Purge Out The Leaven

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1 Corinthians 5:7-8 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The fallen world often frightens me.

I was reading an article in Touchstone magazine (“A Journal of Mere Christianity”) that noted:

In February of last year, The Dallas Observer reported that the Satanic Temple of Texas had filed a First Amendment religious liberty lawsuit to defend its right to perform child sacrifices as religious ritual. The reason this otherwise shocking news may not have crossed your transom is that the Satanists only perform this ritual during abortion procedures. … once the doctor has killed the child, the mother affirms her deed by saying, ‘By my body, my blood. By my will, it is done.’” The author of the briefing, J. Douglas Johnson (Deputy Editor of Touchstone) went on to note, “… like the demons who knew exactly who Jesus was when they saw him and said so, the Satanists know a child sacrifice when they see one”.

Sadly, though the demons and their followers often know right from wrong, Christ’s Church sometimes blurs the lines of truth and fallacy. No where is this more evident than in the matter of human sexuality. When God created man and woman, He gave us not only His command to Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over {it}” (Genesis 1:28), but God gave us an appetite to love our opposite. God said:

Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

Biblical marriage – one man married to one woman for one lifetime – was the standard that God established in the beginning of human history. When people depart from God’s design we have numerous problems, such as:

Unwanted children who are aborted
Sexually transmitted diseases
Confused children and families
Gender dysphoria
Abnormal {as God determines “normal”} sexual desires

Jesus Christ Is Our Passover

1 Corinthians 5:7-8 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us…

The Apostle tells the Christian to Purge out therefore the old leaven. What does this mean? The night before Israel was saved from Egypt, they sacrificed a “Passover Lamb” (Exodus 12:11). Where ever God “passed over”, if He saw the blood of the Lamb on the doorposts of the home, God would keep on going. But where the Blood was NOT, death came. The Blood of the Lamb brought salvation to Israel.

Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb. His Blood was shed to save us from our sins. The Christian is a person who has been led by God outside of a spiritual Egypt, outside of this world of darkness. Jesus Christ fixed us!

When Jesus came to this earth, He came to fix the broken. As “Christ”, our Lord is equal to both Father and Spirit. Christ is the Eternal “Word” of God. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and THE WORD WAS GOD. The Same was in the beginning with God. ALL THINGS WERE MADE BY HIM; and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3). As “Jesus”, our Lord was supernaturally born of a Virgin into the humanity He helped create. The Prophet said:

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. {which means “God with us”, Matthew 1:23)

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

The child is born. This is Jesus. The son is given. This is Christ. God the Son could never be born, for He is eternal, without beginning or end. But Jesus the Son of Man was born. Jesus is the …

John 1:29 …. Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world

Jesus did not come to us to ENHANCE sin,
but to DEMOLISH sin.

Jesus was born “a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). He was not born to enable sin, but to disable sin and it’s power over us. When you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior you come from a state where you were enslaved to sin, and enter a state where you want to serve God. The Apostle wrote:

Romans 6:17-19 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

Romans 6:14 … sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Though the Christian has the ability to sin, the Spirit of God indwells the believer in Christ. If anyone have not the Spirit of Christ, HE IS NONE OF HIS”. When we who are saved sin, the Spirit of God within us becomes “grieved” (Ephesians 4:30, Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption). The Spirit moves within us, guiding us into ALL TRUTH” (John 16:13). Not into error, but into truth. As we who are Christians live out our lives we “walk in the Spirit”. Not in SIN, but IN THE SPIRIT.

Galatians 5:16, 25 … Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. … 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Christians Are To Purge Out The Old Leaven

When Israel celebrated the yearly Passover (commemorating their deliverance from Egypt), part of that Passover was to go about the home looking for Leaven (yeast – see Exodus 12:15; 13:6-7). All yeast or leaven was to be gathered up and cast outside of the home. Often the little children went about the home with a feather, checking every corner, nook, and cranny for leaven. Leaven is symbolic for sin in the Bible. The site Got Questions notes:

“… leaven represents sin or corruption. The law forbade grain offerings made with leaven (Leviticus 2:11). In fact, no yeast was allowed to be burned on the altar in any sacrifice. The grain offering for Aaron and his sons (the priests) was also not to contain leaven and was to be eaten in a holy place (Leviticus 6:17). … Leaven is also mentioned in the New Testament. In Matthew 16:6–12, Jesus compared the false teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees and Herodians to leaven. ”

God tells His Children to Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened (vs 7). When we recognize sin in our lives we are to address that sin IMMEDIATELY. We have to use the feather of Grace to sweep out that evil. We are not to tolerate evil in our lives, nor in our gatherings … lest the death angel come.

In short, a sinning Christ is Abnormal, not normal. A sinning Christian will be under the conviction of God the Holy Spirit. A sinning Christian who will not repent may meet the death angel.

Sin must not be in our bodies. Sin must not be in our homes. Sin must not be in our Church gatherings. Sin is any behavior or attitude that our God considers unholy and unlike Christ. When Paul told the Corinthians,

1 Corinthians 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

It is Christ Who saved us by dying for us. But it is WE who are saved who are to keep our bodies, our families, and our gatherings unleavened. We as believers are a new lump. We do not belong to this world, but to the Kingdom of Christ. Jesus said:

John 8:12 … I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

The Apostle said in 1 John 1:6, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth…”

As Christians we do not walk in darkness. We do not live out our lives in Egypt. We follow a risen Savior, and live so as to please Him. The Corinthians forgot this. Paul writes:

1 Corinthians 5:1-2 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

There was a young man who professed to be a believer in the congregation at Corinth. This young man was involved in fornication, the Greek πορνεία porneía, [pronounced por-ni’-ah]. Whenever a person violates the sanctity of the marriage sexually by unlawfully coming into that marriage sexually, this is called “adultery”, the Greek μοιχεύω moicheúō, [pronounced moy-khyoo’-o]. The Apostle did not use this word for what the young man did. Though what he did was adultery, his action was much more horrendous. This is why the Apostle uses porneía, a word often used to describe “adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals, or sexual intercourse with close relatives”. The young man in question was having sexual intercourse with his father’s wife, or his stepmother. In God’s Word we are told:

Leviticus 18:8 The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness.

Leviticus 20:11 And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Those who were sexually engaged with his father’s wife were stoned with stones until they were dead in the Old Testament. To those who say that – once saved you can do whatever you want, the Scripture says “NOT SO”. Though Christians are not to physically stone a member of the Family of God until dead, the Apostle tells us to do something else. We are to mourn over the one who does such a thing. We mourn because a terrible crime against God was committed in our midst. We mourn because leaven has entered the congregation of light. And leaven, when introduced, will grow until it “leavens the whole lump”. The Apostle tells the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 5:3-5 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

We do not stone the offender, but we deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. We reject that type of behavior from amongst the flock. The word deliver is the Greek παραδίδωμι paradídōmi, [pronounced par-ad-id’-o-mee], which means “to surrender or yield up, to give into the hands of another (here, to Satan)”. What does this mean? It means that as believers we spiritually hand the offender over to Satan, so that he might destroy them.

We stop fellowshipping with that professor.
We stop regarding that professor to be a brother or sister in Christ.

This is not an action that is taken lightly. If a brother or sister in Christ does evil, we are to try and convince them to repent and return to the Master. We are told in another place:

Galatians 6:1-2 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

We are to lovingly and carefully share the Scripture truth with the wandering believer. The Scripture says:

James 5:19-20 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

We are to do our best to reach the wayward believer. But if they will not hear, they are to be turned over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (vs 5). The Apostle himself turned two other men over to Satan.

1 Timothy 1:18-20 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; 19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: 20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Beloved, there is safety in the Church of Christ. There is safety in this Blood Bought assembly. For those who do evil, and refuse to repent, we are to let them go, to turn them over to Satan. Why Satan? Because we are told that Satan has the power of Death (Hebrews 2:14).

We Do Not Keep Company With Certain Fornicators

Jesus was often seen sitting among the sinners. The Pharisees charged Jesus with being “a friend of publicans and sinners” (Matthew 11:19). Jesus sat with sinners, all types of sinners, to lead them to salvation. But once a person is saved, their attitude toward sin changes. A good illustration is in the life of Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a tax collector, one of the richest tax collectors of his day. When he heard Jesus was coming past his home, Zacchaeus got up in a tree and waited. The Bible says:

Luke 19:5-7 … when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

Zacchaeus responded to the Gospel call of Jesus. He came down, and received {Jesus} joyfully. Receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, Zacchaeus:

Luke 19:8-9 … stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

Zacchaeus’ behavior toward sin changed. All that he had stolen, he was going to return. He is no longer lost, but found. No longer blind, but now he sees.

It is fine to reach out to and share the Gospel with an unsaved sinner. Jesus did this all the time. But we are not to condone a SAVED person doing evil. We are to spot it, highlight it, and if the person will not repent, refuse to fellowship with them until they repent.

We see this in:

1 Corinthians 5:9-11 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

If someone who is called a brother, but continues in sexual sin, is covetous” (pleonéktēs, constantly wanting more stuff, rabidly eager for gain), or an idolater” (worships false gods), or a railer” (loídoros, reviles or mocks), or a drunkard, or an extortioner” (hárpax, one who illegally takes something not their own, or forces one to give something not their own). If someone professes to be a brother or sister in Christ, and yet continues in this lifestyle choice, then we are not to enable them further. We are to tell them to repent, and have no casual relationship with them. The Apostle said, with such an one no not to eat.

But and if they repent we are to receive them. But until they repent, the Apostle said Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” This seems harsh, but it is not. Those who will do such things will lower the holiness of the whole Church if embraced in their sin.

Let us live for Jesus while we are here. We are to be God’s lighthouse. May Jesus Christ, through His Spirit and this His Word, reach many hearts through this text. Amen and amen.

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Be A Good Steward Where God Puts You

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Please turn with me in your Bibles to Ezekiel 34. We’re going to go on a journey today that will end up in Bethlehem. Get ready to travel!

We have a tendency to think that what we do does not matter. After all, who am I? But the Bible is very clear that everything we as Christians do is important. The Apostle writes:

Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV) Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

And this as well, Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

What you do (or don’t do) matters

Ancient Israel got into a mess because the leadership of the nation turned away from following God. The leaders didn’t do their jobs, and the people did not try to correct the problem. God told Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 34:2-8 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. 4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. 5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. 7 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; 8 As I live, saith the Lord God, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock;

The shepherds or leaders in Israel fed themselves, and fed not my flock.

Parents were not tending to their children, but their own needs. Husbands were not tending to their wives, but their own needs. Priests were not sharing the Word of God with the people.Politicians and Princes were not focused on heeding God’s Word.
Israel had become lazy in her faith.
As the leadership goes, so goes the nation.

So Israel fell – no, they WALKED into Babylonian captivity. But not all of Israel divorced God. There were people like Daniel.

Daniel Faithfully Followed God
Not “Political Correctness” Nor The Crowd

Let’s move our caravan to the Book of Daniel. Daniel and Ezekiel were about the same age. Daniel, and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego loved the Lord.

Though they were taken into Babylonian captivity about 600 years before Christ came, they kept their eyes on the Lord and not on their situation.

The first test Daniel and his friends had to endure was whether they would compromise with their unbelieving captors or not. The Bible says:

Daniel 1:8-9 … Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. 9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs…

As Daniel sought to serve God first, God gave Daniel favor and compassion from his pagan taskmaster. Daniel loved God! God loved Daniel! When King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a dream no one could interpret:

Daniel 2:19 … the secret {was} revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.

Daniel refused to take credit for knowing the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Daniel told the King:

Daniel 2:27-28 … The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; 28 But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.

When Daniel gave Nebuchadnezzar the interpretation of the dream, the King made Daniel …

Daniel 2:48 … ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.

Word Study: The phrase the wise men is the Hebrewחַכִּים chakkîym, {pronounced khak-keem’}, which means “wise men, Magian or Magi”. Daniel was known as

Daniel 5:11 … a man … in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers;

Daniel was considered the wisest of the wise men. He was the Chief Magi. When Babylon fell to Assyria, the King of Assyria loved Daniel!

Daniel 6:1-3 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; 2 And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. 3 Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.

Daniel put God first, and God made Daniel first. Daniel was over all the wise men, the Magi, over all the rulers in Medo-Persia. In “Manners And Customs Of The Bible” we read (Page 399):

These wise men, or more properly named Magi, belonged to a large and influential order of men. Though the origin of Magism is somewhat obscure, it’s thought to have it’s beginning among either the Chaldeans {Babylonians} or the Assyrians; more probably among the former.”

Daniel also prophesied of the coming of the Messiah (Daniel 9:24-27). The Magi knew that the Messiah was prophesied to be (Numbers 24:17) “… a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter … out of Israel”.

Daniel Planted A Seed Among The Magi,
Which Bloomed In Matthew Chapter Two

Matthew 2:1-2 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.

Word Study: What would cause a group of wise men(μάγος mágos, [pronounced mag’-os] or MAGI) to travel around 1000 miles to Jerusalem? Though exiled to Babylon, Daniel remained faithful to God. His faith planted a seed that would – 600 years later – lead these Magi to Jerusalem.

The Bible doesn’t tell us how many Magi there were in this group that came looking for Jesus. We do know, however,

  • First, they are Gentiles, not Jews. We learn this because they are Magi from the East (verse 1).
  • Second, we know that these Magi did not come when Jesus was in a manger. Look at verse:

Matthew 2:11 … And when they {the Magi} were come INTO THE HOUSE …

Word Study: Last week we saw the Shepherds come to visit Jesus, they found Him lying in a manger; because there was no room for them in the INN {κατάλυμα katalyma, “guest chamber”}. Though Jesus is still in Bethlehem, He is not in a manger but in a HOUSE or HOME (οἰκία oikía, [pronounced oy-kee’-ah]). Jesus was older than He was when He was in the manger. These Magi are seeking out Jesus to worship Him. Our Jesus is worthy of worship. I say again, Jesus is worthy of worship! God told Israel, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me … Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God an a jealous God … “ (Exodus 20:3, 5). And yet the Bible says:

Hebrews 1:6 (ESV) … when He {God} brings the firstborn {Jesus} into the world, He says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

Jesus Christ is worthy of worship! Our Jesus is “the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). It is only through Jesus Christ that we find “peace with God”.

Romans 5:1 (ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Magi followed a star, His Star to Jerusalem, so they could worship Jesus. Our Jesus is “the Root and Descendant of David, the Bright and Morning Star” (Revelation 22:16). Our Jesus is worthy of worship! Jesus is worth more than mere sustenance. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4, ESV). Jesus is the Living Word of God. In John 6:35 Jesus said:

I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

Jesus satisfies our hunger and thirst for righteousness. Only through Him are we filled (Matthew 5:6). Jesus is “the Light of the World”. The world stumbles about in the darkness of sin, but the believer follows the Savior and Lord of all.

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

Jesus is worthy of worship because – though Eternal God the Son – He came to this earth and humbled Himself to be our Good Shepherd:

In John 10:11 Jesus declared, I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Because Jesus has laid His life down for us, we have the promise of eternal life. Jesus said:

John 11:25-26 … I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. …

You may believe in many things, but if you do NOT believe in Jesus, you will not be saved from darkness and damnation. Jesus declared I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE: no one comes to the Father BUT BY ME.” (John 14:6).

The Magi Were “Joyous” Unbelievers Were “Troubled”

Matthew 2:3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Word Study: These Magi had been searching many miles and many months for Jesus. They were seeking Him out to worship Him. But Herod and Jerusalem were troubled. This is the Greek ταράσσω tarássō, {pronounced tar-as’-so}, which means “to strike one’s spirit with fear and dread, to be anxious, distressed, agitated like boiling water”. The Bible tells us that

1 John 3:8 … for this purpose the Son of God was manifested {became flesh}, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

The Lamb of God became incarnate {flesh} to defeat the devil, death, and disease. When Jesus came into the world, it was as if God had said once again “Let there be Light” and there was Light (Genesis 1:3). Yet those vested in darkness were not pleased with the Light of God coming into the world.

Jesus said in John 3:19 … this is the condemnation, that LIGHT is come into the world, and {people} LOVED DARKNESS rather than LIGHT, because THEIR DEEDS WERE EVIL ..

Herod did not want the Light that is Christ. Jerusalem did not want the Light that is Christ. Jesus came unto His own people (John 1:11), and HIS OWN RECEIVED HIM NOT. Herod begins to plot.

Matthew 2:4-6 And when {Herod} had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, {Herod} demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

The Priests and Scribes, well acquainted with the Scriptures, knew that Micah 5:2 noted that the “Ancient of Days” or the Incarnate Messiah would come from Bethlehem. Herod now knows where Jesus is. He tells the Magi:

Matthew 2:8-9 And {Herod} sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

The Magi had the guidance of an unbelieving King Herod, and supernatural star that led them to the exact home Jesus was in. The Bible.org Devotional notes: Most amazing were the people of Jerusalem, and in particular, the religious scholars of Judaism, who knew where to turn in Scripture to learn about Messiah’s birth. —– Isaiah 9:6, Micah 5:2, Zechariah 9:9, Psalm 22:16-18. While the magi traveled many miles to worship Messiah, over a good deal of time, the people of Jerusalem could not find it in themselves to walk the five or six miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.

Matthew 2:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

The wordsexceeding great joy” {chairō sphodra megas chara} tell us that the Magi did not quietly go to Jesus. There was shouting, and praising of God. For 483 years the Magi had looked forward to meeting the Messiah. Now they were at the end of their journey.

Matthew 2:11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

When the Magi came into the house they did not see Joseph, nor any animals nor shepherds. If they were there, the Scripture would have said so. No, they saw the young child with Mary his mother. Their response was to fall down, and worship Him. The Magi gave the young Jesus three gifts suited to our Lord and Savior.

  • They gave Jesus gold, a gift suitable for a King. Jesus Christ is the “blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15).
  • The Magi gave Jesus frankincense, a highly aromatic spice used on by the Priests in the worship of God. The formula for these holy spices is found in Exodus 30:34-38. God told the Priests “you shall not make {this spice} for yourselves. It shall be for you holy to the Lord. Whoever makes any like it to use as perfume shall be cut off from his people.” Jesus Christ is the High Priest of His people (Hebrews 3:1; 4:14-15; 5:5; 6:20; 9:11). We have direct access to God through Jesus Christ, and Jesus “maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:34).
  • These Wise Men gave Jesus myrrh. Like frankincense, myrrh was a very costly item. It was used in the burial of the dead. The Israelis washed the corpse, then wound strips of cloth intermixed with myrrh and aloe. When Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea brought a mixture of myrrh and aloe, about a hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury” (John 19:39-40). Jesus Christ, our King and High Priest, would also be the Good Shepherd Who lays His life down for us (John 10:11).

Having completed their mission, the Magi (Matthew 2:12) “being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

Why Was Jesus Still In Bethlehem After Two Years?

In Luke 2 we see Jesus born, and laid in a manger. Some time later Jesus is still in Bethlehem, and as of yet Joseph has not taken his family back to Nazareth. So WHY is Jesus still in Bethlehem? It is because Jesus Christ, as the Messiah, must fulfill every Old Testament prophecy made about Him. When evil King Herod heard that the Magi went home without telling him where Jesus was, we read:

Matthew 2:16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

Herod decreed that his soldiers kill every child two years old and under. This tells us that Herod believed the Magi had been traveling up to two years to find the Christ. Rather than try and determine which child was the Christ, Herod had every child in that age range killed.

What a horrible thing! The Scripture goes on to tell us:

Matthew 2:17-18 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Matthew quotes the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:15, which foretold that Rachel would be heard weeping for her children. Bethlehem is not only the City of David, but it is the place where Rachel, one of the wives of Jacob, was buried (Genesis 35:19). It was prophesied that “Rachel” would weep and not be comforted because her “children are not”, that is, ceased to live. Herod would kill all the children 2 years old and younger. How horrible!

I often hear people judge God, saying, “If He were genuinely a loving and giving God, why would He allow such atrocities to bed done?” The answer is quite simple. We are “made in God’s image and likeness” (Genesis 1:27). We have the power to choose the right or the wrong. When we reject God’s love, and turn instead to satisfying our selfish desires, sin can lead us to the lowest of all places. This is where Herod was.

We have a choice. We all have a choice. We can run to the Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, and be blessed beyond measure. Or we can wallow in selfishness and darkness, consumed by sin. The choice is ours. Will you, like the Magi, come to Jesus to worship Him. Or will you, like Herod, seek your joy in self worship? Beloved, only Jesus is worthy of worship. Let us be wise as the Magi were wise. Let us come to Jesus. Here is the place of blessing.

May God the Holy Spirit draw you into a close relationship with Jesus. Amen and Amen.

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Be Stewards Of God’s Grace

Photo by Evi Odioko on Unsplash

1 Corinthians 4:1-4 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

Judge Not

One of the most abused Bible verses in the Scripture is Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). People love to trot this verse out anytime they make a lifestyle choice that the Scripture forbids.

The Scripture condemns practicing homosexuality.
The Scripture forbids sex outside of Biblical marriage.
The Scripture forbids drunkenness, thievery, greediness.

The Apostle said in:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV) … do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

And again in 1 Timothy 1:8-10 (ESV) Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,

Sound doctrine” (hygiainō didaskalia, wholesome or healthy teachings) will never advocate behavior that is forbidden by the Scripture. When Jesus said “Judge not, that ye be not judged”, Jesus was not forbidding that we should never make judgments. Right after saying “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1), Jesus went on to say in …

Matthew 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

And again in Matthew 7:15-16 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

As believers in Christ we are required to make judgments all the time. Our judgments are not based on our opinions, but on what the Holy Scripture says.

Scripture is our ruler.
Scripture is our weight scale.
Scripture is our measuring cup.
Scripture is our thermometer.
Scripture is our odometer.
Scripture is our thermostat.
Scripture drives the Christian!

It is not what PEOPLE say, but what GOD has said. When Jesus said “Judge not, that ye be not judged” He was warning us to EXAMINE OUR OWN LIVES FIRST before looking at another person’s life. When you read the context of Matthew 7 you will see that Jesus was NOT saying don’t make judgments. What He was saying was “Don’t make judgments without first examining your OWN life”. This is why He said:

Matthew 7:2-3 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Jesus is addressing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the Self Righteous, who were one in the same. Examine yourselves first – then try and help others!

Stewards Are Judged By Their Master

As workers together with God (2 Corinthians 6:1) and lively stones in the House of God (1 Peter 2:5) we ARE and WILL BE judged by our God.

The Corinthians have been comparing the ministry of Paul to the ministry of Apollos, and in their minds (and mouths) Paul’s ministry was terribly poor compared to Apollos. The first thing that Paul brings out is:

1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

Word Study:He starts with Let a man so account of us. Here he uses an interesting word, the Greek λογίζομαι logízomai, [pronounced log-id’-zom-ahee], which means “to take an inventory of”. Paul tells the Corinthians, “if you are calculating my ministry, start your calculations with this: we Apostles are ministers of Christ and stewards of God. Paul is telling the Church, “I don’t work for YOU. I work for JESUS”. And by implication, Paul is saying “YOU work for Jesus TOO”.

It is perfectly acceptable to judge a person’s behavior based on what the Scripture clearly outlines. There are certain things that Christians should and should not do. In 1 Corinthians 5 the Apostle will chastise the Church for not calling out and condemning fornication (sexual sin) in its midst. That requires judgment. In chapter 4 Paul is telling the Church “I work for Jesus. Jesus is my Master. Jesus will judge how I fulfilled my spiritual gifting. I am a STEWARD of God”.

Word Study: Every Christian is a steward of Grace. This is the Greek οἰκονόμος oikonómos, [pronounced oy-kon-om’-os], meaning “someone placed in charge of a property that is not their own”. Stewards work for the Master. Stewards are not primarily concerned with what other stewards think or do. Good Stewards tend to their area of assignment so as to please the Owner of the property. As humans, we truly own nothing. The Bible starts with:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth …

God is the Owner of all things, and humans are but managers. The Christian does not even own themselves. The Bible says:

1 Corinthians 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Our body and our spirit belong to God. He purchased us with the blood of Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord. You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a Lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19). We belong to God. We live our lives to please God. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

We are to love others. We are to try and help others. But as Christians, we live our lives to please the Owner of the Building, the Owner of the Garden. “You are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9, ESV). God is building the building. God is planting the field. We are servants of God.

1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

Stewards are to be “found faithful” by
the Owner of the property.

The Source of our salvation is God.
The Source of our spiritual gifting is God.
The Source of our spiritual power is God.

The Apostle said I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV). God gave us salvation, Sanctified us with His power, and indwelt us by His Spirit. We are to live to please the Master.

1 Corinthians 4:3-4 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

Paul does not waste time making judgments on his life, or listening to the judgments that others make on his spiritual gift. Paul said I judge not mine own self. He does not waste time critiquing what he has done for the Lord. Paul just follows the orders that the Lord gave him. He does the best he can with what God has entrusted to him.

There will always be murmurers and complainers among humans. Paul had little time for the murmurers and complainers! He focused on pleasing God.

Dr. Charles Stanley notes:

In the apostle’s day, a steward was a household manager—he himself didn’t own anything but was responsible for his master’s possessions and affairs. In essence, that’s what the Christian life is like. Every possession, privilege, and duty we have has been given to us by God. And as stewards, we are accountable to the Lord for the way we serve Him, what we say, and how we treat one another. The goal is God’s glory—not our rights, comforts, or pleasures.”

We cannot always see the end result of our work for God – but we can rest in the knowledge that God is in control. As Paul said earlier,

1 Corinthians 3:6 (ESV) I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

As stewards of God we do not often see the final results. We are just to be found faithful to our God every day. Do the best you can, as God decrees, and trust God for the results. The one who plants the garden does not necessarily determine the harvest. It is all in God’s hands. Live to please God. Because He that judgeth me is the Lord. The Lord judges us NOW, and will judge us at the Judgment Seat. We discussed that last week.

1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

When it comes to determining the performance of your ministry, let God be the judge. At the Judgment Seat of Christ our Lord will make manifest the counsels of the hearts. God will reveal the motivation behind what you did for Him. If you did something, but it was misunderstood by others (like the Corinthians), your heart’s cry will be revealed at the Judgment Seat. Paul begins to chastise the Corinthians for their murmuring against him.

Good Stewards Suffer

1 Corinthians 4:6-9 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. 7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? 8 Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you. 9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

Word Study: The Apostle went through a great deal of persecution and loss in order to be an effective Steward of what God had given him to do. As an Apostle, Paul became a spectacle to the world, to the angels, and to people. The word spectacle is the Greek θέατρον théatron, [pronounced theh’-at-ron]. The word refers to a THEATER, a CARNIVAL SIDESHOW, or a Roman COLISEUM. Paul is saying, “I have been put on display by both Heaven and earth, for the amusement of others”. Paul often had to allow himself to be put in humiliating places in order to fulfill his calling. Right after Paul received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior on the Damascus Road, the Bible says:

Acts 9:19-25 (ESV) … For some days {Paul} was with the disciples at Damascus. 20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But {Paul} increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. 23 When many days had passed, the Jews {Pharisees and Priests} plotted to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to {Paul}. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.

Here comes Saul, delivered like a loaf of bread outside of the city! To do God’s work, to be a good Steward of what God has given you to do, sometimes requires you look like a fool. We read:

1 Corinthians 4:10-13 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honorable, but we are despised. 11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; 12 And labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: 13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the off scouring of all things unto this day.

If you are going to live for God, you will be minimized in the Coliseum of life. Others will talk about you. Some will mock you. Perhaps a lazy Church like Corinth will criticize you. Yet you are Stewards for God.

Preach: The Corinthians were NOT living for Christ. When you have NO trials or tribulations, when your faith causes NO raised eyebrows by the world around you, you are NOT living for Christ. You are instead living as poor stewards, and will find this in the Judgment Seat of Christ one day.

John 15:20 (ESV) … ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

Christians, if you are living for Christ you will find resistance. If not, you will drift heavenward on gossamer wings (or so you believe)

We should expect difficulties if we are living for Jesus. Let us live for Jesus anyway! He is the Master, the Maker, and we but His stewards and children.

1 Corinthians 4:14-16 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. 15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

The Apostle said, be ye followers of me. This is not the only time Paul says this to the Church. In Philippians 3:17, “Brothers, join in imitating me”. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”.

Paul encourages the Corinthian believers to stop complaining, and to start living as Stewards of God.

As Paul put aside everything that might interfere with his being an effective Steward, he begs the Corinthiansbe ye followers of me. Some were even complaining that Paul had not visited then enough. Paul ends with these fatherly words:

1 Corinthians 4:18-21 Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. 21 What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?

Paul told the Corinthians, “Straighten up. Be better Stewards than you are now. Or else!” Oh Beloved, make sure that you stay on the right side of God’s Grace. Continue to serve Him, to please Him, to bring glory to Him.

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

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The Best Christmas Ever!

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John 1:16-17 And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Consider Both Jesus and Moses

Moses was the Great Prophet of the Covenant of Law. Moses was a recipient of Grace. Moses loved the Lord. God said of Moses, “Thou hast found Grace in My sight, and I know thee by name.” God knew Moses because Moses loved God. But Moses led an Israel out of Egypt, and Israel that would not love the Lord as they should.

So through Moses, God gave the Law
to Israel from Mount Sinai.

When the Bible tells us that the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (above, John 1:17), it does not mean that anyone was ever saved by the Law. The Law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24) that we might be justified by faith. You cannot work your way to God. You cannot be good enough to be in God’s graces. Moses murdered a man, and his his body in the sand of the desert. Moses was not saved by keeping a law, but by trusting in and loving God.

Moses was the Chief Prophet of the Old Covenant of God. When Moses prepared to die he promised that another Prophet like himself would come.

Acts 3:22 … A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.

Jesus Christ is that Prophet. Jesus took the place of
Moses as leader of God’s people.

There are a lot of similarities between the life of Moses and the life of Jesus. Both Moses and Jesus were preserved in their childhood. The King of Egypt tried to kill Moses. King Herod of Israel tried to kill Jesus.

When Pharaoh wanted Moses dead, his mother hid her son in a little “ark of bulrushes” (Exodus 2:3), and hid him in the weeds at the edge of the river Nile. It was here that the princess of Egypt found Moses, and having compassion for him, brought Moses into the palace to raise as her own.

By God’s Grace Moses had access to the best food, the finest clothing, the best teachers, the most comfortable places to live. Moses grew up in a palace.

If Moses enjoyed the abundance of God’s Grace in the palace, you would think that Jesus Christ, God’s Only Begotten Son, would also be embraced in a palace. But He was not. Jesus was hidden as Moses was hidden, but not in a palace. The Bible says that Jesus was born in a relatively unknown place. Turn one chapter back to:

Luke 2:1-6 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

Jesus Christ Is The New Covenant Moses!

Moses was born a slave, but raised in a palace. But Jesus was born a subject of Rome, but raised in a relatively unknown place. Jesus was born {in} the city of David, which is called Bethlehem. Why? What reason did God have for this?

Word Study: The Jews often named their children and places in meaningful ways. The name Bethlehem means “The House of Bread”. How fitting it was that our Lord Jesus would be born in the “House of Bread”. Jesus is God’s Manna from Heaven. Jesus would, just before His crucifixion,

Matthew 26:26 {take} bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, TAKE, EAT, THIS IS MY BODY.

The New Testament Moses, our Jesus said, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35).

It was appropriate that God’s Manna from Heaven be born in the House of Bread. But He was also born into the lowest of all places.

Not a palace.
Not a five star motel.
Jesus was born in a manger.
In “The House of Bread”.
And stayed hidden there around 2 years.
(We’ll talk more about this next Sunday)

Moses was given the Law inscribed on stone tablets by “The Finger of God” (Exodus 31:18). Jesus Christ was made flesh by the “Finger of God” interacting with Mary (Luke 1:35). Jesus Christ is our New Covenant Law.

None of the princes of this world suspected this baby was God incarnate (1 Corinthians 2:8). Had Jesus been born in a palace King Herod would have known where He was, and would have had Jesus killed outright. But Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and stayed there 2 years until the time when the Angel of the Lord told Joseph,

Matthew 2:13 … Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

The Bible truly says “the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (Revelation 19:6). Our Jesus came to this earth:

Galatians 4:4-5 … when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Jesus was made of a woman. God took a virgin called Mary, and through His infinite power caused her to bear a Son, the Son of God. The Angel said “with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). God’s love for us did the impossible. God Himself became part of His own creation!

The “Lamb of God” (John 1:29; John 1:36) entered this world in Bethlehem. The Bible says that …

God Literally Was With Us In The Flesh

Luke 2: 7 And {Mary} brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Mary had no midwife but her husband to attend her. She brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped the Savior of the world in swaddling clothes, strips of soft cloth.

Jesus was laid in a manger, a place that animals ate from. Again this is appropriate, as Jesus is God’s true Manna from Heaven. Jesus said, “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.” Finally, there was no room better suited for Jesus to be born in. As our God is all powerful, Jesus could have been born in better circumstances. But God is in control!

Why was Jesus, the very Son of God, born in such a low place? The Bible tells us in …

Philippians 2:6-8 (ESV) … though {Jesus} was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Jesus was born on purpose to be a Servant, a Suffering Servant to us all. Though the very glory of God shined from His face, Jesus came in the lowest place possible to reach the lowest of people.

Fear Not!

Luke 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

Shepherds were some of the least of all the people. Shepherds had to keep an eye on their sheep no matter what the weather. They had to be diligent in the dark of night, lest a predator come in and maul their charges. Imagine if you will sitting far out of town in the dark, the stars and a campfire the only things to give you light.

God did not send His Angel to the Palace, nor the Chief Priest’s residence, nor the the head of the city council, the Sanhedrin. God reached out to the least.

Luke 2:9 … the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid

These shepherds were not prepared for the glory of the Lord. In Moses day, when an idolatrous Israel saw the glory of the Lord, they saw it as a fearful thing.

Exodus 24:17 … the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.

When the glory of the Lord shined around the shepherds, they were sore afraid. Why? Because they did not know the Lord. But Jesus came to this earth specifically to reach the lost. Even as a Baby laying in a Manger, Heaven is reaching out to the lost and needy. The Angel of the Lord tells the shepherds:

Luke 2:10-11 Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

Fear not”. Don’t be afraid! God is giving you “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people”. This is not a time for fear, but a time for faith. This is a time to rejoice at the love that God has for us all. Note though the words of the Angel:

Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

I have often wondered why the angel said that Jesus is a Savior and not the Savior”. We know there is only ONE Savior, Jesus Christ. The Apostles preached:

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Jesus is clearly the one and only Savior. But why is He called “a Savior”? God alone can be THE Savior, and Christ alone is Emmanuel, God with us, our Savior. The Lord said:

Isaiah 43:11 I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no savior.

There is no Savior but God. But too often we foolishly choose other things or people to take the place of God. Though God says, “there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me.” (Isaiah 45:21). Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved, to be made right with God.

So Why A Savior, and Not THE Savior?

Because all people know we need a Savior, but many people choose inferior saviors rather than Jesus. Some people choose money as a savior. Some choose talent or skill as a savior. Humans are always making saviors to take the place of Jesus Christ. There are “gods many and lords many” (1 Corinthians 8:5) in the world today.

Rabbit’s foot.
Lucky underwear.
Baby blankets.

Illustrate: Baby blankets? Yes, even that. I was at the Gospel Coalition website when I came across a wonderful article written by Jason Soroski on the “Charlie Brown Christmas Special. This wonderful animation has been on television since 1967. I love that show! At one point of the show Linus begins to quote our focal text:

Luke 2:8-11 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

As Linus says Fear not, the baby blanket he’s held in his hand up to this time – the baby blanket he refuses to let go of, no matter what others believe – Linus drops the blanket, and ignoring it, focuses on THE Savior.

Jesus can be to you A Savior, while you make Him one of many. Or Jesus can be to you THE Savior. This is the best way. Drop your blanket. Focus on Jesus! Run to Him and Him alone. Trust in Him. Give your lives to Him.

The forces against us, against America, cannot be defeated by human strength. The Apostle said:

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

Where I have no power to resist, no power to defeat, God with us has all the power I need. While we stand with Christ Jesus, we can never be defeated.

Isaiah 8:10 Take counsel together, and it shall come to naught; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us.

Moses knew that the best place to be is in the Presence of Almighty God! Moses told God:

I beseech You, O Lord, show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18).

God replied: I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.” (Exodus 33:19).

God said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee. The GLORY of God is the GOODNESS of God. God is so good to us. He loves us so. As God spoke to Moses, you see His care for His children. God tells Moses:

You cannot see My face and live. Moses, stand beside Me on this rock. When My GLORY passes by, I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by(Exodus 33:20-22).

God put Moses in the cleft of the rock to protect him. That is the best place you can be in these uncertain days is in the cleft of the Rock. The best place is to be with Jesus, our Emmanuel! Only Jesus is

Hebrews 2:18 … able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him

Moses could not save himself. The Law of God cannot save us. But Jesus is both a Savior and the Lord. Jesus saves to the uttermost.

Don’t Fear. Run To Where Jesus Is!

The Angel of the Lord tells the shepherds:

Luke 2:12-14 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

The shepherds had no star to guide them to Jesus. They were told to go to a familiar place, a place where they had probably kept their sheep in past times. The shepherds were not forced to go to Jesus. They were given an opportunity. God bid them “go”, but did not force. Christianity is a “whosoever will” faith. Jesus said:

Matthew 16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

Mark 8:34 … Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Revelation 22:17 … whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

The Shepherds ran to Jesus.

Luke 2:15-16 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

The shepherds left their flocks in the dark. They went to where Jesus was with haste. They put their fears down. They put their false gods down. They put their broken hearts down. And they ran to where Jesus was.

Finding Emmanuel (just as the Angel said) the Shepherds did not return to their flocks, but …

Luke 2:17-18 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

Now read that one more time carefully. The SHEPHERDS went with HASTE to where Jesus Christ lay. But when the shepherds told others of Jesus, what did they do? Nothing! They wondered at those things which were told them. They did not go to see Jesus. They heard the message, and did nothing about it. They just wondered. Beloved, if you would be saved, run to Jesus. Do not wonder. Do not wait. Seek Him as both Lord and Savior today. And Jesus will make a wonder of your life. May God the Holy Spirit and His Word touch your hearts this day. Merry Christmas!

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Guard Your Tongue, Guard The Temple

Photo by Juan Encalada on Unsplash

1 Corinthians 3:16-18 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. 18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

Let’s Define The “Temple”

There are five Temples mentioned in the Bible. The Temple is properly where God meets man. There is the Temple of Heaven. There is the portable Temple, the Tabernacle. There is the Temple that was not portable, like Solomon’s Temple. There is the Temple of the Church. And there is the Temple that is the Christian.

  • Let’s talk about the Temple that is the Christian. The Bible teaches that the Christian – saved by faith in Christ – is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus said:

John 11:26 … (ESV) everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. …

John 6:35 (ESV) .. I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

John 5:24 (ESV) .. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

God meets us at the point of salvation. Then God promises to never leave us, making us a Temple. Jesus said:

John 14:11, 23 (ESV) I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. .. 23 .. If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

John 16:7 (ESV) … I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

How does both the Father and the Son come to the believer to “make their home with us?” It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit of God.

Jesus said in John 14:26 (ESV) … the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Jesus did not stop here. He said:

John 14:16 (ESV) … I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,

John 15:26 (ESV) … when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

Preach!: The Holy Spirit is called the “Comforter” (KJV), literally the “Helper” or “The One Who Comes Alongside To Lift Up”. Every Christian, saved by faith in Christ, is indwelt by the “Helper”. The Holy Spirit represents both the Father and the Son, and never leaves us. Also called “The Spirit of Christ”, the Apostle said in Romans 8:9, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”

The New Testament Temple Is Superior
Because God Stays With It

In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit dwelt in first the Tabernacle (the Tent of Worship for nomadic Israel), and later in the Temple. After King Solomon finished building the Temple, the Ark of the Covenant was brought up to be placed in the Temple.

1 Kings 8:4, 10-11 (ESV) .. And {the Priests} brought up the ark of the Lord, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the priests and the Levites brought them up. .. 10 And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.

God indwelt the Temple of His Old Covenant people. The Holy Spirit did not come to indwell the people themselves but temporarily, for Christ had not yet went to the Cross. But the Spirit of God came on the Temple and on people, and would later depart. You see this coming and going of the Spirit of God all throughout the Old Testament.

In the New Testament under the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit comes and stays as He is God’s promise of salvation to the believer.

The Apostle said in Ephesians 1:13-14 (ESV) … when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in {Jesus}, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

As God Cannot Leave Either The Christian Nor The Church, We Are Warned Not To Defile The Temple

Again, the Temple is both the individual Christian, and the Church where Christians come together to minister and grow. The Temple is where we meet God. We must not defile the Temple!

1 Corinthians 3:16-18 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy…

In Corinthians, Paul refers to both the Temple of the Church and the Temple of the Christian. Note that contextually

  • 1 Corinthians 3:16 refers to the Temple of the CHURCH or the gathering of believers
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 refers to the Temple of the INDIVIDUAL believer

In Chapter 3 we last week examined the Judgment Seat of Christ where every believer will be judged by the works that they did with other believers. What were the Corinthians doing together? They were not blessing one another, but were spreading

CONTENTIONS in the Church (1:11)
DIVISIONS in the Church (1:12-13)
ENVYING in the Church (3:3)

Corinth was defiling the Temple of the Church. But believers were also defiling the Temple of their bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

The Holy Spirit comes to stay with the Christian. If the Christian gets into heterosexual sin or homosexual sin, the Spirit cannot leave. Christ paid for us – ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. You belong to God.

Sexual sin defiles the believer’s Temple. It joins God the Holy Spirit with satanic sensuality – and God can take your life!

Our Lord Jesus talked about bodily defilement. He said:

Matthew 15:11 (ESV) … it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.

Matthew 15:17-20 (ESV) Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.

As Christians, we need to be careful not to defile our personal Temple (our bodies), nor our shared Temple (the Church).

Protect The Temple Of The Church By
Guarding Your Tongues

The Corinthians used their TONGUES to cut the Church up. The Apostle note:

1 Corinthians 3:4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

Oh, how our mouths get us into trouble!

Illustrate: I have heard of young people who died, and went to Heaven, and came back to tell us what they saw. One boy named Alex Malarkey (sic – no joke) claimed to have died, went to Heaven, and returned to this earth. He wrote the book “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven”. Later Alex confessed that he lied about the whole experience. He said:

I said I went to Heaven because I thought it would give me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth {about Heaven}. … It is only through repentance of your sins and a belief in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for your sins (even though He committed none of His own) so that you can be forgiven … ”

Alex’s lie hurt his witness, and many churches throughout our land. He confessed his sin, and I’m sure is forgiven for it. But the misuse of his tongue hurt the Body of Christ, and perhaps drove some from the Gospel of salvation. Alex will have to give an account for this to Jesus one day at the Judgment Seat.

Though Alex did not really look into Heaven,
the Prophet Isaiah did.

When Isaiah looked into Heaven, he wasn’t overjoyed at all. Looking at the Preincarnate Jesus on His Throne (The Apostle John quotes Isaiah in John 12:38-41, applying his writings to Jesus) the Prophet cried out:

Isaiah 6:5 … (ESV) “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Said Pastor Greg Morris, {Isaiah’s} eyes see the Holy King of Israel, the God of armies, and he does not run to sit on his lap, but falls to his face, confessing the evil, not only of his tongue, but of the tongues he lived among on earth. Here he did not lament that he dwelled among a people of sexual immorality, murder, or idolatry. What he said, and what the people said — their conversation — horrified him before the Righteous One.

It is the ungoverned tongue that our God finds most shocking. When the Bible addresses the unrighteousness of the lost, note what is said:

Romans 3:10-14 (ESV) … “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.

The misused tongue hurts people, and defiles the Church.

It is with the tongue that we are saved. The tongue shares the Gospel, that grand and glorious salvation we can all have through Christ. Jesus warned us:

Matthew 12:36-37 (ESV) I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

God gave us mouths to praise Him in His Temple. He gave us mouths to sing to our Savior. He gave us mouths to testify of Christ’s greatness. Wise King Solomon said:

Proverbs 18:21 (ESV) … Death and life are in the power of the tongue

When a person is saved, God saves us to eternal life and the light of Christ. Our mouths should be dedicated to sowing eternal life, and speaking light to those around us. The Apostle tells us:

1 Corinthians 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Our tongues need to be holy and loving. We are to speak truth, to speak that which honors the Lord Who saved us. We are to “speak the truth IN LOVE” (Ephesians 4:15). Not harshly, but with love for God our Savior, and love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Let us be like the seraphim in Isaiah’s vision.When Isaiah looked into Heaven and realized his speech was corrupt, what happened? One of the seraphim (angels) flew to Isaiah, and touched his lips with a burning coal taken from the altar of Jesus. This is a beautiful illustration for us to ponder. When we hear that which does not honor Christ, something which defiles the Temple of the Church, let us take a coal from Christ’s altar. Let us take the Word of Jesus to the offender and touch their lips in love.

Do Not Let The Mouth Of The World Be Your Mouth

1 Corinthians 3:18-21 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. 20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. 21 Therefore let no man glory in men….

Do not follow the pattern of the world. The pattern of the child of Adam is, if one strike you, strike them back harder. If they stab you with a knife, shoot them with a gun! No, this is not the pattern of Christ’s family. We are to “love one another as Jesus Christ loved us” (John 13:34; John 15:12). This is the genius of Heaven. If you are offended, be like the seraphim. Take of the light of Christ and share it with your fellow believers. If you are the offender, be prepared to freely receive the coal of light from a seraphim, a fellow believer in Christ.

Let us always remember:

1 Corinthians 3:21-23 For all things are your’s; 22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your’s; 23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.

May Jesus Christ and the blessed Holy Spirit draw you close to God and to one another. For His sake and glory. Amen and Amen.

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The Judgment Seat & The Wedding Of The Lamb

Photo by Victoria Priessnitz on Unsplash

We’ll be in two texts tonight. The first will be in Revelation 19:6-10, and the second is in 1 Corinthians 3:9-15. Turn to Revelation first.

Last Wednesday we saw the Apostle compare the Church to a garden and to a building. We also talked about how Jesus had no wife as we do while He walked this earth.

Jesus does have a Bride. The Bride is His Church.

The Apostle compared the Church to a Bride in:

Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

In 2 Corinthians 11:2 the Apostle said the Church was betrothed or engaged to Jesus. In Revelation 19 we see that one day the Church will be married to the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. This is a spiritual marriage, a legal binding together of the body of believers in Christ with Jesus Christ Himself. It is our Covenant Union with Jesus Christ that gives us an inheritance with Jesus in eternity. The Bible says:

Ephesians 5:23-24 … the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Following the Rapture of the Church, the works of all believers will be judged, and following this judgment we will be part of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

There Will Be A Marriage Supper Of The Lamb

Revelation 19:6-9 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

In Revelation 19 we see all of Heaven praising God! Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come. David Guzik in his Enduring Word Commentary notes:

One reason this great multitude is so filled with praise is because the time has come for the Lamb of God to be joined unto His people, in a union so close it can only be compared to the marriage of a man and a woman.”

The “Lamb” is Jesus Christ (see John 1:29; John 1:36; 1 Peter 1:19). Prior to the Marriage of the Lamb the Bride made herself ready. How is the Church made ready? It is a GRANT or a GIFT from God. The Scripture says, to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. The Bride (the Church) does not make her own wedding gown. The adornment of the Church is “granted”, that is the Greek δίδωμι dídōmi, {pronounced did’-o-mee}. This literally means “it was given or bestowed on”. The “righteousness of the Saints” is not our own righteousness, but the righteousness we have through faith in Christ Jesus.

That which clothes the Saints is the salvation we have by faith, and ALSO the works that we did to glorify Jesus while on this earth. The Bride’s GOWN is the REWARDS of the faithful Saints.

Christians are saved to shine for Jesus. Salvation is a free gift, but the free gift has a purpose. We are told in …

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

Most people stop reading at this point. But if you do, you miss a very important truth. In the next verse we read:

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

Word Study: God has ordained (Greek προετοιμάζω proetoimázō, [pronounced pro-et-oy-mad’-zo]) or decreed in advance that we who are His will walk IN good works. The Bride will be adorned with the righteousness of Christ, and the righteous works that we did for Christ while on this earth. Guzik notes:

Believers are created for divinely prepared good works.

There will be a wedding celebration in glory for all of Christ’s believers. C.H. Spurgeon noted:

The Bride of Christ is a sort of Cinderella now, sitting among the ashes. She is like her Lord, ‘despised and rejected of men’; the watchmen smite her, and take away her veil from her; for they know her not, even as they knew not her Lord. But when he shall appear, then shall she appear also, and in his glorious manifestation she also shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of the Father.”

What a glorious day that will be! We will be bound to Christ as His Covenant people forever, each of us a part of His Spiritual Bride. I can hardly wait. There are, however, things that must occur in eternity prior to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. The Bride must be cleansed of all false religion, and all impurities. This will be done by Jesus Christ at His Judgment Seat.

All Works Are Judged By Jesus

Jesus said:

John 5:22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

If Jesus is the GROOM, and the Church the BRIDE, and Heaven the HOME of the Bride and Groom, it makes sense that Jesus does all the judging!

Illustration: We as Christians are saved to do good works for Jesus. We strive to do the right thing, to honor our God. But there are times we fall flat. I heard about the little boy who played a “wise man” in the Church Christmas program. When he stepped forward to say his lines, he improvised – and brought the house down. He said:

We are three wise guys, and we are bringing gifts of mold, common sense and fur!

In our world today I’d love to see someone bring a little common sense and responsibility. EVERYONE is going to stand before Jesus one day and be judged. Solomon said:

Ecclesiastes 12:14 (ESV) For God {this is Jesus Christ} will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

The Apostle Paul, agreeing with Solomon, noted:

Romans 2:6 (ESV) {God the Son} will render to each one according to his works:

Preach!: Some will stand before Jesus and, because of their faith in Him, be given eternal life (Romans 2:7). Others will stand in front of Jesus and, because they would not receive Him as Lord and Savior, they are promised only eternal condemnation (Romans 2:8-9).

Everyone will give an account of their life to Jesus! The Apostle did not mince words when he wrote:

2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Prior to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb Christ’s people will have their works judged by God. This is not the “Great White Throne” of Revelation 20:11-15. That judgment is for the Unbeliever, and a frightening judgment it will be! But there is a cleansing or preparation of the Bride through the Divine Judgment of every work that we as believers did while on this earth.

The Judgment Seat Of Christ Is The Weaving
Of The Bride’s Gown

Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 3. Last week we looked at the phrase “You are God’s Garden”. Today we see the Apostle’s exposition of the phrase, “You are God’s Building”. This section deals with CHRISTIANS and their WORKS only.

1 Corinthians 3:9-15 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Salvation is entirely a gift of God. When a person realizes that he or she is Great Sinner in need of a Great Savior – and that Jesus is that One and Only Savior – and turns to Him believing then that person is saved.

Titus 3:5-7 (KJV) Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

We are “Justified” or “made right with God” through the shed Blood of Christ. This is POSITIONAL TRUTH. God changes our status in HIS eyes once our hearts are given to Jesus. Jesus took our penalty so we can become sons of God. We are God’s building. Our FOUNDATION is what Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross and at the empty Tomb. God gives us a foundation in Christ.

The Foundation is laid when a person is saved.

1 Corinthians 3:10 (KJV) According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.

Word Study: The Apostle Paul laid the FOUNDATION of Corinth, by preaching salvation by faith in Christ. This is what saves us. Paul was not just a builder, but a wise master builder. Paul calls himself a sophos architektōn, a wise architect or a chief constructor. Paul was careful to make sure that the foundation was not human works, Paul’s works and abilities, or anything that was not purely the Grace of God. It is not a sophos architektōn, or a wise architect who, on drawing out the plans for a building, specifies substandard materials. The Church is built on the genius of Christ.

The Church is the Building of God, a people working together for His Glory. The Christian is the Temple of God, the Bride of Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (KJV) Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

The Christian is the Temple of God, founded on the Bloody Cross of Christ. The Church is the Building of God, founded on the finished work of Calvary.

Solomon wrote in Psalm 127:1, “Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it. When Paul was Saul, he went about persecuting the Church because it was NOT like Judaism. But once Saul was knocked down on the Damascus Road and discovered the Church belongs to Jesus (Acts 9:5), from that point on Saul became Paul. He was not about to build the Church on anything but the Grace of God by faith in Christ Jesus!

Brothers and sisters, you cannot work your way to Heaven. You cannot be good enough to be saved. “By one man (Adam) sin entered the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for ALL have sinned” (Romans 5:12). No one is good enough to get beyond God’s indictment that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). However, as the Apostle states a few verses further down, “if through the offense of one (adam) many be dead, MUCH MORE the grace of God, and the gift by Grace, which is by ONE MAN, Jesus Christ … (Romans 5:15).

The FOUNDATION is salvation by faith in Christ. But NO building stops at a foundation. The glory of the building is in what is built ON the foundation.

1 Corinthians 3:10-11 (KJV) …. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

The foundation of every person’s faith is Jesus Christ. But once saved we begin to build on that foundation. Every work we do is based on that tremendous act of grace that our Lord Jesus gave us. Everything we build on that Foundation (Jesus Christ) must be worthy of Jesus Christ. Every room cobbled

The Foundation is Jesus Christ, and everything built on that Foundation is to be honoring to Jesus Christ.

We live to bring glory and honor to our Savior. We do the things we do to honor Jesus. Christ is the Foundation of the Church. Christ is the Foundation of the Christian Way of Life. Christ is the Rock on which we are to be built. It is His Word that brings stability to the Life we have. We are meant to NOT STALL after salvation, but to BUILD on that foundation of saving faith the things that Jesus bids we build. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:24-27 (ESV) Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

Whether wise or foolish, each one BUILDS their house. The Christian builds their house on the genius of Christ Jesus.

The Judgment Seat Of Christ Is The Preparation Of The Bride, The Judging Of Our Earthly Works Prior To The Marriage Supper

1 Corinthians 3:12-13 (KJV) Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest…

At the Judgment Seat of Christ prior to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, our works – built on the FOUNDATION OF OUR SALVATION – will be judged. Notice that the works are graded by the Apostle Paul into six categories:

gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble

These six items were commonly used in building construction in the Apostle’s day. Hay and stubble were used in building, but only when mixed with clay to make bricks. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online notes that:

The cognates of Hebrew tebhen, “straw” and qash, “stubble,” have been retained in the modern Arabic terms tibn and qashsh. Tibn applies to the straw which has been cut up into short pieces and more or less split by the threshing operations. … Tibn is mixed with clay for plastering walls or for making sun-dried bricks. It is also mixed with lime and sand for plastering. The children of Israel had their task of brick making made more arduous by being required to gather stubble and prepare it by chopping it up instead of being given the already prepared straw of the threshing-floors”

Hay and stubble without clay had little use other than for animal fodder. It was useless in a building if it stood alone. God breaks out the six different types of works that believers do on this earth. Gold and silver when fired, becomes more rather than less precious. Precious stones when fired may crack or burn, losing value. Wood, hay or stubble will soonest burn up if exposed to fire.

I believe the “Fire” that will be used to test our works in Heaven is the Shekinah Glory of God through Jesus.

The Bible says “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). When Israel left Egypt, God led them as “pillar of fire by night” (Exodus 13:21). When God spoke to Moses, He spoke out of a “burning bush” (Exodus 3:2-3). John the Baptist said that our Jesus would “baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:16). When the Holy Spirit came to the disciples on the Day of Pentecost, He appeared as “tongues of fire that rested on each one of them” (Acts 2:3). God promised in the prophecies that there would be a day when He would “test them as gold is tested. They will call upon My name, and I will answer them” (Zechariah 13:9).

Jesus will test our works Himself. The purpose of the test is to make the work MANIFEST. Do our works honor Jesus our Lord?

1 Corinthians 3:13 (KJV) Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the FIRE shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

Our Jesus will examine our works, “His eyes like a flame of fire” (Revelation 1:14; Revelation 19:12-13). He will judge our works to see if they glorified God or not. Jesus said (John 5:22) “The Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.. He Who was pierced with nails and beaten with whips and hung shamefully and nakedly shall judge the works of His people. He shall gaze upon all that we have built on the Foundation of His Sacrifice. Some of our works will – like gold and silver – become more pure under His gaze. Other of our works will burn like wood, hay or stubble.

1 Corinthians 3:14 (KJV) If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

Some have said they do not want a reward when they get to Heaven. You misunderstand the reward. The reward you receive is like a patch on a quilt. The righteous deeds we do on this earth shine forth as the Bride’s “Gown” at the Marriage Feast.

We should seek to live for Jesus in this life, so that we will merit rewards from Jesus in the next life. Just as a parent is proud of a child who excels in school, Jesus wants to be proud of us. The works that we do in this life for Jesus are the only things that we will take to Heaven with us. One commentary notes:

“… rewards in heaven glorify God and provide us with joy, peace, and wonder as we consider God’s work in us and through us. The closer we were to God during this life, the more centered on Him and aware of Him, the more dependent on Him, the more desperate for His mercy, the more there will be to celebrate. We are like characters in a story who suffer doubt, loss, and fear, wondering if we will ever really have our heart’s desire. When the happy ending comes and desire is fulfilled, there comes a completion. The story would not be satisfying without that completion. Rewards in heaven are the completion of our earthly story, and those rewards will be eternally satisfying (Psalm 16:11).”

Christian are encouraged to live so as to one day receive a reward in Heaven. We read in:

Colossians 3:23-25 (KJV) And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

What we SOW we shall REAP. If we build Christ honoring works on the Foundation of Christ Who is our salvation then we will one day be rewarded for our obedience. But the Apostle says:

1 Corinthians 3:15 (KJV) If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

If the work’s judged are without merit in Jesus’ eyes, there is no reward for it. However, you, dear believer, will still be saved. Yet I suspect there will be tears in our eyes when we realize we could give no tiny scrap of a patch back to Jesus to build His Bride’s gown! Oh, how I wish to live so as to honor my Jesus in glory. Is this not your heart as well?

Good works do not save, but to those who have no love for Jesus, our Master has a word for them. He will tell them:

Matthew 7:23 (ESV) …. ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

That would truly be the greatest of miseries. If you belong to Jesus, you love Jesus, and do not disparage working for Him. It is a joy to serve the risen Savior. Let us draw near to Him more and more each and every day! Amen and Amen. May God the Holy Spirit draw you close to His side, Beloved, and give you the eyes to behold Him daily. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen and Amen.

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Stand Firm In Your Faith Or You Will Not Stand At All

Photo by Ismael Paramo on Unsplash

Turn with me to Isaiah chapter 7.

Last Sunday in Sunday School we studied:

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

There were several questions asked me about the text itself, and it’s fulfillment as prophecy. The text is very interesting, and has been the source of some confusion. The great Preacher (and my mentor) C.H. Spurgeon said of this text:

{This text is} One of the most difficult in all the Word of God. It may be so; I certainly did not think it was until I saw what the commentators had to say about it, and I rose up from reading them perfectly confused.”

If you studied this in Sunday School last week and couldn’t grasp it, don’t feel badly. Today, with God the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we will examine this wonderful text, and see if we can understand the wonderful treasure it is.

Isaiah 7 was initially written to King Ahaz of Judah (Southern Israel). Let’s start at:

Isaiah 7:10-16 Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, 11 Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. 12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. 13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. 16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

To Understand The Bible, You Must Understand
The Background And The Context

The Bible is written by God, through men that God moved. Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:21). The Bible is not like a man-made writing. It’s words come from the infinite and immutable Creator of all things. “The Word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12, ESV). It’s best to keep this in mind when you read the Scripture.

Every prophecy of Scripture can have a NEAR application, and a FUTURE or FAR application.
We’ll see that today.

The Book of Isaiah was written by the Prophet some 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. The passage that we are looking at today is where God, through Isaiah, is speaking DIRECTLY to the evil King Ahaz, the King of Judah. Around 930 BC Israel had a civil war. The Northern Kingdom of Israel (ten tribes), also known as Ephraim, broke away from from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. From that point in Scripture the prophets referred to the Northern Kingdom as “Israel” or “Ephraim”, and the Southern Kingdom as “Judah”. The Northern Kingdom very quickly decided that they would establish their own Temple in Samaria, as they wanted to have nothing to do with the King or Jerusalem.

Southern Israel or “Judah” continued to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem. Over time, however, Judah began to drift away from faith in God. As we come to Isaiah 7, an evil king named Ahaz is ruling Judah or Southern Israel. Ahaz was twenty years old when he ascended the Throne of David, and ruled Judah for sixteen years. The Bible says:

2 Kings 16:2-3 (ESV) … {Ahaz} did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, as his father David had done, 3 but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel.

Ahaz sacrificed one of his own sons to the false god Molech, burning him in a fire. The man was a horrible ruler. And, as he ruled, his poor leadership led Israel into idolatry and blasphemy. Ahaz and Judah had an enemy in Ephraim or Northern Israel. Now we can begin to understand our text:

Isaiah 7:1-2 And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. 2 And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.

Judah – And Ahaz – Are In Trouble!

The king of Syria and the king of {Northern} Israel joined forces to destroy Judah and Ahaz. The two nations actually signed a joint force agreement. That’s what Syria is confederate with Ephraim. Again, Ephraim is another name for Northern Israel, or the ten tribes. When Ahaz was told that Syria and Ephraim were coming to destroy Judah, the Bible says:

vvs 2 his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind

That’s very picturesque! If you’ve ever seen the wind in the trees, it causes the leaves to shimmer and shake. Syria is a powerful nation, as is Northern Israel or Ephraim. Judah and her leadership were afraid, and didn’t know what to do. Syria and Northern Israel had already attacked Jerusalem once, but

but could not prevail against it {against Jerusalem}

Ahaz had made an unholy alliance with Assyria. Ahaz didn’t go to God, but to man for help. The scripture says:

2 Kings 16:7-9 (ESV) … Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son. Come up and rescue me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.” 8 Ahaz also took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasures of the king’s house and sent a present to the king of Assyria. 9 And the king of Assyria listened to him.

Ahaz blasphemed God, and gave the silver and gold utensils of the Temple to the King of Assyria as a bribe. He sought Assyria’s help rather than God’s. Though this initially worked, it could not ultimately defeat the enemy.

Sometimes God allows us to do something foolish so that we can learn the error of our ways. Ahaz’s treaty with Assyria would eventually lead to his downfall.

The Bible says in Jeremiah 17:5-6 (ESV) Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. 6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.

God often allows trials to come our way when we wander away from Him. Trials are often the paddle that our Lord uses on His errant children. When we get away from God we, like the Prodigal Son, only “come to our senses” when eating miserably out of the pig trough (Luke 15:16-17). Ahaz should have returned to the Lord! Judah should have returned to the Lord!

God told the Prophet Isaiah to go and meet with Ahaz. Isaiah was to tell Ahaz:

Isaiah 7:4-7 Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah. 5 Because Syria, Ephraim {Northern Israel}, and the son of Remaliah {the King of Ephraim}, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying, 6 Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal: 7 Thus saith the Lord God, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.

God went on to tell Ahaz,

Isaiah 7:8 …. within threescore and five years {65 years} shall Ephraim {N. Israel} be broken, that it be not a people.

Northern Israel and Syria are to God two tails of these smoking firebrands. They are “has beens”. God has decided to use Assyria to destroy both nations. The capital city of Syria, Damascus, will fall in 732 BC. The capital city of N. Israel, Samaria, will be destroyed in 722 BC. Our God is in control! Now God gives an ominous warning to King Ahaz.

If You Will Not Believe, You Will Not Be Established

Isaiah 7:9 … If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.

Word Study: The phrase If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established is the same Hebrew word twice: the Hiphil IMPERFECTof אָמַן ʼâman, [pronounced aw-man’]”, and the Niphal IMPERFECT of אָמַן ʼâman, [pronounced aw-man’]”. A clearer translation would be “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all”.

God is calling on Ahaz to repent and believe in Him. God has already promised that within 65 years both Syria and Northern Israel (Ephraim) will be destroyed because of their lack of faith and obedience to Him. The same thing will happen with Ahaz and Judah if he and his people do not REPENT and RETURN to Him. Oh Beloved, it is as the Apostle Peter said:

2 Peter 3:9-10 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. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…

God does not rejoice in destroying people. God loves people. People are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; Genesis 9:6). God would rather redeem the sinner than destroy the sinner. God would rather all repent, and walk with Him. God would rather that all enter Heaven rather than hell. God would rather we all live with God as our portion (Psalm 73:26), and have blessed lives through Jesus Christ our Lord. So God gives Ahaz another chance to repent and return from where he’s fallen. The King who sits on the Throne of David must NOT follow any god other than David’s God. Period!

Ahaz, Will You Repent?

Isaiah 7:10-12 Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, 11 Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. 12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.

God asks Ahaz through Isaiah the Prophet, “ask Me for a sign – ANY sign – and I will give it”. Ahaz was told there was no limit to what he could ask as a sign. God said ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. God knew Ahaz’s heart, but wanted those around Ahaz – and us – to know how bad Ahaz had drifted from the faith. What was Ahaz’s reply to God? He said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. This sounds very spiritual, for Jesus said:

Matthew 4:7 … Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Yet it’s not a sin to ask God for a sign when God ASKS YOU to ask for a sign. God told His people in Malachi 3:10, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need”. God asked to be tested, but Ahaz was settled in his unbelief. It is as Jesus said:

John 3:20 (ESV) … everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

Ahaz was resting in his evil lifestyle. He did not want to walk with God! God replies to Ahaz’s foolish remark:

Isaiah 7:13-14 And {the Prophet Isaiah} said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Word Study: Isaiah told Ahaz, “You may not want a sign, but “the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Now here’s where you need to pay attention. This prophecy has two fulfillments, and it all has to do with the word translated virgin. This is the Hebrewעַלְמָה ʻalmâh, [pronounced al-maw’], which can be used for either “a young woman of marriageable age” OR “a virgin”. There is another Hebrew word for “virgin” which is the Hebrewבְּתוּלָה bᵉthûwlâh, [pronounced beth-oo-law’]. This word is usually translated “virgin”. But ʻalmâh can mean either a virgin, or a young woman ready to marry. Ahaz was unbelieving in God.

So God gave Ahaz an unbeliever’s sign. In Ahaz’s royal household a “young woman of marriageable age” would have a child, and name that child “Immanuel”.

Word Study: Now the name “Immanuel” means “God is with us”, but the Jews often named their children to honor God. The name “Joshua” is the Hebrewיְהוֹשׁוּעַ Yᵉhôwshûwaʻ, [pronounced yeh-ho-shoo’-ah], which means “Yahweh is salvation”. The Prophet “Isaiah’s” name is the Hebrew יְשַׁעְיָה Yᵉshaʻyâh, [pronounced yesh-ah-yaw’], which means “Yahweh will save”. One commentary notes “There was a normal conception in Ahaz’s day”. The Enduring Word Commentary notes: “Many commentators think that this was immediately fulfilled when a young woman in the royal household shortly married, conceived a son, and unknowingly naming him ‘Immanuel’ ”. God would have a child born in Ahaz’s palace named “God is with us” to continually remind him of his failure to repent and return. If Ahaz had just realized God was with him – and followed God – Judah would not need to fall to the enemy.

This prophecy had two fulfillments. The first was a NEAR fulfillment for a wicked, unbelieving King Ahaz. The second is a FAR fulfillment for the Christian.

Matthew 1:18-23 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Adam Clarke notes, “In what sense then, is Christ GOD WITH US? Jesus is called Immanuel, or God with us, in his incarnation; God with us, by the influences of his Holy Spirit, in the holy sacrament, in the preaching of his word, in private prayer. And God with us, through every action of our life, that we begin, continue, and end in his name. He is God with us, to comfort, enlighten, protect, and defend us, in every time of temptation and trial, in the hour of death, in the day of judgment; and God with us and in us, and we with and in him, to all eternity.”

God is with us. God has always been with us. So my question today is this: Will you believe in God? Will you repent, and turn your heart to Jesus, committing to following Him? Or will you, like Ahaz, be merely religious but unbelieving. God says to us today, “Ask Me for a sign, any sign, whether high or deep. Try Me, and see if I am not faithful and with you”. Our God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13). Give your life to Jesus, and stand in your faith.

For if you’ll not stand in your faith, you will not stand. Amen and Amen!

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Laborers Together With God

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1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

God’s people are supposed to be laborers together with God. We have a wonderful application of this truth in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus chose 12 disciples to walk with Him, and these 12 grew into a greater group of believers. Our Lord Jesus did not do all of His ministry by Himself. Though God in the flesh, He called these people to follow Him. “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).

Christians are called to follow Jesus, to work
with Jesus. Jesus had NOTHING but God.

Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. To “come after Jesus” is to do the things He did, to live with HIS purpose. Jesus said in John 14:9, “Whoever has seen Me, has seen the Father”. Jesus told His mother in Luke 2:49, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?. Though Jesus’ stepfather Joseph was a carpenter, this was not the business Jesus was about.

Jesus lived His life with purpose to glorify the Father
and His Kingdom.

The Son of God denied Himself. Though eternal God with us (for He is Emmanuel, “God with us” – Matthew 1:23) Jesus denied Himself every comfort for our sake. He told one man:

Matthew 8:20 …. The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Jesus came into this world having nothing. While most children have cribs and nurseries, mobiles and swings, stuffed animals and special soft clothing, our Jesus had little.

Jesus had a manger for a crib.
Jesus had swaddling clothes – strips of cloth

in place of a diaper and pajamas. Jesus had no stuffed animals to cuddle with, nor a special blanket.

Jesus’ bedding was hay, His baby blanket crude.
The music of His nursery was clucking and mooing.

When a baby is born, the family gathers around to take pictures, to hold the child. Jesus’ first visitors were strangers, poor shepherds. All Heaven rejoiced at His Birth:

Luke 2:12-14 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Heaven rejoiced, but earth slept. Few knew of His first coming until after His death on Calvary.

Though King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:15), Jesus had no silver and gold crown while He walked this earth.

Jesus’ earthly crown was thorns and mockery.

Matthew 27:27-31 the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. 28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. 29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! 30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. 31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

Jesus had no wife to lie with to comfort Him at night.

Many of Jesus’ Apostles had wives. Peter was married, because he had a mother in Law (Matthew 8:14). You don’t get one of those without being married! Jesus demanded that the Pastor or Overseer of the Church be the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2-5), and that Deacons also be married (1 Timothy 3:12) to a wife. The Apostle Paul, though unmarried, wrote:

1 Corinthians 9:5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?

Jesus had no wife as we are allowed, no person to confide in, to shed tears with. The mourners at His execution were His mother and the Apostle John.

Jesus had no money.

The Bible says that Judas Iscariot kept the purse (John 12:6) for the disciples. During the Christmas season most people run about, buying all they can buy, but forgetting that things and the joy they bring are but temporary. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 73:26 (ESV) My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Jesus had NO fancy clothing.

Jesus wore a mantle or overcoat with fringes (Mark 6:56), much like a large shawl. Jesus wore sandals (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:7; Mark 6:9; John 1:27) as many Jews did. Jesus wore a tunic or a robe that finished slightly below the knees. Jesus did not wear long robes, but chastised the scribes for doing so …

Mark 12:38 (ESV) … in his teaching {Jesus} said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces …

Only the rich wore long robes. Jesus wasn’t rich. Jesus’ robe or tunic was made of one piece of cloth. When He was crucified we read:

John 19:23-24 (ESV) .. When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture [here Psalm 22:18 is quoted] “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

One piece tunics were the cheapest made, as most tunics were made of two pieces sewn at the shoulders and sides.

Jesus’ clothing was very basic. In Heaven Jesus would be royalty. But on earth, the only robe worthy of a king was given Him by the Idumean, King Herod. Herod was not of the Tribe of Judah, and had no Biblical right to the Throne of David. Yet this usurper mocked Jesus:

Luke 23:11 … Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate.

Jesus didn’t get to keep this fine clothing, this royal robe. It was removed from Him when He was beaten before Pilate, and put on Him again before He went to the Cross (Matthew 27:27-28, Mark 15:15-17). Our Jesus had nothing.

Nailed to the Cross to die, after Jesus passed, shouting …

Luke 23:46 (ESV) … out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

Jesus had no grave to call His own. Joseph of Arimathæa “loaned” a tomb to Jesus, as His body was prepared and laid on a rocky shelf.

The only thing Jesus owned on the face of this earth was suffering. His life was filled with suffering. Why?
It was for YOU!

The Bible says in

2 Corinthians 8:9 (ESV) For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Jesus Endured Nothingness So He Could Create
A Bride For Himself, His Church

Jesus put everything away so that He might, in love, raise up His Church. I said earlier that Jesus had no wife while He walked this earth. That’s very true. But Jesus built Himself a wife that He calls “The Church”. When Jesus walked the earth, the Church was FUTURE. He said, upon this rock [that Jesus is the one and only Christ] I will build my Church” (Matthew 16:18a). Jesus said of His Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18b). Jesus built His Bride with His own blood. The Apostle said:

Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV) Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

The Bride of Christ is not a sexual or sensual bride,
but a
Spirit driven Bride.

2 Corinthians 11:2 (ESV) … I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.

The Church is called to be faithful to Jesus. This means that every believer in the Church is called to walk faithfully with Jesus. We are not to allow worldliness to creep in. James, the stepbrother of Jesus wrote to a wayward Church:

James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

The Church exists on the riches of Grace because Jesus Christ gave up everything for us. We are to be fully devoted to our Lord and Savior. As I and my wife work together throughout this life, keeping our family whole, the Church is to work together with Jesus. We are laborers together with God. We are laborers together with one another, unified, following Jesus.

The Bride of Christ – The Church – Works Together With Her Groom

1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

The Apostle uses two words to describe what the Church should be: husbandryand building. The word translated husbandryis the Greek γεωργιον, georgion, [pronounced gheh-ore’-ghee-on], meaning “that which is cultivated, a farm or garden”. Most people have had gardens. I like a small container garden every year, and I particularly like to plant tomatoes. I love tomatoes. Not those artificially red things that come from Mexico, but genuine vine ripened tomatoes. Nothing tastes better to me!

Consider the Garden: When I plant my garden, I CHOOSE what seed will be planted. Periodically in my garden things grow up that I didn’t plant, weeds and other noxious, unwanted things. These things I pull from my garden. I don’t just clip them off, because if I do so they will grow right back. But I pull them up by the roots, and toss them outside of the garden to wither and die. I never feel sorry for the weeds, because I never planted them in the first place. They might have been dropped in the waste of a passing bird, or they might have, like the dandelion, been caught up on the wind to settle in my garden. But I want none of it! I pull it out, and toss it into the growing grass, where I will pass over it with the blade of my lawn mower.

You, dear Church, are GOD’S GARDEN. You do not belong to yourselves, but to God. God plants His Garden to bear certain types of fruit. God wants His Garden to bear the fruit of the Spirit, not the works of the flesh. The works of the flesh are WEEDS that God never planted. The Apostle says:

Galatians 5:19-22 (ESV) Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

If it doesn’t belong in the kingdom of God, it doesn’t belong in Christ’s Bride! God plants spiritual fruit in His Garden. We read:

Galatians 5:22-24 (ESV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. We put whatever does not belong in God’s Garden onto the Cross. It might still be living, but it is also dying on that Cross.

We do not allow anything to be sowed into the Garden of God BUT that which God wants in His Garden.

The Garden always has more than one type of vegetable in it. That’s fine. Every good garden has several varieties of fruit. But weeds are forbidden. Weeds are torn out, and cast off by the owner of the Garden. The garden is unified in pleasing it’s owner – and WE are GOD’S GARDEN. Are there disagreements in the Garden? Possibly. But if there are, we WEED the Garden the way that Jesus said. He said:

Matthew 5:22-24 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

God does not want the weed of murmuring or criticism in His Garden. Jesus said:

Matthew 18:20 where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Jesus does not linger in a weed overgrown garden. He said:

Matthew 18:15-17 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

The Garden is to be unified in serving Jesus. Now let us,

Consider The Building: The Church is God’s Building. Every building must have a flawless foundation. I have heard of building collapsing, where a balcony or a second floor collapses and kills people. In every instance this occurs, it is because the building was created with substandard materials.

The foundation of Christ’s Church is
Jesus Christ Himself.

Jesus humbled Himself to save us. We are built on His foundation. We are to humble ourselves, to live together in loving harmony. The Lord said:

Philippians 2:2-5 Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus

We come together to glorify Jesus Christ, to please the Father. We are to love one another as Jesus has loved us (John 13:34; John 15:12). This Building that belongs to God is to be framed together, growing into a Holy Temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:21). We are to be …

Jude 20-21 … building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, 21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

We are called to work with God, building up one another in the faith. We are to live to glorify our Lord. Let us be the Church that Jesus wants us to be. May God the Holy Spirit drive this His Word deeply into your hearts. Amen and Amen!

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Laborers Together With God

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Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter 2.

When the Bible was written, it was written as a series of letters and books, but had no chapter nor verse divisions in the text. In the early 13th century Archbishop Stephen Langton developed the chapter divisions in our Bibles. Wikipedia notes that:

The first English New Testament to use the verse divisions was a 1557 translation by William Whittingham (c. 1524–1579). The first Bible in English to use both chapters and verses was the Geneva Bible published shortly afterwards in 1560. These verse divisions soon gained acceptance as a standard way to notate verses, and have since been used in nearly all English Bibles and the vast majority of those in other languages”.

Why am I telling you all this? Because often the chapters (being man made devices) divide at the wrong place. That’s the case with tonight’s focal text. Read with me:

1 Corinthians 2:12-16, 3:1-2 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.

Chapter 3 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

The Apostle makes a distinction between three types of people in today’s text:

1: There is the believer in Christ who, on salvation,
receives the Spirit of God

1 Corinthians 2:12 … we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God

Though the King James translation has “spirit” in the lower case, it should be capitalized to “Spirit”. The Scripture says that all Christians have the Holy Spirit of God. Romans 8:9 tells us if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Christians are Spirit indwelt!

A Christian is born again by becoming like a little child when approaching God. Jesus showed us this in:

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

No one enters the Kingdom of God full grown.

We humble ourselves as little children, and run into the arms of Jesus. We obediently follow Jesus, knowing that in His footsteps is where safety is. “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21 ESV). We are to stay close to Jesus, as a child might stay close to it’s mother while out in the harsh world. The Christian has a purpose greater than “going to Heaven”. Christians are to grow in their faith, becoming more like Jesus every day.

2. There is the “natural man”, the unsaved person
driven by the spirit of disobedience

1 Corinthians 2:14 … the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned…

Word Study: The “natural man” is the son of Adam, the child of disobedience, the unbeliever. The unbeliever will not come to Jesus Christ to be saved. The natural man” (ψυχικός psychikós, [pronounced psoo-khee-kos’]) literally means “the one governed by breath or senses, governed by feelings”. This is a picture of the lost soul. The Apostle says that two things are true of the lost:

  • The lost soul will not “receive” (δέχομαι déchomai, [pronounced dekh’-om-ahee]) the things of the Spirit of God. Notice the word things used by the Apostle. The lost soul does not consider the truths of the Scripture (“Thy Word, O God, is TRUTH” John 17:17) to actually be true. What the Spirit has said through His Apostles and Prophets are but things, opinions of dead men that are to be forgotten in history. The lost cling to their sensuality, their feelings, and continue to make themselves the center of the YOUniverse. Jesus told those who believe in Him:

Mark 6:11 … whosoever shall not receive (déchomai) you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.

The lost person is in love with the darkness. Jesus said, Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. You will not come to Me, that you might have life” (John 5:39-40). The Spirit of God wrote this text, this precious Scripture. Holy Men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). Jesus said:

Mark 10:15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive (déchomai) the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

Word Study: Oh Beloved, you must receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior if you are to be saved. But as many as received (λαμβάνω lambanō, to grab hold of) {Jesus}, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). The lost stay lost for they will not receive the truths of the Spirit of God. Secondly,

  • Neither can he know them. The lost person cannot know (γινώσκω ginṓskō, [pronounced ghin-oce’-ko]) the truths of the Spirit of God. This word literally means “to understand at an intimate level, to understand so as to be able to apply these truths to your own life”. Jesus told the highly religious Pharisees who chased after Him:

John 8:43-44 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

There should be a great divide between the Kingdom of God (the Church that Jesus rules) and the world. The world says of our Christ, “Foolish!”. The world says of our faith, “Foolish!”. The world says of our shunning of what God calls sin, “Foolish!”. Yet as we have learned before,

1 Corinthians 1:25 the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

3. Then There Is The “Carnal” Christian,
Frozen In Spiritual Childhood

1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

We who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior are now the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus(Galatians 3:26). We are of God’s Kingdom. Jesus Christ is our King and High Priest. It is God’s intent that we follow Him through His Word, and draw close to Him daily for blessing and sustenance. As believers in Christ:

We were saved by becoming little children, but as believers we are to know the things that are freely given to us of God. God gave the Church the Bible, and God gives the Church pastors and teachers. The Apostle said in:

Ephesians 4:11-15 And {God} gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting {καταρτισμός katartismós, [pronounced kat-ar-tis-mos’], or better, EQUIPPING} of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect {τέλειος téleios, [pronounced tel’-i-os], better FINISHED} man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

God saved us by faith in THE Son of God, and wants us to heed His Word, applying it to our lives, until we become mature sons of God.

It is all right to start out as a Christian and be a baby. In fact, it is normal. But all of you know that someone who stays a baby indefinitely is an abnormality. When parents have a child that cannot walk after a certain time, who cannot speak or form sentences after a certain amount of time, or cannot feet itself after a certain amount of time, the parents will take the child to specialists. The same is true of the Christian. From the point of salvation we are to mature, becoming more and more like Jesus. This is the standard Jesus set for us. Here is the normal Christian life:

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

We are to love the way Jesus loved. The Corinthian Church (and many Churches today) fall far from this standard. This should not be. If you were here when I preached on 1 Corinthians Chapter 1, you know that believers are:

Sanctified or set apart from the world in Christ Jesus” (1:1), and
“Called Saints” (1:1)

The Church at Corinth is a saved body of believers, but they are stalled in childhood. They should not be stalled. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 2:16 – 3:1 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ. 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

Why Was Corinth Stalled In Spiritual Childhood?

A Church Stalls In Spiritual Growth When It
De-emphasizes The Scripture

Corinth Rejected The Importance Of The Word Of God,
And Embraced The Spirit Of Worldliness

The Apostle Paul and Sosthenes (a leader from Corinth who went to visit Paul – see 1 Corinthians 1:1) who help found and pastor Corinth have the mind of Christ. The Christian is supposed to have the mind of Christ. What gives us the the mind of Christ? It is the Word of God and the Spirit of God. The Lord told us that:

John 16:13 when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, is given to every Christian to guide us in this wonderful Bible, the WORD of Truth. We are to feed on God’s Word. We are to cherish God’s Word. The Prophet Jeremiah said:

Jeremiah 15:16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

We are saved by receiving the Living Word of God, Jesus, as little children. We become mature sons of God by receiving the Written Word of God as His children. We cherish God’s Word, and, through the intervention of the Spirit of God, apply it to our lives. Jesus warned us:

Matthew 7:24-27 … whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

The Corinthian believers were just not growing. Is it Paul’s fault? Did Paul do something wrong to make them stall? No! Is it Sosthenes fault? Did Sosthenes do something wrong? No, it was the Corinthians fault.

Worldliness Entered The Kingdom Of God.

1 Corinthians 3:2-3 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

When the Apostle founded Corinth, he fed them with milk. He preached the simple Gospel to them, and they were saved by receiving that Gospel. This is wonderful! However, Paul says ye are yet carnal”, σαρκικός sarkikós, [pronounced sar-kee-kos’], “under the control of fleshly or animal appetites”. The Christian is to be governed by the Word of God and the Spirit of God. The Corinthians, like many professing Christians today, are governed by their appetites and opinions.

They do not seek the glory of God in their actions,
but self glory and promotion.

The marks of the Christian who is worldly and childish is that they are always doing things for SELF love, but doing little or nothing for OTHER love. The Apostle writes:

1 Corinthians 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: {sarkikós} for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal: {sarkikós} and walk as men?

When the atmosphere in the Church is the same as the atmosphere in the world, then there will be no life and no growth there. Paul defines the problem the Corinthians have in three words:

  • envying: ζῆλος zēlos, [pronounced dzay’-los], which means to look at what someone else has, and desiring it, to take action to take it. Envying is a violation of God’s Tenth Commandment in …

Exodus 20:17, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.

It is the work of God to “distribute to each person as He will” (1 Corinthians 12:11). Our God gives us what He wants us to have. We are encouraged to “be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). God has been good to us all. Enjoy what you have, but do not try to take another person’s gifts, things, position, or family.

  • strife: When Christians get off base and become envious rather than loving, it always brings strife” (ἔρις éris, [pronounced er’-is]), that is, quarrels, battles, contention. God commands us to “walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife {éris} and envying.” This is the second time Paul addresses this, for we read in:

1 Corinthians 1:11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions [better, strife {éris}] among you.

  • Divisions: Where envy and strife are, there will always be Divisions” {διχοστασία dichostasía, [pronounced dee-khos-tas-ee’-ah]}, a reference to a Church that has walked away from unity. One of the worst things that can happen to a Church is divisions. The Apostle said in another place:

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

The Corinthians hid their divisions by cloaking them in in holy jargon. We read:

1 Corinthians 3:4-5 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

The Apostle Paul was not going to be drawn into the fray. The Christian is called to honor God, to magnify the name of Jesus. The Apostle did not take credit for the growth of Corinth, but told the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 3:6-8 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor.

God calls every believer to honor Him, and to work to the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on this earth. We are to love one another, not loath one another. Every Christian shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. We are called to work for Jesus ourselves. To let the Spirit of God lead us as we, through the study of His Word, become more like Jesus.

We will end with this verse tonight, though we will return another day:

1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

We who are Christians are to work together with one another, and with God our Savior. Every Church is both God’s husbandry and God’s building. The word translated husbandry is the Greek γεώργιον geōrgion, literally “Garden”. Everything in a Garden is put there by the Gardener to produce fruit. Weeds are not welcome! Let us all work together for the glory of God. May God the Holy Spirit draw you closer to Him today. May you live with purpose to glorify the Lord. Amen and Amen!

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About The Ninth Hour

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Turn with me in your Bibles to Acts chapter 3. This historic Gospel was written – along with the Gospel of Luke – by the Physician Luke, a companion of the Apostles. Luke, thought by many to be a Gentile, also wrote the Gospel of Luke. An early Church Pastor named Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 130-202) wrote, “Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him.”

In the Book of Acts the outreach of the Apostles are recorded. The Apostles ministered in a culture that despised Christ. The Jewish hierarchy thought Jesus was a heretic, and His followers a cult. The Gentile hierarchy thought the “Christians” (a term invented by unbelievers to mock the followers of Christ) were either simple minded or treasonous. Yet the Apostles preached the “Good News of Salvation” through faith in the name of Jesus Christ.

After the Day of Pentecost some 3000 believers were added by God to the Church. The Church “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42). The Bible says the Church “continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:46-47).

So what did the Apostles do after this? Did they build a big building, and take a break as they organized their “megachurch”. No, they didn’t do that. As the Apostles were all Jewish (Saul had yet been converted to Paul the Apostle), the Apostles lived out their daily lives, but with Jesus guiding them. We read:

Acts 3:1 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

Devout Jews would, if able, have prayer at the Temple three times a day: 9 am, noon, and 3 pm. As Peter and John loved God, they continued to go to the Temple every day, three times a day. “The ninth hour” refers to the ninth hour from sunrise, so this would be around 3 pm. As Peter and John go into the Temple:

The Apostles Meet A Broken Man

Acts 3:2-3 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.

Peter and John enter into the Temple through the “Gate Beautiful”. The historian Albert Edersheim (himself a Jewish convert to Christianity) wrote that all the other gates of the Temple were covered with gold and silver plating. But the “Gate Beautiful” was …

far more magnificent than any of them was the ninth or eastern gate, which formed the principal entrance into the Temple. The ascent to it was from the terrace by twelve easy steps. The gate itself was made of dazzling Corinthian brass, most richly ornamented; and so massive were its double doors that it needed the united strength of twenty men to open and close them.”

This gate was always opened first at the beginning of the day. It was the main entrance to the Temple, the eastern gate.

Imagine this beautiful gate, glittering in the sunlight, looking somewhat like I imagine the street of gold will be like in Heaven (Revelation 21:21). It must have been glorious! And in the midst of this opulence, as people enter the Temple to pray and worship God …

… lays misery. We are told a certain man lame from his mother’s womb is sitting at the foot of this massive gate. The man is not friendless. The Bible says that they laid {him} daily at the gate of the temple. He had people who were concerned for him. They helped him get to the Temple every day. They carried him from where ever his home was, and brought him to this place to sit.

The man has been sick for so long, he no longer looks to God for help, but to man. It is the ninth hour, a time when believers should be praying. He’s not praying. He’s calling out for help. He’s looking at those around him for alms. Year after year he has been crippled, unable to walk at all. He has grown used to his misery. When he first became aware he was crippled, perhaps he prayed to God, seeking relief. But over time it seemed clear to him. God doesn’t care. If God cared, He would have healed him. So the man looked to charity.

Does God care for you? Sometimes it seems as if He doesn’t. The Psalmist David in the midst of suffering wrote:

Psalm 22:1-2 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? 2 O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

We have all been there. We have suffered, and cried out in the midst of our suffering, but it seemed as if God wasn’t listening. It’s like that Brooks & Dunn song, “God Must Be Busy”:

Last night in Oklahoma
Some twister took thirteen,
And they’re praying that they find,
The missing three.
God must be busy.

It is in our humanity that we sometimes think “God must be busy”. When our Lord Jesus Christ hung on the Cross of Calvary, He spoke seven times. One of the times He spoke He cried out the same thing David did. It was at the ninth hour – about 3 pm – that Peter and John went to pray with other God fearing Jews. The Gospel tells us:

Matthew 27:46 … about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Jesus cried out about the ninth hour in anguish, praying to the Father as He turned away from His beloved Son. God the Father often said “This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). The Father loves the Son with an infinite love, and the Son loves the Father with an undying love. Yet as Jesus suffers on Calvary, the temperature is raised on the offering. Jesus must not just be slain – He must be burned as a burnt offering! As the heat of judgment falls on an innocent Man, Jesus cries out, tears on His face and anguish in His voice. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

God must be busy. No, He is not. Jesus knows why He is there on Calvary. He is the good shepherd {that} giveth his life for the sheep(John 10:11). Calvary is no accident. Suffering is no accident. God knows what is happening – but God has His timing. But oh, do not doubt the love of God. God is always with us. Has He not said:

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV) fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 43:2 (ESV) When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

Psalm 32:8 (ESV) I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Psalm 34:17-18 (ESV) When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

God was not busy nor uncaring when Jesus hung on that Cross.
God was not busy nor uncaring when David suffered.
God was not busy nor uncaring when this man was born lame.
God is not busy nor uncaring when you
and I suffer.

But God has a higher purpose. God tells us:

Isaiah 55:8-9 my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

This man at the Gate Beautiful has given up on God, but God has not given up on him. God has a purpose for this man being there. God wants this man – and you – to understand the greatest thing in life is to be in a daily loving relationship with the God Who loves you so. We must love God more than anything else.

We must NOT make ourselves the YOUniverse. We must look upward, and seek the loving care of God even in the midst of our brokenness. For GOD is our completion. GOD is the reason Jesus cried out in anguish. GOD loves us so!

The Way To Healing Is Repentance

Acts 3:4-5 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. 5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.

It is significant that Peter didn’t ask this man his name. Peter told him, Look on us. The Greek Blepō eis hēmas! This is an Imperative verb in the Greek, a command:

stop looking for money, hear us!
get your attention off of money,
off of the passing crowd,
off of the world,
off of your destitute condition

And turn your mind to Someone Greater than all these things. This man’s only hope was that he repent, metanoeo, turn his eyes and his mind from where he was to where Jesus is.

Peter didn’t say, “Have faith in us”, for there is no power in Peter, nor John, nor anyone born of Adam. The power of healing is in Jesus. The power of salvation is in Jesus. The power to convert the sinner to Saint is in Jesus. Our Jesus:

1 Peter 3:22 (ESV) … has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

Peter said, “Look on us”. What he is saying is what I feebly try to say every week. “Listen to ME. Turn from where you are going, and follow my voice to Jesus!”. Peter doesn’t care what this man’s name is, but he cares that the man hear about Jesus.

Acts 3:6-7 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

The man was looking for Silver and gold, for charity, for a handout. Instead, Peter gave this man Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Now there are charlatans on television that go about slapping people on the head, and proclaiming them healed in the name of Jesus. Does God heal today? Yes, I believe He does.

The greatest thing is not you be restored to health, for eventually all must die. “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). The greatest thing is to repent and come to Jesus.

This man without Jesus had suffered so long that his feet and calves had atrophied. But hearing the powerful name of Jesus, his feet and calves regenerated. This unnamed man joins the ranks of the other unnamed people that Jesus healed.

  • Jesus healed a woman with an issue of blood. She reached through a crowd, touching the hem of the Master’s garment. Repenting and reaching out to God, she was healed! (Matthew 9:22).
  • Jesus healed a Canaanite woman’s daughter who, humbling herself, said “Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table” (Matthew 15:27).
  • Jesus saved a woman taken in adultery. “Where are those who condemn you?” “They are gone, Lord.” “Neither do I condemn you – go and sin no more”. (John 8:11)

  • Acts 3:8-11 And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God: 10 And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. 11 And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.

This man was not quiet about his healing. I myself was not quiet the day that Jesus Christ saved me. I ran down that aisle, and knelt at the altar, crying out to Jesus for salvation. On that day Jesus took my broken heart like He took this broken man’s body and soul, and began the process of healing it.

When Jesus heals, He changes.

What I was before Jesus was crippled from birth. Low self esteem and sin enslaved me. But Jesus grabbed my hand, and pulled me to His feet. Praise Him forever!

The people saw this man walking and praising God through the Temple. Again, this is the ninth hour – the hour of afternoon prayer. In the midst of this somber time where people are praying, this man is jumping and shouting and praising God like a child plagued with super attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). If the preacher was preaching, he didn’t care. God wasn’t busy. God did love him. And he was going to praise God. The man was overjoyed because of Jesus! Just as King David of old danced in the street as God’s Ark came into Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:16), this blessed man danced because Jesus Christ, that wonderful Ark of Salvation, came into His heart. The love of God lifted him up to walk, whereas the love of his friends could only leave him sitting at the gate Beautiful. But here’s the thing. We read:

all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering

This man was crippled from his birth for a reason. This man is also healed from this crippling for a reason. A greater reason. It is so that others can hear about Jesus Christ.

Peter Now Preaches Jesus

Acts 3:12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?

As a journalist would say, Peter doesn’t “bury the lede”. He starts out by telling the people it is not by our own power or holiness that this man is healed. There is no power in the preacher. God did not make the Apostles supermen. Notice that Peter says “it is not our power, NOR OUR HOLINESS” that brought this about. The power is in Jesus Christ. Peter addresses the Jewish crowd:

Acts 3:13-15 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. 14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.

Peter doesn’t mince words. Peter tells them that it is Jesus Who healed this man. This is the same Jesus that the Pharisees and Scribes and Priests delivered up” (paradidōmi, to hand over) Jesus, turning Him over to Pilate. Though the Bible says that Jesus was:

Acts 2:23 … delivered by (here the Greek ékdoto)the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God

this does not lessen the wickedness of those who should have known better. Jesus was an innocent Man, turned over to death by people who knew they were guilty. According to Peter, Pilate was “determined to let {Jesus} go. Nonetheless, the “religious crowd” had Pilate release Barabbas, a known murderer, while they pushed the execution of the Prince of life. Jesus Christ died on that Cross of Calvary. He did not swoon. He did not pretend. He died. He was a corpse. Lifeless. Gone.

But Jesus did not stay dead! Peter said God hath raised {Jesus from} the dead. The proof that Jesus is alive is found in this crippled man now leaping and dancing and praising God.

Acts 3:16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

It is the power of Jesus’ name which, when believed in, brings life where there was only death. This man’s legs were dead. But now, they live!

Jesus Only Comes When You Repent

Acts 3:17-20 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. 18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. 19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:

The crippled man was brought to life because he repented, and believed in Jesus. Peter now tells his Jewish audience that, yes, they did what they did to Jesus in ignorance. They were led to kill the Prince of life because of sin. Sin darkens the mind. Sin enslaves the heart. For 3 ½ years Peter and John followed Jesus, but never actually repented. Who can forget Peter? It was Peter who rebuked Jesus, when our Lord told the disciples:

Matthew 16:21 … 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.

Peter told Jesus, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” (Matthew 16:22). Jesus told Peter,

Matthew 16:23 … Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Peter allowed himself to be used of Satan. John used to argue with his brother James as to who would be the “greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18:1). But Peter and John now know that there is nothing of power in themselves. It is Jesus Who heals, Jesus Who saves, Jesus Who restores life and light to the dead and darkness. Peter tells the crowd listening:

Acts 3:19-20 … Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ,

What causes sins to be blotted out? This is the Greek ἐξαλείφω exaleíphō, {pronounced ex-al-i’-fo}, which means “to wipe off or wipe away”. Those who are listening to Peter are all guilty of murder. They knew that Jesus was innocent, and yet pressed for His execution anyway. The fact that this is in accordance with the will of God does not erase their responsibility. They are responsible. God said:

Revelation 21:8 … as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.

Revelation 22:15 … Outside {of Heaven} are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

No sinner goes to Heaven. Heaven is a Holy place, owned by a Holy God. Sin causes a breach between God and His creation. So how can sin be erased so that God cannot hold it against us? Only by faith in the Lord of Life, Jesus Christ. Peter said Repent ye therefore, and be converted.

There is one thing we do (repent), and one thing that is done to us when we do that one thing (be converted).

Peter calls on the crowd to Repent. This is the first step to being right with God. The word Repentis the Greek metanoeō, which means “to change your mind”. To stop justifying your rejection of Jesus Christ. To turn, and embrace the salvation that God offers only through Jesus. When you Repent, genuine repentance leads you to be converted. And Jesus will come to you. The Father shall send Jesus Christ into your life, praise be the Lord. When you repent, you will be converted, changed from lost to saved. You will be changed by God from,

Son of Adam to Son of God
Lost to Found of God
Tare to Wheat
Goat to Sheep

With repentance and faith in Christ, you will become:

Galatians 3:26 (KJV) “… the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

Before Moses died, he told Israel in Deuteronomy 18:15-19 that God would raise up another Prophet like Moses was a Prophet. Peter quotes this text to the religious crowd around him:

Acts 3:22 … Moses said, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. 23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

Jesus Christ is that Prophet. He is the Messiah, long promised by God throughout the Scriptures. And only by faith in Jesus do we have salvation, forgiveness of our sins in the eyes of God. The Bible says:

Acts 4:12 … there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

It is not the faithful Jew who, praying three times a day, will be saved. It is not the Priest in the Temple, nor the Preacher in the pulpit. It is not the Scribe, the student of Scripture, the Seminarian who will be saved. It is not the Pharisee or Sadducee that shall be saved. Who shall be saved? Only those who repent from following the gods of this world, and who cling to the name of Jesus Christ. These shall be saved. For there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. May God the Holy Spirit move all who hear or read this message to draw near to Jesus Christ by faith. It is He and He alone Who can give life, eternal life. Amen and Amen.

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