What We Believe: Salvation Acts 10:38-43

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Chapter 10 in the book of Acts is a major turning point, and has been called “the Gentile Pentecost.”  Up to now, the gospel salvation has been primarily limited to Jews, half-Jews (the Samaritans).  With the events of the conversion of Cornelius, that salvation is well on its way to Rome, and the rest of the Gentile world, and to us today in Portland, Oregon (at least to those of us who are not of a Jewish background.)  Peter’s message to this Italian military commander was centered on the life, work, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the astounding opportunity that now exists for forgiveness to all who trust in Jesus’ death on their behalf.

Big Idea:  Salvation begins and ends with the Savior, Jesus Christ.

I.          Jesus lived a beautiful life on earth 38-39a

38 “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.  39 “We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem.

II.         He was crucified 39a

They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross.

III.        He was raised alive from the grave 40-42

40 “God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 “And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.

Henry H. Halley (1874-1965) “As a Man, He lived the most strangely Beautiful Life ever known.  He was the Kindest, Tenderest, Gentlest, most Patient, most Sympathetic man that ever lived.  He Loved people.  He hated to see people in trouble.  He loved to Forgive.  He loved to Help.  He wrought marvelous miracles to feed hungry people.  For relieving the suffering he forgot to take food for himself.  Multitudes, weary, pain-ridden, and heart-sick, came to Him, and found healing and relief.  It is said of Him, and of no other, that if all the deeds of Kindness that He did were written, the world would not contain the book.  That is the kind of man Jesus was.  That is the kind of Person God is.  Then, He died, on the Cross, to take away the Sin of the world, to become the Redeemer and Savior of men…The Most Important Decision any one is ever called on to make is to Settle, in his/her heart, is to settle once for all, the matter of his/her Attitude toward Christ.  On that depends everything.”

IV.       In believing in Him, we find forgiveness of our sins. 43

43 “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”

Believe = (pisteuo = believe, trust) = to believe that something is true, and therefore, worthy of trust.

Application: What about us today at Grace Bible Church ?

1.         One day both the living and the dead will be judged for their sins.

2.         Those who have trusted Jesus to save them from the judgment of their sins will not be judged for their sins.

From our church constitution:  We believe the single condition by which a person can be saved from his/her sin, declared righteous in the eyes of God, and receive the promise of eternal life is belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on their behalf. (John 3:16; 5:24, Rom 5:1; 10:13, 1 Tim 2:5)   We consider this belief to be a definitive doctrine of the Christian faith; it is required of all members of Grace Bible Church. Therefore, we neither offer nor suggest any means of salvation, hope, or truly sustainable improvement of human conditions other than faith alone in Jesus Christ.

3.         Therefore, trust in the death of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins, and you will be forgiven, and will receive eternal life!

What We Believe: Man (Part 2): Our Tragic Fall: Genesis 3

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Man (From Grace Bible Church Constitution)

We believe that human beings bear the image of God, retained despite the utter ruin and lost condition of the entire race.  We believe that apart from the divinely provided gift of salvation in Jesus Christ all people are truly and rightfully lost and eternally alienated from God.  (Isaiah 53:6, Romans 3:23; 5:14-15) We consider this belief to be a definitive doctrine of the Christian faith; it is required of all members of Grace Bible Church.

–Last week “Our Magnificent Beginning”…but, something has gone very wrong!

–This week, “Our Tragic Fall”

I.          Our EXPERIENCE of sin 1-6

A.                 We are tempted to doubt God’s Word, His Power, His Goodness

B.                 We are tempted to operate by our own sight, not His word.

C.                 We hurt those closest to us in the process  

II.         The EXPOSURE of our sin 7-13

A.                 First, we are ashamed, aware of weakness, failure, vulnerability

B.                 Then we hide from others around us

C.                 Then we hide from God, escaping into creation itself

D.                 Finally, we blame others rather than confess our sin

III.        The EFFECTS of our sin. 14-24

A.                 Humanity now has a terrible, personal enemy: Satan 14-15

B.                 Women: Pain in childbirth/childbirth process, tensions in our most intimate, marriage relationships 16

C.                 Man: lifelong struggle against a cursed creation, finally ending in death. 17-19

Illustration: Do we really deserve this???!!! = It’s not only a matter of deserving, it’s a matter of inheriting: A “crack” baby has never taken drugs, has never decided to smoke crack, and yet is born an addict, and born with a deeply seated desire and craving for cocaine—through no fault of his/her own, but because of the sins of the mother.  In the same way, we are born with a craving for sin, placed into us by our historic parents, and we experience varying degrees of the horror of being born into the condition of fallen humanity. (Dr. Robert Smith, Jr)

IV.       The RESPONSE of God to our tragic fall 20-24

A.                 He gives a sense of hope: They didn’t die, could actually plan for a future—of life!  20

B.                 He covers over shame: by the death of an innocent animal, God covered over their shame 21

Note: the marvelous spiritual transaction of sacrifice is foreshadowed here, as the Lord God takes the life of an “innocent” animal to create a covering regarding the shame of fallen humans.      

C.                 He limited human evil by restricting access to eternal life 22-24

I may feel that it would be a very good, acceptable thing for me, or for those I love—to live forever.  But imagine this…what kind of world would result if the likes of Adolph Hitler, or Josef Stalin, or any other of the most murderous, evil men of history, had been granted unlimited life!

1.               Tree of life = eating its fruit would secure eternal life

2.               Cherubim = angelic creature associated in Scripture with the magnificent, unapproachable holiness of God

–Exo 25   18 “You shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 “Make one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat at its two ends. 20 “The cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat. 21 “You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you.

3.               Flaming sword = symbolizing God’s wrathful judgment of all sin

–Rom 1 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

–Ephesians 2:3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

CONCLUSION:

Question: Can we ever really get back to God?  Rooted deep in the human psyche is the desire to return to a place of safety, life, health, origin, but how human beings hate the truth that both the holiness of God and His wrath against our sin forever bar the way to such life!

We are stardust.
Billion year old carbon.
We are golden..
Caught in the devil’s bargain
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden. (Joni Mitchell, Woodstock)

Answer: The only way back to God is on the back of the crucified and resurrected God, the Lord Jesus Christ…

1.         Christ went out of paradise to bring home those who are banned from paradise.

–Eph 4 8 Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.”

2.         Christ became human, lived a perfect holy life, and thus gained the right to command the Cherubim to stand aside and allow entrance to Him and all who belong to Him.

–Phil 2:5-8: “taking the very nature of a bondservant, being found as a man…”

–John 1:  “…and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.”

3.         Christ received the full measure of God’s wrath on sinners, as a substitute.  The flaming, ever-turning sword finally drew blood, the blood of the perfect sacrifice, Jesus Christ.  The wrath of God was spent on His Son, and we are allowed return!

–Isa 53   5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.  6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.  8…who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?  10 But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

Application: (…from the Grace Bible Church Statement of Beliefs):

Therefore, respecting the image of God in every person, we strive to introduce every person to the gospel of Jesus Christ, that every person might escape the eternal punishment due for their sins.

What We Believe: Man (Part One): Our Magnificent Beginning

Click here, to hear our sermon in the series, What We Believe at Grace Bible Church.

Man (From Grace Bible Church Constitution)

We believe that human beings bear the image of God, retained despite the utter ruin and lost condition of the entire race.  We believe that apart from the divinely provided gift of salvation in Jesus Christ all people are truly and rightfully lost and eternally alienated from God.  (Isaiah 53:6, Romans 3:23; 5:14-15) We consider this belief to be a definitive doctrine of the Christian faith; it is required of all members of Grace Bible Church.

Three things that Genesis teaches us, about us

I.          Our Creation:  Personal, Immediate, Distinct

A.        Humans were created by a Personal God, not an impersonal process.

B.        The first two human were created at once as human beings—they did not develop into human beings over time.

Evolution: All life arose from earlier, different life forms that developed over a very long period of time.

Theistic evolution: proposes that God’s method of creation was to cleverly design a universe in which everything would naturally evolve.

C.        The first humans were created differently than everything else that God created—and differently from one another!

1.         Adam, the man: skillfully formed from the dust, made alive by the breath of God. 2:7

2.         Eve, the woman: fashioned by God using flesh and bone from (unconscious!) Adam’s side.

Fashion = Ba’nah = to build, as a house, city, wall, etc.  God was not “shaping” a new species, as when He created Adam; he was creating the female gender of the species, out of “human” material, not dust.

Note: Adam had nothing to do with his wife’s creation, other than submitting himself for God to use to create the woman.  Men are not to act as if they possessed the rights of a Creator/Master over women, or as if they stood in a position between God and their wives.

II.         Our Occupation: We relate to all creation as God’s image bearers.  1:26-28  

A.        We all bear the image of God.

What is the image of God?  We bear the image, and express it.  Aspects to consider…

Substantive:  The image of God is simply found in all humans.  It has been put there; an evidence and presence of the divine, in every human being.  (cf. James 3:9)

Relational: The image of God is expressed primarily in the human ability to relate, to form and maintain promise-keeping, loving relationships with others.

Functional: The image of God is primarily expressed by what we do, how we act, what we achieve, etc.  This view would say, “In the same way Adam expressed the image of God in naming animals and caring for the Garden of Eden, so we express this image in caring for our environment, getting along, improving the world, etc.” (Gen 1:26-28)

B.        We bear God’s image in our responsibility to manage and care for the natural world around us.

III.        Our Relations: Humans were created to live in healthy relationships

A.        God created Eve to form community with Adam 2:18-23

B.        God instituted marriage, and so set down the principles for how human                             beings are to treat each other. 2:24-25

CONCLUSION: How does this passage inform us today at Grace Bible Church ?

1.         We are spiritual, created to relate to God as much as to people.

The unique, astounding way that we were created tells us that God loves us, and desires relationship with us—there is no other creature that has been granted such a privilege and position.

2.         We are vocational beings, called to treat creation a certain way.

The responsibility that God has placed on humans to care for the creation that He made for them tells us that how we live in the present world matters as much to God as having us join Him in the world to come.

3.         We are relational beings, needing to give and receive from a community.

The meticulous attention and effort that God invested in creating both Adam and Eve, and the institution of marriage, tells us that we were created to live in healthy, respectful community with each other, from marriage, to family, to the surrounding culture.

Application: Man (From Grace Bible Church Constitution): conclusion…

Therefore, respecting the image of God in every person, we strive to introduce every person to the gospel of Jesus Christ, that every person might escape the eternal punishment due for their sins.

What We Believe: Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5-11)


He left His Father’s throne above,

So free, so infinite His grace.

Emptied Himself of all but love,

And died for Adam’s helpless race.

‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,

For O My God it found out me!

(Charles Wesley)

The Lord Jesus Christ (Grace Bible Church constitution):  We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the unique, eternal Son of God, fully divine and fully human, and that He came to earth as an infant born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and voluntarily died on the cross as the divinely appointed and accepted substitute for sinners.  We believe that He rose bodily from the grave on the third day after His death and now He sits enthroned in heaven, from where He intercedes on behalf of His followers and rules over His Church.  (Matt 1:23, Isa 53:4-6, John 10:17-18, Luke 24:1-7, 1 Cor 15:1-4, Eph 1:21-23, Heb 7:25) We consider this belief to be a definitive doctrine of the Christian faith; it is required of all members of Grace Bible Church.

We began our consideration of the doctrine of our Lord Jesus be noting that He is presented in the Bible as being both fully human and fully divine.  This is more than a mere theological mystery; it is a truth that mere human imagination and comprehension has wrestled with for over 2,000 years—without really arriving at a satisfactory way to explain it!

I.          His divine-human nature  

   A.        He is 100% divine = God

In the gospel accounts, He speaks of Himself as divine, and does not correct others who speak of Him as divine.   (i.e., John 10:30-31  Note, the Jewish leaders to whom He was speaking clearly interpreted His statement as being one of a claim to divinity/oneness with God, for they immediately sought to execute Him for the crime of blasphemy!)

The NT writers present Him as fully divine (Heb 1   3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power..”, Col 2   9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,)

The gospel writer John, especially, notes that Jesus is that very same “Lord” whom Isaiah the prophet saw in a vision as described in Isaiah 6.  (John 12:37-41)  This is an amazing claim for John to make; asserting that Jesus of Nazareth existed, in a sense, before He was Jesus—appearing in human form to Isaiah!

   B.        He is 100% human

Jesus is completely human being; in this regard He is exactly the same as any human being who lives, or who has ever lived. He demonstrated this physically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Physically, He grew hungry, thirsty, tired, etc.

Psychologically, He thought, reasoned, planned, etc.

Emotionally, He felt, expressed emotions; weeping, anger, etc.

Spiritually, He worshiped God, attended public worship events at the temple, etc., although He did not confess sin or offer sacrifices for His sin.

After considering this magnificent doctrine, known as the hypostatic union of Jesus Christ, we moved on to a consideration of what His life means for us today…

II.         The life of Jesus Christ, and what it means for us today (Phil 2:5-11)

   A.        The Marvelous Life of Jesus Christ, the Lord God. 5-8

      1.         He did not clutch the life He had with God, and as God, in heaven. 5-6

5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped

      2.         He emptied Himself in order to take on the likeness of humans. 7

7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

Restated: In laying aside His position and place in heaven, Jesus took on the frailties, challenges, and conditions of being a human being.  As a lifeguard has to get wet to save a drowning man, so Jesus became a human to enter into our world, to save us.

      3.         He humbled Himself so that He could die a horrific, sacrificial death 8   Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

   B.        The Magnificent Response of God the Father to Jesus  9

9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,

   C.        The Eventual Response of every human to Jesus 10-11 

10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Restated: At the culmination of the redemption of history, all people who have ever lived will publicly  verbally demonstrate their agreement that Jesus Christ is certainly God Incarnate, which will result in glory being rightfully offered to God the Father.

Cross-ref: Isaiah 45:23 “I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. =  

…in heaven, on earth, under the earth = those who are with the Lord now, who are alive on earth now, and who have died apart from the Lord.

Some implications:

All people will certainly face Jesus Christ.

John 5   26 “For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 28 “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

2 Timothy 4:1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:

All people will be physically resurrected in order to face divine judgment.

Heb 9   27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,

All people will agree to the truth about who Jesus Christ is—the Lord!

   The Bible warns of a resurrection to judgment for many: Rev 20:11ff

 Rev 20   11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.

   The Bible promises a resurrection to life for believers:

1 Th 4   13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

CONCLUSION:  (from the Grace Bible Church  constitution):Therefore, the sole passion of all we say, do, and will is that of worshiping our Lord Jesus Christ, and appealing to all to join in the worship of the Lord of all, Jesus Christ.

Application for Grace Bible Church today:  Place your trust, your faith, in the marvelous Lord Jesus Christ—today, now!

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What We Believe: God (Isaiah 6:1-13)

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From Grace Bible Church constitution:

We believe there is but one living and true God, eternally existing in three Persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  These Persons are the same in substance, and equal in power and glory. (Gen 1:26, Matt 28:19)  We consider this belief to be a definitive doctrine of the Christian faith; it is required of all members of Grace Bible Church.

Therefore, we strive to give all honor, worship, and obedience to the Triune God alone, and reject any and all claims of obedience or worship that rival that of the Triune God.

We didn’t stay for long on a doctrine-based consideration of the Person and Nature of the Tri-une God, but instead jumped right into Isaiah 6.  The chief question that we sought to answer as we unpacked this chapter: What should a person expect as he or she comes to church to worship this holy God?  Such a person can expect…

…to be confronted by the collision of the seen and unseen world, and the presence of a uniquely holy (morally perfect in all of His attributes and nature) God. (1-4)

…to be convicted of sinfulness and failure. (5)

…to be graciously cleansed and forgiven of sin. (6-7)

…to be called to obedience in the pursuit of a completely new direction and purpose in life—serving God and calling the surrounding culture into a restored relationship with Him. (8-13)

What We Believe: The Bible

In our series, What We Believe, today we considered our doctrinal belief regarding the Bible, taking a look at Paul’s second letter to Timothy, particularly chapters three and four.  We broke our consideration into two parts, each to answer a question:  Part One: Why is the Bible so important to us at Grace Bible Church?  And Part Two: What we actually believe about the Bible.  To listen to the sermon, click here.

Part One: The Bible is critical to our ministry because…  (3:1-4:8)

…we believe that with the passing of time the church of Jesus Christ will increasingly struggle with faithfulness to the demands and standards of Christianity, and will actually drift further from faithfulness. (3:1-5a)

…we believe that the greatest threat to the church of Jesus Christ will continue to be the incessant attacks of unprincipled, abusive, false leaders who infiltrate the church to gain satisfaction of their own desires, and not to service the Lord Jesus. (3:5b-9)

…we believe that the need for bible-saturated, faithful leaders will always be one of the primary needs of the church until her Lord returns. (3:10-17)

…we believe that the as the church continues through the ages she will increasingly battle the influx of members whose primary desire is to acquire and “call” only those teachers and preachers who will implicitly agree to NOT challenge or convict those members with the application of biblical truth, but will instead cater to their listeners self-centered, culture-pleasing desires. (4:3-4)

…we believe that with the close of the text of Scripture (the death of the apostles), the Bible itself became a one-and-for-all-time completed book, and is thus the only remaining source of authoritative, divinely provided insight and instruction for humans. (4:5-8)

Part Two: Therefore, because we believe the Bible is inspired, we believe it is… (3:16-17)

(An easy way to remember these points is to remember them according to the vowels, “A,E,I,O,U”)

ADEQUATE: …it contains sufficient information for me to know God and live a life that pleases Him and those around me.

Example:  When hungry and tempted by Satan to turn stones to bread, Jesus quoted Scripture: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God…”

EFFECTIVE: …it is able to do exactly what it says it can do.

Example:  In the Sermon on the Mount:  “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.”  (Also, see Isa 55:10-11)

INFALLIBLE: …it cannot lie or mislead.

Example: In praying for His disciples, He said, “Sanctify them in truth, Thy word is truth.”

OBLIGATORY: …it must be obeyed.

Example: When tempted by Satan to bow down and worship him, Jesus’ reply:  “For it is written,” each time He was tempted to disobey.  For Jesus, the Word of God must be obeyed!

UNDERSTANDABLE…people must be able to know what the Bible means by what it says.  God chose to communicate with us, and He must be a perfect communicator, despite the limitations of those He intends to communicate with.

Example: Numerous times in Scripture Jesus asks His opponents, “Have you not read…”, and He expects them to be able to understand the point He is making from the Scriptures.  It would not have been fair for Him to make this challenge if indeed they might not be able to simply understand what had been written. (Cross-ref: Mark 2:23ff)

Matthew 7:6-12 (Sermon Notes): Wanted: Wisdom!

Verses 6-12 clearly continue with the Lord’s topic of judging.  In verses 1-5 He warned against judging the sin of others when you yourself have not addressed your own sins issues.  In 6-12 He continues, revealing to His listeners and us today, how His follower might find the wisdom to constructively address sin in the lives of others.  He answers three questions regarding this wisdom:

1.  Why might I need divine wisdom if I am to get involved in ministering to others’ needs—particularly as I seek to offer spiritual truth to them?

2.  Where might I find the kind of wisdom that I need if I am to join in this ministry of Jesus of spreading and sharing His truth to people around me?

3.  How am I to apply the wisdom that I receive from God?

I.          The need for wisdom in ministry. 6

Question:  Why might I need divine wisdom if I am to get involved in ministering to others’ needs—particularly as I seek to offer spiritual truth to them?  Answer:  Because it is not only fruitless, but can be dangerous to insist on sharing the Word and Wisdom of God with people who don’t want to hear it.

6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Gold, pearls = costly, valuable = (in context), the words shared as you “take the speck” out of your brother’s eye.

There has been much speculation regarding the identity of these “dogs and pigs” that Jesus warns us to avoid sharing our wisdom with:  Jews in Jesus’ time (and Jews and Muslims today) considered dogs and pigs to be unclean and detestable.  Church fathers, and the Reformers generally felt the people who Jesus referred to as “dogs and pigs” were the uninitiated and unconverted, and that the pastor should take pains to bar these from participating in Communion (the Lord’s Supper).  Some modern-day scholars argue that these “dogs and pigs” are those believers who have not moved forward in a life of obedient discipleship.  But, it is precisely the “uninitiated”, unconverted, and uncommitted who need to hear the words of wisdom and reproof!  Does it seem consistent with Scripture to withhold truth from others on the basis of their moral condition?  (Besides, it is impossible for a pastor or church leader to perfectly discern who is truly redeemed and who remains unsaved in his entire church!)  I believe the identity of these “dogs and pigs” that Jesus warns His followers to avoid sharing truth with is simply those who neither appreciate nor desire to hear what we have to say to them.  When it becomes clear to us, either through our perception of them, or their communication to us, that they are not interested—we are to respectfully not continue engaging them with spiritual truth.

II.         The promise of wisdom for ministry. 7-11

Question: Where might I find the kind of wisdom that I need if I am to join in this ministry of Jesus of spreading and sharing His truth to people around me? Answer: Your Father in heaven promises to grant you every ounce of wisdom that you need for faithful living and ministry—if you simply, sincerely ask Him for that wisdom!

A.        God will always answer sincere prayer 7-8

 7 “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. 8 “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened.

1.         Keep asking… 7a, 8a

When do we find ourselves asking for something?  When we feel that we need something.

2.         Keep seeking… 7b, 8b

When do we seek after something?  When we want it, but it is not near or obvious to us.

3.         Keep knocking… 7c, 8c

When do we knock?  When we desire to be acknowledged by whoever is on the others side of the door, and let in. Having to “knock” at the door of heaven provides a consistent reminder that heaven has been opened to the believer—by our Lord Jesus!

B.        God’s answers to our prayers are always perfectly appropriate 9-11

9 “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 “Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

1.          Example #1: What father would give his child a stone instead of a loaf of bread?! 9

2.         Example #2: What father would give his child a snake instead of a fish? 10

3.         Conclusion: If even you know how to give good gifts, how much more will God give you His very Spirit of wisdom? 11

“If you then, being evil, = morally corrupted

Cross-ref: Luke 11:13: “how much more will your Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” = The “good” that God gives is the presence of His very Spirit in our souls to give us the ability to think and reason according to His wisdom.  Do we seek God for His wisdom with the same zeal and desperation as we seek Him for so many other things?

III.        The application of wisdom 12

Question: How am I to apply the wisdom that I receive from God? Answer: God provides us with His wisdom so that we might live in an obedient, loving relationship with BOTH Him and with our neighbors.

A.        The Golden Rule

H. Thielicke:  “There can be no relationship with the Father that does not also include a relationship with our neighbor.”

The Golden Rule is distinct from other religious and moral systems, in that it calls for the positive, active commission of good deeds towards others, not simply the avoidance of negative actions and words.  It’s more than simply, “Don’t do any harm to anyone else…”  For instance, no law can demand that a citizen pick up a wallet found on the ground and return it to its owner—but the Golden Rule demands that the believer pick up the wallet and promptly return it (and its contents!) to its owner.

B.        The Law and the Prophets

Cf: Mat 5:17ff = Here Jesus is answering the question, “How can I have a righteousness greater than the scribes and Pharisees?”

CONCLUSION:  What about Grace Bible Church today?

1. Are we sensitive and appropriate in how we discuss and share the Word of God? Do we really care about how it’s received, or do we just want to cast it out there and hope for the best?

2. Do we seek God for wisdom with the same zeal that we seek Him for everything else we want in life?  God is NOT our personal errand boy, cash machine, or vending machine! We usually need wisdom more than the things we think we need!

3. Is our faith defined mainly by the sinful things we avoid doing, or by the gracious, kind-hearted things that we DO for those around us?

(Preached at Grace Bible Church 9/30/2012)

Matthew 6:25-34: Three Lies of Materiali$m

In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus continues His sermon (known to readers today as “The Sermon on the Mount”) by commenting on the potential of anxiety and worry that the believer could very well face once he/she stepped out in a life that clearly served God alone, and not wealth and other worldly pursuits (see verse 24).  He teaches that the believer should not live a life of worry and anxiety over needs—wondering if his/her heavenly Father will care about meeting those needs, but instead, confident of God’s fatherly love and concern for His children, the believer can step out in life pursing a life of obeying God’s commands, extending His kingdom, and seeking to demonstrate His righteous ethical standards in all relationships.

In addressing the challenges of living an un-materialistic life in the midst of a pathologically materialistic world, Jesus alludes to three lies that the prevailing materialistic culture will whisper in the ear of a believer:

For sake of clarity, let’s define materialism as the inclination to live life chiefly in the pursuit of the wealth and possessions that one may seek to gain in order to better organize life in a way that brings about the experience and state of living that one assumes will bring happiness and satisfaction.  It’s basically a life of living for oneself, to get, gain, spend, and save only for the purpose of serving one’s one, here-and-now goals…

1.  Materialism’s First Lie:  “There is nothing more to life than what you see in front of you, right now.” 25

25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Jesus counters this first lie of materialism with the simple, rhetorical question, “Isn’t it obvious that your life itself is of more value than the things (in this instance, food, drink, and clothing) that are required to sustain that life?  He points out the obvious—a car is of more value than the gasoline required to run that car, although gasoline is certainly required—it is not of greater value.   Therefore, Christ’s followers should invest or sustain worry over the basic needs of life as if those needed things were in and of themselves more important than life itself.  His answer to materialism’s first lie:  “Wrong!  There is MUCH more to life than what a person eats, drinks, and wears!”

2.  Materialism’s Second Lie:  “There is no one out there who gives a rip about what happens to you.” 26-30

This lie suggests that we really are all alone—and that the surrounding world of order and intricate function that we observe in nature has nothing to teach us, or demonstrate to us of a Creator who tends to what He has created with meticulous consistency and care.

Jesus reply to this lie is to point to the birds that were doubtlessly flying overhead as He preached on the hills of Galilee that day:

26 “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

The point?  If God the Creator feeds the birds, you need not be anxious that God your Father will feed you.  Then, the Lord directs His listeners to consider the wildflowers growing on the hillside around them:

28 “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!      

The point?  If God the Creator is able to consistently “clothe” the hills in such matchless beauty, God your Father is certainly able to care for the needs of His own children!

3.  The Third Lie of Materialism:  In this world, it’s each man for himself!” 31-32

It’s logical, but tragic and unnecessary.  If there is nothing else to life but what we see in front of our noses, and no divine Person who gives a hoot over what happens to you and I, then it really does end up being a battle of the species, a survival of the fittest, and, to repeat part of a well-worn phrase, “Each man to himself!!”

31 “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But there is an alternative to such an existence that mirrors the law of the jungle.  Some have gained a “heavenly Father” who knows of their needs, and therefore negates the need to continuously seek after and worry about gaining them!

APPLICATION:  How can we actively resist whispered lies of materialism in our day-to-day lives? 33-34

1.  We resist the lie of materialism by living the life of faith.  33

33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Kingdom = rule, reign = obedience, witnessing, etc.

Righteousness = an ethical dimension to our faith = relating to God and others in a way that is pleasing and honoring to God and to others.

Such a life of faith calls for decisions to live according to the rules of another Kingdom, and to treat others according to the ethical standards of love and grace demonstrated to us by the King of that kingdom!

2.  We resist materialism by refusing to live life according to the demands of tomorrow’s fears.  34   

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

What does it look like for a person to live life today according to the fears that threaten concerning tomorrow?  For starters, let’s evaluate the choices we make that are based in an expectation, concern, (or fear) of what might come to pass tomorrow.  There such a thing as realistically, responsibly saving and preparing for what will most likely come tomorrow (such as the need for housing, food, employment, transportation, education, etc.), and compromising the obedience, joyful, generous choice of life that we should make today, because of the wonderful gift that today actually is from God!

I’m sorry these notes are a bit thin and sketchy!  If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to write!  Blessings, Pastor Ken

 

 

 

 

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!