Luke 17:20-37 Jesus is the Son of Man: The Kingdom of God

Luke 17:20-37

Jesus is the Son of Man

The Kingdom of God

All right, lets go ahead and grab our Bibles and turn to Luke chapter 17. As always, if you do not have a Bible, or if you need a Bible, please come see me after the service so we can get one into your hands.

Jesus, as he has been teaching over the course of the last number of chapters, has been talking a lot about the future, about salvation, about making sure that our soul is right. He has been talking a lot about our eternal destination.

Now, this got people thinking, which was a part of Jesus intent. We can all here Jim saying, AMEN! And of course, everyone had their own preconceived notions regarding these things. They had their thoughts about how the things that Jesus was talking about would manifest, how it would all play out. They all had their own view on what it would look like.

The kingdom of God, or Kingdom of Heaven, used interchangeably throughout the scriptures, is one of the most mentioned subjects that Jesus talks about.  Many commentators and theologians will start with a basic definition of what the Kingdom of God is. Simply put, they say Gods Kingdom is Gods People, in God’s place, under God’s rule.

Let’s pick up from there reading this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 17, verses 20-37. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to read from your preferred translation. The key is to read for yourself what the Word of God says instead of depending on someone else to read it for you.

Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes chapter 17, 20-37:

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”[h]

22 And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.[i] 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”[j] 37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse[k] is, there the vultures[l] will gather.”

 

 

May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.

 

 

When we look out at the world and we see tragic events happen, personally, locally, nationally, globally, we cry out. And so often, as Christians, our cry out when we see these things is “LORD, come quickly!”

Because we know that he is going to come back. We know that he is going to make all things right and all things new. We know what John saw and wrote down in Revelation 21:3 & 4:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

 

We know that ultimately, the bad things will go away, and God will make this world perfect and sinless, without pain and death and tragedy. But until that time, we are called to live holy and fruitful lives here in Earth, as strangers and aliens, as Ambassadors, as those looking forward to what will be coming, without ignoring what we have and are called to right here and now.

And we all have our ideas on what the end will look like and even what it will look like as it gets closer. Many of us have very specific ideas of what will take place and whit it will look like. And the Pharisees did too.

They in particular had a very specific vision of what the Kingdom of God would look like, and more specifically what the promised Messiah would accomplish.

They knew all the prophecies and the promises of God about what the Messiah would do and who he would be. And they did what we all do as well. They looked at those prophecies and scriptures through the lens of their culture, their society and their times.

Because of the Roman occupation of Israel and before that, Greek military might, the Babylonians, the Persians, The Meads, the Assyrians and so forth, they were looking for the Messiah to be a mighty military leader who would lead the Jews out of oppression and occupation and overthrow the ones who were ruling over them and Make Israel Great Again.

The Kingdom in their mind would be an earthly Kingdom, with an earthly messiah sitting on an earthly throne, a literal return to David sitting on the throne of Israel, though with some disagreement on whether it would literally be David or not.

And so, Jesus was talking and teaching about this eternal Kingdom. Right from the very beginning of his ministry. The first words of his ministry that we have recorded in Mark 1:15, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;[e] repent and believe in the gospel.”

          And this kingdom that Jesus was talking about didn’t sound like what they were envisioning. IT didn’t sound like what they were expecting. For once, it seems they weren’t trying to trick Jesus. Like us, they were confused, curious and oh so impatient.

Again, this is like we tend to do today as well. We look at the prophecies of the Bible, we look at the scriptures. We see the words of Jesus and we mostly subconsciously decide that the words must have been said with our specific locality or country in our specific time in mind. In our case, Jesus was speaking directly about The United States in the 20th and 21st Century. And so, we put Russia into prophecies that have nothing to do with them. WE read America into the Bible when there is no mention of it anywhere. We decide that, after 2000 years of people thinking the same thing of their own time, now is the time that Jesus is going to come back.

And I want to be clear. This is something, when we disagree that we can discuss and even challenge each other on. But this is in no way a subject to divide over. These are not viewpoints to get angry about. Most of us, despite us having different views of the end times, can all point to scripture to back up what we think and what we expect.

 

Now, Jesus is going to show, coming up in a moment that there are some things to disagree and stand firm on. There are things to separate over. But our interpretation of when the end will come and what it will look like is not one of them.

So, the Pharisees are curious, confused and impatient and so they ask Jesus, “Ok, so this kingdom of God you are talking about, when is it going to arrive? We don’t see it…”

They are looking for miraculous and spectacular signs. They are looking for the things that will point the way of the kingdoms coming so that they can be sure that they don’t miss it. They want to observe it. They want to be a part of it.

 

Jesus says, nope.

Jesus says you are not able to observe the Kingdom coming and he shows a couple of reasons. For one, they won’t see it coming because its already here. Jesus coming the first time brought the kingdom of God with him and it was now there on earth. Second, he says, that he is standing right in front of them, and they don’t recognize him. He is the manifestation of the Kingdom. That doesn’t mean that the kingdom in not a real, literal, physical place as well. But Jesus presence is what shows us the kingdom. The pharisees especially were looking, desperately seeking this kingdom, and it was right in front of them the entire time.

With Jesus and his arrival, the Kingdom has arrived on Earth. It has started its infiltration. At the birth of Jesus, at the incarnation of God, God became man, the Word became Flesh, and the manifestation of the Kingdom began.

Jesus says that the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. It is in your midst. It is within you. It is among you. All those depending on your translation. And it is here among us in the person of Jesus Christ. Many will say that this text is saying that the Kingdom is here in our hearts, that Jesus lives in our hearts so that the Kingdom comes from within us. But at best, that’s just a partial answer. Jesus is not just alive in our hearts. If that’s all then as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, we have no hope and we are to be pitied.  But Jesus is physically alive as well. And so, the Kingdom is real, and it is here. And it is among us, within us, in the midst of us in two ways. Jesus right here with us, Gad made man. Second, the Kingdom is shown and is made evident by the change in peoples lives who become citizens of the Kingdom.

Paul writes in Romans 14:17, For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Its not an accident that Paul is referring to the fruit of the Spirit that he writes in Galatians 5. When it comes to the Kingdom of God, you are actively living in it, or you are not.

The church is supposed to be a representation of the Kingdom. We as Christians are ambassadors for the Kingdom. And we have a different kingdom than most. The Kingdom of God is both already and not yet.

It is already in how we just looked at it. Its already started its infiltration. It is manifest in the person of Jesus Christ. IT is here and is shown by how we live and the change in our lives. Jesus already taught, back in Luke 13: 18-21 that the Kingdom is like yeast spread through dough, eventually causing the whole loaf to rise. And so, the Kingdom is here, and spreads throughout the whole predestined, elect people of God, through the whole of world history until one day, the whole, full kingdom of Heaven rises, or comes down as it were.

 

And after Jesus answered the Pharisees, he turned to the disciples. He tells them that there will be a day that they long for the day that Jesus has already come back and that He is with them again. He tells them, your desire to see me and your inability to see me will leave you susceptible to people who will claim that Jesus has already returned.

One study note I read, says that it is good and natural that Christians long for the coming of Christ and for the peace and justice that the Second Coming will bring.

The problem, Jesus says here, is that there are many who will try to take advantage of that desire. Here he is! There He is! People claiming to now, claiming to have seen, claiming to be in some cases, the returning Jesus Christ.

One commentator rightly notes that rumors and speculation will only lead us away from the truth. Jesus affirms this as he tells us, when we see these people, Mark and Avoid them! Do not follow them! They don’t know what they are talking about, and they are being destructively deceptive, whether they realize it or not. They are false teachers and false prophets, and we are to remove ourselves from their influence.

Jesus shows in verse 24 that there will be no secret or subtle return. He says, when I come back, EVERYONE will know. His return will be as bright and unmistakable and as sudden as lightning. All will see. Jesus, when he returns, will come back inaugurating, consummating and fully and finally initiating his Kingdom. It will be dramatic and visible to all, and you won’t have to wonder or worry that you have missed it.

 

 

However, …

Before that happens… after verse 24, we see verse 25.

Before we worry about Jesus coming back, he is going to have to leave. First, he must suffer and be rejected. As one commentary notes: “The consummation of the kingdom requires the obligation that Jesus must first die according to Gods plan to redeem a people for himself.”

          In order to manifest his kingdom, he must first have a people for his Kingdom. The unfortunate part is that people will be rejecting him right up until the point of his return. No matter what the warning signs, no matter what the sins of the day. People will reject salvation through Christ until they have no more opportunity. Just like the days of Noah and Lot.

Now, it would be easy to read this and start talking all about how sinful and depraved the society and culture was in the says of Noah or in Sodom and Gomorrah during Lots time. And that would not be factually incorrect, but it would instead have nothing to do with what Jesus is saying here in this text. Jesus does not mention the righteousness of Noah or Lot, nor does he mention the sinfulness of the people or the culture.

What he points out is that in the Days of Noah and in the Days of Lot, while there was great sin occurring, people were going about their normal everyday business. They weren’t worrying about the coming judgment. They had many warnings, many signs, but despite that, the day that judgment came caught everyone by surprise, including Lot and Noah. Believers will be caught by surprise as well at the coming of the LORD.

Just as the Days of Noah and the days of Lot, we are heavily warned, just as they were. Then out of nowhere, the rains came, and the flood came, and it destroyed them all except those who accepted the LORDS salvation on the Ark. Then, out of nowhere, the rain of sulfur and fire and brimstone came and destroyed all of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah except the few who listened to the angels and left and didn’t look back. Then out of nowhere, the Son of Man will return, sudden and unexpected as a thief in the night, but sudden and visible as a streak of lightening.  And all who are not saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ will be brought to judgment and eternal torment.

Just as it was in the days of Noah. Just as it was in the days of Lot. So, it will be when Jesus comes back. There is, was and will be plenty of warning, but it will still come completely out of nowhere. Today, people know that it is coming, and they ither ignore it and suppress it or they know it’s come and don’t care enough to do anything but live and go about their normal, everyday life.

When Jesus comes, judgment will come. Many will be judged and found guilty. But the righteous, (only through Christ, His righteousness) will be redeemed and restored. All will be burned away and reborn.

We will have a New Heaven, New Earth, New Bodies. Their will be one glorious people. All who trust in Christ and only those who trust in Christ. The church. True Israel. The adopted children of God. Co heirs with Christ. One Glorious People of God. One Glorious Kingdom of God. New Jerusalem. And One Glorious King, God Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth.  Forever and ever.

 

 

And on that day, that glorious day. That singular, public, every eye will see day that the LORD comes back, when he separates the sheep from the goats. When we stand before him in judgment. When we enter, either eternal judgment and wrath, or eternal glory and worship. On that day…

On that day, some will enter his kingdom, and some will not. The Day of the Lord will not create division. Division in where we are going to go already exists. But the day of the LORD will expose that division. It will bring it to light. Many who expect to be with the LORD will not be. Many whom we expect not to be with the LORD will be.

Just as suffering does not create character but reveals character. Just as children do not create patience with in us, but reveals patience or lack thereof, The Day of the LORD will reveal who the true people of God are.

Even if they think they will be together in eternity, husband and wife wont necessarily both be with the LORD.  Brother and Sister. Parent and Child. Best Friends. None will be both brought to be with the LORD because of their relationship and expectations.

Jesus tells his disciples that they need to remember Lots wife. JC Ryle has a great book on holiness that I’m reading, and he has an entire chapter on Lots wife and why Jesus tells his followers to remember her. What seems to be his biggest point is that her proximity to Lot and his God, her likely proximity to Abraham and his household faithfully and unashamedly worshipping God, her going along for the ride right next to Lot, none of it meant anything because she never had her heart changed by the Holy Spirit. She never committed herself to the LORD. She never let go of her sins and her old beliefs and way of life. She never trusted in Christ for her salvation. And so, her being married to Lot, was not enough to save her. She, undoubtedly, expected to be right there with him in the eternal kingdom, but she was trusting in the wrong things, not letting go and she turned back desiring her old things.

 

Of course, this makes the disciples nervous, and they ask, “Where, LORD?” Where will all this take place? Where should we be looking?

 

Jesus answers, “where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” A few translations have Eagles instead. The point is true regardless. Just as dead bodies invite birds of prey and scavengers, so also will the spiritually dead invite judgment.

 

There are a lot of things we can read into this text, and we can pull out. A lot of details about the second coming and the return of Jesus that we can use these texts to affirm, may correctly, probably not though.

Heres what we all need to remember, regardless of our similarities or differences in the details.

 

Jesus had to come the first time and did. Son of God. God himself. He lived a perfect life and fulfilled the law in the way that we couldn’t. He died for us. He resurrected, rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and he will come again.

This must happen in order to redeem his people.

He will return to judge the living and the dead. The redeemed and the condemned.

And he will come back once and for all. Though no one knows when except the father. He will come as a thief in the night, not in secret, but in suddenness and unexpectedness.

He will come back like a flash of lightning. Visible to all. Light chasing darkness. Sudden, unexpected, flashing across the sky.

And that return ill bring with him the full, complete, inaugurated, consummated, eternal, glorious, perfect Kingdom of God. Which brings with it peace, justice, glory, eternal life, worship. The eternal wedding banquet between our King and his bride, the church, made up of all believers of all times. People from all tribes and tongues, but one united, combined one people of God. His redeemed people. His bride.

 

We are to be absorbed with being ready for the return of Christ. The act of Jesus coming back WILL happen. But don’t get absorbed by the timing.

Life on this earth will end. TO dust we shall return. But the end is already written. One theologian reminds us, “We can enter the Kingdom now and live in it forever more by saying yes to the King.”

Focus on what Christ tells us to focus on. Remember what he tells us to remember. Don’t focus on what he doesn’t tell us to focus on.

Christ has died.

Christ has risen.

Christ will come again.

 

Let’s Pray.

Luke 4:1-13 Jesus is the Son of Man: The Temptation of Jesus

Luke 4:1-13

Jesus is the Son of Man

The Temptation of Jesus

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Luke chapter 4! OF course if you do not have a Bible, see me after the service and we will get you a Bible.

Last week we looked at the transition in Luke’s Gospel from the pair of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth. Luke showed that Joh was fulfilling his ministry and calling by preparing the way for Jesus to come as the Messiah. This culminated in what we saw last week, which was the baptism of Jesus by John and the appearance and approval of Jesus by God the Father and the descending of God the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.

Now, we didn’t spend much time on verse 23 last week, which tells us that Jesus was about 30 years of age when he began his ministry. Luke tells us that right after the baptism and we see, especially through the other Gospels, that there was little to no time between the baptism and the events we will look at this morning. They were, quite literally, back to back events.

But Luke is putting an emphasis on the shift from John & Jesus to Jesus only and so he buffers the baptism and the temptation in the wilderness with Jesus genealogy. And so, today, this story really marks, especially for Luke the beginning of Jesus ministry.

Now, we know that the Bible is filled with stories that we are all familiar with, to various levels and degrees. We actually get so used to and familiar with the story that we lose sight of some of the meanings and purposes of the story. Often we will hear the simplest or most shallow teaching on those stories, because they are so widely known. That doesn’t mean that those teachings or perceptions are necessarily wrong, but it does mean that often, the most well know stories in the Bible, the way we know them are often incomplete or partial.

I think todays text is one of those too well-known stories. When we come to them in our Bible reading, we don’t even think too much about them, we just kind of skim over them to get to the deeper and more interesting parts. However, we know that Gods word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. There is no limit to the depths of scripture that we can mine if we commit to reading it, studying it, being taught by God and being led by the Holy Spirit.

So, this morning we are going to read Luke chapter 4, verses 1 through 13. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to grab your Bible, in your preferred translation and follow along as we read Gods Word. Luke 4:1-13, Luke writes, inspired by the Holy Spirit:

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’

11 and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

 

May God Bless the reading of his Holy Word.

 

Now we see immediately that Jesus was both filled with the Holy Spirit and he was led by the Holy Spirit. He was on a spiritual high, so to speak. We all have experienced this. Some of us, it might have been right after our baptism, maybe when we were first converted. Some of have various times during our walk with Christ that we just feel extra close to him and extra set in our life with Christ. But we also sometimes have the opposite. We have those times in our life where we are just physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted. We are not feeling very holy, not feeling close to God, feeling like we are constantly tripping and messing up.

Satan is going to come and hit Jesus with temptation throughout these forty days in the wilderness through both Jesus spiritual and physical highs and his physical and spiritual lows.

Scripture says that Jesus was tempted throughout the 40 days he was in the wilderness. But going back for a moment, through those 40 days, and in fact, before he went into the wilderness, Jesus was being led by the Holy Spirit. He was specifically and purposely brought by God to the wilderness in order to be tempted and more accurately, to resist the temptations.

This time in the wilderness was planned by God from before the beginning of time. This event had to take place because it was a part of Gods plan. That’s important to remember, that God is in control, that he had this all set out from the beginning.

So, Jesus spends 40 days out in the wilderness. And that 40 days is an important number. This was a parallel to Israel wandering through the wilderness for 40 years after leaving Egypt. And this is a complete fulfillment and reversal of what was broken in the world.

Israel failed time and time again in the wilderness. They failed in their obedience. But Jesus come through and was fully obedient. Jesus was the fulfillment; he was the better Israel.

We see Jesus first, going into the wilderness and was fasting. He was there for a time of prayer and fasting. I like how Ligon Duncan describes and explains fasting, especially in this context. He says:

Fasting is designed to deprive you of the comfort of the very basic necessities
of life in water and in food, so that you will remember (1) that everything that
you have comes from God; (2) so that you will remember that you are utterly
dependent upon God; (3) so that you will remember that God is better than any of
the gifts that He gives — that He’s better than food and water, and He’s the
giver of food and water, and that you’re utterly dependent upon Him for it.

 

And so, at the end of 40 days Jesus was a bit hungry. The common scientific consensus is that an otherwise healthy man can live up to 60 or so days with no food. Jesus just went 40 days. He was physically weak. He was quite literally starving.

That’s when temptation hits. First thing we need to know, Jesus says of Satan, John 8:44:  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 

          There is no truth in him, but there is a lot of almost truth. And that’s the key. Temptation works, it tempts, it is so appealing because it offers us what we want, what we crave, but what we know is wrong. It offers us what we want, but offers it in a way that seems ok, that seems acceptable, even discreet, so that no one will know.

See, Satan tempted Jesus with something that he could do. “You’re hungry, you’re the Son of God, you can take care of this situation. Turn this stone into bread. I mean, you ARE the Son of God, aren’t you?”

And the reason that this was a temptation was, in fact, a temptation, was that Jesus really could have turned the stone into bread. Its not a temptation if he couldn’t do it. We see in Johns Gospel that he turns water into wine. He could do this.

This will never, ever be a temptation for us. WE will not be tempted to turn stone into bread. We can’t do that, not even theoretically. So, its not a temptation. But for us, our takeaway is not the literal temptation that Satan puts in front of Jesus, but the type and the purpose of those temptations.

Jesus was hungry. Our bodies need food to live. Food, in and of itself is good. It’s a gift from God. God didn’t need to make food taste good, but God loves us, so he made food how it does. It is something we need to live, but, within the correct context, it is something to enjoy as well.

And the temptation is always to make something that God has given us as a gift, and to make that something that we elevate it and to make it ultimate. Food, sex, comfort, acceptance, whatever else you can think of. These are things that we can be tempted to put above God and put as an ultimate thing, even above God. In Genesis we see Esau putting Food and comfort above everything else and trading his birthright for a bowl of stew.

So, we see Jesus tempted to do for himself what he could do but wasn’t supposed to do. His answer to Satan was to use scripture of course, but he rebuffs Satan and says that we are to depend on God to provide for our needs. We might desire food. We might desire comfort. We might desire pleasure.

And we don’t trust God give us what is best for us. We don’t trust God will give us what we need. Jesus tells us however, Matthew 6:25 & 26:

“Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

 

Now, its important, especially as we look at the second temptation, to remember that Satan has real power here in this world. Jesus calls him three times in Johns Gospel, “the ruler of this world.” (John 12:31, 14:30 & 16:11) So when he offers things, he is offering from somewhere.

And his next temptation is simply for Jesus to simply be here and now, what you are already going to be in the future. Satan offers him the kingdoms of this world if he simply bows down to him.

How tempting is that? You already know this is all going to be yours, how about getting it now, without all the pain and the waiting and the stress. Its already yours, you just haven’t taken possession of it! Take it now.

I heard a great line by Voddie Baucham this week. I’ve heard this said in many different ways many times before, but the way he said just struck me. He said: Doing a good thing the wrong way for the wrong reasons (and any reason other than to give God the total glory is a wrong reason) is sin.

That’s what Satan was offering here. A good thing, done the wrong way, for the wrong reasons. Jesus’ response, God alone is in control of our situation and he alone is in control of the timing. And of course, scripture is what Jesus uses to refute Satan and his temptations.

Something to remember, if he brings us through with pain, or if he makes us wait, its because he has something so much better than we can even imagine, We might know that we are going to live eternally in the kingdom of heaven, but the reality is going to be so much grander and so much sweeter than anything that we can imagine. We don’t always understand his will and his timing, but we trust that God does and that he is in control and that he is good, and he will do what’s best.

The third and last temptation, Satan learns just a bit. He uses scripture, wildly out of context of course, and he uses scripture to try to tempt Jesus. He says, IF you really are the Son of God, God won’t let anything happen to you, jump and let God catch you.

That temptation that is so manipulative, so enticing and so unbiblical for Christians today. God wont let anything bad happen to you. You are a child of God. He wants you healthy, wealthy and wise, living your best life now! Just let him know what it is that you want and what would make your life easier and better and pray faithfully enough and God will give it to you.

Jesus response this time is to use scripture again! Don’t put God to the test. Here’s the thing. You and I are not owed anything. Not by the people around us, not by the government and certainly we are not owed anything by God. And God will not give in to technicalities and loopholes, or what we think those are anyway. But they are not technicalities, they are out of context. I forget who said it, but “out of Context means your wrong.”

Satan is trying to use a technicality, he is trying to use scripture, knowing full well it doesn’t mean the way that he is using it. But that idea of putting God in a corner, making him into Santa Claus or a genie in a bottle. God you said this, so If I do this, you have to do that!

Israel thought that because of what God said to Abraham back in Genesis 12, and in other parts of Genesis, that God owed them salvation and blessing, they thought they were “in” because of their birth and genealogy.  Jesus spends much of his ministry telling the Jewish religious leaders that they could not be more wrong.

Galatians 3:29, And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

God always fulfills his word. Always. He always keeps his promises. Always. But rarely, if ever is it fulfilled and kept in the way that we expect it to.

We cannot make things happen on our timing. We cannot force history in our timing. The date and the time of all these things we see in scripture, but also, everything we are seeing today has been set and determined by God back way back when, before time was created. The date and time of Jesus return is already determined by God. There is nothing that we can do to change it. There is nothing we can do to speed it up. We trust God and his timing above all else. We trust God and his ways, and the trials and joys that he has us walk through above all else. We trust God to provide for all our earthly needs, above all else.

We end this passage, seeing that Satan was rebuff, and he leaves, at least for a time. He retreated, but in order to regroup and watch for a better time to try again. Jesus was able to resist the temptations thrown out at him. And that should be a great comfort for us.

 

We will be confronted with temptation. Its going to happen. We have Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit. And we have the sword of the spirit, the Word of God. Jesus has already won the war; we are just trying to win the individual battles.

And Satan is cunning. He looks for the opportune time.

1 Peter 5:8 & 9: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

 

The ultimate point and question are this. Do you trust God?

Bruce Larson writes: Our Basic sin against God is mistrust. The devil hints that God is withholding something from us and he suggests ways in which we can take care of ourselves and get what is our due.

And he is right. The devil hasn’t changed his tactics since Genesis 3. He adapts them for the times and for us individually, but the tactic is the same. Sowing mistrust of God. As he says to Adam and Eve, Did God really say?

Did he really say that you couldn’t touch the tree?

Did he really say that Jesus is God?

Did he really say that sin causes death?

Did he really say that sin is a big deal?

Did he really say that the Bible is really true?

Did he really say those things? Or is he holding out on you with this book of archaic, prudish, patriarchal, racist, homophobic, culturally out of date stories and letters?

 

The temptation is already there, bombarding us. But because of Jesus we have hope. Adam, the first man, was tempted with food, was tempted to be like God, was tempted to exceed his authority. HE failed. He gave in to his disobedience. He brought sin and death onto this world. He was in the perfect Garden and was exiled out into the wilderness.

Jesus, the last Adam, redeemed all of that. He won. He obeyed. He brought life and forgiveness. He went out into the wilderness and brought the exiles back in so that we may experience the perfect garden for eternity.

Satan tried to get Jesus to doubt his identity as the Son of God. He tries to get us to doubt our identity as children of God. He encourages us to doubt our forgiveness, our salvation and our eternal destiny. But scripture always assures us of our identity in Christ.

Ill finish us up with Hebrews 4:15 & 16:

 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. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

Let’s Pray.

 

2 Timothy 2:8-13 Life in the Local Church: The Same Glorious Gospel

2 Timothy 2:8-13

Life in the Local Church

The Same Glorious Gospel

 

                Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles and turn with me to 2 Timothy chapter 2. We are continuing our series through 1 & 2 Timothy that we are calling “Life in the Local Church.” I anticipate that this series will take us up through Easter and then we start a sermon series through another book of the Bible, presumably from the Old Testament. As we open to 2 Timothy, if you do not have a Bible, please help yourself to one from the back table as our gift to you.

As we start looking at this week’s passage, it will be extra important to look at some of the things that Paul has written earlier in this letter. I think specifically to the last thing he said in the passage we looked at last week. Timothy 2:7 he wrote to Timothy, think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

                This is not only talking about what Paul had just written, but the entirety of his letter, and the previous letters as well. Specifically, I want \us to remember what he wrote in chapter 2, verse 1, he told Timothy, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Paul is not saying new things. He is saying the same thing over and over. He is sometimes saying it different ways, or from different angles, or slightly different applications, but he is still saying the same thing.

That will be the first point we look at after we read this mornings passage. We will be looking at 2 Timothy 2, verses 8-13. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, though I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. So, 2 Timothy 2:8-13, Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, meaning his Words are the Word of God, writes to Timothy:

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

for he cannot deny himself.

 

 

May God bless the reading of his Holy and inspired Word.

 

 

So, Paul tells Timothy, he tells us, that we need to remember Christ Jesus. Think on these things, God will give you understanding in everything and in that context, Remember Christ Jesus. This not just some one-off comment by Paul. Again, this is purposefully immediately following what Paul said about God giving understanding. The most important piece of knowledge is one that only God can give us and that is that Jesus is LORD. We won’t come to that knowledge without God revealing it to us.

Once God has revealed that knowledge to us, we need to dwell on it continuously. Again, Paul is not telling us something that he isn’t doing himself. Before this passage we are reading this morning, Paul has mentioned by name, Jesus Christ 8 times. He will do so twice more in this passage. That’s 10 times through 1 & ½ chapters. Paul is making sure that we, the readers as well as He himself, the writer will continually remember.

There is a great quote that is frequently attributed to Martin Luther regarding us needing to be continually reminded. It is said 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. ”

                There is some debate as to the authenticity of this story and quote, but truth lies in it, nonetheless. We are a people who are a forgetful people. We are constantly forgetting and need to be reminded of several things. We need to continually be reminding ourselves of who we are, we are sinners, scriptures say that we are sinners form within our mother’s womb. But we think we are good people, or good enough anyway and that people, especially us are generally good at heart, down deep inside.

We need to remind ourselves of our need. We are sinners and therefore we are in need of a savior. We are in need of forgiveness. We are in need of grace. None of which we deserve, nor can we achieve or acquire for ourselves. We need to remind ourselves of that too. That we cannot do this on our own.

We need to remind our selves of our savior. Jesus Christ is our savior. He is, as he says in John 14:6 The Way, The Truth and The Life. We need to remind ourselves that it is not our works, but his works that turns into redeemed souls, saved from our sins, regenerated, justified, sanctified and soon to be glorified. Not our works, but his works, His death, burial and resurrection. The forgiveness that He bought with His blood. The fulfillment of so much prophecy. The fulfillment of all the prophecy. All of it done by Him and by God the Father on our behalf so that we can receive and be clothed in his righteousness and be called the sons of God, co heir with Christ.

And we need to remind ourselves of who he is. Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ. He is the Messiah. He is God the Son. Let me say that again. He is God. And Paul specifies that point. He says Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. This establishes his deity. If Jesus is not God, then we are done. We are lost. We are worshipping an idol. And he has no power to save.

Christs resurrection is absolutely vital to our faith. Our most important holiday of the year celebrates the resurrection. Easter is us remembering and celebrating this! This does not take away from Christmas. Yes, he needed to be born in order to die, in order to rise from the dead. That our other important holiday, celebrating his birth. But his resurrection is what proved he was God. Its what defeated death. Its what allowed us to have a hope for the future and it shows us what to look forward to with our own resurrection in the end.

This is so central to so much of what Paul teaches. 1 Corinthians 15, starting with verses 3-7, Paul writes:

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

 

Then look at verse 12-19 where Paul shows why this is so important:

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope[b] in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

 

Christ is God. Jesus is God. God became man to save sinners. He was born, he died, he was resurrected. In order to be born, he must also be man. That’s what Paul says when he refers to Jesus as the offspring of David. Yes, this fulfills prophecy. God said that the Messiah would come from the line of David. But that’s not what Paul is pointing in this text, in this context. He is pointing out Jesus humanity. God became man. We need to remind ourselves of this at times too. Many of the false religions, the cults, many go wrong because they either deny Christs deity, or they deny Christs humanity. He was both. Truly God, Truly man. And He, Jesus Christ is the point, the focus, the subject of the scriptures, of the true, biblical Gospel.

And Again, it is this Gospel that Paul is imprisoned for preaching. That Christ is God. That sin is sin. That we are sinners. That sin needs payment. That Christ paid it for us. That he calls us to holiness. Paul is imprisoned as if he were a criminal because he preached nothing but Christ and him crucified.

But the good news is that, despite Paul being locked up for preaching the Word of God, the Word of God is not, will no and cannot be locked up!

 

We know that Hebrews 4:12 tells us:  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

                And we know some of the things that happened because of Paul’s imprisonment. He writes in Philippians 1:12-14, of a previous imprisonment:

I want you to know, brothers,[e] that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard[f] and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the

word[g] without fear.

 

 

                The Word of God is powerful. The Word of God is free. It can stand on its own. Charles Spurgeon is attributed with saying: “The Word of God is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself.”

                As we look at what Paul write sin verse 10, it takes me back to what he wrote in Philippians 1. In verse 10 here he says that all that he is going through is for a purpose and that purpose is to further the Kingdom of God, to bring more people to faith and repentance in Jesus Christ and to God may be glorified.

He endures suffering and he does everything possible so that the elect, all those whom God has called, may come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus says in John 6:44, No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.

                All whom God calls will respond to him. And all those who are put into Jesus’ hand will obtain salvation. By the grace of God alone, through Faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. It is all to the Glory of God alone, not our glory. And salvation comes through the scriptures alone. Romans 10:17. Faith comes by hearing and hearing of the Word of God. The unchained, unbridled, living and active, sufficient Word of God.

This in no way means that we don’t have to do anything, that we just let God do his thing and we kick up our feet. No, also in Romans 10, faith comes by hearing, but how are they to hear if no one tells them? Its been said that Spurgeon had this to say about making sure we follow scriptures and evangelize:

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

 

                Our job is to let nothing be an excuse for someone to not come to know the LORD. We are to let nothing be a stumbling block. We are to present the information, to present the Word, to share the Gospel and let the Holy Spirit call forth those whom God has deemed.

Romans 8:30, And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

The eternal glory, as Paul puts it here is 2 Timothy is what we are all waiting for. Its what we have hope in. RC Sproul in his commentary on this verse says:

This glory is the final, complete salvation of the elect in the new order of God. The saints will have resurrection bodies and transformed human natures. They will experience the triumph of Christ over sin and death and know fullness of joy in a life secured for them by Christs death, resurrection and ascension.

Amen?

 

Paul then quotes what is likely and early Christian hymn, reciting a known truth in the early church. He recites:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

 

                If we die with, if we die to self as he calls us to do. If we kill the sin in our life, as a fruit of our faith and the work of the Holy Spirit. If we repent and believe the Gospel, this all lead to eternal life with Christ, that eternal glory we just mentioned, in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

And we are called to endure. Paul has made mention often in this letter that we are called to suffer on behalf of the Gospel. We are to endure this life, the suffering that come with it.

Romans 8 again, this time verse 18, Paul writes: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

                And in the glory that is to come, we will reign with him as co heirs. Right now, Jesus is sitting on the throne, he is the king over every single solitary thing. After he comes back, after he puts away death as the last enemy to be defeated, he will hand the creation back over to God the Father and sit at his right hand, reigning over the new creation. And we will be right there with him.

But that sonly if we respond to the Word of God and we come to a saving faith in Him. This hymn or whatever, warns against those who do not. Those who deny him, Christ will also deny.

Jesus says in Matthew 10, 32 & 33:

So, everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

 

Without Christ, we have no hope. Without Christ, we have no righteousness. Without Christ we are locked out of the Kingdom of God and we will suffer eternal wrath and judgment that is deserved from our sins. That is the holiness and justice of God.

Some who deny Christ will think they are Christians and they will be at church every week and they will say all the right things and do all the things they think they are supposed, memorize the Bible verses, say Amen, but they will not truly know Jesus in their hearts. They will instead, be trusting in their own works and in their attendance and their memorization and all that instead of Christ.

Some will call themselves Christians but will never set foot in church, will never open their bibles, will live just like the rest of the world lives. They will produce no fruit and have no repentance showing evidence of their salvation.

Some will reject Christianity and Christ outright, as we are seeing more and more of today. But all know, deep down inside, they know the truth, though as Romans 1 puts it, they suppress it in their unrighteousness.

But through it all Christ will remain faithful, even in our unfaithfulness. And in the end, every knee shall bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus is LORD.

Now, here is how powerful Christ is, not even our unfaithfulness is big enough, strong enough or powerful enough to undo Christs faithfulness. Our salvation, our standing with God has nothing to do with us. Not our works, not our obedience, not our faithfulness. Because the truth is that we will fail. We will be disobedient; we will be unfaithful to God.

But it is impossible, it would go against his very nature, it would be sin, the one thing that God cannot do. We hear and see all the time that God can do anything, but there is an exception to that. God cannot go against his own nature, He cannot sin. And for him to go against his word, for him to be unfaithful would be for him to sin.

And that just aint gon’ happen.

 

God has made a covenant. He made a covenant of works that we, starting with and symbolized, us represented by Adam, we failed. We did not then, through Adam and we cannot know because of our sin nature uphold the covenant of works. Obey my commands and have everlasting life.

But Jesus Christ came and fulfilled the covenant of works so that we may take part in the covenant of Grace. Who so ever believes in Christ, will not perish but will have everlasting life? That is an unbreakable covenant. That is not one that we can undo. Because it is secure in the works of Christ on the cross, in the tomb and in his resurrection. That is the new covenant.

God is faithful to his word. If you deny him, you will face everlasting wrath and justice in hell. If you believe in Christ and repent of your sins, you will be brought into the new covenant, into the family of God and will take part in that eternal glory with Christ.

And it is that new covenant that we remember on the first Sunday of each month. We remember Jesus Christ. We remember his works and we remember his live and his sacrifice. We remember Romans 5:8, While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. We remember and we follow the commands of Jesus that he gave his disciples during the Last Supper.

Matthew records this in Matthew 26, verses 26-29, where he writes: 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.

We do this in remembrance of Him. Paul speaks about communion in 1 Corinthians 11 and before we get into it, I have two things to share that Paul tells us, first, communion is for believers. It is in remembrance for what he has done for us. It is us obey his commands by our faith in him. Communion itself does not save. It does not forgive sins; it does not impart righteousness or cleanse your soul. If you are not a follower of Christ, we just ask that you pass the elements along and then, if you have any questions or want to take that step, you can talk to myself or one of the deacons after the service.

Second, this is a time of reflection. Your hearts and mind should be clear and right before God. We, as followers of Christ, have been forgiven, but 1 John says that we are to confess our sins. If you have sin that you haven’t dealt with before God, take this time to do so. IF you can’t, it is better to pass the elements and make your heart right with God.

There is no judgment in these things, Paul wants us to make sure that our minds are focused on the remembrance of Christ and his works and love for us.

So, what we are going to do is Mike and Jim will come up. One of them will pray for the bread, which symbolize Jesus body. The body that he gave up for us to pay the penalty for our sins. We will then pass those out and when they are all passed out, we will take the bread together as a church family, unite underneath the Gospel. Then, the other one will pray for the juice, which is a symbol for Christs blood. His blood purchased the forgiveness of our sins. We will pass those out and again, take them as a church family once they are all passed out.

 

Let us go ahead and prepare our hearts and come to the LORDS table.

With Christ, we receive his mercy and forgiveness. With Christ, though not righteous on our own, we receive Christs righteousness.

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