Monthly Archives: October 2017

The Servant of the Lord Waits Upon the Lord

Isaiah 49

Opening Remarks: We’re in Isaiah 49 this morning. Turn there. Isaiah 49;

I want to be of encouragement to you this morning. I see too many worried and wearied believers.

So, I’m leaving Romans for the morning and preaching a message that God has laid on my heart. I don’t expect it will be long. My goal is to be short and sweet and aimed straight at your heart.

Introduction: God affirmed my calling in September of 1987 through a little church in Copperas Cove, TX. That was 30 years ago last month. 30 years.

I served three churches in 10 years will in College, Seminary and after Seminary as an Associate. I’ve served for 20 years now as a Senior Pastor. In those 30 years, I’ve seen many men fall by the wayside. In those 30 years I’ve watch many a man start off with a bang and fizzle to a drip. I’ve watched many a man talk a big talk and at first begin a wonderful walk to match the talk, but when times got hard, they walked away. I, myself, have grown weary in well doing and have wanted to quit. And even though that number is high, once was too much. In all of my struggles and in all of the struggles of those I’ve journeyed with through the years, I have never once seen the Lord fail to keep his promises.

I have spoken to many a faithful senior adult who has weathered many more storms than this preacher, and they insist that ‘this ain’t nuthing!’ ‘We’ve been through worse!’

As I read through Scripture, I find men who started out with a bang and fizzled at the end. Adam, Noah, David, Solomon, Saul… and the list goes on! I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to be a church like the Galatians… I learned this in the NIV and it has stuck with me… 7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.

Or, consider the Corinthians, or so many of the churches that started with a bang and then fizzled.

My heart’s desire today is to remind you that God is faithful… He always has been. And, his ability to accomplish his mission has never been dependent upon the fickleness of men.

Let’s go back in time and see how Isaiah was encouraged…

I’ve got simple points this morning which serve as our application. Normally, I preach and offer a few points. At the end, I bring the application. This morning, though, my points are the application. This is what I want you to take home with you today:

So, here we go…Application #1: A servant of the Lord waits upon the Lord because he knows…

I. A servant of the Lord knows that He is Sovereign. (1)

exp.: rd 49.1; If you think about it clearly, everything you’re enduring today was understood by God long ago. For Isaiah, he understands that it was while he was still in his mother’s womb that God called him and named him. This is not the time to make an argument against abortion, but it would fit. Scripture is clear that God knit each of us individually together in our mother’s womb. Our frames were not hidden from him. Psalm 139 says that everyday of our lives was planned and written down in his book before one of them came to be.

Ill.: yesterday Lisa and I were talking about Bart Millard and the incredible songs he has written. I saw him in an interview and he said that his most popular songs were written through the struggle and the trials he was enduring. His greatest growth and his best stuff came out of the adversity in his life.

app.: storms may come and trials may befall us, but God, who is sovereign is not caught off guard. He knows your day and your trial, as well as your name. There is nothing that will come upon you and me that surprises God. And in his sovereignty, he is working for his glory. 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.

t.s.: He has called you by name and you are his. A servant of the Lord knows that He is Sovereign. Application #2:

 

II. A servant of the Lord knows that God has equipped him. (2)

exp.: God gave Isaiah just what he needed to be the man he would call him to be. He equipped him for the service to which he would be called. Look at v2; He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away. “He made”; God, who is sovereign fashioned Isaiah into the tool he desired to use. He began while Isaiah was still in his mother’s womb. He took Isaiah and began to fashion, mold and shape him. You may feel like you’re a product of your environment, but the truth is you are who you are because God made you that way. Every action and inaction of your life, God has been making you into the man or woman he has desired you to be. You are not a mistake. God doesn’t say, “oops!” when he is working. He is intentional about his glory and you are all a part of that intention.

Did you have a tough childhood? Did you grow up poor? Sick? In foster care? With Christian parents? Did you grow up with lost parents? Were you abused? Were you sheltered? Have you experienced homelessness? Have you experienced fear? Pain? Whether you see God allowed things in your life or whether you see God did things in your life… the outcome is the same: God has been equipping you to be a sharp tool, ready for use. To him, you are a sharp sword in its sheath or a polished arrow in its quiver.

t.s.: And why? The answer is in our 3rd application:

III. A servant of the Lord knows that God has called him. (3, 5a)

exp.: rd v 3:   And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” God has been doing all that he has been doing for the sole purpose of glorifying himself.

I’ve been asked periodically if I think Calvary has sinned and God is punishing her. The Truth is that I don’t know. Yes, we’re sinners. We have done things wrong because we are sinners. If you know where Calvary has sinned, then we should confess that sin. It would be good for us to come with repentant hearts, begging God to show us where we’ve failed. We want to be used for his glory.

ill.: Do you remember the story of the man born blind in John 9? The disciples asked the Lord who had sinned – this man or his parents that he was born blind. That has seemed like a simple answer to me: it had to be his parents because how could he have sinned before he was born in order that blindness would be his punishment? But Jesus said: neither. What?!? The effects of his life aren’t born out the actions of his life? You mean God did this so that the works of God could be done? Jesus said: “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

app.: If we’ve sinned in such a manner that this is punishment, then let’s pray that God declares that to us and calls us to repentance. But, it could be that God has made us who we are, and what we are, in order that His works might be displayed in us. Do you want to be used by God for His glory? Do you? I do! I don’t want to suffer. I don’t want this to be painful. But I do want to be used by God to bring him glory and honor.

t.s.: Let’s pray unto that end: God don’t let us wimp out. Make us strong for your glory. Accomplish your work in us. A servant of the Lord knows that God is sovereign and that he has called and equipped us for His work. Application #4

IV. A servant of the Lord knows that God will care for him. (4, 5b)

exp.: rd v 4a; Even when the soldier is down; even when it appears that the man of God has labored in vain; even when his strength has been zapped; even when it appears that he has come to an end! God will be our recompense. Keep reading; 4b-5; God will establish us! God will honor us! So, let us honor him with our faith. Let us stand before God ready to be used to bring people to him. Let’s make ourselves available. If you do nothing but come here and sing songs and listen to a man speak – if that is the totality of your Christianity, then you’re like a sword lying in a corner – you’re like an arrow in a quiver that is hanging on a wall.

ill.: Galatians 6.9-10: And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

app.: Oh, brother and sister in Christ. I know the road is long and the journey has been hard. You and I have seen many faces come and go. But there is a reward that is waiting for those of us who labor for the Lord. He is the one who cares for us. Are you wounded? He will bind up your wounds. Are you weary and heavy laden? Jesus says, “Come, and I will give you rest.”

t.s.: A servant of the Lord knows that God will care for him. Application #5:

V. A servant of the Lord knows that God will accomplish His mission in His time. (6-7)

exp.: rd v 6;

5a.: God’s mission is greater than you can imagine. Maybe some of your problem is that you’re thinking too small. Maybe you don’t think God is big enough to accomplish his goals and his purposes. God tells Isaiah that looking at Israel is too small of a mission. God is thinking bigger. God has grander plans!

Rd v 7;

5b.: for some strange reason, God has chosen to glorify himself through us. Rd v 21; If you’ll hold on, you’ll look around and say I was alone, but look at all the people around me now. Where have they come from? Let’s Continue reading22-23; those who wait on the Lord shall not be put to shame!

app.: My brother and sister in Christ, if you are serving God with your whole heart, if you have not chased after idols and the ways of the world, if you are totally committed to him, Then it is time to take your stand! Be reminded that:

  • You do not serve the Lord because there is money in the bank.
  • You do not serve the Lord because there are more than enough people to do the job.
  • You do not serve the Lord because of what you will get out of it!
  • You do not serve the Lord because you are the best one for the job!

t.s.: You serve because you were chosen, you were called and you have been equipped for such a time as this!

 

Conclusion: Listen clearly to me. I want to be very clear: Our actions don’t make God do what we want. I’m not preaching this sermon this morning to say God has to do anything. He is the boss…He is in charge!

I’m not saying that your obedience will bring money. That isn’t God’s promise. I’m not saying that your obedience will bring people. That isn’t God’s promise. God’s promise is His glory. And I’m pretty sure that is your goal, too: His glory.

So, what do we do now? I say: 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14

Here in is our last application #6: Servants of the Lord waits upon the Lord because they know…This fight is not against each other. We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. At least we’re not supposed to! Satan laughs his most hideous laugh of victory when brothers and sisters in Christ fight each other, when they abandon each other, when they gossip and slander each other. When they use their money against each other. When they use their committees against each other.

I think I can stand and say for each elder today that we love you dearly. We have never intentionally led you astray. If we have failed you in our leadership, we are truly sorry and ask for your forgiveness. I know that isn’t the way an apology is supposed to sound…if. But what I mean by that is: we as elders are humbled at this point. We’re just like you… trusting God to move. If you feel betrayed or led astray. If you feel that we have sinned against you… we want you to obey Matt 18 and come to us – show us the error of our way and we will repent before.

Let me offer you this final caveat. Just because I preach a message about faith, doesn’t mean that God has to do something that we want. Do you hear me? God is God. And, he will be glorified in whatever way he chooses. I’m hoping and praying for God’s blessing on Calvary and her ministries and missions. Will you pray with me, too?

  1. God, show us our sin, that we might be repentant of our rebellion and sinful ways.
  2. God, lead us in your favor to accomplish the ministry and mission of your heart. We are your servants – show us exactly what you would have us to do.
  3. Our lives are in your hands. We’ve always known that. Thank you for you gentle reminders.
  4. We trust now, as always, that you have brought us here to 6704 Old Jacksonville Hwy and that you have great plans to use us here.
  5. We are yours, have your way in us.
  6. For we know that those who wait upon you, will not be put to shame… they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.

 

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The Wrath of God (Part 2)

Romans 1:18-32

Introduction: Marketers watch for trends. It’s how they make their money. You see it when you click on a screen or do a search. The next time you check your email or browse the web, you’re inundated with the item you were looking for. Do a search for a specific type of shoe and the next time you get on facebook or check your email, there is an ad of some company trying to sell you the shoe you were looking for… with a great price. It can be plane tickets. It can be a recipe for a cookie. It can be running a triathlon. Whatever it is, Marketers follow it. Because, that is where the money is.

Marketing and Advertising is exactly what Donald Trump took advantage of to win the presidency. According to a CBS 60 Minutes report this last week the presidency was won due in part to one marketing tool: Facebook. That’s right. Facebook was what gave Donald Trump the edge over Hillary Clinton. When Facebook offered their services to Hillary Clinton, to help her in the same manner as they were helping Donald Trump, she refused their help. She said she didn’t need it.

Donald Trump on the other hand had a secret weapon. His name is Brad Parscale. Brad knew how to access social media and promote Donald Trump’s agenda through just about every social network: Facebook, Google Search, Twitter, etc. But, he did it mostly through Facebook. He said he was able to target 15 people in the Panhandle, or whoever, wherever, with very specific ads that spoke to them.

How did he do it? He had a clear understanding of Metrics. Metrics are used to interpret our culture’s activities and behaviors. It is what allows Marketers and Advertisers to forecast and predict cultural activity. What is important to Americans? And more specifically, what is important to you? Where is your focus? What are your priorities? Where do you spend your money? That is why those ads pop up like they do. Instead of a commercial on TV to a general demographic, advertisement can be tailored to fit even the smallest of demographics.

Every click you make is monitored. All of the data is collected and analyzed. Then, based on your behaviors and responses, ads are sent your way to get you to spend money in their area of the market, or vote for their candidate or… you fill in the blank.

This morning I want to talk to you this morning about variables and equations observed as behaviors and actions. I’m not talking about the math so much, but about the variables, the behaviors and actions of life that measure who we are. Romans 1.18-32 offers us an explanation humans behave the way we do:

We’ve read the text, now let me paraphrase this text as best I understand it:

Paul begins with a statement that he would like to preach the Gospel in Rome (15). He then offers some reasons why in the following verses. A transition occurs in verses 17 and 18 demonstrating the logical relationship between God’s righteousness and His Wrath, which comes out in the Gospel. God’s wrath is being righteously revealed against all people, for all are sinners. Hence, the Gospel is needed.

God’s wrath is continually being revealed against all humanity. His wrath is revealed because they suppress the truth. How can I say this? I say this because we know they really do suppress the truth because they know God. They know him because he has made himself known to them through his creation. So, they really have no excuse (18-20).

So far, in this passage, there is emphasis on the Creator and His Creation. Keep those two in mind.

They are without excuse because although they knew him, they did not honor and thank him. Instead, their thinking became foolish and darkened. Claiming to be wise, they demonstrated themselves to be fools by exchanging the Glory of God to worship images of created things (21-23).

Therefore, God gave them over to their impurity, all because they rejected God to worship idols. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and so God gave them over to dishonorable passions. They exchanged natural relations for unnatural acts. So, God gave them over to homosexuality, an unnatural act (24-27).

Now, their state of mind is filled with all manner of unrighteousness and their lives with all manner of evil. Added to this predicament, they teach and approve of others who live in the same ungodly manner (28-32).

My outline is quite simple, even though the material is quite complicated:

  1. A Thesis Statement: I desire to preach the gospel (1.15).
  2. An explanation: God’s righteousness and God’s wrath are revealed in the gospel (1.16-18).
  3. The Reason for God’s Wrath: Mankind has rejected God (1.19-23).
  4. The Result of their Rejection of God: He has given them over to their passions (1.24-32).
    1. God gives them over to a debased mind.
    2. Their unrighteous and ungodly thoughts and actions.
  5. Therefore, judgment awaits mankind. 2.1-11

Transition: So, let’s begin with point #3 listed above there and continued from whence we left off last week: The Reason for God’s Wrath.

I. The Reason (18-23)

exp.: rd v 19-23; the reason is quite simple enough: they’ve rejected God; You see the word ‘for’ in v19, the 1st word in the sentence? I told you last week that it is different than the other words translated ‘for’ in 16-18. This word is a contraction of three words, διὰ τοῦτο ὅτι; lit.: through this that; It’s like getting from here to there…from point a to point b.

ill.: In the movie about Abraham Lincoln played by Daniel Day Lewis, President Lincoln greets some folks who’ve come to see him – just common, everyday folks – Why is this thus? And what is the reason for this thusness? And he giggles. I love that scene. Why is this thus? And, what is the reason for this thusness?

It’s like Abraham Lincoln has asked Paul about God’s wrath:

Paul: God’s wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.

President Lincoln: Why is this thus? And, what is the reason for this thusness?

Paul: Simply put, they’ve rejected God; they exchanged the glory of God for images of created things.

app.: This is thus because they’ve rejected God. The reason for God’s wrath is because they’ve rejected him. And their rejection of him by suppressing the truth is validated by the fact that he has revealed himself through creation. And we know that they really do suppress the truth because they know God.

t.s.: As Paul clarifies this even further, we move to the 4th point: The Result of their Rejection

II. The Result (24-27)

exp.: rd 24a; Therefore, God gave them over; the ESV says: Therefore, God gave them up; I like ‘over’ better, but the idea is the same. (Prepositions often are interchangeable: i.e., stack this on that wall, stack this against that wall, stack this by that wall.) You see it repeated in v 26 and again in v 28; You might think that these three uses would make them three different sections, but it really is more of a progressive expression.

  • In v 24, God gave them over to their lusts…
  • In v 26, God gave them over to their dishonorable passions…
  • In v 28, God gave them over to a debased mind…

You can see the result of what is in their thinking moves to what happens in their actions. And these actions are progressively worse.

  • In v 24, God gave them over to their lusts, to the dishonoring of their bodies.
  • In v 26, God gave them over to their dishonorable passions, to the extent of participating in unnatural relations. You can see that as ‘perversion’. You see God created a natural way for husbands and wives to be intimate with each other. The world has perverted it into something unnatural.
  • In v 28, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do what ought not to be done.

This progression is seen when you add the ‘exchange’ phrase. Read w/ me.

23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

app.: We have two pictures in front of us with this passage: spiritual and physical. (Review 23-28 going back and forth between the spiritual and physical parts.) They rejected the spiritual aspects of God (His glory, His Truth, His Power over Creation, what is natural) and worshipped the physical things (idols, images, impurity, bodies, perversion, what is unnatural). This is what I see here: God created. The 1st word is where our thoughts and our focus should be. But the 2nd word is the one we’ve chosen to pursue.

t.s.: And so, with God giving mankind over to our passions, we see a litany of unrighteous thoughts and behaviors listed in v29-32.

III. Mankind’s Ungodly Thoughts and Unrighteous Actions (28-32)

exp.: v 28 gives us a thesis or outline of the next few verses; rd v 28; God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. The mind has to do with their thinking and their actions follow their thoughts. You see them listed in like manner:

v 29: evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. This is what is inside of them.

v29b-31: gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. These are their actions or how they behave.

V32 comes back to the topic of the knowledge of God, but takes it one step further: rd v 32; Not only do they know God, they know the penalty for their behavior.

t.s.: These are the metrics. These are the behaviors and actions being observed by God. Maybe some are only measurable to God, but the external actions are most definitely measurable to us. I can’t know your heart, but I can see what you do.

Conclusion: An interesting article was published this week on AdAge.com, a research and marketing website. This article tells us that the American culture has gained a new metric for measuring facts and trends. This one metric is incredibly reliable for measuring the movements of Americans. It is so reliable, according to the author of the article, Daniel Carter, that it just might be the most accurate data metric for gauging cultural attention. Marketers know something big is happening when these numbers drop or rise. “What’s that metric,” you ask? Pornography.

Daniel Carter gives examples in his article to demonstrate just how powerful a metric pornography has become:

NBA Championship: After the Golden State Warriors beat The Cleveland Cavilers this past year, the people in the Bay area were so busy celebrating their championship that pornography viewing dropped dramatically. Marketing observers knew something big had happened in Oakland and in California because people stopped viewing pornography. In Ohio, on the other hand, where the Cleveland Caviler fans live, the Internet traffic to view porn increase a whopping 28%.

Game of Thrones: When Season 7 premiered this past year, pornography traffic dropped across the United States. Marketers knew something was going on in our culture because porn traffic dropped dramatically. Why? Americans were tuning into the Game of Thrones Premier.

Unpredictable Cultural Events: When testimony by Jeff Sessions and former FBI director James Comey gave testimony into the involvement of Russia and our election – porn traffic dropped.

Carter tells us in his article that 64 million Americans view porn daily on just one porn site and he mentions it in his article. 64 Million. There are about 325 million Americans… men, women, boys, girls, and babies. To give you some perspective – YouTube has about 30 million viewers everyday. 64 Million on just one porn site. There are thousands of porn sites.

Ladies and Gentlemen, when pornography becomes, not just a metric, but one of the most accurate, data metric for gauging cultural attention in America, America is in big trouble.

It appears that God has given America over to her passions. The problem isn’t just pornography. Homosexuality, as mentioned in v26-27 has become a way of life. Over the last 30 years, homosexuality has become something that was against the law to a cultural norm. Our nation now sanctions gay marriage. Our nation celebrates the very thing that God condemns. And what’s sad is that our churches are doing much the same thing. America has decided by it’s actions that they don’t want to worship God, but rather the created things.

Isaiah 5, beginning in v 20 reads:

20     Woe to those who call evil good

and good evil,

who put darkness for light

and light for darkness,

who put bitter for sweet

and sweet for bitter!

21     Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,

and shrewd in their own sight!

22     Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine,

and valiant men in mixing strong drink,

23     who acquit the guilty for a bribe,

and deprive the innocent of his right!

24     Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble,

and as dry grass sinks down in the flame,

so their root will be as rottenness,

and their blossom go up like dust;

for they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts,

and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

25     Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people,

and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them,

and the mountains quaked;

and their corpses were as refuse

in the midst of the streets.

For all this his anger has not turned away,

and his hand is stretched out still.

What can save us from ourselves? And Who can save us from ourselves?

Paul will take his time getting there, but down in chapter 3.23 he says that we’re all sinners: every last one of us. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. He’s trying to communicate to us that our sin separates us from God. If we choose sin, then we’ll fall further away. He will give us over to the very things we seek. Therefore, our only hope is that we must repent and turn to God.

Ill.: The Record Book of Sin illustration.

Application:

  1. Men, it’s time to rise to the challenge before us and be the men God has called us to be.
    1. 1 Corinthians 16.13 says: 13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
    2. Young men, listen to me: the decisions you make today will affect the rest of your life. If you’re dabbling in the mess. Stop. Repent. Turn to God or he’ll turn you over to your passions. And your passions will be the end of you.
  2. Women, you must protect your husbands and your sons. Ladies, do you hear me? It’s your house – run it like it is yours. Don’t let anything come into your house that will destroy your men.

Ill.: Article: My husband chose pornography over me. A NY Times article. I googled it to find it for my message today and there were countless articles on that subject!

a. You need to know every single website and move and TV show that comes across the screens in your home.

b. Don’t let your household become a variable in the equations of our culture like Daniel Carter mentions.

  1. For many, it feels too late. They’re too far gone. God has delivered them over to their passions and Lusts. But the truth is, as long as you’re alive, it isn’t too late. If you’re listening to me right now and your heart is pricked and your conscience is burning as if hot coals were on your head, repent today and be saved. Confess your sins and find forgiveness.

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The Wrath of God

Romans 1:18

Introduction: Do you see my title today? The Wrath of God. Talk about how to win friends and influence people. This is not one of your run of the mill topics that get people to click on your blog and read! We’re in Romans 1.18. The flow of the message is really from v15-20, but we’ll focus our attention on v 18.

Meagan Basham has an article in World Magazine about the Marvel Comic movies that have been coming out over the last 10 years. I like the 1st Captain America movie and that’s been about it. I don’t know why… call me old school. Anyway, after 10 years, Marvel is still pumping out movies. Ms. Basham has a theory as to why these movies have really caught on: Our rejection of God has led to a longing for supernatural stories.

Hummmm… Our world has rejected our savior. Flat out: they’ve rejected God.

I believe they have rejected God because they don’t like the moral absolutes he has outlined for the world.

  • For the most part the world is against killing, unless it is an unborn child in the womb.
  • Leave the covet thing alone! It’s about ambition and the American Dream.
  • As for immorality, well, you probably know what I’m going to say.

I think Ms. Basham is on to something with her theory. The world has rejected God and is looking for something flashy that won’t ask them to change their ways. And so they look elsewhere for their supernatural fix.

According to our text today, the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. Some might say: well, that’s unfair! What about those who don’t know about God? The text goes on to say that they are without excuse, because God has made himself known to everyone. Let’s look at that text: 1:18: 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

We find our context for this verse in V 15-17; rd v 15-17; So the context is the Gospel being proclaimed because it is the power of God, revealing the righteousness of God and the wrath of God.

Here is Paul’s point: he loves the good news of Jesus Christ because it leads to salvation. For in this good news the righteousness of God is revealed. You can’t be righteous on your own. God has to make you that way! And it comes through faith.

So, get this: God is righteous and he is the one who makes us righteous; Then, Paul goes into explanation mode: he tells us just why the Gospel is needed. He answers a question here: Why is the Gospel needed?

Contextually, Romans 1.18-32 would be Paul’s answer to why the Gospel is needed. I wish to only look at verse 18-20 this morning. I fully intend to finish out chapter 1 next week.

I really do!

V 18 begins with: The Wrath of God. Pretty ominous words, no? No wonder people start looking to comic book saviors. Those heroes pour out their wrath on the enemy villain without calling for change on the part of the people. And if we’re not careful, we can fall into that same trap.

t.s.: What Paul does in this verse is give us 3 aspects of God’s wrath to help us understand how and why God’s wrath is just. The 1st is…

I. The Righteousness of God’s Wrath (18a)

exp.: rd v 18a; for the wrath of God; we get our first aspect from the possessive word of; specifically, of God; θεοῦ; in the Gk, the English word of is found in the word God; It is His wrath; So, from this we can surmise that this wrath is…

1st, this wrath is divine: it isn’t to be confused with the wrath of man. They are as different as black and white, water and air, boys and girls, You cannot and must not attribute what you know of human wrath as being from God.

 

ill.: J. MacArthur: God’s attributes are balanced in divine perfection. If He had no righteous anger and wrath, He would not be God, just as surely as He would not be God without His gracious love. He perfectly hates just as He perfectly loves, perfectly loving righteousness and perfectly hating evil (Ps. 45:7; Heb. 1:9).

 

app.: He is perfect in his love and perfect in his hate. I know, it sounds odd doesn’t it. But we read in Scripture that there are ‘things’ that God hates. He hates divorce. God said: I hate, I despise your feasts. He hates 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

God is divinely righteous and that makes his wrath against unrighteousness divinely perfect. That is His nature. This wrath comes from Him and rightly so;

2nd, it is deliberate: God is not passive in his aggression toward sin; what I mean by that is God isn’t just going to sit down and pout. This statement is flowing quite naturally through these previous verses; in the way v 16 – for the power of God; v 17 – for the righteousness of God; v 18 for “the wrath of God” (18a); what Paul is saying is that God is doing something about it. The Gospel is God taking action against sin.

Side note: what Paul doesn’t do here is tell us why God is taking this action. Two quick reasons: 1. Because we can’t. 2. Because only he can!

t.s.: The 2nd aspect of God’s wrath as seen in v 18b is…

II. The Revelation of God’s Wrath

exp.: rd v 18b; is revealed; Ἀποκαλύπτεται; (present passive indicative, verb 2nd singular) ”is constantly being revealed”: it isn’t like God revealed it one time and if you missed it… oh, well! It is constantly being revealed. Just what is being revealed? There are three phases to answering this question:

  • His Righteousness: we see this in v 17; The righteousness of God (which we discussed last week: i.e.; he is righteous and he imputes his righteousness to us through our faith in Him); this is truly amazing! We see from the law that we are unrighteous and helpless to remove the guilt. We are impotent when it comes to removing the sin and the stain. But not him! He is active in the process of redemption.
  • His Wrath: Most people love to see God as totally righteous, but they do not ever want to talk about His Wrath. These two actually work hand in hand if you think about it. Because of His Righteousness, he alone has the right to display his wrath:

There are two words for anger or wrath in the New Testament:

  • Thumos (Lk 4:28; Acts 19:28); this is the anger man exhibits; God doesn’t blow his top or lose his temper;
  • orgē (Lk 3:7; 21:23); Leon Morris quotes CH Dodd and says: He sees ‘wrath’ as denoting ‘some process or effect in the realm of objective facts’ rather than ‘a certain feeling or attitude of God towards us,’ God doesn’t get mad, but instead the effect of our sin puts his wrath into motion and thus ends in disaster. This is not to describe the attitude of God toward us, but to describe an inevitable process of cause and effect in a moral universe. I honestly don’t think these guys are just explaining away the wrath of God. What they’re trying do is explain to us that God’s wrath is different than ours. Our wrath is born out of emotion and feeling. If you think about it, that is why we mess up as parents. We often times punish our children out of anger and not the unrighteous rebellion act. God’s wrath is born out of his righteousness. Our wrath is directed at a person (or possibly an object; his engine, wrench, computer, etc.). God’s wrath is directed at ungodliness and unrighteousness. We just need to understand that God’s wrath isn’t the response we have when we get mad. His response is righteous and perfect.

t.s.: now before we leave the revelation of God’s wrath, I think there is another part that Paul presents to us. At first, this was point #3 for me, but as I worked through it, I saw this section as a subsection of point #2, namely,

  • The Realm from which God’s Wrath flows

exp.: ἀπ᾽ οὐρανοῦ; from heaven; ‘from’ is a preposition which describes the source from which God’s wrath comes; this is made evident in God displaying two attributes; rd v 19-20: rd v 19; is plain to them & God has shown it to them; rd v 20; namely, these two attributes:

  • His eternal Power:
  • His divine Nature:

It goes on to say that they are without excuse; these are two pieces of evidence that declare He is God! His eternal power and his divine nature. And, this evidence is so overwhelming that all are without excuse in standing before him. But people will still make excuses anyway.

ill.: Excuses are amazing, aren’t they. It isn’t just the non-believing world that makes excuses. Chuck Swindoll, in his book The Tale of the Tardy Ox Cart, writes: True sports fans have an amazing ability to remember details, statistics, and a little technicality of a rule…you know, the stuff nobody really cares to hear about except another sports fan. Another characteristic of a fan is an indomitable sense of commitment or determination. Against incredible odds, sound logic and even medical advice, sports fans will persevere to the dying end!

I’ve often wondered what would happen if people were as intense and committed and determined about church as they are about sports – or a number of other pastimes. This was reinforced some years back in a Moody Monthly piece which illustrated twelve excuses a fellow might use for ‘quitting sports.’ The Analogy isn’t hard to figure out:

  1. Every time I went, they asked me for money.
  2. The people with whom I had to sit didn’t seem very friendly.
  3. The seats were too hard and uncomfortable.
  4. The coach never came to see me.
  5. The referee made a decision with which I could not agree.
  6. I was sitting with some hypocrites – they only came to see what others were wearing.
  7. Some games went into overtime, and I was late getting home.
  8. The band played numbers I had never heard before.
  9. The games are scheduled when I want to do other things.
  10. My parents took me to too many games when I was growing up.
  11. Since I read a book on sports, I feel like I know more than the coaches anyhow.
  12. I don’t want to take my children, because I want them to choose for themselves what sports they like best.

app.: We are a people of excuses for everything. Well, as for God’s existence and his work, people are without excuse. It doesn’t mean they won’t try to find or use some excuse.

Listen, God doesn’t judge unfairly. He doesn’t pick on the ignorant. Rd v 20; really, this seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t? How can it be invisible if it is seen? How can it be hidden, if it is evidence? But that is his point: it is evident, it is seeable, but many refuse. And that is on them. Therefore, there is no excuse.

ill.: Last Sunday night on 60 minutes there was a report on the Hubble Telescope. One of the reports was about a spot near the Big Dipper where no light had ever been seen. When I heard the report, I remembered as a young man someone talking about this dark hole and making a comment that that hole was the passage to heaven. Basically, before the Hubble telescope, there was a deep dark hole where – what looks like forever – there are no stars. Hubble was positioned to peer into that dark spot in the universe and after several days, was able to see 1,000’s of Galaxies. 1,000’s! That is truly amazing. We as humans had no idea it was out there, but when we took the time to gaze upon that area – the lights began to shine through.

app.: what was invisible was revealed. It was there all along; we just weren’t looking hard enough. It had to take time for the protons to develop on the lenses for those Galaxies to be revealed. God’s unseen attributes are perceivable if we’ll just take the time to look… to gaze upon.

t.s.: Earlier I said: His response is righteous and perfect. All who are ungodly and unrighteous deserve the wrath of God. And a natural flow would have been to go right to the recipients, which is our 3rd aspect… Paul does that now…

III. The Recipients of God’s Wrath

exp.: God’s Wrath will be poured out on or upon… ἐπὶ πᾶσαν ἀσέβειαν (ungodliness) καὶ ἀδικίαν (unrighteous) ἀνθρώπων (of men);

Don’t miss this: this ain’t about the apple! God was not mad at Adam and Eve because they ate the fruit from His tree. I told you kids to stay out of my Garden! It wasn’t the apple (or whatever fruit it was) that God prized. It was the obedience he wanted. It was the rebellion that brought the punishment. God’s wrath isn’t poured out on bad men, but on all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.

C Hodge takes these two terms to be impiety toward God and unjustness toward humanity; Leon Morris says that Paul places emphasis on two areas: idolatry and immorality; and that makes sense as you figure out the context below. Both take the view or the perspective of these two actions being the vertical and horizontal relationships. But here is the point: the ungodly and the unrighteous people of the world (toward God and/or toward men) are without excuse in their actions.

ill.: If you think about it deeply, you’ll notice that this is the sum of the law: to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. And, the 2nd is to love your neighbor as yourself. If you review the 10 commandments, you’ll see that the 1st part deals with your relationship with God and the 2nd part is your relationship with your neighbor. Horizontal, Vertical.

app.: The Righteousness of God’s Wrath; The Revelation of God’s Wrath; The Recipients of God’s Wrath

Conclusion: I mentioned earlier that Paul is answering an unasked question: Why is the Gospel needed?

This past week the magazine GQ published an interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. He was asked in an interview a simple, straightforward, 4-word question about Gay Marriage. Basically, the Archbishop hem-hawed around and told the man how he felt, but he just could never give a straight answer. What makes this so bad is that the article begins with the following description:

In a time of deep spiritual turmoil – from seemingly ceaseless terrorist attacks to the tragically handled refugee crisis – the leader of the Church of England Archbishop Justin Welby has managed to keep the faith. Politically astute, compassionate and candid, he gives us the gospel truth on Brexit, gay marriage and how he feels about planning for the Queen’s Funeral.

The Gospel Truth? Really? The Archbishop of Canterbury, basically the pope for the Episcopal denomination, couldn’t give a straightforward, Biblical answer for what is sinful. He didn’t want to be judgmental and condemning.

Our text today clarifies for us that judging isn’t our job – it’s God’s job! He is the one who outlines for us what is righteous and unrighteous – what is godly and ungodly. The question posed to the Archbishop was the wrong question or the answer the Archbishop gave was the wrong answer. The Archbishop should have clarified and asked: do you want to know how I feel or what the Bible says? You see, those are two very different answers.

The Journalist’s question to the Archbishop is very much like the interview that took place in the garden. Picture the serpent with his iPhone recording the conversation: Eve, Eve, Eve! Yes, ma’am. Thank you for taking my question. Did God really say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?” You see, the journalist is really asking the wrong question. Just like Satan did.

Application: here’s what I want you to take home with you today:

  1. Satan wants to make it about the fruit. God wants to make it about the heart. That’s why the Gospel is needed…

If you make it all about the fruit, you can then focus on legalism, rules and regulations. But God makes it all about the heart – and that’s why you and I need a savior. Otherwise, any comic book hero will do.

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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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