Category Archives: Faith

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.

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FROM FAITH – FOR FAITH

Romans 1.16-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

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

Application: So, what do we do about this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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…

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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

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

Mark 5.1-20

Title: A Proper Response

Text: Mark 5.1-20

Introduction: Thank you, Stephen for reading Scripture this morning. For Bible study this morning let me give you a couple of aids…

  1. Take Notes
  2. Write down questions you might have to help facilitate the discussion
  3. Think of OT passages that alluded to or are referenced.
  4. The goal is to go deeper.

Let’s begin: We’re in the 2nd miracle in this particular passage on the Authority of Jesus. Last week we saw how Jesus exercised his authority over the natural realm (4.35-41). Today, we’ll see his authority over the Spiritual Realm. In subsequent weeks, we’ll look at his authority over the physical realm, and even death.

            As we begin today, I’d like to offer a quick summary of what has just been read: In today’s passage, the disciples arrive on the other side of the sea with Jesus in tow. Immediately, as he is getting out of the boat, Jesus is confronted by a demon-possessed man. Mark takes time to tell the readers how dangerous this man has become (1-7). The demon identifies Jesus and Jesus then confronts the demon inside the man. It turns out that there are many demons inside this man, for the demon’s name is Legion (8-9). Added to this, it appears the demons understand their fate is sealed and they beg Jesus to not send them out of the country, but rather into a herd of pigs nearby. He grants their plea. Coming out of the man and entering into the herd, about 2,000 pigs rush down the steep hill and drown in the water below (10-13).

            At this point, the herdsmen flee back to their village where they report what has happened. The people come out to personally take in what they’ve heard. When they arrive, they find the man sitting there, clothed and in his right mind. I’m not sure why, whether from fear or anger, but they beg Jesus to leave and he obliges. As he boards the boat, the healed man begs Jesus to allow him to follow along. Jesus, however, refuses the man. And, instead of urging silence, Jesus tells the man to go home and share of the mercy of God in his life. And so he does throughout the whole region of the Decapolis (14-20).

There are certain words that stick out: beg or begged. I find that interesting. For me, this helped shape my message for this morning. Here are my three points:

  1. The Response of the Gadarene Demoniac to Jesus (1-7)
  2. The Response of Jesus to the Gadarene Demoniac (6-10)
  3. The Response of the people to Jesus (14-20)

Transition: let’s begin with this 1st response…

I.      The Response of the Gadarene Demoniac to Jesus (1-7)

exp.: I call him the Gadarene Demoniac, because that is the way I learned it. from the KJV; rd v 2; At 1st glance, it appears this man is responding to the arrival of Jesus; however, a closer look reveals that the response is really the demons within this man; What we see here is that Satan has been at work in the life of the Gadarene Demoniac! We see this:

  • Possessed by an unclean spirit – a demon
  • Living among the dead; this isn’t really a play on words in the original language, as far as I can tell, but it is for us, isn’t it? rd v 3a;
  • Driven away by the town’s people because he was mad, and, he could not be restrained; rd 3b-4
  • Crying out and Cutting himself; v5; this is something we hear about today; people cut themselves because of the pain they’re in. It’s one of the ways they deal w/ their pain;

ill.: I came across this article this past week and it got my attention: Article in NY Times – First Rise in US Death Rate Surprises Experts. The death rate rose in 2005 because of the flu. It rose a decade before that in 1993 because of AIDS and the flu. It’s rise this past year is troublesome because… “We are not accustomed to seeing death rates increase on a national scale,” said Andrew Fenelon, a researcher at the C.D.C. who did not work on the paper. “We’ve seen increases in mortality for some groups, but it is quite rare to see it for the whole population.” And just what is the reasoning behind these deaths? The US has seen a spike in deaths in three categories:

  1. Suicide
  2. Drug Overdose
  3. Alzheimer’s

The article goes on to say that other parts of the world are actually seeing decrees in their death rates, making the US spike even more surprising.

app.: That is what Satan wants: he comes to steal, to kill and to destroy. His purpose and goal remains the same. He was being successful with this man. He seems to be accomplishing his goal in the US, too.

My guess is that this is just where this man is headed, but something happens when he meets Jesus. Look at his next response.

  • He saw, he ran, he fell down before him. This word translated fell down is sometimes translated Like in Mt 2.15; Now, whether this is the man or the demons who are in possession of this man, the response is correct. Jas 2.19

t.s.: So we see 1st, the response of the demon-possessed man. Now, look at the response of Jesus to this man…

II.     The Response of Jesus to the Gadarene Demoniac (6-13)

exp.: the very 1st thing Jesus says to the man is; rd v 8; immediately Jesus recognizes the work of the devil – so Jesus goes to work right away! Really, this is not cumbersome work for God.

  1. Legion vs. Christ; A Heavy Weight Fight like Frazier and Ali; Thousands of demons vs. Christ. But really this is No contest. No battle. Jesus doesn’t even need to break a sweat! Something to note:
    1. Each time we see their encounter in Mark, they accurately identify Christ for who he is.
    2. When they encounter him, they begin begging (10, 12). Jesus hasn’t fully stepped out of the boat yet and they’re screaming Knowing their fate is sealed… they begin to plead for mercy.
  2. Jesus asks the unclean spirit his name. Some say this is how you gain mastery over the demon. I don’t know about that. I fear if I did that, they’d say: Jesus we know, Paul we know, But who are you! This would be a great discussion for your class: Is there a difference between demon possession and mental illness. BTW: Jesus heals them both if he desires. And that is just what he does here…
  3. Christ sets the man free; however, the pigs meet a destructive fate; rd v 12-13;

ill.: This past week there was a story about a little boy who fell into the moat of the Gorilla’s cage. Mr. Maynard, who headed up the emergency response team shot and killed the Gorilla. According to him, he didn’t have a choice. Of course Social Media has got to respond and of course, they’ve condemned the actions of the Zoo. For me, it is simple: animal or child? Child! Scripture is clear on this, too. I know, the kid wasn’t supposed to be down there – he was in the Gorilla’s domain. No, not really. The Gorilla lives in our domain. We’ve been given that responsibility. Some people have condemned the parents. Well, I’m guessing those folks have never been responsible for a three year old! It is amazing how quick a kid can get away from you …

app.: Daniel Akin, president of SEBTS: the event demonstrates that God cares more for man whom He created in His image and recreates in salvation, than he does for animals which do not bear his image. Satan is a murderer of human beings, but Jesus is their Savior.

Before we leave this point, let me say a word about demons:

  1. They are real. And for that reason, they scare me.
  2. A demon can possess a person. Here we see many demons possessing one person. Some have raised the question of whether a Christian can be possessed by a demon. A great question to ask your teacher this morning!
  3. A demon can take control of a person. Here we see them speak; exercise great strength; hurt or injure the possessed and even others.
  4. Demons are spiritual beings – they are fallen angels. Their goals and purpose are the same as those of their leader, Satan: to kill, to steal and to destroy.
  5. Demons can move from one body to another. Here we see their transference from a human to animals. Jesus refers to an unclean spirit being swept out of a body and returning with others added.
  6. Demons resist Christ. In our text, it is immediate. He said come out, but they resist him. He permits them to go into the pigs.
  7. Demons have no power over Christ. All Jesus needs to do is speak. He speaks and the demons obey. Period.

app.: It appears to me in Revelation, that all things end in a moment. There is fighting, battles, killing. The enemy is doing all he can, and then, boom! It all ends. Jesus just speaks.

t.s: Finally, #3

III.    The Response of the People to Jesus (14-20)

exp.: Let’s look at these varied responses:

  1. The Herdsmen; they fled; they told; they announced or proclaimed; this story is pretty much unbelieveable. So, they gotta go see for themselves;
  2. The Townspeople; come to see; 15a; they came to see Jesus; and interestingly enough, they see the ‘demon possessed man’; This is how the text reads – present tense; but he’s not demon possessed anymore! Well, this is how the people knew him; similar in Mt – Elizabeth, the barren one, is now in her 6th month; – the one who had had the legion;
    1. Then they get to hear the story again in v 16; rd v 17; their response: fear! They beg Jesus to leave their region. And, I guess as is his practice when not wanted, he obliges them.
  3. The Man
    1. Sitting there – restrained no more – actually, he wasn’t restrained before, but it was for a lack of trying; now he is captured by the love of Christ;
    2. Clothed – no longer naked; This one surprises me, because we don’t learn from the text that he was naked – that is, until now; Now, we want to focus on Mark, and avoid the other gospels, I was curious to find that Luke does tell us that he wore no clothes in 8.27;

ill.: When I read this, I couldn’t help but think of adam and eve; Gen 3. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. I wonder where they got these clothes? Did the disciples carry them around? Probably. Did they put together something from different sources? But this is the gospel – a changed heart is displayed externally…

  1. Right mind – I suppose this would be in opposition to living among the tombs, cutting himself and screaming.
  2. He begs Jesus to let him stay with Jesus.

ill.: This is for me, the most beautiful part of the story. Maybe because I can relate. Oh, I was never as bad off as that man, but I was bad off. I look at who I was and shudder. And now, I only want to be with him. And this is where it is different for me. Christ has ascended to be with the Father and he has poured out his Spirit into my heart. So, I’m not without him.

app.: And you don’t have to be either.

But there is more here; rd v 19-20

  1. He becomes an evangelist!

Conclusion: Ok, so I’m translating this verse… 19, and it reads this way: and he said to him, ‘Go to your house, to those who are yours… most translations insert friends. There are those who belonged to him. Now, I apply this personally – For me it is my wife, my kids, my grandkids, my mom, mother-in-law; the list goes on.

Who was it for this man? Did he have a wife at home? Children? What about his extended family? What about those who were his friends? What would that reception be like for them – when they thought he was lost forever? And what was it like for him? No longer held captive by Satan, he had been set free. What would he say? Can you imagine the tears of joy for them all?

How? How is this possible? What has happened to you?

I met a man named Jesus. Let me tell you what he has done for me?

Let’s pray…

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Mark 4.35-41

Title: Following Jesus

Text: Mark 4.35-41

Introduction: Thank you, Tony for reading Scripture for us this morning.

Our story begins with Jesus finishing his teaching through parables. As the evening moves in, Jesus encourages the disciples to cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. We were told by Mark, up in 3.23, that Jesus began teaching them in parables. And, in Ch. 4 we learn that it is mainly because there are those who have rejected Christ. All of the signs were there, but these people hardened their hearts toward Christ and rejected what they had seen with their own eyes. On this particular day, as outlined in chapter four, Jesus teaches in parables from a boat.

I don’t suppose by any stretch of the imagination that these three parables in chapter four compose all of his parables and all of his teaching that day.

In his teaching, however, it is apparent that his teaching is about the Kingdom of God – who will receive and reject it; how it grows as God determines; and, how it will grow way beyond their wildest imaginations.

When we get to chapter 5, we’ll see Jesus performing miracles to demonstrate that he is Lord over everything. He has authority over everything. He is the promised Messiah. He alone has authority over nature, the physical and spiritual realms.

Here is my fear: I worry that something so familiar might cause us to miss something beautiful – that you might get drowsy and nod off while moving through familiar waters. You’ve heard this story before – maybe have taught it – maybe have preached it. Today’s message can sound a bit devotionalistic. That’s a word I made up – meaning: Instead of good, sound, biblical preaching, you might feel a bit like you got your devotional thought for the day. That isn’t my goal and I’ll do my best not to make it seem that way.

Story: This past Thursday night to Friday morning, I woke up in the middle of the night and began to contemplate God. I was praying and just trying to wrap my mind around how big God is. I tried defining or understanding the trinity. That alone took me to depths of humility that are hard to explain. I think this can be a good exercise, but mostly leads to futility and frustration. The truth is that no mind can conceive the height and depth and breadth and width of God’s existence. He cannot be explained, contained or imagined.

Rev 4.2 simply describes this scene: At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. V4 describes the 24 elders and v 5 comes back to the throne: From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

Even with this description, my mind cannot begin to imagine God. Thankfully, God in his infinite mercy has given us Jesus so that we can begin somewhere – a starting point to understanding who God is. This in itself is no easy task. But, it is for us a starting point.

Who is this man Jesus? Who is this man who summons us, and calls us and commissions us to go with his message? The disciples think they know. At this point, they’re considered insiders, as opposed to the outsiders – the Scribes, the crowds following just looking to be fed or clothed. The disciples feel special. They’re hand picked. But do they really know what it means to follow after Jesus?

In today’s passage we’ll find six principles to following Christ as demonstrated through their actions. The 1st is found in v 35-36; rd v 35-36;

Principle #1:

I.     Following Jesus means you can’t go with Jesus and stay with the crowd, too (35-36).

exp.: His command is a subj; translated as a command; it softens the command (i.e.: why don’t you take the garbage out to the trash can as you’re going; Let’s pick up your toys before we put the movie on. Both you and the child know that there is a command in the form of an encouragement. Rd v 36; just as he was (ESV) Gk – Lit.: as he was in the boat. HCSB – since he was already in the boat.

app.: so following Jesus means you obey. He says go and you go.

t.s.: following Jesus means you can’t go with Jesus and stay with the crowd, too. 2nd Principle:

II.    Following Jesus doesn’t mean you will never have any problems (37)

exp.: there is a myth that we find way too many preachers pushing in their preaching which says give Jesus your life and your troubles will fly away. They say something like: God has a wonderful plan for your life; I don’t see that in the Scriptures. Think of Christ who died on the Cross, after being tortured. Think of Peter, James, Paul. Did God have a ‘wonderful plan’ for them? The truth is, when you choose to follow Jesus, that doesn’t mean there won’t be problems. Notice 1st: Jesus told them to go. Being God, do you think He knew there would come a storm? Yes! Now, Going, in obedience, they experienced this storm.

Catch this: it isn’t because they disobeyed Christ that storms arose. That is what some preachers preach: you’re in this mess because of sin. No, They were doing as they were told!

Trials and tribulation comes our way and people ask what sin caused this struggle. The answer: Adam’s sin! It has affected us all. And it affects the world!

  • Windstorm
  • Big waves crashing into the boat – those are big waves!
  • The boat is filling up with water! What happens when a boat fills with water?

These guys got problems. Here is what gets me: these guys are experts when it comes to handling boats. This ain’t their 1st rodeo. But they’re not responding like Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump! They’re scared! And I think I know why they’re scared. Ready for this? They’re scared because they’re not in control. They were just fine when they were in control. But now, they’re not in control anymore. Things have gotten out of hand.

app.: Listen, Following Jesus doesn’t mean you won’t have any problems anymore.

t.s.: So what will they do? That leads us to our next principle, #3:

III.   Following Jesus means you’re following someone who understands your need (38)

exp.: I love how Peter has recalled this story so vividly. He remembers small details. He remembers the cushion. He remembers Jesus was sleeping while they were at death’s door. But I get this. And, here’s what I want you to take from this verse: Jesus was 100% fully human – minus the sin part! He was asleep! In the stern; He’s human. You probably don’t realize the physical stamina it takes to preach, but it does. Exhausted from the day’s activity of preaching and teaching, his body needed rest. So, he curls up on a cushion.

app.: When you’re life seems out of control – or at least you come to the conclusion that you’re really not in control of things – there is one who can intercede for you because he understands your need. He understands your need for rest. He understands hunger, thirst. Hebrews 4 teaches us…

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

t.s.: There is no one better equipped to handle your problems, than Jesus. Principle #4:

IV.    Following Jesus doesn’t make you immune to questioning God (38)

exp.: I changed this and made it more palatable from: Following Jesus doesn’t mean you’re immune to asking stupid questions. I liked that one better, but I know it isn’t politically correct anymore to say the word stupid. I don’t know why that word gets canned and so many other words of dubious distinction get a pass. But, stupid is a word – it means lacking intelligence or common sense. It is the common sense part I’d like to focus on. Seriously, I’ve asked this question of Jesus: Don’t you care! And I already know the answer. Have you ever asked a question you know the answer to?

Does Jesus care? Yes!

When you’re in a pickle, does Jesus care? When someone in your family gets sick or hurt, does Jesus care? Does Jesus care who wins the Stanley Cup or the NBA finals? No! But he does care about your life. You know that. The Disciples know that…

app.: But, following Jesus doesn’t make you immune to questioning God.

t.s.: Principle #5:

V.      Following Jesus means watching him work in amazing, inexplicable ways. (39)

exp.: rd v 39; rebuked the wind! Have you ever rebuked the wind? Possibly. What good did it do? He spoke to the sea! Peace; like shalom? No. This word is more like Be Quiet. Jesus wouldn’t say shut up, so I’m sure it was Be Quiet. Silence! Continue reading: And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

ill.: Paul White (Tall Paul) used to invite me down each year to be a teacher at his Disciple Now weekends. Paul always hosted the best DNows. One year, he brought us all down to Corpus Christi a day early. As a part of the training, he took us out on a sailboat in the Corpus Christi Bay. It was a big sailboat. The problem was – there was no wind. So we just sat there. We had a motor and so we cruised around for a little while, but it wasn’t really that fun.

app.: the disciple had no motor. With no wind now, Christ having answered their prayers, they’ve got some major rowing to do!

t.s.: Finally, principle #6:

VI.    Following Jesus through the storms of life will give us a proper perspective of who Christ really is (40-41).

exp.: I worry about this point. I think too often people use this story as a metaphor for life: Jesus will speak peace to the storms of your life. He can. He might. But he might not. But that isn’t the point. The point is that Christ can speak peace to your storm. The point is that He is Lord and he has authority. And even more, the point here, the emphasis of Mark’s story is to show you that Christ is Lord over Nature. Remember, Christ is Lord over

  • The natural
  • The spiritual
  • The physical
    • And even death (which seems to me to be a combo of all three.)

Now, these verses identify that the disciples fear the wrong things. In v 40-41 we find one word that appears twice. Fear. However, that is not the case in the Gk text. The first word translated afraid, appears three times in the NT and it means cowardly, timid. Read it this way: Why are you such cowards? Let me ask you: Does that change your understanding of what Christ is saying to these disciples? Why are you such cowards!

ill.: Do you ever feel that way? Problems arise, struggles occur and you find yourself acting like a sissy? God, don’t you care? I have to say that I’m amazed at how many of us respond to life’s struggles with fear and in trepidation. I watch people fall apart over some of the simplest of life’s problems.

I think this goes back to the problems the disciples are having: their problem is they’re no longer in control. Maybe that is the root of your problem: you’re no longer in control – and you want to be. And it causes you to act like a coward who has no faith.

What are we really saying to God as he works in our lives and we respond like this? We’re saying that we don’t really trust him. Not really…

app.: Here, in our text, we see the disciples learn what to fear and what not to fear… or maybe I should say who to fear – and what not to fear; rd v 41a; rd 41b;

t.s.: Who is this? This is the Lord. This is God.

Conclusion:

  1. This is the very One who created the wind and the sea!
  2. This is the One who sends us into storms and knows what he is doing.
  3. This is the One who has power to stop those storms with just a rebuke and a word.
  4. This is the One who knows our needs and cares.
  5. This is the One who is patient with us, in spite of our sinful condition and desire to be in control.
  6. This is God in the flesh.

Invitation: if you don’t know this God – Jesus, I offer you the chance to meet him today. Come and find forgiveness of sins and purpose for your life.

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James 1.2-12

Title: Steadfastness In Trials

Text: James 1.2-11

Introduction: James, the brother of Jesus writes to the Jews scattered abroad. His letter is about faith being lived out. I think that really comes through in our study tonight. Let’s begin with a question:

  1. How one should respond to Trials? (1.2)

exp.: read v 2; Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds; Count – means lead or guide; Luke 22.26; the 2nd meaning is consider or regard or think; here, count. Also, esteem might be a good word. use that with lead or guide. Someone who is a leader or guides others is someone who is esteemed, held in high regard, considered or well thought of. That’s the idea behind this word – hold joy in high regard when you meet trials of various kinds.

Transition: the next question would naturally be: why? Why hold it high, why be joyful in trials? What do these trials bring?

  1. Why? What do trials bring to your life? (1.3-4)

exp.: rd v 3; for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. Steadfast bookends; rd v 12; in v 2-3; also trials; so the theme here would be remaining steadfast in trials; and the reason is because of the outcome: maturity; rd v 4; And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. See the words full and perfect; same word in the Greek. It means to finish, like a goal or the end of a race; you’ve run the course and you’re finished; Hence full, I like complete. There isn’t anymore to do. As for the word complete, my lexicon says: “a qualitative term (think quality over quanity), with integrity, whole, complete, undamaged, intact, blameless πίστις undiminished faith…”

app.: trials have benefit – they produce steadfastness in your faith, which in turn brings about a sense of fullness, perfection, completeness in your faith (think quality, not quantity). The word I used, but you don’t see in the text is maturity – a mature faith.

Ill.: Elsie Snyder: we had just finished a rather tough business meeting. I apologized to her for the hard times we were going through and she said: we’ve been through much tougher times than these.

Transition: I know we don’t like trials of various kinds; however, there is a great benefit to enduring them – growth in your faith. Let’s look at this next section in v 5-8; rd v 5: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. It sounds like he’s leaving the issue of steadfastness in trials and moving on to something else. But he isn’t, not really. I believe he’s answering another question:

  1. How do we handle trials when we’re in them? (1.5-9)

exp.: Yes, count it all joy when you’re in them. Understand that they produce a strong, mature faith. This takes wisdom, and, if you’re in a struggle, a trial, and you’re lacking the wisdom to push forward, ask for it. It’s like he’s saying – be steadfast in trials because they’re going to make you more mature in your faith. And if you have trouble seeing it, ask God for the wisdom to show you. The Greek is much more poetic than the English: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask the giving God who is generous to all without reproach… Now isn’t that beautiful? The Giving God. Do you look at God like that? Like, he wants to give you what you need to be strong in your faith as you endure trials.

I don’t want to move on from this… let’s dialogue for a moment; what does this do for your faith?

  • If you lack wisdom – Ask for wisdom, and then he says…
  • If you ask for wisdom – Ask in faith… let’s continue reading rd v6;

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

I think we see a comparison here: faith v. doubt. Sometimes we see the word doubt as ἄπιστος; but here, the word is διακρίνω: through, because and to judge.

Doubt is judging your situation. Faith is judging in what you don’t see.

How much doubt would you say someone has to have before he doesn’t have faith? Mark 9.14-29; What does Matt 14.31 mean? Mt 21.21?

Well, that person – the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.… tossed up and down, in and out, to and fro. But the one with faith…he is steadfast. Rd v 7-8:

For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. So this is what we see: A lack of faith reaps nothing. So ask for wisdom believing the giving God for his gift.

Let’s continue with this illustration James gives us; rd v 9-11;

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

exp.: Let me say, I struggled with these verses. What do they mean? One of my favorite preachers, R. Kent Hughes disagrees with me here. But here are my thoughts: I think James is using what we call a ‘paradox’ here: The rich poor guy and the poor rich guy. Actually, he calls the 1st guy a brother. So, who is he talking about? Really, I don’t think the question is who, but rather what. What is he talking about here?

Well, what is the context? Remaining steadfast in trials. So, within the context here, he’s talking about a person, a Christian whose trial is their severe poverty. A person who is poor should ‘boast’ in their highly exalted position. Really? Sounds crazy! Well it is, unless you understand the paradox. This takes wisdom. And if you don’t have wisdom, then ask in faith for it.

The rich poor person should be proud of his exalted position. The focus isn’t on money, but rather, who we are in Christ.

  • Romans 8.17a;
  • Hebrews 12.22-24a;
  • 1 Peter 2.9-10;
  • 1 John 3.1-2;

The rich person, I’m assuming now the context is about the rich person without Christ, they have all they are ever going to get. When they say, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” They have no idea the truth to that prophecy. For them, it’s all down hill from there. Do you see the analogy here: rd 10b-11; the rich man hasn’t any hope for the future. Everything he is enjoying now will pass.

Transition: And v 12, brings it all back into context: rd v 12; 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. It is a call to remain steadfast in trials, because we know what our future holds.

So, what are our take-a-ways?

  1. Evaluate your attitude in your current struggle. As for counting it pure joy, how are you doing?
  2. Do you see most of your trials as
    1. Burdens placed on you by God?
    2. Satanic attacks?
    3. Opportunities for growth?
  3. Have you ever referred to God as The Giving God? What terms have you been using?
  4. Which statment identifies your walk better?Doubt is judging your situation. Faith is judging in what you don’t see.

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Filed under Faith, James, Purpose, Scripture, W.E.B.S.

Jude 1-2

Title: Jude: An Introduction

Text: Jude 1-2

Introduction: Start recording; Let’s pray:

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

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

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

Well, let’s begin with who he was:

Who was Jude?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

part: describing those who have been called.

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

We are loved!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 8.28-39

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

God’s Everlasting Love

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

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

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

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

Application:

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

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

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

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

F.A.I.T.H.

Title: Faith

Text: Hebrews 11.1-40

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

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

The Bookends to this chapter set it up so well…

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

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

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

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

1.     Faith Explained (1-5)

exp.: rd v 1;

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

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

  • Demonstrated: rd v 2-3:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.     Faith Expressed (6)

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

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

t.s.: and that is Faith Examined.

3.     Faith Examined (7-40)

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

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

Conclusion: Here is faith spelled out for us:

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

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

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Filed under Evangelism, Faith, Hebrews 11