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A rough draft of my sermon content

God’s Righteous Judgment

Text: Romans 2.1-16

Introduction: We’re in Romans 2 this morning beginning in v1. Turn there and mark that place. But let’s begin in Amos. I’ll give you a moment to turn there. Romans 2, where we’ll be most of the morning and Amos, beginning in 1.1; The book of Amos begins with the Jews witnessing the judgment of God upon their Gentile neighbors. Amos 1.1 tells us a little bit about Amos and then launches into Prophecy. Rd v 1-2;

I’m sure that at 1st the Jews listen closely. But then, Boom, the hammer is lowered and the Jews start lovin’ it! Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab. These are the neighbors of God’s people. Amos has lulled them in and by 2.1, they’re amen-ing the preacher! But then Amos catches them off guard and let’s them know they’re not safe from the Judgment of God, either. Rd 2.4-5; The Gentiles didn’t have the Law of the Lord and were going to pay dearly for their behavior. The Jews had the Law, so they are without excuse! They thought that just because they were on God’s side that they had no worries. They figured the Law, the Temple, and being God’s people was enough to avoid God’s judgment. Amos uses the ole’ bait and switch!

In our text today, Paul is using a form of argument that Amos uses in his book. Paul has been preaching to the Gentiles and the Jews are standing behind him shoutin’ “amen,” “hallelujah” and “preach it!”

Turn back to Romans. Let’s begin back in 1.18-20… Amen! And it continues down through v. 32; rd 1.32: Amen! Then, without warning, he hits the Jews right between the eyes, just like Amos did. They never see this coming. Rd 2.1;

What we find in chapter two is an indictment upon the Jews for trusting in their religion and not in their obedience born out of a heart for God. I’ve divided this first section up into three parts which explain God’s Righteous Judgment to us. These three explanations are:

  1. God’s Righteous Judgment is unexpected for those who think their religion makes them exceptional.
  2. God’s Righteous Judgment is rendered according to each one’s works.
  3. God’s Righteous Judgment is perfectly impartial.

So let’s begin with the 1st word of warning,

God’s Righteous Judgment is:

I. Unexpected for those who think their religion makes them exceptional (1-5)

exp.: Let that sink in. Read that again. This truth should grab us. It should cause us to stop and think. I’m sure most of us here this morning are thinking that we’re Gentiles, so in this story, we’re not really the one’s being addressed. And concerning the context, that would be true. But if you apply the principle from within the context, I think you’ll see that this really applies to anyone who relies on their religion to save them. The Jews weren’t safe just because they were God’s people. And you’re not safe just because you’re a Baptist or a … whatever you claim to be.

exp.: rd 2.2-5; This isn’t about who you are, but about what you do because of who you are. Don’t miss that. Lots of people go to church, but that doesn’t make their Christians. There are a lot of people who serve as pastors, but that doesn’t make them Christians. Please don’t confuse your salvation with a denomination or a building. AND, don’t confuse your salvation with your baptism or church attendance.

Paul was telling these people that, while they’re saying Amen and Praise the Lord, they’re not exempt from God’s judgment when they do the same thing their Gentile neighbors do.

*This was the classic warning – the warning their forefathers had received: when you enter the land, be careful not to behave like the people I am kicking out of the land. Deut. 4.1-6.14; Chapter 7 is all about cleaning the people out of the land and making a place free from their idols and evil practices.

Paul is saying that they haven’t changed. The principles are the same and they still don’t get it.

ill.: Now, apply this thought, this principle to your own life: Don’t you find in yourself a bit of irony? That it is ironic how we can see so well the sins of others, but we miss it in ourselves. I mean the very same sins.

2 Samuel 12; Nathan to David; What an incredible set up! David is furious. He wants to know what man would do something so evil and wicked. Death! Death is the only true, right and fair judgment that can be assessed upon that man. And then Nathan hits him right between the eyes. You! You are that man!

app.: For some strange reason, we can locate the sins that plague us in other people – really, so much easier than we can see those sins in us.

That is what Paul is doing here:  You amen and shout praise the Lord at this preaching to the Gentiles and yet those very same rebellions ways are in you. Do you think you’re safe because you’re Jewish. Do you think your racial or ethnic heritage offers you some free pass? Uh-uh! Your sin, Your disobedience is storing up “wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” It isn’t just about having the Law, it is about practicing the Law in your life.

t.s.: and that’s Paul’s 2nd warning to them.

God’s Righteous Judgment is:

II. Rendered according to each one’s works (6-10)

exp.: you see that statement in v 6; rd 6; v 7-10 are set up in a Chiastic Structure delineating the difference between these two types of people: the people of good works in v 7 & 10 and the self-seekers, self pleasers in 8 & 9:

  1. Accordingly (6)
  2. To those who through patience in well-doing (7)
  3. To those whose works are self-seeking (8)
  4. Tribulation and distress (9)
  5. Glory, honor and peace for those who ‘do’ good (10)

Please don’t mistake this to think for one second that Paul is preaching a ‘salvation by works’ message. He isn’t. I think Paul does this to place emphasis on the life of one who is saved verses the life of one who isn’t. As a matter of fact, Paul will conclude this section in chapter three with ‘all are sinners’ and ‘all are justified only by God’s grace’. That’s what he started this section with, too (cf. 1.16-17 – it is the righteousness of God for everyone who believes). So, what exactly is he saying?

Simply this: Salvation isn’t just a thing of knowledge. It is a thing of change. Salvation in the heart of each believer changes that person. They live differently, they love differently, and they act differently. The change is something that is experienced on the inside and then exhibited on the outside – it is seen. It is observable.

ill.: I think the perfect illustration is baptism. It is a public testimony expressing externally what has happened internally. It doesn’t save you, but it is a sign of obedience.

app.: Herein lies the principle: the work of the self-seeker will end in tribulation and distress. If you’re not getting this let me be very frank: this tribulation and distress is the eschatological Day of the Lord. Don’t confuse tribulation here on earth with that. For these people who live life to very selfishly, there is reserved the wrath and fury of God. However, For the one who seeks glory and honor and immortality through patience, that will end for them with eternal life.

t.s.: Paul offers one more explanation here:

God’s Righteous Judgment is:

III. Perfectly Impartial (11-16)

exp.: rd v 11-12; note: both groups sin and both groups experience judgment and death; will also perish and will be judged; Paul is clear throughout this epistle that sin leads to death, but faith to life. Rd v 13; hearing vs. doing; Man, that sounds awfully close to salvation by works; But I think Paul is echoing James here: Jas 1.22-26: 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

exp.: rd v 14-16; Some have the law, but some do not. Their actions are born out of a real sense of duty. The conscience acts as a law, if you will.

ill.: During the World Series T-Mobile had a fund raising event for Hurricane Harvey Relief. #HR4HR. Text #HR4HR to a certain # and $2 was donated to Hurricane Relief. Show video.

app.: Now, why would a secular organization do this? There is an innate, instinctual reaction to do good to people who are in need. Southern Baptist already do this, and I imagine for most of these volunteers, there is the law of God at work in their hearts, as well as, a clear understanding of our duty as believers. But for lost people, why do they this? Paul tells us: They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness.

app.: that is what makes God’s judgment impartial. You really see this in Matthew’s Gospel. Listen closely and tell me if this doesn’t match what Paul has been saying.

The Final Judgment

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

t.s.: sounds like…He will render to each one according to his works.

Conclusion: My favorite basketball team is the San Antonio Spurs. I’ve been a die-hard fan since I was at Kirby Junior High back in the 70’s. There is a trait the Spurs have that I just deplore, abhor. Every single time my Spurs get a big lead in the game, they sit on it. Invariably, do you know what happens? They lose.

I remember one year the Spurs were beating the Lakers by 24 points in the 3rd qtr and still managed to lose. They did it again this past Thursday night: Spurs were up by 19 points and still lost by 10.

Why do you think that is? When one thinks they have the victory, they sit back and rest on their laurels.

Application: I sometimes feel the church is guilty of just such a reckless creation. I wonder if we’ve made people think they’re saved because they said a prayer when they were 8 or 12. They said a prayer and maybe got baptized, but they’ve never followed through with their life. They have their religion – maybe even a certificate, and so believe that it doesn’t matter what they do or how they behave or what they think. They think they’ve got victory in hand and so they sit on what they think is their lead. When all the while, they’re lost. They’re trusting in a piece of paper or their denomination or their …

Invitation: Good works are wonderful… I hope you’re not trusting in them to save you either. But, I sure hope your faith is demonstrated in your life by your good works. Remember:

  1. Do not trust in your baptism or your denomination any more than you would trust in your good works. Salvation comes through faith in Christ alone.
  2. I’d say we must be careful to practice the Law in our own lives: that is – to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength and 2ndly, to love your neighbor as yourselves.
  3. God will render his judgment of us all impartially, according to each one’s work. And for those who think that they will receive some exception because they’re Baptist or Catholic or Jewish or American. Well, as Nana used to say: you’ve got another thing comin’

 

Let’s pray.

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Filed under Judgment, Romans, Sermons

Martin Luther: Standing on the Word of God

Text: Romans 1.17-18

Introduction: Typically I take one Sunday during the year to do a biography of sorts. I’ll pick a missionary, especially a missionary martyr or some other Christian Hero of mine: John Huss, Adoniram Judson, or Bill Koene. In recognition of this weeks 500 Anniversary of the Reformation, I’d like to talk about Martin Luther and what made him great.

Luther’s greatest contribution to us was his belief that God communicates to us through the Written Word. Hence, my title, Martin Luther: Standing on the Word of God.

1 Thess. 2.13: 13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

Hebrews 4.12: 12 For the word of God is living and active

1 Peter 1.23: 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…

The Word of God: It is powerful and effective. It changes lives. It changed the life of the man who in turn, taught us of its value. Martin Luther taught us that God communicates to us through words on a page, written out, line by line, chapter by chapter, book by book. Luther wanted us to know that it is the authority for our lives – not the pope and not the church.

It changed his life and drove him, directed him to use it to change other people’s lives. The Word of God provides for us the vital information that is effective for salvation and holiness. Whereas, in the years and decades and centuries before Luther, The Pope and the Church were the authoritative source, even over and above God’s Word.

This Tuesday will mark 500 years since Martin Luther tacked his 95 Theses upon the door of his church in Wittenburg, Germany. October 31, 1517 is the date historians mark as the reformation. This one event is like the hinge on the door that swings between what was past and what would become. The truth is, it would probably be closer for us to mark the date in six months. As a side note, Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door in Wittenburg on October 31st, but it wasn’t until six months later that someone took those 95 Theses and translated them into German, had them published and circulated among the population.

Luther’s purpose in nailing these 95 Theses up on the door at the church was so that these topics could be debated among the theologians and scholars there at the University. That is why they were written out in Latin. The common man had no idea what was tacked up on those doors. At least not for another 6 months when they were translated and circulated among the people.

You and I are recipients of this man’s work. We’re beneficiaries; and not just his work alone, but on all those who were reformers. We stand on the shoulders of giants.

 

A Call to Ministry:

Luther didn’t always want to be in ministry. As a matter of fact, Luther had chosen to study Law. He had attained his Bachelor’s degree by the age of 19 where he graduated in the middle of his class (30th out of 57 students). He earned his Master’s degree three years later (1505) and graduated 2nd in his class (17 students). On his journey home from the University where he was beginning his study of Law, that a nasty storm swirled in around him and lightning struck and knocked him to the ground. In fear he cried out to be saved by St. Anne and promised to enter the monastery if she would save him. He would later say that God spoke to him through the thunder calling him into the ministry.

So powerful was this Damascus Road experience that it drove him into obedience in surrendering to the ministry. 15 days after that fateful afternoon, Luther entered the Monastery. Once, while visiting his father and mother, Luther noticed his dad in a very agitated state. It was an awkward moment because many guests had come over for some sort of party. Luther wanted to know what was bothering his dad. Luther’s father couldn’t control his frustration and confronted him about his choice to leave studying Law to become a priest. Who will take care of your mother and I when we are old? People stopped talking; all attention was turned to this father and son. Luther told his dad the story he had repeated to them many times before: You know that God spoke to me in the thunder.

In this ministry he would wear the habit of a monk. Even after he left the monastery he still wore the clothes of a monk. He did so for 19 years.

As Luther looked back on that experience he called it a ‘flagrant sin’. He did two things wrong: he didn’t listen to his father and he entered the ministry out of fear. Nevertheless, it was God’s will and he knew it.

 

Sin’s Grip:

Luther had no grasp of the grace of God – not at that time. He understood himself to be a sinner and his conscience always got the best of him. I think it was what made him a good monk. Luther always seemed to have a fear of facing God. And serving as a Monk might assuage the anger of God toward this sinner.

  • When lightning struck near him, he cried out to St. Anne to save him. He was genuinely afraid of dying – and even more of facing God and the certain judgment he would suffer.
  • When he began to serve in his congregation, he panicked in his first presentation of communion. How can a lowly pigmy like me stand before a perfect and holy God? (His words, not mine)
  • He would be so overcome with fear as he offered the communion to his parishioners that he just about couldn’t finish the task.
  • While in the monastery, Luther would fast for days. He would sleep through the cold nights without any clothes or covering. His sin was always before him and he wanted to ‘work’ it out of him – always trying to do penance for his sins.

You see, that was the Catholic way. Do Penance. i.e.: work for your forgiveness. That is one of the reasons the Catholic Church didn’t want the Greek or Hebrew Bibles to be translated or to be used by priests. Instead, they preferred the Jerome’s Latin. In Greek and Hebrew you would translate the word repent. However, in Latin, that same word was translated: do penance.

Luther would later write: I was a good monk. I kept the rule of my order so strictly that I may say that if ever a monk got to heaven by his monkery it was I. All my brothers in the monastery who knew me bear me out. If I had kept on any longer, I should have killed myself with visuals, prayers, readings, and other work.

Many have speculated as to what great sins Luther had committed that drove him to such great lengths to atone for his sinful thoughts. But I think that to be foolish. Too often we impose what sins beset us upon others who struggle. I think Luther’s struggle with sin was pretty balanced and that this balance of sin in every direction consumed him. As far as Luther could see it, God could not be satisfied at any point. God was perfectly holy and Luther was overwhelmingly sinful.

This continued to plague his conscience even after he took up a teaching position at Wittenburg. He would hound the priests at confession and they would complain that he was giving them his life story. Luther was so concerned about his sin before God, that he wanted to ensure he left no sin un-confessed. He wanted to ensure that he had been forgiven of every sin he’d ever committed.

A mentor of his had no answers, but he directed Luther to where the answers were to be found: Scripture. And God’s Word began to change Luther.

Luther arrived at Wittenburg in April of 1511 and began teaching Philosophy. He earned his Doctorate by October 1512, a year and a half later. In the fall of 1513, to his heart’s delight, he was switched to Theology and his first lectures were on the Psalms. In April 1515, he began his lectures on Romans.

While teaching on Psalm 22, he immediately recognized v 1 as a reference to Christ. My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? This was something with which Luther could identify: That God would forsake and abandon Luther because of his sinfulness. Indeed, he felt that abandonment. He felt the sin and the shame, but Christ – Christ wasn’t weak like Luther. Christ wasn’t sinful like Luther. It could only be the sin that Christ took upon himself – the sins of the world, that caused the Father to forsake his son.

So, understand that Luther is now wrestling with this text. He’s gaining a better understanding of what scholars call penal substitution. As he came to teach Romans, Luther wanted to understand Paul and his doctrine. So he studied hard. He prepared his lectures well. He contemplated each verse. I’ll let him tell you in his own words what happened:

I greatly longed to understand Paul’s epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, ‘the justice of God’, because I took it to mean that justice whereby God is just and deals justly and punishing the unjust. My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather hated and murmured against him. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant.

Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that ‘the just shall live by his faith.’ Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before the justice of God had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven…

If you have a true faith that Christ is your savior, then at once you have a gracious God, for faith leads you in and opens up God’s Heart and Will, that you should see pure grace and overflowing love. This is to behold God and faith that you should look up on his fatherly, friendly heart, in which there is no anger nor ungraciousness. He who sees God as angry does not see him rightly but looks only on the curtain, as if a dark cloud has been drawn across his face.

Luther’s theological and spiritual state matured quickly as he learned more and more Scripture. He knew lots of Scripture, but suddenly, those passages became clearer. So incredibly liberating was this new state of being, living in the grace and mercy of God, that he was filled with a boldness to teach others about faith. Luther had his students and he preached regularly at two churches in town. He wanted them to know what he had discovered. At first, Luther had no intentions of reformation. He only hoped to help shape the clergy and the laity through the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. But God’s Word is alive and active. It does its own work.

 

Indulgences: 

It was during these years that indulgences were being sold to fund St. Peter’s Basilica Rome. Begun by his predecessor, Pope Leo X found it necessary to continue the work. The old Basilica which had stood since the days of Constantine were condemned. Pope Julius II raised some funds, had the piers laid and then died. There stood this unfinished, unusable Basilica for the new pope.

Enter Leo X. At the same time, Albert of Brandenberg was attempting to secure some position by the pope. He was commissioned by the pope to sell as many indulgences as possible, to raise as much money as possible, with the hope that if he was successful, the position would be his. But, when Albert came to Wittenburg, he hit a roadblock. At the same time in Wittenburg, the man in charge there, Frederick the Wise, wouldn’t allow Albert’s Indulgences to be sold in Wittenburg because he was selling his own Indulgences, to fund his own pet projects.

You’re probably wondering what an Indulgence was. An Indulgence was a piece of paper one could purchase to lower the punishment for sins that one was expected to experience upon death. For Catholics, the good people who die go to heaven. Bad Catholics who died would go to Purgatory – a place between heaven and hell that one endured before getting into heaven. After paying for one’s sins, one could be released from Purgatory. Added to this, an Indulgence could also release loved ones who were in Purgatory. Albert had a pithy saying which helped his cause: As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, the soul from Purgatory springs. The Pope had the power to send people there and to release them from there.

There was a lot of ugliness to it all. Luther spoke out against it all. He spoke out against the pope. He spoke out against Albert. If the pope had the ability to release souls from purgatory, then why would he be so cruel to keep them there? Besides, Indulgences only encouraged people to become complacent in their faith. That was precisely what Luther experienced. One day while walking outside the city, he came upon a man who was drunk. Luther confronted him about his sinful behavior. Without missing a beat, the man reached inside his coat and produced an Indulgence to atone for this sinful behavior.

Luther’s preaching against Indulgences was dangerous stuff, because Indulgences were big revenue. And if you want to upset someone in the church: mess with their money!

Well, I’m sure you know by now, the Catholic Church came after Luther. He was labeled a heretic. Luther would be excommunicated, but that didn’t matter to him because he understood the church of God to be presented much differently than the Catholic Church taught. Excommunication meant damnation. But, Luther knew that his salvation was based on his faith in the work of Christ – not the declaration of the pope.

 

Why do I tell you this? Well, there are four basic doctrines that we teach as Evangelicals and we owe this to the work of Luther.

Bruce Shelley, Professor of Church History at Denver Theological Seminary writes in his book entitled: Church History in Plain Language that Luther answered 4 questions that he took from four basic Catholic concerns and offered us new answers.

  1. To the question how is a person saved, Luther replied: not by works but by faith alone. Sola Fide.
  2. To the question where does religious authority lie, he answered: not in the visible institution called the Roman church but in the Word of God found in the Bible. Sola Scriptura.
  3. To the question—what is the church?—he responded: the whole community of Christian believers, since all are priests before God.
  4. And to the question—what is the essence of Christian living?—he replied: serving God in any useful calling, whether ordained or lay. To this day any classical description of Protestantism must echo those central truths.

Scripture/God’s Holy Word changed Luther’s life. Listen to what he says:

For as soon as God’s word becomes known through you, the devil will afflict you, will make a real doctor of you, and will teach you by his temptations to seek and to love God’s Word. For I myself . . . owe my papists many thanks for so beating, pressing, and frightening me through the devil’s raging that they have turned me into a fairly good theologian, driving me to a goal I should never have reached.

The tentacles of Luther reformation would reach far and wide, stretching across the continent of Europe and in 100 years come to the Americas, where you and I live out it’s impact.

  • The Pulpit is central here. It is the place where God’s Word is exalted and preached. Have you ever been to a church where the pulpit is on the side? Now you know why we set up our Pulpit and Lord’s Supper Table the way we do.
  • We no longer practice the 7 Sacraments, but rather, only two: The Lord’s Supper and Baptism.

Luther’s reformation would spread from Germany to France and England where things were already stirred up.

Conclusion: Lady Jane Grey: The ‘9 Day’s’ Queen

As the Reformation spread, there were battles to be fought. Literally. Whenever someone rose to power who favored Catholicism over Protestantism, then the whole country would become Catholic…or else. King Henry VIII had a wife of 18 years, but she produced no heirs for him – only girls. So he sought an annulment from the pope. He didn’t get it, so he broke with the Church of Rome and established the Church of England. England would move back and forth between Catholicism and Protestantism over the next few generations.

You’ve probably never heard of Jane Grey. She was one of Henry VII’s descendants. Although she wasn’t directly in line to be queen, it was a possibility. And so, Jane became a pawn in the hands of those in power because of their money or because of their position. Her parents were really hard on her when she was young, forcing her to study very hard and enforcing harsh punishments for imperfection. Her parents wanted her to be queen so desperately. I think all parents want good things for their children, but as for Jane’s parents, there seems to be some arrogance and even wickedness in their plans. As a part of all the power plays, Jane was promised to Lord Guildford Dudley, a man she despised. But, her parents loved him because e was a man of considerable wealth, power and influence. And, he had the young king’s ear.

The King had died and left a young, sickly Edward VI on the throne. As this young king lay in the throes of death, the movers and shakers influenced King Edward to make Jane his heir to the throne. There were a lot of questions to who was the rightful heir. And although she was only his cousin, he had bequeathed the throne to her and to whatever male heirs she might provide in the future. Thus, she found herself to be the Queen of England. She didn’t want the throne, mind you. She never did. But it was now hers nonetheless. What helped her in that time of decision-making? What helped her to come to terms with something she didn’t necessarily want? It was her incredibly strong faith in God.

It is amazing to see how God had been at work in her life. For a period of time in her younger years, she went to live with the Queen, Katharine Parr. And so, Jane was educated in the King’s Court. She was incredibly intelligent. She learned both Greek and Hebrew and could read both the Old and the New Testaments in their original languages. You see, Catherine was a Protestant – one of those whose lives was touched by the Reformation overtaking Europe. And now, The reformation had touched Jane’s life and she would never be the same. Her love for God’s Word drove her faith. Her Bible of choice was the Greek New Testament.

So how opportune it appeared when she was placed upon the Throne as the Queen of England. Surely God was at work placing someone of great faith upon the throne. She, however, only reigned for 9 days: from July 10, 1553 to July 19, 1553. She is known as the Nine Days Queen. Her Cousin, Mary of Tudor, also known as Bloody Mary, organized a coop. Backed by an army, she moved in to take the throne from Jane. But Jane didn’t want it. So, she resigned her position and gladly handed over power to Mary.

Her nickname, Bloody Mary, was well earned. She put to death some 300 of her relatives who she thought might try to take the throne from her. She insisted that all of England recognize the Roman Catholic Church. Jane, of course, could not do that. She knew her Bible to well.

Bloody Mary sent her envoy, a Catholic apologist, to try and save Jane’s soul (or so he thought). Listen to Scott Hubbard’s version of events:

Queen Mary (aka “Bloody Mary”) had already signed her cousin Jane’s death warrant, but she sent her seasoned chaplain to see if he could woo Jane back to Rome before her execution.

A charged debate follows — Feckenham the Catholic apologist and Jane the Reformed teenager. He presses that justification comes by faith and works; she stands her ground on sola fide. He asserts that the Eucharistic bread and wine are the very body and blood of Christ; she maintains that the elements symbolize Jesus’s saving work. He affirms the Catholic Church’s authority alongside Scripture; she insists that the church sits underneath the piercing gaze of God’s word.

Martin Luther’s work had been spreading. It had touched Lady Jane Grey’s life: The Power of God’s Word. So much so did it affect her, that she was willing to die for what she knew to be Truth.

On the inside of her Greek New Testament, she wrote to her younger sister, Katharine: This is the book, dear sister, of the Law of the Lord. It is his testament and last will, which he bequeathed unto us wretches, which shall lead you to the path of eternal joy…  And as touching my death, rejoice as I do, good sister, that I shall be delivered of this corruption, and put on incorruption. For I am assured that I shall for losing of a mortal life, win an immortal life.

She was put to death as a heretic on February 12, 1554. She was confident and bold. She walked to the place where she was to die. She was blindfolded and reached out into the emptiness before her, groping for the execution block. Her last words were, “Lord, into Thy hands I commit my spirit.” Jane Grey was only 17 years old.

Let me ask you: Has the Word of God had its impact on you? Do you make your decisions about what God is doing based on physical things? Money? Resources? People? Buildings? Positions?

Application:

  1. Let the Word of God reign supremely in your life and in your church. Let it be your guide and companion.
  2. Be reminded today that salvation comes only through faith in Christ Jesus and the saving work of the Cross. If you’ve been thinking that Christ plus anything will get you to heaven, then repent of that. Luther said: Good works do not make a good man, but a good man does good works. The idea is that when one has been changed by God, the works of God will flow from him naturally.
  3. What will it take for you to stand boldly for Christ and on His Word? Jane Grey amazes me when I think of her being only 17 years old.

 

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Filed under Church History, Martin Luther, Reformation, Romans, Sermons

The Servant of the Lord Waits Upon the Lord

Isaiah 49

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

app.: storms may come and trials may befall us, but God, who is sovereign is not caught off guard. He knows your day and your trial, as well as your name. There is nothing that will come upon you and me that surprises God. And in his sovereignty, he is working for his glory. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

exp.: rd v 6;

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

Rd v 7;

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Filed under Faithfulness, Isaiah, Sermons, Servant

The Wrath of God (Part 2)

Romans 1:18-32

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I. The Reason (18-23)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. The Result (24-27)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isaiah 5, beginning in v 20 reads:

20     Woe to those who call evil good

and good evil,

who put darkness for light

and light for darkness,

who put bitter for sweet

and sweet for bitter!

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

and shrewd in their own sight!

22     Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine,

and valiant men in mixing strong drink,

23     who acquit the guilty for a bribe,

and deprive the innocent of his right!

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

and as dry grass sinks down in the flame,

so their root will be as rottenness,

and their blossom go up like dust;

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

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

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

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

and the mountains quaked;

and their corpses were as refuse

in the midst of the streets.

For all this his anger has not turned away,

and his hand is stretched out still.

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

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

Ill.: The Record Book of Sin illustration.

Application:

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

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

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

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

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

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The Wrath of God

Romans 1:18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I really do!

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

II. The Revelation of God’s Wrath

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

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

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

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

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

  • The Realm from which God’s Wrath flows

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

  • His eternal Power:
  • His divine Nature:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

III. The Recipients of God’s Wrath

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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FROM FAITH – FOR FAITH

Romans 1.16-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

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

Application: So, what do we do about this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SIX QUALITIES OF A GODLY MAN

Title: Six Qualities of a Godly Man

Text: Romans 1.8-15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six Qualities Found in a Godly Leader:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

t.s.:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans: An Introduction

Text: Romans 1.1-7

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

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

And the list goes on.

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

History:

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

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

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

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

Reasons for writing this letter:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Introduction:

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

There are 4 parts to this introduction:

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

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

I. The Man (1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. His Message (2-4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

app.: this is Paul’s message.

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

III. His Authority (5)

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

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

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

app.:

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

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

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

That’s what Paul has done here:

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

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

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

So, what will you take home with you today?

Application:

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

I want to offer Christ to you this morning…

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Romans, Sermons

Living in Silent Times

Title: Living in Silent Times

Text: Galatians 4.4-5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

History from 586BC:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notice first, God’s perfect timing.

I. God’s Timing was perfect.

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

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

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

II. God’s Timing was foretold.

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

ill.: Prophecies fulfilled by Jesus:

1.  That he would be born of a woman

 

Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4

 

2.  That he would be from the line of Abraham

 

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

 

3.  That he would be from the tribe of Judah

 

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

 

4.  That he would be from the house of David

 

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

 

Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:22–23

 

6.  That he would be given the throne of David

 

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

 

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

 

Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23

 

9.  That he would have a forerunner:

he would look like Elijah.

 

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

 

Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:5–6; Luke 2:4–6

 

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

 

12. That he would be in Egypt for a season

 

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

 

13. That his birthplace would suffer a

massacre of infants

 

Jer. 31:15; Matt. 2:17–18

 

14. That he would be called a Nazarene

 

Isa. 11:1; Matt. 2:23

 

15. That he would be zealous for the Father

 

Pss. 69:9; 119:139; John 6:37–40

 

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

 

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

 

Isa. 53:4; Matt. 8:16–17

 

18. That he would deal gently with the Gentiles

 

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

 

Isa. 6:9–10; Matt. 13:10–15

 

20. That he would be rejected by his

own people

 

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

into Jerusalem

 

Zech. 9:9; Matt. 21:4–5

 

22. That he would be praised by little children

 

Ps. 8:2; Matt. 21:16

 

23. That he would be the rejected cornerstone

 

Ps. 118:22–23; Matt. 21:42

 

24. That his miracles would not be believed

 

Isa. 53:1; John 12:37–38

 

25. That his friend would betray him for

30 pieces of silver

 

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

 

Isa. 53:3; Matt. 26:37–38

 

27. That he would be forsaken by his disciples

 

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

 

28. That he would be scourged and spat upon

 

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

 

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

 

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

two thieves

 

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

 

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

of his hands and feet

 

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

 

Ps. 22:18; Luke 23:34; John 19:23–24

 

34. That he would be surrounded

and ridiculed by his enemies

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

 

Ps. 22:15; John 19:28

 

36. That he would commend his spirit

to the Father

 

Ps. 31:5; Luke 23:46

 

37. That his bones would not be broken

 

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

 

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

 

Isa. 53:9; Matt. 27:57–60

 

40. That he would be raised from the dead

 

Ps. 16:10; Matt. 28:2–7

 

41. That he would ascend to the Father

 

Ps. 24:7–10; Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51

 

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

III. God’s Timing was purposeful.

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

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

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

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

Conclusion: Mindy Belz: Lost and Found

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Mark 8:22 – 9:1

Title: Discipleship Defined

Text: 8.22-9.1

Introduction: I’ve told you before that Mark seems to love Triads? Well, observe this set of Triads: a triad of triads.

Cycle of Events:

1. Prediction of the Passion: 8.31, 9.30-31, 10.32-34

2. Demonstration of selfishness and pride: 8.32, 9.33-34, 10.35-41

3. Teaching on True Discipleship: 8.34-38, 9.35-37. 10.42-45

  • An Illustration of the slow progression of blindness to sight (8.22-26). Basically, here is how the Scripture flows in Outline form:
  • An Example of Peter in the midst of his progression to perception (8.27-33).
  • The Reality of Discipleship: you must be like Christ! (8.34-9.1)

Transition: let’s begin with the illustration we finished up with last week.

I.      An Illustration of the slow progression of blindness to sight (22-26)

exp.: As a way of review, I think this story fits our storyline; the miracle is completed in two stages:

  • 23b: and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?”
  • 25: 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

This progression illustrates for us the slow, progressive coming to faith the disciples’ experience; and, especially in today’s passage, Peter’s journey.

app.: Jesus demonstrates that He is The Messiah through the healing of the blind man. He is the answer to the prophecy found in Isaiah 35.5-6. He concludes with the command to keep the Messianic secret: Don’t even enter the village.

t.s.: Mark then gives us the an example of Peter’s progression.

II.     An example of Peter in the midst of his progression to perception (27-33)

exp.: where he lets us see into a certain time frame in Peter’s journey; rd 27a; where are they headed toward? Caesarea Philippi.

Let me digress for a moment – when traveling in Israel this past June, we went Caesarea Philippi. This is the sight of Banias Springs the second tributary of the Jordan. It is actually “Panias” but Arabs cannot say a P and there is no P in Arabic, thus they called it Banias. It is named Panias because they would worship their many gods here (Hence, the word Pan). At the start of this area is where the spring used to be – you can see from the picture that the water carved out a little cave. At the mouth of this spring, the people who worshiped their many gods believed was the entrance to the underworld, Hades, hell. The river that flows through Hades is the river Styx.

Remember that, we’ll come back to that. For now, they’re on their way and Jesus asks them a simple question: who do people say that I am? This is the 2nd time we’ve seen this: 6.14;

6.14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”

8.27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”

So, the rumor mill is the same; however, Christ wants them to know that he isn’t any of those men. And so he asks them, personally in v 29: “But who do you say that I am?”

  1. It appears at first that Peter understands who Jesus is: Q.: Who do you say I am? A.: You are the Christ or Messiah. That’s huge! So, it appears that Peter gets it. He understands.

Matthew 16, records this same story and expounds on it quite a bit. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Transition: we have the Messianic Secret again in v 30 where he charges them to tell no one. What Peter has said is true, but his time has not yet come. And then, in v 31…

  1. Jesus gives a clear picture of the Messiah in his prediction of the passion.

app.: rd v 31-32b; So, just to be sure you understand when you say I’m the Messiah – this is what the Messiah looks like:

  • Suffering: Lit.: It is necessary that the Son of Man will suffer much (the word things doesn’t appear in the Gk)
  • Rejection: will come by the religious leaders;
  • Death: he will be killed
  • Resurrection: after 3 days, he will rise again

That’s the Gospel! That’s the whole reason Christ has come! That is the job of the Messiah. That is how he will save his people from their sins – he will pay the penalty for them. Thank you, Mark for v 32a…

So Jesus asks who they think he is. Peter gets it: You the promised Messiah! Jesus says, yes, wonderful. Let me let you in on more of what the Messiah has come to do. He will suffer and be rejected. He will die, and he will rise again.

Transition: and this leads us to the third step in his progression… rd 32b-33

  1. It appears that Peter doesn’t understand at all who Jesus is at all.

exp.: Peter makes one of the most beautiful declarations in Scripture! He thinks he knows who Jesus is! It’s kind of like Jesus says Do you know who I am. Peter says: Yes, I do. And Jesus says: uh, no, you don’t.

This is a cycle we’ll see repeated and climax at the end of this cycle of triads.

  • What do you know or what can you do?
  • I do know, or, I can…
  • No, you don’t or No, you can’t

Transition: to be sure, Jesus now outlines what it means to be like him… what it means to be a true disciple.

III.    The Reality of Discipleship (8.34-9.1)

exp.: rd v 34: Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me. You’ve probably noted before that Jesus commands those individuals listening to take up his or her own cross, but they don’t have the context of Jesus doing the same thing. You and I do! Still I wonder, if he’s not giving them context here. He just told them he was going to suffer, be rejected and die. I’m wondering if that is the context for this statement. I’m going to suffer, be rejected and die. And, if you want to follow me, you’ve got to do the same thing as me (i.e.: take up your cross). You’re going to have to suffer and be rejected and die to yourself on your cross.

Jesus then presents or defines this reality, this task of discipleship with a set of oxymorons:

1) Save and lose

2) Profit, gain, and forfeit;

 3) Give and return;

4) Shame and Glory

app.: One author wrote: Jesus presents the choice of following him through a series of dichotomous positions.

t.s.: I wish I could talk like that!

Conclusion: Jesus has just defined for us who the Messiah is and what the Messiah will do. He is not one who comes for conquests; but, through suffering and rejection he will die. The good news is, three days later he will rise again.

He then turns to the crowd and he speaks to individuals. This is important, don’t miss this – he doesn’t speak to the crowd, but rather individuals in the crowd: If someone wants to follow me, you (sg) must

(1) Deny yourself (reject): That means you’re no longer calling the shots for your life. You surrender what you want to what Jesus wants. And when selfishness rears it’s ugly head, you reject or deny yourself (daily) and follow after Christ.

(2) Take up your own cross (lift it up and carry it); Have you ever thought about this? What do you do with a cross? You don’t ride them – they don’t take you anywhere? You don’t give them to other people – Jesus makes that clear with the relative personal pronoun he uses. What do you do with a cross? You carry it, until you lay it down and climb upon it to die.

(3) Follow him; The paradox of the Christian faith is that by dying to ourselves and following God’s way, we inherit true life. We save it, when we lose it. We truly profit and gain it, when we forfeit it.

Application:

  1. Jesus wants to clarify misperceptions about him. He is the promised Messiah!
    1. He is not Elijah, John the Baptist or one of the prophets.
    2. He is not a military or political ruler.
    3. He would suffer and be rejected and die on a cross to pay the penalty for sins.
  2. Jesus demonstrates true Christian leadership through sacrifice and service. And, he calls us to be like him.

In a few moments we’re going to baptize a couple of girls. But I don’t want to let this time slip away and offer someone here the chance to follow Christ. Just as he did 2,000 years ago, Jesus spoke to the crowd, but he was speaking to individuals. If you hear his voice today, summoning you to follow him – I want to give you that chance to make it public this morning.

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