Sunday, January 25, 2009

January 25th - The Times and Seasons of Christ's Return

Prayer Requests
Miss Lois' Health
Pastor Robby stroke in PA
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Superbowl Party/Preaching
Summit in General
Sloan’s in Florida
Canyon Preaching at Trek
Dave in Lousiana

Text – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3

Last week we learned that there is hope and encouragement in knowing that this world with all of its sin and death will not last forever. Whether we are alive or dead, we will be reunited with Christ, for to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

Here is the William Varner quote I tried to quote last week but couldn’t remember, “Prophecy is not given to form a calendar, but to form a character; a character of prayerfulness, watchfulness, honesty, and holiness.”

When is it going to happen? Jesus said that only God the Father knows, but there are some signs we can look for. Most of these are given in Second Thessalonians, so we’ll hold off looking at all of them until we get to that Epistle. Chapter 5 talks about some basic things to look for. (We will get to 4:9-12 soon!)

1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

v. 1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you.

Paul is talking about the timing of Christ’s return, commending them for not being all caught up in it. This is ironic because in Second Thessalonians we will see that some of them did get caught up in it and quit their jobs waiting for the rapture.

Times means the measurement of time, such as hour, day, week, and month.

Seasons refers to blocks of times, such as the season of President Bush’s term of office, and the season we are in now is President Obama’s term of office. Seasons also refer to times of plenty, like before our depression, and times of want, like the depression that is just starting. Think of seasons like Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall, each has its own characteristics and each is fleeting, giving way to the next one.

The Thessalonians weren’t caught up in waiting or in trying to figure out the exact date that Christ was coming back. They were only sure it was going to happen.

Paul doesn’t feel the need at the time to correct or edify their beliefs, because they aren’t caught up waiting for the rapture, but they know it is going to come quickly, as evidenced by verse 2.

v. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

Paul is quoting Jesus here. First of all, what is the Day of the Lord?

Isaiah 13:6-8 Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come! Therefore all hands will be feeble, and every human heart will melt. They will be dismayed: pangs and agony will seize them; they will be in anguish like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at one another; their faces will be aflame.

Jeremiah 46:10 That day is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, to avenge himself on his foes. The sword shall devour and be sated and drink its fill of their blood. For the Lord GOD of hosts holds a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates.

The Day of the Lord is the day that God’s patience finally breaks, when he crushes his enemies. It is used a lot in the Old Testament to talk about Israel’s military battles. It shows the might of an army, that it is able to take it’s enemies in a single day. Sometimes it is exaggerated, there is a historical account of an Assyrian king who won a war, the historical account says it took six months, but when he recounted it he exaggerated it a little and said that he won in a single day. Christ truly will win in a single day.

Amos said we shouldn’t look forward to the Day of the Lord, Zephaniah said it is a bitter day because of the death and destruction to men that will happen on that day.

Oh beloved, it is hard not to look forward to Christ destroying the iniquity of the world, of finally putting an end to such wickedness as what happens every day; but we have to remember that each of Christ’s enemies has an eternal soul and that they will suffer for eternity in Hell unless they repent and trust in his payment on Calvary’s cross.

What do you think we should do while we still have time? Preach the Gospel, give out Gospel tracts, tell people to flee from the wrath to come, to be reconciled to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. At E-Team we are going to be teaching you how to do that, so please come if you haven’t already, even if you can’t go to New Orleans with us, I promise the training you receive will serve you well for your entire life.

Paul and Jesus both said that Christ’s return will be like a thief in the night. This is powerful language, because nobody every expects to get robbed, right? If you knew when the thief was coming, you’d load up your shotgun, sit on the stairs five minutes before he came in, then when he came in you’d cock the shotgun, which is the universal sound for “You’re in big trouble”, listen to him run off, and then go back to bed. But it doesn’t work that way, nobody ever expects the thief in the night.

What does the thief come to do?

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

That’s Christ’s first coming, here is his second:

Jude 14-15 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

Verse three gets a little more into what we’ll expect,

v. 3 While people are saying, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

This is exactly what happened before the flood,

Matthew 24:38-39 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

The Bible has known all along that the world is round, just in case anybody tells you otherwise. Columbus sailed the Ocean Blue in what year? 1492… largely on his reading that God sat above the circle of the earth in Job. But look at how Christ demonstrates how his return will be,

Luke 17:34-37 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left."

Some will be sleeping, others will be working. The parallel passage in Matthew talks about men also working in the fields. Christians will be taken up, raptured, non-Christians left to face the wrath of God.

I don’t know what the peace and security will look like, but I bet it won’t be real, but feigned. The Soviet Union had lower crime rates during the Cold War than the United States, only because if you got caught, you got executed. That is not peace and security, but it certainly could be called that by the government.

I bet the church will fall for it too, that was one of God’s biggest indictments against the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day,

Jeremiah 6:13-15 For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown," says the LORD.

Now, it will come upon the world like labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, this means it starts somewhat slow, smaller contractions far apart, but get bigger and closer together. Here is how Jesus explained it,

Matthew 24:3-8 "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?" And Jesus answered them, "See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

The birth pains will be people claiming to be Christ, God, the Messiah, or the Redeemer, and many will follow after them. Wars will break out all over, there is something like 40 armed conflicts happening right now in the world. Countries will fight countries, with massive famines, and earthquakes. Jesus said these are just the beginning, so while we see these things happening, such as the first time in history that there have been World Wars, we may still have a long way to go…or it could happen soon, Second Thessalonians will talk a little more about this.

Before we go onto the application, I want to show you that this is not something new from the New Testament only,

Daniel 7:13-14 I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

That was 600 years before Christ, and Daniel was prophesying not just about the first coming, but also about the second coming of the Messiah.

Running out time...skipping ahead...

Philippians 1:6 I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Is anybody here perfectly sinless?

If you stand before God with any sin in you, you will be incinerated, and cast out of his presence into the outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. He can’t tolerate sin in the same way the sun can’t tolerate an ice cube, his holiness will consume all unrighteousness.

Even though we are saved, we still have sin in us, no matter how much better we are now than when we got saved, we’re still not perfect, that means we still can’t see or stand in the presence of God.

But we know that he, the Holy Spirit, who began a good work in us will bring it to completion on the day of Jesus Christ.

1 John 3:2-3 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

And how will it happen? Either when we die we will be glorified, that is made perfect, or if Christ comes back it will happen this way,

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

January 18th - Our Appointment with Death and Christ's Return

Prayer Requests
Rhode's sister's foot
Debra Leyland
High Schoolers at Kaleo
Leon's safe return
Pastor Aaron and Family
Pres. Bush
Pres. Obama

Text – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Next week was going to be a little weird, because I am taking a class in which I have to preach a 20 minute sermon, so next week I was going to preach a sermon for the first half of class instead of a class, then back to teaching. The sermon was to be on Romans 12:1-2, which worked out with almost perfect timing, since 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 is about the same subject, so I skipped verses 9-12 right now to teach them along with Romans 12:1-2. However, Dave is letting me preach at Trek, so now everything is all confused, but we'll get to verses 9-12 soon.

This week is half of a big block of text about Christ’s return. You’ll find all sorts of people who get caught up in this topic and go nuts about it. It can consume their studies, make them paranoid about every news event that happens, and believe that if you don’t believe the way they do about Christ’s return, there is no way you can be saved. I don’t want any of you to become these people, because the two that I know that are the most zealous about this subject bear no fruit in keeping with repentance, have no brotherly love, and are more interested in their own opinions than in the Words of Christ.

The Baptist Faith and Message 2K puts it beautifully, if not somewhat snippy;

God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.

Your parents may have a more detailed belief, but the BF&M is Summit’s official stance and is, we believe, the proper interpretation of scripture without going nuts. It is sort of the pan-millennialist view that “However it pans out is fine with me.” The timeframe is what people get in arguments about, when and how Christ is returning…this passage we are going to read in First Thessalonians 4 is unconcerned with the timing, only with the event, and since this was the only Epistle they had describing the timeframe, Paul obviously considered it as a sufficient prophecy for Christ’s return.

Revelation 4:8 "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!"

I just know, that without a doubt, Jesus Christ was before all things, he entered into human being through the virgin Mary, he died for our sins, defeated death, was called bodily up into Heaven, and will be coming back, hopefully soon.

The reason he hasn’t come back yet is because all of his saints haven’t been born and/or reached repentance yet, if he had come back four years ago, I would have faced him as his enemy instead of as his son, fifteen years ago and we wouldn’t have met you guys, if he had come back 100, 200, 300, 1000 years ago, a huge number of saints would not exist. He knows exactly what he is doing and what his plan and purpose is towards tarrying. Besides saving everyone written in the Lambs Book of Life, which was penned before the dawn of time, I believe that God is also using this present evil age to show just how bad sin is and how terrible things can get without his intercession.

I believe the fall of Satan happened something like this, talking to God, “So You’re perfect, and I’m perfect, why am I not God?” In this world we have the answer, because only God is perfect, only God can keep things working, only God is worthy of glory.

Worst of all, is that the wages of sin is death. This death is no respecter of persons, it is the great equalizer, it affects kings and paupers, men and women, young and old, and when it happens that isn’t the end of a person, only their body dies, their souls continues.

Luke 12:4-5 I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!

Death is not to be feared, the Lord of Glory has defeated death, death has lost its victory, death has lost its sting, for in Jesus Christ we have received the victory. Thessalonica might not have known this, since this is the only place where Paul gives them a bit of an admonition against their belief. They seemed to think that if they died before Christ returned they would not partake in the kingdom.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-15 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.

v. 13 We do not want you to be uninformed about those who are asleep…

Asleep is one of the ways the Bible talks about being dead. When Pastor Stephen was stoned, here is what it says,

Acts 7:54-60 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Jesus Christ, who ascended to Heaven and sat at the right hand of the Father, was now standing, even before Stephen was stoned; Jesus stood to welcome his saint into Heaven. It was Stephen’s appointed time to die, and it has glorified God much. His last statement, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” has been quoted by many, many martyrs in history.

How did Jesus know that Stephen was going to die that day?

In Jeremiah, the condemned men ask him where they should go, and Jeremiah replies thusly,

Jeremiah 15:1-2 Then the LORD said to me, "Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go! And when they ask you, 'Where shall we go?' you shall say to them, 'Thus says the LORD: "'Those who are for pestilence, to pestilence, and those who are for the sword, to the sword; those who are for famine, to famine, and those who are for captivity, to captivity.'

The Apostle John quotes Jeremiah when talking about the saints;

Revelation 13:7-10 [Antichrist] was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear: “If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain.” Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

Everyone has an appointment with death, there is a call for endurance and faith in the saint because the way you will die has been preordained by God to glorify him. Whether this is getting stoned for preaching, or dying of cancer so that you can convert the dying Buddhist lying in the bed next to yours, there is a plan and purpose for your death. There is no need to worry, there is no need to be afraid, God is in control.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

This doesn’t mean that if you want to, you can be a quarterback in the NFL, it means that you can face every circumstance no matter how painful or excruciating, but that God will give you grace and strength to endure it.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

v. 13 …that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.

If it weren’t enough to know that God is in control, has preordained your death, and will use it for his glory, there is even more good news, that not only has God saved you from Hell, but that he will save you from death.

v. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

I’m pretty sure the reason the Bible uses the language of sleep is because our death will be just exactly the same as going to sleep and waking up. Your whole life you’ve been preparing for this moment, that when you fall asleep for the final time, you will awake in paradise with Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Jesus Christ, the firstborn from the dead, took death upon himself and defeated it.

Romans 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

Romans 6:4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Galatians 2:19-20 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 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.

v. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.

This is authoritative, because it is the Word of the Lord, that if you are alive or dead, you will be reunited with Christ, but those who are alive will not precede those who are dead, since the dead go straight from here to Heaven, then come back.

So those who have fallen asleep, taken into Heaven, will be reunited with Christ and brought back on the Day of his return.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

v. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

I can’t explain this any better than Revelation, which paints an absolutely beautiful picture of Christ’s return.

Revelation 19:11-14 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.

How the body situation works is somewhat confusing, we get new bodies in Heaven, which is good, because I’ve wrecked this one. Our bodies in Heaven will be imperishable. First Corinthians 15 talks at length about this, but it would take a whole class period to do it justice, so just know that we get new bodies in Heaven, bodies that will never die.

On that day, from Luke 21:26-27 “Men will faint with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

On that day, some will be happy, some will be terrified, terrified to the point that they will faint for fear. When we think faint, we think of people passing out, but the Greek word here means they will die where they stand, the King James Translators said it better with their hearts will fail them. They will be literally scared to death. Some will call for the mountains to fall on them, but the mountains will melt like wax, and there will be no-where to flee from the wrath to come, for the only everlasting refuge is inside of the saving graces of Jesus Christ.

And what of those of us who are alive on that day?

v. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

This verse is where we get the term, “Rapture” which derives from the Latin word for “caught up”. The Greek word means literally to be plucked up. After this, we will never be separated from Christ again, “so we will always be with the Lord.”

v. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Here is the encouragement, whether you die before Christ returns, or you see his return without seeing death, know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, he knows whether you will die or not, he knows how you will die, he will bring glory to himself through your death and you will be rewarded with him for your faithfulness.

Therefore when our Christian brothers and sisters die we do not mourn as those who have no hope, for we know we will see them again, but the next time we see them will be in bodies that no longer know pain, bodies that can no longer die, in perfect purity and holiness in the presence of Jesus Christ, who was dead, but who is alive forevermore.


Psalm 116:15-19 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

January 11th - Purity

Prayer Requests
8:30am Service
Pastor Aaron Preaching on Romans 7
Matthew - Leon safe travels and ministry in New Orleans

Hannah - Dad and sister safe return from Iowa
Jamie - Dog found

Text – 1 Thessalonians 4:2-8

Before we start, we need to go over some Greek words. There are five Greek words which mean love, four of those are used in the Bible, one is described but not used explicitely.

Agape – Sacrificial lovingkindness – Better translated as Charity
Storge – In terms of God it is Fatherly love, also used for parental love, and pastoral love
Phileo – Brotherly love, the word for friend, Philos, comes from this
Thelema – Desire/Enjoyment…aka…I love hamburgers…I love skiing…

Eros – Physical attraction, the actual word is not in the Bible, but the concept is described and can be good, but can be very bad

A Greek word for hatred, miseo, is not the opposite of agape, although it is the opposite of phileo. You can both hate someone and have charity for them, but you cannot phileo and miseo them.

Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

I wanted to read this verse for two reasons, the first is to explain what Solomon means when he says, “There are six things…seven that…” and then he lists seven things, he is saying that this list is by no means exhaustive, that there are more things that God hates that what is just listed. You’ll see this writing style in various places in the Bible. The second reason is so that you notice that God hates both the sins, and the sinner.

God miseo’s sinners, hates them with an abiding hatred, but also agape’s them that while we were yet sinning, Christ died for us. There is a huge error in our modern culture to think that God’s love for sinners is unconditional and that he doesn’t hate them, but only their sin. Like you’ve heard me say in the past, American Christianity seeks to make Jesus out as our girlfriend, and that is totally incorrect. He is our God and Saviour, he both agape’s and philo’s us, we were once his enemy, but now we’re his friends, we were once far off, but we’ve been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Agape is generally seen as the higher love,

John 15:13 Greater Agape has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

One example before we get into the lesson is after Christ’s resurrection,

John 21:15-17 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you agapas me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I philo you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." He said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you agapas me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I philo you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you phileis me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you phileis me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I philo you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep…”

Peter never said he agape’d Jesus, that is, loved him enough to die for him, but Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves, and Jesus concluded the conversation with Peter this way.

John 21:18-19 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go." (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, "Follow me."

Peter, having not said he agape’d Jesus, proved he did by being faithful unto death, even death on an inverted cross.

There is no hint whatsoever that Jesus has an Eros love for his church, which is a physical/sexual love.

This is going to be our most awkward and uncomfortable class, but it is also going to be one of our most important and probably most memorable. I really, really, really encourage you to have your parents read this lesson plan on the website.

This lesson is on sexual purity. Almost every book in the New Testament talks about this subject, the only ones that don’t are the super-short ones, Philemon, Second John, Third John…whichever book we picked to go through would have us talking about this subject; it is not something that should be taken lightly, and the Bible is exceedingly clear on God’s purpose and desires concerning this subject.

I am also exceedingly unqualified to talk about this subject, having dated a ridiculous number of girls with practically no purpose and no good outcomes, so I am going to let the Bible do most of the talking.

1 Thessalonians 4:2-8 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Cyril, an early Christian, wrote “The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of Souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon.” Even when Christians are on the right road, there are things nearby that can quickly go bad, and Paul starts out this chapter with the big one.

It is important to remember that the church at Thessalonica was pretty blameless, Paul wasn’t writing against their sins, but this is a general pastoral epistle towards growing in holiness, to continue avoiding sexual sins. Corinth, where Paul was, would be the great sexual sinners who Paul would later write to and give them verbal tongue lashing.

1 Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.

So this Epistle is very useful for us in this class because it is a warning and not an admonition.

Note to Parents: From here I used an analogy from a trusted and godly ministry (Living Waters) where-by a toothbrush is presented, in which I asked the class what they would think if we passed the toothbrush around and each brushed our teeth with it, then wrapped it up nice and presented it to Dave Snyder as a gift. The point of this analogy is that purity counts for much in small things, how much more in big things.

So lets look at it verse by verse.

v. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

While we don’t know exactly what these instructions were, I bet you that it was the letter sent from Jerusalem. Remember that Thessalonica at the time of this letter writing probably didn’t have the Old Testament, since Paul never quotes the Old Testament, and was working from scratch. They might have had the Book of James and maybe the Epistle to Galatia, but everything else was based on the Holy Spirit and Paul’s teachings.

Acts 15:28-29 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.

Later in this chapter Paul will talk about the commands he gave to love the brothers, work hard, strive for peace where possible, avoid gossip, and to keep the faith in Jesus, both in his crucifixion and resurrection, and also in his impending return.

v. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;

Ephesians 5:25-26, 31-32 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word…“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

God considers sexual purity and marriage of utmost importance, because in them we see the Gospel, that Christ loved his church and gave himself up for her. Remember that the 10 Commandments are a textual representation of Jesus Christ, what is the 7th Commandment? Thou shalt not commit adultery, Jesus Christ loves one church, the katholik (universal) Christian church, and his actions to this church are perfect, holy, and with purpose, and a proper marriage is an example of how the union of Christ and church should look: life-long and sacrificial.

Without spending too much time on it, salvation is based on the Jewish wedding ceremony, there is a betrothal, a gift (the Holy Spirit), a wedding feast, a covenant, a sign of the covenant, aka ring (the seal or stamp of the Holy Spirit), and there is even more, these are just a few things to show why God is so concerned with sexual morality.

This is the will of God: Your sanctification. What is sanctification? It is being conformed, that is changed, to look more and more like Jesus Christ in your characteristics. The church will be presented holy to Christ.

Ephesians 5:27 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.

And we do that largely by abstaining from sexual immorality, which the rest of this passage addresses.

v. 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,

Wisdom, which is knowledge from experience, is an interesting thing, because you usually get it after you need it. Fortunately for us, Solomon earned his wisdom the hard way so that he can tell us about it. It was unfortunate for him, and painful, and if we learn from him, we won’t have to undergo that pain.

We’re not going to read the Song of Solomon, because it has some things that I’m not sure you’re old enough to need to know…I’m not sure I’m old enough either…but there is an important lesson to be learned from it. First of all, The Song of Solomon is a collection of poetry, outlining the relationships of six to eight couples, none of which is Solomon. Solomon had over 1,000 wives and girlfriends, and all of that was to teach him wisdom, that the love between one man and one woman is to be desired over all of the pretty girls in all of the world.

Paul writes to the Thessalonians to know how to control their bodies in holiness and honor. Reading how Solomon did it all wrong, as well as comparing the marriage instructions in Ephesians 5, is an excellent way to gain this wisdom without making the same mistakes.

One of those things to know is that the Bible is not against sex for pleasure…the Song of Solomon doesn’t mention procreation (making babies) a single time. But the Bible is very big on monogamy, that is, one partner for life. At certain times in the Old Testament the consummation, or when the couple had sex, was when the marriage began, no ceremony or anything.

v. 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;

If you turn on a TV you know that America is worse off than Macedonia ever could have been. This is why it is so important that you know what God commands towards purity.

Science has discovered in the last few years something the Bible has told us from the beginning, that when two people “cleave together” as the Bible says, there is a bond formed between them, this is both emotional, and as science has learned, chemical. This bond is meant by God for one lifelong relationship, and really gets messed up when used wrongly.

It is not enough just to “love” somebody, which in the majority of relationships in America is just lust and fleeting-affection; you have to make a marital commitment, a promise to continue the sacrificial agape love for the glory of God and not just for the momentary good feeling which won’t last and should only be fully explored within the marriage covenant.

v. 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.

God is the avenger in these things, it doesn’t say how, but there is sure to be pain involved. Don’t commit adultery, lust, covetousness, or anything of the sort, especially within the church. This is important to remember outside of the church, but especially inside the church.

1 Corinthians 5:11 Now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

v. 7-8 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Live your life in accordance with God’s rules and things will work out best for you according to his plan. This is the will of God: your sanctification.

The word for “sexual immorality” is porneia, this is where we get the term pornography, but it refers to any sexual sin. The only authorized divorce for you, as a Christian, is because of this porneia,

Matthew 9:19 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.

The other authorized divorce is if a husband or wife gets saved and the other doesn’t, and the unsaved person asks for the divorce. This should never happen in this class: don’t date, and especially don’t marry, an unbeliever. Ladies, it is going to be very tempting to date unsaved guys to bring them to church, it’s jokingly called evangie-dating and it’s stupid. I’m going to say I’d rather you didn’t date unsaved guys…but if you do, be very, very, very, very, very, very, very careful, because in the words of Pastor Aaron, “All boys lie.” Guys will tell you they love you, even when they don’t, because half the girls they tell that too will fall for it. Don’t let them convince you in talk only, a guy that really loves you will respect your purity.

Guys, and as uncomfortable as this is to say, it has to be said. Don’t look at pornography, don’t get caught up in it, don’t even think about it. It will wreck your perception of girls, it will mess up your friendships with them, it makes God angry, and it is bad for more reasons than I can list.

In conclusion, sexual morality is good thing for lots and lots and lots of reasons. Read your Bibles to learn all of the reasons, we’ve only touched on a few things. If you have any questions, I really encourage you to ask your parents, if you would rather talk to someone else, please don’t hesitate to ask me or Dave or any of your adult leaders. Don’t get your information from television, or the internet, and especially not from your peers. The dumbest things concerning this topic that you’ll ever hear will come out of middle-school locker rooms.

There are plenty of good Christian books regarding this, ask Dave or myself to recommend one that suits you. My favorite all around book is, I kissed dating goodbye, which shows that dating should be towards marriage, and that dating while in school is dumb, because it will stunt your emotional growth, lead to things that are not worthwhile, and pretty much waste your time. I’m not dating anyone else until I’m pretty sure that is the person I’ll marry.

One thing you’ll have to make your own decision on is kissing. The Bible doesn’t say not to kiss before you’re married. But kissing doesn’t lead anywhere but to more physical touching, so I’m not kissing another girl until she’s my wife. “You may kiss the bride” used to mean just that.

Guys, do this:

Job 31:1-4 I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin? What would be my portion from God above and my heritage from the Almighty on high? Is not calamity for the unrighteous, and disaster for the workers of iniquity? Does not he see my ways and number all my steps?

Ladies, know that guys are much more visually interested in you than you are in them, and you do us a HUGE favor when you dress modestly. I’m sure your dads will be more than happy to help you know whether the clothing you are wearing is appropriate, and I believe you and your parents have done very well so far, but don’t let your guard down.

Finally, if for some reason you don’t feel pure or in the future you fall into a sinful event, know that the blood of Christ cleanses from all unrighteousness, so repent, and trust in him, that no matter how big a sin it is, his payment on the cross was done to atone for your sins and reconcile you to God, and his grace is sufficient.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

January 4th - The Fellowship and Assembling of the Saints

Prayer Requests
The Roberts' Dog to be Found
School Starting Back Up
8:30am Service Next Week
Read through the Bible in a Year
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Those that heard the Gospel over Christmas and New Years, including YEC

Text – 1 Thessalonians 3:6-4:1

First Thessalonians 3 has two major lessons, the first we learned about last class, the danger of false conversion and how happy Paul was to hear that Thessalonica was standing firm in their faith, and the second thing that we can learn in this lesson is the bond within the church, the church which Paul said of Acts 20:28 …the church of God, which Christ has bought with his own blood.

It’s one of the coolest things in Christianity, I think, that there is an instantaneous bond between believers that transcends ethnicity, culture, and socioeconomic barriers. At YEC I preached a short sermon in the open-air and the Pizza guy ended up being a believer and gave us two free pizzas.

When my friend Alex flew in from New Zealand, which was the first time I ever met him face to face, we instantly had a bond and had a great weekend preaching, and fellowshipping.

On the converse, and I don’t want to name names, there are those that call themselves Christians that you will feel an animosity towards and wonder why, but there was one of those at Summit and I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t like him, because I usually like everybody, and Christians should always have a spirit of love towards one another. It didn’t take very long when he fell into a very sinful situation and his doctrinal statements showed him to have no idea of justification, nor grace, nor the subsitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross. He ended up not being a Christian, but a false convert, and it set my mind at ease as to why there was discord between our souls. I continue to pray for him often in hopes that God grants him repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.

Lets read this passage, and I want to try something a little different, this is my first expositional teaching and I don’t think I’ve been doing it right, and I want to apologize for that, that while I think these classes have been very enlightening, I think we could be learning more about the book of Thessalonians than we are, so after reading the passage straight through, I want to read individual verses and exposit on them. As we’re reading this, listen for the loving words that Paul is writing.

1 Thessalonians 3:6-4:1 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?

Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.

Just a little background, where was this letter written from? Corinth.
Why was Paul worried that they might not think kindly of him? They left pretty suddenly in the middle of the night.
What do we know about Thessalonica so far?
1. They were famous for their conversion from paganism to Christianity.
2. They were great preachers known throughout Macedonia and Achaia.
3. They were greatly persecuted by their countrymen for their new faith, even to the point that all Jewish believers were killed or run out of town.
What made their location so special? They were on the Egnatian Way, as well as being a major port to the Aegean Sea.

So, first verse, 6, Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you-

The good news that Timothy brought was first of all their faith, that it was strong and that they hadn’t been turned away from the truth. Paul had previously had a problem with the churches in Galatia abandoning the truth to follow after works-righteous Judaizers, so to have Thessalonica stand firm in the truth was extra good news for Paul.

Next in the line of good news is their love, since love is an excellent fruit of the Spirit pointing towards their genuine conversion. Does anyone have the fruit of the Spirit memorized?

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Love is a running theme for the church; it is how we will be known, according to Jesus Christ.

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

This love isn’t just ushy-gushiness where you look at somebody with a sweet look and say…”I love you” and smile a goofy smile, this is the agape love, which we will talk about more next week, which is a sacrificial love in action love.

1 John 3:17-18 If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Then Paul talks about the church at Thessalonica remembering him and Silas kindly, and them longing to see them again, which Paul also longs to see them.

The brotherly love amongst Christians, which is Phileo love, which again, we’ll talk about next week more in-depth, transcends distance and time.

Verse 7, for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith.

The previous verse listed some very good signs that their faith was genuine, and so Paul, Silas, and Timothy were comforted, since it was some of the best news they’d had in a while, having been put in jail in Philippi, run out of Thessalonica, run out of Berea, and then harassed by the Jews in Corinth. They had had a rough run of it, but Paul said his greatest hardship was always his worry for his churches. We’ve already read this passage once in this class, and we’ll probably read it at least one more time, because Paul really got thumped during his ministry:

2 Corinthians 11:24-28 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.

Listen to that last verse, Apart from everything else, there is the daily anxiety for the churches…Paul loved God most of all, but his next love was people.

Galatians 4:19 my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!

Remember to pray for your Youth Pastor and his wife, he is constantly attending to students who have not yet believed, who are just believing, and who have claimed to have believed but have no fruit to show their regeneration. Just as Paul was constantly in anxiety and anguish, so is Dave. Even still, there is nothing he would rather do than take care of the Lambs of his Master.

Verse 8, For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.

It is a tremendous encouragement and relief when someone who you’ve been praying about for a long time gets saved. Paul was probably pretty run down from his ministry, and if another church went apostate like the one in Galatia, I think Paul would have died of depression. But since Thessalonica was standing fast in the Lord, he was rejuvenated.

I almost never cry, but recently someone ran into the guys from the Kirk Cameron Gang-witnessing encounter and found out that at least two of them have gotten saved, including the main guy, Mario. I had prayed for Mario probably 25 times, and when I learned he got saved, I cried like a baby.

Verse 9, 10, and 11, For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you…

Paul gets a little giddy at this point, wanting to see them again, wanting to do things for them, it all comes back to this Christian love we have is not in word, but in action. The neatest thing, I think, is where it says that Paul felt joy for their sake. This is selfless love, when you see a brother or sister doing well, and feel joy for it without feeling envy or jealousy for their success.

After these three verses, Paul turns to something more immediate. His future hope is to see them soon, but immediately this is what he does, he asks God

Verse 12, may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,

Increase in love means to have more of it, to abound in love almost means the same thing, it is sort of a word to describe an increase in liquid, especially when it overflows. To abound in love is to put your love to action because you have so much that you can’t keep it to yourself. Paul wants this to happen so they love those within the church, but also so they love those outside of the church.

Verse 13 gives the ultimate goal, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

We’re going to talk most about the coming of the Lord Jesus in a few weeks, so we’ll skip this part for now, but when he does come, we will be established blameless in holiness based on Christ’s righteousness given to us.

Christ is infinitely holy, and so will we be like him when he comes, but what is the point of trying to be more and more holy during this life if we’ll never be perfectly holy until Christ comes, or even worse, that no-matter how holy or unholy we will be, we will be perfected when we die or when Christ returns. There are two reasons, one, the Bible likens the world we live in to a mire, a sort of nasty muddy swamp, and also to dog-vomit. Ewww…pretty gross, right? At work we have this sort of elevator thing you stand on to get into the bottom fuel tanks of the F-22, you push the button and it goes all slow so that it doesn’t crush you. It takes forever. That is sort of how our holiness goes, but eventually we’ll get out of the mire, going slowly, then we start to get a better elevation, and a better view, then people start to look to us to show them the way to salvation. It is slow and painful and we’ll never be perfect, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be going that way.

The second, and more important reason we should become more holy, is because the Bible says so.

1 John 3:3 everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

And verse 4:1, Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.

This is an introduction to the rest of the letter, that Paul is going to instruct the church at Thessalonica how to be more and more godly, how to walk and please God, and how to do it more often and better.

So that’s the exposition, I also saw something else worth teaching in this, since we’re on this fellowship that I hope you can see between Paul, Silas, and Timothy with Thessalonica, even though they are almost 200 miles apart.

In this county we’ve tried to perpetuate the rumor that we are capitalists…we’re not, capitalism doesn’t work. Neither does communism, we’re about in the middle, probably a little closer to capitalism than to communism. Communism, in a perfect society, would be the preferred government, but since people are sinful and strive against each other and God, it doesn’t work. I want to show you an event in the church that shows that.

Acts 4:32-5:11 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much." And she said, "Yes, for so much." But Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

Ultimately they lied to be thought better of in the church, there was no command to give all, so when they said they gave all but kept some, they weren’t breaking any rules, but they were lying, not to men, but to God. I don’t know why exactly they did it, but my guess is to be thought better of in the church, maybe think they were getting a higher portion in Heaven.

I really like Psalm 84 and how it puts how we should approach the church and Heaven.

Psalm 84:10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

And finally, this love should keep us together, but just in case we need a command to say so,

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Concerning a question I had on the Trinity this week, I wanted to share this. The Trinity is dificult to understand, but not impossible. The Athanasian Creed gives an excellent defintion. Before reading this, where it says "Catholic", that should be read in the original Greek and Latin, which katholik and catholicam means "Universal" and is talking about the Bride of Christ; it is NOT talking about the apostate Roman Catholic Church.

The Athanasian Creed