Luke 10:1-16 Jesus is the Son of Man Accept or reject Jesus Christ!

Luke 10:1-16

Jesus is the Son of Man

Accept or reject Jesus Christ!

 

All right! Let’s go ahead and turn on our Bibles to Luke chapter 10. Caleb is so happy that we are out of Chapter 9! As always, if you do not have a Bible or need one, please see me after the service and I will get one to you.

As we continue past chapter 9 and into chapter 10, we see a renewed focus on Jesus’ purpose. First is his overall, number one purpose. This is the crucifixion that is going to take place in Jerusalem. This is the reason Jesus left heaven and came down to earth. This is his number one purpose and now that he was focused on getting there, nothing else was going to get in his way.

Second, as he was focused on and making his way to Jerusalem, Jesus was focused on training and teaching the Disciples to continue the ministry of preaching the Kingdom of God after Jesus left them.

Over the next number of chapters, we will see some miracles and sign and wonders, but much fewer. Even when we see those miracles, Jesus’ focus is going to be on using them to teach and prepare.

We have already seen this as Jesus has been calling people to follow him and at the same time, warning them about the obstacles and difficulties that it will entail. Following Christ, following him the way that he calls for us to follow him will require sacrifice, repentance and complete and total commitment.

 

Let’s go ahead and read this week’s passage, Luke chapter 10, verses 1 through 16. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please grab whichever version you prefer and follow along in your own Bible. Luke 10:1-16, The Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record:

 

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two[a] others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town

13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.

16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

May God Bless the Reading of his Word.

 

We start off with, After this… Last week, the last few verses of Chapter 9, we saw Jesus calling people to follow him and three different instances where they don’t follow him.

This week we see Jesus sending out those who are following him, 72, or 70 depending on your translation, disciples, sent out 2 by 2. The number is significant for a few reasons.

First, we see that number back in Exodus 24 and Numbers 11 referring to Moses and other elders among the Israelites.  Two by Two is a biblical principle that goes all the way back as well. The Disciples and the Jewish leaders of that day would have known that instantly.

The number is also significant because it matches the number of nations of the world that came about that we see listed in Genesis 10, from the sons of Noah. So, following biblical patterns, first, we see Jesus send the 12 out to villages and towns of Israel. 12 disciples for 12 tribes of Israel.

Then he sends out 72, or 70 disciples out to every town and place He was going to go. 72 Disciples sent out for the 72 nations of the world. Jesus came first to Israel, and then to the Gentiles and that is the same pattern we see with these disciples and its what we see the Apostles do after Jesus’ ascension. They went first to the Jews, first to Israel, then to the Gentiles, to the nations of the world.

The Good News, the Gospel, Salvation is for all people and all nations. Whosoever believes. All who repent and trust in Christ by grace through faith. IT is not a different message or different standings for the Jews first and then the Gentiles. IT was the same message, Salvation through Christ, first to the Jews then the Gentiles, first to Israel then equally to the nations of the world.  And now there is no distinction. There is not Jew or Gentile, in terms of standing and salvation, no male or female, no slave or free. All are one in Christ. One people of God.

SO, Jesus sends these 72 out, the number symbolic but the mission literal. The missions were the same only expanded as what we saw in Luke 9:51-56. They were going ahead to the towns and villages that Jesus was going to, to prepare the way, make sure food and lodging were available.

The other thing these 72 show us is that the job of preparing the way for Jesus is not just up to the Apostles but was assigned to all of Jesus followers. And the job today of preparing the way for Jesus’ return is assigned to all of us followers of Jesus.

And Jesus then tells them something we have all heard, but often don’t think about too much. The Harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.

You know, sometimes our instinct is the unknowingly think the opposite of this. Often, backed up with Matthew 7, where Jesus tells us the about the narrow path and the wide path, we assume that the laborers are plenty, but the harvest is few. He thinks that Heaven won’t be too crowded. We think that most people are really believers, and most people don’t know Christ.

We look at the world around us and its understandable why we think this, and we even have Bible verses to back us up, the aforementioned Matthew 7:13 & 14 for example. But as with many things that the Bible tells us, there is a balance, a middle ground, as if it were dependent on the context, when it comes to things like this.

Of course, this is not to say that all things in the Bible require a middle ground or compromise. Who Jesus is, for instance, is not up for negotiations. But when we see the Bible say too things that could possibly seem contradictory, it just might mean that both are true, depending on the context in which they are said. SO, when we try to look at who we think is in, and who we think is out, and we try to use the Bible to say, See? Only a few people will make it! Or see? Everyone or nearly everyone will make it! Well, we need to remember balance and context.

 

One of the keys to remember is that it is Jesus who is LORD of the Harvest. He is the only one who knows. In Johns Gospel, chapter 6, Jesus says that the Father is the one who sends them to Jesus, and all that come to him will not be reject. Jesus is the one who does the Harvesting, but he uses laborers.

So, pray that he would send out the laborers. And guess what, YOU ARE ONE OF THE LABORERS. 1 Corinthians 3 reminds us that we plant, we water but it is God that brings the increase.

God could save people however he wanted to. God could do it all. But he has revealed in his Word how we choose to bring salvation. People are saved by responding to the Word of God by the grace of God with faith in Christ.

Romans 10:13-17, Paul writes:

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Christ sends us out to spread the message, to spread the word of God, so that those who are ready to respond, can hear the Word of God and respond to the offer of salvation.

But its not always that easy. Society is opposed to the Gospel message. And it will actively oppose our broadcasting and spreading of that message. So, Jesus sends us out as lambs among wolves. The Bible uses a lot of imagery about us being lambs, including the need for a shepherd, the Good Shepard being needed to keep the lambs safe and protected.

But here’s the other thing. We are not sent out as Wolves among Wolves. We are not to respond in kind. We are to make sure our tone and demeanor are appropriate for the call that God has calls us to. WE are not “allowed” to respond with the same negativity, the same name calling, the same underhanded tactics as those who oppose us. The Bible is clear that the Gospel message of salvation by Christ alone is offensive to those who don’t believe, it is a stumbling block to the world. But it is just as clear that we are not to be offensive, we are not to be stumbling blocks to the world around us.

V 4 shows Jesus giving instruction to the disciples before sending them out. And he is specifically speaking to our reliance on Christ alone for protection and provision. He is not literally telling all of us to go out barefoot.

Once the disciples get to the towns or villages, they are to be a blessing and to bring peace to all they come across. He says, and again we saw this before, when he sent out the 12, at the beginning of Luke 9, that they are to stay in just one home in town. Don’t move form house to house within the community. But accept the hospitality and generosity of those who are giving it. Don’t keep looking to move up whatever ladder it is and improve your own lot. Accept what is provided to you and be content with what God has provided.

 

Jesus tells them to go in and heal and do miracles and proclaim the Gospel. He assures the disciples and informs them so they can pass along the message that the Kingdom of God has come near you. This is not just some ethereal hope for the distant future, but it is here and now and now is the time to respond. The disciples are to lay this offer out to all they encounter.

Many will hear and many will respond in faith. But Jesus tells them, many will reject you, and by doing so, reject him. Rejection hurts. Not only personally, but also, when we know the value of what is being offered and the importance of it, it hurts that the people rejecting it don’t want any part of it.

Jesus recognizes that they disciples will want to call down fire on those who reject. Again, just like we saw with the Apostles and the Samarian village in Luke 9:54. He says, don’t…

Shake the dust off your sandals and move on. This was a symbolic gesture done by the Jews when they came from a place that was not of the People of God. So, Jesus is saying that those who reject Christ and his messengers, specifically his message, they are not a part of the People of God.

Nevertheless, even if the message is rejected, the Kingdom of God has still drawn near. Rejecting it, disbelieving it does not make it not true. Christ is still in control. He is still sovereign. You don’t have to believe it for it to be true. People rejecting God does not make him not God. It does not limit his power. It does not affect his plans or thwart his will.

The Bible makes it clear in multiple places that in the end, every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is LORD. And for those who accept Christ now, who become a part of his Kingdom now, it will be great for them, for us.

The greatest, the biggest, the worst, the sin that will incur the greatest wrath from God, the worst judgment from God is the continual, unrepentant, unbelief and rejection of his Son, Jesus Christ.

For those who reject him, they will acknowledge him in the end, but it will not be good for them. Jesus says it will have been better for Sodom that for those who reject Christ.

Jesus is saying this while focusing on his upcoming crucifixion and bearing the wrath of God, feeling all Gods wrath for our sins. And I think part of the point is to make sure we don’t underestimate how deep and how complete the wrath of God is. His judgment and his justice will be perfect, and they will be complete. Sin will not receive a slap on the wrist. Sin will be dealt with and will be dealt with harshly.

Jesus continues, Woe! Woe to those who reject Christ. Woe to those who continue in their unrepentant sins, their worldly ways and their lifestyles.

In verse 16, Jesus tells them, to reject the message of Gods messengers is to reject Christ himself. And to reject Christ, to reject the scriptures, to reject the Word of God, to reject the Living Word, the Word incarnate, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is to reject God himself.

The key to all of this is that the Kingdom of God has come near. Again, not some distant hope. But here and now. We live today, saved by faith, committed to Christ, repented of our sins, empowered by the Holy Spirit to grow, to be sanctified, to produce fruit. We are commissioned, all believers are commissioned to go and make disciples and share the coming of the Kingdom of God, sharing the Good News of the Gospel. We pray that God will send us and others out as laborers because the Harvest is plenty.

Ezekiel 33: 2-6:

If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.

 

We are watchmen. We are laborers. We are disciple sent out to prepare the way, prepare the coming of the LORD. We share the good news, bringing peace and blessings to all we encounter. We go out as lambs among wolves. And offer the Word of God, which teaches that salvation from punishment for our sins is exclusively through the blood of Jesus Christ. We plant, we water.

But after that, we shake the dust from our hands. After we do what God has called us to do, then it’s in God’s hands. He brings the increase. Salvation belongs to the LORD.

I’ve shared them both before but I’m going to leave you with two Charles Spurgeon quotes about sharing the Gospel with all. He says:

“If the Lord had put a yellow stripe down the backs of the elect, I’d go up and down the street lifting up shirt tails, finding out who had the yellow stripe, and then I’d give them the gospel. But God didn’t do it that way. He told me to preach the gospel to every creature that ‘whosoever will may come.'”

And then:

If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

Let’s Pray

 

 

Luke 9:49-56 Jesus is the Son of Man Pride disrupts Unity.

Luke 9:49-56

Jesus is the Son of Man

Pride disrupts Unity.

 

All right let’s grab our Bibles and turn to Luke chapter 9. As always, if you do not have a Bible, if you do not own one, please see me after the service and we can get one into your hands as our gift to you.

So, we have been looking at some of Jesus’ teachings over the past couple weeks. And while they have greatly varied on their details and their subjects, the themes underneath them has remained remarkably consistent.  Pride, disunity, and the link between them, And Jesus as the source of everything; our salvation, our unity, our humility, our righteousness.

Jesus is going to double down on those themes in our passage this week. We warned, especially last week, of the sin of prideful exclusion; the idea that because I am saved, because I am a Christian, even because God saved me, that I am better than those around me who aren’t.

We are going to see two examples this morning of Jesus addressing the disciples doing exactly this. They fell into the trap that only my way of following Jesus is the right and acceptable way. Only my way of doing baptism, doing communion, the style of music, only my way of doing those is the right way.

Jesus shows us that this could not be further from the truth.

Let’s go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 9, verses 49-56. As usual Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, though it doesn’t matter if you have ESV, New American Standard, King James, New King James, NIV, New Living or whatever else, all pf them Are the Word of God.

Luke 9:49-56, the Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record the following:

John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”

51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. 53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”[e] 55 But he turned and rebuked them.[f] 56 And they went on to another village.

God Bless the reading of his Word.

 

 

Now, the first incident here, the first few verses are in direct response to the last few verses, which we looked at last week. Jesus heard the disciples arguing about which among them was the greatest. They were competing because they were traveling with and therefore associated with Jesus. IN those days, much like today, of you are associated with someone great, someone with great power and influence, then you too will be considered great and will have some power and some influence.

Jesus makes it clear that there is no “greatest.” In his kingdom. All who are the least of them in this life, on this world will be great in his Kingdom. All who receive and call on the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Messiah, the Savior, the Son of God, will be great.

Jesus lets them know this and John steps in and speaks to Jesus. Many commentators attribute many different tones to John’s question here. Confusion, anger, dismissiveness, arrogance. We do know that John during the time of Jesus earthly ministry, as we see in both these stories today, was just as impulsive and wild with his tongue as Peter.

He says, Master, someone else, not from our group, not from our church were doing things in your name. We tried to stop them because they are NOT part of our group, not part of our circle right here.

Here’s the thing. There are boundaries and borders that we have to defend. Not everyone who says the word God or says the name Jesus knows the true and biblical Jesus. And Jesus is the only way to salvation. So, we have to make sure we understand biblically, what we fight for, what we defend against, and what we accept, and we agree to disagree.

One pastor I listened to used this analogy that I will paraphrase and probably misquote to the point he wouldn’t even recognize. But he said, your local church is like your city. Your city is a group of somewhat or mostly likeminded people who gather together within the state. Now, with rural community churches, the amount of the like mindedness might be less that other types of churches, but still.

Now, denominations and groupings of churches are like the state. Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and so on. These are all different states. There are distinctions, there are differences, they do certain things different ways, and they believe different things about some of the secondary issues. If you live in an area with options, you will study with the differences are in these different denominations, or different associations and so on, and choose which state you align more with.

Every one of these states is within the confines of the country. Everyone of these states holds to an orthodox view of Christianity, Jesus and the Bible. We would not agree about everything with each different state, but we would stand together with them against other countries.

The country is true Christianity. The country is a right view of Jesus and who he is. Fully God, fully man. God himself. The Son of God. Virgin Birth. Sinless life. Put to death on the cross. Paid for our sins. Took the wrath from God that we deserved. Rose from the dead, defeating death and sin. Ascended into heaven and now sits at the right hand of God the Father until he returns to judge all of humanity and recreated the heavens and the Earth.

The country is a right view of Gods Word. That it is inspired. That it is inerrant. That it means what it says and that it says what it means. God is all knowing, all powerful, all times. He is the creator of all that exists. He is Holy and just and good. He is Holy and punishes sin. He so loved the world that he sent his Son, Jesus. And Jesus shows us love, in that while we were yet, sinners, he died for us.

Those are the National borders of Christianity. Those are the things we will rally around and those are the things that we will defend. Opposing views on those are other countries and are outside historical, biblical, true Christianity.

The idea that Jesus was God but not man. The idea that Jesus was man and not God. The idea that Jesus was an angel or any sort of created being. The idea that he didn’t die on the cross. The idea that he didn’t rise from the dead. The idea that we don’t need him to die for our sins. The idea that the Bible is a bunch of good moral lessons. The idea that the Bible is a parable for life.

These are things that are not Christianity and that we do have to fight against.

But within those borders, we band together. With those borders, we stand united, and we allow those who are following Jesus differently than we understand to continue to do so and praise God that we are not Stepford Christians.

Jesus tells John here, do not stop them. One who is not against you is for you. The disciples seem to be protective and jealous of what they were empowered to do by Jesus. They didn’t want anyone else to be able to do it, because that would take away from them, from their ministry, from their influence and their greatness.

I love how Kent Hughes writes about Jesus’ response to John. He says:

Jesus desires his followers to have an open heart, not an exclusive heart. Let’s be like Jesus.!

He then lists examples from the Bible itself, writing:

When Joshua rushed to Moses to warn him that some elders named Eldad and Medad were preaching and thus stealing some of Moses prominence, Moses gave the big-hearted reply, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his spirit on them!” (Numbers 11:29)

          While in “the slammer” in Rome, Paul learned that rival preachers were seizing the opportunity for self-promotion. His noble response? “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” (Philippians 1:18) Or consider Jonathon, next in line to be king according to human reason, but who “made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.” (1 Samuel 18:1-4) Or John the Baptist who responded to Jesus’ ascendance by saying, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heave…He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:27-30)

 

          Do you see the point that he is making here? It is not about us. At all. Its all about Jesus. And there are simply two options. With Jesus or against Jesus. And Jesus makes clear in Matthew 7, that some who think they are with Jesus are wrong. They are actually against Jesus.

But that’s getting slightly off topic. Jesus points here. With him or against him. Those who are not against him are for him. And we should support and not limit or restrict those who are for him, no matter what group or city or state they are in, because we are all within the same country. The Jesus States of Heaven.

Now, Luke pivots and makes a brief mention that changes the trajectory of the next 10 chapters of his Gospel. When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.

          Luke does, of course, take his time, be he shows that Jesus knows what’s coming and has turned his focus on going towards Jerusalem and fulfilling his reason for descending from Heaven, and becoming a man. From here on out, he was perpetually traveling, no time to dawdle. He is always on the move.

Now, those who were traveling with Jesus were many. And they would overwhelm a village if they showed up out of nowhere. Most villages would not have the resources or the lodging to support such a large travelling caravan.

So, messengers were sent out ahead. They were to visit the towns ahead of time, let people know he was coming and prepare food, lodging, etc. In this instance, they came to a Samaritan village. This village did not offer hospitality to Jesus and his entourage, who were Jewish. This is obviously a part of the whole Jewish/Samaritan hatred that run deep, deeper than small town family feuds. We will get into all that in a few weeks. Suffice it to say, you will have to trust me that there was no love lost between the Samaritans and the Jews.

Most commentators will take this moment to point out another theme we see in Luke’s Gospel specifically and in the Gospels of Jesus life in General. As RC Sproul writes:

Where was he received? He was thrown out of Galilee. They wouldn’t accept him in Judea. The Samaritans rejected Him. The Geresenes expelled him. Everywhere he went, he was unwelcome.

 

As Peter writes in his first letter, The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.

 

 

          James and John, the Sons of Zebedee were also nicknamed the Sons of Thunder and we see why here. When the Samaritan village rejected Jesus, they wanted to go Ballistic. LORD, should we reign fire down on them?

There are obvious allusions here to 1 Kings chapter 18, where Elijah reigns down fire on the prophets of Baal. And this reaction by James and John can be somewhat understandable, sort of, maybe?

This village rejected Jesus. They rejected the Messiah. Plus, or maybe even worse in the eyes of the disciples, they weren’t Jewish. They were in another country, to use the analogy we used earlier. And countries go to war with other countries.

Now, yes, we are to go nuclear on the sin in our lives. Jesus tells us that its better to cut off our hands or gouge out our eyes instead of letting sin run wild through our bodies and our lives. His point is to show how contagious and quick spreading sin is. It really is a cancer, and it will grow unimpeded, often times without us even knowing it’s there, if we do not cut it out of our bodies.

But in society, there is a call for a more nuanced approach. Yes, we are called to stand against it and to preach the truth. However, Paul makes it clear that we are to speak the truth in love and that ultimately, Jesus is the judge who will determine guilt and innocence. He is the one who will suss out the righteous and the unrighteous.  And he is the one who will dole out perfect and final justice. And there will be final and eternal punishment for those who reject Christ. But that is for him to deal with, not us.

And so, Jesus rebukes James and John. This is not who we deal with people. Christians are called to love, not retaliate, and certainly not to preemptively strike. The disciples thought that since they were a part of Jesus followers, that they had the right, the authority and the responsibility to dole out punishment and justice wherever they saw fit, especially to those who were not followers of Jesus.

There is that prideful exclusivity we were talking about. First, if someone else is doing good work, but not part of our group, they are not really true Christians, or they are not as good as us. Leave the hard work, leave the real work to us. Second, if they are going to reject us and therefore, reject Christ, then we need to blow everything up and go scorched earth, playing Judge, jury and in this example, literally, executioner.

Notice what Jesus does about the Samaritan village. He doesn’t say, No don’t reign fire down on them, that’s my job. He doesn’t take it upon himself to punish the village. He passes it by and moves on to another village.

See, in case there is any misunderstanding, Jesus is not condoning and approving of the village rejecting him when he tells the disciples to not reign down fire. Sometimes, we fight, sometimes we preach, sometimes… sometimes we shake off the dust from our feet, wash our hands of the situation and move on.

We can’t fight every battle of every single sin and every single approval and support of sin that we see. We just finished “Pride month.” Pride, in any and all forms is a very destructive sin. Pride in our personal sins, especially when we don’t see them as sins, is the most destructive of all.

Pride creates disunity. Pride made the disciples want to stop the other group of people from doing work in Jesus’ name. Pride makes us want to reign fire on unbelievers and sinners. Pride makes us unforgiving. It makes us not forget slights and insults. It makes us hold on to grudges and to think negatively about others. It causes us to forget that all human beings, both Gods children and those who reject him are created in God’s image. It makes us forget that we are to love one another and others, and what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 

Though it fits, the context here is not romantic love. Instead, the word used here is Agape, pure love. The love we are called to love one another. Pride blocks this love. Pride gets in the way of love. Pride gets in the way of unity.

 

And we are called to unity. We don’t have to all agree on every single point on the checklist of theological beliefs and traditions. We don’t have to agree on all points. But if, as we established earlier, we are all citizens of the same country, in this case, the kingdom of God, then we are all one in Christ. Ephesians 4:4-6, There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

 

 

          One, one one. We are one in Christ. Christ and his work on the cross are what unites us. And today, being the first Sunday of the month, we are going to come to the LORDs table, we are going to celebrate communion, celebrate our unity. We are going to this with partaking of bread and juice symbolizing his body and blood and with reflection.

Now, I ask that if you are not a Christian, if you are not a follower of Jesus Christ, please just pass the elements along. There is nothing magical about it. There is nothing special about it for those who do not believe that Jesus Christ gave his broken body and his blood for the forgiveness of our sins. There will be no pressure and no judgment.

stemming from that, Communion does not save us, it does not cleanse us, it does not do anything along those lines. It has no power to keep us clean or to restore our relationship with God, only Jesus can do that. This was given to us by Jesus for the purpose of remembering. Remembering who Jesus was. Remembering what Jesus did for us. Remembering how much he loved us and remembering just how big of a deal our sin really is. It is meant to be sobering and somber, but at the same time it is meant to be a celebration.

Thirdly, we are told that we need to come and participate with the right heart. As I said, we do this in remembrance of what he gave up for us, the sacrifice he made. We do this because we remember how big of a deal our sin is, that he died on the cross for it. We need to make sure that our hearts and minds have their hearts set on what’s important and that we seek God’s forgiveness and make our relationships are right with him. In addition to a tradition becoming too important and placed above the word of God, tradition can become bad is by it losing its meaning and becoming simply a ritual. Please take some of this time to reflect on what this tradition means and to make sure that you are prepared to receive. There will never be any judgment if you choose not to participate, and just pass the plate.

Paul recounts to the church in Corinth what I now tell you as well, in 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26:

 

23 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[e] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[f] 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.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

 

          We have individual cups that contains both the wafers, which symbolize Jesus’ broken body on the cross. His Death that pays the penalty for our sins. It also contains the juice, symbolizing the shed blood of Christ, which purchases our eternal life in Christ, through faith.

First, we will take the wafer together. Afterwards, we will take the juice together and we will be united together under the cross and blood of Jesus Christ. I will pray and we will come to the LORDs table.

 

Luke 9:43-48 Jesus is the Son of Man The humble are lifted up.

Luke 9:43-48

Jesus is the Son of Man

The humble are lifted up.

 

 

All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 9. As always, if you don’t have a Bible, please see me after the service so we can get one into your hands.

Luke chapter 9, as we have seen shows the change in direction of Jesus and his ministry. He has been ministering to the region of Galilee and now, he turns his direction and his eyes to Jerusalem and more specifically, the cross, his death and resurrection.

IT started After Peter proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah. We saw it on the Mount of Transfiguration as Jesus spoke to Elijah and Moses. Last week, we saw Jesus, along with Peter, James and John come down off the Mount and walk right into the spiritual warfare that was ramping up in order to keep Jesus from the cross. Jesus healed the boy with the unclean spirit and reunited and broken family. We left off with the first half of verse 43, All were astonished at the majesty of God.

Jesus now has some things he wants to say, some things he needs to teach the Apostles. He needs to focus on and focus them on THE Reason for his incarnation, which he is going to remind them of 1st thing here.

So, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 9, second half of verse 43 through verse 48. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to read and follow along in your preferred translation. Luke 9:43-48. The Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record what we now read:

But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus[d] said to his disciples, 44 “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

46 An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. 47 But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

 

Thus Says the Word of God.

 

 

So, first thing I want to touch on is the break in the middle of verse 43. I am assuming most Bibles, and at least all the ones I looked at this week have a break in the middle of verse 43, separating it how I did between this week and last week.

I didn’t bring it up last week, and sometimes I won’t, but I wanted to bring it up this week. When we read the Bible, every single word that is in here is inspired and inerrant. As we learned in our CDI class, even the past, present, and future tenses, the plurals and possessives, everything written down in the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.

However, the chapter numbers and breaks and the verse numbers and breaks are not inspired and inerrant. They were inserted later in history as a helpful means to memorize scripture and to find useful passages. Since they are not inspired, occasionally you find a spot where they don’t make as much sense, or where I would choose a different spot to put a break. Most Bible translators agree that this verse, verse 43, makes more sense broken in half.

 

So, onto the actual text. About a week and a half ago, in the text, Jesus told his disciples that, as the Messiah, he must suffer and die. This was back in Luke 9:21 & 22.

The Apostles didn’t quite understand what Jesus was saying and Peter, so devoted and passionate and wanting to do the will of God, actually started doing the will of Satan, trying to get Jesus to not go to the cross.

Now, between now and then, the disciples saw the transfiguration, they saw Elijah and Moses. They saw Jesus cast out and unclean spirit and they saw the boy healed and reunited with his father.

While still marveling at all that had been seen, at the majesty of God, Jesus shares somethings with his Apostles. He is telling them; this is the reason I am here. Not all these other miracles, the healings, the casting out of demons, the power over nature itself. None of that is why he came down from heaven. As Marks Gospel explain, He came down to be a ransom for many. He came down to gives his life for ours. TO pay the penalty for sin that we couldn’t pay.

He tells the Apostles the Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men. Marks Gospel makes it even clearer, saying The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him.”   He says, “I’m going to be put to death. Remember this.”

There is a direct contrast between the majesty of God, the Glory of God that was just recently seen and the horror and shock and shame of a death on the cross.

The Disciples did not understand what Jesus was saying, no matter how clear he was being. But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

 

          That’s a quadruple negative there by the way. Any time there is repetition in the scriptures, you know that it is important. When its quadrupaly repeated, you know its massively important. As one theologian puts it, the disciples, and all of Israel, were waiting for the royal pomp of the Son of David. They were not prepared or willing to see the Truth about what Jesus needed to do.

God opens and closes the eyes. He is absolutely sovereign, and he is the one who calls us and saves us. But we are also responsible for our actions and decisions. The Apostles here were not willing to look the cross. They were also not willing to ask the questions needed to stretch them and grow them.

God told them clearly, and he also hid it from them, blinded them for the time being. Scriptures often say that Jesus told the disciples things that they would not remember till after the resurrection. They just couldn’t and wouldn’t tie the suffering servant from Isaiah to the coming Messiah until after the cross when their eyes were opened.

 

The Disciples were scared to ask. It should be clear that they didn’t misunderstand what Jesus said, meaning they didn’t think they understood and understood wrong. They knew they didn’t understand, and they were unwilling to ask.

Maybe they were scared of looking foolish. Maybe they held to the old lawyer’s adage, Never ask a question you don’t want to know the answer to. Maybe their pride was just too much for them to realize they were wrong on things.

The Pride aspect makes sense because that’s what we see Jesus’ address next. While the previous few sections were very specific in their timing, verse 46 shows us in nonspecific timing. Luke pairs them together, not because they occurred one after the other, which they may have, but it seems Luke pairs them together because it reiterates a point.

While the Apostles didn’t understand what Jesus was saying, it may have gotten them thinking about down the road, when Jesus would be reigning as the Christ.

They were arguing about who would be the greatest among them. In that day status was all about who you were associated with and who you were attached to. If you were attached to someone great and important then it means you too must be great and important.

Now, some ambition is good. We all rightly want our life to matter. We all rightly want to make a difference, to do good for the kingdom of God. We all want our lives to not be wasted. But in doing so, we so often focus on the wrong reasons, the wrong methods, and so on.

And in doing so, our pride starts to grow. We are important. God can’t do it without us. He needs our permission to work. He needs our permission to save. We become like Cats. Let me explain, or better yet, Ill let Kent Hughes explain. He writes:

Consider the difference between dogs and cats. The master pets a dog, and the dog wags its tail and thinks, “He must be God.” The master pets his cat and the cat purrs, shuts its eyes and thinks to itself, “I must be God.” After God has graciously reached down to us, there is a perverse human tendency to think like the cat!

 

He continues later:

We may not think, “I must be God,” but we do silently imagine, “I must be pretty good.” We become proud of our apparent sanctification, our knowledge of the Bible, our evangelical routines. After all, we understand the mysteries of grace, while the unregenerate dolts around us have no clue. We become proud of our spirituality.

 

Hughes has a point. We start to become proud of ourselves and the spiritual growth that takes place in our lives. The very things that allowed us to come to Christ and put our faith and trust in Him, the humility and humbleness that allows ourselves to see our sins and our true identity, that all falls away. We are saved by Grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. As Jonathon Edwards says, the only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sins the made it necessary. We have nothing to do with our salvation. And yet, we often take too much pride in our salvation as if it was something we accomplished.

Jesus sees this pride growing in his disciples and he brings a child to his side as an illustration. Children in that day were considered unimportant. They were not useful to one’s status.

And yet, what Jesus is showing as, as one commentator points out, there is glory in receiving, in caring for, in holding, in teaching and in nurturing children. We can see Christ in children, and we are to be concerned with them and to take their lowly positions for ourselves. Jesus himself came not to be served but to serve.

We are called in scripture to have a child like faith, but never a childish faith. This means that we are to trust in God the Father just as our kids implicitly trust us as his parents. And that reminds us that there is a huge difference between believing in God and believing God.

RC Sproul writes: That’s what Jesus is saying: “Trust me! You can’t believe in me and then not trust Me.” That’s what faith is. Its trust. And so he says, “He who is least among you all,”—by which he means he who is most trusting— “is the one who is great.”

I think its interesting that Jesus doesn’t say the greatest, but great. Even when telling us how to be great, by being the least, he makes it clear that this is not a competition. He makes sure to remove any obstacles to allow us to get our heart in the wrong position.

 

 

Service, humility, humbleness, not thinking too highly of ourselves. These are the characteristics that Christ is calling us to.  JC Ryle writes, “Of all creatures, none has so little right to be proud as man, and of all men, none ought to be so humble as the Christian.

         

Jesus here is showing us what is called the upside-down Kingdom. To be first, you must be last. To be first, you must be a servant to all. You are to serve each other. You are to serve others with humility and humbleness. You are to be a servant. Jesus came as a Servant Savior.

We are called to serve, to think of others as better than ourselves. Jesus here is not talking about how to become a Christian. You do not become a Christian by serving, by doing good works, by being a good person, by anything that you do. Instead, he is talking about how you live after you are a Christian. You serve.

Are you serving? Some of you are. Some of your service is absolutely vital to this church’s door staying open. But this is a question for each of us to ask ourselves deep in our heart. Are you serving? This involves so many different aspects of our life.

Are you serving your wife? Loving your wife as Christ loves the church. Are you serving you husband? Are you serving your children? Your parents? Are you serving your community? Are you serving your neighbors? Are you serving your church? Jesus’ church?

You were created to worship, and part of worship is serving. You are called to serve. Are you filling your calling?

This Upside-down Kingdom goes against everything this world holds in high esteem. Jesus is the King of Kings. He is the Lord of LORDS. He is the Son of God, God himself. He is a Warrior King. He is the first born of all creation. He is the fulfillment of all the scriptures. And he was born a lowly baby and died a shameful death on the cross. He touched and healed lepers. He ate with outcasts. He had in his group repentant sinners. He calls sinners to repent and fought against the injustice of the powerful. But he rose again and defeated death, ascended into heaven where he is seated at the right hand of the father, ready to come again, where every single knee will bow and every single tongue will confess that he is LORD.

The Kingdom is in place, but it is upside down from what we expect.

One theologian writes:

One of the most challenging concepts of the Kingdom of God is that what we celebrate as people on earth is often of little value in the Kingdom, and vice-versa. Jesus’ teaching, especially in the Sermon on the Mount, is at odds with much of human wisdom. Jesus’ establishment of his Kingdom through death rather that human strength is a foolish stumbling block to our world. The elevation of the week and foolish as well as celebrating personal weakness and God’s power makes no sense to a world that celebrates power and wisdom.

The nature of the Kingdom of God is radically different than any human kingdom. All the human attributes that are valued in our world are of little account in the Kingdom. And the attributes valued in the Kingdom are typically discounted in our world. We will never, on our own, know or enter the Kingdom. It is only by the grace and mercy of God that we can be a part of his kingdom.

 

 

WE are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Not through anything we have done, not through anything we can or could do, so that none of us can brag or boast. But through and in Christ alone.

 

Let’s Pray.

Luke 8:16-21 Jesus is the Son of God Hear and Do.

Luke 8:16-21

Jesus is the Son of God

Hear and Do.

 

 

All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 8. IF you need a Bible, or if you know someone who needs a Bible, please see me after the service so we can get one into your hands.

Last week we looked at the parable of the 4 soils. And in that, we saw the four responses to the sowing the seeds of the Gospel. Once the Gospel is sown on good soil, once it is received and the hearer repents and believes in the Gospel, then a new life spring up. We see the scriptures say that with a life in Christ, good fruit will be produced.

The passage we are going to look at this morning, Jesus is going to look at some of the things that flow from that new heart. We are gong to see what it looks like in this new life in Christ.

Its important to know that this passage, the two briefs things that Luke is going to mention, they are immediately following what we looked at last week. Luke puts this immediately following the parable of the 4 soils and we have to make sure we don’t remove it form that context.  Jesus says during the parable last week, He who has ears, let him hear. And this week we will see that we are to both listen well, to rightly hear, and to put that into action, to obey what we hear.

So, with out further ado, lets go ahead and read this morning’s passage. We will be reading Luke chapter 8 verses 16 through 21. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, though I encourage you to read out of your preferred translation. Luke 8:16-21.

Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, records the following:

 

 “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. 18 Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.

19 Then his mother and his brothers[b] came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. 20 And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” 21 But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

 

God Bless the Reading of the Word.

 

So, after we have received the seed of the Gospel on good soil, we are changed.  We are new creations, as Paul puts it. The Holy Spirit sparks a light inside of us.

I love the way God describes this process in Ezekiel 36:26 & 27, where he says: And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.[a]

 

                God changes us from the inside out and he helps us to reflect Christ and his saving grace and forgiveness to the world around. Christ is the light of the world and we are to show that to all who come around us.

The lamps that are common in those days would be little more than long lasting candles, using oil instead of wax, but giving off not much more light than that. So, inside the houses, in order to get the most light, the most practical use out of it, people would make sure they were not covered or blocked in any way and elevate them, putting them high up so that the light that was given off would illuminate as much of the darkness as possible.

If we are to reflect the light of Christ, it would negate everything if we were to cover it up, or if we were to place it down, low to the ground. The purpose of light is both to be seen and to make everything else seen as well.

When we link this to the parable of the soils, we see that we have a clear and direct responsibility to sow good seed. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God. There is no other way to be saved than to hear the word of od and respond to it. But we have a responsibility to share it in a way that people are able and willing to hear it. Sharing the Gospel, sharing Jesus Christ, sharing the good news of salvation always requires words. It always requires us to articulate the gospel. But our actions affect how people listen to us.

Paul Washer has a great quote I saw this week, he says: There is no way to preach the Gospel with your life. You can affirm the Gospel with your life, but you cannot preach the Gospel with your life. You can only preach the Gospel by opening up your mouth and speaking forth the Word of God.

 

          We are to live our lives according to the Word of God, loving the people and preaching the Word. In this we live our lives, shining light around us, living in a way that people are able to see, are willing to listen and have their hearts prepared to hear the Word of God. We are to make sure we make Jesus know and seen to all. Kent Hughes says that we are to shine the light in a way that those who hear it will be prepared for judgment day when all will be revealed.

Jesus says in verse 17, that all things that are hidden, all secrets that are held, all of it will be revealed in time. This has many layers of meaning to it. First, of course, is what we try to hide from each other, from ourselves and from God.

All that we hold inside of us, our sins, the state of our heart, the light inside us, and so much more, we may be able to temporarily, even temporally, succeed at keeping things hidden. But in the end, at the judgment, all things will be made known.

One of the keys to this as well, is that we can fool ourselves, hiding the truth from ourselves. Paul says in Romans that we suppress the truth in our unrighteousness.  We fool ourselves in regard to our standing in relation to the Gospel. I’ve shared this number many times but over 75% Of Americans consider themselves Christians. Many are wrong, thinking that their goodness or their lives will be good enough, or earn them enough favor with God to make it to heaven. Because we lie to ourselves, refuse to see our own sins. We tuck them away in the dark recesses of our hearts. We refuse to see them, until Christ shines his light on them.

This natural tendency and desire to cover up our sins goes all the way back to Adam and Eve. Their sin had massive implications and repercussions for us even today and they immediately tried to hide from God and cover themselves. But we also see how long they were able to hide. Not very. God knew where they were. What is done in the dark will be brought to the light.

 

RC Sproul also points out another way that the truth will be brought to the light. In addition to our heart, our deeds and our sins, the truth of Gods Word will be brought to the light. The truth of Gods Word is denigrated, laughed out, hated, disbelieved and critiqued away as unreliable truth at best.

But as scriptures says, in the end, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus is LORD. The truth of Gods Word will be made known to every single person and every single soul. There will be no more unbelief, no more suppressing the truth. Unfortunately, too many will not have come to that realization in time. Too many will not know that there is grace, mercy and forgiveness even for their darkest moments, their darkest sins, their darkest actions and deeds, and will reach into the darkest corners of their heart.

 

Discernment is so important. So very important in many ways. This ties into our own standing before God but also how to have a right understanding of the teaching of God.

We, as followers of Christ, as believers, we are entrusted with the Gospel and all that that entails. This is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But this is also the teachings and the commands of Jesus as well.

IF we don’t rightly understand his teachings and his commands, then I don’t think we can rightly understand his Gospel. IF we don’t rightly understand his Gospel, then we have to wonder if we rightly understand or even have salvation.

Jesus says in verse 18, Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”

 

          If we say we believe, it will be evidenced by our hearing correctly the teachings of Jesus and obeying them, bearing fruit, shining light in the darkness of the world around us. The more we do this, the more God will continue to grow us in him. Proverbs 9:9 says: Give instruction[b] to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

 

If we think that we believe, but don’t shine that light, don’t hear correctly, then even what we think we have, in the end, will not be ours. The consequences for not being truthful with our selves and with the Word of God is that we will not receive the things that we thought we had, namely the gift of salvation.

 

Jesus Mother and brothers came to see him. It is not without importance to note that this text shows us that Jesus had brothers, he had siblings and Mary was not a virgin her whole life and her whole marriage.

 

 

We don’t know why or what was going on. We don’t know if there was something major going on with the family and they needed to get ahold if him immediately or if they were just looking to see him and spend time with him.

But what we do know from this text is that they wanted to see and speak to Jesus, but the crowd was too big, and he was too busy. But someone came and told Jesus that they were there, looking for him.

Jesus says my mother and my brothers are those who hear my Words and do them. Jesus tells his disciples “If you love me, follow my commands.” The point of it is this, if you hear and do Jesus Word, you are Jesus family.

 

Here is what this does not mean. This does not mean that you have to disassociate with any and all of your unbelieving family and friends. This does not mean that you can or should only associate with your church family. This does not mean that physical, blood family doesn’t matter.

What it means is that Gods call comes above everything else in this world.

What it means is that we, as a church family, we have a connection that binds us together, sometimes, even closer and even tighter than blood relation.

We can share and understand certain things, things like baptism, like certain spiritual growth and milestones, we can understand those better and deeper than unbelieving physical family.

To be a part of the Kingdom of God is to be a part of His family. Adopted. Loved.

And in that, our physical, blood relation family should see the light of the Kingdom of God shining off of us, shining out of us. They should be able to see the work of Christ, in our lives.

RC Sproul says: The Point that Jesus is making is simple. He was saying that the light that comes from the Word of God is truth, the truth that must never be hidden. We’re not to take the Word of God, as we understand it and it takes root in our hearts and put it under a cover or hide it under the bed. Rather, we are to put it in a place of prominence where it can be made manifest and where it can be seen clearly by all who are present.

 

          The Word of God needs to take preeminence in our lives. The Word of God needs to be front and foremost. This is the very Word of God. These are the Words of Jesus. These are how we learn more about him and how we learn how to live according to his will.

Psalm 1 and Joshua chapter 1, among other places all exhort us to meditate on his Word day and night. Hearing the Word, believing in it, thinking on it, doing it. Do all things as unto the LORD.

I will finish with the words of one preacher who tells us, like James that we are to be doers of the Word, not hearers only. He says:

But hearing is worthless if it does not result in doing. Attention to Gods Word must be coupled with a willingness to do it, or the truth of it will fade.

          Has Gods Word impressed on you that you must forgive? Then do it!

          Has Gods Word impressed on you that you must confess a wrongdoing? Do it!

          Has Gods Word impressed on you that you must apologize? So, Do it!

          Has Gods Word impressed on you that you must speak the truth regardless of the consequences? Then do it!

          Has Gods Word impressed on you that you must discontinue a certain practice? Do it!

          Has Gods Word impressed on you that you must make a gift? Do it!

          Has Gods Word impressed on you that you must bear witness to an acquaintance? Do it today if you can!

          Has Gods Word impressed on you that you must leave all to serve him? Do it!

          Or if you realize that you are a soil other than the good soil, repent and believe without delay! Ask God to put eternal life in your soul today and to produce the fruit of the spirit abundantly in your life.

 

Let’s Pray

Sorry!

Hi Everybody! I pray that you forgive us here at Journey With Us. It appears that sometime during the night last night, there was a hack and some unacceptable material posted here. I have changed passwords and done mu best to find it and remove it. If you notice that there is still some on here, please let me know so I can remove it promptly. Thank you for your understanding.

 

 

Luke 4:31-44 Jesus is the Son of Man: Jesus Preaches the Word

Luke 4:31-44

Jesus is the Son of Man

Jesus Preaches the Word

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles and turn with me to Luke chapter 4. IF you need a Bible, if you do not have a Bible, see me after the sermon and we will get a Bible for you to take as your own.

Last week we saw that Jesus started his earthly ministry and he started it by preaching in the synagogues. He started doing what He was sent to do by the Father. He returned home to Nazareth and preached in his hometown synagogue one Sabbath.

He shows that he has come to preach good news to the poor. He came to bring sight to the blind. He came to preach the Gospel and Salvation, making it available to all, all who would hear and all who would accept, Jews and Gentiles alike.

Now, the people of Nazareth did not appreciate this. So much so, that they wanted to kill Jesus after hearing his message. But it was not his time. It was not the time or the place that God the Father had planned out and orchestrated and so Jesus was able to slip away untouched and unharmed. Jesus then left Nazareth, and as far as we know, never returned.

This morning we are going to read three mini stories about Jesus after he left Nazareth. These three stories fit together to show Jesus establishing his authority here on earth and over all things. So, we are going to read Luke chapter 4, verses 31 through 44. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation.

Luke, after doing very thorough research and investigations, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes:

And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ha![b] What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37 And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

38 And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. 39 And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.

40 Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. 41 And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, 43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” 44 And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.[c]

 

 

So, Jesus left Nazareth and went back to Galilee. He went down to Capernaum. It says down because, even though Capernaum was north of Nazareth, it was 2000 feet lower in elevation. And he continued to teach and preach in the synagogues on the Sabbath.

And we see that his Word, his preaching continued to astonish people. What Jesus was telling them was not what they were used to hearing. Mark tells us in his Gospel that he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. Jesus was establishing his authority over and through the Word of God. The people were used to hearing teacher reference other teachers. And there is nothing wrong with that, to a point. We should study and build on what people smarter than us have taught and written. But Jesus didn’t need to do that. He didn’t have to appeal to authorities because he was and is the authority.

Now, at some point during one of Jesus sermons, a demon possessed man interrupted things. This was something we saw rarely in the Old Testament and we would see it occasionally during the Apostles ministries. But we will see quite a bit of this during Jesus earthly ministry. RC Sproul makes the connection that demonic possession was more prevalent during this time because it is a “primary part of the opposition of evil to the coming of the Son of God.”

We see in scriptures that spiritual warfare is very real, though often physically unseen. It is happening all around us today, Demons, or fallen angels do exist. They exist to battle against angels and the Son of God. They are led by Satan and they do have some power, some ability here on earth.

Their activity seems to even more focused in the time when Jesus was here because they knew who he was, what he was able to do and what he would eventually do.

We see them yell out right here, “Ha![b] What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.

          They knew why Jesus was there. They knew who he was. They knew he had ultimate authority over them. They were not blinded to him like all of us are and were. And yet, it seems they can’t help themselves. They have to talk trash. They have to portray this bravado. They puff themselves up and try to intimidate. And it can work against us if we are not careful.  But it couldn’t and wouldn’t work against Jesus.

C.S. Lewis speaks about demons, which he calls devils. And I see much truth in this statement. He says:

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.

 

          IF we don’t recognize their existence, if we ignore them entirely, we leave ourselves wide open to their spiritual attacks and the warfare that is being waged. No military can win a war by ignoring that their enemy exists or is fighting the war. But we can often give them way too much power and way too much credit.

One commentator points out the error on this side. He says: In some Christian circles it has become popular to attribute every sin to a particular demon. People who think too highly of themselves have a demon of pride; people who eat too much have a demon of gluttony; and so, one. When people talk this way, they are really blaming Satan for their own sinful nature. Their sins are not the direct result of demonic control, but simply the expression of their own sinful desires.

 

          We are responsible for our actions and no one and nothing can make us give in to temptation. But if we let them, they can intimidate us with their puffed-up bravado. Jesus was not so easily intimidated.

Jesus speaks, simply speaks. “Be silent and come out of him!” And with those simple words, Jesus shows and exercises authority of the spiritual forces, the powers and principalities, over the heavenly beings completely. He speaks and they have no choice but to obey.

He speaks and things happen. His Word has power and authority. We start the entire Bible off with this, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Paul writes in Colossians 1:16: 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.

          As the one who created everything, he has authority over all creation. We see throughout the Gospels that Jesus merely speaks, and things happen. He speaks and the results are immediate.

The people in attendance recognized the authority that they had just witnessed. When Jesus spoke, people listened. He spoke as one with authority. They didn’t always believe him or like what he said, but people couldn’t help but stop and listen. And when he spoke and when he acted, when he exercised his authority, people talked about. We saw before he went back to Nazareth that there were reports of what Jesus had said and done going through the region. People can’t help but talk about him.  We see that here again, reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

So now, Jesus leaves the synagogue and heads over to Simons house. Simon would become known as Peter later in Jesus ministry, but Luke hasn’t actually introduced the Apostles yet, so he still refers to him as Simon. But Luke does put his doctors’ hat back on, so we have Dr Luke writing in this section.

Jesus went to Simons house and Simons mother in law was sick with a high fever. First, before we get to the fever, one quick aside we see in is that Simon Peter was married. The first pope according to the Catholic church tradition was married.

Anyway, to the point of the story. When Mark relays this story, he simply says that she has a fever. Dr Luke uses his medical background to very specifically say that it was a High Fever. This means that it was dangerously high. She was not just under the weather; she was very sick.

Jesus stands over her and rebukes the fever. I think the word rebuke is used here specifically to denote the authority that Jesus had over diseases. He rebuked the fever and it left her straight away. And not only that, but she got up immediately and started serving them. Talk about a gift of Hospitality! Now, most of you can remember times when you have had a fever and it broke and you didn’t have the fever any longer. Were you able to jump up and immediately start serving people? Depending on the fever, you might have been able to push through if you really needed to, but I doubt there would have been anything immediate about it. It takes time to get your energy back and to get back to feeling normal.

Not so when Jesus heals. When Jesus heals, we see that it is immediate, and it is complete. There is no process of recovery. The high fever is not just broken and going away, its completely and fully gone. When Jesus calms the stormy waves, when he heals the lepers, when he heals blindness, and so many more examples, there is no partial healing, no process, no waves gradually calming down as they do in nature, no gradual healing. It is complete and immediate.

Well, word got out about this and everyone who was sick with a disease came over to Simons house and Jesus took the time to heal all of them. This was a rarity in Jesus’ ministry. He would often heal one or a couple and leave the rest. He would rarely heal everyone. That was not the purpose of him being here. But especially here, Jesus was showing that the same authority he had over the demon possessed man, he also had over diseased people.

While he was healing diseases, he also brought out many demons. Some sickness is simply sickness, but there re also sicknesses that are reflective of spiritual battles and forces. Its not very easy to tell them apart. We often will treat one when the other is the problem. Jesus didn’t have that problem and healed each person according to their need and their root issues.

One of the things we can infer from this story, and from other stories in the Gospel as well, is that this was exhausting work for Jesus. We see that we went out into a desolate place for rest and solitude.

This would be a common occurrence in his ministry, making sure to take time to rest and to get away with God the Father. Mark specifies in his Gospel that this was intended to be a time of prayer. Jesus shows us the importance of making time with God a priority.

And how tempting it must have been to stay there in Capernaum. Especially after the events in Nazareth. These people wanted him to stay. They wanted to keep him there. This didn’t necessarily mean that they trusted him as their savior. But he was preaching things that intrigued them and he was healing people from their diseases and casting out demons. Why wouldn’t they want him to stick around?

But Jesus’ purpose was not to stay in Capernaum. His purpose was to spread the Word about the Kingdom of God. Jesus did miracles and especially the healing not to make us expect to be healed, or to expect the miraculous, but to confirm his identity as the Messiah and to prove his authority over all creation.

That doesn’t mean that Jesus doesn’t still miraculously cure illness and disease. He absolutely does. We pray for that often with ourselves, friends, neighbors, family, coworkers, and the like. But the miraculous are, by definition, rare. They are not Gods normal method. He much more often uses the ordinary and the mundane. He uses doctors, medicines, herbs and food and lifestyle to bring people to health. But Jesus shows that he is who he says he is and that he has authority over diseases and demons and so much more.

And Jesus came, not only to show this to Capernaum but to others as well. He came to preach the Kingdom of God to all who would hear. This was the purpose he was sent for, to bring forgiveness of sin and salvation to those who believe, to grant citizenship to the kingdom of heaven. He came with a mission. To preach good news to the poor. Healing to the sick. Sight to the blind. And to set the captives free.

He came to preach the Word and to love the people.   He came to preach the kingdom of heaven. Ligon Duncan says: The kingdom of God
establishes for us who our authority is, and our recognition of that authority
is a very important point in our Christian lives. It also sets forth before our
eyes our proper aspiration in this world.

 

 

          The people of Nazareth couldn’t and wouldn’t recognize who Jesus was or what authority he had. The people of Capernaum recognized his authority but didn’t show any sign of recognizing who he was. But we see that demons knew both who Jesus was and how extensive his authority was. They knew and had the knowledge of all those things. But they did not love or worship Jesus as God. They had no faith.

But we also saw the curious thing that Jesus did not want the demons to testify to who he was. I spent a bit of time trying to figure out and research why this was. Many think that Jesus didn’t want people to know who he was yet. And I just don’t think that makes sense in the context. He was actively preaching the good news to the poor and performing signs and wonders.

He was trying to show people who he was. Instead, I think that Jesus didn’t want them telling people who he was because even if some truth comes out of their mouths, they are liars. They are not trustworthy. We are better to not get in the habit of listening to liars, even on the occasion that they tell the truth once. If we listen to them just that once, we are more open to listening to them about other things they are not telling the truth about. They are saying the right things, the wrong way and for the wrong reasons.

And the other thing we see is that the Gospel, the truth about who God is might be verified by signs at times, as we see Jesus doing, but his main thing is preaching the Word. The Gospel spreads by the spreading of and hearing of the Word.

Philip Ryken elaborates on this point, writing:

This is how the word spreads: by word of mouth, from person to person. When we see what Jesus can do, we want others to know about it, so they can see for themselves. In this case, people not only saw his power, but they also saw how he exercised it: by speaking his word. Just as God once spoke the universe into being, so Jesus spoke, and it was so. Here was a clear demonstration of his divine power. He spoke his words with the very authority of God.

 

We are to preach the Word of God. We are to preach the power of Gods Word. We are to preach the authority of Gods Word. We are to preach the truth of God’s Word, in season and out of season, especially in a world that doesn’t believe in Truth.

But it is the power, the truth of and the authority of the Gospel, of Gods Word that leads to changed lives, that leads to loving the people, that leads to living with biblical worldview and living sanctified lives. The Gospel is what brings sight to the blind. The Gospel is what sets us free from the captivity of sin. The Gospel is the good news for the poor.

I’m going to leave you with one last quote from Ligon Duncan. He writes:

 

My friends, does the knowledge that you have of
Scripture make you love truth? Does the knowledge that you have of Scripture
make you hate sin? Does the knowledge of Christ that you have make you trust Him
and love Him? Does the knowledge of God’s will that you have make you to say
with the psalmist, “How I love to do Your law, O Lord”? Knowledge that does not
lead to trust and faith and love and service is knowledge that will only puff
up, and at last will condemn you. Do not leave the precious truths that are
proclaimed to you from God’s word rattling around somewhere between your ears.
Embrace that truth with all that you are, in the very depths of your heart, and
love and trust and believe on and follow the Savior; or James will be saying in
your ear as he did in the ear of the unbelieving one who claimed to be a
believer in James 2, “Do you believe in God? You do well. So also do the demons,
and they tremble.” Don’t tremble, trust. Don’t fear Him with a servile fear;
have faith in Him. Believe on Christ as He’s offered in the gospel. Acknowledge
Him to be your Messiah, the Son of God, your Savior.

 

 

Let’s Pray.

Village Missions Sunday Focus on Rural Missions Ephesians 4:11-16

Village Missions Sunday

Focus on Rural Missions

Ephesians 4:11-16

 

 

Good Morning! SO. Go ahead and grab your Bibles with me this morning and turn to Ephesians chapter 4. We are going to be taking a break this morning from our series through the Gospel of Luke to look at Gods design for the local church and what our role in that is and what role Village Missions plays in it as well.

Who here had heard the name Village Missions? Who here has a general idea of who they are and what they do? Who here knows exactly who they are and what they do? Village Missions mission statement is that they exist to produce spiritually vital churches in Rural North America.

The text I want us to read this morning will show us what it means to become a spiritually vital church in our community. So, we are going to read from Ephesians chapter 4, verses 11-16. Grab your Bibles, follow along with me. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version though more important than which translation you read along with, is that you do in fact read for yourself what the Word of God says.

Paul, writing to the church in Ephesus, inspired by the Holy Spirit writes:

And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by waves and carried about by every doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

 

          May God Bless the Reading of his Holy Word.

 

The first thing I see in this passage is that God has given us all the things we need, people, gifts, each other, to grow the local church into a spiritually vital church. A lot of people think that it’s just the pastor’s job to grow and build the church.

But we see that has given the church more than just the pastor. As the pastor, I have very specific purposes and very specific things that God has called me to, and I will be held accountable for. But it is not solely my responsibility to grow and build the church. It is all of our responsibility.

The church is what and who helps the church grow. I have been around when new people have come to a church. Sometimes they are there for a day, sometimes they are around for a couple weeks, sometimes a couple months, but they leave because of someone or someone’s in the church.

At one church, we had many families start to come into the church, young families with kids. Exactly what the church said they wanted. Only the inner influencers at that church chased away every single family that came through the doors. Families didn’t dress or live the way they were supposed to. Kids didn’t sit down, shut up and stand quietly off to the side. The church actively, though likely unknowingly, stopped that church from growing.

The other option is that people come in those church doors and the people in the church help them stay. Bring them in, welcome them. Make them feel like the church is happy for them to be here. Help them to hear the Gospel and to grow in maturity of Jesus Christ.

That is the responsibility of each and everyone of us in this room. One of the things that Ephesians 4 makes clear, both in our passage this morning and back in verses 3-6 is that the unity of his church is absolutely vital to the church being spiritually vital.

Unity. Its one of the things that we have talked about and prayed for for the entire 2 ½ plus years I have been here. Unity is something that we are continually striving to get better at. We are a community Church. We are not a specific denomination. We hold the Bible up as our standard. With that, people from all different theological backgrounds and no theological backgrounds.  We are not going to agree on all the different details, and we don’t have to. You hear me say it often, but it bears repeating often. Unity is not uniformity.

Hear that. WE don’t all have to believe all the same things. We don’t all have to live the same life. We don’t have to look a certain look. We have to believe and be united in one thing. And that is Jesus Christ. We have one core set of beliefs that classify us as Christians.

We are saved by the grace of God alone. That grace is poured out through a gift of God called faith. And it is through that faith alone in the one and only Jesus Christ alone, fully man, fully God, lived a perfect, sinless life, died a death in our place to pay the penalty for our sins, through that faith that Jesus Christ reconciles us to God the father and grants us eternal forgiveness and eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. We believe that this is revealed only through the Word of God alone, that Word given to us by the scriptures that are combined into what we have and is known as the Bible. None of this is or can be deserved by us. It is done for the glory of God alone and by the glory and holiness of God alone.

We believe that core group of beliefs and everything else is secondary. We believe those core beliefs and we can rightfully call ourselves Christians. We believe those core beliefs and we are united as a church family and as the chosen children of God. We are united in our standing before God. Justified by faith. Justified through Christs perfect righteousness. In united in that we are all disciples of Christ.

You know, I use that word “disciples,” very purposely. New Village Missions Executive Director John Adams asks this question; “Do you think like Jesus, respond like Jesus, trust God like Jesus does?”

We are disciples of Jesus Christ. This is a lifelong goal and a lifelong process. God is always offering opportunities for us to grow. But we can’t do it alone. We were never meant to do it alone.

Paul makes it clear in Ephesians that the church is to be “No Christian Left Behind.” WE build up the body until we ALL attain the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

          Christ is our standard. We cannot and will not meet that standard here in this lifetime. But we work towards and we desire for that progress. The Holy Spirit works in us and if we are truly Gods children, we will see continual growth and maturing over our lifetime. And we will see it together. And of course, it won’t be like a rocket, a straight line moving up, instead our sanctification is more like the stock market. It will have us and downs. We will rise and we will fall. But over time, we will always see it trending towards that maturity and that unity in the faith.

We work together, walking with each other from the beginning of our walk with Christ. We don’t start immediately mature. I know when I became a Christian, I knew very little of the Bible. Most of us are in the same boat. And because we don’t have that anchor in place, that foundation set of the Word of God, we are susceptible to false teachings. We are susceptible to passion and persuasive abilities to deceive. We are susceptible to those who would play off our emotions and take us down the wrong path.

We already have a natural human tendency to believe what we already agree with. We already have a natural human tendency to believe what we want to believe instead of what’s true.  We see this all the time. Do you have a bible teacher, a pastor online, or an author that you really like? Be careful, because we tend to put blinders on to what they teach and ignore if they say something unbiblical. Worse yet, if they start sound and go down the path and end up completely unbiblical, we ignore the problems with the new teaching and when confronted with it, we point to the older, more solid stuff. My point is this; if there is anyone that you let teach you or influence you and you cannot find anything that you disagree with them on, you just made them an idol.

Focus on the Bible. In context. Focus on learning and knowing his Word. That’s how we get to know Jesus. John Adams makes the point that The Better you know Christ and the more entrusted every area of life to his will, the less likely you will be deceived. Know and Trust his Word. BE sensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit but be cautious. Only Jesus had a 100% true belief system. We only get a diminishing percentage of error.

The more we know Gods Word, the more we can speak the truth to others. But we have all been on both the giving and receiving end of speaking truth in a very unloving way. We unfortunately see it too often. I see it around here more often than I would like. I have also been guilty of it myself more often than I would like. We don’t always realize we are doing this when we do it though, so I want to say that if I have spoken truth to you or spoken anything for that matter, in an unloving way, I am sorry.

Paul here is talking about more than just the words that come out of our mouth though. The word used for truth here is a verb. It basically means that we are to be truthing in love. Our Words, our actions, our attitude even when we are speechless, our whole lifestyle, living out truth and love. Again, I know we can all agree that God gives us plenty of opportunities to improve in this area and to build unity.

If we have truth without love, we have hurt feelings, anger, and so much more. If we have so called love without truth, we have pretty lies. We give false hope. We see this in some many portrayals of Christianity in our culture. Christians are often only portrayed one of two ways.

First is that bigoted, close minded, hate filled protestor that says that everyone except them is going to hell. Now, they have some truth in that, in regard to we need to repent of our sins when we come to Christ. Rejecting Christ and embracing our sins will unfortunately lead us down the road to eternity in Hell. The other portrayal is those who claim that none of that matters and that every one gets to go to heaven or as long as you’re a nice person, you get to go to heaven, or that all religions lead to the same path towards heaven. They have what looks like love, but there is no truth there. Jesus makes the claim, the true claim, that He is the way, the truth and the life, and the only way to the Father is through him. You can’t have it both ways.

Truthing in love can and will be hard. But that what God calls his church to and it’s a sign of that spiritual maturity. And Paul is showing us what Gog has called his church to look like.

Discipleship.

Truthing in Love.

Unity in Christ

Growing in Maturity.

Using our gifts to build up the saints and to do the work of Gods Kingdom.

 

Gifts that Christ has given the church. Pastors and teachers to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. You. You are the saints. You are here to do the work of the ministry. To walk and grow with each other. Make Bangor Community Church a spiritually vital church. You determine what this church looks like, how it acts, how it is seen in the community.

If you are here because God called you here, then you have a vital role to play in this church. If you are here because God called, you here you are responsible to use your gifts for the betterment of the church. You play a vital role in making this a spiritually vital church in our rural community.

First, and I’m not talking chronologically, but first, we make ourselves and our church family more spiritually mature. We walk together and grow to act more and more Christlike. We gather together and we worship together.

I said it recently and Ill say it again this week. A common anthem over the past 6 months with COVID and the church shutdowns and what not, the anthem is that the church is not the building, it’s the people. And that’s true but its not the whole truth. The word that is used for church in the New Testament means gathering. So more accurately, the church is the gathering of Gods people.

We gather to preach the Gospel. We learn and teach and study the Word of God. WE preach the Word.

 

The second thing we do. We love the people. We look out from this church; we look out from the building and we look at the community around us. We look at our family and our friends. We look at our co workers and all those we know that don’t know Christ.

Each and every one of us is responsible for showing and more importantly, telling those we know about the good news of the Gospel. Each and every one of us is responsible for praying for our friends, neighbors, loved ones, the Bible even says we are all responsible for praying for our enemies and those who don’t like as well. We are to love the People.

 

You know, one of the mottos that I fell in love with from Village Missions, and I cling to this, and use this as one of my guides. They say our job as Village Missionaries is to Preach the Word and Love the People. That’s what I just described.

Someone asked this week, “IF we don’t Bangor, who will?” There is so much truth in that question. Most rural communities are forgotten places. Most rural communities the non-hyperbolic answer is that outside of their own community, literally no one will be praying for them.

This one of the benefits to Village Missions. Its an organization, a web of churches in rural communities that can and do pray for each other. And they make it so easy to pray for each other. In our bulletin each week, we include the Village Missionaries of the week. The give a brief description of their field and then give a few brief prayer requests. They include in their communications, Stories from the Field. These are actual stories sent in by Village Missionaries about the work that God is doing on those fields. This way you can see how to pray and see the answer to those prayers.

Their quarterly Newsletter called Country Matters gets sent out as well, highlighting Village Missionaries and the mission. This most recent one talks about the retirement of Executive Director Brian Wechsler and the new Director, John Adams.

AS you all walk in the front, you will see the work in progress map I’ve got going on. That is a map of all the Village Missions fields throughout the country. These are rural or formerly rural in a few cases, rural communities that are all connected. They pray for each other. They know and share the unique challenges that come with rural ministry. They know the struggles and the blessings. The know the opportunities and the joys of seeing friends and family come to know the LORD and the heartache of seeing families destroyed, communities torn apart and disunity in the church.

IF you wonder if there is anyone outside of Bangor praying for us. There is. 230 communities throughout North America. 230 communities that Village missions serves plus numerous others that receive the Village Missions material. All praying for Bangor Community Church and this community.

Praying for the saints for each and everyone of us to build up the body of Gods church. Remember, Paul tells the Ephesians, no family member left behind, until we all attain the unity of the faith.

We sow the see of the Gospel. We go out and make disciples. We preach the Word and Love the People. We do that and God grows his church. In the book of Acts, it says that God added to his church daily.

IF we do Gods work, if we use the gifts that God gave us to use for the building up of the body of Christ, our local church, Bangor Community Church, will grow into a spiritually vital, spiritually healthy church.

And Gods church, the universal church will grow in numbers. God will bring the increase. We sow the seeds and he bring the growth. Numerically, that may or may not our local church. But we know that his church will increase, his people will come to know him and that the gates of hell will not prevail against His church.

After I pray, I’ve got a few Village Missions videos to play, maybe take 10 minutes total.

Let’s Pray.

 

 

 

Guest Sermon- Dave Delle- Gideon 6 & 7, God’s Man of Valor, part 3

Daniel 1:1-8 God of all Nations: Introduction and Background

Daniel 1:1-8

God of all Nations

Introduction and Background

 

Good Morning. Please grab your Bibles and turn with me to the Book of Daniel. We finished up our series through 1 & 2 Timothy, called Life in the Local Church, right before Easter. Today we are starting a new series through the book of Daniel that I am calling God of All Nations.

As you all know, my philosophy in preaching is to go through a book of the Bible, line by line, verse by verse and look at both the immediate context and the bigger picture. I do try to alternate between Old Testament and New Testament books, and I do that, partly so that I don’t just end up going through Paul’s letters and a Gospel every once in a while.

And so, going through some of these other books challenges me and I hope, they will challenge you too. Now, Daniel is unique. It is part Historical, that is where we are going to spend the first long chunk of our series. And It then is part prophecy, that is why, in the Christian Bible, it is placed in the prophets. Because of the prophecies and because of the lens that we view those prophecies in, Daniel can be a very divisive book if we let it be. But we are not going to let it be. Suffice it to say, that we wont all agree on what the prophecies say and what they mean, especially in todays world and with todays current events.

Daniel is also unique in that it is written in two different languages. Daniel 1:1 through chapter 2, verse 3 is written in Hebrew, as is Chapters 8 through 12. The middle section there, chapter 2, verse 4, through chapter 7 is written in Aramaic. Now, Hebrew was the language of the Jews, the language of Israel. Aramaic was the official and the common language if the Babylonian empire.

That leads us to some historical context regarding the book of Daniel. Now, this book was written, despite recent scholarly suggestions to the contrary, in the neighborhood of 530 BC. So that’s 500 years before the birth of Christ. It starts however, back in 605 BC. So, the book of Daniel spans about 70 years.

To understand what happens in 605 BC, we need to go back even further in Israel’s history. Under the Kingship of David and then, his son Solomon, 400 years prior, Israel was more united and more powerful than ever. Then, shortly after the death of Solomon, Israel split into to countries. The kingdom of Israel in the North, comprising of 10 of the 12 tribes. Then there was the Kingdom of Judah in the south, comprising of Benjamin and Judah.

Both kingdoms fell into apostasy, idolatry and general unrepentant sin and divided, they were both weaker militarily and because of the sin, they were subject to the wrath and judgment from God. Israel fell first, to the Assyrian army roughly around 730 BC. Judah lasted another 130 plus years, though they too fell, this time to the Babylonians with various levels of conquership happening between 605 BC and 587 BC.

Daniel was presumed to be around 15 years old in 605 BC when he and his friends, which we will get to in a moment, where captured in Jerusalem and hauled off to Babylon. So, he spoke Hebrew there. And as he lived for 70 plus years in Babylon, serving the courts and the king, he learned Aramaic pretty fluently. Now, there is no consensus, no across the board agreement as to why Daniel was written in both languages.

But the one that makes the most sense to me, that seems to have a lot of traction amongst those who study these sorts of things is that the parts written in Hebrew were specifically being written to the Jews. This would be the introduction, what happened to Daniel and his friends and so forth. This would also include the prophecies in the last half of the book. Obviously, prophecies regarding the coming Jewish Messiah and the coming Kingdom of Heaven, would be much more applicable and interesting to the Jews than to the Babylonians. The middles section, the history of the exiles in Babylon, the dealings of with the various kings and the history during that time would be more interesting to those who spoke Aramaic.

One thing that does not hold merit is the view that because there are two languages in Daniel, that it was written by two or more different people, or at two different times. There has been a lot of skepticism that Daniel was written during the time of the Maccabees and/or by multiple authors, but there is no credibility to these theories. Jesus himself credits Daniel as a specific, historical person who wrote this book in Matthew 24:15. IT just means that there were multiple audiences in view when Daniel wrote it down.

 

 

So, 605 BC rolls around. Babylon has grown big and powerful. Nebuchadnezzar was either co-regent with his father, or all prepped to take over for him when he would soon pass. He defeats Jerusalem and takes many Jews captive and back to Babylon.

That is where the book of Daniel starts, and this is where I want us to start reading. Daniel chapter 1, verses 1-8. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please follow along at home with your preferred translation as well. Daniel 1:1-8, Daniel opens his book, writing:

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia[a] and put in the treasure house of his god.

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.[b] The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.

Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Holy and Perfect Word.

 

 

 

Now, one of the first things we see in this book is that Daniel, and his friends, will essentially in modern language, go into Government service. They will be working for the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. Christians today tend to have one of two views on situations like this. First, we need to avoid stuff like this and politics and culture are so very toxic that we need to avoid ourselves from it as fully and as completely as possible, so that they can see that we are separated, we are set apart. Second, they say that we need to be a part of they culture and bring ourselves into the culture and politics because its so toxic, and the more we conform to that culture, the more difference we will make.

And yet, Jesus prays to the Father for us that we are to be in the world but not of it. Both of those positions miss a part of what we are called to be and what we are called to do in this world. The truth is that there is a right and a wrong way for Christians to participate in politics. There is a right and a wrong way for Christians to fight for rights, to fight for religious liberties and to participate in civil disobedience. The problem is when we decide on which ways are right and wrong based on our national identities, or our moral beliefs or what we expect to be the practical outcomes of our actions. But the truth is that the only way for us to decided what ways or methods are right and wrong based only on the scriptures, solely on what Jesus, the Word of God says. We are going to see Daniel show us some of the right ways to do this very thing.

But there is a right way and wrong way to read and to approach the scriptures as well. We remember that we are to approach the scriptures just like the Apostles did, and the early church leaders did, and that is to let the New Testament interpret the Old Testament. We don’t insert things into the text. And we rarely can lift the Old Testament up, full block and drop it on to our current context and situations. As Ron Sallee says in our Contenders classes, “The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed.”

We cannot try to affirm our believes by opening the Bibles and reading passages. We do need to let the text speak for itself. We do need to let what we read form our beliefs, not let our beliefs form what we read.

And because of how we read the book, because of what we have been taught, from our parents, from pastors and Bible Study leaders, and from books we have read, from friends around us, and yes, even from the society and the culture around us, whether we recognize it or not, because of how we read the book, we have differences of opinion in what certain parts mean, and we can think that our opinion is not opinion, but fact and is the only biblical thing that it can mean.

Daniel can be divisive. If we let it. But we are not going to let it. Especially when we get to the prophecy section of Daniel. Daniel does speak to the future and to the first and second coming of Jesus Christ. That is unavoidable in the book of Daniel. But that’s not going to be a main focus of this series.

The main focus that we are going to see in Daniel is that, as we see in all the Old Testament books, that all these Old Testament scriptures will be about and point directly to Jesus Christ, the looked for and promised Messiah, the Savior. What does Daniel teach us about Jesus? How does Daniel point to the coming Jesus? What does Daniel teach us about the Kingdom of God and especially how it relates to the kingdoms of men? Those are the main points we will be looking at.

Part of that, but secondary to that, how can we apply Daniel to today and what we are going through in these times. How do we spend our days today living in and serving a kingdom that is not ours? How do we live in and serve a kingdom that is openly and actively hostile to the kingdom that we do belong to? And how do we do so, while continuing to serve the Kingdom of God here and now and continue to do so first and foremost. How do we balance those things, both of which we are called to?

Daniel was taken into exile. He was brought out of his homeland and his home Kingdom and was brought forcibly to serve the Kingdom of Babylon, and he did so faithfully and admirably.

 

If we are in Christ, if we belong to Him, if we can rightly call ourselves Christians, then we are not citizens of this world. Peter calls us sojourners and exiles. We are travelers here, temporarily living in this kingdom, in this world. We are to love, to care for, and to serve this world while we are here, and to do so in the name of Jesus, by the Word of Jesus.

Paul writes in Romans 13:1 & 2,

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Daniel shows us that we can do this while still maintaining our loyalty to Christ and his commands. We can do this while fulfilling our purposes of serving, worshipping, and working for the one in whom we are true citizens of. Christ is our King and we are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

That balance is not easy. That loyalty is not easy. Daniels home has been destroyed. His friends and he are conscripted into government service and their names are changed from ones that honor the One true God, to ones that honored the Babylonian Gods. They were taught the language and the literature of the Chaldeans.

Daniel and his friends were even given new names, supposed by many to assert ownership and possession over them, to attempt to change their identity from those of Gods children to those who belong to the gods of Babylon.

And yet, if our identity is in Christ, nothing can change that. Our identity used to be that of rebel, sinner, and damned. But in Christ, our identity is changed by the one who we belong to. Our identity is changed so that we are now Christs beloved. We are now children of God. We are now saints, citizens of Heaven. Babylon tried to change their identity, to make them forget their true identity, but their foundation in God kept them faithful.

This world will try to change our identity. It will try to make you forget your identity. Try to get you to put any other identity above Child of God, above Saint. They will say that all are children of God. Or they will say that you are still a sinner. They will tell you that your other identities are more important than your identity in Christ. They will tell you that you are American first, Christian second. That was a hard one for me to come to grips with. The world will try to tell us that our political identity is first and foremost. Only Republicans can be Christians or Democrats are loving like Jesus. OR worse yet, when we go against our Christian conscience and vote for someone just because they happen to be our party’s nominee. Remember something, voting for the lesser of two evils is still evil.

 

Daniel and his friends were immersed in the foreign culture and they would show us how to stay true and faithful to God in spite of that.

That’s one thing for us to remember. Yes, the culture and society around us may be toxic. It may be actively against what God wants, what He says and what He stands for. It may actively try to corrupt us and bring us over to their side. But there is some redeeming value in some of the culture around us.

We are not called to bunker down, separate from everything except this building and eschew everything around us. We are not called to separate ourselves so far as we don’t have a witness. We are called to be salt and light. We are called to bring the Gospel to the ends of the world, making disciples and teaching them to follows Gods commands. Showing them that We are sinners, that we are not able to be good enough, that there is only one God and that He has perfect wrath and perfect grace. That we are saved by his grace, through our faith in the one and only Jesus Christ, God become man to save us sinners. We have a job and a duty while we are here in this earth and it is to serve and worship our King.

Now, the way that Daniel and his friends were able to be part of this culture and to study their teachings and still stay faithful to God is that they had a strong foundation in their faith.

Studying all of Gods Word is crucial to having that strong foundation. Knowing that Gods Word is inspired and without error is crucial to our studying of it. The more we know of it, the more we can discern. The more we can discern, the more we can discern what is truth and what is not. The more we can discern, the more we can fix our eyes straight upon Jesus, who is our foundation and our stronghold and our sabbath.

 

Let’s go ahead and Pray.