Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 28th - Be Excellent to Each Other

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron Preaching
PasXa outreach – April 2nd
Praise - Shawn Holes in Scotland
Praise - Kari's Dad's New Job
Cherry Blossom Festival Outreach
Mark's Family at the Loss of His Grandmother

Text – 1 Peter 3:8-12, 4:7-11

Before we start, we're not meeting next Sunday due to Easter. Our Good Friday outreach will be from 6:30-9:30pm on Friday, it's going to be awesome so make sure you bring friends. One thing I want to touch on about Easter before we start is the sign you often see above Jesus' head on the cross, it's often abbreviated "INRI", and I've long wondered what it meant. It's not scriptural to be an acronym, but I finally looked up what it means to find out why it's up there.

John 19:19-22 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but rather, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.'" Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."

It stands for:

Iesous - Jesus
ex - King
oudaios - Jews

So moving on, the passages we’re going to look at today are what are called “bracketing” or “book-ends” or “sandwiching” passages, they say basically the same thing but have a major theme in the middle. As you are reading your Bibles it’s not particularly important to be looking for things like this, although when you find them they can really add a lot to the passage, and these today really do add a lot to the theme of chapter 4 and 5.

The way you find things like this is that a phrase will be repeated, for our passage today that theme is “so your prayers may not be hindered” and “for the sake of your prayers.”

I like that Peter writes this way because it’s how I write. If you look on the website I’ve posted a link to an article I wrote on prayer. ( I start it with, “We have a problem, ‘We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.’ – John 9:31” and conclude with, “We had a problem, now we have a solution. So let’s pray, We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.’ – John 9:31”

What is the main theme we have we been talking about in 1 Peter 3:13-4:6? The Resurrection, first of Christ, and then of the believer, and how we have a hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ, that just as he suffered and died, he was made alive in the Spirit, and just as we will die, we will be made alive in the Spirit, because he is the firstborn from the dead.

A verse I encourage all of you to memorize is 1 Corinthians 15:55-57: “‘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.”

Everything we looked at between these two verses was set on Heaven, but on either side of the promise of the resurrection, Peter is telling us to also live holy and Christian lives on this side of eternity. For a bit of context, remember Peter started out by telling everyone how to live under the government, then focused on slaves/employees living under masters/employers, then focused on wives, then focused on husbands, and now he is going to focus on everyone again, on how Christians should live with Christians.

1 Peter 3:8-12 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

1 Peter 4:7-11 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

3v.8 All of you

This is to all Christians, from the highest pastor to the newest believer.

3v.8 have unity of mind

Holding to Jesus Christ and the Bible as the final rule of faith and belief, not letting the traditions of men cause divisions.

3v.8 sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind

All of these are pretty self explanatory, and Peter is going to give some principles which apply to all of them:

3v.9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

This works for Christians towards unbelievers as well, but Peter's point in this passage is to point it inwards into the church. If you are offended in the church you are to return blessings, not curses. Remember what an imprecatory prayer is? It's a prayer asking God to squish someone; this verse forbids Christians praying these prayers against other Christians. (Based on student interest we looked briefly at Psalm 58 and we discussed if this Psalm, which was prayed against a government, should be prayed today)

So when we are insulted within the church, we don't hold it against the other person or the church as a whole, rather we continue to love both the church and the other Christian. We were called to receive the blessing of eternal life, so we therefore must emulate Christ in blessing all of our fellow believers.

In verse 10-12 Peter quotes from Psalm 34, he's quoted this already once in chapter two about "tasting and seeing that the Lord is good." Here Peter is making his point basically that the church falls under the same guidelines as Israel, and that living an upright life within the church comes with blessings. We can't ever forget that "it is more blessed to give than to receive." There are definitely things you can do to be more effective and happier in this life, but in this passage Peter is going to be very clear that it's not to earn us Heaven.

3v.10-11 "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it."

Do you want to love life and enjoy good days? I think practically everyone would say yes to this, nobody wants to have a bad day. You can point this at Heaven, but that isn't Peter's intent, he is saying there is something you can do on Earth to have good days and love life. If we were going to point this at Heaven we'd look more in-depth at Psalm 84,

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.

But we're focusing on our life here on earth. Peter makes a very interesting point by using Psalm 34 in this way, because I've always read this verse as one about prayer, but he's using it as both for prayer and for holy living, and this reminds us of Peter's approach to prayer, that the holier you are, the more you'll pray. Contrasted to Paul's approach to prayer, that the more you pray, the holier you'll be. These aren't contradictory, rather they mesh together perfectly, that the more you pray, the holier you'll be, and the holier you are, the more you'll pray, and the more you pray, the holier you'll become, and as you become holier, you'll pray more, and so on and so on.

I love the verse about keeping our tongues from evil and our lips from deceit. This is one of the quickest ways to tell if someone is a Christian, I believe. A person that curses often cannot possibly have a new heart, a person that takes God's name in vain frequently shows that they are not a child of God but an enemy of God. It's not what goes into a persons mouth that defiles them, but what comes out, for out of the mouth the heart professes.

Psalm 141:3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

But also know that just because someone doesn't curse often or take God's name in vain doesn't automatically mean they are a Christian.

3v.12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

At face value, we really need to recognize that God only listens to the prayer of the righteous, so we have to see that in order for God to listen to your prayers, you have to have been justified, made holy, cleansed of your sins, and clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

So even when we are sinning, because of Jesus Christ's righteousness, our prayers are still heard. You can't make God listen to you by being nicer, because you have to be perfect. So you can't make God not listen to you by sinning, because in Christ you are perfect. At first glance it sounds like Peter is saying that you can gain better audience to God by being holy, but that can't be what he is saying. What he is saying is that we seek peace and pursue righteousness, repenting of evil to good, which basically means turning to Jesus Christ, then through Christ God will hear our prayers.

4v.7 The end of all things is at hand;

As we talked about two weeks ago and will talk more about in about a month, the nearness or farness of Christ's return is meant to motivate us to focus on things that really matter, not flitting away our lives or focusing on worthless pursuits. Yesterday at the Cherry Blossom Festival was a very talented puppet-master, probably about 75 years old, and as I watched his show I couldn't help but think that this man has utterly wasted his life entertaining people with something of absolutely no substance. Peter goes on to tell us what then to do with our shortness of time:

4v.7 therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.

Again, for the sake of our prayers, our communion with God, we live lives with a purpose for Heaven, with seriousness in our actions and attempting to do nothing just to do it, but always giving honor to Christ Jesus giving thanks to the Father through him. And again Peter is going to point us at the church:

4v.8-9 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Remember from our study of love that there are different kinds. The kind here is better translated as charity, it's not ushy gushy and it's not conditional, it is lovingkindness no matter what the person has done. It covers a multitudes of sins, not sins towards God, but sins towards you. Say someone is supposed to do something and fails to do it and it causes you all sorts of stress and extra work, you show love towards that person instead of freaking out and getting mad and punching them.

This isn't to say that you don't show them what they've done and ask them to try harder next time. I really don't want you think that we ignore sins against us or Heaven, rather we don't hold them against someone, but we correct and rebuke and help others to become holy just as they help us to be holy.

Psalm 141:5 Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.

When we show hospitality without grumbling, it means to accommodate the needs of the saints without counting the cost, without feeling you are owed or are being treated unfairly, but that you are representing God. Does God give us gifts and salvation so that we will eventually pay him back? No, of course not, he is showing us hospitality without grumbling, showing his love and his grace and through it earning himself glory and blessings and honor, which we'll read in a moment at the end of the passage.

Acts 17:25 Nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

4v.10-11 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—

According to various places in the Bible (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4) we all are gifted in various ways to minister for the gospel. Peter puts a different spin on it that we are gifted to serve the church. God didn't give everyone the gift of mercy, he didn't give everyone the gift of discernment, he didn't give everyone the gift of evangelism, he didn't give everyone the gift of leading or of being able to speak multiple languages, they are varied, but together they all work towards one goal.

There are two major types of gifts: speaking and serving. Peter says whichever you are gifted at, do it to the fullness of your ability as gifted by God. Yesterday at the Cherry Blossom Festival people were amazed at how loud my voice is and how God has gifted me to talk to complete strangers, not everybody has received these gifts. Your gifts may be working with children, or organizing church events, or writing books, or teaching, or preaching. Whichever you are best at, hone those gifts and use them for the glory of God. And whichever ones you have, Paul says we ought to strive to also have the others, especially the ability to speak and tell people about Jesus. In all this we do it

4v.11 in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

God gives the gifts, he gives the strength, he gives the blessings, he gives the righteousness, and in that he receives all of the glory and ownership forever and ever. We'll conclude with

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

March 21st - The Treasure of All Nations

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Sarah Driving
Adam Feeling Better
Emily C.
PasXa Outreach - April 2nd
Spring Break Missions Trip

Text – Haggai 1-2

For about four or five weeks now I haven't felt like I've been doing Peter justice or that I've been giving you the full amount that each passage has in it. At first it was just nagging at me, but I've gotten to the point where I can't continue Peter until I get a better grasp of what he is saying and find a way to present it to you that will be both worthwhile, memorable, and exhorting you to action.

As I was preparing all week for chapter 3:8-12 and 4:7-11 I just felt like I was skimming the surface of the beauty in these passages and by last night I couldn't bear to teach you the lesson I had prepared for the lack of quality in it. I erased it and was going to start over when I thought, why don't I skip a week to look at something else?

So this week we're going to look at something else. So please turn to the book of Haggai with me, this is the third to last book in the Old Testament, right before Zechariah, which is right before Malachi. I think one of the reasons I'm having such a hard time with Peter is because Peter explains things so well and so concisely that sometimes there isn't anything left to explain and some of the passages probably ought to be just read, possibly with some explanation of what the words mean that Peter is using.

So the reason we're in Haggai is because Haggai doesn't endeavor to explain anything, he just tells it like it is, and I think there is a huge amount to be learned from his book, which is only two chapters, 38 verses long, and we'll try to look at all of them today. Haggai is one of my favorite Old Testament prophets.

Haggai 1:1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest:

This is where we need to camp out for some context. The date given is the Babylonian dating system way to say August 29th, 520 BC. Why didn't Haggai write "520 BC"? Because he didn't know it was BC! Albeit his going to talk about the Christ in a little bit.

The word of the Lord comes through Haggai to the governor of Judah and the High Priest. This is hugely important because this is in Jerusalem, and Israel has just come back from captivity in Babylon where they spent from 587 to 538, a total of 49 years. The reason a nation would move a conquered nation away from their homeland was so they would be assimilated into the new culture and would lose their identity. This has NEVER worked with the Jewish people.

Haggai 1:2 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD."

The temple was destroyed in 587 BC,

2 Kings 25:9 And he burned the house of the LORD and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down.

It was pillaged and burned, where a once great temple once stood, now was a pile of rubble. When the Jews returned from exile, they immediately began reconstruction of the city, the wall, and of the temple, but the Babylonian and later Persian overseers made them stop working on the walls and temple:

Ezra 4:23-24 Then, when the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their associates, they went in haste to the Jews at Jerusalem and by force and power made them cease. Then the work on the house of God that is in Jerusalem stopped, and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

The reason the walls weren't rebuilt was so that Jerusalem wouldn't be defensible, and the temple wasn't rebuilt so that Jerusalem wouldn't have a dwelling place with God. Looking back today this seems strange to us, but that is because we are under a new Covenant where we can worship God in spirit and truth anywhere in the world. But check out Asaph's lament over the destruction of the temple:

Psalm 74:4 They set your sanctuary on fire; they profaned the dwelling place of your name, bringing it down to the ground.

Under this covenant, God was very specific in who could draw near to him and where he would live on earth. It started with the Tabernacle in the desert, then became a big beautiful temple in Jerusalem built by Solomon, overlaid with gold and totally beautiful and huge.

So it's now 18 years later and the people are still's not time to rebuild the temple.

Haggai 1:3-4 Then the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, "Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?"

Solomon's temple was paneled, this is a sign of wealth, showing that Jerusalem's houses are quite well furnished, and these nice houses are surrounding a burned-out shell of a temple.

Haggai 1:5-9 Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. "Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?

Judah is in the middle of a depression, both economically and physiologically, things are pretty bad in Judah. The illustration of the hole in the bottom of the money bag is beautiful and I want to spend a bit of time on it. When I worked on F-15's we had this thing called a Comsec Purse. Comsec means communications security, it is the classified stuff that allows the F-15 pilot to be able to talk to other military people, and drop bombs in the exact spot they mean to drop bombs on, and ultimately so they don't get shot down by enemy and friendly fire. It's really important stuff during a war, and it's also a very bad thing to lose. We carry it in a silver purse with no padding so if we need to destroy the things that are in it we can just swing it and bash it on the ground and the classified stuff is destroyed and/or erased just like that. Well, one day I opened it up to get something and everything that was supposed to be in there wasn't, just a hole. After freaking out for a second, I found it without looking too hard, but it was a great lesson on a bag with a hole in the bottom, that no matter how many things I put in that bag, they would end up on the ground and lost.

I think there is a direct relation to what was happening in Judah and what we see economically in America. More than half of Americans spend more than they make, and that ranges across all age and earnings brackets, people that make $12,000 a year and people that make $120,000 a year spend every last penny they make. You give me a dollar and I put it in a purse with a hole in it, and it's gone, you give me $100 and I put it in a purse with a hole in it, and it's gone. This is Judah at the time of Haggai, they can't save, they can't get warm, they are in trouble, and God asks them why? Then he gives the answer.

Haggai 1:9-11 Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.

God is specifically against the efforts of the people, and why, because they haven't seen fit to rebuild the temple. Now don't just think of this as a building, this is where the presence of God dwells among the people. By them not rebuilding the temple, they're saying, "We don't want God in the midst of us." And because of that God is specifically standing against them. Now here is where some of your parents might disagree with me, so ask them today when you get home, but I think this can apply to every nation and not just Israel. Why is America in bad shape today, why is any nation in bad shape? It's because they've forgotten God and have labored apart from him. I have a Bible verse to support this, so it's not like I'm just making it up.

Psalm 9:15-17 The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden. The LORD is known by his justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands. The wicked return to the grave, all the nations that forget God.

The rules apply to whole nations, and not just to Israel and Judah. Where we can get into a major mistake is when we think that these rules apply to individuals instead of whole nations. Like, be good and God will give you stuff. It doesn't work that way, God works with nations, and while he works with individuals there is no rule for him to bless individuals monetarily with money or possessions. Instead you remember from First Peter that the righteous should expect persecution.

Haggai 1:12-15 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him. And the people feared the LORD. Then Haggai, the messenger of the LORD, spoke to the people with the LORD’s message, "I am with you, declares the LORD." And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.

All this to say, on September 21st, 520 BC God turns the people to rebuild the temple and they get to it with his help. Check out what happens on October 17th of that same year after they've been working on this temple for a little while:

Haggai 2:1-5 In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, "Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, 'Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the LORD. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.

They've been working on this temple and compared to the last one, everybody 70 years old and older remembers, is terrible. This isn't an underfunded temple, I think they were expecting a big beautiful messianic temple which Ezekiel prophesied in eight chapters in Ezekiel 40-48.

Check out this parallel passage:

Ezra 3:12-13 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.

It's not the temple they were expecting, so many cried, but also many shouted with joy, and the reason they shouted for joy was not that the temple was being built, but that God would once again dwell with them! He is preparing to point to the Messiah, check out verse seven, it's my favorite verse:

Haggai 2:7 And I will shake all nations, so that the Treasure of All Nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts.

This temple which appears to be nothing, which the builders rejected, is symbolic of the Coming Messiah. We've read this verse before, but it is so amazing at how the Creator God would enter into the world:

Isaiah 53:2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.

Jesus is the true temple of God, not much to look at in his first coming according to the Bible, but the true temple with which God is well pleased. So what did God do with this temple in Haggai when it was built? He dwelt among the people. Check out my favorite verse:

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

This small man-sized temple, nothing much to look at, was the glory of the Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. He is the Treasure of All Nations, what a beautiful name for our King. How do we know for sure this is what God is talking about?

Haggai 2:8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts.

God is saying this temple isn't small for lack of funds or because God couldn't make it bigger, it's small and humble because that's what God intended. He's saying, "If I wanted a solid gold temple with silver inlay, I could have a solid gold temple with silver inlay. This wooden and stone temple that is being built is the temple I want, just as my Son will later be the tabernacle with which I am well pleased."

Haggai 2:9 The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.

He's talking about the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, the one who will give peace to all who are in his church; not peace with the world, but peace with God.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

Check this out, this is where I think it gets really cool. The first temple, built under Solomon, was magnificent, and this new temple didn't compare. God is saying that the latter glory, the later glory, of this temple will be more than the first, than the former glory. He's talking about Jesus, and Jesus basically quoted this in John 2:

John 2:19,21 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." He was speaking about the temple of his body.

He has the latter glory in view, if you destroy this temple, and in three days it will be raised up as the super-glorious temple which the Jews were expecting from Ezekiel when they built the Haggai temple. And if you look at Jesus in Revelation 1, he's not at all like the Jesus who bled and died, he is wearing his glorified magnificent wonderful radiant temple, his glory perfected in his obedience.

This is the major message of Haggai, and what I want you to get out of it, that Jesus is the dwelling place of God on earth, that his glory is so much greater than anything we can imagine, that if we trade him for the fleeting pleasures of this earth, he will take them away, and that God's temple, Jesus Christ, must be at the center of nations in order for them to be blessed.

The rest of chapter 2 contains an awesome message as well. Because the people to this point might think that what God wants is a building, but he shows them the real reason they were being punished was for their sin, not because they didn't have a temple. They didn't have a temple because their sin kept them from building it, and just having a temple wouldn't have helped if they had continued to sin.

The temple wasn't the issue, see

John 4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

The people needed to repent of their sin, which would have resulted in the temple being built. Conversely with Jesus, just having a temple is not enough, you must repent towards him.

The final point of Haggai is setting Zerubbabel up as one like a "signet ring" which is a ring of authority, and if you look at Matthew 1 you'll see that Zerubbabel is in the lineage of Jesus Christ, and through him and his claim to the Davidic kingdom gives Christ the authority of God's Kingdom.

So in conclusion, Haggai is a beautiful prophetic book showing the coming Messiah, the tabernacle of God, and that he is the Treasure of All Nations, and so we repent towards him and in him we find peace and glory which far outweighs anything we can find on this earth. Those who reject this temple to live for themselves will find that God stands against them and keeps nations from temporal blessings and individuals from eternal blessings.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

March 14th - The Comma at the End of the Death Sentence

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Bethany’s Birthday and Missions Trip Results
Sarah’s Birthday
PasXa outreach – April 2nd
Erin O’s Uncle
Erin C’s Uncle
Clark's Diabetes
Mr. Charlie's Hernia
Persecuted Christians in Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, and elsewhere
Summit in General

Text – 1 Peter 4:1-7

One of the beautiful things about spending a whole year in a single book is that you become to be very intimate with it, you know the ins and outs, you see things you wouldn’t see on just a cursory reading, and you begin to really appreciate both the human author and the Holy Spirit. Last week this jumped out at me that Peter is really spending a LOT of time on the Resurrection of the believer. This thought is REALLY magnified in chapter four, verse 6. This isn’t Peter’s only point in this Epistle, but it is one of his main points. It’s almost like he’s doing his best to point out the benefits of the resurrection in as many ways as he can. Remember that First Thessalonians is the Epistle to the Perfect Church, and Second Thessalonians is the Epistle to the Hopeless Church; if I were to nickname Peter’s Epistle, I would call it the Resurrection Epistle.

Besides this point, which we’re going to look at today, Peter is also really big on holiness, the fact that we are aliens and pilgrims to this world, that our home is Heaven, that the Bible is our final rule of faith and life, that the soul is eternal, that salvation is forever, that good shepherds are essential for the church, and that suffering and death are inevitable. This last point is tied directly to the issue of the resurrection.

So lets look at some verses real quick just to see this theme that Peter is working:

1 Peter 1:3-4 According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…

1 Peter 1:9 …obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:19 …who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

1 Peter 1:23 …since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…

1 Peter 2:12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

1 Peter 3:4 let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,

1 Peter 3:7 since they are heirs with you of the grace of life

1 Peter 3:14-15 Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…

1 Peter 3:18 Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit,

1 Peter 3:21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you,

So once again we’re skipping chapter 3, verses 8-12, the reason is because I think it will be beneficial to teach those verses with chapter 4, verses 7-11, because these verses bracket Peter’s most beautiful defense of the resurrection and fully understanding Peter’s emphasis on the resurrection will help us to see why passages on earthly living and loving the church are placed where they are.

So that leads us to chapter 4, verses 1-7:

1 Peter 4:1-7 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. The end of all things is at hand.

The word used for suffering here is Pathontos, it comes from Pascho, and it is a little deeper than just pain, but it almost requires pain to death, like torture. We see this in Christ, that he suffered in the flesh, and was put to death in the flesh, but as we saw in verse 18 of chapter 3, he was made alive in the Spirit. The way Peter uses this word, it pretty much requires that it is suffering to death, as we’ll see in a bit. Paul doesn’t always use this word to death, so this is why it is so important to read things in context. Christ didn’t just suffer, right? He died, and that’s what Peter means.

v.1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin…

Luke 22:14-15 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.

Acts 17:3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ."

So we arm ourselves with this thinking, that it is both inevitable for us to die, and that Christ has gone before us, suffering for righteousness sake. It does us no good to not think about death, because beloved, we’re going to die, lest Christ comes soon. Verse 7 is powerful in this, Peter knew he was going to die, Christ had told him so, he knew there was no way he was getting out of this world alive, so he armed himself with the thinking that it is better to suffer and die for the sake of Christ than for vain things. I very much want to jump ahead, but also want to keep with Peter’s intent. So just briefly in a little while Peter is going to say don’t die for being a lawbreaker, die for being a witness for Christ.

And the beautiful part is that those who have died have ceased to sin; you can’t sin in Heaven. You can also apply this to Hell as well, that God will stop sinners from sinning, they will confess that Christ is Lord and even their unbelief will cease. This is another beautiful thing about going systematically through the Bible, it challenges wrong beliefs. Before we looked at the end of Chapter 3 I thought Jesus descended into Hell, but now I know he didn’t, and a verse in Revelation made me think there was sin in Hell,

Revelation 16:10-11 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.

But that verse is not about Hell, it’s people who are still alive. So to die is to stop sinning. This totally refutes the belief that God hates the sin but not the sinner. There is no sin in Hell, only sinners.

So then, if we can’t sin anymore in Heaven, should we get in as much sin on earth as we possibly can? Peter says,

v.2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

He’s going to explain a little more in a second, but the major point is coming from Christ’s suffering to bring us to God, that we live for him and walk in righteousness not to earn salvation, but to glorify Christ with the life we are given and to bring others to salvation or to leave them without excuse on Judgment Day. But haven’t we sinned enough? That is Peter’s next point:

v.3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.

The sins in the past are enough, they should remind us of our sinfulness, that we had much that we needed to be saved from. Peter says let that be enough, don’t live in the world any longer.

v.4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you;

Two reasons they are surprised, first of all it sounds like Peter’s readers might have once partaken in these sins of outright paganism, and second because the Gentiles, or probably nations is a better translation here, think that this is all there is to life and are amazed that sojourning Christians do not want to sell their souls for the fleeting pleasure of sin. Notice that Peter doesn’t for a second say that these things aren’t fun or pleasurable, but his major point is that there is so much more to be inherited in Christ and so much more to lose than just a good time.

There is a ton in this verse, we’re just going to jump off a little of it. Notice the word Peter uses to describe their debauchery, or outright sinfulness, it’s flood, which is the very same thing that saved Noah and his family from the evil generation. The wages of sin is death, and payday is coming, Peter is driving for verse 7. The flood of death is stored up to wipe away the flood of sin, and it will, just as the flood of Christ’s blood has washed away the stain of the Christian’s sin. And the resurrection of Christ will bring us through the flood of death. Next is that the Gentile’s malign, or hate, make fun of, and slander, those who don’t partake of their sin. They did this to Jesus, calling him a glutton and a drunkard, yet it was totally slanderous, as he was obviously neither of those.

The world loves to call out Christian hypocrites, people who have done one thing wrong, but are still way less sinful than the world. I’ll give you a personal example; I’m not too into watching sports on TV, I like watching championship games and the occasional game, so when I was at the Superbowl this year and last I wore sports jerseys. In Tampa for the Arizona Cardinals I wore a Diamondbacks shirt, and in Miami I wore a Saints jersey with Psalm 37 on the back, which says that God will not forsake his saints. Both times I had belligerent fans heckle me about my sports addiction and that I was no better than them and that I couldn’t judge them. It was amazing how angry some of them got. The rebuttal is that 1. To the pure all things are pure. 2. I’m not addicted to sports. And 3. I wasn’t drunk and blaspheming like the hecklers were.

But in order to justify themselves in their own eyes, they need to drag the Christian down so as to try to make themselves seem ok for Judgment Day. This is obviously utter foolishness because the standard isn’t other people, but Jesus Christ himself, which is verse 5.

v.5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

We need to remind people that they won’t be judged against us, and whether Christians totally abstain or totally partake of their sin, they are going to be judged against perfection, and making someone else look more sinful isn’t going to help at all in front of the judge.

Imagine a car thief standing in front of the judge and saying, “Well at least I didn’t murder the owner of the car like that guy did.” Sure, the other guy is more guilty, but that doesn’t absolve the guilt of the thief. On Judgment Day an account will be given by all people, the living and the dead. So here Peter realizes that the gospel seemingly doesn’t help with the death problem, that all people die. This was a big stumbling block for me before becoming a Christian, that if the Bible seemingly promises eternal life, why then do Christians die?

Friedrich Nietzsche, a famous atheist who lost his mind at the end of his life, believed that faith was worthless because both the faithful and the faithless were afflicted and died. The greatest argument against this is the resurrection, which is Peter’s next point.

v.6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

This is without a doubt my favorite verse. What is the point of preaching the gospel to people who are dead? Why did Noah preach repentance to people who would die eventually anyways? I mean, Noah was saved from the flood, but still he died at 950 years old, so why preach the gospel if we’re going to die anyways?

It’s because judgment is coming to all people, a flood of death, but through Jesus Christ’s resurrection and his application to believers, we will live in the Spirit the way God does. The gospel is not only for life, it is not only for death, it is for both. We both live a godly life and partake in the blessings of the gospel in this life, but we also trust in Christ and his righteousness and resurrection to bring us through our baptism into death, to give us a perfect will in Heaven that we will neither want to sin nor ever sin again.

My favorite verse deals with this in John 11.

John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

And we must remember that in all of this Peter was an eye-witness of Christ’s resurrection, the best attested to historical fact in antiquity. Peter, who was afraid of a little girl before the resurrection then stood up to kings and crowds after the resurrection. We trust in the resurrection for three major reasons, its historicity, the effect it has on people, and because the Bible says so. It is a beautiful testament to the truth of Christianity, and it helps us set our affections fully on Heaven, for here we are just sojourners, pilgrims, aliens without a permanent home, and we have no lasting city on this earth, but we seek the city that is to come, which Christ will deliver us into on his righteousness and through his resurrection.

Finally, the beginning of verse 7 gives us a character of urgency and godliness.

v.7 The end of all things is at hand.

In Second Peter he is going to make a minor addendum to this to say that while the end is at hand, it is at hand in God’s time, not necessarily our time. Because really it’s been 1950 years since Peter wrote this and the end has not yet come, and in Second Peter he is going to make a masterful defense of why not.

But ultimately in the grander scope of eternity, the end really is at hand, within our grasp. And this verse really wrecks the Left Behind view of eschatology, that the millennium is not at hand, that Christ’s kingdom is not at hand, but that the Judgment is at hand when this world will be dissolved with fire and the new Heavens and Earth will be created.

So in conclusion, we are called to suffering, both the painful kind and the kind to death. Because Christ is risen death is dead, we will be saved and will no longer be able to sin, so we strive for holiness, we stand against sin, we call others to repentance so that they will glorify God through their salvation and not through their condemnation. Our former sins are enough, we do our best to abstain from all ungodliness, and we trust wholly in the resurrection to come, because through it we will be made eternally alive in Christ, even though our bodies will die.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

March 7th - Baptism

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Pastor Aaron Preaching
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Hannah's Friend's Family

Text – 1 Peter 3:21 sort of...

This week we're going to do a spin-off lesson from 1 Peter 3:21, this is a topical lesson on baptism, not what Peter intended, but a wider look at the whole Bible. I apologize for having to do this, when I chose Peter I thought he spent more time on Baptism than he does, and I really want to do a lesson on baptism.

The first lesson we can learn just based on the shortness of baptism in Peter's epistle is that it is not something that he is really emphasizing. That doesn't mean it's not important, it's just that it's not the most important thing to him, he has been much bigger on faith and holiness and exalting Christ than on this ordinance. When we get to people who think you have to be baptized to be saved this will be a good argument against that, as some epistles don't even mention baptism.

So let's start with what is baptism. Remember from last week that baptism is not synonymous with water and water is not synonymous with baptism. So what does baptism mean? Immersion. The baptism we're going to look at today is immersion in water, but I really want to smash it into your brain that you can be immersed into Jesus Christ without being immersed in water, and as we talked about last week, baptism into literal death and the subsequent resurrection only corresponds to baptism in water. A great example is Pentecost:

Acts 2:37-38 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Substitute, "Repent and get wet in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins." It doesn't work, we must be immersed into the character and work of Jesus Christ, covered totally by his grace. When Peter said be baptized in Jesus he wasn't thinking of water, rather of Christ's merits.

So moving on to water baptism; baptism throughout history, even amongst Baptists, has varied in how we do it. The biblical type is immersion in water, being dunked. Our official Southern Baptist position is,

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper. (BF&M2k, Article VII)

There are three types, and all three can be supported by the Bible, although immersion is definitely the way the Bible describes it and which captures Peter's intention, so let's read his passage,

1 Peter 3:20-21 in [the ark] which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ...

Along the same lines, Paul looks at the elders going to see God on Sinai a baptism, and he calls the baptism the Israelites went through to escape the Egyptians was an immersion as well, albeit they didn't get wet,

1 Corinthians 10:1-2 For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.

This one is totally backed up by the Ethiopian Eunuch's baptism,

Acts 8:36-39 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?" And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.

He came up out of the water, not opened his eyes after effusion or sprinkling. Philip here breaks one of the fundamental rules of baptism, which is to remember to bring your baptizee back out of the water!

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.

But, Presbyterian's sprinkle, many Baptists through history have poured, so let's look at those and why they could come up with things like that.

Titus 3:4-6 When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior...

It's still totally symbolic, but see why many Baptists have poured through history. John Smyth baptized himself this way, and the reason he's important is because many in his group came over to America after the Pilgrims and became Baptists.

The third kind can also be called effusion, although it's really sprinkling.

Ezekiel 36:25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.

While I am thoroughly about immersion, if a person is actually saved then either sprinkling or effusion keep the intent of baptism, showing a cleansed heart by the work of Christ, reconciliation with God, and the hope of glory.

In the first century someone put together a catechism or teaching to train new converts into Christianity. Some people think it was Matthew, I think it was just a good friend or disciple of Matthew. It's called The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles or Didache for short. The Didache was written between AD50 and AD65, but was never considered scripture, but it also doesn't contradict scripture, and since it is an early church document we do well to read what it says; here is what it says on baptism:

Didache 7:1-4 Concerning baptism, baptize thus: Having said all these things beforehand, immerse in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit, in flowing water. If, on the other hand, you should not have flowing water, immerse in other water, if you are not able in cold, in warm. If you should not have either, pour out water onto the head three times in the name of Father and Son and holy Spirit. And prior to the baptism, let the one baptizing fast; and the one being baptized fast one or two days prior to the baptism; and any others who have the strength.

So if the means is not rock solid and set, then the motive, symbolism, and purpose must be more important than the mode. Let's look at the purpose of baptism.

Matthew 3:11 I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

John's baptism was by water, it did not save, but was an outward expression of repentance. Jesus baptizes two ways, believers in the Holy Spirit, and unbelievers in the fire of Hell. Jesus would come to save, but John's baptism was a demonstration before men, right after John said this we have proof of the purpose of baptism.

Matthew 3:13-17 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."

Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness, to keep the command of baptism. The Bible isn't totally clear, in my opinion, of exactly which commands Jesus fulfills here, albeit there were diverse washings and many precursors to baptism which point to Jesus and the resurrection. In this one moment of baptism Jesus likely fulfilled many different washing and sanctification commands.

He also publically demonstrated his obedience to God.

This is why Presbyterians baptize babies, not thinking that the baptism saves them, but as a setting the baby apart for God, dedicating the baby to a godly upbringing and training in righteousness. It's wrong, but at least they have a reason for doing it. The reason it is wrong is that a person has to be baptized, dedicating themselves before mankind to God, of their own volition.

I read a cool story of baptism in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia right before the war started in March of 2003. A soldier had gotten saved and wanted to make a public profession of his faith before all of his fellow soldiers because he had been a great sinner before he got saved and he knew it would be a powerful testimony for his fellow soldiers to see. The problem was there was no rivers or lakes or water and they were going to war the next day, so they called everybody around, explained what was going on, and poured a canteen over his head. The motive was way more important than the mode.

If there is one thing that I dislike about our church building is the baptismal pool. We're setting people apart that we already know are set apart. Baptism should be done as a testimony to the world in Lake Acworth or the Chattahoochee river or somewhere where unbelievers will see and be witnessed to through this obedience.

When Jesus was baptized, besides him just being set apart, he also accomplishes something for us in his baptism. Jesus had to keep every command for us so that he could give us his perfect righteousness after he took our sinfulness upon himself. If he weren't baptized then he couldn't pay for that sin for those who weren't baptized. Consider the Thief on the Cross; was he baptized before he died? No, but Jesus was baptized and his act of righteousness was attributed to the Thief. Think on this for just a moment, Jesus doesn't have to pay for sins we didn't commit, for example, he didn't have to pay for my sin of eating shellfish or ham, because that command was superseded and you can't break a law that isn't a law. So our baptism is obedience to the law, and if we aren't baptized it is sin and will keep us out of Heaven, except that Jesus was baptized for us.

Now something we need to stop on for just a second is how many baptisms there are, because the Apostle Paul is very clear there is only one baptism, but John talks about at least three, one of repentance, one of the Holy Spirit, and one of fire, this is a hugely important part of baptism that you'll run into with the godless Pentecostal movement,

Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

He is speaking of one baptism among believers, the initial and irrevocable immersion into the church and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. There is no second baptism when someone speaks in tongues or falls over or claims to hear from God. That baptism doesn't exist, at least not from the Holy Spirit. At best it's made up, at worst it is Satan masquerading as an angel of light.

Other crazy beliefs are churches that believe that baptism saves you. These are the Church of Christ and parts of the Lutheran church. They've picked one command to hold to and have ignored all others. There are a ton of commands they could have picked, like "Telling the truth saves you." or "Confessing Christ saves you." or "Taking up your cross saves you." There are at least 613 commands we are required to do to be saved, and we've failed to keep most of them, and just keeping one perfectly, say baptism, isn't going to overlook the others. We need Christ's perfect obedience and the Holy Spirit giving us a new birth. They hold very closely to Peter saying "Repent and be baptized" and 1 Peter 3:21 where it says baptism now saves you, but we've looked at both of those verses and have seen that Jesus saves through his death and resurrection, not the act of being baptized.

An extreme example is the Catholic tradition of "Last Rites" which is a second baptism, but they can't call it a second baptism because Paul says there is only one. When a Catholic dies they have one final washing in hopes that their sins are washed away, something which can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit and not some outward work. I heard another story of a Catholic soldier who was killed in Iraq, and the Chaplain didn't have any water so he gave the soldier Last Rites with saliva. Here the motive wasn't symbolic, but an effort to be perfected by works of the flesh, and Paul is expressly clear that this severs a person from grace, so that they have no part nor lot in Christ. (Gal 5)

My last page of notes were lost in cyberspace, so I followed this outline for the last five minutes or so:

Our current traditions descend from the Swiss Brethren, who were a club reading books in other languages, picked a good book in Greek, the New Testament, and all of them were converted:

Conrad Grebel - First Baptist Martyr, died in of illness he caught in prison
Felix Manz - Baptized to Death
George Blaurock - Run out of Zurich, later burned at the stake
Michael Sattler - Tongue cut out because he wouldn't stop preaching, burned at the stake

Bad Anabaptists - Munsterites: polygamists and cannibals

Reason we're not anabaptists today: The ana means "re", and we don't baptize babies, so we're not "re" baptizing adults.

-Be Baptized
-For a Future Raising to Walk in Heaven