothe Yourself With The Lord Jesus Christ” you will literally consider how you practically live out your faith every day.

I earlier talked about how people clothe themselves as they go to the local Walmart. The Bible is explicit in that God’s people are to be careful in how they cover themselves. God told His Old Covenant saints:

Deuteronomy 22:5 A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.

This is NOT a command that women should not wear “slacks” or “pants”. In the days that this was written, most people wore robes. It is a command that women are not to dress so as to intentionally look like a man, nor are men to dress in such a way as to intentionally look like a woman. Why is this? Because God says that whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. Why?

Because when God created humanity, the Bible says “He created them male and female” (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:20-25). When the Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth, He did not eradicate what the Old Testament said. When asked about marriage our Lord Jesus said:

Matthew 19:4-6 (ESV) … “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

What God has established in the design of creation, we are told by Jesus to leave it alone. “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:9). We are not to fool with, or in any way bring confusion to, God’s rule of order. The Apostle Paul said:

1 Corinthians 7:17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

Live your lives as our Lord Jesus Christ did. Live your lives so as to please the God Who made you. The Apostle Peter told the wives of believers:

1 Peter 3:3-4 (ESV) Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

Women are beautifully made by God. Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. Do not let your outer adornment – makeup, hair, clothing – the the greatest thing in your life. Dress so as to honor the Lord Who saved you. Dress so that the characteristics of Jesus Christ can shine through your lives. The Apostle said:

1 Timothy 2:9-10 … women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

I do not believe the Apostles – nor our Lord – were being misogynistic (deeply prejudiced against women). Our Lord Jesus said:

What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (ESV Mark 7:20-23)

The human heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). No one is naturally good at heart. “all have sinned” and are sinners (Romans 3:23). Everyone is broken. If we dress provocatively, that is like pouring fuel on a fire. Dress with others in mind. Dress so as to show Christlike love toward others. I am sure I’ll be flamed on social media for some of what I just said, but it is God’s Word, not mine. But you can be angry with me if it makes you feel better. As Christ’s servant, I seek to please Him – not to please my listeners (Galatians 1:10).

To Clothe Yourself With The Lord Jesus Christ Means To Live As He Lived, Reliant Upon God

Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.

The Bible tells us that David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). Does this mean that David did not err, was not a sinner as we are? Absolutely not! But David had a trait that we all need to follow. He clothed himself with the Lord Jesus Christ.

When David was going to battle Goliath, no one – not even King Saul – felt that they could do battle with that giant monster of a man. The Bible says “Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were DISMAYED and GREATLY AFRAID” (1 Samuel 17:11). They were being driven by their flesh, by their fear, by their human logic. But David’s reply when he heard Goliath’s threats was:

who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26)

When David volunteered to fight Goliath, he was met with scorn from King Saul. “You are but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth” (vs 33). But David had his eyes not on Goliath, but on Jesus. David said, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine” (vs 37).

Saul clothed David with his armor (vs 38), and gave David a helmet of brass and a coat of chain mail. Though David tried it on, he quickly took them off. David said, “I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them” (vs 39). David had clothed himself with the Lord. The Lord that saved him out of the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, would certainly deliver him from Goliath.

And God did!

When trials and testing comes, the Bible tells us that the safest thing we can do is “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ”. The Scripture says:

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Let Jesus Christ, the Lord of Heaven and earth, cover you! Let Him be your clothing. Only in Jesus do we have power for living. Only in Jesus can we defeat the Goliaths of this world. Be like the Hebrew Children before the angry pagan king:

Daniel 3:17-18 (ESV) our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

To Clothe Yourself With The Lord Jesus Means To Love As He Loved, Treating Others With Respect

The Apostle tells us:

Romans 13:8-10 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

love is the fulfilling of the law. When Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, came to this earth, He fulfilled the ceremonial and sacrificial portions of the Law. But Jesus never erased the moral codes found in the Old Testament. We who are saved by Jesus are to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make NO PROVISION for the flesh. The Bible says that:

Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

The believer in Christ is NOT to clothe themselves in the works of the flesh. The believer in Christ is to flee all sexual sins – including homosexuality (1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10). We are not to pursue the ways of the world. Why? Because we belong to Jesus. We are to

Romans 13:12-13 … cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

Let us clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us hide ourselves in Jesus (Colossians 3:3). The Lord that saved us is the Lord we are to walk in. Let us honor the Lord Jesus Christ, and do as He says do. For the glory of our God forever. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Romans, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Benediction For The Saints

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

There are parts of the Bible that we read quickly, not looking for any depth in them. I know myself when I read through books like Numbers, and read the census lists of Israel:

Numbers 1:5-7 And these are the names of the men that shall stand with you: of the tribe of Reuben; Elizur the son of Shedeur. 6 Of Simeon; Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai. 7 Of Judah; Nahshon the son of Amminadab.

My eyes kind of gloss over, and my mind wanders. We all do this. We miss great Biblical truths because we undervalue every part of this Holy Scripture. The WHOLE Scripture – every word, every phrase, every nuance – is God breathed (theopneustos). The Apostle Paul told Timothy:

2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God (God’s Messenger) may be complete, equipped for every good work.

There are no accidental texts. This Word is God’s breath. He spoke it. Which brings us to:

Philippians 4:21-23 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. 22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

I have never preached out of this text, and after research I found out few preachers have ever focused on this text. But this is God’s Word, and there are great truths in this, if God the Holy Spirit will draw it out. In most Bibles this section is labeled (if it is labeled) “Concluding Benediction”, “Greetings and Benediction”, or just “Benediction”. The word “benediction” means, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, “ the invocation … of a blessing, something that promotes goodness or well-being”.

As the Apostle writes this letter, he is dictating it through a brother in Christ, Epaphroditus. The Apostle mentions his name twice:

Philippians 2:25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labor, and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.

Philippians 4:18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.

Why was Epaphroditus a messenger for Paul? Because the Apostle is imprisoned by Rome,
and is chained to Roman guards.

The commentaries note that Paul is imprisoned in either Ephesus or Rome, and is on a journey to stand before Caesar for trial. The charge? TREASON. The Apostle was imprisoned for preaching “Jesus is Lord”, and that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way unto God.

Rome grew powerful by conquering other nations, and bringing those nations into the Roman confederacy.Conquered people could keep their own gods and goddesses, but were required to acknowledge the Roman Caesar as “Lord”. This is something that the Christians would NOT do. When the Roman Centurion Cornelius was led to be saved in a vision from Heaven, he was told to call for the Apostle Peter. As Peter spoke to Cornelius, he said:

Acts 10:34-36 Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. 36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all)

The Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and his house, and they were saved. To utter or even hide in your heart that Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all) was an act of treason in Roman territory. And yet, the Christian missionaries went out preaching the singular Lordship of Jesus Christ. When the Apostle Paul preached in Athens at Mars Hill, he plainly said:

Acts 17:22-27 Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. 24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshiped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

Paul preached the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Lordship of the God of Scripture. What happened? Paul was imprisoned. But Paul was not discouraged.

If Jesus Is Lord, He Is Lord ALL The Time

Jesus Christ is not a part time Lord. He is not like Caesar, Who must compel the people to worship him at least once a year, or else be declared treasonous. No, Beloved, Jesus is LORD of all. The Bible says:

Psalm 103:19 (ESV) The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.

When Paul was imprisoned, he was not just saying “Jesus is Lord”. He literally, deep down in his heart, believed Jesus is Lord. If Jesus is Lord, He is Lord over whatever valley you are in at this moment. Paul believed this. He wrote:

Philippians 1:12-14 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; 14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Many of us, when afflicted in the service of our King, attribute the affliction to the devil. The devil does afflict – but only at God’s permission. Satan is not greater than God. Jesus is Lord!

Paul told the Philippians that Jesus is Lord even in his imprisonment. The negative things that happen to Christians, happen because God allows them, because they further the cause of Christ. The Apostle called his imprisonment my bonds in Christ. Paul was not imprisoned, chained to a guard, because Satan is greater than God. God used and even endorsed the imprisonment as a means to get Paul into the inner courts of Caesar. Paul did not fall apart when put in a bad place, but looked to Jesus.

Philippians 4:21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus.

Word Study The Christian – saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – is a saint. This is the Greek ἅγιος hágios, {pronounced hag’-ee-os}, which means “one who is consecrated, set apart, or marked as apart from the crowd”. The saint is not perfect. The Corinthian Church, marked with many sinful practices, was still addressed by the Apostle Paul:

1 Corinthians 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, {hágios} with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

When you surrender to the Lordship of Jesus, you are saved. But not only are you saved, but you are set apart from this world as a child of the Most High God. The Apostle writes in another place:

1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints, {hágios}.

Word Study Dear Christian, we belong to Jesus. This means that our current circumstances, whether favorable or unfavorable, whether smooth or rough, are all engineered by our God. As Paul processed his imprisonment (which was no picnic), he said the THINGS which happened to me have FALLEN OUT RATHER unto the furtherance of the Gospel. The words FALLEN OUT is the Greek ἔρχομαι érchomai, {pronounced er’-khom-ahee} which means “to come to pass”. Imprisonment was a visitor in Paul’s life that was not a bad thing, but a good thing. As a Saint of God the Apostle said:

Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Too many believers, when confronted with an undesirable situation in life, begin crying out to God for relief. Too many times we allow thieves to come and rob us of our blessings. Jesus said:

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

The thief comes to rob us of the presence of our Jesus.

the thief called worry
the thief called fear
the thief called unbelief
the thief called despair
the thief called discouragement

To these thieves (and the many other unnamed worldly thieves that try and rob us of our joy) the Apostle encourages the believer to:

Philippians 1:27-28 Only let your {Greek politeúomai [pronounced pol-it-yoo’-om-ahee] behavior as citizens of God’s Kingdom} be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

The SAINT is a Citizen of God’s Kingdom FIRST

The Saint – the citizens of God’s Kingdom – is to act like a citizen of Heaven. We are commanded to not act like the lost, for we are not lost. We are to imitate Jesus Christ. The Apostle said:

Philippians 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

Saints are Citizens of Heaven who Suffer

The Saint is set apart to live his or her life to the glory of God the Father and of Jesus Christ our Lord. As our Lord Jesus …

Philippians 2:7-8 … made Himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

… gave Himself to suffering for us, we as Saints give ourselves in suffering for others. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords lowered Himself for you and I. We must walk following Him, our King and Savior. Though it got Paul imprisoned, he is unrepentant in declaring the Lordship of Christ. Jesus has “a name that is above every name”,

Philippians 2:10-11 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

We do not bow the knee to Caesar, nor to any person. We bow the knee to Jesus, and preach salvation through faith alone in Him alone.

Every Trial Is For A Greater Good In The Saint
(God Is In Control)

The Saint is set apart by God as His child – and God continually works in His child and
in the environment that child is in.

Philippians 2:13-16 … it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life

Word Study When God called Israel out of Egypt, and carried them through the Red Sea as if on dry land, two things marred the people of God: murmurings and disputings. The word murmurings is the Greek γογγυσμός gongysmós, {pronounced gong-goos-mos’} which means “murmuring, grudging secret displeasures, muttering”. God had a plan to take Israel into the Promised Land of Canaan, a land that “floweth with milk and honey” (Leviticus 20:24; Numbers 13:27). But Israel murmured and complained against Moses and Aaron. Eventually Israel committed the ultimate sin: they murmured against God. Moses told Israel:

Deuteronomy 1:26-27 … ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God: 27 And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.

God took His hand of blessing from the first generation of Israel because of murmuring and complaining. God said,

Psalm 95:10-11 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: 11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.

Word Study The hand that blesses is also the hand that can remove blessing. God removed blessing from Israel. The other word is disputings, which is the Greek διαλογισμός dialogismós, {pronounced dee-al-og-is-mos’}, which means a questioning of the truth. It is translated “evil thoughts” in Matthew 15:19, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts. It is translated “imaginations” in Romans 1:21, “when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations.

The God that saved Israel from Egypt and led them through the Red Sea, is surely the same God Who can lead them through the Jordan and defeat the Canaanites. But as the Israelis focused on their trial rather than their God, this seed of unbelief grew until it destroyed the nation.

To avoid Satan’s traps, the Saint is encouraged to take control of the emotions and of their minds. Paul writes:

Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Word Study The Saint is first to Rejoice in the Lord always. No matter what you are going through, rejoice in the Lord. Acknowledge that God is in control of the situation, that He is Lord of your life. You are a Saint, not a lost soul. You belong to Jesus. Do all things in moderation. This is the Greek ἐπιεικής epieikḗs, {pronounced ep-ee-i-kace’}, which is translated patient (1 Timothy 3:3), gentle (Titus 3:2; James 3:17; 1 Peter 2:18). The Saint is to be like Jesus was – kind and patient with others.

Adding to the Saint’s need to rejoice in the Lordship of Christ, and being patient, we are also supposed to not worry, but give our needs to the God Who is our Lord. As He gave Israel manna and water in the desert, and kept their clothing and shoes from wearing out, our God can meet ALL our needs.

Direct your minds to examine the faithfulness of God. He is Lord, and He loves us. He will not abandon the children He bought at such a high price. He will not abandon those whom He has shed His blood for!

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

The Apostle Paul refused to allow Satan to hijack his thought life. He focused on the goodness of God. Did the Apostle suffer lack at times? Absolutely! He was imprisoned. He said:

Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Whether Paul was full or hungry, abased or abounding, His mind was continually on doing Christ’s work in Christ’s way. Paul said, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. When you have Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you have all you need. The Apostle said in another place:

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

The Saint is called on purpose by God. Everything that happens to the Saint is for our good, and for the glory of God, whether we know it or not.

The God Of Scripture Is “My God”

Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Notice that Paul refers to God as my God. The Saint is owned by God, and owns God. He is ours! We belong to Him, and He belongs to us. If you are a Saint, then He is to you my God. When King David was afflicted, he cried out to my God. He prayed,

Psalm 3:7 Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.

He cried, “O Lord MY GOD, in Thee do I put my trust” (Psalm 7:1). David, like Paul, walked side by side each day with the Lord. He could say,

Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

If you are saved, God possesses you, and you possess God. He is to you “MY GOD”. There is no room for the world nor for the devil to live in the House of God between us. We who are saved belong to Him.

Philippians 4:21-22 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. 22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.

We discussed verse 21, and how the Christian is a Saint, set apart to live with God under His Kingdom authority. But note verse 22. You probably read it, and thought nothing of it. But read the words again:

All the saints salute you, chiefly they that
are of Caesar’s household

I told you that Paul was imprisoned, and chained to a Roman guard, a soldier of the empire. The soldiers are of Caesar’s household. As I mentioned before, Rome allowed all types of religions to flourish, as long as Caesar was worshiped as Lord. To fail to worship Caesar as Lord, to give singular Lordship status to anyone outside of Caesar, was considered an act of treason. This is why Paul is in prison, awaiting what will surely be a beheading.

Paul is chained to a Roman soldier. He’s chained to this soldier as he dictates this letter to Epaphroditus. The soldier cannot help but hear – being chained to the Apostle as he is – exactly what Paul has been saying.

A loyal Roman soldier would report what Paul wrote to his superiors. Had it been reported, no doubt Epaphroditus would have been hindered or killed, and the letter destroyed. But the letter got to Philippi. It wasn’t destroyed. Why?

I imagine Paul in bonds. He is fastened to a soldier, and left alone with him. Paul starts talking. “Have you heard about My God? Have you heard about Jesus?” The soldier replies, “Shut up! I don’t want to talk about that.” But Paul doesn’t shut up. “I notice you have armor on. I have armor, too. My armor is made by Jesus. I have a breastplate of faith and love (1 Thessalonians 5:8). My helmet is the hope of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:8)”. The Roman soldier cannot beat Paul, for Paul is a Roman citizen awaiting trial. All he can do is listen. He tells Paul, “Shut up! Stop telling me about this Jesus!” But Paul continues. “My loins are girt about with truth” (Ephesians 6:14). The man has no choice but to hear Paul. Paul is unlike anyone he has ever been cuffed to. Most prisoners are bleak, sad, depressed, anxious concerning what was coming. But not Paul. His eyes were on Jesus.

When the changing of the guard comes, the guard going off duty has the Gospel of Christ planted in his heart. Here comes another guard, but Paul is not discouraged. God is giving him another opportunity to serve the kingdom of God, and the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Jesus is Lord! As Paul closes this letter, he says simply:

Philippians 4:23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

There is no salvation without these two things:

The Grace of God, and
The Lordship of Christ our Savior

Is Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior? You can be saved if Jesus is just your Savior, but your faith will be too weak to be of much value if Jesus is not your Lord. Is He your Lord? Dear Saint, you are set apart by God to do service for your King. You belong to Jesus, not to things. It is not things that satisfies the soul of the Christian, but the presence of the God Who controls all things. The Apostle Paul told Timothy:

1 Timothy 6:6-7 … godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

That which gives us contentment and blessing, whether on the mountain top or in the valley, is the Lordship of our God. Do you know Him? You cannot add one single hour to your life (Matthew 6:27), but the God Who owns the believer can. Rest in the God Who has saved you. Give Him all that you are. He owns you anyway. And trust that God loves you with an infinite love. Resting in the presence of Christ, we can say with David, The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” (Psalm 16:6). May God the Holy Spirit move on our hearts, and draw us all into the Presence of Jesus this very day. In Christ’s name we pray this. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Philippians, Sermons Preached | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Why Sunday School?

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Acts 2:38-42 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

The early Church, started on the Day of Pentecost by God and His people, grew and excelled. This is amazing, because the Church itself owned no real eastate, had no buildings, and usually met on “Solomon’s Porch” in the Temple. The Church grew even though it was attacked as a cult by the Pharisees, priests, and Ruling Elders of Israel (the Sanhedrin). It was also considered seditious by Roman authorities, for Christians would not acknowledge “Caesar is Lord” as all good Romans would do.

Yet the Church grew. It excelled. Why would it grow in such a toxic environment? The Church did three things:

The Church Obeyed Jesus

Acts 2:38-42 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized

Peter preached the Gospel of salvation, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ. The first step to salvation is to “”, the Greek μετανοέω metanoeō, which means “to change the mind” or to “change your drive or motivation”. The Bible says that before we were saved, that the Christian:

Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV) … you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Before salvation, the unsaved follows the passions of our flesh. We were no different than the rest of the lost world. Our sins might have been different – you may not have experienced same sex attraction or gender dysphoria, but you pursued other sins. Pride and selfishness drove you. But meeting Jesus Christ, you acknowledged that you were broken. Like the tax collector Matthew you met Jesus, and leaving your riches, followed Him Who is the riches of Heaven. The Christian loves and follows Jesus.

Are we broken? Yes, but we are daily growing more like Christ. As we associate with Jesus, His glory rubs off on our souls more and more. We are not ashamed to follow Jesus. Peter said:

Acts 2:38 Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ

Jesus said in John 15:4, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you”. Jesus commanded the believer be baptized in water. He said in Matthew 28:19, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”. Baptism is part of Christ’s directive. Why did Jesus demand His followers be baptized? It is because baptism in water is a public profession of faith in Jesus. The Apostle Paul said:

Romans 6:3-5 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

Baptism is a symbolic burial with Christ. Our old man dies and is buried with Christ as we are lowered into the water, and the new man is born as we are raised out of the water. Baptism shows our union with Jesus Christ, and publicly identifies us as children of God. The Apostle Peter likens water baptism to Noah’s Ark, saying:

1 Peter 3:20-22 Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God …

Noah and his family were saved from certain destruction because he obeyed God, and built an ark, then GOT ON THAT ARK. When we are publicly baptized in water we are affirming to the world that we, like Noah, got on an Ark. We believed in Jesus, and have committed our lives to Him. As Jesus rose from the dead, we shall too rise above the grave, and live forever because of Him.

The early Church was publicly baptized after receiving Jesus as Savior, showing they believed Him also LORD of all. Though the Church was hated by Pharisees and Priests, as well as Roman authorities, the believers were baptized nonetheless PUBLICLY. They knew what Jesus said, that is,

Luke 9:26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

The Church Studied And Applied “Jesus” To Life

Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine AND fellowship

The early Church studied the Bible. Our text says they continued steadfastly. This is the Greek προσκαρτερέω proskartereō, which means “to be devoted to, to persevere in, to steadfastly be attentive to”. What were they attentive to? The apostles‘ doctrine. What the Apostles taught. And what did the Apostles teach? They taught what Jesus taught. We are told in …

Matthew 10:1-2 … when {Jesus} had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these …

The original twelve disciples that followed Jesus were called by Jesus to be APOSTLES. They walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, saw Jesus perform miracles, and allowed Jesus to empower themselves to do the miraculous. The apostles‘ doctrine is what the Apostles learned from Jesus. The early Church clung to what the Apostles taught about JESUS, and how the whole of Scripture testifies of Jesus. Our Lord Jesus said:

John 5:39-40 (ESV) You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

The early Church immersed itself in the Scriptures, and focused on Who Jesus was, what Jesus taught, and the High Priesthood of Christ. Sadly, this is not true in our modern Church today!

Illustrate: I love to read. Recently I saw a “Guidepost” magazine, one that I used to subscribe to and read years ago. I grabbed it, and started reading. As I read further and further into the magazine – the lead story was about the faith of Harry Connick, Jr a musician I admire – I began to be disturbed. As I read through that magazine, I read of people who:

loved Amazing Grace
adored their Church
had “faith”

But one thing was conspicuously and insidiously missing. Throughout the magazine I saw absolutely NO MENTION of Jesus, of Jesus Christ, of Christ Jesus, of our Lord and savior. Jesus told us that when the “Spirit of truth comes, he will bear witness about ME” (John 15:26). The Guideposts I was reading at no point even mentioned Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of lords. Now, it may have been accidental to that issue, but I see this more and more in the world of “Christian” publications today. They speak of “God” and “Faith”, but no mention is made of Jesus. That Guideposts could have been a publication of the followers of Allah, Buddha, or some Hindu god.

We must know about Jesus. We teach about Jesus in our Sunday School. We must teach Jesus, if we will save the world from this present darkness.

Teaching Jesus, the apostles‘ doctrine, the early Church also behaved like Jesus.

Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine AND fellowship

Word Study: The early believer focused on Jesus’ teachings, and it showed in how they loved people. They enjoyed fellowship. The word fellowship is the Greek κοινωνία koinōnia, which means “to participate in community, to have intimate or close sharing together with others”. The Church did not just hear and respond to the preaching of it’s pastors, but it gathered together to share with one another, a pursue the deeper truths of God’s Word. This is a primary component of Sunday School – FELLOWSHIP.

A Church that does not study and share God’s Word together soon becomes filled with worldliness, and subject to failure. The Apostle Paul defined the Church when he wrote:

Ephesians 2:19-20 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone

The Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. The prophets wrote the Old Testament as moved by the Spirit of God, the apostles wrote the New Testament as moved by that same Spirit. The foundation or base of the local Church is the Holy Scriptures, with Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. The ancient architects were always very careful in placing the corner stone of a building. All walls aligned to the corner stone. Every brick aligned to the corner stone. Every part of Scripture aligns to Jesus Christ, and the Church must align to Jesus Christ, else it will be built on a poor and shaky foundation. Sunday School strengthens the foundation of the Church as it focuses on the Scripture, and how the believer is to align their lives through that Scripture to Jesus Christ.

Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

The apostles’ doctrine, or teaching about Jesus and what He held dear, resulted in a Church that looked like Jesus. The early Church fellowshipped – they enjoyed one another’s company. Jesus was often found sharing with sinners and publicans, much to the chagrin of the Pharisees. As the Church grew in fellowship, it progressed to breaking of bread, or sharing food together, as well as to prayers. They shared their burdens one with another, and lifted each other up to Jesus Christ.

Sunday School Is Not Just A New Testament Concept

Dr. Elmer L. Towns is Dean Emeritus of the School of Religion and Theological Seminary at Liberty University, which he co founded with Dr. Jerry Fallwell Sr. in 1971. He teaches the Pastor’s Bible Class at Thomas Road Baptist Church each Sunday. Dr. Towns writes:

This Old Testament verse is often used to express the fourfold nature of Sunday school:

Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 31:12).

This verse reflects the four distinct “arms” of Sunday school ministry.”

  • Sunday School is a “Reaching Arm” of the Church. Visitors to our Church may or may not know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. If they are invited into the Sunday School, they can see the love that we have for Jesus, and the love we have for them. Many are often converted, and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, because they attended a caring and nurturing Sunday School. Sunday School is not just for children. God said to “Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates.
  • Sunday School is a “Teaching Arm” of the Church. God said the whole reason for gathering is “that they may hear and that they may learn”. People need to hear what God’s Word says, and need to learn how to apply that Word practically to their lives. People need to learn about Jesus Christ! In 1996 around 27% of Americans supported same sex marriage. Today around 70% of Americans affirm same sex marriage as natural. This is because Gay Rights activists have come into the homes through television and internet, creating story lines where this activity is normalized. People need to hear and learn what God has said. In the absence of the light, the darkness will grow.
  • Sunday School is a “Winning Arm” of the Church. It teaches people to fear the LORD your God. In the intimate setting of the Sunday School, those who attend share their experiences and breakthroughs with God and His Word. People discuss how God gave them confidence and blessing as they went through some of life’s harshest valleys. God is personalized to the lost when we show Jesus as He is – a living and powerful Lord and Savior. People today have little “fear” of the Lord, but the Bible teaches that our Creator is holy, righteous, and pure. Jesus Christ is our High Priest and our Sacrifice before God. Hebrews 4:14 tells us “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession”. Through Sunday School, people can be told of the great salvation we have in our Jesus.
  • Sunday School is a “Caring Arm” of the Church. Though the Worship Services of the Church are wonderful and much needed by the Church, it is in Sunday School that members can get to know one another better. The Bible says that we are to “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed” (James 5:16).

Sunday School is a wonderful place to show hospitality to all. 1 Peter 4:9 states, “Use hospitality one to another without grudging”. The Church is to be “given to hospitality”. What a wonderful opportunity we have, when we come together in Sunday School!

As our world becomes more and more broken, people are desperately looking for a fix. That fix is only found in Jesus. Let us promote Sunday School, invite others to Sunday School, and show we care for the stranger in our midst in Sunday School. May God use this Scripture and His Spirit to empower and grow our Church to His glory. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Acts, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Have You The Right Faith?

Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

John 4:43-45 Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee. 44 For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honor in his own country. 45 Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galilæans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast.

The Witness Of The Saved

Last week we spoke of Jesus going through Samaria, and meeting the woman at the well. This woman fell in love with Jesus, and put her faith in Him as Messiah. She went into Sychar, leaving her water pot at Jacob’s well, and began to witness for Jesus.

What does it mean to “witness” for Jesus? It is to tell others what Jesus did for you – how He impacted YOUR life. The devil is only defeated by:

Revelation 12:11 … by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of {your} testimony

I love to watch scary movies, and often yell at the screen when the characters of the drama fall victim to the vampires, the werewolves. The characters always get messed up when they go – by themselves – into a dark and spooky place! Then when they are attacked, they try to fend off the evil with some token, like “holy water”, a “cross”, a “silver bullet”, or “garlic”. These are fantasies. The way you ward off evil – truly ward it off – is by trusting in Jesus, and living by faith in Him. This is what defeats evil. The world needs the witness of the genuine believer in Christ. The world is desperate for Jesus! Once this woman witnessed about Jesus, the Samaritans asked Jesus to stay with them.

Jesus stayed two days with the Samaritans. Having done His work there for the Father, Jesus heads toward Galilee. Galilee is about 18 ½ miles north of Nazareth. John writes:

John 4:44 For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honor in his own country.

Why does it say Jesus testified? That is a very interesting word, the Greek μαρτυρέω martyréō, {pronounced mar-too-reh’-o}, from which we get our word “martyr”. The word means “to give a witness”, but it has a sacrificial quality to it. It is to give a witness that costs something.

Our Lord Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of Man, the Only Begotten of God. Our Lord Jesus is the Godhead revealed, the Lamb of God, the Incarnate Son of God.

Our Lord Jesus turned water into wine at Cana.

Our Lord Jesus moved a Samaritan woman, that caused a revival in Sychar.

Jesus – this miraculous and wonderful Savior and Lord – heads toward His hometown of Nazareth. Though not born in Nazareth, He was raised in Nazareth. Though John does not give us the details on Jesus’ failed mission to Nazareth, Mark does. Mark tells us:

Mark 6:2-6 And when the sabbath day was come, {Jesus} began to teach in the synagogue {at Nazareth}: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. 4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.

The Faith Of Nazareth Sees Only The Man In Christ

The people of Nazareth grew up with Jesus and remembered Him as the Carpenter’s Son. Though Jesus did miracles in Nazareth – not many, but some – they believed Him more a man than they believed Him Messiah. They said “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter?” The Bible says:

John 1:12-13 But as many as received {Jesus}, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Preach! Emphasize! To “believe on His name” is to receive and acknowledge Jesus as He is. Jesus Christ is Perfect Man, but He is no mere mortal. He is no mere human teacher. It is a weak and faltering faith that makes Christ out to be as common as you or I. Jesus is distinctly different from every human who has ever been.

As Adam in his creation was perfect before his choice to fall, Jesus is perfect, unique. He is like us in that He tired, He hurt, He ached, He hungered, He thirsted. He suffered all the failings this human body has. But Jesus Christ was and is without sin. He is God in human flesh!

Jesus is without sin- whereas we are sinners. When the Bible speaks of us humans, it says:

Romans 3:23 all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God

all have sinned”. Little babies, fresh from birth, are sinners. Toddlers are sinners. Every person who has ever been born human is a sinner – all but One. This One is Jesus. The Bible says:

Hebrews 4:15 … {Jesus} was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

2 Corinthians 5:21 He {God the Father} hath made him {God the Son}to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Jesus is not a sinner as we are. He is without sin, a unique human/ divine Person. The faith of Nazareth sees Jesus as no more than a mortal man. Jesus is, to them, just a great teacher or a wonderful preacher. If your idea of Jesus is as Nazareth, then your faith is not sufficient to bring about the miraculous. To say that Christ is merely a great moral teacher is to make Him to be what He is not. Jesus Christ is eternal God, incarnate as a perfect man, among us. From the time of the fall of Adam unto Jesus, there had never been a perfect man. There was Enoch, who walked with God till he was not, but Enoch was not perfect. Just as all fallen creatures do, we must rely on the Grace of God. Throughout Scripture, the Bible tells us:

The JUST shall live by faith.

To be “Just”, or “Justified”, righteous in the eyes of God, we ourselves cannot produce this. We must live by faith in God’s provision. All humans are fallen. Eliphaz told Job,

What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous?” (Job 15:14 – ESV)

Noah, the Old Testament savior of humanity, was himself imperfect. God used Noah, because:

Genesis 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

Jesus is perfect Man. When God wanted to draw man closer to Himself, He gave us the Law to lead us to Christ. John 1:17 tells us,

The Law was given by Moses, but GRACE and TRUTH came by Jesus Christ”

Throughout the Scripture, when anyone found Grace in the eyes of God, they found it through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the very Source of the Grace of God. You cannot find grace in a Walmart, nor a Target, nor a Walgreens, nor in a farmer’s market. You cannot find grace in a local Church, or a denomination. You cannot find grace in a preacher like myself. Grace and truth are found ONLY in Jesus Christ. Jesus is perfect Man, and perfect God.

Years ago as a young Christian I was introduced to the works of C.S. Lewis. Lewis was a very deep thinker, a theologian of the first order. In his book Mere Christianity (which I highly recommend), Lewis said:

… people often say about Him [Jesus Christ]: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic … or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse …. You can shut him up for fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God.”

The Prophet Isaiah wrote of Jesus some 700 years before His incarnation as perfect Man. Though Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be a light to the Gentiles(Isaiah 49:6), the Prophet also said that the Messiah would be …

Isaiah 53:3 … is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Though Nazareth – and the rest of the lost world – sees Jesus as just another man, the Bible declares He is more than mortal. He is perfect Man and Infinite God. As believers in Christ, we are daily:

Titus 2:13 … looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ …

Nazareth faith hinders the power of Christ to do good.

Mark 6:5-6 {Jesus} could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.

Jesus could there do no mighty work. Though Jesus kept trying to reach out, and though He tried to bring healing and truth, His ministry was greatly hindered by the unbelief of the inhabitants of Nazareth. The Bible said that Jesusmarveled because of their unbelief. Of all the things we do, only unbelief in the face of the kindness and grace of God marvels our Lord. The faith of Nazareth sees only the MAN in Jesus. In contrast,

The Faith Of The Galilean Sees
Only The Miracle In Jesus

John 4:45 Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galilæans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast.

This verse refers back to

John 2:23-25 … Now when {Jesus} was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. 24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25 and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

Jesus did a number of miracles at the beginning of His earthly ministry, right after chasing the money changers out of the Temple (John 2:14-16). We do not know what these miracles were, but whatever they were, they were given because Jesus loves people. Jesus loves to alleviate suffering. One word that highlights the life of Jesus is COMPASSION. We see it used frequently:

Matthew 14:14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick .

Matthew 9:36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them , because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

Matthew 15:32 Then Jesus called his disciples [unto him], and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.

Matthew 20:34 So Jesus had compassion [on them], and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.

Unless hindered by unbelief, Jesus – because of His compassion – always reached out to heal the broken.

God loves to heal the broken. The Galileans had been at the Feast of the Passover, and saw Jesus’ miraculous healings. The Gospels shout the words “Jesus had compassion!” Our Lord was compassionate, He loved people, He empathized with people, He identified with people. Because of this great love He healed people, He miraculously fed people, He caused the blind to see, and even raised people from the dead several times. God has compassion, Jesus has compassion, and this is the reason that the people in Cana of Galilee had such good wine on a certain wedding day.

Jesus loves to heal our hurts and our pain, but He wants all of our lives. Some people want Jesus for what temporary blessing He will give. If Jesus would turn water into wine, then go away until I need Him again, that would be just fine. But that is not why Jesus came. God created this world, then put humanity in this world, so that we would learn to walk with Him. God loves us. The Galileans were looking at what temporal things Jesus did, and received Him for these things.

But Jesus is so much more. The Galilean faith focuses on the loaves of bread and the little fish multiplied, but misses the greater truth that God is not just our Provider and Healer, but God is our Companion and Lord. This life is filled with trials and tribulations. Jesus healed many who were blind, leprous, had an issue of blood, or even – who like Lazarus – died …. Every one of these people still died. Their mortal lives in time ended, and they stood before Jesus Christ to be judged. Those who knew Him as Savior and Lord left this life and moved into eternity, adopted of God, blessed forever.

The Faith Of The Nobleman Sees The Lord In Jesus

John 4:46 So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.

Someone once asked me why God allowed suffering in creation. The short answer is, so that we will be drawn closer to Him. The Bible tells us that God often allows pain and suffering in our lives to draw us into a relationship with Him. We read:

Romans 5:3-6 And not only [so], but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (6) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

It is in our brokenness that we find our completion in Christ. No one loves suffering, but what makes it worst is to believe the suffering is without purpose, just painful. But this is not true.

When we suffer, Jesus is there to heal us.
When we are empty, Jesus is there to fill us.
When we are discouraged and depressed,
Jesus is there to lift us up and restore our souls.

The suffering that brings you to Christ is not a curse. Suffering, if it chains you to Christ, is a wonderful thing! God allows pain and suffering in the life of the unbeliever to lead them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This is what happened in the life of the certain nobleman. We don’t really know who this man was. We just know that that his son was sick at Capernaum – a place not far from where Jesus was – and this man had heard about Jesus and the wine of the wedding feast. This son was very sick, we read he was at the point of death. If you, as a parent, have ever lost a child, you know this man’s heart. If you don’t, you can only imagine! I can see what this man was going through. He went to Jesus and asked Him to heal that child.

John 4:47 When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judæa into Galilee, he went unto {Jesus}, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.

The “nobleman”, literally a “royal official” (Gr. Basilikos), was probably a man who served Herod Antipas, the puppet governor of Israel. The official’s son lay in Capernaum, about 13 miles from Cana. Warren Wiersbe notes:

The nobleman believed that Jesus could heal his son, but he made two mistakes in his thinking: that Jesus had to go to Capernaum to save the lad, and that if the boy died meanwhile, it was too late.”

Jesus told the official:

John 4:48 Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.

The Jews were reluctant to believe in Jesus. The Bible says in …

John 12:37 Though {Jesus} had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him…

The Soniclight commentary notes,

Jesus’ mention of “signs” (Gr. semeia) pointed to the significance of His miracles. This is the only place in John’s Gospel where “wonders” occurs. This word (Gr. terata) stresses the wonder or awe that these miracles produced in those who witnessed them. Jesus’ use of the word suggests that the people wanted to see miracles just so they could marvel at them.

Jesus implied that the man did “not believe” in Him. He did, of course, believe that Jesus could heal His son, but he had not yet come to believe that He could heal from a distance. Jesus viewed that second level of belief as the significant one. The official may well have thought: “What do You mean I do not believe on You?” The man probably felt rebuked by Jesus’ comment, but Jesus’ aim was to bring him to deeper faith in Himself.”

Our Lord Jesus is not just a faith healer, not just a man. Jesus Christ is God. He need not be touching the boy to heal him. He can heal from a distance, if He so desires.

The rich man grows in faith – and believes in Jesus as He is. He says:

John 4:49 … The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.

The word Sir is the Greek κύριος kýrios, {pronounced koo’-ree-os}, which is translated as “Lord” in most places in the New Testament. For instance,

Matthew 1:20 “the angel of the Lord (kýrios) appeared unto {Joseph} in a dream”

Matthew 7:22 “Many will say to me in that day, Lord (kýrios)Lord (kýrios)

Matthew 8:25 “Lord (kýrios) save us: we perish.”

Philippians 2:11 “every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (kýrios), to the glory of God the Father.”

The nobleman acknowledges Jesus as Lord. Not “Sir”, but “Lord”! When Doubting Thomas saw the resurrected Savior, he shouted out:

John 20:28 My Lord (kýrios) and my God.

When Peter, following the resurrection, heard the Master’s last teaching, he told Jesus …

John 21:17 … Lord (kýrios), Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

And as Stephen, one of the first martyrs of the Church was being stoned to death, he cried out to Jesus:

Acts 7:59 … Lord (kýrios) Jesus, receive my spirit.

An understanding as to what has happened in the nobleman’s heart hangs on your understanding this Greek word Lord (kýrios). This is the heart of salvation. You may call on Jesus Christ as Savior only, and not be saved. Salvation is based on repentance, and repentance is based on your reception of Jesus as LORD. The Apostle said:

Romans 10:9-11 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord (kýrios) Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (10) For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (11) For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Many come to Jesus today as healer, helper, friend, confidant. But is He your Lord (kýrios)? When you receive Jesus as Lord (kýrios), you are translated into His Kingdom (Colossians 1:13). When you all on the name of the Lord (kýrios) (Romans 10:13; Acts 22:16) you will be saved. This nobleman saw Jesus as He is.

He is Lord, Hallelujah,
He is Lord, Amen.
He is Lord, Holy, Holy,
And He’s coming back again.
He is Lord, glory glory,
He is Lord over all
the seed of man.
He is Lord, great and mighty,
He is Lord, the great I AM.

Jesus tells the official:

John 4:50-51 … Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. (51) And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told [him], saying, Thy son liveth.

Genuine faith moves when God says move.

Had the official heard Jesus, and yet not headed home, he would not be showing faith. Faith moves. Faith goes. This nobleman seized the promise of Christ, and headed home alone. It wasn’t long before his servants met him, and told him “thy son liveth”.

John 4:52-54 Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. 53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house. 54 This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judæa into Galilee.

What type of faith have you in Jesus? Do you have the faith of Nazareth, that Jesus is but a good man and a human leader of a religion? Do you have the faith of Galilee, believing Jesus can do miracles – but is not your Lord? Or do you have the nobleman’s faith? I pray that each and every one of you have the nobleman’s faith in Christ Jesus. Jesus is able. He is able to save. He is able to secure. He is able to bless. He is both Lord and Savior to His people. May God bring you to this knowledge through His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

Posted in John, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Picture Of Grace

Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash

We live in a troubled world, a world that needs Jesus!

Turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 5:

John 5:1 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

After this. Our text starts with these two words, “After this” (Greek meta tauta, “Following these events”). Following

  • the conversion of the Samaritan woman at the well,
  • the Samaritan’s witness in Sychar caused a revival of faith in Jesus.
  • the weak faith of Nazareth, which only saw Jesus as a good man
  • the misguided faith of Galilee, which only saw Jesus as a spare tire
  • the sound faith of the Nobleman, who believed Jesus as Lord and Savior – and the conversion of his whole house!

Chapter 4 is a study of faith.

Chapter 5 is a picture of Grace.
Everyone has faith – misplaced faith is no good.
Properly placed faith looks to Jesus.
To only Jesus! For in Jesus is Grace.
“We beheld [Jesus’] glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, FULL OF GRACE and Truth.”

God Offers Grace To the Broken

Grace is in Jesus. The gracious Jesus comes up to Jerusalem in order to celebrate a feast. The feasts were opportunities for the people of God to get together and celebrate the Grace of God. Leviticus 23 outlines the requirements for the Jewish weekly Sabbath, and the Feast Days.

The seven Feast Days were times when the Israelis rested and remembered the Grace that God had poured out. In America we commemorate with memorials & statues. Israel commemorated God with “feasts”.

Without going into detail, one of the “High Sabbaths” was Passover, where Israel celebrated God liberating the nation from Egyptian slavery. God did that through Grace. God did not choose Israel, to bring Messiah through them because they were GREAT as a people. No, God told Israel:

Deuteronomy 7:7-9 (ESV) The LORD did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath He swore to your forefathers that He brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.

Israel was the least of all the nations. Israel was riddled with sinful traits and drives. God came to Israel because Israel needed God.

Israel in suffering cried out to God, and He redeemed them. The Feasts remind Israel – and us – that God, our God, is gracious and kind to the least and lesser. Praise His holy Name! The Feasts told of the Grace of God, and reminded Israel that the Messiah would one day come. A Feast is a time when family sits down to share food and love with one another. God told Israel that these were:

Feasts of the Lord” (Leviticus 23:2)
And God said “These are MY Feasts”

In the Feasts, God invited His people to the Divine Table to rejoice in God’s Grace and Goodness.

The More You Are Broken, The More
You
Need The Grace Of Jesus

John 5:2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.

There is a pool. This is a pool of bubbling water that people have placed their faith in. Sheep are involved in most of the feasts. Animals without spot or blemish were sacrificed. The sacrifice is a picture and a promise of the Coming Messiah, the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Sheep must be watered before they are sacrificed, so what better place to put the sheep market. The pool itself is named Bethesda, which means “The House of Kindness”. Around Bethesda are five porches, five flat areas where people can rest. This is again interesting, because

Five Is The Number of GRACE In The Scripture.

The Apostle John wrote five books focused on the Grace of God (Gospel of John, 1, 2, & 3 John, and Revelation). Jesus multiplied five loaves of barley to feed over 5000 people (Matthew 14:17). To these five porches sick people came, seeking healing. They needed a touch from God. The Bible says:

John 5:3 In these {porches} lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

Word Study: Jesus comes into Jerusalem, and enters Jerusalem by “the House of Kindness”. On this special Feast Day there were a number of people who were not celebrating. The Bible says these are “impotent folk”, the Greek ἀσθενέω asthenéō, {pronounced as-then-eh’-o}. These people were weak, feeble, diseased, sick.

When you are broken, you are in the
best place for God to reach you.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 {God} said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

The Apostle is teaching us a lesson we all need to understand. When we are strong enough, self sufficient enough, then we do not need Jesus. Oh, we always need Jesus. Yes, we do. But when we are strong enough to do it our way, it is in our human nature to do it our way and ignore the Lord.

When we have strength to worry, why call on Jesus?
When we have strength to be depressed, why call for God?
When we can get in the water ourselves, we save the Lord the effort.
When I can say with William Ernest Henley,
“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”,
Why would I need the Lord?
Why would I need His Grace?

The people on these five porches are typical of so many today. Suffering, they come to the House of Kindness. But they are not praying. They are not calling out to God in Christ. What are they doing? They are watching the water. Their faith is in the water, not in God.

Are you watching bubbling water – or looking for Jesus?
Only Jesus can fix broken you.

John 5:3b-4 … waiting for the moving of the water. {4} For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

Now, I’m not blaming these people. So many times in my life I’ve wandered out to one of the porches of the House of Kindness. I’ve laid there, not looking for Jesus, but watching for the bubbling of the water. “If I can just get to the water, I’ll be all right!” We have all done this.

The bubbling waters of this world are often our substitutes for the Living Waters that Christ gives.

This next part is particularly interesting to me. There are 5 porches, filled with people. Yet Jesus goes not to them all, but to the worst one afflicted. The more you are broken, the more God wants to heal you.

John 5:5-6 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

God healed people in a variety of ways in the Old Testament, under the Old Covenant. The Gentile General Naaman was healed of leprosy when he washed in the Jordan River (2 Kings 5:10-14). For 38 years this man has watched the water bubble during the Feast Days.

As the man watches for bubbles in the water, Jesus comes to him, and only him.

Jesus asks, Wilt thou be made whole?. The man is crestfallen, probably filled with despair. He tells the Lord – probably with tears in his eyes:

John 5:7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.

This man doesn’t need help to get into the waters. He needs the Grace of God in Christ. He needs to put his faith in Him Who brings living waters, not in the bubbling waters and the kindness of strangers.

Word Study: The man addresses Jesus as Sir, the Greek κύριος kyrios or literally “Lord”.

The bubbling water and the focus of this man is a picture of God’s Law. The water (the Law) cannot save.

Moses was not saved by the Law, but by Grace. Though “the Law came by Moses” (John 1:17), God did not save Moses by Law. The Bible says:

Exodus 33:12 {God said} I know thee {Moses} by name, and thou hast ALSO FOUND GRACE in My sight ..

Moses relied on the continuous Grace of God (Exodus 33:13, 33:17). God only gave the Law to Israel because Israel would not love the Lord, nor heed His direction. Israel was always trying to figure out a way to do it themselves. They demanded a human king over God their King. So God gave them the Law. The Law was not intended to save. Even under the Old Covenant, the Bible says:

Habakkuk 2:4 … the just shall live by his faith.

Those who are right with God, trust in God for salvation, for direction, for love, for life. The righteousness of God {is} revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” In Galatians Chapter 3 the Apostle Paul, a “Pharisee of the Pharisees” (Acts 23:6), explains how the Law does not save, but leads to Christ. Paul said:

Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

The Law for this impotent man was “get into the water while it bubbles”. Year after year he watched for the water to bubble. When it did, he struggled toward it – but always came up short. The Law is a curse. It makes Pharisees more self righteous, and non-Pharisees more disregarded. This poor man is watching for bubbling waters, and always coming up short.

We All Need Jesus, Not The Law

Then Jesus comes. Jesus always comes when we are at our most helpless, at our weakest.

Galatians 3:13-14 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Jesus came to fulfill the Law (Matthew 5:18). The animal sacrifices of the Law are no more. We no longer have to drag our limp and useless souls to the bubbling waters. Jesus Christ comes to those who look upward, seeking God. Jesus Christ, the “Living Water”, spoke to Israel (the impotent man) in the Old Testament:

Jeremiah 2:13 … My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

Jesus Christ is the transcendent “Living Water”. If you ask Him, “He will give you living water” (John 4:10). Those who believe on Jesus, Who hear His Word, shall be made new. “Out of the believer’s belly shall flow rivers of living water (the Holy Spirit of God)” (John 7:37-39). But listen, Beloved … YOU MUST LISTEN TO JESUS.

John 5:8-9 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. 9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

So many people believe that Jesus just saves us so we can go to Heaven, one day, by and by. Jesus saves us so we can walk in His power NOW, and walk with God both NOW and into eternity. Billy Graham said,

You can’t change your past, but you can determine your destiny by deciding for Christ. And when you do that, Christ changes your past. He wipes out all the sins of the past. … Choose you this day Whom you’re going to serve. Many of you are going to have to decide tonight what is the number one priority in your life. All the way through the Bible, choices, choices, choices.”

The impotent man was made whole as Jesus commanded it. Jesus told the man, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. The man rose, took up his bed, and walked. The Bible says, on the same day was the sabbath. This was a special Sabbath, a time to rest and worship the Lord our God. This was, I dare say, the happiest day of this man’s life. For thirty eight years he had been miserable. Now he is strong enough to walk – to pick up that ragged bed (like a sleeping bag) that held him for so long – and to carry what once carried him. This should be a time of celebration, a time of joy. God Himself showed up on that porch of the House of Kindness. God gave Grace to this once helpless and hopeless man.

Then the keepers of the Law, the Pharisees, show themselves.

John 5:10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.

Jesus told this man to carry thy bed as a testimony to the Grace of God. The man had laid in a bed for 38 years.

For those 38 years, the Law – the Priests and Pharisees – walked around this man, ignored this man, never sought to help this man.

The Law exists to point to sin. It is a unit of measurement, a mirror, but not a fix. The man answers the Law:

John 5:11-13 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. 12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? 13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

The Christian faith is not a lawless faith. Once saved, the Christian follows “the Law of Christ”. The “Law of Christ” is to love others the way that Jesus loved you. The Apostle wrote:

Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Jesus healed this man, though this man never actually thanked Jesus for his healing. Jesus healed this man, even though the man did not knows Jesus’ name. Jesus relieved this man from a lifetime of misery – and then conveyed himself away. This is the Greek ἐκνεύω ekneúō, {pronounced ek-nyoo’-o} which means “to slip away secretly, to quietly withdraw, to slip off”. Jesus – though God in human flesh – was not puffed up with pride. Love lifts up others, and does not need a ticker tape parade or adulation.

The Law of Christ – the Royal Law tells us to do good to others, to lift them up. James said:

James 2:8 … the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself …

So we are not lawless. We follow Christ. Jesus comes to this same man later, and …

John 5:14 … Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee

Love does not justify sin, but points out that sin is a terrible thing. Sin brings disease, discomfort, and death. The warning that Jesus gives this man shows us that God often uses sickness to get our attention. Listen Beloved,

When sickness brings us to the House of Kindness, and the House of Kindness brings us to Jesus, this is a great blessing from God. Jesus doesn’t help us into the bubbling waters to heal us. Jesus comes to us, and brings with Him Living Waters. Jesus said:

John 4:14 (ESV) … whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

God will not bring the sinner to the bubbling waters. He will bring the waters to the sinner. He will place the power of God’s Spirit into those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Those who are Christ’s are creatures with the potential to bring Living Water to all around us. Those who are Christ’s take the message of Jesus to a lost and dying world, a thirsting world, a parched world. We carry the hope of Eternal Life by faith in Christ in us, with us, and are supposed to be stirred not by the Law nor by an angel but by Grace and love and service to the King.

John 5:15-16 … The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. {16} And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

The life grounded in the Law, if it has not Christ, will be brutal, hateful, judgmental, self righteous.

The Pharisees and Priests hated Jesus because he had done these things on the sabbath day. What did Jesus do on the Sabbath day? He alleviated suffering. He ministered to the needy. He lifted up the downtrodden. How would Jesus answer these self righteous men? Jesus said:

John 5:17-18 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus Christ is God. He is God in the flesh. He is God loving, reaching. He is the God Who loves you. Will you not give yourselves to Him this very day? Oh, what a blessing you will find, when you find Jesus. Give your lives to Jesus, and prove your salvation by following Him in love. God, the Giver of the Law, called Jesus to work on the sabbath. Not to till the fields, nor to fish, nor to in any way earn money through the sweat of His brow. No Beloved, this was not the work that Jesus did on the sabbath. The work He did is the work He does even today. Jesus told His disciples:

John 6:27-29 Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. {28} Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? {29} Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Here is THE work of God – that you believe on and worship Jesus, serving not the Law but Him. All who believe on Him shall never be ashamed. All who believe on Him shall be saved, both now and into eternity. May God bless the preaching of this Word, and cause you to make a commitment to Jesus Christ this very day! For Christ’s glory, may the Spirit and the Word of God impact your hearts! Amen and Amen!

Posted in John, Sermons Preached | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Mind Of Christ – A Wednesday Devotional

Photo by Júnior Ferreira on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter 2.

It is the devil’s job to tempt us, to frustrate us, to drive us away from our Shepherd Jesus. He does very well at his job. The darkness of the world pulls at us. Pastor Bill Winston (Living Word Christian Center) made a statement that I really liked. He said to the Christian:

“You are not from this world … you were born from above. Act like you are from home. Talk like God (not like the world). The whole earth is waiting for you to manifest. The enemy’s job is to keep us in a place where we won’t grow up.”

We live in bad days, but they are no worse than that which the first century Church went through. In fact, they are better. Though the Church is frequently infiltrated with godless “wolves in sheep’s clothing”, this has always been the case. Of the first twelve Apostles, one, Judas Iscariot, though chose by Jesus “was a devil” (John 6:70). Though Judas walked with Jesus, his mind was always on money, on the things of this world. The Apostle said:

John 12:6 {Judas Iscariot} was a thief, and had the bag {the disciple’s treasury}, and bare what was put therein.

The Church at Corinth was infiltrated by worldly, ungodly people. The Church was divided, sectarian, fighting among themselves. The Church was tolerating incest and grievous sexual sins among it’s members. The Church members were suing one another in court. Lovelessness abounded in Corinth. The Apostle addressed the Church, saying:

1 Corinthians 2:12-16 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy {Spirit} teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.

Which Spirit Is In You?

The Apostle gives an indicator as to how the Church can know which of it’s members are of God, and which are not. Those who belong to the world are called “natural man”. This is the Greek psychikos anthrōpos, the “sensual person”, the person who approaches the world around them based on feelings and self satisfaction. The animal is sensualistic. Animals will mate within their own family to satisfy their sensual urges. The psychikos anthrōpos approaches life with “Just do you” and “defy logic – be yourself” attitudes. The natural or sensual person seeks immediate gratification, and cares nothing for others unless helping others helps themselves.

What is the difference between the “natural man” and the “supernatural man”? It is whether the Holy Spirit of God is in that person or not. The Apostle quotes a text:

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

The phrase “as it is written” tells us that the Apostle is quoting scripture – which for Paul, would be the Old Testament. He is quoting:

Isaiah 64:4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.

In 1 Corinthians 2:9 and Isaiah 64:4, when the Bible says “men have not heard nor seen”, it is referring to the lost world, those who are without the Holy Spirit.

The unspiritual or “natural” person cannot picture the glories of what God has prepared for His children. But the spiritual or Spirit Filled Christian can begin to grasp the glories that await us because of Christ Jesus. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 2:10 But God hath revealed THEM {the things which God hath prepared for them that love him, mention in vs 9} unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

The Spirit of God knows the mind of God, because the Spirit of God is Himself God. The Holy Spirit is not an “it”, but a Person, a Divine Person. It is the Holy Spirit Who moved the Prophets and Apostles to write Scripture:

2 Peter 1:21 … holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy {Spirit}.

It is the Holy Spirit that causes a believer in Christ to be “born again”. Jesus said:

John 3:5-7 … Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

As Jesus Himself was incarnate through the virgin Mary because of the Holy Spirit (see Luke 1:35) – a wondrous miracle – the Christian is made a son of God by the operation of the Spirit. The Spirit is NOT just a power – He is a PERSON. In Acts chapter 5 Ananias and Sapphira tried to deceive God. The Apostle Peter said:

Acts 5:3-4 Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy {Spirit}, … why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

You cannot “lie” to a power, but only to a Person. Ananias and Sapphira lied to God the Holy Spirit. There are other Scriptures that speak to the Person of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle wrote:

Ephesians 4:30 (ESV) … do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

The word “grieve” is the Greek lypéō, which means “to cause sadness, to offend, to make uneasy and sorrowful”. Like any Person, the Holy Spirit can be emotionally offended or hurt. The Apostle wrote in:

2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

We have “fellowship” or a rapport with the Holy Spirit. As we read the Word of God, and come together as believers, the Holy Spirit guides us into being more like Christ. The Apostle said “we have the mind of Christ”. What does this mean? Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit came, that the function of the Spirit would be to tell us more about Jesus.

John 14:26 (ESV) … the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

John 15:26 … when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me

John 16:7-15 … Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

The function of God the Holy Spirit is to make us more like Jesus in our walk. The Holy Spirit has the mind of God, and He leads us toward that mind. Christians,

We Have The Mind of Christ

The saved person “has the mind of Christ”, that is, the Holy Spirit indwelling us, and the Holy Word of God available to us. When we read His Word, God the Holy Spirit reveals the deeper things of God. We HAVE the mind of Christ. What does the Spirit want of us? He wants us to be more like Jesus.

Turn with me in your Bibles to Ephesians 4:17-20

Ephesians 4:17-20 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ;

The world walks (lives it’s life) according to the spirit of this age, the spirit of anti-Christ. It chases after self and selfishness, greed and uncleanliness. The Apostle says, “ye have not so learned Christ”. We do not belong to this world. We belong to Jesus. The Apostle said:

Ephesians 4:22-24 … put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

We “put on the new man”. We follow the Word of God and the leading of the Spirit of God. Finally, turn with me in your Bibles to Philippians 2.

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

We have the mind of Christ, the Holy Spirit in us. “LET this mind be in you”. The word “LET” emphasizes a choice. You who are saved are Holy Spirit indwelt, but you must choose to follow His leading. “LET”. We are to be like Jesus. How was Jesus like?

Philippians 2:6-8 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Jesus is “in the form of God”, morphḗ, “by nature or apparently God”. The Strong’s New Testament Commentary notes:

“{Jesus} bore the form (in which he appeared to the inhabitants of heaven) of God … yet did not think that this equality with God was to be eagerly clung to or retained … but emptied himself of it … so as to assume the form of a servant, in that he became like unto men”

Jesus willingly left the glories of Heaven, and lowered Himself to be part of His own creation. He did this so that He could save humanity, by offering Himself on the cruel Cross of Calvary. Jesus “humbled himself” for the betterment of others. He sacrificed Himself. Jesus did not sacrifice Himself in order to enable sin, but did so that we could be freed from sin. The Apostle said:

Philippians 2:2-4 Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Jesus considered His life less and us better, that we might be saved. As Jesus willingly sacrificed His rights for our righteousness, so is our love to be. When there are battles in the Church, it always comes about because because members are elevating themselves above other members. The Apostle said:

Philippians 2:14-16 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life…

As Jesus was and is, we are to be. We are sons of God, made so by the Spirit of God and by the sacrifice of the Son of God. We do not live as the world lives, but live as God says. We are Kingdom people.

“We have the mind of Christ”. The mind of Christ is not like the world.

This is the standard we must lean toward, to love others as we have been loved. We are to be lights of Christ in this present evil world, shining to the glory of Christ. May Jesus help us do so, through His Spirit and His Word. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Sermons Preached, topical | Tagged | Leave a comment

Stand In The Gap

Photo by Connor Misset on Unsplash

Ezekiel 22:30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

It is so easy to follow the crowd. The crowd always takes the easy way. The crowd is so tolerant of anything God is intolerant of. The crowd loves that which God forbids, and cheers on that which God despises. Our Lord Jesus, loving and kind, came to this world to save sinners. Yet all that He met was opposition. Jesus said of this world:

Matthew 11:16-19 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, 17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. 19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

What does it matter? you might ask. After all, God is love (1 John 4:8). Let’s all just dance and sing with the crowd: (The following is adapted from Greg Morse’s article, Following Christ In An Unappeasable World)

Boys can be girls, and girls can be boys;
WE are our Maker – our bodies, our toys.

It’s not a baby – don’t feel any shame,
It hasn’t a voice or a smile or a name.

It’s brave to be different; it’s okay to be you,
Boy and boy, girl and girl – it’s called marriage, too.

God is love. But God is also HOLY, righteous, and just. God is the Maker of all things, and the Determiner of right and wrong. The Bible tells us in Romans 6:23:

The wages of sin is death ..

Sin is against nature, against light, against life. If sin goes unchecked, society collapses. In the middle of our town is a terrible section called “West 7th Street”. In addition to tearing up the center of town, our leadership pathetically has decided to allow the roads there to be not just torn up, but unlined. The lines on the road are checks and balances telling us where it’s safe to drive. I have seen several near accidents on that stretch of road, because people drive any way they want to – there is no demarcation! Can you imagine driving on an interstate without lines, or through a major city without any traffic control whatsoever. It would be dangerous, chaotic.

Six hundred years before Christ became incarnate, Judea had erased the lines from the highways of life. When the lines are erased, it is not long before God must act. When God sent a worldwide flood, destroying all but 8 people, it was not on a whim. The Bible says:

Genesis 6:5-7 … And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7 And the Lord said, I will destroy…

And yet, God did not destroy the earth by flood immediately. God is holy, but God is love. God found Noah, a man willing to “stand in the gap”. God gave humanity ample time to repent, to return to His design (for God said in Genesis 6:3 “his days shall be an hundred and twenty years”). Though God eventually – and believe reluctantly – destroyed all life but what was on the Ark,

His love looked for a Noah, but
His holiness brought a flood.

God Is Looking For A Person To Stand For Judea

Ezekiel 22:30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

Word Study: God sought. This is the Hebrew בָּקַשׁbâqash, {pronounced baw-kash’}, which is in the Piel Imperfect. The Piel Imperfect tells us that God is intensively and continually looking for the gap filler.God’s search for just one was ongoing, and might I say desperate.

God sought for a person – any person – who would stand in the gap before me for the land. God was not looking for that person to stand alone. God was looking for a person who would stand … before Me, someone who would say, “Lord, I believe Your Word. Lord, I will stand with you and FOR THE LAND because I love you”. God looked all throughout Judea. The Bible says:

2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. …

Everywhere God looked, He found none.

The POLITICIANS would not stand in the gap

Ezekiel 22:6-7 Behold, the princes of Israel, every one were in thee to their power to shed blood. 7 In thee have they set light by father and mother:

The foundation of good civilization is based on how that civilization regards “father and mother”. The fifth of the ten commandments is (Exodus 20:12) “Honor thy father and thy mother. This is the ONLY commandment that gives a reason for obeying it. God said, “that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you”. God did not tell the children to LOVE their parents, but to HONOR them. The citizens of a country are taught civility and order when they are taught as children to obey the authority of the parent. When children are taught that parents are not important – that you can have an abortion or be issued ‘the pill’ without parental approval, you move toward a totalitarian society. Dennis Prager notes:

One of the first things totalitarian movements seek to do is to break the child-parent bond. The child’s allegiance is shifted from parents to the state. Even in democratic societies the larger the state becomes, the more it usurps the parental role.”

Ezekiel 22:7 … in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger: in thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow.

The leaders of the country should care about how the immigrant, the orphan, and the widow are treated. The weakest of society should be cared for, not used as pawns for their ability to vote.

Ezekiel 22:8-9 Thou hast despised mine holy things, and hast profaned my sabbaths. 9 In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in thee they eat upon the mountains: in the midst of thee they commit lewdness.

The leadership of the nation should have respect for God our Creator – yet they did not. The leadership of the nation rules that nation at the will of God. Just as Saul lost his position as King for disobeying God, the Lord will overthrow those who put their hands on the Bible, taking an oath with a “so help me God”, but then fail to stand in the gap.

Ezekiel 22:10-11 In thee have they discovered their fathers’ nakedness: in thee have they humbled her that was set apart for pollution. 11 And one hath committed abomination with his neighbor’s wife; and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter in law; and another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father’s daughter.

The leaders of the nation should treat human sexuality the same way God treats it. When the leaders of the nation endorse sexual immorality, it damages the soul of the nation.

Ezekiel 22:12 In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood; thou hast taken usury and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbors by extortion, and hast forgotten me, saith the Lord God.

The politicians of Judea were motivated not by justice, but bribery and collusion. The nation was falling apart because the leadership was not honoring the ways of God. There was no one to stand in the gap!

The PROPHETS or PREACHERS
would not stand in the gap

Ezekiel 22:25 There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof.

The Prophets (Preachers) of Judea ceased communing with what God said, but instead made a conspiracy. This is the Hebrew קֶשֶׁר qesher, {pronounced keh’-sher}, which means “to join together in order to commit treason, to make an unlawful alliance”. The Preachers stopped saying “thus saith the Lord” and instead began to appease the people. This is nothing new. While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Law, the people rebelled against God and demanded Aaron make them a god. The Bible tells us:

Exodus 32:4 … {Aaron} made it a molten calf; and they {the people} said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

When God saw what Aaron did, He told Moses:

Exodus 32:10 (ESV) … let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you”.

Praise God, though, that Moses stood in the gap before the Lord. He sought the heart of God, saying:

Exodus 32:11-14 (ESV) “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 And the Lord relented…

Oh, praise God there was a Moses to stand in the gap. But there is none in Israel as God speaks through Ezekiel. The Prophets, the Preachers commit treason against God, and band together. God said:

Ezekiel 22:28 And her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord God, when the Lord hath not spoken.

Word Study: God uses an interesting term here for what the false preachers are doing. They are building walls with untempered mortar. The word mortar was supplied by the King James translators, as it is not in the original text. The word is simply תָּפֵל tâphêl, {pronounced taw-fale}, which means “untempered, foolish, that which is subject to failure”. The preachers were not staying with God’s Word, but were building the House of Israel with that which is fallible, easy to destroy. The Psalmist famously said:

Psalm 127:1 Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

The Word of God is tried and true. It is from our Maker, and it is for our best. When the Preachers conspired together to commit treason against God, they were also committing treason against Judea. God’s preachers are to:

Ephesians 4:15 be speaking the truth in love

This alone is what will bless the nation, the state, the community, and the family. But it was not just the Prophets/ Preachers that were off base, but,

The PRIESTS would not stand in the gap

Ezekiel 22:26 Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.

The PROPHETS were to speak the Word of God, and the PRIESTS were to serve the Lord. It was God’s initial intent that ALL of Israel be priests. Yet after Israel’s failing at Mount Sinai, God made the children of Levi or the Levites to be priests. The priests ignored the commands of God. God the Son said:

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

What God has said is right, is right even if all the world disagree. Yet the priests of God backed away from the truths that God established. God said, put no difference between the holy and profane. God’s people – saved by faith in Christ – are to honor what God honors, and dishonor what God dishonors. The priests hid their eyes from my sabbaths. God established the Sabbath for mankind, for a time to remember the goodness of God, a time to praise His name. The Bible says of the believer in Christ:

Revelation 1:5-6 {Jesus Christ} that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 And hath made us kings AND PRIESTS unto God and His Father

Every believer is a priest before God, with Jesus Christ as our High Priest (Hebrews 2:17; 4:14; 5:6). The priests must say the same thing that God says. If God declares it unclean, we are to declare it unclean. But God said there were no priests who would stand with Him in the gap. The forces of darkness cannot be defeated if priests and prophets do not work together.

In Exodus 17 the children of Israel went to battle with the Amalekites at Rephidim. The Prophet Moses was told of God to “stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand” (Exodus 17:9). As Moses held up the staff, Israel prevailed. But when Moses dropped his hand, the Amalekites prevailed. The Bible says:

Exodus 17:12-13 But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.

Just as Aaron the priest {along with Hur) held up the Prophet Moses’ hands, the priests must stand in the gap, lifting up the arms of the prophets. But the priests would not stand in the gap, and judgment was coming.

The PEOPLE would not stand in the gap with God

When the politicians, the preachers and the priests refused to stand, lawlessness spread throughout the land. We have seen this in our own country as mobs took over city blocks, and destroyed public property like statues and monuments. Lawlessness and darkness always abounds in the absence of light.

Ezekiel 22:30 The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.

As God looked over Judea, all He saw was lovelessness and hatred throughout the land. The people used oppression, and exercised robbery, stealing from one another. When God is ignored, or in last place, the people pursue a “me above all others” mentality. The nation suffers from this. The poor and needy are not cared for, and the stranger is oppressed.

God said, I believe with sadness:

Ezekiel 22:30-31 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. 31 Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God.

God looked and looked for but ONE person to stand in the gap for the nation, but said I found none. Had God found but ONE, the indignation of God would have been held from Judea.

God Is Looking For The One To Spare The Nation

Much of what we read in our text today could be applied to present day America. I believe that America – because of extreme political views on both sides – is not far from a horrible collapse. But God will not allow our nation to collapse IF He can find the ONE. Read again God’s Words:

Ezekiel 22:30 And I sought for A MAN among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

Word Study: God does not seek for a large number. God seeks A MAN. This is the Hebrewאִישׁ ʼîysh, {pronounced eesh}. This is the word Adam used when he first saw Eve:

Genesis 2:23 Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman {אִשָּׁה ʼishshâh, [pronounced ish-shaw’]}, because she was taken out of Man {ʼîysh}.

God is looking for ONE who will stand in fellowship with Him. ONE is a very important word in the Scripture – perhaps the most important word there is. Consider:

Romans 10:13 (ESV) … everyONE who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Revelation 3:20 (ESV) Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyONE hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Jesus told the young man who wanted eternal life, in Mark 10:21 “ONE thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor … and come, take up the Cross, and follow Me”.

Jesus told Martha, when she complained that Mary was sitting at His feet (Luke 10:42), ONE thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

The Apostle Paul said, (Philippians 3:13) “this ONE thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

ONE man, by disobedience, brought sin and destruction into the world. ONE Jesus went to the Cross for the sins of the whole world to right Adam’s failure. God will save a nation, if but ONE will stand in the gap in fellowship with Him. Be the ONE whom God uses. Do not be like the crowd. Do not be driven by social media, by Hollyweird, by the fallen crowd. Choose to be the ONE in fellowship with Christ.

Lamentations 3:21-24 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. 22 It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. 24 The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

Stand with God. Stand with Jesus. Stand in His Word, and in His power. If you are the ONE, you may stand alone. Jesus stood alone on Calvary, but changed the world. Dr J. Mike Minnix wrote in his sermon, Standing in the Gap:

One” man named Abraham began a nation by obeying God and became the father of faith. “One man named Joseph saved the nation by turning from temptation. “One” teenager named David fought for the nation when he faced Goliath. “One” woman named Esther rescued the nation by risking her life.

It is so easy to throw up your hands, and go with the crowd. But Beloved, just as God punished Judea, I believe God will punish America if some ONE doesn’t stand. I commit my life that I will be the ONE. Will you join me? I am reminded of the little boy who had a horse for sale. A prospective buyer asked him, “Son, can that horse run fast?” The boy replied, “No sir, he can’t run fast, but he can sure stand fast”. Let us all commit to be the one, to

STAND FAST in the faith (1 Corinthians 16:13)
STAND FAST in the liberty wherewith
Christ hath made us free (Galatians 5:1)

STAND FAST in one spirit, with one mind
striving together for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27)

STAND FAST in the Lord (1 Thessalonians 3:8)

May God the Holy Spirit and His precious Word move us all to so commit. The life of our nation depends on our response. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Ezekiel | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Jesus’ Meat

Photo by Paul Hermann on Unsplash

John 4:30-34 Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. 31 In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. 32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. 33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? 34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

The Heart Of God Is To Save

If you were with me this morning, we talked about Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. While Jesus entered Samaria, His disciples went into the city to buy meat” (see verse 8). As Jesus talked to the unnamed woman at the well, He revealed to her that He is the Messiah. The woman, convicted that Jesus is the Messiah, goes to her home in Sychar (see verse 5). Her message to the men of Sychar is:

John 4:29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

Word Study “Meat”: While this woman is gone telling others about Jesus, His disciples return with what the King James calls simple meat. This is the Greek βρῶσις brōsis, {pronounced bro’-sis}, which the King James translates as “rust”, as in ..

Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and RUST {brōsis} doth corrupt …

or as meat – like in our present text. The word is translated eatingin 1 Corinthians 8:4, and foodin texts like 2 Corinthians 9:10. I believe the best translation of the word is food. The disciples didn’t just go and get “meat” for Jesus and themselves to eat, but “food”, which could be anything you eat.

The distance between Judea and Sychar (a city of Samaria) is 24.85 miles. As Jesus was walking, the journey would have taken around 22 hours. Jesus has satisfied His thirst at the well, but should be famished!

Word Study “Prayed”: His disciples returned with food, and prayed” {ἐρωτάω erōtáō, [pronounced er-o-tah’-o]}, literally BEGGED Jesus to eat. This is not the first time Jesus has been very hungry. In Matthew 4, our Lord was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit of God (Matthew 4:1) to be tempted by the devil. Jesus had been without food for 40 days and night, and Satan tempted Him to use His power to feed Himself. Jesus refused, saying:

Matthew 4:4 … Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

This is how Jesus lived His life while on this earth. He was not driven by appetite, lust, or any sin whatsoever. Jesus – the Creator of all that we see-

Colossians 1:16 (ESV) For by {Jesus} all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords “had no place to lay His head” (Matthew 8:19-20; Luke 9:57-58). Jesus had no cup to drink from when He asked the Samaritan woman for a drink from Jacob’s Well. Jesus had nothing, but one driving force in His life. Jesus told His disciples:

John 4:32 I have meat {brōsis, FOOD}
to eat that ye know not of

This puzzled the disciples. Did someone bring Jesus something to eat while He rested at the well? As the disciples talked among themselves, Jesus told them:

John 4:34 … My {brōsis FOOD} is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

God made and is in charge of all things. The only thing God wants is to save the lost. Period!

God The Son Was “Sent”

John 4:34 … My {brōsis FOOD} is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work.

Preach STRONG: Jesus was not sent by rabbis. He was not sent by the Sanhedrin, the ruling elders of Israel. Jesus was not sent by Himself. There was no inner hunger or need for power that sent Him. Jesus – Himself God – is sent by God for the most important mission ever devised. He was sent by God to save the lost.

God is a “Him”. God, though three in Person, is One in desire. Part of the”Him” that sent Jesus is God the Holy Spirit. Jesus emphasized the sending and empowerment of the Spirit in one of the first recorded sermons He ever preached. It was in His hometown Nazareth that Jesus, at the Synagogue (Jewish Church) shared His mission as Messiah.

Luke 4:16-19 (ESV) … where {Jesus} had been brought up. And as was his custom, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and He stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

The textual scroll Jesus read was Isaiah 61:1-2a. This text is significant, for it prophesies of the coming Messiah.

Jesus does not read the last part of Isaiah 61:2, which speaks of “the day of vengeance of our God”. Abruptly stopping in the middle of verse 2, Jesus rolled up the scroll, and returned it to the attendant of the Synagogue. Jesus turns, looks at the crowd there, and says:

Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus applied this Messianic Prophecy to His own self. He as much said, “I am the Messiah Israel has long waited for”. In that Messianic Prophesy, the Messiah said:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”

God the Holy Spirit sent and empowered Jesus to proclaim good news to the poor … to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed. God the Holy Spirit is very involved in the salvation of human souls. It is the Spirit of God that empowered Jesus to …

Matthew 12:28 … I cast out devils by the SPIRIT OF GOD…

The Holy Spirit is not a Power,
but a
Co-Equal Person of the Trinity.

The Holy Spirit “led Jesus into the wilderness” (Luke 4:1). Just as Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit, the Christian – a son of God – is to be led by the Spirit. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14). This same Holy Spirit that sent Jesus and worked through Jesus is the same Holy Spirit Who revealed Bible truths to the Apostles and Prophets (Ephesians 3:5). The Holy Spirit sent – and walked with – our Lord Jesus.

God the Son was also sent to save us by God the Father. Jesus said:

John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

Jesus followed the direction of God the Father. He told us:

John 14:9 … he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father

Some 30 times in the Gospel of John alone
Jesus speaks of being sent by God.

God the Father sent Jesus. God the Holy Spirit sent Jesus, and walked with Him as He ministered. John the Baptist taught that Jesus is the Great Intercessor between God and man. John said:

John 3:34-36 … For {Jesus} whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. 35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

The Lord Jesus Christ was sent by God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. This doesn’t make Jesus lesser or a little ‘g’ god and the Father and Spirit. Jesus Christ – born into this life of the virgin called Mary – is Himself Eternal God the Son. God says in:

Hebrews 1:6, 8 (ESV) When {God} brings {Jesus} the firstborn into the world, He says, “Let all God’s angels worship Him”. … 8 ..of the Son {God} says, “Your Throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your Kingdom.

God the Father and God the Spirit sent God the Son into the world to save it, if we would but believe in Him. Our Jesus is called by the Prophet Isaiah,

Isaiah 9:6 … wonderful Counselor, mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace ..

Jesus Christ is the Word of Whom John writes, saying …

John 1:1 … In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God …

Over and over again, our Lord Jesus in Scripture “made Himself equal with God” (John 5:18). Jesus said:

John 14:10-11 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.

The Apostle summarizes this wonderful Lord we serve by saying:

Colossians 2:9 For in Him {in Jesus} dwelleth ALL THE FULLNESS of the GODHEAD bodily …

Our Lord Jesus was sent by both Father and Spirit to be our Messiah. Jesus Himself, co-equal with both Father and Spirit, was sent by His own desire to see souls saved. Oh, how God loves you and I!

Jesus Christ represents the fullness of the Triune God. Though Jesus was 20 plus hours without food, that which satisfied His soul was not physical food, but to do the will of the Godhead.

It Is The Love Of God and The Holiness of God
That Compels Him To Reach Out To The Lost World

Once more we read the words of our Lord:

John 4:34, “My {food} is to do the will of Him {the Godhead} that sent Me, and to finish His work”.

What is the will of the Godhead? Holiness & Love. God made promises that will be kept
because of Holiness & Love

It is to fulfill what God said to Satan in the Garden of Eden. When Adam ate that which was forbidden, he lost access to the Garden of Eden. But God told the serpent (which was Satan – see Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2):

Genesis 3:15 … I will put enmity {make you enemies with} between thee {Satan} and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel

Biologically, no woman has a “seed”. The woman carries the egg, the man the seed. But God promised that He would destroy the works of Satan through “the SEED of the woman”. God created a “seed of the woman” by the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. Christ would become incarnate – human – through Mary. The Messiah – eternal God in the Heavens – would take upon Himself humanity, and pay the penalty for our sins.

God began the work of redemption in the Garden, and made a promise of Satan’s eventual fall. God in His holiness cannot look the other way insofar as sin is concerned. God told Adam,

in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Genesis 2:17 (ESV)

Romans 5:12 by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Adam’s sin effected more than just himself – it effected all his progeny. Why didn’t God just wipe out creation and start afresh? Sin was brought into creation by man’s hand, and man was guilty of disobeying God. Before man could ever get back to a place where he could be at peace with God there had to be a payment. But Who could pay? Sin had to be paid for – but it also had to be resolved once and for all. God cannot look the other way on sin.

Our God is “of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity … (Habakkuk 1:13). God despises what He calls “evil”. The Psalmist said, “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; You hate all evil doers” (Psalm 5:4-5).

God is compelled by His holiness to punish sin. But God is compelled by His goodness & love to offer redemption towhosoever will in mankind.

We see God’s holiness in that Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden for their sin. But we see God’s love, His goodness, in that He covers the naked couple with “coats of skin, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). This is the start of the story of redemption. An innocent creature died so that Adam and Eve could live.

Look at the story of redemption in the Scripture. Man sinned in the Garden, but was clothed, then expelled. But God did not abandon man. When the whole world but Noah abandoned God, God never abandoned Noah. When the flood receded, and Noah and his family – along with the animals – left the Ark, God was still with us.

Oh, how God is so good and kind and merciful!

When God led Israel from Egypt, He loved His people. God carried them through the wilderness, and fed them manna, and gave them meat to eat. At the base of Mount Sinai as Moses was receiving the Law, Israel and Aaron was making a golden calf to worship in place of God! And yet, God did not abandon His love. Though Israel broke God’s heart, and Moses broke the first tablets of the Law, God was patient and good. God told Moses

Exodus 34:1 … Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.

Oh, how good, and patient, and kind our God is! Moses, that grand old Saint, stood on the mountain top and heard God. The Bible says:

God Reveals His Holiness In His Law. God Reveals His Love In His Description Of Himself.

Exodus 34:5-7 (ESV) The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Our God is merciful and gracious. These are the first two words that He Himself uses to describe His character. God is merciful and gracious. God is slow to anger. Pastor Dane Ortlund notes in his book “Gentle and Lowly” (have you read it yet?):

Slow to anger. The Hebrew phrase is literally “long of nostrils”. Picture an angry bull, pawing the ground, breathing loudly, nostrils flared. That would be, so to speak, “short nosed”. But the Lord is long nosed. He doesn’t have His finger on the trigger. It takes much accumulated provoking to draw out his ire. Unlike us, who are often emotional dams ready to break, God can put up with a lot. This is why the Old Testament speaks of God being “provoked to anger” by His people dozens of times (especially in Deuteronomy; 1-2 Kings, and Jeremiah). But not once are we told that God is “provoked to love” or “provoked to mercy”. His anger requires provocation; His mercy is pent up, ready to gush forth. We tend to think divine anger is pent up, spring loaded; divine mercy is slow to build. It’s just the opposite. Divine mercy is ready to burst forth at the slightest prick.” (page 148).

God is not like us. When something doesn’t work out for us, we trash it, throw it away. We boil over. We blow up. God is not that way. John Calvin said,

There is nothing that troubles our consciences more than when we think that God is like ourselves”.

Though Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden, God never finished working toward His loving plan of redemption. God never ceased working toward the day when the Messiah could come, and free us all from the deadly influence of sin.

The Conversion Of Samaria Was Thousands Of Years In The Loving Mind Of God

Jesus said,

John 4:35-38 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. 37 And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. 38 I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor: other men labored, and ye are entered into their labors.

The Jews with Jesus saw Samaria as a problem area they had to pass through. What they saw as a problem area, a group of half bred people, Jesus saw as precious unto God. God had been working from the Garden of Eden until that very day, and works even now, to secure the salvation of whosoever will. The love of God in saving souls is immeasurable, timeless, never ending. This Samaritan woman was nothing to the disciples – but to Jesus she was part of the work of God that He wanted more than food. The Bible says:

Psalm 138:5-6 … great is the glory of the Lord. 6 For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the {proud} he knows from afar.

From Genesis till today One soweth, and another reapeth . Every Prophet, every Preacher, every Teacher from Eden until now have sown into the plan of God. Jesus told His disciples:

John 4:35-36 … I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. (36) And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.

People need the Lord. We need to reap where God allows, and sow even when we see no evidence of harvest. We have a great blessing as the children of God to invite others into His kingdom. What is the will of God, the “food” that kept Jesus satisfied? It was the satisfaction of revealing Himself as Messiah, and seeing the Spirit of God move in the heart of the unnamed Samaritan woman.

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

The work of God is to believe on Jesus. To share Jesus with others. To share the great love of God with this present world. What filled Jesus’ so that He was not hungry was doing the will of God. He said:

John 6:38-40 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Let’s finish our text. The Samaritan woman has been in Sychar, telling others about the Messiah. The Bible tells us:

John 4:39-42 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on {Jesus} for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. 40 So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his own word; 42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.

What a wonderful blessing it is to work in the fields of the Lord. Will you commit to work with me? Oh, that God would set our souls on fire, to share Christ and His love as we are given opportunity to do so. May God the Holy Spirit and this precious Scripture move on all our hearts. Amen and Amen.

Posted in John | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

From River To Well To Holy Spirit

Photo by mrjn Photography on Unsplash

John 4:1-4 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, 2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) 3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. 4 And he must needs go through Samaria.

Water Is So Very Important – Water Is Life

As we come to John chapter 4, the Bible focuses on WATER. Water is a very common thing, yet something we desperately need to live.

The average human is approximately 60% water.
Our brains and hearts are roughly 73% water,
and our lungs are around 83% water.
Water regulates our internal temperature,
and keeps blood flowing to our cells.

A typical human can go without food and live for 3-4 weeks, but if you have no water for 3-4 days you will die!

Water is life. I think this is why God uses water baptism as a profession of genuine faith in God.

When John the Baptist began to preach, he baptized believers in God in the Jordan River. Why were believer’s baptized? Their baptism was an outward testimony that they inwardly had repented, and were willing to follow Father God. When John baptized, he told the people:

Matthew 3:11-12 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Those baptized by John were professing their faith in the God of the Scripture. John told them that he himself was NOT the Messiah, but the Messiah was coming. When the Messiah came, He would not baptize with water (though He would require it), but would baptize with the Holy Spirit of God.

What is very interesting about water baptism is that Jesus came to John to be baptized in water – and Jesus is the sinless Messiah from God.

The day that Jesus came to John to be baptized the Bible says:

Matthew 3:14 {John initially refused to baptize Jesus, saying} … I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

Baptism Is A Fulfillment Of God’s Will

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Jesus is holy, pure, without sin. Hebrews 4:15 tells us {Jesus Christ} was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 we are told {Jesus} knew NO sin. The Apostle said in 1 John 3:5 that {Jesus Christ} was manifested to TAKE AWAY our sins; and in Him is NO sin. The Apostle Peter preached in 1 Peter 2:22, “{Jesus} did NO sin. John knew that the Messiah was, by nature, eternal God the Son in human body. His baptisms up to this moment were sinners who came to him repenting, committing by repentance to follow the will of God. But now Jesus comes to be baptized. “Oh, no, Lord! I should baptized by YOU, not YOU by me!”. But Jesus said:

Matthew 3:15 … “{Allow} it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness”.

Water baptism is a “fulfillment of all righteousness”. It is an outward testimony that the One being baptized will follow the will of God. Though Jesus was indeed sinless, and had no need to repent, He was baptized as a public declaration that the entirety of His ministry would be to follow the will of the Godhead. When Jesus was baptized, the Bible says “He saw the Spirit of God, descending like a dove, and lighting on Him: and lo, a voice from Heaven, saying, “This is my Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17).

From that moment Jesus went out. Though we are told in John 3 that after Jesus spoke with Nicodemus,

John 3:22 … Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.

Jesus initially baptized (see John 3:26) His first disciples, but after the first ones were baptized:

John 4:2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)

Jesus commanded His disciples be baptized, but He Himself stopped baptizing in water after the first were baptized. Why? He wanted His disciples to baptize. Baptism is a physical illustration of what our Lord Jesus spiritually does to a believer.

Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit, and with fire.

Jesus said in John 7:37-39 … If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit

When a person receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God through Christ and for Christ sends the Holy Spirit to that believer. The Holy Spirit “baptizes” or washes that person spiritually. Before we met Christ, we walked in darkness, following the sins of the flesh as all the fallen do. We were unrighteous, sinning willfully and gleefully. The Bible says:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

The Messiah sends the Holy Spirit to us, and the Holy Spirit does His miraculous work of changing our hearts. Just as God became incarnate through the work of the Holy Spirit in Mary (Luke 1:35), the Holy Spirit brings our dead hearts into union with God.

The Holy Spirit is a Person, not a force.

John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

I read an article the other day on the Christian Post entitled, Most Adult US Christians Don’t Believe The Holy Spirit is Real: Study. The article notes:

Some 62% of self-identified born-again Christians contend that the Holy Spirit is not a real, living being but is merely a symbol of God’s power, presence or purity. Another 61% say that all religious faiths are of equal value, and 60% believe that if a person is good enough, or does enough good things, they can earn their way into Heaven.”

The Holy Spirit is a real Person, Who partnered with Jesus as He walked this earth incarnate. The Holy Spirit shows us God’s deep truths (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). The Holy Spirit has a mind of His own, and intercedes for us:

Romans 8:27 (ESV) … {the God} who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

God the Holy Spirit makes the Christian. God the Holy Spirit also prays for the Christian. Jesus called the Holy Spirit “the Finger of God” (Luke 11:20 compared with Matthew 12:28). When God gave the Law to Moses, it was “the Finger of God” that wrote that Law on the stone tablets (Exodus 31:18; Deuteronomy 9:10). Now God Himself, the Holy Spirit, writes the Law of God on the hearts of those who believe in Christ. God promised that with the coming of the Messiah,

Jeremiah 31:33 … I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

The Christian is not a Christian because it is “written with ink” on some piece of paper. The Christian is a Christian because “God Himself put His laws on their hearts, and wrote them on their minds” (Hebrews 10:16; Hebrews 8:10). The Apostle said of the Church:

2 Corinthians 3:3 (ESV) … you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

A Christian is someone who realizes they are lost, and repents, turning to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. A Christian receives Jesus as He is, and Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to wash us, to cause us to be born again, to indwell us, to intercede for us. The Bible says that the unbeliever is in the flesh – chasing the darkness of this world. But the believer in Christ is:

Romans 8:9 … not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Returning to our focal text for today, The Bible says:

John 4:3-4 {Jesus} left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. [4] And {Jesus} must needs go through Samaria.

Jesus Must Needs Go Through Samaria

Word Study: The words must needs is the Greek word δεῖ deî, {pronounced die}. I find that very interesting. The word deî means “it is necessary, right and proper. Jesus used the same word when He described His upcoming death:

Matthew 16:21 … Jesus {began} to shew unto his disciples, how that he must {deî} go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

It was “necessary, right and proper” that Jesus go THROUGH Samaria. Why? Was it because that was the only way to get to Galilee? Absolutely not. Galilee is several miles NORTH of Judea. Most Jews headed EAST along the path of the Jordan River to get to the Sea of Galilee, and hence Galilee. But it seems as if Jesus goes out of His way to go through Samaria. Why?

Because God is good. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. God cannot help but be good, compassionate, loving. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 52:1 … the goodness of God endureth continually.

There is someone in Samaria that Jesus must meet. Samaria is a land polluted with idolatry. It has not always been that way. Jacob who would one day become Israel gave a parcel of land in Sychar to his beloved son Joseph. Samaria was initially a part of the Promised Land. It was the same place where Jacob met with his brother Esau. Jacob expected Esau to destroy him for taking Esau’s birthright, but God moved on Esau to leave his brother unharmed. Jacob purchased land (Genesis 33:18-20), built a well on it, and built an altar to God which he called:

Elelohe-Israel “To the Mighty God of Israel”

Samaria is no longer a blessed place. Because of human greed and betrayal, as well as rejection of God, Samaria became a place of idolatry. The Ten Northern Tribes of Israel refused to worship God in Jerusalem, but instead built another temple – an unauthorized temple – in Samaria. They drifted far away from God, much like America has today.

Jesus loved idolatrous Samaria, just as He loves idolatrous America. He MUST NEEDS go and share His love with the lost places.

But God loves us still. God is rich in His love for all. The Apostle said:

Romans 2:3-4 (ESV) Do you suppose, O man … that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Sadly, too many “presume on the riches of God’s kindness, and forbearance, and patience”. God loves us all so very much! God gives grace – daily grace – to all on this earth.The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all that He has made” (Psalm 145:9). “God causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).

But God goes beyond our physical needs. God strives to reach us in our sin, to save us if we will heed Him, to bring us into the family of God if we would but come to Jesus. Jesus must needs go THROUGH Samaria.

Our Lord Jesus came to this earth for sinners like you and I. He came to this earth for sinners different than you and I. The Bible tells us that Jesus comes to Jacob’s well, and,

John 4:6-7 … being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. 7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

The Samaritan woman is puzzled. She asks Jesus – clearly a Jew:

John 4:9 … How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

Sadly, some of the most racist of people are “religious” people. This woman had seen the scorn of the Jews, supposedly God’s people, and had smarted under their remarks and glares. God never wants anyone to be racist. When Miriam mocked Moses for marrying an Ethiopian woman called Zipporah, God caused Miriam to become leprous (Numbers 12:10). The Apostle preached in

Acts 17:26-27 {God} hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth … that they should seek the Lord

Our God does not divide humanity based upon color, but upon faith in Christ. God divides humanity as:

Wheat or Chaff
Righteous or Wicked
Son of God or Son of Adam
Sheep or Goats

You will never see a black or white division according to God in the Scripture. God loves all equally, and reaches out to all. The Samaritan woman is startled that Jesus would speak to her. But she is more startled by what Jesus now says:

John 4:10 … If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

It is Jesus Who gives “Living Water”. This “Living Water” is the Holy Spirit of God (John 7:38-39), The same Spirit that comes to every believer in Jesus. Peter preached:

Acts 2:38 … Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy {Spirit}.

The Christian’s thirst is quenched by the Living Water of God. We drink of God’s blessings each and every day. Because of His Spirit, we walk through this life in union with Jesus. We are never alone.

But you cannot receive salvation, nor the wonderful accompanying gift of the Holy Spirit, unless you REPENT. To REPENT is to realize you are a sinner, and to RELEASE those sins, while REACHING for Jesus!

The woman, on hearing of this “Living Water”, says:

John 4:15 … Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

But she must REPENT. Jesus tells her:

John 4:16-18 … Go, call thy husband, and come hither. [17] The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: [18] For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly…

You have to know you are broken, before you’ll ever try and get fixed. You have to know you are lost, before you will ever be found. Our God “delivers us from the power of darkness, and translates us into the Kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 1:12-14).

But only when you repent! Release you sin! Reach for Jesus!

The Samaritan woman now does as so many do. When confronted with their sinfulness, they want to argue with the Lord. She says:

John 4:20 Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

Jesus tells the woman:

John 4:21 Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

God Is Not A PLACE, But a PERSON

Worship – true worship of God – is not tied to a PLACE, but to a PERSON. If you believe that worship is tied to PLACE, then just as Jesus told the Samaritan woman, I tell you “Ye worship ye know not what”. Our Father Abraham worshiped God where ever he walked. Our Father Enoch walked with God – and was not (Genesis 5:24). Worship of God comes through one Person – Jesus Christ our Messiah – in the power of God the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us:

John 4:23 … the true worshipers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

We who are Christ’s worship the Father in Spirit – in the power of the Holy Spirit of God – and in truth. Jesus said that…

John 16:13 … when HE, the Spirit of truth, is come, HE will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

Jesus said:

John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in Spirit and in truth.

The woman’s heart opens to Christ. She says:

John 4:25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

To which Jesus tells her, “I am but one of the Messiah’s, but one of the ways to God”. Is that what He says? NO! Absolutely not! Jesus declares:

John 4:26 I that speak unto thee am he.

Jesus Christ is the ONLY Messiah, the ONLY means by which a person may come to God and be saved. This woman gives every evidence of being saved. The Bible says:

John 4:29-30 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, 29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? 30 Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.

Is not THIS THE Christ? There is no other. If you know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you must needs go through Samaria, and tell others of Him. All you need do is tell others what Jesus has done for you. The Bible says:

John 4:39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

That’s not a difficult testimony, is it? All you need do is tell what Jesus means to YOU. And if you are not in Christ, then I pray that God the Holy Spirit will move on your hearts through this His Word, and through His Spirit. Jesus loves you, and wants you to be a part of the family of God. Come today, without delay! Amen, and Amen!

Posted in John, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Vision Of Hell

Fires of Hell
Photo by Cullan Smith on Unsplash

John 3:17-21 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

I sat in a Veterinarian’s Office waiting on the doctor to treat my dog “Scooter”. Bored, I overheard a man talking with the doctor about the problems that he had with his goats. The Vet said something I found very interesting. She said:

The main objective of any goat is to die. They eat any number of things, regardless as to whether or not it’s good for them”.

I thought that statement was very interesting. I remember an episode of the Andy Griffith Show when a farmer named Hutch brings his pet goat into Mayberry. Men are working on an underpass for the town, and the goat gets away from his owner and eats a case of dynamite. It’s a hilarious episode that ends when Andy leads the loaded goat out of town, as Barney serenades the goat with his harmonica.

The Main Objective Of Any Goat Is To Die.

Our Lord Jesus often talked of believers in Him being “sheep”, and unbelievers were depicted as “goats”. Our Lord said, “the Son of Man {that’s Jesus}shall set the SHEEP on His RIGHT hand, but the GOATS on the left” (Matthew 25:33). Jesus said that His Sheep would be welcomed into “the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). The GOATS, however, are told:

Matthew 25:41 … Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels..

The SHEEP are those who receive the “Good Shepherd”, the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, these Sheep go into Heaven. They enter Heaven because the “good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). But to those who reject Jesus as Lord and Savior, Jesus tells these GOATS:

Matthew 25:41 … Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels..

Hell Is Real – And Necessary

Word Study: What is uniquely sad about this assignment to hell is that no human was ever meant to go to hell. Hell is a place prepared for the devil and his angels. The word prepared is the Greek ἑτοιμάζω hetoimázō, {pronounced het-oy-mad’-zo}, meaning “to make ready, to make the necessary preparations, to get everything ready”. Our Creator engineered hell as a place for demons, not for humans made in His image. Hell is a real place, but God doesn’t want anyone there. Someone wrote Billy Graham once and said,

I can’t believe that a loving God would ever send anyone to hell when they die. Jesus is too loving to do that.”

Billy responded with, “It may surprise you to learn that no one in the Bible spoke more about the reality of hell than Jesus. He declared, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

Those are sobering words, and we need to take them seriously. Hell is real, and not one word about it in the Bible would ever make you want to go there. Those who thoughtlessly say that they look forward to going there because all their friends will be there simply haven’t realized its horror. If there is no hell, then we live in an unjust world in which tyrants and abusers and other evildoers will never pay for their evil deeds. The Bible calls it a place of “outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30, KJV).

But it’s important to realize that Jesus spoke about hell’s reality not out of hate or anger, but out of love. Yes, hell is real, but God doesn’t want you to go there! This is why He provided a way for us to be with Him in heaven forever, by sending His Son into the world to die for our sins.”

Jesus wants everyone to be “SHEEP” and not “GOATS”. Anyone can change from “SHEEP” to “GOAT” by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus said:

John 3:17-18 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on {Jesus} is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

I want to talk to you tonight about the subject of Hell. I am praying that God the Holy Spirit will give you a real VISION of Hell. Many today do not believe in Hell. Many who profess to be Christians do not believe in a Biblical Hell. Some believe that – if a person were assigned to Hell by Jesus – that this soul would be annihilated, wiped out by it’s flames.

That’s just not true.

Hell is a real place, a place every person should fear to go to.

Fifteen times in the Scripture Jesus mentions
that place called “Hell”

Our Lord Jesus preached in one of His first sermons:

Matthew 5:29-30 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Jesus also preached in one of His last earthly sermons:

Matthew 18:8-9 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. 9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

If Hell were just a place of annihilation, then why would Jesus emphasize it had EVERLASTING fire? If Hell is not a place of eternal and ongoing punishment, then why would Jesus tell you it is better to cut off a limb, or pluck out an eye, rather than go there?

Hell is an eternal place of punishment, a prison for souls that do not wish to honor God. Humans are all created in God’s Image (Genesis 1:27), and that part of our being – our human soul – is by nature eternal. Our bodies are temporal, but every soul is eternal – and belongs to God. God said through the Prophet Ezekiel, “Behold, all souls are mine – they belong to Me. The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son belongs to Me” (my paraphrase 18:4). Every soul is – because it is in God’s image – FOREVER. Every soul, upon the death of the body, leaves and enters HEAVEN (a.k.a. Eternal Life) or HELL (a.k.a. Hell).

Answering “I Don’t Believe A Loving God
Would Cast Anyone Into Hell”

This is a common statement I hear from people today. Many of the more liberal Christians love to quote God is love” (1 John 4:8). God is, indeed, “love”. But God is not JUST “love”. The Bible says that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

In John’s writings, He mentions God as “LIGHT” before he ever mentions God is “LOVE”.

Light” in the Bible is a reference to RIGHTEOUSNESS or a lack of sin. In

Proverbs 4:18 (ESV) But the path of the RIGHTEOUS is LIKE THE LIGHT OF DAWN, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.

In Philippians 2:15 tells us that God wants us to be “children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world”.

God is Light, and His Children are to reflect His Light to a dark and desperate world. Jesus tells the Christ follower to let your LIGHT shine before others, that they may see your GOOD DEEDS” (Matthew 5:16). Our God is HOLY, and we who follow Him are to be HOLY. When John looked into Heaven, he saw four angels about the Throne of God crying out,

Revelation 4:8 Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come

Our God is Holy. The Creator Who made all things is LIGHT, without sin, without darkness. Our God is also eternal. The angels cried out that God, was, and is, and is to come. You can offend me, and in time I will forget all about it. Time washes away the memory of the offense. But to God, God is ETERNAL, without change. An offense against God is never forgotten. When Isaiah was allowed to look into Heaven, and to see God on His Throne, Isaiah cried out:

Isaiah 6:5 Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts

Illustrate: Seeing God in his holiness, in His perfect righteousness, in His light, Isaiah was frightened, for compared to God he needed to be cleansed. How can a sinful man hope to stand in the Presence of this Perfect, Holy, Eternal Being we know as God? It is like looking into the Sun. You can do it a moment, but your eyes tear up, and will burn out of your head if you keep looking. Isaiah’s lips were unclean! So God sent an angel to Isaiah with a live coal from that altar of God. Touching that light – that burning coal – to Isaiah’s lips, his sin was covered. The angel said,

Isaiah 6:7 … Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

Just as the angel purged Isaiah’s sin with the burning coal, Jesus purges our sin by applying the work of the Cross to our lives when we receive Him.

John 3:17 … God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him MIGHT be saved.

God wants all to be saved, to leave this life and enter eternal life (Heaven) as opposed to eternal death (hell). To be in a right place with the Eternal God Who made all, you must believe on Jesus.

John 3:18 He that believeth on {Jesus} is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

If you have believed on Jesus, the Biblical Jesus, then you are NOT in a state of condemnation. If you have believed on Jesus, you, made in the image of God, are now a Child of God. The “child of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26) is NOT condemned. But the unbeliever in Christ is condemned already. The word translated condemned is the Greek κρινω, krinom {pronounced kree’-no}, which means “judged in the past so that the judgment stands”. God came into this world, became flesh as Jesus Christ, specifically to save us all from eternal death. The unbeliever in Christ rejects Jesus as Lord and Savior because:

John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

The lost, the goats of this life, have chosen to reject Christ so they can continue in evil. When a person submits to Christ as Lord and Savior, they follow HIM, not the world. The lost follow the lost world. They will not come to Jesus because they prefer darkness, prefer sinning, prefer wallowing in the mire of this life.

John 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

Jesus says to the unbeliever,

Isaiah 55:3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Jesus came for every person. But some refuse to come to Him. Jesus told the self righteous Pharisees:

John 5:24, 39-40 … He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. … 39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

How sad that is! The reason people go to hell is because they will not come to Jesus. People do not go to hell because of sin. People go to hell because they pursue sin rather than Christ. It is a terrible thing to go through this life without Jesus! I have seen cartoons where the character drawn would have a dark cloud over their head. In truth, those who have rejected Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have a dark cloud called CONDEMNATION hanging over their head. We are told:

John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

The wrath of God abideth on the unbeliever. It is now, and will continue while the unbeliever is in a state of unbelief. The Apostle said:

1 John 5:10-11 HCS … The one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given about His Son.) {11} And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

The sinner without Christ is given a day of life to receive Christ. It is the common Grace of God that allows the lost another day to live. But that person is already marked with condemnation, just as Cain was marked for killing his brother. If that person dies without Christ, the Bible says:

Revelation 14:10-11 … The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night…

Hell is not a place where you go to cease being. Hell is an eternal prison, a place of flames and smoke and torment and grief. It is a place where the wrath of God is poured out. Jesus said of the lost who rejected Him as Lord and Savior:

Mark 9:44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched…

Repent While There Is Time, And Come
To The Light Of Christ

John 3:21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

This morning I spoke on the need for “Repentance”. To “Repent” is to stop following the gods of self and sin, and to turn and run into the open arms of Jesus. Jesus rejects no one. Jesus loves to save souls – thank God for that!

People think, “Well, I’m not ready to receive Jesus just yet. I want to sow my wild oats. I want to “have fun”, and live a little. I’ll receive Jesus LATER ON IN LIFE so that I won’t go to hell”. Dear one, this is a bad idea. The Bible says:

James 4:13-14 (ESV) Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

The point of our focal text we read today is that the unbeliever is in a state of condemnation RIGHT NOW. We do not know when our last day on earth will be. We do not know when the grim reaper will come. Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). It is foolish to assume that you always have tomorrow. As my mama used to say, “Tomorrow never comes”. In Luke chapter 16 our Lord Jesus told a story about two men, one rich and one a beggar. The rich man probably thought he would live forever, for he lived in the lap of luxury. Jesus preached:

Luke 16:22-24 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

The rich man – forever nameless because he refused to repent and hide under the name of Jesus – died and immediately was in hell. In hell, he was in torment. In hell, he was lonely. In hell, he was thirsty. Hell is hell. That rich man died unexpectedly, and in hell he lifted up his eyes. But there’s something else about this rich man you may not have noticed.

The lost rich man – this goat – refused to repent while on the earth, and refuses to repent even in hell. “Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool my tongue”.

The longer a person goes without Christ, the more hardened that person becomes to the call of God. What a sad truth this is! Jesus Christ allowed Himself to die on Calvary, forsaken of God, so that we who are believers in Him will never be forsaken (Matthew 27:45-54). As Christ purchased our salvation with His Blood, He cried out “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” How terrible that He would make such a payment, and people would yet reject Him.

Christ took your place on the Cross so that you could enter His place in Heaven. Yet if you will not come, if you will not repent, then you stand already marked for judgment. Your destination is set to a terrible place. Will you not come while there is time? If you do not know Him as Lord and Savior, call upon Jesus this very day, and He will save you. The Bible says:

Romans 9:33 … whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Romans 10:11 … Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

If you have received Jesus Christ as Savior, tell others about Him. Hell is real. Hell is eternal. Hell is torment. Oh, that God the Holy Spirit and this Word of truth would give us all a vision of hell. Amen and amen!

Posted in John, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dog And The Sow

Photo by Nicolas Castez on Unsplash

2 Peter 2:22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

A True Proverb

This verse is unique in that it is the only place in the Bible that mentions a dog and a pig in the same verse. The Chief Apostle, Peter, tells us that he is quoting a “true proverb”. Peter is not quoting a Biblical proverb {for the closest verse proverb that comes to this text is in Proverbs 26:11, “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly”}. Peter is quoting a proverb that was common among the people of that day. It was a proverb much like the often stated:

Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.

This is not from the Bible either, but probably was adapted from the English poet and writer Geoffrey Chaucer who wrote “Idle hands are the devil’s tools”. That’s a true proverb. When we’re not working for God, we’re working for the devil. When Adam & Eve stopped laboring in the Garden of Eden, it was then that Satan as a serpent presented himself. When King David stopped laboring for God his eyes wandered to Bathsheba – and no good came of that! The Bible says:

1 Peter 5:8 your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

Those who are Satan’s tastiest morsels are the ones who refuse to come to the Lord, and rest in the Lord.

Jesus bids all to come to Him – to rest in Him – to serve Him. This is the way of peace and joy and contentment.

Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

To come to Jesus, to come to God and be blessed, you must REPENT. False prophets do not teach you this great truth. They teach you that God loves you, but expects nothing of you. This is not so. In 2 Peter chapter 2 the Apostle focuses on false prophets, false messages, and false salvation. You must REPENT to be saved!

False Prophets Never Speak Of Repentance

True Prophets are moved by God. In the previous chapter Peter wrote:

2 Peter 1:20-21 … knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

The Scripture of our Bible, that precious Book we revere, was written by holy men of God {who} spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. The God inspired preacher will speak from God’s Book, and will be motivated by the Holy Spirit of God. The false prophets who abuse the Word of God are motivated by greed and lust for power. False prophets and false teachers are everywhere. The Apostle writes:

2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

False prophets never speak of REPENTANCE. To REPENT {the Hebrew word נָחַםשׁוּב shûwb, pronounced shoob, the Greek word μετανοέω metanoeō} means to cease going in the direction you are going, and to willingly and willfully return to God as your LORD. To change your mind, and begin to follow Jesus. In the Old Testament God said:

Ezekiel 14:6 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.

Ezekiel 18:30 Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.

The first recorded sermon of our Lord Jesus Christ

Matthew 4:17 … Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

The intent of the false prophet is to get you to following anything and anyone BUT the God of the Scripture.

Israel had false prophets (pseudoprophētēs). Under the reign of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel there were …

1 Kings 18:19 … the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred

God raised up Elijah to stand against these false prophets on Mount Carmel, to bring Israel back to the Lord. The Prophet Jeremiah dealt with false prophets in both Samaria and Jerusalem (Jeremiah 23:13-16; 26-27). These false prophets always depart from the Word of God, the Bible:

Jeremiah 23:26-32 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; 27 which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams … he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord. 29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? 30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbor. … they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.

There were false prophets in the age of Israel, and there are false teachers (pseudodidaskalos) in the Church age. Peter said that they privily {or secretly} shall bring in damnable heresies {false teachings}. They mask what they teach a “true”, though it cannot be supported by God’s Word. This is key:

vvs 1 even denying the Lord that BOUGHT them

If you are saved, you are “BOUGHT” by Jesus. You belong to the One Who saved you.

The “LORD is MY SHEPHERD, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).
“We are the sheep of HIS Pasture” (Psalm 100:3).
“O LORD, Thou art our Father;
we are the clay, and THOU our Potter” (Isaiah 64:8)

The believer in Christ is under Christ’s yoke. The believer belongs to God. As Americans, we like to be “Free Range Christians”, but there is no such thing Biblically. If you are saved, you belong to the One Who saved you. If you are redeemed, you have been purchased by God. God says to His people:

Isaiah 43:1 (ESV) … Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Our lives were saved by God so that we can live for God. We REPENTED and came to Jesus to be saved

Romans 14:7-9 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

The saved believer is only saved because they allowed themselves to be yoked to Jesus. We belong to God. We belong to God because He purchased our salvation with His very Blood.

1 Peter 1:18-19 … ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot..

God paid a high price for you, dear Christian. He became incarnate – very God of very God became Perfect Man. Perfect Man walked among us so that we could see the invisible God. The Scripture declares:

Galatians 4:3-5 … when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: 4 but when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

The false prophets never speak of repentance, and the fruit of the false prophet is a “Cultural Christ” as opposed to an “Actual Christian”.

2 Peter 2:2-3 And many shall follow their pernicious {ἀπώλεια apōleia, indecent} ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

The false converts who heed the false gospel of the false prophets will cause the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. These false prophets do not preach because they care for the souls of those they minister to. Nor do they care nor love God. These false prophets speak with feigned words make merchandise of you. They want your money, your “stuff”, but care little for your soul. To them, you are but merchandise.

False Prophets Want Your Worship And Your Stuff
God Wants Your Heart And Your Best

Twenty years ago yesterday on September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked our nation. The 110 story Word Trade Center was struck by two hijacked aircraft. I remember watching that on television. Some 25,000 people were injured in the coordinated attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. There were 2977 deaths – more than were killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in World War 2. The nation was shocked. For a few weeks, Church attendance was up all across America. People asked, “Where is God in all this?” God was there. God is always there. People say,

How can a good and loving God have allowed the tragedy of 9-11? How can a good and loving God allow such evil things in the world?

People are asking the same questions today. How can God allow HIV? How can a good and loving God allow COVID-19?

Peter tells us that our Good and Loving God has not only ALLOWED, but ORCHESTRATED horrific events in the history of humanity. Our God judges sin. He watches over all that He has created, and judges when necessary – even harshly – in order to accomplish a greater good. Peter writes:

2 Peter 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell {ταρταρόω tartaroō, the pit}, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

Though angels are in many ways superior in creation to humans, God assigned some to a place called Tartarus, a holding cell of darkness. These angels were cast into this horrible place for rebelling against God.

2 Peter 2:5 and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

It was a loving and merciful God Who brought about a worldwide flood, killing all who were not on the Ark of Noah. Why? Because God saw that mankind had gone into such deep evil that, “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5)”.

2 Peter 2:6-7 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 7 and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

Is God overly harsh for destroying Sodom and Gomorrah for sexual sin? No. He delivered the man who repented, and listened to His leadership, as well as his family. God delivered Noah and his family because Noah listened and did as God said.

I read an article the other day written by Joni Eareckson Tada that helps us understand this better. Over 50 years ago Joni had a swimming accident that fractured the fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae, causing her to become a quadriplegic. Coming home from the hospital she asked her friend Steve Estes – in essence – how a loving and kind God didn’t protect her from that accident that so changed her life. Steve told her:

God permits what he hates to accomplish what He loves.

God either allows, or causes, all things that happen. God is omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful), and omnipresent (everywhere). “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). So whatever happens, it happens because a loving and good God, a God who knows best, has either allowed or decreed it.

When Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, Joseph would later tell his brothers:

Genesis 50:20 … ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

When Peter was threatened not to preach the Gospel, he led a prayer meeting where he said:

Acts 4:26-28 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28 for to do whatsoever Thy hand {O Lord} and Thy counsel determined before to be done.

The Chief Priests, the Pharisees, and Judas Iscariot did evil – but God used their evil to accomplish a greater thing, the salvation of our souls. God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves. God used Joni’s accident to give her a worldwide ministry by which the Gospel of Christ is preached.

God does not rejoice when He has to discipline, when He has to chastise, when He has to harm. God warned Israel to REPENT and return to Him. When Israel refused, God allowed the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem in 587 BC. The Bible said of that event:

Lamentations 3:31-33 (ESV) For the Lord will not cast off forever, 32 but, though He cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; 33 for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.

God does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men. God does not rejoice when He must bring the flood. God does not clap His hands with glee when Sodom and Gomorrah burn to the ground. God is not pleased with Himself when He sends snakes into the camp to afflict the sinner. God told us through the Prophet:

Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

God bids we come to Him in repentance. That we turn from the evil, and run into His open arms. God said:

Ezekiel 18:23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

It is God’s wish that we live joyous lives, serving Him in gladness and loving one another. God wants to “rejoice over them that do good” (Jeremiah 32:41). But God will discipline us – God will discipline America – if we do not repent. When Jesus walked the earth, He was asked about God’s Presence when disasters occurred. Jesus told them simply – just as He tells us –

Luke 13:3 … Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

To REPENT is not just to feel sorry or guilty that you were caught. It is to CHANGE YOUR MIND and YOUR DIRECTION. REPENTANCE is a Godly sorrow, whereas REMORSE is an earthly sorrow. The Bible says:

2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

Rely On The Lord, Not The False Prophets

The false prophets cannot bring you blessing from God. They are – as Peter so aptly puts it – wells without water.

2 Peter 2:17-19 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. 18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

You cannot gain any lasting blessing from God from a false prophet. You must repent if you would be saved. You must commit to following the Lord. The false prophets have nothing for you.

False prophets only make false converts. As Paul preached on Mars Hill:

Acts 17:30-31 the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained {Jesus Christ}; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

If you would be saved and blessed, you must REPENT. You must receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. You must be willing to be bound to Him, to “take His yoke upon you, and learn of Him”. When you do so, you will become one of His Sheep, one of His Children, one of the Family of God.

If you have been saved, you are no longer a
spiritual dog or a pig. You are a child of God.

You are one of Christ’s sheep. You are the people of His pasture. You are the clay in His hand. But if you have never repented, and never turned to Christ for salvation, then you never changed internally. You may look like a genuine Christian, but you will, in time, return to the vomit or the mire, because that’s what you really are. To the question,

What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30)

The answer of God’s Word is “Repent! Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31; Acts 2:38). Those who are not saved will, like the dog, eventually return to it’s own vomit. Those who are only outwardly “Cultural Christians” will, like the pig, wallow in the mire in due time. You must repent! You must turn from the other gods and goddesses of this world, and turn to Jesus Christ in faith. May God the Holy Spirit draw you to Christ’s side this very day. Amen and amen!

Posted in 2 Peter, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Rejoice In The Yoke Of Jesus

Photo by Paul Jai on Unsplash

Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

This morning we studied this text in a sermon called “Rest In The Heart Of Jesus”. We focused on the words “for I am MEEK and LOWLY in heart”.Jesus is πρᾷος prâios, {pronounced prah’-os}, “gentle, mild as opposed to arrogant”. As God His heart dictated that He lower Himself for us, to walk with us. Jesus also described His heart as ταπεινός tapeinós, {pronounced tap-i-nos’}, “of low degree, base, not of high stature”. Though Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 17:14; 19:16), He lowered Himself to be accessible to the least and lesser of all. There are none so low, nor so vile, that Jesus will not save them if they whosoever will.

Tonight we will look at this text from the perspective of the yoke. Most people today – and certainly none of the Millennials – have no idea what a yoke is. Jesus said:

Matthew 11:29 … Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me

What is a yoke”, Greek ζυγός zygós, {pronounced dzoo-gos’}? Smith’s Bible Dictionary tells us that yoke means:

A well-known implement of husbandry, frequently used metaphorically for subjection , e.g. (1 Kings 12:4, 9-11; Isaiah 9:4; Jeremiah 5:5) hence an “iron yoke” represents an unusually galling bondage. (Jeremiah 28:13)

A yoke is a curved piece of wood that was placed around an animal’s neck, so that you could bind the animal to a wagon or a plow. Without the yoke, it was impossible to plow a field or draw a wagon without hurting the creature. It is a harness that binds one or two creatures to one another, so they could work together to accomplish a common goal.

A “Yoke” When Applied To Humans Is Symbolic Of Submitting Yourself To Someone Or Something Else.

Everyone Is Yoked To Something

Jesus did not tell us, “Come to Me, and I will remove ALL YOKES from you so you can have rest”. Jesus said,

Matthew 11:28-29 … Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you

It is the devil’s lie that it is possible to live without a yoke. We all will be under some type of yoke.
That is the nature of life.

In America today it is a favorite saying of Satan, “Just You do You”. In my day we called this “Do Your Own Thing”. But the real truth is, whether you are animal or human, everyone and everything has a yoke.

  • For many young people, peer pressure and pride arethings you can yoke yourself to. Young people want to fit in with the group, not to be shunned, not to be considered lesser than the others. Popularity is sought on the social networks, whether it be Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, or something else. Peer pressure was in the crowd that cried out “Crucify Jesus, and release Barabbas” (Mark 15:1-5), though Jesus was clearly an innocent man. It was peer pressure that led Aaron to create a golden calf for Israel to worship while Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Law (Exodus 32:1-6). It was peer pressure that caused Daniel to be cast in the lion’s den (Daniel 6:1-16), and caused Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to be cast in a fiery furnace (Daniel 3:13-26). Peer pressure leads young people into premarital sex, drugs and alcohol, and dangerous behavior that may take their lives. Jesus said:

Luke 12:4-6 … Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

  • Relationships like marriage and business are things you can yoke yourself to. When you enter into a marriage, you yoke yourself to another human. You make a promise before God that you will care for this person. When you bind yourself to someone else in a business venture, you are yoking your future to this other person’s future. The Bible warns us to be careful about who we relationally yoke ourselves to. As a Pastor, I will not officiate wedding ceremonies between a believer and an unbeliever. To do so will be to eventually destroy two lives! The Bible says:

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

  • You can yoke yourself to SIN. The Bible tells us that “the WAGES of SIN is DEATH” (Romans 6:23). Sin brings with it physical death as well as spiritual death. When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, “the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths” (Genesis 3:7, ESV). Sin blinds us to righteousness, and separates us from God. Brian Hedges of Christianity.com notes:

As scary as infectious diseases are, there’s a more deadly virus that you and I already have – the sin virus. As the 16th Century Reformer John Calvin wrote in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, “all of us, who have descended from impure seed, are born infected with the contagion of sin.” The disease is hereditary, of course, passed down to us from our earthly father, Adam. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12, ESV). To put it simply, we aren’t sinners because we sin, we sin because we’re sinners – fallen from our created perfection in our earthly father, Adam.”

To yoke yourself to sin is to invite death. The stepbrother of Christ said:

James 1:14-15 (ESV) … each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

  • You can yoke yourself to the Law of God. The Pharisees did this in Jesus’ day, and Pharisees do it today. God did not give the Law to Israel when He saved Israel from Egypt. No, God gave the Law after Israel repeatedly refused to follow God by faith. Israel refused to yoke themselves to God, but yoked themselves to sin, to self, and to satanic idols. God was faithful with Israel. He led Israel through the Red Sea. The Bible says in Exodus 13:21 that “the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night (ESV)”. Israel was safe while yoked to God by faith. God gave Israel water out of the rock, bread from Heaven, meat from the skies around them, and caused their clothing and shoes to NOT wear out as they traveled. Yet Israel resisted faith in God.

So God gave Israel the Law. Israel promised to obey the Law of God, though they never did. The Law of God did not bring a release, but a harsh bondage on those who received it. The …

Pharisees codified the Mosaic Law into some
365 prohibitions and 250 commandments,
and required those who followed them to
submit to the Pharisees’ interpretations”.
(Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, Design for Discipleship)

The intent of the Law of God was never to save anyone. The Apostle Paul said:

Romans 3:20 (ESV) For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

The Law of God is a mirror that we hold up to our souls. In that mirror is reflected our sinfulness, our inability to reach the perfection necessary to be with God or to enter Heaven. The Apostle Peter called the Law:

Acts 15:10 … a yoke upon the neck … which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

The Pharisees taught that it was sinful do do any internal healing on the Sabbath day. If you broke your arm, you could put an external splint on it. But if you took any internal medicine, you were bearing a burden. If you had a toothache, you could take a sip of wine if you spit it out, then rinsed your mouth out. But if you swallowed the wine, you were taking internal medication, and were a Sabbath violator. Jesus said of those Pharisees:

Matthew 23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

The Law of God – if followed with a sense of pride and self righteousness – does not make believers ion God, but children of hell. The Quest Study Bible notes:

To be a child of hell is to be deserving of hell, that is, to be awfully wicked. In Matthew 23, Jesus explains that the Pharisees and Sadducees displayed their wickedness in many ways. They did not practice what they preached (verse 3). They burdened the people with religious rituals and ceremonies of their own invention and made no effort to help them to bear them (verse 4). All their religious rituals were done in a public manner in order to receive the praise and glory from others (verses 5–7).”

The Bible says in Galatians 3:24-28 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Jesus Calls Us To Yoke Ourselves To Himself

I have often heard it said, “You can be saved, and not be a disciple of Christ”. I do not believe this, and can prove this in our text of today. Jesus offers to save us – whosoever will:

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

But Jesus ties the salvation He gives to His Lordship of His people. He continues:

Matthew 11:29-30 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The Bible says that Jesus “shall SAVE HIS PEOPLE from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus said:

Matthew 11:27-28 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. {28} Come unto me .…

The Father has given All things – the Heaven, the Heaven of Heavens, and the earth to Jesus. All things belong to the Son. You cannot enter God’s family apart from faith in the Son. You cannot enter God’s Heaven apart from faith in God’s only begotten Son. Jesus is Lord! The Scripture says:

Romans 14:10-11 … we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

As a sheep willingly yokes itself to the Shepherd, we willingly yoke ourselves to Jesus. Without the Shepherd we are in danger. With the Shepherd, we are protected. Jesus said:

John 10:11, 14 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. … 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

When we willingly yoke ourselves to Jesus Christ, we yoke ourselves to the same Creator Who made all things. Are we not in a blessed position when we repent, and turn away from yoking ourselves to other things, and instead yoke ourselves to Christ?

Colossians 1:16-17 For by {Jesus Christ} were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: {17} And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Salvation demands we love Jesus. Salvation demands we obey Jesus, that we willingly yoke ourselves to Him. Jesus said:

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

And again, John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

Jesus says to those He has saved, “take My yoke upon you”. This “yoke” is not an instrument of torture. Jesus said, My yoke is easy, my burden light. The yoke is in place to protect and guide the believer. Jesus’ yoke on my life insures that I will go through the terrors of this life, for Jesus is by my side, guiding me, protecting me. The Christian is a work in progress. Saved by faith in Christ, every believer lives under the easy yoke and the light burden of Christ Jesus. Only the believer fully submitted to Christ is unafraid of death and unafraid of life. While in His yoke, He is with me, and I am with Him. What a blessed life it is, this life in Christ! Pastor John MacArthur said:

“The yoke of the law, the yoke of human effort, the yoke of works, and the yoke of sin are all heavy, chafing, galling yokes. They represent large, unbearable burdens carried in the flesh. They lead to despair, frustration, and anxiety. Jesus offers a yoke we can carry, and He also gives the strength to carry it (Philippians 4:13). Therein is true rest. … Unlike the Pharisees and scribes, He does not desire to oppress us. He does not want to pile burdens on us that we cannot bear. … Obedience under His yoke is a joy. It is when we disobey that the yoke chafes our neck.”

The eagle has learned that it can fight the wind and fly, or it can surrender to the wind and soar.

Jesus Christ Is The Stronger Ox

When I read the words of Christ,

Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me …

my first thought is of the old time farmer on the plow. I see Jesus as the Farmer, and myself as the ox pulling the plow. But Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost pointed out to me that this is too narrow a definition. Jesus said Take my yoke upon you. He is not necessarily speaking from the superior position of the Farmer, but insinuating that He, Jesus, is in the yoke WITH ME. Dr. Pentecost wrote:

Back in my college days, I observed an incident that made this Scripture clear to me. On Sunday afternoons I used to go out to a little rural Sunday School to teach. One such day the superintendent, a farmer, and I were visiting in the community. We saw an old farmer plowing with a team of oxen. As I saw this team, I was somewhat amazed, for one was a huge ox and the other a tiny bullock. That ox towered over the little bullock that was sharing the work with him. I was amazed and perplexed to see a farmer trying to plow with two such unequal animals in the yoke and commented on the inequality.

The man with whom I was riding stopped his car and said, “I want you to notice something. The large ox is pulling all the weight. That little bullock is being broken in to the yoke, but he is not actually pulling any weight.”

In the normal yoke, the load is equally distributed between the two that are yoked together, but when we are yoked with Jesus Christ, He bears the load, and we who are yoked with Him share in the joy and the accomplishment of the labor but without the burden of the yoke.”

Our Lord Jesus is the larger Ox. He bids us to get in the yoke with Him. This is what salvation is all about. Because I am in the yoke with Jesus, I will one day be with Jesus.

I am a son of God because I am yoked to THE Son of God.
I am indwelt with the Spirit of God because I am yoked to Jesus.
I am a
lesser priest before God because I am yoked
to the GREATER Priest, Jesus.
I am fit for Heaven because Jesus, to Whom I am yoked,
is the
Lamb of God, acceptable, and fit.

The Bible says:

Hebrews 13:5-6 (ESV) Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

Because I am yoked to Jesus, and Jesus is yoked to me, I will be able to go through the roughest parts of this life. In Acts chapter 27 the Bible tells us that the Apostle Paul is in chains, and headed toward Rome, Italy to be judged by Caesar. Paul was yoked to Jesus, though he was chained to a Centurion. Paul told the Centurion:

Acts 27:10-11 (ESV) “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” 11 But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said.

Of course, what Jesus told Paul came to pass. For three days the ship was buffeted by the winds and the waves. But Paul was yoked to Jesus! Paul encouraged his shipmates, and told them:

Acts 27:23-26 (ESV) … this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on some island.”

On the fourteenth night of this terrible voyage, all were frightened by Paul. Why? Because Paul is yoked to Jesus. Paul tells his shipmates:

Acts 27:33-37 (ESV) “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. 34 Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.” 35 And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. 36 Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 (We were in all 276 persons in the ship.)

Was this amazing courage on Paul’s part? No. He just remembered that he was yoked to Jesus, and Jesus was yoked to him. They safely landed on the Island of Malta, and set about to make a fire. The Bible says:

Acts 28:3-6 (ESV) When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. 4 When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

Paul was not “a god”, but he was yoked to God the Son, and God the Son was yoked to him.

Jesus said “take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me”. Rest in Jesus. Willingly yoke yourselves to Him. As you go through the trials and tribulations of this life, remember that you are yoked to Jesus.

In recent years, many Millennials and Generation Z-ers have “fallen away from the faith”. John Stonestreet of Breakpoint Ministries notes:

What if we are seeing the fruit of a generation that was sold endless attempts to make Christ cool and likable, worship relevant and hyper-emotional, and Christian morality more about politics and cultural influence than obedience to God? And what if this generation has now found those experiences elsewhere? What if all the trendy marketing, political capital, and massive concert experiences inadvertently taught a generation to love the glamour and the feelings, but not Christ?

God doesn’t want our success; He wants us. He doesn’t demand our achievements; He demands our obedience. The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of paradox, where through the ugly defeat of a Cross, a holy God is utterly glorified. Victory comes through defeat; healing through brokenness; finding self through losing self.”

You must be yoked to Jesus Christ to be saved. But if you are yoked to Christ, He is always with you, and you with Him. We are victors, because He is THE Victor. Death has no hold on us, because death has no hold on Him.

Oh, that all here today would discover the joy found in the yoke of Jesus! May God the Holy Spirit lead you to surrender to the yoke of Jesus! May God the Holy Spirit through His Word draw you closer to Jesus Christ is day. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Matthew, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rest In The Heart Of Jesus

Turn with me to Matthew chapter 11, where we find these familiar and blessed words:

Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. {29} Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. {30} For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Though God has given us four Gospels – four points of view of Christ’s earthly ministry – rarely one Gospel will report something that the others do not mention. The words we read today are unique to the Gospels. Though you will find the Lord’s Prayer in both Matthew 6:9-13 & Luke 11:2-4, and the Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20 & Mark 16:14-18 (as well as Acts 1:8), these words of our Lord are only found in this text.

What makes this text unique is that it is the ONLY place where Jesus tells us about His own heart!

What Is The “Heart”?

Word Study: Jesus tells us I am meek and lowly in heart. Let’s talk about the heart first. What is the Lord referring to when He speaks of the heart? The Bible mentions the word heart” 884 times, and it never refers to the muscle that’s in your chest pushing blood. God Himself has a heart. The Lord God said of King David,

Acts 13:22 … I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.

God has a heart, so that which He is talking about cannot be that beating muscle in your chest.

The heart is the center of your being. The Bible says that we are born with broken or damaged hearts. God spoke through His Prophet Jeremiah on the fallen condition of our hearts:

Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart…

God knows what is in the heart of man. It is the sin damaged heart of man that brings evil into the world. Jesus told us that the SOURCE of our problems is a broken heart. He said:

Mark 7:20-23 …. That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

We are all born in sin, with broken hearts.
All, that is, but Jesus Christ.

God told Israel to to “love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Deuteronomy 13:3). Jesus tells us today that we are to:

Matthew 22:37 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (also Mark 12:30 & Luke 10:27)

This is a standard we cannot keep with a broken heart. God must fix our broken hearts, He must put His Law in our inward parts, and write His Law in our hearts(Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10). Only God can fix what is wrong with our hearts. God will only fix us through faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus, Pure Of Heart, Wants To Fix Our Hearts

Jesus calls whosoever will to His loving embrace. Jesus’ – Eternal God born into the human race to be our Savior (for He shall save His people from their sins {Matthew 1:21}). Jesus is equipped to be the only Savior of mankind because His heart is pure and unbroken. Jesus Christ was, is, and will always be without sin. His heart is pure. The Bible says:

Hebrews 4:15 {Jesus Christ} was in all points tempted like as we are, yet WITHOUT SIN. Emmanuel – God with us – our Lord Jesus never sinned, from birth in a manger to death on the Cross. Jesus told the Pharisees and Chief Priests who stood against Him:

John 8:28-29 … When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. 29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.

From eternity past and beyond His life on earth, Jesus always did that which pleased God the Father. ALWAYS. He is perfectly sinless. When Jesus describes His heart, He says:

Matthew 11:29 I am meek and lowly in heart

Word Study: His heart is not “desperately wicked, who can know it?”. Jesus’ heart is meek. This is the Greek πρᾷος prâios, {pronounced prah’-os}, which means “gentle, humble, meek”. The word prâios is only found here in the New Testament, and is only applied to Jesus. The word usually used for humility is the Greek ταπεινόω tapeinoō. James, the stepbrother of Jesus said “Humble (tapeinoō) yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up” (James 4:10). The Apostle Peter said, “Humble (tapeinoō) yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). Jesus Christ is unique in His humility. He is prâios. Though Eternal God in human form, Jesus voluntarily humbled Himself. Though King of Kings and Lord of Lords the Bible says:

Philippians 2:6-8 {Jesus}, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Jesus Christ humbled Himself – from birth to death – so that He might save the souls of sinners. Compare Jesus Christ to Mohammad of Islam. As American troops departed Afghanistan, Islamic forces called “Taliban” (which means “A Student of Mohammad” began attacking and killing people. When our Lord Jesus came, He said:

Matthew 11:28-29 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. {29} Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Compare our Lord Jesus’ words to the words of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini: “Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Islam says Kill them (the non-Muslims), put them to the sword and scatter [their armies]. Kill in the service of Allah those who may want to kill you!” (quoted in “Islam Unveiled” by Robert Spencer, p. 35). As C.H. Spurgeon once said:

The very strength of the false prophet lays
in the absence of any meekness”

Jesus bids all to come to Him, but He does not do so at the point of a sword, nor at the promise of a beheading. Jesus Christ is, at this time, prâios. He reaches out in love, bidding all to enter the Family of God through faith in Him. When Jesus was captured in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Apostle Peter “drew his sword, and struck a servant of the High Priest, and cut off his ear”. Jesus told Peter:

Matthew 26:52 … Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

Jesus had to go to the Cross for our sins. Jesus had to willingly die for us, to cover our sins, to make atonement for us. Jesus told Pilate:

John 18:36 … My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

Jesus calls the broken hearted to His humble side! We often misunderstand this great truth, dear Christian. When Jesus was hindered from going to Jerusalem through Samaria, the Apostle John asked Jesus:

Luke 9:54 … Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as {Elijah} did?

The Muslim or the Hindu may cut off the head of those who reject their religion, but not Jesus. Jesus told John,

Luke 9:55-56 … Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.

Jesus Christ came to save souls. Jesus preached a long time in Jerusalem, and yet they would not receive Him. Did Jesus curse Jerusalem? No, but He wept over that city, saying:

Luke 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!

When Jesus was beaten by the whips of the soldiers, did He curse those who harmed Him? When Jesus was laid down on the rough wood of the Cross, and nails pierced His hands and feet, did He call on Heaven to bring death to those hurting Him? As He hung naked, bleeding our His life, abandoned of man and God, did Jesus call on the angels to avenge Him? No, for Jesus is prâios. He has Godlike humility. Even as His tongue clung to the roof of His mouth for want of water, Jesus pulled against His bonds, and lifted Himself up, praying:

Luke 23:34 … Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Meekness Does Not Excuse, But Corrects Sin

Jesus upheld the Law of God, and upholds it still. He never flaunted God’s Law, but held it to the Divine Standard at all times. Jesus did not come to eradicate the Law, but to fulfill it.

Matthew 5:17-18 … Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Jesus humbled Himself, becoming the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Jesus never excused sin, but bid sinners to repent of sin and follow Him. The Apostle said Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Jesus did not come to shun sinners, nor to belittle sinners, but to save sinners. In John chapter four we are told that:

John 4:4 … {Jesus} must needs go through Samaria.

Why did He have to go THROUGH Samaria? Most Orthodox Jews would go out of their way to AVOID Samaria. But Jesus must needs go through Samaria. Why? Because there is a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well that needs to be saved. When Jesus reaches out to her, she says:

John 4:9 … How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

No self respecting Jew would reach out to a Samaritan. Yet Jesus did. Jesus is uniquely humble. He is prâios”, He is humble.

Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart

Word Study & Illustration: The word translated lowly is the Greek ταπεινός tapeinós, {pronounced tap-i-nos’}, which means “of low degree, humble, base, near to the ground”. As a Pastor, I have moved and preached in three different states, and in my moving I usually use a Hertz Rental Trailer. One thing about these trailers is they are low to the ground, so it is easy to carry heavy burdens onto their decks. Our Lord Jesus is low to the ground. Though Eternal God in human form, He is easily accessible to the least of any person, while being strong enough to handle any burden we put on Him.

The Samaritan woman wondered why a Jew like Jesus would talk to her at all. Jesus will talk to anyone. This not only shocked her, but it shocked His disciples. The Bible says that they …

John 4:27 … marveled that he talked with the woman

Jesus Christ came to save the lowest, just like you and I are. Jesus did not excuse her sins. He told her “Ye worship ye know not what” (John 4:22). Jesus told her “thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband” (John 4:18). This woman had a broken heart that needed fixing. She was an idolater, and a sexual sinner. This woman needed Jesus. She needed to receive Him as Lord and Savior – which she did. Then she ran home, excited, and told all her friends “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” (John 4:29). Her heart was fixed, healed by Jesus.

Jesus Christ is lowly in heart. He came to reach the least of us. When a woman taken in adultery – in the very act – was cast in front of Jesus, her accusers asked Jesus what should be done to her. Jesus said,

John 8:7 … He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

Who among you is NOT broken? Who among you has NOT sinned? One by one, each of her accusers realized a truth that we all need to grasp.

We are all sinners, deserving of hell.
This is why Jesus came.

When the last person left, Jesus said to her:

John 8:10-12 … Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. 12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Jesus never excuses sin – but He does offer salvation from it. Jesus offers to change the life of those who follow Him, who love Him. He is uniquely humble. Though in Jewish society the leper was shunned. To touch a leper was to become unclean yourself. But with Jesus, He was never afraid to touch the lepers. The Bible tells us that …

Matthew 8:2-3 … there came a leper and worshiped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Jesus is meek and lowly in heart. He did not hesitate to touch the leper. When Jesus touched the leper, Jesus did not become unclean, but the leper became clean. Jesus’ righteousness rubbed off on him. You cannot be too low for Jesus to heal. You cannot be too broken for Jesus to fix. The Pharisees mocked Jesus for His lowliness.

Luke 15:2 … the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

Jesus doesn’t just allow those sinners to come to Him. Jesus actually lowers Himself down to eat with them. No one is too low to be received by Jesus. Salvation comes when you realize that ..

Psalms 38:3-4 There is no soundness in my flesh … neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. {4} For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.

Our solutions for what ails us does not work. We cannot fix our own hearts. We all need Jesus.

Illustration Benny was known by all his friends as a chronic worrier. He came into work one day whistling and happy. No matter what happened that day – good or bad – Benny smiled right through it. At the end of the day his best friend asked him why his life was suddenly so different. Benny said, “I used to worry about everything. Then it came to me – why not hire someone to worry for me? That’s what I did. I put an advertisement in the local paper offering 500.00$ a day to anyone who would worry for me. Believe it or not I had someone call and take the job. Now I don’t worry – my worrier worries for me!” Benny’s friend looked at him and said, “Well, that’s fine. But 500.00$ a day? You don’t make that much money! How are you going to pay your “worrier”. Benny replied, “That’s not my worry”.

I don’t think what Benny did was a solution – but I do believe you should cast your cares on Jesus. Beloved, do not carry your sin on trembling knees and on bent back. The words of Christ are for you. He pleads, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest “. Oh that you would come believing, for the Scripture says:

Romans 10:11,13 … Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. … {13} For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Jesus Bids You To Come …

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

When we come to Jesus Christ, trusting Him as our Savior and committing to Him as our Lord, He gives us spiritual rest. Oh, what a joy it is to be in Jesus! Those who are in Christ are under His New Covenant. As we participate in the Lord’s Table today, we will remember His words when He “took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

For this is My blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

Jesus gave His life for you. Jesus reaches out to you. Will you receive Him as Lord and Savior? Oh, how I pray that you would this very day. May God the Holy Spirit cause this Word to bring forth fruit unto Eternal Life in your souls this very day. Amen and Amen!

Posted in General, Matthew, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Live Graciously, Not Grudgingly

Obadiah 8-16 Shall I not in that day, saith the Lord, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau? 9 And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter. 10 For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever. 11 In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them. 12 But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress. 13 Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity; 14 Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress. 15 For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. 16 For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.

We last studied the Book of Obadiah Sunday, March 24, 2013 – some 8 years, 5 months, and 7 days ago. How many of you remember what we talked about that day? Just joking – I can’t remember what I had for breakfast on most days.

Obadiah is a great book, though it is the smallest book in the Old Testament. But it’s packed with great truths.

Obadiah’s name means “Slave of the Lord”.

Obadiah is a very interesting person. On the Jewish site chabad.org we find out that Obadiah was an Edomite (a descendant of Esau) by birth. Obadiah found the God of Israel – or was found of the God of Israel – and gave his life to the Lord. Obadiah was the steward or chief butler of the household of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, the seventh King of Israel. Obadiah was also the disciple of the Prophet Elijah. We read in

1 Kings 18:3-4 … Obadiah, which was the governor of {Ahab’s} house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly: 4 For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)

The Book of Obadiah is written to the Edomites, the descendants of Esau, a mountain dwelling people. As Obadiah writes, he is writing at the direction of God the destruction of his own people, the Edomites.

God does not hate the Edomites, or else He would have never chosen Obadiah to be His Prophet.

But the Edomites, like their father Esau, harbored hatred in their heart for Israel, and always stood with the enemy when Israel was attacked.

God Blessed Esau And The Edomites

God told Israel:

Deuteronomy 23:7 Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land.

God does not want His children to carry grudges. He wants us to love Him, and love others.

When you carry a grudge, it doesn’t take long before the grudge is carry YOU. Believers in God are NEVER to harbor grudges. In the Lord’s Prayer – a prayer I say often, and I’m sure you all know, God tells us to pray:

Matthew 6:11-12 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

We who are blessed of God are to forgive. Recently in our country people have pulled down statues and monuments, attempting to get rid of our checkered past. God does not want us to do that. God wants us to forgive.

God wants the red man to forgive the taking of his homeland by conquering Europeans.

God wants the black man to forgive those who took his ancestors from their homeland, to use them as slaves in America.

God wants you to forgive those who have mistreated you, and hurt you, and belittled you, no matter who they are.

What has happened, has happened. The good, the bad, and the ugly. We cannot undo history, nor the evils that was done yesterday. We can, however, change today and tomorrow. God tells us all to forgive. We offend God daily, but He forgives. We are to forgive. Jesus said:

Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Edom came about because of what happened between Esau and Jacob. Esau was the firstborn child of Isaac. As the firstborn, Esau should have received the double portion of his father’s blessing. But Jacob got the double portion. Esau sold his birthright to Jacob (Genesis 25:31-33), and the Bible says that:

Genesis 25:34 … Esau despised his birthright.

Jacob would get the birthright. But here’s the interesting truth of that whole story. It was God’s desire that Jacob get the birthright – that the lineage of Christ go through Jacob and not Esau.

God Is Always Right, Whether We Understand Or Not

Though it was traditional for the firstborn to be the chief inheritor of the family, God told Rebekah:

Genesis 25:23 Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

There were Two NATIONS,גּוֹי gôwy, {pronounced go’-ee}, “peoples” or nations in Rebekah. Her womb carried a crossroad in the history of the coming of the Messiah. It was God’s will that Messiah come through the line of Jacob, not Esau. This was determined long before either child did good or evil. The Apostle Paul, in speaking of the omnipotence and omniscience of God, said:

Romans 9:10-16 And not only this; but when Rebekah also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

God chose to use Jacob to bring forth Israel – not Esau. And yet, God was good to Esau. Though Esau lost the birthright, he was still richly blessed. Esau was not Jacob, and would never be Jacob, but God loved Esau anyway. The Bible tells us that:

Genesis 36:6-8 Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all the persons of his house, and his cattle, and all his beasts, and all his substance, which he had got in the land of Canaan; and went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob. 7 For their riches were more than that they might dwell together; and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them because of their cattle. 8 Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom.

Esau was given a great family. He was given great riches. Though he lost the birthright, God still gave him greater grace. God gave mount Seir to Esau and his descendants, the Edomites. When God brought Israel out of the land of Egypt many years later, He told Israel:

Deuteronomy 2:4-5 … Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore: 5 Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession.

Those Who Receive Grace Should Always
Be Gracious,
Not Grudging & Avenging

God looked after Esau and his people. But Esau and his people harbored a grudge against Israel, the children of Jacob. Esau and his descendants began to believe that their success, their blessings, came to them because they were superior, a superior people to Israel. When Israel was led out of Egypt by God, they asked to pass through the land of Edom. They were told:

Numbers 20:18-21 {Edom said} … Thou shalt not pass by me, lest I come out against thee with the sword. 19 And the children of Israel said unto him, We will go by the high way: and if I and my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for it: I will only, without doing anything else, go through on my feet. 20 And he said, Thou shalt not go through. And Edom came out against him with much people, and with a strong hand. 21 Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border: wherefore Israel turned away from him.

Edom had been richly blessed by God. Now they refuse to allow their brethren to pass through their land. God tells us in His Word:

Proverbs 25:21-22 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink: 22 For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee. …

Exodus 23:4-5 … If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.

Proverbs 24:17-18 … Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: 18 Lest the Lord see it, and it displease him…

Those who are God’s own – blessed by God – are to let love and compassion rule their lives. When the enemy does us harm, God tells us to “turn the other cheek”. Our Lord Jesus told us:

Matthew 5:44-45 … I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Leave vengeance and retribution in the hands of the Lord God. “Vengeance is Mine – I SHALL REPAY – saith the Lord (Romans 12:19)”.

Yet Edom held on to their animosity against Israel.

When Southern Israel is attacked by Nebuchadnezzar II, Edom helped in that attack. The Hebrew apocryphal book 1 Esdras notes:

the temple, which the Edomites burned when Judea was made desolate by the Chaldees {the Babylonians}. (1 Esdras 4:45; Bird 2012:182-187; Böhler 2015:97-107; McCarter 1976)”

Because of their pride and their grudge-carrying, God was going to destroy the Edomites.

What You Sow, You Will Reap

Obadiah the ex-Edomite now tells the Edomites what God has told him to say.

Obadiah 9-10 … thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter. 10 For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.

Teman was a major city in Edom. Job’s friend Eliphaz (Job 2:11) was from Teman. My commentary notes that Job himself was probably from Teman in Edom. Because of Edom’s grudge carrying and attacks on Israel, they would be cut off for ever. God says that He will cut them off by slaughter. The nation – once so prosperous – would be completely destroyed, and would never recover. Obadiah himself was in no danger, for he repented and became the servant of the Lord. But to those who stood against Israel, they also stood against God. And, as the Bible says:

Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

God specifies the sins that causes the total destruction of Edom:

Obadiah 12-14 But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress. 13 Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity; 14 Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.

We are all made in God’s image. In that sense, all are brothers. Brothers should not hurt one another.

When Israel fell to Babylon, it was because Israel had ceased honoring the Lord their God. God used Babylon to punish His people. But Edom should never have been a part of what happened. As Israel fell,

Edom gloated at Israel’s fall.
Edom rejoiced at Israel’s fall.
Edom boasted at Israel’s fall.
Edom invaded Israel with Babylon.
Edom looted Israel.
Edom prevented any Israeli from escaping.
Edom imprisoned their brother.

What they did to Israel, God was going to do to Edom. God says:

Obadiah 15 For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.

They would have been better off letting their grudge go, and trust in the Grace of God.

It Is Much Better To Trust In God ALWAYS!

What can we take away from the Book of Obadiah? First, God is in control. Always. We often have things happen to us that we do not like. We must not dwell on those things. We must dwell upon the Lord our God. Let us love Him Who has given us so much Grace. Let us love our enemies, those who do evil to us. Let us put all our trust in God.

In the end, those who love and follow the Lord Jesus will be left standing. We read:

Obadiah 17-18 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. 18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it.

Mount Seir, the abode of the haters & avengers,
will fall, but Mount Zion shall stand.

When you stand with God, doing as He has commanded, you will be blessed. Praise Him for His faithfulness. Trust God, though you may be in a bad spot. And let love, and a loving response, be your guiding light. I will end with this poem by Gloria Mast called “I Have No Rights”:

I have no rights, no legal claim,
No boasts of wealth, or worldwide fame,
For I am not my own.
The blood of Jesus claims my soul,
He has redeemed and made me whole,
And I am His alone.

Why then is there a war within,
One side for right, the other sin?
I feel the front-line heat.
It is because the enemy,
Tries hard to claim a part of me,
But Christ will him defeat.

I dare not think I’m strong enough,
To win alone, nor Satan bluff,
For by my strength I’ll fall.
I must my Captain’s orders heed,
His victory Manual often read,
And hasten at His call.

Trust in the Lord. Do good. Love even your enemies. In the end, the Children of God will prevail. May God through His Spirit and His Word move us all to live for His glory, both now and forever more. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christ The Foundation Of All Salvation

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to 2 Peter chapter 1:

Introduction: I hate most of the commercials that come on television, but occasionally I see one that is creative, comical, and compelling. The AT&T and State Farm commercials are pathetic, but I really like the newest commercial for Zillow, a real estate internet site. In that commercial a woman named “Susan” walks into a conference room filled with “Susans” – and begins talking to her different “Susans”. She asks “Negative Me” her thoughts on buying a new home, and gets a frown and a reply “Nooooooo”. Susan said, “I shouldn’t have asked you first”. Then she calls on “Spontaneous Me”, who cheerfully says, “I’m already ordering new drapes”. When she calls on “Paranoid Me”, her reply is “Why are you asking me?” Calling on “Anti-Social Me”, she just turns away from the conversation. The funniest “Me” that Susan addresses is “Lazy Me”, who when asked about a new home says “We’re going to sell our place, sort out finances? Bluhhh.” She calls on several others, which gives several humorous, then calls on “Resourceful Me”, who suggests they go to Zillow.com. I love it because it’s creative.

It is also a reflection of life. Each of us has a different “Me” inside, several “Me’s”. There are days when I get up and, like Susan’s “Lazy Me” did, I go “Bluhhh!”. As humans we are emotional creatures, up one day, down the next. But one thing is constant for the Christian. Jesus never leaves us nor forsakes us. He is there whether we are on the mountaintop, or in the valley.

With all the different “Me’s” inside, how do I KNOW that I am saved? There are times, quite frankly, when I don’t feel good, nor even feel saved. So how do I know? I know because Jesus is present.
He is with me.
And I want to please Him. I want to obey Him.

The Apostle Peter tells us:

2 Peter 1:10-11 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Word Study: We as professor of Christ are commanded to “give diligence to make your calling and election sure”. The word “diligence” is the Greek σπουδάζω spoudázō, {pronounced spoo-dad’-zo}, which means “to quickly move, to strive, to endeavor, to study or concentrate on, to do diligence”. The believer is commanded to examine their “calling and election”. Have you been saved? Are you genuinely saved? How do you know you are saved?

Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone. Our Lord Jesus is the Mediator of the New Covenant. This New Covenant was prophesied in the Old Testament in passages like

Jeremiah 31:31-33 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a NEW COVENANT with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day [that] I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I WILL PUT MY LAW IN THEIR INWARD PARTS, AND WRITE IT IN THEIR HEARTS; AND WILL BE THEIR GOD, and they shall be my people.

Though the New Covenant is a free gift from God, it effects a change on those who are under it’s call.

Under the Old Covenant God was far away, but the Law was near, ever condemning, ever judging. Under the New Covenant God is near, ever aiding, ever loving and writing His Law in our hearts. His Law is near!

If you are under the New Covenant, saved by faith in Christ, then God says to you “I WILL PUT MY LAW IN YOUR INWARD PARTS, AND WRITE IT IN YOUR HEART; AND WILL BE YOUR GOD, and YOU shall be ONE OF my people”. Under the Old Covenant the Law of God was written on stone, and on scrolls. Under the New Covenant God’s Law is written in our hearts by the One Who saved us.

Jesus is the Mediator of the New Covenant. At the first Lord’s Table Jesus said:

Luke 22:20 (KJV) ….. This cup [is] the new testament (New Covenant) in my blood, which is shed for you.

How does one know that they are under the New Covenant? We know by the Presence of God in our daily lives. I am saved – not because some doctrine or denomination tells me so, but because I have the Divine Witness. Jesus is there. God is there. He is in my daily walk. I am not perfect by any means, but God is faithful. Jesus is with us.

The Saved Follow Jesus For The Saved Belong To Jesus

A saved person follows Jesus because saved people belong – not to themselves – but to Jesus. Our Lord said:

John 10:27-28 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

When Simon first met Jesus, he followed after fish. His brother Andrew, a follower of John the Baptist, was there the day Jesus was baptized by John. Andrew believed Jesus was the Messiah, and ran home to tell his brother Simon:

John 1:41-42 {Andrew} first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld {Simon}, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jonah: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone {a petros, or Peter}.

When God made Adam and put him in charge of the world, the Bible says that “God brought {the animals} unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.” When Andrew brought Simon his brother to Jesus, Jesus named Simon “Peter” or “The Rock”. From that point onward Simon became Simon Peter, or just Peter. Peter belonged to Jesus! Peter writes:

2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ ..

Word Study: Before he was saved, Simon would have written, “Simon, a fisherman”. Now that he is saved, he writes “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ”. Simon is owned by Jesus. Simon is a “servant”, the Greek δοῦλος doûlos, {pronounced doo’-los}, “a slave, one who gives himself up to another person’s will, one devoted to another’s interests”. As Peter writes, he says he is writing “to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ”. He is not addressing the lost, but those who have the same saving faith that he has. The precious faith that saves us comes to us “through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ”.

When we received Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior, God imputed His righteousness to us. Because we love and revere Jesus, we too are children of God, made right by the shed blood of our Savior. We are not “righteous” because of animal sacrifices, nor because we adhere to clean and unclean standards set up in the Book of Leviticus. The Bible says:

Romans 3:20-22 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

Receiving Christ, we receive His righteousness. But we are not ours. We belong to Jesus, to God and His Kingdom. The Holy Spirit indwells us because of Christ. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). We belong to God our Savior. We are servants of the Lord Jesus!

We are not just servants of Jesus, though. We are works in progress. The Apostle says:

2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

As you study God’s Word, and your “knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord” grows, “Grace and peace” grow in your lives. A Christian is a child of God, and children GROW. Children that stay the same either physically or mentally are abnormal children. Salvation is by grace – but true grace is always multiplied. The Bible says:

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Every believer in Christ, just like Peter, should be living a dynamic life. We should all be growing daily in both faith and works. Some might say, “But I don’t have all I need to grow as a Christian”. Peter says that you are wrong. Read on:

2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

If you are a Christian by faith in Christ, you have “all things that pertain unto life and godliness”. You are saved by faith in Jesus. The same Jesus that looked over and guided Peter, is the same Jesus Who looks over and guides you. The same Holy Spirit indwells both you and Peter.

The Saved Do Not Follow The Lust Of The World

2 Peter 1:4 …Whereby are given unto us EXCEEDING GREAT AND PRECIOUS PROMISES: that by these YE MIGHT BE PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

The saved person does not follow the lusts of the world. The saved person follows Jesus. The saved person imitates Jesus. The saved person is a “PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE”. We are partners or sharers of the DIVINE nature. Jesus Christ saves us from sin, from the evil ways of this world. Is it possible to feel same sex attraction, and yet be a Christian? Yes, it is possible. Is it possible to feel illicit heterosexual feelings and be a Christian? Yes, it is possible. Is it possible to fall into habitual and repeated homosexual or heterosexual activities and be saved? No, it is not possible. When we received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God the Holy Spirit came to indwell us. Our old man died. We are partakers, sharers or partners of God’s nature, not of the world. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Romans 6:11-14 reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Temptation is not sin. The drawings of the flesh are not sin. The Bible says of Jesus:

Hebrews 4:15 {Jesus was} in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

The Christian is destined to be like Jesus. Jesus Christ died to make you more like Himself. The writer of Hebrews wrote:

Hebrews 2:9-10 (KJV) But WE SEE JESUS, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. [10] For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in BRINGING MANY SONS UNTO GLORY, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

God wants to bring you to glory, to make you like His dear Son. The Apostle said:

Romans 8:29 (KJV) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

God the Father wants you to be just like Jesus. God the Son wants you to be just like Jesus. The indwelling God the Holy Spirit wants you to be just like Jesus. This is the target that you should shoot for, the goal that the Almighty wants to see you reach. We turn away from the world, but toward God.

2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

When you ask some professing Christians how they know they’re saved, they talk about what they don’t do rather than what they do. Christians are to be builders, partners with God. We are not to be one with the world. The Bible says:

Ephesians 5:1-8 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

We belong to God. We are “workers together with God” (2 Corinthians 6:1). The Apostle says:

vs 5 add to your faith virtue

Word Study: “Virtue” is the Greek ἀρέτη arétē, {pronounced ar-et’-ay}, which means “moral excellence”. Earlier we read that (2 Peter 1:3) “God hath called us to GLORY and VIRTUE {arétē}, moral excellence. The Holy Spirit Who indwells us empowers us to add moral excellence to our faith. The Bible says:

Galatians 5:22-23 the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

All of these characteristics are what the Spirit of God will produce in the genuine believer. If you have faith, ask God to develop these characteristics in your Christian walk. This is the Way of Christ.

A faith that does not work for Christ to make you more Christlike is a faith that will ultimately not work to get you to Heaven! Heaven is for the children of God.

The Christian is not to be swept up in the sinful fads of this world, no matter how “politically correct” they may be.
Jesus never “slept around”.
Jesus never broke God’s Law.
Jesus never excused those who broke God’s Law.
Jesus never lied or cursed.
Jesus was never mean spirited.
Jesus spoke the truth in love.
Jesus adhered to the Word of God.

The stepbrother of our Lord Jesus, James wrote:

James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Reject sin, and seek moral excellence. This is what Jesus gave His life for. The Apostle goes on to say:

2 Peter 1:5 (KJV) And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue KNOWLEDGE;

• Add to virtue KNOWLEDGE. Learn of Christ. Study Him. Study His teachings. Do what Jesus says. 

Matthew 11:28-29 Come unto me, all [ye] that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

We usually read the comfort part of this text without reading that “and learn of Me”. Jesus said “come to Me and learn from Me. Do what I did. Follow My examples. Walk in My shoes.”

2 Peter 1:6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

• Add to knowledge TEMPERANCE (ἐγκράτεια enkráteia, eng-krat'-i-ah), also known as SELF CONTROL.  The word “temperance” refers to how you control your body, your passions and your expression of passion. Christians are to be self controlled as temperance is within the Fruit of the Spirit. Jesus was self controlled. He controlled His anger, His tongue, and His appetites in a way that glorified God. 

• Add to temperance PATIENCE.  We are impatient people, but God is patient. He allows the world to make bad decisions day after day without dropping the hand of judgment on the earth. 

2 Peter 3:9 (KJV) The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is LONGSUFFERING to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

God waits because He wants as many saved as possible to enter into His family of faith. James saw patience as a worker in our lives when he wrote:

James 1:2-4 (KJV) My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh PATIENCE. 4 But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

God uses trials to form us, to mold us. So we must be patient, trusting the Lord as we go through this life. Never give up, never give in, but always give God the glory! Learn the art of silence & waiting.

Psalms 27:14 (KJV) Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

• Add to patience GODLINESS.  To be godly is to seek to please God. 

We are saved Sons of God who should want to please our God. Godliness means to have a personal attitude toward God that asks before doing “will this make my Father happy?”

2 Peter 1:7 (KJV) And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

• Add to godliness BROTHERLY KINDNESS.  Be kind to others. When they mess up, be kind. If you must correct someone, be kind. To be kind is to be gentle.

Ephesians 4:32 (KJV) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Jesus was always kind – though He could be harsh. If a kind word would do, this was His way. And finally, to our faith we are to add one more ingredient.

• Add to brotherly kindness CHARITY. Love all. Let love rule your lives.  

Hebrews 10:24 (KJV) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

Love one another. Lift one another up. Jesus said,

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

The faith that is “added to” is a growing faith. The Apostle says:

2 Peter 1:8-9 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

The Christian who seeks moral excellence, knowledge of Jesus, temperance, patience, godliness, kindness, and love is the growing Christian. The professing Christian who does NOT do these things in service to the King, is “blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins”. That person may not be saved! One of my commentaries notes:

“Believers’ ultimate hope is in the character of the Father, the work of the Son, and the wooing of the Spirit. However, these are confirmed in individual believers by their lives of faith, godliness, etc. (2 Peter 1:5-7; Philippians 2:12-13). God deals with humanity in a covenant relationship. He sets the agenda, He initiates the encounter, He draws us to Himself, but we must initially and continually respond in repentance, faith, service, obedience, and perseverance. The gospel is a person to be welcomed, a truth to be believed, and a life to be lived! If any one is left out, mature, biblical salvation is impossible.”

We as believers are desperately needed in America and around the world today to stand firm with Jesus Christ our Savior. If you are saved, ACT SAVED. Obey Jesus. Add to your faith moral excellence. Do not compromise with the world of darkness – for you are to be the Light of Christ. May God the Holy Spirit move you toward spiritual growth and maturity, for Christ’s sake and the glory of God our Father. Amen and amen!

Posted in 2 Peter, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Day Jesus Became Like A Brass Snake

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 3. Last Sunday night we spoke on “We Must Be Born Again”. Jesus had a member of the Sanhedrim (the Ruling Elders of Israel) come to visit by night, a man by the name of Nicodemus. Nicodemus was, according to Jesus,

John 3:10 … a master of Israel …

The word Jesus used to describe Nicodemus was master, the Greek διδάσκαλος didaskalos, or a “Master Teacher”. When Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to be “born again”, Nicodemus was confused. But Jesus clarified it. He said,

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Those who enter God’s Kingdom, whether on earth or in Heaven, must be spiritually born into it.

The Holy Spirit of God must work a work in your heart if you will be born into God’s Kingdom.

Only God Can Make A Child Of Adam A Son Of God

No one can make themselves “born again”. Those who are “born again” are born “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). New Birth is spiritual – it comes through the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus said:

John 6:63 It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life.

Word Study: It is the Holy Spirit that quickeneth, the Greek ζωοποιέω zōopoiéō, {pronounced dzo-op-oy-eh’-o}, which means “to give life, to make your born again”. As Jesus spoke, He spoke through the power of God the Holy Spirit. As Jesus did the miraculous, He did this “by the finger of God” (Luke 11:20), “by the Spirit of God” (Matthew 12:28). Jesus is speaking Biblical truths through the power of God the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us that It is the Spirit that gives spiritual life. The flesh cannot do this. There is nothing that fallen man can do to bring the “new birth” or “being born again” into his or her life. “It is God Who quickeneth (gives life to, causes you to be born again) the dead” (Romans 4:17). The Apostle said in another text:

Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

It is faith in Christ that saves the lost. It is the power of the Holy Spirit – moving based on that faith – that the believer is “born again” or quickened. It is “the Holy Spirit that giveth life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). The Law cannot give life. Our works cannot give life. The Law of God – the sacrifices and the feasts of Israel, the shadows of clean and unclean – this Law is good, but cannot save. The Law only points out our need of salvation. The Bible says:

Galatians 3:21-26 if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

It is faith in Christ and His Word that brings salvation from death and damnation. Upon faith in Christ, the Spirit moves, and causes the believer to be born again. Only the born again go to Heaven!

God’s Son Is Giving A Divine Eye Witness Account

John 3:11-13 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

Please pay particular attention to the pronouns Jesus uses in this section. Jesus starts out speaking in first person singular, I say unto thee”. But then He switches to plural pronouns, saying We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen. Some believe that Jesus was speaking of Himself and John the Baptist, but I don’t think so. In verse 13 Jesus notes that He and He alone has both ascended up to heaven and has come down from heaven. Jesus is telling us that He alone is an eyewitness of that which He is saying. So who is the We Jesus is speaking of? He is speaking of the Godhead – Father, Son, and Spirit. Dr Thomas Constable notes:

Jesus here claimed to be the “Son of Man” (of Daniel 7:13-14) who had come “from heaven” to reveal God to humankind (see John 1:51).”

It is Jesus Who – as the Word of God – “was in the beginning with God, and was God {the Son}” (John 1:1). The source of Jesus knowledge is not what another Rabbi has said, but what is true, directly from the Throne of God. When Jesus uses the pronoun “We”, He is equating Himself to God. Jesus Christ is God, God in the flesh. Jesus is eternal, preexistent God, co-equal and co-eternal to both Father and Spirit.

Nicodemus thinks he is speaking to another Rabbi, another Didaskalos. Jesus is so much more.
Jesus is GOD, Manifest for us.

J. Oswald Sanders wrote, “If Jesus is not God, then there is no Christianity, and we who worship Him are nothing more than idolaters. Conversely, if He is God, those who say He was merely a good man, or even the best of men, are blasphemers. More serious still, if He is not God, then He is a blasphemer in the fullest sense of the word. If He is not God, He is not even good.”

Billy Graham said, “Jesus Christ is God in human flesh, and the story of His life, death, and resurrection is the only Good News the world will ever hear.”

Jesus is God become Man, Perfect Man, Sinless Man. God the Father says to God the Son:

Hebrews 1:8 … Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.

Jesus Christ is God the Son. As He speaks to Nicodemus – and us – He is relaying the plan of Heaven to this fallen earth. But Nicodemus still doesn’t understand. So Jesus tells Nicodemus the true Bible Story of ..

The Day A Snake Saved Israel

Very few people like snakes. I like them dead. But Jesus now tells the story – a familiar story to a Bible Teacher like Nicodemus – of the day a snake saved Israel. Jesus told Nicodemus:

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

To understand this story you have to go to the Book of Numbers. God had led Israel out of Egypt by a mighty hand. Israel walked through the Red Sea as if on dry land (Exodus 14:29), and God, in love with His people, was going to given them the land of Canaan. As Israel got to the borders of Canaan, they decided to send spies into the land. The spies returned, and the majority brought back a faithless report to the people. “There we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers” (Numbers 13:33).

Though saved, unbelieving Israel would not enter the blessed Promised Land. Unbelief and failure to obey God brings a loss of blessing.

God told that generation of Israel in Numbers 14:23, “Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; 23 Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it”.

Israel like a backslidden child wandered aimlessly. Their wanderings are recorded in Numbers chapters 13-36.Rather than learn from their wandering, Israel continued to rebel against God’s leadership. The Bible says that

1 Samuel 15:23 Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.

The idea that a believer saved by grace can freely walk on God is ludicrous! Once saved, we become God’s possession (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and God’s children (Galatians 3:26). God punishes His children. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6).

In Numbers 20 God led Israel to Kadesh, where Miriam (Moses’ sister) died. Moses mourned the death of his sister. But Israel continued in unbelief. They murmured against Moses because there was no water there. God told Moses to:

Numbers 20: 8 … Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.

This is a picture of the resurrected Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote, “{our fathers, Israel} drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4). The Rock that Moses was to speak to represented the risen Jesus, the One Who promised whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life”. (John 4:14). Moses was to SPEAK to the Rock that was Christ. Instead, Moses STRUCK the Rock. Though water came out (for God is gracious, and God is good), God told BOTH Moses and Aaron:

Numbers 20:12 … Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.

Disobedience and faithlessness, even in Moses and Aaron, causes a loss of blessing. At Mount Hor Aaron died, and Eleazar his son became High Priest. As we come to Numbers chapter 21, the Canaanites attacked Israel. The Bible says:

Numbers 21:2-3 Israel vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities. 3 And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites…

Israel should have been pleased, and should have been full of praise for the Lord. But once more, the way became hard. The Bible says:

Numbers 21:5 … the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.

The Wages Of Sin Is Death. Here Come The Serpents!

Our God is gracious and long suffering. But to turn away from honoring God, to mock Him and His leadership, is to play with fire. God heard the words of Israel. The Bible says:

Numbers 21:6 And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

The Lord sent fiery serpents”. Why did God send “fiery serpents”? God does nothing by accident. God sent punishment and trials in many different ways.

  • When David numbered the army of Israel, God sent a pestilence that killed 70,000 people (2 Samuel 24).
  • When Miriam, Moses’ sister, mocked Moses’ wife, God caused leprosy to fall on her (Numbers 12:10).
  • God caused the earth to open up and swallow those who tried to overthrow Moses (Numbers 16:32)
  • God brought ten plagues on Egypt (Exodus 7-12), from turning the Nile to blood to the death of the firstborn.

God could have sent any punishment to Israel He wanted. Why send poisonous snakes?

The Bible tells us that:

Romans 5:12 by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned …

The one man that brought sin into the world was Adam. And Adam’s fall was prompted by the temptation of Satan in the guise of a snake. Satan had fallen from Heaven, leading a revolt against God. Satan is defined in

Revelation 12:9 … And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world

It was Satan in the form of a serpent who tempted Adam and Eve to sin. Adam was supposed to obey God and lead his family. Instead, he disobeyed God and obeyed that Old Serpent Satan. The Israel that God saved from Egypt was supposed to be following their Savior, and honoring Him with their lives. Instead of this, they were murmuring, complaining, and blaspheming God. They said, our soul loatheth this light bread, speaking disparagingly of the manna that God in grace gave them. The Bible tells us that:

Romans 6:23 … the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Unconfessed sin and rebellious living brings with it a just wage, and that wage is separation from God and death. Man in the Garden of Eden listened to the serpent, and brought sickness, sweat, suffering, and sadness into the world. What better way to focus Israel and the truth than to use serpents – poisonouns snakes – the wage for their disobedience. The Bible says,much people of Israel died. God told Israel, and us,

Deuteronomy 8:5-6 … as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee. 6 Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.

Suffering woke Israel up. The Bible says:

Numbers 21:7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.

God sent the serpents to get Israel’s attention. He could have sent anything as a plague, but sent the serpents. Moses prayed, “Lord, we repent! Take away the serpents”. God could have taken away the serpent with just a wish.

The Brass Serpent Represents Jesus Christ

Numbers 21:8 And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.

Moses was not to take a dead serpent and put it on a pole. This would do nothing. Moses was to make a serpent of brass, and set it on a pole. Those who were bitten by the poisonous snakes (symbolic of sin) were to looketh upon the brass serpent and they would live. There was no power in the brass serpent. The power was in their faith in God. God told them to “look, and live”, and if they did that, they were healed.

As Jesus speaks to Nicodemus, He uses this brass serpent to describe what He will do on the Cross of Calvary. Jesus said:

John 3:14-15 … And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

How are we saved from Satan, that Old Serpent, and the snake of sin that he brings to the world? We look upon Jesus and believe. We look at Jesus, Who died for our sins. Moses made a serpent of brass and put it on a pole. The serpent of brass looked like but really wasn’t a serpent. But to look on it was to live. When Jesus went to the Cross, He looked just like any man would look. Jesus didn’t look special. Yet Jesus was like that brass serpent. The Bible says that Jesus Christ was “in the beginning with God, and was God” (John 1:1-3). The Bible says that Jesus Christ came into this world through a virgin birth, a miraculous birth. The angel told the virgin Mary that:

Luke 1:35 … The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

The Apostle Matthew wrote,

Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Jesus Christ walked this earth as God with us. He was perfect in every way. Jesus is the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus Christ was,

Hebrews 4:15 in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus had to be sinless in order to make payment for our sins. Jesus, like the brass serpent, was nailed to a tree.

Hebrews 9:28 Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many …

The Lord Jesus, like the brass serpent of Moses, would be “lifted up” on the Cross of Calvary. As the brass was made to look like a serpent, Jesus Christ – eternal God in human form – was made to look like us who are sinners. He was made a curse so that we could be blessed.

Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Jesus was made a curse for us when He was lifted up on Calvary on that cruel cross. The Bible says:

2 Corinthians 5:21 {God the Father} hath made {Jesus} to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Israel was saved by looking at the brass serpent, faithfully doing as God said so as to be blessed. We today are saved by looking at Jesus Christ on Calvary. We look to Jesus Christ for salvation, believing that He and He alone is God’s method to save. There is no possible salvation to anyone outside of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 3:14 …. even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

Jesus knew that He had to die for our sins. He would say later in His ministry:

John 12:32-33 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

Salvation comes when we recognize that we have been “bitten” by sin, and that we need the Savior. When we look up at our Brass Serpent, Jesus Christ the Lord, obediently looking at Him in faith, we are saved. We are saved by looking at Jesus on the Cross, by believing that He died for our sins.

It is Grace that saves, not our works. We look up to be saved. Just as Israel was poisoned by their sin, apart from Christ we are poisoned creatures. Sin poisons us. Self poisons us. We have no life within. We violate God’s Law without guilt, for we are bit by the snake of sin. Baptismal water will not save us. Water did not save Israel that day they were punished by God. What saved Israel is the same thing that saves us. We must have faith in our God. We must receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We have God’s promise:

John 3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Jesus Christ did not come to this earth to give us more of earth’s riches, He came to this earth to give us eternal life. I pray that you know Him as both Lord and Savior! May God through His Spirit and His Word move your hearts to love Jesus this very day. Amen and amen!

Posted in John, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Must Be Born Again!

Turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 2.

Last Sunday we saw Jesus chasing the buyers and the sellers out of the Temple on the Day of Passover. Jesus literally whipped them out with a scourge. I won’t re-preach what I said last week, other than to note the Scripture of:

Hebrews 12:5-8 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

God disciplines His children. He allows trials to come our way to make us more like Jesus. The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire” (1 Peter 1:7). Trials teach us to lean more on Jesus. Trials drive us into the arms of the Master. Trials stop us from thinking WE are GOD, and turn to Him Who is indeed God.

God also disciplines His children for disobedience. Just as God the Son used the scourge in the Temple, God uses the scourge on His children when they disobey Him. If you are never disciplined of God, then are ye bastards {illegitimate}, and not sons. Praise God that He loves me enough to chastise me when I err!

Jesus Came To Fix What Was In Man

John 2:23-25 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. 24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

You need to carefully read ALL the Scripture, for then you find out great truths. Having read about Jesus chasing the buyers and the sellers out of the Temple – do you remember that song Anne Murray sang back in 1970?

Every Time I look into the Holy Book I wanna tremble
When I read about the part where the carpenter cleared the temple
For the buyers and the sellers were no different fellers,
than what I profess to be
It causes me shame to know I’m not the person that I should be!
Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water;
Put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea;
Take a look at yourself and you can look at others differently;
By putting your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.

Word Study: While Jesus was at the Passover on the Feast day, He did miracles. This is the Greek σημεῖον sēmeîon, {pronounced say-mi’-on}, which means “miracle, sign, token, wonder. Something by which Jesus was marked as distinguished from all other Rabbis.” The Pharisees were always looking for a sēmeîon from Jesus (Matthew 12:38; 16:1). When Jesus identified Judas Iscariot at the one who would betray Him, He kissed Judas (Matthew 26:48), and this was called a sēmeîon. Jesus did things that no other person could do, things that the Bible calls sēmeîon. We don’t know specifically what He did – John does not tell us – but whatever Jesus was did was so significant and repeated that the Bible says:

vs 23 many believed in his name

Do you see that? They believed that Jesus was Who He said He was. They believed that He was the Messiah. But something was amiss. Even though they believed in his name the Bible says:

John 2:24-25 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man

Word Study: The word translated commit is the Greek πιστεύω pisteúō, {pronounced pist-yoo’-o}, which is commonly translated as “to have faith in, to trust, to believe in” {to “believe” is found 239x in the KJV). They believed Jesus was Who He said He was, but Jesus did not believe their profession. Why? The text tells us that:

vs 24 because {Jesus} knew all men,
25 … for he knew what was in man

Jesus knows the hearts of every person. Our Lord Jesus came to this earth to fix what ails us, and that is, to change our hearts. Under the Old Covenant people followed God, and made sacrifices to God, even keeping His Law. But they had a HEART problem. Every son of Adam has the same problem – they are physically alive, but spiritually dead. The theological term for this is total depravity. The doctrine of total depravity teaches that – because of Adam’s fall (Genesis 3:6) – every person is born into this world with a sin corrupted nature.

The mind, the will, the emotions, and even the flesh of the person without Christ is spiritually dead.

Those who were under the Law of Moses – who faithfully and repeatedly made animal sacrifices like those of the Passover – had a heart problem from birth. The Prophet Isaiah, a disciple of God under the Old Covenant, wrote:

Isaiah 64:6-8 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. 7 And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. 8 But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

Isaiah looked forward to the day when God the Potter would take us, and remake us, so that our heart would be devoted to God and not to religion. Religion cannot save. The sacrifices of Moses cannot save. The writer of Hebrews said:

Hebrews 10:4 … it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

The animal sacrifices made did not take away sin. Salvation from sin has always come about by faith in God. “The just shall live by his faith {in God} has been the teaching of God’s Word, from the Old Testament Habakkuk 2:4 to the New Testament Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11 & Hebrews 10:38. Abraham our father in the faith:

Romans 4:3 Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Abraham’s heart was turned to God. He trusted – not in the animal sacrifice – but in God. God did a work in Abraham – and Abraham believed.

Salvation is not a work of man, but a work of God in man. The Bible teaches that everyone was once:

Ephesians 2:1-3 … dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the {ways} of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

People are born – as David wrote in Psalm 51:5, “shapen in iniquity”. Only God can change the heart.

Psalm 58:3 The wicked are estranged {from God} from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

The people who saw Jesus didn’t entrust their lives to Jesus. They “believed in His name”. They believed that He was a special Person, greater than any Rabbi they had seen. These people are like so many today. They do not want Jesus, nor do they want to serve the living God through Him.

They want more of the goods of this world.
They want miracles, the healings.
They want more of the free wine that was made at Cana.
They want a god who will make them comfortable,
Not THE God Who would make them sons of God.

Jesus knew what was in their hearts. Though they said they believed in Jesus, Jesus didn’t believe in them. We have same problem today in America. People say they believe in Jesus, but Beloved, Jesus sees the heart.

Jesus sees that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked … who can know it? Well, Jesus can. Jesus does. Jesus knows the heart. But that’s why He came. Jesus came to fix the heart. Jesus did not come to bring about a new religion, but a new relationship with God. The Prophets looked forward to God the Messiah’s bringing in of the New Covenant. Moses prophesied in:

Deuteronomy 30:6 … the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

Jeremiah who preached among a hardened Israel, prophesied in:

Jeremiah 31:31-33 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

The Messiah – God the Son – would bring in a NEW COVENANT that would change the heart. It would fix the person from the inside outward. God promised:

Ezekiel 36:26-27 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

God promised to change the heart. He promised to put my spirit within you, to radically change those who would hear Him. Let me say this with all the love I can muster:

You can be religious, and yet go to hell when you die.
You don’t need religion. You need a relationship.
You need to be reborn, to leave the way of Adam.
Only Jesus can do this.

You Must Be Born Again!

Right after these wonderful texts we have expounded, we come to chapter 3. There is a man called Nicodemus who comes to Jesus by night.

John 3:1-2 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

Word Study: Nicodemus is a ruler of the Jews. He is ἄρχων árchōn, {pronounced ar’-khone}, which means “a ruler, commander, chief, leader, someone preeminent”. Several commentaries note that Nicodemus was possibly a key member of the Sanhedrim, the 70 rulers over Israel. In verse 10 Jesus calls Nicodemus a MASTER of Israel, wherein the word MASTER is the Greek διδάσκαλος didáskalos, {pronounced did-as’-kal-os}, which means “a Master Teacher, one with a Doctorate or great skills in interpreting the Talmud”. Here is a great man, a man well known to all, even Jesus. He didn’t come in and stick out his hand and say, “Hi Jesus, I’m Nicodemus”. This man was well known. This well known man said two things about Jesus:

  • (vvs 2) We know that thou art a teacher {didáskalos} come from God. Nicodemus tells Jesus We know. The Sanhedrim affirmed that Jesus was a MASTER of Israel, a didáskalos. This is powerful endorsement at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. If Jesus responds favorably He can expect the support of the most powerful men in Israel – something any of us would love to have if we were in a similar situation. A Master Teacher affirms Jesus as a Master Teacher, someone that God sent.
  • Nicodemus also told Jesus no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus did not just come FROM God, but God is with him. Again, this is a fantastic endorsement! How would Jesus respond?

Jesus ignored what Nicodemus said, flattering as it was. I love this quote:

Some teachers use flattery as a means to increase personal followings. Leaders desiring to attract a crowd sometimes water down their message until the gospel is reduced to little more than a God-tainted self-improvement program. They pepper their talks with cheerful verses and illustrations designed to make their hearers feel better about themselves (and about the teachers). There is much talk about discovering one’s potential and developing personal greatness. This is nothing more than flattery intended to create popularity for the speaker and his or her message. It sells books and media time, but it often bears little resemblance to the message Jesus proclaimed.”

Jesus didn’t take the bait! Jesus came to this earth not to be flattered, nor to develop a new religion, but to bring people into the Family of God. You must be supernaturally born into the Family of God. Jesus said:

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

We have shown earlier that, according to the Scripture, those without Christ are dead in trespasses and in sins. Those without Jesus are blind to the truths of God. Like Nicodemus, they might be religious, faithfully religious. They might be a big name in the religious circuit. But their hearts are far from God – they are but children of Adam. You must have another birth.

I suspect there are many professing Christians in the world today who may be seminary trained. They may study their Bibles religiously. They may be faithful members of a local Church. But they are missing something most integral. You must be born again. Jesus said:

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

God must draw the dead to God. When the Gospel of Jesus Christ is shared, I believe that God gives us a knowledge of our dead spiritual state. Jesus said:

John 14:26 … the Comforter, {Who} is the Holy {Spirit}, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Nicodemus needs to be born again. He needs to be “regenerated” by the Spirit of God. Nicodemus cannot see the Kingdom of God unless he personally and individually is “born again”. What Jesus says to Nicodemus confuses him. He asks Jesus:

John 3:4 … How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

Being “born again” is not to go through the birthing process you already have gone through. Being “born again” is being born a second and distinctly different time. Jesus said:

John 3:5-7 … Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Jesus started out by saying that you must be “born again to SEE the Kingdom of God”. Now Jesus says you must be “born again to ENTER the Kingdom of God”. This is a second, supernatural birth. Jesus said you must beborn of water AND of the Spirit. You are born of water when you enter this life through your mother. Unborn babies float in a sack of amniotic fluid – water – until they are born. When the sack busts, the baby is born, and enters the world a new creature. Jesus said, That which is born of the flesh is flesh. The newborn baby did nothing to assist in this “water birth” but rest in it’s mother.

The child of Adam is born of the flesh.
The child of God is born of the Spirit.

Regeneration or being Born Again is referred to as a “washing” in the New Testament, a “washing” by the Holy Spirit:

Titus 3:5-6 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior;

The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 6:11 … ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

The Christian is a person who is – because of the Spirit of God – a “new creature in Christ”. We are no longer sons of Adam – we are sons of God. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

A Christian is not a Christian because of their denomination. A Christian is a Christian because God the Holy Spirit has made them so. I believe that a Child of God,

Galatians 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Is a person that heard the call of Christ. Responding to that call, that person repents of following their own definition of good and evil, and begins to willingly follow Jesus as both Lord and Savior. Upon calling upon Christ, the Holy Spirit of God – the same Spirit that opens our eyes to our need for Jesus – performs spiritual surgery on us. He changes our hearts, and makes us children of God. We no longer blend with the world. We are His, and He is ours.

Jesus Christ is our Elder Brother, and our King.
We belong to God!
We are possessed of God.
We are indwelt of God.
We are to walk as sons of God.
We will one day be in glory with God!

Jesus tells Nicodemus,

John 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Jesus gives a beautiful illustration of the Holy Spirit here. The Holy Spirit – just like a wind in the trees – you do not see His coming nor His movement, but you see the effect on the trees. I did not see the Holy Spirit walk into the Church the day I was saved. But I felt Him blow through my soul. I felt my heart change. What I loved before, the sins I cherished, I now hate. The light I once shunned so that I could dance in the darkness, now I despise it. The lonely life I once lived, now I live in Christ. The Apostle put it this way:

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

I live by the faith of the Son of God”. I have faith in Him, and He has faith in me. He knows who I am, and I cherish Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior every day.

The Children Of God Have Eternal Security

The Apostle told the Hebrews:

Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

To leave this life a child of Adam – oh, how terrible that will be! To know Him only as the living God. Jesus will not commit Himself to you, if you will not receive Him as He is. Jesus is both Lamb of God and King of Kings. Jesus is the sacrifice for our sins, the Savior of our souls, but the Sovereign of our lives. If you know Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior – if you have called on Him with a heart awakened to Him by the Spirit – then you are secure in His arms.

On the day that Jesus hung on that terrible Cross for you and I, two thieves hung next to Him, one on the left and the other on the right. We are all born thieves. We steal God’s glory, and apply it to ourselves. We refuse to thank Him for the gift of life, nor even to acknowledge Him as the Giver of all that we have. We refuse to worship Him, but worship ourselves, and worship idols on television or on streaming services. We rob God of His due.

But He loves us anyway.

The thief on the left mocked Jesus. “If you be the son of God, save US and Yourself” (Luke 23:39). He was a thief still. But the thief on the right, he repented. “We receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss” (Luke 23:41). Repentance acknowledges that we should never have eaten the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Repentance doesn’t make excuses, or blame someone else. Repentance opens the eyes, and looks in the mirror, and looking, sees a sinner. The thief on the right, dying, looked at Jesus, and said:

Luke 23:42 … Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

Lord”! Dying, that man was born again into God’s Kingdom. “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise”. Beloved, you must be born again! Receive Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior! Receive Him as Lamb of God, slain for your sins. Receive Him as Lord of glory, the ruler of your life. Of His fullness receive eternal security in His family. May God move on your hearts this very day. Amen and Amen!

Posted in John, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

It Is Right To Fear The Lord

Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash

Do you “Fear The Lord”?

Turn with me in your Bibles to Psalm 34

I think we live in a day where people fear lots of things. They fear:

Spiders & Snakes
Peer Pressure
Social Media banning
Coronavirus & The Delta VariantDiseases like Cancer
Getting OldPainBeing called a name, like “Bigot”,
“Homophobic”,
“Racist”

Loneliness
Death

But I don’t think people today have a “fear of the Lord”. Too many have heard verses over-preached like,

1 John 4:16 … we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

God does love us. But we also need to fear the Lord. Did you know that

  • The phrase “God is love” is found 2 times in the Scripture,
  • But the phrase “fear the Lord” is found 30 times? And,
  • The phrase “fear God” is found 10 times.
  • The phrase “fear of God” is found 8 times in the Scripture.

That’s – if you’re counting – 48 to 2. Solomon, the wisest leader the world ever knew, wrote:

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools (those who do not fear God) despise wisdom and instruction.

The humanist and the atheist believes that all people are basically good at heart. God’s Word tells us of the lost that:

Romans 3:10-18 … There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.

The mark of the lost person is that they have no fear of God before their eyes. So, so you fear God? Do you have fear of the Lord? If you are saved, you should. You really should.

What Does It Mean To Fear The Lord? The word translated fear is in the Greek φόβος phóbos, {pronounced fob’-os}, and in the Hebrew רְאָה yirʼâh, {pronounced yir-aw’}. The words are defined as having “fear, dread, terror”.

When applied to God, “fear” refers to “an awe of, a reverence for, a deep and abiding respect, and yes, an understanding that God CAN and WILL punish.

Illustrate: Some unknown individual crawled underneath our Church van, and cut the catalytic converter out of the engine. They had no fear of God. God, to them, was imaginary, or a little old wizened man up in the sky. People commit crimes every day. They have no fear of God. People fall into sexual sin daily, contrary to God’s Biblical standard. They have no fear of God. People hate, carry grudges, seek vengeance. They have no fear of God.

It is the act of a fool to have no fear of God. It is God Who made all things that you see and that you do not see. It is God Who, despising sin, engineered the destruction of the entire world by water in Noah’s day. It is God Who causes nations to form, and to fall. When Adam sinned, it is God Who allowed the fall of all creation in accordance with His Word. It is God Who hates sin so much that the only way we could be brought back into union with Him is through the horrible crucifixion and death of the Son of God!

Fear Of The Lord Is The Beginning Of Blessing

In Psalm 34, we read the words of a man that was very blessed of God. This man was called David. The Bible tells us that David was a man after God’s own heart. The first King of Israel was Saul, a man who had no fear of God. Saul treated his call from God as if he deserved it. God called Saul to be King, to follow the leading of the Lord. Saul didn’t, so he lost his kingdom. The Prophet Samuel told King Saul,

1 Samuel 13:14 … now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.

Saul did not love God. Saul did not fear God. Saul did not do that which the Lord commanded. So God sent Samuel to the House of Jesse to find a replacement for Saul. God said (Acts 13:22) I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will. David feared the Lord. David loved God, but feared displeasing Him. But fearing the Lord, David was blessed. David writes:

Psalm 34:1-2 I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

When we make ourselves bigger than we are, we do so because we do not fear God. We are and have what we have because GOD HAS GIVEN IT. The life you have, you have it by God’s grace. If you have a nice home, you have it because God allowed it. If you have beautiful children, you have it because God has allowed it.

Oh, that we would squash down that pride inside of ourselves, and fear the Lord. Oh, that we would HEAR the words we sing:

I am weak but Thou art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.

THAT is fearing God. Realizing that HE IS GOD and I AM NOT. David feared the Lord. He stood in awe of Who God is. David did not want just what God could do – David wanted GOD. David realized what ever circumstance that God brought to his life, that it came according to the will of God. David said:

vs 1 I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

You fear the Lord when you PRAISE Him, even in the bad times. God allows ALL TIMES to come to us. Yes, God loves us. But God controls all things. If something happens in our lives, it is because GOD ALLOWED IT or GOD CAUSED IT. To fear the Lord is to PRAISE HIM even when you’re in a valley. The Apostle Paul said it this way:

Philippians 4:11-13 I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

When you have fear of the Lord, you seek His glory at all times – even when you are in the valley. There are no accidents, no coincidences. God controls all.

Pastor Marshall Segal of Desiring God Ministries notes:

The fear of God is a heart level embrace of the intensity of His holy and solemn authority over all. It is an admission that God is worthy of our admiration, devotion, reverence, and awe. It is a face-to-the-ground, trembling-in-the-soul, all-of-life-submission unto God – a heart that senses how small, sinful, and undeserving we are next to Him, and yet still dares, in Christ, to draw near to Him.”

Those who know the fear of the Lord acknowledge that God is big – but we are small. Though David was King of Israel – a choice assignment to be in – David knew that he was not there because he was better than others – but was King because God made him King. David writes:

Psalm 34:2 My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

David controlled his emotions – his “little man”. Do you all know what I’m talking about when I speak of the “little man”? I have one. He pops up whenever someone says, “That was a good sermon, preacher”. That “little man” pops up, that fellow we call PRIDE. You cannot have fear of the Lord and have PRIDE. I have to constantly remind myself, “David, what you have, whatever you do, if it is good, it comes of the Lord!” It is fear of the Lord that says:

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Illustrate Do you remember Peter the Apostle, when he was shamed by a rooster? “Not me, Lord! Though everyone denies You, I will never deny You!” Jesus told Peter, “this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice”. Jesus knew. God always knows. That very night, Peter denied Jesus. When Peter heard the rooster crow, “he went out, and wept bitterly”. A changed Peter would later write:

1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

What we have – what we hope to be – is all in the hands of our God. God is in control! We will praise Him, though all fall apart.

Fear Of The Lord Causes Burdens To Lift

Psalm 34:3, 5 O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. 5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.

Do you have fear of the Lord – or fear of people? David had fear of the Lord. He cared more for what God thought than He did what others thought.

Who are YOU trying to impress? God or man?
Who do you FEAR more?

Word Study David magnified the Lord. This is the word גָּדַלgâdal, {pronounced gaw-dal’} which means “to boast on, to enlarge, to make great or powerful, to make primary”. God is GREAT, He is MAGNIFICENT. David magnified by making himself small in God’s presence. When the Ark of the Covenant was returned to Jerusalem, the city of David, the Bible says that King David was …

2 Samuel 6:16 … leaping and dancing before the Lord

so much so that his wife, Michal, despised David in her heart. She chewed David out when he got home, sarcastically saying:

2 Samuel 6:20 … How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!

David responded simply to his wife:

2 Samuel 6:21-22 … It was before the Lord, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel: therefore will I play before the Lord. 22 And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honor.

David put God before his own pride. He magnified the Lord, and was blessed because of it. As a Leader who loved God more than he loved himself, Israel followed his example and looked unto Him {unto God}, and were lightened. When you fear God, when you make much of God and little of all else, then you are lightened. Your burdens fall away. Read with me:

Psalm 34:4 I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

What do we often do when bad stuff happens?

We WORRY about it.
We WORRY about it though God tells us not to worry.

Instead of worry, fear the Lord. Do what He says. Seek His face. What did Jesus say? Take NO THOUGHT for your life”. Minimize yourself. Maximize God. Fear the Lord, not the need. Jesus said:

Matthew 6:25-27 … Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

Worry changes nothing. Do as David did. Seek the Lord. Humble yourself, and fear God. Pursue Him, and praise Him even in the midst of the trial. God has a purpose for what you are going through. Worry will not fix one thing. When we worry, we make a god of the trial. Instead, let God be God. David said:

Psalm 34:6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

We are NOT gods. We are in God’s image, but we are NOT Him. We are but poor. We are limited creatures. But God is not. He is limitless. God owns all things. God is over everything. God – not us but God – controls this Coronavirus. God allowed that person to cut out our catalytic converter. God allows the wicked to prosper. The Scripture says:

Proverbs 16:4 The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

The God we worship is “one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4:6). When we make much of God and little of all else, then God hears, and like David, saved him out of all his troubles.

  • When Adam failed to fear the Lord, he brought misery on humanity.
  • When Lucifer failed to fear the Lord, he lost his job as General over all the angels of Heaven.
  • When Samson failed to fear the Lord, he ended up blind, weak, and strapped to a Philistine prison.
  • When Judas Iscariot failed to fear the Lord, he hung himself miserably, and his bowels gushed out.

Your troubles do not get less when you fail to fear the Lord. They get GREATER. They get worse. But when you fear the Lord, and make much of Him Who made us, and loves us, then David promises:

Psalm 34:7 The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

Word Study: Let’s break this verse down. The word translated “encampeth” is the Hebrew חָנָה chânâh, {pronounced khaw-naw’}, which means “to come down from a high place to where you are, to bend down so as to surround with an encampment or series of tents”.

When we humble ourselves and magnify God, God humbles Himself and comes to us.

Word Study: God puts a shield around those who fear him, and delivers that person from their enemies. We are to fear God more than we fear our earthly enemies. God is greater than anything or anyone who comes against us. He deliverethus from our enemies. The word translateddelivereth is the Hebrewחָלַץ châlats, {pronounced khaw-lats’}, which meansto rescue, or draw out of trouble.

Illustrate: Here is the picture God put in my mind. You are swimming in the ocean, and get a cramp. You start to go down. You struggle to the surface, grab a breath. You don’t worry about what others might think. You are no longer posturing for the crowd, or trying to impress some girl or boy. You yell out, “HELLLLP!” before you go under once more. Struggling to the top, the Lifeguard comes. He reaches down and grabs your arm. He draws you to the surface where you can breath. You don’t tell Him what to do, nor how to do it. You REST IN HIS ARMS. You rest in His arms.

The Church Needs To Return To Fearing The Lord

Psalm 34:8-9 O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. 9 O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.

Many years ago Churches in America and around the world began to fear man more than they feared God. They began to compromise on the teachings of the Word of God in order to reach “bigger crowds”. The Way of Christ was never the way of the crowd. Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14:

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (English Standard Version used for clarity).

David encourages us to Taste and see. You need to personally experience the fear of the Lord. You need to humble yourselves to Him, and make much of Jesus. Blessed is the man that trusteth in him. David speaks from experience. By trust in God, and making much of Him, David was allowed to defeat Goliath. It is by fear of the Lord that we are saved. It is by fear of the Lord that we are blessed. He said:

9 O fear the Lord, ye his saints:
for there is no want to them that fear him.

Do not fear man. Do not fear your circumstances that you are in. Fear the Lord. Trust in Him. Humble yourselves, as we are entering a cultural nightmare in America. Trust in Him. The early Church, with no more than 120 members, gathered in an upper room and prayed, making much of God. Because they feared the Lord more than they feared Rome or Israel, the Church was formed. The Bible says:

Acts 2:42-43 And {the Church} continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear {phobos} came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

Those who were saved had fear of the Lord. They did not fear the Romans nor the Jews, but God. As the Gospel went out, and God caused Saul to become Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, the Bible says:

Acts 9:29-31 And {Paul} spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. 30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. 31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear {Phobos} of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.

As believers in Christ we are not to FEAR that which is going on around us – but we are to FEAR the Lord. It is the FEAR of the Lord that drives our efforts to tell others of Christ. The Apostle Paul said:

2 Corinthians 5:11 Knowing therefore the terror {phobos, fear} of the Lord, we persuade men…

It is the FEAR OF THE LORD that drives believers to work together in harmony. The Apostle said:

Ephesians 5:18-21 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Let us rightly fear the Lord Who gave Himself for us, It is He Who says,

Isaiah 49:16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands…

God has marked us on the palms of my hands. Jesus Christ was crucified for my salvation. He died to make payment for my sins. He is reminded daily in Heaven that I am His, and He is mine. I need not fear His abandoning of me – He will not leave the children He purchased at such a great price. Yet nonetheless I fear God, just as I feared my daddy when I was a child. Because daddy had power to punish. Our Heavenly Father, our Eternal God, watches us. He has the power to punish. He has the power to afflict, to paddle, to dissemble, to break us down. He has power to bless. Seek His face this very day.

May God the Holy Spirit and the Master’s Scripture touch every heart and mind this day. For His glory we ask this. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Psalms, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Eternal Security or Eternal Loss

Photo by Krissia Cruz on Unsplash

Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

When I first came to the Lord, it was at a wonderful assembly of believers called The Church of God of Prophecy. These were sweet believers in Christ, and I loved them – and still love them – dearly. The Lord led me to salvation through the preaching of Pastor White. I was saved about 30 days before I went into military service.

The Church of God of Prophecy is but one of a group of Churches that believe in Arminian theology. Arminianism is a branch of the Protestant faith based on the theological teachings of Dutch Reformed pastor Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609). He led a group of followers known as Remonstrants to split from the Dutch Reformed Church. One of the signature beliefs of the followers of Jacobus Arminius (or the Arminians) was “The Conditional Preservation Of The Saints”.

The followers of Arminianism believe that salvation is conditional upon the believer remaining in Christ.

Churches that believe in the conditional salvation of the believer (Arminianism) are Methodists, Free Will Baptists, Christian Churches, Churches of Christ, General Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Church of the Nazarene, the Wesleyan Church, the Salvation Army, Conservative Mennonites, Old Order Mennonites, Amish Churches, the various Churches of God, and the Pentecostal Churches. These Churches believe that a person, once saved, can willingly walk away from Jesus, and willingly relinquish their salvation. Southern Baptists, along with Particular Baptists, Reformed Baptists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists believe in the Eternal Security of the Believer. We believe that once a person enters a relationship with Jesus Christ by faith, that that believer is adopted into the Family of God by the Holy Spirit of God (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5-7). The Southern Baptist Faith & Message (2000) states:

IV. Salvation: Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

V. God’s Purpose of Grace: All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

Southern Baptist Churches believe that the Child of God – who is truly a Child of God – can never be lost. The Churches that follow Arminianism believe a Christian can, by his or her will, be lost once saved. To prove this, they refer to texts like the one we read tonight. Let’s read it again:

Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

Saved in the Church of God of Prophecy, I was taught that every Christian had to guard their salvation, lest we be lost. What I was taught was:

Salvation = Jesus’ Work + My Work

You Must Read Scripture In The Spirit, And In Context

As I studied my Bible, reading things in context, I began to believe differently than the followers of Arminius. The greatest things you can do as a student of Scripture is:

  1. Learn to PRAY and SEEK GOD the Holy Spirit’s guidance when reading Scripture. If you are a Christian then you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Colossians 1:27). Jesus said of the Spirit that “when He is come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).
  2. Learn to READ SCRIPTURE in CONTEXT. Context is so very important. Never take a Bible verse and try to build a doctrine around it based on itself. Read what is written before and after.

I was told that the Scripture …

Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

is telling us that a saved person who willfully sins can become lost. But that’s not what the verse is saying. If this verse is to be applied this way, then the phrase there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins is telling us that once lost, that person CANNOT be saved. This is a hopeless teaching! Isn’t it true that every sin we commit is a willful sin? And if you commit a willful sin then there remaineth NO MORE sacrifice for sins, but a certain FEARFUL LOOKING FOR of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. So salvation is by faith in Christ – but if you ever misstep – you’re going to hell. And there is NO REMEDY because the text clearly says, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. But that can’t be true because of the CONTEXT of Scripture. The Apostle John tells us in:

1 John 1:5-7 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

The Christian is NOT to walk in sin. We are to walk in the light of God with Jesus. But we have this promise, the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. Christians are not perfect. John knew this as he wrote:

1 John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

We are – as Christians and Children of God – still imperfect creatures that live in an imperfect world. We sin. We sin willfully. We sin grievously. Now this is not what God wants of us. God wants us to avoid sin, for sin hurts us, and separates us from God. The Prophet wrote:

Isaiah 59:2 … your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Sin in the Christian grieves the Spirit of God and quenches His power (Ephesians 4:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:19). As Christians, we are to forsake sin, because we are dead to sin but alive to Christ. The Apostle said:

Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? … 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

There are times that we as Christians willfully sin. We all do – yet this does not make it right. The standard is to avoid sin and, when you do sin, confess that sin to God. Put the sin under the blood of Christ.

So What Does Hebrews 10:26-27 Refer To
If Not The Loss Of Salvation?

What is the SIN that the Apostle is referring to in verse 26:

Hebrews 10:26 … For if we sin willfully

The “sin” the text is referring to is the sin of unbelief in Christ. The Book of Hebrews was written primarily to ….. (drum roll please) … the Hebrews. The Hebrews believed that their sins were covered by the animal sacrifices that they had done, year after year, prior to the coming of Christ. But the Scripture told them:

Hebrews 10:1-4 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

The animal sacrifices were but shadows of the Cross of Christ. They pointed toward the day when Jesus Christ would come and make payment for sins. The writer of Hebrews is telling his fellow Hebrew citizens that the animal sacrifices are no more. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, entered this world to take away the imperfect sacrifices of the Temple.

Hebrews 10:5-10 Wherefore when he {Jesus Christ, the Messiah} cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

The First Covenant – the Covenant of the Works of the Law (the animal sacrifices) were taken away by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. We who believe in Him are sanctified or set apart for God’s Kingdom once for all by Jesus’ death on Calvary. The Priests of Israel,

Hebrews 10:11-12 … standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man (Jesus Christ, the Messiah), after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

The priests offered animals over and over again. But Jesus on the Cross offered one sacrifice for sins for ever. There are no more sacrifices. Jesus paid it all!

Hebrews 10:18-20 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

Because of what Jesus did for us on Calvary, we can enter into the holy place where God is. Our sins are covered! Our faith is in Christ alone! The text:

Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

Is a warning to the adversaries who reject salvation by faith in Christ. He tells the Hebrews, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. There is no need to go to the Temple anymore, to make sacrifice for sins. When Jesus died on Calvary He declared, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Salvation is vested entirely in Jesus. To drive this point home, the Apostle writes:

Hebrews 10:28-29 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

To reject the Law of Moses under the first Covenant was to court death. To reject faith in Jesus Christ – the blood of the covenant – an unholy thing, is to reject the Spirit of grace. God will punish all who do this. You must receive Jesus Christ by faith,

Receive Him as the Lamb of God,
Receive Him as the Great High Priest,
Receive Him as the Son of God,
Receive Him as Lord of Lords

Salvation is not What I do + what Jesus did. Jesus alone paid for my salvation. Jesus alone represents me to the Father. Jesus alone is my Lord and Leader. I put all my trust in Him, and do not draw back from faith in Jesus. The Apostle ends the text with:

Hebrews 10:38-39 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

Faith alone in Christ alone saves us. May God move your hearts to receive Him and Him alone as both Lord and Savior this very day. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Hebrews, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus Will Whip You

Photo by Emmanuel Phaeton on Unsplash

John 2:13 And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem …

Pastor Tony Evans told this story:

A man once robbed a bank in Ottawa, Canada, stealing $6,000. But the interesting part of the story is this: When they arrested him and took him to jail, they discovered he’d used a 1918 Colt revolver to commit that crime. Now, anyone who knows anything about guns already understands the point of this story. This gun was valued at more than $100,000, yet this man robbed a bank for only $6,000. He could have simply sold the gun and walked away with more than ten times what he got in the robbery. But he didn’t sell the gun because he didn’t know the worth of what he held in his hand.”

When Jesus came to this earth on Our Father’s mission, He came to open our eyes to what is most important.
We are to love God our Savior, and love one another.

We often forget this great truth and, when we do …. Jesus will get your attention. In fact, if you are his, Jesus will whip you!

Jesus Went Up … To The Passover

John 2:13 And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem …

When we read these words, they really don’t mean much to us. But these words are very significant, for they speak of the grace of God. Our Lord Jesus spent a few days in Capernaum, “Jesus, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days. (John 2:12)”. Jesus spent time with His earthly family because He loved them. Though the Bible says in …

John 7:5 … {Jesus’} brethren {did not} believe in Him …

Though His own family did not believe He was the Messiah, the Promised Savior of Israel (“for He shall save His people from their sins”), Jesus nonetheless loved them. Jesus loved and honored His earthly parents, and spent time with them. But then, Jesus went up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

We’ve read about the Passover in our Bibles, but we who are Gentiles have a hard time understanding what it was all about. I believe it’s because we never really experienced what the Jews went through. Though I hear of the trials that many go through, I have not walked in their shoes, so it’s hard for me to fully comprehend it.

The Jews came to Egypt through the grace of God in the life of Joseph. At first, Israel had it good in Egypt. But then it went sour. The fickle love of man turned on them. The Jews became enslaved in Egypt. Their lives were miserable. They suffered under the whip, because, though Egypt was initially a place where Israel could rest, over time,

Exodus 1:8 … there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.

The Jews became like cattle to the Egyptians. They were beaten. Their sons were killed. Their daughters were made to prostitute themselves to the Egyptians. Israel was horribly treated. The Bible says:

Exodus 1:14 {the Egyptians} made their lives bitter with hard bondage …

Genesis 15:13 records God’s words to Abram, “ Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years”. Israel grew complacent in their love for God while in Egypt, but the whip of the taskmasters awakened their need for the Lord.

The whip of evil often wakes us up to the desperate need we have for the Lord. The whip is a blessing when it awakens us, and turns us to the God Who loves us so!

The Bible says that God told Moses:

Exodus 3:9-10 … the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

God, in His Grace, reaches out to love us every single day. But when we drift away from Him, when we get entangled in our own Egypt, when God becomes less to us than He should be, our life goes through storms. Our joy is robbed from us. There is no quality of life apart from the Lord Who loves you so!

God loved Israel. God told Israel:

Jeremiah 31:3 … I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.

Deuteronomy 7:7-8 The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8 But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

God loved Israel, so He saved the nation by a “Pass Over”. The “Pass Over” is the event that caused Egypt to release Israel from slavery. In the original Passover, God told Israel in Exodus 12:5-11 to take a “lamb without blemish, a male of the first year, and kill it in the evening. Take it’s blood, and strike it on the two side posts and the upper door post of the house”. God said, “I will pass through the land of Egypt this night … when I see the blood of the lamb, I will pass over you and not destroy you”.

God did exactly as He said He would do. He “passed over” Egypt that first night, so long ago, and where the blood of the Lamb was not found, death came to that home. It didn’t matter whether you were Jew or Gentile, bond or free, male or female (Galatians 3:28), if the blood of the Lamb was not there on the home and in the life, then death came.

That night, God used a whip on Egypt and on Israel. He did not use that whip because He hated anyone. God used the whip out of love. The Blood of the Lamb saves!

Once Israel was freed from Egypt, God instituted the Feast of the Passover to be done annually on that same day.

The Passover Feast celebrates the salvation of God.
The Passover Feast celebrates the love of God.
The Passover Feast is a time to show God love!
The Passover Feast is a time to show love to others!
The Passover Feast is also a shadow, a teaching of the Coming Messiah!

Israel was to take – each family – a lamb or, if poor, two doves to the Temple to sacrifice, and celebrate the Grace and love of God. They did this year after year. But this ritual looked forward to the coming on the GENUINE Lamb of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. John the Baptist identified Jesus as:

John 1:29 the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (see also John 1:36)

The Apostle Peter – writing long after this day we are now studying – said:

1 Peter 1:18-21 … ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain {way of life – the sacrifices, the works of the Law} received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 {Jesus} verily was foreordained {to be the Lamb of God} before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

Jesus Used The Whip In Love, Not Anger

John 2:13 And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the Temple …

Jesus went to Jerusalem, and went to the Temple to lovingly worship our God. But when Jesus went to the Temple, He did not see the people loving and worshiping God. Jesus did not see the people loving one another.

Jesus saw a business. He saw buying and selling, profiteering. He saw selfishness, and greed. Jesus did not see love for God, nor love for others.

It is good to read all four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – and compare what each eyewitness (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46; John 2:14-22) to Jesus saw. Though John tells us that Jesus took action immediately, the Evangelist Mark tells us:

Mark 11:11 … And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve. … 15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple…

Jesus went to Jerusalem, looked around, then went to Bethany for the night. Jesus perhaps was angered by what He saw. But the next day He came back to Jerusalem, and we read:

John 2:14 {Jesus} found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

Word Study: The changers of money, the Greek κερματιστής kermatistḗs, (pronounced ker-mat-is-tace’) “Money Brokers”, would take Roman coins, and exchange them for acceptable Jewish coins. The Romans believed that when a Caesar died that he became a god. Thus the Jews were told not to donate Roman money in the Temple offerings. The kermatistḗs would exchange Roman coins for acceptable Hebrew currency – and make a fat profit on the exchange. They did not do what they were doing out of love for God nor out of love for their fellow Israelis, but out of “the love of money, the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).

The kermatistḗs robbed God. The sellers of oxen, and sheep, and doves, they robbed God. The Passover was a wonderful act of undeserved Grace and Love from God. They should have been loving God. They should have been loving their fellow believers.

John 2:15 And when {Jesus} had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;

Word Study: Jesus made a scourge of small cords, a φραγέλλιον phragéllion, {pronounced frag-el’-le-on}. This particular word is used only here in the Scripture. Jesus created this phragéllion or whip out of the bits of rope that had been used to bring the animals into the Temple. Mark tells us,

Mark 11:15… Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple…

Matthew Henry says: “… Jesus made a scourge of small cords, which probably they had led their sheep and oxen with, and thrown them away upon the ground, whence Christ gathered them. ..”

Jesus used His quickly made whip to scourge not just the animals, but the people as well. Jesus ran both the BUYERS and the SELLERS out of the Temple. He didn’t run everyone out – just those who were there for the wrong reason. What Jesus did was not an act of anger. Jesus stayed overnight in Bethany, probably at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and the next day chased the buyers and sellers out. What our Lord did was carefully conceived, a response that God the Son gave to the people of God for failing to love God and love others. After Jesus did what He did, the Bible says:

John 2:17 … {Jesus’ disciples} remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

Word Study: Which is a quotation from Psalm 69:9. The word zeal is the Greek ζῆλος zēlos, {pronounced dzay’-los} which means “passion, indignation, jealousy for”. Jesus was INDIGNANT against these people. God had saved Israel, a wondrous act of Grace, and established Israel as His Beloved. Israel should be praising God, worshiping God, especially on this, the Day of Pentecost.

  • Jesus chased out the SELLERS with a whip. Instead of making a profit, they should have been assisting their fellow believers to worship God in spirit and in truth. Did not God tell the Priests of Israel in the Law:

Leviticus 19:18 … thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord.

The Priests of God should not have allowed this to go on in the Temple. This is a place of worship. If a brother or sister in the Lord had no sacrifice to give God on the Passover, shouldn’t that brother have assisted instead of profiting?

  • Jesus chased out the BUYERS with a whip. They were not showing love to God in the offering of their sacrifice. God the Son said,

John 14:15, 21 If ye love me, keep my commandments. … [21] He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

The Apostle also said,

1 John 5:2-3 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

God did not tell His people to sacrifice the Lamb on the Passover just after purchasing it in the Temple.

In Exodus 12:1-11 God told His people that the Lamb was set aside on the tenth day of the Passover month. It was then brought into your home until the fourteenth day of the month (Exodus 12:3, 6). What was the point of this?

The Bible tells us that the Law was a tool that God used to teach us about Jesus Christ and our need for the Savior. The Apostle said:

Galatians 3:24 … the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

The Law cannot save – but it teaches the need of salvation. The Law points to Christ. The Apostle said:

Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

The Lamb that was sacrificed by each family on the Passover was symbolic of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God Who would come to take our sins away. When Jesus began ministering on the earth, God Incarnate, He walked among mankind for 3.5 years or so. When the Passover Lamb was to be chosen, it was to be taken into your very home, and cherished, for over 3.5 days. That Lamb was symbolic of Christ.

By coming to the Passover empty handed, then purchasing a lamb quickly, just before killing it, you violated the Law, the lesson that God was trying to teach. This shows a lack of love for God. If we love God, we do what He says.

God loves us so very much. Jesus addresses those who sell DOVES:

John 2:16 … unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.

God made salvation – His Passover – available to all. Though the Passover Lamb was to be slain, there were some families in Israel that were poor, and could not afford a Lamb. To these God our Savior said in:

Leviticus 5:7 …. if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the Lord; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering”.

Salvation is for all. Jesus Christ came for all. Jesus did not come just for a certain people, but for the very least and the very less. Oh, how God loves you and me!

Bless The Whip The Brings Us To Christ

The Scribes, Pharisees, and Priests were not pleased with Jesus. They came to Jesus, and said …

John 2:18 … the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?

Word Study: The word translated sign is the Greek σημεῖον sēmeîon, {pronounced say-mi’-on} which means “an indication, a miracle, a wonder, a token by which a person is distinguished above another”. The Pharisees and Sadducees often sought Jesus for a “sign from Heaven” (Matthew 16:1). They wanted to know “By what authority do You – a mere carpenter’s son – do this?” But Jesus is much more than a carpenter’s Son. Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is the Son of God Who came to fulfill the Passover. He is what the Passover looked forward to.

Jesus didn’t ask them what I would have asked. I would have asked, “How can you do these things, and say you love God?” But Jesus knew that their hearts had no love for God. So Jesus said simply this:

John 2:19-21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body.

They didn’t understand what Paul would later say:

1 Timothy 1:15 … Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Jesus came into this world on a mission. Jesus did not come to erase the Law, but to fulfill the Law.

Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

No one can be saved by the animal sacrifices. The sacrifices – like the Passover Lamb – were all foreshadows of what Jesus Christ would do on the Cross of Calvary. This Jesus, Who lovingly whipped those in the Temple back to righteousness, would soon be whipped Himself. Jesus knew this was coming. He prophesied of Himself:

Matthew 20:19 {the Pharisees and Chief Priests} shall deliver him {Jesus} to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge mastigóō, and to crucify him {Jesus}: and the third day he shall rise again.

Jesus Christ, the Real Passover Lamb, would die for the sins of the world. He would be scourged. He would be beaten. Not because of anything He did, but because of the sins that we do and did. The Prophet said of Jesus:

Isaiah 55:3-6 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Jesus’ Temple – His Body – would be broken, destroyed, buried. He would die so that we who believe in Him could be inhabited by God, Children of God forever. If you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, believing He died for your sins and rose again for your salvation, then God inhabits your life. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

The Temple today is every believer in Jesus Christ. The Church building is not a Temple. The Temple is the believer, united with Christ by faith. The Temple is where a relationship with God is.

Do you know Jesus? If so, you are to love God with ALL your heart. You are to love your neighbors as you love yourself. You are to keep His commandments. The Bible says:

Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

God bless the whip that brings us to Jesus. God bless the whip that causes us to cry out to the Lord, seeking salvation in Him. God bless the whip that reminds us that we desperately need Jesus – not just for Heaven, but for every day we draw breath on this earth. If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, today would be a wonderful day to give yourself to Him!

Oh how He loves you, oh how He loves me, oh how He loves you and me.

May God the Holy Spirit and His blessed Scripture draw you into the family of God this very day. Amen and amen.

Posted in John, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Business Is God’s Kingdom

God is light
Photo by Wonderlane on Unsplash

John 1:10-14 He {Jesus} was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. {11} He came unto his own, and his own received him not. {12} But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: {13} Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. {14} And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

Why Are We Here Today? Why Am I A Christian?

When Sherry and I were stationed in England for the United States Air Force we had the wonderful opportunity of riding these big red double decker buses in London. We’d taker our boys to the top floor of the bus – an upper “uncovered” floor – and enjoy a wonderful view as we rode around town. It was wonderful to ride those buses – that is, when you could get on them.

There were several times when our family was waiting at a bus stop, excited to ride the bus … and the bus driver passed us by without stopping! It wasn’t just us, but this happened frequently throughout London. Someone finally complained about this to the London Transit Authority, the organization that maintains the city buses. The London Transit Authority issued a public paper that stated the following:

It is impossible for us to maintain our schedule if we are always having to stop and pick up passengers”

The Transit Authority forgot what its purpose is. Without passengers, the bus is useless. Without passengers, the Transit Authority makes no money. The business of the London Transit Authority is to take people around town in buses.

What Is The Business Of The Church?

The Business of the Church is to introduce the Lord Jesus and His Kingdom to a world that neither knows Him, nor wants to know Him. We are Light bearers & Seed sowers.

In our text today we see a tension between Jesus and the world He made. Jesus made the world. Jesus made every person who has ever been made. The Bible says:

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word {that’s Jesus}, and the Word {that’s Jesus} was with God, and the Word {that’s Jesus} was God. 2 The same {that’s Jesus} was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

The Bible says All things were made by him. That’s Jesus. The Apostle Paul said of Jesus:

Colossians 1:15-18 Who {that’s Jesus} is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature {Jesus is the Source of all life}: 16 For by him {that’s Jesus} were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him {that’s Jesus}, and for him {that’s Jesus}: 17 And he {that’s Jesus} is before all things, and by him {that’s Jesus} all things consist {are held together}. 18 And he {that’s Jesus} is the head of the body, the church…

The Business of the Church is to tell others about Jesus, and as they believe on Him this will bring the Kingdom of God more and more to this present world.

We share what Jesus did for us to the lost. Our intent is not to make the world more religious. Our intent is not to bring more Baptists into the Church. Our intent is to share Jesus with others through prayer, through sharing, through growing more aware of Biblical truth.

Jesus sent His disciples into the world to offer people a relationship with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. You cannot offer what you do not have. You must first have a daily relationship with Jesus, following Him and loving Him. It is the lovers of Jesus Christ that inhabit the Kingdom of God.

But it’s a battle. It’s always been a battle. Our text tells us that when Jesus Christ HIMSELF was in the world, that …

John 1:10 He {Jesus} was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew him not.

When Jesus Christ began His earthly ministry, He was spurned by the world He was in. When Philip of Bethsaida met Jesus, he ran to his friend Nathaniel, and told him:

John 1:45 We have found him {that’s Jesus}, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

Oh, how EXCITED Philip was! “We have found the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Come on! Let’s go see Him.” Nathaniel’s response is like most of those in the world. Nathaniel said:

John 1:46 … Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?

Oh Beloved, Jesus came to an Israel that He loved FIRST, because … and hear me – God always keeps His promises. God promised Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David that Messiah would come through Israel. Time passed, and Israel drew far away from God. But “God is faithful!” (1 Corinthians 1:9).

John 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

His own (people) received him not. When Jesus came to the synagogue at Nazareth and began to teach, His own (people)refused to hear Him. They said:

John 1:54-57 Whence hath this man {Jesus} this wisdom, and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? 57 And they were offended in him.

Jesus created this world. When Jesus Christ came into the world, born of a Virgin (Luke 2:7), He did not suddenly “come into being”, nor was He “born” as a baby is born. Jesus came into the world a baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, with a feed pen for His bed – but this was merely the outward package that God chose to wear. Jesus entered the world the way He did because of a promise God made, found in:

Isaiah 7:14 … the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Immanuel (or Emmanuel) means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). God, through His Scripture and His prophets, foretold that the Messiah would come into this world through a virgin. This was a supernatural birth. “That holy thing which shall be born of thee {Mary} shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35).

God came into the world through a virgin,
Just as God said He would.
The God Who came into the world made the world.
This God-Man, Jesus, is the Creator of all things.
He came to rescue sinners, and to establish His Kingdom.
But the world, the cosmos, does not know Him.

There Is A Kingdom Of Light (of Christ)
And A Kingdom of Darkness (of Adam)

There is a kingdom of darkness – the fallen world and satan – and a Kingdom of Light – the saved believer and Jesus Christ. These two kingdoms are always in opposition to one another. The Kingdom of Light is driven by love for Jesus. Our Lord said:

Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

There is a battle for men & women’s souls going on. The world and those who embrace it are comfortable in their darkness. We are told in our context that Jesus Christ came into the world to bring LIGHT. And yet,

John 1:5 … the light (that’s Jesus) shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

When Jesus Christ walked on this earth, He gave a perfect expression of the love of God. Everywhere Jesus walked the Glory of God shined round about Him. He touched, caressed, loved, healed, replaced, raised – Jesus Christ walked this earth as a perfect expression of God in the flesh. In love, God the Son reached out and lovingly healed people time and time again. And yet, Jesus was largely rejected. Why? Our Lord Jesus told us in:

John 3:19-21 … this is the condemnation, that light (that’s Jesus) is come into the world, and men loved darkness (that’s sin & self) rather than light (that’s Jesus), because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light (that’s Jesus), neither cometh to the light (that’s Jesus), lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light (that’s Jesus), that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

What is happening in the world today is the same thing that has happened since the beginning of humanity in Eden. There are two Kingdoms – the kingdom of Adam, and the Kingdom of God (that’s Jesus). These two kingdoms are at war with one another. The first shot was fire in Eden when Adam followed the created rather than the Creator.

The Creator said “Don’t eat of that tree”, but the created said “Do”. Adam, the created, followed the created rather than the Creator.

Romans 5:12 … by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned

All humanity fell into spiritual death. All humanity became blinded to the Light of God. All humanity turned away from the Kingdom of God and turned toward the kingdom of many gods. If you are a part of Jesus’ Kingdom, you follow the King of Light, not the darkness of the created. Jesus said:

John 8:12 … I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Those who are Christ’s walk together, following Jesus, walking in the light. The lost do not do this. The lost, comfortable in the darkness, feel that they do not need Jesus. The devil, his demons, and the fallen themselves conspire to hide the glorious Gospel of salvation from the world. The Apostle saw this, and said:

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: {4} In whom the god of this world (that’s the devil) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God (that’s Jesus), should shine unto them.

Though salvation is free to all who will accept it, you must be led by God to repent or turn away from sin and – with arms wide open – receive Jesus Christ as Savior & Lord. We plant the seed. God shines the light.

Once saved, Jesus said that you enter His Kingdom of Light. Jesus said:

John 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

As believers in Christ, we continually try and share Christ – the Light of God – with a blind world. We share – we do not coerce or force. There was a Christian barber, who, after prayer, thought that he should share his faith with his customers. The next morning when the barber got up out of bed, he prayed, “Lord, give me an opportunity to share my faith today”. Opening his shop up, an elderly gentleman came in and said, “I need a shave”. Of course, sir, hop up in the chair. I’ll be with you in a moment. The Christian barber went in the back room and prayed: “Lord, You’ve sent someone for me to witness to. Give me the wisdom to know just what to say. Amen!”. The barber approached the customer with a razor glinting in one hand, and a Bible, saying “Good morning! Are you ready to die?”.

What we are offering in Christ to people is not just death insurance – but life insurance. Eternal life insurance. Jesus died to make payment for our sins, but Jesus rose from the grave to show us that sin itself is to die.

If you profess to be a Christian, and think that you are saved so you can freely sin & walk in darkness, then the devil has deceived you You quite probably aren’t a Christian!

Children of the Kingdom are not bound to sin. The Scripture says:

Romans 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Matthew 1:21 … Jesus will save His people FROM their sins

Jesus came to “take away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Christ cannot be seen by those dead in their sins – but we who are Christians, alive unto God, born again by the Blood of the Lamb, are children of the Kingdom of Light. We are to be Light.

When A Nation Rejects Jesus, It Is Imperiled

John 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

When Messiah came, Israel as a nation rejected Jesus. Why? 1. Israel blended with the world, and 2. Israel moved from a relationship with God to religion. And yet, God is faithful. God promised in:

Psalms 89:3-4 I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.

God made this promise – the promise that the Messiah would come through the line of David – because David loved God. If Israel had continued to walk in a relationship with God as David did, then perhaps the nation would have celebrated and recognized the coming of Jesus. But Israel forgot their calling, and began to worship religion rather than a relationship with God. Jesus warned Israel when He said:

Luke 13:5-9 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. {6} He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree {the fig tree is a picture of Israel} planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. {7} Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? {8} And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: {9} And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

If God Cut Down The Fig Tree Israel,
He Can Cut Down The Stars & Stripes

The hope of our nation is Jesus Christ. We must remember Jesus’ command, a command given just before He ascended unto Heaven. He said:

Acts 1:8 … ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Jesus suffered and died to save sinners like you and I. Jesus suffered on Calvary to “save a wretch like me”. Jesus was:

Isaiah 53:3 despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows (that’s Jesus), and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him (that’s Jesus); he was despised (that’s Jesus), and we esteemed him not.

Jesus did that for you and I. Jesus did that for every sinner who walks this earth. Jesus died for the straight, the gay, the transsexual, the queer. Jesus died for the murderer, the liar, the slanderer, the gossip. Jesus died for the self righteous, and the pure evil. Jesus died for all, that whosoever will can come to Him and be saved both from and out of their sin.

We who are Christ’s by faith are walking billboards for His Kingdom. We represent our Jesus!

1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

As Christians in this evil world we must be careful to keep our Church centered on glorifying Jesus, our Blessed Savior. We must encourage one another to walk as the Scripture commands the children of God to walk, in Love to both God and Man. Many churches have become entertainment factories, as divorced from Christ as the Israel that rejected Him. Many who claim Christ as Savior no longer support God’s Church with either attendance or tithe. Yet the Church, as was Israel in the Old Testament, is God’s means for evangelizing the Lost while glorifying the Savior Jesus Christ.

During World War II every building, every Church house in Ireland was kept in “blackout” conditions after a certain time every night. Preachers spoke to congregations in darkened buildings. Lights were extinguished, lest the Germans see the light and drop bombs on the church buildings in town. One preacher, Donald Grey Barnhouse, was speaking when someone accidentally turned the lights ON in the church. The congregation gasped, and Barnhouse stopped speaking. One man cried out “What happened! Why did he stop preaching?” Someone had to explain to that man what happened, because, you see, that man was blind. The blind cannot see the light. The Church has to tell the blind about the Light that is Jesus!

The Saved Are Supernatural Sons Of God

John 1:12-13 But as many as received him (that’s Jesus), to them gave he (that’s Jesus) power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (that’s Jesus): {13} Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

  • A son of God is born not of blood. Your mother or father’s salvation does not apply to your account. Your grandmother or grandfather’s salvation does not pass down to you. It is “not of blood”. Friend, Jesus said “… YOU must be born again.” (John 3:7)
  • A son of God is born not of the will of the flesh. There is no good work that you can do in the flesh that will bring you into Christ’s Kingdom. Jesus said, “the work of God is this: believe in the One the Father has sent” (John 6:29).

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

  • A son of God is born not of the will of man. I cannot make you be saved. I cannot do as that barber did with his razor. As much as I’d love to see every soul on this earth in Heaven, you must make the choice. I pray you choose to believe in Jesus.

Only in Jesus will you find the life God wants you to live. Oh Beloved, come. Hear the Spirit’s cry. Call out to Jesus. Repent, and be saved. May God the Holy Spirit and His Word move you this very day. Amen and amen!

Oswald Chambers wrote, “The greatest characteristic a Christian can exhibit is this completely unveiled openness before God, which allows that person’s life to become a mirror for others. When the Spirit fills us, we are transformed, and by beholding God we become mirrors. You can always tell when someone has been beholding the glory of the Lord, because your inner spirit senses that he mirrors the Lord’s own character. Beware of anything that would spot or tarnish that mirror in you.” (My Utmost for His Highest)

Posted in John, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Christians Are The Church

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter 12:

1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

I enjoyed Ronnie Burn’s teaching last Wednesday night. He covered a lot of good doctrinal teachings. One thing that Ronnie brought up was the often heard statement,
“I Don’t Have To Go To Church To Be A Christian”

Ronnie’s response to this was “you don’t have to go home to your wife to be married”. That’s a good response. A husband who never goes home to his wife is indeed a poor husband. A Christian who never assembles with other Christians is indeed a poor Christian. You enter the Christian way of life by faith alone in Christ alone. The early Protestant Reformed Church called this Sola Christus, “Through Christ Alone”. Salvation comes to a person who, repenting of their sins, receives the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. As an old time Evangelist Vance Havner once said,

“Going to Church doesn’t make you a Christian, any more than
going to the garage makes you a car!”

Going TO a PLACE never makes a POSITIVE spiritual difference! You can faithfully go TO a place – like the Temple or the Church house – and be far away from God. Jesus illustrated this in Luke Chapter 18. A Pharisee went TO the Temple, but the Publican stood OUTSIDE the Temple. Listen to this:

Luke 18:11-14 The Pharisee stood {in the Temple} and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

The Pharisee went TO the TEMPLE, but was FAR from God. The Publican stayed OUTSIDE the TEMPLE, and yet God “justified” him. Going TO a PLACE does not save you! Never has, and never will.

Biblically, The Church Is Not
A Building That You Go To

I want to re-examine that question, “Must I go TO Church to be saved?” I submit to you that this, in itself, is a bad question. In the Old Testament the TEMPLE was a shadow of what God would one day do in Christ. People went TO the TEMPLE to make sacrifice for sins. These were shadows of the Cross. No one was ever actually SAVED by animal sacrifices. It was but a temporary thing. Under Christ, we no longer go TO the TEMPLE. Listen, Beloved,

EVERY BELIEVER IS A TEMPLE!

This is clearly taught in the Scriptures. We read:

1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

And again, 1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

Preach This!: If the TEMPLE is the Christian, then WHAT IS “THE CHURCH”? The Church is a GATHERING of TEMPLES, of believers in Christ. Temples are commanded to gather together. Temples are forced to be together. Scripturally,

If you are SAVED, you are COMMANDED and MADE to connect together with other believers as a “Church”!

The word “Church” is first found in the New Testament from the lips of Jesus Christ. Jesus said in:

Matthew 16:18 … upon this rock I will build MY CHURCH

The Church belongs to Jesus. The Christian belongs to Jesus. You read that earlier in 1 Corinthians 6:19: your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

Word Study: You do not belong to you anymore. You belong to Jesus. The word “Church” is the Greek is the Greek ἐκκλησία ekklēsia which means “those who are CALLED OUT of this world”. You no longer belong to this world. You belong to Jesus if you are saved. You are created to walk in union with others who are saved.

The second time the word “Church” occurs in Scripture is when Jesus discusses CONFLICT RESOLUTION in the gathering of believers. I don’t have time to go into this (it is another sermon), but it is found in Matthew 18:15-20.

The third time the word “Church” occurs in Scripture is in the Book of Acts. The Apostle Peter has been preaching faith in Christ to a crowd on the Day of Pentecost. The Bible says:

Acts 2:40-41 … with many other words did {Peter} testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Those who “gladly received his word were baptized”. These who were baptized were “added unto them about three thousand souls”. The 120 Christians in the upper room grew by 3000 – now there are 3120 believers in Jesus. These believers did not scatter, but assembled together to worship the Lord. THEY HAD NO CHURCH BUILDING, BUT MET IN THE TEMPLE ON SOLOMON’S PORCH. We read:

Acts 2:42-47 And they {the disciples} continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favor with all the people.

The Church – a group of Temples – gathered for four reasons: “the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers”. Now here’s the clincher. The Bible says:

Acts 2:47 …. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

The saved are part of the Church. The two go hand in hand. The saved belong to Jesus. The Church belongs to Jesus. The saved gather together.

It is popular today among Generation X (those born after the Baby Boomers) and Millennials to disregard and minimize the Church. I come across articles all the time like “12 Reasons Millenials (sic) Are Over The Church”, or “Why millennials are leaving the church (sic)” where well meaning young people bash the Church for not addressing their needs. One writer said,

“We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.”

In other words, the Bible is not cherished as the final source of truth. The writer went on to say, “We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities”. A Bible affirming Church will love the LGBT community, but they will be quite uncomfortable under the preaching of Bible truths. So will those engaged in heterosexual sex outside of marriage, which is sin. Here’s the bottom line:

The Church – the gathering of Temples that belong to Jesus – is Christ’s property. Jesus Christ is the Head of His Church.

Ephesians 1:22 And {God the Father} put all things in subjection under {Jesus Christ’s} feet, and gave {Jesus} as head over all things to the church …

Ephesians 5:23 … the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. (this verse has many of the lost hopping mad!)

Jesus also is Head of the Body, the Church (Colossians 1:18). Why should we gather as the Church? Why MUST we gather as the Church? Because:

Spiritual Power Is Found Only In The Gathered Church

1 Corinthians 12:1-2 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.

The “APOSTLE’S DOCTRINE” we are talking about in this gathering of the Church is “SPIRITUAL GIFTS”. Spiritual gifts are so very important. Why? The Apostle tells us that “ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led”. When we were unsaved, without Christ, we were LED ABOUT by DUMB IDOLS. What is a DUMB IDOL? Well, an IDOL is a false god or goddess, something that is not the True God, but an imitator that is not God but pretends to be God. The IDOL is “DUMB”. The word translated “DUMB” is the Greek ἄφωνος aphōnos, which means “without a voice, without significance, unmeaning, destitute of the power of language”. An idol has no authority, no voice, no sense. When we were lost we followed the senseless foolishness that the world itself follows. We see these things in our world today:


Gender Disphoria (A male desiring to be female, etc)
Redefinition of Marriage (same sex)
Normalization of Abortion
Critical Race Theory as new racism

These things were just as prevalent in the ancient Roman and Grecian worlds as they are in our current America. Why? Because the farther a person draws away from God, the more empty and “dumb” their LOGOS becomes. When King Solomon drew away from a daily relationship with Christ, he wrote:

Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. 3 What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun?

Life becomes empty – just mere existence – when we draw away from Christ. The Apostles did not want the Christian to go down this path. If you do not stand together, Christians, then satan will tear you apart. Thus the Church. The Church is where the power of God is vested. When the Church comes together, loving God and loving one another, it has spiritual power. When the Church comes together and works together in love – both vertical and horizontal – then Jesus is in our midst. It does not matter how small the gathering is. Jesus said:

Matthew 18:20 where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

A mega-Church is not more effective than a mini-Church is. As long as the Temples are “gathered together in MY NAME”, under the authority of Jesus, seeking to please Him and Him alone.

The Church is Christ centered.

1 Corinthians 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

When someone says that Jesus is “accursed” (Greek ἀνάθεμα anáthema) – when Christ and His teachings are minimized or disregarded, when Christ is outside of the assembly or excommunicated – then it is certain that the Spirit of God is not in the assembly. There are many gatherings of professing Christians today that fall into this category. When the local Church gathers, the main subject will always be Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My Name, He shall teach you ALL THINGS, and bring ALL THINGS TO YOUR REMEMBRANCE, (listen now), whatsoever I HAVE SAID UNTO YOU” (John 14:26). If someone denigrates or ignores what Jesus has taught, this is idolatrous or dumb teachings. However, if what has been said emphasizes “Jesus is the Lord”, then this is Holy Spirit driven guidance.

It is in the gathering of believers that the Holy Spirit operates. Bible teacher A.W. Tozer some 50 years ago said:

“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church (in Acts), 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”

The Evangelist Vance Havner wrote:

“We are seeing much today of service without the Spirit. There is an appalling ignorance of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit in our great church bodies. It is not what is done for God that counts, but rather what is done by Him, the work of His Spirit through our yielded wills. Programs, propaganda, pep, personnel, these are not enough. There must be power. God’s work must be done by God’s people God’s way. The Quakers got their name from the fact that they trembled under the power of the Spirit. At least their faith shook them! Too many of us today are shaky about what we believe but not shaken by what we believe!”

When the Church comes together in love toward God and toward one another, the Holy Spirit moves through the meeting. The Apostle notes:

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

The Apostle Paul was trained by the Rabbi Gamaliel, and you can see his education in this text. What Paul is telling us quite simply is this:

The Holy Spirit is in each believer gathered together as Church. The Holy Spirit will manifest different gifts through each believer in the Church gathering. These gifts all benefit the whole of the gathering of believers, the Church. These gifts are not given so they can be used selfishly, but generously, to the glory of Jesus.

In verse 7 we read “the MANIFESTATION (outward evidence) of the (Holy) Spirit is given to every person to profit (bless) withal (with all).” The Apostle then begins to number some of the gifts that are given by the Spirit to the Church:

1 Corinthians 12:8-10 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

These “gifts” are not talents that a person has. These are Holy Spirit driven manifestations that were evident in the early Church. What gifts are given by the Holy Spirit are based upon the spiritual needs of that gathering, of that Church. Who determines the gifts given? We read:

1 Corinthians 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

It is the Holy Spirit Who determines the giftings given to each gathering of believers. The intent of the Holy Spirit is to UNIFY the body of believers – the Church – into a cohesive body, with Jesus Christ as the Head of that gathering.

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many.

It is the Holy Spirit Who unites the members together into One Body, One Gathering, One Church. A disharmonious Church is NOT Spirit driven. When there is division and confusion in the assembly, this is because the members are not honoring Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is not empowered.

It Is Pride & Selfishness That Destroys Churches

1 Corinthians 12:15-20 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

Every member in the gathering of believers is important – but not every believer has the same giftings. The Church only works when every believer:

1.  Loves God with their all, and loves their neighbor as Jesus has commanded (Matthew 22:37-39). 
2.  Loves their fellow believer just as Jesus sacrificially loved us (John 13:34; 15:12, 17).
3.  Loves God enough to be open to His leading, to discovering and utilizing your spiritual gift in the gathering.
4.  Suppresses their own pride, but is willing to lovingly serve rather than to be served.

The Apostle Paul said, “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8). You cannot love as Jesus loved over the Internet. You cannot love as Jesus loved through a phone text. The Kingdom of God grows as our love for one another and for God grows. We are to have – “through the Spirit of God a unfeigned or pure love toward our brothers and sisters in Christ” (1 Peter 1:22). God calls us as believers to gather with other believers in assemblies called “Churches” for the glory of Christ and the furtherance of God’s Kingdom. I want to end with these Apostolic words:

1 Corinthians 12:23-27 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. (think about your feet. I have ugly feet – but oh, how I love them!) 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked. 25 That there should be no schism (no division) in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

The Christian is God’s Temple.
The Temples gather together as the Church.
The Church operates by the Holy Spirit,
To love God, and love one another.

May God the Holy Spirit touch your hearts by this teaching, for Christ’s glory in this present age. Amen and amen!

Posted in