Come To Jesus, Or Go To Hell

Photo by Simon Alibert on Unsplash

Matthew 18:3-11 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. 5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. 6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh! 8 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. 10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. 11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

We Are To Be Responsible For Our Own Lives

In order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven – the place that God calls home – you must be “converted, and become as little children”. The word rendered “converted” is the Greek στρέφω stréphō, (pronounced stref’-o), which means “to turn yourself around, to turn back from where you were headed, to turn your self from one course of conduct to another”. The word requires that a person take responsibility for their own lives. To recognize the direction you are going in, and, like a child, turn to Jesus Christ and allow Him to take your hand, and lead you in another direction.

We live in a day of diminished personal responsibility. The narrative of the world is that “It’s not MY fault, but SOMEONE ELSE is the reason I am the way I am”. Blame shifting and finger pointing are all in vogue today. Yet this is nothing new. When God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, He told Adam:

Genesis 2:16 … 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 responsible for NOT eating of this one tree. The Bible says “the LORD God COMMANDED THE MAN”. יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהִים YAHWEH ‘Elohiym, the Triune and Eternal I AM, told just the man to not eat of this fruit. Eve was never told this. And yet, when Eve …

Genesis 3:6 … took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Sin entered into the world. When God questioned Adam as to why he ate of the fruit, Adam’s reply was to deflect his sin by saying:

Genesis 3:12 … The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

It wasn’t MY fault, God. It was THAT WOMAN’S fault. Yeah, THAT WOMAN that YOU GAVE ME. It was she who sinned (and Lord, I think You had a little hand in this, too!” The blame game. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the snake. The snake had no one to blame.

Jesus calls each and every one of us to personal responsibility.

When Christ speaks of eternity, He always addresses personal responsibility. You alone are responsible for your life, and your eternal life.

Matthew 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

We are called to HUMBLE OURSELVES as LITTLE CHILDREN. To come before God our Father and take accountability for our own lives. The Bible makes it clear that the Most Supreme Court of God does not judge a person based upon what someone else did, but Gods judges us on the basis of what WE did. The Scripture says:

Galatians 6:3-5 …. if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden.

Each and every person shall stand before God one day, and give an account for OUR OWN life. The things that we do in this life will echo throughout eternity. You cannot take anything physical with you when you depart planet Earth for the Kingdom of Heaven, but you will carry something spiritual with you.

Galatians 6:7-8 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Every action, every thing you do in this life, is a seed planted that will effect the future of those around you, and your own eternal future. Each person will, in eternity, be responsible for their own actions. The Prophet said it this way:

Jeremiah 31:29-30 In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. 30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.

You are responsible for your own iniquity, your own decisions. God will not blame another for what you failed to do. God will judge sin. God always judges sin. He said in Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 18:4-13 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. 5 But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, 6 and hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbor’s wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman, 7 and hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment; 8 he that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man, 9 hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God. 10 If he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood, and that doeth the like to any one of these things, 11 and that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbor’s wife, 12 hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination, 13 hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.

In our day rioters are rioting because someone did something to them, therefore their rioting is to be excused. Beloved, this is not supported by Jesus.

Jesus said humble yourself as this little child. Jesus calls us to follow Him as little children, believing in Him, doing what He said do. We are to be responsible for our own lives. God never judges another for what you, yourselves have done. It is God’s Law – and God is just – Who says:

Deuteronomy 24:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

I Watch My Life Because God Watches My Life

God watches over His Children. You are to become as little Children in following Jesus. But what should you do if you are harmed, offended, diminished by the actions of another? Jesus said:

Matthew 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

God takes care of His little children. If you are a child of God by faith in Christ then, rest assured, there is coming a day when God will avenge your enemies. When John the Revelator looked into Heaven, he saw:

Revelation 6:9-10 … under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

God will avenge His people Whom He loves.

Little child, little Christian, leave vengeance to your God. If you belong to Jesus, rest in Jesus, trust Jesus. Continue to tell others about the glorious salvation you have in Christ by faith. The Apostle said:

Romans 12:17-21 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 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.

As our Master turned the other cheek when hit, we ourselves are to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39). Rather than seek retribution against that which the unbeliever does, the child of Christ:

Matthew 5:44-45 … 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.

God will avenge the evil done to you. Do not take vengeance, but follow our Master’s example and command. Jesus said:

Matthew 18:7 Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!

The world is going to be offended by the Christ Child following the Word of God. This is going to happen. You, as Christians, are light in the midst of darkness. This is going to happen. Jesus said:

John 15:18-21 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

The world will hate the Christian, living for the Savior. Why? Because the world is yet in darkness. It does not know the Heavenly Father as He is. You see, the world promotes the Heavenly Father as “A God of Nothing But Love”. The world takes passages like:

1 John 4:8, 16 … God is love …

It is true that God is love. God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son (John 3:16). But God is also holy.

Psalm 99:9 … the LORD our God is holy.

And God is just and righteous:

Isaiah 61:8 … I the Lord love judgment

Psalm 33:4-5 the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth. He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

God is righteous, and holy, and just. God is the standard of truth, and judges all those who do not meet His standard. Beloved,

If You Go To Hell, It Is Your Fault!

In America, personal responsibility is no longer in vogue, and neither is the Biblical truth of hell and eternal punishment. Yet hell is a real place. Jesus said:

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.

It is your hands that do sin, your feet that lead you to sin, and your eyes that cause you to mull over the possibility of sin. Jesus is not commending self mutilation here, but is using a powerful analogy to explain how terrible hell is. Jesus used similar language when He spoke His Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5:29-30 … 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.

Sin is an offense against an immense and eternal God. Those who leave this life with their sins uncovered shall never enter into God’s Heaven. Some people today believe that Jesus, on dying on the Cross, secured salvation for every person who has ever been born, whether they believe in Him or not. Yet the Scripture does not teach this. Jesus told Nicodemus:

John 3:16-18 … For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 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.

The text is very clear. To make it clearer, I remind you of the words of our Lord Who told the religious Scribes and Pharisees:

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.

In Jesus is life, eternal life (John 17:3). In Jesus was life (John 1:4). When you come to Christ and receive Him as Lord and Savior, the sins that are on your account are transferred to Christ’s account. The Bible says:

1 Peter 2:24 {our Lord Jesus} … committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29). When you receive Christ as Lord and Savior, your sins are covered because of what Jesus did for you on the Cross. It is not God’s desire that ANYONE end up in hell. The Lord taught that hell was originally designed to be a place for fallen angels to inhabit. Jesus said that hell is …

Matthew 25:41 … everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels

Hell is a place to be feared. It is a place that those who reject Jesus Christ as Savior will go to in the next life. Jesus said that hell is so horrifying that it would be better to willingly sacrifice a body part, than to be cast into such a place.

Hell is not a place of annihilation. It is a place of eternal punishment. It is Jesus who has the keys to hell and death (Revelation 1:18). Jesus said that He would send forth angels to gather up …

Matthew 13:41-42 … all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Jesus made His viewpoint on hell clear when He spoke of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. In that story Jesus said of the thoughtless and heartless rich man:

Luke 16:22-24 … 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 in hell was unrepentant as to his previous lifestyle. He treated Lazarus as a servant, not a child of God. The rich man died, but being cast into flames he did not burn up. Instead, we see he is in torment, suffering. Hell is a place where those …

Revelation 20:15 … whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

The horror of hell is not just that there is suffering in it, but in that the suffering never ends. C.H. Spurgeon noted:

In hell there is no hope. The dammed have not even the hope of dying–the hope of being annihilated. They are forever–forever–forever lost! On every chain in hell, there is written ‘forever.’ In the fires there, blaze out the words, ‘forever.’ Above their heads, they read, ‘forever.’ Their eyes are galled and their hearts are pained with the thought that it is ‘forever.’”

Leslie Schmucker, writing in the article “The Uncomfortable Subject Jesus Addressed More Than Anyone Else” (see the Gospel Coalition):

Jesus doesn’t only reference hell, he describes it in great detail. He says it is a place of eternal torment (Luke 16:23), of unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43), where the worm does not die (Mark 9:48), where people will gnash their teeth in anguish and regret (Matt. 13:42), and from which there is no return, even to warn loved ones (Luke 16:19–31). He calls hell a place of “outer darkness” (Matt. 25:30), comparing it to “Gehenna” (Matt. 10:28), which was a trash dump outside the walls of Jerusalem where rubbish was burned and maggots abounded.”

The sad thing about hell is the regret that those will experience for all eternity. “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12). There is no indication in Scripture that people will be given a second chance at redemption upon leaving this life. I have heard people say:

I don’t believe a truly good God would send anyone to hell”.

Would a good judge sentence someone who committed a crime to imprisonment? Of course they would. In fact, a good judge MUST sentence the guilty to imprisonment. God sends no one to hell, but offers all an escape from it.

2 Peter 3:9 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 would have all to repent, to be converted as little children, to come to Jesus by faith. God gives us a choice, and we are responsible for the choice we make.

Matthew 19:11…. the Son of man is come to save that which
was lost.

God became man, incarnate, so that He could seek out and save the lost. Our Jesus left the 90 and 9 in Heaven, and came to earth for the lost souls. It is not God’s will that anyone go to hell. And yet, Beloved, this is a reality that anyone without Christ will face one sad day.

That is your choice. Will you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? Will you live a life surrendered to Him? What you do with your life is your choice, and your responsibility. Do not delay. If you are not saved, call upon Jesus’ name this very day.

I’d love to see you all in Heaven one day!

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached

Preaching Christ Crucified

Photo by Wonderlane on Unsplash

1 Corinthians 1:22-24 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

Are You Living The Life God Designed You To Live?

As humans, we spend many precious hours – even days – doing things that really don’t matter all that much. Though I love technology, and use my computers, my I-pad, DSL lines and WIFI connectivity,

I believe the devil and his demons are doing their level best to keep our minds and our activities on the mundane, the vain and useless.

If the devil can keep our young people and, might I say, you?, staring at a phone screen, you will miss out on the best that life has to offer. So often I see parents and grand parents with beautiful families, families they ignore while they stare at social media and get indignant over memes.

Go outside, and look around. Everywhere you look there is evidence of God’s grand design. It’s in the Fall leaves. It’s in every blade of grass, every butterfly, every cloud, every star in the sky. It reminds me of the scripture,

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.

It was God, not evolution or chance, that made the earth and all that is in it. It is God Who spoke, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), and “there was light”. It is God Who framed the earth, Who separated the atmosphere from the waters, Who established the dry lands.

The devil wants us to live mundane lives. God wants us to live miraculous lives, joyous lives, peaceful lives.

There is power in the life that can say …

Psalm 121:2 My help cometh from the Lord, {Who} made heaven and earth.

It is God Who made all things. The Bible specifically says it was God the Son, the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ, who made all things. If you have received Christ as Lord and Savior, then the Bible says:

Colossians 1:13-17 … {God the Father} hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 {Jesus Christ} is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 for by him 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.

It is Jesus – the Jesus Who “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same {Jesus} was in the beginning with God {the Godhead}. All things were made BY HIM and FOR HIM, and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3). Jesus Christ is the Maker of Heaven and earth. He is the Maker of Adam and Eve, the Maker of us all.

Because we, as a nation, have drifted from the Biblical truths, we have drifted from the God Who made us. We all need God. We all need His forgiveness and mercy. We need Jesus Christ.

He Who breathed the breath of life into Adam, we need Him to breathe the breath of eternal life in each one of us. Oh, how America needs to come to Jesus.

And yet, so many procrastinate. They withhold allegiance to Christ. Feeling the call of God, they linger, and question. They harden their hearts. The Bible says:

Proverbs 28:14 … he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.

Just last Sunday as I preached to you, a good man and a good friend, John Riley, sat on the back row listening. Little did I know this would be the last time I would speak to John. John is a good Christian man, and I believe he is now with the Lord. A member of a Methodist church, he many times popped in to visit us. Now he is before the Lord, leaving this life at the call of the Master. John knew where his final destination was – do you? If you do not, do not hesitate. Do not harden your hearts.

If You Keep Waiting For A Sign,
You’ll Miss God’s Heaven

The Apostle Paul spoke to a wide audience of people while he walked this earth. He loved the Jews, and sought to preach Christ to them even when they tried to kill him. He writes:

1 Corinthians 1:22 For the Jews require a sign …

It doesn’t matter how good the preacher is – if you harden your heart to God’s call, you will not be saved. The Jews hardened their hearts, even when the preacher was Jesus. The Bible says that Jesus came unto His own people, but His own people would not receive Him (John 1:11). Israel had long waited for the Messiah. Now He is here, and they would not receive Him. Why not? Why wouldn’t they receive Him? Because they wanted a “sign”. They told Jesus …

Matthew 12:38 … “Master, we would see a sign from thee.

The word translated “sign” is the Greek σημεῖον sēmeîon, (pronounced say-mi’-on), which means something miraculous that shows a person is of God. Jesus had shown the scribes and Pharisees many different signs, proofs that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. In verse 22 of the same chapter in Matthew we read that someone brought unto Jesus:

Matthew 12:22-24 … one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

The problem with the Jews was NOT that they had no signs from Christ that He is the Messiah. Jesus reached out to them. Jesus reaches out to you. And yet, many harden their hearts against God, just as the Jews did. They ..

Ephesians 4:18 …. {had} the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

How many times did Jesus give the Jews a sign? Here’s just a few cases from the Scripture:

  • Jesus changed water into wine (John 2:1-11). Not grape juice into wine, but water into wine. This shows He has absolute control over the elements.
  • Jesus cured a nobleman’s son in Cana of Galilee (John 4:46-47).
  • Jesus called out a great haul of fish for His disciples (Luke 5:1-11).
  • Jesus cast out unclean spirits (Mark 1:23-28).
  • Jesus healed lepers (Mark 1:40-45).
  • Jesus raised people from the dead (Luke 7:11-18).
  • Jesus stilled the storm and waves (Matthew 8:23-27).

When John the Baptist asked Jesus, “Are You the Messiah, or should we expect another?”. The Bible says:

Luke 7:21-23 …. in that same hour {Jesus} cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. 22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. 23 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

There were ample signs that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, and yet the Pharisees continued to ask for a sign. Jesus refused them.

The Jews – like many today – say “I’ll surrender to Jesus when I see a sign”. How many signs do you need?

Our nation is falling to pieces. Politically we are a train wreck. Families are in shambles. Children are raised by single parents, often without the slightest bit of Biblical discipline. Young people have been sent to colleges, and taught Marxism and violent political activism. The heart is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). It needs the control of God.

When you say to God, “Give me a sign, and I’ll believe on Jesus, and receive Him as Lord and Savior”, God’s response is just this:

Matthew 12:39-42 … An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: 40 for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and, behold, a greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

God has given all the signs He is going to give. His thumbprint is on all of creation. He sent His Son to die for you and I. Jesus died on Calvary, suffering terribly for your sins and mine. We know He was dead. His death and its witness is recorded in:

John 19:34 … with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.

When a body dies, the blood cells separate from the plasma. Jesus Christ was dead on that Cross. He died making payment for our sins. And yet, though Christ died for our sins, Jesus rose again on the third day. There were many who witnessed the resurrection of our Lord:

1 Corinthians 15:3-8 Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

Many people saw the resurrected Savior, our Lord Jesus. These people acknowledged the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, even though many were martyred for what they professed. Do you wish a sign that Jesus is Who He says He is? Then receive Him by faith. Beloved, there are many who have discovered that all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).

James 4:14 … what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

Do not hesitate to call upon the name of the Lord Jesus. He will save you. You are not promised another day to believe. Do not put it off any longer!

If You Keep Waiting For The World’s Approval,
You’ll Miss God’s Heaven

The Jewish mindset is to put off coming to Christ until “God gives me a sign”. The Gentile mindset is to put off coming to Christ
“Because I may look foolish and unwise”.

1 Corinthians 1:22 … the Greeks seek after wisdom

What do others say? What do my peers say? What do the scientists say? These wise people seek the approval of the world before coming to Christ – and come up with the most astounding ideas in order to cover their unbelief. God addresses the unbeliever, saying:

Psalm 14:1 … The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

The atheist touts his wisdom, saying, “We have evolved from goo into complex living beings. All that we are is but an accident of nature, a chance being.” Sadly, the wisdom of the world dehumanizes us. How else can you explain those who would abort a human life by vivisection, by chemical burning, and then turn around and sell that baby’s body parts for experimentation. Yes, this happens.

If humanity developed by accident, then that which is good and right is determined by the consensus of the people. If the people decide – by majority rule – that an action is right and proper, then there is no real moral truth. I once had an individual ask me,

Why would you be against a mother aborting a child that had Downs Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, or some other limiting factor that would make them less than other children?”

My response was quite simple. I replied,

For the same reason I do not advocate the death and dismemberment of senior adults in Nursing Homes, or adults who are no longer contributing to our society. Life, for me, has value because God says that it does. When we begin devaluing life at it’s beginning, it is not long before every life – even your own – can be devalued.”

The Greeks were well known for their pursuit of worldly wisdom. Yet worldly wisdom does not build a stable, moral citizenship. God has said:

1 Corinthians 1:19-21 … 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? 21 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.

Our America is disintegrating. How do we fix it. We don’t – but God can. We need to come to God in Christ. The Bible says:

Proverbs 16:6 … By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.

When people depart from the Biblical truths handed down to us by our Creator through His Prophets and Apostles, it isn’t long before the nation decays. In America we are definitely in the midst of an absolute moral decay.

Proverbs 10:27 … The fear of the Lord prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.

Proverbs 14:27 … The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.

God loves America – it is time for America to love God. We need to hear His call, to cease hardening our hearts, to give ourselves to Jesus Christ. The Bible says:

1 Timothy 2:3-5 … this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; 4 who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

God gave His Son to this world so that all could be saved. The way to salvation is to come surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is:

Luke 2:32 … a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

How do we grow in wisdom? We learn more about Jesus. We study His Word and His truths. Listen Beloved, if you know little of Christ, you will never be wise. The Scripture says:

Colossians 3:16-17 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

It is the Word of Christ, the Holy Scripture, that brings knowledge and wisdom. Though all the world call me a hater, homophobic, misogynist, deplorable, or whatever, I choose to seek out my Lord’s will through His Scripture. The Bible tells us that the Christian was once foolish, and is still considered foolish by the world. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 1:27-31 … 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; 28 and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: 29 that no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 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.

We need to get back to the Cross.

It Is Through The Cross We Are Saved And Secured

1 Corinthians 1:23-25 but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

A mamma tucked her little girl in for the night. The child asked “Mommy, will you bring me a glass of water? I’m thirsty!” The mother replied, “No honey, you’ve had enough water. Go to sleep”. The mother went and laid down to sleep. Just as she was about asleep the child cried out to her mamma. “Mommy, will you get me a glass of water? I’m thirsty!” The mother, exasperated, yelled back to her child. “If you ask for water one more time, I’m going to spank you!” A moment passed, then the child said “Mommy, when you get up to spank me, will you get me a glass of water?”

This little girl knew what she needed, and was willing to suffer a spanking to get what she desperately wanted. How about you? Are you thirsty? Jesus said:

John 7:37-38 Jesus stood and cried, saying, 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.

If we would come thirsty to our Lord and Savior, He will satisfy our needs. Jesus Christ died on Calvary to be the covering for our sins. Christianity is not a DIY (Do It Yourself) religion. Christianity is a faith that relies on the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. The Bible tells us that God the Father …

2 Corinthians 5:21 … made {Jesus} to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Jesus Christ bore the payment of our sins on His own body. The Prophet writes:

Isaiah 53:4-6 Surely {Christ} 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.

Though Jesus suffered in our place, never once did He cry against the injustice of it all. It was all of justice. We are all sinners, lost and undone, unable to pay for the evil we have done and continue to do. Jesus Christ …

Isaiah 53:7-9 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. {8} He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. {9} And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

It pleased God the Father to save us by bruising His Only Begotten Son.

Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, …

The devil despises the Cross of Christ. He despises the Gospel of the Shed Blood of Jesus. When the early preachers were caught by Satan’s henchmen they were beaten – then warned – to cease preaching Christ crucified. “Do not speak in the Name of Jesus!” (Acts 5:40). What did the disciples do? They departed from the council, and preached Christ all the more in the Temple and in every place. “They ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42). We preach Christ crucified for this is the only thing that will change a life, the only thing that will save a soul.

Are you saved by faith in Christ? Not an empty faith, but a life changing, Christ centered faith? If you are saved by faith in Christ, you are to live out your life by faith in Christ. Live for Him. This is the greatest witness you can give to the world.

In the Book of Acts, the Holy Spirit sent Philip the Evangelist to an Ethiopian Eunuch to explain Christ in the Book of Isaiah (Acts 8:26). The Ethiopian was reading from Isaiah 53:7, and Philip explained how the text related to Jesus Christ. That dear man was saved that day. God can save anyone if they will but look to Jesus.

One snowy Sunday, January 6th, 1850, a young 15 year old boy was under conviction, and felt that he needed to find someone who could help him. He had listened to many sermons, but had never been moved to turn fully to Christ. The young man came into a Primitive Methodist facility where just a few people were gathered. The Pastor had not made it to Church that day, but one of the old Deacons had. That grand old man read from Isaiah:

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.

The young man would later testify, “… when I heard that word, Look!, what a charming word it seemed to me. Oh 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. An obscure child, unknown, unheard of, I listened to the Word of God; and that precious text led me to the Cross of Christ.” This young man would grow up to be C.H. Spurgeon, one of the greatest preachers of all time.

This is the peace and contentment that the Christian has. Do you have this in your life? If not, come to Jesus Christ, and receive Him as Lord and Savior. Surrender your life to Him, and He will give you true life, a blessed life, eternal life. May Christ Jesus touch you through His Word and His Spirit this very day. Amen and Amen!

Posted in 1 Corinthians, Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

Which Kingdom Do You Belong To?

Photo by Nils Nedel on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Matthew 17. As you’re turning, let me ask you:

What is the greatest threat that faces America today?

Some would say “The Coronavirus”. Yet more people die of cancer every year than those who die of Covid-19. Dr. Beatrice Tiangco, director of The Medical City’s Augusto P. Sarmiento Cancer Institute, compared COVID-19 and cancer. She noted, “The COVID virus has a life span of less than a month. It dies on its own — usually in seven to 10 days — without treatment.” As to the cancer cell, she noted, “{Cancer} does not know how to die. Only surgical removal, chemotherapy and radiation can kill it. If you do not kill or remove every last cancer cell in the body, the remaining ones will grow again, sometimes more aggressive than before”(found here).

Some would say “Socialism”. Many young people have grown up in colleges that pushed Marxism and Socialism. Many of our politicians today are openly supportive of Socialism and Communism. I have to admit as a retired military man, this mentality frightens me. I have seen Socialism and the anguish it brings first hand. I pray that as a nation we never go this route. Is this our greatest threat? Well,

Others would say “Racism” or “Systemic Racism”. Though I’m not going to argue this point, I do find it interesting that such a racist nation as America would elect a black man, Barack Hussein Obama II, the 44th President of the United States (2009-2017). I do believe there is a racism, because we ALL are sinners who fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). I do not believe that we can effectively legislate racism out of the human heart. This is something that only God in Christ can do. Oh, that we would all come to Christ, for in Christ all are my brothers and sisters, regardless of color!

These are all big problems that face our nation, but I believe the biggest problem we face is the loss of Christian Identity. The Christian is to be …

Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

The Church is the “light of the world” because it reflects the way and teachings of Jesus Christ, “THE Light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5). Jesus told us to:

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

The Church is to be doing good works for Jesus, shining in this present dark world.
The Church is NOT to be one with the world.

The Church will NEVER be one with the world, not and be the Church. The Church is IN the world, but not OF the world. The great Evangelist Billy Graham wrote in the article, “In the World, But Not of It”:

The Bible says in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world.” The Bible teaches in Galatians 1:4 that, “[Christ] gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age [cosmos].” In other words, the world was such a great danger to our souls that this danger caused Christ, the Son of God, to go to the cross to deliver us from it.

Throughout the Bible, the lines are definitely drawn between the world of unbelievers and the world of the children of God. “Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). Jesus Himself said, “The world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14-16). Again Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18).

The Bible also teaches that the Christian will face opposition in the world. “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution,” said the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:12.”

God Loves Everyone, And Proves it In Christ

Matthew 17:22-23 And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: 23 and they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.

When Jesus first walked this earth, those who followed Him thought that He would overturn Rome and return a son of David back to Israel’s Throne. Jesus will do this one day, but first our Lord came to make payment for our sins. Jesus knew Who He was, and why He was here. Jesus started telling His disciples of His impending death, burial, and resurrection. After Peter acknowledged Jesus as “THE Christ, THE Son of the Living God” the Bible says:

Matthew 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must 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.

And again,

Matthew 17:12 I say unto you, That {Elijah} is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they {wanted}. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.

John the Baptist, whom Jesus likened to Elijah the Prophet, was killed for preaching Christ. Jesus Himself, the Son of Man, will also have to suffer. Did you know that around one third of the New Testament is focused on the last week of the life of Christ? Why is this so important? Because we are sinners, and God is holy. Jesus had to suffer for our sins. He had to bear the brunt of our punishment. The Bible says:

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

Jesus Christ gave His life for the sis of the whole world. The racist is a person who is not saved, for Heaven shall be many colored. John the Revelator looked into Heaven and saw the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ being worshiped by the elders of Heaven:

Revelation 5:9-10 … they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

Heaven shall be populated by believers in Christ of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation. As that old song goes:

Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight!

No person shall have dominance in Heaven but the Son of God. We make much of color among humanity, but Christ makes much of faith.

When we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, believing that He died for our sins and rose again for our justification, then God brings us into His Family, the Family of God. The Bible says:

Galatians 3:24-29 … 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. 29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Once you received Jesus Christ by faith, trusting His work on Calvary for your lives, then the Spirit of God came and adopted you into the Family of God.

Romans 8:15 …. ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Jesus Christ died for you, dear Christian, to take you out of darkness, and to bring you into the Light of God. You no longer belong to Satan. You are no longer of the blood line of Adam. YOU ARE GOD’S POSSESSION. YOU ARE GOD’S CHILDREN. The Father has, upon our faith in Jesus,

Colossians 1:13-14 … delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

When the Disciples heard Jesus talk of His impending death the Scripture says:

Matthew 17:23 … they were exceeding sorry

They could not understand why the Master had to go to Calvary. But we, today, understand why. God shed His Son’s blood to build the Family of and Kingdom of God. We who are saved belong to God now. We do not belong to this world. We belong to Jesus!

Do The King’s Kids Pay Taxes To The King?

Matthew 17:24-25 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? 25 He saith, Yes. …

Word Study When Jesus and his band of disciples came to Capernaum, the Publicans quickly found them. The Publicans were hired by Rome to insure that all people payed their taxes – what the King James calls “tribute”. This is the Greek word δίδραχμον dídrachmon, (pronounced did’-rakh-mon), which means a double-drachma or half a shekel. This wasn’t a great deal of money, but it was a tax that citizens were to pay to the King or to Caesar. When asked “Don’t Jesus pay taxes?”, Peter immediately answered “Yes”. But Jesus questioned Peter. He asked Peter:

Matthew 17:25 … of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

The children of the King never pay taxes. Only those who are not in the family pay taxes. Peter answered Jesus:

Matthew 17:26 … Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.

Jesus’ children – saved by faith in Him – are not primarily citizens of this world. We are citizens of God’s Kingdom. Our King is Jesus Christ. Jesus said that, technically, the children are free. Jesus Christ is the Way to God (John 14:6). Jesus Christ is “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). We do not belong to this world, but to another world, a great spiritual realm.

And yet, we still live in this world. Though the children are free, Jesus told Peter:

Matthew 17:27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

As Christians, our primary allegiance is to the Kingdom of God. The children are free. However, as citizens of this earth we do pay taxes lest we offend them. Jesus had Peter and His disciples do an extraordinary thing in order to pay that tax. Jesus was showing us our God has limitless resources, and that He will meet our needs. What did the Apostle say?

Philippians 4:19 … But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Jesus Christ is THE Son of God, come from Heaven to save us. When we receive Him as Savior and Lord we become sons of God.

Galatians 4:4-7 … when the fulness 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. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

The Son of God gave Himself for us, so that we, believing in Him, can become sons of God. God takes care of His children. By having His disciples – mostly ex-fishermen – go fishing for the money, Jesus is showing us that God our Father will ALWAYS meet our needs in this life. We just need trust Him. As the Church of Christ we must always remember that we are called to God’s Kingdom FIRST. If you are saved then God calls you to serve HIM first, His Kingdom THEN the kingdom you find yourself in. The Apostle said:

Philippians 2:12-16 … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For 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

The Church and the Christian always stand separate from the darkness of the world. We are the Light of Christ. We are to shine for Jesus, always holding forth the Word of Life.

Value In The Kingdom Of God

As Jesus has been talking about kingdoms, now the disciples question Him.

Matthew 18:1-4 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2 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.

Our Lord Jesus loved children. He said:

Matthew 19:14 {allow} little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus now uses a little child to describe the Kingdom of Heaven. The disciples want to know how they can achieve GREATNESS in the Kingdom of Heaven. How can we please the Father?

  1. Jesus called a little child unto him”. You please the Father when you hear Jesus calling your name, and you come unto Him. You must come to Jesus when called. Jesus said:

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Jesus said, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. (John 7:37).

God has done everything He can do to bring you into His family. But there is something you must do. When Jesus calls, you must come. The Pharisees, the keepers of the Law, kept coming to Jesus to reject and persecute Him. And yet Jesus kept on trying to reach them. Jesus told them:

John 5:38-40 … {you religious Pharisees} have not {the Father’s} 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. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

When the child heard Jesus call, he ran into His arms. The child did not linger where he was, wondering what his playmates might think. He came when Christ called.

  1. and set him in the midst of them”. Jesus put this called child “in the midst of them”. No Christian is saved individually to walk with God individually. We, once saved, become a part of God’s Kingdom. We become a part of a local Church, a group of believers who love the Lord and serve the Lord together. The Bible says:

Hebrews 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

A local Church is a body of believers who, like little children, have humbled themselves to God in Christ. We come together to love and support one another, encouraging one another in the faith. We provoke one another to love and good works, serving God our Father for the glory of Jesus.

Matthew 18:3 … Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven

We are to believe with the faith of a little child. We are to trust that our God will care for us. He will, you know. Our God gave the most for us at the Cross of Calvary. Will He not now care for us? As the Apostle said:

Romans 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

God loves us, and will care for us as a good Father will do. We came to Jesus when He called. We believed that He died on Calvary for our sins. We hold that His Word is true, and trust Him to lovingly care for us as we go through this life.

Child Of God, You Belong To Jesus!

Matthew 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Beloved, the Church must re-discover the Kingdom of God. We must get back to what the Lord has told us, back to the Bible. If we will, God will protect us, and help us move mountains as we promote His Kingdom.

We must back away from the devil’s devices. We are not of this world. We are of a higher world, a greater world, and Jesus Christ is our King. God promises to protect us. When He said:

Matthew 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Christ looks after His children. He will not fail us. He will protect us. So let us, as His children, draw near to Him, and to His Word. Let us live our lives to honor Him, not to please the world. May God touch your hearts with His Word and Spirit. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged

Speak To The Mountain

Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

Mark 11:22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

We have restarted Sunday School classes for the children in our Church, and so far things are going well. The Coronavirus has really hit our Church attendance, though things are still going well. Our Sunday School is down to just a few people. Fear has gripped so many. I came across this little story, and thought I’d share it with you.

Illustrate A little boy had just begun to attend Sunday School. His teacher gave him a colorful bookmark for his Bible. On the bookmark were the words, “Have Faith In God”. As he and his parents headed home on a nice Fall day, they had rolled the windows down in the car, enjoying the crisp air. The child was admiring his bookmark when, suddenly, it slipped from his hands! Out the car window it went! The child cried out, “Stop Daddy! I’ve lost my Faith in God!”. The child’s father pulled off the road, stepped out of the car, and in a few moments returned the bookmark to the child’s hands. Neither parent scolded the child, but mother saw it as a lesson. She said, “I believe we would all be happier, and live more blessed lives, if we were careful not to lose out faith in God”.

As a nation it seems that we have lost our faith in God.
Many local Churches seem to have lost their faith in God.
Many believers are driven by fear rather than faith.Beloved, our God is still the God Who moves mountains.
Our God is the God Who still is in control of all things!
Our God wants us to have the faith to move a mountain.
To have faith in Him, for His glory, and His Kingdom.

The Backstory: The King Came To Jerusalem

The context of a Bible verse drives what you should think of the Bible verse. In our text today Jesus told His disciples:

Mark 11:22 … Have faith in God.

What happened prior to this statement? Let’s look at our context. Just two days before this moment, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – our Jesus Christ – rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Watch the faith of our Master in His words:

Mark 11:2-3 Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. 3 And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.

“The LORD hath need of this donkey”. The LORD had need of the donkey, not just to enter Jerusalem this last time, but because Bible Prophecy demanded that the Messiah do so.

Faith in God ALWAYS partners with
the Word of God, the Scripture!

The Prophet declared in Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

The KING OF KINGS, the One Who is just (righteous, without sin) and has salvation (Jesus alone saves), He will enter Jerusalem this last time. He will rise on a donkey. Not on a white horse – though He will do this at the end of time – but now on a donkey. He comes bringing peace and salvation to His people. As Jesus entered the Holy City the Bible says:

Mark 11:8-11 … many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: 10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest. 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.

Jesus was celebrated by the people. They thought that He was coming to overthrow Rome. Jesus will one day overthrow Rome, and all cities, when He comes into His Millennial Kingdom. But at this time He is coming to overthrow sin, death, and the devil.

Word Focus The King enters His city, enters His Temple, and oversees everything. Notice the text says “when he had looked round about upon all things”. Jesus does nothing yet. He just looks. Jesus goes to Bethany with the twelve to rest overnight. The next day we read:

Mark 11:12-14 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, {Jesus} was hungry: 13 and seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. 14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.

Word Focus As Jesus and His disciples come back to Jerusalem, He spots a fig tree “afar off having leaves”. As there are many leaves, the tree should have the “knobs” that come on a fig tree prior to fruiting (see F.F. Bruce, Answers To Questions, page 56). I actually believe that Jesus knew there were no figs nor knobs on this fig tree.

The Fig Tree Represents Religion Without Fruit
The Fig Tree Represents Religion Without Faith
The Fig Tree Represents The Current Temple & Judaism

The day before Jesus went into Jerusalem and looked around the Temple, but did nothing else. Jesus saw something at the Temple that He is going to address shortly. I’ll talk about this in just a moment – but first let’s talk about the Fig Tree.

When God the Son found no figs on the Fig Tree, He cursed it. “No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever”.

Though the disciples hear Jesus, they think little of this. After all, it was not the time for fig trees to produce fruit. What did Jesus expect, anyway? But Jesus is speaking with a duel meaning. The day before the Lord came to the Temple, but found no worship there, no evidence of faith. He is back today, and now our God will address what He sees in the Temple.

Mark 11:15-19 they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves; 16 and would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. 17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. 18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. 19 And when even was come, he went out of the city.

Within the Court of the Gentiles, merchants have set up, and are selling lambs, bulls, doves, and other clean animals to be sacrificed for the Passover. Jesus came to the Temple to hear and share the Word of God with others. The focus of God’s Temple, and His Church today, is not to make money off of those who gather with us.

If God Came To Our Church,
Would He Find Faith And Fruit?

Our purpose is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to exalt the Lord our God. Our purpose is to pray, and seek God’s guidance, to be the light of the world. Today in many Churches, the purpose of God’s Kingdom has been removed. Churches have become political parties, or havens of social justice warriors, or rest stops for those who despise God Almighty but love sin. Oh Beloved, do you not know that:

The purpose of God’s people gathering is to honor the Lord Who made us.
The purpose of the Church is to expand the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The purpose of the Church is to share the Gospel of Grace.
The purpose of the Church is to increase God’s footprint in the nation.
Let us be the “light of the world, a city set on an hill cannot be hid.”
Let us be God oriented, and Christ honoring.

Judaism was not doing this. This is the second time that Jesus ran the money changers out of the Temple. The Temple, like many Churches today, has become SECULARIZED.

Mark 11:16 {Jesus} would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.

The people were to come together to serve God with empty hands and open hearts. I suspect if Jesus were to return today, He’d take away our cell phones while we worship.

Mark 11:17 {Jesus} taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.

When we come together to worship God, we are to worship God. Yet Judaism in Israel robbed God of His due worship. The people were focused on anything but God. It was a den of thieves! Jesus leaves the Temple, and leaves Jerusalem. It is the next day that we read:

Mark 11:20-22 … in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. 22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

Faith In God Only Comes When We Are
Rooted In God’s Word!

The Fig Tree is a picture of a people who have ceased to have faith in God. Fruitless, the tree is withered from the roots up. If our roots are not in God’s Word, we will wither and die. If our roots are not in glorifying Christ, our roots will wither and die. Did not Jesus say?…

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

When our roots are in this world, we will wither and die. But when our roots are in Christ, we cannot be defeated.

Jesus Christ shed His Blood on Calvary to advance the Kingdom of God. He shed His Blood so that – through faith in Him – the Kingdom of God can grow stronger and more numerous on this earth. Israel and her spiritual leaders missed this point. The Church in America is just as guilty of this today. Let us repent and return to the Christ of our salvation. God expects His people to live for Him, to rejoice in Him, to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others that more will enter the Kingdom of God.

Peter points out that Jesus cursed this tree just the day before. Jesus says:

Have Faith In God!

What is faith in God? I have heard it said that FAITH stands for:

Forsaking
All
I
Trust
Him

What Jesus says next has been debated by Biblical scholars for years. Frankly, it is very clear to me what Jesus is saying. Read with me:

Mark 11:22-23 … Have faith in God. 23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

Where are your roots at? The roots of your life? Is it in God, and trusting in God’s promises. Or is it in YOURSELF? The stepbrother of our Lord writes:

James 4:1-4 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 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.

Faith in God is to fully rely on God daily. If you have a need, have you asked God for it? Does what you perceive to be a need promote God’s Kingdom, or your agenda? If you are a Christian, God saved you and left you on this earth to advance His Kingdom. This is what pleases God.

Do We Speak To The Mountain In Faith?

Jesus said:

Mark 11:22-23 … Have faith in God. 23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart

Are you speaking to the mountain,
or is the mountain speaking to you?

During this time of pandemic, people are tuning into news shows, and fear keeps mounting over the Coronavirus. People are being driven by FEAR and UNCERTAINTY. Jesus said that when a mountain is in your way, preventing you from doing that which will bless the Master, you need only speak to the mountain and God will move it. Speak to the Mountain – do not let it speak to you.

“In the name of Jesus, mountain, and for God’s glory, you will MOVE! My God is GREATER than you are. MOVE, and hit the beach!”

Our God is a Mountain Moving God. He will do whatever is necessary to advance His Kingdom, to support you as you work for Him. Let’s find some examples of what Jesus said in the Scripture.

Illustrate Do you remember the little Shepherd boy named David. He came to the Army of Israel to bring his brothers lunch one day when he heard Goliath cursing Israel. Hear Goliath:

1 Samuel 17:8-11 Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. 9 If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. 10 And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. 11 When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.

Israel was LISTENING TO THE MOUNTAIN
instead of speaking to it.

What did David do? David spoke to the mountain (Mark 11:23). He told Goliath:

1 Samuel 17:45-47 Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. 46 This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.

David spoke to that mountain named Goliath. By the end of the day, the mountain was cast into the land of forgetfulness (Psalm 88:11).

Illustrate What about the Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego? The mountain said:

Daniel 3:14 … O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?

What did the Hebrew children do? We are told in

Daniel 3:16-18 … O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Cast into the fiery furnace, the Hebrew children held hands with the Son of God (Daniel 3:25). As Pastor Mark Batterson said:

“… you must quit talking to God about the mountain in your life and start talking to the mountain about your God. You proclaim His power. You declare His sovereignty. You affirm His faithfulness. You stand on His Word. You cling to His promises.”

Beloved, do not listen to the mountain. I say again, DO NOT LISTEN TO THE MOUNTAIN. Listen to God, and speak to the mountain. If you are purchased with the Blood of Christ, then …

2 Timothy 1:7 God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Quit letting the darkness get the best of you. Israel listened to the mountain and, fearing to enter the Promised Land, lost the Promised Land. Turn off the television, the mobile phone, the computers and pads. HEAR GOD.

Romans 12:2 …. be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

The mountains of life will come to you, but rest in the power of God. Do not let the mountains make you feel small.

Illustrate When Elijah spoke to the mountain of false religion, he stood on Mount Carmel, a commanded fire from Heaven. That day 450 false prophets of Baal and 400 false prophets of the groves (1 Kings 18:19) were killed, and God was glorified. But when Elijah listened to the mountain called Jezebel he ran scared. Oh Beloved, do not listen to the mountain. Listen to God, and speak to the mountain.

God told a frightened Moses:

Exodus 3:12 Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

Serve God upon the mountain. Speak to the mountain. Tell that mountain how great your God is. Tell that mountain that God is faithful, and indefatigable. You are His child, His beloved. He sacrificed Jesus Christ for you.

You are meant to be overcomers, victors and not victims.

1 John 5:4-5 … For {whosoever} is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Let Us Unify As God’s People,
Speaking To The Mountain For His Glory

Mark 11:24-26 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. 25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

When God’s people come together to honor the Lord, God can use us to move mountains. But we must be TOGETHER. We must forgive and love one another, just as Jesus forgave and loves us. I have pastored Churches where God’s people carried grudges with one another. You cannot move the mountain while you carry the weight of unforgiveness in your hearts. Remember our Master, Who, suffering shame and sin for us, nevertheless prayed:

Luke 23:34 … Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do

Let us unite with God, and with one another. United, we stand. Divided, we fall. Let’s stand together in the power of Christ, speaking to the mountains of life about our God. God is able to move the mountain. Let us trust Him, in Christ’s name I pray. May God touch your hearts with his Word. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Mark Sermons, Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

2. The MUSTS Of The Christian Faith: The MUST of Sacrifice

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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.

This is a message that I believe every Christian should hear – particularly the American Christian. The preaching we most often hear in our Churches throughout America are those that make God our Servant, and we His master. I have heard of many, and seen many, come to Christ for salvation and yet later drop away from Him because of trial or tribulation in their lives. We have been sold a Pollyanna version of salvation by many modern preachers.

Central to the Christian faith is the MUST of Sacrifice.

Though Jesus and the Apostle preached this great truth clearly, it has been largely ignored by the modern Church. Our faith is all of sacrifice. We are saved because Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for us. Once we as His children by faith are saved, we are to live lives of sacrifice. Not like the world, but like the Christ. When we understand the sacrifice of the Christian faith our lives begin to make sense. God did not save us through the sacrifice of His Son so that we as believers would drift casually into Heaven. God saved we who are Christians by faith in the sacrifice of His Son so that we, being born again, will be light and salt to this present world.

We Cannot Be Saved Apart from The Sacrifice of Christ

God cannot adopt a sinner into His family. God cannot inhabit a law breaker. Sin must be paid for. The debt must be eradicated, or there can be no New Birth. When Nicodemus came to Jesus, our Lord told him:

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up

If you do not know your Bible you will not understand this verse at all. Nicodemus was a high ranking Jew in the Jewish Council, the Sanhedrin. What is Jesus talking about, “as Moses lifted up the serpent”? To understand this we need to take a “field trip” from today’s text to Numbers Chapter 21.Please turn there with me.

In Numbers 21 the Canaanites attacked Israel, and Israel cried out to God. God strengthened His people, and the Bible says:

Numbers 21:3 .. the LORD hearkened to the voice of Israel {He heard their prayers}, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities: and {Moses} called the name of the place HORMAH.

Israel had their eyes on God, and were serving God as they should. Moses commemorated this great victory by calling the name of the place “Hormah”, which means “Devotion”. Israel had a mountaintop experience. We have all had mountaintop experiences, times when the blessings just seem to pour out. But as we walk with God, we will have mountaintops – but we will also have valleys.

Sooner or later you are in the valley. But God is there. God is there on the mountain, and God is there in the valley.

We are to love God with all our hearts regardless as to our circumstances (Deuteronomy 6:5). It is a fickle love that only loves on the mountaintop. We are to love God in the valleys of life. It didn’t take long for Israel to hit a valley.

Numbers 21:4 {Israel} journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.

The journey that God took Israel on led from the mountaintop, and into a hard valley. They were to trust the Lord Who saved them. We must always trust and love God … but Israel forgot this. They took God’s name in vain. We read:

Numbers 21:5 … And the people spake against God, and against Moses…

Beloved, if you are saved by faith in Christ, you will have trials. You are to trust God in the trials. You are to live for Him.

As Israel murmured and blamed God, the Lord took action. Because of their sinful mouths the Bible says:

Numbers 21:6 … the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

Serpents came into the camp. I saw a movie once called “Snakes on A Plane”. Israel suffered “Snakes On A Plain”! I don’t like snakes. I don’t know many people who like snakes. Adam’s fall came because of the devil disguised as a snake.

the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)

Our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God (Hebrews 10:31). It is a terrible sin to curse the god Who saved you, but an even more frightening thing when God sends punishment upon us. Because God’s Israel sinned against God, God sent serpents into the camp. Not just any old serpents, but “fiery serpents”, poisonous creatures who brought with their bite death.

Israel repented. The Bible says:

Numbers 21:7 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.

Moses prayed – and God blessed. He said:

Numbers 21:8-9 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. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

Now let’s go back to Nicodemus. Now you understand what Jesus was telling him. Our Lord said:

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the SON OF MAN must be lifted up:

As Moses lifted up the fiery serpent on a pole, the “SON OF MAN must be lifted up”. Moses made a serpent, put it on a pole, and those who looked upon it were saved. God the Father made a Son of Man, put Him on a pole, and those who look upon Him are saved.

Jesus Christ is that “Son of Man”. Our Jesus came and lived a life of sacrifice that ended in sacrifice for our sins. When we look upon Him, this “Son of Man”, believing He died for the sins of the Sons of Men, then we are saved!

Jesus Christ Is Both The Son Of God
AND The Son Of Man

Eighty times in the Gospels Jesus refers to Himself as “Son of Man”. No one ever calls Jesus “Son of Man”
but Jesus Himself.

Others called Jesus “Son of God”. For instance,

  • The DEVIL referred to Jesus as “The Son of God” (Matthew 4:3,6).
  • The DEMONS called Jesus “The Son of God” (Matthew 8:29).
  • Jesus’ DISCIPLES called Him “The Son of God” (Matthew 14:33).
  • The CENTURION who crucified Jesus called Him “The Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).
  • The Apostles called Jesus “The Son of God” (Mark 1:1; John 1:34).
  • The ANGEL GABRIEL called Jesus the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
  • The early PREACHERS of the Gospel focused on the fact that the “Son of God” came and sacrificed Himself for us (Acts 9:20; Romans 1:4; 2 Corinthians 1:19; Galatians 2:20, et. al).

Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is God Himself become human flesh. We are told in …

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.

When the Father speaks of Jesus, He says …

Hebrews 1:6-8 … let all the angels of God worship him. … 8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.

Jesus Christ is the only God the Son.
But Jesus is also the Son of Man, the Messiah.

The Son of God agreed to sacrifice Himself on Calvary.
The Son of Man died in our place, paying for our sins.
The Son of God agreed to die.
Jesus died as a perfect “Son of Man”.
This is why you and I are saved – God died for us!

God foretold of this unique sacrifice of Christ the Messiah in the Old Testament. The “Son of Man” would come from God to bring God’s people into a closer union with Him. The Prophet Daniel – in the grip of Babylonian captivity – nonetheless prophetically looked forward to see our Jesus:

Daniel 7:13-14 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

The Messiah would one day rule the earth, and the dominion of the Son of Man would be an everlasting dominion which would never pass away. When Jesus spoke of Himself as the “Son of Man” He said that He would first have to be “lifted up” or sacrificed for our sins.

No one can be saved unless they recognize Jesus as the ONE and ONLY Son of Man, the Messiah sent from God. Jesus told the religious Pharisees:

John 8:23-24, 28 {Jesus} said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. … 28 Then said Jesus unto them, 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.

Just as Israel looked on the serpent that Moses lifted up to be saved, we who are Christians looked on the Son of Man Who was lifted up to be saved. We believe on the Messiah, our Jesus. What love Christ had, to leave the splendor of Heaven to come to this earth for us! Jesus chose the nails! He said:

John 12:32-34, 37 … 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. 34 The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? … 37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:

Salvation comes to us when we look at Jesus, high and lifted up, the “Son of Man” dying for the sins of others sons of men. Jesus Christ the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6). It was Jesus Christ the Son of Man Who was handed over to be crucified (Matthew 26:2). Jesus – our Lord Jesus – was tortured, rejected by the Jewish Council, by the Pharisees and leaders of Israel, killed and yet rose again (Mark 8:31). It is Jesus Christ Who is coming again to save His people, and establish His Kingdom on the earth (Revelation 14:14).

Do you know Him? Do you know the Son of God Who became the Son of Man to save us? Do you know Him Who was willing to be put on a pole, nailed to that tree, just so that we could be saved? Oh the foolishness of those who reject Him, refusing to look upon Him and be saved. Oh that all who read this would be convicted of their sin! Oh that all who hear this would turn to Him Who made such a great sacrifice for us! He willingly took the nails.

Luke 18:31-33 {Jesus said to His disciples} Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the SON OF MAN shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.

Jesus did this so that “whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Do you know Him?

The Son Of Man Was Sacrificed
So We Could Be Saved

We have all we need to enter Heaven with the Blood of Christ. “The Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7)”. So why don’t we go immediately to Heaven? BECAUSE JESUS WANTS US TO WALK AS SONS OF GOD ON THIS EARTH. He wants others to see Christ in us, living sacrificially for Him. Listen to the Scripture:

1 John 1:5-9 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. 8 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.

Salvation brings the sinner into sonship, the son into sainthood, and the saint into service unto God.

If you have been saved by faith in Christ you are called to walk – not in the darkness of this present world – but in the light that is Christ. You are called to cherish God’s Word. You are called to live a life of sacrifice. If the Son of Man be lifted up, He will draw all men unto Jesus (John 12:32). The Christian who is saved indeed will live a life of sacrifice, imitating Christ in all that we do. What draws others to Christ? It is not just a static Cross hanging on a wall in a Church house. It is believers in Christ living as sons of God, Saints separated unto Him, living for Him Who died for us. When believers live sacrificially, loving as Christ loved, motivated to glorify God our Father, then this draws others to come to Jesus.

We call ourselves “Christian”, but the word “Christian” is only found three times in the Bible (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). The Bible refers to those who love Jesus as “Saints” (62 times) and “sons of God”. Listen to these texts:

John 1:12 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 ..

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Galatians 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Philippians 2:15 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;

1 John 3:1-2 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

As sons of God every believer in Christ is called to live sacrificially, just as Jesus lived. What did our Master tells us? “Take up YOUR CROSS and FOLLOW ME” (Matthew 10:38; 16:24; Mark 8:34; 10:21). The Christian life is a life that imitates God, not the world. We know that our old man is crucified with Jesus, destroying the body of sin, so that we will not serve sin (Romans 6:5-11). Since we are risen with Christ, we seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God the Father. Our affections are on our savior and Lord – our life is hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:1-4). We who are Christ’s do not follow the world, but our Lord (Ephesians 4:17-24). The Baptist Evangelist F.B. Meyer wrote:

“When once a man understands the meaning of Calvary and not only accepts it for himself, but unites himself with it, he enters upon an absolutely new zone, or sphere, of living. Old things pass away! All things become new! The love of Christ constrains him, no longer to live for himself, but to Him, who loved him, and gave Himself for him.”

What Christ did for us is not just save us from Hell, but He brought Heaven to this earth. Live for Jesus, dear believer, if you are indeed a believer. Follow Him, imitate Him, live sacrificially not selfishly. Be the light, the Son, the Saint, the Servant you were called to be. For Christ’s sake, and for the sake of our community, our city, and our country. BE THE LIGHT! In Christ’s name I beseech you. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Five MUSTS Of Faith, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

There Is A Way

Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

As you turn with me to Proverbs 14, let me give a little introduction to this wonderful Book.

Introduction

When I began to make prayer a priority in my life many years ago, I started by praying through the Book of Proverbs. The Book of Proverbs is largely written by King Solomon, a man who was given wisdom from God.

1 Kings 4:29 God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.

Solomon was said to be the wisest man who ever lived. Solomon found out that BEING wise and DOING
the wise thing is not always the same.

Solomon often failed in his walk with God, but God’s Grace is sufficient for all who believe (2 Corinthians 12:9). Though Solomon loved and followed the Lord our God, he, like we who are His Children by faith in Christ (Galatians 3:26), often fail the Lord. And yet, our God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13). Though Solomon did not write all of the Proverbs, I believe he collected all of the Proverbs, these 31 chapters of wonderful messages to us. As there are no more than 31 days in a month, you can read and pray over a Proverb each day – and learn much by it. Solomon’s name is found at the beginning of Proverbs 1:1; 10:1; and 25:1.

The purpose of Proverbs is to teach “the fear (or respect of) the Lord”. As the Book begins Solomon wrote:

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Cliff’s Notes on the Book of Proverbs contains this very truthful statement:

The Book of Proverbs assumes that divine revelation is communicated to individuals through careful and correct thinking, as well as through prophetic inspiration. This conception leads to the view that the wise man lives in harmony with the divine will; the fool brings disaster upon himself.”

I couldn’t have said that better. Let me say it again: “The wise man (or woman) lives in harmony with the Divine Will; the fool (or godless acting person) brings disaster upon himself (or herself).”

What a person believes internally will always dictate
what
that person does externally.

You can say “I believe thus and such”, but it is your actions that prove what you actually believe. Every actions has consequences. We have forgotten this in America.

We Need To Take Responsibility For Our Actions
We Need To Get Back To God’s Word

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Two verses, exactly the same. There is a way that seems right unto a person. The person follows that way, believing that the way is right. But because the way is not right, it leads to death.

When I was a young man, peer pressure drove me. My peers offered me alcohol, drugs, a destructive lifestyle. Then I met God through Jesus Christ. Life has become simpler and better when I seek the counsel of God before I commit my way to something.

God loves us, and always wants the BEST for us. He placed Adam in a perfect environment. God gave Adam a perfect wife. He gave Adam VERY CLEAR directions. God told Adam:

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, I’ve given you much. Just don’t eat of this ONE tree, else you will die. And yet, the serpent (who is Satan) came into the Garden, and said:

Genesis 3:4-5 Ye shall not surely die: 5 for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Let us learn from Adam. The WORLD does not love you. The devil certainly doesn’t love you. God loves you. God says what is right, and what is wrong. Though the way we think seems to be good, in time if it doesn’t measure up to GOD’S WAY then it leads to destruction and suffering. When Adam chose to obey the serpent, he died spiritually in that very moment, just as God said. Adam’s legacy is summarized in …

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 not only hurt himself, but hurt his children as well (and we are all his children). Sin is in the world because of that one, seemingly innocuous act. It was a small thing, to eat that fruit. We were designed by God to eat. We are given the teeth and the bone and muscle to eat. Yet to use what God gave us – our mouths – to consume the wrong thing brought death on a worldwide populace.

What you believe is what you do. If you do not believe and do what the Creator has said, you bring death upon yourself and others.

Illustrate When I was in the Air Force, I saw two very graphic tragedies that happened because of the wrong type of belief. While stationed at Moody Air Force Base, Valdosta, Georgia, I had to participate in a search and recovery mission for a young F-4 pilot. He was flying a night mission. While on a night mission, pilots are taught to fly by instrument, not by their own sight or judgment. This young pilot was flying inverted, head toward the ground, when he became disoriented. He pushed the stick to cause the aircraft to elevate, but since he was flying head down toward the earth, he succeeded in plowing the aircraft into the ground. He did not live. There is a way that seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

We need to watch the instrument that god has given us if we do not want to crash and burn. We need to heed the Bible!

Illustrate Many years later when I was stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington the command staff of the base all died while piloting a B-52 Bomber. While negotiating a dive and a hard turn the pilot misjudged the location of power lines at the end of the runway. The aircraft cartwheeled into the ground. There were no survivors. There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Father Always Knows Best!

Proverbs 16:2-6 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits. 3 Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established. 4 The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. 5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished. 6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.

We live in a day where people have no “fear of the Lord”. What establishes right and wrong in our America today? If you watch the news, the television shows, you will find that what people think is right is what is portrayed as right. Humans are the final arbiters of right and wrong. If we do not follow the crowd, the peer pressure, the consensus backed by the television talking heads, then we are at wrong. Secularism has gripped America. Why? Because there is no fear of the Lord. People preach a “God of love and acceptance”, regardless as to what the Scripture says.

According to the world, the Bible is just one book among other books. Humans establish what is truth. If that is true, why do we have so much discord?
Beloved, we’re going to “feel” ourselves to death.

If a person feels that he is a she, then what that person feels is right. If a person feels that marriage is to another, regardless as to who that “another” is, then this is right. If a person feels that they want to pursue a licentious lifestyle and abort the fruit of that lifestyle, then this is right. As it was in Solomon’s day, so it is in America today:

Proverbs 16:2 … All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes;
but the Lord weigheth the spirits.

As long as well all agree (or a large, shouting mob agrees), then whatever we want to do is clean in our eyes. The old words for sin, fornication, adultery, theft, riotous living, no longer apply in America. We think our way is right. But it is God Who weighs the spirits. It is God Who determines what is right or wrong, good or evil.

I have had, as a Pastor, people come to me and say “this is what I want to do. Is it all right, or not?”. My reply has always been, what has the LORD told you about your action? What does the Bible say? If God has decreed the action is wrong in Scripture, if your conscience feels a bit off from even contemplating the action, then it is not right.

Proverbs 16:3 Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.

Could you do what you propose to do with Jesus Christ standing by your side? If not, do not do it. The reason there is so much INSANITY and RIOTING in America today is because people are not committing their works unto the Lord. Are you glorifying God by your actions, or are you glorifying yourself? The Bible says:

Proverbs 16:4 The Lord hath made all things for Himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil

The Lord made all things – even you – for Himself. If you pursue wickedness, God allows you to live for His purposes. But sooner or later we all will return to the Lord. We are told in:

Colossians 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as unto the Lord, and not unto men.

The Apostle reminds us as Christians:

Romans 14:8 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.

Christian, you belong to God. You were bought with a price, the precious Blood of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23). You will return to God one day, and be judged for your works. Live as unto the Lord. Unbeliever, you are declared by God to be a FOOL:

Proverbs 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

You may reject God now, but one day your souls will also return unto God. God has said:

Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are Mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

Your lack of the fear of the Lord has made you callous. Unbeliever, God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24; Hebrews 12:29). You are lifted up with pride, believing that what you do will never be punished. Your parents, perhaps, did not teach you discipline. You believe you are unaccountable, and will never be held responsible. This is foolishness!

If You Are RIGHTeous, You Walk RIGHT With God

Proverbs 16:5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination unto the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

It was PRIDE that led Adam to fall. Beloved, we have no justification to be proud. What we have, we have of God.

You may believe yourselves to be invincible, joining with others like you hand in hand. But God is omnipotent, and omniscient. Your sins are an affront to the Holy God Who made all things. Sin as defined by God is unnatural, something that God would have banned from creation. Sin was not crafted into Adam’s body by God. Sin is no friend to anyone. Sin is a slave master that, in time, will bring death. The Apostle said:

Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

Sin is no trifle – it is a bringer of death.

  • Drink alcohol unto intoxication, and you receive a hangover. Continue to do so and your liver will be destroyed. Alcohol is a poison. God does not want you to poison yourself.
  • Abuse drugs for the good feelings that they bring. The drugs will destroy your God given bodily systems, your organs. Many have abused drugs, believing it to be a trifle. Many have been buried because of it.
  • Use your body as a sexual playground. You may escape unharmed a few times, but in time it will bring disease, and with it destruction and death. Adrian Rogers once said:

Don’t let a little sin in, all hell will break loose!”

  • Disobey the lawful order of a policeman, contrary to the teaching of God’s Word (Romans 13:1). “He beareth not the sword in vain” (Romans 13:4). It is not the policeman’s fault if he has to shoot you. Obey the Law. God said so.

Illustrate Don’t be an I-an, be a CHRISTian! If you profess to be a Christian, then you will walk with Christ. There are many Christless who profess to be “Christian” today. Do you know what a Christian without Christ is? He or she is an I-an. The true Christian does not live for I, but for the Lord. The true Christian walks daily with Christ. The Apostle said:

1 John 1:5-7 … 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.

Proverbs 16:6 … by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil

We live in an America today where there is little good old fashioned “fear of the Lord” today. Did you know that the phrase “fear of the Lord” is found thirty times in Scripture, and “fear God” is found twenty-two times. We must get back to the highway of righteousness if we want to be blessed of God.

As Christ’s Children, We Walk With Him
On The Highway Of Righteousness

Proverbs 16:17-19 The highway of the upright is to depart from evil:he that keepeth His way preserveth his soul. Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.

God’s Children by faith in Christ do not walk in the way of darkness. We walk so as to please our Lord. Christian, if you are indeed a Christian, you are now members of the Kingdom of God. We are to serve the Lord with the lives He has allowed us to have. When we who are His serve Him out of love and respect, He blesses us. The Bible says:

Ephesians 6:5-8 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 not with eye service, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7 with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: 8 knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

God the Father will bless your obedience. Had Adam heeded God, we would all still be in Paradise. Follow the Lord Who loves you. Not your feelings, but the Lord. Walk worthy! Walk worthy!

Colossians 1:10-14 … walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long suffering with joyfulness; 12 giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Had Cain listened to God, he would never have been marked for destruction. Had Lot’s wife listened to God, she would have never been turned into a pillar of salt. Had the world listened to God in Noah’s day, destruction would have been averted. Had David listened to God, his firstborn child would never have died.

If your life has become tedious and tasteless, do not blame others. Look in the mirror, and blame the one who is looking back at you. Then look up. Turn to Jesus Christ.

Galatians 1:4 ..{Jesus} gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world

Jesus did not just come to this earth to take us to Heaven. He came to this earth to bring Heaven to us. Oh Beloved, give your life to Jesus. Live not by feeling, but by faith. Turn to God’s Word daily, and recommit each day to walk in the light with Jesus. Have the attitude of faith that the Apostle had, saying:

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.

Do not live for the “I”. Live for the Lord. There is where life is. There is where joy is. Live for Jesus! Jesus freely bore our sins in His body on the tree of Calvary. Why? So that we could die to sin, but live to righteousness, live under His leadership (1 Peter 2:24). There is no freer or more blessed life than to live by faith in Christ, searching out God’s truths through His Bible and His Spirit.

May God touch your hearts and minds through His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Proverbs, Sermons Preached | Tagged , ,

The Lord’s Table Is More Than Grape Juice And Stale Crackers

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

Is it possible to be a Christian, and yet live as sinful as a non-Christian? The answer is both “yes” and “no”.

Please turn with me to 1 Corinthians chapter 11. As you turn, let me give a little introduction
to this wonderful text.

The Corinthian writings are called “Church Epistles”, or more clearly, “letters written to the local Churches”. Most of the letters that the Apostle wrote to local Churches contained doctrine or teachings for the Church from the Apostles. The Bible is so very important because God founded His Church on …

Ephesians 2:20 … the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

The Church is founded on Bible doctrine, written doctrine or teachings from the prophets (the Old Testament) and the apostles (the New Testament). Right after God started the Church on the Day of Pentecost, the Bible says:

Acts 2:41-42 …. they that gladly received {Peter’s preaching of Christ} were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And {the early Church} continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

There were no “Church Rolls” or membership lists. Those who were baptized in water were considered members of Christ’s Church. The Church “continued steadfastly”, heeding:

  1. The “Apostles Doctrine”. The teaching of the Bible.
  2. Fellowship. Believers gathered together to grow in Christ.
  3. Breaking of bread. They enjoyed the Lord’s Table.
  4. Prayers. The Church prayed together. The Christian prayed alone.

The reason believers gathered together, as we do today, is so that we can build one another up in our faith. The Bible says that as Christians,

1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 …. God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

As believers we come together to encourage one another, to build up one another, not to tear one another down. We offer comfort to those in our midst who are suffering through prayer. We edify one another. The word “edify” is the Greek οἰκοδομέω oikodoméō, (pronounced oy-kod-om-eh’-o), which means “to build a house together”.

We who are saved are, the Scripture says,
“The House of Christ” (Hebrews 3:6). We are
to build this House upward, Godward.

The Christian is commanded to “not forsake the assembling together of ourselves”, but to come together to “exhort one another”, the Greek παρακαλέω parakaleō (pronounced par-ak-al-eh’-o), or literally “to call to one’s side so as to comfort and encourage”. Many today say, “I don’t have to be a part of a Church to be saved”. As the Bible says:

1 Corinthians 12:18 … now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

The Church is a part of God’s Plan of salvation. It is a world in microcosm, a world whereby we show love one to another, practicing to be like Jesus. We are to imitate God, to follow Jesus. Thus when we gather as a Church, we are to come together for the better – to better one another.

When The Gathered Church Is Selfish
It Hurts The Cause Of Christ

It is possible for a Christian to fall into sin. It is possible to step away from your calling momentarily. When you do this, it does not just hurt you. It hurts Christ’s Church. When God speaks of our mission, He always speaks of GROUPS of Christians. Not individuals, but GROUPS. Hear this:

1 Peter 2:9-10 … ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: 10 which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

The Christian is “called out of darkness, and brought into God’s marvelous light”. It is not normal for a Christian to live in sin. We who are saved are to live IN THE WORLD, loving those around us. But we are never to IMITATE THE WORLD. We do not belong in sin. Jesus said:

John 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

We are called to walk TOGETHER with one another as we walk WITH Christ. The Church and Christian walking in the light of Christ will be hated by the lost.

Beloved – and I speak to God’s Church – now we are the Children of God (1 John 3:2). The Beloved Apostle John said:

1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with {Jesus}, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

The Christian & the Church are designed to walk in the light with Jesus.
The Christian & the Church are designed to live out the Word of God.
The Christian & the Church are designed to obey the commands of Jesus.
The Christian & the Church are designed to live so as to honor our King.

Let’s look at our text.

1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

FOLLOWERS. That’s plural. We – TOGETHER – follow the Word of God, the Apostle’s Doctrine. We FOLLOW Paul, Peter, Matthew, Mark, Luke. We follow both OLD and NEW Writings, the fully Bible. When we follow God TOGETHER we are blessed TOGETHER. When we do not – we hurt ourselves and others.

Paul was not pleased with Corinth. He wrote:

1 Corinthians 11:17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.

When we come together, loving God and loving one another, we promote the Kingdom of God. This is our calling.

Ephesians 5:1-2 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us…

Philippians 2:4-5 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Believers, we are not to come together to satisfy OURSELVES.
We gather together and honor God.
We gather together and love one another, as Christ loved us.

Love is a door that swings outward, blessing others.

That is the Way of the Master.

When we do not love one another, word gets around. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 11:18-19 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

Paul was in Roman bondage, awaiting trial by Caesar. How did he hear of Corinth’s sins? Somebody told him. When the Church does wrong, word gets around.

The local Church at Corinth was not unified spiritually, because the factions in the Church were living for themselves and not for Christ. There was warring and fighting in the Church, totally contrary to the will of Christ. Some were false Christians who, though outwardly professing Jesus, inwardly were just living for themselves.

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

The stony ground “Christians” (Mark 4:16-19) never grow deep roots. When the world strikes at their faith they quickly backed away, going back to Egypt, rather than staying faithful to the Word of God. The Corinthians had grown so Christless in their meetings that they perverted the meaning of the Lord’s Table.

1 Corinthians 11:20-22 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. 21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. 22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.

When the Corinthians came together to partake of the Lord’s Table, it was the Lord’s Table in name only. It was not what Jesus told us. When Jesus first gave the Lord’s Table, He told us:

Luke 22:19 this do in remembrance of Me.

The Lord’s Table Reflects The Love Jesus
Wants Us To Have For One Another

The Lord’s Table is to remind us how much Jesus loved us. It is to remind us that He suffered in Body on Calvary’s Cross, shedding His Blood so that we might be saved. The person next to you who takes of the Lord’s Table is a person of equal value to yourself. There are no second class citizens at the Lord’s Table. As we were loved, we love. As Jesus gave, we give. How did the Church at Corinth take the Lord’s Table? Selfishly. Sensually.

1 Corinthians 11:21 … in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken

Word Study A beautiful ritual had been degraded to a common boozer. The word translated “drunken” is the Greek μεθύω methýō, {pronounced meth-oo’-o}, which means to drink to the point of intoxication. The Apostle tells them if they are going to “party” like this, then do so at home, not where the Church is gathered. The intent of the Church gathering is to honor God and to love one another. Period!

Sometimes as believers we commit sins because we are ignorant that what we do is a sin. Though most of our sins are with knowledge, there are some that happen because we just don’t know any better. The Corinthians knew better. The Apostle wrote:

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

Paul was not Paul when Jesus had His last supper with the disciples. Paul was Saul, unsaved Saul.

Before Paul was Paul, he was Saul the Pharisee, and he hated Christians. After Christ was crucified and resurrected, Saul met Jesus on Damascus Road (Acts 9:3-6), and was born again by the Holy Spirit through faith in Christ to be Paul the Apostle. Someone had to show Paul the Lord’s Table, so that Paul could show the Lord’s Table to others. What the Corinthians were doing was not Christlike, not by a long shot. What they were doing was worldly. They ignored the command of Christ, and made the church like the world.

When the Church is like the world, it cannot reach the world. When the Christian acts just like the unbeliever, the Christian cannot be light, but is instead darkness. The intent of the Lord’s Table is “to show the Lord’s Death”, to show how much Jesus loved us, and proved His love by His willing sacrifice.

Illustrate Many years ago my Pastor, Dr. Benny Woods, told me at the end of a Lord’s Table, “David, I ruined that Table”. Concerned, I asked Brother Benny what he meant. I didn’t see anything wrong in what he did. Then he told me, and the light bulb came on. “I offered the Church the Cup before I offered the Bread”. When you hear that, you might think “that’s not so bad”. What makes it bad is that it is not in the order that Jesus gave it. You see, Jesus had to be beaten, bruise, humiliated, and stripped naked before the Cross. His body had to be torn up so that the Blood could be shed on Calvary. When you get a soft drink you always open the container before you drink it. Jesus had to be opened up so that the wrath of God could be satiated.

Ever since that day I am always careful to make sure the BREAD is first blessed and offered BEFORE THE CUP.

To Defile The Lord’s Table Is To Bring
Divine Judgment On Yourself

1 Corinthians 11:27-30 … Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

Christians, God disciplines His children. He paddles us when we get off course of the faith. The Corinthian believers were weak and sickly, subject to disease, because they had defiled the Lord’s Table. Some were even put to sleep. This doesn’t mean to nod off in a service. No. The word “sleep” is often used in Scripture to describe the death of a saint, a believer in Christ. When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, Jesus said:

John 11:11-14 … Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

I always ask you, as Christians, to prepare your hearts before partaking of the Lord’s Table. I ask you to do this now. Cleanse yourselves of sin. Seek Christ, our Great Mediator, in prayer. Confess your sins before Him, pleading the Blood of Calvary. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Do so now. Do not partake of the Lord’s Table unworthily. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen and Amen.

Posted in 1 Corinthians, Communion, Sermons Preached

Wisdom Is From God

The Holy Bible is true
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

We live in a day where knowledge is super-abounding. To learn something all I need do is go to the Internet. This fantastic tool – accessible even to people in many third world countries – is an open door to the world’s knowledge. Choose a search engine – I like Google myself – and the subject, and you have all the information (and misinformation) that the world knows about it. You can go to You Tube and find instructional videos on anything from car maintenance to carpentry to zoology. Knowledge is so easy to gain. We have immense knowledge in the 21st century – and yet so very little wisdom.

There is a great difference between wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge is raw facts. Wisdom is the ability to assemble the facts in a way that is productive and helpful. For instance, we have a great deal of knowledge on the Coronavirus – but very little knowledge on how to deal with it. The scientists and doctors told us, at first, there is no need for masks. Then they told us we needed masks. Now I am hearing that certain types of masks do no good. So what is true? The truth is, we are trying to restrain a gnat with a chain link fence. We need wisdom.

We know that racism is wrong. This is knowledge. So how do we deal with it? The world says, “Let’s riot. Let’s destroy neighborhood businesses. Let’s block traffic. Let’s act out, and let’s burn things. By destroying things, we can fix things!” Is this wise? No. We have a knowledge of a problem, but need wisdom to fix it. No amount of kneeling during anthems, or celebrity scoldings is going to fix the problem. We must have wisdom.

During this pandemic our Church has modified the way that we share the Word of God. As many are fearful of the Coronavirus, I asked the Lord to give us wisdom. As a Church we now broadcast to Facebook. We use a local FM Transmitter so that our most vulnerable members can sit in the parking lot outside of our sanctuary and listen to the services on their radios. We also have in-person services which just a few attend. The other day I was talking to a pastor friend of mine, and shared what we are doing as a local church. When I mentioned Facebook he told me another pastor he knows said they tried Facebook, but stopped it. Why? Because too many members stayed home and watched the services on Facebook. I asked my friend “What difference does that make? Isn’t the goal to share the Word of God to as many as possible?”. Beloved, our goal as God’s people is to share the Word of God with others. Period. That is what our Lord would have us do.

There are too many in leadership that have knowledge, but no wisdom. Which brings me to our text tonight, Job chapter 28. The Book of Job is a Book of suffering. The main character, Job, was a man who loved the Lord.

Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and {rejected} evil.

And yet the Lord allowed Job to lose everything. He lost his assets. He lost his sons and daughters. Job lost everything, even his health. When Job was afflicted – an affliction that was allowed by God – Job responded:

Job 1:21 Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

Job had no knowledge as to why he was going through these trials. When Job’s friends came to him, it wasn’t long before they began to suggest reasons that they thought Job was being tried. The number one reason they believed was that Job had secret sins that God was punishing. One friend named Zophar the Naamathite accused Job of not only sinning, but lying to himself, his friends, and to God. Zophar said:

Job 11:3-6 Should thy lies make men hold their peace? and when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed? 4 For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in thine eyes. 5 But oh that God would speak, and open his lips against thee; 6 and that he would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is! Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.

Zophar had KNOWLEDGE, but no wisdom. Job had actually done nothing wrong. He was not being punished, but being refined. God uses trials to refine us so that we can better use the knowledge He gives us.

Where Is Wisdom To Be Found?

In Job 28 to difference between KNOWLEDGE and WISDOM is explored. What causes Job to search for wisdom? His suffering. When we suffer, we do not need knowledge. We need wisdom. Suffering leads us to seek out wisdom. Read with me:

Job 28:1-2 Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they fine it. 2 Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone.

We know that silver comes from veins in the earth. We know that gold and iron are taken from the earth. We have learned how to make brass by molting copper and zinc, and we know the difference between molten brass and molten bronze. Humans are made in the image of God:

Genesis 1:26-27 … God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

As humans made in God’s image, we have the ability to gain knowledge by experience. We know by experience.

Job 28:3-4 He {God} setteth an end to darkness, and searcheth out all perfection: the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death. 4 The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant; even the waters forgotten of the foot: they are dried up, they are gone away from men.

We know things. Humans know stuff. Yet it is God Who controls the earth. He controls the times and the seasons. It is God that allows the floods, and takes them away. We can learn where and how God does things, but we cannot make those things. We cannot make silver or gold, nor do we make copper and zinc. God does. We make nothing, but take what God has graciously allowed us to have, and have modified it and arranged it into something else. The God Who made us is the God Who makes all things.

Job 28:5-8 As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire. 6 The stones of it are the place of sapphires: and it hath dust of gold. 7 There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: 8 the lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it.

It is God Who causes the wheat to grow. We have gained the knowledge to gather the wheat, to make the wheat into flour and bake it. But God makes the wheat. The same earth that bears fruit we can enjoy is also “turned up as it were fire”, it has fire underneath it. The core of our planet is fire. We know it, but cannot understand the wisdom that made it. God made it. God has made things knowable, and unknowable.

Our God is awesome!

Job 28:9-11 He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots. 10 He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing. 11 He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light.

Job tells us that it is GOD that shaped the earth that we are on. It is GOD Who cut the rivers through the rocks. It is GOD Who made the Grand Canyon. It is GOD Who is OMNISCIENT, all seeing – “His eye seeth every precious thing”. God knows where what we consider precious is buried. He knows where the gold, the silver, the copper and iron are buried. God does not consider these things “precious” though. We do, but not Him. God consider life to be precious, for life is in His image. The Bible says:

Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

God considers His people, secured by faith in Jesus Christ, to be precious.

The woman who loves God is more precious than rubies (Proverbs 3:15)

The death of the godly, departing into glory, is precious (Ecclesiastes 7:1)

Our Lord Jesus is the precious corner stone of the Church (1 Peter 2:6)

Jesus’ blood shed on Calvary is precious, for it only saves us (1 Peter 1:19)

The promises God makes to us is precious (2 Peter 1:4)

The Heaven the believer is headed toward is precious (Revelation 21:19)

As we go through trials, Beloved of God, the Lord continues to watch over us. Why? Because we are precious to Him for Christ’s sake. As we, like Job, are tried, the trials are not strange coincidences, or accidents of nature. Trials come to make us seek out wisdom. Job, tried, sought for wisdom. Hear his words:

Job 28:12-22 But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding? 13 Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living. 14 The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me. 15 It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. 16 It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. 17 The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. 18 No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies. 19 The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold. 20 Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding? 21 Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air. 22 Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.

Illustrate Wisdom is the most valuable thing in the world. It is more valuable than gold or silver, and cannot be found in the earth or in the seas. Destruction and death have heard of wisdom, but have never met it. A good example of this was when Category 5 Hurricane Katrina hit America in August 2005. The Hurricane caused over 1800 deaths and $125 billion in damage, most of which was in New Orleans, Louisianan. People were left without power, food, or water, but had plenty of panic. Why did so many suffer? They had KNOWLEDGE that the Hurricane was coming, and fleets of school buses at hand that could have been used to evacuate the city. Yet though the city was told the Hurricane was coming, and mandatory evacuation notices were issued, the citizens and it’s leadership failed to act. KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT WISDOM IS OFTEN USELESS.

Yet less than a month later Hurricane Rita struck Texas and Louisianan. Though Rita was the most intense tropical cyclone on record in the Gulf of Mexico, and the fourth-most intense Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, damage only reached about 18.5$ billion. Why was this equally disastrous phenomena not equally as destructive as Katrina? Because the people heeded the warnings, and put the knowledge they had into action by evacuating. This is KNOWLEDGE coupled with WISDOM.

God often uses trials to bring us to the realization of this great truth:

Wisdom Is Found In God

Job 28:23 God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof.

God knows the way of wisdom. God knows the place of wisdom. You cannot find wisdom in a secular college. You cannot find wisdom on Google or on You Tube. The Source of Wisdom is God. The Holy Bible is the written Word of God. Sadly, few Christians turn to their Bibles today.

Every day I read my news from sources on the Internet. So often I read of influential and well known pastors and authors in the Christian community who are going through divorce, despair, and even premature death because of suicide. Why are they going through these things? Because too often they have KNOWLEDGE of what God’s Word says, and yet out of ignorance, or even outright disobedience, refuse to DO what God’s Word says. They HEAR but do not DO. The Bible is God’s Word to us. The Psalmist told our Lord:

Psalm 119:89 Thou {O Lord} through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.

To HEAR and DO what God says is wisdom. He said:

Psalm 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

Those who do what God says – DO IT – are wise. The Apostle told his convert Timothy:

2 Timothy 3:15-17 … from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 that the man of God may be {mature}, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Those who are saved by faith in Christ are those who not only hear, but DO what God has said. Too often I read of popular, influential Christian “progressive” leaders who have abandoned the teaching of scripture for the ways and means of the world. I read of one mother who ceased believing scripture because of her daughter’s sexual lifestyle. It wasn’t long before this same woman was plunged into a messy, horrific divorce. The Bible gives clear guidelines for what is and is not marriage, and yet many who profess Christ refuse to obey what the Scripture says. Knowledge without wisdom will destroy a life. Sexual sin is most destructive. The Bible says:

Proverbs 6:27-29 Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? 28 Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? 29 So he that goeth in to his neighbor’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.

God has established standards of behavior that He expects His Children to obey. Jesus said:

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

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.

Obedience to God’s Word is wisdom. So many KNOW what the Scripture says, KNOW what God has said, and yet DO NOT DO what God has said. Knowledge without wisdom is useless. God knows best. Let me say that again:

God knows best.
God knows best.
God knows best!

Job 28:24-27 For {God} looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; 25 to make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure. 26 When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder: 27 then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out.

God knows the end from the beginning, and decrees what will be done from eternity past (Isaiah 46:10). God has said:

My counsel shall stand; and I will do what I desire!

When I was growing up, there was a show on television called “Father Knows Best”. Beloved, Father does know best. Our God knows what is best, regardless as to what “progressive” Christians believe. The Bible says:

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

It is time for God’s Church to cease compromising with the world. We need to do as God says if we expect to be blessed. This leads us to our final point:

When We Do What God Says, We Are Indeed Wise

Proverbs 28:28 And unto man {God} said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

In our day people FEAR peer pressure, but do not FEAR God. God is, after all, that Jolly Old Man that lives up yonder. Yet this is not the God of the Scripture. The God of the Scripture is our Maker, Eternal and forever Perfect. He is the One Who sent His Beloved Son to this earth to show us the Way of the Kingdom of God. We are called, as Christians, to imitate God, not man. The Bible says:

Romans 12:1-2 … present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

We need to FEAR GOD, which means to have our greatest respect for Him and what He has said in His Word, the Holy Bible. We as Christians need to get back to the Bible. We need to not just READ it, but HEED it. We are to DO what God tells us to DO in His Word. We are to be followers of God, as dear children (Ephesians 5:1). A child does not lead the parent, and we do not define God. God defines God. God defines good, and God defines evil.

The fear of the Lord, THAT is WISDOM.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit this very day. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Job, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , ,

Lord, I Believe: Help My Unbelief (Red Letters #44)

Photo by Jerry Zhang on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Mark 9. As you’re turning there, let’s give some context. Jesus has been on the mountain with Peter, James, and John. The New Testament doesn’t tell us which mountain this was that Jesus went up with His three chiefs, just that it is “a HIGH MOUNTAIN apart” (Matthew 17:1). The Bible Journey Commentary notes:

The mountain where the ‘transfiguration’ occurred was probably Mount Hermon, a short distance to the north of Caesarea Philippi – in the area where Jesus asked the disciples, ‘Who do you say I am?’. Mount Hermon (meaning ‘sanctuary’) is the highest mountain in Palestine (at 9233 ft / 2815m above sea level) and has a permanent white snowfield that provides melt-water during the dry spring and summer to feed the River Jordan. It was a sacred place to the early Caananites and was one of the ‘high places’ of pagan worship often revered during Old Testament times. Jesus chose this special place to show his personal and unique relationship with God, together with his close ties to the most respected early leaders of the Jewish religion, Moses and Elijah.”

Bible Scholars R.H. Fuller and John Lightfoot (as sited in Jesus And Archaeology (pg 176), author James H. Charlesworth) believed Jesus was transfigured on Mount Hermon, as it is the highest place located near Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13). The name “Hermon” is sometimes referred to as Baal-Hermon in Scripture, because it was considered a sacred place for worshipers of the Canaanite god Baal.

Jesus ascended a mountain that was one of Satan’s strongholds and there was revealed as the Messiah
to Peter, James, and John.

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

God used Moses to bring in the Law, the Old Covenant of works. God sent His Son Jesus to bring to us the New Covenant of Grace. When Moses went up Mount Sinai, the Bible says:

Exodus 24:16 And the glory of the Lord abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

When Jesus went up Mount Hermon the Bible says:

Matthew 17:1 … after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart

In both cases, God spoke to Moses and His Son on the seventh day, from a cloud (Mark 9:7; Exodus 24:16). When God spoke to Moses, He gave him a Law that would teach His people about the Coming of the Messiah. When God spoke on Mount Hermon, He only spoke to Peter, James, and John, but revealed Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Law of God. There wold be no longer a need for animal sacrifice following Calvary, for Jesus would be sacrificed once and for all for those who believe in Him.

Hebrews 10:4, 9-14 … it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 9 then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God {My Father}. {God} taketh away the first {covenant, the Law of works}, that he may establish the second {covenant, the Grace of Jesus Christ}. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

Moses brought stone tablets down Mount Sinai containing laws for God’s people to live by. Mount Sinai was NOT in the Promised Land, but in Arabia (Galatians 4:25). Jesus Christ alone came down Mount Hermon. It is Jesus that we follow, and His Spirit that guides us in life and through this wondrous Book we call the Holy Bible. When Moses came down Mount Sinai the first time, he found Israel worshiping a golden calf (Exodus 32:7-20). Had Moses not intervened, God would have destroyed Israel, saying:

Exodus 32:10 … let Me alone {Moses}, that My wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

Brothers and sisters, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God (Hebrews 10:31).

Had Moses not intervened, God would have wiped out all of Israel for sponsoring and following idolatry. But Moses intervened, and God spared Israel. When Jesus came down Mount Hermon, followed by Peter, James, and John, Israel was once more worshiping a golden calf. Many Churches today worship golden calves. Many Pastors stand in pulpits and, like Aaron, Moses brother, take the riches of the flock, melt it down, and build a golden calf for the congregation to worship. What are the golden calves we worship today?

Denominations, and human creeds.
Buildings and places of worship.
Music, and musical styles.
Pastors and people that are so fallible.

Are you at Mark 9:14? Let’s read it:

Mark 9:14-18 And when {Jesus} came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. 15 And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. 16 And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them? 17 And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; 18 and wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.

God Is Not The Author Of Confusion

When Moses came down the mountain, he found Israel worshiping a golden calf. Carrying the Law on stone tablets in his arms, he cast them to the ground, breaking them. Israel broke the Law, and Moses illustrated it very graphically.

When Jesus comes down the mountain, He finds 9 of His disciples in the midst of confusion. As our Master comes into view the arguing crowd runs toward Jesus.

Jesus speaks first to the Scribes, the Bible scholars.

Vs 16 {Jesus} asked the scribes, What question ye with them?

The Scribes have written scripture, copying them for others, so often that they have memorized vast sections of Biblical text. They make no recorded reply to Jesus, but I can imagine their words were much like Aaron spoke to Moses:

Exodus 32:22-24 .. Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. 23 For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us… 24 And I {Aaron} said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.

God’s Pastors are not to please people, but to please the God Who saved them and called them.

So many religious people know the Bible, but do not know the God Who wrote the Scripture. So many are like the Scribes, who know the text, but not the One the text was written about. When Jesus came down that mountain, He is “the Beloved Son in Whom the Father is well pleased” (Mark 9:7). God said “Hear Jesus!” The Father commands us that we look to Jesus. All eyes on Jesus. Yet we often get sidetracked. The Scribes have no answer that God considered worthy to be recorded in our Bible.

Mark 9:17-18 … one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; 18 and wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.

This man approached Jesus kneeling, asking for mercy, praying for help for his son.

Matthew 17:14-15 … kneeling down to {Jesus}, and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.

The man kneels down to Jesus, and puts his request before the Lord. If you compare Mark’s account to Matthew’s account, you see that this man approached the disciples before he approached Jesus. Perhaps he came to the disciples looking to find Jesus. When Jesus was gone away on the mountain, this father turned his attention to the disciples. He says:

I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not

We Too Often Rely Upon Ourselves, And Not The Lord

The reason that Israel demanded that Aaron make a false god to lead the nation was because Moses had been 40 days on Mount Sinai. Israel had been looking to Moses for leadership. Though Aaron was the High Priest, the people only trusted Moses. After all, hadn’t MOSES lifted the Rod of God over the Red Sea, and the waters parted. Hadn’t MOSES stood before the Rock in the desert and, striking the rock with his staff, hadn’t water gushed out? Aaron had done nothing to help the people, but MOSES was always there. When Moses left, after a few days the people became concerned. As time passed the people became confused, and then confusion moved into fear. We have lost MOSES. We need to DO something.

The nine disciples left at the base of Mount Hermon saw Jesus, Peter, James and John go up the mountain. We are told in Luke 9:37 that these four did not return until the next day. They didn’t have to wait for Jesus for 40 days – just ONE day. When this man comes up to the nine with his “son, which hath a dumb spirit (Mark 9:17), they attempt to cast out this spirit in their own power. Guess what? Nothing happens. Why? Because we need Jesus. We all need Jesus.

Faith is not a human ability. Faith is to trust in God, and to seek out God to fulfill our needs.

Illustrate Several years ago there was a lady in our Church in Lexington, Tennessee, who had a sister who had died of cancer. When she share the story with me, this precious lady was not bitter at God. She was bitter at the Church her sister was part of. When her sister was diagnosed with cancer, her Pastor and friends from the Church told her to “just believe. If you believe HARD ENOUGH your cancer will go away.” When the woman’s cancer continued to progress the Church, led by the Pastor, made her feel as if she were a failure as a Christian because she didn’t believe hard enough. Beloved, this is madness. You can’t just believe harder!

Illustrate Scottish Missionary John Gibson Paton, decided to translate the Gospel of John into the language of the natives of New Hebrides. He had a problem, though. The word “believe” is found in John 90 times – and the word “believe” was not in the language of the people. Dr. Paton was about to give up when one day a native came to his home. Exhausted, the native fell into a chair, and used the native word which means “I am resting all of me on this”. Dr Paton realized he could use this word for the English word “believe”.

To “believe” is to rest everything on God. To come, exhausted and spent, to The Lord Jesus Christ.

Beloved, we must never rely on ourselves for anything. We must rely on Jesus. To rely on anyone else is to rely on last – best. When we bring our brokenness and heartache to Someone for relief, we must not accept a lower case, little “s” someone. What does the Scripture say?

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Psalm 33:20 Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield.

Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

This man was in a terrible state because his son was suffering. He described his son’s condition. “He is taken, and torn. He foams at the mouth, and gnashes his teeth. He is losing weight, and will not eat.” This is such a frightening place to be. His “child is a lunatic, diving into the fire, diving into the water, seeking to destroy himself”. I have known many parents in this same condition. Their children, the ones that they dearly love, have fallen into a terrible state. Depression, cutting, self destructive behavior. Beloved, the child needs Jesus. We all need Jesus.

We need the Jesus Who is the Mediator of the New Covenant. We need the Jesus Who stands between us, and the Heavenly Father. We need the Jesus Who shed His Blood on Calvary for our sins. We need the Jesus Who cried out:

It is finished! (John 19:30)

Adam allowed sin to enter the world, and death by sin. When lust conceives, it brings forth sin, and sin, WHEN IT IS FINISHED, brings forth death (James 1:15). The devil led Adam into giving away our birthright, but Christ came to restore us to God. He is our Redeemer, our Savior, our Lord. We stand right before God because the Son was wronged on our behalf.

Oh, how we need to cry out to Jesus!

When I am afraid, I put my trust in You (Psalm 56:3). Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD (Jeremiah 17:7). Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD Himself, is the Rock eternal (Isaiah 26:4). When this man got where Jesus was supposed to be and Jesus wasn’t there, he looked to other fallen men for blessing. There is no lasting blessing in men. We are all fallible. But our Jesus is not.

Jesus addresses this man, saying:

Mark 9:19-20{Jesus} answereth {the father}, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. 20 And they brought him unto him

Word Study Jesus responds to the father of the afflicted child, but also addresses the crowd. He calls them all ἄπιστος γενεά apistos genea, “unbelieving people”. Why is He calling them this? Because they are trying to fix the situation that this man is in with human power. Human power can only go so far.

Zechariah 4:6 … Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.

It is God Who is Sovereign. There is a limit on human wisdom, on human ability. We have so much technology that we begin to believe that we are gods. Yet we are not. Only God is God. Only Jesus can fix what is hurting us. “Bring him to Me”, says Jesus. Bring your problems. Bring your troubles. Bring them to ME, our Master says.

Matthew 11:29 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Can you rest on Jesus? The Bible says,

Mark 9:20-22 and when {the boy} saw {Jesus}, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. 21 And {Jesus} asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.

This young man is obviously no longer a child. He has been afflicted since he was a child. He has been destructive for years, and nothing that man has done seems to help. The man tells Jesus, “IF You can do anything, have compassion on US”. The suffering of the child is shared by the parent. What is interesting about this statement is that, in the Greek text, this “IF” is a First Class Condition. What the man is literally saying is:

IF, and I know you can, IF You will heal my child, it will help both of us!

Jesus tells the man:

Mark 9:23-24Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

What Jesus Is Asking Is,
“Will You REST FULLY On Me?”

Jesus isn’t asking this man to believe harder. He’s telling the man, “Will you rest fully in My arms? Will you surrender the entire situation – bleak as it looks – to Me”? Notice how the man answered Jesus:

Mark 9:24 {the father} said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief

The man is at a place of absolute surrender.

Tears are streaming down his face. He doesn’t care what people think of him. He could care less. He just wants his child to be healed. Beloved, Jesus Christ came to this earth for people just like this. He didn’t come for those who think they have it all together. Jesus came for the broken, the imperfect, the sinner in need of a Savior. Jesus said:

Mark 2:17 … They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

If you think you’re whole, Jesus isn’t for you. If you think you’ve got it all together, Jesus isn’t for you. This father is saying, “Jesus, help me as I am, a doubter!” We often lose the blessings of God because we will not rest in Christ. We flap about, trying to be better, trying to be stronger. But this is not what Jesus wants of us. He wants us to trust in Him, to rest fully on Him and His Word, believing that our God is able.

Mark 9:25 -27 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. 26 And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up;
and he arose.

Jesus is able. Our Jesus is able to do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20). There is nothing that our Lord cannot do, if we will rest fully upon Him.

A Private Word With Christ’s Disciples

The message today ends with these words:

Mark 9:28-29 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

What do “prayer” and “fasting” have in common? Properly understood, both prayer and fasting are a denial of self, and an absolute reliance upon God. As Christians and as humans we, at times, become too familiar with our God. We’re saved by faith, but many of us have gotten to where we are not passionate in our faith.

Apathy is, in many ways, worse than Atheism.

God allows trials in our lives to bring us face to face with situations we cannot overcome. I believe the Covid-19 Pandemic is a prime example of this. Too long in America, England, Canada, and in other prosperous nations we have relied on little “s” someones or somethings rather than relying on Jesus. Covid-19 has, thank God, brought us to the end of our resources. We are being reintroduced to faith, true Biblical faith.

We must rely on God our Savior. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1 NASB). Faith believes what God has said, regardless as to how things seem. Faith is to come to God believing that He is as He says, and that He will bless those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Faith believes in and rests in the Master. This is what saves a person. This is what keeps on saving a person.

We must come to Jesus Christ!

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Amen and Amen!

Posted in Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached | Tagged ,

Transfiguration (Red Letters #41)

Photo by Boris Smokrovic on Unsplash

After rebuking Peter for saying that Christ need not go to Calvary, Jesus told His disciples that Calvary was only necessary for Him, but it is necessary for THEM. Just as Jesus would die on Calvary to make payment for our sins, we who would follow Jesus must die on Calvary, surrendering our lives to God. Jesus said:

Matthew 16:24-26 If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Jesus denied Himself – His position as Son of God and His power as God the Son – in order that we be saved. To receive the salvation that Jesus has given to us we MUST also go to a Calvary.

We must, like Jesus, deny our self, take up the Cross, and follow the Master. To those who refuse to go to Calvary, they shall lose their birthright, eternal life from Christ. To those who cling to this world and to the old self there shall never be a change. You can gain the whole world, but in return you lose your own soul. You must surrender to the Lord, trusting Him, believing Him as Lord and Savior. This is non-negotiable. If you do not, you have no hope for life afterward. Jesus told His disciples,

Just as I surrendered to the Cross for You,
You must surrender to the Cross for Me.

Jesus said in verse 27:

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and
then he shall reward every man according to his works.”

The Messiah will one day return, and reward every person according to their works. I can hear you now. You have been told by many preachers that salvation is a gift of God, not of works, lest any person should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). Human works will not secure salvation for anyone. There is no good that you can do that will impress God, causing Him to save you. But there is ONE WORK that you must do. Do you know what it is? When crowds followed Jesus to Capernaum right after He miraculously fed the 5000+ men, women, and children, many asked:

John 6:28 What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

Jesus’ answer was simple. He said: This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom {God the Father} hath sent.” (John 6:30). You are to believe Jesus. All judgment is given into Jesus hands (John 3:35; 5:22). There is coming a judgment day where the Son will judge every person according to their works. Have you followed Christ, denying yourself, resting in Him? If not, you will not be blessed, nor are you saved.

Right after Jesus speaks of His judgment on us all, He says:

Matthew 16:28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

Jesus Transfigured Is Jesus In His Kingdom

As this is the last verse of Matthew chapter 16, this verse has confused many commentators and Bible Scholars over the years. The reality is the original scriptures had no chapter and verse divisions. These were put in place by men, and men are fallible. Verse 28 of chapter 16 actually should be verse 1 of chapter 17. We know this because of a little word AND. Read with me:

Matthew 17:1-3 AND after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 and was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

The Transfiguration of Jesus is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In Mark and Luke there is no chapter break between Jesus’ statement and the incident at the Mount of Transfiguration. For instance:

Mark 9:1-4 And {Jesus} said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. 2 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. 3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. 4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.

Jesus had a reason for everything He said and did. He told His disciples He had to go to Calvary for them, and they had to go to Calvary for Him. Then Jesus said, “Some of you will not see death, till you have seen Me in the Kingdom of God”. The Mount of Transfiguration is a fulfillment of what Jesus promised to His disciples.

Prayer And Revelation

Matthew 17:1 …. Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,

Luke tells us:

Luke 9:28 … {Jesus} took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.

Jesus took Peter, James and John apart from the other Apostles. He had something He wanted these three men to see. As leaders, they needed to see the power of prayer. These men would be very important in the beginning of the early Church. Peter is the Chief Apostle, the leader of the missionaries that will go out for Him after Jesus ascends into Heaven. John will be the longest lived Apostle, a man who teaches us all how to love the Messiah. And James will be the Pastor of the Church in Jerusalem, the most dangerous place in the world to have a Church.

As these men pray, God allows these men to see the Kingdom of God come with power. The central figure of the Kingdom is our Lord Jesus Christ. We read:

Matthew 17:2 and {Jesus} was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

Word Study The word translated TRANSFIGURED is the Greek μεταμορφόω metamorphoō, which means “to change or be transformed from one state to another”. When Jesus walked this earth, He was God the Son, veiled in human flesh. The Father said to Jesus:

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

God became Man and dwelt among us. Jesus would one day tell John, exiled on Patmos, that:

Revelation 1:8 I {Jesus} am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

The writer of Hebrews speaks of how the Old Covenant sacrifices and the Holy of Holies were shadows of the Coming Messiah. In Hebrews 10 we are told the Law of Sacrifice in the Old Covenant was but a shadow of good things to come. The animal sacrifices spoke of the need for the covering of sin. Yet these sacrifices were but temporary until God made a permanent way (Hebrews 10:1-4). For “it is NOT POSSIBLE that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins”. This is why Jesus came into the world. Under the old Covenant the Priest took the Blood into the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the sins of the people. A veil covered that holiest of places.

That veil represented the flesh of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 10:19-20 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;

As the Apostles prayed, God drew back the veil from the Holy of Holies. He exposed the wonderful Being of our Lord Jesus Christ. His Godness shined through, a Godness that had not been seen to that point. Mark says:

Mark 9:2-3 {Jesus} was transfigured before them. 3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.

Jesus was transfigured (μεταμορφόω metamorphoō) before them. Mark uses the same word, whereas Luke says “as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering” (Luke 9:29). We speak of scientific metamorphosis, where the caterpillar becomes the butterfly through that miraculous cocoon. The caterpillar looks common, and has none of the beauty that the butterfly has. I think the Scripture used the perfect word to describe what happened to Jesus on that mountain. The Scripture, prophesying of the Christ, said that when He was first on this earth:

Isaiah 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

When people first saw Christ, He looked like every man. He was no movie star. He was, to most who saw Him, just a carpenter’s son (Matthew 13:55). He is a nobody from Nazareth. “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.” (Isaiah 53:3).

And then God the Father drew back the veil!

Dr. Kent Hughes writes in his commentary, “For a brief moment the veil of Jesus’ humanity was lifted, and His true essence was allowed to shine through. The glory which was always in the depths of His being rose to the surface for that one time in His earthly life.”

Suddenly Peter, James, and John see Jesus as He truly is. He is God incarnate. He is the Only means unto Heaven. He is the Only means by which we may have peace with God. He is the Lamb of God, offered but once for the sins of the world. He is the Promised Redeemer. He is the Shekinah Glory of God behind the veil that the frightened priest make sacrifice to. He is the Kingdom of God coming in glory and power!

Oh Beloved, it is prayer that opens the door, and causes the scales to fall from our eyes. It is prayer that lets us see Jesus as He is. Prayer “opens my eyes that I may see wondrous things out of God’s Law” (Psalm 119:18). When Elisha prayed, “Oh Lord, open my servant’s eyes so he may see” (2 Kings 6:17), the servant’s eyes were opened so that he saw the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. When Peter, James and John prayed, the blinders fell off. They saw Jesus as He is, as He has always been.

Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. (John 8:12; 9:5)
His Kingdom is a Kingdom of Light.

Those who come to Christ in faith are a transformed people. Daily we give…

Colossians 1:12-14 … thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Christ, With Elijah And Moses

Matthew 17:3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and {Elijah} talking with {Jesus}.

Our Jesus, Who is shining with the Shekinah Glory of God, is now not praying, but holding a conversation with Moses and Elijah. The first thing I’d like to relate is this: how did they know this was Moses and Elijah? Peter, James, and John had never met either Moses or Elijah. Moses had been dead about 1400 years prior to this wonderful vision. Elijah had been received unto glory around 900 years prior to this time. How could they know who these men were. Beloved, they knew because they were in the Presence of Christ.

I have had people ask me “Will we know our loved ones in Heaven?” This text is proof that, yes, we WILL know our loved ones in Heaven. When we are in the presence of Christ in glory, we shall know what He knows. He knows His Sheep, and we shall know His Sheep. The Apostle Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now (on this earth) we see through a glass, darkly; but then (in Heaven) face to face: now (on this earth) I know in part; but then (in Heaven) shall I know even as also I am known.

Illustrate When I came to the Church this past Tuesday, I saw the cutest thing, something that is actually an illustration of the text I just quoted. On the front steps of our Church building, right at the entry doors, a visitor was knocking on the door. Yes, a visitor! It was a wild turkey! I sat in our driveway, watching from my car, until I realized what the bird was doing. It saw its reflection in the glass of our double doors, and was pecking at it, trying to hit the ghostly image it assumed was another bird. I crept up and tried to get it’s picture, but it saw in the reflection, and took off! But this is so appropriate to our message today.

While we are on this earth we see through a glass, darkly. We don’t see the full picture. But when we enter Heaven because of Christ’s loving sacrifice, we shall know as we are known. No one will have to tell me who Isaiah, Moses, Elijah, Joseph, or any of the other Saints are. When we enter glory and are in the presence of Christ, glorious Christ, all shadows and darkness will be gone. Dr. W.A. Criswell said, “How do you know how to swallow? Did you know to swallow is one of the most complicated anatomical processes in your anatomy? But I never think about it. I just swallow. That is an intuitive knowledge. I was not taught it when I was a baby. I knew it. It is an intuitive knowledge, Moses and Elijah.”

In the Presence of Christ there will be no hidden things. We will know and love one another equally. There is no marriage, nor giving in marriage, but we will be like the angels in Heaven (Matthew 22:30). Praise God, death will be gone forever!

Seeing Moses and Elijah brings out another point. Some people believe that, when you die, your soul sleeps in the ground until the resurrection. Yet this text proves this to be incorrect. Moses died, as I said before, about 1400 years before – and yet here he is talking with Jesus. And Elijah. A chariot of fire took Elijah from this earth some 900 years before (2 Kings 2:11). Elijah was not sleeping somewhere, waiting for the bodily resurrection. No, both Elijah and Moses are with Jesus on the Mount, talking with Jesus. It is this beautiful figure that would give James the courage to pastor the Church at Jerusalem. Though the first martyr of the Church will be the Deacon Stephen (Acts 6:5, 8; 7:59), the first Apostle to be killed will be James (Acts 12:2). Herod will have James killed. But James will meet his fate without fear. What does God tell us who have believed on Him?

Romans 8:16-18 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Moses is a picture of the Christian who has died, believing in Christ. He is not sleeping in a grave somewhere. He is alive, and with Jesus. Moses died in the service of the Master. Some of us will die in the service of the Master, but we will be souls around the Altar of God in glory (Revelation 6:9; 20:4). Our BODIES will sleep in the ground until the Coming of the Lord:

1 Corinthians 15:52-53 …. in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

But until that trumpet sound we, like Moses, will be with our Jesus. But what of Elijah? Elijah never suffered death. He represents those who are on the earth when Jesus returns for His Church.

1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 … if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Jesus will come, and receive us who love Him and believe in Him. His Church shall not suffer the wrath of the Great Tribulation, but we, like Elijah, will be caught up to be with the Lord. Praise God for this great truth. Moses and Elijah, those dead and those raptured, bound together in the glorious Kingdom of Christ!

Why did Moses and Elijah meet with Christ on that mountain? We read:

Matthew 17:3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with {Jesus}.

They came to talk to Jesus. What did they discuss? Well the Blessed Physician tells us:

Luke 9:30-31 … there talked with {Jesus} two men, which were Moses and {Elijah}: 31 who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.

Moses and Elijah Are Representations

Word Study Moses represents the Law of God. The Bible tells us “the Law was given by Moses” (John 1:17). God gave the Old Testament Law of sacrifice and rituals to Moses. The Law of sacrifice had no power to save. When Moses spoke to Jesus, he spoke of our Lord’s DECEASE which He should accomplish at Jerusalem. When I read that text I thought, “what a strange translation – what does it mean?” So I looked it up. The word translated DECEASE is ἔξοδος éxodos, {pronounced ex’-od-os}. Moses spoke to Jesus about HIS exodus. When God saved Israel from Egypt, He carried His people out of Egypt, protecting them as they went, and called this the “Exodus”. As Moses led Israel in Exodus, Jesus Christ leads His Church in Exodus. When we come to Him, He forgives us our sins. He carries us away from fallen and pagan Egypt, and brings us into His glorious kingdom.

As Moses speaks to Jesus, I can imagine what he must have said. “Jesus, when You gave us the Law on Sinai, every sacrifice, every ritual was just a shadow of something better. The Law said in Leviticus 17:11, “it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul”. The Law said in Hebrews 9:22, “without shedding of blood is no remission {of sin}”. Oh Jesus, thank You so much for coming from Heaven to this earth. Thank You for being willing to go to Jerusalem, to become THE Lamb of God that takes away all sin.”

1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

And Elijah, he represents the prophesies of the Messiah, the promises God made through His Prophets. Elijah was the greatest of the prophets. As Elijah spoke to Jesus, I can imagine him saying: “Jesus, we were blessed to foresee Your coming. Lord, thank You for fulfilling the Word of the Lord to us all. Through Isaiah (53:5) You said, ‘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.’ Lord, You must die if we are to be redeemed,

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

What a glorious moment in time was this Transfiguration! John would later write, “we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14). Peter would later say, {we} were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 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.” (2 Peter 1:16-17). James would never speak of this in Scripture, being martyred so soon after Christ’s ascension.

Was Peter Wrong? Let’s Rethink This

As this wondrous Transfiguration is shown, as God rolls back the curtain and let’s us glimpse into the Holy of Holies, Peter speaks up. We read:

Matthew 17:4-8 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for {Elijah}. 5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. 7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. 8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.

I have often thought that Peter misspoke when he suggested that “three Tabernacles” (σκηνή skēnḗ, {pronounced skay-nay’}) be erected on this mountain. Now, I’m not so sure. First of all, Jesus never corrected what Peter said. When the Father spoke and said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him, Peter, James, and John were frightened. Jesus did not chastise Peter like He did when Peter suggested that Jesus not go to Jerusalem. Jesus told him then, “Get thee behind Me, Satan: thou art an offense to Me!” (Matthew 16:23). Now Jesus just goes to these frightened men, touches them, and says “do not be afraid”. No rebuke. Just comfort.

Also, the Father did not rebuke Peter. The Father just clarified the truth when He said, “This is My Beloved Son; hear ye Him”. As Moses represented the Law and Elijah the Prophets, the “Law and the Prophets”, or the Holy Scripture, is what Jesus came to fulfill. Jesus never, ever deleted the Law and the Prophets, but commanded that we follow them. For instance:

Matthew 7:12 all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Matthew 22:38-40 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.

God’s Word, His Holy Bible, is to be cherished, for it teaches of the Christ. I believe the Scripture is still valid, still to be honored. Though we no longer perform ritual sacrifices and shadows for the atonement of sin (for Christ has come, and we are no longer under the Law of sacrifice), the Scripture is still God’s Word and is to be honored. But the emphasis as we study the Scripture is ALWAYS CHRIST JESUS. The Law and the Prophets are interpreted through the Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. We are always careful to remember:

Jesus is the Father’s Beloved Son: Hear ye Him!

The Law and the Prophets point to Christ. All of Scripture heralds Christ. Scripture is important, for it speaks of Jesus. Do you know Jesus? Do you know Him? Have you received Him as the Scripture presents Him? Oh, how I pray that you have. You will not be transfigured until you see Him transfigured, and you receive Him transfigured into your life by faith. May God the Holy Spirit lead you, by His Word, to His Son this very day. Amen and Amen!

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