Sunday, December 20, 2009

December 20th - Giving the Gift of Eternal Life

Giving the Gift of Eternal Life

Sermon Notes

Canyon Shearer

20 December 2009

Good morning, for those of you visiting this morning, I am not the pastor, but I do thank him for graciously loaning me his pulpit. My name is Canyon Shearer, I am Summit’s volunteer pastor of evangelism and I also teach Middle School Bible on Sundays. One of the reasons I am preaching this morning is because as of Friday, I have some letters after my name, an MDiv in counseling and an MAR in evangelism. In the 8:30 service we almost didn't get to the sermon, I was so mesmerized by the idea that I don't have a paper due this week that I just stared at the screen.

Please turn with me to Psalm 107. While you’re turning, let me tell you a brief story, you’re going to notice that I don’t move around too much behind this pulpit. The reason is because my normal stage is a soap-box that sits about 18 inches tall, and has a platform about two feet square. If I move around, I’ll fall off. I was preaching once in the open-air from my soap-box and had a lady heckle me, she yelled at me and told me to go read a certain popular book and I would see that “my god is a god of love, and he wouldn’t send anyone to Hell.” I did the last thing that she expected, I agreed with her, I cried out, “Ma’am, you are right, your god wouldn’t send anyone to Hell because he can’t, because he is a figment of your imagination; your god doesn’t exist!” When I said so I put some body movement into it, inertia took over; I lost my balance, and took a tumble. Sometimes when open-air preaching, it is hard to draw a crowd, that day was one of those days, but when I fell off my portable stage people came over to see what was going on and God was able to use my overzealous clumsiness for good.

So that is why I don’t move around much, because this stage is somewhat higher than my soap-box, and if I fell off, I might not get back up.

Hopefully by now you’re seeing a theme, that I like evangelism, and since I know you came this morning expecting a Christmas themed sermon, I’m going to do my best to point you not so much at the event of Christmas, but at the purpose of Christmas, that of giving the gift of Eternal Life. And as we do well to remember; Christmas without Easter wouldn’t be a holiday at all, and Easter without Resurrection Sunday wouldn’t be a holiday either. The whole thing revolves around Jesus’ ability to defeat death, and yet a famous Genevan Reformer once put it perfectly that, “If the gospel be not preached, Christ is, as it were, buried, let us stand as witnesses therefore and do him this honor.” Indeed it might even be said that if the gospel be not preached, Christ might as well not even have been born.

So we’re going to read from Psalm 107 today on how to do that. First, some basic context; this Psalm is anonymous and contextless. There is some evidence that this Psalm was written after the return from the Babylonian exile, but there is also some evidence that refutes that. Without going into it too deeply, the Psalmist here did a fantastic job of writing a beautiful Psalm that works for all believers at all times, and I encourage you to read the entire Psalm later today and see if it doesn’t tell your story; but today we are only going to read the first three verses.

Stand with me out of respect towards the Word of God.

Psalm 107:1-3 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.

Prayer – Father, bless the reading and hearing of your Word, let us be doers and not just hearers, recognizing that you are good and your steadfast love endures forever, you have redeemed us from so many wicked things but mainly from the curse of sin, and that you did by sending your Son Jesus Christ. Let us who are the redeemed proclaim your goodness and your grace, your love and your mercy, so that you receive the glory, for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever, amen.

I know you may be thinking that this is a stretch for a Christmas passage, but beloved, I can assure you that it has everything to do with Christmas. My first point is that we have to know the purpose of Christmas just as much as we have to know the event of Christmas. We all know the story of the census, the manger, the angels, the wise men, the Nazarene baby born of a virgin in Bethlehem called out of Egypt, but why is any of that important? Let’s let scripture answer that, why did Jesus come, why was he born?

John 12:46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

Luke 4:17-19 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He (Jesus) unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

And my favorite,

John 18:37-38 Then Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world— to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice." Pilate said to him, "What is truth?"

Jesus was born to bear witness to the truth, and what is truth? The truth is our first verse, that the Lord is good, his steadfast love endures forever. He is both totally righteous and totally merciful, the just and the justifier, God is love and yet God will by no means clear the guilty; he is a perfect judge and a perfect judge must be just, will not the judge of all the earth do right? Yet he is love and a loving God is mighty to save. these are totally contradictory ideas yet Jesus came to bear witness that God is both good and merciful, but the judge and the forgiver.

Now the translation you are using may not say steadfast love, the reason being is because this word in Hebrew is impossible to translate, it is Chesed and it carries so many meanings with it that it is very difficult to capture in a single word.

The ESV translates it as steadfast love.

The Holman translates it as faithful love.

The KJV translates it as mercy.

The NIV translates it simply as love.

The NASB translates it as lovingkindness.

In fact, the English word lovingkindness was actually invented to try to capture the meaning of Chesed. The word bears with it a faithful love in action that overlooks transgression; grace or agape love fit into the definition of Chesed. Remember this word, we’re going to be looking at it momentarily.

Our second verse says that the redeemed of the Lord ought to bear witness to the truth, but we have to ask ourselves first, what are we redeemed from? This is our second point.

Galatians 4:4-5 When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

We are redeemed from under the law, the law which meant life but which when transgressed has meant death for you and I. This is precisely the definition of sin, according to First John 3:4 which says sin is transgression against the law. One of the biggest sins, I’m sure, is trying to set ourselves up as God, check out Proverbs 20:6.

Proverbs 20:6 Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?

Anybody want to take a guess as to which word translates steadfast love? You guessed it, Chesed. Only God has a perfect steadfast love, a perfect chesed, yet almost every person will proclaim their own. The KJV really gets this verse right when they translate it here, “most men will proclaim every one his own goodness.” And it's true, I've asked over 2,000 people if they consider themselves to be a good person, and I've yet to find a non-Christians who would answer this question correctly, "There is none good but God."

Beloved, if you’re good, then you don’t need to be redeemed, and you certainly don’t need a Redeemer, because you’ve set yourself up as your own personal redeemer. You’ve pretty much declared to God that you are as good as him and therefore are set to go, Jesus agrees in Luke 5 when he says,

Luke 5:32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.

He doesn't save good people, he came to save the bad. How do we turn ourselves and others from declaring our own godliness to recognizing that we and they are a sinners in need of redemption? Just as Jesus was born to redeem those of us under the law, so does that same law show us our sin.

Romans 3:19-20 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Jesus said he came to seek and save the lost, if you’ve never been lost, how could you be saved? And this not an easy law, it’s a law that says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” but Jesus said, “If you look with lust, you’re guilty of adultery already in your heart.” It’s a law that says, “Thou shalt not commit murder, and everyone who murders is liable to the judgment,” but Jesus said, “If you hate someone, or call them an idiot or a curse word, you’ll be judged as a murderer, and you’re liable to Hell.” It’s a law that says all liars will have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. Surely the wrath of God will be revealed against all ungodliness.

To this effect the evangelist Leonard Ravenhill said,

"If I was to ask you tonight if you were saved? Do you say 'Yes, I am saved'. When? 'Oh so and so preached, I got baptized and...' Are you saved? What are you saved from, hell? Are you saved from bitterness? Are you saved from lust? Are you saved from cheating? Are you saved from lying? Are you saved from bad manners? Are you saved from rebellion against your parents? Come on, what are you saved from?"

I was preaching on KSU some time ago and a female student cried out, “We don’t care!” I responded, “That’s why I’m out here!” She responded, “But we don’t care!” I replied, “I know you don’t care, you need to care and know that lest you repent, you will surely perish, unless you care, you won’t recognize that Jesus Christ is God and you are not.”

She put together a very eloquent and very well structured reply of nothing but curse words pointed at Jesus Christ, then turned and directed a similar assault towards me.

Beloved, I was offended, she said some very nasty things about me, I wanted to vindicate myself so badly and it was everything I could do to not cry out, “Watch your mouth, there’s ladies present!” But something, or more accurately someone, inside of me was also offended, the Holy Spirit, infinitely more offended and infinitely more capable of vindicating Jesus Christ than I was of vindicating myself; so my response came from Psalm 73 and 139 fused together,

“When you take the name of the Lord your God in vain, you set your mouth against Heaven, you declare war on the God who made you. And this is not a God who loses wars.”

Remember I said that sometimes gathering a crowd is difficult? That day was somewhat slow, but with her outright assault against God, a very large crowd that was walking by stopped in their tracks, and I was able to go instantly into the gospel, which is how we are redeemed.

This is my favorite part and the third point. Martin Luther said to preach 90% law and 10% grace, in other words, 90% what you need redeeming from and 10% how you are redeemed; which means most of the message to unbelievers should be outright violence, seeking to show them their lostness, their hopelessness, their sinfulness, then when they see that they are not good, that they are dead in their sins and trespasses, enemies of righteousness, children of wrath, children of disobedience, children of Hell, following after their father the devil and utterly without hope, then you finally you get to open the floodgates of grace.

And how are we redeemed? Two-thousand and some years ago, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God manifest in the flesh, stepped out of Heaven, born of the virgin Mary, he lived a perfect sinless life, tempted in every way we’ve been tempted but he never succumbed, then thirty three years later he went willingly to the cross to pay for our sins. He would pray in Psalm 69 that what he did not steal he had come to repay, we broke the law and he paid the fine. The wrath of God against sin was poured out on him, and he died in our place, despised by men and forsaken by his Father...and then he was laid in a tomb.

He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we can become the righteousness of God in him.

Hebrews 9:15 sums up our redemption,

Hebrews 9:15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

But beloved, it doesn’t end there, but if the gospel be not preached, it might as well; but three days later Jesus Christ rose from the grave, he lives forevermore to judge the quick and the dead and to make intercession for his saints.

So what ought we do about it? This is the third part of our passage and my fourth and last point. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.

Notice the verb here, say, you're never going to guess what it means. It means to say, it means speak, which means vocalize, it means declare, it means open your mouth, it means tell, it means you have say something. Peter shares the sentiment in 1 Peter 2:9, that we ought to proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. Paul said in Romans 10:17 that faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of Christ. Jesus said that he who has ears, let him hear. You have to speak, you have to proclaim, you have to vocalize that God is good and his steadfast love endures forever.

There is a quote that many hide behind that says, “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” A parallel would be saying, “Feed starving children at all times and when necessary use food.” Beloved, you have to open your mouth, being deliberate as the redeemed of the Lord to tell people of your redemption, both what you were redeemed from what you were redeemed to and how you were redeemed, and especially about your Redeemer.

We’ve all heard that it is more blessed to give than to receive, and so beloved, in this Christmas season and out of this Christmas season, I implore you as the redeemed of the Lord to proclaim the excellencies of the King who was born from Heaven, who though he was rich for our sake became poor, in order that he and now we give the gift of Eternal life. Just as Jesus’ purpose was to bear witness to the truth, you go likewise and make it your purpose to bear witness to the truth.

Titus 2:13-15 really sums up the whole thing well,

Titus 2:13-15 We are waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

I love that last verse, let no one disregard you, you go after them anyways, tell them they have to listen to you! You have the words of Eternal Life! So let us as the redeemed of the Lord say so.

And finally, as powerful, as beautiful, and as Christmassy as Psalm 107 is, there is an implication within this verse that it is the redeemed of the Lord who are to be doing the speaking; if you are not redeemed, then this passage is not for you, you have no part nor lot in the kingdom of Heaven, you are still under the law, and God’s wrath abides on you.

If you have never repented towards Heaven and placed your faith in the Living Christ in order to receive forgiveness and righteousness, then I implore you in the name of the Redeemer Jesus Christ, be reconciled to God. There is one mediator between you and God, the man Jesus Christ, who was dead but is alive, so where you sit call out to him in repentance, beg him to save you, and beloved be sure that he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to him in faith. If you have questions, we have counselors available, but they can't save you, only the Nazarene baby born in a manger in Bethlehem called out of Egypt who grew up to die for you can save you; he is good, he steadfast love does endure forever, and he is mighty to save.

For those of us who are redeemed, the call today is to follow Jesus, emulate him in seeking and saving the lost, giving the gift of eternal life, and bearing witness to the steadfast love of Jesus Christ. Maybe that is through an overseas mission trip, maybe that is through open air preaching and street ministry, maybe it is through teaching a class, maybe it is through being an assistant teacher, or maybe you're not even in a fellowship and you need to take the first step and join this church. Whichever it is, beloved, I ask you to do something to declare the excellencies of your King.

Let’s pray. – Lord God Almighty, we are so humbled under your love, that you would send your Son from Heaven to dwell among men so that we would no longer have to dwell under the law, but that you have adopted us as sons. How can we keep this to ourselves? As your redeemed give us the words to speak and the boldness to speak them so that your name receives the glory, for you are good, and your steadfast love endures forever. Let us hail the heaven born Prince of Peace, who has brought life and light, let us join with the heavenly host as they sing his praises. In the righteous and resurrected name of Jesus Christ that I pray, amen.


Charles Spurgeon, after preaching a sermon similar to this one, gave one of the best exhortations I’ve ever heard. Charles Spurgeon was a famous preacher in the late 1800’s, the man had a vocabulary that was so large he could make a dictionary blush for inferiority, and so you knew every time he said something it was going to be precisely what he intended to say. When exhorting his hearers, as the redeemed of the Lord to say so, he summarized his sermon this way, “Do something, do something, do something!”

So beloved, I implore you to do something, we have resources on the welcome desk that will teach and equip you on how to give the gift of eternal life, or check out Summit's website, we have a fantastic gospel presentation that is designed to be sent to your friends and family. Just do something.

Remember that if the gospel be not preached, Christ is, as it were, buried, let us stand therefore as witnesses and do him this honor.

Stand with me for your benediction, and won’t you please give someone the gift of Eternal Life this season. Your benediction today is from Isaiah 60 and Second Thessalonians:

Arise, and shine, for the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness the people, but the glory of the Lord has risen upon you and his light is seen upon you, and nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. May the Lord Jesus Christ himself establish your hearts in every good work and word so that through your life all of the glory goes to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Merry Christmas. Amen.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December 13th - God of Wonders

Text - Colossians 1:15-17 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by 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. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

We watched the first 12 Chapters of God of Wonders, available from:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December 6th - The End of the Law

Prayer Requests
Tyler's Family
Keith Gardener's Health
William's Leg
Bethany's friend Melissa's family and house
Summit at Christmas
Christmas Parade Outreach - December 12th
Dave and Brooke and Eden

Text – Hebrews 10:1

Challenge – Memorize John 1:14 and 18:37 about Christmas.

Beloved, today I can't justify why I picked this topic except that I had very little preparation time and so you're getting a rehashed lesson on the law. The law is vitally important to know, so we're going to spend the class on it. This is also sort of Christmassy, because it points at why Christ came.

There are 613 laws in the Old Testament, they can be summarized in two, can anyone recite them?

Matthew 22:36-40 Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."

We're specifically going to look at the 10 Commandments today, but as we've looked at them in the past was pointed at you and me, today we're going to look at them through Jesus, using Hebrews 10:1 as our guide.

Hebrews 10:1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.

The law is just a shadow of the good things to come. Who do you think it is a shadow of? Jesus Christ, Let's see where it explicitly says that;

Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

The law is good, in fact in Psalm 19 it says it is perfect, and Romans 2:20 really sums up why it is so good,

Romans 2:20 ...having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth...

It is the embodiment of knowledge and truth. I like that word, "embodiment", does it remind anyone of anything?

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus Christ, who was God from everlasting, was a spirit until Christmas two millennia ago, when he put on flesh, became the embodiment of God on earth, and the law points to him perfectly, it was a shadow of his coming, it shows us his perfection.

I'm going to teach you two Latin phrases today. Before we do that, who remembers what Post Tenebrae Lux means? Out of darkness, light. Two words in Latin which are going to deal with our law and our king, they are "Lex" which means "Law", and "Rex" which means "King."

Our two phrases are Lex Rex, and Rex Lex. They sound like the same thing, but they are not, they deal with progression and so the order they appear in is important, as to which one came first and which one is superior. Is the king supreme and therefore makes the laws, or is the law supreme and therefore is king?

Lex Rex means that the Law is King, or the Law makes the King. It is wrong in theology, but right in government.

Rex Lex means that the King is Law. It is right in theology, but wrong in worldly government.

We want earthly kings to abide by the law, not them to be able to be the law. Samuel Rutherford stood against the monarchy of England, stating that Lex Rex is the way to run a country, and Thomas Hobbes and John Locke were greatly impacted by it, and Rutherford's book, Lex Rex, was instrumental in the formation of the Constitution of the United States, even though it was written 150 years earlier. When Charles the Second of England read that he wasn't the law, he ordered the book burned and cited Rutherford for high treason, but Rutherford died before they could do anything about it.

The law is good and right because it is a shadow, a pointer, to Jesus Christ. Jesus didn't keep the law because it was something he had to do, the law was given to show that Jesus is perfect, the law proceeded from the King. Everytime there is a law in the Bible, it isn't to just keep you from doing something, it is to point at the perfection of Jesus Christ. For example,

Leviticus 11:6-10 And the hare, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. You shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you. "These you may eat, of all that are in the waters. Everything in the waters that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat. But anything in the seas or the rivers that has not fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is detestable to you.

The passage goes on to talk about birds that eat carrion as well. The point of the passage is that all of these things named either eat manure or dead things, and by their consuming of filthy things, you will become filthy by association, and therefore couldn't be allowed into the presence of God. Jesus Christ is neither a sinner by action nor by association, he is holy perfect and undefiled. The dietary laws were a hard law to keep, and fortunately Christ has shown us that it is not what goes into a person's mouth, but what comes out of it, that makes them unclean.

Matthew 15:17-20 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.

So without further adieu, let's look at how Jesus fulfills the 10 Commandments and the Shema, which is what the summation of the law is called, which means literally "Hear!"

1. Love the Lord your God

John 14:31 I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.

Jesus proved he loved his Father by keeping his commands, and doing everything he was sent to do.

2. You shalt not bow down to idols

Matthew 4:8-10 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, "'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"

3. You shalt not take the name of the Lord your God in vain

Romans 2:23-24 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."

Jesus never broke the law, because he bore witness to the truth, and bore the weight of condemnation, he showed that God is both totally just in punishing sin, and totally graceful in saving sinners, but only by sending his Son to bear the wrath which justice demands in our place, so that we receive the righteousness of God by grace.


Matthew 12:36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak...

When we speak idle words, like "ummm" or "like" or any gossip or thing that is not eternally important, then we tell the world that every word God has spoken is not eternally important. For example, I've probably said um a few times in this class, would this class be worse off or the meaning changed if I hadn't said um? No, because you just ignore the "um"s, but with Christ you can't ignore even a word he said, because he spoke no idle words. We know how Christ is set apart from sinners, and in one more way he is more righteous than us, we know that he never said um or like or ya know.

When representing the name of God, he was perfect in every way, totally righteous, totally perfect, and he never took God's name in vain in either word or action. As God's original apostle, he was a perfect ambassador from Heaven.

I want to show you something pretty neat, we're created in God's image, right? Here is how you write God's covenantal name in Hebrew: יהוה If you stack those up, you get a little human stick man...err...person. That is not all it means to be created in God's image, but the main point is we are God's representatives to earth, visual representations of him, and so when we sin, we tell the world that God is a sinner, but Christ never sinned, so he perfectly represented God.

4. Honor the Sabbath Day, To Keep it Holy

Jesus Christ said that man was not created for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath created for man. (Mark 2:27) He was the Lord of the Sabbath, Sabbath meaning rest.

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Some of these, actually all of these, we could really dig into and spend a whole class on, so this is just the overview. Read Hebrews 3 and 4 to see Jesus being the total fulfillment of the Sabbath, that we have eternal rest in him and not just one day in seven.

5. Honor your Father and Mother, the first commandment with a promise, that you may live long on the earth.

Did Jesus honor his Father? Yes he did, did he honor his mother? Yes he did. An off-topic point, as Christmas comes around you will probably hear Mary referred to as the Theotokos, the mother of God. She is the mother of Jesus, but she is NOT the mother of the Father or the Holy Spirit, so to call her the Theotokos is way wrong. Poor James and Jude must have had a terrible time growing up with a brother who was perfectly obedient to his parents. I wonder if Joseph ever asked, "James, why can't you be more like your brother Jesus?" James could come back and say, "It's because you're a sinner dad, and your genetics have made me a sinner."

Hebrews 5:8 ...speaks of Jesus' obedience to his Father, Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.

6. Thou Shalt not Murder

It would be easy to skip past this one and say that murder is when you take someone's life unlawfully, and Jesus, as King and Sovereign and the one who is offended, takes everyone's life lawfully and with due evidence, but I want you to recognize that he never took anyone's life while he was here, he left all vengeance up to his Father. He was spit upon, he was beaten, he was slandered, his own neighbors tried to throw him off a cliff, and just as he can give life by a word, he could have taken life by a word as well, yet he restrained himself and did not take any lives.

James 4:12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy.

7. Thou Shalt not Commit Adultery

Who is Jesus' betrothed? The church. He loves her and laid his life down for her, she is his only bride, in Heaven will be that marriage of the Christian church and the Son of God, a perfect union.

Jesus never looked at a woman with lust, he never considered dating one, he was and is totally focused on his bride Israel, which in modern days encompasses the church and leaves out national Israel. He is not eloping with the Muslim religion, or the Zoroastrian religion, or the Jewish religion, he is totally faithful to his beloved, the church. And this point proves there is no life in outer space, lest Christ would have some other girlfriend in some other galaxy.

Isaiah 61:10 As a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

8. Thou Shalt not Steal

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

When Christ was on the cross, he prayed this;

Psalm 69:4 What I did not steal must I now restore?

9. Thou Shalt not Bear False Witness

Titus 1:2 hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began...

God never lies, in fact, it is impossible for him to lie, because his will is only for good. When Jesus came, it was to tell the truth, in fact, he is the truth (John 14:6), and is called true. (Revelation 19:11)

John 18:37 Then Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world— to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice."

10. Thou Shalt not Covet

Jesus Christ, who is the creator and owner of EVERYTHING, doesn't need anything, and the Bible says even if he did, he wouldn't tell us.

Psalm 50:12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.

Yet he emptied himself, he left the riches of Heaven to become the poorest of poor, in that he was thankful for the provision that God gave him, he didn't covet anything during his life on earth, even though he could have reached out and taken anything, because he owns everything, but did not esteem himself to that level.

So we are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves. We see that Jesus loves God totally, how did he love his neighbor?

Matthew 5:43-35 You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Jesus laid down his life for his enemies, that while we were in willful rebellion against him, breaking all 10 of these Commandments and probably 600 more, Christ died for us. He was the only man to deserve Heaven, the only man who never sinned, the only man who would have never died, if he hadn't given his life for his sheep as the Good Shepherd. We'll talk more about this shepherd language when we get back to Peter, which might not be until January.

So Jesus is Rex Lex, our King is the law, we don't have these commandments for just moral reasons, but to point to Christ, and show that he is totally perfect and we are totally not. He is the end of the law for all those who believe, he was perfect, yet he faced a sinners' judgment, so that we who are sinners can face a perfect judgment.

We are required to repent and confess all of our sins, it is a command of Jesus in various places, but how many of us have kept this commandment? Have you repented perfectly? Have you confessed every sin you have ever committed perfectly? Every one? If you miss one, it will condemn you.

But Jesus, our perfect Saviour, even kept that command for us. On the cross he took possession of our sins, he called them his own, and he confessed to his Father our transgressions, which he called his own, so now we can be totally perfect, not on our works, but because Christ has done all of the work for us.

Psalm 69:5 O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.

Hebrews 10:14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.


Go home and read Psalm 51 from the vantage point that this is Jesus Christ confessing your sins as his own. Meditate on this fact and think about all that Jesus has done for you. Think about how hard it must have been for Jesus to confess these sins that he hadn't committed.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

November 29th - The Importance of Doctrine

Prayer Requests
Communion Service
Pastor Aaron Surgery
William's Surgery
Hannah's Grandma Mission Trip
James' Finger and Friend
Black Friday Preaching
-Jenna 17y/o first time hearing the gospel
-A Few Thousand Gospel Tracts
Students Still Traveling

Text – Hebrews 5:10-6:9

This will be our last major lesson on the theme of the importance of being a priest and evangelist of God. Last week we talked about what happens to a nation if the priesthood fails, and that God’s contention is with the priest who has forgotten knowledge. The passage we are going to look at today talks about this, but more so from the angle of how to fix it.

We’ve stepped out of Peter’s Epistle again, but the topic is totally keeping with 1 Peter 2:2-11, even using many of the same words. I’m fairly certain Peter was a co-author with Paul of Hebrews, so we’re still in one of Peter’s Epistles. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to learn in Heaven that Hebrews and First Peter were written on the same desk with the same pen, since their themes are so close to one another. Both were written about AD65 in Rome, Paul was detained, but in a house,

Acts 28:16,30-31 And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier that guarded him. He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

The “we” there is Luke with Paul among others.

The reason I chose today’s passage to look at is because it starts off talking about Melchizedek, then the authors realize that this topic is over the heads of their readers, and I think they actually get mad that their readers don’t even understand the basics of their faith, so they stop talking about Melchizedek momentarily to give an exhortation against light preaching, to tell the congregation to dig deep into the Bible and not settle for basic doctrines.

Real quick, who remembers why Melchizedek is important?

Hebrews 5:5-6 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, "You are my Son, today I have begotten you"; as he says also in another place, "You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek."

The way this will relate to us is both as hearers and as teachers, and so we need to pay attention to it from both directions. Pretend, on one hand, you’re standing there with Paul and Peter as they dictate while Luke writes, and on the other hand, actually be the audience who is receiving this letter.

Hebrews 5:10-6:9 [Jesus] being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation.

Part of this passage has been used to say that Christians can lose their salvation, this is absolutely ridiculous, you didn’t earn your salvation, you can’t lose your salvation.

Romans 11:29 The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

We’ll look at why a passage which seemingly says you can lose your salvation is in the Bible, and why it doesn’t teach that you can lose your salvation, but rather something much more glorious and useful.

So, the author starts out by saying he has much to say about Melchizedek, but that the readers don’t have the foggiest idea of the basics and so going into such a deep subject as Melchizedek is going to be over their heads. Then he yells at them, saying “You’re still students! You ought to be teachers by now! You’re still on milk, on baby food, when you should be eating steak by now!”

v. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

The church that is being written to had grown lazy, they weren’t reading their Bibles, they weren’t constantly testing doctrines to see if they were from God or not, they were basically sitting around listening to the same old thing all the time. Chapter 6:1-3 is going to tell what those things were, telling us to get them right, then to move on.

v.1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity,

The doctrine of Christ is who he is, that he is one Person of the Trinity, greater than angels, eternal, the Creator, he put on flesh and died for sins, then defeated death and reigns forevermore. It is great to know who he is, but once we understand who he is, then we move onto other things.

v.1 not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,

By which we receive salvation, turning from our sins and selves, and turning towards righteousness and God.

v.2 and of instruction about washings,

Washings, or baptisms here, is definitely the spiritual one by which you are washed of your sins, and maybe also the symbolic one of being immersed in water representing you having died with Christ and being raised to walk in newness of life. It relates directly to the laying on of hands onto the scapegoat, as the person who did this would have to wash their hands to symbolize that the goat had taken all of their sins.

v.2 the laying on of hands,

Here some will think this is when we pray and lay our hands on someone, which is a viable doctrine, but the doctrine being spoken here of is the imputation of sins by laying on of hands, such as the scapegoat would have the sins of people laid on him, then he would be sent out of the camp.

Leviticus 16:21-22 And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness.

v.2 the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

The idea a resurrection, in which those who are righteous will go on to eternal life, and those who are wicked will go on to eternal death. The end of this life is not the end of life, but rather for the Christian, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

These are the foundations of our faith, we have to know these seven things, they are vitally important. But if we only know these seven things and no other things, then we are not going to be effective Christians.

Take the thief on the cross for example, a sinner to beat all sinners, thoroughly wicked and condemned to die for his crimes. He did these seven things, he looked to Christ recognizing that he was the Son of God, the thief repented of blaspheming Christ’s name, he put his faith in Jesus, he was washed of his sins as they were imputed to Christ’s sake, and Jesus told him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” He was assured of resurrection and that he would be judged as Jesus Christ, perfect sinless and undefiled.

What would you think if on the cross Jesus started to give him a lesson on evangelism, or stewardship, or the Lord’s Supper, or the phenomenology of prayer? It is superfluous to salvation; what the thief needed right there was forgiveness. That leads into verse 3.

v.3 this we will do if God permits.

If we have time, if we’re not dying on a Roman cross, if we’re not going to stand in eternity before the sun goes down, then we ought to leave the foundation to teach on bigger things. What would you think if everytime you came to class, I gave you a lesson on John 3:16 and it said exactly the same thing everytime, that God loved the world in this way: he sent his Son so that whosoever should believe in him will not perish but have ever lasting life.

Every week I told you to repent and be saved and be baptized and that you would see Heaven, and that is all I would ever tell you. How deep would your faith be? You’d know about John 3:16, but then what happens when something bad happens and you don’t know why God allows evil, or you don’t know about prophecy, or you don’t know that at the end God wins, or you don’t know how to evangelize or how to pray, then all I have done is laid a foundation and have continued to relay the same foundation without ever building on it.

Can you build a house without a foundation? You can, but it will fall over soon enough. Can you live on a foundation without a house? As long as the weather is nice, but the first time it rains or snows or gets cold or hot, the foundation is going to fail to be sufficient for you. So this is why we look at doctrine, we lay that foundation of Christ and what he’s done, then we build a house on top of that foundation teaching on prayer and suffering and evangelism and ordinances and angels and all manner of things, so now when it rains, when say something bad happens to you, you know that we suffer with Jesus, just as he went out of the gate bearing our reproach, we go to him knowing that the current afflictions we are facing are nothing in comparison to the eternal weight of glory waiting for us in Heaven.

Here, beloved, we have no lasting city, we are ambassadors, aliens, sojourners, pilgrims, and missionaries, and we seek the city that is to come.

But the church that Hebrews is written to was all about John 3:16 and nothing else, every week you would show up and the preacher would try to get you saved, no matter that you’ve been saved already. So here is our great admonition, that we need to move on,

v.4-6 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

The paraphrase of this verse so that it is put more into our language is, “It is impossible for someone to get unsaved, so since you last met together and preached, not a single person in your congregation got unsaved, and even if they did get unsaved, it would be impossible for your preaching to get them resaved, because a person can only get saved once because Christ only died once, and he’s not going to die again, so quit trying to get your saved congregation saved!” In a bit he is going to tell us to preach on something else, starting with hope. But first he drives the point home.

v.7-8 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

If a person were to get saved, then lose their salvation, God would not want them back, nor would he be able to bring them back, he would rather curse them and cast them into eternal fire. The author is making a hugely hyperbolic statement from both sides to say that there is no reason to try to get a saved person resaved, both because they cannot lose their salvation, and second if they did lose their salvation, they could not be resaved, so therefore the last thing we want to do is try to get saved people saved, because it’s totally impossible. Make sense?

Deuteronomy 31:8 It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

Part of that verse is quoted in Hebrews 13, but I like the whole verse so that’s why we read Deuteronomy. God sought us and bought us, he keeps us, he will never leave us nor forsake us, we cannot lose our salvation. Now, if you do walk away from Christ, then it’s not backsliding, it’s that you’ve never slid forward in the first place, and John tells us the reason that people walk away is so that it can be apparent to us that they were never with us.

v.9 Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation.

So, the author of Hebrews is saying that this congregation he is writing to is saved, they haven’t lost their salvation, and so now they need to start looking at things that belong to salvation. From here the author picks back up on the Melchizedek story and really makes a masterful exposition of it, writing dozens of verses on a story that in the Old Testament takes up all of three verses.

Your application, don’t just hang around the spiritual milk, don’t just lay down on an open foundation, because there is meat available in the Bible, and on the foundation of Christ and salvation we can build mansions of doctrine, so that we hold fast to the hope we have in Christ through every trial and storm.

We need to know who Christ is, what he did, how to be forgiven, and that Heaven awaits, but beloved, if that is all you know, you will not be an effective Christian. You must look into the deep things of God, learning how to minister for Christ, not always being students, but moving on to be teachers, feasting on the beautiful doctrines that attend to salvation, and bringing multitudes into covenant with the Living Christ, who died once for sins, but rose from the dead, and lives forevermore making intercession and equipping his saints.

And how do we come to know these things? Through reading our Bibles, to conclude, let’s check out what David says about this subject,

Psalm 19:7-11 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November 22nd - A Failed Priesthood

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Pastor Aaron Surgery Wednesday
Susan Egelhoff Gall Bladder Issue
Zitara's conversion and following
The Family of Pervaiz Masih
Origin of Species Outreach
Ruben's Wedding
Josh's Wedding
Traveling Mercies:
-Geils to Florida
-Costellos to Chicago
-McGullions to Alabama

Text – Ezekiel 8-9

We’ve been talking about the priesthood of believers and the importance of evangelism in that role. Peter has quoted Hosea once already, and it got me thinking that we need a good example of why the priesthood needs to be impeccable, because as we’re going to look at, where the priesthood goes, there the people follow.

So today we’re going to step out of First Peter to look at a story in Ezekiel, with support from Hosea. This is not the only story that backs up the importance of an upright priesthood, but it is perhaps the best one. The year is 592BC, the day is September 17th, and a good part of Judah has been taken captive to Babylon about a year earlier in 593BC. The reason nations would take others captive was to utterly destroy their sense of culture and nationality so the people would assimilate into the culture they had been taken captive to. This has never worked for Israel, the Babylonians took them captive twice, the Assyrians once, and after the first century they were scattered to all of the nations of the world, yet still maintain their nationality.

The reason that God allowed this to happen was because the people were very sinful, worshipping money, all manners of false gods, murdering each other, so in chapter 7 God says he will send the most wicked of nations, Babylon, to inherit Jerusalem as punishment for their sins.

Ezekiel was not a prophet when all of this stuff began, he was just a normal guy, probably sinning just as badly as anyone else. And he gets taken to Babylon, specifically Chaldea, which is where Abraham was from over a millennia earlier. While in captivity, God calls Ezekiel to be a prophet.

Here is our first lesson, we have inherited a broken and wrecked world. It is not our fault it is broken, because it got broke long before we showed up, although we are not blameless. God has called us out, and given us a duty to proclaim his word, just like Ezekiel.

So as Ezekiel became a prophet, he was given a house in his captivity, and when we pick up in Ezekiel 8, we see that he is teaching the elders of Judah who are in captivity with him.

Ezekiel 8:1-4 In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house, with the elders of Judah sitting before me, the hand of the Lord GOD fell upon me there. Then I looked, and behold, a form that had the appearance of a man. Below what appeared to be his waist was fire, and above his waist was something like the appearance of brightness, like gleaming metal. He put out the form of a hand and took me by a lock of my head, and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the gateway of the inner court that faces north, where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision that I saw in the valley.

Ezekiel here becomes the first astronaut, lifted up over the earth and seeing it laid out before him. Pretty neat. Enoch and Elijah went up, but they didn’t come back down.

The reason we’re given the exact date is because Ezekiel wants us to know that this was an actual vision that he had, he didn’t just make it up. Also, it shows that this is his present day, not before the captivity, but what he is going to be shown is happening in Jerusalem at that moment.

The view of Christ we see here is pretty near to how he is described in Revelation 1, he is so bright that he appears to be on fire, his glory is breathtakingly bright.

God picks Ezekiel up by the hair. This shows how furious God is, you’ve gotta be pretty angry to grab someone by the hair to show them something. Ezekiel doesn’t mention pain, because this is a vision, but in God’s action we see that he is outraged. The events that are going to be discussed, because this is a vision, didn’t actually happen, we’re going to see a total wiping out of Jerusalem in this passage, but history doesn’t record that. It is more spiritual than physical what we’re going to see in this passage.

At this point, God’s glory is still in Jerusalem, which means he is still working and hasn’t totally abandoned Israel yet.

Ezekiel 8:5-6 Then he said to me, "Son of man, lift up your eyes now toward the north." So I lifted up my eyes toward the north, and behold, north of the altar gate, in the entrance, was this image of jealousy. And he said to me, "Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel are committing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see still greater abominations."

God is showing Ezekiel how bad things have gotten not just morally in Israel, Ezekiel would have known that, having lived there until only a few months prior, but God is going to show how bad things are spiritually. The first thing he shows Ezekiel is that at the gate of the temple, the priests have setup an “image of jealously.” What this was would most likely have been an Asherah Pole, which is like a totem pole, to one of the false gods of Babylon, but God chooses to call it an “Image of Jealously.” This is powerful language because it doesn’t restrict the sin to only one false god, but we can see any false religion setup here that makes God jealous. The priests set this up to try to keep God out of the temple.

Second lesson, people are still doing this today. This is the false god “Separation of Church and State”, or “evolution”, or keeping prayer out of school, anything that a people group does to try to keep God out of their business. Do you think that will work, is God restricted from going places because we do something to stand in his way? Of course not.

We’re going to see the sins that they are trying to keep God from seeing are pretty much them pursuing a different religion. Dr. Al Mohler recently wrote an excellent article called, “Are we a nation of Hindus?” In it he realizes that a lot of people in the United States, while they wouldn’t call themselves Hindus, believe in reincarnation, karma, universal salvation, and that all paths lead to God. The United States can be read quite easily as having committed many of these same sins as Israel.

God tells Ezekiel that he will be shown greater abominations still, he says this three times. Anytime something is repeated within a chapter of the Bible, you should figure out why. In his repetition, God is showing Ezekiel that the sins are graduated, they get worse and worse, and the nation of Israel has utterly abandoned him.

Ezekiel 8:7-13 And he brought me to the entrance of the court, and when I looked, behold, there was a hole in the wall. Then he said to me, "Son of man, dig in the wall." So I dug in the wall, and behold, there was an entrance. And he said to me, "Go in, and see the vile abominations that they are committing here." So I went in and saw. And there, engraved on the wall all around, was every form of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel. And before them stood seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them. Each had his censer in his hand, and the smoke of the cloud of incense went up. Then he said to me, "Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures? For they say, 'The LORD does not see us, the LORD has forsaken the land.'" He said also to me, "You will see still greater abominations that they commit."

The priests, the Sanhedrin, have setup this Asherah Pole to keep God out, but we see God has no problem getting in, and getting Ezekiel in. They go through the wall, and once inside Ezekiel sees their idolatry, these are the priests of Israel, and they have begun to worship the creature instead of the Creator, offering up prayers and sacrifices to false gods.

They justify themselves by saying, “The Lord does not see.” They can mean two things here, maybe both, first they are denying God’s sovereignty and that he is omnipresent and omniscient, knowing everything, and second that maybe the God of Israel doesn’t even exist.

Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.

We usually ascribe that to atheists, but really it is to anybody who acts like there is not a God who judges the thoughts, words, and deeds. This is certainly these corrupt priests. And we see that God has no problem seeing right to the heart of things.

Hebrews 4:13 no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

This is the upper echelon of Israel, Ezekiel is careful to call out Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, because Shaphan was a very godly man who governed Judah, so the priests in this room are sinning in more ways than just meet the eye, they have dishonored their parents, they have abandoned their God, and in chapter 11 it is told to us that they are the cause of Israel’s sin and destruction. Hosea puts it better than anybody though,

Hosea 4:1-6 Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel, for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, and even the fish of the sea are taken away. Yet let no one contend, and let none accuse, for with you is my contention, O priest. You shall stumble by day; the prophet also shall stumble with you by night; and I will destroy your mother. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

God’s contention is the with the priests, because where the head goes, there goes the body as well. One of the craziest transitions in the Bible is between James 3:1 and the rest of that chapter, James starts out by saying that

James 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

Then he jumps into talking about the tongue, and how it controls the whole body, and just like a little rudder can steer a whole ship, so can a tongue steer you into situations you never intended to get into. But the transition is clear, the teacher is like the tongue, the priest who speaks for God acts as the tongue of the body of believers, and the priest and teacher can get the whole congregation into sin they never intended to get into. A bad priest can cause a whole people to be rejected by God.

Third lesson, future ministers and teachers, your sin will wreck a church, and a wrecked church will wreck a nation. Because we have been made priests of the Most High God, we don’t have any option if we want to speak for God, we are going to whether we want to or not, so we need to do it right. So the priesthood is broken, now we’re going to step outside of the temple and see that the rest of the country isn’t much better.

Ezekiel 8:14-15 Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the LORD, and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then he said to me, "Have you seen this, O son of man? You will see still greater abominations than these."

Tammuz was the false god of fertility and agriculture. He died every Fall and was resurrected every Spring. In order to get him to resurrect, you had to mourn for him when he died, and since this was September, he had just died, and this woman is crying for him. It rejects God as the provider and sustainer of Israel, and also places human exertion on the provision of nature.

Ezekiel 8:16-18 And he brought me into the inner court of the house of the LORD. And behold, at the entrance of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men, with their backs to the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east, worshiping the sun toward the east. Then he said to me, "Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations that they commit here, that they should fill the land with violence and provoke me still further to anger? Behold, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore I will act in wrath. My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity. And though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them."

Here we see the people of Israel worshipping the sun instead of God, indeed they’ve turned their backs on God completely. God is furious. He says they have put the branch to their nose; there is dissention on exactly what this means, but I believe it means in reference to burning someone at the stake, you pile wood up around them, but instead of God, in his wrath, piling the wood, they have piled it themselves, so all God has to do is light the pile and Israel will face the wrath. Check out chapter 9, it is going to introduce us to this wrath, but God is merciful and gives opportunity to be saved.

Ezekiel 9:1-2 Then he cried in my ears with a loud voice, saying, "Bring near the executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in his hand." And behold, six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his weapon for slaughter in his hand, and with them was a man clothed in linen, with a writing case at his waist. And they went in and stood beside the bronze altar.

Six angels, and a man clothed in Linen. Likely this is Jesus Christ, not literally because this is a vision, but he represents Jesus Christ, and we’ll see that we can also see ourselves in his role as evangelists. The six angels have weapons for destroying, the man in linen has a writing utensil.

Ezekiel 9:3-4 Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub on which it rested to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed in linen, who had the writing case at his waist. And the LORD said to him, "Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it."

God sends the evangelist through the city to mark everyone who will repent and mourn over their sins. He isn’t looking for innocent people, because none are innocent, he is looking for those who will turn back to the Holy One of Israel.

The word “mark” is one letter, the Hebrew letter Tav, which today looks sort of like a backwards Pi, but in Ezekiel’s Hebrew this would have been an X-shaped letter. It is certainly reminiscent of our being marked in the blood of Christ which was poured out on a cross.

Can you imagine being this evangelist? If people will mourn over their sin, then he can mark them and they will live, but without the mark, they will surely die. I imagine it must have been like Noah standing at the door of the Ark, crying out to his friends and relatives, “Get on the boat, if you don’t you will face the wrath of God and perish in your sins!”

Judgment follows close behind our evangelist,

Ezekiel 9:5-7 And to the others he said in my hearing, "Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary." So they began with the elders who were before the house. Then he said to them, "Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out." So they went out and struck in the city.

These angels of death meant business, they killed everyone that didn’t have the mark. Check out where they start, in the house of God, going after the corrupt priests. Peter alludes to this which we’ll get to in a few months,

1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

I imagine the evangelist was just in front of the angels, marking some people just in the nick of time, the sword raised over their head when they repent and receive the mark of salvation.

Fourth lesson, we don’t have physical angels chasing people, but we are racing against time, seeking to see people saved before they step into eternity. Lest they have the mark of Christ, the seal of the Holy Spirit, imprinted on their souls, they will surely perish.

Ezekiel 9:8-10 And while they were striking, and I was left alone, I fell upon my face, and cried, "Ah, Lord GOD! Will you destroy all the remnant of Israel in the outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?" Then he said to me, "The guilt of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great. The land is full of blood, and the city full of injustice. For they say, 'The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see.' As for me, my eye will not spare, nor will I have pity; I will bring their deeds upon their heads."

God’s wrath is just, everyone deserves to be under it. But God is merciful, and that leads us to the end of chapter 9.

Ezekiel 9:11 And behold, the man clothed in linen, with the writing case at his waist, brought back word, saying, "I have done as you commanded me."

This is our goal, to be able to say to God, “I have done as you commanded me.”

So fifth lesson, God’s wrath was abiding on us, we are a people unclean lips amidst a nation of unclean lips, God sees to the heart of things, we had stacked the branches to our noses, God’s wrath was ready to be poured out upon us, when an evangelist stepped out of Heaven, perfect, sinless, undefiled, and he went out among the people, that if they would repent, he would put a mark on them, a mark of his blood that he shed on the cross for those sins which are forgiven, so that the person marked will be justified and spared from the wrath to come.

After Christ died, he rose from the dead, and while he came the first time to save, he will come again to judge, chapter 10, which we aren’t going to read, shows us this evangelist, after marking those to be saved, destroys the city of Jerusalem, and the glory of God leaves the temple.

In chapter 11, the priests are indicted for their failure to lead people to God and for their rampant sin. They are promised death, and told that they have turned Jerusalem into a cooking pot in which the people are the meat and their blood is the broth.

Finally, the sixth lesson, you have been made a priest of God, you must be holy, you must rightly represent him to the people, because if you fail, many will perish, and we as teachers of righteousness and representatives of Christ will be judged much more strictly. Our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, became an evangelist, and so us as his priests must follow in his footsteps and declare salvation available in none other than the Living Christ.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

November 8th - Missions Trip: Earth

Prayer Requests
Channing Preaching
Dave Preaching
Brandon Salvation
Disciple Now
Pastor Aaron/Leon/Mike missions trip results
The Persecuted Church (International Day of Prayer)
McGullion's Comfort in the loss of their grandmother
Cindy's Surgery, doing better
Rebekah feeling better
Emily's Recovery from Appendectomy
James' Karate Test
James' friend Aaron in PA
Mark's Godmother
Jamie's mom

Text – 1 Peter 2:11-17

There were a lot of reasons I chose Peter’s Epistles to go through, I wanted something that talked about Baptism, Angels, Evangelism, quoted the Old Testament a lot, and something that had a difficult to interpret and/or often taken out of context verse. Peter’s Epistles have at least three often misinterpreted passages in them, today we’re going to look at the first one.

This verse, if you weren’t reading it in context would mean something completely different. If you read it out of context, it wouldn’t make what can be learned from it unbiblical and wrong, but when read in context, it means something considerably different. When we get to Second Peter there are some verses that get taken out of context that teach very wrong things.

So what have we been talking about? Mainly the priesthood of believers, that we are being built up on Christ’s foundation to proclaim his excellencies. At the beginning of this letter, what did Peter call Christians who aren’t in Heaven? Exiles/Strangers/Aliens or something along that effect, pretty much visitors who are not at home.

So if we’re preaching on earth, which isn’t our home, what does that make us? We’re missionaries, or the word that I like that Paul calls us is ambassadors.

2 Corinthians 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Real quick, what is an ambassador? It is someone who represents a country to another country.

Hebrews 13:14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.

So now Peter in the passage we’re about to read is going to tell us how to behave as ambassadors for Christ.

1 Peter 2:11-17 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

What do you think our main job is as Christians on our missionary journey is? It is to rightly represent Jesus Christ to the world, both so that they might be saved, and also so they might not have an excuse on Judgment Day when they try to say they didn’t know. So let’s go verse by verse:

v.11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

The first thing Peter tells us is to abstain from the passions of the flesh, stuff like sex outside of marriage, gossip, anger…well lets read scripture’s list:

Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Peter says these things wage against our soul, we’re in a battle for the purity of our minds. We have to actively be looking out for these things and fighting against them. So do we beat ourselves up or hit each other to keep from sinning? Is that the warfare we’re talking about?

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…

So part of our reason for being pure is for our sake, but the reason is bigger than that,

v.12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

This way when we are accused of being wrongdoers, we are still blameless. For example, in the First Century, many Christians were accused of being atheists and were executed because they would not recognize Caesar as god, but held that there was only one Living and True God. Other Christians were greatly persecuted for calling their husbands and wives brothers and sisters, they were accused of being incestuous, and likewise when they took communion, they were accused of being cannibals. Today the big lie is that Christians are the main cause of all wars throughout history.

This is patently false; Christianity, even in the totally messed up Catholic sense, has only at best been involved in about 20% of the world’s wars. Atheism on the other hand has been responsible for most major wars in the last century, in which more people were killed than in every prior war combined. More than half of the wars in history didn’t even have religion at the center of them, and that’s every religion.

As far as I know, no Christian was ever burned at the stake, fed to the lions, or beheaded because they were so nice to the poor and never cursed and always paid their taxes. Rather, the official reasons for their executions were sometimes true, denying that the emperor was God, sometimes misunderstandings, incestuous relationships, and sometimes blatantly made up, like child molesters and anarchists.

If you’ve lived an upright life before the unbelievers that saw you, then your testimony will be used against them on Judgment Day, here called the Day of Visitation, when the sky rips open, Christ is revealed riding on his stallion, and everyone comes to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ either through rapture or painful death.

They will not be able to say that they didn’t know better, and the fact that there were Christians who lived uprightly amongst them will be just another proof of their deliberate guilt, added to the testimony of nature that proclaims God, their conscience which proclaims the difference between right and wrong, and the written word which reveals God explicitly and what his requirements are.

v.13-14 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.

This verse would drive a lot of Christians crazy from the last fifty years. James Dobson, Donald Wildmon, Jerry Falwell, even one of my personal heroes, D. James Kennedy, and many others devoted their lives to trying to strive against human institutions to make them legislate morality. James Dobson in the last year announced that their efforts have failed in practically every arena in which they have fought. To be truthful, people that fought the government and did all of that lobbying really wasted their lives. We don't want to do likewise. Our duty is not to fight the government, but to represent Jesus Christ to individuals.

Romans 13:1 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.

Instead we are to be subject to human institutions, the government is put in place by Jesus Christ to punish evil and praise good. Barack Obama is divine punishment to the United States for abandoning the true gospel and preaching a false gospel of human decision (Compare Romans 10:2-3). But we are told here to be under subjection to every human institution. If the government tells us to do something against God, then we can only answer one way,

Acts 4:19-20 But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard."

v.15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

There are precious few places in the Bible where it tells us precisely what God's will is. The best is 1 Thessalonians 4:3 that says that the will of God is your sanctification. Here we see another part of God's will, that his saints would be upright citizens to bear the light of Christ into the enemy's camp and put to silence their ignorance.

So this is important, Peter is telling us not to attack the government, but to live in subjection to it; but, with individuals we are to stand against their wrongdoings and with our works silence them. Why will this silence them? Paul will tell us in Romans 3.

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

This is cool because Peter is definitely quoting this passage, before this time, about AD65, Jesus has been quoted in the Epistles, but the Epistles haven't quoted each other. Here though, Peter has Romans in front of him and is quoting it as authoritatively as he would the Old Testament, the reason I say that is because the next verse is going to talk about how we are not under the law. Peter also is going to tell us about Paul's great letters in 2 Peter 3.

Before we get to Peter quoting the rest of the verse, we see that under the law, every mouth may be stopped. This is amazing, and ultimately I believe it is speaking of Heaven. Dan Brown, one of the more famous atheists operating in the world today, says if God is real, he is going to stand up to him on Judgment Day and tell him "To go to Hell." Under the law, nobody is gonna say anything, the immeasurable weight of their sin is going to render them speechless.

But this verse also talks about this world. When we do good, and tell people why we are being good, because the love of Christ compels us, they are going to realize that they are not good in the eyes of God. Theresa of Avila, better known as Mother Theresa, will not be in Heaven, but she did a lot of good works under the guise of Christianity. I've heard at least two testimonies of people who were saved out of Hinduism looking at the good that she exhibited in the name of Christ, which convicted them and led them to seek out a pastor who could answer their questions.

Do you remember what my response was to "Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words?" It is "Feed starving children at all times, and when necessary use food." This verse says that people will see their condemnation by our works, but they will not see the chance for forgiveness without our proclamation.

So we are not going to war with the citizens of the United States of America with weapons against the flesh, but with spiritual weapons. We only have two, but they are two awesome weapons, our testimony through our works, and the Bible, namely the law contained there-in. So for some real quick review for the Middle-Schoolers, and High-Schoolers I'll give you some things afterwards to make this make total sense, how do we witness to someone using the law? Martin Luther said to use 90% law in your witness encounters, and only 10% grace.

Basically, would you consider yourself to be a good person? Good people go up, bad people go down. Let me give you a quick test, have you ever told a lie, have you ever stolen anything, have you ever taken God's name in vain, have you ever murdered anyone or called them an idiot or a curse-word? You're in trouble, by your own admission, you're a lying thieving blasphemous murderer at heart, and you have to stand before God on Judgment Day, but God, in his great love by which he loved us sent his Son Jesus Christ to pay for our sins on the cross, so if we will repent and believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose again, then we will be forgiven and go to Heaven on his righteousness.

So according to Paul, the law is for those who are under the law, but Christians are not under the law, we have been redeemed from the curse of the law by Christ becoming a curse for us by hanging on a cross, for as it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree." We're above the law, so really we can do anything, as Paul said, "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful." So Peter is going to look at the Christians duty being above the law.

v.16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

You can do anything, because the more you sin, the more grace abounds, but here Peter tells us to live as servants of God, obeying the law not out of compulsion, but out of love, not living as wickedly as possible so that grace will further abound, but using our freedom to love God and love one another. This is how Peter sums up the thought,

v.17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

It says "Honor everyone." Who is that? Is it just people you like, or people that can do things for you, or people that deserve it? Or is this everyone? It is everyone, and we are to honor them. This is the epitome of what Christ did for us, we had no reason to be honored, but check out how Paul says it,

Philippians 2:3-5 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus...

As Romans 5 says, for a nice guy we might consider to die, for a jerk we probably wouldn't die, but for the worst of people, us, Christ did die. So we esteem others as worth more than ourselves, caring about other people more than we care for ourselves, and honoring everyone, in hopes that our witness will lead them to repentance and faith in the only source of salvation, Jesus Christ.

Then we are to "Love the brotherhood." This is the whole Christian church, once again in the church we are to love everyone, regardless of what they can do for us.

James 2:1-5 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "You sit here in a good place," while you say to the poor man, "You stand over there," or, "Sit down at my feet," have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?

Then we "Fear God." Be more afraid of offending him than offending men, for the cross is offensive, it tells people that they are sinners, aren't God, and need to be reconciled to God. Being more afraid of God than men is bound to make you a great evangelist and do the things which you are supposed to do.

And finally, "Honor the Emperor." This is the toughest one for me, because our emperor is an idiot. I regularly pray Psalm 94 for him, which is asking God to squish him into itty bitty pieces, because he is a very evil and incompetent man. The emperor that Peter is talking about here is Nero, Nero would soon kill Peter's wife, crucify Peter upside down, and cut off Paul's head, so as bad as our emperor is, Peter's was worse.

So how do we honor him? We recognize that he was put in place by God, that it is his job to keep the peace and that he will be judged accordingly by God when he died, Nero would commit suicide not much long after this letter was written. So we should honor the emperor by respecting his authority, paying our taxes, and not doing anything to cause problems except for preaching the gospel. Don't protest, don't shoot abortion doctors, don't blow up buildings of communists, rather preach the gospel and live under the government.

In conclusion, we are missionaries to earth, check out the website, I've put up an awesome short video that talks about this, we are ambassadors of Christ, so we live under the authority of the government that is over us, not fighting the government, but preaching the gospel so that many will be saved. If we save them all, then the government will be Christian and good things will happen, but our goal is to rightly represent Christ's name to the world while we are temporarily away from our home, which is Heaven.