Monthly Archives: July 2015

Jude 1-2

Title: Jude: An Introduction

Text: Jude 1-2

Introduction: Start recording; Let’s pray:

  1. We as human beings have fears that shape us and sometimes lead us. They shouldn’t, but we let them. You have fears. I have fears. You know some of my But just in case you didn’t know about this one, it’s the fear that someone might sneak in and lead others astray through their deceptive leadership or power. Another fear is that I should fail in protecting the church against unhealthy doctrine. A healthy church is so hard to achieve and it is so easy to be led astray. I have to say that it is the most wonderful feeling laying my head down on my pillow at night with the knowledge that our church isn’t perfect, but she is healthy. As I read the NT, I see that it was a constant battle for Paul and the writer of Hebrews and Timothy and Barnabas and Jude and Peter. That battle was against false doctrines and false teachers.
  2. That battle still rages today. I see churches rejoicing over the SCOTUS recent decision to redefine marriage and the family. They’re having wedding celebrations and embracing what the Word of God has clearly rejected. We were reminded this past Wednesday in the Truth Project that God has given us His design in who He is. From marriage to family to all areas of the social order, God has placed his divine imprint on them all. Satan’s goal is to destroy that image – distort that image and replace it with disorder and dysfunction.
  3. And so we must guard against the things that can destroy us and we must work to protect it – like a marriage. A couple will set up boundaries to protect their marriage. And so, we act in like manner. We must set up boundaries to protect the bride of Christ.

To lighten this heavy message, Jude ‘bookends’ his letter with this focus upon their safety in Christ. : v1 and v24; to those who are kept at this moment – and are being kept until the day we are presented blameless to the Father. Ladies and Gentlemen, that is a sermon all to itself! Baptists call this the perseverance of the saints. And we take no credit for it, as Jude says, it is Christ who does the keeping. He keeps us safe.

This safety, this security, this assurance we have, comes with a better understanding of just what it means to be a Christian. The phrase “in Christ” doesn’t appear until after the gospels. It appears for the 1st time in Acts 24.24: 24 After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. Then, ‘in Christ’ appears 90 more times. It is a term used to define the believers: to all who are in Christ Jesus; What does this mean for us? Who are we in Christ? What is ours because we are in Christ? These are questions Jude answers for us this morning.

Well, let’s begin with who he was:

Who was Jude?

exp.: rd v 1a; Jude (lit.: Judas);

  1. Now, there are 6 men who have this name in the NT. It was such a popular name because some 200 years before, Judas was a mighty warrior and leader for the Jewish people. So many people chose that name for their little boy:
    1. Judas Iscariot: One of the 12 (Mt. 10.4)
    2. Judas, the younger: Also, one of the 12; the son of James; (Lk 6.16; Jn 14.22: Judas, not Iscariot)
    3. Judas, the Galilean: a leader whose rebellion was quickly squelched. (Acts 5.37)
    4. Judas, the owner of the home in Damascus on Straight St. where Paul was taken after his encounter with Jesus. (Acts 9.11)
    5. Judas, called Barsabbas: One of the men who traveled with Paul and Barnabas to send the Church’s decision concerning the Gentiles. (Acts 15.22, 27, 32)
    6. Judas, the little brother of Jesus: this is the writer of this letter. Amazing! Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? (Mt 13.55); Jn 7.5 tells us that he was an unbeliever in the time of Christ’s earthly ministry; that he was probably embarrassed by his older brother, Jesus; and, was probably a part of ridiculing him to go up to the feast. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” (Mk 3.21); But, something incredible happened – the crucifixion, the burial, the resurrection. And somewhere in all of that… Judas gave his life to Christ. He could deny it no longer and was saved! You see it here in his first description of who he is. He could have said: Jude, the little brother of Jesus. But he didn’t; Rd 1b; This brings us to our 2nd question:

Who are we in Christ? Look at these words Jude uses to describe himself and his readers. They tell us who we are in Christ: his statement a slave of Jesus Christ tells us we’re…

  1. Bought: You have been bought with a price. A slave of Jesus Christ; your text probably says ‘servant or bondservant’; the Gk is δοῦλος; J. MacArthur @ the shepherd’s conf.: those who translate the Bible didn’t want to offend anyone; What a shame; HCSB gets it right in the modern translations; The strong Greek word δοῦλος cannot be accurately translated in English as servant or bond servant; the HCSB translates this word as slave, not out of insensitivity to the legitimate concerns of modern English speakers, but out of a commitment to accurately convey the brutal reality of the Roman empire’s inhumane institution as well as the ownership called for by Christ. It is vital that we get this: don’t soften this for a moment. If you are in Christ, then you are not your own. You belong to Him and what he says for your life goes.

This really means so much more because of his next statement (1c): a brother of James. This statement accomplishes for us, a couple of major points:

  • He is the little brother of Jesus. 1st we’re positive this Judas is not any of the other Judas’ mentioned above. 2nd, we know that the only other Judas mentioned was the son of James, not the brother. So, with relative confidence, we can say He is the brother of Jesus. This is also the attestation of the early church, and their confirmation of Jude’s family line.
  • He refuses to say that he is the brother of Jesus. That would give him some status! But he instead, identifies with his brother, James, the pastor and leader in Jerusalem. What he’s saying in all of this is that his relationship to Jesus isn’t brother to brother – familial; but, rather, slave to master. He has been bought by the blood of Christ.
  1. Called: Gk word is κλητός; According to Tom Schreiner, N.T. scholar from Southern Seminary, there are two general meanings for the word ‘call’:
    1. There is a general call (Matt 11:28-30): an invitation; 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
    2. There is an effectual call (Rom 8:30): 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Now, normally we don’t like to talk about these ‘hard to understand’ words; Let me just make this easy and say we cannot fully comprehend this concept of predestination – how God could predestine us. He who knows all things and is the agent by which all things (to quote Paul) live and breath and move – and find their being – How could God predestine? Where does our free will end and His divine sovereignty begin? And visa-versa? Answer: I don’t know. I really don’t. I only know that both are real and both are true.

ill.: It’s like the doctrine of God in the flesh: Was Jesus fully God? Yes – 100%. Was Jesus fully man? Did he sweat and thirst and hunger and get tired? Yes – 100%. How can he be 200%? My answer: Dunno! I only know the Bible teaches us this. So, I accept it by faith.

app.: It’s the same here. God, in and through his infinite mercy, called me. I was undeserving, unworthy and unfit for this grace. And yet, His Holy Spirit wooed me. My heart was softened and I fell to my face and trusted what he said: I confessed my sins and he forgave me.

ill.: Listen to Daniel Akin, president of SEBTS: There is a mysterious wonder in this truth that the sovereign God effectually brings persons to salvation in perfect harmony with their free will and response to the gospel. There is a marvelous complementarity to these twin truths that, if you push them beyond their biblical parameters, you will find yourself lying in your closet, drooling out of one side of your mouth, attempting to do Hebrew and Greek verb conjugations in tantum!

He continues: Timothy George has well said, “God created human beings with free moral agency, and He does not violate this even in the supernatural work of regeneration. Christ does not rudely bludgeon His way into the human heart. He does not abrogate our creaturely freedom. No, He beckons and woos, He pleads and pursues, He waits and wins.” (Amazing Grace, p74)

t.s.: let’s move on: We are bought, we are called, we are loved.

  1. Loved: rd 1d; Beloved in God the Father; lit.: in God the father, being loved; no where else does this phrase occur just like this. It’s a pft pass ptc;

pft: a present state, because of a past action;

pass: meaning we’re the one’s being loved.

part: describing those who have been called.

It’s a great declaration of the Father’s love. There is in one sense a love of the Father for all people; John 3.16; And there is this – a wonderful sense of deep, abiding love that the Father has for His children. I think it might be something akin to my love for kids. I love the children at Calvary, but I have a deeper love for my little girls: Elizabeth, Caroline and Annie.

We are loved!

  1. Kept: rd 1d; and kept for Jesus Christ. τηρέω: appears 5x’s in Jude (1, 6 (2x), 13, 21); Each time it is used in to describe guarding, protecting; Acts 12.5-6 – So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. This is the word that is used to command us to ‘keep’ God’s commands. We don’t just observe them – we protect them, we guard them, we keep them close to us.

app.: this is what is being said of you, believer. You are kept, protected, guarded in Christ Jesus. You are kept by an incredible power! By His death on the cross, purchasing your pardon; by his resurrection and ascension to the Father’s right hand – he keeps you now! He who is powerful enough to save you is powerful enough to keep you.

t.s.: Ladies and Gentleman, this should cause you to stand and applaud! Nothing will happen on this day that God isn’t already aware of! Nothing will touch your life that doesn’t 1st pass through His hands. And if he allows or causes any activity in your life, you can be sure that you are kept and protected and are being preserved.

Transition: Jude says this of himself and of his readers. Blessed assurance Jesus is mine. Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine; Heir of salvation – purchase of God; Born of his Spirit, washed in his blood. This is my story, this is my song: praising my savior all the day long. This is my story, this is my song: praising my savior all the day long. Security comes in knowing who you are in Christ Jesus. 2ndly, Security comes in knowing what you have in Christ Jesus.

What is ours because we are in Christ? (2)

exp.: rd v 2; Jude has a love of triads:

  • Jude, a slave, a brother
  • To the called, the loved, the kept
  • Be multiplied to you mercy, peace and love.
  1. Mercy: the word ‘multiplied’ gives us a greater understanding of what he is saying here: it’s in the optative mood – which I know means nothing to you, but bare with me: 1st, it is rarely used in the N.T.; 2nd, it is used to express a wish. Paul uses it when he says: μὴ γένοιτο; May it not be; God forbid! Here is Jude’s wish for these people – God’s mercy abounding in the believer’s life. The Hebrew equivalent is hesed; Psalm 23: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. The younger generation learned: Surely goodnes and lovingkindness shall follow me all the days of my life. Akin says: It is a characteristic in God that moves Him to seek a relationship with persons who have no right to be in relationship with Him. The word speaks of compassion, lovingkindness (hesed). It is gracious, undeserved and unmerited; yet it is not blind, dumb or ignorant. It is something in God that moves Him to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Mercy is a characteristic of God. It is something he pours out on us. Likewise, we’re called to be like him – to show mercy. In v 2 Jude wishes this mercy upon us increasing measure – “multiplied” and

  • in v. 22, he commands the reader to show mercy to others.
  • In Mt 5.7: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
  • Jesus teaches us that this is an O.T. concept when he quotes from Hosea 6.6 (Mt 9.13): 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’
  • Paul calls us ‘vessels of mercy’ in Romans;

app.: in Christ you now have mercy – freely given to you and freely given by you to those in need. 2nd, Peace.

  1. Peace: Another word that finds its meaning in the Hebrew: shalom. It makes me wonder if the recipients of this letter were Jewish believers. My guess is yes – they were.

Shalom has so many meanings. Akin says: Ideas such as wholeness, completeness, prosperity and success are just a few of the concepts that emanate from this word. Douglas Moo writes: By ‘peace,’ Jude may mean the inner contentment that comes from a restored relationship to God in Christ – the ‘peace of God.’ But it more likely means our ‘peace with God.’ that is, the new status of reconciliation that God provides in his Son for us.

In Judges we learn it is God’s name: Jehovah Shalom (6.23). In Isaiah (9.6-7) we learn that it is God the Son’s name, too: Prince of Peace. In the OT they search for peace, but it can’t be found. In the NT Jesus says: 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Paul affirms this for us when in Romans 5.1 he writes: 1Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

app.: No wonder there is peace for the believer. He is saved from his sins now, he walks in peace because God is his life and when he dies, he has the promise of heaven!

You ask how? You say: “Sure, our sins are forgiven – Sure we have the promise of heaven, but right now is so hard”: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4.4-7) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

app.: yes, this life is hard – but for those of us in Christ Jesus – we have the peace of God. 3rd,

  1. Love: This word appears more than any other in Jude (7x’s; 1,2,3,12,17,20,21); more than any other word of consequence (meaning – if you don’t count the pronouns and conjunctions); Equal to this number is Christ, Jesus and Lord. Next is love – 7 times. And then, kept – 5x’s; really, the focus on this letter is a warning of false teachers and false doctrine, but an argument could be made for focusing upon these words: that in Christ Jesus, you are kept and loved. Just how kept and loved are you?

Romans 8.28-39

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God’s Everlasting Love

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Application:

  1. Know who you are in Christ: bought, called, loved and kept.
  2. Know what is yours in Christ Jesus: mercy, peace and love.
  3. Know also, that you are a conduit of these virtues, traits to a lost world.
    1. So in your struggle, hang in there: God is doing a work in and through you – that you might not even know he is doing. It’s easy to focus on yourself and your suffering when in it. But remember, God is using it for his glory.
    2. So in your celebrating this glorious truth, don’t forget that there is a lost world out there – on their way to hell.

In New Orleans, the summer of 1985, the city threw a big part for the lifeguards who worked that summer. The New Orleans Recreation Department wanted to recognize their workers for a safe summer. Combining all of the pools in the New Orleans Community Pool system, it had been a drown-free summer. Hundreds of guest gathered and celebrated together. Four life-guards were hired to sit and guard the pool, while over 100 lifeguards were recognized and celebrated. When the evening was over and the guests had left, one of the lifeguards cleaning up and putting things away noticed something dark in the deep end of the pool. Jerome Moody, age 31, was found drowned in the deep end. This man drowned, with over 100 trained lifeguards were gathered all around.

It makes me wonder about the church: do we miss those ‘drowning’ near us because we’re so busy celebrating our successes?

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Filed under Church Membership, Evangelism, Faith, Jude, Scripture

F.A.I.T.H.

Title: Faith

Text: Hebrews 11.1-40

Introduction: Have any of you been following Golf lately. I’m not a huge golf fan, but I love competition and following greatness. Jordan Speith has captured the attention of many in his quest for the Grand Slam. No One has ever one the big four; except I think Ben Hogan. To chase history like that has been fun. It’s been hard watching Tiger Woods. I flipped on the TV in time to watch him play the 18th hole yesterday. He was at one time set to be the greatest golfer ever. Now, he’s only mentioned in passing. I’m sure that only those closest to him saw this coming. Once on top of the Golf world – one of the richest athletes in the world – reduced to … a punch line.

There was some talk about the faith people put in these two men to win. I think faith means something different. You see it at sporting events where people hold up signs that say – we believe! We have Faith in you! I want to take you to a passage today, that defines what this really means. Turn to Hebrews Ch. 11.

The Bookends to this chapter set it up so well…

10.38-39: we are of those who have faith!

12.1-2: Let us throw off; let us run; let us look to Jesus – the author and perfecter of our faith!

Our topic is faith and this is the chapter for understanding it better; Three main sections to this chapter, within these bookends:

  1. Faith Explained (1)
  2. Faith Expressed (6)
  3. Faith Examined (7-40)

1.     Faith Explained (1-5)

exp.: rd v 1;

  • Defined: the assurance (confidence: realization/ what’s real on the inside – expressed on the outside; of things hoped for; Still, hope today has a different meaning than this kind of hope. It’s like when you asked your wife to marry you. You hoped she said yes, but if there was doubt, you’d have never have asked her! No, you were pretty sure of the answer. This is the realization on the inside, of ‘things’ you’re sure of on the outside; even thought they’re not seen; which is basically what he says here: the conviction of things not seen;

ill.: I have a strong conviction that electricity is real. I’ve never seen it, but I’m aware of it. I’ve seen the effects of it. I’ve seen lightning and fire started by a lighting bolt. I’ve seen sparks. And I’ve felt the unpleasant vibration electrical currents send when I’ve touched an electrical fence. I have a strong conviction of something I’ve never seen because of my experience.

  • Demonstrated: rd v 2-3:

1st, By faith, people of old received their commendation;

2nd, we, exercise our faith in like manner; He uses creation as an example – we know God created the heavens and the earth by the power of his Word; ill.: David Platt, Counter Culture;

  • Illustrated: rd v4-5; he offers us 2 illustrations

3rd, he gives example of Abel and Enoch, who were commended for their actions that came about because of their belief.

  • Abel had no example – he only did by faith what he had been required to do. His action demonstrated his belief.
  • Likewise, Enoch, lived out his faith and received God’s pleasure – God was pleased with him.

app.: what AH is saying is that Faith is demonstrated in what you do, in spite of the fact that you don’t see it with your eyes. These people knew it to be true, so they behaved like it.

t.s.: First, Faith is explained. 2ndly, it is expressed…

2.     Faith Expressed (6)

exp.: rd v 6a; Do you want to find the pleasure of God? You can’t without faith; Do you remember the words of the Father about his son? This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Why? Because he was faith incarnate; everything he did was by faith – always trusting his father perfectly. Unlike us! Talk about Faith expressed! Tell me if this doesn’t sound just like Jesus: rd 6b; for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Jesus knew his Father was listening and would talk to him out loud! Not like prayer in church, but in life: Jn 11. You see, that’s faith in action. You do what you know in your heart – that God is real and that you want to know him. And, that he will reward your action of searching him out!

app.: Are you there this morning? Do you desperately want to know him? He already knows you – and I can say with confidence that he loves you. You see the rest of this chapter is point # 3 – I’ll preach it someday, but for now, just know that it outlines the heroes of the faith who trusted God and lived their lives with the knowledge that what God had promised them, would one day come to them.

t.s.: and that is Faith Examined.

3.     Faith Examined (7-40)

exp.: So many examples here of men and women who lived out their faith – knowing that what God had promised would come to pass.

app.: It is the same for us today – we trust that what God has promised to us is true. And what has he promised to us.

Conclusion: Here is faith spelled out for us:

  1. Forgiveness: You and I are sinners and we need God’s Forgiveness. – Romans 3.23 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; And in 3.10 – None is righteous. Not even one person! We are all sinners. The really good news for you and me is that Forgiveness is
  2. Available: You and I can know what it means to be forgiven of our sin. – Romans 6.23 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Here’s what this verse teaches us: 1st, that sin separates us from God; however, 2nd, through Christ Jesus our Lord, God offers us the forgiveness we need granting us eternal life with him. The reason we need this is because..
  3. Impossible: It is impossible for sinful people to be in the presence of a holy, perfect God. The sin must be forgiven – or as the Bible puts – atoned for. Here’s the deal: the wages of sin is death (we saw that earlier). So, you can pay that penalty yourself or let someone else. The Bible teaches us that Christ paid that penalty so we wouldn’t have to. Romans 5.6-9 states: For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. So what do we need to do in light of this?
  4. Turn: That’s what faith in action is. It’s where you say you ‘believe’ what God means and says and will trust him to complete it. – Just like the saints of old mentioned in this chapter. Romans 10.9-10 words it this way: …if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. In these verses you see an inward and an outward activity. Something happens inside you, but no one knows it until you tell someone outwardly. Jesus is Lord. This means your saying out loud that he’s now your boss. What he says for your life is what goes. Believing in your heart that God raised him from the dead is your understanding that he died on the cross to pay that penalty, was buried in a borrowed tomb, and after three days, was raised from the dead. When that happens – then you have the promise of…
  5. Heaven: That’s for here and now and for the hereafter. You don’t have to wait to die to walk with God. You have that here and now! It doesn’t mean everything is perfect, but it does mean that he walks with you through those tough times.

Let me ask you: have you ever made that commitment before? Has there ever been in a time in your life when you confessed with your mouth Jesus is Lord. I want to offer you that opportunity right now. Let’s pray.

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When J.I. Packer Walked Out

I wanted to repost an article by Sam Storms. My lack of blogging skills has me fumbling around, trying to get this right. I apologize if you see this done in a poor fashion. For me, the message is what I’m trying to focus on. The original article can be found here.

“Why I Walked”

In 2002, the synod of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster

authorized its bishop to produce a service for blessing same-sex unions, to be used in any parish of the diocese that requests it. A number of synod members walked out to protest the decision. They declared themselves out of communion with the bishop and the synod, and they appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Anglican primates and bishops for help. (1)

J. I. Packer was one of those who walked out.

When asked why he walked out, he answered, “Because this decision, taken in its context, falsifies the gospel of Christ, abandons the authority of Scripture, jeopardizes the salvation of fellow human beings, and betrays the church in its God-appointed role as the bastion and bulwark of divine truth.” In other words, it was Packer’s confidence in the functional, life-directing authority of Scripture that led to this decision.

“My primary authority,” wrote Packer, “is a Bible writer named Paul. For many decades now, I have asked myself at every turn of my theological road: Would Paul be with me in this? What would he say if he were in my shoes? I have never dared to offer a view on anything that I did not have good reason to think he would endorse.”

Here we see that, for Packer, affirming biblical authority is meant not merely to provoke a debate but to give ethical direction to life. Regardless of what personal preferences one might have, irrespective of the cultural trends in play at the time, the Bible is the ethical standard by which Christians such as Packer judge their responsibility.

What’s Really at Stake

Packer then proceeds to exegete Paul’s thought in 1 Corinthians 6:9–11 as justification for his decision to lodge this protest. There are only two ways in which we might miss Paul’s point and his directives. One is to embrace an artificial interpretation of the text in which Paul is conceived as speaking of something other than same-sex union.

The second approach, notes Packer, “is to let experience judge the Bible.” Experience suggests that homosexual behavior is fulfilling to some; therefore, the Bible’s prohibition of it is wrong. But the appropriate response is that “the Bible is meant to judge our experience rather than the other way around,” and “feelings of sexual arousal and attraction, generating a sense of huge significance and need for release in action as they do, cannot be trusted as either a path to wise living or a guide to biblical interpretation.”

What is at stake in such a debate is the nature of the Bible itself. There are, notes Packer, fundamentally two positions that challenge each other:

One is the historic Christian belief that through the prophets, the incarnate Son, the apostles, and the writers of canonical Scripture as a body, God has used human language to tell us definitively and transculturally about his ways, his works, his will, and his worship. Furthermore, this revealed truth is grasped by letting the Bible interpret itself to us from within, in the knowledge that the way into God’s mind is through that of the writers. Through them, the Holy Spirit who inspired them teaches the church. Finally, one mark of sound biblical insights is that they do not run counter to anything else in the canon. . . .

The second view applies to Christianity the Enlightenment’s trust in human reason, along with the fashionable evolutionary assumption that the present is wiser than the past. It concludes that the world has the wisdom, and the church must play intellectual catch-up in each generation in order to survive. From this standpoint, everything in the Bible becomes relative to the church’s evolving insights, which themselves are relative to society’s continuing development (nothing stands still), and the Holy Spirit’s teaching ministry is to help the faithful see where Bible doctrine shows the cultural limitations of the ancient world and needs adjustment in light of latter-day experience (encounters, interactions, perplexities, states of mind and emotion, and so on). Same-sex unions are one example. This view is scarcely 50 years old, though its antecedents go back much further.

That this is more than an intellectual battle is seen in the spiritual dangers to which the latter view ultimately leads. Packer believes that to bless homosexual behavior is an explicit deviation from the biblical gospel and the historic Christian creed. The doctrines of creation, sin, regeneration, and sanctification are necessarily distorted in the effort to justify same-sex intimacy.

Worse still, if, as Paul says, those who practice such sexual immorality will not “inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:10), it puts the eternal welfare of the individual at stake. Finally, says Packer, “it involves the delusion of looking to God—actually asking him—to sanctify sin by blessing what he condemns. This is irresponsible, irreverent, indeed blasphemous, and utterly unacceptable as church policy. How could I do it?”

Captive to the Word of God

The manner in which Scripture functions as authoritative in Packer’s belief and behavior is best seen in his appeal to Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms in 1521. Said the Reformer:

Unless you prove to me by Scripture and plain reason that I am wrong, I cannot and will not recant. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe [it endangers the soul]. Here I stand. There is nothing else I can do. God help me. Amen.

“Conscience,” Packer explains, “is that power of the mind over which we have no power, which binds us to believe what we see to be true and do what we see to be right. Captivity of conscience to the Word of God, that is, to the absolutes of God’s authoritative teaching in the Bible, is integral to authentic Christianity.”

He quotes a statement often attributed to Luther (here slightly paraphrased):

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point that the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages is where the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point. (2)

The issue beneath the issue—namely, the nature and functional influence of biblical authority—is the watershed issue not merely for Anglicanism, but for Christianity as a whole.

The belief that what God has revealed in the written Word is binding on the consciences of all Christians and gives shape to their behavior on every issue, not merely same-sex marriage, is the foundation for Packer’s approach to living the Christian life.

Notes

(1) This and subsequent excerpts are taken from Packer’s article in Christianity Today, “Why I Walked: Some- times Loving a Denomination Requires You to Fight” (January 1, 2003): 46–50 (emphasis in the original).
(2) The oft-quoted statement reflects Luther’s ideas as expressed by a fictional character named Fritz in a historical novel by Elizabeth Rundle Charles, Chronicles of the Schönberg-Cotta Family (New York: Thomas Nelson, 1864), 276. It also captures the spirit of what Packer believes. See also http://creation.com/battle-quote-not-luther.


Sam Storms (PhD, University of Texas at Dallas) has spent more than four decades in ministry as a pastor and professor. He was visiting associate professor of theology at Wheaton College from 2000 to 2004, and is currently senior pastor at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He is the founder of Enjoying God Ministries and the author of numerous books, including Chosen for Life, Tough Topics, Kept for Jesus, and Packer on the Christian Life.

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2 Corinthians 13.1-14

Title: Closing Words

Text: 2 Corinthians 13.1-14

Introduction: (Turn on Recording) I ended my message last week with a challenge to keep the church pure. With all that is happening in America today, there is an even greater challenge before us. The once highly thought of church was influential in effecting its culture. Having napped away much of the last 50 years, it is time for us to get busy – and that busy-ness had better be the business of the Kingdom.

Paul concluded last week’s passage with the warning that he was coming soon. He will re-iterate that today. He says in 12.20f he has fears…rd 20-21; Now he says in 13.1a: This is the third time I am coming to you. There is this anticipation of his return.

Ill.: Pause for a moment and think about that. Do you know what it is like to anticipate someone coming to your house? What about family that hasn’t been in a couple of years? This year the Christmas party is at your house? Do you clean up a little? Decorate? I know of a lady who would change out pictures when she had family from another state come to visit. She took those family members and put them in strategic picture frames. After the family left, she put the pictures she wanted back in!

Paul says he’s coming – giving them fair warning; however, he does more than announce his coming –

  1. He makes a promise to them that when he gets there he is going to exercise some church discipline against those who are in sin and/or condoning such worldly behavior.
  2. He applies some pressure to the church membership to do some examination – a testing of itself to see if it is indeed in the faith.
  3. He tells them of his prayers for their restoration

Transition: let’s begin with this section – His promise.

1.     Paul’s Promise: to bring church discipline by Christ’s power to those who are still in sin (1-4)

exp.: rd v 1b; Deut. 19.15; here Paul quotes from the LXX; every word must be established by two or even three witnesses. He says simply here: I plan on doing just that! rd v 2; I’ve warned you before that when I come again – well, I’m coming again. Now know, when I get there – I will spare no one. Every charge laid against you will be done properly and in order. We’re going to exercise some church discipline, and for those who live like they don’t know Jesus, will be treated like that. rd v 3-4; You want some proof – I’m bringing it!

app.: sounds like a threat – uh-uh; it’s a promise!

t.s.: Now Paul plays off of a word he’s just used to apply some pressure… Let me show you what I mean…

2.     Paul’s Pressure: to the church to test and examine itself, to see if it is indeed in the faith (5-7)

exp.: rd v 5a; Two words – Examine & Test; I like Test for the first word; the NASB puts it this way. For the 2nd word, test here in our text, we see this same word in the verse above, verse 3; I like prove; Prove yourselves! Read the rest of v 5-6; he uses this word a 3rd time, with the negative alpha as a prefix; 6 lit.: I expect (8.5) you will know (γινώσκω) that we have not disproved; i.e.: failed the test; And as you take this test, It is my deepest desire that you’ll see we have passed that test! How is this? Actions prove you’re a believer and actions prove you’re not a believer. Paul is saying that love isn’t what you say, it’s what you do. This lines up with his preaching in Acts 26. 19-20: 19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.

Jesus taught the same message in Matthew 3.8 and Luke 3.8: Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Paul’s saying the same thing here: you should be able to identify followers of Christ by the fruit of their lives.

ill.: Now, here is where you put part 1 and part 2 together. And the practice of these two is called Church Discipline: someone becomes a member of the church (any local congregation); they say they believe like we do; they get baptized and they begin serving in our local church. But then one day, they begin acting like the world: rd 12.20-21; Well, when you notice a Christian acting in a non-Christian way, then you approach them privately, so as not to embarrass them. This gives them a chance to repent. If they do, you set it aside and forgive them. Everything moves along, as it should. No one has to know.

Can I point something out to you? At this point, if you see a brother or sister living in sin and you don’t go to them, but rather go to other believers to seek advice – you are now in sin – you are the one acting like a non-believer. Rd 12.20; if you’re right about the brother in sin – you are now gossiping. Cf. 12.20; if you’re wrong – that’s called slander! Cf. 12.20;

Ill.: I broke down between Casper and Shoshone: a bar in the middle of nowhere. My transmission went out – only worked in 1st gear! My truck go me 10 miles to the next stop – a bar. True story.

Now, let’s say you do this right and the brother or sister likes their sin and doesn’t want to repent. Now we have a problem. Here is where Paul’s statement comes into play. You now go to the elders. Really that is where it should go. The elders then can confront the person with you. At this point, if they refuse to repent – that is, if they fail the test of faith, then the matter should be brought before the church.

app.: Jesus said in Mt 18.15: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

t.s.: So, 12.19-13.6, give us a manual for church discipline. Paul moves now to his prayers for them.

3.     Paul’s Prayers: for the church is it’s full restoration. (7-10)

exp.: rd v 7-9; for their restoration; no matter how things appear, in weakness or in strength, Paul prays that they get this and are “restored”; in the literal sense, this word means training or When it’s used as a medical term in classical Gk literature, it means to set a broken bone; it’s a hard word to translate into English because of what it means;

ill.: When you read Matthew 4.21, you get a little idea of the meaning of this word: 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Mending; the NIV – preparing; In Eph 4.12 we read: to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ; When you consider a broken bone being reset, restoration works; the same with mending nets – they’re restoring them, so to speak. It can mean completion or even perfection;

app.: Here’s the thing – they’re not where they need to be, like an axe that isn’t sharp, or a knife that has become dull, like nets that have been torn – someone has to work on these tools to make them useful again. That’s what Paul is praying for – their restoration.

t.s.: Finally, Paul winds down his letter with 6 commands…

Conclusion (11-14)

exp.: rd v 11-14; 6 commands – imperative verbs;

  1. Rejoice – (pres act imp)
  2. Be restored; perfected (pft pass imp) – complete; you remember, this is his prayer for them.
  3. Comfort (encourage) one another; one word in the Gk – παρακαλέω; (pres pass imp) – so it’s not so much that you are the catalyst for encouragement and comfort, but rather you’re comforted and encouraged by others. Footnote #2: listen to my appeal. Implies that the passivity on the part of the Corinthians is their encouragement from Paul.
  4. Agree with one another: Lit.: Have the same mind.
  5. Live in peace (be at peace);
  6. Greet one another with a holy kiss. Do you guys know Johnny Beard. I wish he was here today! (mid voice, imp) do this for yourself; How does greeting someone with a holy kiss, help you? This really helps you and your attitude toward one another. So, what would be the equivalent today? Praying for someone – daily.

Application:

  1. Nothing is more important than relationships. Relationships are the core foundation for the body. Worship (leave your gift at the altar – go and be reconciled to your brother); Evangelism (by this all men will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another); discipleship is relationships;
  2. Church purity is vital. No church membership means no accountability.
  3. Church discipline is necessary. None of us is perfect and we all need each other to help us along.
  4. Jesus is coming soon. Paul has given them ample warning – he’s coming and he’s cleaning house. I think that is so apropos with regard to this present topic – Jesus is coming again, too. Are we ready?
    1. As a body?

As individuals?

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, Church Discipline, Church Membership