Sunday, October 25, 2009

October 25th - A Firm Foundation

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Summit in General
Pastor Carey Cash
Atlanta Gay Pride Outreach
Zach Salvation

Text – 1 Peter 2:4-8

The section of scripture we are going to look at today is a great passage; I used to think that Peter stuck it in here because he wanted to say it and didn't know where else to say it; I didn’t realize he was maintaining a theme.

I mean, how could he go from talking about being born again and then go to talking about rocks without a transition? But there is definitely a progression here and this passage is where it is for a reason.

Last week we talked about something that Peter tells us we need to desire if we want to grow up in salvation, what is it? Spiritual Milk. What exactly is that? Specifically it’s the Bible, and the only way we will desire spiritual milk is if we have tasted that the Lord is good.

This is important because it sets our affections on the right thing. I heard a comic last week who was not a Christian and didn’t understand why Christ is so great, and he got big laughs by saying, “What if you got to Heaven and they gave you a harp and a cloud and said, ‘Have fun.’?”

If our goal is Heaven because we want to forever be without pain, there will come a point where it gets boring. If we our goal in Heaven is to fellowship with the saints, then some trillion years down the road we will know everything there is to know about everyone. If our goal in Heaven is to learn everything, there will come a point when we know everything there is to know.

The comedian went on to say that he asked some Mormons what the benefit of Mormonism would be for him, and the answer was that he would get to spend eternity with his family. He answered, “I spent eternity with my family once, it was a road trip, and it was Hell on Earth.” A misunderstanding of Heaven draws from the fact that we so often miss the goal, that we taste that the Lord is good, and he is our goal forever and ever.

In one of Robin Williams’ movies, he goes to Heaven and asks where God is, and an angel tells him that God is up there. The Heaven of Hollywood is without God. Shai Linne has a song that says, “I don’t wanna go to Heaven if God is not there.”

The reason Heaven will be so great is because God will be there, and we will need eternity to love, learn about, and fellowship with our infinite God.

Psalm 73:25-26 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

So once we’ve realized that, once we’ve tasted that the Lord is good, then we desire the pure spiritual milk to grow up into salvation. The first thing we need is a firm foundation, so despite Peter not having a transition, he is moving toward a definite purpose. Now Peter is going to accomplish four things in the following verses, first he is going to tell us why we need to build our foundation on Christ through the scriptures, then he is going to refute any idea that he is the first pope, then he is going to tell us who we are in Christ, and finally what happens if you fail to include Christ in your foundation.

1 Peter 2:4-8 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame." So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone," and "A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense." They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

The Roman Catholic Church is built on a foundation made up of two things, first, the Mass, the resacrificing of Christ over and over for the forgiveness of sins, and second that Peter was the first pope. Ironically, and showing their pagan roots, they never cite from Peter’s Epistles to back that up, but from a way misinterpreted verse in Matthew.

Matthew 16:13-20 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" (Note: The context here is who is Christ, not who are the Apostles) Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Based on this passage, the Catholic Church has made up a pretend succession of popes throughout history. Really the first person who wanted to be pope was Constantine in the 4th century. He was a pagan and totally wrecked Christianity by making it the legal religion of the Roman Empire and making everyone call themselves a Christian no matter what they believed or if they were saved or not. He called himself the Pontifex Maximus, or the “Great Bridger”. He set himself up as a mediator between God and men. It wasn’t for another hundred and fifty years did another guy try to be in charge, Leo the First in AD461 called himself the Chief Bishop and the “Supreme Head of all Christendom.” But it wasn’t for over another hundred years after that that someone would be called papa, father, and that was Gregory the First in AD590. The Roman Catholics believe that there is a Papal Succession from Benedict the 16th to Peter, but that’s ridiculous, they’ve had to make up popes to fill the void. In general there has always been a bishop in Rome, so some of the people they pick were genuinely in charge of the Roman church, but some they just made up. Was Peter ever a bishop? No. He was an Apostle, as evidenced by the first verse of First Peter, what he ever in charge of any church? No, he hung out in Jerusalem and James was the bishop of that church, at best Peter was a Presbyter, of which we will talk more about at the end of chapter four and beginning of five.

In about AD1400, there were two popes operating in two different locations, both chosen legitimately by Roman Catholic councils. In 1414 they picked another pope to supersede those two, and so for a couple of days there were three popes operating at once. There is no such thing as papal succession, and Peter wasn’t the first rock.

In Greek, Jesus would have said, “You are Petros, and upon this Petra I will build my church.” Petros is a piece of rock, slightly bigger than a Lithos, a stone, and Petra is a complete rock. So the proper interpretation is that “You are a piece of the rock, and on the Rock that I am the Living God manifest in the flesh is where I will build my church.” So this passage is going to shed more light for us that the great rock is made up of the smaller rocks. We are the Corpus Christi, the body of Christ.

The main gist of the passage we are in is that it is imperative to have Christ as the foundation.

v.4-5 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house...

We come to Christ as our firm foundation, and as we come to him, we ourselves are building blocks to build up a house. This is reminiscent of what Christ said in his Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 7:24-26 Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."

When Peter speaks of us building on the living stone of Christ, Peter is saying two things here, first likening the body of believers to a temple that is made up of many stones, and second the "house" that he is talking about is referring to the collection of people. Like the royalty of England is the House of Windsor, or the House of Tudor, or the House of Normandy. This is important when we consider that Peter uses the world "living" to describe these stones, that he isn't just talking about rocks, not just talking about doctrine, but he is specific to be talking about people and specifically the Person of Jesus Christ.

So a house is both a building and/or a collection of royal people, so the house here, Peter tells us is,

v.5 to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Are any of your last names Cohen? In this day and age, if your last name isn't Cohen, then you're probably not a descendent of Levi. Since Israel and Jerusalem we given to the Jews, there has been a massive effort to determine who the priests are so that they can minister in the new temple, if/when it is built. Cohen is Hebrew for priest. Peter was likely not from the Tribe of Levi either, probably from Simeon albeit that is not 100% sure; Paul was from the Tribe of Benjamin but he agreed with Peter that all Christians are priests, he makes an extremely audacious claim as a Benjamite,

Romans 15:15-16 I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God...

So which priesthood do you think we are a part of if we're not Levites, and one that Peter and Paul could be members of? And especially Jesus, he had no claim to the Levitical priesthood either,

Hebrews 7:14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

This is important because a king couldn't be a priest and a priest couldn't be a king under the old covenant, and God did that to show that he was the great High Priest and King of Israel, not a fallible man, and the priesthood we belong to and that Jesus Christ belongs to is one of much older lineage than Aaron in the tribe of Levi,

Hebrews 7:15-17 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him, "You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek."

I wish we had more time to spend on Melchizedek, but consider this just a foundation and introduction to his life. He was the priest that ministered for Abraham, he was never born, and he never died, his name means the King of Righteousness, he was declared to be the King of Salem, or the King of Peace. Does anybody know where Salem was? It was Jerusalem before Jerusalem became Jerusalem; the first time we hear it called Jerusalem, new Salem, was when it was conquered by Joshua. Melchizedek was both priest and king, he was Jesus Christ manifest in the flesh, and now we are priests under our Great High Priest, and as Paul and Peter tell us, our duty is to proclaim the gospel of God, and to offer spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.

What is a spiritual sacrifice you can offer? Your life (Romans 12:1-2), your words and praise (Hebrews 13:15), your works and sharing what you have (Hebrews 13:16), your prayers (Revelation 8:3), and bringing others to Christ (Romans 15:16), all of this walking in love (Ephesians 5:2); I wish I had time to share with you the verses that say these things, I've included them on the website if you want to look. This was and is one of the most important concepts of the Reformation, that there is one priesthood of believers, in Latin it is Sola Sacerdos, that Jesus Christ is our only intercessor, that a priest cannot confess your sins for you, and that all Christians stand on equal footings of grace before Almighty God.

In order to finish this passage, and stay true to Peter's flow, we'll talk more about priests next week briefly on the requirements of being one, and more about how to be a good priest of the Most High God.

From here Peter sums it up beautifully on why we must build on the firm foundation of Christ and what happens if we try to build on anything else but him.

v. 6-7 For it stands in Scripture: "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame." So the honor is for you who believe,

For those who believe, there is honor and glory and blessing forever,

v.7-8 but for those who do not believe, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone," and "A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense." They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

The Pharisees were in love with the Bible, they weren't so in love with the God that the Bible points to, but they loved being authorities on the Bible and trying to make people obey every last law and then some laws they made up, in order to go to Heaven. They couldn't keep the commandments either, but they were harsh on those who failed. When they met a Man who did keep all of the commandments, they didn't like him, they refused to see that he was the God whom the Bible pointed to, and they rejected him as their Great High Priest.

Even as they rejected him, he still stands in their way and was the downfall of them. They stumbled over Christ because they disobey the Word, as was the plan for everyone who rejected the Chief Cornerstone, the Foundation of Life and godliness.

So in conclusion, we learn four major things from this passage.

First, that Peter was not the first pope, nor is there any Papa other than our Father in Heaven, whom we are able to call Abba, Father, because we are sons and daughters of God adopted and sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ. There is one mediator between you and God, it is not any mere man, but it is the Godman Jesus Christ, he is the only one that can intercede on your behalf to the Father, having borne your burden to the cross and paid your fine in his own life's blood.

Second, Jesus Christ is the only firm foundation. If you try to build your life and hope on anything else, great will be your fall.

Third, we are figuratively being built on that foundation to the full body of Christ in the church, and literally we are priests, Sola Sacerdos, of God after the line of Melchizedek, offering spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.

Fourth, if you reject Jesus Christ, be assured that he will be your downfall. The stone that the builders rejected is the cornerstone of believers and the stumbling stone of the unbeliever, and when they fall, great will be their demise.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 18th - The Pure Milk of the Word

Prayer Requests
Dan + Leon Preaching
Fall Festival Results
Pastor Carey Cash
Giles, York, and Miano's in their family losses this week
James' friend Aaron move to Pennsylvania

Text - 1 Peter 2:2-3

Short Lesson, Hannah did the introduction, and we had missionaries visit from the fifth grade.

The verse we are going to read and look at today is a continuation of chapter one, especially the idea of being born again. So some review, our earthly life mirrors our spiritual life.

Conception – Seed Planted (1 Corinthians 3:5-6)
Gestation – Seed Growth/Danger of no Birth (Galatians 4:19)
Birth – Rebirth (1 Peter 1:3)
Newborn – Spiritual Babes (Hebrews 5:13, 1 Peter 2:2)
Adolescence – Maturing (Hebrews 5:14)
Maturity – Able to Minister to Souls (Hebrews 5:12)

There needs to be a direction to this, if you stop moving towards maturity for any lengthy period of time that is not good, the important thing is that there is a progression. Peter's Epistle mirrors this progression, he starts the letter out by talking about being born again and he concludes talking to the elders. How do we get from being newborns to elders?

1 Peter 2:2-3 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

What does a baby want when it is first born? Steak? Coca-Cola? Pepperoni Pizza? Or the pure milk from its mom?

Does it have any desire for anything else? Nope, because the milk is what it needs. What happens if you try to give a newborn a potato chip? They don't want it, they know what they need.

So a newly Reborn Christian is told to do what by Peter? Desire the pure spiritual milk. Let me give you a personal example, after I got saved, I had two weeks off from work because I had just returned from the middle-east, where you get to save up all of your weekends, and so I read the Bible from cover to cover in those two weeks. I missed a lot of things, but it gave me a great foundation of Christianity.

This milk contains all sorts of incredible things that most food doesn't have, and is super concentrated. First of all, it is heavy in omega-3, which is a fatty acid that is fantastic for brain-growth. You can eat fish and get this same stuff, but you won't get the same benefit as the baby, because the milk also comes with this stuff called "lipase" which is an enzyme that greatly helps the baby digest the omega-3 so that more of it goes into its brain.

This is just like the Bible, where is the best place to grow your spiritual knowledge? It's from reading straight from God's Word. I can teach it to you, and while I hope you're getting a lot out of this class, I'm certain there is a lot of stuff you're missing too...this is just how our brains work, God wants us to seek him, not somebody talking about him. Similarly, the Bible, when it is interpreted for you by the Holy Spirit will be much more absorbed into your brain.

Next, milk has very specific proteins in it that are perfect for the baby's body to absorb to make stronger bodies and better immune systems. This milk is completely absorbed and used because it is made for the body. On the other hand, cow's milk has protein in it, but it is so hard for your body to get out that what your body gets from cow-milk protein isn't enough to replace the protein it took to get it. It's like me buying a $1 bill from you for $5. You don't drink cow's milk for the protein, but for the vitamins.

That goes straight to the Bible. The Bible contains things that your spiritual life can totally use. On the other hand, you read a book by a great preacher, or hear a great sermon or lesson, and the spiritual truths may be great and true, but the effort the preacher spent to get that truth to you took forever in research and prayer. A preacher should be giving you application along with your truth, these are the reasons we listen to preachers who ought to be exhorting.

Next, milk has huge amounts of sugar in it, that makes it taste good for the baby. This also makes it easier to digest.

In Seminary, they make you read up to three books a week, and while some of these books are really good, when you read the Bible after that, you realize that God's Word is so much sweeter than mans' words.

There is more, according to a Dr. Frank Oski who is a leading pediatrician for Johns Hopkins Medical School, there are at least 400 reasons milk is better than formula or baby food, but those are the really neat ones I thought, plus one more that I think is fantastic. Milk has natural antibacterial agents in it that kills bad germs (not all germs are bad), but doesn't kill babies. While you have to boil bottles and keep baby food sealed, milk is ready to go from the source.

Chapter 1 of First Peter talked about how we are being refined, through trial and obedience, but that we have eternal life. The Bible kills sin and purifies us, but won't kills us...there is an if coming up...

v.3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

None of these promises are for unbelievers, people who have not been born-again, but only for the believer.

So where is Peter telling us to look for spiritual growth? The Bible. Let's see where he got this quote in verse three from.

Hmm, it seems to be the Bible; one of the reasons I picked these Epistles to go through is because they quote the Old Testament like crazy. First Thessalonians didn't quote it a single time, so I felt it would be good to look at an Epistle that quotes and/or alludes to the Old Testament a ridiculous number of times.

Peter is quoting Psalm 34:8, this is an absolutely wonderful Psalm, maybe my favorite, and also maybe Peter's favorite because he quotes it several times and holds close to its themes. The verse here that Peter quotes wasn't just stated, I believe it was an emotional outburst,

Psalm 34:8-11 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

The taste the Lord directly relates to the spiritual milk, what happens if you try to feed a baby something that isn't spiritual milk? He's going to spit it out, because he knows there is something so much better. The same with someone who has seen the perfection of God, the absolute pleasure that comes from knowing him, from resting in his grace and finding refuge in his mercy. Imagine someone came to us and said, "I will give you each a trillion dollars if you will never talk about Jesus ever again or pray or use this money for any Christian endeavor. You can do whatever you want with it, as long as the cause of Christ is not furthered." Our response should be, "Ew, are you serious, that is the last thing in the world I want, because my desire is the Living God, he is what I want." That would be your response if you have tasted that the Lord is good.

I believe I started out on the right track, I didn't have Christian books or teachers around to corrupt me or get me caught on something else, I had the pure spiritual milk of the Word. This is one reason I get so defensive when somebody talks about the myth of Free-Will, or say to get saved you "ask Jesus into your heart", or any number of goofy things. We add these manmade things and it takes the sweetness out of the Bible.

I think one of the reasons the Christian church is so caught up in other things is because when someone gets saved, they don't go to the Word, but they go to Sunday School or church or books about how to be a Christian while neglecting the Bible. Look at America, we know that we ought to eat healthy, but we love things that taste good to us, the Bible has never been shown to most Christians to be so sweet and so good and so good for us.

So the application is straightforward. Love this book, read this book, find how great and glorious God is through this book, so that you progress in your Christian life, moving from spiritual rebirth to being an elder, and never stop progressing. Christian teachers, books, and sermons are wonderful, but they are not the Bible. Your main diet should be from this Bible and things on top of it should treats or snacks.

Finally, how many times do you eat a day? Two? Three? Six? What happens if you skip a few days? You get weak, you pass out, you die... How many times do you read your Bible a day? Ever skipped a few days? A few weeks? A few months?

Don't get me wrong, you can't lose your salvation by not reading your Bible, but if you're not subsisting on your Bible, then your spirit probably isn't alive in need of nourishment, but is still dead in sins and transgressions. What do the dead eat? If there is no Bible-input, then it is likely that the spirit is dead, and the need is to be spiritual raised so that you taste that the Lord is good.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

October 11th - Christopher Columbus

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Fall Festival - No Rain
Hannah and her Dad Camping
Kari and her Class Camping
Bethany's Braces
Joshua and Cassandra's Birthdays

Text - 1 Peter 2:10...sort of...

We're going to briefly step out of First Peter to do a topical look at Christopher Columbus. Tomorrow is his day and his life has been so ignored and misrepresented that I think it will benefit us all to look into his life. 1 Peter 2:2 is also Hannah's favorite verse and she couldn't be here today, so I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to take a week off for something different. I think Hannah misinterpreted and took 1 Peter 2:1 a little too literally, it tells us to rid yourself of all Geil... (KJV)

What is Christopher Columbus famous for? The world will tell you it is for discovering the New World, and that's true, but what he is famous for in Heaven is his devotion to Jesus Christ and desire to see the gospel spread.

Columbus was born in Genoa Italy in 1451, his father was a wool-worker, which Columbus trained to follow, but Columbus wanted to be a sailor. His education is fairly spotty in detail, we do know that he learned Latin because all of the best nautical books were in Latin. Which other great book was in Latin at this time? The Bible. Columbus was put in an interesting privileged position to read the book that most people at his time could not read, and he took it very seriously. On one of his first trips he was in Greece, here was all sorts of political and religious unrest and if I had to put my finger on where Columbus got saved, I'd say it was either in Greece, or because of Greece that he would have looked deeper into his Catholic faith. Ironically, his first voyage to Greece was the closest he would ever get to India.

His profession of faith is, "I am a most noteworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and they have covered me completely. I have found the sweetest consolation since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy His marvelous Presence."

He took his name, Christopher, exceedingly literally; this name means "The Christ Bearer" and he made it his life's goal to see Jesus Christ glorified through his life. His last name seems to have some Jewish roots, albeit we're not really sure what it means. Columbus claimed to be able to trace his lineage all the way up to King David. This may seem strange, but it is totally plausible, conservative Jews take lineage very seriously, and while David, Jesus, and subsequently Christopher would have been from the line of Judah, if you ever meet someone from the line of Levi, they can take you straight up the list of their genealogy to Aaron. Paul said don't get caught up in this, but it's neat that people are able to do it.

Columbus shares a similar last name with Columba who was a missionary to Scotland in the sixth century who converted the Picts. I wanted to mention him because with Columbus we're going to be discussing lots of science and the Bible, and Columba has writings about him that he encountered huge lizards, aka dragons, in Scotland. One of them almost ate his friend. Today we call them dinosaurs, and they certainly didn't live millions of years ago, but only recently vanished from the earth.

So, back to Columbus, the Italian. He was a Catholic, but his letters and journals are very biblical and I have very little doubt that he was saved. On the other hand, he went to Spain to try to get funding for a Western expedition to the Indies. The king and queen of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella, were thoroughly Catholic and almost guaranteed not to be saved. One evidence is that they hated Jews, and they kicked all of the Jews out of Spain, which is ironic because Columbus was a Jew, albeit a Christian Jew.

If you research this, and I always encourage you to look into these things, you'll find some very flattering language to a "Queen" who many Catholics will want you to believe was Mary, but you'll find if you search it in context, that it was about Queen Isabella and her support of Columbus. One reason I feel that Columbus was actually saved is because even though he was a Catholic, he only worshipped and prayed to Jesus Christ and his Father. One of the ships they gave him was the Santa Maria, Saint Mary, but he didn't name her, she was named after her home port, which was called El Puerto de Santa Maria. Various crew members named her various things, the devout Catholics called her Elegant Mary, the heathens called her Dirty Mary, and others called her by the city she was made in, La Gallega. Interestingly, the name of the Santa Clara was changed to the Niña, which means little girl; the captain of this ship's name was Juan Niño, so it was a play on words.

While God can use pagans (Catholics and others) to do amazing things, I'm certain that Columbus disagreed with much of the Catholic faith and held to a more orthodox Christianity, albeit not perfectly orthodox.

In the 1400's, practically no-one believed the world was flat. Your text books are going to lie to you, because they hate God and the truth. We're going to talk about that more later. Columbus started to research a different route to China and Indonesia, a straight shot rather than going around Africa; few people believed it was impossible, but most felt that it was way too far to sail. And, if there was no land-mass between Spain and China, it would have been way too far to sail.

Columbus heard of a land possibly to the West so he decided to research it, and he did so both from the Bible, and from secular history. It started off when he heard of a body that was found floating across the Atlantic Ocean that was neither black nor white but seemed oriental. At this point, he realized that winds around the equator blew West, and winds farther north blew East, and he felt he could sail West on one and home on the other, no-one purportedly had thought of that before.

In his research he discovered a writing by Diodorus Siculus, a first century BC Greek historian, who recorded that he had heard of a very great island many days journey from Africa. A great scientist and a Catholic named Dr. Mirabilis in the 1200's believed that the sea between Spain and India would be navigable if the winds were right, albeit he never tried it.

Columbus started to search the Bible to see what it said on the matter. He had absolute authority that the world was round,

Isaiah 40:22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in...

Job 26:10 He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness.

A circle of light would require a sphere, and so there was no doubt in Columbus', or most people of his day, that the world was round.

I'm fairly certain Columbus' favorite book was Isaiah, he loved and held to the frequent mention of all types of people in all different locations following after the Living God. Columbus felt like he was divinely guided by God to sail West to fulfill a prophecy in Isaiah 60. I don't know exactly how he picked this prophecy, because looking back, I don't know if I would ascribe him to it, but it's very interesting and it very well may be a direct prophecy of Columbus.

Isaiah 60:9 Surely the islands look to me; in the lead are the ships of Tarshish, bringing your sons from afar, with their silver and gold, to the honor of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.

Where is Tarshish? Tarshish is in Southwestern Spain. Where did Columbus sail from? Spain, specifically Palos, which is very near to where Tarshish was in Jonah's day, albeit they are not exactly the same place so it is dangerous to force this prophecy.

Columbus had seen enough islands in his travels; Ireland, Iceland, the Azores, the Canaries to believe that there would be islands across the whole ocean until he reached India. He also believed that along with the winds, he would have help by ocean currents which were largely unknown of at the time, and this would keep the distance from being too long because the speed of the ships would be faster.

Psalm 8:8 ...passes along the paths of the seas.

Similarly, in the 1800's, a sailor named Matthew Fontaine Maury read this verse and started to map the ocean currents and do more research on them. He is known today as the Father of Oceanography.

No one could accuse Columbus of lack of research, he would write, "I have met and I have had discussions with wise people, ecclesiastics and laymen, Latins and Greeks, Jews and Moors and with many others of other sects. To this I found our Lord very favorable to my desire and I received from Him the spirit of intelligence: in seamanship he made me abundant, of astrology he gave what was needed, and so of geometry and arithmetic and ingeniousness in the soul and hands to draw the sphere..."

Columbus approached the King of Portugal first, and after hearing his proposal, the king turned him down. People thought he was crazy for wanting to try. Columbus would later write/pray, "At this time I both read and studied all kinds of literature: cosmography, histories, chronicles, and philosophy and other arts , to which our Lord opened my mind unmistakably to the fact that it was possible to navigate from here to the Indies, and He evoked in me the will for the execution of it; and with this fire I came to Your Highnesses. All those who heard of my plan disregarded it mockingly and with laughter. All the sciences of which I spoke were of no profit to me nor the authorities in them; only in Your Highnesses my faith, and my stay. Who would doubt that this light did not come from the Holy Spirit, anyway as far as I am concerned, which comforted with rays of marvelous clarity and with its Holy and Sacred Scriptures."

So he went to Spain and they were all for his voyage, mainly for evangelization purposes, but also they wanted whichever islands that Columbus might discover. Queen Isabella sought help from the Vatican, stating the purpose of the voyage "To bear the light of Christ west to the heathen undiscovered lands." There was also a lot of money to be made, and certainly that is why some people were all for the expedition.

But, the king and queen couldn't pay for it because Spain was broke fighting a war against Muslim invaders. Columbus was going to head for France to seek financing there, which would mean whichever lands he discovered would belong to France, and also Portugal seemed to be changing their minds and were going to finance Columbus, but before that happened three wealthy Spanish men, all nominally Christian Jews, decided to fund Columbus' exploration for Spain. Ironically, it seems that one of their purposes was to seek a new land in which to evade the Catholic church. It is not clear whether they were born-again Christians, non-Messianic Jews, or atheists, however it happened, their goal was to get away from the Roman church.

So Columbus sailed West to go East. They found no islands for a long time and the crew wanted to give up. Columbus told them three more days and if they hadn't spotted land, they would turn-around. At the end of the second day, October 12th, 1492, they spotted land, an island in the Bahamas. They named it San Salvador, the Sacred Saviour. When they landed they met, after a brief search, a people that looked quite oriental, and so Columbus decided they were in India and named the people Indians.

Columbus instantly set out to making friends with the natives, giving them gifts and learning to communicate with them. His first journal entries after landing on October 12th were how important it was for Spain to send missionaries to these people. By November his journaling had changed slightly, he stated that he had begun to try to convert them, and he persuaded six Indians to return to Spain with him to learn Spanish, and possibly to return to their people as missionaries.

I can't sum it up better than Columbus the joy and monumental event that took place when the gospel was introduced to the new world, "Let Christ rejoice upon earth as he does in heaven, to witness the coming salvation of so many people, heretofore given over to perdition."

Columbus is the exact opposite of religious tolerance, he sought a direct route to send missionaries to a people who very much needed Christ. And while much evil came about to the American Indians because of the discovery, many have been saved by Christ and went to Heaven, which they never would have if the New World wasn't discovered. And America wasn't a utopia where everything was peachy. The people that Columbus first met were in imminent danger from cannibals who were systematically working their way around the Bahamas causing the extinction of whole people groups by eating them.

Likewise, later the Spaniards were able to conquer the Mayans and the Aztecs with very little manpower and violence, even though they were outnumbered by ridiculously huge armies. The reason was because many of the Mayans and Aztecs wouldn't fight for their leaders because their leaders were wicked and violent and made human sacrifices. Columbus did infinite good for the kingdom of God and for souls.

But in terms of tolerance, people hate him. One Indian Chief said of him in 1992, "Columbus makes Hitler look like a juvenile delinquent." So the Columbus you're going to be taught about in school, who loved wealth and titles more than anything, is not the Columbus of history who loved Jesus Christ and sought to see souls saved from perdition, Hell, for eternity. Columbus did like money, and sometimes he would go on mini-expeditions just in search of gold and spices. However, he used a great deal of his wealth to fund missionaries not to the New World, but to Jerusalem, and at the end of his life he had very little wealth remaining, but that is how he intended it. On money he would say, "He who has gold makes and accomplishes whatever he wishes in the world, and finally uses it to send souls to paradise."

So what do we learn?

First of all, the Bible is all about science. It is not science versus the Bible, it is science and the Bible versus enemies of God.

Second of all, education is great if you are putting it to action for glorifying God. Trigonometry was reasonably new in Columbus' day, yet without it there is no way he would have been able to find the same islands on his return voyage. Magellan would also use Trigonometry when he sailed around the world.

Third, Columbus used what he was good at to glorify God. He was a great seaman and navigator. It is said that his handwriting was fantastic, so much so that he was offered jobs to be a scribe. He also could have become a wool-worker like his father, but he took what God had made him best at and used it for the glory of God.

Forth of all, Columbus was a great Christian whose main goal was the evangelization of new people who had never heard of Jesus Christ. He took verses like Matthew 24:24, 28:19-20, and Mark 16:15 literally and seriously.

Fifth of all, tolerance is stupid. Lest people repent and turn to Jesus Christ, they will perish, and we need to be doing the same as Columbus did, seeking to convert everyone we run into, and refusing to compromise on the absolute truth of the scriptures.

Sixth of all, you can do pretty much whatever you want to with your money. The best place to invest it is in the kingdom of Heaven, where you use it to win souls into paradise. This is a running theme in my class and the Bible, that we only have one life, and it will soon be past, and only what's done for Christ will last.

Seventh of all, and probably most important, I'll let Columbus sum up, "No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Saviour, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His service."

In conclusion, after it became apparent that what Columbus had discovered was not India or China, but was indeed something quite different, he would sum up his whole life in one pithy statement, "God made me the messenger of the New Heaven and the New Earth."

God has likewise made you a messenger of the New Heaven and the New Earth, for without Christ, souls will perish. Find what you are best at and use it to glorify God in your body and your speech. Preach Christ at every opportunity, and trust in his sovereignty that the works you are walking in were prepared before time began so we rightly represent Christ to all the world, for until the gospel is preached to every nation, the end will not come. We want 1 Peter 2:10 to be true for all people groups.

1 Peter 2:10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Finally, challenge your teachers when they try to tell you Columbus was only in it for wealth, and that people thought he would sail over the edge of the world and die, tell them that is stupid and is willfully being ignorant of the truth. We'll talk more about this in Second Peter 3.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

October 4th - The New Birth

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Fall Festival
Bethany and Canyon's Dentist Appointments
Jeff Duckett City Council
Kennesaw Mountain Game next Friday

Text - 1 Peter 1:22-2:1

I think we’re through the hard part of the epistle, there were so many things smashed into the last ten verses that it was hard to really find a theme and expound on it. It is a beautiful introduction and looking back, I think we would have done better to have just read verses 13-21 and then go onto the rest of the letter which would have explained verses 13-21 better than I did. It’s a lesson learned and I apologize for the disjointed way in which I taught it; I promise there will be a better focus from here on out.

Today we are going to talk about being born-again, a fantastically important topic in the Bible.

1 Peter 1:22-2:1 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for "All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever." And this word is the good news that was preached to you. So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.

v.22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,

This is something that could be read really wrongly if it were taken out of context. It sounds like we can purify our souls through obedience, but we have to look at the next verse that says since you where born-again. The Galatian church was trying to purify themselves through works,

Galatians 3:1-3 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

Our purification is begun first of all through being born-again, then afterwards by one of two ways, first through affliction, second through obedience. Either God putting you to the fire, or you putting you to the holiness of God so that we are conformed to his image. For the seventh and eighth graders, do you remember what the names of the two great churches of Revelation were? Smyrna and Philadelphia, how was Smyrna purified? Through persecution, through external purification. How was Philadelphia purified? Through internal purification, by reading the Bible and doing what it says; by loving God and their neighbors. We can purify our hearts after we are born-again by loving earnestly from a purified heart. You cannot purify your heart this way if you have not been born-again and been given a new heart. So lets talk about being born-again.

v.23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God

There is a lot in this passage, but I really want to impress on you how important being born-again is.

I’m going to introduce you to two important men in history, a Rabbi named Nicodemus, and a preacher named George Whitefield. Let’s start with Nicodemus. From extrabiblical history we know that this Rabbi in the First Century was one of the four richest Jews in Jerusalem, he was also a Pharisee and had a great deal of power over people. He came to Jesus to ask him some questions for at least a few other Pharisees; probably Joseph of Arimathea was one of the Pharisees who wanted to know.

So he goes to Jesus and here is what transpires.

John 3:1-13 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him." Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.

So we’ve got this really smart guy, who probably knew the Old Testament backwards and forwards, and I’m sure he sees the necessity of the New Birth, he just doesn’t understand how he can do it. He asks the great question, probably pretty sarcastically, “do I climb back in my mother’s womb? I don’t think I’m gonna fit” Jesus answered him that a person must be born of the Holy Spirit and of water. Some people have thought that this is referring to both the physical birth and the spiritual birth, but then that would condemn babies who are stillborn, and Job tells us that stillborns go to Heaven. (Job 3:16) What the water is talking about is the New Covenant, when we are washed; Nicodemus would have understood this instantly.

Being born again is an external event from us, when God supernaturally makes us alive spiritually.

John 1:12-13 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

We are born of the Spirit by the will of God, and this is when we become children of God. And if you are not born-again, Jesus promises that you can’t go to Heaven. As we leave Nicodemus, lets look at something neat;

John 19:38-39 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight.

It sounds like Nicodemus got saved, sounds like he was born-again; he helped Joseph to bury Jesus. Not all Pharisees were bad, just like not all people in churches are good, and we can see born-again people doing good things in every manner of church, life, and career.

That brings us to George Whitefield. He lived in the 1700’s, he got saved reading a book on the necessity of the New Birth, which is another way of saying being born-again. So few people were experiencing being born-again that it was popular to say that being born-again meant being baptized or trying to clean yourself up. As Whitefield read the book, it became apparent that something big needed to happen to his soul in order for him to go to Heaven. He sought God in prayer and repentance and finally it happened, he was born-again. He instantly set out to preaching, but nobody would let him preach in their church. So he found a stump in a field and stood on it and preached the hope of reconciliation that is available in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was preaching to coal-miners and when he had finished they had streams of tears down their cheeks where the coal dust had been washed away.

George Whitefield preached for thirty years in America and Britain and multitudes got saved. Whitefield was really the one who birthed the Revolution; Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin helped a little, but without Whitefield, there would be no United States. During his life, George Whitefield preached 18,000 times, and over 1,000 of those sermons were on John 3, specifically John 3:3 that says

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

At the end of his life he was asked, “Why do you preach on being born-again so often?” He answered, “Because you must be.”

Let’s see why it is so important to be born of imperishable seed, of the Holy Spirit, as Peter quotes from Isaiah chapter 40.

v.24-25 for "All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever." And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

Everything that is born of flesh is passing away, it will wither, it will fall, it will die, it will not last forever. But the Word of God remains forever, it is imperishable, it is eternal, it is not corrupted by sin. It is what works in your life and makes you born-again. It’s obviously not just this paper and ink, but the Living Christ that it bears witness to, the Spirit of Christ that is sanctifying you, and the Father of Christ who is controlling it all. And in all of this, the Word has to abide in you, it's not a one time thing, but that it lives in you and works in you.

Romans 8:20-23 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Our spirit is alive, but our bodies are dying.

Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

But we’ll get a new body to match our new spirit;

1 Corinthians 15:47-49 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Now let me share with you an illustration that should really drive home the importance of the New Birth and that it is a real thing, and not just something that is superficial and can happen to you without you or someone else knowing.

On the way to church this morning I decided to get on the free-way…I don’t really know why, it took me sort of out of the way. On my way I got a flat tire, so I pulled over to the side and was changing the tire. I was in a hurry and lost hold of one of the lug-nuts and it rolled out into the freeway. I wasn’t paying attention and ran out and got it, right when I picked it up, I looked up and here comes a semi-truck going eighty-miles an hour and it was too late for me to get out of the way, and it ran me over. Long story short, I made it to church and here I am.

Would you believe this story? Why not? If I had an encounter with a semi-truck, you’d expect there to be some evidence, right? Now, let me ask you this question, which is bigger, a semi-truck, or the Living God who created the universe? (Stolen from Paul Washer)

If you claim to have had an encounter with him, that he has saved you, that he has given you a new heart and made you born-again, there should be some evidence of this. Paul says that old things will pass away, and all things will become new, and we will walk in a manner keeping with our confession. Peter says if we are born again then we must

v.2:1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.

So beloved, you must be born-again. If you are not, then you will perish, but if you are, then you will see the kingdom of Heaven and will have everlasting life. You must be born-again.

Why is being born-again so important?

Next week Peter is going to jump off of this idea of being born-again and what we should do to grow ourselves in the faith. Being born-again mirrors a real life, and while some of you have heard this, a review won’t be a bad thing.

Conception – Seed Planted (1 Corinthians 3:5-6)
Gestation – Seed Growth/Danger of no Birth (Galatians 4:19)
Birth – Rebirth (1 Peter 1:3)
Newborn – Spiritual Babes (Hebrews 5:13, 1 Peter 2:2)
Adolescence – Maturing (Hebrews 5:14)
Maturity – Able to Minister to Souls (Hebrews 5:12)


Ask two adults, preferably your parents, how they became born-again.