FROM FAITH – FOR FAITH

Romans 1.16-17

Introduction: (Read) 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

In these two verses, the Gospel’s objective is presented in a couple of sentences. The Gospel is God’s power at work bringing salvation to all who put their faith in Him. It really is that simple: I mean, Believe God in what he said and what God has done and you’ll be saved. Trust him: that he has done all that he has done through Christ and you’ll have salvation. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done.

  1. Trust Him and you’ll experience the Power of the Gospel through Salvation.
  2. Believe Him and you’ll experience the Provision of the Gospel through Forgiveness.
  3. Put your faith in Him and you become the Proof of the Gospel through a life lived righteously.

These verses teach us that the only way to attain salvation is to be perfectly righteous. Now, on your own, that is impossible. The Law has demonstrated this for us. We’re all sinners and we can’t obey the Law perfectly. But now, the righteousness of God has been revealed to us: how do you become righteous in the eyes of God? By believing the Gospel!

This is so easy for me to tell you, but it sure was hard for me to grasp as a young boy and someone who struggled with trust. Yes, to put it mildly, I had trust issues. I came forward and got saved every Sunday practically. Why would God love and save me?

But that is what the Gospel or Good News is: God loves you and did everything to save you. You just have to trust him. You trust him with your words, you trust him with you actions, you trust him with you life.

The Gospel is the story of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is basically summed up in 1 Cor 15.3-4: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures – as had been foretold in the Old Testament.

Now, with that in mind, let us look at our passage for today a little closer – read it with me: 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Transition: Within this passage we see The Gospel’s Power, The Gospel’s Provision and The Gospel’s Proof. Let’s begin with the first point…

I. The Power of the Gospel is Salvation (16)

exp.: The Gospel is God’s power displayed in people’s lives: God’s power saving those who believe; The Gospel’s power is demonstrated through the salvation of people. Paul says here that he isn’t ashamed of the Gospel, because it (The Gospel) is the power of God for salvation – for everyone who believes. There is no power outside of God’s Power that can bring you salvation. None.

Ill.: World magazine reported of an elderly Chinese woman who through her superstitions thought she’d have safe travels if she threw some coins into the airplane’s jet engine. Coins and a jet engine don’t mix!

  • You can’t buy salvation with your money anymore than you can throw coins in a jet engine and expect it to carry you to your destination.
  • You can’t earn salvation with your good works;
  • You can’t steal it;
  • You can’t get lucky somehow on you own and win it through some lottery;
  • You can’t get gain it through someone else’s work or charm.

Our very best – the most righteous we can be on our own is as filthy rags before God. Isa. 64.6

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.

ill.: Years ago Lisa and I watched a movie about a man who was held by the Russian Govt. trying to get him to confess crimes that he didn’t commit. He was cruelly mistreated in efforts to get him to confess. He was left in a dungeon without the proper food for the longest period of time. His clothes became soiled and nasty.

Over the weeks, this man grew a wire-y beard and his hair grew long and oily and his clothes basically rotted on him. Still he refused to ‘confess’. Then one day they came and got him. They cleaned him up. They gave him new clothes, a fresh haircut and cut his beard. They brought out a steak dinner and he ate like a king.

Then, they asked him to ‘confess’. But he refused. What broke him was when he was forced to put his nasty soiled, polluted clothes back on. He just couldn’t. He confessed.

app.: I think of his clothes and the difference from the nasty, grimy dungeon to that clean, sterile environment and how he broke when he was forced to put those polluted garments back on.

Can I say that this verse in Isaiah 64 – without getting too graphic, is even worse than what I’ve just described? Imagine with me if you will a situation at the hospital. Most of you have been in hospitals before. There is usually a bin marked ‘soiled linens’. Workers come in and remove sheets and gowns that have blood and urine and fecal matter on them. They clean up the patient and give them fresh linens. These workers take the ‘soiled linens’ and put them in that particular bin. Can you imagine being moved to a new room and your nurse digging through that soiled bin to find something for you to wear? Taking some sheets from their and making your bed.

That’s the picture Isaiah is painting when he says our righteousness is like ‘soiled linens’ …

The Gospel is God’s power at work in the lives of people. It is saving us from our sins and making us like a pure, clean garment. You see that in the rest of this sentence: to everyone who believes. As I stated previously: Believe what God has done and you’ll be saved. Trust that he has placed your sin upon Christ who died for you. Trust him that he has placed all of Christ’s righteousness on you. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. Place your trust in him and you are saved.

t.s.: that’s the Gospel’s power – saving you through faith. 2nd,

II. The Provision of the Gospel is Forgiveness (17)

exp.: Righteousness through forgiveness: The passage reads: For in it (i.e.: the Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed… what that means is that God makes us righteous – that is, His righteousness is credited to us. You see, we’re sinners. We’re conceived in our momma’s wombs that way.

Ill.: one of the lessons in Starting Points, the class I teach at Venture, over the last few weeks has been that sin has been passed down to every human from Adam. That sin separates us from God because he is perfectly righteous and has no sin. We are conceived that way. And the only way to have a relationship with God is that we must be righteous – we must be forgiven of the sins that separate us from God.

A couple of chapters from here, in 3.21-22, Paul explains more about this righteousness. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. You see, what Paul is saying to us is that this righteousness could only be attained through the perfect obedience to the Law. But what the Law did, was show us that we can’t be perfect – we can’t obey the Law perfectly. So, God made a way – apart from the Law – through the Gospel, we can have this righteousness poured out on us. See v 22: The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

ill.: in that class, Starting Points, the students are learning the definition of certain words: Atonement, Propitiation, etc. The word Atonement means simply “to cover”. And I think of Genesis 3 when I hear those words. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. They had tried to cover themselves with fig leaves. In their new sinful state, they knew they naked and they were ashamed. Yet their attempt to cover themselves was so inadequate. So, God covered them. He did for them what they couldn’t do for themselves.

app.: That is such a small picture of God’s provision in comparison to the provision of covering us through Christ’s great sacrifice. For Adam and Eve, animals would have been killed to provide the skin covering. For you and me, Christ died, providing for us what we need because our attempts to cover ourselves would be totally inadequate.

t.s: That’s the Gospel’s Provision – making you righteous in God’s eyes – if you’ll trust and believe Him. Finally, we see the Gospel’s Proof through a life lived in faith.

III. The Proof of the Gospel is Righteousness (17)

exp.: the Gospel’s proof in a person’s life is simply this: The Righteous Shall Live by Faith. What I love about this quote is that it is from the Old Testament. When NT writers quote OT passages it gives us insight into what those passages mean and what that NT writer was trying to communicate. With Habakkuk’s help, which by the way, he’s quoting God there, we understand that Paul is communicating to us that our lives reflect the decision and commitment we’ve made. Let me repeat that: our lives reflect the decision and commitment we’ve made.A righteous life demonstrates that someone has found the forgiveness of God and is now living according to God’s plan.

ill.: It’s like this – you say, God, I’m tired of living my life the way I want. I’ve made a mess of things. I want to live this life the way you’ve designed. I want to live life according to your plan. Please forgive me of my sins, come into my life and change me.

app.: it’s really that simple. The Gospel is the power of God at work in your life, bring you forgiveness and making you righteous, calling you to live your new life in righteousness – demonstrating your new commitment. This, of course, comes to you free of charge on your part, but paid in full through the sacrifice of Christ.

Conclusion:

I read a story a couple of weeks ago about a mom whose child had gone missing. A search was made. In Africa, where the local animals eat children, time was of the essence. The child was found. It turns out that she had fallen into a pit. I didn’t fully understand what the pit was. It sounded like a trap for capturing animals. Anyway, this mom found her child, but the child starting screaming because there was a venomous viper in the pit. Without hesitating, the mom jumped into the pit to come between this viper and her child.

The viper did bite the mom, but it also bit the child. Both mom and child were taken out and rushed to a hospital in the nearest city. There really was no hope for them both because this viper is a killer and had bitten both. But as it turned out, mom died, but the child lived.

The people were shocked. How could the child live with this venomous killer biting her? It didn’t seem possible. The doctor explained: yes, both were bitten, but the mother took all of the venom. When the snake bit the child, there was no more venom to harm the child.

It made me think that this story is very similar to what Christ did for us: he took the venom of sin’s bite, as it were. The death that should be ours, became his. And the life that was his, has become ours when we believe.

Application: So, what do we do about this?

I. Respond in faith: Peter said to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you’ll be saved. This is Wonderful news. The best response you can make is take advantage of this moment and give your life to Christ. I don’t care how old you, where you’re from, or what you’ve done. If you’ve never accepted Christ, let today be the day. The greatest gift you can give your kids is to give them the assurance that they’re momma or daddy is saved.

  • The Gospel is God’s power for Salvation to everyone who believes.
    • God can save you, it is just a question of whether you believe it or not.
    • If you believe (have faith, trust) that what he says to you is true.
  1. You’re a sinner.
  2. The punishment of your sin is death (eternal death).
  3. Jesus paid your penalty when he died on the cross.
  4. Place your faith (trust, belief) in Christ and all of your sin is placed on him and all of his righteousness is placed on you.
    • Then you will be saved.

II. Share this good news with others. There are so many out there who don’t know Christ. They’ve never experienced this forgiveness I’m talking about. I’ve met a couple of people over the past month who’ve said they came to Christ at a later age. They assumed they were saved before. Lived a good life. Came to church, and had been baptized as a child. But, there was something missing. After an internal audit, they came to the realization that if they died they weren’t sure if they would actually spend eternity in heaven.

Let me ask you: if you were standing at heavens gate and knocked on those great gates, when God answered by asking why should I let you into my heaven. If you don’t know that answer, or unsure of what you’d say, please get that nailed down today. Don’t put it to chance. Don’t think that you’d be too embarrassed to stand before the church and admit it.

Respond in faith: share the good news yourself and the best way to do that…

III. Live a righteous life by faith. That’s what the righteous do. The best testimony is the one where a person’s words match his life. Trust Christ – especially when life is hard. Trust that He knows what he’s doing.

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Filed under Faith, Romans, Sermons, The Gospel

SIX QUALITIES OF A GODLY MAN

Title: Six Qualities of a Godly Man

Text: Romans 1.8-15

CIT: Paul’s Prayers for Rome Reveal Much About This Man

CIS: There are characteristics and traits to observe in an Apostle.

Introduction: It is quite typical to move from the Greetings and Salutations to a mentioning of Prayer and Thanksgiving in a 1st Century letter. That is exactly what Paul does in this next section.

Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Rome is outlined in verses 8-15. First of all, these prayers include thanksgiving for the fact that their faith is known and proclaimed by other believers throughout the Greco-Roman world (8).

Secondly, Paul offers the unceasing request to one day make his journey to Rome (9-10). His request is simply to preach the gospel among them and it is expressed in three separate statements:

1st, Paul’s desire is to impart some spiritual gift to them to encourage them and to be encouraged by them, as well (11-12).

2nd, Paul has intended for some time to get to them but has been prevented from ministering there (13). Now, it appears that whatever was hindering is no longer in the way.

3rd, Paul has a calling to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. He says he is under obligation to all and so desires to come and preach the gospel in Rome.

These prayers reveal more of the man we know as The Apostle Paul and his desires as a godly man. I think there is more than just information sharing here. Paul is opening up his soul and giving us a glimpse inside.

Transition: This week I shared with the Venture group in Chapel about the old man and his elder wife who were sitting at the Table sharing a meal. The woman looked over at her husband of many, many decades and felt this overwhelming sense of pride. Herbert, I’m proud of you, She gushed. Without missing a beat, the old man replied: Well, I’m tired of you, too!

Sometimes it is easy to communicate what is in your heart and at other times… not so much. Sometimes you want to communicate what lies deep within but it gets misunderstood.

Well Paul doesn’t confuse us here and there is no miscommunication as he reveals his heart to the church at Rome – and to us. Paul tells them plainly what he feels and what his desires are. He does so by laying his prayer requests before God and he lets us all in on those prayers.

For us, we’re able to glean some qualities from a godly man. These qualities are Paul’s, but I think they can be true for any man or woman who has been called of God to serve. And yes, that means even you. Your first temptation might be to take them and measure them up against me. To be honest, that is fine. It really is something you should do. I would encourage you to do so. Furthermore, you can use them to measure up your spiritual leaders (i.e.: elders and deacons).

But don’t be so quick to just move in that direction. I want to encourage you to use these marks for your own life – to see how you measure up to Paul. And, I would not say these marks are exhaustive and complete. But I would say they are useful for us today in their current form to help in our service and ministry. So here we go…

Six Qualities Found in a Godly Leader:

I. He has a thankful heart for all God has done in fulfilling His promises. (8)

exp.: rd v8; God is fulfilling his promises to the Romans. The proof is in the pudding! They’re being discussed wherever there are other Christians gathering. It is interesting what Paul doesn’t note here. He thanks God, but not for…

  • It isn’t their leadership – pastors or elders.
  • It isn’t their worship.
  • It isn’t their facilities.
  • It isn’t their ministries or ministers.
  • It isn’t their mission work.
  • It isn’t the money they’ve raised for disaster relief or the people they’re sending to help the folks in Jerusalem.

Paul is grateful for their faith. Faith is expressed and their expression has been something to talk about. The word all appears 2x’s in v 8; two different words: all is the word pan; the 2nd all is the word from which we get whole. A most literal translation would be the whole world. And I think to myself: Really? The whole world? I think what he is saying is that brothers and sister across the Christian world are talking about the faith of this church. That is amazing… people talking about their congregation.

ill.: this past week Spring Creek Baptist Church was in the News. The County Commissioner who attends there, JoAnn Hampton was indicted on aggravated assault charges this past week. Back on April 2nd, Ms. Hampton came to church to find someone had already prepared the Lord’s Supper Table. It seems a 72-year-old member of the congregation and Ms. Hampton had already had words about the timeliness of setting up the table. The 72-year-old woman came in early and set everything up. Ms. Hampton was furious. She went to the pastor’s office where the woman was talking with the pastor and assaulted her. Basically, she pushed her back onto the couch and the woman injured her hand.

app.: That isn’t the kind of notoriety Paul is talking about! These folks in Rome are in the news because of their faith. Do you remember I told you Claudius Caesar kicked the Jews out of Rome in 49AD? Well, it appears this young Gentile congregation had to start living by faith. And the result was the testimony of those who were scattered abroad.

Philippians 1.6: And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Paul was so thankful to God for fulfilling his promises to this congregation.

t.s.: The 1st Quality we see here of this godly leader is: he has a grateful heart. 2ndly,

II. He recognizes His first and main audience is with God (9a)

exp.: The context, of course, is that God is his witness  – that he is telling the truth concerning his prayers. Rd v 9a; Yes, God is his witness, but more than that. It is God that he serves. When he says with or literally, in, my spirit… I think that is his way of saying with my whole heart.

You’ve probably felt this way about yourself when you’re singing: Bless the Lord, O’ my soul, and all that is within me… bless his holy name. All that is within me… that is, with my spirit. And his service: the gospel. This may be hard to grasp, but a pastor’s first calling is to the gospel. It is the spread of the Gospel that saves souls and it is the repetition of the gospel that disciples the believers. It’s the telling and retelling of that old, old story – over and over again.

ill.: I love to tell the story of unseen things above. Of Jesus and his glory… of Jesus and his love. I love to tell the story because I know tis true. It satisfies my longing as nothing else can do.

I love to tell the story – tis pleasant to repeat. What seems each time I tell it more wonderfully sweet. I love to tell the story for some have never heard the message of salvation from God’s own Holy Word.

I love to tell the story. T’will be my theme in glory to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.

app.: Sing them over again to me… Wonderful words of life. That’s what discipleship is. And that is what the godly man loves to do – is to tell the story that changed his life. And to tell the story that sustains this congregation. Well, a godly man recognizes his first and main audience is with God. It is God he serves. That’s why God is a witness to the work and prayer.

t.s.: He has a grateful heart. He recognizes that he serves God by serving others with the Gospel. 3rd,

III. He incessantly remembers the church in his prayers (9b-10)

exp.: Paul’s prayers don’t just end with thanksgiving. Paul’s prayers are unceasing for this congregation, moving from gratitude to a very special request. Rd v 9b-10; Paul’s desire is to travel to Rome. Who wouldn’t, right? Anyone here ever been to Rome? We’re looking for missionaries to serve in Tahiti and Hawaii! We need Home Missionaries in Florida and Colorado!

ill.: I remember reading about some missionaries who on Sunday morning would go skiing and stop at a chapel up on the slopes. There, they would lead a service. I thought: where do I sign up? Well, my guess is that some of the hardest ministry is in the midst of those who think they don’t need it. But, those people need Jesus, too.

app.: Paul’s message is clear, but let me be very literal here: so that without coming to an end, remembrance of you I make my request or I do my asking; “Without ceasing, unrelenting”; It’s very wordy, but desperately points out the prayers of Paul for these people.

Do you know that your leadership prays for you? I can’t say for me it is without ceasing. I wish I were better at it. But I do pray for you daily. Sometimes I pray for individuals. Sometimes I pray for groups. And my requests for you vary according to our needs.

I like knowing how to pray and what to pray for. If you want me to be specific in my prayers for you, email me or drop it in the offering plate. That will allow me to pray specifically for you.

t.s.: Godly leaders have grateful hearts. They recognize their service to others is service to God. And they pray for their churches and their members. They keep them before the Lord. 4th… And we see this of Paul…

IV. He desires to encourage them through his service (and to be mutually encouraged by them in theirs) (11-12)

exp.: look at v 11; do you see the 1st word there: γὰρ. A marker of reason. Because; At this stage he’s telling them why he wants to come. Truth is, he finally gets to it in v 15; …so I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. His purpose in going there is singular in focus (i.e.: to preach the Gospel, v 9, 15) but this focus of preaching the Gospel is expressed in three different ways; the 1st is in v 11: I like to translate this: For I long to behold you. I want to see you, to behold you with my own eyes. Continue reading v 11…

  1. By preaching the Gospel in their midst, he would be imparting a spiritual gift that will encourage them and strengthen them. Added to this, that he might be encouraged at the same time. Rd v 12; He’s heard about their faith (8) – really all over the Christian world. I’m supposing because of Paul’s popularity that they’ve heard of his faith, too. If not, they will from Phoebe and anyone else carrying this letter.

app.: I don’t know if you’ve thought this through or not, from a personal standpoint, but living out your faith in front of others strengthens and encourages them…just as you are when you see others living out their faith.

Last month Jamie Dean of World Magazine shared the story of a North Korean defector who talked about the punishment and persecution of Christians. One family kept their Bible in magpie nest… a bird’s nest. Late at night, someone would crawl up into the tree, into the nest and get the Bible. They would read what they could under the cloak of darkness. Then, get the Bible back in place before sun up. One day, a neighbor who was cutting a branch down, somehow caused the nest to fall and reveal the Bible. The family was busted. Can you imagine? How many of you have your Bible with you now? If we were in North Korea, we’d all be thrown in prison.

We’re so blessed to live out our faith in the eyes of others. We’re so blessed that we don’t have to hide our Bible in a tree outside. You, meeting in your community group… that’s mutually encouraging to each other.

Transition: Paul hopes to strengthen them and to be strengthen and encouraged by them in return. Also, he says in v 13; Rd v 13a; this is the 2nd way of he hopes to preach the Gospel to them but it is also our 5th quality that we find in Paul.

V. He surrenders his will to the Lord’s will in spite of what he himself wants (13)

exp.: he’s been hindered from going there to Rome. He has wanted to for some time, but for some reason, God hasn’t opened that door to him.

  1. Because, whatever was hindering him before, is no longer in the way. I suppose it was his mission work in the east. He has been preaching the Gospel everywhere he can between Jerusalem and Greece. Now, he’s finding others who’ve gone before him… like Rome for example. Having completed that task, and seeing the area evangelized, Paul’s desire now is to expand the mission work to Spain. We’ll see that in 15.24. He’ll mention also in chapter 15 the gift from the Asian churches to Jerusalem and his need to travel there to deliver that gift. But after that, he wants to come see them on his way to Spain.

app.: Man, we’re learning something very valuable here, in this quality Paul displays. Sometimes, and this has been my experience as a believer and as a pastor, God says no. Sometimes God says, yes. And sometimes God gives us a third answer and says – not yet. It doesn’t mean no, forever, just for a while. It usually means that God has some work to do in our hearts and in our lives to prepare us for what we’re asking.

ill.: When Lisa and I were in Cotulla we felt a call to go to the Rocky Mtns and work. We knew the call was on our hearts, but God wasn’t opening up the door. Instead, we went south to Harlingen. God made it clear to us that we were to go south. The criticism was pretty sharp by some. I thought God was calling you to go north? Well, we moved to Harlingen, 8 miles north of the Mexican border. And God used our experience there in so many ways, preparing us for the ministry in Wyoming.

I could stand here and begin telling you stories of what I learned in deep South Texas that God used in Wyoming, but we don’t have time… so I’ll save those for then.

God may have called you and is preparing you, but thus far has hindered your progress. Let me encourage you: Trust him. Whatever you want for this church or this mission or this ministry or your community group or… whatever it is of God… Let me tell you: He wants even better things than you do. So let this quality be found in you: surrender your will to his, in spite of what you might want. Let him finish preparing you for the task ahead.

t.s.: His 3rd expression is found in the rest of 13(b) and 14.

  1. His obligation to the Gentiles encompasses the believers in Rome. Do you see the last word in v 13? It is the word from which we get ethnic… ethnic groups or as we say today, people groups.

t.s.: and that my friends, is the 6th quality we find in Paul…

VI. He knows his calling and is passionate about fulfilling it (14-15)

exp.: He is eager to preach the Gospel to this unreached people group. I didn’t say unreached and unengaged, because I’m assuming they are engaging their own people. But as a whole, they remain unreached. That is his mission field. He’s been gifted to be successful among the ethnos… the unreached people groups.

t.s.:

  1. He has a thankful heart.
  2. He recognizes his 1st audience and service is to God.
  3. He keeps his people and ministry before the Lord in prayer…
  4. He desires to strengthen and encourage his people through his service and to be encouraged by them, too.
  5. He surrenders his wants and wishes to the Lord, in spite of what he desires. That’s because he trusts in What God is doing…
  6. He knows his calling and is passionate about fulfilling it.

Conclusion: Let’s land this plane. So what will you take home with you today? How can you make it personal?

Application: 1st, let me ask you some questions…

  1. What moves you to prayer?
    1. Gratitude? Or, are you taking God’s blessings for Granted?
    2. Is it opportunities for the Gospel? Do you get excited about what God might be doing in your life and in the life of your church?
    3. Or do you find you only pray when things are bad and you’re in need?

Maybe that is a commitment you need to make this morning: to pray regularly.

  1. Do you recognize that your service to people and for people is really to and for God? He is your first audience. I think of the ministries we have:
    1. CUB: it is easy to get tired of people who just use you.
    2. Bridgemark and Venture: for bridgemark, sometimes it feels like people just take advantage, just using the building; but then there are times when I see the good we’re doing in a child’s life. Do you realize that there are children who will grow up to be adults and know how to read because of your ministry? Some little girl down there will hold her granddaughter someday and read the Bible with her. Some man may read Scripture from the pulpit. Or even more – God may call one of them to missions or to the pastorate. Don’t grow weary in well doing. You’re serving God by serving people when you do his bidding.
    3. Maybe its teaching Bible Study or a Community Group. Trust that your service to God is being rewarded and used by Him for his glory.
  2. Do you know your calling and are you passionate about it? I hope so. If not, you’re missing out on so much. I believe God has every person here for a reason and it isn’t to keep the seat you’re sitting in warm. God began a good work in you and I am confident that he will carry it through to completion.

If you don’t know your calling, will you come visit with me about that? Or, maybe you’d feel comfortable with an elder. Please come talk to us. If you’ve never accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, I offer him to you today.

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Filed under Calling, Christian Living, Romans, Sermons, Spiritual Formations

Romans: An Introduction

Text: Romans 1.1-7

Introduction: I’ve always had a fondness for Romans. I guess it began with the Roman Road (3.23; 6.23; 5.8; 10.9-10; 13) Romans 8.18; and that long passage from 29-33; Romans 9 and the Sovereignty of God;

  • I remember reading about Martin Luther when I was on Sabbatical and how Romans 1.17 moved him…changed him. That powerful experience where Martin Luther read that one is justified by Faith alone launched the Reformation. But so many others have had similar experiences in Romans.
  • Augustine’s life was changed when he read Romans 13.13-14. He would become the 1st great scholar to truly have an impact on the church 4th
  • John Wesley had attended a meeting and someone, whoever was leading the study from Romans, began to read Luther’s preface to his commentary. Wesley was ‘strangely warmed’ as this book on Romans was being read and his spirit was stirred to Faith. Wesley, of course, was one of the ministers who was instrumental in the Spiritual Awakening that began in England and spread to the US.
  • John Bunyan, who wrote Pilgrim’s Progress – came to faith and was stirred by Romans.

And the list goes on.

And that is what I want for us here – that we would experience a life changing study. I pray that somewhere in the course of our study, your life will be changed, your spirit warmed and that you will never be the same.

History:

I find it interesting that Paul hadn’t established the church at Rome. Most of us just assume that the letters he wrote were out of his concern for something he started. But that isn’t always the case – and for sure, not this letter.

Let me give you a little history as I understand it. Jewish Christians established the Church at Rome as they were scattered abroad in times of persecution. Of Course, the Roman Catholic Church believes Peter established it; however, there is evidence of the church’s existence as early as 42AD. Peter was still in the area of Israel as late as 45AD. Paul is clear in this letter that he didn’t start it. So, best we can surmise, Jewish Christians came to Rome and began sharing with other Jews who got saved.

Now, in 49AD Claudius Caesar expelled the Jews from Rome. So, that left only Gentile believers in the church at Rome. By 54AD, Jews were making their way back into Rome because Claudius had died and his decree was no longer in effect. That left the church without a Jewish influence for some 5 years. We don’t know of what other influences good or bad, these believers would have had. Paul’s letter then, would be so very important and play a major role in their understanding of the Christ and the Church. Paul’s writing takes place sometime between 55-58AD. My guess is that his letter of Theology would be a stabilizing factor for their church.

With that thought in mind, you’ll see in his letter that he is addressing a bit of conflict between the Jewish believers and the Gentile believers. That should become clear for us when we get into chapters 2 and beyond.

Reasons for writing this letter:

That is one reason why he is writing: conflict between these two groups. But in the process, we get some great theology that comes out…

Another reason he’s writing is because he wants to visit them and stay with them on his way to Spain. Paul’s very clear about having preached throughout that area from Jerusalem to Greece. His desire is to boldly go where no man has gone before to preach the Gospel.

Ill.: Henry Cho tells the story of a buddy of his, BJ. That’s his name: BJ. It doesn’t stand for anything. He got tired of people asking him, so he would respond B only, J only. When he applied to get a driver’s lisence, he didn’t want there to be confusion – so he put down on the form, B only, J only. Of course it came back that his name was Bonly Jonly. Anyway, Henry and BJ were watching Star Trek:

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.

The intro finished and the music started. BJ then asked Henry: Do you think they’ll ever get to Boldlygo. Like, Boldlygo is the place they’ve been heading: to boldly go, where no man has gone before.

Well, that’s Paul… not to a place called Boldlygo, but rather to Spain – to boldly preach where no man has preached before. And Spain was as far away as you could go… He would need a stopping point along the way. Rome was it.

The Introduction:

This intro is the longest intro of any of Paul’s 13 letters. It is more theologically robust and full. Let’s read it together. Rd v 1-7;

There are 4 parts to this introduction:

  1. Paul introduces himself: The Man
  2. Paul tells them what he does: His Message
  3. Paul tells them why he does what he does: His Authority or His Commission by God
  4. Paul lists the recipients: but it is so much more than just the believers at Rome. It identifies certain traits believers possess. Belong to Christ, loved by God, called to holiness, Grace, and Peace.

Transition: Let’s walk through these verses with the first section:

I. The Man (1)

exp.: he identifies himself in three ways in v1: a slave; an apostle; set apart

  • Slave: δοῦλος; The lowest form of a human being;

Ill.: have you been reading about the move in our city to change the name of Lee High School? I really don’t get it. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but I don’t understand why people want to erase history. If we do, then we’ll be doomed to repeat it.

We find something similar here in modern translations. Your version probably says servant or bondservant. If you have the Holman CSB, you have a literal translation of slave. Why is it softened? It’s offensive. Slavery is offensive. And well it should be.

You and I abhor slavery, but it is a very real part of our world. Ignorance of this fact doesn’t make it go away. People, women and children mostly, are kidnapped and sold into slavery every day. Even, right here in Tyler!

When you think of slave, you probably have negative thoughts. I hope so. And, I think you’d be right on with what Paul is trying to illicitate in you.

Slaves have no rights. Yes, you and I want to set those who’ve been enslaved set free. Boko Haram still has Christian girls captive who he has enslaved. This should capture your attention. Now, with this thought in mind, I want you to see how Paul sees himself.

app.: Do you fight against this idea? I sure do. I hate slavery. The stories of young girls being kidnapped and sold into slavery nauseates me. It makes me angry. Look at what Paul is saying here: that he is a slave of Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus is His Master. He has no rights. He is totally and uterrly at Christ’s Command. He can do nothing of his own, but only what his master commands.

  • Apostle: called to be; An apostle is someone who has been sent with a mission; Commissioned; The idea that he has been called is that this isn’t his own doing. He didn’t just set out to do it because He had a passion for the Gentiles. God called him and commissioned him.

App.: We begin to sense that Paul is taking our eyes off of him and putting them upon God. Paul is nothing – the lowest form of a human, a slave. His Master is Jesus Christ. Paul is called and commissioned to a task. That means the work he is doing is someone else’s work. His job, his mission is because they have commissioned him to this task. Specifically, he says…

  • Set apart: this is a compound word different from the idea of sanctified. Usually, when we see set apart, we think of holy, separate. This compound word means away from and marked off with clear boundaries.

ill.: We’re all called in some sense – to be believers. You’ll see that in v 6 and again in v 7. This calling, well, it’s different. Sure, we’re all called to share Christ. This calling here, though, well, It is just different. I sometimes wish I could be like you. Sometimes when I hurt. Sometimes when I want to quit and give up. Coffee Cup: Pastor. Sometimes, though, I love what I do and who I am. My calling is different than yours. God called me to all of the same things he has called you to…I’ll mention some when we get down to v 6-7. But, he called me to something more. I’ve been set apart for a specific ministry here. I don’t take that lightly. I know some of you have ideas about what that is. And, some of you aren’t afraid to tell me. But, as one who has been called – my one heart’s greatest desire is to be found faithful to God. My heart’s desire is to be the pastor God intends me to be. So that when I stand before him – on that day, I’ll hear him say of me: Well done, Fred. Enter into the joy of your salvation.

app.: notice in each characteristic Paul is placing the focus on God. That’s his goal. You see, this calling is all about Him. He is the Master, He is the one who commissions and sets apart His slave to accomplish His task.

t.s.: And that is who Paul is saying he is… He is really nobody: a simple slave doing the work His Master has commanded of him. 2ndly, His message….

II. His Message (2-4)

exp.: at the end of v 1, Paul tells us what it is he has been called and set apart to do: the Gospel. And he outlines for us just what he understands about that Gospel in v 2:

  • God Promised; we saw this from Genesis 3.15 onward.
  • From long ago, and long before Paul’s day… hundreds and thousands of years.
  • Through His Prophets: Rom 3.21-23 talks about a righteousness that can be attained apart from the law – to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
  • In the Scriptures: that is where the promises are recorded; these are his Holy Scriptures

Exp.: rd v 3; concerning His Son; well, what about His Son? Two major points he makes and expands on:

  1. Son of David: lit.: seed of David; the point he’s making is that Jesus was from the House and Line of King David. The Messiah is from David’s line. Paul’s point here is that Jesus was human. 100% Human. He ate and drank and slept and walked and sweat and tired and … everything humans do, except of course, Jesus was without sin. Hebrews 4.15 says: 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Paul places emphasis upon this when he says according to the flesh. Not only was he human, the Son of David, but he was also…
  2. Son of God: rd v 4; declared is the word in Greek from which we get our word in English The Horizon is a line that clearly separates the earth from the heavens. The horizon helps determine or declare, if you will, where the earth ends and the heavens begin. Paul is saying that there was an event that clearly separates him from all other humans, making him divine. And that, my friend is the resurrection. It isn’t to say that Christ was not divine before the resurrection and it isn’t to say that he wasn’t God’s son before he became David’s son. No, as a matter of fact, the construction of the original language hints that he was indeed God’s Son before he ever became David’s Son. You see that in the Construction and brought out so well by the ESV.

Cranfield and others say this is an early confession formula that Paul is using. If that is to be the case, and I believe that it is, then as a Confession of sorts, it is meant to be poetic and flow. I think it is saying something unique about the resurrection. Something new happens here. It is a new era: a new age. Life lived on this earth will now be different. And for you and me and anyone else who comes to faith in Christ, it is! We no longer offer sacrifices. Our sacrifice was offered in Christ. We now live by faith and have Christ as our priest. We no longer need a priest to intercede for us.

He experienced life in the weakness of the flesh and died that way. But, he was resurrected to New Life in the power of the Spirit. He really died: all the way, dead. He wasn’t mostly dead. His heart stopped. His brain waves stopped. His blood stopped pumping through his heart. But, three days later – He is alive!

app.: this is Paul’s message.

t.s.: Next we see the why, which he has touched upon a little in v. 1;

III. His Authority (5)

exp.: why he does what he does; rd v 5; grace and apostleship; Not many people that I know of are saved and called in the same experience. If you’re familiar with Acts 9, then you know that Paul’s salvation experience was also his calling to spread the Gospel. And this calling is to bring about the obedience of faith, that is, to see people surrender their lives to Christ. That through faith and obedience, the whole world might come to Christ – you see that in among the nations.

ill.: I can’t help but think about this mission we’ve accepted to reach our people group. Every people will be represented around the throne. That call still goes out to us… to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.

There is a church about 2, maybe 2.5 hours away that has heard about our mission. They’re small, but are seeking a partnership in this mission. Will you make that a matter of prayer? It would be help for us in the area of finances and the area of service. But, the conversation has only been broached. Conversations can break down at any time. So please be in prayer as we do our part to reach this people group and possibly some others around that area.

app.:

  • Paul saw himself as God owned;
  • He saw his message as God prepared;
  • and he saw his authority as God appointed.

Conclusion: Paul concludes his introduction with a statement that really is about all believers; rd v6-7;

I’ve been taught that Spurgeon used to teach his students in their preaching to make a Beeline to the Cross. Really, it’s His Story, so it is all about him. I don’t know if it is always true, but for the most part, every message should point people to Jesus.

That’s what Paul has done here:

  • In telling us who he is, he points us to Jesus.
  • In telling us what he does, in the Gospel, he points us to Jesus.
  • In telling us why he does what he does and by what authority he does it, he still points us to Jesus.

I’ve been reading up on Luther in preparation for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. One of my favorite stories is of Jon Huss, who some 100 years before Luther spoke out against the papacy and the Catholic Church. But, Luther said that his gripes with the church were different Huss and Zwingli, who predate Luther. Where Huss and Zwingli spoke out against the morals of the Pope and the Church, Luther’s outrage was at the Theology of the Church. And Romans played a huge part in that.

For sure, think about it: if it was simply moral, then we would all still be Catholic. The difference would be a moral Pope and a moral leadership within the Church. But the difference is theology. Salvation isn’t found in the Church – it is found in faith through Jesus Christ and him alone.

So, what will you take home with you today?

Application:

  1. All of your life should point people to Christ.
    1. He is our Master.
    2. He is the one who has called us.
    3. And, he is the one who has given us His Great Commission.
  2. Salvation comes through faith in Christ alone. There is no other way to be saved. There is no other man to trust. There is no other work to be accomplished. If you wondering about this this morning, Paul called it the obedience of faith.

I want to offer Christ to you this morning…

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Romans, Sermons

Affirming the Call of God

Title: Affirming the Call of God

Text: 2 Corinthians 8.16-24

Introduction: We’re in 2 Corinthians 8.16-24 this morning. Turn there.

Answering the Call of God upon one’s life can be the most exhilarating and adrenalin pumping adventures for any man. It is scary and exciting all at the same time. The journey begins with humble commitment and unrealistic expectations. I suppose the same goes for missionaries and other types of call.

But it gets hard through the years because the church often times feels it must keep a tight budget. Pay raises are passed over and excused as budget cuts. Church members try to run a faith budget like their home or business. Added to this, no one keeps track of the minister’s days off (except for maybe his wife, who feels defenseless in speaking up about either the finances or the workload) and so he works too many days without taking the break he needs. Many men of God feel overworked and underpaid.

Church members feel that the call of God weighs heavily on the person’s life and that they’re called to serve – they’ve been called to ministry, not to money. The pastor and his family are made to feel out of place and awkward if they even talk about money.

Isn’t it odd how the church wants men who’ve been to school – who have a Master’s Degree or even a Doctorate, but they want to pay those men like they’re high school dropouts?

Anybody getting uncomfortable? Are the A/C’s working ok? Is it getting warm in here?

There are hard issues in calling someone to commit to this ministry. Aren’t there? You’re getting something very special here in calling this family. What will you give in return?

How Special, you might ask: The elders and the search team feel like we’ve found you the very best man for the job. That’s not hyperbole. That’s not exaggeration. We’re so excited to present this young man to you. WE believe we’ve done due diligence in ferreting out this man from the crowd of applicants. Furthermore, we believe Duffey to be an answer to the prayers we’ve offered. We believe this is God’s man for this position.

I’m not slamming any of the other applicants. There were some quality applicants. And I’m sure God has great plans for those people; however, we believe God’s plan for Calvary is this man. It began for us as elders a couple of years ago and has grown to this point. We done our best to follow God’s leading in this area. Nearly 2 years later, we’re standing here in front of you guys with a confident assurance that God has brought us to this place.

Transition: So, what do you do as a church with this information? How do you behave and act toward someone being called as Pastor of Worship and Students?

A Brief look at the Reformation:

Historically, the Pope and his Bishops did all that. The Pope basically issued orders ex cathedra and the people followed. Martin Luther and John Calvin rose up against that very thing in a little movement called the Reformation. Luther taught that Christians should gather, not at the call of a particular man (pope or priest), but that they should gather around their shared convictions. That was huge! Unheard of!

Ill.: Ignaz Semmelwiess had a revolutionary idea for doctors. As a physician himself, it was something he began to do in his practice – and his patients faired well because of it. He, however, was opposed and ostracized. His views were seen as unscientific. The mistreatment he experienced from his fellow physicians was so great and so overwhelming that he was forced from his practice. Decades later, as doctors began to see the wisdom in what he had done, they began to adopt this new practice of his. But he wouldn’t live to see it. He died in an insane asylum years before.

What was his crazy idea? Simply this: wash your hands before visiting each patient. That’s it. Wash your hands in between patients.

App.: many of you would be grossed out if your doctor didn’t wash his or her hands when they came into see you. But that’s because it is accepted today.

And it is that way as you vote today. It should feel natural. Christians in the 1500’s would be aghast!

Luther believed that Christians should organize themselves as their own final authority in religious matters. Next month will mark 500 years since this radical new teaching. You practice it today, but it was born out of the Reformation and established under much persecution. Luther believed firmly that the Bible teaches what we call ‘congregationalism’. We are governed as a Congregation. Luther and many of the Reformers believed that the sheep know the Shepherd and identify his voice. John 10.4-8

When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.

Jesus warns the believers about false teachers and the fact that they have the ability to do something about it.

Cf.; Mt 7.15: A Tree and Its Fruit 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

We see this set out plainly for us in the pattern for selecting deacons. Acts 6.3-4: Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

I love this: YOU pick. We’ll put them to work. When Luther wrote about these new ideas and practices in 1523, he entitled his tract, A Christian Assembly or Congregation Has the Right and Power to Judge All Teaching and to Call, Appoint, and Dismiss Teachers, Established and Proven by Scripture.

You must understand how radical this was in 1523. The Reformation had been gaining ground over the past 100 or so years to be sure, but to pick and choose your leaders? That was a radical reformation. And just how did Luther accomplish such a feat? He translated the New Testament for the people to study these very doctrinal issues in their own language.

This doctrine of Congregationalism began gaining momentum through the 1600’s as John Cotton, John Owen, and Thomas Goodwin advocated for “the Congregational way.” By the time of the American Revolution, a full 40% of Christians in the American Colonies was in a congregational church.

So what do we do with this gift of self-governing? We choose. You chose your deacons. You chose your elders. Sure, it all begins with a sub-committee of sorts doing the hard labor of research and organization. But in the end, you listen to the voice of the Lord and affirm God’s will in this matter.

There was something going on in the life of the Church that we find is very similar to what we’re doing here today. 2 Corinthians 8.16-24 is about a collection taking place throughout Asia Minor and is being carried to the brothers in Jerusalem and Judea who are in need. That is the context. But here is the application:

God is at Work in Duffey’s life and in the life of our church. This is evident when you…

  1. You Affirm him through your vote.
  2. You Appoint him to his service.
  3. You Support him in accomplishing the ministry

Transition: let me show you where this is in the passage…

I. Your Affirmation of Him with your vote (16-18)

exp.: rd v 16; God was at work in the life of Titus, placing deep within him, a care and a concern for the people. God has been at work in the life of the Henderson family. At sometime in the past, he put a deep desire for ministry in Duffey’s heart. God called him to this service. Furthermore, God is calling him to serve here. That is being demonstrated through a passion for leading in Worship and ministering to our Students. Your vote today affirms the Call of God to this place.

rd v 17-18; It is so hard to explain the passion in one’s heart when God calls. It moves men to service and surrender. The passion for ministry is something that burns deep within. It is a felted thing, but evident in one’s actions. By your vote, you affirm

  1. His Call to this ministry
  2. His Passion for this ministry

t.s.: 2ndly,

II. Your Appointment of Him to this Ministry (19-22)

exp.: rd v 19; As your leadership, we’ve done what we believe is God’s will for Calvary. We have not entered this lightly. We have bathed this in prayer over the past two years. We’ve cast vision and dreamed dreams. We made PowerPoint presentations of how to realign staff and reorganize our ministry to accommodate the needs of the church. We’ve evaluated our situation and found it lacking. Stability has been the answer we’ve come up with and Stability is what we’re trying to bring about. We believe God has brought us to this place. Not just over the past 2 years, as this began for us in October of 2015, but even over the past 10 years. We believe and understand that God has been at work in the life of our church all along, bringing us to this point.

And so we present Duffey to you. But, like the Church at Corinth who had to appoint men to do the work that they couldn’t do, you must appoint Duffey to this ministry in our congregation. We present him to you for this appointment because we’ve found him to be of sound character and high moral value.

Note what Paul says of Titus and Epaphras; rd v 20;

  • Blameless; rd v 21
  • Honorable; rd v 22a
  • Trustworthy: Tried and Tested; rd v 22b
  • Full of Faith – con: with; fidere – faith.

app.: His presence here today with his wife demonstrates his confidence in you. He loves the ministry and mission you’ve displayed and have been active in. He and his wife have spoken highly of what you’ve been doing. We as a team have heard them. They are so excited about the opportunities to serve with us – helping us accomplish the ministry God has called us to.

t.s.:  Which brings me to my last point this morning. God is at Work in Duffey’s life and in the life of our church. This is evident when you…

  1. You Affirm him through your vote.
  2. You Appoint him to his service.
  3. You Support him in accomplishing the ministry

III. You Support Him in Accomplishing the Ministry (23)

exp.:rd v 23-24;  It excites me to think of this young man coming alongside me in ministry… to be my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. Which makes me think of a few cautionary points.

Benefit here doesn’t mean that your work is done. He is not here to do your work – the ministry God has called you to accomplish. He is here to benefit you, not take your place. His presence and ministry should augment what we’re doing here at Calvary. I’ve experienced this first hand when I accepted a call some years ago. The team that brought me in just disappeared. They felt their work was done.

I know you have worked hard, but now is not the time to disappear. Now is the time to rise up!

2nd, We (the elders) don’t believe that because God has brought Duffey, Calvary will now grow to a thousand. Our baptistery will not overflow because Duffey Henderson is leading our Students. Our coffers will not overflow with money because Duffey Henderson is leading our Worship. That’d be nice, but your elders don’t have some “if you build it they will come” mentality. We don’t think Duffey is the Savior of the World. No, that position has already been filled and will never be vacated!

Conclusion: Howard Hendricks, Living By the Book (as quoted by Chuck Swindoll)

A scientist was using the inductive method to observe the characteristics of a flea. Plucking a leg off the flea, he ordered, “jump!”

The flea promptly jumped.

Taking another leg off, the scientist again commended, “jump!”

The flea jumped again.

The scientist continued this process until he came to the sixth and final leg. By now the fleet was having a little more difficulty jumping, but it was still trying.

The scientist pulled the final leg off and again order the flea to jump. But the flea didn’t respond. The scientist raised his voice and demanded, “jump!” Again, the flea failed to respond.

For third time the scientist shouted at the top of his lungs, “jump!” But the hapless flea lay motionless.

The scientist then made the following observation in his notebook: When you remove the legs from a flea, it loses its sense of hearing.

app.: Funny how the scientist didn’t connect the dots correctly… we’re worried that you might think like that scientist. Baptisms, Financial blessings may come and they may not, but don’t connect the one with the other. God’s blessings are God’s blessings.

Still, Your support of Duffey is vital to the accomplishment of this ministry. You call him, you appoint him, you support him. You support him with your words, your presence, and your money. You support him by loving his wife and their children. Pay him well and make sure he is keeping the Sabbath.

Duffey’s success is dependent upon you.

We’re going to move to a time of business now. We’ll take a few moments for folks to leave if they’d like. If you’re a guest, you’re welcomed to stay if you’d like, but please feel free to slip out if you’d like. As for our membership: we’ll take a couple of minutes to break (go to the bathroom or get a drink) and then we’ll regroup for our special called Business Meeting.

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, Calling, Commissioning Service, Faithfulness, Leadership, Sermon

Christ, Our Blessed Hope

Title: Christ, our Blessed Hope

Text: 1 Thessalonians 4.1-5.1

Introduction: This morning we reach the conclusion of this Summer’s Sermon Series: HiStory. Last week we ended the 9th sermon in this series with an empty tomb. The tomb is empty because Jesus is risen. And what’s more… we have this hope that we will rise again in like manner, should we face death before he returns.

Our text for this morning’s sermon is found in 1 Thessalonians 4. We’ll be there this morning, so go ahead and turn there: 1 Thessalonians 4.1. A 2nd place we’ll be is in Titus 2. So, if you’d like to put a bookmark there…

This sermon is the last sermon in a series entitled: HiStory. The premise behind the series is that the whole of the Bible is one story. From beginning to end, the story is all about Jesus. God’s intention from before the foundation of the world was to save his people and to send his son, Jesus, to be the savior of his people.

We opened this series with a look at the perfection of creation and how it was ruined in Adam and Eve’s rebellion. As they were banished from the garden, God gave them a promise of someone who would come and restore things. Gen. 3.15 was the 1st indication that Jesus would someday come. In the future, somehow, someway, the snake crusher would come and restore what was damaged.

We saw how life in the fall was a continual downward spiral, until God destroyed it all in the flood, but saved 8 people and a bunch of animals through the Ark. Creation was destroyed  and God started all over.

This 1st section of the series was my favorite. I loved how our Community Group spent extra time in this section observing a film entitled: Genesis: is it history? Del Tackett was our guide and narrator. I highly recommend this documentary if you’re looking for help in strengthening your biblical worldview.

In Genesis 12, God picked a man from whom he would build a nation and from whom the Promised One would come. This nation would be his people (Israel) and he would be their God. The problem was that they, too, rebelled, like Adam and Eve. Instead of serving and following God, they chose to worship and serve idols.

God sent them Prophets, Priests and Kings, but somehow, someway, they still rejected the God who loved them. Their priests didn’t intercede like they should have. Many of these priests were worried more about themselves than teaching the people and interceding for the people. Their Kings never lived up to the role. One came pretty close – his name was David. He set an example of what the true King would one day look like. But he wasn’t the promised King. No, these Kings led the people astray. God sent them prophets to tell the people His words. But the people rejected the prophets. They beat them, shamefully mistreated them and in some cases, killed them.

In so many ways, many of these prophets pointed to the Promised One, but none of them were him. After many years of being caught up in a cycle of following God, not following God – God grew silent. There were no prophets to tell them God’s Word. No kings either. The people entered a time of darkness and silence for 400 years.

Then one day, after those 400 years of silence from God, the Promised One finally came. God’s voice broke the silence. God’s son lit up the darkness. He came and lived a perfect and sinless life. Then, he died on the cross of Calvary to pay the penalty for the sins of the world – to restore that which had been damaged. And, after three days of laying lifeless in a tomb, he rose again.

Many of his followers thought that the Kingdom would be restored when he rose from the dead, but instead, he delayed the coming Kingdom. Instead, he commissioned his followers to share this good news of redemption with the world until he does return for his people.

Titus 2.11-13: 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

There is so much to unpack in these three verses, and that isn’t even our task today! It is an outline for our lives in this era: God’s grace Saved us, God’s grace is Sanctifying us, preparing us for glory. For now, what I really want to focus on is what Paul calls our Our Blessed Hope, which is Christ’s Glorious Appearing.

  • The hope you and I have as believers, as we live out our lives in this present age, isn’t the rapture to escape the tribulation.
  • The hope you and I share as believers as we live in this present age isn’t perfect health and untold riches of materialism.
  • The hope you and I share as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ as we live godly lives in this present age is Christ and his glorious appearing!

Let’s break down Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica:

  1. 1st, he tells the Thessalonians how to live while we wait for his appearing (4.1-12).
  2. 2nd, he tells them what to expect when Christ returns, especially for those who already died (4.13-18).
  3. 3rd, he tells them of the Great Day of the Lord (5.1-11). He’ll finish his comments on this in his next letter, 2nd Thessalonians when he teaches them about the lawless one, the antichrist.

Transition: let’s look at this 1st section, which outlines for us how then we shall live…

How then shall we live?

I. We Walk with our Lord (4.1-12)

exp.: rd v 1-3a; Sanctification is often seen in two phases. There is the immediate phase and the process phase. In a very real sense, we are sanctified at our conversion. And, in a very real sense, we struggle with sin throughout our lives – not experiencing total sanctification in this body until this life is through. Our statement of faith teaches this better than any other document. Let me quote from the BF&M 2000:

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification.

There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

  1. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior
  2. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.
  3. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.
  4. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.

Glorification is what we’ll experience at his glorious appearing. For now, though, how then shall we live?

I think it helps to understand that there is in one very real sense the sanctifying process that God is at work in us and on the other hand, there is a very real sense that there is our responsibility to be at work in the sanctifying process. Many Christians call this ‘the walk’. In Philippians Paul told the Christians at Philippi that they were to be “working out” their salvation with fear and trembling as God was “working within” them to will and to act according to His good purpose. Look what Paul says to Thessalonians here:

  • Be holy: rd v 3-7; avoid immorality, impurity;
  • Brotherly Love: rd v9-10; and then he gives them some instruction on neighborly affairs: rd v 11-12
  • Walk properly before outsiders: live quietly, mind your own affairs, work with your hands, and be dependent on no one.
  • Being Holy is how you live within yourself – it manifests itself externally, but it is an internal quality. Brother Love is the display of your holiness within the church. But there is contact with the real world, too. That is your … as he calls it …‘walk’ as seen by outsiders.

app.: We walk with the Lord and our work is a witness to those who are lost. Not that our walk saves us, but that rather our walk is a demonstration of what we believe to a lost and dying world.

t.s.: How then shall we live? 1st, we walk with the Lord. 2ndly,

II. We Wait for His Glorious Appearing (4.13-18)

exp.: waiting means that life goes on – day after day, month after month, year after year as we walk with the Lord; And, a big part of life is death; this was a concern for the Corinthian church we looked at last week – and, it is a concern for these folks in Thessalonica, too. They didn’t have a lot of doctrine to go with their newfound faith. Remember, the Jews had a foundation for their faith. The Gentiles, not so much! So, they had a lot of questions. For them, they wondered what would happen when their loved ones died. Would those who passed on miss out on Christ’s return?

Let’s read what he tells them; rd v 13-14; Paul told the Corinthians in his final letter to them that to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord; Paul tells the Thessalonians here something very similar: that as their loved one’s body lay in the grave, their spirit was with the Lord; Then, when Christ returns, they will accompany Him.

ill.: As I quoted from Joni Eareckson Tada last week: One day actual spirits will return to their actual graves and reunite with stone-cold dead forms and – in the twinkling of an eye – we shall be changed. Paul says, that those of us who are still alive will certainly not precede those believers who’ve gone before us.

app.: Rd v 15-16; And so, while we continue in this body, we wait. As our loved ones die and are buried, we wait. We wait for his glorious appearing where we will … rd v 17-18: 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

t.s.: We have this hope – not a hope like it is going to rain, but a certain knowledge and faith that communicates: at his glorious appearing we shall be with him.

So, How then shall we live? we walk with the Lord, we wait for his return, and..

III. We Watch for The Great Day of the Lord (5.1-11)

exp.: why do we watch? Well, read with me v1-2; we watch because it is unexpected and we don’t want to be caught off guard. Rd v 3-4; look at these three phrases that describe the suddenness of Christ return:

  • Like a thief in v2
  • Sudden destruction in v3
  • To surprise you in v4

Exhortations: (in v6-11)

  • Stay sober and awake! Because, it will come suddenly and without expectation!

Transition: there are many terms and teachings on this doctrine called eschatology. And, in preaching a message like the sermon this morning, I’m ever aware of the differences of opinion when it comes to End Times. That’s right, I said opinion. There are those who would disagree with me: they are so dogmatic, that they think they’re the only one’s who are right!

Let me take some time to lay out four truths that we should all agree on and avoid the hot topic areas of disagreement. This Wednesday night, our Community Group will be discussing these different views and I’ll lay out for you there what I see in these passages and in Revelation. In that meeting we will look at the areas of disagreement. For this morning, I arrange these doctrinal truths on which we should all agree from the book on systematic theology by Wayne Grudem. Bruce Demarest, a mentor of mine at Denver Seminary, also has a wonderful systematic theology in 3 volumes. It doesn’t read as easy as Grudem’s, but it is a wonderful indepth look at the end times. I’ve chosen to use Grudem’s outline because it was handy.

  1. There will be a sudden, personal, visible, and bodily return of Christ. like a thief in the night… Note all four aspects of his return:
    1. Sudden and unexpected
    2. Personal: he is coming with his army of angels
    3. Visible: this isn’t some spiritual type of return, we’ll see it.
    4. Bodily: Christ Body isn’t in the grave and he didn’t have just a spiritual resurrection after his death. He was raised physically, and he’ll return physically.
  2. We have no idea when Christ will return. The Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Mt 24.44); for you know neither the day nor the hour. (Mt. 25.13); Jesus said that no one knows the day, not the angels, nor even the Son – only the Father knows the day he has chosen. (Mk 13.32-33). You and I can know the season – we can see the time for his return, and I believe that it will be soon and very soon. But as for that day… no on knows.
  3. We should eagerly long for Christ’s return. Maranatha, Even so, Come Lord Jesus. And as Titus records: 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Christians should be eagerly and expectantly longing for Christ’s return. For someone to hope for his delay because he loves this world and his life in this world demonstrates a tremendous misunderstanding of what this life is to be. If this is all you hope for, you’re missing something very important. You’re not understanding sin and its effects.
  4. No matter how you get there eschatalogically, Evangelicals pretty much all agree on the final results: we will all stand before the Son of God – unbelievers to judgment and believers to their reward. Believers will live forever with Christ in a new heaven and a new earth. In this place – this new heaven and earth – believers will worship God in a never-ending kingdom where there is no more sin, no more sorrow and no more suffering.

Conclusion:

Dr. Harry Pritchett, Jr. tells the story of a friend he had, who taught 8 year olds in Sunday School. In a Sunday school class of 8-year olds Philip stuck out because of his Down’s syndrom. Eight-year-olds can be cruel. The third-graders did not welcome Phillip to their group. Not just because he was older. He was “different.” And because he suffered from Down’s Syndrome, he had many difference that were quite obvious: facial characteristics, slow responses, symptoms of what we used to call ‘mental retardation’.

One Sunday after Easter, the Sunday school teacher gathered some of those plastic eggs that pull apart in the middle — the kind in which some ladies’ pantyhose used to be packaged. The Sunday school teacher gave one of these plastic eggs to each child. On that beautiful spring day each child was to go outdoors and discover for himself some symbol of “new life” and place that symbolic seed or leaf or whatever inside his egg. They would then open their eggs one by one, and each youngster would explain how his find was a symbol of “new life.” So … The youngsters gathered ’round and put their eggs on a table, and one by one, the teacher began to open them. 

One child had found a flower. All the children “oohed” and “aahed” at the lovely symbol of new life. In another was a butterfly. “Beautiful,” the girls said. Another egg opened to reveal a rock. Some of the children laughed. “That’s crazy!” one said. “How’s a rock supposed to be like a new life?'” Immediately a little boy spoke up and said, “That’s mine. I knew everybody would get flowers and leaves and butterflies and all that stuff, so I got a rock to be different.” Everyone laughed. The teacher opened the last one, and there was nothing in it. “That’s not fair,” someone said. “That’s stupid,” said another. The teacher felt a tug on his shirt. It was Phillip. Looking up he said, “It’s mine. I did it. It’s empty. I have new life because the tomb is empty.” The class fell silent. From that day on Phillip became part of the group. They welcomed him. Whatever had made him different was never mentioned again.

Phillip’s family had known he would not live a long life; just too many things wrong with the tiny body. That summer, overcome with infection, Phillip died. On the day of his funeral nine 8-year-old boys and girls, confronted the reality of death, marched up to the altar–not with flowers. Nine children with their Sunday school teacher placed on the casket of their friend their gift of love – an empty egg …

You see, believers get it. They know the meaning of the empty egg story. Like Philip, they say I have life because the tomb is empty; they know the hope of life after death because Christ is risen. And, they know the hope of His Glorious Appearing –

  • And so, they walk with God every single day of their lives;
  • They wait patiently, knowing that one day he will return and
  • They keep a watchful eye out, because it will happen when this world least expects it.

Let’s pray…

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Filed under 1 Thessalonians, Eschatology, Messiah, Resurrection, Scripture, Sermon

The Church’s Foundational Doctrine

Title: The Church’s Foundational Doctrine

Text: 1 Corinthians 15.1-11

Introduction: We’re in 1 Corinthians 15 this morning. Our topic: the resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15.1

“Our Savior’s resurrection is truly of great importance in Christianity, so great that His being or not being the Messiah stands or falls with it.” – John Locke

John MacArthur says: The resurrection is the pivot on which all of Christianity turns and without which none of the other truths would much matter.

If Christ is not risen, we are to be pitied more than all other religious peoples. 1 Cor 15.17-19: 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Christ repeated this idea dying and rising again to his disciples throughout his ministry with them: 31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. Mk 8.31-32

David Jackman, the British preacher recorded in his commentary on 1 Cor. 15: The climax of the story of the cross is the resurrection. Indeed, without that demonstration of his triumph, we could have no assurance of Christ’s victory.

How can these men make such an assumption? Can it be true? Does the crux of Christianity rise and fall on this one doctrine? 1 Corinthians 15 declares it to be so. Turn there with me.

We’re in the midst of a sermon series on HiStory. The premise has been that there is one storyline that rises above the many stories of the Bible. That in actuality, although the Bible contains hundreds, thousands of stories, there is to it a basic story of Salvation: That God was always at work saving his people.

Paul presents three separate testimonies or pieces of evidence to the Corinthian church demonstrating the reality of Christ’s resurrection. The purpose is clear: without the resurrection, salvation as we know it could not happen. Consider Paul’s teaching to the Romans: that if you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead… you will be saved.

I think it is important to point out that the Corinthians didn’t have a problem with the resurrection, per se, but rather with their own resurrection. With that being said, let’s look at the evidence Paul presents to them. As in a trial, I’d like to call each piece of evidence Exhibits. First we have Exhibit #1

I. The Church (1-2)

exp.: rd v 1-2; In our opening sentence, we read: Now I would remind you, brothers – the word remind, is really an interpretation, not a translation. The thought is right, but it is inaccurate as a translation. Let me remind you that I say this with caution. 1st, I’m no Greek scholar. I practice Greek like I ride my bike. I’ve got one and I ride a few times every week. But, that doesn’t make me a pro. I’ve never ridden in a race. 2nd, there are people who do this translating work who are a lot smarter than me. With that said, let’s look closer at this phrase Now I would remind you, brothers…

This word translated ‘remind’ means to make known. Luke 2.15: 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” The angels didn’t remind them: they announced!

In modern day English we might say something more like: I’ll have you know… which means you probably already know, you’re just not acting like you know. Maybe that is why the translators used remind, because their knowledge of the matter is already sure. So, he’s just reminding them… but in a stern way

In the original language though, the thought is clear: Paul is not happy with them. He’s chiding them. Some people, it would appear, have begun to live like they never even heard of Christ. And Paul is saying, That isn’t the Gospel I preached to you!

Ill.: Can you hear your momma or your daddy in your head? That isn’t the way I taught you to … Paul is saying something like: I’ll have you know, brothers that the Gospel I preached to you is the one you received, in which you stand and are being saved.

Something interesting to note: The Gospel (εὐαγγελίζω), is the same Greek word as Preached (εὐαγγέλιον), The Gospel is a noun and ‘preached’ is a verb. That’s the difference.

  • I Preached (εὐαγγέλιον),
  • You Received, (arorist, not passive)
  • In which you stand, You are living out; Stand; in the pft, the idea that they are in a present state of being because of this past action in their lives. It is the Gospel being lived out still.
  • The result: by which you are being saved – a passive verb. God is saving them, they can’t save themselves.

Paul is in effect saying: Whatever word you’re getting of no future resurrection or that it already happened is rubbish! That’s not what I taught you. In both of his letters to Timothy, Paul refers to a man named Hymenaeus. Hymenaeus was a thorn in Paul’s side. He cause Paul a great deal of harm. It appears that some of his teaching was that the resurrection had already happened. Paul calls this false teaching a sickness like Gangrene. It makes me wonder if this false teaching had infiltrated other congregations, as well. Like here in Corinth. We don’t know that, but it is apparent that there were men who were just making stuff up!

A great reminder for us today: we must be careful who we chose to listen to or read.

Paul continues in v 2; Rd v 2 with me: and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

Some people think this is a proof text for apostasy. They say: This is one of the verses that proves you can loose your salvation.

Ill.: I received a phone call from a man in Oregon who said he is moving to Tyler and looking for a church. He said the purpose of his call was that he wanted to see what I believe. In the course of my doctrinal interview (which by the way, happens more than you think) we came across this doctrine. Can you lose your salvation? No, I said. I do not believe in apostasy. At this stage of the conversation, I began to realize that he didn’t want to know what I believe. Rather, he was looking for someone to debate with him. This was one of his many verses to ‘prove’ to me that you can indeed lose your salvation.

Those of you, who know me, you know my understanding that one does not and cannot lose their salvation.

This is one of those verses that helps me with this doctrine. As you see it in English, you might infer that one can lose their salvation – that is to say if you hold fast like it is this condition God has set up with believers. I’m willing to save your soul, but one false move, Buddy and you’re out of here! That isn’t the way this is set up. Paul isn’t saying if you do this, then that and if you don’t….

There are clearly people who make a profession of faith. They come to church and maybe even get involved. They can even share Christ with others, but one day, they walk away from the faith. This man who called me would say they lost their salvation. I, on the other hand, would say they were probably never saved. I say ‘probably’ because I don’t know. They may very well come back to Christ in the future. That is my prayer. I know people like that. You probably do to! That is my hope that they’ll return. They may grow up, have some kids and begin to realize their frivolity. If that happens, they cannot crucify the Son of God all over again. But they can repent and be restored.

It appears to me that much of this arguing is mostly semantics in nature. Someone says they lost their salvation, I say they never really were saved to begin with. The end result is the same. They say that someone comes to Christ after having lost their salvation. I say they’re rededicating their life. The result is the same.

app.: Here is all we really know from what Paul says: If you’re not living out the Gospel, you’re probably not saved. Again I say probably, because I don’t know. That call is way above my paygrade. I know that sounds harsh, but that is all we have. A salvation experience is evidenced by the life of a changed person. Paul says – if you’ve gone through this whole experience and walked away from it all, then your salvation was all on you – not God. You’re resting your hopes on your ability, your obedience, your following the rules, your church attendance, your…whatever. And if salvation rests on you – then you’re not saved. If you think you can get into heaven on your dad, your husband, your service, your money – think again. That is all in vain. And, you’ll walk away from it someday. Why? Because you’re incapable of fulfilling such a impossible task.

t.s.: in this phone conversation with this man from Oregon, I told him he might like to call another pastor, who shall remain nameless in this recording. This man thought I was saying to him, you’d be happier somewhere else. Well, that is true, but it wasn’t what I was saying. I said, you like to debate – so does this pastor. He got upset with me and said, you want me to go to a church that condemns your’s, because you don’t believe God’s Word.

Now that upset me. But I was nice and closed the conversation with kindness. But he’s got it wrong. No church, nor any person will be my judge, but Christ alone. And that goes for you, too. Sure, we do our best to maintain purity in this local body. That is our responsibility. But it is Christ who sits as judge over salvation.

And I think that is really what Paul is saying here: Salvation that comes by the hands of humans is no salvation at all. It is Christ alone who saves and the church is evidence, a testimony to the risen Christ.

His 2nd exhibit…

II. The Scriptures (3-4)

exp.: rd v 3-4; in accordance with the Scriptures. The scriptures testified to what would happen. The NT Scriptures testify to what did happen. Notice Paul says I delivered to you. This isn’t something he made up or designed. This isn’t something he created. He simply delivered to them what the Bible said would happen.

That’s the mark of a good preacher. Be very leery of someone who gets up and is crafty about God’s Word. A preacher’s job is delivering the groceries. That’s it, he’s just a delivery boy. It is the same with teachers.

Let’s look at these three components.

  • Jesus died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; Jesus told the two men on the road to Emmaus about how the Scriptures pointed to the Messiah and his death. 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Jesus pointed to Jonah as a sign for this unbelieving generation. The disciples quoted from Psalm 16 and Psalm 22 and Isaiah 52-53 and the list Goes on.
  • He was Buried
  • He was Raised on the 3rd Day in accordance with the Scriptures. His body did not see decay, as David had foretold.

app.: Paul uses this phrase twice according to Scriptures to point to the fact that the Word of God is a piece of evidence to be witnessed and acknowledged when it comes to the resurrection of Jesus.

t.s.:  His 3rd exhibit.

III. Eyewitnesses (5-10)

exp.: Eye-witnesses; rd v 5 and that he appeared… There is a good list here.

  1. Cephas, if find it interesting that the ladies are not mentioned first; this is Simon Peter.
  2. The Twelve, a title for the closest disciples. There aren’t really 12 anymore because Judas has died before the resurrection; however, it is a title for that group, even if there aren’t that many at that moment. And, at first, Thomas was there either. But eventually, he was.
  3. 500 brothers – most of who are still alive. We don’t know when this was or where this was. 500… brothers? It must have been at the ascension. But it doesn’t have to be. But Paul is saying, Hey, most of these people are still alive. You can ask them about it. Edwin M. Yamauchi, former professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, emphasizes: Do you realize that if each of these 500 men were to testify in a court of law and each were given just 6 minutes of examination, there would be an amazing 50 hours of testimony?
  4. James: the Lord’s brother; this one is pretty powerful for me. James used to be an unbeliever. You probably remember when we were in the Gospel of Mark of how he, his momma and siblings thought Jesus was crazy. He was embarrassed at the behavior of his brother, Jesus. Paul lets us in on something incredible here. Without this letter, we would have no idea that James was an eyewitness to the resurrection.

James saw Jesus resurrected from the dead and what a difference it made in his life. His life was so affected by what he witnessed that the direction of his life changed. James became the pastor of the church at Jerusalem and a leader in the early church. He served the Lord with his life.

  1. The Apostles: all of the Apostles.

ill.: Nothing beats a great list of eye-witnesses. David Jackman tells of Frank Morrison, who set out to write a paper disproving the resurrection. His paper was to be entitled: Jesus, the last Phase. He started with the crucifixion and ended with the testimonies of the witnesses. In the course of his trial, he mind was changed and he was convinced that Jesus really did rise from the dead. The end result was his conversion to Christ and his book, Who moved the Stone? Josh McDowell has a similar testimony of his efforts in college and the overwhelming evidence that demanded he cast a verdict of Risen!

app.: Paul says to the Corinthians: some of you aren’t living your life by the Gospel – at least not on the Gospel I preached to you. I presented to you truths from the Scriptures that point to this very phenomena: the Christ was to suffer and die, be buried and rise again three days later. Furthermore, there are hundreds of people who testify to this fact: Jesus is risen!

t.s.: Today is July 30th. Do you know what happened on July 30, 1967? Joni Eareckson dove into Chesapeake Bay and broke her neck. 50 years ago today. That human error has put her in a wheelchair for the last 50 years.

Conclusion:

Some years ago her mother-in-law invited her and her husband out to Forrest Lawn, a cemetery. Being a Sunday afternoon, she thought of a hundred different things she’d rather do, but being the dutiful daughter-in-law, she and her husband headed out to meet her mother-in-law.

The Realtor met them at the plot and began her sales pitch. The plot is located in the section called Murmuring Pines. She gave her spiel: with Joni’s head here and her feet there, she’d have a wonderful view of the mountains. Joni kind of chuckled to herself… like it really mattered where her bones lay.

The family walked around, but Joni rolled her wheelchair over her plot – the very place her body will be laid to rest when she dies – and she turned to face the mountains in the distance. A gust of wind blew through that area, rustling her hair and indeed, creating a murmuring sound in the pines. She writes that a profound peace settled over the scene.

Suddenly, in a sort of way that just overtook her, she realized that she was actually situated over the place her body would rise from – should she die before Christ returns. Listen to her in her own words: Jesus is quoted in John 5.28: for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out. Astounding! One day actual spirits will return to their actual graves and reunite with stone-cold dead forms and – in the twinkling of an eye – we shall be changed.

I think of Ezekiel 37: Can the dead bones live again? You bet!

Joni continues: We shall come forth and rise strong and brilliant with hands and arms, feet and legs, and like Jesus with his glorious body, we shall be perfectly fitted for both earth and heaven.

Sitting in my wheelchair under the pines, it was enough to spill tears. That grassy hillside ignited the reality of the resurrection, wrapping sight, sound, and touch around all the sermons and essays I’d ever read on the subject.

What Joni began to realize in that moment was something possible because Jesus has already been resurrected. And that is the hope that you and I have, too. Because he has conqured the grave, you and I have the hope – not hope like I hope it rains – but a certainty that says, that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.

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The Messiah Finally Arrives

Introduction: In Shakespere’s history of Henry the V, the king takes the cloak of a commoner and walks amongst his men. It is 3.00 am and the sound of hammers hitting against metal ring out in the night. It is a somber sound of what is to come and the men know it. Soon they will be in battle against the French, who outnumber them by a large number. In the course of his walk, and incognito, he stops and chats with some of the men. Shortly, their conversation grows terse. One of the men tells the king that if they weren’t getting ready to battle, he would box his ears. Of course, he doesn’t know he’s the king. The king tells this man to give him something that he would recognize later on. He tells the man that he’ll wear it “on his bonnet”. So then, when he sees him again, and recognizes his property on this man, he can do just that – box his ears. As a reader, you know this guy would never threaten to beat up the king. But this guy has no idea who he is talking to… he has no idea who is in his presence.

1 Corinthians 2.8 says: None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

The religious leaders who killed Jesus failed to see who was right there in their midst. They had all of the information, but their minds failed to process that information.

Which brings me to the task this morning:

  • Identifying the Messiah.
  • And 2ndly, properly presenting him to the world.

t.s.: this morning, I want to help us fix our eyes upon Jesus… and see him for who He really is. And then, present Him to the world. The text I’ve chosen to do this with is Philippians 2. Look with me at Philippians chapter 2.

In Philippians 2.5-8 we learn some important doctrinal concepts about who Jesus is. Rd Phil 2.5-6a;

1st we see that Paul is teaching us that…

I. Jesus is God (5-6)

exp.: Can I preface my remarks with the statement that it is most difficult to describe a spiritual existence with physical terms; Paul writes that he is ‘God in form’; μορφή; you’re most familiar with the word metamorphosis meta: change; Μορφή: form

ill.: Mark 9.2: μεταμορφόω

Here, Paul is teaching us that Jesus is God. Before we know him any other way – He is God. His nature, his form, his essence, his position is God. Let’s continue; Rd 6.b; 2ndly, Paul says that Jesus is equal to God, that is: ‘God in equality’; if a=b and b=c, then a=c; if the Father = God and the Son = the Father, then the Son = God. John brings this out multiple times in his Gospel; in Jn 1.1; In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Two uniquely individual parts or persons in the same Godhead. In Jn 5.18 this very clear concept was a very real problem for the religious leaders: 18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

app.: Paul’s teaching is clear: Jesus isn’t partly God; he isn’t from God or of God; Jesus is God – 100%

t.s.: notice 2ndly that Paul teaches us that…

II. God became a Man (He condescended) (6-7)

exp.: rd v 6b-7a; God becoming man is really an incredible action; and hard to fathom; there are certain traits Paul uses to describe this action; the one trait he magnifies in this passage is Humility (v3, 8): rd 6b; though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped… look at this humility displayed:

  1. Though he was equal with God, he let that go; he condescended, he stooped down, rd v 7a;
  2. Though he was fully God, he Poured himself out; κενόω; Emptied himself; This word means to pour out until empty – to empty out something, like pouring our everything within a pitcher. Jesus was fully God, but made a choice to empty himself of those divine qualities, characteristics and become a man. But there is more…rd 7a-b;
  3. Though he was master and King, he became a slave; δοῦλος; BTW: same word here, μορφή; Talk about a swinging pendulum – talk about a major transformation! Not did he just go from God to Man, but he went from God – the highest place, to the lowest place, a slave. Rd 7c; being born in the likeness of men.
  4. Being born means that he became human. Our text last week focused upon the fact that he was born of a woman – the fulfillment of prophecy. He could have arrived in pomp and circumstance in God form, but he would not have been able to die for the sins of man.

app.: Before we move to v 8, I’d like to clarify a couple of misperceptions about what we’ve just read.

  1. Jesus never stopped being God. Even while he was in the flesh as man, he was and is still God. His form may have changed, but who he is never did. Having emptied himself of certain divine characteristics it did not limit his ability nor his function as God. Jesus, becoming a man, never stopped being God.
  2. He wasn’t a mixture of both (say 50%-50%). He was 100% God and 100% man. James 1.17: 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. We probably first learned this doctrine from the song: “Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not. As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

So, if Jesus never stopped being God and he isn’t a mixture of one part and another part, how is it that he sometimes seems limited?

  1. His glory as God was hidden beneath or behind his human nature. So well hidden was this phenomenon, that some people actually thought he wasn’t a very good man, let alone, that he was God. Others saw it clearly (John 20, Thomas: My Lord and my God). Still, those who couldn’t just could not get past this idea that Paul says: he emptied himself. For them, Jesus wasn’t anything near what they had expected – a mere man, as they saw him. He hid his glory beneath or behind his human nature.

t.s.:  now, let’s read v 8; Paul is teaching us that God sent us His son to die for us.

III. Jesus was sacrificed for our sin.

exp.: Jesus is the One who was to come. He is the Messiah. We would know that he was to come because for centuries God had told all about him. The information is there… we just need to process it.

His one purpose, as we looked at it last week in Galatians 4.4-5, was to redeem us.

1 Jn 3.16: 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. You see two parts in this verse:

  • The sacrifice of Christ and
  • Our call to sacrifice for others.

Let’s deal with this 1st part: Christ’s sacrifice.

Why? Why would Christ die for us? Truthfully, that is an ocean too deep and too broad for us to comprehend. When you consider the sum of its parts, you’re left undone. Really, you are! Consider the 1st part of that verse: By this we know love.

  1. God is love… it is who he is… and so, he loves us. That in itself is almost too much to take in: that God in perfection would love someone like me – a sinner. Someone who rejected him. Someone who is selfish and can be so unkind. 1 Jn 4.8 says point blank: God is love; I don’t mean to imply that God is touchy-feely or that he is akin to humans. We must never take our human traits and place them upon God. True, we are made in his image, but please remember the he is not to be made in our image. He loves differently than we do. His love is a perfect love. Our love fails in so many ways. Which brings me to my second application.
  2. His work to save us comes to us totally free and undeserved. God’s love is unmerited. Eph 1.4: even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. You and I don’t love that way. We try, but we fail. Not God – in his perfect love, he offers this precious gift of salvation through the sacrifice of his Son, free and unmerited.

Ill.: In our Community Group I asked our folks to ponder the lengths God went to in order to save us…in order to save you! Let’s do that for a moment. Move beyond this moment in time we’re looking at – when Christ was sacrificed and consider what God was doing to get to this place. God was at work before the creation of the world to restore what would go wrong. God was always… God has always been at work bringing about the restoration of what was destroyed in the garden.

Which brings us to our second goal this morning: properly presenting him to the world. In Mark, Jesus is quoted as saying: Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

In our video, Kevin DeYoung said: as you’ve probably heard by now and should definitely tell someone else…

See the verse above and when you consider this word world (Go into all the world), I want you to think ‘badness’ over ‘bigness’ (D.A. Carson in his little book, The Difficult Doctrine of Love brings this out so beautifully). The word world is often times used to describe the evil that has infiltrated God’s creation because of sin. There is not doubt that at times this word means the earth, but at other times it is used to describe the sinfulness of man.

  • Be in the world, not of it.
  • Paul said of Demas in 2 Timothy: 10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Paul isn’t saying Demas loves this big planet, but rather the wicked ways of this world.

When you hear 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. Think badness, not bigness.

The word So is not a definition of God’s love, but rather the demonstration of God’s love. I’ve used the terms manner and measure before. Then, consider the world not in its bigness, but in its badness. And, let that settle over you. Oh, how amazing God truly is, that He would work to restore what has been destroyed.

When you look at the whole picture from Creation to today, stop at the flood. God was so repulsed at the world, that he destroyed it all and started over. This time though, he sent his son.

The 2nd part of 1 Jn 3.16: 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. This is our call to sacrifice for others.

For sure, there is no place on this earth that we should not go to take this message. But don’t think of it geographically, but rather as demographically. Infiltrate all of its badness with this good news to every single person. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is the only antidote – the only hope against evil.

Lisa was telling me this week that one of her messages, Bible studies for the children during VBS was John 3.16. One task with the kids was to answer why Jesus came.

Why did God the Father send Jesus? Jesus came to Restore what had been damaged at Creation through Adam and Eve’s rebellion.

What did he do for us? Their 2nd task was to Recognize what Jesus did. He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin; thereby, making this restoration possible.

3rd, they were asked, “How should you Respond to this Good News?” Believe and Receive. 2ndly, go and tell. Because they don’t know – they’ve not heard. It is as if Jesus is right there in their presence but they just don’t recognize him.

Transition: All of what happened from the very beginning has pointed us to this moment – the virgin would be with child and give birth to a baby boy, who would be called Emmanuel: God with us. This baby would grow into a young boy and into a young man. He would live a perfect and sinless life, thereby making him the only one who could pay the penalty for sins: yours and mine. He would die on a cross, making atonement for our sin. He would rise from the dead and ascend to the Father where he rules and reigns in glory as we await his imminent return.

Why did he come? He came to restore that which had been damaged. Our part then is to recognize the lengths God went to restore what has been damaged in sending his son to die for our sin. And, then we should respond appropriately with that Good News.

Conclusion: I met Jesse as a young man in the Army. We were stationed together and he had just been reassigned to my company. He was to me, larger than life. He had a personality they just drew others to him, including me. What was truly amazing to me was that he wanted to be my friend. I’m not sure anyone has influenced my life like Jesse did. Sure, many have had an influence, but Jesse influenced me as a total person.

He could always tell a good joke. He made me laugh so hard. I wanted to be able to tell jokes like he did. So, I practiced. Sometimes, I could just look at him and he’d make me laugh. He could just make a certain face or movement and he would set me off.

We went to the same church. Jesse could give me the giggles and that’s bad during a sermon!

He was so outgoing – not afraid to talk to anybody. I liked that in him. So, I tried to be more like him when I met people. I think some of that was already in me, but Jesse brought more of that out in me.

Jesse was very much an outdoorsman. He could scuba dive, skin dive, surf, boogie board, snorkel, sail. He could hunt and fish. We would go night diving and spear fish while they were sleeping. Sometimes, he would go down and pet a gigantic fish while it slept. He could reach out and grab a lobster with his hands. I could never do that. Jesse could hold his breath for what seemed like endless minutes. He would go down, find a lobster or gigantic eel, like those in the Little Mermaid, and then call me down. I would swim down, holding my breath. He’d point out something fascinating and then I’d have to go back up to catch my breath. He’d stay down there for a while and then swim back up. Amazing.

Jesse was the best friend I think I ever had. In many ways, I wanted to be just like him.

As I look back on that relationship, I worshipped Jesse in many ways. I know I have to be careful when I say that, because it can be misunderstood. But that is probably a good word to describe the relationship we had.

App.: When you worship something or someone you begin to take on those characteristics and manners. When you take someone or something and hold it out there before you – and, it consumes your focus and attention – a part of you changes. Now, that can be really good or that can be very bad.

What or who do you worship? What or who influences your life? Your decisions? Your actions? If Jesus is your idol, your object of worship, you will become more like him. And that, my friends, is one of the ways the people around you will see him. Then, when you tell them about him – it will all come together.

How will you respond to Jesus? I hope he will become the center of you attention and life.

Invitation.

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Filed under Messiah, Philippians, Sermon

Living in Silent Times

Title: Living in Silent Times

Text: Galatians 4.4-5

Introduction: We’re in Galatians 4 this morning. We’ll also be in Romans 5, so you can set your bookmarks in those places if you’d like.

Silence. Silence can be difficult to endure. We often grow uncomfortable with silence. When we first began the practice of ending our services in quiet reflection back in 2009, I noticed it was hard for people. You know, when we have our time of ‘Silent Reflection”. At home we turn on the TV or in the car we turn on some music to fill the void. There is a commercial by T-Mobile that is out right now about a couple who flees the city to finally get to go camping. We’re here, we’re finally doing this: We’re Camping! You hear them say as they lay in their tent. And then they lay there listening to the silence. There is nothing but the sounds of the night. An Owl hoots. Crickets and Frogs are singing in the background. Maybe a coyote barks in the night. Then, they grab their phones and upload the sounds of the city so they can sleep! There are horns honking and sirens…

Nothing eats away at a husband more than when his wife won’t talk to him. He knows he has done something wrong. And, it is the same for all of us when we want to hear a Word from God, but there is only silence. It seems as if the clouds are creating a buffer, a barrier that won’t let our prayers through.

Silence can be deafening. And the longer it goes, the louder it gets!

We pick up in His Story at just such a time in the life of Israel. The people have been experiencing a silence from God. Amos prophesied 300 years before it began that God would create a famine for his Word. He would stop sending them prophets. They didn’t listen to them anyway because they didn’t want to hear from God.

HiStory begins at Creation when things are perfect. In the Garden, Adam and Eve hear his voice and converse with him in beauty and simplicity. But the conversation is disrupted when sin enters into the picture. Life in the fall was ugly. It got so bad that God decided to flood the world, destroy everything in creation and start again with just 8 people: Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives. After that God chose a man from whom would come a nation – a nation of people who would be His people. The Man’s Name was Abram. God chose his son, Isaac. And then he chose Isaac’s son, Jacob. Jacob had 12 sons who through time would have descendants of their own and would make up the 12 tribes of Israel. They would be slaves in Egypt, but God would bring them up out of Egypt and give them a land of their own – a promise he had made to each of their forefathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So understood was this promise of God for a land and a people, that Joseph, one of the 12 sons of Jacob, made the people of Israel promise that they would bring his bones up from Egypt to the place his great grandfather and great grandmother were buried, his grandfather and grandmother. And, he buried his father there, too.

Israel was to be God’s people in God’s land. They were to be distinct and different. Their existence was to be a message to the World that God was their God. But they refused to act like it. He gave them his commands, but they rejected them. He gave them priests to intercede for and shepherd them like sheep. But, the priests very selfishly lived for themselves. He gave them kings, but very few led them to follow God. He gave them prophets to tell them what they were doing wrong and what they needed to do to get back on track. But, they didn’t like what the prophets had to say, so they did their best to silence them – even if it meant killing some of them.

Now, that they needed a Word from God but nothing comes. Only silence.

This period of time in the history of Israel is pretty much unknown. The quills, known as the prophets’ pens lie still on their desks. The ink in the jars has dried up. No Word from God. No words; no signs; no object lessons.

Basically, the words of the prophets end by 427BC. Let me see if I can outline this for you.

History from 586BC:

  • Exile in Babylon begins in 586BC. They have rejected God’s commands for long enough. Off to Babylon they go for 70 years! Jerusalem and its Temple are utterly destroyed.
  • The Temple is rebuilt from 536BC to 516BC – 70 years later as had been foretold. You can read all about this in the book of Ezra.
  • Nehemiah, who was governor of Jerusalem, rebuilds the Walls of Jerusalem around 445BC.
  • According to John Bright, the prophets disappear from the scene by 427BC.

Amos foretold of this event in his book. Rd Amos 8.11-12: 11“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. 12They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.

The information we have about the Jews who’ve returned from exile seems to indicate the genealogy of the Priests and Levites down to the end of the 5th Century (so, 400BC). You can read about them in Nehemiah 12. The Chronicler records David’s Descendants, as well (1 Chron. 3) to about that same period. But it is as if the last names are read in Nehemiah or in 1 Chronicles and then silence.

By 400BC God’s voice had grown quiet. And it would be quiet for a long time.

So, from this point forth, there is silence in the World of the Jews. Truth is, we know almost nothing about Israel from 400BC until about 175BC when the Maccabean Rebellion against the Seleucids occured.

We know that during the Exile, the Babylonians fell to the Medes and the Persians. Then, the Persian Empire fell to the Greek Empire. By his death in 323 BC – Alexander the Great had conquered most of the known world and Israel lay under his authority. In due time, in the 1st Century BC, Rome would conquer Greece and the Jews would be under Roman authority at the time of Christ’s birth. (Cf.: Daniel 8)

At his death, his four Generals divided up his empire and Israel fell under the rule of Ptolemy. Over the next nearly two centuries, Israel would be ruled by either the Seleucids or Ptolemies.

In 175BC, the Jews would face fierce persecution from the Seleucids. It was out of this persecution that a famous rebellion arose, known as the Maccabean Revolt. These battles are recorded and we enter back into a time of information of Jewish History.

But, in all that was going on in the world and in Israel, God’s voice still lay silent.

For roughly 400 years the Jews lived without a Word from God. 400 years! That’s an incredibly long time to not hear from God. But, when the time was right – I mean perfectly right – God sent his Son! Let me show you what I mean. We’re in Galatians 4.4-5: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Transition: I find three interesting facts about God’s timing in these two verses:

  1. God’s timing in sending his son was perfect.
  2. God’s timing in sending his son was foretold.
  3. God’s timing in sending his son was purposeful.

Notice first, God’s perfect timing.

I. God’s Timing was perfect.

exp.: fullness of time; not one more drop – there is the picture of completion. If this were a picture, one more stroke would mess it up. If this were a poem, one more word would mess it up. If this was a recipe, one more ingredient would ruin it. If this were a glass of water, one more drop would cause it to spill over. Romans 5.6 says: For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. This was the message of Jesus as he came onto the seen in Mark 1.15: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

This gives us a sense that God was doing everything to save his people in his own time. He was at work in History to make things perfect for the arrival of His Son.

t.s.: 2ndly notice, his timing was the fulfillment of prophecy.

II. God’s Timing was foretold.

exp.: He had told his people all along that this Messiah would come.

ill.: Prophecies fulfilled by Jesus:

1.  That he would be born of a woman

 

Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4

 

2.  That he would be from the line of Abraham

 

Gen. 12:3, 7; 17:7; Rom. 9:5; Gal. 3:16

 

3.  That he would be from the tribe of Judah

 

Gen. 49:10; Heb. 7:14; Rev. 5:5

 

4.  That he would be from the house of David

 

2 Sam. 7:12–13; Luke 1:31–33; Rom. 1:3
5.  That he would be born of a virgin

 

Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:22–23

 

6.  That he would be given the throne of David

 

2 Sam. 7:11–12; Ps. 132:11; Isa. 9:6–7; 16:5; Jer. 23:5; Luke 1:31–32
7.  That this throne would be an eternal throne

 

Dan. 2:44; 7:14, 27; Micah 4:7; Luke 1:33
8.  That he would be called Emmanuel

 

Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23

 

9.  That he would have a forerunner:

he would look like Elijah.

 

Isa. 40:3–5; Mal. 3:1; Matt. 3:1–3; Luke 1:76–78; 3:3–6
10. That he would be born in Bethlehem

 

Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:5–6; Luke 2:4–6

 

11. That he would be worshiped by wise men and presented with gifts Ps. 72:10; Isa. 60:3, 6, 9; Matt. 2:11

 

12. That he would be in Egypt for a season

 

Num. 24:8; Hos. 11:1; Matt. 2:15

 

13. That his birthplace would suffer a

massacre of infants

 

Jer. 31:15; Matt. 2:17–18

 

14. That he would be called a Nazarene

 

Isa. 11:1; Matt. 2:23

 

15. That he would be zealous for the Father

 

Pss. 69:9; 119:139; John 6:37–40

 

16. That he would be filled with God’s Spirit

 

Ps. 45:7; Isa. 11:2; 61:1–2; Luke 4:18–19
17. That he would heal many

 

Isa. 53:4; Matt. 8:16–17

 

18. That he would deal gently with the Gentiles

 

Isa. 9:1–2; 42:1–3; Matt. 4:13–16; 12:17–21
19. That he would speak in parables

 

Isa. 6:9–10; Matt. 13:10–15

 

20. That he would be rejected by his

own people

 

Ps. 69:8; Isa. 53:3; John 1:11; 7:5
21. That he would make a triumphal entry

into Jerusalem

 

Zech. 9:9; Matt. 21:4–5

 

22. That he would be praised by little children

 

Ps. 8:2; Matt. 21:16

 

23. That he would be the rejected cornerstone

 

Ps. 118:22–23; Matt. 21:42

 

24. That his miracles would not be believed

 

Isa. 53:1; John 12:37–38

 

25. That his friend would betray him for

30 pieces of silver

 

Ps. 41:9; 55:12–14; Zech. 11:12–13; Matt. 26:14–16, 21–25
26. That he would be a man of sorrows

 

Isa. 53:3; Matt. 26:37–38

 

27. That he would be forsaken by his disciples

 

Zech. 13:7; Matt. 26:31, 56

 

28. That he would be scourged and spat upon

 

Isa. 50:6; Matt. 26:67; 27:26

 

29. That his price money would be used to buy a potter’s field

 

Jer. 18:1–4; 19:1–4; Zech. 11:12–13; Matt. 27:9–10
30. That he would be crucified between

two thieves

 

Isa. 53:12; Matt. 27:38; Mark 15:27–28; Luke 22:37
31. That he would be given vinegar to drink

 

Ps. 69:21; Matt. 27:34, 48; John 19:28–30
32. That he would suffer the piercing

of his hands and feet

 

Ps. 22:16; Zech. 12:10; Mark 15:25; John 19:34, 37; 20:25–27
33. That his garments would be parted and gambled for

 

Ps. 22:18; Luke 23:34; John 19:23–24

 

34. That he would be surrounded

and ridiculed by his enemies

Ps. 22:7–8; Matt. 27:39–44; Mark 15:29–32
35. That he would thirst

 

Ps. 22:15; John 19:28

 

36. That he would commend his spirit

to the Father

 

Ps. 31:5; Luke 23:46

 

37. That his bones would not be broken

 

Exod. 12:46; Num 9:12; Ps. 34:20; John 19:33–36
38. That he would be stared at in death

 

Zech. 12:10; Matt. 27:36; John 19:37
39. That he would be buried with the rich

 

Isa. 53:9; Matt. 27:57–60

 

40. That he would be raised from the dead

 

Ps. 16:10; Matt. 28:2–7

 

41. That he would ascend to the Father

 

Ps. 24:7–10; Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51

 

t.s.:  finally,God had told them, but they wouldn’t listen. And when God spoke again: Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son… when God spoke again through His Son, most didn’t want to hear it then – even though God had been silent for so long!

III. God’s Timing was purposeful.

exp.: God did what he did when he did what he did because he had a purpose: to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. I don’t see this as two separate purposes, like you can have one without the other. The New American Standard presents this beautifully and so literally: 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

app.: God has always been at work saving his people. And, I would propose to you that remains the same today:

app.: It has been nearly 2000 years since Jesus died and rose again and ascended to be with the Father. Nearly 2000 years have passed since he gave us his promise to return. When you look at the time frames of HiStory, you notice patterns. I believe that where we are in history fits that pattern and the time for his return is very near. It is so close to happening that I stand here this morning and feel the need to repeat the words of Jesus: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” As the prophets of old shouted at the people to get ready for the Lord – it is time for us to do the same. Ladies and Gentlemen, We are in the last days.

t.s.: It is time to stop thinking so much about ourselves. It is time to stand up and be heard: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” I fear that people around us live in silence – the silence of God’s Word. They don’t know of God’s love them. They don’t know their sin separates them from Him, but that a way has been made for them to find forgiveness of sin.

Conclusion: Mindy Belz: Lost and Found

August 2014, almost three years ago, ISIS had infiltrated and captured Qarakosh in Iraq. A desperate mother of four struggled with what to do. Aida’s husband, Khader, is blind. Running with him would be impossible, especially with a three-year-old daughter to try and deal with. Sure, she could run with her three older children, but the other two… impossible. And she would never leave them. In fear and with a torn spirit, she pushed her three oldest out the door: two sons and a daughter. Run! She urged them. Save yourselves!

The terrorists would take Aida, Khader and their little girl, Christina captive. They would be loaded onto a bus headed…who knows where. As Christina sat on her mother’s lap, suddenly an emir snatched Christina from her momma’s lap. Mom screamed and cried, but with a gun pointed at her head, she was forced to remain as they carried her daughter away. Christina’s father heard what was happening, but he was helpless to do anything.

This couple would be forced to flee with 150,000 other Iraqi Christians from the Nineveh plain to safety. Aida and Khader were reunited with their older three children, but what had become of Christina?

Mindy Belz writes of their family in one of the many refugee camps: There Aida and Khader spent sleepless nights sorting rumors about their daughter: They heard ISIS had put her in the care of a Christian woman also captured and taken to Mosul, then “married” the girl to a fighter, then gave her to a Muslim family.

A couple of years later Christina’s older brother found a picture of her on Facebook. It was just after her 5th birthday and proof that she was still alive, but they really knew nothing else. Christina was only 30 miles away, but she was held in ISIS territory. There was no way they could get to her.

Basically, they lived in silence. No word, no hope. Then a miracle happened. Iraqi Special Forces liberated a poor neighborhood in Mosul. Word was taken to Aida and Khader that their daughter had been found. They rushed to her and found her safe and sound. She was shocked and speechless. You see, she didn’t remember them at first. She didn’t even know she was lost.

Show pic: but now she’s been restored to her family.

I wonder how many people out there in the world around us don’t even know they’re lost. Like Christina, they live an existence they think is their own, but they have no idea they’re really captives. The silence of God’s Word continues for them, because you and I haven’t told them that He has spoken to us through His Son, Jesus. They don’t know that they can be set free from their captivity. They don’t know that they have a Father who loves them and moved heaven and earth that they might have a relationship with Him.

 

 

 

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Filed under Amos, Galatians, Prophecy, Sermons

The Prophets

Title: The Prophets

Text: Luke 24.13-27

Introduction:

In 1 Kings 13, we meet a man of God. You see the title of the message today: The Prophets. “Man of God” is another title for a prophet. This man of God, a prophet remains nameless. He was summoned by God to go to Jeroboam, the new and 1st king of the northern kingdom and bring him the Word of God. A couple of interesting events happen here:

1st, The man of God tells the king that a future king from the house of David, named Josiah, will sacrifice the priests of the high places and burn their bones on it.

  • Hey, 1st  – King of the Northern Kingdom, a future king of the Southern Kingdom will sacrifice the priests of the high places and burn their bones on it.
  • Oh, and so you know it is God’s Word, a sign will be given to you today –

2nd, He gives him a sign: this altar will be torn down and the ashes that are on it will be poured out.

That’s a pretty bold statement by the prophet – in the face of the King, no less!

So the king gets mad, as you might expect and yells out a command to his servants: Seize Him!

3rd, Instead of the man being seized, the king’s hand and arm are what seize up. Ruh-Roe! The King realizes he’s in trouble. The altar is torn down and the ashes are poured out from the altar just as the man of God predicted.

And so the King pleads with the man of God to intercede to God on his behalf, that he might be healed. The man of God does so and the king is healed.

The year this man of God spoke this prophecy was roughly about 930 BC. Josiah’s reforms took place from 621 BC. That’s 300 years later. You can read about it, that is the fulfillment of this prophecy, in 2 Kings 23. Not only did Jeroboam not live to see the prophecy come true, but 19 other kings would come and go. And, by 620 BC the Northern Kingdom no longer existed. It disappeared in 722 BC. It had already been gone for nearly 100 years.

Such is the work of prophets. They speak of things to come, often as if they’ve already happened. You and I are blessed because the work of the prophets showed us Jesus before he was born. And, many other men of God have documented and outlined the fulfillment of those prophecies for us.

We’re in the midst of a sermon series: HisStory. That is: The Story of Jesus. The premise is that all of God’s Word is about Him. From Creation to Revelation, its not just history, it is His Story. Here’s how we got here:

1. Intro: His Story The Bible
2. Creation Genesis 1-3
3. The Fall Genesis 4-11
4. The Patriarchs Genesis 12-50
5. Israel: A New Nation Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
6. Kings Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles

Here is a quick look at the messages to date. The point of them all has been to communicate that each story points us to God’s work of saving his people. And, that points to Jesus. And that won’t change this morning. Really, it is even clearer as you consider the prophets.

7. Prophets Luke 24.13-27

Turn to Luke 24.13. rd Lk 24.13-27; this must have been an incredible experience for Cleopas and his traveling companion. The Master himself explains to them just what the Prophets had been saying about him. What clarity!

This leads me to some questions – question I hope to answer in my message today:

  1. Who were these men, the prophets? Were any of them women?
  2. Where did they come from? What were their origins?
  3. What was it these prophets said? Or, What had they laid out before hand that Jesus ‘interpreted’ to Cleopas and this other disciple? How did they do that?

Transition: I’d like to begin by answering this 1st question: who were they?

1.  These men were called of God. The first man called a prophet was Abraham in Gen.          20.7; the 1st woman I find being a prophetess is Miriam in Exodus 15.20 (cf.: Isaiah’s          wife, Deborah; Anna); the pattern of a prophet was Moses. He set the example for the        people of Israel that they would look for in a prophet whom God would raise up                  among them. He was the standard by which all other comparisons were made. But, he     also was the example set for them of “The Prophet” – the One who was to come and           The One the Israelites were waiting and watching for.

2.   In answering the question: Where did they come from? At first I was curious about             geographical areas. Where did they live and what did they do before they became             prophets? But this quest took me in a different direction. Where did they come from?         In answering this question I found…

a. Prophetic ministry begins and ends with God. Nowhere do we see prophecy                       with its source in humans (or anywhere else for that matter).

b. A prophet had a private and public call to his ministry. Therefore, a false                               prophet did not have that call upon his life. A Prophet of God was a man who                       had (1st) stood in the presence of God (think Moses) and then (2ndly) stood                           before the people of God telling them the Word of God. Turn to Deut. 18.15-18                       once again;

i. God will “raise up” a prophet. God is the source by which this man will come.

ii. This prophet will speak God’s Word. And I will put my words in his mouth,                             and he shall speak to them all that I command him.

Note: A Prophet wasn’t necessarily a predictor of the future. I think a lot of times that is the way we think about prophets – that they predicted the future. In many cases that was true. But, it was so much more than that: a prophet’s main duty was to communicate God’s Word.

c. In Jeremiah 7.25 God declares that He as been doing this since He brought                           them up out of Egypt: 25 From the day that your fathers came out of the land of                     Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them,                       day after day.

Because of this fact (Prophetic ministry begins and ends with God), we should take note. This is God’s doing and these are God’s Words. Let that sink in. God has accomplished this incredible feat of preserving His Word – over thousands of years – just so you and I would have it here with us today! In all of literature – all of literature – there is nothing anywhere comparable to God’s Word. Nothing! What a precious gift. Would you want to hear from God?

Ill.: Michael Card: “Present Reality,” I want to know you in the now. Well, if truth be told – no, I don’t think we really would. If God could appear before us as He did with the Israelites at Sinai, I think we’d respond and be just like the Israelites at the foot of the Mountain. We would cry out: Please, Dear LORD, don’t speak directly to us. If you do, we’ll die. Write it down for us to read and learn about. Give us godly men and women to teach us – but don’t present yourself to us! We won’t be able to bear it.

app.: In this regard, modern day prophets still speak forth God’s Word. They have it here before us and open up in all of its beauty and encouragement and life-giving information. And they speak plainly God’s Word. Thus saith the Lord.

Because this is God’s Word, future events have context. Because this is God’s Word, a prophecy concerning the future, these future events, as they take place, now have context. We are uniquely positioned to understand the events as they unfold. And the reason we understand them is simply because God has communicated them to us before hand.

More than that, we have confidence, because He has been faithful to do so in the past. We see where He has spoken and what he has said came about. We understand the circumstance so much more in that God had a plan and a purpose.

Ill.: Our community group has been experiencing this in our studies. We have God’s Word to help us interpret the data before us. You look at the Grand Canyon and you see these pancake layers. Use modern day, evolutionary explanations that scientists have theorized to understand this and you’ll be confused. And the more information they provide, the more confusing it gets! But, when you look at the Grand Canyon through the eyes of Genesis 6-9, things begin to make sense.

I don’t have a picture of it, but in our study we saw another area north of the Grand Canyon some 70 miles. And in that location, there is another pancake layer of sediment that isn’t found here. It is actually found between two of the layers you see here. If it took millions and millions of years for each layer to be deposited, then how in the world did a different layer – that supposedly took millions and millions of years to be deposited – get deposited between the two layers? Well, it can’t it is impossible. But, when you consider a cataclysmic event, such as The Flood, then these layers make sense.

We have God’s Word to explain the past and so we can look forward with the same clarity.

App.: Listen to I.H. Marshall: One of the smartest Theologians of the past Century. History became revelation because there was added to the historical situation a man prepared beforehand to say what it meant. Moses was not left to struggle for the meaning of events as or after they happened; he was forewarned of events and of their significance by the verbal communications of God. So it was with all the prophets. Alone of the nations of antiquity, Israel had a true awareness of history.

Christians are blessed with this same awareness. We don’t look back and feel confused; God has answered those questions in his Word. And, we don’t look forward and feel confused – even if some things are not yet revealed. We know that God has given us context. You and I shouldn’t be confused that the World has legalized gay marriage. If you read the book of Revelation, you already know that the world would become more and more licentious and immoral.

t.s.: So, who were these men and where did they come from? These were men and women that God raised up for the purpose of communicating His Word to His People. Here’s another question: Just how did they do that?

 

3.  The prophets were careful to do exactly as God commanded. God’s Word was                      presented to the people in various ways:

  1. Spoken: God said, simply tell them; or tell him; or tell her. 2 Samuel 12
  2. Visual Aids or Object Lessons: Ezekiel 4.1-6; rd Ezekiel 4.1-6
  3. A Demonstration of God’s Power: 1 Kings 18 (calling down fire from heaven)

If you think about it, we saw all three of these expressions used by the unnamed prophet in 1 Kings 13 – the story I opened up with. He spoke God’s Word concerning the future, gave the object lesson of the altar being torn down and the ashes being poured out, and a demonstration of God’s power through the King’s arm ‘seizing up’ and also healing him.

Which brings me to one final section this morning. It isn’t answering a question per se, but is more of a quest for us: Christ in the Old Testament. Let me say there is no way to know every verse of prophecy in the OT. Many are obscure. People don’t even agree on the ones we have.

One day God will reveal it all and we’ll understand it all so much better. But for now, we do know some very important prophecies of the Messiah from the Old Testament. I thought it would be fun to show you at least one reference to Christ in each of the Old Testament Prophets Writings. We’ll look at the Major Prophets first, then, the Minor Prophets.

Let me begin by saying that ‘Major’ and ‘Minor’ prophets are not good English terms. It isn’t like these were more special, so they are called ‘Major’, or that these were insignificant so they were deemed ‘minor’. These are old English terms. Simply put, it has to do with the Volume of material. Think of ‘Larger’ for ‘major’ and ‘smaller’ for ‘minor’.

Let me also say: this list is not exhaustive. I simply chose a verse or two that I am familiar with. A couple of them, I had no idea, so I had to search. This was more for fun than for this message. But, turn with me to Isaiah and let’s make our way through the prophets and look at some of these.

Isaiah: born of a virgin, king, the Suffering Servant (7; 9; 50; 53) Jeremiah: a king like David; the ideal King (30.9) Ezekiel: A king like David; the ideal King (37.24-28)
  Daniel: the 4th man in the fire (3.25); ‘Son of Man’ who is given authority by the ‘Ancient of Days’ (7.13-14);  
Hosea: He is the one who redeems his adulterous bride. (3) Hosea 11.1 is the verse: Out of Egypt I called my son. Joel: His is the Name that is called upon (cf.: Rom 3.10). (2) In those days I will pour out my spirit… the coming of the Holy Spirit. Amos: He is the Lion from the tribe of Judah that roars from Jerusalem. (1, 3.6-7) 2.16: fleeing naked; Mk 14.52; 4.13 – the one who knows our thoughts;
Obadiah: He might be the Messenger who speaks in v.1; He is the King who shall reign over Mt. Zion with the redeemed in 17, 19-21 Jonah: Just as Jonah was in the belly of the giant fish for three days, so also, Jesus was in the tomb for three days (1.17). Micah: He is the King who breaches the gate and goes before his people (2); He will be born in Bethlehem (5); will be a light to his people (7); the steadfast love of the Lord is demonstrated through him (7.18-20) cast our sins into the depths of the sea
Nahum: His Character is displayed in 1. He is the one who breaks the chains and free his people (1) Habakkuk: He is the Everlasting One (1); The Righteous One (2) and the one who reigns in his Holy temple (2). My Strength & my Salvation Zephaniah: He is the one who saves you, rejoices over you and quiets you with loud singing (3); In His Name one finds a refuge.
Haggai: Zerubbabel is a pattern of this future King. He will be God’s Signet Ring in that day (2); Zechariah: again, Zerubbabel is a pattern of this future King – He is called, The Branch (3); He is the The King coming, riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey (9); The One whom they have pierced (12); He is the stricken Shepherd (13). Malachi: the sun of righteousness; The announced by Elijah (4) coming before the Messiah.


Conclusion:

Because of their message, because of their work, we now have the hope of salvation. 1 Peter 1.10ff: 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Let that resonate in your spirit. These servants of God, prophets, did their work, faithfully, so that the message you have now received might be made known to you. God was at work all along, preserving it, protecting it.

My friend, what an incredible message from these prophets: that a Messiah would be born to you and that he would die on a cross, taking away your sin and my sin. If you’ve never committed you life to God through His Son Jesus, let today be the day.

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Filed under Major Prophets, Minor Prophets, Prophets, Sermon

A King like the Promised King

Title: Kings: A King like the Promised King

Text: Joshua-2 Chronicles

Introduction: Open your Bible to the Table of Contents. I’m guessing in all your years of sermon listening, you’ve never had a preacher pick the Table of Contents to go to… The Table of Contents is at the very beginning of your Bible.

We began our journey in Genesis. See it there? The 1st book of the Bible!

Review: what got us here: This sermon series is entitled, “His Story”. My premise is that the Bible is one story: His Story. If you think about it, the story begins with him and it will end with him. He really is the main topic and focus throughout the Bible. I began with an introductory sermon on the subject.

1. Intro: His Story The Bible
2. Creation Genesis 1-3
3. The Fall Genesis 4-11
4. The Patriarchs Genesis 12-50
5. Israel: A New Nation Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
6. Kings Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles

Then, I opened the series on the Creation account. John 1 tells us that Jesus created everything – He simply spoke creation into existence. Nothing was created that has been created that was not created by him. Nothing. Colossians tells us: 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

We went from covering 3 chapters in our first message on creation to 8 chapters of Life in the Fall. There was perfection. Then, there was sin and all of creation was marred. The relationship between God and man was fractured – broken. Then, we covered 38 chapters when we looked at the Patriarchs. God was at work saving his people all along. You see this pattern emerge as you work your way through the texts.

  1. A desire to return to the garden’s perfection. There is always the promise of the land. For Israel, it is the land flowing with milk and honey.
  2. A promised man who would come and restore these things. Repeatedly, men would arise who would be types of this man. These men would be examples, patterns, illustrative of this promised man. But, none would be him. They would give us examples of the Promised One, but none was a perfect fit.

Well, last week we covered 5 books in one sermon: The Pentateuch. The story of the Pentateuch is basically how God took one man (Abraham) and made a nation. Today, we’ll go even bigger, still growing, to cover 8 books of the Bible in one sermon: from Joshua to 2 Chronicles.

The storyline flows from their conquest of the Promised Land to becoming a nation, possessing the land and experiencing the blessings as God had promised Abraham. Today we will see the pinnacle for this nation. It will reach its zenith and come closest to experiencing the promise of God. But that is it. It will quickly dissolve and come unraveled. They will become like Adam and Eve. They will fail to live up to their promise, their commitment to God.

But, in this moment, God will show them, and us, more of what this promised deliverer will look like.

At this point you might be asking if I’m planning to preach the whole Bible – covering every book. Well, yes and no. No in that I will not be covering every book. But yes, in that I am doing my best to show that this book called the Bible is really just one story. We’ll start in Joshua 24 and work through some of the texts in 1 & 2 Samuel. Turn to the Joshua passage… 24.

Transition: For our purposes today, I’d like to just summarize some of these books with the intent of offering direction. I want you to see the bigger picture here. Oh, there are wonderful stories that fill our storyline. These stories offer us teaching lessons – examples for us to follow or avert. And I may touch on one or two of these stories, but for now, let’s hit highlights. Let’s look at Joshua first.

I. Joshua: as we continue the story, the Nation of Israel did move into the land after their 40 years of wilderness wondering. It wasn’t easy. This is much of what the book of Joshua is all about – the conquest of the Promised Land. The really sad part about this story is that we find the people of Israel did not totally displace the previous inhabitants as God had commanded them. The Canaanites then became a constant source of trouble for Israel and were a real hindrance to them for their entire history.

ill.: I felt a bit of this as we traveled across Israel last summer. One can’t help but notice the tension as you enter into an Arab controlled area. There are these check points. Some places we didn’t go – not because we weren’t allowed, but because it wasn’t safe. There is a lot of land that Israel controls, but there is also a lot land in Israel where the Arabs are in control – very similar to what it was like over 3,000 years ago when they first settled the land. I have a couple of photos of Jericho, from miles away. I really would love to see Jericho and visit the ancient city with its walls knocked down. But you can’t at this time. It is too dangerous. I also have some pictures of a van. It has these cage like wire over the windows and dents all over the hood and fenders. We were told that it was a van of someone who lives in an Arab section of Israel. The people throw rocks at the van as it drives through the streets to work and also returns back home.

But more than dangerous, the religious practices of those people plagued Israel, too. They were a constant source of leading the people astray to worship the Baals and Ashteroths. They would build these images and offer sacrifices to the pagan gods of the people there in the land.

And even though the book of Joshua concludes with a renewal of the covenant – Joshua challenging them to follow God whole-heartedly; the people would fail in their commitment time and time again. Rd Joshua 24.14-26

II. Judges: so they move into the land, and are then led by Judges. That’s the next book: Judges. It is a relatively short time in their history. Judges is mostly recognized for the cycle of sin Israel finds itself in. they made the commitment to follow God, but they don’t put away their idols.

  • A Time of Blessing
  • A Warning of Failure
  • Sinful Rebellion
  • God Punishes their Rebellion
  • They Repent and Pray for Salvation
  • God sends a Savior, Deliverer

And the reason they fall into sin is because they are envious of their neighbors and want to be more like them. This leads to their ultimate rebellion against God – they reject him as their king and want a king of their own – a king to rule over them just like the other nations have. And that leads us to Samuel and his story…

III. Samuel: probably the most famous and most popular Judge is Samuel. In some respects, it is very understandable wanted a different leadership. Samuel leads them faithfully as a judge and prophet; however, his sons are evil and wicked. And it is during his time of leadership that the People of Israel ask for a King. Look with me in 1 Samuel 8. In 1 Sam 7.3ff you read the end of a cycle, then, they ask – not they demand a king like the people around them. rd 8.1-9; God tells Samuel that they’re not rejecting him, but rather, they’re rejecting God. They’re acting like they always do… they chase after the things they see – their hearts follow their eyes.

The irony in this to me is that God warns them through Samuel how bad it is going to be. But they don’t care.

ill.: have you seen those commercials where they promote some medication that is going to get you back out into life? And then they close with a few warnings: this medication has been known to cause anal leakage, uncontrolled drooling and hair to grow between your toes. Don’t take this medication if you are a male or a female or have been known to sleep at night or have at times grown hungry if you’ve not eaten in three days.

I see these commercials and think I don’t ever want to have to take that medication! It sounds like the side effects are worse than the ailment!

exp.: rd 8.10-19; He is going to make you his slaves… Oh, that’s ok… we want a king!

The truly most amazing part of all of this is that God was still so good to his people. Yeah, the first king blew it. And, to be honest they all blew it to some degree or another. Still, in their rejection of God… He never turned his back on them. Turn to 1 Samuel 12.

  1. In verses 1-5 Samuel defends his ministry and the integrity of heart before them.
  2. In verses 6-11 Samuel reminds them of their continued descent into sin in spite of God’s continued deliverance. He would save and they would run back to sin.
  3. In v 12-13, Samuel reminds them of their foolishness to ask for a king like the nations.
  4. In v 14-18, Samuel warns of their rebellion and give a demonstration, a sign of God’s great power.
  5. In v 19, the people acknowledge the sin, in fear of God’s great power. And they cry out in fear…

Follow with me in v20-22 and see the incredible mercy of God.

6. In v23-25, Samuel confirms his commitment to God’s people to love and pray                       for them.

God gives them what they ask for in a king and it turns out pretty bad. Saul’s story is one of selfishness and pride. It is one of impatience and a lack of faith. Saul’s story ends up as it had been foretold – just like the people were warned. It is all pretty sad and the people are no better off for it.

But God uses this moment with them to give them a little taste of what he wanted for them. 1 Samuel is all about this first king, Saul and his horrible failure as King. But then God chooses another man, David. This man – again, chosen by God – will be a type of King they’re to look for in the Promised King. He’s in 1 Samuel, but his reign as King begins in 2 Samuel.

We meet David when he’s pretty young. It would be so much fun to spend a lot of time on this man… David, but we just don’t have time this morning.

Can I pause for a moment this morning and say that having a king was never the problem. God had actually set up rules and regulations for a king for Israel in Deuteronomy 17. The problem wasn’t a king, per se. It was Israel’s rejection of God. It was their desire to be like the other nations around them and not to be distinct and different.

But that was all a part of the bigger story. For in this new King, God would show the people of Israel a little of what is to come. He would offer them hope in what they see. God demonstrates this by establishing his covenant with David.

The pattern of covenant is repeating itself in this story. There are many of the same elements as we’ve seen before with Abraham. Turn to 2 Samuel 7. In 2 Samuel 7 we find elements to the covenant promises God gave to Abraham. Rd 2 Sam 7.8-19

12 Now the Lord said to Abram,

  1. “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.
  2. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
  3. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts,

  1. I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.
  2. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

 

  • God took Abraham from Ur and placed him in a new land. He took David from shepherding sheep in the field to be a shepherd of God’s people.
  • God promises Abraham descendants – who he will build into a nation. He does the same for David – his house will be a dynasty and the promised one will come from this long line.
  • He promised this land to Abraham’s descendants. He promised David to establish and firmly root God’s people in this land.
  • He promised Abraham to make his name great. He does the same for David there in v 9.
  • God promised to bless the nations through Abraham and he does the same for David. You pick up on this in v 19.

Israel will reach its highest point of success under David and Solomon. Israel will experience that land flowing with milk and honey under David’s reign. But it will soon be lost.

IV. 1 & 2 Kings: The Kingdom is divided after Solomon. The Northern Kingdom will have 19 Kings over the next 200 years. Nary a one will be good. Every single King of the Northern 10 tribes led the Israelites to rebel against God and worship idols. Their demise will come by 722 BC when the King of Assyria conquered and carry off their people. Forced intermarriage happens and the Jewish descendants disappear. A new people will emerge known as Samaritans. This happens in 2 Kings 17.

As for the Southern Kingdom, there are only two kings of all the kings worth noting who followed God anywhere near what David did: Josiah and Hezekiah. There was a hand-full of kings who were ok, or repented and tried to do right after being bad. But for the most part, David is the example of the man who is to come.

Let me offer you a note about Kings and Chronicles.

  • 1 & 2 Kings: the book of kings was probably written during the exile to explain their exile. Isn’t it odd how we as humans reject God for so long and then are shocked when God disciplines? Some theologians think that the writer probably used Deut. 12 as a litmus test for those kings. Where they failed and where they succeeded can be measured against Deuteronomy 12.
  • 1 & 2 Chronicles: the book of Chronicles was written after the exile with the goal of encouraging those who were returning to the Promised Land to live a life faithful to God. The goal, of course, would be to not repeat history!

We didn’t mention Ruth, though Ruth plays a huge part in the genealogical line of the Messiah.

Conclusion:

This idea of Kingship is one main source of our understanding of the Messiah. The Messiah, the anointed of God, when he comes, he will be King – not ‘a’ king, but ‘the’ King (King of Kings). We must understand that this king isn’t an earthly king though. He won’t be like the kings of today or even of those from previous centuries or millennia.

When Jesus came and died in the flesh a century after David, he conquered Satan. He was the Snake Crusher they’d all been waiting for. His rule today isn’t over a land as much as it is over the hearts of a people. Oh, many in Israel wanted him to be king. They wanted it badly as they threw down their palm branches and coats to create the red carpeted Triumphal Entry of the King. But when he wasn’t what they thought he should be, they killed him.

They missed it when he came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”  Mark 1.14-15;

Zechariah prophesied it when he said in Luke 1

68     “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,

for he has visited and redeemed his people

69     and has raised up a horn of salvation for us

in the house of his servant David,

70     as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,

71     that we should be saved from our enemies

and from the hand of all who hate us;

72     to show the mercy promised to our fathers

and to remember his holy covenant,

73     the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us

74         that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,

might serve him without fear,

75         in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

76     And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

77     to give knowledge of salvation to his people

in the forgiveness of their sins,

78     because of the tender mercy of our God,

whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high

79     to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

 

Zechariah is saying that this promised King is now here. But he isn’t a king like you think.

Simeon understood as he held the Baby King in his arms:

29     “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,

according to your word;

30     for my eyes have seen your salvation

31         that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

32     a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and for glory to your people Israel.”

This statement by Simeon is acknowledgement that the Kingdom of God has arrived as announced by Isaiah.

Application: So, what do I want you to take away with you this morning?

  1. What seems a mess, isn’t really a mess at all. What they wanted, as they saw it, God was using to teach us. It was a part of His great master plan. Remember this as you look at our world today and think: what a mess! God is not finished working his plan.
  2. King David was meant to show us what the Promised King would look like. He was what theologians call: A type. He was a man after God’s own heart. Yes, he failed – and that should teach us valuable lessons, too. But more than that, he pointed to the future King who would come.
  3. An Edenesque existence will one day be restored. The height of David’s reign displayed the potential for a return to the Garden. Never were the Israelites closer to the land flowing with Milk and Honey than when David obediently led his people as their king. That is only a taste of what is to come!
  4. Next week we’ll talk about the Prophets – another role assigned to the Messiah (Prophet, Priest, King). The prophets worked tirelessly to stop the decay and decline of their nation. They did everything they could possibly do to get the Kings to return to God and to return the people to God. They always held out the hope before the people of a perfect king who would lead his people to restoration and renewal. They of course, never saw that King, but he did come – and his name is Jesus!

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Filed under 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, Joshua, Judges, Kings, Sermon