Daniel 9, pt 2 God of all Nations: Eternal Jubilee

Daniel 9

God of all Nations

Eternal Jubilee

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Daniel Chapter 9. If you do not have a Bible, please feel free to grab on off our back table as our gift to you.

Last week, we look at the first 2/3 of Daniel chapter 9, specifically the prayer that Daniel prayed to God. What a prayer it was. Daniel confessed his sins and the sins of Israel and Judah. He recognized Gods glory, his sovereignty, his wrath, his justice and his mercy.

He recognized and placed his hope and faith in the covenant relationship with God and his people. We didn’t use that word too much last week, but we will touch on that some more this week.

Daniel knew that God had put Jerusalem into exile in Babylon. He knew that God had made a promise to restore his people out of Exile. He knew that that time was close, and he saw the beginnings of the fulfillment of that promise.

This sight, seeing the beginnings of the fulfillments of these promises did not let Daniel sit back and wait for God to finish his work. Instead, it sparked him to prayer more, harder and more fervently. It sparked him to action instead of passivity.

And we left off last week with the last recorded words of Daniels prayer as we pleads with God to hear his prayer, to act, to forgive and to fulfill his promises, not because of anything about Daniel or Gods people, but for Gods glory and His sake.

So that was in verse 19, so we will pick up this week in Daniel 9, starting in verse 20. We will start with verse 20-23. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. Daniel 9:20-23, Daniel records:

 

While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the Lord my God for the holy hill of my God, 21 while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. 23 At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.

 

 

May God Bless the reading of His Holy and Inspired Word.

 

What we see first, how most theologians and commentators read this passage is that before Daniel had even finished his prayer, Gabriel came flying in. Gabriel came down, sent by God, flying swiftly & interrupted his prayer.

And this is important. This is the context for all that we will be talking about this morning. The context for everything that Gabriel says and that Daniel records is in response to Daniels prayer. That is absolutely vital to understand if you want to have an accurate idea of what God is trying to communicate here at the end of Daniel chapter 9.

God hears and answers prayers. Gabriel is coming down and says that Your prayers for mercy were heard and this is an answer. I’m here to give you a vision about how your prayer will be answered.

Its important to see this. God hears our prayers immediately even when his answers are long in coming. He answers every prayer, even when we don’t see it, and even when it’s the opposite of what we prayed.

Now, this vision that we are about to read is universally cited as one of the most complex passages in scripture. Entire views on what is going to happen at the end times are built on this passage. But again, many of those are taking these verses out of context of the rest of the chapter, and specifically as an answer to Daniels prayer.

Here is what I want to say before we look at the next few verses. Many of us will disagree with each other. That’s ok. Your (and mine) Study Bible notes are written by human beings and are not inerrant. Commentaries and theologians are human beings and not inerrant. The pastors and preachers and teachers that taught you when you were learning the Bible are human beings, not inerrant. I am a human being and not inerrant.

I will touch on some of the things that some of you will think are the right view, but I will be sharing Gods Word and what I see as the most biblically consistent view of what these verses mean.

Now, lets read Daniel 9:24-27, the vision that Gabriel shared with Daniel:

 

“Seventy weeks[c] are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.[d] 25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again[e] with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. 26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its[f] end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week,[g] and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”

 

 

So, Jerusalem specifically, and Judah as a whole, had been in exile for coming up on 70 years. We looked last week at a few of the prophecies that led to Daniel knowing that 70 years were the time frame here, specifically in Jeremiah. And remember that this is the context of Daniels prayer, saving and delivering Jerusalem from this exile. Gabriel, speaking on Gods behalf, plays off of those 70 years and says that 70 weeks have been decreed. A time period is coming relating to those 70 years that just passed.

Before we get into what the 70 weeks are, and there are numerous possibilities, we need to ask What is Gods Purpose in those 70 weeks? And thankfully, that’s an easy answer. What the 70 weeks are, that is difficult to suss out, but what they accomplish and bring about, God answers clearly and directly in the text.

He lists 6 things that are coming, that will be accomplish with this vision. 6 things he lists in verse 24 for us to look for in the fulfillment of this vision. Those six things are:

To finish the transgression

To put an end to sin

To atone for iniquity

To bring in everlasting righteousness

To seal both vision and prophet

And Finally, to anoint a Most Holy Place.

 

Think on those for a moment. Rest in those for a moment. What, or more accurately, who does that make you think of?

 

That’s right, Jesus Christ. This vision, this prophecy is about the one who would come and rescue true Israel from their spiritual bondage. This is the context of what is being said. One is coming, and just like we see with types and shadows in the Old Testament, we see God delivering national Israel our of their physical exile and bondage here after 70 years. We see that pointing to God sending Jesus Christ to deliver Spiritual Israel from their bondage to sin and their exile in this land after 70 weeks.

All of these things were accomplished with the Birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is also a reminder that Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. He is the Word. All of the scriptures are about him. And so, we interpret Old Testament prophecies in light of what the New Testament teaches. This is easy when the New Testament says, like it does often in Matthews Gospel, “This was to fulfill the prophecy…”

But even outside of that, The New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. And so, with this vision that Gabriel reveals to Daniel, the New Testament fulfills that in Jesus Christ.

And what’s important to see is that we may not see the ultimate completion of all these things yet, but they are already accomplish. Jesus death on the cross and resurrection from the dead show that he has defeated death and sin. Some will say, but death and sin are still in this world. That’s true. And there will be until Jesus comes back. That doesn’t mean that he won’t accomplish ending sin then. What Jesus accomplished with his first coming, he will consummate with his second coming. One commentator says that what Jesus achieved in principal, is still awaiting its final consummation.

So, when Jesus returns, the victory over sin that he accomplished on the cross will be fully consummated. We see partial fulfillments today. We see in those who have given their life to Christ, that the Holy Spirit has changed their hearts from one of stone to one of flesh. We have been freed from our bondage to sin and are now slaves of Christ. The change in our lives, the sanctification over the life of a believer is that process of death already being defeated, but not yet being fully consummated.

Next, we see that the 70 weeks were decreed to atone for iniquity, or to atone for sins. We know that Jesus death on the cross was done to atone for the sins of many. He paid the penalty for sins that we couldn’t pay. He paid it permanently where the sacrificial system of the Old Testament made temporary atonement.

But Christ came to pay a permanent substitute for our sins. Isaiah prophesied in that He would “pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 5:21, For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:24:  He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

And a few verses later, 1 Peter 3:18, For Christ also suffered[b] once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

Simply put, Jesus Christ made atonement for sin and was our substitute in doing so. He fulfilled the prophecy with his death on the cross.

In doing so, He brought in everlasting righteousness. He did this and does this in two ways. First, by God’s grace, through our faith in Jesus Christ and the work that he did, we are now clothed in Christs righteousness and we will be forever. His righteousness ins everlasting. Once we are clothed in it, we cannot and will not have his righteousness taken away. It is an everlasting righteousness.

And second, a battle that was fought on the cross and won with the resurrection, will be consummated and fully fulfilled when Jesus comes for the second and last time and wipes out all sin and death, all unrighteousness and established his Kingdom, a kingdom of everlasting righteousness.

Next, we are told that the 70 weeks are decreed to seal up both vision and prophet. Jesus sealed up the age of prophecy and sealed up visions as Gods last word. He sealed up visions and prophecy by vindicating them through fulfillment.

Sam Storms say it very well, writing:

The fifth purpose, ‘to seal up vision and prophecy, means that ‘the period of preparation and type, characterized by the visions which the prophets received and proclaimed, will be sealed up, because its purpose has been completed. It will no longer be needed, since the Messianic age has come, and its work is finished.”

 

The last of the purposes of the 70 weeks is that anoint a most holy place. During the temple times, the Holy of Holies was the inner chamber of the temple, it was the part of the temple where God dwelt. It was where his presence resided here on Earth.

The physical temple building is no more. It was destroyed for the final time in 70 AD when Rome sieged Jerusalem. But we see, through the things that Jesus said during his earthly ministry, that he is now the fulfillment of the temple. He is the Holy of Holies. And at his baptism we see in Acts 10:38, God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.

Jesus Christ in his birth, life, death and resurrection fulfilled and accomplished each of those 6 things that Gabriel told Daniel would be accomplished.

And it is in that context, with the New Testament interpreting the Old Testament that we look at the rest of this passage. The Messiah is coming. Jerusalem will be return from exile. And that’s just the start.

Jerusalem’s exile would end, but their rebellious hearts would continue. And their continued rebellion would demand a final fulfillment as well. Jesus the Messiah came. Jesus the Messiah fulfilled all of verse 24. Jesus the Messiah was rejected and put to death. That rejection, the murder and execution of Gods son will come back in the last verse also.

Gabriel, speaking for God, uses the language and imagery that Daniel would at least partially be able to understand and uses the context of Daniels prayer when we decree 70 weeks.

Some believer that there is very precise mathematical and calendrical fulfillment and meaning to these 70 weeks. That some of the weeks are past and one of the years is still in the future. There is thought to be an indefinite gap between the 69th week and the 70th week. That the last week will start with the secret rapture and will be the Great Tribulation, ending with the 3rd coming of Christ, with the rapture being the second numerical coming, and the third being what scripture refers to s the second coming.

Through that lens of scripture, the last two verses of this chapter are seen to be about the anti-Christ and the war against the Jews and a 3 and ½ year pact with Israel.

I believe that this is not the case. I think that this throws out the context of the chapter, Daniels prayer, what Gabriel has already said.

First, I don’t see any biblical evidence for an indefinite gap between the 69th and 70th weeks, especially if there is not one between the first 7 and the middle 62. And no one argues that that gap does exist.

The number 7 is so often a symbolic number, standing for completion. 70 is that completion but amplified and perfected. IN Matthew 18:21 & 22, we read:

 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

The ESV says 77 times, many versions, including the New King James, say 70 times 7. Peter knew that Jesus wasn’t saying that he only had to forgive 77 times. It was the number for ultimate completeness. When Peter asked Jesus about forgiveness, his perspective was too small. God had a much grander view, on a much bigger scale.

In the same way, Daniels perspective here in this prayer, while valid and good and understandable, was much smaller than what God had in store. Gods plans include, not immediate gratification, but gradually coming to fruition, on a much grander scale that we can think or see.

The 70 weeks is almost universally understood to mean 490 years, with each week being 7 years. The original wording is not weeks, but seventy sevens. Just like the 70 years of Jerusalem’s exile has a problem figuring out the exact starting and ending yeas if its taken literally, there is no agreement on when the 70 weeks starts exactly or whether it’s literally exactly 490 years or rounded to 490 to fit the symbolism of perfect completion.

God gave the immediate and physical answer to Daniels prayer when, in 538, the year of or the year after this takes place, King Cyrus decreed that the Jews be allowed to return to Jerusalem. This makes the most sense to me about the start of the 70 weeks.

After 69 weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. Of this verse, Sinclair Ferguson writes: This event, mysterious to Daniel, becomes clear in the light of the Gospels. During this same period of sevens, Jerusalem and the rebuilt temple will be destroyed. The entail will be desolations.”

The destruction of the temple is what is being referred to when it says the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. Physically on earth, this is the Roman General Tacitus. Spiritually, ultimately, we know this refers to the prince of this world, Satan himself.

Some see verse 27 referring to the antichrist making a covenant, a pact with Israel, then breaking it and waging war with them. I believe the context says the exact opposite. The he referred to here is still and always Jesus Christ. Jesus died and rose from the dead, he shed his body and blood to bring to us a New Covenant. The Old covenant was one that was continually ratified and confirmed through sacrifice. The New Covenant was confirmed through one sacrifice, to end all sacrifices. Jesus Christ came as a ransom for many. He gave his life; he sacrificed his life so that many would live and have eternal life.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the temple and he is the final sacrifice. There will not be another temple and there will not be a restoration of the sacrificial offerings. This New Covenant is what has been instituted and accomplished through Jesus Christ and it will be finally, completely and perfectly fulfilled in his Second Coming.

Daniel, having read, as we saw last week, Jeremiahs writings, would have surely been aware of and have read Jeremiah. Jeremiah 31:31-34 shows us a beautiful prophecy about the New Covenant:

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

 

Iain Duguid writes about the covenant mentioned here in verse 27, being the New Covenant as well. He says:

It seems to me, therefore, most natural to see the covenant that is mentioned without further description in verse 27 as the new covenant, which will be confirmed in the final, climatic seven of world history. The seventieth seven is a kind of “jubilee” week, in which God restores all things to their proper state.

He continues:

IF that is correct, then clearly it is the Messiah who confirms the covenant with many and brings an end to sacrifice and offering. With the coming of Jesus into the world, and especially with his death and resurrection, the seventieth week has dawned. In Christ our jubilee trumpet has sounded, and the victory over sin and transgression has been won.

We are running long, but there is so much more that we can look at in these verses, I haven’t even barely touched upon the idea of the jubilee year that was the subject of our Scripture reading this morning and I think is the basis and foundation of the perfect completion of the 70 weeks and the 490 years.

If you have read and studied this passage and come to different conclusions than I, that’s ok. I hope you extend the same courtesy. I will finish up by sharing a story of one of the church fathers trying to figure out this passage. Duguid writes:

In 400 AD, one of the most brilliant scholars and linguists in the ancient church, the church father Jerome, wrote: “Because it is unsafe to pass judgment on the opinions of the great teachers of the church and to set one above another, I shall simply repeat the view of each and leave it to the reader’s judgment as to whose explanation ought to be followed.” He then listed nine conflicting opinions on the meaning of the passage, declaring himself unable to decide which one (if any) was right.

 

 

Regardless on where each of us come down on this, we do know that Jesus Christ died come and die for our sins, that his death and resurrection did institute the New covenant because he said so.

Paul writes it most clearly in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26:

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

 

That is what we celebrate every month, usually on the first Sunday of the month. Because I know the subject this week, I decided to wait till this week. We come to together to remember. Communion doesn’t save us. It’s not magical. It doesn’t wipe our sins away and it does not make us righteous. It is done in remembrance of what Christ did for us. IT is Gods grace through our faith in Christ that puts righteousness on us. It puts Christs righteousness onto us.

Like we did last month, we are going to do things a little bit different, due to taking some precautions for COVID-19. 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.

 

1 Timothy 6:11-16 Life in the Local Church: Active Faith

1 Timothy 6:11-16

Life in the Local Church

Active Faith

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to 1 Timothy chapter 6. First, Merry Christmas! Second, if you do not have a Bible, please feel free to grab one off the back table as our gift to you.

Now, Paul is writing to his Son in the faith, Timothy. He is closing this letter, and historically, we know that he is beginning to wind down in his life. 2 Timothy, which we are going to go through as soon as we finish 1 Timothy here in the next couple of weeks, is the last letter that Paul will write.

But here, Pau; is writing Timothy to help him combat an outbreak of false teaching that has come into the church in Ephesus. So, he has specifically dealt with those teachers and the teachings. As a part of that, Paul has also been encouraging, exhorting, teaching and building up Timothy in his faith.

In the passage we are looking at this morning, Paul has finished dealing specifically with the false teachers. He will refer to some of the teachings, but he is done addressing them directly.

He just finished addressing their evil motivations, their evil results, and their evil consequences. They have within them and as their motivation, the love of money, the love of power and influence and fame. They sow discord, discontentment, dissension and with their slander, they sow disunity.

Paul will refer to those things as he turns to address Timothy directly in this mornings passage. I am going to read 1 Timothy, chapter 6, verses 11-16. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, though I encourage you to read along in your preferred translation. 1 Timothy 6:11-16, Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, sharing the very Word of God, writes to Timothy:

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before[d] Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

May God Bless the Reading of His Word. Amen.

 

So, Paul refers to all the things that the False teachers are, all the things that the false teachers teach, all the sins the false teachers commit, and all the fallout and discord that comes from false teachers. And in referring to those things, Paul tells Timothy to Flee from those things! Flee! Get as far away from those things as possible.

Scripture is full of admonishes to flee sin. A few specific instances are that we are to flee from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18). We are to flee from youthful passions (2 Timothy 2:22) And to submit to God and resist the devil so he will flee us (James 4:7) 1 Thessalonians 5:22 tells us to abstain from every form of evil.

These are the things that are of the world. These are the things that are of false teachers. These are the things of people who are not of God. And we are to run as fast and as hard as we can in the absolute opposite direction of these things. We are not to entertain them, or to flirt with them, getting close and saying, just this little bit wont hurt, or no one will ever know.

That is not the attitude or the heart of a Man of God, as Paul calls Timothy here. A Man of God loves God. If he loves God, He loves Christ. And Jesus tells us in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” In conjunction with that, 1 John 5:2&3 tells us by this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

          A Man of God is broken because of his sin and knowing what his sin has done to God. A man of God recognizes that he is sinful and in need of a savior. A man of God recognizes that Jesus Christ is the only way for salvation. A man of God has put his faith and trust in Jesus Christ and repented of his sins. A man of God is grateful and gracious for the grace of God that, through faith in Christ, his sins have been forgiven. A man of God is gracious in forgiving the sins of others around him. A man of God stands firm and courageously for the truth of who God is and what he has said and what he has done. A Man of God can be a man or a woman, but they are a child of God, through the grace of God, by faith in Christ.

Paul here tells Timothy, calls him a man of God and tells him to flee from the things that are not of God, and to pursue instead these things; righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Those are the things that a Man of God does.

We are to pursue righteousness. Jesus has some things to say about this in the Sermon on the Mount. First, in the Beatitudes, he says,” “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6) Just a few moments later, he points out to his followers, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)

Perfect righteousness is not something we have an ability to achieve or accomplish, but it is what we are to strive for, and more importantly, it is the standard that God holds us to. Perfect righteousness is following and holding to the laws and commands of God, in heart, in mind and in action. Something that, in the course of history, because of sins affect on us all, only Jesus Christ has been able to achieve.

The man of God is to pursue Godliness. We are to live as much like God as possible. Paul writes in Romans 8:29, part of Gods purposes in all things, as he says, for those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.

          Godliness is being like God. Not acting like you are God but acting as God acts. Having a heart for those God has a heart for. Acting the way, he would act, rejecting and avoiding what he would reject and avoid. Living a holy life, motivated by a holy heart, thought with a holy mind.

 

 

We are to pursue faith. Faith is our rock-solid foundation. Hebrews 11:6 says, without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

There is a reason that Faith Alone is one of the five tenets of the Protestant Reformation. Salvation by faith alone. Not Faith and Works. Not Faith and kept by works. Not Works. But Faith alone, this is what a Man of God holds. Faith in Christ and Christ alone.

The man of God is to pursue love. Paul didn’t need to clarify this, but such false teaching, or weak, superficial teaching has infested the church that we do need to clarify this today. This is biblical love. This is Godly love that Paul is talking about. This is not worldly love. This is not everything we do is fine. This is not I love tacos, I love the sun, I love USA, I love God, all loves meaning the same thing.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 4, that we are to speak the truth in love. This means that we are not to speak the truth and use it as an excuse to be harsh or to be a jerk. We don’t get to say, well it’s not my fault if they took it that way, or if they got offended, I said what the bible says. That may be true, but God says that it does matter how we say it, how we approach people and that the truth that we speak, the truth that the Bible speaks is said in love. I once heard it said this way; The Gospel is offensive, there’s no getting around that, but there is nowhere in the Gospel that says we are to be offensive.

A Man of God is to pursue steadfastness. This is kind of a combination, of patience, endurance and taking the long view of what’s going on around you. Steadfastness, sometimes translated, longsuffering. To take a long view. TO know that no matter what is going on in the here and now, that God is in control, that God has already won and that what is promised to come is so much better and completely worth going through what is happening now.

We are to be patient in waiting on the LORD. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24 that no one knows the day or the hour of his return and that we are to be ready for it. But we are not to toss the future out with the bath water, to mix up a whole bunch of things there. His time is appointed, we know it will happen, even if it seems slow to us.

Peter writes, 2 Peter 3:9, The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

We see everyday tragedy come up in the news. More than we should, we see shootings, killings, disasters, so much abortion, so much death and destruction. And many cry out “Come quickly, LORD!” But God says that we are to continue to do our duties, to live our godly lives, to pursue him and his righteousness every day until he comes, no matter how long that is.

Lastly, the Man of God is to pursue gentleness. This ties in with some of the others, but when we know and recognize what God has done for us, we should turn around and treat others in the same manner. Those who have repented of their sins and turned in faith to God the Father have received the forgiveness of their sins. A Man of God has had the grace of God, and his mercy just poured out over them. When they sin, when they give in to temptation and them come to God, seeking forgiveness, God is gentle, loving, kind and merciful. If one has not repented of their sins, God will be much less gentle to them. But if we are men of God and we have received the gentleness of God, then we should let that flow through us to treat those around us with gentleness as well.

 

 

After listing those things that Timothy, and we, as his children, should be pursuing, Paul says to Fight the Good Fight. This reinforces the idea, first, of an active faith. That our faith is not incidental to our lives. Everyone has faith. It may be in the one, true, biblical God, in the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, three in one, Almighty God. And I pray that it is. Or it could be in our selves and our works, our goodness. It could be in other, so called gods, or spirits, or religions. It could be in our country, our politicians, or our worldviews. It could be science and rationality. But whatever it is, we all have faith, and we all live out our faith. Often, it is a fight, a hard, long fight, just to stay faithful over the course of time. We need those attributes that Paul just told us to pursue in order to fight the good fight.

We fight for the truth; we fight for what’s right. We fight for the Gospel. Even in that fight, we are still called to do so in a godly and loving manner. Sometimes that means that things take longer than we want them to, but that doesn’t mean that God is not working or that we are being unfaithful. Please remember, that not everything we disagree with is false teaching. Not everything we don’t see eye to eye on is worth fighting over and shouting about. Somethings, we just plain disagree on.

But in those things that the false teachers and the world tries to bring into the church, those things that say, sin is not sin. Those things that say Jesus wasn’t God. Those things that say Jesus wasn’t man. Those things that say we can be saved by being a good person, or by following the rules, or by any other method than by grace alone by faith alone. In those things, we fight the good fight.

Paul gives a similar charge at the end of his letter to the Corinthians. 1 Corinthians 16: 13&14, he writes: Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.

One question that pops up, and I think Paul is addressing here, how do we stay steadfast, longsuffering? How do we continue to fight the good fight when we look around and only see what appears to be us losing battle after battle? How do we risk it all in this world?

Paul writes, take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

We can fight the good fight, we can stand firm and we can stay faithful to Christ and his Word, we can risk it all in this world, because our reward is in the next world. Our hope, our faith, our promised destination is in the next world.

We are here for a time, an important time, but a time. We are here to live life and to enjoy life, but we are here to do so in and with Christ. And Christ came so that we may be saved from our sins, clothed in his righteousness and that we may walk through the door, the only door, the door which is Christ, to enter eternity, worshipping and praising God Almighty. This, as opposed to the only other option, life in eternal hellfire and damnation, eternal life with Gods grace, mercy and love, but with Gods vengeance and wrath and justice.

Grab hold of that eternal life! The life to which you were called. Those whom God has called. I return to Romans 8:29, but also add verse 30, where Paul writes: For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

We are saved by Gods grace, those of us who are called by God. It is nothing about us. There is nothing we can do to be called. Our salvation is in no way dependent on us. The famous Jonathon Edwards quote that I share often, the only thing you contribute to your salvation is the sin that makes it necessary.

Jesus says in john 6:44 that No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. There is no doubt about what Gods says in the scriptures. But, again, there is a purposeful tension that God puts in the scriptures. If that’s all God says, what point is there to act in any way, to do anything? God will take care of it all and we can just kick back our feet, put them up on our desks and wait. It would be easy to be patient and longsuffering in that instance.

So, God makes both his sovereignty and man’s responsibility, both are biblical teachings. Paul says here that the eternal life to which we are called, of that, we have made a good confession in the presence of many witnesses. Not only were we called, and I would argue that the scriptures say that only after we have been called and because we were called, we make a public confession in front of many witnesses. There is responsibility on our end of things as well.

The faith that God has gifted to us (Eph 2:8-10), that faith, which he called us to and gave us having nothing to do with ourselves, that faith we need to respond to. That faith is an active faith. It is a public faith. We publicly get baptized and we share our faith with those we know and love. We share the Gospel, and we share our testimony, not the same thing by the way. We share it because that’s what God tells us to do. We fight the good fight, the faith of and for faith.

Paul finishes this passage with a combination of encouragement, he charges us, and a doxology, a praise to God. Verses 13-16:

I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before[d] Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

 

 

Paul makes one of any connections that Jesus did many things of which we are to follow his example. In this case, making the good confession, confessing who Christ really and truly is, and doing it even when its not easy. Jesus could have saved his life, prevented getting beaten, whipped, mocked, spit on and crucified by providing a defense in from of Pilate.

We see that Paul is charging us, commanding us, encouraging us to lead that holy life he was talking about earlier. To flee from the things of this world, even if they are brought into the church. To turn to Christ, to pursue those things he listed earlier, righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. And we are to do so until Christ returns.

It reminds me of the last lines of the hymn, In Christ Alone;

No power of hell, no scheme of man Can ever pluck me from His hand Till He returns or calls me home Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

 

 

 

And it is all because of who Christ is, who The Father is. It Is because of who he is and what he has done, his holiness, his sovereignty, his eternal greatness, his almighty power, his love, his mercy, his justice. It is because he is the King of Kings and the LORD of Lords. To him be all honor and dominion. Amen.

Paul sums it up better than I ever could. Let’s Pray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Timothy 2:8-15: Life in the Local Church:

1 Timothy 2:8-15

Life in the Local Church

Gods Design in Worship Service

 

Good Morning! Go ahead and grab your Bibles with me and turn to 1 Timothy chapter 2. As always, if you do not have a Bible, and especially if you do not own a Bible, please help yourself to one from the back table as our gift to you.

We are continuing this week our series through 1 & 2 Timothy, titled Life in the Local Church. Again, as we started looking at last week, chapter 2 of this letter is going to have the overarching theme of what prayer and worship should look like in the local church.

Paul, who us writing to his spiritual son, Timothy, ended the section we looked at last week by reminding and establishing his authority as an Apostle, one with the authority to speak for God during that time.

And it seems like we have truly forgotten that today. Paul, especially, out of all the New Testament writers, has become easy to dismiss and his teachings are often watered down or turned around to mean the opposite of what the clear word of the Bible says.

And Paul does not cut corners. He is not afraid to say what needs to be said when it comes to teaching the early churches how they are supposed to act and what they are supposed to be teaching. He is not afraid to share the hard truth of the Gospel and all its practical implications with a culture, or two different cultures for that matter, both Jews and Gentiles, that would look for any reason to reject it.

We saw last week that everything we do, specific to the verses 1-7, should be filtered through the Gospel. The way that we treat others, the way that we pray for them, regardless of what’s going on. Paul even told the church at Ephesus that they should be praying and giving thanks for the Caesar Nero! I shared how its our responsibility today to do the same, with our current equivalent, including Governors and Presidents, like Governor Newsome for example.

Again, we filter our beliefs, actions and applications through the Gospel because that’s how God teaches them to us. One God. One mediator between God and Man. The Man Jesus Christ, who ransomed himself for all. The Gospel that was first taught to us way back in Genesis 3, which we heard read earlier.

And Paul here is going to appeal to creation and the way that God ordered things before the fall. God created the world and everything in it and he created it in and with order. He shows us the way that things should be and will be again in eternity future. In that appeal to creation, he see that Paul’s arguments here are not cultural. They are not specific to Ephesus or to Corinth, as he writes similarly in 1 Corinthians 11. Though we see some specific manifestations of what Paul is arguing against coming from tradition and culture, the big pictures, are rooted in Gods design that He planned before time began.

So, before I preach an entire sermon without you knowing what we are talking about, lets read this mornings text. 1 Timothy, chapter 2, verses 8-15. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation in front of you. 1 Timothy 2:8-15. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writing the very Words of God, writes to Timothy, saying:

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;

likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,

but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

For Adam was formed first, then Eve;

and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

 

So, here is one of the things you will see today. I will tell you what the text says and means, as I try to do each week. But, because of this passage and the ways that it has been, at times, misunderstood, sometimes mis applied, and sometimes, ignored and dismissed, I will be telling you a lot of what the text does not say and does not mean.

As we start, Paul continues to speak about prayer and how it fits into our gatherings, our corporate worship and Gods design. And we know that a major part of worship is prayer. We also spoke a lot of prayer last week, so I won’t get too far into what prayer is and isn’t.

But we see that Paul brings forward what we looked at last week, saying, I desire then…, Again, that transition. With what I just said, this should be the result. Therefore…

I desire then, that the men should take the lead in gathered prayer. Now, what this does not mean, is that women are not to pray out loud. We see in 1 Corinthians 11:5 that Paul shows that women will be praying as well. Instead what this refers to is that the men are to take the lead in praying. Especially and specifically in a church gathering. This is why we have one of the elders lead our praise and prayer time, as Dave did this morning. This is why, during our prayer meeting, Wednesday mornings, everyone prays, everyone who wants to, who feels led, I should say, but I close us in prayer when we are done. This is not a refusal for women to pray, but rather for the men to lead the prayer.

And Paul has some specific qualifications for the men who will be praying. They are to be lifting holy hands, meaning that that they are to be living a life for God. We will get more into this next week, where Paul lays out the qualifications for elders, but Men, if you are going to lead in prayer, make sure that your life is showing that the God you claim to be praying to is truly God in your life. Don’t live one life Monday through Saturday and then come in Sunday morning projecting an entirely different image. Be holy as your father in heaven is holy.

Paul also says that the men who are leading prayer are to do so without anger and quarrelling. We have spoken abut this a lot here in the past. But there is no place in the body of Christ for anger and quarreling. If we have an issue with each other, we figure it out, work it out and put our differences aside. We unite under the gospel and we celebrate our diversity within that limit and do not let anything, no perceived or real slight, no bad day leading to an argument, no nothing get in the way or distract us from God, his church, his mission and his Kingdom.

As we looked at last week, I think it comes back to us having a right heart, and a right attitude. With us being in the right place spiritually, it will allow us to focus on what important. Doing God-glorifying, kingdom work for God. It will allow us to not get caught up in the quarrels, the hatred, the discord that comes from, first, false teachers teaching falsely, and second, from wanting others who have wronged us to “get what they deserve.”

And if I can take a step back for a moment, if you take just one thing from this passage in 1 Timothy, it should be that our focus needs to be solely and 100% on God. On who He is, on what He has done and on why He is deserving of our worship. That’s why Paul emphasizes that the men who lead prayer are to live a holy life and set aside any and all anger and quarreling. Now, that’s what everyone of us should be striving for, man, women, praying or not. Because when our entire focus is on God, we will worship Him as He desires to be worshipped.

After calling the men to step up and lead, Paul starts talking to the women in verse 9. And look how he starts it, with the word, Likewise. This is not separated from what he just said, but again, showing what needs to be done, how we can ensure that our focus is where it is supposed to be. Men, live holy lives without anger and quarreling. Likewise, women, your physical appearance, the way to you dress and present yourselves, should not be done to draw attention to yourself, but should be done to draw attention to God.

Now, what this is not saying. Ladies, this is not saying that you should not wear jewelry. This is not saying that you should not do your hair. This is not saying that you should not dress nicely. The things that Paul lists here are not, in and of themselves, sin. They are the cultural manifestations of the timeless truth. And that truth is this: What you do, how you live, how you present yourself, should draw attention to God rather than draw attention to yourself.

So, this is addressing two things. First, the way you dress matters. Modesty matters. Nobody should be saying that men are not responsible for their own actions. We all are. Men, we need to be like Job and make a covenant with our eyes when a woman is dressed in certain ways. But also, we live in a hyper sexualized culture and we are getting our definitions and cues on what is appropriate and what is modest and what isn’t from the outside world and culture and that does not set any of us, men or women, for success.

And that leads to the second thing, which is out of your heart, your actions flow, including how you dress. Dress to bring glory and honor to God. In all we do, honor him. If your focus is on you and what you look like and who is noticing, then your focus is not on God. And God makes it clear that he does not want our divided attention but wants all of our attention.

Paul continues from here to address and confront cultural norms on both sides. In verse 11, he says Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. Now, the first thing that Paul says that would have been controversial in that time is that women are to learn too. Ligon Duncan points out what he calls the hidden blessing in this passage, as he writes:

Paul is once again affirming exactly what we see in Jesus’ ministry, that women are disciples. Now, that’s revolutionary, my friends. Jesus’ pattern was for women to be part of His disciples, but for men to be doing the teaching in that circle of discipleship. And Paul is simply saying in verse eleven, “that’s exactly how I want it in the church, just like Jesus ordained it. Women are disciples.”

Unlike the rabbis who prayed according to the Talmudic liturgy every morning, “Lord God, I thank You that I am not a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.” Now, that was the prayer that the liturgy instructed every Jewish male to pray when he got up in the morning. Women were not included in the discipleship of the rabbinic circles, but in Christian circles Christ had made women to be disciples, and Paul is affirming that. Women are to receive instruction. They are disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are to be taught.

                Now, Despite the reputation that Christianity can sometimes have in todays culture, we are in fact not anti-women. We are not trying to keep women down and do not think that men are better than women. Just the opposite in fact!

The Bible makes it clear that women are created in the likeness and image of God. Paul himself writes that there is no difference in worth or standing between men and women in Galatians 3:28, there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

But this view still persists and unfortunately there are times where it is incorrectly taught, even within churches today. When we announced that we were starting up our Contenders Discipleship Initiative, teaching classes on the Bible and such, we still had to answer the question being asked multiple times that, Yes, women could take the class too.

Outside of the church, in Paul’s day, women weren’t taught. They had no place to learn. Today, the church, as a whole, is failing the women of the church by not providing good, solid, foundational Bible teaching. Women ministries, not exclusively, but as a whole are not biblical and are not growing the women of the church to know the Bible deeper and more accurately or to know Jesus better or be closer to God. The focus often tends to be on self and what does it mean to me? and, pardon my bluntness, at best it’s a bunch of fluff, and epitomizes what Paul says in his second letter to Timothy, 4:3 & 4: For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 

                And that’s why I was so excited and encouraged that so many of our ladies were interested in taking those classes. And the same when we announced that Kathy would be doing a women’s Bible Study, not book study, but Bible study. Ladies, I am incredibly proud of you. You have shown that you have a passion and a desire to know Gods Word and to learn more of it. Thank you.

Now, God made both men and women the same in terms of worth, value and standing, both made in his image and likeness. But he did not make men and women the same. If He did, then, for example, marriage would mean nothing. Hey, that’s exactly what society is trying to tell us today!

Men and women are different. This is clear and obvious to any toddler you speak to, and its clear to anyone who has read the Bible. And Men and women, though created equal in all the ways we mentioned, were created with different God ordained roles and with different purposes.

We are all called to submit to the roles that God has designed for us. When Paul says the women are to learn quietly, with all submissiveness, this again, is not to subjugate women. Just as Christ himself submitted to God the Father, we are all called to submit. Husbands and wives to each other, children to their parents, Christians to their elders, all people to Christ.

I also want to point out that the word Paul uses for quiet is the same word he uses back in v2, when he tells us to live a quiet and peaceful life. Quiet, or silence as some translations read, does not mean no talking. It does not mean no vocal participation. It does not mean no sharing prayer requests. It does not mean in Bible Study and Prayer meeting and CDI that women can’t ask questions. It simply means submitting to the authoritative, biblical teaching in the church by those who are called by God. Paul is going to go into greater detail about who is called in chapter three.

This section of 1 Timothy, along with Paul’s directions in 1 Corinthians 11, make clear that our church services are supposed to be orderly. They are not free for all’s. They are not “off the cuff.” They are not chaotic and confusing. God is a God of order, not a god of confusion. And He wants our worship services to be orderly to reflect that.

In v 12, Paul shows one of the differences in Gods created order, and he will go on to prove it by referring back to Gods created order at creation. In those different roles that men and women are created for, those authoritative, called teachers in the church are not women.

The text here is clear. The role of preacher, of pastor of one who holds authority in the church is reserved by God for called and qualified men. Again, Paul will go directly into laying out those qualifications in the section we will look at next week, in chapter 3. But there is no such thing as a woman pastor. Hope and I are not pastors. She is not the co-pastor. She will be the first to “Amen!” that as well.

Now, you can do all the hermeneutical gymnastics you want, but this text is clear. I understand that the way it has been used by many in the past and probably, unfortunately some in the present is absolutely wrong. God, the Bible, Paul and hopefully I am crystal clear. Anyone who uses this text to subjugate, to devalue or to denigrate women is wrong and they are sinning against God.

Paul addresses 200 years ago, todays most common objection to the clear meaning of this text. He uses Creation and Gods order to make clear that this is not a specific situation related to the church at Ephesus, but instead is a universal truth.

Adam was created first, and Eve second. Again, no difference in value or worth, but created differently, with different roles. Now, when Paul points out that Eve was deceived first, then Adam, we need to remember that Paul made clear in Romans 5, that Adam is the ne responsible for bringing sin onto the world. He was the one God went after and held responsible. In Genesis 3, when God calls out, asking, “Where are you?” He uses the singular you, meaning he was looking specifically for Adam, not the plural you, as in “Where are you guys?” God held Adam responsible for the sin.

So again, what this is not saying is that Eve is lower or less than. But this is showing what happens when we reverse the God ordained roles. A few weeks ago, Hope and Malachi went up to the women’s conference up at Mt Hope. I had the other five kids from Friday evening to Sunday morning. What’s that, 36 hours? And so many of you, Sunday morning, understandably asked how we survived during that 36 hours. I was called to and I love being an active, involved Dad. But I was not called to stay at home with them and be with them 24 hours a day. Hope stays home with all six, all day every day. She homeschools 5 of them right now, feeds them and me amazing meals, keeps the house running and clean and all that and makes it look easy. She repeats often that she is so grateful she is not called to be a pastor and is thankful she gets to stay home with the kids. Those are the roles God gave us. And we survive, but we do not thrive if the roles are reversed.

The serpent approached Eve in the Garden. Adam was right next to her and could have and should have stepped in and taken the lead in fighting against the twisting of Gods Words. Instead he stood there and let her take the lead and be deceived. The enemy knows what he is doing and having us forsake our God given roles and to take on other roles instead is, after twisting Gods Word, his oldest tactic against us.

The last thing in this text I want to address is v 15, where Paul writes, yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

                When Paul says that she will be saved by childbirth, this is not in reference to salvation. We are not saved by works. We all know that. Nothing that we can do, will grant us any righteousness of our own. Instead, and again, Paul is bringing us back to the fact that God is our true and sole focus.

When we submit to Gods call and direction in our life, our lives no longer belong to us. When we live for God, when he is our focus, when we live for him, things like faith, love, holiness and self-control are fruit that grows out, from our changed heart. Our sanctification, which starts the moment we are saved and grows and continues to progress over the course of our lives as we continue to and get better at living for and focusing on God.

When we get together, we come together in corporate worship as a church family, as the local body of Christ, our entire, complete focus is supposed to be on God & we are to worship and praise him.

As God, he gets to determine what is appropriate worship. From the beginning of creation, he has shown what the created order of things looks like and if we are truly looking to him, we will gladly submit to his perfect design. All to the Glory of God alone. Soli Deo Gloria.

That’s what all this boils back down to. We can argue all we want about what Gods word says. But as RC Sproul says, “When their I something in the word of God that I have a problem with, the problem is with me and not the word of God.”

We can argue all we want about what the Word of God means. But the truth is that there is only one meaning to the text. To paraphrase Sproul again, there may be 10,000 applications, but there is only one meaning of the text. If we are focused on God as we are supposed to be, desiring to submit to and please God and to see the plain, simple meaning of the test, knowing that He is perfectly Good, and perfectly Holy, we may sometimes get the meaning of the text wrong.

But if we are focused on seeing what we want to see from the text, if we are seeing and serving a god of our own making instead of the God of the Bible, the one true God, as he has revealed himself in scripture, then we WILL get the meaning of the text wrong.

When we get together, we do so not for ourselves, not for each other. We do so to give glory to God, to praise the king of the universe and to thanks him for his grace and his mercy that saved a wretch like me.

Let’s Pray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Timothy 1:18-20 Life in the Local Church: Continue in Faithfulness

1 Timothy 1:18-20
Life in the Local Church
Continue in Faithfulness

 

Good Morning. Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to 1 Timothy, chapter 1. We are going to pick back up in our series today, going through 1 & 2 Timothy, called Life in the Local Church. As always, if you do not have a Bible, or do not own a Bible, please grab on from the back table. We would love the Word of God to be our gift to you.
Now, its been a few weeks since we have been in this series and so we need to do a brief review before diving into todays text. Paul is writing to Timothy, who is the Pastor at the early church in Ephesus. Timothy is personally, very close to Paul, with Paul referring to him several times as a son to him.
Paul is writing to Timothy because there have been some issues and some teachers that have gained a foothold in the Ephesian church that need to be dealt with. The biggest issue we see that has been mentioned by Paul is that False teachers are False teaching a False Gospel. And there is no room for that in the church, of whom Christ is the head. Christ, who is revealed in Scripture, whose Gospel is revealed in Scriptures, not through the smooth words of people who look and sound good.
Paul is both encouraging Timothy and challenging him to do what needs to be done. And he is actually going to name names of two men who have been causing confusion and discord amongst the church.
So, with all that being said, lets go ahead and look at this morning’s text. Ill be reading 1 Timothy 1:18-20, and I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please follow along in your preferred translation that you have in your hands. 1 Timothy, chapter 1, verses 18-20. Paul, inspired by God, writing the holy and inerrant scriptures, writes:
This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

All right, so Paul here is returning to his train of thought from earlier in the letter, back in verses 3-7. Timothy, do what you have been called to do. Do what has been entrusted to you. We know that with great power comes great responsibilities. And with great responsibility can come great rewards.
Paul has shown Timothy that God has entrusted him with great responsibility. Timothy is responsible to and charged to protect the flock at Ephesus, to protect the truth from the attacks of the enemy. He is to refute false teachings and teachers with the plain, pure, simple truth of the true Gospel.
One of the things we see about Timothy, if we study his life as recorded in the Bible, is that Timothy has a timid streak. He is not the loudest, surest, most take charge kind of guy. In that, a lot of the encouragement and challenges that Paul gives to Timothy, hit very close to home for me. Timothy does not always seem to be entirely sure of his ability to do the things that he needs to do to fulfill his responsibility.
And so, Paul reminds Timothy that God has called him to do this job. When God calls you to do something, he will equip you to accomplish exactly what He has called you to accomplish. This does not always mean that we will be successful at the task laid before us. We are not always called to be successful. We are called to be faithful and to do what God has said. In that, He will equip us as we need it.
As an example, I am called to shepherd the flock here at Bangor Community Church. I am also called to be a missionary to the community in and around Bangor, Ca. I may or may not be called to grow this church numerically. I may or may not be called to do many baptisms or to see firsthand many people come to faith. The results of my faithfulness are in Gods hands. I’m not responsible for that. I am responsible to Preach the Word and Love the People.
And guess what? That’s what God has equipped me to do. And what he has called you to do, he will equip you for exactly that task and the outcome that he has determined. And with that faithfulness comes great reward.
In this I am reminded of the parable of the talents. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 that he entrusts each of us with different things, different tasks, different amounts. We are not responsible for each other’s talents. Talent was a unit of money, or gold back then. It works for material goods, for talents as we know them today, for anything because the idea is our level of faithfulness transcends it all. I am not responsible for your talents and how you use them. I am, to a point responsible for Hopes and the kids and how they use them. But I am primarily responsible for my own talents.
You are not responsible for my talents and how I use them. You are not responsible for each other’s talents, with your kids and your spouses being partial exceptions. We are responsible for helping to encourage, exhort and equip each other, as a body of Christ, as Paul shares in Ephesians 4. But you will not stand before God and must give an answer or an account for why I did or did not use my talents faithfully. You will stand and give an account regarding how you used your own talents.
In the parable, three men were given different amounts of money to take care of while their master was gone. One of them, given the most, was very faithful and got a return on his good works, he bore much fruit because of his faithfulness. The second was given a middle amount and was faithful to what he was given and he bore some fruit from his faithfulness. The last man was given a small amount and he was not faithful, bearing zero fruit. The first two were rewarded because of their faithfulness and the third was rebuked because of his lack of faithfulness.
God called those men to be faithful with what they were given, and he gave them the ability to be carry that out. Did the second man bear as much fruit as the first? No, but he wasn’t called to. He was still successful in carrying out what God had called them to.
So, the leads us to looking at, what was Timothy called to by God here in Ephesus? First, Timothy knew what he was called to because Paul and many elders laid hands on him, prayed over him and for him and prophesied over him. We see an example of this happen at the beginning of Acts chapter 13, with Paul and Barnabas. We will get more into prayer over the next couple of weeks but that is something we are still called to do. To pray over each other and to pray for each other. And there is something that happens, something that makes it much more personal and meaningful to both the person doing the praying and the person being prayed over.
But we also know that the prophetic offices have been closed. Gods Word has been fully revealed and there is no more extra biblical, special revelation. We need to remember to discern and see when to read the scriptures as descriptive, relaying that this is what happened, and when to read prescriptive, saying this is what we are supposed to do.
But at this point, in part because of the prayer and prophecy put onto Timothy, he was clear in his mission and his call. He is to fight the good fight. He is to wage good warfare. He is to fight against what Paul has already been writing about in this letter.
Timothy is to wage war against False Teaching in the church. He is to wage war against the False Teachers who are doing the false teaching. He is to wage war against the enemy’s scheme to destroy the witness and the mission of the Church. He was to wage war against the lies and the corruption and the sin that come along with all those things.
And Timothy is to also go the other route as well. He is to fight for Gods Truth. That’s Truth with a capitol T. The only actual truth there is. The Truth that all other claims are to be tested against. Timothy is to fight for Gods holiness, something we, as a Christian community in 21 century America don’t fully understand or grasp. He is to fight for the purity and sufficiency of the Gospel. And he is to fight for Gods righteousness, because we have none of our own and can only receive Christs perfect righteousness trough the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
And this is also what, in general terms, we are all called to do as well, in our lives, in our family, in our circle of friends and in our church. And it isn’t easy, and it takes an incredible amount of discernment.
Because this is one area where we must be careful. And we are going to use False Teaching as an example here. Not all False Teaching is heresy. One definition I like says this: “Heresy is a false teaching about the essential doctrines of our faith – the ones we must adhere to, regarding who God is, who Jesus is, salvation by grace, and Jesus’ resurrection.”
And so, False teaching about the non-essential issues is not heresy. It still needs to be confronted and dealt with, but we need to be careful about what words we throw around when we do indeed confront it.
Also, not all teaching that reads the text differently is false teaching. For example, we look at the various views on the end times. What did Jesus teach? Well, his speaking of the end times are summed up in be ready for it and nobody knows the time when it will come.
And yet the church today has three very different views about when Jesus will return and each of these three will influence how you read scriptures and are influenced by how you read scriptures. Now, in the end, two of those three will end up being wrong. But you can teach each one of them from a biblical standpoint and therefore, they are not, by definition, false teachings.
They are opinions and preferences that we believe. And we can hold them tightly even. But they are secondary issues that we should not divide over. I love Village Missions Statement of Faith on this subject. It reads, and I forget the exact wording, but it reads, We believe that Jesus Christ will one day, physically return. Done. That’s what we unite over in this subject. If we deny that part, that Jesus will physically return, then we get into heresy area. But if we disagree on whether we are pre, post or amillenial in Christs return, we simply read the text differently.
Some of these things that we differ on, they are differences of opinion. They are our interpretation. They are our preconceived notions and preconceived views, of which we all have. Some of these things, as I have said, we can still be united together as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, despite those differing views. Some of these things you can see or think differently than I do and I can still that you have a genuine and pure faith. And it is that genuine and pure faith that Timothy and all of us are called to defend and to protect.
So we also look at what the Bible says is the faith that we hold in a good conscience. Of course there is John 3:16, maybe is, and definitely used to be the single most well know bible verse in the world. John writes: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. And I also like what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15: 3-8:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
That is what we cling to. This is what we hold tight to. And this is what, if we reject it, we make what Paul calls here, a shipwreck of our faith. Those who reject the faith, those who reject the Gospel, also those who claim to believe the Gospel but reject those closed handed Gospel issues, they are not just rejecting salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. But they are also rejecting unity. They are rejecting the Gospel, despite what they claim. They are rejecting the true Biblical God and the true biblical Jesus.
And when you have rejected these things, you have rejected the faith. Paul names two men who have been in the church and have fallen into this category of False teachers, rejecting the core tenets of the faith and teaching heresy. Alexander and Hymanaeus are specifically named as having been dealt with and have been handed over to Satan.
Now, we can not just take that verse and start doing whatever we want with it. We need to be really careful with what we take from it and how we apply it to today.
When we separate from people, we do so after having tried everything we could do on our end for repentance and reconciliation. We see Matthew 18 as the go to text about how to treat issues like this. We separate only after much prayer. We separate only after much effort. We do so only after every other option has been exhausted.
And we do so for what purpose? As shown here and in 1 Corinthians 5:5, We separate from others, we remove them from the church only as a last resort, in order to bring them to repentance. We do so in order to, ideally bring them back into the fellowship of the saints and bring them back into the body of believers.
In this instance, if Alexander and/or Hymanaeus were to repent of their false teaching and they were to accept the full, clear, simple, true gospel, Paul would welcome them back into the church with open arms.
Now, we don’t know what exactly they were teaching that fell into the category of false teaching, though we could make fair guesses based on what Paul has already written in this letter. But we do know that Paul says they are guilty of blaspheming God.
Here is one definition of blasphemy: To blaspheme is to speak with contempt about God or to be defiantly irreverent. Blasphemy is verbal or written reproach of God’s name, character, work, or attributes.
Does that help any of you? Practically it was not very much help for me. So, I will describe blasphemy in this way and this is not specific or entirely complete, but it helps me practically. Blasphemy is giving Gods attributes and identity to someone or something else. Giving credit for Gods Works to someone or something who is not God. It is giving to God lesser attributes or taking away from Gods true identity.
Cause here’s the thing. God and God alone has the right to determine who he is. God and God alone has the right to what his identity is. He is God. He has revealed who he is in his revealed word, the Bible that you have right in front of you. God is the creator and the author of all things. He is the almighty and he is a jealous God. And all of creation was made to give glory to God. So, if we give the glory that is rightly due to God, to anything else, we are blaspheming God. Let’s not do that.
See what God himself says in his word. Believe in his Gospel, that Jesus his son, died for our sins and rose from the dead to full achieve the forgiveness of our sins. That forgiveness and eternal life with God, available by Grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.
So, we continue to do what has been entrusted to us. Fight against the false teachings and sin that has corrupted this world. We stand up for and fight for the Truth and holiness of God and we trust both the results of our fight and our salvation to God and God alone.
Let’s Pray.

Malachi 1:6-2:9 pt 1 Dont Play Church

Malachi 1:6-2:9 Pt 1

Dont Play Church

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles and turn with me to the Book of Malachi. Malachi is the last book of the Old testament. If you do not have a Bible of your own, please grab on from the back table and consider it our gift to you.

So, we started looking at the book of Malachi last week. Remember, Malachi was a prophet whose ministry was towards the end of the ministries of Ezra and Nehemiah. Malachi was the last of the prophets recorded in the Old Testament, before God brought about over 400 years of silence, where he did not spreak to Israel through the prophets until the birth of John the Baptist.

And God has some harsh words for Israel at this point. We are going to look at some of those words here this morning. But God started off reassuring Israel that He does in fact love them. They dont feel that love, but Gods Word assured them it was true, Jacob he loved but Esau he hated.

That was the first of the disputations, or, essentially, dialogues that God ahas with Israel here in Malachi. This morning we will look at the second one, the longest of the 6 that we are going to look at in this series.

So we are going to be reading Malachi, starting in Chapter 1, verse 6, all the way through to chapter 2, verse 9. Before we go any further, lets go ahead and read this week text. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please follow along in your prefered translation. So, again, Malachi 1, verse 6, on through chapter 2, verse 9.

The Word of God says:

A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ 7 By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the Lord‘s table may be despised. 8 When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. 9 And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts. 10 Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be[b] great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. 12 But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. 13 But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord. 14 Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.

And now, O priests, this command is for you. 2 If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. 3 Behold, I will rebuke your offspring,[a] and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it.[b] 4 So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the Lord of hosts. 5 My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction[c] was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. 7 For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people[d] should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. 8 But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, 9 and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.”

God continues speaking here as we start of in verse 6. The first thing we see here is that God is deserving of and we are to give him much honor. The Westminster Catechism teaches that the chief end of man is “To Glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

God is Holy, Holy, Holy. Scriptures says this twice, first in Isaiah 6 and then in Revelations 4. The use of repeating the word three times shows how significant this attribute is in knowing who God is. We are to give him all glory, all honor and praise.

God here gives us two real life examples here. Sons are to honor their fathers. Thats simple enough. “Children, obey your parents, for this is right.” Ephesians 6:1. “Honor your Father and Mother.” Exodus 20:12. One of the most fundamental commands in scripture.

The other one we see is that a servant is to honor his Master. Jeremiah 3:14 says, Return, O faithless children, declares the Lord for I am your master;. All throughout Lukes Ghospel, the disciples continually refer to Jesus as their master. The other Gospel record this as well, but it is especially evident in Lukes Gospel. Paul writes in Colossians 4:1, Masters, treat your bondservants[a] justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

We are to give honor to our earthly Masters, and there is always an earthly Master. But Gods point here is that these types of relationships where we give honor to each other, to our Fathers and to our Masters is a type, a shadow of the infinite honor and glory and praise that we are to gven our heavenly father and our heavenly Master.

God is asking, where is my honor? Why are you not showing me the honor and fear and respect I deserve? Why do you hate me? This is one of the cases where there are no degrees between love and hate. There is one, Love, that we are called to, where we read God is Love. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:13, So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

And the opposite of love is hate. God demands our all encompassing love and devotion and faith and trust. And if we give him any thing less than all of us, than we give him nothing and we show him hate instead of love. There is no such thing as partially loving God or loving him with part of our hearts, part of our lives, part of our bodies, or part of our time. If we do not love all of God, all of the time, with all of us, we are hating Him.

God says that we are to honor our fathers and our masters. He says that they deserve our honor and respect. But he says how much more is he deserving of our honor and respect. And we are to give Him more honor and respect than we give our fathers and masters. Essentially think of it like this. Try giving your Dad, try giving your boss try giving police, and authorities in this world the same amount of respect and reverence that you give God, and then see how poorly that goes in your life.

God deserves our first fruits. He deserve our first and our greatest and our highest honor. Are you giving him your firstfruits? Are you giving him your best? Your time. Your money. Your heart. Your effort. Your commitment. Your life. Your Words. Or are you giving him whats left over? Are you giving him whatever is on hand? Are you giving him what you happen to have, after you do all the other things first, after the rest of your time has been filled up, after the rest of your money has been spent?

God says, Do not Disrespect Him. His word is clear on what his expectations are. Do not pretend to give him anything or even everything. Do not come in here and give God your false worship. God will not be mocked.

I want to take a second here to clarify one point. God here in Malachi is talking to Israel. In the greater scheme of things here, in context, he is talking to the visible church. In other words, he is specifically talking to those who profess to be Christians. If you have come in and you are not sure about God, if you are not sure about Christianity, this is not speaking to you. Your are here and we want you to do nothing but sit back, feel welcomed and learn who the one, true God is and how he gave us his Son to save us from our sins, and more specifically, the eternal consequences there of. He does that, by the way through his Grace and only through his grace. He pours his grace out on us, saving us, when we put our faith, and only when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, himself God, who was born a human baby, lived a sinless life and died to pay the punishment for sin. This is all revealed in his Words, in the Holy Scripture and he does this, at the head of it all for His Glory. So, think on that, we pray that you make the decision to put your faith and trust in Christ and repent of your sins, but unitl then, dont worry about your worship or if your doing enough or any of that. Sit back and listen and read your Bible.

But for those of us here that claim to be folowers of Christ, and there for, the one true God, and read, believe and follow his Words to us, his commands that he has given us, we are called to repent of our hypocrisy when it rears its ugly head and to esure that we are putting our entire focus on Christ.

I gotta tell you. Church is a terrible hobby. What would be the point of it? There is a reason that some many people in the world today, and specifically in our country today, dont bother to go to church on Sunday Mornings. They have better things to do. Thats it. Simply put. We all can fall into that occasionally. Beautiful weekends like this, that lake sounds real good. We have 6 young kids, so there isnt a morning where sleeping in doesnt sound good. We could think about and I bet everyone of us could come up with a whole list of reasons that sound better than getting up early, putting on nice clothes, wrangling up kids, getting them dressed, and driving down here.

OF course there is something better. Church is not a social club. The purpose of us being here is not to get together and talk and hang out. Church is not a place to come and waste time. We are not here for vague, undefined community related social reasons.

The church exists not for us and this world primiarily, but it exists primarily to glorify God. Thats why we are all here individually. Thats why we are all here societally. And thats why we are all here as the body of the church and the church corporately. To glorify God.

Some of the ways this is designed to take place are identifyed in scripture. We exist to edify the body as Paul lays out in Ephesians cchapter 4. We build each other up. We see Paul write in Epehsians 4:11 & 12, And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds[c] and teachers,[d] 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.

The church exists for evangelism and discipleship. Jesus gives us the Great Commision in Matthew 28:19 & 20, telling his disciples, and all of us, 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We go and make disciples, both sharing the Word of God, to let people who dont know the Gospel see the wonderful truth and promises of God, but also to make each and every one of us continue to grow deeper into his Word, to grow spritually, to become more mature in the faith. So that we can more and more observe all that Jesus has commanded us.

And we study the word and submit to godly, contextual, true teaching of the Word of God as we, as is written in Jude, contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. This all is our spiritual worship. This all is how and why we come together as a church and glorify and honor God. This is what we are here to do.

Anything else instead of this is giving false honor and glory to God. It is despising God. In the context of what Malachi is saying here, they offered up lame animals, blind and diseased animals. They offered up garbage. They offered up a farce of what God wanted them to and had commanded them to as an act of true worship and sacrifice. They gave their last fruits. They gave their leftovers.

And if thats what they are going to do, God says, dont bother. Look at verse 10,  Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand.

God says, if this is what you are going to offer, dont bother. Dont bother with the sacrifices. Dont bother pretending to follow the Law. Dont bother rebuilding the Walls around Jerusalem, and dont bother rebuilding the temple. Theres no point. Just shut the doors.

You know, you often here a challenge that usually goes something like this. “If your church closed down and shut the doors, would your community miss you?” There is some truth to that. Part of loving our neighbors and a part of sharing the Good News of the Gospel to to present a good witness, a good testimony and that includes loving and serving our community. In fact, one of Village Missions goals or purposes is to ensure that every community has a Gospel presence, in other words, to make sure that there is a Bible teaching, Gospel preaching church in every community.

However, even if we are serving our community, if our focus is not first and foremost on God and worshipping him, serving him, honoring him and glorifying him, then, God will say the same thing to us, Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! There is no point in us being here, if we are not going to do what God has told us to do.

So, reading this and hearing this, we should have one question and one question only on our mind, How do we make sure this doesnt happen to Bangor Community Church and to us individually? The answer is simple and clear and difficult. We hold high the sufficiency of Scriptures. We hold in the highest regard what God has already said to us and told us.

There are a lot of, what are called, “Seeker sensitive,” churches out there. And the idea behind these churches is that they will do whatever it takes to get people through those doors, to get them inside the church. They will compromise and justify just about anything that they think will get people in the seats. The first and biggest thing that gets compromised is the Word of God.

The teaching gets watered down because they dont want to offend anyone. They stop talking about sin, instead, maybe just talking about Jesus, but not the context that made his death necessairy for the salvation he provides. We see shallow theology. Improper or incorrect teaching of Gods word, sometimes downright heresy. We get churches and pastors that teach that we need to unhitch from the Old Testament, that it doesnt apply to Christians and that it should never be used when discussing the Bible with non believers. Or you get teachings like Jesus wasnt God when he was on earth, that if he was God and did all his miracles, that would not be impressive, but since he was a man, and we are men, if we live like Jesus did, we can do the miracles that Jesus did.

These are real teachings from real so called pastors that are reaching thousands if not millions of listeners around the world.Some of these churches, and more, figure if they give enough things away, that more people will come in. So you see, especially at the big holidays, like Christmas, Easter, etc, you these big churchs hold drawings, giving away t shirts, books, TVs, laptops, even cars. There is a saying out there, What you win them with is what you win them to. Meaning that whatever it is that you use to get them in the door and to even maybe give a comitment, is what you need to keep doing in order to get them to stay. At the forefront of these churches is what Ron Sallee refers to as Nickels, Noses and Noise. How much many did we bring in? How many people did we bring in and How many programs did we run?

Yet, we dont often enough see churches following scripture. What does the bible say? In 2 Timothy 3:15, Paul referes to the scriptures as, the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. The Bible tells us all we need to know about how to be forgiven of our sins and saved from their penalty.

Paul also tells us in Romans 10:17 that Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ. The scriptures, Gods Words are what he uses to save us. We hear what he has said about sin, grace, Jesus, forgiveness and salvation, and the Holy Spirit opens our eyes and changes our hearts, We put our faith in Jesus Christ and God, in his infinite grace now sees us as rightouess.

There, that was a lot easier than trying to juggle fire whil riding a unicycle. It was much easier than saying that if you have enough faith, God will make you healthy and rich, otherwise known as lying. It was much easier than coming up with bigger and bigger primzes to give out next time.

The Word of God is sufficient. Its all we need. God made sure we had all we need to edify and build up, to make disciples of all nations and to contend for the faith. Its all right here in this book.

And it is also, as is written in hebrews 4:12 & 13, living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

When we read Gods Word, with the hear, with the intent of glorifying God and growing closer to him, his Word will convict us of what we have done wrong, what are doing wrong and what we thought about doing wrong. And so, this will help us to make sure that we are not just playing church, not offering up empty and vain worship to God, that we are not despising him, but we are in fact giving him all honor, all glory and all praise.

Now, the first Sunday of every month, we follow the commands of Jesus and we celebrate communion in remembrance of him. We remember and we celebrate what unites us and brings us together. The thing that unites us together is the cross of Jesus Christ. Today we come together to celebrate that unity. To pursue that unity by remembering. We remember and celebrate Christ’s death for us, that act on the cross, that act of pure love, grace and goodness. That perfect act of mercy. God holding out his hands to us, disobedient and contrary people.
We remember the sacrifice, the blood shed. We remember what that means to us, as those who have turned to follow Jesus Christ. It means that we have been declared righteous in his sight and we get to spend eternity with Jesus Christ and God the Father.
We often take this time somberly and soberly, because of what it cost Jesus, what he had to go through. We celebrate because Jesus is alive and we get to partake in eternal life with him if we chose to follow him.
Now, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 some things about partaking in communion. First of all, this is for those that have made a commitment to Jesus. This is a celebration and remembrance for what he won, what he purchased when he paid the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have not made that commitment, out of respect, please pass the plate.
Paul also makes it clear that we need to be in the right state of mind, that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God and about our sins.
I greatly encourage you, as we are passing out the items for communion, take that time to talk to God. Make sure you are examining yourself and you are taking it for the right reasons. Again, please do not be afraid to pass the plate along. There will be no glances, no judgments. What is important is for each of us to make sure that we are in right standing with God.
Paul gives us a picture of Communion in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. In verses 23-25 he writes:
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
So, what we are going to do here, is Mike and Jim are going to come up here. One will pray for the crackers, which symbolize the broken body of Jesus on the cross. They will pass them out and when we are finished we will take the cracker together as a church family.
Then, the other will pray for the juice, which symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins. They will pass them out and again, we will take it together as a church family.

Romans 14:10-23 Persueing Christs Rightouessness above all

Romans 14:10-23
pursuing Christs Peace and Righteousness

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

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

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

Romans 14:1-9 Unity, Libery and Charity

Romans 14:1-9

In Essentials Unity, In Non Essentials Liberty, In all Things Charity

Good Morning. Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Romans chapter 14. If you do not have a Bible, please feel free to grab one from the back table as our gift to you.

Before we get started, I want to take a quick, informal, voluntary poll. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. If you do, just raise your hand at the answers that apply. I’m going to ask how many Bible translations we have in our congregation right now. I’m not talking about when we use multiple translations to do our studies, or when we enjoy reading different one to see how the phrasing is different. Im talking about the main one that you use. The box you would check if you could only check one box.

So, We will start out with the one I am using this morning, the English Standard Version. How many of you here use the ESV as your main translation?

How about the original King James, like Frank uses for the scripture readings up here? How may of you use the King James?

Next, how many of you use the New King James?

Next, Hopes translation of choice, the New American Standard?

What about the NIV?

Lastly, how many of you use any other versions than what I listed?

Ok, so I just listed 6 different options there. And we have a normal weekly attendance of less than 40. So, does those differences of preference create disunity? What about other matters of preference? Thats what Paul is going to address here in the passage we are looking at this morning.

We are individuals. Created as unique individuals. Created and called to unity, (Ephesians 4:3) but not created and called to uniformity. Lets go ahead and read this mornings passage, Romans 14, verses 1-9. As I said earlier, I am reading out of the English Standard Version. Paul writes:

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master[a] that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Disagreements, disunity, arguments and division go all the way back to the earliest churches, as we see here. This is not new, and unfortunately, due to the human sinfulness of all of us, it’s not something we can completely avoid. However, Paul shows us that we are not to be content with that answer. We are not to resign ourselves to the fact that their will be division and disunity, but we are to work at driving that out of the church at all costs.

This is the same principle we touched on last week in regards to sin. We recognize that we are all sinners and justification, the moment of salvation where we put on Christs righteousness and are declared righteous by God the Father, that moment does not make us perfect (Romans 7) But we are called to be holy and perfect as God is holy and perfect. (1 Peter 1:15 & Matthew 5:48) We can not use the fact that we are not yet perfect be an excuse for our sin. We can not let our selves be resigned to the fact that we will sin. Instead, as Paul says in the last verse of Chapter 13, we put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. We do everything we can to drive sin out of our life.

In the same way, the Bible is clear that we do the same thing in regards to division and disunity within the church. But we also see, as in what I showed us at the beginning of the sermon, that differences in preferences and even disagreements don’t necessarily need to lead to division and disunity.

We need to discern and distinguish between essentials and non essentials. Thats why used this quote as the title for my sermon this morning. In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things grace. I have heard other pastors refer to them as “open handed,” or “close handed,” issues. The idea being that the non essentials are ones we hold with an open hand. We will discuss and disagree, we will hold them loosely and come together and worship together regardless of where we all fall on these issues. In theses things liberty. The close handed issues are the essentials. These are things that are fundamental and foundational to the faith. These are the things that we all agree on if we claim to be Christians. These are the things the hold tightly and we defend and we will fight for if need be.

If you are having trouble determining what an essential is, I suggest we start with Paul as he lays the gospel out simply and clearly in 1 Corinthians 15:1-7, where he writes:

Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

That hits a whole lot of the essentials. Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. All according to the scriptures. Salvation, which is need because we are sinners from before birth, is by the grace of God alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. Jesus is truly God and truly man. He in eternal, not created and he is the Alpha and the Omega (Rev. 22:13) He is not a god, not a saviour, but He is THE Way, The Truth and The Life. (John 14:16) Those are the things that make us Christians and these are things that separate us from those who believe differently.

To put it bluntly, if you say you believe in and worship God, but you don’t believe in these essentials, you believe in and worship a different god than the god of the Bible.

On the other hand, there are a whole host of non essentials. These are things that we don’t have to agree on. We can disagree and still know that we are still brothers and sisters in Christ.

Paul gives the examples in his letter of eating meat. He gives the example of celebrating certain days. He gives the examples of what were going on in the churches in Rome in those days. And those weren’t just issues in Roman, but they were issues throughout the all the churches of that time. Because they were a part of the change over from Jewish traditions and dietary laws to the Christian liberty.

One of the big questions in the early church was whether one could eat meat that had been sacrificed to an idol. Today, a direct translation would be similar to, can we eat kosher and halal foods? Paul responds to this issue in 1 Corinthians 8 & 10. Essentially, because other gods, Idols, don’t actually exist, and/or, have no power, you are sacrificing something sacrificed to what is essentially nothing. It’s really not a big deal. HOWEVER, if you personally feel like you shouldnt eat that food, then you should not eat that food.

He makes another point as well, some new christians come from a place in their life where those idols or false gods were very real to them. Eating those foods may cause them to fall back into old sinful behaviors. If that is the case, if you are around those people, don’t eat those foods around those people. We don’t have to agree that eating those foods is wrong or that it is right, but if we are stumbling block to one another, we are in sin. And if we impose our conscience in these areas of liberty onto others, than we are in sin.

We as Christians, are not bound by the dietary laws that God gave the people of Israel in the Old Testament. We see that in Acts 10, where Peter has his vision regarding clean and unclean things. Some see the only application of that passage, however, as the inclusion of the gentiles into the family of God as full heirs. I see that as the main application, but thankfully that’s not our only text that shows our release from the dietary laws.

If we look at Marks Gospel, in chapter 7, we see an explicitness and a clarity that cannot be refuted. Reading verses 14-19, we see Mark write:

 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”[e] 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?”[f] (Thus he declared all foods clean.)

So, again, we are not under the Old testament dietary laws anymore. That does not mean that some of us are not individually convicted to not eat certain foods or drink certain drinks. If that’s the case, if you are convicted not to do something, for you to do it is sin. And if you are not convicted, but to cause those who are to stumble, that is sin.

Paul next example, he talks about different days. He is actually speaking about a few different things in this. We worship and gather together on Sundays for two intertwined reasons. In Acts 20, it shows the early church gathering on “the first day of the week,” or Sunday. The related reason is that they were meeting on the first day of the week, on Sunday, because that was the day of the week that Jesus rose from the grave.

So, that’s why, traditionally, christian churches meet on Sunday morning. But we also need to see clearly that this is not command in the scriptures. There are some who, because the jewish sabbath was on Saturday, feel that Saturday is the correct day to meet in worship. Fine. Churches used to have many different services, many different days of the week. Some of you can speak to that.

The point was not which day we were supposed to gather together in worship, that’s an open-handed, non-essential issue. The point is that we gather together, as a church body, as a church family and we worship Christ. That is a close handed, non-essential. (Hebrews 10:25)

The other part of what Paul is referencing here has to do with the Jewish festivals. Were the still required to observe them? Paul’s answer harkens back to what Paul wrote in Colossians 3:23, Whatever you do, do unto the LORD. Here, he tells the churches in Rome, The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.

If you do continue to celebrate the festivals, celebrate them not as if you are still required to, not as they were originally instituted for, looking forward to the someday appearance of the coming messiah, but if you do celebrate them, do it unto the LORD, celebrating and recognizing that Christ has already come, and that he was the fulfillment of all prophecy and festivals.

As an example, Hope and I celebrate Hanukkah and Passover. And we do so unto the LORD. We do so for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that, for us as a family, specifically, it brings us closer to Christ. We are not required to. And we are not to celebrate them as Israel celebrated them. But we are to recognize and draw closer to christ through them, if we choose to celebrate them. Both those who partake in the festivals, those who eat, and those who abstain from the festival, both do so in honor of the LORD.

Those are the two examples that Paul gives here. And his point is not to address these two examples specifically, but instead to give us a principle from which to work through. Unity, Liberty, and Charity.

We have many, many rights and freedoms as Christians. But our freedoms are to take a back seat to unity, love and charity towards each other. Read again the last three verses of our passage this morning.

 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

We do not live for ourselves. Our purpose is not for ourselves. Our death is not for our self. We have Christ, and he brings us together. He gives us our life, he gives us our purpose and he gives us our life after death. And in return he says to give them to him. Our life is for him. Our purpose is for him. Our death and the life afterwards is for him.

And so we have freedom and liberty. We have preferences and opinions. And we may disagree on them. hats why there are so many denominations. Because of differences in non essentials and preferences.

Now, we don’t live in a community with a number of different denominations. If we were in a real big city, like Sacramento, like some were, you would be able to pick and choose. You would be able to be a part of and serve in a church that most closely meets your theological beliefs, your preferences, your convictions, so long as it was faithful to the essentials, the closed handed issues. Technically, you could also chose to pick unfaithful churches as well, there are many so-called Christians churches that do not hold to the essentials. But staying faithful to Christ, you would have a number of options of churches to be a part of and to serve at and to worship with.

Even in Oroville, I’m learning more of them, I don’t know all of them, but I we could find churches in Oroville of every major, faithful denomination. And if its your prerogative, you are free to drive in there to attend the church you feel called to. My concern is not the numerical attendance of Bangor Community Church, my concern is the biblical faithfulness of Bangor Community Church and that all Christians are attending and connected with a Bible believing, Bible teaching, faithful Church.

We are not the only church within driving distance. However, we are Bangor’s Community Church. Bangor doesn’t have a bunch of denominational options. So instead, we have a community church. We focus on the Essentials. We discuss and celebrate the non essentials. And we unite and love each other in all things.

We have people in this room from an incredibly wide variety of spiritual and denominational background. And yet, we are all worshipping together in this room. We likely all have something about the church or the service or the music or the pastor or whatever, that doesn’t perfectly fit our preference. At yet, here we are, all together in this room worshipping Christ together.

And that’s because we recognize what is our preferences, and what are our essentials. If Im up here and start teaching against some of those essentials, for example, If I start saying that Jesus was not God while he was here in earth, as some mega popular so-called christian churches teach from the pulpit, just 2 hr north of here. If I were to start teaching that, I would expect to be run out of here post-haste. If I start teaching that Jesus never rose from the dead, I would not be around for long, at least I pray so.

However, If I’m reading out of a translation of the Bible you don’t prefer, or if we sing songs you don’t care for, or if we think the service is too long or not long enough. Whatever the case may be, we set aside our preferences for the sake of unity.

Psalm 133 speaks directly to church unity. David writes:

Behold, how good and pleasant it is
    when brothers dwell in unity![a]
2 It is like the precious oil on the head,
    running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
    running down on the collar of his robes!
3 It is like the dew of Hermon,
    which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
    life forevermore.

I heard one pastor sum up this psalm by saying that church unity smells good to God. I like that. No, we can not attain church unity in our own ability and power. Look at the situation Paul is writing to. Eat meat or not. What days are better than others, to have latkes for Chanukah or not? Something little in the grand scheme, but important to the individuals.

And because human people were involved, hurt feelings, likely broken relationships. Potential and likely disunity and division. When we let our preferences and non essentials come ahead of loving each other, when we let our feelings come ahead of unity, we place stumbling blocks in front of fellow believers AND in front of potential believers that may or may not be here, but will see. They dont have to be in this room to see division and disunity.

And ultimately, we have two goals as a body of christ, two main reasons to pursue church unity. First, to worship him and to follow his commands. Can you worship next to someone, can your mind be truly set on things above, truly set on God, if we are dealing with hurt feelings and division next to us, or een across the room? Unity brings a holier, more worshipful gathering of the saints.

But we also want to follow the commands of the God we are worshipping. Im not even talking about the command for church unity in this specific context. But the Great Commision and the Great Commandment. (Matt 22:36-40 & 28:16-20) Love God and Love your neighbor and go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them to obey all that Jesus has commanded us.

And we will not draw anyone to Christ if we are fighting and dividing and putting ourselves above each other. One of the greatest blessings of this passage this morning is the emphasis and reminder of the freedoms that we have in Christ. But that freedom, again is not our own, but to by used for Christ, who it belongs to, who gave it to us.

John MacArthur says, Immature Christians are concerned with how much freedom they are entitled to. Mature Christina are concerned with how many freedoms they may gladly set aside to make the gospel attractive… How willing are we to give up any freedom that we might win some to Christ?”

that s the big thing. Paul has been establishing the importance of love in the life of a follower of Christ, and what that practically look like. And he has more recently been specifically reminding and instructing us to love others like our selves. This means giving up our freedoms if they become a stumbling block to others.

Now, as we finish up, I want to recognize some of the wording in the early part of this passage, talking about weaker or stronger. We will get into that in a few weeks and especially, specifically look at how this all applies to discipleship and the spiritual growth of young and new christians.

But here and now, I want to point out what Paul is doing here and challenge you to take it seriously. Paul is writing, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, in order to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:29) He is trying to show us how to transform our minds (Romans 12:2) and to act out and live our faith. He is calling us to lay down our lives for the sake of and the purpose of what Christ has called us to. He is reminding us that we are not to be served, but to serve. And that, as he said just a few short chapters ago,  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)

He is challenging and encouraging us, In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Liberty.

Lets Pray

Romans 9:19-23 Objections to Gods Sovereignty, part 3

Romans 9:19-29
Objections to Gods Sovereignty pt 2

Good Morning! Please turn with me in your Bibles to Romans chapter 9. As always, if you do not have a Bible, if you do not own one, please take one from the back table and let that be our gift to you.
Now, as we are turning to Romans 9, I want to kind of sum up what we have already seen in this chapter. Kind of collate the information. Paul, coming off of Romans chapter 8 has brought us to the top of the hill, if you will in regards to what we are hearing about God. God is good and faithful, there is no condemnation. The Holy Spirit works in us and through us and even prays for us and through us when we don’t know what to pray. God works out all things to His glory and has done so since before the begining of time. And when we are in Christ, nothing, ABSOULUTLEY NOTHING can remove us from the love of Christ.
Thats what Paul just gets finished with when he moves into, what we know as chapter 9. He didnt write the letter with Chapters. None of the books in the Bible had chapters originally. The closet thing to it would be the Psalms. The chapters and the verses were added later to help us navigate the text. And he finishes what we know as Chapter 8 and moves into what we know as Chapter 9.
At the very beginning he expresses so heartbreak and grief for those who dont know Christ, we are outside of his love and therefore in line to experience his just wrath. Those that are outside Christ included some of Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham. Stemming from that, three questions are brought up that object to Gods sovereignty.
First, stemming from Israel not being fully, corporately saved, the question is brought up, Had Gods Word failed? There was question whether or not God’s promises were really trustworthy? There was question whether or not God had fail to deliver on what he said he would do.
Pauls response is that God is sovereign and his Word does not, will not and cannot fail. We may misunderstand some of the things that he promises, or who he promises them to, but his promises will be fulfilled. In this case, the promise is made to the spiritual descendants of Abraham, which may or may not include physical descendants of Abraham. Its Gods right to chose.
The second objection is that it is unjust, it is unfair for some to be saved from their sins and the eternal consequences there of, but for others to not be saved. That salvation is left solely up to God, his wisdom, his providence and his sovereignty, with no dependence on human will or exertion, is in fact unjust. It is only by his mercy that we do not get what we deserve, his wrath, but instead, we may receive his mercy and eternal life with Him. He pours out his mercy, “that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Verse 18 here, the last verse we looked at last week, Paul writes, So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. He decides in his perfect and infinite goodness and justness and holiness and mercy, who will respond to his call and who will not.
The third objection is the one we will look at this morning. We will pick up and read Romans Chapter 9, verses 19-23 as Paul continues on. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. Romans 9:19-23, Paul writes:
You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—

So the third object that Paul is responding to here is an exercise on If, If, If… If God is sovereign, and IF he has mercy on whom he has mercy and IF he hardens whom he hardens, then we don’t have a choice to accept or deny. And IF we don’t have a choice, then how can he find fault with those who he decides not to save?
Now, this is a tough question and its one that Paul response to excellently I think. Remember about Paul. Paul’s writings can be tough, they can be somewhat “In You Face”, when needed, they can be blunt, as a matter of fact. But Paul writes out of love and compassion. He writes with a shepherds heart. HE started this chapter crying out in great sorrow and unceasing anguish over his lost brethren. And he answers here, with words inspired by the Holy Spirit, with the Words of God. He takes great care in how he answers this objection and he answers it with 3 responses.
First, the first part of verse 20, he lays it out, saying,But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Now this may be the least gentle or compassionate of the three responses, but it may also be the most true. We, as human beings, as the people who God created, as his creations, we have no right to argue with him about anything that he says or does.
God shows us throughout scripture, that he is the boss and what he says goes. With Moses numerous times, both before and during the Exodus that his word is final. He rebukes Job when job tries to overstep his bounds. Jonah, so many of the prophets, the same thing. In the New Testament, through the Apostles, through Paul, Peter, James and John especially, God says it. End of discussion.
And one thing that God says throughout the scriptures, can seem like a contradiction on the surface. It can seem as if he saying two different things if we are looking for contradictions and errors in the scriptures. But the Bible, being the Word of God is able to hold two tensions together and them both be true.
It does so often with a variety of things, in this case, two truths are both truths. God is sovereign and nothing happens outside of his will. He has Mercy on whomever he wills and he hardens whomever he wills. Only those whom he calls will respond to his saving grace, and all that he calls will respond to his saving grace. Thats truth number 1.
Truth number two is that Man is responsible. He is, we are responsible for our actions, for our thoughts, our sins, all of our decisions. Gods grace is poured out on us through faith. He has given us the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, His Son. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God. That is the only way to be saved is by hearing the Gospel and responding to it in faith.
All of us have that opportunity, to either respond or to reject. And we are responsible for our decisions. John 5:39-40, Jesus, talking to the Pharisees, says “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
Jesus puts the responsibility on each individual if they refuse to come to him. We see in both the Old Testament and the New, the idea that those who reject Jesus as the Messiah, reject the cornerstone, reject the foundation of the faith. Again, the onus, the responsibility is on those who do the rejecting.
God and his Word are crystal clear. Yes God is sovereign and Yes man is responsible.

The second way that Paul responds to this objection is with an illustration, one that God himself uses in Isaiah and Jeremiah. God is the potter and we are the clay. Paul in the second half of verse 20 and verse 21, Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
My Aunt and Uncle in Pennsylvania are potters by trade. I have seen them mold something, and they saw imperfections that I could not see. It looked so good to me. But they knew better. They saw something I didn’t see and they decided to undo the whole thing and started over. Is there anyone that can say that they didn’t have the right to do that? They were the potters who take the clay and mold it into something useful and something beautiful, something that is worth making.
They create out of the clay their creations. Their clay doesn’t look at them and say, I am going to be a mug, or I am going to be a bowl. They decide what that clay will become.
As such, we, as Gods clay, as what is being molded by God, we don’t have any ability or right to question why God has molded us into what he has molded us into. As the Potter, he says what we are going to become. He knows what he has planned and what it takes to make us into that. He knows and has every right to decide that some vessels are designed for wrath and some vessels are designed for glory.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth. God created.  The earth was without form and void. God took this clay without form and void and molded all of creation. He took the dust from the ground, formed Adam and blew life, breathed his Spirit into him, creating Mankind. He is the Creator, we are the creation.
It is hard for us to remember that order. We forget that we can’t tell God what is right. We forget that we can’t tell God what to do. Timothy Keller reminds us that “If your God never disagrees with you, you might just be worshipping an idealized version of yourself.”
God is the Potter, we are the clay. God is sovereign, Man is responsible. Those are the first two responses Paul gives. They flow right into the third. Basically, because God is sovereign, and because he is the potter, the Creator, he knows how it will all work out. Because we are the clay, because we are the creation, we don’t know how it will all work out.
Go back for a moment to the vessels that my aunt and uncle mold and create. The bowl that they create doesn’t know what it is going to be used for. It doesn’t know if it will be a cereal bowl, a soup bowl, a storage bowl, whatever.
In that same vein, we, as the clay, as the creation, don’t know what God is going to use us for. Paul points out that from the same lump, some are made for honorable uses and some are made for dishonorable. Some vessels made for wrath and some for glory. Both categories show Gods grace and mercy. Both categories give glory to God. We don’t know what God is going to use us for.
We looked at Romans 8:28 recently, that God uses all things for good for those who love him. God works it all around and pulls it all together to achieve his glory and to show his power and to exhibit his goodness and mercy.
Now, we can rarely see this things playing together in real-time. God, who is outside of times, see it all, knows it all and orchestrates it all. We see things around us and wonder how this can all be a part of Gods plan. We see the absolute evil in our families, our communities and in the world and we question Gods will, and his timing.
2 Peter 3:9, Peter writes The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,[a] not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
God is patient. He wants as many people as possible to be saved and to join him in glory in eternity future. We don’t know who those will be. We don’t know how God will use us.
In Acts chapter 8, we see God work out so many variables to bring Phillip to a place in Samaria, where he happens upon a eunuch riding by, who is riding the scriptures, but needs someone to explain them to him. Philip is more than happy to oblige and the eunuch hears the Gospel. He believes and wants to be baptized immediately.
If we watched that mans life, before Philip showed up, we would have assumed he was bound for destruction. But God knew better. God used Philip and the scriptures and everything else to call the eunuch to him. For his part, the eunuch heard the Word of God. He believed the Word of God. He trusted in the Word of God, Gods goodness and forgiveness and respond to the call of God.
And that’s the biggest key. One Systematic Theology says “People do not learn of Gods choosing them by prying into his eternal councils but by embracing Christ as offered in the Gospel.”
Now the cross, the gospel, the saving faith of christianity is foolishness to those who don’t believe. And it is foolishness to us, its counterintuitive. It goes against what we as humans believe, what we think and what we would expect. It goes against what we think is fair.
The way that changes is that, when we respond to the Gospel, the Holy Spirit makes Gods Word real to us. God changes our hearts from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. Jesus and his perfect and complete work on the cross brings us from death into life.
So we are going to finish with a quick refresher of what, exactly is the Gospel? Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, verses 1-5: Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
And thats what we respond to. We have the repsonsibility, now having heard it to say, Yes, LORD, yes God, I believe in what you Word Says, I repent of my sins and put all my trust in you, knowing that I cannot do anything to earn this gift of grace, of forgiveness and of eternal life.
Or you can say, No thanks. I don’t believe I’m a sinner. I don’t believe I need to repent. I don’t believe in Gods Word. I can do it all myself. I can be good enough, do enough good things that I don’t need to put my trust in Christ.
I repeat and emphasize what paul started out this chapter for those who fall into that second grouping.  I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers,[a] my kinsmen according to the flesh.
Ultimately, if you trust in Gods Word, we can have a foundation on things like this that transcends our feelings or our instincts. And we can submit those to the truth of Gods word.
Lets Pray
O Lord, we bow before You and we ask that You would open our eyes to understand hard things, things that are not intellectually hard to understand. The reason and the logic is impeccable and clear, but these things are hard for our hearts to get around. Some of us resist them. They just don’t sound right. They’re counter intuitive. Others of us are in the process of resisting Your grace and using this type of a teaching to do it. Still others of us have never tasted the joy of salvation because we don’t realize how gracious and how sovereign You are. To all of these we pray, O God, You would speak in Your word today. For we ask it in Jesus name. Amen.

Romans 8:1-11, pt 2 The Holy Spirit

 

Romans 8:1-11

The Spirit is Greater than the Flesh pt 2

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles and turn to Romans chapter 8. If you do not have a Bible, if you do not own one, please take one from the back table as our gift to you. After a brief break last week, to look at VBS and our responsibilities to plant and sow the seeds of the Gospel, this week we pick back up looking at Paul’s letter to the churches in Rome.

Two weeks ago, we started looking at this passage. The passage this week is Romans 8:1-11. We started looking at it but we focused on the very first verse. Paul has spent the past 7 chapters dealing with practical and deep theological issues, such as salvation, justification, sanctification, regeneration, Original Sin, total Depravity, a whole lot of big words for clear, sometimes simple, sometimes not, Biblical truths. And he continues here into chapter 8, with this first part, the part we are dealing with this morning. Paul will deal especially the freedom we have in Christ and the Holy Spirit who gives us that freedom. He deals with the difference between the flesh and the Spirit.

He has, most recently, been showing what the law is and is not designed for. And within in that, how we can or cannot keep or fulfill that. And we get some answers here in this section of Romans. Lets go ahead and read the text. Romans 8:1-11, and Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version.

Paul writes:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.[a] 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

There is a lot in there, in those 11 verses. We spent the last sermon, two weeks ago, just looking at verse 1. That, IF we are in Christ, there is no condemnation, that we are forgiven and we have been justified, regenerated and adopted in the family of God as His children. IF. And the rest of this section is all predicated on that IF. If you are in the flesh, or if you are in the spirit. That’s the distinction the Paul is drawing here. And then, IF you are in Christ, what does that look like? And he brings in some new elements that he hasn’t truly focused on as of yet in the letter.

Paul here begins to show us the ministry, the power and the role of the Holy Spirit in what’s going on here. Now, Paul has mentioned the Spirit 4 times over the previous 7 chapters. So this is not coming out of nowhere. The Spirit has been a part of Paul’s theology and his writing from the beginning. However, in these 11 verses, Paul mentions the Spirit 11 times.

We definitely see a shift in emphasis here. We will continue to see the Holy Spirit emphasized over the course of, especially the rest of this chapter. And over the course of the next couple weeks, as we look at this chapter of Romans, we will learn a lot of about who the Spirit is and what he does.

To start off, before we start looking at what Paul is saying here, just a couple of introductory bullet points about the Holy Spirit. First, the Holy Spirit is God. He is one-third of the trinity. One God, Three Persons. Not One God, three personalities. Not three Gods. One God, three distinct persons. God the Father is not God the Son. God the Son is not God the Holy Spirit. God the Holy spirit is not God the Father. But they are all God and there is only one God.

If you don’t fully grasp this, don’t worry. Theologians have been trying to study this and figure out the specifics and the intricacies of this for 2000 years now. It is something that is described in Scripture enough to know what I just shared, but its also something that is, what’s called an Incommunicable attribute of God. Gods attributes come in two categories. Communicable and Incommunicable.

Communicable attributes are the ones that we can know, not just intellectually, but take part of and share. Of course, not to the perfect extent that God has them, but humans can know them, can experience them. These are things like love, mercy, jealousy, hate, justice, knowledge, and many more. You and I can love. You and I can have mercy. You and I can be jealous, can hate, can have knowledge. You get the idea.

His incommunicable attributes are ones that we can’t identify with, we cant have any part of, we cant experience in any way. God’s Omnipresence, for example. We cant, in any way shape or form, be in more than one place at once, let alone everywhere, at the same time. God’s omnipotence. We cannot do whatever we want. We are bound by physical and intellectual limits. We can be in relationships with others, but we cannot understand the eternal, perfect, equal, relationship of the trinity.

So, you don’t have to understand the Trinity in full. But, this is a key doctrine to Christianity, you must understand that the doctrine is true, You have to believe that the trinity is true, because the Bible says it is, even if its full grasp is beyond us in its totality.

Another bullet point truth about the Holy Spirit, and this is intricately related to the first. The Holy Spirit is a person, He is referred to as a He every single time in scriptures, not as “it.” The Holy Spirit is not some mysterious “force,” it is not the wind, or anything like that. The Holy spirit is a person with all the qualities associated with the personhood of God.

Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit in John chapter 16. he says in verse 7, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

Then down in verses 13-15,  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

There is so much more to say and share and teach about the Holy spirit and we will get to some more of that in the upcoming weeks as Paul continues to talk about the Spirit. But for now, we will look specifically at what Paul is saying here.

So, we see Paul here differentiate between the law of the Spirt of life and the law of sin and death. This is what we have spent some time looking at over the last few chapters. We have been looking at what the Law does and does not do. We have seen that adherence or obedience to the Law, the moral law that God gave down to Moses back in the book of Exodus, obedience to that Law does not and cannot save us.

Attempting to earn our salvation, to earn forgiveness, or to live perfectly enough to not need salvation or forgiveness, instead of freeing us, actually binds us to sin and death. When we accept Gods grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, the bondage to sin and death is broken and we are given life eternal through the acts and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

God did what the law could not do. The Law, will good and holy and given by God for our good, was then corrupted by our sinful flesh. And so, again, the law cannot and would not save, would not and could not give us righteousness, especially the righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus says is required to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

And so, he sent his Son. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21, making the same point as he does here,  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. God the Father, sent God the Son, to be born a human, fully man, wrapped in the same flesh we are, though himself sinless, took the punishment of our sin. Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law. Jesus showed his perfect righteousness, the righteousness required to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. God the Father did so because we cannot have our own righteousness by ourselves, but we can have Christs righteousness through the Spirit.

But there is a requirement for receiving Christ’s righteousness. We need to walk, not in the flesh, but walk in the Spirit. So, we need to be good to earn it? We need to do something in order to receive it? No, the Holy Spirit is the Key.

Back to what Jesus said in John 16, that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. He reveals the truth of Scripture. He reveals in our hearts and in our minds that Jesus is God, that He is the Christ, the Messiah and that Jesus is the Word. The Spirit is the one who reveals to us, by revealing what Scripture says, how we are to live, how we are to act and how we are to believe. The Holy Spirit is the one who changes us from the inside, who changes our heart and desires, who breaks the bondage to sin.

And so we again, see a clear distinction, a clear divide between the many, who reject the Holy spirit, reject Scripture as the all sufficient, and inerrant Word of God, who reject Jesus as our savior and reject God the Father as the omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent sovereign deity that created us and those of us who accept and affirm those facts.

One of the things that we pull out from what Paul is saying, is that we will walk with what our minds are set on. We will align ourselves with what we are walking with. So, what is that? Is it the flesh? Or is that the Spirit?

We all start out walking with our minds set on the flesh. We care about man’s acceptance. We see things through the lens of the culture. We seek out the wide and the easy path. We live life as if there are no consequences. We live a life hostile to God. The author of Hebrews writes that, without faith, it is impossible to please God.

But, Paul again, brings up the IF, verse 9,  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

If we are in the Spirit, we are in direct opposition to walking in the flesh. God changes us from the inside. He calls us to a higher standard. He does so because he has given us grace through faith, not to get the same grace. The mind set on the flesh does not submit to the Law. That’s what Paul says. Instead of submitting to it, the mind set on the flesh can trick itself into thinking its mind is set on God and it tries to conquer the law, tries to master it and fulfill it.

But the mind set on the Spirit is learning the truth and it will know better. AW Tozer writes, The Holy Spirit never enters a man and then lets him live like the world. You can be sure of that. He doesn’t just change the behavior, that wouldn’t be enough. He changes the heart, changes our desires. He changes what we set our mind on and we turn from the flesh, to the Spirit.

How many things can you say that have truly changed your life? What can you talk to any stranger about, whether they are interested or not? Sports, Nutrition, music, kids, work, love, etc Where is Jesus on that list? Where is the Holy Spirit on that list? Where is the Bible on that list?

Because, sure, events, or thoughts, or circumstances or whatever happens when we are focused on the flesh, some of those can change some of our life here and now. Look again at verses 10 where Paul writes,  But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11

Paul brings it back around with that big, long, huge word, IF. If Christ is in you. There is no both. Fact one, the body is dead because of sin. That is true either way. Whether you have been saved by Grace through Faith in Christ, or whether you have not. Whether you have a mind and a life set on the Spirit or a mind and a life set on the flesh. The body is dead because of sin. What happens after that?

There are only those two options. Leading to only two different results in eternity. If the Spirit is not in you, than your eternity will be spent feeling the eternal pouring out of Gods wrath on you. Eternity in Hell.

But, Paul writes in verse 11,  If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Citizenship in the kingdom of Heaven. Adoption into Gods Family. Fellow Heirs with Christ. New, Heavenly, Immortal bodies. Perfect, sinless bodies. Eternal worship and glorification of God. Perfect communion with Jesus Christ on the throne. No pain, no tears, no hurt, no death. Eternal life.

If Christ is in you, if your mind is set on the Spirt, not only do you get these benefits, the best of them all, but your life today will also reflect it. You will be at odds with the world, at odds with the flesh. You will have to turn away from everything this world has to offer, and say, NO. What you, the world has to offer is death. I choose life. I choose the Sprit, I choose Christ.

And many wont understand. Many wont agree or appreciate it. Many wont see that the choice has to be either/or. “Well, I am a Christian and I still…” How often do we here that. Or, Love is more important than being right. Its not true, but even if it was, it wouldn’t be in the way that they say that. We are to do all things in love. Especially when dealing with people who continue to choose to have their mind set on the flesh. We cant respond back at them how they respond to us.

We are to do all things out of love. And it is loving to warn people that if they do not turn from their life set on the flesh and turn their lives to be set on the spirit, salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, to the Glory of God alone.

It is love to have a right doctrine on what the Bible says. It is love to love God first, and to then let the love of Christ flow out of us. We cannot love without knowing Christ.

What do we know about Christ. Romans 5:8. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Christ’s death for us, that act on the cross, we will remember here this morning as we do every first Sunday of the month.

Jesus not only knew ahead of time, the Trinity planned before the creation of the World that this sacrifice, this act of perfect love would be required and how it would take place, but Jesus told his disciples that it was about to happen and instituted this sacrament as a remembrance of it.

We remember the sacrifice, the blood shed. We remember what that means to us, as those who have turned to follow Jesus Christ. It means that we have been declared righteous in his sight and we get to spend eternity with Jesus Christ and God the Father.

We often take this time somberly and soberly, because of what it cost Jesus, what he had to go through. We celebrate because Jesus is alive and we get to partake in eternal life with him if we chose to follow him.

Now, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 some things about partaking in communion. First of all, this is for those that have made a commitment to Jesus. This is a celebration and remembrance for what he won, what he purchased when he paid the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have not made that commitment, out of respect, please pass the plate.

Paul also makes it clear that we need to be in the right state of mind, that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God and about our sins.

I greatly encourage you, as we are passing out the items for communion, take that time to talk to God. Make sure you are examining yourself and you are taking it for the right reasons. Again, please do not be afraid to pass the plate along. There will be no glances, no judgments. What is important is for each of us to make sure that we are in right standing with God.

Paul gives us a picture of Communion in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. In verses 23-25 he writes:

 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

So, what we are going to do here, is Mike and Jim are going to come up here. One will pray for the crackers, which symbolize the broken body of Jesus on the cross. They will pass them out and when we are finished we will take the cracker together as a church family.

Then, the other will pray for the juice, which symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins. They will pass them out and again, we will take it together as a church family.