2 Timothy 4:1-5 Life in the Local Church: Paul’s Appeal to Timothy

2 Timothy 4:1-5

Life in the Local Church

Paul’s Appeal to Timothy

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles and turn with me to 2 Timothy chapter 4. As usual, if you do not own a Bible, please feel free to grab one from the back table as our gift to you.

Well, we are on to the last chapter on 2 Timothy, chapter 4. We have been working our way through 1 & 2 Timothy, Paul’s letters to Timothy as Paul was imprisoned in Rome and Timothy was pastoring the church in Ephesus. Paul knows this letter is coming to an end and he knows his life is coming to an end. He is writing Timothy what Timothy needs to hear and needs to know. And we titled this series, Life in the Local Church, because Paul is writing what we all today, as a part of the local church need to hear and need to know as well.

And one of the main things that Paul has been focused on is the importance and the primacy and the sufficiency and the authority of God’s Word. HE says, the False teachers are here, and they are going to come up through the church, so watch out. Here is what they look like, hers is what they sound like, here is what they act like. Essentially, here’s how to identify them and here is what their bad fruit will be.

But make sure that you are focused on Christ. Jesus Christ who is the Word of God become flesh; Jesus Christ who is God become man. Focus on the Word, which is the Holy Scripture, collected and printed right here in this book that we get to carry around with us, or put into out tablets, our computers, even our phones so that we are never without it. Focus on the Word, scripture which is God Breathed, which is inspired by God, which is inerrant, without error, which is sufficient and complete, useful for all things and everything.

2 Timothy kind of has two bookmark verses and points that Paul makes. The first is back in 2 Timothy 1:6 & 7, where he says,

I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

 

And he has spent the last three chapters pushing Timothy towards the charge that he is going to give him here at the beginning of chapter 4. He has been, in essence, telling him to live by this book, to live by the scriptures, by the Word of God. The last two verse of chapter 3 he reminds or establishes, depending on your background, that the scriptures are, in fact, the very Word of God and that it has all the authority that God himself has, because it is His revealed Words to us.

And that leads to what he says here at the beginning of Chapter 4. So, lets go ahead and read this mornings passage, 2 Timothy chapter 4, verses 1 through 5. I am reading out of the English Standard Version, my preferred translation. Please follow along in your preferred translation.

Paul here is writing the very Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, as he charges and exhorts Timothy, saying:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

 

May God Bless the reading of his holy, inspired and inerrant Word.

 

First, maybe this is just me and my brain, but since I’m the one up here, I get to ask you the question. Does it feel like something is missing from verse 1 right here? For me, it feels like one of those transitions where Paul would put a “therefore.”

This is what false teachers look and act like. They disobey the scriptures. The scriptures are Gods very Word and revelation and instructions to us. Therefore, I charge you… The good news is that scripture is useful for teaching, Paul just said that. Scripture has taught us that we look for those transitions and the connections between them. Every paragraph is not a standalone paragraph. Context matters and context bridges; from sentence to sentence, from paragraph to paragraph, from chapter to chapter, even from book to book sometimes.

Because of everything that Paul has written since chapter 1 verse 6, therefore, Timothy, I charge you. This is your calling, your responsibility. Its not really your choice. This is what you are to do. And this charge is giving by Paul to Timothy, but the call that Paul is referring to is not giving by him. It is administered by Paul and done so in the presence of He who has given the call, God the Father and Christ Jesus.

And Notice again, Paul contrasts truth against what the False teachers teach. They are teaching incorrectly about who Jesus is and what He has and will do. And so, Paul affirms some truths about Jesus. First, by the title Paul gives him, he affirms that Jesus is the Christ. He is the Messiah. He is the Savior whom God promised to send on our behalf back in Genesis 3. He is God become man to save sinners. He is the Christ.

Christ Jesus is the judge. He will judge right from wrong. He will judge the living and the dead. Sin will be judged and sin, not redeemed, will be punished with eternal damnation. You often hear people justify their sin by saying, “You can’t judge me, only God can judge me.” I want to plead with them, “Yes! And that should scare you!” Gods judgment is nothing to trifle with. Its nothing to dismiss. No matter how symbolic or how literal you think it is, reading the various judgments and bowls and trumpets in Revelation should testify to that.

We don’t all get to go to heaven. We don’t get to plead our case, our worthiness to Him when we stand before him. He will judge is solely on whether we are redeemed by His blood. Our salvation is through nothing but the grace of God alone, though faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

Christ Jesus will appear again. He is coming back We can disagree on when. We don’t and won’t know the day, but when he comes back, there will be no doubt, the whole Earth will know, and every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that he is LORD. We don’t have to agree on what the millennium is or what the tribulation is or when He will return in relation to either of those. But we do need to agree that he will physically return. That is a core, central, necessary tenet of Christianity.

Lastly, Christ Jesus is King over his Kingdom.  Right now, He is reigning over his Kingdom, all of creation. And after he returns and judges the nations and refines the world so that we will reside in the new heavens and the new Earth, Jesus will hand his Kingdom back over to the Father and will be seated at his right hand, reigning along side him.

 

Paul says that in all of the things he has warned about, all the false teaching. The Apostasy within the church. In the face of cultural and fake Christianity. In the face of current to them and upcoming to us persecution, what are you to do? Paul says, I charge you, in the presence of God and Christ Jesus to do this in the face of all of that. Preach the Word.

Preach the Word. Preach the Gospel. Teach others about Jesus and about what the Bible says bout him. Preach it using words. The Gospel never doesn’t need words. Our lives can and will help to testify to what we say we believe, but preaching the Gospel always requires words. Evangelize. Share the Gospel with others. Let them know what it means that Jesus died for our sins. Let them know who Jesus actually is. Not everyone who says the believe in God or believes in Jesus will be talking about the same God, the same Jesus as the Bible defines. Let them know that the Bible says that we need to repent from our sins and believe that Jesu Christ is LORD.

And this is to be done In Season and Out of Season. We are to Preach the Word and share the Gospel when its easy and the words come easy and people seem receptive. And we are to Preach the Word and share the Gospel when its hard and we can’t think of the words and people don’t want to hear it. We need to remember that this is literally a matter of life or death, eternally speaking.

 

One of the things that the Bible teaches and the letters to Timothy specifically convict me of is that we are to not only teach and preach what is right, but we are also to point out error when we see it.

I’ve shared this with you guys before, and mi shamelessly stealing it from Ligon Duncan, though I don’t know if its shamelessly stealing if I give credit, but anyway, the following is a great illustration of this point. Duncan says:

I’ll never forget–a friend of mine…we were talking about a very famous professor, and we both had a great admiration for him. And he shared a story. He sat down with another minister who knew this professor. He’s a very godly man, a very wise man, a very kind man, though he didn’t like to critique wrong views. He was given simply to stating what was right, and then when people would ask him, “But, what about…” he’d say, “Well, I don’t want to get into criticizing those other views.” And so, he was talking with this pastor, and this pastor said, “You know what his problem is? He’ll draw a picture of a horse and say, ‘That’s a horse’; but he won’t draw a picture of a cow and say, ‘That’s not a horse.’ And that was his colorful way of saying this man will tell you what’s right, but he won’t tell you what’s wrong. And Paul is saying to Timothy, ‘It’s not enough to tell the people of God what’s right; you also need to tell them what’s wrong. They need to know the difference, and they need to learn how to discern the difference, and that means being both positive and negative in your proclamation.’

 

Paul continues in verse 2, saying that we are to reprove, rebuke and exhort. Very similar wording to what he said just a few lines earlier in chapter 3, verse 16. All of those things that the Bible is useful for, for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, all those things, we are to continue to do and to use the Bible to do them.

The Bible is not a self-help book, no matter what many TV preachers try to peddle. The Bible is not simply a set of moral guidelines, though it does include those. The Bible is not a science book, though it is trustworthy and without error where it mentions science.

The Bible is book, a collection of books about the history of His redeemed people, about His glory about his love and about his Holiness. The Bible is a book about Gods plan of redemption. The Bible is a book about Jesus and who He is.

And we are to share this book with others with complete patience and teaching. We teach, showing each other and others “This is what the Bible says…” “The scriptures say…” “Jesus said, and then quote him correctly or give chapter and verse.” The Bible says…

This is how we teach. We use the Bible, which is Truth, Given directly from God, the author of Ultimate Truth. We use that Truth to teach. And we do so with patience. No all who respond will do so immediately. Some will change a little bit at a time. Some will change the moment they here the truth. Some will have to hear the truth a lot, building a foundation and then the change will seem immediate. And some will not respond at all. This is about sharing the Gospel with those who do not believe. Remember that we sow the seed, but God brings the increase, God does the work. He calls us to Him and often drags us, kicking and screaming to Himself.  But don’t dismiss this idea because you see it mainly about evangelism.

This is also for each of us and our learning. This is for our growth and our sanctification. Not a single one of us has everything right. We need to be taught by each other. Some of us, when we are taught the truth, we will change immediately, some if us will gradually change, some if us will resist it and then seem to change all of a sudden, and some of us will never change out views or thoughts, no matter how much truth we are shown. Search your heart and ask God to make sure you are open to hear the Truth as the Bible teaches it.

And Paul goes on to show why he specifies the preaching of the Gospel both In Season and Out of Season. He lays it out in verses 3 & 4. The time is coming. The truth is the time is hear and the time has been here since Paul wrote this to Timothy. People don’t want to hear. They don’t want to listen. Again, this applies to those outside the church, to those who don’t believe, but it applies just as much to those in the pews every Sunday.

Natural human desire is to hear what affirms what we want to hear, to affirm what we already think. Studies have been done that show that we hear what we already agree with. Think about your politics and try to watch with open eyes. I see this all the time. Some one from the left says something and someone from the right says the same basic thing. Those on the right will defend what their side said and dismiss and mock what the other side said. The person on the left will do the same thing. And its when both politicians say the same thing. We want to hear what agrees with what we already think and believe.

People want to listen to people who make them feel good. We want to be told that we are the hero of the story. We want to be told that we are David, standing up against Goliath, our sins and slaying them. The truth is that we are the scared, paralyzed, quaking Israelites who need Jesus to fight our battles for us. And praise God that he does, but that’s not the story we want to hear.

False teachers gain big audiences appealing to, quote, “common sense.” Unquote. They make scripture less accurate. “No one could survive being in the belly of a fish!” “God uses Evolution!” “Jesus only appeared to have risen from the dead but isn’t that still inspirational!” And my favorite, by favorite I mean drives me crazy, “Do we actually lose anything if we lose the virgin birth?” YES! Yes, we lose everything if we lose that!

Teachers and so-called pastors who teach these sorts of things have large followings and lots of influence amongst those who don’t believe. And they draw people away from the Truth. Jesus says that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life. When we substitute anything else in for Jesus, we lose everything. When we focus on anything else besides Jesus, we lose everything.

 

As for you, Paul continues to contrast faithful believers with those who teach falsely and those who follow false teachers. In contrast to them, unlike them, be sober minded. Be safe and smart, not dismissive and not panicking. We touched on that on Wednesday, as we were reading through Psalm 10. Given the hysteria from some and the complete dismissal of others regarding the pandemic going on from the coronavirus, COVID-19, what are we to do? We know that God is in control of all things. We know that he is sovereign. He calls us to pay attention to what’s going on around us. We have a biblically taught human responsibility. A responsibility to take care of ourselves. A responsibility to love our neighbors and care for others. A responsibility to be smart and safe in this world. But our focus is to be straight up, into the heavens, right on Jesus Christ. If we panic, we are trusting in our own ability to save ourselves instead of trusting in the sovereignty of God. If we ignore completely and dismiss reality, we are ignoring the plain teachings of the Bible and especially the command to love and care for our neighbors. In all things we are to be sober minded.

We are to endure suffering. We look to biblical examples such as Paul, and Job and so many more. We can probably think of people in our lives who have endured suffering and in that enduring, they were an incredible witness for Christ. The ran the race and finished well. All things to the Glory of God. That’s easy to say and think when things are going well, but its so much more important when suffering is involved.

Do the work of an evangelist. Share the Gospel, spread the word, share the Good News of Jesus Christ. We show those around us why we have Hope in such trying times. Why we don’t need to panic over the things of this world. Why we can endure the suffering that will come.

But we are not to be salesmen in a consumer culture. We are not selling a cure, or our best life now. WE are not selling healing and financial gain. We are not selling anything at all. We are proclaiming the truth. The truth of the Word of God revealed to us in the book we hold in our hands. We truth that reveals Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation.

Notice Paul’s constant contrasting of those who dismiss and reject the truth and those who are faithful and loyal to the truth. That’s because those are the only two choices we have. There is no middle ground. There is no gray area. You are either in Christ or you without Christ. You are either a sheep, to whom Christ will see in the end, “Well Done, good and faithful servant,” welcoming you into eternal life with Christ, worshiping the King of Kings in eternal paradise, in perfection, the Kingdom of Heaven. Or you are a goat, one who suppressed the truth in unrighteousness, rejecting Christ and his salvation. To whom Christ will say, “Go away, for I never knew you.”

The Word instructs us, repent and believe in the Gospel. Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, he is the Christ. He is the savior. I want to leave you with Philippians 4:4-9 as Paul writes:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

 

Let’s Pray.

 

 

2 Timothy 3:10-17 Life in the Local Church: All Scripture is the Word of God

2 Timothy 3:10-17

Life in the Local Church

All Scripture is the Word of God

 

Good Morning! Please turn in your Bibles with me to 2 Timothy chapter 3. Our passion and our calling here at Bangor Community Church is to get the Word of God into the hands and ears of as many people as possible, so if you do not have a Bible, or know someone who needs one, please grab one off the back table as our gift.

So, continuing through our series through 1 & 2 Timothy, titled Life in the Local Church. Paul has been writing to his protégé, his child in the faith, Timothy. Timothy has been placed as the pastor of the church in Ephesus. Paul knows that this is probably the last letter he will get to write to Timothy. He knows his death at  the hands of Caesar Nero is imminent and so what we see here is Paul pulling no punches. Just speaking straight truth that Timothy, the church and all of us need to hear.

Paul has been putting False Teachers and their followers and their falsehoods on blast in his letters to Timothy. He is telling us, This is what you need to know in order to identify, to mark and to avoid those who come along teaching lies and falsehoods. The section of scripture we looked at last week showed a lost of characteristics and attributes that show what these false teachers and their followers look like.

Paul knew this was coming to the Ephesians. We look back when he left the Ephesian church after planting and growing it and spending three years investing in them. Luke records in Acts 20:28-30 Paul speaking to the elders as he left:

 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God,[e] which he obtained with his own blood.[f] 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

 

Paul knew what was coming for the church. He knew what was coming from within the church. And he knew what will be and has been coming for us today, as well. And as important as it is for us to know what these false teachers will look like and do, ultimately, our focus needs to be on the truth.

Im sure you all know the example that’s given of the Secret Service and how they train their agents to identify counterfeit currency. They spend hours upon hours going through stacks of bills. They look for any inconsistency, anything different. Looks, texture, smell, whatever. And by the time they are done, they can spot a counterfeit 5 dollar bill from across a crowded room. Heres the thing. Those stacks and stacks of bills they are going through and looking at every detail of, none of them are fake. They are all real. They spend so much time getting to know exactly what the real thing is, that when anything different comes along, no matter how minute, no matter how small the detail, no matter how close to the original, anything that is not the real thing, sticks out like a sore thumb.

Knowing Gods Word is the same way. We know the truth because we study and immerse ourselves in the truth. When we do so, anything that is not the truth is able to be readily identified.

With that, lets go ahead and read this mornings passage, 2 Timothy 3, verses 10-17. I am going to be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to find a preferred translation and follow along with us as we journey through and dive into the scriptures.

Paul writes to Timothy, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, making these the very Words of God himself:

You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

 

Thus says the inspired and complete Word of God.

 

 

Paul is exhorting Timothy here to faithfulness, first to the example that Paul has set and second and more importantly, to the Scriptures themselves. He start in verse 10, contrasting whats coming next with what he has said in verse 1-7. Paul is saying, “That’s not you! You stay faithful! Unlike them, as they continue to become more and more unfaithful, you stay faithful. You have seen what I have been through. You have seen what I have dealt with. You have seen my faithfulness. You have seen my example and you have seen that in ALL These things, God has rescued me.”

Paul is calling Timothy to be a disciple. He is calling him to follow Paul just as Paul has been following Christ. And in doing so, Timothy will be following Christ. Christians are disciples. Jesus call for us is to be disciples and to make disciples. His call is to love him and to follow him. Follow the truth, not false lies like we dealt with last week, but the Truth, capital T, Truth, as Paul has shown and as Jesus is.

In verse 11, Paul mentions the persecution and the sufferings he has suffered, specifically in the cities of Antioch, Iconium and Lystra. RC Sproul explain why Paul mentions these three specifically as he writes: Three cities in the Roman province of Galatia where Paul preached the Gospel on his first missionary journey. Against significant opposition, Paul succeeded in establishing a church in each city. Paul mentions these cities, including Timothy’s home of Lystra, in order to appeal to the roots of Timothy’s faith.

          Pauls conduct in these instances, in these circumstances served as a testimony to his faith. The same conduct he is calling Timothy and us to. One of the points is that its not enough to say the Words, I believe…. If that belief, that faith is true, your conduct will show it. In all circumstances, in all positions, in all times. Not just Sunday mornings, but every hour of every day.

 With encouragement comes warnings in the scripture, just like with warning comes encouragement. Paul says, Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 

          We see this through out scripture. Jesus tells his followers in Matthew 10, verses 17 & 18:

Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 

He also says in John 15:20:

If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.

 

          In 1 Peter, twice Peter mentions this, 1 Peter 4:12 he writes: Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. And 1 Peter 5:9: Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

 

We are told often and clearly that if we follow Christ, we should expect persecution. Though Voddie Baucham gives a great solution as he says: There is an easy way to avoid persecution. All you have to do is compromise.

Man, that’s just a bit convicting, isnt it?

Paul goes in in verse 13 as he says that while followers of Christ  are facing this persecution, coming under fire. Those who have compromised, those who are doing evil, imposters, all of them are going from bad to worse. This is why he warns us with verse 1-7. This is why the world appears to be going down the toilet, that proverbial handbasket that gathers momentum the further and faster it goes downhill.

But its been like this from the beginning. Sin enters in Genesis 3 and its not before Genesis 4 is over that we not only see the first murder, between brothers Cain and Abel, but we see in Cains ancestors that it is only a few generations before sin has evaded every aspect of life. From that point on, God keeps his remnant, those who are his, and he keeps them in his hands, protected from eternal damnation. But we see that the world hasn’t changed since then. Sometimes there will be outward appearances of morality, where we like to show our goodness. But just underneath that surface, the depths of sin boils and waits to overflow out of the cracks of the outer moral shell. And we see other times where that sin flows freely.

When Paul talks about those who will continue to get worse, we see people who are blinded spiritually. We see People who put their trust in their own righteousness. And we watch helplessly as they continually and only double down on their self righteousness, They stand firm on their ability and their goodness whenever they are faced with anything going against their views, their passions, their preferences and their positions.

I think of an example here of the Pharaoh in Egypt in the Exodus. Pharaoh was given the truth time after time was given signs and wonders testifying to the truth of Gods Word, the death of all first born males, not just kids, but adults too, not just humans but animals too.

Pharaoh continued to get worse and worse, just as we see so many today. Do you have that friend or that family member? The more they are confronted by the truth, the stronger they resist it and the more they build up walls and barriers. The false teachers and their followers that Paul is fighting against continue to deceive and they continue to be deceived. Romans 1:24 warns that God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity

         

          But, as for you, again, Paul contrasting against those deceiving and being deceived. Continue in what you have learned. Stay Faithful and on the path that has been laid before you. And know from whom you have learned. For Timothy, as Paul mentioned earlier in this letter, this was specifically his Mother and grandmother.

Its so important that we realize who we let teach us matters. It affects us in ways we don’t often realize. This is why we test all things against scripture. This is why we test all spirits against the Holy Spirit. And its rarely just as easy as that. The sad truth of the matter is that you can learn some truth from false teachers. Don’t misunderstand, this is not an endorsement, but the unfortunate reality.

It would be so much easier to identify them if the first things out of their mouth was blatant and clear heresy. But they are subtle and cunning. They use scripture to draw in believers. But that scripture is rarely in context and almost never used correctly. And once you are drawn in, they start twisting scripture even more and they   allow their lies to come to the surface.

If you listen to or read false teachers such as Beth Moore or Paula White, or Christine Caine or Joyce Meyer. If you listen to or read false teachers such as Joel Osteen or Bill Johnson or Andy Stanley or NT Wright. There may be some truth that you can pull out of them, but it will be quite accidental. There may be some verses quoted and you may be able to learn a kernel of truth.

But if you do learn some truth from them, you will not be able to discern and to identify the many and serious untruths, otherwise known as lies, that come along with these so called teachers.

Who you listen to matters. Who you let teach you and who you let wire your brain matters. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15 that “bad company corrupts good morals.” You need to be able to truth who teaches you. If a teacher breaks his students trust, the game is over. If a pastor breaks the trust of someone in his congregation, if I break the trust of one of you, could I ever earn it back? Not likely. And if I don’t have your trust, then I cant teach and pastor you.

Timothy had his grandmother and his mom teaching him. In most cases, these two people in your life would be amongst the, if not the most trustworthy people in your life. Parents, Grandparents, teach your kids and grandkids.

God tells the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

 

Paul writes in Ephesians 6:4: Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

And Paul mentions that specifically it was the scriptures that Timothy was taught from his earliest years. Now, of course, it is not necessary, it is not required to learn the Bible as a child. But when we look at our walk with Christ, when we look at our life growing in him and knowing him, it makes sense that the earlier you get started reading and studying him, the further along you will get, the closer you will get to God.

The Good News is that this is not a case of one person is more saved than another. The thief on the cross has the same standing before God and the throne of Glory as someone who came to Christ so early in life that they don’t remember life without Him.

And what Timothy learned was the sacred scriptures. The Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures, which were that they has at that point. They could be easily and often misinterpreted, but the mystery that Paul often writes about is the revealing of what the Old Testament said, though in a shrouded way.

For those of you taking our bibliology class Sunday nights, there is a phrase that we learned early on regarding the Old Testament and the New Testament, It says, The New is in the Old Concealed. The Old is in the New revealed.

What is revealed in and contained in the Old Testament is Jesus Christ and the example of Old Testament believers being saved by their faith in the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Those scriptures that Timothy had, that was available in those days, our Old Testament, those scriptures contained enough information, enough of Jesus was contained and revealed in them that they were able to make us wise to salvation. There was enough to give us a saving faith.

 

 

Paul writes in verse 16, what may be one of the most famous verses among Christians. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

 

How much of scripture? Is it just the New Testament that applies to us today? No. Is it just the big ideas of the Bible but not the details? No. Is it just the parts that we want to be inspired by God? No.

All Scripture is breathed out by God. We don’t “unhitch” from the Old testament. Remember the Old Testament was able to make us wise for salvation. Romans 10:17 tells us Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. All scripture is breathed out by God. Every word, every jot, every tittle. All of it is inspired. It is inerrant and it is sufficient.

          If we teach each other about God, we do so by the Word of God. If we reprove or correct someone, their teaching, their behavior, their beliefs, whatever, we do so by the Word of God. If we train in righteousness (and if we are Christians, are being trained in righteousness) we do so by the Word of God.

If we evangelize, try to bring someone to a saving faith, we do so by the Word of God. It makes us wise to salvation and faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Paul Washer said this week, “We preach to dead men, and there is no crowbar from the secular world we can use to pry them out of a tomb.”

The Word of God is our authority. All other things come under the Word of God.

The Word of God is our authority so that RC Sproul can rightly say: When I disagree with something I find in the Word of God, the problem is with me, not with the Word of God.

          So we looked at some of the things that the Word of God is, here are some of the things that the Word of God is not.

The Word of God is not our thoughts, ideas or opinions.

The Word of God is not our experiences.

The Word of God is not our testimony.

The Word of God is not our life and our witness.

The Word of God is not dreams.

The Word of God is not our feelings.

The Word of God is not my words up here.

The Word of God is not your favorite teachers words or sermons or books.

Nobody elses words are the Word of God. The Pope, the head of the catholic church they have a doctrine, a belief that says that when he is speaking in his official pope capacity, the term they use is “from the throne,” when he makes a statement from the throne, those words are to be considered the very Words of God. They are on the same level as the words we have written down right here in our hands.

Lots of so called Bible teachers out there act as if they have the same ability. Their teachings are on par with Gods Words. I gave one example last week. So often, these teachers act this way and back it up by claiming that God has given them direct, secret revelation that God has given to anyone else. Secret, hidden revelation that can not be found in the Bible. That’s one if the key things to pay attention to.

Instead, we are to focus on Christ. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. John 1:1, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God and the Word was with God.

          So we focus on him, identifying and marking and avoiding the false teachers that will be infiltrating the church, but focusing on the Word of God. Joshua 1:8, God tells Joshua:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

 

It sounds similar to Psalm 1:1 & 2:

 

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

 

If we say that we believe that the Bible is the Word of God, if we say that we have a high view of scripture, then our lives ought to show it. If we have saving faith in Jesus Christ then we believe the Words that Jesus spoke. And we believer that the Words of the Bible are the Words of God, the Words of Jesu, then we will follow his commandments to the best of our ability.

It is the Word of God that trains us, completes us, equips us to do the works that God has set in front of us. If we do not have the desire to follow the Word of God, to live a godly and righteous life, then we do not have a saving faith.

We wont immediately become sinless, but we will become immediately cleansed of our sins. We will immediately be justified, declared righteous before God the Father, with God the Son as our intercessor and God the Holy Spirit working in us to sanctify us, grow us and help us to have some of the ability to live the life God wants, glorifying him. I love the way Allistair Begg says this:

Can I ask you, do you want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus? Do you begin the day—do I begin the day—saying, “Lord, help me not to sin,” or “Help me not to sin very much”? Can you imagine getting on a 737 in Glasgow, and going to London, and hearing the pilot come on and say, “Now, my strategy this morning is—as we take off over the Clyde and go out over Govan and head south—my strategy in flying the plane, I just want you to know, is not to crash very much.” Wouldn’t have a real reassuring ring to it, would it? But that’s the way some of us approach our lives. Anyone “who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus” does not begin the day saying, “Help me not to sin very much,” but “Help me not to sin.” Oh, I end the day saying, “I didn’t get a hundred percent. I’m not sure I even got seventy.” But at least it doesn’t stop me from beginning the day with a good challenge.

 

Love God, Love Christ, with all your heart, mind, body and soul. Repent and turn from your sins. Follow Him, become his disciple. Meditate on his law, the Bible, the very Word of God, meditate on it day and night. Flee from your youthful passions turn to the one who forgives sins and brings you out from death to eternal life. The answers are all in here. Do not let anyone turn you away from Gods Word. Don’t let yourself turn you away from the Word of God.  Make your delight in the law of the LORD, and on his law meditate day and night.

 

 

 

 

 

         

Malachi 2:10-16 Gods Covenant and the Marriage Covenan

Malachi 2:10-16

Gods Covenant and the Marriage Covenant

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

This week we are looking at a much smaller chunk of the Malachi than we have over the last two weeks. Malachi was written during, but towards the end of the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. We see some of the same issues pop up here in Malachi has Ezra and Nehemiah addressed in their books.

And this section today was written because Israel was failing to follow what God had made clear to them regarding marriage. They have been breaking Gods commands in to explicit ways. First, we will look at in verses 10-12, they have been taking women for wives that had been off limits to them. Second, in verses 13-16, that had been divorcing their wives, against what God had been telling them.

But we are also going to look at the relationship between Gods covenant with his people, those who belong to him, those whom have been saved by grace, through faith, and the covenant of marriage that God has given to mankind as a gift and as a way to see His goodness and His love. Now, this is not your typical sermon on marriage. This is not 7 ways to have a great Marriage or anything like that. This is about God, his love, his covenant with his bride, his people, the church, you and I.

So, now we are going to go ahead and read our passage for this week, Malachi 2:10-16. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version though I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. Malachi, chapter 2, verses 10- 16. God, speaking through his prophet, says:

 Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? 11 Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant[e] of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the Lord of hosts!

13 And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord‘s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?[f] And what was the one God[g] seeking?[h] Godly offspring. So guard yourselves[i] in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her,[j] says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers[k] his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

All right, so we start off, brieflyy, with something so simple, yet so foundational that it needs to be repeated and retaught and reminded of time and time again. God is our Father. He is the Father of All Believers, He is the creator of all, If you are not a believer, a Christian, you are not considered a child of God because you are not an heir to the Kingdom, a co heir with Christ. (Romans 8:17)

And as our Father, he is faithful in his Word to all. He has establish a covenant with his Children, summarized and represented by Israel in the Old Testament and summarized and represented by the Church in the New Testament. He has established a covenant of grace, by which he saves his children, offers forgiveness of their sins. He works in us to change us from death to life and to change our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)

And as we see throughout the scriptures and throughout history, God gives us ways to see greater truths. He has given us examples, types and shadows to help us better understand Gods truths. In this case, we see that God gave us the gift of marriage, in part, to help us understand and to see Gods covenant with us. He has given us this gift to help us relate to it and as an example to follow.

I want to touch on real quick, some of the difficulties we have when we read through the Old Testament. I think we can all be honest here right? The Old Testament is not as easy to read through and apply accurately as the New Testament. We tend to make one of two mistakes, or sometimes both actually.

The first tendency we can fall into is that we can over spiritualize what we are reading. We remove the historical reality of the stories in the Old Testament. We forget that these were real live people, in real live circumstances. Nothing has context and the only meaning of the text is allegorical for today, for modern day believers. It ends up being less, “What does Gods Word say?” and more, “What is God revealing to me individually, for my individual life?”

The second mistake we make, the second tendency we fall into is the over moralizing of the text. It puts the context back, but removes God as its author in this sense. It has no types, shadows or looking forward to Jesus Christ or the Church, but is essentially a guide book, a bunch of examples of good and bad, of right and wrong. It ignores the fact that the Bible is one unified book, with one unified story, the story of Gods redemption plan of us. It ignores that God has been pointing toward the coming Messiah and Savior since the beginning of the Bible, with the first prophecy of Jesus being in Genesis 3.

Both of those, on their own are wrong. The Old Testament is both of those and it is so much more than that. These are real, literal people, in real, literal events. The Old Testament is God telling a story, His Story, through real life history, The people and the stories are just as real as you and I sitting here.

And so our challenge is, as we read through the sections of the Old testament is to balance those two things, not  over spiritualize it and to not over moralize it, but to read the Truth of Gods Word and to pull out what God has intended to share with us.

One of the biggest themes in Malachi, one of the biggest things He has intended to communicate with us is showing how Israel has broken the covenant that was established between God and Israel. And as God is pointing this out to them, he is reminding them of who He is. In Malachi 1:2, He makes it clear,  I have loved you,” says the Lord. He has loved them and has been faithful and He has kept His end of the covenant. He is a God of His Word.

But in Malachi 2, verses 10-12, we see that Israel has broken their end of the covenant. You dont have to read much of the Old Testament to Israel breaking their covenant one way or another. In this instance, Israel breaks their Covenant with the one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God if Israel, the God of the Bible, they break their covenant by marrying foreign women.

Now, to clarify what the issue is here, we can point to most obviously the book of Ruth to see that it is not simply the fact that these foreign women were born somewhere outside of Israel that is the issue. This is not about nationality, ethnicity or anything else like that. What the issue here is that the women that the Israelites were marrying were worshipping foreign gods. They were not within, but were outside of the covenant with God. They were not following or worshipping the True God of Israel.

We are reminded that Malachi was a later contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah. Coing at the end of their ministries, Malachi has seen what Ezra and Nehemiah have had to deal with. We saw specifically, but not limited to Ezra 9 & 10, and in Nehemiah 13 that they too had to deal with the Jewish exiles returning to Jerusalem with foreign wives and marrying foreign wives once they have returned as well.

Some of them had multiple wives as well. We see that this unbiblical practice went all the way back to Genesis 4. Genesis 4:19, it records that Lamech took two wives, the first instance of polygamy in the Bible. Unfortunately, it would not be the last, as we see even otherwise Godly men such as Abraham, Jacob, David and Solomon having multiple, and in some cases, many wives.

As we bring these things together, I want to read the first few verses of the 10 commandments as recorded in Exodus chapter 20. Verses 1-3 read:

 And God spoke all these words, saying,

2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.

There is One, True God, and there is only One True God. God created marriage to mirror this point, that we are to marry one person, and only one person. One man, one woman. And that we are intended to marry only someone who worships the One True God, as we do.

This principal continues on and is shown that it applies to us today by showing up in the New Testament as well. We see this in 2 Corinthians 6:14, where Paul writes: Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. And while thats not the limit for what it means, this is, in part, referring to having the same spiritual views as the one that we will marry.

RC Sproul gives us some insight as to why, saying, “Intimacy at its deepest dimension is impossible when the partners are not united in faith.”

Our faith should be the foundation of your entire identity. It should the foundation of who you are. And if you dont and/or cant share that with your spouse then you wont be able to have the deepest connection that God has desired for you.

And in this, we see the parallels between Gods covenant and relationship with us and with the covenant and intention of marriage. God doesnt want us to have a casual relationship with him. He doesnt want us to like him. He doesnt want us to come to him only when its convenient or when we are in trouble. He wants all of us all the time. And thats how we are supposed to be with our spouses as well.

Now, does this mean that two non believers cant be married and have a happy, a faithful, and a long lasting marriage? Does that mean that a believer and a non believer cant be married and have a happy, faithful, and long lasting marriage? Of Course not! As many of you can attest, either personally or by those who are close to you, family, friends and the like.

We see all around us, through Gods common grace, that people can have a happy, successful marriage without both being completely and solely focused on Christ. But its not how God intended it. Just like if Someone says they are a Christian, but never reads their Bible. The intimacy in the relationship will never be able to be as deep and as complete as its supposed to be.

And so we worship One God, the True God and we are intended to become one with someone we can share that worship with. Now, scripture also addresses how to respond if we find ourselves in a situation which was not the intended ideal. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16, starting in the middle of verse 12:

if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you[b] to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

If you are married, you are married. Dont throw away what you have to try and go back in time. God uses all things for good, more specifically, for his glory. Romans 8:28 Paul says here that we are never to give up hope that an unbelieving spouse may come to know the LORD, whether partly or mostly from our lives we are living, loving and living with them, modeling the love of Christ and the dedication to Christ that we are to have.

God hates divorce. We are to worship only the One True God and we are to marry one our one spouse. One God enters into a covenant with us and we are to enter into a covenant with only one partner. Gods covenant is never ending. The Jesus storybook Bible calls it an Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.

Once we are in covenant with Him, we are sealed into that covenant with the Holy Spirit. That covenant is salvation. Salvation from the consequences of our sin, from the failure to keep our end of the covenant, from failing to live up to the perfect and Holy Standard that One true and perfect God has set. That salvation is by grace alone. The vehicle that grace is poured out is by faith alone. The object of that faith is in Jesus Christ alone.

Once the Holy Spirit has sealed us in the covenant with God, it is forever. It is unbreakable and it is permanent. In the same way, as a shadow of that covenant, our marriage covenants are intended to be unending, unbroken and full of grace being given to sinners.

Romans 5:8 God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. And we see teachings and directions about how to model that love to our spouses. One such example is Ephesians 5:22-33:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a] 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Again, we see that Marriage was an incredible gift that God has given to us. In Genesis 2:24, God says:  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh Men, you and your wife are one flesh. Women, you and your husband are one flesh. We are to love and serve each other in the manner that Christ has loved and served us.

You may have often heard that marriage is designed not to make us happy, but to make us Holy. And that is true, and its true because marriage is designed to help us to see God more clearly. It is designed for us lean on God more intensely, more dependently, because those things Paul just listed in Ephesians 5, we cant do those with out the help of God. Marriage is designed to remind us of Gods love, his service and his sacrifice.

Marriage is designed to be the human equivalent of the covenant that God has established with his people, his church, his bride. Exodus 34:6 & 7 is one of my favorite parts where God speaks his covenant, saying to Moses:

The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands,[a] forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty,

Marriage is not always easy. Fights will take place. Arguments, disagreements, misunderstandings… Both parties of a marriage are still sinners and they are now thrown in super close proximity to each other. Those faults and sins will manifest themselves and often.

With God, only one side is sinful. Thats our side. Our sin will manifest itself and often. We will misunderstand God. We will argue with God. We will walk away or puch him away. But he will never leave. He will never forsake us. He will never abandon or break his covenant with us and that deserves our full and everlasting praise and thanks.

I also love the way that John Piper sums up this passage, writing:

He is the God of Israel. The fellowship may be broken. There may be exile and separation. There may be anger and tears. But when whole story is told, the sum of the matter is Isaiah 54:4–8:

Your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. For the Lord has called you like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God. For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer.

God will never nullify his marriage to the elect. Christ will never forsake his bride, the church. He is a covenant maker and a covenant keeper. And that is the meaning of marriage.

Lets Pray

Malachi 1:1-5 Gods love is Unbreakable

Malachi 1:1-5
No Doubting Gods Love

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to the Minor Prophet, Malachi. He is the last book in the Old Testament. If you do not have or own a Bible, please help yourself to one from the back table there as our gift to you.
So, does it feel weird not to be turning to Romans? So as some of you may already know, my philosophy in preaching is to preach Line by Line, Verse by Verse through books of the Bible, what’s called Expository Preaching. My ideal is to alternate between New Testament books and Old testament books. We just finished Romans, which is in the New Testament and so now, we are going to go through Malachi, a book in the Old Testament. This will be a shorter(ish) series, at least that’s my plan, and no, I don’t yet know where we will go after Malachi.
This week, we will look at the first verses in Malachi, but even before that we will introduce ourselves to this book of the Bible, grouped with the so called minor prophets. So, some background first.
The name, Malachi means ‘Gods Messenger.” Now, because of this, there is some debate as to whether Malachi is a title or a name in this instance. For me, I will always lean towards the historical answer, or in this case, I will always believe it is a name as opposed to a title unless and until there is compelling evidence to the contrary.
Regardless, Malachi is a messenger of God. He wrote down the oracles, the words that God gave to him. Historically, timeline-wise, he is a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah. Its likely though not guaranteed, coming along towards the end of their ministries of rebuilding the temple and the wall and reestablishing Gods Word and a remembering of Gods covenant among the Jews coming back from Exile.
And we are going to see that Gods covenant is one of the major themes throughout Malachi. Gods covenant, his Word is unchanging, it is unbreakable. It is the same, just as God him self is, yesterday, today and tomorrow. And Gods covenant does not go away. God is faithful even when we are not. And not only that, but God is faithful, especially when we are not. He is Holy, Holy, Holy and all that that entails. Gods faithfulness and our lack of faithfulness will be on full display in this book.
Again, this is the last book in the Old Testament. After God finishes speaking to Malachi, it ushers in the 400 years of silence. God stops speaking to and through the prophets. John the Baptist and at almost the exact same time, Jesus of Nazareth broke the silence and ushered in the New Testament time. Hebrews 1:1 & 2 speaks to this, saying,
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
We don’t have prophets anymore. John the Baptist was the last of what are considered the Old Testament prophets. And from then on, God spoke to us through his Son, The Word made Flesh, The Word of God, Jesus Christ. And his Words are what we have written in our hands, in the Bible you are holding. Every word in the Bible is the Words of Christ.
The Book of Malachi has a unique style to it. It is written in a “disputational” style. Not to be mistaken with dispensational, which is a theology system specifically regarding the end times. But this back and forth disputation style is like a dialogue between God and the people of Israel.
There are 6 of those in this book and the plan is that we are going to follow them in our series, so 6 sermons through Malachi. This first one, we will be looking at Malachi, chapter 1, verses 1-5. So I will read our text for this morning, and I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please follow along in your preferred translation while I read. Again, Malachi, chapter 1, verses 1-5.
Malachi, The prophet of God writes:
The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.[a]
2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob 3 but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” 4 If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.’” 5 Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!”

God starts off with a simple, concise, clear statement. “I have loved you.” The people of Israel, however, didnt feel this was true. When you read all that they had been through over the previous 500 years or so, they felt like there was no way that God could love them. Their country was split in two. Each one, at seperate times was conquered and taken into captivity. Even before that, they were constantly being invaded, oppressed and attacked by their neighbor countries. Even more immediate to when this was written, Ezra came back, brought many Israelites with him and they started rebuilding Jerusalem. There were some complications there, to put it mildly if you read through the book of Ezra. Nehemiah came back and rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem but also had some problems. And if that timing is correct, that this was written and prophecied towards the end of Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s ministries, than the Israelites would not yet have been fully restored to their home back in Israel. It would have still been on ongoing process.
The Israelites didnt see the blessings, the Israelites didnt see the proof of Gods love. They only saw the negative. They only saw what they felt. And so this book starts off with the clear truth that we need to hear. God has loved you.
The Word of God is clear. It is what it is and it says what it says. There is no ambiguity and there is no grey area here. God gives a factual, true statement. The truth of Gods word is not dependant on how we feel. We may not always feel that God loves us, just like the Israelites didnt feel like God loved them. But that doesnt make it any less true.
Gods word, both written and spoken, means exactly what it says. And we have it here written down. We have the written Word of God. Israel didnt have it written down, all ready for them. They hear from God through the prophets. Now the words of those prophets are written down and they are just as clear as they were then. (Clearer if you understand the context of the New Testament being the fulfillment of the Testament and, as we have learned in our Bibliology class, The New is in the Old Concealed, the Old is in the New Revealed. This means simply that if there are things we dont understand in the Old testament, then the New Testament will speak to it and explain it.)
Gods Word, as revealed then and as written down is true, it is complete, it is comprehensive and it is sufficient. Because of all that, it is also Final.
So, at this point in History, Israel does not feel the Love from God. Their response to Gods Word was to question it based on their feelings and disbelief. They dont believe what God is saying. “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?”
Have you noticed that we all go through different and difficult times, times when we feel removed from God. We all have times where we are not seeing him work, not seeing the evidence of God around us. During times like those, we are spiritualy weaker. We get extra aggitated. We take offenses easier. We give offenses easier. We are more prone to giving in to sin and temptation. When we either feel temptations more and more or when we give in and sin, it exacerbates the problem and we feel Gods presence and love less and less.
But we have a factual anchor to keep us safe in the storms of life when our feelings are blowing us all over the place. Gods Word says that if you are in Christ, you are loved. Period. Those who are in a covenant relationship with God, those whom he has foreknown & predestined, those whom he has called by his grace, to believe, through faith, in his Son, Jesus Christ, and repent of their sins, to those God says, I love you.
Now, the Israelites during the time of Malachi did not know who Jesus was. He had not come down from Heaven, born a baby, truly God and Truly man. But, they knew that God had promised a savior and a messiah. They knew he was coming and they knew that Gods promises would be fulfilled. We read through Hebrews 11 and we see that in the Old Testament, those who, as Hebrews 11:2, puts it, “received their comendation,” received it through faith. Faith in the One True God and faith in the coming savior and Messiah. They had faith in Christ, even though they had not yet seen him. They too, were under a Convenant of Grace. And the vehicle God has designated to pour out his grace is through that faith, the same faith that was counted to Abraham as rightoeusness is the same faith that saves us today. Faith in Christ alone.
But because not everyone has that saving faith in Jesus Christ, Gods love, his saving love is not received by everybody. We need to remember that Gods language, his definitions differ from what our society and our feelings want words to mean. God loved the world, loved the world so much that he sent his one and only son to die for the sins of the world. God is a God of Love. God is Love. God is perfect and complete. But that doesnt mean that Love is the only thing that God is and it doesnt mean that love is God.
Within our Good and Perfect and Holy and Complete God, also exists hatred. God hates sin. He says here, Jacob I loved, but Esau I have hated. Thats hard for us to understand and believe and accept. But its there in the Bible, in his Words, in Black and White. And so he have to do something with this. We have to try to understand what God means by this.
There will be two parts of this that we will look at. First is the definition and the use of the word hate, and second, what is God saying here in Malachi? So I looked up in Bible dictionaries and all that what the root word, what the word “hate” meant in the original languages and definitions and its not good news.
The word simply means hate in the dictionary, but it can also be translated as enemies, or foes, so there is an advesarial role that plays into this. There is a tendency to simplify and say that when God hates, it is simply that he loves less. There are times in the Bible where the word hate is used this way. Specifically with Jacob hating Leah but loving Rachel. But that is not the entirety of the definition of this word, hate. We see for example in the the New Testament, one of the words translated “hate,” means to “hate, detest or persue with hatred.”
Gods hatred is not tame. It is a perfect and complete hatred as well. It does us no good to water down his hatred. But we do need to balance it and contrast it with his perfect and complete love. For us, when we say we hate someone or something, it either means that we dont particularly care for it, or more likely, its filled with mean spiritedness and we wish bad, we wish ill will for those whom our hate is directed at.
But on Gods end, its not mean spirited, his hate and the consequences there of are a part of his perfect love and justice. They are a part of his perfect grace and mercy. Due to our natural, sinful nature, our sinful rebellion against God, we are justly in his wrath. That is what we deserve, what we are due. Because God is God, he can do this but at that point we are on the receiving end of both Gods love and his hatred. We do know that Paul wrote in Romans 5:8: God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
For those he hates, for those outside of Christ, God withholds his grace and his mercy. For those outside of Christ are on the receiving end of Gods wrath and judgement. Esau and his descendants, mentioned here in Malachi, they are no more because Gods mercy and saving grace where withheld from them. Because they chose to not live and obey through faith.
And we need to remember that it wasnt that God took away his love, his grace, his mercy, but instead that he pours those things out on whom he choses. When his specific, intentional, saving grace and love are poured out on a sinner, we are unable to resist the call and draw of God and his love, grace and mercy. And it is only through that love of God poured out on us, allowing is to have faith in Christ, that lets us respond in faith and repentence. Without that saving fatih, Gods saving grace, we will go the way of Esau. Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God. Those whom God hates wll not prosper, not in eternity. Those whom God loves, the specific, saving love, will be with him and will have Gods perfect wrath and judgment pass over them.

But I also want to look at the context of what God is telling Israel here in these first few verses of the book of Malachi. God says, I have loved you. They dont see it and say how have you loved us? Essentially, God is saying, in a more perfect and loving way than I am know, “If you dont think I love you, see what happens to those whom I hate.” Him bringing up Esau and the fact that his descendants are no more is him saying, I dont hate you, I love you and this is part of the proof of the difference.
And again, we have this factual, tangible proof, then, through the words of the prophet who spoke the words of God, and now, through the words of God written down in the Bible, that God does indeed love us. Regardless of our feelings. Regardless of what we are able to see. Regardless of our current or past circumstances. God loves us.
Becasue of Gods love and because of Gods judgment, our previously closed eyes to the wonders and works of God, are now open. If we see the works of God in our lives and around us in the world, we will shout out and exclaim how great God is. “Great is the LORD beyond the border of Israel!”
God, the one True God, the God of the Bible, The Father, the Son, The Holy Spirit, God is not just the God if Israel, as many in the Old Testament world thought of him, but is the God of Heaven and Earth, the God of all creation, The God of each and every one of us. He is the God of not just a small group of people but of who so ever shall believe.
This is where we see that Christianity, the worlds one true religion, is both the most inclusive and the most exclusive religion in the world. Christianity is exclusive in this sense. Only those who walk through the narrow door that is Jesus Christ are saved and welcomed in to the family of God, to be called his children. There is no other way, there is no other path, there is no other door to walk through that leads to the one true God. Jesus says in John14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life. No one comes to the Father exceot through me.”
But as exclusive as Christianity is, it is also the most inclusive religion. It is inclusive in that though the path is narrow and there is only one door, the invitation to walk that path, the walk through that door, the invitation to believe and repent is giving to every single person in the world. We just finished going through Pauls letter to the Romans, and what was one of his main points? Your background does not matter. Your ethnicity does not matter. Your ppast sins dont matter. Your previous religious or spiritual beliefs dont matter. Your parents and grandparents dont matter. Your church attendence and your morality dont matter. Your politics dont matter. Everyone is invited to come to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

God is sovereign over those who believe and those who dont. God is sovereign over heaven and hell. God is sovereign over those who he loves and those whom he hates. His grace, his love and his mercy are all poured out, ultimately, to bring glory to himself. His wrath and his judgment, his hatred, are ultimately poured out to bring glory to himself.
See, thats another part of Gods love and hatred that we havent yet mentioned. God is holy. The scriptures say he is Holy, Holy, Holy. He hates what goes against his nature. He hates what and who sins against him. He hates what takes away from his rightful glory. He hates what is not Holy, Holy, Holy.
If it were not for the sacrifice, the shed blood of Jesus Christ, he would hate us. And yet, there is what is called a Great Exchange. When Christ gave his life and took on the punishment for our sins, he only was able to do so because of his perfect righteousness. With no sin of his own, he took Gods wrath and punishment for our sins on himself. In exchange, those who repnet of their sins and turn in faith to Jesus Christ, we receive his perfect righteousness. We receive the forgiveness of sins, so that when we all stand before God at the end, and we will all stand before before God in judgement at the end, when we do, He will either see and judge uw for our sin or he will see and judge us for being wrapped up in Christs righteousness. Both outcomes speak to his glory.
That doesnt make earthly sense, does it? That doesnt make worldy sense, that punishing people, that judgment and wrath, that Hell can speak to the glory of God. But what is hell? A common response, that sounds real good, is that Hell is simply seperation from God. And that would be an extreme punishment, thats for sure. And there may be aspects of that, in regards to God withholding his love, grace and mercy.
But heres what society and much of the Christian church forget. Hell is not where Satan rules supreme. God doesnt send us to a spot where Satan rules over us. God rules over Hell just as much as he rules over Heaven. God is the God of Heaven and Hell. And he is a holy God. Sin goes against his holiness and therefore it is to the glory of gods holiness to punish sin.
And of course, Gods saving grace and mercy, through faith in Christ, show the glory of God, who changes hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. Who brings us from death to life. That is all done to and shows the might and supremem Glory of God.
Now, again, we dont always feel or see this. But we can stand on the Solid Rock of Christ and his word. We can stand on the promises of God our Savior. RC Sproul says I don’t always feel His presence. But God’s promises do not depend upon my feelings; they rest upon His integrity.
If we are living for the Glory of God. If his love and mercy have been poured out on us, making us children of God. Then the simple and clear fact is that, whether we feel it or not, whether we think it or not and whether we believe it or not, the simple and clear fact is “I have loved you,” says the Lord.

Lets Pray

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

Romans 15:1-7 pt 2

Easter 2019

Who is Jesus?

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

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

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

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

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

The Word of God says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:21-25:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Romans 15:1-7 Pt 1, Sola Scriptura

Romans 15:1-7 pt 1

Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Peter 1:10-12:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 13:1-7 God Ordained ALL Government.

Romans 13:1-7
God Instituted ALL Government

Good Morning! Please go ahead and grab your Bibles with me, and open up to Romans chapter 13. If you do not have a bible or do not own one, please grab one from the back table as our gift to you.
So, Romans 13. This is a tough section to teach and preach on, and frankly, it’s a tough section of scripture to read for me. This is because of my personal political views, and what I know about some of your guys political views.
To briefly recap, we are in a section of Pauls letter to the churches in Rome where he is talking about living out our Christian Faith. And our living right and acting right, living out our Christian faith is predicated on right doctrine, or accurately knowing what the Word of God says.
We can live right in front of God without knowing what he is telling us. It doesn’t come from our feelings. It doesn’t come from our opinions. It doesn’t come from what we want our think or feels good to us. It comes from what God says and this here, the bible, is his Word to Us.
You know, last week, Ron Sallee was here and he talked about the need for accurately knowing what Gods Word said. He read from Amos and showed us that there is a spiritual famine coming in the land. It comes from not knowing, not disciplining ourselves and nor wanting to know what the Bible says.
And so, we need to make sure that we are submitting our thoughts, views, actions and priorities underneath what the bible says.
To set the scene a little bit here for these 7 verse we will be looking at this morning, There was a lot, and I do mean, ALOT of governmental opposition to the spread of Christianity for the first 300 or years until Constantine, Emperor of Rome, converted to Christianity. We could debate back and forth about whether that was ultimately good or bad for Christianity or whether he really was or was not a Christian, but one thing we can historically see is that this stopped persecution of Christianity for a time.
Before then, well, lets just say it was rough. 11 of the 12 Apostles were violently martyred. The twelfth, John, the one whom Jesus loved, survived being boiled alive in oil and was sent to live in exile on an island.
The book of Acts covers much of the rough time the Apostles had and especially Paul as he simply went to share and preach and teach the Gospel. To really look at what Paul has to go through, check out what he writes in 2 Corinthians 11:23-33 showing just a bit about how much He went through, and especially persecuted against.
So we see government opposition in the Early church. We see it throughout the first couple of hundred years of Christianity. We see it through out the Middle Ages when the Roman Catholic church was persecuting any lay person with a Bible, those who were trying to translate the Bible and those who believed and taught that salvation was through grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone as revealed in the scriptures alone and all to the Glory of God alone. We see it through out the world today, in places like China, where the church is very much illegal and pastors are being arrested. We see it in areas of the Middle East & Northern Africa where people are being imprisoned for claiming faith in Christ and for sharing it with others.
We don’t yet see that in out Country, not to anywhere close to those levels. We are starting to see some of the beginnings of it. We are starting to see the social outcasting of historical, biblical beliefs. We see the legislating of unbiblical and anti biblical ideas, behaviors and worldviews. But we are just beginning to see those in our country compared to around the world today.
So, remember what things were like for Paul, and for the apostles, for the early church, we remember the context of which this letter and this section especially was written. And it with those conditions of governmental persecution against the early church that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write these 7 verses.
So, lets read Romans 13:1-7. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version and please follow along in your Bibles as we read. Romans 13:1-7
Paul writes:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
I don’t know about you, but I know for me, that’s hard to hear and that’s hard to read, especially at specific times and with specific political dynamics.
Heres what we know. God created this world, he created all of his creation with order. He created us and his creation with a natural hierarchy. He created us to submit to the things that are in authority over us.
We know this because we are created in his image and the trinity shows submission. For example, Jesus, God the Son, completely equal in every way to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. And yet, he willingly submits himself to the will and authority of God the Father (Luke 22:42, Hebrews 10;7, 1 John 4:10)
So, being created in his image, we are made to submit to authority. And our highest authority is, of course, God. And we do see, an example of that in Acts chapter 5. Peter and John were arrested for a second time and brought before the high council. We read in Acts 5:27-32:
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
We must obey God rather than men. WE are going to come back to that shortly. But here we are still establishing the point that there is a hierarchy in the levels of authority. And we are all called to submit to all the authorities above us. Scripture shows us that wives are to submit to their husbands in Ephesians 5:22. Christians are to submit to their pastors in Hebrews 13:17 and citizens are to submit to their rulers in 1 Peter 2:12. This is but a very small list of a few of the ways that we are called to submit.
One of the problems is that this goes against the very core of who we are as Americans. We became a nation by rejecting the authority of our sovereign rulers. The individualism we see around us today, the “all about me,” attitude that is becoming more and more prevalent, everyone who is more worried about their rights than their responsibilities, the very thing Paul was teaching against in ch 12, all have grown out of the founding fathers fighting against and rejecting the authority that was governing over them at the time.
Dont get me wrong here, it made us into a great nation. Maybe the greatest nation the world has seen. But as this attitude and mindset grew and morphed, it may well have cost us our soul. See, this is our fleshly natural desire. This is what started with Adam and Eve in the Garden, to throw off the authority over them, to be their own authority. And we have been doing it ever since. Rebelling against the authority over us and trying to be our own authority.
But God says that we are to submit to authority. And verse 1 right here, all authority has been instituted and ordained by God. This is specifically referring to governing authorities, to governments. One of the things that this means is that, in America, whoever is voted in as president, is your president whether you like him or not. That means that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were your presidents. It also means that George W Bush was and Donald trump is your president, whatever you think of them, of their policies, of their religion or of their private lives. What this doesn’t mean is that all governments or leaders follow God and do what is right all the time.
But God puts rulers and governments in place, he puts rules and laws in place for our benefit. We look to the Old Testament and we see the laws that God handed down, the 10 commandments and we see that God did not hand them down, did not institute them to restrict us or to punish us, but he gave them over because he knows whats best for us.
He is not interested in our happiness, but in our holiness. Thats what us submitting to his authority will bring us. Romans 8:29, Paul writes that he brings us through things so that we may be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, as in made Holy and righteous.
But we rebel against that. We rebel against God and his graces by sinning and going against his commandments and his laws. But we also rebel against God by going against Gods ordained and instituted governments. RC Sproul says it this way, “Rebellion against the authority implies rebellion against Gods ordinance.”
Because what Paul says here, as we see that the purpose of the laws that God is for our benefit, so too the purpose of government is for societies benefit. Governments and rulers are put in place to protect & reward the good and to punish and restrain the evil. They are to be a terror to be bad conduct.
This is the case with all governments. This is especially the case, of course, if the rulers and the governments know God and are following him. But this is true and accurate for non christian governments as well. The only difference being what their view of right and wrong is. But often, when the government is instituting and enforcing laws, the general outcome is that if you act good and follow the rules, it will be good for you, if you do evil and/or rebel against the authority it will be bad for you.
Another part to this is that God is showing that the government has the right to enact capital punishment. This can be a controversial topic, but Paul writes in verse 4 that if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
Now, there are some very clear and important limits on capital punishment in the scriptures. I don’t know if you noticed, but we actually looked at some of them the last few weeks. Romans 12:19,  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. This is showing that it is not for us as individuals to take vengeance into our own hands. So called vigilante justice, despite, I’ll be honest, sounding really good sometimes, goes against what Gods Word says.
We also saw that Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapter 5 addressed the Old Testament teaching of An Eye for an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth. Remember Jesus pointed out that this was, again, not for us as individuals to take part of, but it was used in the Old Testament in a legal setting. Not only that, but another one of Jesus big points in this was that we need to be careful that the punishment fits the crime.
Governments are not just given free rein, with no restrictions, no rules. God gives limits to their responsibilities and their powers. Capital punishment is not an across the board thing. It is not for any and all crime. It is not for without due process and it is not for whatever the Government decides to make it for.
Thats part of the thing we need to remember if we want to have a conversation about capital punishment. Yes, the concept is biblical. But we need to make sure that the application and the practice are as well. That is not being done in this country unfortunately. Too many states have too many different parameters and studies show that across the board, different verdicts can get handed down for the same crime.
But again, one of the biggest takeaways is that God has ordained that governments are allowed to administer appropriate punishment for breaking the laws that said government instills.
As we saw earlier, we have the dual responsibility to submit to the laws and authority to the government that God put in authority over us. Paul says here in verse 5, Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
But we also have the dual responsibility to put Gods laws ahead of mans. Again, for the sake of conscience. So, if or when, depending on your viewpoint, the government decides to outlaw the Bible, or make it illegal to hold biblical viewpoints, if government persecution gets to the point where it is in China, in Iran, in parts of Northern Africa, if it gets to the point where it was in Paul’s day, then we have a duty, an obligation to follow Gods laws. We will and are obligated to continue to preach and teach the bible. We are to continue to read our bibles and hold on the truth that is within.
Here the thing we forget though. WE stand up for Gods laws ahead of mans and man has every right to administer appropriate punishment. We break the law, we go to jail. Thats the way society works. Yes, we stand up to unjust laws. Yes we do what the bible tells us to. But if we break the laws, whether just or unjust, we need to understand that we will face the consequences and we should not be surprised to spend time in jail for it. Again, I’m not telling you not to stand up against unjust laws, laws that go against God, I’m saying there are consequences for doing so.
Paul finishes up this section, again, sounding much like Jesus’ teachings. Verses 6 & 7 are not things most of us want to hear.  For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
It pains me to read this and to say this but God says that we are to pay the taxes that our Government tells us to pay. Stinks, huh? Especially here in California? Now, again, that doesn’t mean that we don’t speak out against what we see as excessive or unfair taxes. Speak out absolutely. Get involved in trying to change things that you think, from a biblical view, need to be changed. Do what you can to ge the leaders, our representatives to listen and put policies, procedures and all that into place that you think are right and fair.
But we pay taxes to whom they are owed. Luke 20:21-25, Jesus addresses this. Remember that Israel was occupied by Rome at that time. The Jews didn’t want to acknowledge roman authority and Rome wanted to take as much money as possible and to exert as much authority as possible. So the Jews wanted to know, would Jesus side with Rome or Israel?
Luke writes:
they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality,[d] but truly teach the way of God. 22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius.[e] Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Now there is also a lot in that passage for a different day, but notice what Jesus says here. Romes authority is legitimate. The money they use is issued by Rome. So give it to them. You are issued by God. Give yourselves to Him.
Rome had authority over them, but it didn’t give them their authority, nor did it own them. If their identity was true, if their faith was real, nothing Rome did to them could take that away.
Who are you? Who has given you your identity? Is it the government? IS that who defines you and is that who you ut your trust in? Unfortunately, for too many today, that is the case. God put the government in place for the benefit of society, but it can not define us, it can not give us our identity and it will not and cannot save us.
Jesus Christ is the one who gives us our identity. The term Christian means Christ follower. We obey the government that he gave us, but He is who we follow. Before hand, it doesn’t make any sense, I know. I was there. I am an American. I dont need anybody to save me. I dont need to submit to any authority.
But once we submit ourselves to Gods authority, we surrender ourselves to him, we trust in Jesus Christ and the work he did, dying on the cross and raising from the dead. Then the Holy Spirit comes in and seals us, transforms our heart and opens our eyes. Now we have a new identity. Now we are no longer sinners. We are no longer who others tell us we are. We are no longer who we tell ourselves we are . We are no longer defined by our race, by our ethnicity, by our national citizenship, by our political leanings, by any of it.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t have any of those things anymore. We still are American. We still are white, black, hispanic, asian, Native American. We are still Republican or democrat or other, conservative, liberal or moderate. Those things play into making us who we are, and we can celebrate them, but they do not define us. They are not our identity.
We belong to Christ. Our citizenship is no longer of this world, but in the city which has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:10) We are citizens of the Kingdom of heaven, though we do not yet reside there. Jesus prayed that we would be in the world but not of it. (john 15:19) While we are in this world, we have a duty and a responsibility to care for it, to seek to do right and to preach, teach and live the Bible. Jeremiah 29:7 reads: But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
Lets Pray.

Romans 10:9-21 Salvation belongs to the LORD

Romans 10:9-21

Salvation Belongs to the LORD

Good Morning! Please turn with me in your Bibles to Romans chapter 10. We have seen Paul over the last couple of weeks, the last few chapters, and more generally, this whole letter to Romans, he is talking about salvation. Paul has been very clear about the need for salvation. We are all sinners and unable to save ourselves. We are all sinners and therefore separated from God. Paul has established the author of Salvation, Jesus Christ and he alone. Paul, as we saw last week has established the need for knowledge about salvation, calling those who refuse to acknowledge Christ as savior ones with Zeal not based off knowledge.

Today, in this section of scripture in romans chapter 10, Paul shows some of the mechanics of salvation, and again, emphasizes that those who are saved and secure in their salvation. And he is again establishing and emphasizing that salvation is for all, Jews and gentiles alike.

So with that, we will go ahead and read the text this morning. It’s a bit of a longer passage, as we will be reading verses 9-21, through the end of the chapter. You will likely recognize some of these verses, but as happens often in the Bible, when you recognize some verses, its likely you wont recognize others. So, I greatly encourage you to read along in your Bibles. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. Romans 10, verses 9-21.

Paul writes:

 because, 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.”

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

18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for

Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.”

19 But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,

I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”

20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,

I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”

21 But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

So as we start to examine this passage of scripture, there are two questions that seem to jump out, maybe a third if you want to flow into chapter 11. And the two questions are slightly different, but close enough that we will look at both of them this week. The first question is, How is one saved? & the second is like it, put in the words of the Philippians jailer in Acts chapter 16, as he addressed Paul and Silas, What must I do to be saved?

Now, as we get into these questions, and look at the Bible for the answers that we are given by God, I want to acknowledge one of the resources that has been a big help for me in studying those questions. This book, From Death to Life: How Salvation Works, by Allen Nelson IV is a simple, clear, concise, and straight Biblical account of what the bible says and teaches about salvation. I highly recommend picking up this book and reading it through. Its simple enough for beginners and in-depth and thorough enough for serious bible students. But I want to be clear that this book was a big resource for me as I prepped this sermon.

Now, as we look at this passage, we see it broken down into a few different sections, but yet, it’s not able to pulled apart and separated. Normally I would read these sections separately, as we walk through the text, but this text is so interconnected that even if we address it in chunks, we cannot separate these sections from each other.

Now the first couple of verses we look at here, we see Paul show us a glimpse of the mechanics and continue to assure those who have been saved. Confess and believe. Believe and Confess. Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth. It sounds so simple. It sounds so easy. And in many ways, it really is.

But, with something so clear and so simple, humanity comes along, we come along and we skew it. We either make it more difficult, by adding conditions on to it. We say, you have to do this, you have to be circumcised, you have to celebrate the festivals, you have to use this Bible translation, you have to confess to a priest or pray to someone other than Jesus. Even things we are commanded to do, like being baptized, if we add them as necessary to salvation, we add to the gospel and we change the gospel.

Or we try to help God, we try to simplify the Gospel so that there is basically no distinction between followers of Christ and those who don’t. We make it easier to follow his teachings, changing the meaning of the text, raising up the letters in red while downplaying any of the other words in the gospel. We make it easier to come to church and not be confronted with sin, to come to church and not hear the Words of God, to come to church and not be accountable. We make it easier by saying all you need to do is raise your hand and say a prayer and your good.

In both cases we are saying that Gods word is not sufficient. His sovereignty is not complete. He needs our help to reach and to save the people around us. The truth is, as we have seen throughout Romans and especially in the last few chapters is the God is completely and totally the sole author if salvation. And here, he makes it clear how he provides salvation to us.

Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth,  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Jesus says simply repent and believe in the Gospel. Here we do have to define terms. This is where the knowledge we talked about last week comes in to play. This is where knowing the comprehensive and systematic themes and words of the Bible shows its importance.

What does it mean to believe? Remember some of the stats we mentioned last week? Over 90% if Americans claim to believe in God. That is actually a good start, but does not go near far enough. The author of Hebrews writes in 11:6, whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists. But that’s just a starting point. God exists. Paul says that EVERYONE knows that, though most of the suppress it, as he explains in Chapter 1 of Romans. James also shows how this is but a starting point, and not enough, as he writes in his letter, chapter 2, verse 19,  You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

So, we see that belief that God exists is not enough. We must believe in our heart that Jesus is LORD. That he is God. He is the Son of God and he is God the Son, one-third of the trinity. This is a belief that is given free and clear, but a belief that demands something. This is not “easy believism.” I came across this quote a couple of days ago that I read a few years ago while in school. Gerald Sittser looks at the culture in America today and says this:

In modern American culture, we can be “spiritual” without actually believing in a particular faith tradition and belonging to a particular faith community, especially Christianity. This kind of fuzzy spirituality allows us to fashion a spiritual life that suits our immediate interests and consumer tastes. But such spirituality often lacks substance, integrity and discipline. It means everything and nothing at the same time; it is as vacuous as Hollywood’s definition of love.”

God tells us clearly here that this is not how it’s supposed to be. We are to have faith. Not a general, generic faith that doesn’t actually mean anything, But a saving faith in Jesus Christ, his godhood, his humanity, his life, his death, his resurrection. And this faith is not of our own, but a gift from god in and of itself as Paul writes in Ephesians 2. Now, some don’t like to here that. Paul writes in Romans 3 that none of us chase after God of our own volition. Jeremiah says that our hearts are deceitful above all things. Paul says here that it is only through this saving faith that we can be saved, and then I Ephesians 2 that our faith is not from ourselves, but a gift from God.

Some would argue that this means that we don’t do anything, we have no say in our salvation. They are both right and wrong. We don’t play any role in our salvation, not in initiating it, not in earning it, not even in accepting it, for as Jonah cries out, Salvation belongs to the LORD. Allen Nelson takes the biblical text and lays out 5 things that happen, that need to happen, that work together and all that in regards to salvation.

First, the Gospel is proclaimed. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ. We cannot be saved, we cannot know what salvation is or how to be saved without hearing from God. And the way that God communicates with us is through his Word. Hebrews 1:1 & 2: Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

No one can come to know God without hearing the Word, without the scriptures. Second, through hearing the word of God, God moves in us, he calls us. The Spirit quickens in us. However you want to say it, we talked last week about Jesus lifting the veil from our eyes. Ezekiel talks about changing our heart from one of stone to one of flesh. This happens inside of us, by God and has nothing to do with us. At this point, if God does this, if he calls us, we will end up responding.

Thats number three. We respond in faith and repentance. This is where we play a part in our salvation, even if we don’t have a say in it. Now, we may, and most of us did or will fight this, again, suppress it, resist it as best we can, for as long as we can. But, if God has called us we will respond. 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.”

When we respond with repentance and faith, number 4 happens. God justifies us. He declares us righteous. This is where the death of Christ on the cross actually come in to play. Sin, of which we all commit, is treason against God. Sin, in any shape and size makes us instantly and completely unrighteous. In order to get back into a right relationship with him and in order to not be punished for the sins we committed, a punishment we so rightly deserve, we need to become righteous. But we can’t. We are completely, physically, emotionally, spiritually, 100% unable to make ourselves righteous. Not only that, but even if we could, we can’t undo the things that we already did to make our selves guilty, to make ourselves unrighteous.

But Jesus can and does. He lived a perfect and completely righteous life, so that he had no sin to make up for, no sin of his own to atone for. He died a death, a sacrifice for sin. The wages of sin are death, (Romans 3:23). God showed us and Adam and eve in Genesis 3 that sin requires death to cover it up. God shows in the Old Testament through the sacrificial system that blood and death are required to make up for sin. The animals that were sacrificed were a temporary measure and they could atone for sin that had not been committed yet. Jesus dies a death that was undeserved. The death of his perfect life, his blood shed was sufficient to cover all of our sins.

But, it didn’t stop there. Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. He didn’t stay dead. One of my favorite hymns is In Christ Alone. The third verse says

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

When we are justified, when we are saved by grace through faith, when we respond with repentance and faith, we are now his. We are no longer clothed in our own unrighteousness. We are no longer given the identity of sinner. But we are his and He is ours. We are clothed with Christs perfect righteousness. We are now called saints by God. We are his.

Of course we know, every single one of us should be able to testify and admit, that we don’t stop sinning. We will trip up. We will stumble. We will not achieve perfect righteousness of our own, not in this lifetime. Sin’s curse has lost its grip on us. But sins curse has not yet lost its grip on this world.

But number 5, after justification, comes sanctification. The sinner grows in Christ. We grow in Christ. We sin less. We read his Word. We love his church and his people. We show our love for him by obeying his commands, summed up in Love God with all your heart, mind, body and soul. And Love your neighbor as yourself.

In this part is what we talked about last week, growing in the wisdom and knowledge of God. Having a zeal for him, based on knowledge. Putting that knowledge into action and serving and loving our God.

But this section of scriptures also points out one very important aspect of what we are called to do. To share the good news of the Gospel, to share the share of Christ and his Word with those who don’t yet know Christ. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

Despite what we hear in the wording of that passage, we are not all called to be preachers, not in the sense that I am up here preaching. We are not all called to the office of pastor or elder. But we are all called to be able to help spread the Gospel.

There is no hope outside of Christ. There is no salvation outside the Word of God. God is clear in his Word that no actions, no abilities, no obedience can earn or merit or achieve or anything in regards to our salvation. Our best works are like filthy rags to him. However, after we know Christ, after we have been justified, as part of our sanctification, works will show our faith. And we are called to obey. One of his commands is to share this great news with everyone. We are to spread the Gospel to all people, tribes and nations, making disciples of all nations, teaching them what Christ commanded.

We do that without regard to what we view of as success. Our success is obedience. The results are in Gods hands. And Paul warns us that many will hear and not respond. Not all who hear will be saved, but rest assured, all who are saved will have heard. And we all, each and every one of us, has been disobedient and contrary. We have all committed this cosmic treason, as RC Sproul refers to it. And yet, God has held out his hands and gathered us in. Remember Romans chapter 8, verse 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.

And so, we praise and we glorify our almighty God the Father and God the Son, Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit. And Paul tells us, here this morning in verses 11-13: “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.”

When we are his, and he is ours, we see the last verse on In Christ alone,

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

One other thing Jesus tells us to do is to remember, to celebrate in remembrance. Today, 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 8:31-39 Nothing Separates us from God

 

Romans 8:31-39

Nothing Separates us from God

Good Morning! Please go ahead and open up your Bibles to Romans chapter 8. If you do not own a Bible, we do a have a pile on the back table that you are free to help your self to, as our gift to you.
So, this week we come to the end of our sub series through Romans Chapter 8. We have spent the last month and a half in this chapter, since before VBS, in fact. Not only is this the last section in Chapter 8, but what we are looking at today is the very wrap up of what Paul has expressed, argued and taught up until this point.
In these final verse if chapter 8, Paul puts the final nail in the point that he has been building to. Paul puts the complete and total emphasis on the faithfulness and promises of God. He started the chapter reassuring us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
And one way to describe the one of the main points he makes through chapter 8, culminating in the emphasis today, is that if you are in Christ Jesus, there will never be any condemnation because once you are in Christ, you will never be out of Christ.
Last week, Paul showed that all things work together for those that love God. That the Holy spirit works inside of us and through us as we continue progress in our walk and our growth. And Paul showed that God knows and determined all things before the beginning of time, so we can have a peace and rest that, pulling from Philippians 1, what God has stated and what he has started will, fully, completely, and without exception, come to perfect fulfillment. If he started saving you, you will be saved. In fact, because of who God is, in his time, in his eyes, its already done. It is finished.
With that in mind, lets go ahead and read the last section of Romans 8, this weeks passage, Romans chapter 8, verses 31-39. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. In Romans 8:31-39, Paul writes:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Bad things happen to us. There is spiritual warfare going on all around us. This world is fallen and broken and we are fallen and broken. Sin is our first and only response with out Christ. Suffering and pain are a part of this life. But God has a promise for us.
As he says in verse 18, For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. God promised those of us that are in Christ Jesus eternity future in perfect paradise. And not only that, It will be so much better there & then than it is here & now, that we wont even think about or remember or pains and struggles from now.
Thats the hope and the promise that gets us through now and gets us til then, but that doesn’t lessen the pain and suffering from now, and so Paul last week and this week helps us remember things that can get us through the stuff of today. Last weeks point was that God works all things together for good and what he has planned, what he has promised, what he planned, not only will happen, but has happened. We can have trust that he fulfills his promises.
What then shall we say? That spiritual warfare going on all around us, the pain and suffering that is the result of the enemy, his demons and sins that are perpetrated against us are designed to cast doubt and fear in us. Designed to make us forget Gods promises, his goodness, his power and control over all things. It is designed to cause us to neglect to give Glory and honor to God the Father.
One of the biggest doubts and fears that can pop up in a Christians mind, as it did for me, is, “Am I really saved? Am I really a Christian?” And that can be a valid question in certain circumstances. Im thinking especially in light of Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23, where he says, “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.’
And Paul, tells us that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. But we also see in the Gospels that, when Jesus was in the desert and Satan came to tempt him that the devil knows his scriptures. He knows them, I guarantee, better than you and I, and so he twists them. He knows how to use them to try and make them say things that they don’t say. He pulls out of context. He can use these scriptures to make it seem like God is saying he can never be sure about our salvation, when God makes it clear in numerous places that this is just not true.
Just a quick list, you can write these down and look at them later, a quick list Of scriptures that show that we can indeed be assured that we are saved. Romans 10:9 & 13, John 5:24, John 3:36, John 10:28, 1 John 5:10-13, Acts 2:38-39, Titus 3:5, & John 20:31. And the best of all, in my opinion, this passage right here that we are looking at.
If God says something, who can say differently? If God says that we are his children, that we are free from his wrath, than we can take that fact to the bank. If God is for us, then who can be against us? The love of God for us is shown, that he did not even spare his own son from His wrath, the wrath that we deserved but his son didnt. Paul says three chapter s previously, Romans 5:8, but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
What does he save us for, or maybe what does he save us towards? He saves us for his glory. He saves us for the aforementioned glory that is to be revealed to us. And he saves us from his wrath. He saves us from condemnation. He saves us from fear and doubt and sin and death.
The LORD God created all of creation. Everything, every single thing, from the biggest galaxies, universes, down to the tiniest things, smaller than atoms. All of it created by God. Included me and you. Including the perfect and holy standard of which he has the right to judge us. With God being the only one who can judge, he is the only one who can declare us guilty. Where God has forgiven, there is only forgiveness.
If God has declared us innocent, if he has justified us, what else can anyone, ourselves included say to that? If Christ died for us, if we have been given His righteousness, if He is interceding for us, who can say anything? We can’t, Satan cant, society certainly cant. We have been tried and judged and if we are in Christ, than we have been declared innocent and have been welcomed in to Gods family as his children and into his loving arms.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? Nothing that we go through in this life and in this world has the power to separate us from the love & goodness of God. All the things that the enemy throws at us, that are legitimately painful and meant to destroy us, our relationship with God and the good works that Christ prepared for us. These things that are meant to foster fear and doubt and worry. These things, as bad as they are and as real as the fear and worry feel, it can  do nothing to separate us from God and his love.
In dealing with these things, Paul says that we are more than conquerors, though it is not us who are good enough or powerful enough or anything of the like, but we are more than conquerors THROUGH him who loved us.
It is the power and the blood and the person and the work of Christ who brings us through these things. It is through him that we are able to come out the other side. It is through him, that we not only have our eternal security, but we also have kids of victories today. We have the choice about weather we let the enemy steal our joy about what Christ has done for us, whether we let him steal our peace about who we are in Christ.
Paul tells us some of the things that we have received here and now, to help us in this world, to fight these trials and suffering in the well known passage in Galatians 5 about the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; All things that the enemy tries to steal from us, if we let him, but Christ has already given us victory, we are more than conquerors through Him.
But when we forget these things, when allow the worries of today, how are we going to get through this month, where are we going to sleep, will we have enough gas, our food or whatever. Those very real and very scary worries that affect how we live and what actions we take. We let those fears cloud our thoughts about who God is. We let those doubts make us forget the goodness, the faithfulness and the holiness of God. And we forget the promises that he has made that not only has he already fulfilled but that he will fulfill in the future as well.
We forget what Paul says in the last 2 verses here, For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Gods Word is truth. Gods Word is fact. We dont always feel the truth of these words that Paul writes to us. We dont always feel the truth of Romans 8. Within that reality, that we dont always feel the truth of Gods Word, we can rest on the bedrock, on the foundation that Gods Word is truth no matter what we are feeling at that moment.
This is a mistake that we often make, we filter the scriptures, and what they mean, what the truth is, we filter them through our feelings and our emotions. Instead what we are supposed to do, what we need to do is filter and adjust our emotions and feelings through the truth of the Scriptures.
The World is telling us that we should follow our hearts we should be true to ourselves. As Paul has been showing us throughout Romans especially that our hearts are not to be trusted, Isaiah says that the heart is deceitful above all things. So the Bible tells us , when our heart and our feelings dont believe it or dont remember it, that we can still know it and be assured of the truth of this fact, nothing in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ill give you one of my other favorite quotes, not the Jonathon Edwards one, but one from RC Sproul, who says, When there is something in the Word of God that I Dont like, the problem is not with the Word of God, its with me.
No matter what we want, what we think, what we feel, the Word of God is truth and nothing surpasses that. Now, for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to the importance of putting scripture in context and how long we have been in Romans 8 and broken it down in to so many separate passages, I want to finish up today by reading through the whole chapter. I think its important, especially in a chapter like this that we dont end up losing the forest for the trees. We have gone through 39 verses, taking over a month and Paul had a theme here. He had a cohesive message that he was writing to the churches in Rome and I think that it sometimes does us good to read out loud, as it was written, the whole passage so that we can see the bigger themes that the Holy Spirit has inspired the writers of the Bible to put down in paper and pass down to us.
So Im going to read Romans chapter 8 and then I will close us in prayer.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.[a] 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
12 So then, brothers,[e] we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[f] of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[g] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Lets Pray.

Mark 4:1-20 The Soils and Seeds (VBS follow up)

Mark 4:1-20

The Parable of the Sower

Good Morning. Please grab your Bibles and turn to the Gospel of Mark, chapter 4. If you do not own a Bible, please grab one from the table in the back as our gift to you. Our joy and our prayer is for each and every person to have one.

Now, I said open up to Mark chapter 4, that’s not Romans chapter 8! No, we are taking a 1 week break from Paul’s letter to the churches in Rome and we are going to look at a passage in Marks Gospel.

This past week, as you can see by the decorations that are up, and the pictures that showed before the service, we held Operation Arctic!, our Vacation bible School. The theme and the lessons were exploring the Bible, the coolest Book on the planet. The purpose for doing this is to share the Gospel, the truth and the Good News with children in our community. We were doing our job, the job that God gave us, both as individual believers and as a church body. Right now, I want you to raise your hand if you were at all involved in VBS. That means attended, volunteered, donated, helped set up, or prayed for VBS. Look at how many hands are up.

As I was getting ready for this week, I was reflecting through the work that was going to be done and praying about the results to come. And It took me back to Marks Gospel.

Marks Gospel is a gospel of action, of movement. So now, when he slows down to look at chunks of Jesus teachings, it should be noteworthy.

Now, Marks Gospel is not necessarily in chronological order. However, some scholars estimate that the first three chapters of Marks Gospel take up a year and a half of his ministry. But here Mark slows down and shares some of Jesus teachings, of which Mark admits that these are still just a sampling. We will be looking at the first parable Mark has Jesus sharing, the Parable of the Sower. Over all we will be looking at Mark 4:1-20, but we are going to be breaking it up into sections.

First, I will read Mark 4:1 & the beginning of Verse 2:

 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he was teaching them many things in parables

When I talk to people that have gone over and done tours of Israel, that always tell some of the same stories. One of them is about demonstrations of the unique acoustics that are at play over there. Different hills and rocks and such cause such natural amphitheaters, allowing Jesus to sit on a hill and speak to thousands and have all of them hear him.

Water also makes sound carry. Jesus is being surrounded and pushed back everywhere he stops and here, he finally gets in a boat, gets a little off shore and speaks to those on the shore. The natural amphitheaters and the water allowing the sound to carry allowed this to take place.

Think about that for a moment, there’s more there than meets the eye. God could have chosen any where on Earth for civilization to pop up. Could have chosen anywhere For Israel to be given their piece of Land, anywhere for the Roman Empire to spread to and anywhere for Jesus to be born in and minister to. He also could have caused Jesus’ voice to supernaturally carry and boom so that thousands could here Jesus’ words. Instead he choose this piece of land, where the acoustics provide natural amplification and allowed Jesus words to be heard with out supernatural help, at least volume wise.

And so Jesus did address the crowd. He went in the boat to give himself some room, but he stood and he started teaching. Picking back up with v 2, Jesus relays the following parable:

and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty fold and sixty fold and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

So this is maybe one of the more famous parables that Jesus tells. It appears in all 3 of the Synoptic Gospels and really kicks off a series of parables here in Marks Gospel. I want to make sure we really look at this and the explanation that Jesus will be giving because there is a lot going on here.

So he starts off with the sower going out to sow some seed. When he does this, there are 4 results that Jesus shares. First, some of the seed was sown on a path, where the ground is hard. The seed is unable to get into the ground and just ends up sitting on top of the soil and being eaten by the birds.

Next, the seed falls on rocky ground. There is some soil there, the seed sprouts quickly, shoots up fast, but has very shallow roots, no foundation. So when the sun comes out it gets scorched and withers and dries out very quickly.

Third, The seed falls among weeds and thorns. It starts to grow there, but the weeds do what weeds due and chokes out the good seed, so that it doesn’t produce any harvest or grain.

So these were the first three of the four that Jesus told us about. Notice that, despite initial outward appearances, none of these three end up yielding positive results. That’s going to end up in a pretty low success percentage. But Jesus is not done and he gives one more example.

Fourthly, the seed is sown onto good soil. It produces grain and yields a harvest that increases its yield. It increases as much as 30 times, 60 times and 100 times.

Jesus lays out these 4 scenarios and then he says something odd. He says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Doesn’t that seem a little odd to you?

When you are teaching someone, when you are talking to someone, do you usually say things like that? Don’t all ears hear? Shouldn’t all ears hear? Jesus is going to explain that and the meaning of the parable next.

First the reason for parables and meaning of his words. Mark continue on in v 10,

 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that

they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.”

When Jesus taught to the public, he taught in parables. He did this on purpose because once he was with his disciples, often when he was with the Twelve, he would then explain the parables and some of the disciples might even understand them.

Jesus here is quoting Isaiah here. The context of that passage in Isaiah is interesting. Its in Isaiah 6, and God asks, whom should I send , who will go for us? Now the use of the word, “us” is a different point for a different time, but Isaiah responds and says, “Send me, Ill go!”

Here is what God tells him his message to the people will be. Isaiah 6, verses 9&10:

Go, and say to this people:

“‘Keep on hearing,[c] but do not understand;
keep on seeing,[d] but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people dull,[e]

and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

I then read the study notes for this section and it helps connect what Jesus is saying and what God is saying to Isaiah.

My Bibles study notes say this: The proclamation of the Word is paradoxical in its effect. The prophetic word closes the way of God to those who are rebellious, proud and hypocritical, but opens it to the deaf, the blind, the humble and the poor.

That’s what we see the teachings of Jesus showing us. The parables were used to teach because some people, who were listening to Jesus, were not ready to hear. Sometimes the truth was hidden in these stories. We often see the disciples not understanding even after Jesus explains it to them.

But Jesus says here that they will make sense to those who are in the know. To those who are not in the know, no matter how clear you make it, they will not understand. To those who have hardened hearts, closed ears, the Gospel, the Word of God is foolishness. Paul tells us such in 1 Corinthians 1: 18 &19:

 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

We will understand nothing that Jesus says, without Jesus or the Holy Spirit giving us understanding. Proverbs tells us this, James tells us this, We just saw Isaiah and Paul tell us this and Jesus tells us this.

With that in mind, we turn to Jesus explanation of the parable, picking up in Mark 4:13-20:

13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.[a] 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty fold and sixty fold and a hundredfold.”

So Jesus addresses all four of the situations that he spoke of moments ago. For the most part, this addresses 4 different kinds of people and their responses. However, we could also look at it as four different stages of life or situations where we hear the Word and our responses to it.

So first, Jesus tells us what the seed is that is being sown. It is the Word, it is the Gospel.

The first place the seed is sown is along a well walk, well-worn path. Satan has done such a good job make this path wide and easy, that when the seed is sown, when the word is spoken, there is no hearing at all, no acknowledgment whatsoever. The seeds are sown and immediately it is taken away. Jesus uses a path here in this parable, and he uses a path again in one of the other Gospels. Matthew 7: 13&14, Jesus tells us about 2 different paths in the world.

For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Obviously the path that these seeds were sown on was wide and easy.

The next situation is the seed sown on rocky ground, sprouting fast and withering quickly. I see this as someone who hears the word and starts to believe in their head, but has no heart change, no life change and as soon as troubles pop up, they bail. Practically, today, this could be someone who is walking along the path to, who is seeking, who is visiting church and interested in learning and seeking and something happens and turns them away.

The third is seeds sown among the thorns. I look at this and I see two specific instances that we see today. First is those who hear the word and may even intellectually believe, but at least acknowledge some validity to the Word. Yet, instead of changing their lives and handing it over to Christ, they refuse. They say, if I go ahead with this Bible stuff, with this Jesus stuff, Ill have to give up all the things I like in my life. Ill have to quit doing drugs and sleeping around, quit cheating, stealing, quit living for the world and I really don’t want to do that.  The cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

The second way I see this today is when someone is interested in hearing more, in seeing just what the Gospel is all about, but they are not willing or able to remove themselves from the people around them, friends, family, whatever, and they are so afraid of what those people around them will think that you can never get them into a one on one situation long enough to give them a chance to make a true, decision based on the Gospel.

I had one of these in my life a few years ago. He was mad at God and he would attack Christianity at any and all opportunity. I was able to live my life a way that allowed me to speak into his life IF and that s a big if, IF no one else was around. As soon as someone else was around, he felt, that to keep the image up and not open himself up to ridicule or whatever, he had to go on the offense.

Again, I want to point out that 3 of the 4 situations come away with a negative outcome. Again, see what Jesus said in Matthew, For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

One of the four, the last of the four is what Jesus desires. The seed sown on Good soil, hearing the word and accepting the Word and producing fruit. Now this section, this situation, this outcome includes all of us who are called children of God. If we are believers, we are in this 4th section here.

And there are a few things I want to point out now that Jesus is done explaining the parable.

First, when you are out there, sharing the seed, sharing the Word of God, most people will reject it in one of those three ways. Only one of the four ways is a positive outcome. I cant stress this enough when it comes to us sharing the Word. Most people will not respond in genuine conversion, at least not right away. Our job as one sowing the seed is not to ensure the good fruit-growing from it. That is the Holy spirits job. Our job is to get the word out there, to get the seed sown.

Paul addresses this in 1 Corinthians 3: verses 6-9:

6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

And here is the thing. We sowed seed this past week. You all here are well experienced with seed planting, helping out after the fire last year, the commodities food boxes each month, things like that. That seed has been and will be sown throughout Bangor and the surrounding communities. At that same time, the odds are against us seeing immediate, long term, genuine results. And whether it is there or not, is out of our control. God is the one to determine whether the seed sprouts and whether fruit grows or whether it doesnt.

The seed that we have all and will all sow throughout the community, many of those seeds wont sprout. God says “Dont worry about that, Ive got that.” Of the seeds that do sprout, not all are going to automatically come here. There are many reasons people will go to certain churches and not to others. Some of those are valid reasons, some of those are petty at best, but plain wrong in many instances.

My point is that God tells us to do what he has entrusted us to do, regardless of what the results are. He tells us to leave the anxiety, the worry, the stress behind and trust in gods goodness and his perfect knowledge, his perfect plan and his perfect will. If those who have heard the Gospel, if they respond, believe and repent, then getting them connected with a Gospel Preaching, Bible Teaching, Believer Discipling church is the number one thing. When we believe, we become part of Gods church, Gods family and so as long as we are committed to a local, discerning and orthodox church, orthodox, meaning right, historical, biblical beliefs. As long as new believers get hooked up with a church like that, they are good. My point in that is that we should not be discouraged if we are doing our job, doing what gods has called us to do and we don’t necessarily, especially early on and right away, see the numerical growth or the outward fruit of those works God calls us to do. The benefit’s of VBS, of commodities, of Fire outreach and relief, are not often or immediately seen. That doesn’t mean we stop doing it. We remember that God is in control of all of it.

Getting believers into Gods word is crucial. If there are no roots for the seed to grow and take hold, what is that root system? If there is an unrealistic expectation that there will be no troubles, that you become a Christian and you get rich and don’t get sick anymore, what is the foundation that shows us what god has and has not promised?

The Bible is where roots can take place. The Bible softens ground. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. One of the stories we shared and taught the kids this week, Matthew 7:24-27:

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

The Bible, the Word of God, Gods revelation of himself and Jesus Christ is that foundation. With Gods word as our foundation, when those rains come, when the thorns try to choke us and when the lack of root system causes issues, we will persevere. God will bring us through. We will not avoid hard situations and we will have the rains come, but God brings us through that with our foundation, our faith, everything still standing.

The last thing I want to point out is the mystery that RC Sproul points out in this parable. I’m going to paraphrase him here. He says, the mystery here is not moral teaching about humans hardness of heart. But instead, the mystery of this parable is the paradox that Gods kingdom, Gods reign, Gods power, is identified here with a fragile seed.

His point is that true power shows up humbly. True leaders will walk with humility. Jesus Christ is God. He is all knowing, all powerful, all everything. He is the King!

And yet, he comes down to us here on Earth as a human baby. He comes down in the must humble way possible. He comes down and he makes himself one of us. He puts off til later his right to reign on earthly as a warrior king and instead he gives up his life to die the most humbling death. The death on the cross. He does this for the forgiveness of our sins.

That is the seed that gets sown, that gets thrown on the soil. That is the seed that was planted in each and everyone of us. So, lastly, take a look and ask, question, look into yourself and see which one of these four results are you? Are you one sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.

Are you one sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Or, as I pray everyone here is , are you one sown on good soil, the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

I ask that you take that question seriously, dont just assume the answer, because those thorns, that rocky ground can trick us and be deceptive. They can look good and inviting and encouraging at first, but in them there is no true transformation, no true regeneration. If there is, if we have that transformation, if the seeds that are sown are sown on what God makes into Good soil, the fruit that comes out of it will be incredible and God will give the increase and fruit will be born thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”