Tag Archives: Evangelism

Jude 17-25

JudeTitle: Keep on Keeping on!

Text: Jude 17-25

Introduction: Dr. Paul Cedar, author of the commentary on Jude in the Preacher’s Commentary Series writes:

When I was a college student, my home town of Pollock, South Dakota, was moved from a beautiful valley to a lovely hillside some one and a half miles away. The little town of 350 people had to be moved for the building of the large Oahe Dam on the Missouri River. The reservoir, which was to become Oahe Lake, would flow into the valley where the old town was situated and would form a smaller lake to be named Lake Poccasse.

I had the privilege of being involved in the construction of the new town. And, subsequently, I also was a participant in the destruction of the old town. The demolition of many of the old buildings I had come to cherish, including the gymnasium where I had played basketball, was a very emotional experience for me.

Through that experience, I learned a lesson that will be helpful to me as long as I live. It is simply this: one can destroy in just a few hours that which has taken years to construct. But then he adds this: However, to be a builder is much more fulfilling than being a destroyer!

You know, he could have just ended it with: one can destroy in just a few hours that which has taken years to construct. But he didn’t, he added something very special to his statement. And how insightful it is: when one looks upon their work, it is so much more fulfilling to be able to look at what you’ve created.

I think that is the melodic line of this little epistle: one can destroy in just a few hours that which has taken years to construct.

  • People, I wanted to write to you about our common salvation. But, I don’t have time for that, something greater needs to be addressed. We have a problem.
  • You must contend for the faith! To underscore the problem, there is a bit of history from Scripture and extra-biblical material you need to bone up on. There is a history here that is repeating itself and you should be aware of it. Let me remind you; here are a few details about those stories.
  • Now in light all that, here is what I want to tell you:

So a basic outline of Jude is:

  1. Contend for the Faith (1-4)
  2. Consider the Past – Learn from the past (these things took place… that we might learn; 1 Cor 10) – (5-16)
  3. Command to Follow Closely: Keep on Keeping on (17-25)

Pause…

ill.: Last week there were more people who got up to leave at one time than I can ever remember. Even for those going to warm up the fellowship dinner! I’ve wondered why all week. I think it is because these stories are hard; even tedious. They’re sad.

Douglas Moo writes: Jude is known for his denunciation of false teachers. Because of this, many students of the Bible immediately think of this letter as bearing an essentially negative message – and one not very applicable to any Christian who is not engaged in false teaching.

app.: Jude, which of course wasn’t his original intent, had to get negative about these false teachers. It’s like, why? And we want to say to Jude something like: Hey Jude, don’t make it bad. Take a sad song and make it better! Well, he does so here…

He does get more positive here as he addresses these believers. This passage mirrors his introduction in 4 ways:

  1. 1st, he uses the word: (agapetoi) Q.: Do you love those you serve? I love it when Johnny Beard uses it. I don’t think it’s a title alone – I think he really loves us.
  2. He uses the term “ungodly’ to refer to these certain men and their actions
  3. Both appeal to teaching in the past: 4 – who long ago were designated for this condemnation; προγράφω; Written before; V 17 – the predictions of the apostles;
  4. In v 3 he called them to contend for the faith; Here, he will command them to keep themselves in the love of the lord by building themselves up and praying.

In this last section, Jude gives them an action plan with three steps:

  1. Be Cognizant – You must remember the predictions of the apostles (17-19)
  2. Be Careful – You must remain in the love of God (20-21)
  3. Be Compassionate – You must rescue others who are lost (22-23)

t.s.: Let’s begin with the first step in this action plan

1 – Be Cognizant – You must remember (17-19)

exp.: rd v 17-19; You must remember – remember, when used in the Bible, is not just a mental reflection of something past. This isn’t just a mental exercise. To remember the prophets and the apostles is to take to heart what they said.

app.: The predictions of the Apostles of the Lord: Like when Paul said told the Elders from Ephesus: Acts 20.29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; or when he told Timothy: Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. and again But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

exp.: Jude isn’t saying he’s not one of those apostles; Remember what they told you; Interesting, these people are eyewitnesses to these Apostles.

t.s.: So as to review, Remember, be cognizant of what the Apostles have warned you about. 2nd step:

2 – Be Careful – You must remain in the Love of God (20-21)

exp.: two triads here: rd v 20-21

  1. The Trinity: Holy Spirit, Father, Jesus Christ
  2. Virtues: Faith Love and Hope

Textually, grammatically, there is one command, with three descriptions to help keep that command. The verb is “keep” – it means to guard (i.e., keeping watch); three participles then, describing just how you are to remain in the Love of the Lord. Keep yourselves in the love of the Lord has a ‘staying put’ kind of ring to it. However, these participles display action and involvement.

  1. Building yourselves up! – This is active discipleship. Do you realize that you are responsible for you? You and I are commanded to build upon or build up; to lay down a solid foundation and build upon it; Somewhere along the way, this becomes your responsibility. How do you build upon this “most holy faith”? I think the answer goes back to our 1st point – Remember. Turn to Deut. 8 for just a second.

I swiped this from Crawford Loritts and he swiped it from Moses. I’ve altered it a little bit, but the basic ideas come from him. Listen to what Crawford says. This story picks up at the end of the 40 years of wandering. I believe most everyone at this stage, 20 years and older have passed away. Everyone here is 59 years old and younger. But, they’ve been walking, literally, with God for 40 years (or so). I wish I had thought of this concept when I was working on my doctorate. Most of you know my doctoral work was in establishing turnaround churches. Anyway, Moses here has a ‘turnaround’ people. Those who rebelled are gone and Moses is trying to help them in ‘building themselves up’ so that they might ‘keep themselves’ in the Love of the Lord. Let’s look at what he tells them: Rd v 1; So the theme is obedience – careful to do. That they can go in and posses the land… and just how? Rd v 2a;

  1. Remember God’s Leading: how God has been faithful to lead you to this point. Don’t forget the answered prayer. Don’t forget the protection. Don’t forget the times He has been faithful. Remember He has led you faithfully to this point. Rd 2b;
  2. Remember God’s Testing: How God has tested you. Listen to Crawford Loritts, author of Unshaken: Real Faith in our Faithful God. Just before they were to march into the Promised Land, God reminded his people that they didn’t have a good record when it came to passing tests. But, you ask, how did that build their confidence? Look at the phrase “that he mighthumble ” The message was that failure should have taught them that they were inadequate and that they didn’t have what it took to consistently obey God and do his will. Wow! Great point! We are weak and feeble. We need God to take us through. We need to stay in him. Humble people do just that.

ill.: So many people live with regret and wish they could change things. Don’t. Remember God’s Testing. Understand that your failures compose who you are. Remember your failings and that you’re human and you need God. #3; rd v 3-4;

  1. Remember God’s Provision: how he provided manna and water and quail and everything they needed on their 40 year journey. I find this interesting; he humbled you and let you hunger. Note how God’s working: Obedience out of God’s leading; Humility out of God’s testing; Now, he let them hunger and then provided. Do you realize that your struggle may very well be what God is doing to build you up! I wonder if they cried out and grumbled when they were hungry? Exodus 16 – yes, they did! Aren’t we that way, too? But we don’t have to be – Moses is saying here – remember how God provided in the past? He will provide again. Rd v 5-6
  2. Remember God’s Discipline: This one is a no brainer. I feel confident that anyone who has walked with the Lord for any length of time can say they have experienced the Lord’s discipline. And through that, you know he loves you. Rd Deu. 8.7-11a; Now we go back to Jude…and the 2nd participle…
  1. Praying yourselves up! Rd v20b; and praying in the Holy Spirit; Jude is echoing Paul’s words in his segment on the Armor of God: praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. Plus, I think Paul gives us a little commentary on just what this means: He says in Romans 8.26 – 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. It means praying according to the will of God. This is when the believer’s prayers are stimulated by, guided by and infused by the Holy Spirit (Michael Green, p. 184). Lightner says: It means that we pray in His strength and wisdom: He moves our hearts and directs our petitions.

20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, and number three: waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

  1. Waiting on the Lord’s return – How do we describe waiting? It’s not patience, though patience is a part of it. Schreiner says it’s an eschatological term, focusing on the return of Christ. Like Simeon and Anna in Luke, who were watching and waiting for the birth of the Messiah. We get a sense that waiting for the mercy of the Lord is in the future (that is, eschatological). In v 2, Jude prayed that mercy would be multiplied to them – a very present experience. So, mercy isn’t a one-time deal. Jeremiah tells us that God’s mercies never end; they are new every morning. We were shown mercy when we repented that very 1st We are shown mercy every time we’ve repented since then. We’ve experienced it at various times when we needed it in the past. We are receiving God’s mercy in the present. And, we will be shown his mercy when he returns. And that mercy is what will usher us into eternal life.

app.: Can I add one final thought: I don’t think Jude is pushing a salvation by works theology here. We must remember that there isn’t any work we can do to save ourselves, but we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. So, let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify God who is in heaven.

t.s.: And that’s his last point to his epistle…Be Cognizant and remember, Be Careful and remain, and

3 – Be Compassionate – You must rescue others by the mercy and compassion of God

exp.: rd v 22-23; a simple way of looking at this is to understand that v17-19 were addressing the false teachers and v20-21 were addressing the readers. In light of these two, Jude now encourages these readers to reach out to those affected by the false teaching and maybe even to the false teachers themselves.

  1. To those who doubt (waiver) – those who are being led astray by the false teachers
  2. To those who’ve been led astray – and their standing in the trap, ready to be captured.
  3. To those who lives are defiled by the false teachers – Their garments are stained. But don’t be turned off by the filthy garments. Show them mercy and love them back into the fold. This could be meaning the false teachers themselves.

ill.: here’s the simple message; we’ve been shown great mercy in a most undeserving times. We’re called to be like Christ and show that mercy toward others in need.

God forgave my sin in Jesus’ name.

I’ve been born again in Jesus’ name,

And in Jesus name I come to you

To share his love as he told me to.

He said, Freely, freely you have received;

Freely, freely give.

Go in my name and because you believe,

Others will know that I live.

t.s.: I think that’s the message of Jude.

Conclusion:

this is a great example of what Jude is asking of his readers here:

  • Be Cognizant and remember the Apostles warned us of these false teachers.
  • Be Careful and remain in the love of the Lord, building yourselves up and praying in the Holy Spirit. Then,
  • Be Compassionate and rescue those who have been led astray.

These things take time. Be patient and keep your eyes on Jesus. Finally,

Application: So, let’s mark a few take-a-ways…

  1. Keep yourselves from sin – unstained by the world. If you’re wondering should I participate, don’t.

Ill.: I’m reading a wonderful book by Tim Coody: Meaningless words & Broken Covenants. In his book he talks about how people don’t keep their words – and so their words become meaningless: First to themselves and then to others. It starts with lying to ourselves about when we’re going to get up (but we sleep in) that we’re not going to eat the piece of pie (and then we do). Then we lie to our family (we tell our kids one thing and do another). If you do that I’m going to spank you. I’m counting to three. One two three. I mean it this time. Just wait til your father gets home. Etc.

App.: where has the conscience gone? Why don’t our words mean anything anymore? In keeping yourselves from sin – start with being honest with yourself. Stop lying to yourself.

  1. Men, stop with the Internet porn. Stop with going to those pages where the women are scantily clad.
  2. Women, move out from the day dreaming about what could be. Plant yourself where you are and be honest with yourselves.
  3. We’re just lying to ourselves if we say one thing and do another when no one is looking. Be sure a double standard is going to destroy you.

Ill.: I’m sure you’ve read about Josh Duggar and Ashley Morgan by now. There is a great illustration of someone who has been lying to himself. #1 Keep yourselves from sin.

  1. Keep yourselves in the fellowship – you need accountability. Meeting here for worship isn’t enough. This relationship is too shallow. Get involved. Get more involved. Let people get to know you – there is accountability in numbers. Remember, you are too weak to make it on your own.
  2. Keep yourselves in the presence of God. I think what I’m trying to say here is: don’t forget who you are. You’re a slave of the King. Indebted to his majesty. When you remove yourself from his presence, you begin to think more of yourself than you ought. Oh, I know He is omni-present. But how quickly we forget when we’re out there. Like the KVNE sign up the road said: take Jesus with you.

Let’s pray.

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F.A.I.T.H.

Title: Faith

Text: Hebrews 11.1-40

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

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

The Bookends to this chapter set it up so well…

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

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

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

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

1.     Faith Explained (1-5)

exp.: rd v 1;

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

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

  • Demonstrated: rd v 2-3:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.     Faith Expressed (6)

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

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

t.s.: and that is Faith Examined.

3.     Faith Examined (7-40)

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

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

Conclusion: Here is faith spelled out for us:

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

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

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Filed under Evangelism, Faith, Hebrews 11

2 Corinthians 12.9-21

Title: Called Out to Be Different

Text: 2 Corinthians 12-11-21

CIT: Paul concludes this passage with a review of his apostolic superiority and the sacrifice he has made to bring them the gospel and establish them as a church. His biggest fear is returning to them to find they are still like the world.

CIS: We are reminded of those who serve and sacrifice as God has called. Furthermore, we are reminded that we’ve been called to be distinct and different from the world.

Introduction: In Acts 8.1, we see a young man named Saul who was quickly rising through the ranks of the Sanhedrin. Zealous for his faith and powerful in his position, he traveled near and far to persecute those who were creating a cult religion from his religion. Stamping her out and purifying his religion were his goals. He was faithful, loyal and dedicated. He was also wrong.

Then, something incredible happened to him: he met Jesus and everything about him changed. Faithfulness, loyalty and dedication still characterized his life; however, Jesus had changed his manner. It became most evident in the change of his name. Saul means demanded or desire. Paul means little or small. No longer would Saul make demands as a zealous leader. From now on, he goal for purification of the church would come through different means.

v 9-10; I am reminded this week that the church has been at its strongest when she was weakest in the world. When she has power in the world, when she has influence through numbers, she becomes weak and idle, napping away in the light of God’s love. She is arrogant and haughty. But, when she was reduced to numbers of people who felt the scorn and shame of bearing Christ’s name, then, she was weak and feeble in the eyes of the world, but powerful in her service and sacrifice to God. That is when she became most useful to him.

In today’s passage, Paul repeats much of what he’s said throughout his letter. It’s what you do when you come to the conclusion of your paper or message. Tell them what you are gonna tell them. Then tell them. Then, tell them what you’ve just told them. Here is his conclusion – his epilogue to his foolish speech:

  1. His Claim to Apostolic Superiority
  2. His Courage in Apostolic Sacrifice
  3. His Concerns in Apostolic Sincerity

1.     His Claim to Apostolic Superiority (11-13)

exp.: rd v 11a; forced means pressed; ‘between a rock and a hard place’; rd 11b; inferior; means to come up short; Romans 3.23; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 2 Cor 11.5 & 9; need; in v 11-13, there are two ways it looks like he comes up short compared with these super apostles:

  1. Is in comparison to their abilities and
  2. In comparison to their abundance provided by the church.

exp.: he then explains to them that they are wrong by both accounts; 1. By signs and wonders and power (might deeds) – and 2. He wasn’t a burden to them;

  1. By signs and wonders and power (might deeds); spiritual side (v 12); this is a clear indication that it is God who is working; we have an example in the Exodus (Deu. 26.8) God brought them out with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; with great deeds of terror and signs and wonders. 6.27: 27 He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.” Paul is reminding them God has displayed his power through the Apostle Paul – and they were witnesses to it. 2ndly…
  2. He wasn’t a burden to them; physical side (v 13); Listen, to be in the ministry costs money. There is food, shelter, transportation costs; etc.

ill.: I’ve been blown away at the added expenditures we’ve incurred to send missionaries to our UUPG. What a great reminder that we have others on staff serving for us that we need to care for.

app.: Church, I’m done with this point, but don’t let this teaching moment flee from your minds. Let’s not be like the Corinthians who neglect Paul’s needs. Think of those who serve you and care for them. The UUPG missionaries: We don’t want them to be a burden to the people they serve. Kristin: she ministers to our children and many other children who aren’t members here.

t.s.: Paul opens this section with a reminder of his apostolic superiority, established through his work…2ndly,

2.     His Courage in Apostolic Sacrifice (14-18)

exp.: rd v 13a; This is the third (time) I have prepared to come to you. Really? We actually have no record of this other visit in Acts. And this has led some scholars to say that what Paul means is that this is the 3rd time he has readied or prepared himself to come for another visit. But this doesn’t line up with 13.1-2; read; I can see how someone might take 12.14 and make it fit that way, but 13.1-2 takes too much work to change. I think it’s best understood as Paul wrote literally: This is the 3rd time I’m coming to you; as I did when present on my 2nd visit;

One more word about this: we don’t have to have a record of this 2nd visit outside of this letter. After all, we didn’t have many of the events Paul describes in chapter 11 – concerning his suffering. My guess is that Paul made a quick, painful visit to Corinth while he was serving in Ephesus on his 3rd MJ.

exp.: Then Paul gets to the heart of the matter; rd 14b: And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. The word burden has the connotation of weighing down; as in a beast of burden whose load is so heavy, it cannot carry it; however, the etymology of the this word shows that it eventually come to mean in Paul’s day, a financial burden – having such a debt to carry that it weighs one down. And You see this financial meaning illustrated as he continues in 14c; For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.

He explains this more fully in v 15a; spend and be entirely spent; exhaust; then, he asks a series of rhetorical questions:

  1. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 15b
  2. Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? v17
  3. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps? v18

ill.: Its as if Paul is saying: I have sacrificed so much for you and will sacrifice more – how can you not see that? This is exactly what Paul says Christ did in 8.9: For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. He was spent out entirely on our behalf.

app.: Can we stop and rest on this truth for a moment? Apostolic Sacrifice is often overlooked. Those who have been called and commissioned to serve are often taken advantage of and then discarded when the church is done with them.

Ill.: Please allow me a bit of transparency and honesty here. When I took my 1st pastorate in Wyoming, my greatest fear in following this call was that I would give all of my life in service to the church – spending my strength and energy, the vitality of youth, only to be discarded when I was older and weaker. At times that still takes over my thoughts: that I would sacrifice for you in so many ways while I am younger and stronger – then, when my energy would get lower and my mind not as sharp; when the church would be strong and healthy, you would forget those years of service and cast me aside for some younger, smarter, more talented preacher.

App.: but I am reminded often of my hero: Jesus. Think about the Calling of Christ – Sent by the Father; He humbled himself and was obedient to the will of the Father; abandoned by the very ones who called him Lord, he died on a criminal’s cross and was buried in a borrowed tomb; He is the picture of sacrifice on so many levels. He is Paul’s hero, too – the man he has attempted to pattern his life after.

t.s.: His Claim to Apostolic Superiority; His Courage in Apostolic Sacrifice; and finally

3.     His Concerns in Apostolic Sincerity (19-21)

exp.: He genuinely loves them! He has sacrificed for them; He has demonstrated his calling and commission before them through signs and wonders. Now, he asks them another question: rd v 19a; Lit.: defense in the Gk is the word from which we get apology. Don’t confuse them – he’s not using apology like we think of as “I’m sorry”. An apology is a defense for why you believe what you believe. But he clarifies: that is not what I’m doing here! Rd 19b; κατέναντι θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ λαλοῦμεν· Lit.: over and against (position or place) as in the opposite side; i.e: before God in Christ we speak. Rd 19c; and why? To build you up – like a house; οἰκοδομή – to build a house.

ill.: We’re not trying to defend ourselves for what we’ve done. No, we’ve done what we’ve done because we are building a house here – and you are that house. So we see his sincerity, now look at his concerns: rd v 20-21;

exp.: what a word for us today… my concern is that the church will be acting like the world! In

  • Quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder
  • Impurity
  • Sexual Immorality – πορνεία; All forms of sexual misconduct – adultery; Fornication; Incest – 1 Cor 5; And homosexuality.
  • Sensuality
  • Practice – same word we have for the Book of Acts: The Acts of the Apostles.

app.: The church is not to ACT like the World! We are to act – practice Christianity. We repent of murder and impurity and sexual immorality and sensuality. It does not matter if the 5 Supreme Court Justices make a law saying that marriage is contrary to God’s Law. We obey God’s law. I declare publicly that I will not perform nor sanction homosexual marriages. Nor will I condone the killing of unborn babies – even if it is the law of the land. And furthermore – I will continue to proclaim this Word – that we has a church have a responsibility to abide by it’s laws over and above the laws established by 5 misguided justices.

But let’s remember the context: Paul is talking to the church, telling them to act like Christians. And, for those who don’t act like Christians – they will not be accepted in the church. The world is going to act like the world. We, however, have been called to come out from among them and be different.

ill.: Friday, when the SCOTUS issued its decision on homosexual marriage, I felt strongly that I should make a statement as pastor and for my congregation. I cannot begin to fully express my deepest disappointment, in spite of the fact that I was already pretty sure it was coming, when 5 non-elected individuals decided to redefine what marriage has meant for 5,000 years. This is what I wrote:

As a disciple of Christ who has established God’s Word as my standard, I cannot agree with the decision issued today by the Supreme Court of United States. The marriage of a man and a woman was instituted and sanctioned by God in the first two chapters of Genesis. Neither the state nor the nation has the right to redefine that standard of one man and one woman being joined together in holy matrimony. The marriage bond itself was created to be a picture of the gospel and of the relationship between the Lord Jesus Christ and his bride, the church.

It appears now that the law of the land will be to recognize homosexual unions as the new standard for marriage. However, as believers, we must obey God rather than mankind. Regardless of the SCOTUS redefinition of marriage, as followers of Christ, we should proclaim the traditional definition of marriage as given by God. Nowhere in Scripture does God endorse same-sex marriage. In fact, there are multiple passages that condemn homosexuality in both the Old and the New Testament.

The message of the Gospel is the forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ. The truth of the matter is we are all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. No matter how sin is redefined, it doesn’t take away the need for forgiveness. Without the grace of God, we would be doomed to live out our lives blindly – following our own passions and pleasures. But God, in his infinite mercy, was gracious to us and not only showed us our sin, but offered us a way to find forgiveness from our sin. If we remove the need for forgiveness, then there is no hope and no Good News in our message for a lost world.

Therefore, we will show the grace and love of God to others, while taking a stand for traditional marriage, by openly proclaiming His message of repentance and the forgiveness of sin in Christ Jesus. While it is true that we disagree with others about same-sex marriage, we understand they need to be shown the same unconditional love that Christ has given us.

Application:

  1. We don’t respond as the world does.
  2. We take care of those who take care of us.
  3. We make every attempt to keep the church pure.
  4. We show the love of Christ in all matters.
  5. We stand for the Truth and on God’s Word no matter what anyone else does. We’ve been called out to be different and to be distinct.

Conclusion:

How do we know if we’re doing this? Paul tells us in the next chapter, as he concludes this letter (and we’ll look at this in greater detail next week) to examine yourselves: see if you past the test. Are you in Christ, is Christ in you?

Invitation:

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, Church Discipline, Evangelism, Gay Marriage, Homosexuality

Isaiah’s Vision: Our Incomprehensible God

Title: The Vision of Isaiah: Our Incomprehensible God

Text: Isaiah 6.1-13

CIT: The Author desires we see God in all of his authority and power choosing to accomplish his work through a man. In order to do this, God claims him and calls him and commissions him with this grand task.

CIS: My heart’s desire is that you would be overshadowed by his glory, overwhelmed by his love, and overcome by his call.

Introduction: Isaiah is a beautiful book of God’s sovereignty. When I say, Sovereignty, I mean the one with absolute power and authority. He accomplishes what He desires. Period. We begin today with the call of Isaiah in chapter 6. It’s pretty unusual to wait this far into the book to see his call. Jeremiah is called in Jeremiah chapter 1. Ezekiel has the same experience. He sees the Glory of God in Chapter one and is called in Chapter two. We wait for chapter two because God’s glory takes precedent. So, why do we see the delay in the book of Isaiah?

I think Isaiah is laying a foundation for this call of his. Jerusalem and Judah had become too complacent in their security to heed the call of God and they had become too corrupt in their prosperity to escape His judgment. Added to this, their relatively good king for the past 52 years had just passed away. Uzziah was stricken with leprosy in the last years of his life because of his pride and arrogance in the Temple. He was another example of one who did not finish strong. You can read that part of his story in 2 Chronicles 26.16-21 Rd Isaiah 6.1a: In the year King Uzziah died…Like I said, he was a good king that sought the counsel of Zachariah the prophet during the days of his reign.

The year was 740 B.C. Isaiah’s ministry was just beginning. It makes sense that he would go to the Temple to pray. He was seeking a king – little ‘k’. But what he found blew him away. Rd 6.1;

John tells us in his gospel that this vision sustained Isaiah in his ministry of preaching. In John 12.41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. This moment would change him and sustain him for his whole life. I’m not so sure we can wrap our wimpy minds around this idea in its entirety. We see this again in Ezekiel and Daniel and the list goes on. We eventually see this again in Revelation. John shares a few times what he depicts God on his throne. And I just don’t think we can get it.

In doing my best to present this story today, I’ve divided this message into 4 separate categories. The 4 categories will carry us through the next month in a sermon series on Evangelism. I will share this pulpit with men in our church who will bring you a message from their heart on each topic. Here are the 4 topics:

  1. The Holiness of God
  2. The Sinfulness of Man
  3. The Atonement of our Sin
  4. The Great Commission

We will see all four of these topics today, because they are what consumed Isaiah. Let’s begin in the 1st topic: the holiness of God, and continue reading in Isaiah;

1.     The Holiness of God (1-4)

exp.: The 1st attribute I want you to see in this passage comes from who He is and where He is; rd v 1-2;

Attribute #1:The Authority of God. He is adonai, and he is seated where the ruler and king should be seated – on his throne.

These creatures, I hope I’m using that term correctly, are flying about God and they are serving him. In this moment, we are overcome at who He is. He is Yahweh – God, Sovereign Lord, Master, and Creator of all things. We breathe in this moment because of Him. We are sustained in life because of his will. We exist for him and for his good pleasure. Period.

There is no way to describe him to you right now. I cannot begin to verbalize the strength of his might, the power of his will, the fact that we are reduced to nothing in comparison to him. He alone commands the universe and everything moves and exists by his design. A snap of his finger, a nod of his head moves his servants to do his bidding. He speaks and worlds are created. He breathes and life comes into being. He wills and whatever he wants – happens. He is eternal, immutable, ever-present, ever-strong, all-knowing, perfectly merciful and just in all his ways. He is perfectly independent. His desire for a relationship with you is because of you and me, and our need for him – not the other way around.

Psalm 102.25-27: 25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, 27 but you are the same, and your years have no end.

Attribute #2: The Holiness of God. Look at what these seraphim are singing out, calling out, repeatedly over and over again: rd v 3; the thrice repeated word holy is the Hebrew way of saying this One on the throne is the holiest, most perfect One in existence. So perfect is He, that Revelation doesn’t even give him a form, but tries to describe Him simply in beautiful colors.

Attribute #3: The Reality of God. rd v 4; One calls out this phrase of praise and the very foundations of this gigantic Temple shake. Then, the other Seraph echoes in praise and the Temple shakes again. The Temple itself is filled with smoke. I don’t know if this is the Shakina Glory of God – as in the pillar, the cloud of smoke that guided the Israelites from Egypt to the Holy land. The Hebrew word is just the simple word for smoke – as in smoke that comes from a fire. Which in this case makes perfect sense as we read on through the text and read about a burning coal on the altar. At this point, we begin to see and feel some very real parts, making this more than just a vision, but an experience grounded in the reality of thresholds and foundations and a fiery smoke.

app.: his position, his perfection, his power… His position of all authority is declared as King and Lord in v 1-2, His perfection is declared through his holiness in v 3, and His power is displayed in the reality of a shaking of the Temple filled with smoke.

t.s.: and this brings us to the 2nd topic,

2.     The Sinfulness of Man. (5)

exp.: rd v 5; I think what is being taught here is what happens to us when we catch just a glimpse of the Glory of God.

  • His Anguish: Wow is me – I am lost! We see ourselves for who we really are. When we see the holy character of God, we feel anguish for our own sin. KJV reads I am undone. That’s probably what most of you learned. The NASB reads, I am ruined. The ESV – I am lost. Young’s Literal reads: I am silent with the idea that I’ve come to my end. The word means to cease or to cause to cease – to cut off. It’s not to say that he dies, but in some sense maybe – that is he has come to the end of himself. 2 Cor 5.17

We sit here today breathing, existing. But, if we could see God like Isaiah sees him here in our text we would be reduced to nothing before him. Insignificant isn’t a big enough word. There would be an agony of the soul – a feeling of anguish. Anguish because there is nothing we can do to save ourselves from this state. We are lost without his intervention!

  • His Acknowledgment:
    • I am a man of unclean lips.

ill.: I love to hear or read the testimonies of people who came to know Christ. Each one is laced with similar stories of “the agony of the spirit” – very much like Isaiah is describing here. You remember when Peter meets Jesus. Jesus has just finished preaching from Peter’s boat and asks him to put out into the deep and let down his nets. Peter had caught nothing all night. Now wasn’t the time to fish. But Peter did, because the Lord asked him to do so. As the nets fill and the boats fill with fish to the point of sinking, Peter realizes who this is in the boat with him. Maybe he doesn’t know for sure, but he knows there is something quite different about him. And, in comparison, Peter feels dirty. He falls to the knees of this one who is different than he and says: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

  • And I dwell among a people of unclean lips.

exp.: Listen to David McKenna: Here is another hard fact. Isaiah accepts his responsibility as a leader for the sins of his people. He who pronounced “woes” upon leaders in Judah and Jerusalem for betraying their trust now confesses the same sin in himself. He knows firsthand the truth that, just as the sins of the father are visited upon the children, so the sins of the leader are visited upon the people. And McKenna cites King David as a classic example of when he sinned against God by ordering a census. David confessed, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.” (1 Chr. 21:8).

app.: most people disagree; most people in today’s society and culture think that their sin only affects them, but as no effect on others. David knew what Isaiah knew.

t.s.: So Isaiah acknowledges his sin, he confesses it before God. But there is more in his statement. It’s as if he knows he deserves to die because he has seen God: for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” I wish we more time to develop this, but we must move on to the 3rd topic: The Atonement for sins.

3.     The Atonement of Sins (6-7)

exp.: rd v 6; The seraph does the work and the speaking at the Lord’s bidding; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for. Wayne Grudem explains that for those who have sinned against God (and that’s everyone), we find 4 areas we know live in as sinners:

  1. We deserve to die as the penalty for sin.
  2. We deserve to bear God’s wrath against sin.
  3. We are separated from God by our sins.
  4. We are in bondage to sin and to the kingdom of Satan.

Grudem then gives four terms used to describe the atoning work of Christ in meeting these needs:

  1. Sacrifice: we deserved to die, but he was sacrificed in our place. (debt was owed/a penalty was paid)
  2. Propitiation: We deserve to bear God’s wrath against sin – but Jesus bore that wrath. (wrath)
  3. Reconciliation: We were separated from God by our sins, but have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
  4. Redemption: We were in bondage to sin and to the kingdom of Satan, but have been set free from those chains. Satan no more has dominion over us.

app.: This is a beautiful story, no? Here is the problem: most believers end their story here. We acknowledge God and his holiness. We acknowledge our sin and rebellion before him and our deep need for forgiveness. Furthermore, we confess that sin and are grateful for the atoning sacrifice of Christ who paid the debt and satisfied the wrath of God against us. It’s what we sing about!

t.s.: But most of us fail to take this last step: the 4th topic in our study of evangelism.

4.     The Call to Respond (8-13)

exp.: Now before we read this I want to say that I see two main parts to Isaiah’s calling. 1st, there is the call to go. Really, he volunteers. 2nd, there is the call to persistence in resistance. rd v 8-10; You’re gonna go tell them what I say and they’re not gonna listen. The truth of this message will be too hard for them and they will stop up their ears and cover their eyes, and harden their hearts to it.

Ok, then. How long do I have to keep this up? For Isaiah, it will be his whole life long. During his ministry, he will see the northern kingdom fall. But even then, the people won’t listen; Look at his response; rd v 11-12; How long O’ Lord?

app.: I think the same two actions in Isaiah’s life are in ours, too. Both Acts 1.8 and Mt 28.18 tell us that it is by the authority of Christ that we’re sent to the nations.

Acts 1.7, picking up to verse 8: He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Mt 28.18 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

We call this a commission, because we have been sent by someone with the authority – all the authority. We have no right to refuse this command of God – to be his witnesses and to make disciples. So, what are the limitations – as in comparison to Isaiah? For how long, O’ Lord.

  • To the ends of the earth
  • To all nations – ethnos

I love that we’ve taken this to heart and have embraced a UUPG. And even more, I’m so proud that we as a church will bond together to make this a financial possibility. But what about in Tyler? I know many think that there is no need, but I don’t think that’s the case. You and I have been commissioned to go – not just to send others out.

We have a tremendous responsibility to share this message with those who will listen. So, to help you with your understanding, we’ll focus on this task of evangelism over the next month. Just what is this that God has called and commissioned us to do?

Conclusion: the goal of my message, my heart’s desire is that you would be overshadowed by his glory, overwhelmed by his love, and overcome by his call. Think about that for a moment.

  1. Overshadowed by his glory: Like Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, John and anyone else who has ever encounter the Lord like this will be changed forever. No more will you live life in a hum-hoe way. This one experience would move you to see yourself in light of Christ.
  2. Overwhelmed by his love: That you would see how much he loves you and that you could comprehend the lengths he went to save you by love. That the Cross would have a greater meaning for you.
  3. Overcome by his call. That you would hear him ask: Whom shall I send and who will go for us?

If you are, then you’ll go – as Isaiah went. Maybe you’re in the early stages of all this right now. You would recognize that there has never been a time when you’ve committed your life to Christ. Would you, today? Let’s pray.

If you have never committed your life to Christ, and you want to know more, with every head bowed and every eye closed, would you please just slip your hand up in the air. I want to pray for you.

For others, as you’re thinking about being more evangelistic in your lives, Would you pray that God would reveal to you someone you could begin reading Scripture with on a regular basis? If you’ll make that commitment, will you just simply slip your hand in the air where I can see it? I want to pray for you too.

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Filed under Evangelism, Isaiah, Scripture, Sermons