Category Archives: Faith

The Foundation of Missions

**An Audio recording of this message is available in the right sidebar of this page or at www.soundcloud.com

Title: The Foundation of Missions

Text: 2 Timothy 3.14-17

Introduction: We’re in 2 Timothy this morning.

While you’re turning to that passage, let me prepare you for our journey this morning. We’ll spend the first half of our time and maybe more time making our way through 2 Timothy to gain a better understanding of the context of this letter. I don’t want you to think that after 20 minutes of what feels like the introduction, that we’re finally getting started on the sermon and then somehow feel frustrated. This morning’s message is designed that way with the sole purpose of gaining perspective on the context of the entire body of the letter. So, in some respects, the body of the sermon is quite short. That should be encouraging. Here’s what I’m thinking: 2 Timothy 3.16 – one of the most popular and famous passages in all of Scripture has the ability to stand alone and still make sense. You can quote it (16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work), and pretty much anytime you do, it won’t be out of context. But, this passage within the context of mission and the missionary, within the context of the called and their service will do something wonderful in the mind and spirit of every believer.

With that in mind, let us establish the context by making our way through this letter with a cursory reading of many of the verses. I think I hope, we’ll feel better connected to the text when we get there. So, let’s begin in 1.1.

1.1: an apostle: sent, commission – God has commissioned him in some way.

1.3: whom I serve: here is his service; something that is in his blood, in his family history – except with him, he’s understood that Jesus is the promised Messiah.

1.3-7: Remembrance is repeated; rd v5-7: 5-7 is a possible thesis statement – a reminder of his faith and the need to ‘fan into flame’ this spiritual gift and use it. for this reason is different wording than we often find. Often the Gk is on account of this, sometimes translated therefore. But here there is this legal term – in a negative sense it would be an accusation – but here it is a positive thing.

1.8-11: this outline – this thesis continues in v8-9; He says the power of the Gospel saves us and calls us. He also says there is the downside to service – that is a downside to fulfilling our calling into service: suffering. Note: the gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ who suffered in our place.

Now already we’re seeing a theme: we’ve been saved by faith – then, called and equipped to serve. And that service brings suffering – no different really than our Master.

1.12-18: Paul then tells us of this suffering in v 12; I think there is a break here, though not noticeable in the text. The break should probably be at the end of that sentence there in v 12a. Which is why I suffer as I do. which, by the way, has that legal term again. Break. But, and he continues; rd 12b; But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Some clarification: we sing a hymn that has this verse in it.

But I know whom I have believed

and am persuaded that he is able

to keep that which I’ve committed

unto him against that day.

Well, the verse is most literally: and I am convinced that he is able to guard my deposit until that day. You might see that in a footnote or a reference note in your Bible. My deposit could be what I give to God, as the hymn implies or it could be the possession I now have that God has deposited into my life. And, that is what the ESV translates and I think is the correct meaning considering the context of what follows.

Then, Paul builds on that in v 13 and says here that he has set an example for Timothy to follow:

  • God has deposited this gospel in me and entrusted it to me.
    • Sound Words – namely – words that come from God. You could say – the Word of God.
    • Words you’ve heard from me:
    • Words that present the Gospel.
  • Guard the deposit entrusted to you
  • Summary: as I’ve been called, sent and entrusted with this service by these words – you do and be likewise.
  • Remember suffering comes with this: Phygelus and Hermogenes abandoned me. Onesiphorus blessed me.

2.1-7: Therefore, imitate me by entrusting faithful men to teach others. Share in the suffering. And then he gives illustrations of those who suffer in their labor: Soldier, Athlete, Farmer.

2.8-13: Suffering and the Gospel. Note: The Source of this Gospel is the Word of God (v 9).

2.14-19: Paul tells Timothy what he needs to be teaching these entrusted, faithful men: Sound Doctrine! Rd 14-15; here is another term for God’s Word: The Word of Truth.

  • Testimony about our Lord (1.8)
  • The Gospel (1.8, 10; 2.8)
  • Sound Words (1.13)
  • The Word of God (2.9)
  • And here, The Word of Truth (2.15)

And you’ll see when we get to our text today that Paul uses two more terms: Sacred writings (3.15) and Scripture (3.16)

But, avoid irreverent babble (16) that is, harmful words – like, and he mentions two more men who have swerved from the truth, Hymenaeus and Philetus. Look at v19, but God’s firm foundation stands. I believe that is God’s Word. Their words are babble, but God’s Word is foundational – it is the Truth.

2.20-26: Now Paul moves back to Timothy to encourage him in what he has already challenged him in: rightly handling the Word of Truth which leads people to a knowledge of the Truth. Paul wants Timmy to be ready for every good work (21). This good work leads people to repentance and salvation (22-26).

In 3.1-13: Paul wants Timothy to understand just how difficult this will be and that he should avoid such people; rd 3.1 & 5; His examples are Jannes and Jambres; these two are not mentioned in Scripture, but we know of them through Jewish writings and even pagan references. If you go to Exodus 7.11, you’ll see them there. They are the ones who did as Paul mentions here – opposed Moses.

In 3.10, Paul comes back to that command to be like him. 1.13; 2.2; and again now in 3.10; rd 3.10; Paul has been mentoring and discipling Timothy with his life. Paul has been an example of the Word, which he has been teaching. You might say that Paul is telling Timothy here, you know my talk matches my walk.

In 3.11-13, he goes back to his suffering and the opposition he often faced in his mission work; rd 3.11-13;

Now, we’ve reached the climax of this letter. I think it stays at its apex through 4.5 and then quickly recedes into the end of the letter. It would be so much fun to go through this letter verse by verse and spend some in-depth, quality time working through their relationship and the passion they both share for the work God has called them to do. Someday, I probably will.

For the next month, let’s just focus on the climactic part of this letter and it’s closing:

  1. The Foundation of Missions: God’s Word
  2. The Duty of Missions: The Work
  3. The Anxiety of Missions: Persecution and suffering
  4. An Example of Missions: George Müller

These four areas of focus will cover as we study the task of the missionary – which, by the way, you are. You are a missionary right here in Tyler. So, you can apply this to your own life. And just what does Paul say here to Timothy about this calling and commission?

  1. Continue…God’s been at work.

Rd v 14a; But as for you; standing in opposition to those who are (using the words in 11-13) ungodly, persecutors, and deceptive; rd 14b; continue. That word Continue is where we reach the climax. This is everything Paul has been working toward: Continue. The Gk is μένω; and it is most literally to remain. So, Paul is saying lit.: be remaining. We, of course, don’t talk that way in English. We say continue.

Continue in what? Rd 14c; continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed. This first word is a derivative of disciple (a disciple is a learner)(μαθητής). We get our word math from these words. The 2nd word is the verb form of our word faith. Being in verb form expresses to us that Paul is saying to Timothy that his life demonstrates what his heart believes.

But there is more! Now Paul identifies what elements in Timothy’s life have influenced this lifestyle; rd 14d; knowing from whom you learn it; which by the way, whom is plural in the Greek. Translation: Paul is identifying the influences on Timothy’s life and there is more than one person. He expounds on that in v 15; rd 15a; and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings.

If you make your way back to 1.5, you’ll see two of those influences: Lois and Eunice, Timothy’s grandmother and mother. Their faith is also Timothy’s faith. A third influence would be Paul, who mentions how Timothy has heard and seen Paul’s faith lived out.

App.: Man, there is so much application for us at this moment. Have you considered that every aspect of your life has been God working on you to bring you to this moment?

  • Every struggle and every success
  • Every victory and every failure
  • Every tear of happiness and every tear from pain
  • Your parents, your upbringing, your teachers, your work, your education, your music, your… everything.

Next, I want to look closer at this word acquainted. It means to know intimately. It isn’t just a basic rudimentary knowledge. It goes much deeper than that. And just what is this of which Timothy has such intimate knowledge? What is this that he’s been learning since he was a child? Rd 15; and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings… Here is another term that Paul uses for Scripture – the sacred writings. So, to review:

  • Godly influences (family and friends)
  • Discipleship: learning about this faith
  • Faith: expressed, it is lived out…
  • Sacred Writings: Scripture, God’s Word; the standard held up and which we live our lives by…

The rest of the verses in this chapter outline for us just what this Scripture is: namely, it’s power, its purpose, it’s source and it’s many uses:

1st, it’s power – It is able (δύναμαι) the verb form of the word from which we get our word: dynamite. It’s powerful. How powerful? 2nd, It can make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ. That’s the purpose.

How can it be so powerful? Because of its source! Rd v 16; Because All Scripture is breathed out by God. This word θεόπνευστος – Theos: God; And pnewō: breath. That is, every word in these sacred writings contains the breath of God. Remove your breath and you can’t speak. Ask Marilyn!

The idea that God breathed his breath into the Holy Scriptures isn’t an isolated thought by Paul. Peter, in his 2 letter, gives his testimony of when he and the two Sons of Thunder, the brothers James and John, were up on the mountain and saw Christ transfigured. At the end of that testimonial, he writes: …that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Some folks think that this refers only to the Old Testament. But I don’t think that’s the case. We don’t have time here to defend this, but let me say, the OT canon wasn’t even established until 90 AD at the Council of Jamnia. That’s 25-30 years down the road from this letter’s origin. So, Paul wouldn’t use words like we do to describe the writings in different Testaments. Let me show you how he referred to them: 4.9, 13; cloak (4.21) biblios and membranos; books and parchments; He doesn’t say, bring my Bible because they didn’t have a Bible like you do. BTW: both Peter and Paul referred to their letters as writings as taught to them by the Holy Spirit and to be read in other churches by other believers and shared for the benefit of discipleship, polity, and instruction. Like in Colossians he says: Hey, I wrote a letter to Laodicea. Give them your letter and read theirs to your people. And, just like in this letter, he calls them to obedience, etc.

For this same reason, you and I understand God’s Word to be holy, infallible, inerrant, fully trustworthy and reliable. Paul continues to teach us, as he’s teaching Timothy here of just how reliable it is: and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…

Lyle Skeels said one time in a Bible Study here that he learned it this way:

  1. What’s right
  2. What’s not right
  3. How to get right, and
  4. How to stay right.

I don’t know where he heard it, but he said he didn’t make it up. He got it from someone else.

  1. You teach What’s right
  2. You reprove What’s not right
  3. When you correct God’s people you show them How to get right, and finally,
  4. When you train them in righteousness, you show them How to stay right.

Ill.: when I was a college student I purchased a Korean/English Bible for my mom. If I recall, it has the Korean translation on one side and the English on the other side. Before giving it to her, I wrote in the front of her Bible of how the words contained in these Scriptures have the answers for life. I wish I’d have known this verse well enough to have referenced it.

Ill.: There is a popular preacher who every time he gets up to preach he asks his congregation to raise up their bibles. This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I have what it says I have. I can do what it says I can do. Today, I will be taught the Word of God. I’ll boldly confess. My mind is alert. My heart is receptive. I will never be the same. In Jesus name. I love that. That ain’t bad. The problem I have with this preacher is that he never then opens it up and teaches from it. Basically, he appears to me to be a motivational speaker.

App.: I’m not trying to dog on him. I’ve made it my practice not to be critical of pastors – that’s why I didn’t mention his name. But if you believe that This is my Bible and that it truly is breathed out by God, and, that it teaches you what is right, what is not right, how to get right and how to stay right, then, why wouldn’t you spend some time in it.

  1. Competent… God’s equipping you

Paul tells us these things as he writes to Timothy because he wants us to know…That God has been working on him, molding him and shaping him into the man he wants him to be because he’s equipping him for service; rd v 17; that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. This wording here is truly beautiful the way it is composed in the original language. The first word, competent, means to be fitted for something.

I’ve got my ’72 Chevy up and running and I’m having some problems. After not being used for the last few years, some of the rubber gaskets and seals have become dry and brittle. The master cylinder for the brakes is going to need replacing now. Here’s the thing: I can’t just buy any master cylinder. This is a Chevy. I can’t buy just any part. Even more so, it is 1972 Chevy – 46 years old. It has to be the right part – fitted just for my truck. I was actually shopping on one of the parts websites and it warned me of a part I was looking at: This part doesn’t fit your truck.

When you consider missions, you must consider that God has fitted you for that position. Moreover, he has equipped you for every good work. The word equipped here is a compound word that uses our word competent as a part of it. God has been molding and shaping Timothy and Paul and every minister and missionary he is sending out. That’s pretty cool when you think of it. And how has he been doing that? – with his Word.

Conclusion: God’s Word is the foundation for missions. It makes the missionary and minister into the tool God wants to use. It contains the Good News of Jesus to evangelize the lost making them wise for salvation. It contains the polity and practice of the church and its officers for organization and clarity. It teaches us:

  1. What’s right
  2. What’s not right
  3. How to get right, and
  4. How to stay right.

Application: So, what would I like for you to take with you today when you go home?

  1. You can trust God’s Word for every area of your life.
    1. Parenting
    2. Your marriage
    3. Business and money practices
    4. Salvation (present the gospel and offer an invitation)
  2. You can trust that God is molding you and shaping you for the work he has called you to.
    1. Teacher
    2. Preacher
    3. Missionary
    4. Volunteer
    5. Fill in the blank

Really, this passage outlines the work of God in your life:

  • He saves you through faith (15)
  • He then molds you and shapes you through teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness…
  • Then, he equips you for his service.
  1. Is it possible that God might be calling you today?
    1. Missions
    2. Ministry: pastor or teacher
    3. Service in the body: to step up and serve somewhere – where there is a need?

I don’t know what God has been up to in your life leading up to this moment, but I’d like to encourage you to be open to his leadership. Will you surrender your life to him completely? In a moment we’ll be dismissed. We’re going to have a moment of silence for us to reflect on the day’s activities – to reflect upon what God has been communicating to us as individuals – as families. After that time of silence, we’ll have a prayer and be dismissed. We’ll have some coffee and refreshments at the back of the worship center. Let’s spend some time talking. If you have questions, the elders and staff would love to try and answer those questions and offer some direction – maybe pray with you.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under 2 Timothy, Christian Living, Faith, missions, Scripture, Sermon

Romans 7.1-6

Title: Praise for Redemption

Text: Romans 7.1-6

Introduction: a few weeks ago Larry asked me in our Bible Study time on Wednesday night if he understood me correctly when I said that we no longer have to obey the law – which, by the way, I did say. In the same week, Andy Stanley was highly criticized for his comments about Christians today and their need to ‘unhitch’ themselves from the OT.

Ouch. That scared me a little. I would in no way suggest that. So, I listened to Andy’s message and I think I understand what he’s trying to say. He’s trying to say what Paul said: We’ve been set free from the Law. It can’t save us! We don’t have to obey it’s demands any longer because Christ has set us free from it’s bondage.

The writer of Hebrews brings this out in chapter 8: Heb 8.7, 13:

For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

And there are more evidence of this:

Eph 2.13-22: 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Col 2.13-14; 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

He crucified it. I think this is the direction Paul has been headed all along in Romans. Let me show you what I mean. In 1.16-18 he gave us his thesis statement for the book: 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.” 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

How can he say v. 18 so confidently? How can he say anyone is unrighteous? Because of the Law. The Law shows us we’re sinners.

So, Paul says he loves the Gospel. This wonderful story begins with the wrath of God against sin. Sin is his first topic. You see that in chapters 1, 2 and 3. But, Salvation is revealed within this Good News. And, it comes by faith in Christ.

Look with me at chapter three as he arrives at this stage of the Salvation story: 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—

Paul says that the law shows us that we’re sinners, but it can’t make us righteous. He continues: 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

Note he says that it is apart from the Law and only through faith in Jesus Christ.

We continue our way through Romans and come to chapter 4. Rd 4.13-16a; 13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. What he is saying is that if the law could make one righteous, then all you’d have to do is obey it. But you can’t. All the law does is… continue in v 15. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. So, all the law really does is show us that we are sinners and that God is Holy.

16 That is why it depends on faith…

Then Paul makes his way through to Chapter 5 and declares in v 20-21, that through Christ, God has increased His Grace all the more where sin abounded. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Now, to address this issue, Paul presents to the reader a fictitious “Judiaser”. This pretend man debates Paul and asks a very serious question for the Jew in 6.1: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? Paul says absolutely not, and then he expounds through chapter six and chapter seven.

We pick up in Chapter 7 this morning. I want you to see that Chapter six and seven, though different, are very similar. Paul constructed it in such a way as to draw attention to the sanctification process.

 

Note how Chapter six is about the Christian and his relationship to sin, and, Chapter seven is about the Christian and his relationship to the law. Let me demonstrate this for you. You’re in Romans 7; now look back to chap. 6.

 

 

6.1: sets the topic as Sin

6.2: We died to sin

6.4: we might walk in newness of life

6.7: he who has died is freed from sin

Compare w/:

7.1: Sets the topic as Law

7.4: You have died to the law

7.6: we might serve in newness of the spirit

7.6: we have died to that which held us captive; we are released

 

So, here’s what we’re seeing: Paul is dealing with the Law in the same manner he dealt with Sin in the previous chapter. He uses the very same words. He uses the same flow. He uses the same thought pattern and the same sort of logic. He’s declaring that we’ve been set free from them both, sin and the law.

 

In the 7th chapter of Romans we see a type of Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde presentation about the Law.

I say that because (and I want you to remember), The Law of God is precious to the Jews. It’s precious to Paul. Ps 1.2: Blessed is the man… his delight is in the Law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.

Ill.: Lisa, Jenn and I watched Fiddler on the Roof Friday night. Tavia said that he wished he could be a rich man.

If I were rich, I’d have the time that I lack
To sit in the synagogue and pray.
And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall.
And I’d discuss the holy books with the learned men, several hours every day.
That would be the sweetest thing of all.

In the OT you find time and again, the love for God’s Word that his people had.

Psalm 19.7ff: it is perfect, reviving the soul; rejoicing the heart, enlightening the eyes, clean, righteous, sweeter than honey and drippings from the honeycomb. Think about that for a moment. The Jews felt the Law of God was sweeter than honey and drippings from the honeycomb.

Psalm 119 is replete with statements of the beauty and wonder of God’s Law and just how precious, how dear the Law is to the Psalmist and to the Jews. 4x’s in Psalm 119 the Psalmist says: Oh, how I love your law!

But, the Law was also cruel. The Law not only magnified the sin, the debt, the trespass, but it also increased the trespass. For all of it’s good, it brought shame. No one could ever live it out. Paul will press this point later on in 7 – that the Law is precious and cruel at the same time.

Read 7.1 with me. Well, what happens when a person is no longer living? They’re dead. In 6, he said we must die to sin. Just as Christ died, so we too die. That’s the picture of baptism. Back up in 6.Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

He is saying the same thing to us in 7.1: you are bound by this law, that is, until you die to the law.

My first goal today is to point out this principle.

Transition: If you’re taking notes, that would be point #1, for it is Paul’s first point. The Principle.

I.     The Principle (1)

exp.: And the Principle is this: You must die to the law, just as you die to sin. You have to fight this instinctive drive to set up standards as a way to earn your salvation.

t.s.: But just as he does in chapter 6, Paul then gives us an illustration to make his point in the next 2 verses.

II.    The Illustration (2-3)

exp.: In Chapter 6, he used an illustration and it was “Slaves and Masters”. In chapter 7, he’ll do the same, but this time it is “the husband and the wife.” Rd v 2-3;

Excurses: This passage isn’t about divorce. I know some folks like to use this passage to say people who get divorced and remarried are committing adultery. First, I want to caution you against establishing a doctrine on one verse. 2nd, I don’t think that is what this passage is teaching. Paul is teaching us about the Law and our need to die to the law. Let’s understand what he says within the context of the whole passage.

ill.: Remember the principle: you are bound to the Law until you die to the Law. Read v 2a: For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives… any problem so far? A woman makes a vow to her husband and she is bound to him while he is living. Pretty simple. Rd 2b; 2nd, if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So, if a woman is married to a man and he dies, she is no longer bound to the oath she made to him because he has died. Still pretty straight forward, correct. Let’s continue. Rd 2c; so, if she marries another man in this new situation she finds herself with her husband gone, she is NOT considered an adulteress. Verse 3: Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. So, without adding anything to Paul’s illustration, let’s look at the facts of his story. If a woman is married to a man, and she leaves him and lives with another man while he is still alive, then she is called an adulteress. That’s pretty straightforward. There is nothing in here about divorce. Paul doesn’t even mention divorce. Paul simply says, if this woman is married to this man and she goes and lives with another man, then she is an adulteress. She’s committing adultery. I’m pretty sure we would all agree with that. But, on the other hand, if her husband dies and then she marries another man, she is free to do so, because, she is no longer bound by the original contract. The bond between them has been severed because he died, freeing her up to marry another.

t.s.: For the application we must look at verse 4-6…

III.   The Application (4-6)

exp.: rd v 4; likewise. So, just as a woman is free from her marriage vows when her husband dies, likewise the believer… rd 4; we have been set free from that and are able to be bound to another – Christ. That isn’t the Body of Christ – the church, but rather the Body of Christ, physically speaking. rd v 5: For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. We were married to the Law, so we lived that way. But now, our circumstances have changed, as Paul says in Galatians 2: 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. His summary is found in v 6: But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

Paul mentions now, really for a 2nd time, the purpose and the reason behind this new marriage to Christ. First he says in v 4, in order that we may bear fruit to God. What kind of fruit is this? Well, in keeping with the teaching in Galatians, it would be the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Doesn’t that sound just like Jesus? We die to the law to bear fruit in our lives in such a way that others see Jesus in us. In Galatians 4.19, Paul says he is in anguish of childbirth to see Christ formed in them.

He says down in v 6 that we’ve died to the law and are united to Christ so that we serve (slave) in the newness (same word as in Chapter 6 for walk in newness of life) we serve in the newness of the Spirit. Without even knowing it, we served the devil. Now we serve God in the newness of the Spirit.

ill.: I have an old pastor friend who used to say that when he became a believer his “want to” changed. He didn’t want to do the things he used to do and he now, wanted to do what Christ desired of him. He wanted to serve in a pleasing manner. He wanted to be faithful. He wanted to walk in newness of life.

Conclusion: I think that kind of sums up how a believer moves from one realm into another. No longer bound by a set of rules to be obeyed externally, God writes his law upon our hearts. Now, what manifests itself in the life of a believer is what comes from within. Our ‘want to’ changes.

A young lady was so moved at her salvation she wrote a song about it. The Title of this song (a hymn you would call it): Praise for Redemption. You don’t know it by that title. You almost didn’t know it all, because when it was written, no one really liked it and it faded into obscurity for some 80 years.

In 1954, Billy Graham was hosting a crusade in London. It is truly amazing the anguish he endured there in London. He wanted to preach, but many of the religious leaders were so hard on him. Robert Morgan writes: The British Press was critical of the young evangelist and an Anglican bishop predicted Graham would return to America with ‘his tail between his legs.’ Funds were short, forcing the Graham team to take pay cuts. A member of Parliament threatened a challenge in the House of Commons, accusing Graham of interfering in British politics under the guise of religion. Friends in high places were advising Graham to cancel or postpone the meetings. Graham, shaken, dropped to his knees repeatedly, beseeching help from Heaven.

As a part of these struggles and financial cutbacks, Cliff Barrows began compiling hymns for the Great London Crusade Song Book. Barrows received many hymns from different folks. One such person was Reverend Frank Colquhoun, a well-known British preacher and lover of hymns. There was this unknown hymn by this lady named Fanny Crosby, who had published that hymn some 79 years before. That hymn was Praise for Redemption, and it goes like this:

To God be the glory, great things He has done; 
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.

Refrain:
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done.

Jesus had redeemed Ms. Crosby and she wanted to shout praises of Glory to God for the great salvation she had experienced. So she composed that song. Of course, the song was sung for 3 months there in London in 1954 and exploded onto the Christian Scene.

Fanny Crosby wrote many songs about her faith. If this one had never been found, we’d still know about her faith. But aren’t you glad it was found.

Praise for Redemption. Fanny Crosby had found a new life in Christ. She had been taken from life to death. Do you hear her plea in the chorus: O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son.

If you’ve never accepted Christ, I offer him to you today. If you’ve been living by the law – trying to be good and never haven been changed by the Spirit. Would you come today?

Here’s how we do things at Calvary. I want to invite you to come talk to me (or any one of the elders) this morning about anything on your mind. There will be other church members there, too, of whom I’m sure would love to visit with you. We’ll have some coffee and cookies back there, and maybe some doughnuts.

Maybe you want to talk about church membership or feeling a call to missions or ministry. Come visit with us.

Let’s have a moment of silence and reflect upon the day’s activity.

1 Comment

Filed under Colossians, Ephesians, Faith, Galatians, Psalms, Romans, Salvation, Sanctification, Sermon, The Gospel, The Law

Romans 5.14b-17

Title: The Doctrine of Original Sin Part 2

Text: Romans 5.14b-17

Introduction: I’m going to give you a head’s up as we start this morning. Later in the sermon, there will be a time when you’re going to need something to write on and with: either a piece of paper and a pencil or pen. Or, you’ll want to pull out your electronic device to write things down with. So, get that ready. It won’t be for a while, but when the moment comes, you’ll want to participate. And if you don’t – trust me, you’ll wish you would have. I’m just saying… so get that ready. Just a scratch piece of paper or your notes app will do.

We’re in the midst of the study of original sin found in Romans 5.12-21. Open up you Bible to Romans 5. I think the idea of Original Sin is easy to understand at its basic meaning. However, this passage, in which we read and learn about the Doctrine of Original Sin is hard to understand. Not the doctrine, per se, but rather, the passage is hard to understand.

Last week in our community group we talked about some of the texts that are hard to understand (first for children, then for adults). One of the verses we looked at was:

2 Peter 3.15-17: 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.

As I’ve thought more about our Community Group last week, I’ve wondered why it is that some things are hard to understand. This has especially consumed me because this passage in Romans 5 is one of the most difficult passages in all of Scripture.

Philip Jensen, the Australian Theologian gives us three reasons we find Scripture hard to understand.

Some Passages of Scripture are hard to understand because of:

  1. Translation. And there are various explanations for this:
    1. From one language to another. Some words just don’t exist in the new language.
    2. From one culture to another (or even from one culture, in another language to a different culture and language. Just saying that, is difficult to grasp. A Hebrew Culture and a Greek language into culture with a language, but no alphabet.
    3. Different millenniums let alone, different centuries.
  2. Complex Expressions.
    1. For example: Therefore, just as in v 12. You expect Paul then to say, So, then… But here is the problem: Paul doesn’t do that. He makes a statement in v 12, then, a parenthetical statement in v.13-14; expounds on that in 15-17; and comes back to what he said in v 12 in v 18 – Therefore, as… and doesn’t get to the So until v 19b and 21 (So by… and So, that…).
  3. The Difficulty of Ideas.
    1. Our knowledge is limited. Like when you see a footnote and the footnote reads: The Hebrew meaning is here is obscure. It wasn’t obscure to the writer and probably not to the original audience. However, being 4,000 years later, or in our case, 2000 years later – our knowledge is limited.
    2. Wrong basic assumptions.
      1. We try to put 21st Century Western ideas and into 1st Century understanding. They simply are not congruous.
      2. We want our questions answered, rather than the question the Bible passage is answering.
    3. Note: When we come to difficult passages, we shouldn’t despair, but rather we should rejoice. This is an opportunity for growth. Consider this: this is God’s Word. It has been preserved to this day, just for us. God has no problem with his work as he has presented it to us. If there is a problem – then the problem is with me, not with God’s Word. I am the one who must change to match it, not the other way around. Amen?

That’s where we are this morning, so let’s pray that God will give us clarity and understanding – that God would be growing us in our knowledge and understanding of who He is.

(Pray)

In our study of The Doctrine of Original Sin, we left off our passage in v 14b where the 2nd man was introduced: who was a type of the one who was to come. You and I know he is Jesus, the Messiah.

Adam is a type of the messiah. For those of you who don’t know what Type means, well, God gave us types of the messiah throughout history to help us identify the Messiah when he came. David was a type of the Christ. Moses was a type of the Christ. Those are just two examples. Here, Paul is giving us another example: Adam. Now, Is Paul saying these guys are exactly alike? Well, no, not really. But Paul is saying there are some similarities. Let’s look closer at the passage and identify them. I’ve outlined these next three verses (15-17) as follows:

The Actions of these two men tell us:

  1. Where we currently stand before God.
  2. The Verdict of God’s Judgment toward us because of that standing. And
  3. The Hope we possess in light of that verdict.

Transition: Let’s begin with this first similarity and the difference between the two. The actions of these two men tell us where we currently stand before God.

I.     Our Standing (15)

exp.: rd 14b-15; who was a type of the one who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. So, the two words I want you to focus on in this passage are: Trespass and Grace.

ill.: Have you ever seen a sign like this: Show Slides;

app.: To trespass means to cross a boundary into an area that is off limits. We don’t belong there. The word in the Greek means misstep and it has the idea of falling, like, to be tripped up.

exp.: Grace, we use that word to describe someone who someone whose step is smooth – we would say Graceful.

ill.: The summer before my sophmore year Hig, my youth pastor, took us on a choir tour. It was my first tour and I absolutely loved it. On that trip, there was this girl, Mitzi Jaunt. Mitzi was a sweet girl, kind to everyone, but she was … well, kind of a clutz. At one part of the trip, we were unloading the bus, and the stuff in the back of the bus when Mitzi fell out of the back of the bus and actually hit her head. It scared us all, but she was ok. We didn’t know at first, but as time went by, it turned out that she had a pretty hard head. No offense, Mitzi, if you’re listening to this. Anyway, Mitzi fell or stumbled from time to time, but that fall was the worst. From that time on, we started calling her Grace, in reference to her lack of Grace when stepping off the bus or walking into the church, or wherever.

app.: in that example, Mitzi wasn’t very graceful – her misstep might have been pretty bad, but, fortunately for all, she was fine. But now, you see the two opposites or dissimilarities: a misstep versus a beautiful walk. Falling versus Standing. You have Standing someplace you were never designed to be and in danger versus standing in a place of safety and security.

t.s.: the actions of the two men show us where we stand… 2nd,

II.    The Verdict (16)

exp.: The Actions of these two men tell us the verdict of God’s judgment toward us because of that standing; rd v 16; 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. Note the two words: condemnation and justification; The first word, I think, is fairly understandable. Because of our trespasses that came to us through the one man’s sin, we stand condemned. Adam’s sin was, according to v 12, spread to us through Adam’s actions. The one man’s trespass has made us all trespassers. The verdict for this position in which we now stand is condemnation. To be condemned means to have a sentence of guilty read to us and then to be sent to our punishment. Eternal Condemnation is a place of torment and punishment. The Bible calls the place Hell. Romans 3.23 is quite plain when it reads: For the wages of sin is deathbut the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Which is precisely what our text this morning reads: 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. You stand before God either in a fallen condition or in his Grace. That standing brings God’s judgment. God’s judgment for the fallen condition is condemnation. The judgment for standing in his Grace is Justification.

Let’s answer what justification is: it is a little harder to understand. Some folks like to use the word justified in a sentence. They say Its just if I’d never sinned. Have you ever heard that before? Well, I like it in that it helps us understand that our sin is wiped away and no record of wrongs is now held against us. But it really isn’t as just if I’d never sinned, because I have. And so have you. To be justified means to be declared not guilty. But, we are guilty. We have sinned or fallen. The only way to be justified before God, is to have someone else take the blame for our sin.

ill.: And that is precisely what Christ has done. Here is a big word for you: Imputation. It actually appears in our text his morning. It’s a big word that we don’t normally use in our everyday lingo. Theologians use it to explain a transfer of someone’s account to another person. We see imputation used in three different ways in New Testament:

  1. Adam’s sin was imputed to us when he sinned, thereby making it that all have sinned.
  2. Our sin was imputed to Christ when he died on the cross for our sins. When by faith, we come to Christ and recognize our sin, we can confess that sin and surrender our lives to God. God then takes our sin and places it on Christ. Our trespasses, our debts, our account is placed upon at the Cross.
  3. Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us. When we placed our faith in him, his righteousness, his perfection, his sinless-ness was then accounted to us.

app.: This last example of Christ’s righteousness imputed to us is what justification is all about. That is what allows us to stand justified before God – all because of Christ’s work, because of his sacrifice, because he paid the penalty due to us.

t.s.: The Actions of these two men tell us, first, where we currently stand before God. And, 2ndly, they tell us the verdict of God’s judgment toward us because of that standing. Finally, their actions tell us of the hope we have in light of that verdict.

III.   Our Hope (17)

exp.: rd v 17; 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. What did their actions bring us? Note the two words: death vs. life; because of the one man’s trespass, death reigned. And, 2ndly, through the one man Jesus, through his actions we see the free gift of righteousness reign in life. The most you can hope for in a life without Christ is eternal death. The only destiny for you is Hell. For me, that ain’t much to hope for. But, the converse is true: if you have Christ as your savior, you have the hope of life – here and now and in the hereafter.

ill.: I’d like to try something with you… take out a paper and pen or pencil and answer the following questions. Don’t show anyone. Keep your answers to yourself. Ok? Ready?

  • Pick a number between one and ten.
  • Now multiply that number by 9.
  • If you have a two digit number, add the two digits together (52 is 5+2=7)
  • Now, take that number and subtract 5.
  • Turn that number into a letter: 1-a, 2-b, 3-c, etc.
  • Now, pick a country that starts with that letter…
  • Now, add one to that letter, meaning go up one letter (a to b, b to c, etc.)
  • Now, pick and animal that starts with that letter…
  • Tell me when you’re ready…

Did you pick * and *? (Answers at the bottom of this post…) Pretty amazing isn’t it?

app.: Did you know that I can also tell you something else with tremendous accuracy? Without Christ, you stand before God in your trespasses and therefore, you stand condemned. That condemnation brings you a certain death that is eternal. Here is something else I can tell you and it works because I know the mathematical formula: If you stand in God’s Grace, fully forgiven, then I know the Verdict read to you will be to declare your justification before God. And therefore, I know that you have been granted life eternal. I know, I know, you’re just being totally amazed by me this morning! How can I tell you with certainty that you’re a sinner? Well, in the same way I can tell you that you probably chose Denmark and Elephant. There really is no big secret here.

t.s.: In this last paragraph, picking up in verse 18, Paul describes the incredible strength and superiority of Christ over Adam. Adam’s affect on us can be overcome and restored. Christ’s work cannot be undone. And that is where we’ll pick up next week.

Conclusion: The following week, we’re planning on a special praise service where we’ll want to come together and thank God for his many blessings upon Calvary. I hope you’ll make plans to be here for that on the 29th.

So, what do I want you to take home with you today?

Application:

  1. The Word of God can be difficult to understand at times. But if there is a problem, it is with us – not God.
    1. Let’s use those times to grow in our understanding of God.
    2. Let’s use those times to challenge ourselves to align our lives with God’s Word instead of making God’s Word align with our desires.
  2. Sin is a difficult subject. Truth is, no one wants to be called a sinner. But, again, the truth is, every one of us is!
    1. We’re sinners because Adam’s sin was imputed to us.
      1. Sin brings condemnation and that
      2. Condemnation brings death.

But here is the really good news: Today, you can stand in the grace of God, justified freely and forgiven. Today, if you desire, you can come to Christ and find life – not just for today (living life the way God designed), but for eternity.

Ask the person next to you if they would like to receive Christ and find eternity. Come, introduce them to me or an elder or one of our wives. We want to meet them and pray with them and help them.

Maybe there is another decision on someone’s heart. We’ll meet in the back in a bit for a time of fellowship. I’d love to visit with you about this.

In a moment we’ll gather for fellowship in the back. Parents, would you help your children with any of the refreshments you’d like for them to have. We’d like our guests, of course, to have first dibs on the coffee and refreshments.

We’ll have a moment of silence and then I’d like to close us with a benedictory prayer. Then, can we sing a song in unity as we dismiss for our time of fellowship?

Answers: Denmark & Elephant

Leave a comment

Filed under 2 Peter, Evangelism, Faith, Romans, Scripture, Sermon

Romans 4.16-25

Title: The Nature of Faith

Text: Romans 4.16-25

CIT: We have Abraham’s faith when we believe like he did (God raises the dead [Jesus] and calls into existence things that are not yet).

CIS: When anyone believes Jesus was delivered up for our transgressions and raised for our justification, it is credited as righteousness and they can have a relationship with God, just like Abraham.

Introduction: We’re in Genesis 15 and 17 this morning, as well as in our main text Romans 4.16-25;

Billy Graham died this past week at the age of 99. What I love so much about him was the fact that he lived out his faith. I’m sure he wasn’t perfect. I heard him call himself a sinner when he preached. But what he did… his choices, his actions were all about living out the faith he professed.

That is what I want to talk to you about this morning: living out your faith in a public way.

In our text this morning Romans 4.16-25, v 16 acts as a transition verse of sorts. You see our topic… rd v 16, that is why it depends on faith… Faith is our subject. And more specifically, the faith of Abraham: in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all

So, we have some context before we even enter into the passage: Faith and narrowed down a little from such a broad subject, the Faith of Abraham, our father. To be sure, the faith of Abraham can be a pretty broad subject, too. So let’s get specific: in talking about faith, what Paul wants to do is describe for us the nature of Abraham’s faith in order that these Romans might apply it to their own situation. Paul wants the Romans to have the faith of Abraham – but what does that mean? How did Abraham demonstrate his faith and what he believed?

Opening illustration: I love Lisa. I trust that she loves me, too. But, words ring hollow if there is no action on my part (or hers for that matter) to demonstrate what I know to be true. My actions and reactions, well, that would be the nature of my love. Poems and songs are nice, but what we do in our day-to-day lives is what is true. What we do reveals what we believe.

Paul is going to spend the rest of this chapter outlining for us the Nature of Abraham’s faith, and then he will apply it to the Christian. Really, that would be the one point: The Nature of Abraham’s faith. Then, Paul cites three pieces of evidence from Abraham’s life which demonstrate his faith. Abraham believed God with the way he lived. (He persisted in Hope; His faith was not weakened at his physical condition; His faith was strengthened at God’s promise).

I.    The Nature of Abraham’s Faith (17)

exp.: rd v 17a; This is God’s Statement to Abraham. It is interesting to note in that quoted verse from Genesis 15, God speaks to Abraham in the present tense of a future event as if it has already happened. Let me repeat that: God speaks to Abraham in the present tense of a future event as if it has already happened. He says: “I have made you the father of many nations.”

That’s nice to say God, but where is the proof? That’s the thing about faith – it doesn’t need proof to act. Abraham and Sarah have room to say to God – that doesn’t make sense! We have no children! We have no son to carry on our name. Abraham is declared that father of many nations and yet, he has no children. Moreover, Gen 17.1 tells us Abraham was 99 years old when this was declared to him.

Paul tells us that Abraham believed God. Abraham, you already are the father of many nations. That is what I’ve made you. Which BTW, believed is the word for faith; you could read this (17b): in the presence of the God in whom he had faith… and just what was this that he believed? Rd 17c; who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Two parts to this: 1) bringing the dead to life (lit.: a compound word life maker) and 2) bringing into existence things that don’t exist (lit.: bringing the not being into being).

app.: When God says something, even if you can’t see it, even if it does not exist, do you believe it will come to be? Abraham did – that is the nature of his faith. He believed God. His faith in God was evident by what he then did. The nature of his faith is expressed in actions of his life.

God’s promise will demonstrate when it is fulfilled that He is the God who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. And Abraham then acts on what he knows about God – that God will do it. Paul seizes on this teaching moment by offering three pieces of evidence for Abraham’s faith, which demonstrate for us the nature of his faith. They are found in three subsequent verses (18, 19, 20):

  1. He persisted in hope when the physical told him it was impossible. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” Here is a 2nd quote from Genesis (15.5).
  2. His faith was not weakened even though he and Sarah were way to old for child-bearing. 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.
  3. He did not doubt God’s promise, but grew strong in his faith. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

And then Paul sums it all up in v22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”

app.: So, the nature of Abraham’s faith is that he lived his life knowing that God would (1) bring life to what is considered dead and (2) that he would bring into existence things that don’t exist.

t.s.: So, let’s look a little closer now at Paul’s three examples:

  1. He persisted in hope when the physical told him it was impossible. (18) In hope he believed against hope.

exp.: We get the context of this verse from Genesis 15. If you have that bookmarked, turn with me there. 15 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

ill.: I love looking up at the stars; have you ever tried to lay outside looking up into a clear night sky and count the stars? It is impossible like that. I’m sure there are computers and technology that would help with that today, but just laying out under the stars is… breathtakingly beautiful. Try to lay there and count them… practically impossible. Now, add to this story the idea that there are no street lights, porch lights, car lights, city lights. There is nothing quite like being out of the city – out in the wilderness and far away from lights and to see the night sky filled with millions of stars. As Abram looked up into the sky he would have seen it filled with stars innumerable.

app.: All of this from nothing. Abraham, a nation – no, a nation of nations… pretty hard to believe in that moment. But not for him… he didn’t live to see it, but he believe that God would accomplish what he said.

t.s.: 2nd demonstration as listed in Romans 4:

  1. His faith was not weakened even though he and Sarah were way too old for child-bearing. (19)

exp.: consider his body: he’s 99 years old in Genesis 17. In Gen 15, he’s probably about 85 years old. Rd 19b: which was a good as dead. Physically, he should produce the same as a dead body. That ain’t very productive. And his wife, Sarah? Rd 19c; or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. The Greek reads: or when he considered the deadness of Sarah’s womb. Twice in this sentence Paul uses the word: dead. He did not weaken in his faith, though physically his and his wife’s bodies were growing steadily weaker with their age.

ill.: I don’t consider myself old. I know I’m getting older, but I don’t think of myself as being old. But I feel the aging process. When I fall, it takes me longer to get up. I used to bounce back up. Now I kind of just go ‘thud’. Then I crawl back up slowly. I know it only gets harder as I see people who are 30 to 40 years older than me. I had lunch this week with Percy Werner and a couple of men from the church. Percy is 96. As he was getting in my car to go to lunch he told me to take a good look at 96. He said: this will be you one day. I told him I don’t think I’ll make it that long and he assured me that I will. That means I’d have to go another 43 years.

app.: Abraham feels old. He knows his wife is beyond child-bearing years. Her womb is dead. But there is something Abraham has come to know: This God who has called him, He is the life maker. He brings to life things others consider dead.

t.s.: He is aware of their situation, but knows that God is God and that he will do what he says. We see Abraham struggle, but he never weakens in his faith.

  1. He did not doubt God’s promise, but grew stronger in his faith. (20-21)

exp.: rd v 20-21; 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. The Greek structure puts the promise of God at the beginning – making it the emphasis of the sentence. Then it continues: he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in his faith… lit.: but was empowered. Passive voice. He didn’t pull himself up by his own bootstraps, but rather, an outside force strengthened his faith. Rd v 21; as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

ill.: In Genesis 22, Abraham is commanded to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham goes through the motions to fulfill what God has required of him. And the writer of Hebrews lets us in Abraham’s faith in chapter 11: 17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.

app.: by his actions, Abraham declared that he believed in God who gives life to the dead. Here is what Abraham knew: God promised him descendants. God promised they would be through Isaac. He pleaded with God: Oh, that Ishmael might be my heir! God said no. He promised the heir would come through Sarah. Abraham knows this as he walks up the mountain to offer Isaac.

I have no idea what you’re facing today. But may I encourage you: if God is indeed in charge of your life, if you’ve trusted him to run your life, then let him run it! Be obedient and you’ll find His plan unfolding in your life.

We have 1,000’s of years to bank upon the promises of God. What God promised Abraham has been fulfilled in Jesus.

t.s.: Paul then notes: 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” (Another quote from Genesis) Now, Paul brings his message home, making it applicable for the believer.

II.    The Nature of Our Faith in Christ (23-25)

exp.: rd 23-25: 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. The Nature of our faith is to demonstrate that we truly believe (1st) Jesus was delivered up for our trespasses and sin and then (2), that he was raised from the dead for our justification. When we do, it is counted to our spiritual accounts as righteousness. When we do, we have the faith of Abraham.

app.: Abraham is our spiritual father – that is, if we’re Christians. We should expect that Abraham’s children would be counted as righteous in the same way that Abraham was counted righteous. We believe that God raised Jesus from the dead (24) – that God gave life to his dead body. V25 puts them together that he died for our sins and his dead body was brought to life for our justification.

t.s.: What we have in Abraham was recorded for us – that we might know what faith looks like.

Application: Our faith must be God-Centered.

Conclusion: some closing thoughts:

  1. God, in whom we trust, demonstrates his will with inconceivable power.
    1. We have the Old and New Testaments with plenty of demonstrations.
    2. We have Church History with plenty more.
  2. God, in whom we trust, demonstrates his incredible patience with the passing of centuries.
    1. How much time is left? I don’t know, but I don’t believe it will be long now.
    2. Why is he still waiting? That, I don’t know either, except for the opportunity for the lost to turn from their wicked ways and cling to the hope of salvation from sin.
  3. God, in whom we trust, demonstrates indescribable mercy to the penitent.
    1. God has structured all of history to bring about an indescribable display of mercy.
      1. He has told us who He is: Holy.
      2. He has declared to us our sinfulness and our separation due to this sinfulness.
      3. He has made a way for us to find forgiveness of sin and to be made right with Him.
        1. He gave his one and only son to die for our sin on the cross of Calvary.
        2. He was buried in a borrowed tomb.
        3. He was raised for our justification and now rules and reigns in glory.
    2. Today is the day of salvation.

And, when you and I commit our lives to this, through faith in Jesus – we, too, are like our father Abraham, who was counted as righteous before God – because he believed that God could raise the dead and make something out of nothing.

This morning, if you’ve never committed your life to Christ, I offer him to you. Today you can know what forgiveness is like. You can experience it first hand. Maybe there is another commitment on your mind. You want to join the church, get involved in our ministry and our mission. Let’s talk about that.

We’ll gather for a time of fellowship in the back in just a moment. But first, let’s sit quietly before the Lord and reflect on His great mercy and love and patience. Then, after a moment of silence, I’m going to ask ….. to dismiss us with a benedictory prayer. Then, Duffey, would you lead us in a song of praise… Then, we’ll be dismissed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, Justification, Romans, Salvation, Scripture, Sermon, Uncategorized

Romans 4.9-16

Introduction: the Christian faith has been in the forefront of social media lately and making the news because of it.

Joy Behar, one of the hosts of ABC’s “The View,” recently made the news for her comments about Vice-president Mike Pence and his Christian faith. She said that it was ok that Mike speaks to Jesus, but if Jesus speaks to him, well, that’s called Mental Illness. She went on to ridicule his rule about not meeting with women alone. She said she wondered if his wife would let him talk with Mary Magdalene if they were alone in a room.

Super Bowl Sunday, Tony Dungy, the former NFL great defensive back and Super Bowl winning coach made a comment in the post game show about how he had visited with Nick Foles, the QB for Philadelphia Eagles – the winning team. Coach Dungy told the audience that he visited with Nick before the game and Nick wasn’t worried about things. Dungy said that Nick would play with confidence because of his Christian faith. He felt that God had him there for a purpose. Twitter and other forms of social media lit up, tearing in to Coach for his inappropriate use of the time NBC gave him.

The hate and vitriol has spiraled out of control. Christians are being harshly criticized and maligned for simply calling on prayer for the victims of the Florida shooting this past week. It’s getting to where you risk being ostracized for your Christian faith if you display your faith in public.

Is that really such a bad thing?

Mindy Belz posted on her weekly update, Globe trot, some statistics from the International Bulletin of Mission Research that are really eye-popping concerning Protestant numbers and statistics world-wide: A recent academic paper on 500 years of Protestant Christianity has striking statistics (see report, page 3): In 1900 1.7 percent of Protestants lived in Africa and today 40.8 percent reside on the continent. Conversely, in 1900 63.1 percent lived in Europe, and today 16.3 percent of Protestants live there. Averaging across 5 ½ centuries, Protestants in North America represents under 14 percent of global Protestantism. If you add up all of the Protestants in the entire world outside of Africa and Asia, they don’t even add up to the numbers of Protestants living in Africa alone.

North American Protestants (which of course includes Canada and Mexico) represents less than 11% of all Protestants (it’s 10.9%) worldwide.

Transition: maybe we do need our faith on display? Now, when I say that, what does it mean? In today’s American Culture, Faith is a very private thing. But for Christians, it shouldn’t be.

We’re in the midst of a study in Romans. Your very rough and simple outline we’re following looks like this:

  • Sin: 1-2
  • Salvation: 3-5
  • Sanctification: 6-8
  • Sovereignty: 9-11
  • Service: 12-16

In the first couple of chapters we noted how Paul addressed the issue of sin and his great desire to preach the Gospel because it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. Here in the 2nd section, Paul is addressing the issue of salvation through faith alone.

In 4.9-16 this morning, we open up our text with two questions:

  • Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? This first question is in response to a quote from King David to which Paul just referred: rd v 7-8; Is this blessing of forgiveness only for the circumcised?
  • 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised?

Paul answers both questions in each of those verses. Then, it v11-12, Paul defends his answers. You might say he clarifies his answers. First he declares that:

  1. Abraham was counted righteous by faith, not by circumcision or works of any kind. (9)

exp.: Paul makes this declaration because some Jews believed that Abraham was right before God because he was circumcised. As you probably already know, circumcision was a sign of the covenant that Abraham had with God. It was required of all male Jews to enter into that covenant. Otherwise, they weren’t considered to be a part of the people of God. You were either circumcised and in covenant with God or you were considered outside the covenant.

ill.: Circumcision vs. Baptism: That struggle was very similar to baptism today. I’m talking about the struggle that the Jews had with uncircumcised Gentiles becoming Christians. Both baptism and circumcision are like rites of passage. Some see it as initiation into the faith. Some Jews believed that circumcision of Gentiles was required for salvation and some Christians today believe baptism is required for salvation. You probably have friends or even family members who feel this way. So, as we approach Romans 4.9-16, it makes sense for us when we see it that way and easier to understand why some Jews pushed for all believers to become circumcised.

But Paul minces no words here (9b): it was by faith that Abraham was counted as righteous. It isn’t by circumcision, nor by any other work.

How so? Well, Paul’s first argument or defense of his answer is:

I.     Abraham’s justification came before he was circumcised. (10)

exp.: his first argument is a chronological one; rd v 10; in Gen 15 Abraham was declared righteous because he believed God; in Gen 17, some 10-15 years after he was declared righteous, he is then circumcised. In the same way as Christians, we understand that Baptism doesn’t save anyone. We trust God, first. We put our faith and trust in Christ as God has promised. We believe God and so we’re saved. Baptism is a work of the believer, who obeys the command to be baptized. Baptism is really a believer’s first step of obedience.

app.: if you’re sitting here today and you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, then congratulations. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and you’ve never been baptized, then something is wrong with that.

t.s.: Your baptism is a public demonstration of this new life in Christ. Talk about Faith Displayed.

Paul continues his defense: Paul’s next argument is:

II.    Circumcision was a sign of what had already taken place (11-13)

rd v 11; note those two very important words: sign and seal; it is a sign and seal of his righteousness by faith. Circumcision did that for the Jew. It was an external sign and seal of the Abrahamic Covenant.

ill.: I received a letter from President Regan back in the 80’s for some work that I did while serving in the military. It will always be something that is precious to me. It came to me through my chain of command. The seal of the President of the United States of America validated the letter. I was taken into a room where my leadership was waiting for me. My platoon leader, 1st SGT, company commander and others were there. There were people I didn’t know. They showed me the letter and then read it to me. To be sure, the letterhead and the seal were pretty cool, but these weren’t more important than the letter, itself, what it said and the signature. What was in the letter was what I value. Unless I live to be 93, I don’t think that letter will ever see the light of day. It is classified Top Secret. It was closed up and sealed and deposited with my records somewhere in a warehouse where Indiana Jones is keeping the Ark of the Covenant. I’m rambling now, but don’t miss the point: I was recognized for some work I had done for the President. He commissioned the work and I was selected to do the job. It isn’t the envelope or the seal that made that letter important. It was what was inside.

app.: Paul is saying that the circumcision of Abraham was a sign and a seal of something that had already taken place.

t.s.: So, Paul continues his teaching in v13-16; and, really, he just repeats himself. There isn’t anything new or different presented in these next few verses.

III.  Abraham was counted righteous through faith, not through the law. (13-16)

exp.: in v 13-16, Paul reflects upon the promise: that Abraham would be heir of the world. Rd v 13; Hold it – heir of the world? Genesis 12 God promised Abraham that he would possess the land of Canaan. God told him to go to a land that he would show him. When he got to Shechem, God promised him the land of Canaan. That’s in v 7 of Chapter 12; Now, in Gen 12.3, God told Abraham that all nations would be blessed through him – so there is this idea of ‘the world’ here.

ill.: This is a great example of using the New Testament as a commentary on the Old Testament. Sometimes, when you’re in the OT and something doesn’t make sense, or, you’re simply studying an OT passage – a wonderful tool already in your hand is to find any reference of that OT passage in the NT. The NT writers had a tremendous grasp of the OT and it’s meaning.

Back to our text in Romans 4, Paul tells us why Abraham is going to inherit the world. It must be because of his tremendous body of work! Rd v 14; Some folks think or at least act like the righteousness of God is imputed, credited to us through both faith and works, but Paul clearly tells us here that it isn’t. Because, he says, if works has any part in our justification, then faith is null and the promise void. You can’t have both.

But, why not? Rd v 15; if you try to gain righteousness through the law, you will fail. Why? because the law brings wrath and you can’t obey the law perfectly.

As a matter of fact, there is only one who obeyed the law perfectly: Jesus. Added to this, he then died on the cross for our failure to obey the law perfectly. That’s where our faith comes in… rd v 16;

16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,

app.: faith, by grace to everyone who believes: to the adherent of the law – that is the Jew; and to the one who shares the faith of Abraham.

Conclusion: if you believe like Abraham, that what God said to you is true, then the righteousness of God is credited to your account, your sins are forgiven and you have the promise of heaven. What is it that God says to you? Simply this:

  • God is Holy
  • You and I are not – we’re sinful.
  • We cannot remedy this situation on our own – we need an intercessor.
  • The sufficiency of Christ in remedying our situation.

Application: Faith displayed:

  1. Faith alone is what brings justification before God, not works of any kind. This is a reminder to us that works, which display our faith, cannot save us.
  2. However, when it comes to faith, Faith must generate good works. Think James Any and all work we do must flow from this faith that we have in Christ. We don’t do it because it saves us. But, rather, we do good works to demonstrate the faith we have. If this is true, then wouldn’t a lack of works demonstrates a lack of faith. You don’t do anything because you don’t truly believe.
  3. It is deeply humbling to realize that our gift of salvation comes through faith and isn’t earned.

CS Lewis said: That Christ offers something for Nothing …That He even offers everything for Nothing …That we have done and can do Nothing …That we must stop trying to overcome… Then, Faith in Christ is the only thing to save you from despair!

  1. True Faith exhibits itself through a positive lifestyle. That doesn’t mean that everything in our life is positive. I got an email this morning from one of my students’ mom letting me know that this student’s grandfather passed away. That’s negative. My mom told me her nephew in Korea committed suicide this week, leaving behind a wife and two little children. That’s negative. There could be some absolutely negative experiences in your life; however, a life of faith rolls with the punches because that believer knows God has got this. A positive lifestyle in the face of calamity demonstrates one’s faith in God.
    1. One of my favorite stories where this is demonstrated is with David when his son Absalom had launched a coop against his father.

ill.: 2 Samuel 16 7-8: “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! The Lord has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.” Then Abishai, who was one of David’s mighty men implored David that he might go over there and cut his head off. David was like: No. Maybe he’s only doing what God told him to do.

We all at some times in our lives experience struggle and pain. But a life of faith really comes out at during those times. Being discouraging toward others, grumbling and complaining about your situation, that demonstrates a lack of faith. It really does demonstrate that you don’t trust God.

ill.: John Piper has said: The Essence of faith is being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus.

Are you satisfied in Christ? Do you find yourself longing for what you see in others? Maybe that’s something you need to lay before the father today and declare your trust only in him. Maybe you’ve never trusted him before? Maybe this is a new thing and you’re wanting to place your life in his hands. You’d say you’ve made a mess of things.

We’re going to have a time of fellowship around the coffee and cookies in the back. Come and visit with us. If you have a question about Christianity, Church membership, our missions and ministry, baptism – or you just need to talk, we’d like to visit with you. The elders and staff and membership will be gathered back there.

Let’s bow our hearts before God in a moment of silence. And then afterward, I’d like to ask … to lead us in a benedictory prayer.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, Romans, Scripture, Sermon

The Law of Faith

Title: The Law of Faith

Text: Romans 3.27-31

Introduction: We’ll be in Romans 3.27-31 this morning. We’ll also go to Zechariah 14 at some point. You’re your bulletin or something you can use as a bookmark and identify Zechariah 14.

This morning we come to a concluding statement by Paul. We’re in Romans 3.27-31; Paul presents this part of his letter with rapid-fire questions and answers. It is a popular style and makes it easy for him to answer questions he has probably heard before and can even hear being asked by the reader as they read his letter.

My guess is that this diatribe is with an imaginary Jew. Probably, an imaginary Jewish Leader. I sense from Paul, that he believes this person has a problem with Pride.

I read this week that Pride is the only disease known to man that makes everyone sick except the person who has it. Attributed to Buddy Robinson.

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes: There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others. He says he’s talking about Pride, in his chapter on Pride.

As we turn our attention to our text this morning, I want you to note how the diatribe is broken up by 4 sets of questions. My sermon has three points, but the text has 4 separate sections. I’ve combined the 1st two into one point. Here’s how I see it broken down:

  • 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded.
  • By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
  • 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
  • 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

So Paul is saying The Law of Faith means:

  1. Boasting is ruled out – you can’t brag about something you didn’t do.
  2. There is One God who has done all that he has done for all people: Jews and Gentiles.
  3. The Law of God is not nullified, but rather validated and upheld.

The Law of Faith means

I.     Boasting is ruled out – you can’t brag about something you didn’t do (27-28)

exp.: rd 27a; οὖν; This word is often translated: therefore. Therefore ties the previous passage to this one. The previous passage is 3.21-26; It deals with the righteous work of God through Christ making us righteous – taking away our sin. According to this passage in 3.21-26, we’re all sinners. There was nothing we could do to make ourselves righteous. We were all in a state of sinfulness and fallen from God’s glory. But, in Christ, we are now made righteous, we’re now justified by his grace as a gift freely given to us. This is through the redemption that came through Christ Jesus whom God purposed and planned to be a sacrifice for our sins. His death paid our penalty for us.

Therefore, there is no place for boasting. There is no place for pride. Paul writes in 27a; It is excluded. This is a compound word combining the preposition out or outside with the word meaning to shut. Where is the boasting? It has been shut out! Paul continues in v 27b: How so? By a law of works? There is a question of whether this means the ‘Law of Moses’ or works as a principle (i.e., doing good works). I don’t know the answer to that but I don’t think it matters because it is the same result either way. Put both possibilities up there and the answer is still NO! But by a law of faith! And then he explains in v 28; 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

You see, there isn’t anything to boast about because you didn’t do anything. God did all the work in your salvation.

ill.: there is a story about a theologian who was being pushed to defend his doctrine of the sovereignty of God. The question: What part did you play in your salvation? He replied: I played no part. The theologian was pressed again: But what did you do? Reply: I did nothing. So the man pushed: You mean to tell me that you did absolutely nothing in the process of being saved. The theologian thought about it and answered: I did all the running.

app.: there are no works for you to do – God has done all the work necessary. He could boast – but that isn’t is style. When he speaks he’s just stating the facts; He’s not boasting. You (and I, on the other hand) really can’t say anything in a prideful way about our salvation because (you and I) really can’t do anything to earn our salvation. The most we can say about work, is that we were running from God. And God pursued us.

Think about this: you can’t boast in faith, because faith is basically receptive. Faith looks to another for help.

Ill.: Consider people in Scripture who through faith received help, rescue, intercession, etc. from God.

  1. The Woman at the Well: She didn’t run into town and say, hey! Look at me! Look what I did! She said: Come and meet a man who…told me everything I ever did. The people said: we believe, not because the woman said, but because we’ve seen this for ourselves. He’s the savior of the world!
  2. The man born blind from birth: Jesus healed him and the religious leaders didn’t like it. They kept pestering the man for an answer. He was like, “listen, all I really know is that I was blind and now, because of what he did, I see.” They didn’t like that, so they pestered him more. The man really upset them when he asked: do you want to become a follow of him, too!
  3. The Woman healed of her disease that had kept her bleeding for 12 years. She had basically given up on everything, after spending all of her money on doctors. She didn’t brag about how she was able to brave the crowd and reach out to touch the hem of his coat. I was brave. Oh, the people, they were fighting me off, but one by one I knocked them out of the way and that is what made me whole again! She knew it was Jesus who had the power.
  4. The Gadarene Demoniac; I love the way this guy just wanted to be with Jesus. He was so thankful for all that Jesus has done for him.

That’s four quick examples. We could probably spend the rest of the morning looking at examples of those who had faith in Christ and then Christ delivered them – he met them at the point of their need.

App.: Faith doesn’t pour itself out on itself. Faith is focused on another – the one who has helped or saved or redeemed.

t.s.: These 1st two questions are closely related to each other and pertain to us. They pertain to us in a negative way: our boasting has been nullified and our work has been nullified, too, because you can’t be justified or made righteous by your good works. The answers are simply put in the negative form: No!

Now we turn to God and the answers get positive.

The Law of Faith says there is no boasting, because you can’t boast in something you didn’t do. Next, the Law of Faith declares

II.    God is One and He is the Father of all. (29-30)

exp.: Where the first three questions go together, I think Paul is making a new argument here. I don’t think he’s building upon his previous argument. I say this because he uses the word “Or”. This is another argument in support of justification by faith; rd v29; See, here the positive answer: Yes, of the Gentiles also. And then, Paul says; rd 30a;

Now, what does he mean? Where is he coming from? It’s possible that Paul is coming from Zechariah 14. Specifically, v 9; Rd Zech 14.4-9;

Consider this: the context of Zechariah is a future day. If that is the case, then Paul is doing more than just saying Jews and Gentiles can now be saved. He’s making a specific remark about Salvation History. Consider this also: salvation is today. But, it is also a day in the future. You are saved on the day you commit your life to Christ. You are being saved today. And, there will come a day on that great day of the Lord when you will be saved. Are you following me? We are saved today, if we’ve committed our lives to Christ. But, there is coming a day, a final day, when salvation will be realized. On that Great Day of the Lord, Jews and Gentiles will be gathered into the New Jerusalem. There will be no need for a sun to light the City because the Glory of God will light that place. God will rule and reign in that place over all people.

But there is another verse that Paul might be referencing here. It might be that Paul is being super simple here. If you think about it, you’ll realize that the Jews would get this reference right away. Did you? Where have you seen this statement before? That’s right. The Shema; Deuteronomy 6.4: Hear O’ Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is One. He is the God of the Jews and of the Gentiles;

To be fair, many Jews understood that God is the One true God. He is the Creator of All, and the Ruler of All, and is judge of all. But, on the other hand, they saw themselves as distinct and would reject the idea of Gentiles being on their same level. They had the court of Gentiles on the outside of the Temple. Sure, there were some Gentiles who followed God, but they were never on the same level as Jews.

The Lord is not divided. Rd all of 30; This is to affirm 3.22; all are sinners (3.21) and all are justified…

I want you to note the difference in words about faith used by Paul in v 30: who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Really, I couldn’t find anything with any solid explanation. Augustine argued some 1600 plus years ago that Paul was simply being rhetorical and stylistic. And most scholars agree with him. Paul’s writing style demonstrates for us what an intelligent and brilliant communicator Paul was. He was putting the Gentiles on the same playing field as the Jews.

ill.: To say that God is the One true God and Father of all is really being super intolerant today, just like it would have been to all of those Romans who believed in a polytheistic religion. Our postmodern world says that there are many ways to this one God and we’re all just trying to get to the same place through different paths. When you and I say that Jesus Christ is Lord of all and his name is the only name by which we must be saved, you and I are considered bigots, narrow-minded and archaic.

Appeal: if you’re sitting here this morning, or listening by way of the Internet, and you’ve never known what it means to be truly forgiven – you can today. That’s been Paul’s message: Salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty for our sins. You see, we’re all sinners. I’m not picking on you by calling you a sinner. We’ve all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But, you can have those sins forgiven through placing your faith in Christ today.

Here’s another point: this takes great humility. You can’t be proud and come to Christ. Some folks struggle with the idea of sin and a holy God because they’re prideful. That’s probably how Satan keeps people from coming to faith – it’s their pride. J. Oswald Sanders said: Nothing is more distasteful to God than self-conceit. This first and fundamental sin in essence aims at enthroning self at the expense of God.

You’ve got to remove yourself from the throne of your heart and make room for Christ to come and rule and reign in your life.

Thomas Browne writes:

“If thou could’st empty all thyself of self,
Like to a shell dishabited,
That might He find thee on the ocean shelf,
And say, “Thou art not dead,”
And fill thee with Himself instead.

But thou art replete with very ‘thou’
And hast such shrewd activity,
That when He comes He says,

“This is enow unto itself- ’twere better let it be,
It is so small and full, there is no room for Me.”

t.s.: The Law of Faith says there is no boasting, because you can’t boast in something you didn’t do. God did it all. 2ndly, the Law of Faith declares that God is One and He is the God of all. He makes himself known and has done the work to restore this relationship with him – that the whole world might be restored to him. A proud heart will find it impossible to come to this conclusion. Thirdly, The Law of Faith does not nullify the law or good works, but rather validates it.

III.   The Law is not nullified, but rather establishes it (31)

exp.: rd v 31; this word means to wipe it out, void it. It is to say that because of faith, the law is now abolished and useless. But that isn’t what Paul is saying at all. Paul says: μὴ γένοιτο; May it never be! Rd 31c: on the contrary, we uphold the law. When you consider 3.21 – that the law and the prophets bear witness to the fact that righteousness would one day be made available and that day is now, you understand the law isn’t made void. It isn’t nullified. It is Validated!

Furthermore, we don’t just live a life of license. We believe laws are good. Good behavior is needed. For those of us who love the Lord, we want to do what he wants us to do. We want to be good. We want to be righteous. We want to live a life worthy of this calling we’ve received.

app.: And again, that doesn’t reflect a life of pride. That reflects a life of humility.

t.s.: Humility comes hard. Pride is something that doesn’t want to die in you. But let me end with the words of the Momma whale to her baby whale as they swam along: When you get to the top and start to ‘blow’, that’s when you get harpooned!

Conclusion:

Application: Don’t let pride keep you out of heaven. Humble yourself, acknowledge your sin and find salvation in Christ. We’re going to gather in a moment at the back of the worship center for some coffee and cookies. I’d love to visit with you about today’s message. The Staff and Elders will back there, too.

Leave a comment

Filed under Evangelism, Faith, Romans, Scripture, Sermon

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Faith, Romans, Sermons, The Gospel

Romans 1.16-17

Title: From Faith for Faith

Text: 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 puts their faith in Him. Believe 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. 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 is revealed to us: how do you become righteous in the eyes of God? By believing the Gospel!

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 Gospel’s Power (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 that can bring you salvation. None. You can’t buy it with your money; you can’t earn it with your good works; you can’t steal it; you can’t get lucky somehow on you own; you can’t get there 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. But, the Gospel is God’s power at work in the lives of people – saving us from our sins. You see that in this 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 Gospel’s Provision: (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. 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.

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 Gospel’s Proof: (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. 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.

Conclusion: So, what do we do about this?

–  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
  • 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.

– 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 was out jogging Friday with Elizabeth. We met a man who took a moment to engage us in conversation and ask me personally if I’ve come to know Christ as Lord and Savior. That was cool. No too many people beat me to the draw, but this man did. I’d like to challenge you to do the same: share this good news with others.

– Live 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.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1 Corinthians, Evangelism, Faith, Faithfulness, Hebrews, Romans, Scripture, Sermon

Mark 6.1-6

Title: How Do You See Jesus?

Text: Mark 6.1-6

Introduction:             This passage concludes with the 2nd cycle of Jesus’ Galilean ministry. If you’ve been following through Mark geographically, you’ve noticed that Mark stays in the Galilean region. We know he’s been in the area of Jerusalem before. The other gospels give us more on this, but not Mark. For instance, Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, not too far from Jericho, where the Israelites crossed the Jordan as they came up out of Egypt. More than that, we know of his confrontation with the religious leaders. Mark, however, moves us directly to the region of the Sea of Galilee for his ministry setting in the beginning of his Gospel. The first cycle, the ‘early Galilean ministry’ concludes in 3.6 with the conspiracy of the religious leaders plot to destroy Jesus. That desire of theirs hasn’t died. Their unbelief and rejection of Christ sets a tone that is weaved in and out of Mark’s gospel. This 2nd cycle listed as his ‘later Galilean ministry’ is concluded with the rejection and unbelief of his own people – the people of Nazareth.

  1. The early Galilean ministry (1.16-3.6)
    1. The 1st Disciples are called
    2. They appear to be the true followers as the religious leaders and his own family reject him – even believe he is out of his mind.
    3. Concludes with Christ being rejected by the religious leaders and their plot with the Herodians to destroy Christ.
  2. The later Galilean ministry (3.7-6.6)
    1. Then, the apostles are selected and called to follow.
    2. But something interesting happens as we make our way through chapter six. His disciples find themselves in a state of disbelief and find their hearts hardened toward the work of Christ.
    3. Concludes with Christ being rejected by his own – the people of Nazareth.
  3. The Expansion of His Ministry (6.7-8.20)
    1. Jesus then commissions his apostles and sends them out to fulfill his ministry purpose through them.
    2. Concludes with his disciples still dull to all that he’s been trying to teach them.
  4. Marks cyclical pattern is evidence of his hard work in writing this Gospel. For the student, this is truly an amazing and wonderful study. We see other patterns:
    1. His work among Gentiles, especially women.
    2. He walks on water more than once
    3. He feeds the 5,000 in one cycle and feeds 4,000 in another.
    4. His work with his disciples – teaching them, sending them out, their state of disbelief.

I’m hoping you’ll see this information as fodder for your personal and group study. This is a great question and task for your classes to dig into. Ask yourselves: Did Mark organize his thoughts or did he simply write out a story?

Today’s focus for us, is to outline chapter six and then, to spend the rest of our time in this final section of the later Galilean ministry – his rejection at Nazareth (6.1-6).

The passage is bookended by the opposing storylines of rejection and reception. Christ is first rejected by his own – the people of Nazareth. At the end of the chapter, He is received by the people of Gennesaret, who run to him and seek even the touching of the fringe of his garment.

The 2nd part, and similar in form, is the sending out of the apostles or the commissioning of the apostles. In verses7-13, Jesus commissions his disciples (Apostles) with the task of preaching his gospel, casting out demons and anointing many with oil that they might be healed. In this experience, they are successful in their quest as they live out their faith and calling. And yet, bookended with this story, on the other end of the chapter, Jesus again sends his disciples. This time he sends them ahead to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. At this point Jesus walks out on the water to them. This section ends as they are utterly astounded at what they’ve witnessed, they don’t understand the loaves (i.e.: the feeding of the five thousand) and their hearts are hardened. They are in danger of becoming just like those who’ve rejected Christ.

 The two middle sections of chapter 6 are two long stories about John the Baptist and the feeding of the 5,000.

In the previous chapter, 5, we observed Christ’s authority over everything. Mark presents these miracles where he demonstrates Christ’s authority over the physical, the spiritual and the natural. And with all of this power (speaking to the wind and the waves; casting out legions of demons – and sending them into 2,000 pigs; healing a woman who has suffered for 12 years, spending every penny she’s had on doctors and to no avail; and raising the 12 year old daughter of Jairus from the dead), with all of that power demonstrated, we now find his own people reject him. In their disbelief, He is left amazed and astounded.

In our discussions during Bible Study, something we’ve not touched on is what the people were raised and healed to… there is the thread of the relationships – after the resurrections or the healings, you see a table and eating together; you see service in the preparation of a meal. But, you won’t see that here in Nazareth. We watch Christ walk away from those who reject him, actually marveling at their lack of faith.

This cycle ends without the fellowship. There is no table; there is no dinner; there is no fellowship. Only sadness.

I think this comes because of one overarching reason – and it is a lesson for us today: they can’t get passed what they think they know.

Are you familiar with the phrase: familiarity breeds contempt? I googled this phrase looking for a place of origin. Who said if first? On the free dictionary site, it gave an explanation of this phrase: people do not respect someone they know well enough to know their faults. Well, Jesus had no faults, but because they think they know him so well, they’ll find they don’t know him at all.

Transition: With that application in mind, I’d like to begin with one simple question this morning:

I.      How do you see Jesus? (1-6)

exp.: we’ve been flying at about 30,000 feet through Mark this morning; I’d like to fly lower and get a closer look. rd v 1; so, he leaves from say, maybe Capernaum and heads some 20 miles or so up the mountain range to his hometown of Nazareth.

  1. I’m reminded of John 1, where Philip found Nathanael and told him that they had found the Messiah, the one Moses had told them about in the Law – Jesus, of Nazareth. Nathanael is like: Nazareth! Can anything good come out of Nazareth? So, as the disciples head that way, I wonder what contempt they hold for that town.
  2. 2nd, this ain’t an easy walk! Show pic; 1,200 ft above sea level; SOG is 700 ft below sea level; in our passage it’s like: Oh, he just came to his hometown. Yeah, I’m sure with their activity everyday, this was typical; however, it ain’t an easy walk! And, it’s some 20 miles!

IMG_6296

So, Jesus does what just what Jesus does wherever he goes when he gets there. He begins in the Synagogue on a Sabbath and he teaches. And just how do these people respond? Rd 2a;

  1. These people are amazed! Astonished! With Luke you get the clear picture that they love him at 1st. They’re proud, because he a hometown boy, grown up and done good. But let me say this English word really lacks the punch the Gk word hits us with. This word is derived from the idea that whatever you’ve experienced, it feels like you’ve been blind-sided. Stricken. You’ve been hit. Punched in the gut. I think of the way we say: knocked for a loop. The idea to strike someone is in this compound word. At first, we don’t know if this is good or if this is bad – if this is positive or negative. But we quickly find out they’re having trouble with what he teaches.
  2. They ask a series of questions:
    1. Where did this man get these things? That is a literal translation: I think the idea is more like: how does this man have the ability to do the things he’s doing? And this comes out in their next two questions.
    2. What is the wisdom given to him? He is so wise – that’s evident. Where did he get this wisdom?
    3. How are such mighty works done by his hands? What Power! Where does this power come from? The Gospel of Luke and his 2nd book Acts, places great emphasis on the power of God at work through Christ. So, they’re seeing these things – But, they’ve got real problems with it because… look at the next few questions…
    4. Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” They know him. They know him as the young man who learned the skill of carpentry from either his father, or from a tradesman (meaning, we don’t know if Joseph was a carpenter and we don’t know when he died.) And, they know his family: his momma, his brothers, his sisters. They know where he was raised. They’re not demeaning him because he works with his hands. The people are not saying, “He’s nothing but a common laborer,” but rather, “He’s no better than anyone of us.” We know him to be just like us. The way he is teaching and the power he demonstrates through healing – amazing as they are – he didn’t get those things there in Nazareth. And they just can’t get past what they think they know…

ill.: There is a story about a man who came into the little Baptist Church, but he couldn’t keep his enthusiasm to himself. As the preacher preached, the man found himself shouting amen and Praise the Lord. One of the well-intentioned deacons felt it was his responsibility to let that man know he was in a Baptist Church and not a Pentecostal one. So, he simply got out of his seat slipped around the back of the seats and whispered to the man to keep it down.

The man did at first, but so excited at the preaching of God’s Word was he, that he found himself shouting Hallelujah. The deacon rushed back there to settle the man down again before things got out of hand.

But, it wasn’t anytime at all before the man was actually standing, shouting all of the above and clapping his hands. That Deacon jumped up and ran back there to that man. What is the matter with you? Haven’t I asked you politely to keep it down?

Yes, responded the man, but I just get so excited and so filled with the Holy Spirit that I can’t help but shout.

The Deacon looked sternly at the man and said, Well, I don’t know where you got it from but you didn’t get it here! So keep it down.

Well, the preaching of Jesus is filled with the Spirit of God. There is authority and power and wisdom displayed in ways they have never seen before. But, it doesn’t match what they think they know about Jesus. So, what is their conclusion? Just how do they see Jesus?

  1. And here is their ultimate response at the end of v3: They’re offended! This is the Gk word for which we get our English word We might envision these people listening and and becoming more and more offended with each part of the lesson – so much so that they would cry out: Scandalous!

There’s something else. We have so much more in Luke. I’d like to share this story from Luke’s perspective. He tells us of a trip to Nazareth. In his story, we have the text Jesus taught from: Isaiah. With Luke, the story goes from their elation of their Jesus – the awesome preacher-teacher – to their frustration with that Jesus. Mark leaves us with, Oh, well – Jesus wasn’t welcome. Luke says: they wanted to kill him.

app.: This application should hit home hard and fast. There are only two ways to see this:

  1. You hear the teaching of Jesus and your offended. Or…
  2. You hear the teaching of Jesus and your convicted.

t.s.: so let me frank with you: which one of these answers clearly applies to you: conviction or offense.

exp.: You see, you can experience miracles, and you can feel the power of his healing hand, but it isn’t enough. You can hear the wisdom in his teaching and you can be astonished and amazed, but it isn’t enough. You can hear him speak peace to the wind and the waves. You can see him cast out demons. You can touch the finge of his garment and even feel the touch of his healing hand. But, unless the power of his Holy Spirit convicts you of your sin, and draws you into a relationship with him, you’re not going to respond the way you should. Instead, you will scream scandalous!

In today’s world, I think people find Jesus attractive in some ways. He’s smart, he’s kind, he’s caring. Look at what he does for the Gadarene Demoniac; look at his response to the wind and the waves; look at his care for the woman stricken with this blood disease for 12 years. And, look at how he cares tenderly for Jairus’ 12-year-old daughter. That’s the sweet Jesus we want.

We love to hear him say, you’re sins are forgiven, but we won’t tolerate – go and sin no more. We adore the Jesus who sits the child upon his lap, but we abhor the Jesus who condemns sinful, harmful behavior.

So, how do you see Jesus? What response does he illicit from you? Are you offended or convicted. (Pause)

Conclusion: When I was in Cotulla, I thought it would be good to teach who Jesus was. As an informal survey, I asked the teens questions about Jesus. We went over these questions one by one, out loud. One simple question was about his nationality – his ethnicity. After some quick, wrong guesses, I said Jesus was Jewish. I’m not making this up, but a girl, a sophomore in age, responded in disgust: Oh my God, we worship a Jew!

Scandalous, isn’t it.

  • Born of a virgin – Scandalous.
  • Crucified on a cross – Scandalous.
  • Buried in a borrowed tomb and raised from the dead three days later – Scandalous
  • A Jewish Carpenter crucified for my sins – Scandalous!

If you’re offended at Jesus and his teaching – well, there are many who’ve felt the same way. Some choose simply to ignore these harder teachings. Look at the people of Nazareth – it was all too much for them to take in. They couldn’t get past what they thought they knew.

But, if you’re convicted of your sin this morning – if the teachings of Jesus cut you down to the core of your soul, let me offer you forgiveness this morning through Christ. There is no reason to wait a second longer – stand right now, right where you are and say, I need that forgiveness. I’ll pair you up with someone who will walk through the Scriptures and explain to you how you can know that you’re forgiven and have the promise of heaven.

Let’s take a quick moment and notice those who missed him:

  • Those who knew him best – missed him.
  • Those who knew his family – missed him.
  • Those who lived close to where he lived – missed him.
  • Those who were of the same nationality – missed him.
  • Those who were common everyday folk, just like him – missed him.

Rd v 4-5; And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.

We often times will wonder at how Jesus is viewed by others. But have you ever considered how Jesus might be looking at you? Rd v 6a: And he marveled because of their unbelief. Wow… what more could be done for these people? You know what, I don’t think it even matters – they still won’t believe.

And then, what does 6b say: he went into counseling because the rejection hurt him too much. Is that what it says?

And Jesus quit the ministry because it just hurt too much that people rejected him. … He never told another soul…

And he went about among the villages teaching. I love this little sentence. Rejection doesn’t mean it is all over.

There is still work to do. Yes, Christ was not received by his own. He came to his own, but his own received him not. Invitation: I want to give you a chance to receive Christ this morning…

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, Mark, Scripture, Sermon

SENT Conference: David & Goliath

Title: Becoming something greater than yourself!

Text: 1 Samuel 17

CIT: God’s faithfulness to David gave him the faith to stand, fight and defeat Goliath.

CIS: We can place our faith in Christ because he has conquered sin and death.

Introduction: Today’s story is a story you’re probably pretty familiar with. I’m guessing you’ve heard this story dozens and dozens of times. The story is about a kid and a giant. The kid’s name is David. The Giant – Goliath. The story is located in 1 Samuel 17; Turn there with me.

Most days I receive a NYTimes briefing. The idea is that I’ll find stories I wish to follow up on and read them. It works, by the way. At the conclusion of each briefing there is a Back Story. The following story was taken from the briefing.

Cracker Jack… The 87th Major League Baseball All-Star Game was played this week in San Diego. It was nice to see the American League win. I’m hoping it pays dividends when the Texas Rangers make it to the World Series – that is if they can bounce back for their last 13 ugly games. The All-Star game is a fine summer tradition, but here’s one that goes back even further: Eating Cracker Jack at the ballpark. The gooey treat’s origins go back to 1872, when F. W. Rueckheim, a German immigrant, began selling candy and popcorn in Chicago. By the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, Rueckheim and his brother, Louis, created a confection of molasses, peanuts and popcorn that millions of fairgoers gobbled up.

They perfected their recipe by 1896 when — legend has it — a salesman tasted a sample and shouted, “That’s crackerjack!” If you google Cracker Jack online, you’ll find the definition: exceptionally good; an exceptionally good person or thing. Translation for this man: it was fantastic. A name and a brand (it’s singular, not plural) were born, and the brothers began packaging and advertising the concoction.

Just to add to the story, the company first issued coupons in the boxes that could be redeemed for household items at a store in Chicago. It switched to “A Prize in Every Box” in 1912. The prizes went digital this spring, after billions of trinkets were distributed.

But I think the coolest part of the story is that Cracker Jack’s timelessness is wrapped up in one of the best-known songs in history:

Take me out to the ball game,

Take me out with the crowd.

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,

I don’t care if I never get back,

Let me root, root, root for the home team,

If they don’t win it’s a shame.

For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,

At the old ball game.

Now, that’s pretty cool for Frito-Lay, who owns Cracker Jack. There aren’t too many mlb games where that song isn’t heard. That’s free publicity for Cracker Jack. No wonder they’ve been around so long! Now, Cracker Jack is a small thing compared with major league baseball. A really small thing! How cool it must be for them to be a part of something so much larger.

As we look at 1 Samuel 17 and review the story of David and Goliath, I’m hoping you’ll desire to be a part of something so much larger than yourself.

Dr. Viktor Frankl is credited with saying: He who has a why can bear any how. I think what he meant by that statement is that purpose can give someone meaning. A purpose to life can empower someone to face the most difficult of circumstances.

Now, just how do these come together: purpose & meaning? Being a part of something so much greater than your self? We don’t have time read all of the verses in 1 Samuel 17, so with your permission, I’d like to present an outline of the story. It moves as follows:

  1. In v. 1-11, we meet the Philistines. They are Israel’s enemy.
  2. In v. 12-18 we meet David and his family and find out a little of what they do. They are some of the main players in this story.
  3. In v. 19-30, David is tasked by his father with the job of taking food to his brothers at the front where battle lines have been drawn up between the two armies. He is then to return and give a report to his father. So David takes supplies to them. It is here at the front David learns of Goliath, the fear the Israelite men have toward Goliath and the reward for the man who would face and defeat him. David said, “I’ll do it. I’ll take him on.”
  4. Here then, is where we pick up the story (31-50). I’ve entitled this section:

 

I.      David’s Faith: David Intercedes for the Fearful Israelites (31-50)

We note first His Confidence. Rd v 31-32

  • His Confidence: Now where does someone get such confidence? If you break this word down into two parts, you’ve got con – which means “with” and fide, which means “faith”; most literally then it means to have full faith and trust with… someone, something. For David, He tells us clearly where his faith is: rd v 37; 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” – Saul doesn’t say: Go and your faith be with you. Or go in this confidence you have. He says: Go, and the Lord (all caps) be with you. David’s confidence was in the LORD and only in him. Now, why? Why was this so? He tells us in this same verse: “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear; David says: Saul, come here, check this out. Let me show you my game room. Do you know what a game room is? For a hunter, it is the place he displays his trophies.

Ill.: Down south of Austin, my in-laws have a ranch. My father-in-law built a cabin on that ranch. In the cabin is a trophy wall mount of an elk I shot in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Hunters love to tell stories of their trophies. I love to tell the story of how I shot that elk. What it was like field dressing the huge animal. Getting it down the mountain. It was the experience of a lifetime. I love it when someone sees it hanging over the fireplace and asks, “who shot that?” They always want to know more.

App.: David is like: Saul, let me show you my game room. See that lion? That lion came and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And when he rose up against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him down and killed him.

Come over here. See that bear? That bear came into camp all hungry and grumpy. He tried to have his way by getting a free meal, but I struck him down. Now, he’s just that sweet throw rug.

Confidence comes in the Lord and in his work in and through you. How are you able to stand? Because I’ve been here before. This ain’t my first rodeo!

T.S.: So, note 1st his confidence in the Lord and what the Lord has done through David. 2ndly, we notice his …

  • His Strategy:

Rd v 38; Saul is thinking to himself that this kid is in deep trouble. Who has better armor than the King? So, let’s get him geared up! Rd v 39; Here is an application that I’m not sure we can teach. David senses that this isn’t going to work. This is called discernment. This armor has served the king well. It is probably the best armor in the kingdom. But, David knows this isn’t for him. Discernment is a gift from the Lord. But I think there is a great application for us here: Go with what you know! That’s what David does; rd v 40;

Transition: So, David gears up and makes his way toward Goliath. This is the third point:

  • His Actions:
  1. You might expect Goliath to laugh, but he doesn’t. Read 41-44; Goliath disdains David and defies God by putting his trust in his gods and in his weapons.; David recognizes his failure and points it out; rd v 45; what a sharp contrast; Goliath in his ‘things’ – even his gods are things;
  2. David, however, puts his faith in God alone for God’s glory alone; rd 46-47; Goliath makes his move toward David, and David doesn’t hesitate; rd v 48;
  3. David runs to the battle line. Rd 49a;

Ill.: I love to run; I carry a ‘fanny pack’; it’s not really that, but it is similar; It has a water carrier and bottle and it has a pouch for my phone and keys; I can carry money. Can I just say it aint easy to run and put your hand into your pouch. 2nd, From time to time, I take off my shirt and swing it around to get rid of some pesky flies that are trying to land on me. I sling it around and around, taking out any bees, wasps, or giant flies that are trying to land on my. I’m thinking that David had done this before. Only because I know this isn’t easy.

  1. But, David hits Goliath with the perfect shot. (49-50) Keep reading; rd v 51;
  2. David took his own sword and cut off the giant’s head. He said he was going to do that when he didn’t even have a sword (cf.: v 46). When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. I have a vivid imagination: I picture the people, especially the Philistines screaming at the top of the lungs: Kill that kid! Hah! Rip his head off! Teach him a lesson! Then, puff, just like that, it is over and their champion lies on the ground. I’ll bet it got quiet real quick like. David runs and stands over the giant – taking his sword and cutting off his head. The roar of the Israelites rises quickly as David picks up the Giant’s head by the hair and shows his people! The Philistines, though, their jaws drop – their eyes just about pop out with disbelief. And then they take off running! When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

Transition: Well, you know the rest of the story. It’s the conclusion to the story: The Collapse of the Philistine Army (51-53)

Conclusion: V. The Collapse of the Philistine Army (51-53)

  1. Israel’s Pursuit of the Philistines (51-52)
  2. Israel Plunders the Philistines (53)
  3. Post Remarks: David’s Victory with the Giant’s head in his hands. (54-58)

Transition: So Fred, how does this apply to missions? I’ve come here to learn about missions!

Yesterday, I stopped in to see a friend. 8 years ago, he and his wife sold everything to return home to missionaries to his family for one year. That was a big deal because he from Austria. Their goal was to spend the year with family, live the Christian life and share Christ with the people they love.

While they were there they searched hard for a church. They found a house church and became a part of it. It wasn’t easy. They made friends, they found jobs – his wife learned the language. But after a year they returned to Tyler and started their lives back up. As far as they could tell, they had made some friends in a house church, but none in his family came to Christ.

Since returning they’ve had two beautiful little girls. The youngest has yet to return to the homeland to meet family. A few weeks ago, my friend got a phone call that his father came home from work and fell over dead. No warning. No sickness. No nothing.

What hurts so bad is that my friend has tickets to return to Austria next week. He had planned a 2 week vacation with the sole purpose that his daddy might see his little girl face to face. They called the airline and tried to get things changed, but the airline would only do it for fee – a fee too large for my friend and his family to pay.

So he bought a ticket home for himself. That’s why I stopped in to see him. Losing your dad at 62 is hard. Losing your dad at any age is hard. I wanted to know how he was doing. Well, it’s been hard. His parents were divorced years ago. There is a will from the 80’s. Other people are a part of the family now. It goes on and on and if you’ve ever dealt with that stuff you know the struggle.

But in this process, He was able to sit down with his mom for a long visit. As he talked she told him he sounded like this guy she met who works with her. Some months ago she started selling Tupperware and met a young man in their group who is a Christian. It just so happens that this man was a friend of my friend. They met in a house church 8 years ago. He told his mom why they sound so much alike – why they sound so positive, even in hard times – He told his mom about Christ. And after presenting the gospel to her – 8 years after living there and not seeing any fruit from his labor, she prayed with him to receive Christ.

Transition: Becoming a part of something so much larger than yourself isn’t quick and easy. It isn’t something you can script. It means surrendering yourself to God’s will, even when you don’t understand it. So let me offer a couple of take-a-ways…

Application:

  1. The author wants to demonstrate the Glory of God over Israel’s enemies by taking what seems like certain defeat and bringing about his victory through the young man, David. Listen up, Missions in your church and in your life is much the same: God wants to demonstrate his glory through you. If the task looks too big for you, it probably is, but it isn’t for God! Your mission endeavor isn’t so much about you and your church. No, not really – It’s about God’s Glory. I feel confident in saying that God’s more concerned about His glory than just about anything else.
  2. Let your faith develop by trusting God in the small matters. Begin your mission work around your house, around your city. David did what he did and he did it the way he knew how because of his success in the smaller things. Grow from where you are. As God builds and strengthens your faith, move out from there. Start with what you know. God will teach you more as he grows you.
  3. We’ve got to stop thinking of the Gospel as transforming lives only through perfect vessels. God uses the weak to confound the wise. Saul’s armor was probably the best in the land, but it wasn’t what David needed nor what God was going to use. Here’s another application that fits with this idea: The sins of our past can be testimonies to the grace and forgiveness of God. That was my friend’s message to his mother. Sinners need to know they can be forgiven. We may not be the best speaker, we may not be the prettiest or the sharpest. But, if we’re a tool in the hands of God, watch out! 2 Corinthians 12.10: 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
  4. We can trust God to bring about victory in our mission through Christ who has come to redeem us from our enemy. God accomplished this by sending his Son to die a criminal’s death on a cross – a symbol of weakness. If you’ve never experienced the grace and compassion of God, I offer that Grace and compassion to you right now. Today is the day of Salvation. Today is the day of forgiveness. We’re going to dismiss shortly, but if you want to accept Christ this morning – come find me. I’d like to tell you how.
  5. You can be a part of something larger than you. You can become Cracker Jack missionary. Once you realize that God is working through you to Glorify himself – it becomes so much easier. You’re not worried about you. You’re not worried about your church. Your concern for God’s glory gives you the why – and you can face any how!

 

Let’s pray

Leave a comment

Filed under 1 Samuel, Calling, Faith, missions, Purpose, Scripture, Uncategorized