1&2 Timothy: Life in the Local Church- 1 Timothy 1:12-17 The Glorious Gospel

1 Timothy 1:12-17

Life in the Local Church

The Glorious Gospel

 

 

Good Morning. Please grab your Bibles and turn with me to 1 Timothy, chapter 1. If you do not have a Bible, if you do not own one, please help yourself to one off the back table as our gift to you.

Paul is writing this letter to Timothy, who he left in Ephesus to be the Pastor, the head shepherd over the flock of the local church there. And he is writing as a Call to Arms, as it were. There was much false teaching, many false teachers coming in and spreading lies and falsehoods amongst the believers in Ephesus.

And what Paul is going to show Timothy and us this morning is that the way to combat false teaching and false teachers, the remedy, the cure, as I said last week to the disease is the Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. Or as he says it back in verse 11, the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

This Gospel is life changing and transforming and ultimately, is the Ultimate truth that brings Glory to God. Paul knows this from firsthand experience as he often shares as his witness and testimony. Before we read his letter to Timothy, I want to go back and look at Paul’s testimony. Turn over to Acts chapter 22, while we read, in Paul’s own words the story of God’s grace and mercy on him. Acts 22:3-21, Paul recounts:

I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel[b] according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.

6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand[c] the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.

12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well-spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’

17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”

 

Part of what makes this applicable to what Paul has already told Timothy was that we see that Paul was exactly what we saw him teach against last week. He was overzealous for the law. He misunderstood what the law was, and he strove for and demanded obedience to it. There was no grace, no compassion and no mercy. He was 1 Timothy verses 8-11, teaching that the law was the means and the way to salvation. He was that, until…

Until Paul’s experience on the Road to Damascus, also recorded in Acts 9. Paul literally had Jesus knock him down, struck him blind and spoke out loud to him. It took all that for Paul to get the message. And in that, he experienced the life changing grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

And Paul writes about that here in 1 Timothy, verses 12-17. That’s our text for the week that I’m going to read for us now. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I do encourage you to read along with your preferred translation. 1 Timothy 1:12-17, Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes to Timothy:

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,

  though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief,

and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

  But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

So, in this section of this letter, we see Paul lay out the Glorious Gospel. And basically, we are just going to look at this section bullet point by bullet point. We start, as those who have also experienced the perfect and holy grace of God, that we are to Be Thankful.

We are to be thankful to God. Because the Gospel, the forgiveness of sins, is not about us and more importantly, its in no way because of us. Salvation is a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8-10,

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

So not by us or from us, but all by Gods grace, through faith, which is also from Him in Christ, as the Bibles says and all to Gods glory, not our glory.

Paul also thankful for the strength that is given to us by God. Because, again, it is a gift from God. And the strength that He gives us is His strength, it is not our own strength. One of the clearest things that scripture teaches, and one of the hardest things for us to learn is that we have no inherent strength of our own. We are wholly and solely dependent on Him.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he (God) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

And what Paul is specifically referring to here is the strength to be and to stay faithful. And faithful to the service that God has called us to. We see that again as well back in the Ephesians 2 passage we read a moment ago. That we were created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

And God has done all of this, been this generous, been this faithful, given us these incredible gifts despite who we were, if we are now in Christ. We were sinners. If we are not in Christ, we are still sinners. Paul writes in Romans 3, All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. All of us are in need of a savior. We not only sinned and separated us from God, but the Psalms say that we were sinners even in our Mothers Womb. Romans 6:26 tells us, For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And when Paul says that he received mercy because he acted ignorantly in unbelief, I want to make sure we are clear on what that meant. Make no mistake, the adage is still true with God, “Ignorance is no excuse for the law.” Paul is not saying, I didn’t know the law, so God took it easy on me. First, we all know the law, it was written on stone and given to Moses, and written on our hearts and written in nature, as we see in Romans 1. So, we know that he is not saying that ignorance of the law makes us innocent or righteous.

And so, what he was saying, is that “I did not know I was not righteous. I thought I was good enough to be righteous. I was ignorant to my unrighteousness. And despite that, even because of that, God gave Paul the grace and mercy that he did not deserve, instead of the wrath and judgment that Paul did deserve.

And that grace that God gave him resulted in the faith and love of Jesus Christ. Jesus actions, his incarnation, coming down from heaven and being born a human baby, his purposeful and intentional death on the cross, the forgiveness of sins, his resurrection and his ascension, even his yet to come Second Coming, all of these were done from an overflow of His love.

We know that, as Paul writes in Romans 5:8, God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God didn’t need us. God wasn’t lonely and created man for our company. He didn’t create us because he lacked anything. He didn’t need us and still does not need us. Instead, out of the overflow of the perfect, complete love that eternally existed between the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, out of that overflow, His love poured out and flowed down and God created us out of that overflow.

And as we have seen, especially in recent weeks, love manifests itself in truth. Love speaks truth. Love reveals truth. And when Paul says, the saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, he is not saying that other things he has said are not true or trustworthy. Instead, this is one of those rare statements that we can lift out of context and allow to stand on its on two feet. Paul is essentially writing this purposely as a stand-alone statement, a summary of what the Gospel is. What he is really saying is “Hey, if you read nothing else, I’ve written, read this statement!” Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

This was the purpose of Christs actions was solely to save sinners. That’s the Gospel. If you hear that Jesus mission, his main purpose, his goals and his priorities were anything other than to save sinners, then run. This could even be things that sound good. But the Gospel is simple, God became man to save sinners. Anything else is a false Gospel.

The Gospel is not physical healing. The Gospel is not miraculous signs and winners. The Gospel is not being happy, or being wealthy, or being healthy. The Gospel is not your testimony. The Gospel is not our political sides winning. The Gospel is not our nationality or ethnicity. The Gospel is not living moral, good upstanding lives. The Gospel is not being on the right side of History. The Gospel is not equality. Those are false Gospels.

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

Another important aspect is that we need to have a right and true understanding of who we truly are. We are sinners from birth. We are unrighteous. We are totally depraved. That doctrine, Total Depravity can be easily misunderstood. I like how one resource clarifies it, writing:

There is a common misconception regarding total depravity. Total depravity does not mean that man is as wicked or sinful as he could be, nor does it mean that man is without a conscience or any sense of right or wrong. Neither does it mean that man does not or cannot do things that seem to be good when viewed from a human perspective or measured against a human standard. It does not even mean that man cannot do things that seem to conform outwardly to the law of God. What the Bible does teach and what total depravity does recognize is that even the “good” things man does are tainted by sin because they are not done for the glory of God and out of faith in Him (Romans 14:23; Hebrews 11:6). While man looks upon the outward acts and judges them to be good, God looks upon not only the outward acts but also the inward motives that lie behind them, and because they proceed from a heart that is in rebellion against Him and they are not done for His glory, even these good deeds are like “filthy rags” in His sight. In other words, fallen man’s good deeds are motivated not by a desire to please God but by our own self-interest and are thus corrupted to the point where God declares that there is “no one who does good, no not one!”

(https://www.gotquestions.org/total-depravity.html)

That is who we are when we are born. That’s who we are naturally, corrupted by our sin nature. That’s who we are without Christ. Paul says that he is the foremost of sinners. He is clear about who he was before Christ. We need to know who we were, and what our identity was. For many, this is still who they are as well.

But, if you are in Christ, if you have believed the Gospel and repented of your sins, then you are born again into the Holy Spirit and you are now a Child of God.

You are loved.

You are chosen.

You are Redeemed.

You are a saint.

You are Forgiven.

You are declared Righteous.
You have received mercy.

Paul then says why he received mercy. It is so that Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. Christ displays his perfection as an example to his followers. Yes, an example of how to act and how to live, but more than that.

If God could save Paul, with all that he did in persecuting the early church. If He could save the Disciples, who continually missed the point of Jesus teaching and abandoned Him in his time of need and after his death. If he could save sinners like you and I, then He could save anyone he chooses.

Again, having a right view of ourselves and having a right view of God is vital to understanding the Gospel. It is said that a high view of self leads to a low view of God. Invertly, a low/right view of self leads to a High/right view of God.

When we see him right, when we see who he is, his holiness, his righteousness, his goodness and love, when we see all of that correctly, as revealed to us in the bible, we can not help but cry out in worship. We cry out in exaltation and we lift up praises and cry out Glory to God!

Paul finishes his point here in this section of his letter, the passage we are looking at this morning by doing exactly that. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.[d] Amen.

Its funny to me, this section by Paul, as he cries out in praises and shouting out Glory to God, it reminds me of the clip I played, I think it was Easter. An old Baptist preacher named SM Lockridge shouting, “That’s my king!” That kind of inspired this last section here.

Jesus is the King of Ages, the King of Kings, and the LORD of LORDS. He is at the top of all things and he is the highest one there is.

He is immortal. He always was, he always is, and he always will be. He is alive. He will live forever at the right hand of God the Father.

He is invisible. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He is in all times, all places and all everything, all at the same time.

He is the only God. Deuteronomy 6:4 tells us: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. There are no other gods. Any other god that people call upon, they don’t exist. They are false gods. They are fallen angels disguising themselves as and with lights.

The Triune God is one and only one. And to him go all honor and glory. And as Lockridge finishes up: And Thine is the Kingdom the power and the glory forever and ever
and ever and ever.
And ever and ever.
And when you get through all the forever’s, then
Amen!

 

For those of us who have been declared righteous and saved from eternal wrath and judgment, today is a day we rejoice, and we celebrate. We celebrate the fact that we have been assured of our right standing with God and we remember what Christ did to achieve this for us. We come together as a church family, once a Month and we celebrate communion. We come together, setting aside any differences, any pettiness, all that stuff that does not matter, anything other than our standing in Christ and we unite together as brothers and sisters in Christ.

The thing that unites us together is the cross of Jesus Christ. Today we 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 bloodshed. 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. But 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, 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.” 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.

 

 

 

 

1&2 Timothy: Life in the Local Church, 1 Timothy 1:8-11 The Law is Good

1 Timothy 1:8-11

The Law is Good

Good Morning! Lets grab our Bibles and turn to 1 Timothy, chapter 1. As I say every week, if you do not own a Bible, please take one from the back table as our church’s gift to you.

So, we started going through Paul’s first letter to timothy last week and the context surrounding it. We saw that Timothy was sent by Paul to pastor and shepherd the famous (Infamous?) church at Ephesus. One of his primary tasks was to protect the flock from false teaching that was come from both within and without. We touch on some of that false teaching last week and we will be looking at it many weeks as we go through these letters from Paul.

These false teachers would come in and simply, they would teach contrary to biblical teachings. They would teach different than what the Bible teaches. Not always obvious either, sometimes very subtly and very persuasively.

Paul has in many places addressed legalists. Very similarly, Jesus often addressed the Pharisees during his ministry. These two groups had a common trait. Their world view was all law, it was very rigid, focusing solely on obedience, without any regard to love and grace.

But we have and see the opposite problem in scripture as well. It was prevalent then and its rampant now as well. All “love,” and all “grace,” and no law. The idea that is all over our culture, “Do what ever you want.”

“God wants you to be happy.”

“He has already forgiven all sin.”

“Its not that big of a deal.”

“That was for a different time, and more primitive culture, not for now, when we are enlightened.”

All these and more are a part of the false doctrine, false teaching called antinomianism. It means anti law. And Paul addresses that here in the passage we are looking at this morning.

SO lets go ahead and read our passage for this morning. We will be reading 1 Timothy 1:8-11. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please follow along in your preferred translation. Again, 1 Timothy, chapter 1, verses 8-11.

Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes to Timothy:

 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers,[b] liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound[c] doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

One of the most common misunderstandings in Christianity is that the law is no more. Yet, Jesus says in Matthew 5:17, Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. So the law has not gone away. It is still there. Others also have the misunderstanding that the law is bad, that is too hard, that it is antiquated, that it is just there to punish those who break it.

And yet Paul says right here that the law IS good, IF you have a right and accurate understanding of what the law is and what it is designed to do. That misunderstanding is rampant and it reminds me of parts of the Sermon on the Mount.

In Matthew 5:21-48, 6 times Jesus says, “You have heard it said…” Jesus points out the common, contemporary understanding and then corrects it from what the scriptures actually said or what the true meaning of the scriptures was. It feels like Paul is doing that here too.

“You have heard it said that the Law is bad, or old, but I say to you that the Law is good if one uses it lawfully.”

And Paul does and has shown exactly what that looks like. The law is a mirror, that, when we look into it, points out our blemishes, our sin. It points out our unrighteousness so that we can understand that we ourselves need someone else’s righteousness. See what Paul writes in Romans 7:7-12:

 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

Again, the law is a mirror to point out our unlawful behavior. The best description I have heard, Ive shared this before, but the law is the diagnostic tool. You go into the Doctors office and they give you an Xray or an MRI and the find something wrong with you. Did the MRI cause the issue? No, it helped identify the issue. The Law is the MRI. It identifies our issues. Sin is the disease. It is already in there, festering, growing, killing. If we don’t identify it, it will grow unchecked and it will kill us without us even realizing it. That’s one form of False teaching though, the one Paul is addressing here. The Law does not cause sin. The Law is not bad. The law is good.

But we also have to not swing too far the other way. The MRI does not cure the disease. The Law does not eliminate sin. The Law is not the cure. The law does not provide righteousness. It points out unrighteousness. As Paul does here in verses 9 & 10. He lists a small number of sins, small compared to the other lists he provides in his New Testament letters.

This list of sins is not exhaustive, and is not meant to be. It ends on verse 10, with the phrase “And whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.” So, if its not meant to be exhaustive, then what is the purpose of this list. Paul is showing both what happens, what we easily fall into and justify when we have a wrong understanding of the law, but also, he is showing what False teachers teach is ok, what they encourage. Remember the last line in Romans 1, verse 32, Paul says, Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

False teachers will make your favorite sin, your specific temptation be ok. They will twist it so that what ever it is that you struggle with, Guess What? You don’t have to struggle with it any more because its not really a sin, or its not really that bad. They make sin and lawlessness subjective. Right and Wrong are culturally determined.

Bethel Church, up in Redding put out this statement recently:

God loves all people, LGBTQ+ and straight. The message has never been “All Must Change.” We share these stories specifically for Christians who are unfulfilled in identifying as LGBTQ+. For those of you who feel fulfilled and happy as you are, we love you!

God doesn’t force people to change, and people – including Christians – shouldn’t force others to change, either. We stand against any and all forms of shame, manipulation, force, humiliation, or physical harm in so-called “ministry” or therapy.

CHANGED is a safe space for Christians seeking an alternative to LGBTQ+ as they follow their faith according to their personal convictions.

You see that? However you want to live, is fine. You can follow Jesus and you dont even need to change anything! You can stay living exactly the same as you always have; disobedient, unholy, profane, not honoring mothers and fathers, murder, sexually immoral, homosexual, enslavers, liars, oath breakers, and everything else contrary to sound doctrine, everything listed in Romans 1:24-32, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, in Galatians 5:19-21.

Free and easy, cheap grace that demands nothing of you. Instead, all you have to do is replace Jesus as God with your own desires, your own passions, your own sins as your god.

Thats the exact opposite of what the Gospel calls us to. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[b] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. The Gospel calls us to repent. It is the first thing mentioned in regards to the Gospel, Jesus says repent and believe the Gospel. Martin Luther says that a Christians life is one of repentance, meaning continual, lifelong change and growth. False doctrine says you are good just how you are.

False doctrine and false teaching is what is contrary to sound doctrine. And how do we know what sound doctrine is? Sound Doctrine is in accordance with the Gospel. Ligon Duncan tells us “The Gospel itself is the measure of sound teaching.” The measure of the law and whether it is used lawfully, the measure of whether we are accurately and correctly keeping the law is Jesus Christ and his Gospel.

Sin is the disease. The law is the MRI and the Gospel is the cure. Our disease, our sin results in death, eternal death, eternal seperation from Gods glory and grace and mercy. The only cure is the Gospel. We cant cure ourselves, not by keeping the law nor by changing and ignoring the law.

So, again, what is the law for? Paul writes in Galatians 3:19-22:

Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

The law was not given as a cure for sin, but given in response to sin, to show the way to the cure, Jesus Christ. The law cannot make one righteous. But what the law can do, what the moral guidelines that are handed down from God to Moses, written on stone and that are now written on our hearts, they do help restrain and identify sin.

Jesus tells two back to back parables on Luke 18, that point out that show that just physically, superficially keeping the law is not enough to make us rightouess. First, with the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee often gets a bad wrap in this story and he should, but I dont think we really see him clearly. He does all the right things. He obeys all the rules and then some. He acknowledges that God is the one who makes him not like the tax collector. But he thinks that he earned or was good enough to keep Gods grace. He attributes Gods grace to himself as his own righteousness. The point of the prable is not to show that the pharisee was acting or living wrong, or even that his prayer in the temple was wrong, but it was to point out that, despite what the pharisee thought, he was not righteous.

The next parable was the rich young ruler. This guys thought he had lived a good enough life and was searching out various religious teachers and leaders to confirm his goodness and to affirm his righteousness. Jesus pointed out some commands that he did not keep. First, lying, saying he had kept all the commandments since he was a kid. Second, his money and his possessions were an idol in his heart. His was trusting in his own goodness instead of in Gods grace.

Both of these parables are designed to point out that we have no saving righteousness of our own, but need to trust in Christ for his. The law is the way that points to Christ.

False teachers will shove the law out of the way, therefore obscuring the way to and need for Jesus Christ. Or they will focus on the law and teach our ability to keep it enough that we dont need Jesus Christ.

The law is there, again, not as a solution to sin, but as a response to sin. The solution to sin is the Gospel. Pure and simple. Thats what the sound teaching is, the Gospel.

Jesus Christ, truly God and truly Man, sinless and died and pied the penalty for our sins. Gods wrath poured out on Him so that his grace will be poured out on us. The vehicle he uses to pour his grace out on us is our faith in his son, Jesus Christ. God became man to save sinners. Marks Gospel says that Jesus came to be a ransom for many. He paid the price to purchase our salvation.

The change in us, it does change us, and it gives us a heart to serve and obey God. For believers, the law serves as a guide. It gives us perameters to stay within so that we can live right, live the way that God intended and the way that he designed it.

I love how John writes it in his first letter, 1 John 5:1-5, he writes:

 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Paul, in his letters to Timothy, will continue to harp on emphasizing sound doctrine, on right, biblical teaching. It is a repeating theme that Paul will pound on again and again, because oit is so important. Sound doctrine, sound teaching are the only ways to combat and fight false doctrine and false teaching.

Ligon Duncan points out, “We are not just teaching so you’ll know more things, we’re teaching so that you will have a healthy Christian embrace of doctrine and experience and practice.”

And that’s the important part, that’s a part of why the law in and of itself is not able to save. Because head knowledge, simply knowing the truth, simply knowing how to live, the physical act, doesnt do anthing. But our heart change, that the Holy Spirit does inside of us, the faith that is a gift from God, the faith that leads to the heart to keep his commandments, that is what saves us.

One of the commands Christ gives us is to be united in the truth. We are to be united as the church, as the body of Christ.

The thing that unites us together is the cross of Jesus Christ. Today we 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. But, 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.

Malachi 2:17-3:5 Part 2 Gods Response to Sin

Malachi 2:17-3:5 Pt 2

Gods Response to Sin

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with and turn to the Book of Malachi. Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament. And if you do not have or own a Bible, please help yourself to one on the back table as our gift to you.

So, as we turn to Malachi, we are going to continue looking at the same passage we looked at last week. And the theme covering both weeks is “Response to Sin.” Last week, essentially, we looked at out own response to sin. We either justify it, both in ourselves and others, saying that God is ok with sin, because… whatever. Or we look around and figure that God is not going to respond to sin because we don’t see him responding to it around us right now.

But we see in this passage that God will indeed respond to sin, indeed he has to. But we will look at the two ways that the LORD responds to sin. One of the things that I didn’t mention last week the book of Malachi is especially showing us, and we say it some in Romans as well, we see it through out the scriptures, is that the Chapter breaks and the verse numbers are not inerrant. They were developed and inserted into the text much later. The chapter breaks were designed and inserted in the 1200s, and the verse numbers were inserted in the 15th and 16th centuries, for the Old and the New testament Respectively.

This section is a section that fits together overreaching the chapter break that was put in there. The Chapters and the verse are incredibly useful and they are a gift from God, to allow us to memorize certain sections of scripture even to locate and find certain passages easier than if it was just one long paper, book or letter with no markations. So, I also don’t want you to hear that the chapter and verse breaks are bad. Of course they are not. But, we can also remember that they are not infallible, it is the Words of God that are infallible.

So, we will go ahead and read our passage for this week, Malachi 2:17-3:5 and we will look at what the Work of God says. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. Malachi chapter 2, verse 17, through Malachi chapter 3, verse 5.

God, speaking through his prophet, Malachi says:

You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, Where is the God of justice?”

 “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.[a] 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

So, in chapter 2, verse 17, where we spent most of our time last week, we see how we, how you and I respond to sin, as I explained in the beginning. And starting in Chapter 3, verse 1, we see how God is going to respond to sin, and in fact, from our perspective of time, how he already has.

All through out the Old testament, God has been preparing his covenant people for a coming Messiah, a savior. One who would, as God foretold back in Genesis 3:15, one who would crush the head of the enemy.

See, because of the Holiness of God, sin is not something that He can overlook or ignore. It is an affront to his holiness, his character, his God-ness. RC Sproul refers to sin as Cosmic Treason. And so, something has to be done about it. One of the things we also see in Genesis 3, specifically in verse 21, it says,  And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Seems nondescript and innocuous enough, right?

But if we look at what’s going on here, we see that Adam and Eve had been naked and unashamed in the Garden. After their sin, the realized they were naked and they were very ashamed. Now, there’s a whole lot we could get into there, but the point we are looking at today is that God made them clothes to cover themselves. And what were those clothes made of? It says out of skins. It took the death of the animal. Adam and Eves sin caused the death of an animal just like it cause death to enter into this world. This is the first instance and example of our sin requiring blood, requiring death to atone for it, to pay for it.

So, our sin requires a blood payment to make things right. Paul tells us famously that the wages of sin is death. The problem is that our sinful blood, our death is not enough to cover our sins. And even if it was, it would only cover sins that had already been committed, it would not cover sins yet to come. So, after Adam brought sin in to the world, and through Adam we have all sinned, Romans 5 something or rather, we have become separated from the goodness and holiness of God. Our relationship with him is broken. And we have no ability to reconcile it, no hope of fixing our relationship, no chance of making things right with him. Gods holiness, his fairness demands that he respond to sin by punishing sin, by pouring his just and holy wrath out on it.

As John MacArthur puts it, “Fair would send everyone to Hell. You dont want fair, you want Mercy.” And we see Gods mercy even back in the garden when he made the clothes for Adam and Eve. Yes, Had to expel them from the garden, and yes, death was required, but don’t miss that even in that, God made clothes for them and provided them with the means to make clothes for themselves. God reached out in mercy and provided for them what they couldn’t provide for them selves.

And He has promised the One who could do for us what we cant do for ourselves. The One who would restore our broken relationship with God, who would save us from the consequences of our sin, who would be mercy to those who need mercy.

Throughout the Old Testament, God sent a series of prophets, speaking His Words. Most of their primary purpose was to call Israel to repent of their sins, to turn back to God and through that, they also prophesied and prepared the way for the coming savior.

Remember that Malachi is the last of the prophets that we have in the Old Testament. Now, Israel didn’t know that at the time, they didn’t know that Malachi would be the last one to hear from God for over 400 years. They didn’t know that the next prophet of God would be the one whose main purpose was to prepare the way, a prophet whom Isaiah 40:3, calls “A voice cries: in the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

John the Baptist is this prophet that God was foretelling. He was a prophet in the order of Elijah. He was the last of the Old Testament prophets and he was the one whom who introduce the world to the Savior. The Gospel of John records in John 1:29, John the Baptist saying, of Jesus, Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Johns’ Message, as Matthews Gospel records is ““Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The Kingdom at hand because The Son of God have arrived. Jesus of Nazareth was the promised, the foretold, the prophesied messiah and Savior. God became man to save sinners. Jesus said, in Mark 1:15; The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

One of the things we need to see and recognize is that there are two ways to read the scriptures. And some of the differences we can have in our theology can come from which of these two hermeneutics we use.

The question is, how do we understand, how we filter the things that are not crystal clear. Do we filter what we read in the New Testament by what the Old Testament says? Or Do we interpret the mysteries and the prophecies, the promises that God has made through what the New Testament says. I contend that the Bible itself and the writers of the New Testament use the New Testament to explain and interpret the Old Testament. And this explains parts of why Jesus did not look like what Israel was expecting the Messiah to look like. It helps explain the confusion over who the messenger was that would prepare the way for the Messiah and who John the Baptist was. It explains a lot about the blind eyes of the Pharisees and other religious leaders in the Gospels.

It also means that Jesus is the fulfillment of all the types and shadows of the Old Testament. Malachi writes that after the messenger, another messenger will come, the LORD who comes to his temple, the messenger of the covenant. He is coming, says the LORD of Hosts.

And he is coming, as the fulfillment of prophecy, as the fulfillment of types and shadows, in this case, as the fulfillment of the temple. He is coming because someone needs to be held accountable for our sin. Someone needs to pay the price of atoning for our sins. Some one needs to shed blood and pay with their life for our sins. That’s how serious our sin is. If we don’t understand that, we can never truly appreciate Jesus.

It is either us that has to be held accountable for our sin, or we give it all to Jesus. For those whom He has called, Jesus has already been held accountable for our sin. He has already paid the price for our sin. He paid by shedding his blood and dying on the cross, so that our sins may be forgiven. He rose from the dead to prove his dominion over sin and death in eternity past, present and future.

He is coming. In Malachi’s context, this was mainly talking about His first coming. His Incarnation. God became Man. Immanuel, God with us. He came, he lived, he never sinned though he was tempted in all ways. Hebrews 4:15, says it this way: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

And Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4:

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,

One of the things we dont tend to see as much anymore in the church is Creeds and Confessions. These were used through out all the denominations of the coarse of the history of the church and were essentially used to boil things down to the essentials. In the minds of the people, or groups of people, of councils of learned men, they wrote these things to have a line in the sand, basically, against what is needed to be believe in order to be a Christian. I want to eventually find a way to incorporate some of these moving forward, but that’s neither here nor there and is also a long term goal. All of that to say that I love what the Nicene Creed says about Jesus, God the Son:

One Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.

And that last line there, he shall come again with glory. He will judge the living and the dead. And his kingdom will have no end. He will come again and when he does, none will be able to stand against him. When Jesus comes back, we will all stand before him and give an account for our sins. We will be separated, as we looked a few weeks ago, separated in to the sheep and the goats. Scriptures talks elsewhere about the wheat and tares, growing together, entangled and not able to be identified as separate or different. (Matthew 13:24-30) And in that parable, what is it that ends up separating them? Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 13:30:  Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”

And who can stand against him? None will be able to. From those of us who are falling on our faces, worshipping him, to those who thought they did enough good works to be surprised at their rejection, (Matthew 7:21-23) to those who have spent their lives fighting against him, Paul writes in Philippians 2:10-11:  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

And the LORD will come as a Refining fire. And thats a relief if we understand it correctly. The LORD is not coming as just any fire. John Piper describes the fire this way:

He is a refiner’s fire, and that makes all the difference. A refiner’s fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner’s fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner’s fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. He is like a refiner’s fire.

God is doing a good work in us. He is working all things for our good, that we may be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:29) All of his creation will be refined. This earth will be put through his refining fire. And all the impurities, all the sin, all the chaos and corruption will be burned away, leaving the New Heavens and the New Earth and God dwelling with his people, our concept of Heaven. Where will spend eternity in our glorified, physical bodies, (1 Corinthians 15)

And this is where we will enter into true, perfect, pleasing worship of God. Jesus tells us the woman at the well, in John 4:23&24: But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

Paul appeals to us in Romans 12:1, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

This is our offering in righteousness, this is our offering of Judah and Jerusalem that will be pleasing to the LORD. This is the side of mercy and grace of God. Jesus Christ, God becomes man to save sinners. To save you and I. And If you have been called, if you have been clothed in Christs righteousness instead of trusting in our own, we get to partake in this gift of eternal life with him.

But God isnt done here. Not all are called Children of God. Johns Gospel, chapter 1, verses 12 & 13:  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

God says that those who do not trust in him, who do not receive His Son will receive the full force of his wrath and holiness. Look at the last verse of our section in Malachi here, Malachi 3:5: Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

Those who do not fear Him, or those who say that every who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD. Those who live in and love and partake in the sins of this world, the desires of our flesh. Our heart breaks for these and grieves theses people. These are often our close friends, our close family, people that are incredibly important to us, whom we love so much. And Revelation 20:15 says if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Hell is real, it is hot and eternity is a long time. Today, and hopefully every day, we beg, plead and pray, that if you have not received Jesus Christ, not recognized that he is the way and the only way to true, eternal life, please, now is the time. Please believe the Gospel, please believe in and receive in Jesus Christ. Repent of your sins and turn to the One True God. After this life, there are no second chances and we can never know when this life will end. Salvation is by the grace of God alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Your goodness, your morals, even your church attendance, cannot save you. Only Christ can do that. Please.

For those of us who have been delivered from the eternal punishment of our sins, today is a day we rejoice and we celebrate. We celebrate the fact that w have been assured of our right standing with God and we remember what Christ did to achieve this for us. We come together as a church family, every first Sunday of the Month and we celebrate communion. We come together, setting aside any differences, any pettyness, anything other than our standing in Christ and we unite together as brothers and sisters in Christ.

The thing that unites us together is the cross of Jesus Christ. Today we 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. But, 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.

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 16:25-27 Pauls Doxology

Romans 16:25-27
Pauls Heart for the One True God

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to the very last few verses of Paul’s letter to the early churches in Rome. Chapter 16. Well, we did it. We made it to the end of Romans! This is the 46th message in our series and today we finish. And if you have read this mornings passage ahead of time, what a finish Paul has to end this letter with.
Before we get to the end, lets review. Paul wanted to come see the churches in Rome, but had so far been unable to get there because God was using him further east to srpead the Gospel, plant and develop churches and to disciple those who did come to Christ.
He went through and wrote the most comprehensive systematic theology that hwe have in the Bible. Covering everything from sin, that we all know God instinctively, but suppress the truth and reject God, to One People and one plan of God, both jews and Gentiles. He showed that none of us are rightoues, none of us seek God according to our own will, and none does good on their own. We looked at the who Jesus is and how he secures our slavation. He spoke on the processes of regeneration, and justification. He spoke on the process of sanctification and his struggle with sin.
He looked at the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the role he plays in our walk with Christ. We looked at glorification and our security in our eternal destination. We looked at the Gentiles being grafted into the people of God and we looked at the practical application of all this theology; submitting our lives to God as living worship, setting aside our differences to unite in and by love. We put things in the right priority. Jesus first, others second, ourselves last.
Paul spent a couple of chapters make that point and how it looks practically and then pours his heart out in these last two chapters; his heart for Gods Gospel, for sdiscipleship, for missions, for unity, for his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, for protecting Gods people against false teaching and finally, as we look at these last couple of verses, his heart for worshipping the One, True God.
So, before we go any further, lets go ahead and read this weeks text, the last three verses in Romans. Romans 16:25-27. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to follow along in your prefferred translation. Romans 16:25-27, Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit finishes his letter, writing:
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

So, real quick, before we move on, some astute readers amy have noticed that we didnt cover verse 24 last week or this week. Your Bible should have a note in it about Romans 16:24. It should be bracketed or italicized or something and the note will say that This verse is not Included in some earlier manuscripts, or something along those lines. Others of you, the verse wont be in the regular portion of the text, but instead will be printed in the footnotes, saying something along the lines of, some manuscruipts include… and then put the verse. Romans 16:24 says The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen
There is no theological impact to whether this verse is in there or not and the truth is that if my Bible had the verse in it with the rgular verses and then a footnote that mentioned it, instead of putting it in the footnotes, I would have included it last week and probably made little mention of it. As it is, I mostly just want to acknowledge it so that in case any one wondered. If you have questions about verses like this, I really do recommend our Bibliology class Sunday nights. We will be going over how we can trust the Bible, he we get our translations, all those different sorts of things.
But, moving on to this weeks text, We see Paul pour his heart out in worship in these last lines of the letter and show who and how important God is in our hearts and minds and our lives. This section is likely given the sub heading of the Doxology in your Bibles. The definition of a Doxology, broken down from its original greek wording is Glory or Splendor Words. It is a formula of Praise to God. The occur occasionally throughout the New Testament Letters, this obviously purposely put together as, not just a prayer, which we also see in scripture, but instead almost like a psalm or a hymn, specifically lifting up praise and worship to the Glory of God.

Lets look at what Paul says here in this Doxology. It really is powerful and awesome. And it brings together and brings to a culmination everything tha Paul has written so far. And as a conclusion, Paul draws all attention off of everything else and straight on to God Almighty. “Now, to Him who is able…” God is able. God is completely able to do anything and everything, and specifically God is able to strengthen us. Both the NASB and the King James say that God is able to establish us. God is able to establish us! Paul has spent quite a bit of time showing his readers and us that we need to be established and that we are not able to do it ourselves. He can establish us justified before him. God and God alone can do that.
And Paul has shown throughout this letter that none of it is through us, our works, our thoughts, our national, familial or spiritual heritage, none of it is through our own rightouesness. Instead Paul showed us that it is Christs and Christs alone rightousness that is able to stand up against the holy and rightouesness judgement of God. And it is God alone who can transfer, or impute as Paul puts it, Christs righteousness on to us.
Paul has already share how God has designed to do it. It is Gods grace that allows us to be clothed in Christs rightouesness. He chooses to pour out his grace in a specific manner and through specific methods. Faith is the vehicle which He Chooses to deliver his saving Grace.
Paul already shared in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ.” We also see in Ephesians 2:8,  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, So not only is grace a free gift, delivered through fatih, but the faith itself is a free gift from God. And God has decided to deliver it through the hearing of the Word, through the Gospel as Paul says here in the Doxology, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through preaching, teaching, reading and hearing of the very words of God, the Holy Bible. Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh.
This next part is interesting, looking at the last part of verse 25, and verse 26, Paul mentions the mystery that was a secret but has been disclosed through the prophetic writings, which is another word for the Scriptures. The Scriptures, the Bible, the Word of God, they have revealed to all of us and all nations the truth of the mystery revealed, the Gospel, the life and works of Jesus Christ. IT was a mystery to those in the Old Testament and to many in New Testament times, thats why Paul, Peter, the other apostles are writing these letters and the Gospels. Sadly, its still a mystery to many today even though we have it revealed to us in the Bible. One of the sayings that you will here Ron Sallee say often in our Bibliology class is that, speaking of the Old and the New Testaments or Covenants, “The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New Revealed.”
Again, even with it being revealed, its still a mystery to many. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:4, In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
All throughout the Old Testament, starting in Jesus 1, Jesus has been present. Starting in Genesis 3, God promised the coming of a savior, a messiah. Those who were looking forward to his coming didnt exactly know who they were looking for. The coming Messiah was expected to be a mighty warrior, one who came down and militarily, politically overthroew all who were against the nation of Israel and especially those who were oppressing them. He would set himself up as a physical King on the throne and rule over the physical nation of Israel, Gods chosen and loved people.
Thats not how Jesus came, however. Look to Isaiah 53 to see some descriptions of the coming Messiah that would apply to Jesus that were not corporately expected. Jesus is God, truly God. Eternal and not created. Part of the perfect, eternal, holy trinity. One God, three persons. Before the creation of time, the trinity, co-equal, determined a plan that would rescue us, save us, redeem us, justify us from our sins and reconcile us back into perfect fellowhip with God.
And God foretold it all throughout the Old Testament, they were all looking forward to him. And he came down, still God, born a human baby, with no earthly father, so as not to inherit our sin nature. He grew up, lived a perfect, sinless, life. He taught truth and clarity where there had previously been confusion and unknownness. He called out sin where people thought they had none. He pointed out that we have no rightousness of our own and that the needed rightousness was more than we expected. He pointed us to a correct understandingof the Law given in the Old Testament, challengeing our assumotions and traditional understandings. He was sentenced and put to death on the cross, paying the wages for our sin. He died, was buried and then, on the third day, was raised from the day, in accordance with the scriptures. It is his sinless life and his work on the cross that forgives sin and defeats death. By the grace of God and through the faith that God has given us in that very work of Jesus, we are able to be called Children of God. When we become a part of the whosoever shall believe in Jesus, we gain forgiveness of sins, and we are adopted into his family and we get to spend eternity back in perfect relationship with God, worshipping him and glorifying him forever.
And all of that is free! God gives it graciously and generously. Faith in Christ allows us to recievethe gift of eternal life, again, the forgiveness of sins. But what do we do with our lives after we come to faith and we repent of our current and past sins?
Paul mentions here the obedience of faith. I mentioned last week what our purpose is here on this earth. What we are created to do in this mortal life. We are created to bring glory to God. All things are to be done to the glory of God and to the glory of God alone.
Again, Paul is using this Doxology, this praise and worship of God at the close of this letter and it brings the themes from throughout this letter into it. Notice we see this phrase, the “obedience of faith” back in the very beginning of the letter. Lets read again, Romans 1:1-6:
Paul, a servant[a] of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David[b] according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

Familiar, parallel themes include that this is done for ALL nations, something Paul has been quite clear on through out the letter. We also know that it is for Gods name and glory among the nations, that he gets ALL the glory. And we see the obedience of faith.
Many churches, many Christians today dont want to think this. They dont want to believe this. Todays American Gospel is cheap, free grace. Grace that gives us everything we ever wanted and requires nothing from us. Gods gift of grace is indeed free, but that is very different that saying it doesnt require anything of us.
Faith brings about obedience. Obedience is one of the main aspects of sanctification. Sanctification is the process, after justification, after we come to faith in Christ, whereby God, specifically through the works and ministry of the Holy Spirit, works on making us Holy.
We kill the sin inside of us, no longer gratifying the desires of the flesh. Instead we work on being conformed to the image of Gods Son, Jesus Christ as Paul writes in Romans 8:29. The process of sanctification is a necessary part of being adopted into the family of God. Our identity when we are born is that of fallen man, of sinners seperated by God. God, who has the right, seeing as he created us, changes our identity when we are born again, or born of the spirit. We are now called “Saints” by God. We are forgiven, we are redeemed, we are set apart and we are now waiting for our glorification, when our sanctification is complete and we leave this life to enter our perfect bodies in Gods perfect presence and perfectly worship and glorify him for perfect eternity.
But that we all want ot skip right to that part. We want the end result without going through the work that it takes. We want to be iron that is sharpened, without the hammer banging us against the anvil and without being purified through the refining fire.
Ultimately, our actions, our lives give testimony to who we see God as and how we see his character. Got Questions.org say:
Prior to salvation, our behavior bore witness to our standing in the world in separation from God, but now our behavior should bear witness to our standing before God in separation from the world. Little by little, every day, “those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14, ESV) are becoming more like Christ.
Paul writes in Galatians 5 the difference between the two. The works of the flesh contrasted with the fruit of the Spirit. We should be seeing both an incredible, drastic change inn our lives before and after Christ, but also a gradual growing and maturing of our faith and obedience in Christ. Paul writes in Galatians 5, verses 19-24:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do[e] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
The work that happens, the refining fire, the process of discipline that Father lovingly doles out on his children. It doesnt always make sense. It often hurts. We can easily question what the purpose is or why God is putting us through this. Of course we see that in many instances in the Bible, but Paul ends this Doxology, by calling God wise, to the only wise God, as a matter of fact. God knows all. He created all. He is in all times at the same time. And so, he is wise beyond all of our understanding. Our God is a God of wisdom.
Paul draws the entire letter of Romans into this praise and worhsip of God and lifts up to him all Glory and sums up so much here. Lets read it one more time, as a whole:

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Amen indeed! Now, we mentioned Jesus being the key, the lynchpin on which our faith hangs. His sinless life, his death on the cross. His resurrection. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:3 & 4:
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,

While Jesus was here, during his life, he knew what was coming. He knew what his mission here was. He warned his disciples, and promised his disciples that not only would his death take place, but he also promised that he would return. On the night before his death, we see recorded in Matthew 26:26-28,  Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the[c] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
We are called to come together as a church family and celebrate the LORDs Supper. And we are called to come together and remember. Dustin Benge is a Pastor in Kentucky and he walks through the different aspects of communion. He says:
The Lord’s Supper is an act of: 1. Obedience “In remembrance of Me” 2. Thanksgiving “When He had given thanks” 3. Representation “This is My body…My blood” 4. Examination “Examine yourself” 5. Proclamation “You proclaim the Lord’s death” 6. Anticipation “Until I come.”

Now, 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. So take the time we are passing the elements to reflect on our sins and Gods grace and forgiveness.
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 15:14-21 Pauls heart for the Gospel

Romans 15:14-21

Paul’s heart for the Gospel

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

We here at Bangor Community Church believe that the Bible is Gods written Words. The Bible is his revelation to us, how He speaks to us today. And it is our passion, our calling and our commitment to get he Bible into the hands of as many people as possible.

In that, our method of preaching and teaching is to go through books of the Bible. Systematically, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, line by line. This is important in order to see the context in which these words were written. It is also important because there are chunks of scripture that most pastors, most teachers, most churches would just skip over, for a variety of reasons.

In all honesty, much of the end of Romans is easy to just skim over if you’re not paying attention and not focused on this being the very words of God. But when we slow down, look line by love, verse by verse, when we focus on what God has said, we see that this is a treasure trove of richness, wisdom and revelation.

One of the things that we see throughout Pauls letter to the churches in Rome, and especially in our passage here this morning is that he pours out his heart to these people. We see his heart here and we see whats important to him and what he wants to do through and for Christ and that is the Gospel, Christ and him crucified.

So let’s go ahead and read this mornings passage, Romans 15:14-21. I’ll be reading out of the English Standard Version, please follow along in which ever translation you are holding in your hands. Romans chapter 15, verses 14-21.

Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes:

 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers,[a] that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. 15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. 18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; 20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, 21 but as it is written,

Those who have never been told of him will see,
and those who have never heard will understand.”

Paul’s heart is just absolutely poured out to the churches in Rome. His heart is for the LORD and it is for the teaching and the spreading of the Gospel. And we are going to see both of those here in this passage. Both Evangelism and discipleship. Both are so vital and one with out the other leaves half a church.

Paul starts in v 14 by encouraging the readers of this letter. RC Sproul, in his commentary on this verse writes:

Paul graciously assures the Romans that his lengthy exposition of the Gospel is not intended to raise doubts about their spiritual understanding. Their knowledge and ability to apply it practically in mutual admonition is not in question.

Its like this. How many people here have heard the Gospel, know the Gospel and know how to act, at least in most situations? If you spend anytime in the church regularly and especially if you are a Christian, every one of you should be raising your hand.

So, if all Christians, or regular church attenders already know these things, why does Paul say them? Why do pastors get up every week and preach the Gospel? Paul answers that question in verse 15. He says, on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder. We need to be reminded of what we already know. We forget easily.

All the scriptures, and especially in the New Testament, we see continually references to us forgetting and needing to be reminded.

A few examples of this, certainly not exhaustive, that go along woth what paul is saying here:

2 Peter 1:12, Therefore, I will always remind you of these…

1 Corinthians 15:1, I would remind you brothers and sisters

2 Timothy 1:16, Therefore I remind you…

Jude 1:5 I want to remind you about what you already know…

And one we will refer to at the end of the sermon, Luke 22:19, Jesus says about the LORDS Supper, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

We, as human beings, need to constantly be reminded. We are a forgetful people. From back in the times of ancient Israel, Moses took the Israelites out of Egypt into the wilderness and they immediately forgot the negatives about their slavery in Egypt. We see this as a pattern in the Old Testament. We are going through the book of Judges in the Wednesday morning prayer meeting.

And the book of Judges is an incredible example of the people of God forgetting his good works and his powers and his commands and they go on and do their own thing. They forget and God goes to great lengths to remind them.

We forget and we need to continuously be reminded. There is a great anecdote, that is commonly attributed to Martin Luther. A church member asked Luther “Why do you preach the Gospel to us week after week?” Luther replied, “Because week after week you forget it.” This is all of us.

Yes, we need to be reminded, often and clearly. But we also already know, back to verse 14 for a moment. Paul says that, you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. If you need to be reminded, then that means that you already knew. And it’s not a forget, as in you don’t have the knowledge anymore. It’s still in your head, you still have the knowledge. But instead, when we forget, we forget in the practical sense. We don’t live out our knowledge, we do not act full of goodness and we don’t instruct one another.

There is a challenge in there. Can you briefly share with someone else, can you articulate clearly your testimony or your salvation story? Specifically, can you share out not based on and focused on emotions, though your emotions can be in there, but focused on what the scriptures say. How did God change your life as we see written down in scriptures?

Maybe more pointedly, or what our testimonies should be focused on, can you clearly and scriptural present and explain the Gospel in a brief conversation with someone? You have the knowledge inside you. If you didn’t before, its been shared over and over again over the past year plus. You receive a book at Christmas that clearly and scriptually explains salvation and the Gospel. You own a Bible. It’s your responsibility to be able to walk through the scriptures with someone and show them the Gospel.

Now, you don’t have to be a bible scholar to do this, but you have the knowledge inside you and you have the leading of the Holy Spirit and many other tools at your disposal to guide you through the scriptures.

Just like anything else, if you don’t practice sharing or explaining the Gospel, you wont be any good at it. If you don’t constantly focus on remembering it, you will forget.

Paul says that he has written some things boldly. If you’ve read through the book of Romans, you know that’s a understatement. Or 1 & 2 Corinthians, Or 1 & 2 Timothy, or especially Galatians. Paul is not afraid to lay things out and say it like it is.

But, as we have seen over the last few chapters, he knows what to fight for. Sometimes it is right to fight for unity, to show love to each other in spite of our differences, to set aside our differences for the purpose of fighting for the things worth fighting for. That is the Gospel. That is Jesus Christ, who he is and what he has done. That is that Jesus is the ONLY way to salvation, for both Jews and Greeks, for everybody. These are the things worth fighting for, worth speaking boldly over and worth dividing over.

As Paul goes on, we see in verses 16-19 that the trinity is on clear display here. Listen to what Paul writes:

 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. 18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ;

We see in this, that though some argue that the word “Trinity” is not used in the Bible, that it ois clear throughout. IN these couple of verses, we see clearly, God the Father, God the Son, Jesus Christ & God the Holy Spirit of God. Not three gods. Not three personalities. But one God, Three Persons. Confusing and often a stumbling block to those who don’t know God, who have not had the truth of scripture reveal to them, but truth as reveal in scriptures nonetheless.

And in that, in all that Paul is saying, He says something here that we need to remember most of all. In verse 17 he writes,  In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God.

Our motivation, our reason for doing everything that we do, is by, for and through Christ. It is too easy to do the right thing but do it for the wrong reasons. And anything we do, whether right or wrong, if it is done outside of Christ.

We see the Bible talk about the world’s moral, good deeds. We see good, upstanding people, living moral lives. We saw our own country used to be a moral country. Lives based off of the outward behavior prescribed in the scriptures. Lives that Jesus called “Whitewashed tombs.” (Matthew 23:27) They look good and right on the outside, but are dead on the inside.

And we see throughout the Bible what God has to say about these so-called good deeds. Isaiah 64:6 says that our good deeds are like filthy rags to God. I’m not going to go into detail, but whatever you picture as dirty rags, the meaning behind this is worse. Earlier in Romans, Paul writes, quoting the Old Testament that none of us do good, not even one. (Romans 3…)

Jesus tells us in Matthew 7 that we could do many signs and wonders, performing many good works in his name and he could still say to us, “Go away, I never knew you…”

Outside of Christ and outside the purpose of Christ, anything we do that might be seen as good means nothing in the cosmic, eternal view of the only one who is good, God the Father.

But when we don’t do good deeds for ourselves, when we don’t do them to be seen be the world as a success, when we don’t do them to earn karma points or to look good to God, then we do them for another reason. We do them for and in Christ. Watch the order of this. We don’t do good deeds in order to be saved. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ by God and then we do the good deeds that God told us to.

And when we do those good things that God told us to and for the reasons he told us to, our success is for the kingdom of heaven and for God rather than worldly success. We do these things and we don’t do them for ourselves and to look good but we do them so that God gets all the glory. Jesus says on Matthew 5:16, , let your light shine before others, so that[b] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Paul also writes in 2 Corinthians 10, verse 17, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” And then again, he writes in Galatians 6:14,  But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which[b] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world

Our testimonies, our motivations, our goals and our actions are not our emotions, they are not our experiences, but they are completely and solely Christ and him crucified. Paul is here to boldly proclaim and remind us of Christ and him crucified. Within the church, to believers, to the early churches in Rome and to Bangor Community Church today, that is what he is saying. We know that’s what he is saying to us because that’s what he was saying to them. John MacArthur reminds us “Whatever the Bible meant in its original context is what it means now.”

So, preaching and reminding the church of Christ and him crucified, Paul also has another mission, finishing up in verses 20 & 21:

thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, 21 but as it is written,

Those who have never been told of him will see,
and those who have never heard will understand.

Paul is not just a Shepard, feeding the sheep, as Jesus commands us in John 21. But he is also going out and making 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 Jesus has commanded of us. (Matthew 28)

Paul is modeling the idea of being both a pastor and a missionary. The things that Paul is modeling and teaching here are a part of why I am a Missionary Pastor with Village Missions.

Not one or the other, but both. Paul shows the pastoral role in v 14 & 15 here and the missionary role in v 20 & 21. We see through Paul in his letters especially the things that he does that fall under the pastoral role. The sheep need to be fed (John 21), we need to boldly be reminded of the Gospel (Romans 15), Christ and him crucified (2 Cor, 2), the saints need to be equipped (Ephesians 4), he contends for the faith (Jude 2) and disciples need to be made (Matthew 28).

And then we also see in Paul’s writings what being a missionary looks like. He travels and shares the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus Christ. He wrote earlier in Romans that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10). We see that the scriptures are able to make one wise to salvation (2 Timothy 3)

Not all of us are called to be Pastors of course, first of all, we see especially in 1 Timothy 2 & 3 and in other areas, that God has set some very specific criteria for who he may call as a pastor. But even if you are qualified, not every one is called to that role. Ephesians 4 is one of the best scriptures to see the large variety of roles that you may be called to.

But we are all called to be missionaries, the sharing of Christ to those who have never heard. And to share it accurately, succinctly and lovingly, we need to constantly be reminded of that very Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We meet together every sunday, partly to remind each other, and to hear the bold proclamation of the Gospel. We meet during the weeks to learn more about and to be reminded of what the Bible, which is Gods actual words to us. To be reminded of what he says to us.

And 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 12:3-8 Gods Gifts of Grace

Romans 12:3-8

Gifts of God’s Grace

Good Morning. Please grab your Bibles and open them to Romans chapter 12. If you do not have a Bible, please help yourself to a Bible from the back table there as our gift to you. One of our convictions here at Bangor Community Church is to get the Bible , Gods Word in to as many hands as possible.

Romans chapter 12 marks a change in tone, a change in direction of what Paul is writing in this letter. He has focused, mostly, in the first 11 chapters on why we need saving, (All have sinned, Romans 3:23), who does the saving, (Christ alone, Romans 6:23) and how we are saved, (by grace through faith, through the hearing of the Word, Romans 10:17). Now Paul shifts a bit and focuses on what we do, how we act and how we live AFTER we are saved.

I was talking to a friend this week. He was struggling with something and he asked me for some scripture. I recommended a portion of this beginning section in Romans chapter 12. He read it and made me so proud when we wrote this back to me. He said: “But then, because context, I read all of Romans 12, and that is like a step action plan for being a good Christian.” Ahhh, context. And he is right of course.

For the most part, the rest of Paul’s letter to the Romans is the practical, everyday living, how to guide for living a Christian life. But its important to remember the context as well, both immediate and big picture. As we get ready to look at Romans 12:3-8, I’m going to read it with verses 1& 2 as well, because its important to remember the immediacy of what Paul is writing. No scripture exists in a vacuum.

So without further ado, lets read the text this morning. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version, Romans 12, and reading verses 1-8. Paul writes:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]

3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members,[e] and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,[f] with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Paul lays out a lot here, but real quick, I want to emphasis that Paul doesn’t just put his letters into two parts; Theology and Application. Instead, He puts them in that order on purpose. Because one flows from another. Paul is saying that the Christian life is dependent on the great Christian doctrines.” (Morris) A changed heart, changed from stone to flesh by the Holy Spirit is the only way that we can do the things that Paul is telling us about.

John the Baptist told his followers in John 3:27, A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.” Paul was quite clear earlier in Romans that this included our changed heart. This includes the renewal by the transforming of our mind mentioned in v 2. Paul is showing us in verse 3 that his entire ministry, but in and of itself, but also because of the change that had to occur in him, his entire ministry is due to Gods grace. And from that, all that he is going to be talking about going forward is due fully and solely to Gods grace.

Paul’s words to us in this letter and his others that we have collected in the Bible are given to us by the grace of God; inspired, inerrant and sufficient. And it its interesting to me that we start this section, by guidance from the Holy Spirit, where Paul, by guidance from the Holy Spirit, talks about the practical how to, he talks about things that we either should already be doing or need to start doing and we come upon this at the beginning of a new year when many people are trying to reset, where many people make resolutions, where we are focused on what we can do better in 2019 than we did in 2018.

And Paul starts that off with looking to God, his grace and his mercy. From that, he challenges us and the first one is pretty difficult. V 3, he writes to each of us, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

The focus here is that none of us are better than any of the others. Thats hard to admit sometimes. None of us are better than those sitting around us. None of us are better than those who are not here. Especially in the context of what Paul has established. We didnt and can’t do anything to merit, to warrant or to get Gods grace and mercy.

Paul established early on in chapter 1 (18-32) of Romans, what our natural sinful condition is without Christ. In chapter 2, (v 11) he says, God shows no partiality. Chapter 3 (v23) he makes it clear that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And as we have seen emphasized over the last couple of chapters, we also see that no matter who you are, no matter what you have done, no matter your sins, your previous lifestyle, your ethnicity, your race, your social and economic standing, that all who repent and believe the Gospel are welcomed and adopted into Gods Family.

We also see Paul writing to the Ephesians (2:1-10) that one of the points of grace and salvation being a free gift is so that no one may boast, or using the language here in Romans, the point is so that we may not think too highly of ourselves.

And so, don’t think too highly of your self. Look with sober judgment. Think with clear thought. You are no better than I. You are no better than the person sitting next to you. You are no better than the person sitting at a bar right now, or a strip club, or even one working in them. Neither am I. I’m not better than anyone. I don’t deserve anything that God has gifted me with and none of the rest of us do either. We have all sinned, all committed cosmic treason against the universal, all-knowing, all-powerful, Holy God. None of us deserve anything other than eternity of Gods wrath being poured out on us.

But that’s not the only side to this. But think with sober judgment. What else does the Bible say about you. You are an image bearer of God. (Gen 1:27) There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1) You are a forgiven sinner (1 John 1:9) You are an adopted son (or daughter) of God (Galatians 2:26). You are being conformed in to the image of his Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). You are a saint (1 Corinthians 1:2) and God loved you enough that he gave his one and only Son (John 3:16).

So we think with sober judgment. We are no better than each other. Do not think of yourself as higher than you ought. And to back this up and to give a practical example, Paul start talking about some of the gifts in the church. And remember, he is talking about these gifts and the body of Christ in the context of humility and thinking soberly.

There is one body of Christ. That is the Church. There are many members of that body. Each and every one of us individually who are in Christ. There is one body and many body parts, each with various and different gifts and purposes. We are different. We are not uniform. We are not Stepford. We are not all the same. Even in this room, how many different spiritual and religious backgrounds? How many different ethnicities within our blood? How many different careers and economic background and situations?

We are not all the same. God likes diversity. He is a creative God. But though we are all different in just about every way possible. We are all one under the cross of Jesus Christ. We are all different members of this one body. We are all vital to the cause of a mission of the body. None of us earned our spot, but we were all chosen, and all for different reasons and purposes.

And Paul says  so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. We have a responsibility to each other. We have a responsibility to use the gifts we have. We have a responsibility to serve the church and each other. We have a responsibility not to do what someone else is gifted in and we are not. We have a responsibility to show grace to each other just as God showed grace to us.

John Wesley said that “Gifts are many, grace is one.” And the gifts that we are given and have a responsibility to use are given for the purpose of helping the body of Christ, the Church, helping it function the way God desires. And they are given and are to be used, not to promote ourselves, because again, as Paul writes in Philippians 2:3, Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Using whatever gifts we were given by God is one of the ways that we can show love to each other and how we can show love to God. AS I was preparing this sermon, it dawned on me that the 5 Love Languages might be a good analogy here. DO you know what those are?

It was from a gentleman named Gary Chapman and he wrote a book, appropriately named, The 5 Love Languages. And what it is, essentially is that each of us naturally show love to those around us in certain ways. We tend to do it in one of the 5 ways. These 5 Love Languages are Words of Affirmation, Service, Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. Each of us is stronger at showing love to others in one of those ways. But that’s not always the same way that you receive love the best. If you, for example, receive love, if you feel loved if someone spends quality time with you, but someone else, shows love the best by giving words of affirmation, then you both need to work on that.

These things are extremely helpful if you are able to recognize which ways you show love and receive love. And it’s also helpful to get to know those around you enough to know how they show and receive love.

God has given us gifts to use to show love to each other and to God Himself. We show love to God by obeying his commands and following what he tells us. (1 John 5:3) And so, we show our love to God, in one way, by using our gifts that he gave and using them for the purposes that he gave them to us for.

And we use our gifts to love each other around us as well. And in so doing, we need to be sober-minded and clear thinking about not only our own gifts, but on what each others gifts both are and are not.

We have to be careful not to assign to much to certain people. We have to be careful not to assume that some have a certain gifting because they have another gifting. Our human brains like to catalog and categorize what we see as similar things and put them together. Lets use preaching and teaching as an example. In our human minds, those are tied together. If you have one, you will have the other. And often, if you have the gift of preaching, you will also have the gift of teaching. But not always, and not necessarily so. We have to be careful not to assume because one has one gift, that they automatically have another that is closely related. If we make those assumptions and we are wrong, we fail to love that person and we put them, not in a position to do good for God and the Body of Christ, but they will actually do harm. Be sober-minded about your own gifts and about the gifts of those around us as well.

But the other thing that we see Paul saying here, in some of his language, is that, while we are to be sober-minded about our gifts, we should grab hold of them and embrace them, dive in whole heartedly.

Generosity, Zeal, Cheerfulness. According to your faith. Now, I don’t think that term is in reference to the amount of faith that you have, as it can be read. It’s possible it could refer to the ever-growing, deepening of our faith, our continual growth whereby we grow from infants feeding on milk and we mature to feeding on meat. Thats possible, but I think it refers to just our faith. Use your gift according to you faith. If you have faith, then use the gift God gave you in his grace and mercy. If you believe, use your gifts. Thats how I read that phrase.

And we see too, that using our gifts is, in fact, one of the ways that we present ourselves as living sacrifices (12:2) We live out his will for us. This is his perfect will.

And that takes discerning, both figuring out our gifts and how to use them and figuring our Gods Will. But his will is that we figure it out and we use them.

I want you to notice that this list of gifts here are not an exhaustive list. There are numerous lists of spiritual gifts in the New Testament and none of them are exhaustive. They, just like all the rest of scripture need to be looked at in context.

Paul is laying out how we work and live together in humility, in love and in unity. And he tells us to do it all the way. The principle he is laying out here is the same as he mentions in 2 Corinthians, that God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

How you discern your gifts, how you discern how to use them, what attitude and personality you use them with, these are marks of spiritual growth and of sanctification. The point of this passage here, what Paul is writing, is not to make you ask what your spiritual gift is, though that is something that you need to be considering.

The point of this passage, instead is to pursue love, humility and unity. The point of this passage is serve others and to serve the church. The point of this passage is to serve God, with all your soul strength and mind (Luke 10:27).

It is with those motivations, those desires, it is by doing that that God will reveal your gifts and that you will find what it is that God has given you. You may or may not consciously realize what they are. Sooner or later, growing in Christ and growing in sanctification, whether you realize it or not, you will be using your gifts.

You may not know what your gifts are and still might be already using them. There was one lady I knew, she was constantly worried because she didn’t know what her gifting was. She was worried that she was not doing what God had for her. She was worried she wasnt obeying God. But she was. She was serving the church and she was decorating, she was crafting, she was making gifts, organizing the potlucks. She contributed in generosity and she served according to the faith God graced her with. You may not now what your gifts are, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t already serving in the way that God has called you.

Hers the bottom line in what Paul is writing here. Give your all to God. Serve him and his church in what ever way you can. It is your spiritual worship. Do it for the right reasons. Do it for God, giving yourself as a living sacrifice. Do it with humility and compassion, with a transformed mind. Try different methods of service, different areas. Not all will pan out, but it will help discern the will of God for you. And lastly, remember, always and foremost;

It’s all given by God, by the grace of God, by the mercies of God. It’s all from him. Not one of us, not one of our gifts are above another. And we do all that we do in pursuance of love and unity.

The thing that unites us together is the cross of Jesus Christ. Today we come together to celebrate that unity. To pursue 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.

Christmas 2018

Christmas 2018

Good Morning and Merry Christmas!

Charles Spurgeon once said, You only have to read the Gospels, and look with willing eyes, and you shall behold in Christ all that can possibly be seen of God. One of the great things about Christmas and the Christmas season is that the main focus in the scriptures tends to be in the Four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These are, for lack of a better word, biographies of Jesus Christ.

If anyone has ever encouraged you to read the Bible, more regularly, every day, or at all, it is likely that they told you to start in one of the four Gospels. And that is a great place to start. We see the birth, the life, the teachings, the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the Gospels.

But there tends to be two things that we either miss, or we skip over all together. The first, is where we are going to start this morning and that’s in Jesus Genealogy. Go ahead and open up your Bibles to Matthew Chapter 1. When you open up to the New Testament, to the Gospels, Matthew is the first book. And the very first thing Matthew does is list Jesus’ ancestors, his genealogy. Along with his genealogy comes the 2nd part. We often skip right over the Old Testament or look at it as purely a history book.

But Jesus, who he is, where he comes from, is so much more important than skipping over those things. We are going to see why we are celebrating his birth and what it means to our future.

So let’s go ahead and read out text for this morning. Matthew Chapter 1. verses 1-17. I’ll be reading out of the English Standard Version. Matthew stats by writing:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,[a] 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph,[b] 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos,[c] and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,[d] and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

At first glance, this is simply a list of names. Something we should read, but really just gloss over when we read. But when we truly look at this, this is a history of Israel and their complete looking towards the coming savior. Now, the first thing question that comes up is, “Why do they need to look forward towards a savior?” Good Question, I’m glad you asked.

For that we need to go all the way back to the beginning. Before Israel. Before any nations, any people groups. Before sin. We have Adam and Eve. They were sinless. They walked with perfect communion with God. They had it made. God showed his power, his omnipotence, by creating the universe, creating the heavens and the earth, creating the animals and finally, creating man, Adam and Eve. God showed his love, by creating them in his own image, his own likeness, and giving them open access to himself.

Then, they trip up. They ruin perfection. They break the one rule that God laid out and they brought sin into the world. And now, each one if us born in this world is born into sin. Can I make an assumption? I have not talked to one person that disagrees with this statement. There is something wrong, something broken in this world. This world, as we look out the windows, as we look at the News, as we look at our families and our selves, this is not what the world is supposed to be like.

It’s because of sin. We will come back to that in a moment. But first, lets look at this list. It starts with Abraham. Abraham was the first Hebrew. In Genesis 12, God promised to bless him, and through him, to bless the world. This promise would play out in a couple of ways, but ultimately, what God was promising, was the Messiah, the Savior.

And he choose Abraham, as the beginning of the line. God made many promises, many prophecies about how this Messiah, this Savior would be. And one of the first is that he would be a descendant of Abraham. We are going through Genesis here Sunday mornings and we see this promised getting passed down through the generations we see listed here in Matthews genealogy. From Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, to Judah and to Perez. This all takes place in Genesis and we get to see all sorts of fantastic stories where God supernaturally, miraculously keeps this promised line in place.

And its interesting that this line is not kept in place with the perfect, not kept in place with royalty, with the upper echelon. Often, the dregs or the controversial would be picked by God to be a part of this lineage, to be Abrahams descendants. Again, Genesis, looking at Abram, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and Perez, shows that these men have lived lives that are full of sin, full of doubt, full of faithlessness and they do not deserve, through their own doings the right to be a part of this line.

We see Rahab, a gentile woman, gentile being another word for non-Jewish, non-Hebrew, and she was very likely a prostitute. When the Israelites are coming to attack her city, she placed her faith in the God of Israel, she helped the Israeli army and was brought into the fold as a member of Gods family.

We see David, who committed adultery with a here unnamed Bethsheba, married to Uriah. When David got her pregnant, he essentially ordered Uriah to the front of the battle lines to ensure his death. From that union came Solomon, and the line of Christ was continued in a most unexpected way.

David, by the way, whose grandmother was Ruth. Ruth was a Moabite, which means that she was descended from a line that was cursed, and yet, she was redeemed by Boaz, and married into the line of Christ, by faith, through faith. These women and the children of these were brought into the family of God, they became, in Gods eyes, descendants of Abraham.

Why was the genealogical record kept so immaculately? Especially when the Jews got displaced, conquered and sent into exile? Why did it matter where Jesus came from? Israel was looking forward to this messiah, this savior.

Going back for a moment to Adam and Eve, once they sinned, things had to change. Sin entered and perfection left. Death entered. Adam and Eve died because sin came into the world. We will die because of sin. We all know some one, most of us, had someone very close to us, me, just a few months ago, and they died because sin is in this world.

God made a promise in Genesis 3, that the serpent, the devil, the one who tempted Adam and Eve, would get what was coming to him. Sin and death are here, thanks to Adam and Eve tempted by the serpent, but God would send a savior, someone to take away sin and death. He was promising hope, and he would fulfill that promise.

Timothy Keller has said, ““The world can’t save itself. That’s the message of Christmas.” We can’t save our selves. The worlds cant save our selves. With sin in the world, we are without hope. With out a Messiah, without a savior, we are without hope. Without being the children, the descendants of Abraham, the line God chose to bless, we are without hope.

And then, one night 2000 years ago. To an unmarried teenage mother, far away from home, through the line of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, of David, of Solomon, of all these men and women that Matthew lists in these first words of the New Testament. The adoptive, and therefore legal son of Joseph, hope was born into this world. A hope that we could believe in, a hope that we could trust in. A hope that had been promised for 4000 years was fulfilled that very night.

Kids and songs

Why are we all here this morning? Why do we celebrate Christmas? The answer is a simple one, even if not easy. We are here this morning, we celebrate Christmas to celebrate that Jesus was born. That answer in itself leads to more question that I want to address this morning. First is simply, Who was, or is Jesus? And Second, why is his birth worth celebrating?

The kids just gave some answer to that first question, Who is Jesus? As they showed and as they told the teacher at the end of their program, Jesus is the true King of Kings. It says so in Revelation, chapter 19:16, the Disciple John writes about Jesus: On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

He is the true King, the ultimate King. We see in the Old Testament a bunch of what we call types. Adam, Samson, David, Solomon, even John the Baptist. All of the, were a shadow, were a partial vision of what was to come and what was being looked forward to. They were setting the stage, whetting the appetite, if you will for the one that the world was waiting for, the coming savior, the long-awaited Messiah and the eternal Christ.

All these men were looked at as leaders of Israel. And all these men were greatly flawed. The people we see in the Old Testament, the men we looked at here this morning and all the rest we see, they were all flawed. They were broken, sinful, fallen people. And they were sometimes faithful, God-loving people. They were just like us. Fallen, broken, sinful, sometimes faithful people.

And God used them, gave them a very specific purpose. John the Baptist knew what his purpose was. He told everyone around him. He was there to point towards Jesus.. All the men that we hold up in the Old Testament as Heroes of the faith could say the same thing. They were there to point ahead to Jesus.

Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus who was born in Bethlehem all those 200 years ago, he is the fulfillment of all that they were looking forward to. In each instance, where they failed, he was perfect and sinless.

We go back to Adam, at the very Beginning, the very first, and we will see why this was all necessary. Genesis 3, to be specific. Adam and Eve were created in Eden, in perfect paradise, but the serpent was craftier than any other animal and tempted Eve and caused Adam to sin. This caused Dam and eve to be separated from God, their perfect relationship, their perfect walk with God was now shattered, and now sin and death are a part of our world. See, God is Holy and cannot be with sin. And, as Romans 5:12 tells us, just as sin came into the world through one man, (That’s Adam) and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

And so, to restore our relationship with God, to have our sins covered and washed away, to move out of death and into eternal life, we need something that we cannot do on our own. And there in Genesis 3, v 15 specifically. God tells the serpent, and Adam And Eve and all of us that there will be one who comes that will defeat the serpent, and will defeat death, will conquer sin, will restore everything back to its original intent and purpose.

All those types, all those Old Testament guys that we look at, that the Bible tells us about, that God sent, they failed. They were imperfect and they sinned and so they could not bridge that gap between humanity and God. But they were a continual reminder of Gods love and Gods grace.

He promised a savior there in Genesis 3. And after so many failures, after so many years, after so many obstacles and adversity and persecution and exile. After years of darkness and wondering, “When LORD?”

Then on that night, 200 years ago, a baby was born. The bible says that it was “at the right time,” that Christ was born. Exactly when God the Father, God the Son, Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit planned it to happen. Not to early, not too late, but at just the right time, The Father sent him, the Messiah, the Christ.

Jesus of Nazareth, born of Mary, eternal God, 1/3 of the trinity, he lowered himself, came down from Heaven, and was born a human baby boy, still fully God, now fully human. He was the one all the Old Testament guys was pointing towards. And where they failed, where they sinned, he succeeded, he lived a perfect, righteous life.

And it was because he was sinless that he was able to bridge that gap between God and humanity. And He did. He paid the price for sin, nailed to the cross, dead. He took the punishment for sin. But not his sin, as he had none. So he paid for ours.

And he says repent, turn from your sins, turn to Jesus as both our LORD and savior, believe in him, trust in him and accept the free gift of grace and forgiveness, and we will be forgiven. Christ will clothe us with his righteousness, his perfect righteousness, and allow our relationship with God to be restored to what it is supposed to be.

Look, there are only two choices, only two options. And they boil down to what you think of Jesus. Reject who he is, who the Bible says he is. Reject the love of God, the gift of grace, the forgiveness of sins. Reject the knowledge that we need saving and there is only one that can give us that salvation. Reject the fact of Jesus is God and man and was born a baby. Reject that and you receive eternity without God, eternity outside of Heaven. That relationship with God that we were created to dwell in was shattered and lost and we can’t do anything to change that.

We cannot do anything to earn salvation. We cannot do good enough to restore that relationship. We cannot be sinless, cannot be perfect and so cannot have our own perfect righteousness to enter into perfect heaven with God the Father for all eternity. And when we trust in ourselves, when we reject what Jesus did and who Jesus was, we instead receive eternal rejection, and eternal torment.

But Gods love for us doesn’t want that for us. He wants for us to live forever with him, praising him, worshiping him, being in the relationship that we were originally created to be in. Look, if you have not come to know the historical, biblical saving King of Kings, LORD Jesus, today is a great day. The day we celebrate his birth, the day we celebrate the literal personification of his love and the day we celebrate that we came to save us.

Salvation belongs to the LORD and today is the day of Salvation. I ask you to turn your life over to Jesus today and not to wait.

For those of us that have come to know Jesus Christ, we celebrate this today. And we have a job to do.

We point to him just as the Old Testament did, and we celebrate today, the fulfillment of those promises that God made all those years ago, and we look forward to the day when the rest of the promises are fulfilled. See, Jesus also says that he will come again and that is when the earth will be restored and sin will be removed and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is LORD. Right now, Jesus has given us the opportunity for the forgiveness of sins. But we still live in a sinful world. We will still slip in sin. We look to the promise of Heaven, and we look around this dark world, and we ask, “When, LORD?” Just like they did then, we do know, that is our job.

Our job as imperfect, fallen, broken, saved, redeemed people is the same purpose that all the men in the Old Testament that we looked at earlier had. Our job is to point to Jesus. We are to point to him and his saving work. We are to point to him and his loving sacrifice. We are to point to him and our need for him. We are to point to him and his commands. We are to point to him and his works and his righteousness. Matthews Gospel tells us in chapter 6, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

Lets finish with one of the most well know, most hopeful and one of my favorite Old Testament passages looking forward to Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the King of Kings and the LORD of Lords, Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder,
and his name shall be called[e]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

On the day that we remember the birth of Jesus Christ our savior, its all the more important to also remember 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. But especially today, in celebration of his birth, 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 9:24-33 God is the LORD of All

Romans 9:24-33

God is LORD of all

Good Morning. Please open up in your Bibles with me to Romans chapter 9. We jump back in this week to our series through Romans and we finish up the 9th chapter here as Paul is addressing objections to Gods sovereignty. As usual, if you do not have a Bible, if you dont own one, please help your self to one from the back table there as our gift to you.

Now, The first sections in Chapter 9 we saw Paul address three specific questions dealing with Gods sovereignty and we came away with three very clear points. First, Gods Word and his promises have not and cannot and will not fail. What he says will happen, is guaranteed to happen. Second, Gods decisions, on who he calls to himself and who he chooses to save are just that, his decisions. And He, as God, as perfect and just and merciful, his decisions are right and just, or more accurately, full of grace and mercy to those he saves and just to those he doesn’t. third, He is the creator God, we are his creations. He has every right to mold us as the potter molds clay, and to form us into what he wants and what is best. And all of this, not only the third point, but all of Chapter 9 is showing that all that God does is for His Glory.

So, as we finish up chapter 9, we see Gods glory on display and we see Paul is re-emphasizing two of his main points that he has been preaching all letter long. Gods Word is the foundation and the bedrock of everything. And Salvation belongs to the LORD and is available to people of all nationalities, background, race, sex, all of it. No one group of people has a hold on Christ and his redeeming work, to the exclusion of others.

So, with all that said, we are going to be looking at Romans chapter 9, verses 24-33 this morning. Since verse 24 starts in the middle of a sentence, to help with the context, we will start reading with verse 23, which is also in the middle of a Paul sentence, but adds context. We will read through the end of the chapter, and just notice, Paul quotes numerous Old Testament passages in these 9 verses and alludes to quite a number more.

So, without further ado, lets read Roman 9:23-33 and Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, Paul writes:

 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel[c] be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted,

If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
we would have been like Sodom
and become like Gomorrah.”

30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness[d] did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,

Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Amen? So, Paul quotes a lot of scripture in this passage here. And that makes us wonder, why would he focus so much scripture on this passage? What point is he making that needs that scriptural emphasis to combat the questions and objections? I think we can pull out three points from this passage, two of which Paul is saying and one of which he is showing by example.

So lets start with that last one, the point that Paul is showing by example. Scripture is the foundation of all that we believe. If the Bible says it, its true. We believe the Bible. It is the inerrant, infallible, all-sufficient word of God. I think one of the main things that Jim was saying last week, what his underlying premise for everything he was saying was the Gods Word is true. In everything, and everything that it says is trustworthy and has only been verified throughout history, never disproven.

The Bible was written over 1600 years. It was written as 66 separate books or letters by over 40 authors, in 3 languages on 3 continents. But in all that, 1 main story, the restoration of our sinful selves to God and his glory through the perfect righteousness of his Son, Jesus Christ. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, In Jesus Christ alone, to the Glory of God alone, as revealed by the scriptures alone. The motto of the Reformation, the pillars that the Reformation was built on, that Biblical, true Christianity is built on.

And so, we need to look at what the Bible says, in its totality. Not just one verse here or there. Paul knows this. And so, to help his point, as an Apostle, as a messenger of Christ, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writing scripture, he brings in the Old Testament scriptures to show that he wasnt just making this up. To show that he wasnt going against what God had previously said. Instead, Paul is showing that these things he is emphasizing here in Romans, and chapter 9 especially, have been established and planned from the beginning. It’s not a new plan that God came up with. This is not plan B, this is a continuation of the one and only plan that God has had. And scripture itself testifies to that.

And the first point that Paul makes in this passage is that God will call his people from all nations, all Peoples and every tribe of the World. And that was the plan from the beginning. Not from the Jews only, but from the Gentiles also. Gentiles, simply being any one who is not a Jew. God sent his Word and his prophets and his Son, our Messiah through the Jewish people. The physical descendants of Abraham hold a special place in Gods heart and were given a special calling.

But Salvation belongs to the LORD and is promised to the Sons of Abraham, but as we looked, not the physical sons, not the biological, genealogical, physical sons of Abraham, but to all who have the faith of Abraham, the spiritual sons of Abraham. Gods plan from the beginning was for all people groups to be represented in Perfect eternity.

Revelation 7:9 & 10 shows what it will look like when we are worshipping the LORD for eternity. John recorded:

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

All tribes. All Peoples. All Languages. God will call who he decides to call. Or maybe more accurately who he has decided to call before the creation of the world. And its an incomplete reading of the Old Testament to think that Gods salvation was limited to one people group during that time.

Thats what Paul is pointing out here. Gods invitation, his call to salvation of all peoples, Jews and Gentiles alike is not a new revelation that the Apostles or Paul came up with. Paul quotes Hosea and the sentiment is echoed in the book of Ruth as well, in verse 26 here:

Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

Shortly after I became a Christian, after I started going to church, I heard this and I have been saying it ever since. Christianity is very exclusive, because it has one door, one method of salvation, one way, and that is through Jesus Christ. There is no other way to know the Father or to access him except through his Son. But, Christianity is the most inclusive religion out there as well because the invitation is given to all, whosoever may believe. The invitation is not limited to any group or any people.

We know that his Word does not return void, meaning that exactly what God set out and planned from before the beginning is exactly what is going to happen and has happened. And what he has planned to pur his grace out on all people’s groups, on people from every tribe, every nation and every language.

Now some people hear what I’m saying and they think it means dismissing the Jewish people. They think the argument is that the Jewish people times has come and went. Paul points out that isn’t true either.

Paul quotes twice Isaiah here and points out that not all Israel will be saved, but that there will be a remnant, there will be some of the nation of Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham, who are called by God and will turn to Jesus Christ as Saviour and Messiah and they will be saved. They are a part of Gods plan and have been from the before the creation of the world, just like you and me. Call upon the name of the LORD and you will be saved.

Now, Paul makes that point and then goes on to point out to things keeping many of the Jewish people from knowing Christ as their Messiah. First, Israel recognized, because God was clear in the Old Testament that righteousness was required to Know God. That the only way to be reconciled to Him is through righteousness.

The problem was where Israel thought that the required righteousness came from. They pursued righteousness by the following of the Law that was given down by God. And yet they couldn’t achieve that obedience to the law, couldnt achieve or acquire that needed righteousness.

And Paul points out where the needed righteousness comes from. It comes through faith. Faith in Christ. And in fact is Christs righteousness that is able to be put on us, so that the Father sees the needed righteousness, from his Son when he looks at us. This righteousness cannot be achieved or acquired or earned. Paul says the gentiles did not pursue it. It is by grace through faith.

And that faith in Christ is a stumbling stone for many in this world. And more specific, that faith in Christ alone for our righteousness. Many don’t want to trust in Christ alone. It is not in our human nature to trust in Christ alone. It’s barely in our nature to trust in Christ at all, let alone to trust in him alone. And what happens when we trust in anything other than Christ alone, we stumble over the corner-stone. We trust in works. We trust in ourselves.

We are wrong. Paul says it here. There are those who think they will be saved in the end. That they will have the required righteousness as if it were based on works. There are many who think they will enter the Kingdom of Heaven who will be denied and rejected.

Jesus says in Matthew 7, verses 13 & 14: the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

It is harder to trust in Christ alone than to try to trust in ourselves and to earn our righteousness, narrow and hard is the way that leads to life. But many are on the wide and easy path and they think they are on the narrow and hard. There is a day coming when we will either be accepted, trusting in Him alone, or rejected, trusting in our works even if we believe in him.

Jesus talks about this later in Matthew chapter 7, verses 21-23, a famous passage. Jesus tells the crowds:

 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

The issue here is not whether the people believed that Jesus was LORD. They had the intellectual knowledge and probably believed in their heart. The issue is that they were trusting in their works. They were trusting in the fact that they prophesied, that they cast out demons, that they did mighty works and they expected that those works were good enough to get them into heaven. Jesus calls those works that they trusted in, lawlessness.

Trust in Christ alone. Thats the way through the narrow gate. Not Christ plus works. Not Christ plus heritage. Not Christ plus political views. Not Christ plus race. Not Christ plus anything. Theres a saying, Jesus plus anything equals nothing.

Paul is clear in this passage. All whom God calls, will respond and will trust in Christ alone. His Word will not return void. And God will call his people from everyone who was not his people. Every nation, every language, every people. No matter who or where you come from, there is no salvation outside of faith in Christ alone. The scripture says this from the beginning of the Bible and continues to say it throughout the New Testament. God didn’t have plan A and Plan B. He doesn’t have one plan for now, one plan for then and one plan for later. It’s all the same plan. Scriptures speak to it and are our foundation for everything spiritual. Trust in Christ alone, not works, not plus anything. Not even Jesus plus communion. This is a time to reflect on your faith. Is it Christ alone, or Christ plus anything. Do you know who Jesus is, or do you know Jesus?

We are going to celebrate communion this morning. A time of remembrance. Who Jesus is and what he has done. Very God and Very man. Jesus spoke to his disciples saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” What does it mean to “follow” Jesus? For the modern Christian, we obviously can’t literally walk behind Jesus as the apostles did, but we can still follow his commands.

One of the last commands he gave was to do this in remembrance of Him. To remember. We do this because he first loved us. And we remember Jesus has thousands, even millions of disciples all over the world. Followers of Christ, black & white. Hispanic and Asian. Native American and Middle Eastern. Male And Female. Jew and Greek. All spiritual descendants of Abraham and all Children of God. And we gather as a local gathering of his family to do this together.

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.

And thats the caveat, right there. Communion is for those who have chosen to Believe and follow Jesus Christ as our sole and total means of salvation. Gods grace poured out on us, because his wrath was poured out on His Son.

We are commanded to remember because otherwise, we forget. When we forget, we put other things before God and that was one of his very first commandments.   have no other gods before him.

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 9:1-13 Gods Word has not failed

Romans 9:1-13

God chooses the Children of Abraham

Good Morning, please go ahead and turn with me in your bibles to Romans chapter 9. Please know that if you do not own a Bible, there is always one for you on the table in the back as our gift to you.

Romans chapter 9. This is a chapter that many people on different sides of various theological fences both use against each other to try to prove their points. In that regard, this is a worrisome chapter to preach through. I may, as we go through this chapter, the next couple of chapters even, I may upset some of you. I may teach or preach what I see as the plain meaning of the text and it may go against what you see and believe as the plain meaning to the text. Here’s the thing, that’s ok.

I’m not going to not preach and teach what the Bible says in fear of upsetting some of you. And I hope you aren’t going to just take what I say from up here as Gospel without pouring over the scriptures yourself. There are things in the Bible that we can disagree on.

Wherever you end up after going through Romans 9, the one thing I ask is that you read in the context of building right upon the promises and assurances and the complete sovereignty of God that Paul built up in Romans chapter 8. Remember the context and recognize your own presuppositions. We talked about this on Wednesday morning. What you go to the Bible looking for, you will get out of it. If you go into the Bible looking to prove the theological point that you already assume, you will find evidence for that point. If you go to the Bible asking God to reveal the truth to you, to speak his words to you, which is what the bible is, If you go in, with no human assumptions, looking genuinely, earnestly and completely to seek Gods Will and Gods truth, then that’s what you will get out of the Bible.

Speaking of the Word of God, before we go any further, let’s go ahead and read the passage for this week. I am going to read Romans chapter 9, verses 1-13. This chapter is so interconnected that we will have overlap from week to week, so next week wont necessarily start with verse 14. We may not make it all the way through verse 13 this week, but because of the interconnectedness, we will read through these 13 verses today.

So Romans Chapter 9, verses 1-13, Paul writes:

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. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.

Paul starts off, finishing up what we looked at last week, knowing that Gods promises are true, that he is faithful, that he had it all planned out since before the beginning of time and that there is but one way to God the Father and that is God the Son, Jesus Christ. We lays all that out, and then coming off of the highest of highs, he expresses the great sorrow and unceasing anguish that is in him.

Why does he have this pain, suffering and sorrow? This great sorrow and unceasing anguish? Because his flesh and blood, his Jewish brothers and sisters who had so much advantages, as Paul points out in verses 4 & 5, they have negated those advantages, those privileges.

Paul’s statement in verses 2&3, summed up, say that he loves his brothers so much, that we would switch places with them in a heart beat, if it meant that they would be saved. He says “I wish that I myself were accursed,” implying that they are accursed, the word in the Greek is Anathema. Accursed, cut off from Christ. Paul wishes that he could be cut off from Christ, if it would mean that his kinsman, his fellow Israelites would be brought back into the fold of God the Father.

Two things that jump out to me about Paul in these first few verses. First, he knows that he cannot switch places with his fellow kinsman. Paul’s sacrifice, if he were to lay down his life, thinking that it might save anyone, would have no meaning. At least, it would not accomplish anyones salvation. Oh how Paul wished it would and wished it could, but he knew what Christ had said, and what he had written just chapters previously in this letter. Christs atoning death on the cross and his resurrection, allowing for the forgiveness of sin is the only single thing that can save any one. Period. Outside of Christ, there is no hope, no heaven, no salvation from sin.

And in this, since a vast majority of Israelites rejected this Jesus guy as the promised Messiah, that means that they had rejected salvation, they were accursed, cut off from Christ, and therefore, were doomed to punishment in Hell instead of eternal glory with Christ.

That broke Pauls heart. And it should break ours. It’s easy to have our heart-break for our close friends, or family that don’t know Christ, knowing the eternal future that awaits. Its harder to look at our enemies, whatever that actually means in our life, and to weep for them as dead in their sins and eternally lost. Its harder to look at people who have physically, mentally, or emotionally done us wrong, have hurt us in whatever ways and to pray for their salvation. To love them enough to be willing to eternally doom ourselves to hell so that they would have a chance for eternity with Christ. Its harder to look at people we fought against in wars, people we voted against, people whose beliefs and behaviors may disgust us, it’s harder to have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in our hearts for them.

And yet, that s exactly what Christ calls us to do. To love and pray for and minister to those who we don’t want to, who “dont deserve to be forgiven,” just as we didn’t deserve to be forgiven. To reach out to the very people that we try to pull away from. Our hearts should break for every single soul to dies outside of Christ.

The second thing that jumps out to me is how steadfastly Pauls clings to Gods sovereignty and faithfulness. He knows what God promised, as we wrote in this letter. Those who are in Christ, are forgiven and will reign as co-heirs with Christ for eternity future. Those who die outside of Christ are not, and will spend eternity suffering the wages of their sin and feeling the full force of Gods wrath.

God is faithful. God keeps his word. God keeps his promise, The Promise. But if God keeps his promise, how can some of Israel not be saved? Israel, the Israelites, the Jewish people were the physical descendants of Abraham. God made his promise to Abraham, back in Genesis 17, verse 7: And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.

So, the argument by the Jewish people was that BECAUSE they were Jewish, BECAUSE they had the advantages mentioned in verses 4 & 5, because they had & kept the law, they didn’t need that grace through faith thing that the gentiles needed. They saw the coming Messiah as an earthly, political, geographical, national savior as opposed to an eternal, spiritual, individual savior.

And so, if God has not saved the whole nation, every physical descendant of Abraham, then he hasn’t fulfilled his promise, right? Paul says, No, the Word of God has not failed. God’s promises are still fulfilled, totally and completely. What he promised will happen, happens. But what was commonly understood as how it would be fulfilled is, in fact, not the way that it would be fulfilled. Again, what they wanted to see from the scriptures is what they saw from the scriptures, even if it was inaccurate.

This part in Romans right here is just one of the spots where Paul shows that the promise given to Abraham about his descendants, about Israel, is not given to his physical descendants, but to his spiritual descendants. Here in romans 9, the second half of verse 6, through verse, Paul, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes, For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

Paul also spends much of Galatians chapter 3 & 4, within the context of comparing righteousness by faith or works of law, showing us who the promises of God were made to. Again, looking at Galatians 3, starting with verses 7-9:” Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify[c] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

The Word of God has not failed. As Paul explains this, again, we remember the context. God is sovereign over all. Only what he allows to happen, happens and he continually shows that, despite our human perspective at times, his Word does not fail. Many of us know Proverbs 3:5, Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.

Our understanding is fallible. And especially when we try to focus in on certain verses our passages, without paying attention to whats going around in the scriptures around it.

John Piper speaking on Romans 9, he says this:

Romans 9 is an explanation for why the word of God has not failed even though God’s chosen people, Israel, as a whole, are not turning to Christ and being saved. The sovereignty of God’s grace is brought in as the final ground of God’s faithfulness in spite of Israel’s failure, and therefore as the deepest foundation for the precious promises of Romans 8. For if God is not faithful to his word, we can’t count on Romans 8 either.

Here is what I see as one of the points here. Paul spent Romans 8, as I said at the beginning, showing what Gods promises and how we can have faith and hope and assurance in God and his promises. But some came up with a concern. They came and wondered, how can we trust in those promises with these concerns, with seeing many Israelites not being saved? It was a valid question.

And so Paul is showing here what the response would be to that concern and why, even with that, we can still have hope and faith and assurance in God and his promises. Those whom have faith in Christ, in the person and work of Christ, in his death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. We are the children of the promise. We are Abrahams descendants. We are adopted as the children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.

Paul uses two examples from Genesis to show that God’s Word, no matter how crazy it may sound to us, No matter what we think we see that seems to negate Gods word, no matter how far-fetched it all is. The Word of God has not and will not fail. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

When he tells a 90-year-old woman whose life has proven her to barren, that in 1 year, she would have given birth to a son, that sounds crazy. Why would we believe that? Of Course, that s exactly what happened, and Isaac was born. Then, when Rebecca was pregnant by Isaac, God knew it was twins, knew which would be born first, which would be born second, told Rebecca that the older would serve the younger and both in their physical, individual lives, but in relation to their lives and descendants and the line of Christ, “For Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

All of this, before either one had a chance to do good or bad, to show that is not based off works, but on Gods grace and sovereignty. He says something and it happens. Because and for his glory and his purposes. When he says something, we can trust it to but fulfilled fully and completely and perfectly, even if not how we foresee it.

Remember, none of us could foresee his grace and mercy poured out on us. Not with who each and every one of us is outside of Christ. Not with our natural sin nature. Again, what Paul has been repeating in this letter. Romans 3, All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The sins that identified us and caused us to suppress the truth of God, that is intrinsically known to all. Romans 1. Romans 6, The wages of sin is death. But. but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 5 God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 10, which we will get to coming up, verse 9-13:

if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Not deserved, not foreseen, not predictable. But promised. According to his will and his purposes. Christ poured his blood out for us. He willingly took the place that we deserved. He died on the cross, for us, for the forgiveness of sins. To show us his love, his glory and his goodness, his Holiness.

Normally, on the first Sunday, this month, instead today, we remember and celebrate this. Christ’s death for us, that act on the cross, that act of pure love, grace and goodness. That perfect act of mercy.

Jesus knew ahead of time. God planned from before the begining of the world, that this would happen. It was the way it had to be. It was the only way it could be. And 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.