Romans 15:7-13 Our Unchanging God

Romans 15:7-13

God has no plan B

Good Morning! Go ahead and grab you Bibles and turn with me to Romans chapter 15. If you do not own a Bible, please grab one from the back table and consider that our gift to you.

As we continue through Romans, as we start to see the end of this year-long journey come in to view, what we see is that Paul is not taking his foot off the gas. He is not letting up on the intensity, the importance and the depth of what he is writing to the early churches in Rome.

The last few weeks, as we have started chapter 15, we have look at such heavy and important, weighty issues such as who Jesus is and why he did what he did while he was here on Earth. We look at the importance of the Scriptures, ALL the Scriptures, what we call both the Old Testament and the New Testament. We looked at the example that Christ set for us. We looked at how important it is that we look only to the Words of God when trying to hear the voice of God, not to the words of men, and that God has chosen the Bible, His Written word, as his method of revelation to us.

And this week, as we continue through chapter 15, we will see that Paul is going to deal with Gods perfect and unchanging character, our hope, our Only hope. And how God has brought all things together in one plan for one people, for one purpose. Not merely light reading that we are dealing with in this scriptures.

So, before we go any further, lets go ahead and read our text for this week, Romans 15:7-13. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and Ill encourage you to read along, to follow along and see these words for yourself in whatever translation you are using. Romans 15:7-13.

The Word of God says:

 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name.”

10 And again it is said,

Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”

11 And again,

Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him.”

12 And again Isaiah says,

The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Paul here, writing inspired by the Holy Spirit, brings together all of redemptive history and shows that there are not reactionary plans by God. God does not have a Plan A, and Plan B and a Plan C. God doesn’t change his plans because we thwart his original plans. He doesn’t treat some of us with one plan and some of us with another plan. There is one plan.

This plan has been in place for thousands of years. We see the first hints and revelations of it in Genesis 3, we see it throughout the first chunk of chapters of Genesis and then in Genesis 12, we really see it spelled it when God speaks to Abraham. Genesis 12, verses 1-3 and especially pay attention to the last line.

Now the Lord said[a] to Abram, “Go from your country[b] and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”[c]

Many see this as Christians needing to have unwavering and blinding support of Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham. But the point of this passage is rather the last line of the passage, In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Through the line of Abraham, as a Physical descendant, comes Jesus Christ, and through Jesus Christ, we see in the New Testament, that those who have faith in Christ are the spiritual descendants of Abraham and it is those spiritual descendants who bless Abraham by believing God, being credited as righteousness, just as abraham did and it is the spiritual descendants of Abraham who are from all families of the world who are blessed by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

This was Gods plan from the beginning. If you look at the original texts, the word for families in verse 3, is the same as the word translated as “kinds” in Genesis 8 when referring to the various animals coming off the ark. So, God is saying the Abrahams blessing, the spiritual seed of Abraham will bless all kinds of people. Not certain people, not certain groups, but as John writes in Revelation 7:9 & 10:

 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

There is no some included in Gods plan that is part of Plan A and then some who are part of plan B. There are no first class or second class groups of people in heaven. The New Testament shows us that there is no difference, no distinction between what it refers to as Israel and what it refers to as the Church. The New Testament shows that they are one and the same. This means that Israel was not plan A and Gentiles were plan B. Both were in Gods plans from the beginning and there is no difference. Paul makes that quite clear with the Old Testament passages that he quotes here.

The word for nations in the Old Testament and the word Paul uses for Gentiles as he quotes these passages in the New Testament have the same meaning; essentially all of humanity, all nations and races. Ethnos is the greek word that Paul uses here translating the hebrew to greek, where we get our English word ethnicity.

Look especially at these middle passages he quotes, Deuteronomy 32:43 & Psalm 117:1,

Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”

&

Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him.”

Thats very inclusive language. That us Gods plan being inclusive from the beginning. Inclusive as in ALL people have the chance, opportunity and invitation to come in to the love of God and be his people.

And what we seed of Gods plan too is that, not only has it not change and never failed, but his plan has been to choose us from the beginning. We seer throughout scriptures, and especially as we have journeyed through Pauls letter to the Romans that God is the one who chooses us. Without him reaching out to us and changing our heart and mind, we wont reach out to him.

Some people see this as  negative. They sit as hopeless if we are not the ones to reach out to God, but this should be a supreme comfort to us. First of all, we know that God doesn’t change his mind. And so, if God chose us, if he is the one that reached out to us, than we will never unchose us. He will never take back from us what he has assured us that we have. He does not change his mind.

We, however, change our minds like we blink our eyes. We change our minds about little things. We change our minds about big things. Things like our hair color, our job, our homes, our tastes, our favorite anything. In this society, we often change our minds even on our spouses and our gender.

So if we choose God, and we could change our minds on him, doesn’t it recon that we would turn our backs and walk away at some point. John MacArthur famously said that “If we could lose our salvation, we would.”

And so, then we ask, how often does Jesus change his mind? He doesn’t, and he wont. And he has pursued us, he has reached out to us, a rebellious and sinful people. Paul writes in Romans 5:8 that it was “while we were yet sinners, that Christ died for us.” And on that cross, he looked up at said, “It Is Finished.” Once the deed was done, it can’t be undone, and once his mind was made, it wont be changed.

Thats one of the attributes about God that makes him God; his unchangingness. It’s also called his immutability. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, all God, one God. God is unchanging. He is eternal. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Nothing about him, his attributes, his character, his plans or his purposes, none of them change. All of God & all everything about him is perfect and unchanging. Psalm 102, verses 26 & 27 says:

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.

And in Isaiah 46: 10 & 11 The LORD says:

My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

&

I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.

God has decreed has plans from before the beginning of the world, and nothing can thwart them, nothing can change them, nothing can get in the way of them. Nothing will change his mind and nothing will remove us from his hands once we are in them.

God chose Abraham in Genesis to be the father of the group of people that he would use to bring His message and to bring his blessings to the world and to be a blessing to the nations around them. Through that physical line came Christ Jesus.

Through Christ Jesus all the families of the earth were blessed. Here in Romans 15, Paul shows us in verse 8, that the reason that Jesus came through the physical line of Abraham, why he was, as Paul puts it, that Christ became a servant to the circumcised, to show God’s truthfulness.

God said it, He promised it would happen this way, through these people, in these circumstances, and then he delivered. Against all odds. Jesus birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, him being God was the fulfillment of hundreds of Old Testament prophecies, the nearest of which were written over 400 years before his birth. Many of which were written 700-100 years before his birth.

He was born the way, in the place and in the manner that God had long said that he would be born. To show Gods truthfulness. To confirm the promises made to the patriarchs, the fathers of the faith in the Old Testament. And he did all this so that Gentiles would be brought in and made to glorify God. That his mercy would be poured out in all nations of the world. That the chosen people of God would be made up of people from every tribe, every tongue and every nation.
So, we know that God is unchanging. We see that he has proven what he says will happen and that what he has planned, has never changed. And as we see, his plan was to bring Jews and Gentiles both, people of all the world into his fold. There was only ever one redemption plan. There was only ever one plan that God made. No plan A, no plan B. No reacting to his plans going wrong. No trying to come with anything else, and no multiple groups of His people.

In that, there was no separate plan for Israel and for the Gentiles. The plan from God was the same for each. The plan was the same for both. The promises were the same for both. The fulfillment of those promises were the same for both. The method of carrying out that plan and fulfilling those promises was the same for both.

That fulfillment is what brings all people’s together, Jews, Gentiles, all brought together under the blood and at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. And, more importantly, it is ONLY through Jesus Christ that any of the promises that God made can be fulfilled. It is ONLY through jesus Christ that any of Gods plans can see fruition.

And it is Only through Jesus Christ that we can be reconciled to God the Father and receive the forgiveness of our sins. There simply is no other way but through Jesus Christ.

Jesus did what we could not do for ourselves. Jesus lived a sinless life, therefore not separated from God. Our sins separate us from God. But God had a plan, a redemption plan. He had a plan to reconcile us back with him. A plan hatched between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit before God created time.

That plan was the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His life was sinless, so no separation from God, no sins to have to pay for. His death was unwarranted. He was innocent and therefore was sufficient to pay the price for all of our sins, meaning that our slates could be wiped clean, we could be forgiven and our relationship with God could be restored. His resurrection meant that he not only paid for and therefore defeated sin, but now he paid the price and defeated the penalty for sin, the consequences of sin have now been negated. He beat death. Specifically he defeated and eliminated eternal death.

And through all that we receive something incredibly powerful. We receive hope. The Gospel in many ways is hope. When we share the Gospel with others, we are sharing hope. When we hear the Gospel, hear it with open ears, understanding it and its repercussions, we hear hope. Paul writes here in Romans 15, verse 13:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

God gives us hope, he fills us with joy and peace while he gives us belief. It is through the Holy Spirit that we hear the Gospel with open ears and hear Hope. God grants us that belief. Because it is through that belief, through faith and faith alone that we receive the grace of God.

Ephesians 2:8 & 9, Paul writes:

 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

By grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. As revealed by the scriptures alone. Done to the Glory of God alone.

And it’s not based off our works, our righteousness. It is not based on anything that we can do or earn. It is based on of Jesus righteousness, it is based on Gods grace. It is based on his “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love” It is based on his character and his Word. And because it’s based on God, it’s based on Jesus and not ourselves, we can have hope and peace when we respond to the Gospel. Trying to do it ourselves is the most exhausting thing that we can attempt in this world. Jesus instead offers hope and rest.

He says in Matthew 11:28-30:

 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I feel so humble, filled with humility that God chose me. So much gratefulness. That I have received his grace and his mercy. And so much assurance that it does not depend on me. Reading through this passage of Romans, I feel drawn back to earlier in Paul’s letter, to Romans chapter 5, verses 1 & 2.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God.

Lets Pray

Romans 15:1-7 pt 2 Easter 2019 That’s My King!

Romans 15:1-7 pt 2

Easter 2019

Who is Jesus?

Good Morning! If you have a Bible, please grab it and turn with me to Romans chapter 15. If you do not have or own a Bible, one of our missions here at Bangor Community Church is to get the Bible in to the hands of everyone who does not have one. We have some on the back table that your are welcome to grab and consider it our gift to you.

So, a little bit about me as Pastor here, I preach through books of the Bible. Lone by line, verse by verse. There are a few times where we will take a pause and preach on something topical, mostly Easter and Christmas, and how important they are to our life and faith. However, this year, the Holy Spirit saw fit for the scripture that we are naturally going through to match up with this morning, Easter Sunday.

So, that’s what we are going to look at this morning, Romans 15, verses 1-7. This passage in Romans points out one aspect of who Jesus is and why he came down from heave to have a ministry here on Earth. We are going to look at that, but also, look at the bigger picture of who Jesus is and why Easter especially is so important to the Christian faith.

As just a bit of context for Romans 15, Paul, who wrote this letter to the churches in Rome, as been talking, over the last few chapters of Romans, what it practically looks like to love our neighbors, what it looks like to set aside our liberties and right for the sake of unity and love within the church. He emphasizes that this does not mean we don’t stand for anything, True Truth will often divide, but that we set aside non primary issues, open-handed issues as we have referred to them, we set those aside in the name of love and unity and the Gospel.

So, all that being said, let’s go ahead and read from this weeks text. We will be reading Romans chapter 15, verses 1-7 and I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to follow along with whichever translation you have in your hands.

The Word of God says:

 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

And so, I want to ask a question of you all. Why are you here this morning? Why is this morning important? What does it all mean and who is this Jesus Guy?

Paul here is pointing out one of the many aspects of who Jesus is. Jesus is a perfect example for us. Paul is pointing this out in the context of the things he has been instructing the church at Rome. That is to put others, their needs and their stuff above ourselves. Jesus put our needs, our struggles, our good above his own benefit. The Biggest example, the biggest aspect of who he is is his sinless life, his perfect sacrifice, his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead, the greatest act of love ever committed.

Lets start at the beginning. Genesis chapter 1, verse 1, the first words in the Bible, it states, In the beginning,… In the beginning God created. As you go through Genesis 1 & 2, you see creation unfolding. You see Gods power, creativity, his authority and his love unfold in the created world. We see in Genesis 1:27:

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them

What this means is that human beings are created in Gods likeness. We are created to reflect Gods attributed and his nature. We were created without sin, designed to walk in perfect communion and relationship with the all-powerful, all holy and all loving God. We also get the first glimpse of the Trinity. One God, three persons. Not three gods, three persons. Not one God, three personalities. But One God, three persons; The Father, the son and the Holy Spirit.

Thats why and by who we are created. But that’s not who we are today. Can anybody, no matter what your thoughts, no matter what your political views, no matter what culture or ethnicity, no matter what your worldview, or religious view, none of us can truly say, that this world we see around us, this world we see on the news, the world we see when we walk down the street, none of us can say this world is supposed to be. Something went wrong, something is broken.

That something is us. We see, also in Genesis, starting in Ch 3, that Adam and Eve, the sinless human beings created by God, we see them sin. Sin has been summed up as Cosmic Treason against the creator of the universe. We see Adam get deceived and disobey the one command the perfect and loving God gave them. The Bible tells us that because of Adams sin, we are all born into sin. Paul writes in Romans 5:12:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men[a] because all sinned—

That sin fractured the perfect union and relationship with God. The end of Genesis 3 shows God removing Adam and Eve from his presence, expelling them from the Garden of Eden. He is not able to be in the presence of sin. And it’s also the first view that death is required for the penalty of sin.

That is a vital point. This is a point you truly need to realize. If you do not understand this, then you have no knowledge of your need for forgiveness or need of a saviour or how big of a deal your sin actually is. It’s too easy to just say, “I can just be better, or do better and sin less.” But you can’t do good enough or sin little enough. Only Jesus could do that and that’s why we need Him.

So we are broken. The term that is used among Christians is fallen. And we are unable to keep ourselves from being fallen. We are unable to keep ourselves sinless. We cannot maintain that perfect relationship with God. We never knew in our lives, because we were born with sin. We certainly cannot be good enough, sinless enough to bridge that gap between us and God. We certainly can’t reconcile a perfect, holy and just God with our sin. Romans 3:23 says, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Thats the bad news. But God loves you, loves me, loves us too much to leave things with the bad news.

See, God uses the entire Old Testament to point towards something. We looked last week at the importance of ALL Scripture. That it is ALL inspired and breathed out by God. We are still hitched, if you will to the Words of God that came before Jesus earthly ministry. God spends the entire Old Testament promising a gift to his people, promising to redeem them, to bring them back into relationship with him. He promised to send them a savior, saving them from eternal separation from him.

Then, on a day we celebrate with Christmas, one starry night, a little over 2000 years ago, God the Father sent his son, Jesus of Nazareth, down to be born of Mary, betrothed to Joseph, both of the kingly line of David. Jesus, fully God, one-third of the trinity, fully human, born of a woman, arrived here on earth.

The Gospels, the first four books of the New testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are stories, in content, if not fully in purpose, stories of Jesus life and ministry here on earth and then finally, his death and his resurrection.

Thats right, Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus Christ, lived a perfect human life, therefore was never separated from God.

Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:21-25:

 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Jesus was sinless and therefore wasnt fallen, didn’t have that broken relationship with God. He didn’t have anything to be punished for, didn’t do anything wrong.

But his mission, his purpose, was to come down here to pay the penalty, to take the punishment for sin. And since he had none of his own, he was able to pay that penalty for us, on our behalf. He was punished and put to death without reason. He was innocent. We are not, The cross is a reminder of the pain and suffering that he went through on our behalf. That happened Friday. The wages of sin are death, started back in Genesis 3, and stated over and over, up through the New Testament. The first half of Romans 6:23 says For the wages of sin is death. Again, do you truly understand that because of your sins, you deserve death. That is the right and just penalty for sin. If you claim to want a fair and just God, the wages of sin is death. But God is not only fair and just, He is full of grace, mercy and love as well.

Jesus paid that penalty. But again, the story didn’t end there. Once the penalty was paid, that doesn’t mean the relationship is automatically reconciled. Death still exists, death and sin are still in and a part of this world. So Jesus had to show us that there was something beyond this world. That, though we would still die physically in this bodies, that through the death and resurrection of Christ, we would spend eternity with him in our new, heavenly bodies. The second part of Romans 6:23 reads but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And so, three legal days later, on Sunday Morning, When his followers opened the tomb, to take care of the dead body, the body was gone. In a historical event, that over the last 2000 years has been shown to carry the burden of proof, with eye witnesses, with transmission through the years, archaeologically, culturally, and so much more, carrying the burden of proof and having actually, literally, physically happening, Jesus rose from the dead.

He did this to show that he was God. He did this to show us that we could have life after death. He did this to show that there is forgiveness, to give us a reason to believe and to show that he has the ultimate authority. He did this to show that he is the messiah king that God was pointing to in the Old Testament. Charles Spurgeon once said, You only have to read the Gospels, and look with willing eyes, and you shall behold in Christ all that can possibly be seen of God.

As so, to those of you who don’t know Jesus Christ, who are not in a personal relationship with him, who have not received his forgiveness,who have not repented and trusted in the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, now is the time. Because the Bible, and Jesus himself makes it quite clear that there is no other way to forgiveness, to salvation, to eternity in heaven than through Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the King of Kings and the LORD of Lords. John records in his Gospel, in 14:6, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. He doesn’t say A way, he doesn’t say he is A truth. He doesn’t say there are all sorts of ways to get to the Father. One way, one door, open to all who would walk through it.

Now and here is the time, because there is no other way, there is no second chances in the afterlife, there is no knowing when your time is up, and there is no reason to think that this decision doesn’t matter. So please, accept this gift that God has laid out in front of you. Accept the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and accept his resurrection. Accept that Jesus Christ is LORD, that through him your sins are forgiven and that he has authority, that he is King over our life.

Timothy Keller writes: If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”

John MacArthur wrote, “It is only through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that you or I or anyone will ever enter the kingdom of God. We can’t enter through our religious emotion or our sanctified feelings. It is only through the precious blood of Jesus Christ.”

And see, that’s the thing. In order to truly accept Jesus Christ, you have to acknowledge who he is. He is the perfect, Holy, and just God who created everything single thing in this universe. As the creator, he has the right and the responsibility to rule over it, to have authority over it. For us to acknowledge who he is, we have to submit to that authority.

Lets read what Paul writes in his letter to the Colossians, chapter 1, verses 15-20:

 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by[f] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

And so, Jesus Christ is not only our savior on the cross, the payment for our sin, but he is our God, he is our KING. And as such, he has authority and dominion over us. We believe that this book right here, the Bible, that it is Gods words to us. Again, we focused in on that last week. And we see through scripture, that His will is communicated to us through it. And so, our job, if we claim to know Christ is to read this and follow what it says.

Make no mistake…This is no trivial thing! This is everything! So, those of us that know Jesus Christ is our savior and have accepted that forgiveness and the eternal life in his Kingdom, my question to you, are you submitting to his will and are you following his example? Are you submitting to the King. Are you submitting to the one who has all authority over your life? Scripture says at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)

Thats hard for us, especially us as Americans to grasp. Our country was formed & created by rejecting and fighting against the authority of a king. So it is ingrained in us that that is a good way to rebel. And so we naturally and think rightfully reject the notion that Christ is our King and that any King would have any authority over us.

And yet he does. Paul especially writes quite a bit about this. He says in Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. And in 2 Corinthians 5:17,  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[b] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

When we submit to him and his authority, it’s not just our eternal destination that is affected. Its our true self, we become a child of God, reconciled with him. We get to enjoy fellowship with him, the way we were intended to. When we become Christians, the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of us, helping us, teaching us, guiding us. We can’t submit to Christ the King with out the power of the Holy Spirit. Thats a product of the fall, of sin. And so the Holy Spirit helps change our wants, our desires, our thought process and whats important to us.

But, we have to make the choice daily to submit, to follow. It’s not easy, Jesus says in Matthew 7, Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. We need Gods help, we need the Holy Spirit, and we need the King himself, Jesus Christ in order to submit and follow his authority.

And that brings me back to the original question. What are we doing here this morning? What is Easter? Hers a clue, we are not here to dress up real nice, in our fanciest duds, though there is nothing wrong with that, that’s a good, fun thing. We are not here to see friends or family, or to gather for a family meal, though those are good fun things. We are not here to feel good about ourselves, though I hope you feel Gods love for you this morning and that does make you repent, but also feel loved and assured and good.

We are here to remember & celebrate what Jesus did for us, to buy us the opportunity to partake in salvation, in forgiveness, in his eternal Kingdom. And we are here to do what people do to Kings, and that’s to worship him. All of what we said earlier, submitting and following him, and accepting him and all that, they are part of worshiping him. Kings get worshiped, and when you are the King of Kings and the LORD of Lords, you deserve the worship of everyone.

So we are here, singing praises, hearing the Gospel, the Good News that we are loved, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Remembering that Christ defeated death and if we accept his love and his Kingship, we get live forever in his glorious eternal kingdom, walking in perfect, sinless communion and relationship p with God, just like Adam and Eve did, just like humanity were created to, just like we were intended to. We see a glimpse of what that looks like in Revelation 21:1-4:

 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be morning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Now, as we finish up, I want to encourage each and every one of you, know and accept Jesus Christ, he is our perfect example, he is our perfect substitute, he is very God and very Man, he is the Messiah, he is our Savior and he is King, who even has authority over death itself. And when you accept him, submit to his authority and worship him. He is all good. All powerful. All Holy, all just, all merciful, all loving and once again, all good. He deserves our submission and our worship.

Now, I want to leave you with an audio clip. It’s about 5 minutes, and its by an Southern Californian Baptist preacher named S.M. Lockridge, and the title of the Clip is “Thats my King!” This is, I believe from the early 70’s so that will explain the audio, but listen to what he says in describing Jesus Christ, His King, my King and your King!

 

Romans 15:1-7 Pt 1, Sola Scriptura

Romans 15:1-7 pt 1

Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)

Good Morning! Please Go ahead and grab your Bibles and turn with me to Romans chapter 15. As always, please help yourself to a Bible from the back table if you do not own, and that is our gift to you.

So, as we hit the homestretch here in Romans, we start looking at, not only Pauls words in the immediate context of what he is writing, but we remember to look at his written words in the larger context of the entirety of what he has written in this letter.

Remember that the letter Paul wrote to the churches in Rome was, for the majority of it, a systematic theology, a reminder to the churches of Rome about what they already knew, mostly, and what maybe needed some clarification. It also has been addressing how those things practically apply and how we are to live our that right theology.

As we enter in to chapter 15, Paul is going to bring the context of what he was saying in Chapter 14 about not quarreling over small differences, over secondary matters, and he is going to make two huge, fundamental, closed handed points.

We will look at one of those this week and one of them fits very well, Thank you Holy Spirit, with the Easter message and we will look at that next, hence the part 1 & part 2.

So, we will read this weeks passage, Romans 15:1-7, and today we will be especially focused on verse 4. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version, but please follow along in which ever version you have in your hands. Romans 15:1-7, Paul writes:

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Now, we do see that Paul connects the themes of Chapter 14 with what he is saying here in chapter 15. And what happens is that he makes two major points here and uses the themes we have looked at recently to make them. First, the biggest subject he is addressing here is actually what we will look at next week during our Easter Celebration and that is Who Jesus is; Very Man and Very God. Like I said, that’s what we are going to be looking at next week.

This week, I want to focus on what Paul says in verse 4, and that points that flow from that. He says about scriptures that, whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

The scriptures, in Paul’s specific context, meaning the Hebrew scriptures, what we call the Old Testament, but, as we are going to see here today, also including the New testament. The scriptures are inspired by God, they are inerrant, without error. They are complete. They are sufficient and they are unchanging, unbending, timeless, Truth.

The doctrines of the inerrancy and the sufficiency of Scripture. One might ask why these things are important. The answer is that these are not just important, but they are vital to Christianity. I make the case that these are some of the closed handed issues that we have been talking about. To not believe in these two truths, essentially, any hope we can have in the truthfulness of what is says and takes a jack hammer to the foundation upon which our faith is built.

Paul wrote to Timothy and say this about the scriptures, in 2 Timothy 3:15-17:

from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work.

We see first, in verse 15 here, that the scriptures, again Paul is referring specifically to the Old Testament, as the New Testament was in the process of being written, but he says that the scriptures were able to make one wise to salvation. And Paul says previously in this letter, Romans 10:17 that faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

And that’s what the scriptures are, the Word of Christ. John writes in the opening chapter of his Gospel, skipping a few asides about John the Baptist:

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

And then:

 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son[d] from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus is God. He is the Word of God. He is the Word of God Incarnate. Every word of scripture is the Word of Christ. Knowing this helps guard the foundations of inerrancy and sufficiency of scriptures. inerrancy means without error. It is God breathed as we just read a moment ago. It is the Word of Christ, perfect in every way. There are no errors or contradictions or anything of the sort. It is unchanging, just as God, as Jesus is unchanging. It is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The author of Hebrews writes that the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

It is timeless, written in specific historical contexts, but written to all believers, in all times and all places. And that’s part of what makes the Bible sufficient as well. GotQuestions.org describes the sufficiency of scripture in this way:

To say the Scriptures are sufficient means that the Bible is all we need to equip us for a life of faith and service. It provides a clear demonstration of God’s intention to restore the broken relationship between Himself and humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior through the gift of faith. No other writings are necessary for this good news to be understood, nor are any other writings required to equip us for a life of faith.

The Bible is all that we need when it comes to hearing from God. It is sufficient. There is no other way that God reveals himself to us in these days. And we know that because the Bible says so. Hebrews 1:1&2:

 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

He has spoken to us through his Son, Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God. John Owen, historical theologian, makes the famous comment, If private revelations agree with Scripture, they are needless, and if they disagree, they are false. And one Ive shared before as well, Justin Peters, Bible Teacher and Evangelist says, If you want to hear God speak, read your Bible. If you want to hear God speak audibly, read your Bible out loud.

God has made the scriptures complete and sufficient so that there is no reason for us to need to search outside the Bible to see God reveal. The Bible is able to makes us wise to salvation and Faith, saving faith, faith alone in Christ alone, comes by hearing the Word of Christ, which is the written word of God, the Bible.

Now, the doctrines pf inerrancy and sufficiency are under huge attacks today, from society without and from churches within.

The attack on the inerrancy of scripture is the easier one to see. It is people, again, both in and out of the church saying that the Bible doesn’t really mean what it says. It is them saying that the Bible really isn’t the Word of God. Its them saying that what the bible says is sin, really isn’t anymore, or never was. Its them saying that the Bible is a parable or a collection of moral teachings only.

There is even a mega church pastor, well-known son of another well know mega church pastor and tv personality that says that Christians need to “unhitch” from the Old Testament. He says that Christians shouldnt use the Old Testament when talking to non believers, that the Old Testament creates a stumbling block to those who dont yet know Christ.

This is actually a very old heresy. Back in the second century, Marcion was labeled a heretic for his views, namely that the Old Testament held no authority over a believer. He believed that the God of the Old Testament was an inferior god to the God of the New Testament and that jesus was not the fulfillment of the prophecies in the Old Testament but the revelation of the New Testament God.

Thats something we might hear often. God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament. That directly flies in the face of the scriptures and what they say.

1 Peter 1:10-12:

 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time[a] the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

But we also see so-called Christians coming out and supporting sin, justifying sin and saying that it isn’t sin. Sometimes its individuals, sometimes its whole denominations. Blurring the lines and wholly erasing the distinctions between loving those who don’t know Christ and sharing Christ and his salvation, through what the Word of God says, sharing that he can cleanse us from our sins and relieve us from our unholy passions and instead, supports, affirms and celebrates the sins that the Bible so clearly speaks against.

And that brings us to the attacks on the sufficiency of scripture. That, again is happening both in and out of the church. Connecting what we were just talking about, people claim that the Bible has only a couple of verses that call specific behaviors or actions sin. But, if the Bible is inerrant and sufficient as we know it is, I only needs to be one verse for it to be enough.

Another common argument is that Jesus never said anything about these so-called sins, therefore it must not have been that important. There are numerous reasons to reject this. First and foremost to our point, if there is a verse in the Bible that does speak on it, then Jesus spoke on it. See, again, all the words of the bible are the Words of Jesus Christ, not just the Words written in Red. Dont get me wrong, if you have one of those Bibles, they can be a useful study tool, but don’t let that affect how you see the words that are not written in red, they are the Words of Jesus as well.

And those are the only words that have an authority in our lives as believers in Christ. There are no new revelations. God has given us everything we need, everything he wants us to know. Again, don’t misunderstand, we will progressively see more of what the Bible says and means the more we read it and the longer we are christians and following the Word of God. But there is nothing new being added to what has already been revealed.

Revelation 22:18&19, some of the last words in the bible, Jesus says to John:

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Not a lot of vagueness or opportunity for misunderstanding there. And yet, despite that, there are churches today built on the claim by their “pastors” that they are receiving direct revelation from God. The pastors call themselves Apostles, putting them in the same category as Peter, Paul, James and John. They claim to hear directly from God, and of course that means that you can’t point out they are wrong because if you do, you are saying God is wrong, and it doesn’t matter if what they are saying goes against what the Bible says. One of the biggest churches in America that is doing this is just a few hours up the road from us in Reading. Its scary, harmful and umbilical.

So many major bible studies in America, the best sellers in Christian Book Stores, especially the ones geared towards women’s Bible studies, so many claim to hear extra biblical revelation from God. So many of the most popular teachers out there today, don’t rightly teach the Bible, its context or true meaning and instead depend on “God told me…”

Literally the only time you should ever say “God told me…” is if you are quoting the bible. God told me, in 1 Corinthians 4:6, “not to go beyond what is written.” Gods word is sufficient. Remember that it also tells us that we are to test all things against scripture, as the bereans did in Acts. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says that we are test all things. 1 John 4:1 tells us, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” Paul shows us in the first chapter if Galatians that anyone who teaches a false gospel is damned. Whatever word your translation uses, the meaning is damned. Paul also points out that even if an angel shares a false gospel, and we know there are such things as fallen angels, even if an angel shares a false gospel, goes against scripture, they will be damned.

There is a reason that the reformers fought so hard to get the Bible into the hands of the common people. Before that, before men like Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and so many more, risked there lives to translate the Bible and get them in the hands of the everyman, only the priests and certain professional clergy members were allowed to own a Bible or to even read it. The Catholic church at the time restricted who could own or read a Bible.

But Sola Scriptura, Scripture Alone, was a vital part of what took place during the 1500s and brought Gospel and Salvation to everyone. Martin Luther was reading the Bible, studying the Word of God, realizing that the religious authorities of the day were not abiding by the Word of God, but instead were doing what they wanted to do.

The Word of God showed the wrong that they were doing. The Word of God shows the right way. We go back and see in our text this morning, reading Romans 15:4, that Paul tells us that the scriptures were written for our encouragement, for instruction and to give us hope.

It gives instruction on how to live, how to be holy and righteous, restoring a broken relationship with God. It gives us hope, showing us that God gave us his Son, sent Jesus to not only be an example, as we see here, but to be a sacrifice, an atoning sacrifice, atoning for our sins, forgiving our sins, taking the penalty for our sins, and in exchange, giving those who are believers in Christ alone, his very own righteousness, bringing us into right relationship with Christ.

And scripture gives us encouragement. To repent of our sins. To trust in Christ and his work in the cross. To live our lives for the glory of God. To follow the commands of Christ, loving God with all our heart, mind, body and soul and loving our neighbor as ourself.

These things we learn through studying scriptures. Do we have any historians here? When you study a figure in history, what are the best sources to learn about the figure? Biographies and the people who have study about and learned the figure? They are helpful and you can learn about them for sure, but even better? Read and study the actual words of the person you are studying.

That holds doubly true with God. Study the Word of God. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The King James Bibles says in 2 Timothy 2:15, Study to show thyself approved. There are so many false gospels, false teachers, false doctrines out there and inside churches as well, it is only by studying the we can truly know the Truth.

Again, from GotQuestions, But Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me” (John 10:27). His voice is all we need to hear and the Scriptures are His voice, completely and utterly sufficient.

I want to leave you with the words of Martin Luther. As we look at the importance, inerrancy, sufficiency and primacy of scripture, Martin Luther was called before the Catholic Church at the Diet of Worms in 1521, to essentially recant his Bible focused teaching in favor of the churches traditions and structures. To the council assembled he stands as says:

Since your most serene majesty and your lordships require of me a simple, clear and direct answer, I will give one, and it is this: Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures and by clear reason (for I do not trust in the pope or councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen

Romans 14:10-23 Persueing Christs Rightouessness above all

Romans 14:10-23
pursuing Christs Peace and Righteousness

Good Morning Everyone! Lets go ahead and grab our Bibles and, if you would, turn with me over to Romans chapter 14. As always, if you do not have or own a Bible, please grab one of our back table as our gift to you.
So, its been a few weeks since Ive been up here and since we have been in Romans. And so, as we jump into this weeks text, we will give a little review as well.The biggest thing in this weeks text is that it continues to make the same points we look at last time, in verses 1-9. But in that same message, the same thread and examples that run through verses 10-23, we see three big points come to the surface. Those three things are what we are going to be focusing on this morning.
But we need tor review what Paul talked about in the previous 9 verses because that is the thread that pulls these three points together. Paul addressed a few issues in the last passage we looked at. He made the point not to quarrel over disputed matters, of matters of opinions. We looked at the difference in open-handed and closed handed issues. Closed handed issues being the Gospel issues, the ones that are required and necessary for us to be saved, for us to be Christians. These are the issues the will move us from the goats on the left to the sheep on the right. And Paul talked about the differences in opinions that some have, the difference between God-given law and personal conviction.
The three examples Paul gave with these points, obviously three issues that were plaguing the early church, especially in Rome. These three issues were whether certain foods could be eaten or if all foods were clean, it was the Sabbath Day, and it was in regards to whether we were still supposed to be celebrating the Jewish Old testament Festivals.
Again, that them continues through the rest of the chapter, but it is used to make three bigger points that we will focus on this morning. Lets go ahead and read this morning’s text, reading romans 14:10-23. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in whichever translation you have in your hands. Romans 14:10-23, Paul writes:

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Do Not Cause Another to Stumble
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.
For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.
So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.
So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.
It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.
The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.
But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
So, as we read that section of Romans 14, the three main points we are going to look at this morning are found in verses 10-12, verses 17-19 and then verse 23. Starting in the first section, verses 10-12, we see Paul appealing to a bigger view of God and judgment than just looking at these food and drink. We see him addressing why we should make sure not to get bogged down in these quarrels and disputes.
Essentially, if we are to go down the road of making these open-handed issues in to more important, close handed issues, than we are making a judgment of salvation on the souls of those who take part in the quarrels. If we make them close handed issues, then, using the examples Paul gave in this chapter, we say that if someone refrains from eating a certain food, or worships on a different day that we do or decides differently about celebrating the festivals, we end up saying that we are saved and righteousness and they are not.
Paul and the rest of scriptures are clear; We do not get to say that about others. We can make an assumption, we can even make judgments based on the fruit we do or do not see. But we do not get to say, specifically based on this context, the open-handed issues, you are not saved because you think differently than I do.
In most cases, we are not able to know or see someones eternal destination. There is of course, a spectrum on which some of these issues lie, and some open-handed issues are mighty close to being close handed issues, or can look like close handed issues, especially if we take grace out of the picture.
Think about sin for a moment. First, think of the worst behavioral sin you can think of. Most likely, it’s not a sin that you struggle with. That sin is very likely a close handed issue in your mind and you could make a biblical argument that it is a closed handed issue in Gods eyes as well. Now, think of the behavioral sin that you struggle with the most. In your eyes, “yeah, of course its sin, of course its bad, but it’s not as bad as the sin I can’t stand and God is good and just to forgive and he has poured out mercy on us through Jesus Christ.” Just not for that sin over there… we may not say that out loud, but that’s the thought process and the mindset that we often have.
Pauls point here is that, no matter our sins, no matter our opinions on these issues, we will all stand before the good and perfect, almighty, eternal judge at the appointed time. This is not to say that confronting sin and fighting against sin is not important and we are called to lovingly confront our fellow brothers and sisters when they are sinning. Instead the point is that I they do something different from us, its not necessarily sin.
And the point is that we should be focused on making sure that we are right before God before we turn and look at where other people are before God.
Jesus makes this same point numerous times in numerous ways, most notably in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew chapter 7, the first two words of which have probably exceed Genesis 1:1 and John 3:16 as the most well-known words in the Bible. Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus tells us:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye
As Paul is saying here, each and every one of us will stand before God in judgement for ourselves. We are not fully responsible for each others faith. We are responsible for our own faith. This is in the same way that one does not become a christian just by being born to a Christian family. Those kids grow up in a Christian home, they often believe the bible stories, they go to church and are often involved in church, but at some point their faith needs move from being their parents faith to becoming their own faith. At some point they are responsible for putting their faith in Christ and repenting of their sins. We cant make them. We are responsible for teaching, for setting examples, for a lot of the peripheral aspects of them coming to faith, but they have to come to faith on their own.
The same goes for each of us. We are not responsible for each others faith. Our faith is our own. And our actions are our own. No one else is responsible for our sins. We will all individually stand before God in the last judgment day and give an account for our actions. Paul and the rest of scriptures is clear that every knee shall bow before God and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ as LORD.
The question is if we bow our knee and confess with our tongue before its too late. We only get one life and one chance. Every one will bow, but to great sadness, many will bow their knee after its too late. If we do not bow our knees know, God ensures and promises that all will acknowledge and know who God is and what his rightful place in the universe is.
But Paul points out that, despite us being only responsible for our own actions and sins, as a church family, as Christians called to be Holy, we need to be aware of how our words, our actions and our attitudes affect those around us.
And for us to be aware of our own sins, we need to know that how we affect those around us, if we are negatively impacted or affecting those around us, for us that is sin. James says in his letter, 4:17, So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
And the right thing to do is to love your brothers and sisters in Christ. Love them by determining not to put a stumbling block or a hinderance in the way of a brother. Love them by remembering how our actions, thoughts and attitudes affect each other. We love each other by putting aside our liberties in order to build up others. R.L Whiteside says, “A man should never insist on exercising his rights or liberties if harm comes from doing so.”
Paul talks about the Kingdom of God, where our focus is supposed to be and how that applies to this all. Verses 17-19:
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

Those open-handed issues, those disputable matters, those things, they don’t matter in the Kingdom of heaven, the Kingdom of God. Eating, drinking, days of the week, whatever else you put into these categories, they wont matter when we are in the presence of the LORD.
Instead, what will matter? What will be important in Gods Kingdom? Thinks like righteousness, Joy & Peace in the Holy Spirit. Serving Christ. pursuing peace and the mutual upbuilding. As Paul also mentions in Ephesians 4, the mutual edification, the building up of the body of Saints.
The focus in the Kingdom of God will be God himself. It will be praising and worshipping him, tongues from every tribe, people in nation singing together as we gather around the throne to lift a joyful noise to our true king.
I always love the last verse of Amazing Grace, When We’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing his praise, than when we first begun.
We have some description and some aspects told to us today, through Gods Word in the bible about what that time will look like, but the truth of the matter is, we cannot fathom what heaven will be like. What we can rest assure of is that it will be the fulfillment of all that we were created for. The Westminster Catechism asks, What is the chief end of Man? What is outr purpose? Why are we here? Those esoteric, philosophical questions that is in our nature to ask. The answer is quite simple. To glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
Paul continues in the next few verses, essentially saying, Dont throw all that away for these differences. Remember, Paul is not even saying “Dont have these differences.” But he is saying is that they are much less important that Christ, whom we should always keep our eyes squarely fixed on.
Christ is the thing to remember in all of this. He is the LORD of both the Living and the Dead. He is to whom every knee will bow and every tongue will confess. He is the one who is sitting at the right hand of God the father and he is the one whom we sing and give all praises to.
He is the one who ended the old covenant and ushered in the new covenant. He is the one who breaks us free from the chains of sins and sets us free indeed. It is only through him that we can know God the Father. And it is only through him, us knowing him in this life, before it’s too late that will make us declared righteous and acceptable to God, adopted into his family as children, co-heirs of the kingdom of heaven.
This, the work of Jesus Christ, his work on the cross. His death and his resurrection. The forgiveness of sins, given by the grace of God alone, accepted through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, as revealed in the scriptures, His Word, the Holy bible alone. And all of it done to the glory of God alone. It makes anything else seem secondary, which it is.
Now, again, that doesnt mean that they are unimportant. Live by your convictions. Every thing is indeed clean. But we all have our personal convictions in certain areas. Eat meat, don’t eat meat. Worship on Sundays, on Saturdays, on Wednesdays, on whenever. Read whatever Bible translation you want. Attend whatever church you want, within the confines that they preach and teach the bible. Serve how and where in the church you can and want. Be a blessing.
All those things are secondary to Christ and him crucified. But if you have a conviction, follow it. If you are convicted not to eat a certain food, dont eat it. No matter that is allowed in general or whoever else is eating it. If you are convicted to go to a certain church, go there, or to avoid a certain church, find another. And if you do not share that same conviction, who cares? Do not get in the way of those who do.
The last line in the chapter is Important, I think. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Basically, just because it’s allowed in scripture, if it feels wrong to you, if you have a conviction, then if you do it, its sin. It goes back to what I quoted from James earlier and it also reminds me of 1 Corinthians 10:23, where Paul writes: “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.
But again, even in that section of 1 Corinthians, Paul brings it back around to whats important. Same book, same chapter, just a few verses later, verse 31, So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
We live for God and we live to bring him glory. We bring him glory by obeying him. One of the ways we obey, every first Sunday of the month is we celebrate communion,
We remember and we celebrate what unites us and brings us together. The thing that unites us together is the cross of Jesus Christ. Today we come together to celebrate that unity. To pursue that unity by remembering. We remember and celebrate Christ’s death for us, that act on the cross, that act of pure love, grace and goodness. That perfect act of mercy. God holding out his hands to us, disobedient and contrary people.
We remember the sacrifice, the blood shed. We remember what that means to us, as those who have turned to follow Jesus Christ. It means that we have been declared righteous in his sight and we get to spend eternity with Jesus Christ and God the Father.
We often take this time somberly and soberly, because of what it cost Jesus, what he had to go through. We celebrate because Jesus is alive and we get to partake in eternal life with him if we chose to follow him.
Now, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 some things about partaking in communion. First of all, this is for those that have made a commitment to Jesus. This is a celebration and remembrance for what he won, what he purchased when he paid the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have not made that commitment, out of respect, please pass the plate.
Paul also makes it clear that we need to be in the right state of mind, that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God and about our sins.
I greatly encourage you, as we are passing out the items for communion, take that time to talk to God. Make sure you are examining yourself and you are taking it for the right reasons. Again, please do not be afraid to pass the plate along. There will be no glances, no judgments. What is important is for each of us to make sure that we are in right standing with God.
Paul gives us a picture of Communion in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. In verses 23-25 he writes:
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
So, what we are going to do here, is Mike and Jim are going to come up here. One will pray for the crackers, which symbolize the broken body of Jesus on the cross. They will pass them out and when we are finished we will take the cracker together as a church family.
Then, the other will pray for the juice, which symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins. They will pass them out and again, we will take it together as a church family.

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