Congratulations Pastor Keane!

On Sunday Grace Bible Church unanimously approved the change of title and position of Keane Collins to that of Associate Pastor!  This is a very, very significant event in the life of any church, the equipping of leaders and recognition of their particular gifting and passion for ministry.  What the Spirit of Christ has made abundantly clear to our church members is now official, formal, and public:  Keane is a pastor, called to serve the Lord Jesus in caring for His precious Bride, the Church.  Welcome, Keane!

 

 

Great day at the river, Grace Bible Church!

Thanks, all, for a great day at George Rogers Park.  Thank you, everyone who helped make it all work out!  Nate and Luke, great job with music!  Annie, great job with food and organization!  Cliff, thanks for the doves–they were stunning, as usual!  And Seth, congratulations on your baptism, brother! Here’s a few pics…there are plenty more on our FB page.   Pastor Ken

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Matthew 5:33-37: The truth, only the truth, always…

Jesus continues His exposition of selected portions of the Mosaic Law, and His correction of how it had been taught to His listeners.  In these verses He explains the importance of truthfulness and integrity regarding disciples keeping their word in all situations, and corrects their misguided attempts to call in God as a sort of co-signer on their promises.

Big Idea: Truth is the only language of the kingdom of heaven—anything less is the language of hell. 

33 “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ 34 “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 “Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; and anything beyond these is of evil.

I.          Don’t lie, do what you promise to do. 33

They had been taught since childhood, “Do not lie, deceive, or fail to do what you promise you’ll do.  In the culture of the ancient near east, words carried a greater power than they do in today’s culture.  Words made things happen—they were seen to have an intrinsic ability to accomplish what they said, simply for having been spoken.  Words are just as important today, really.  Like Jesus’ listeners, we simply do not treat all of our words as being important!

II.         Don’t “back up” your word to make it more believable. 34-36      

Although there have been some Christians who believe it God’s will to refuse to take any oath at all—under any circumstances, the evidence of Scripture argues that there are at least some conditions under which a believer can swear an oath.  In the Bible, oaths were sworn by Abraham, Jacob, and Paul, for instance.  Jesus Himself responded to being placed under oath when on trial before the High Priest, who demanded, “…I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself…” (Matt 26:63-64)  An example of legitimate vowing today might be when a person is called on by the court to swear that their testimony will be truthful, or when two people vow to have one another in marriage.  What Jesus was addressing was the tendency of His listeners to use God, or specifically, words that alluded to God (heaven, earth, Jerusalem) as a sort of back-up to their word.  They might also swear to do something using their own lives as collateral on a promise they’d made.  Such practices were simply illogical and mistaken.  They were illogical in that none of the things being sworn by were actually in the person’s control anyway.   Heaven, earth, Jerusalem, even a person’s own head—no one has ultimate authority over these things by God, anyway.  To swear by such things was also theologically mistaken, in that they presumed that God could be summoned to back up a promise or a vow, as if He weren’t the primary reason that any promise could be kept—for God providentially provides the conditions by which the promises and agreement that people make, be they believers or not, can be kept.  Bottom line: Don’t call God in to co-sign on your word, which leads to Jesus’ application:

III.        Speak the truth, and stand by your word—anything more is the language of our Enemy, Satan.  37

The first words recorded in the Bible of Satan were words that cast doubt on the clarity of God’s Word, and His intentions behind giving people His Word (Gen 3).  His primary means of continued rebellion against God is through the deception and lies that he routinely casts into human history, leading people themselves to remain in rebellion against God.  In fact, if he lost his ability to communicate, Satan would be robbed of most of his power!  When we are any degree less-than-truthful and trustworthy, we are speaking the language of hell, and not of our true home, heaven.

How can we go about becoming people who are absolutely truthful in all our speech, every time, and all the time?  Here are a few suggestions…

First, Spend deliberate time in the Word of Truth, facing its Author and submitting to His commandments and teachings.  Jesus said that God’s Word “is truth”, period, so we can trust it! (John 17:17)

Then, speak less, listen more.  Practice speech in which you stop at “Yes” or “No,” and do not go on campaigns to convince people of the sincerity of your speech.  In time, they will note your sincerity, and treat you differently than every other speaker in their lives.

Finally, In view of the impossibility of actually changing ourselves, we must ask the Spirit of God within us to alert us when our speech is more “of the Evil One” than of the Lord Jesus.  And when He speaks to us—we must ask God to give us the will to OBEY Him!

Let’s expect the Lord to work on these areas in our lives, this week!

Pastor Ken

An audio recording of this sermon is available on our “Grace Sermons” page, above. 

 

 

 

 

 

ESL Friends

Our friends that we’ve met through ESL (English as Second Language) had a great time at the Washington Park Zoo today!

Matthew 5:21-26: Right with People, Right with God

I’ve been tinkering with the website, as you might have noticed :), and have managed to lose the pulpit notes I’d posted on last week’s sermon.  Here they are, again…

Introduction: 

  • Matt 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.
  • Mat 5;20 “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.
  • Fulfill = several aspects: eschatologically, soteriological, morally, didactically
  • Righteousness = 1. Forensic, or, 2. Behavioral, like Cornelius…  Acts 10
  • I believe Jesus continued in His sermon with the purpose of both fulfilling the Law before their very eyes through correcting the faulty interpretation of the Law, and be instructing them in the kind of righteous behavior that was truly “greater than that of the scribes and Pharisees…”

Verses 21-26 comprise the first of six lessons on how to live the life of righteousness that is truly greater than the scribes and the Pharisees (v20), or, better than the best people we know!

The Pattern of this section (vv21-48):

  • “You have heard that the ancients were told…” = The faulty interpretation
  • “But I Myself say to you…” = The correct interpretation
  • “Therefore…” = The correct application

Big Idea: Citizens of the kingdom of heaven don’t let grass grow under their feet when it comes to making things right with those they’ve hurt or offended.

I.          Jesus cited the traditional interpretation of “You shall not murder” 21

            A.        “You shall not commit murder” 21a

21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER ‘

  • “You have heard that the ancients were told, = They didn’t teach—they quoted
  • MURDER = the crime of killing another person deliberately and not in self-defense or with any other extenuating circumstance recognized by law

            B.        And…“Whoever commits murder shall be guilty” 21b

and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’

  • and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ = liable = guilty. 
  • By adding this second verse to the original commandment, they suggested that all a person had to do to be compliant was simply avoid killing anybody, and that the reason to avoid killing anyone was that they would have to end up in court—nothing about God!  They limited the commandment to human reasoning, and made it quite attainable—easy to keep.  Legalistic, formulaic religion is created to be very “doable” for its followers!

II.         Jesus correctly interpreted the command, “You shall not kill,” giving three examples of its violation 22

Restated: To Jesus, underlying attitudes were EVERYTHING, as they were the impetus for all resulting actions.

            A.        I.e., Mere causeless anger is evidence of murderous guilt 22a

22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court;

  •  We get angry when we feel mistreated, insulted, disrespected.

            B.        I.e., Mere contentious expression is evidence of murderous guilt 22b

and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court;

  • (Raca! = Aramaic, “you fool”) = empty-headed, numbskull, dope, goof-ball = these are the names that we call people as a means of demeaning them, of presenting them in our conversation as being less-important, certainly not meriting of our consideration and attention.

            C.        I.e., Merely calling someone “Fool” is evidence enough of murderous  guilt to send a person to hell. 22c

and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

  • moron = in our language, a derisive term describing someone with deficient social and learning abilities, considered very offensive.
  • In the Bible, a fool is a person who has made a moral choice to disregard God by living as if there was not God.  (“low-life” “scoundrel”) cf. Psalm 15

Application:  To murder someone, according to the Law, does not simply mean destroying the physical life—it includes, and often begins with, the attack upon a person’s reputation, self-worth, or reputation.

III.        Jesus applied the biblical teaching “You shall not murder” to everyday life    23-26

Restated:  Since our holy God judges with such an exacting standard we should do all that we can to avoid facing judgment for unresolved anger, disrespect, and estrangements toward others.

            A.        The PRIORITY of reconciliation: Therefore, be reconciled with people before you worship God 23-24

 23 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

  • Psa 66  18 If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear; = there is no value or credit in praying and worshipping God when you knowingly harbor an unresolved stance towards another person.

            B.        The URGENCY of reconciliation:  Therefore, be quick to reconcile,                               before you are judged 25-26

 25 “Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.  26 “Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.

  • No mercy in the courtroom, only justice!  Therefore, make peace with both people and with God while mercy is possible!