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June 18 2018

04:27

Sunday Morning Service (I Peter 1:13-25)


I Peter 1:13-25                                                           
“Who He Is And What He Requires” • 6.17.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro.
- Peter has opened his epistle with a set of assurances written to a tense group of believers, who were living under the threat of persecution.
- He reminds them of their position in Christ. They were chosen by God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit and cleansed by the blood of the Son. As such, they are inheritors with Christ!
- He assures them of the proof of the Lord's work in their lives, pointing to their enduring faith and their love for Christ.
- When we closed, Peter had convinced them that their possession of knowledge of God's work was actually more complete than the Old Testament prophets or even the angelic beings!
- The Apostle has laid a firm theological foundation for their belief and now he begins to instruct them about their behavior. Verse 13.
Text
I Peter 1:13-16 : " Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy.' " : On account of the security of a believer's inheritance and the full expression of the salvation that awaits them, gird up your loins!
- This is a peculiar expression for the modern mind but was an every day metaphor that this first century audience would have instantly recognized.
- During this period in history, all people wore long flowing robes, which were easy enough to walk around with, but were not as efficient if you were in a hurry.
- When you needed to move quickly, the person would take their robe and tuck it into their belt area. This is what it meant to "gird themselves up."
- When they were "girded thusly," they were prepared to move quickly through busy streets or around various obstacles, knowing that their clothing wouldn't get in their way.
- What we have then is a metaphor for readiness, for focus, even for a certain kind of discipline. You and I might understand it best by saying, "Let's roll up our sleeves!"
- Peter tells them that they need to prepare themselves mentally in the same way. Their minds should be focused, prepared to act quickly and soberly.
- Today, we use the word "sober" to describe a person who is not under the influence of alcohol. And while that is not the primary meaning, it fits. I want to be free from unnessary influence.
- When you consider the two concepts together, you get the idea of focus and discipline that is both positive in how you prepare to live and negative in what you must disregard.
- In this day and age, more than ever, we need focused discipline and discernment. It takes energy to keep ourselves ready for the battles that are before us.
- Many of us sense a bit of relief when we have made it past a particular trial. It's natural to "let down," to relax. "Gird up the loins of your mind!" Keep sharp.
- At the same time, it's easy to get caught up in things that are not germane to our walk in Him. "Have you read this latest spiritual book?" "Have you heard the latest prayer craze?"
- We are called to walk straight to our Father's inheritance, but we love rabbit holes! Be sober. Have discernment to know what is necessary and what is luxury!
- They were to expend their energy properly and at the same time, understand with all confidence that God would give them greater grace with each challenge!
- "Rest your hope fully." Put all of your weight upon the assurance of God to come through on His end! Isn't it interesting folks? Last week, you probably considered Peter a "Calvinist!"
- "Election huh? What about human responsibility Peter!?" Well, you asked for it!
- Live with all your heart focused on what you need to do to walk with God and when you feel as though you have nothing left to give, God will supply you with more grace!
- When is it coming? At the revelation of Christ Jesus! Yes you are in a race now. Yes, you will feel as though you can't go another step. But the end of the race is near and Christ will meet you!
- Anyone can endure anything when they know how close the finish line is! That's Peter's point!
- "Gird up the loins of your mind and be sober," as obedient, submissive children!
- In order to be submissive children, we must first be attentive to the Lord. How would you gauge your attention span? What are you prepared to do to ensure that He has your attention?
- I cannot obey what I do not know! When I am in a submissive position, I know that I am not living the way I used to before I knew Him! "I won't be conformed to the pattern of this world!"
- Our word "schematic" comes from this Greek word. It's a blueprint design that the world conjures up for it's people, which dictates that they live entirely for themselves!
- Before I knew Him, I lived in and for all of my desires without any interruption. If I'm to be an obedient, submitted child, I can't pattern myself around those desires any longer.
- That is inconsistent with my present position! When you are a Christian, there is a "before" and an "after" and the two cannot meet together! To try to indulge both is the world's pattern!
- Instead, you are called to pattern yourself after the Lord, who is Holy and His word to us is that we be as He is! What does it mean to be "holy?" Most have a skewed view.
- They equate the word with "otherworldliness" or "an aloof," distant character.
  - Is that the kind of holiness that Jesus exhibited? Jesus was holy and unbelievers actually liked Him! So, what is holiness?
- Peter is quoting from three passages in Leviticus, 11:44,45, 19:2 and 20:7 respectively. The holiness of God relates to His complete moral perfection which every other attribute hangs upon.
- Think about that in relation to what the angels sing of Him. He is not thrice "Omnipotent." He is "Holy, Holy, Holy!"
- Essentially, the reason Peter quotes this here is the main quality of holiness that we must imitate. God knows what is right in every situation and He never acts otherwise!
- His actions are never inconsistent with that rule of who He is. Thus, as a Christian, we must not pattern ourselves after the world in any way!
- We are to know what God requires of us and do our best never to violate that knowledge. We are to live integrated with the world but never contaminated by their system!
- This is why He has given us His Spirit to testify to what God says is right and to convict us when we stray. He is causing us to choose what our Lord would choose. Verse 17.
I Peter 1:17-19 : " And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. " : Our English word "since" would give the appropriate sense of verse 17. "Since you call on the Father." He is our Father and He is also the impartial Judge of our service to Him!
- He will judge according to each one's work. He will judge you based on what you have the capacity to do. He will not unfairly put you against another, but He will not pass over you either!
- Peter reminds them and us that all will appear before Him, not for a decision about salvation, but for a rewarding of faithfulness to Him!
- The admonition to them and to us then is that we would live on Earth, our foreign home, with a healthy reverence for our position in Christ.
- Peter doesn't necessarily mean that we should fear God, though, that is a given within any Christian. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Proverbs 1:7)
- The idea here is the respect due against the value that has been paid for our souls!
- "You understand that you were not redeemed with corruptible things right?" What God did for you cost Him greatly! Would you think about that for a moment?
- Have you ever purchased something valuable for another person, only to watch them treat it with contempt? How did that make you feel? Respect what it took for God to save you!
- It cost God everything to make something of you! You have been redeemed, ransomed! In a world full of slaves who would do anything to be buy their freedom, this was a rich metaphor!
- God could have snatched you and I away, but He made a legal transaction. He purchased us. We are called to respect our ransom and to remember our recent history!
- He paid the ransom out from under "our aimless conduct," literally, our empty, pointless, way of life! Spiritually, that is what every person on Earth lives if they live their lives apart from Christ!
- Please don't misunderstand me or Peter. There are many ways to live this life that are helpful to humanity. There are wonderful innovations in technology and incredible charities for philanthropy.
- There are kind individuals that lead communities and that leave a blessing after them when they leave this Earth. But what a waste of life it is for a person to neglect a relationship with God!
- Anything less, given the disparity of time, is a profound and incalculable loss! God took the initiative to buy us out of that slavery to ourselves and to our heritage.
- The idea is that there wasn't anyone in our life that was telling us anything different! We were just going along with the flow until the Lord rescued us with the very precious, sacred blood of Jesus!
- I can't help but think of Peter's proximity to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, when the Lord sweat tears mingled with blood, which was only the beginning of His sorrows.
- Jesus was the Lamb without blemish or spot! Peter is referring to Jesus as the ultimate Passover lamb! Exodus 12 provides the details.
- The Lamb was to be selected and inspected over a four day interval. It was to be of the first year and it had to be in perfect condition.
- Physically, it could neither have a birth defect or have sustained an injury in the course of it's short life. Please turn in your Bibles to Leviticus 22. Moses sheds light on what they were looking for.
Leviticus 22:21-24 : " And whoever offers a sacrifice of a peace offering to the Lord , to fulfill his vow, or a freewill offering from the cattle or the sheep, it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it. Those that are blind or broken or maimed, or have an ulcer or eczema or scabs, you shall not offer to the Lord , nor make an offering by fire of them on the altar to the Lord . Either a bull or a lamb that has any limb too long or too short you may offer as a freewill offering, but for a vow it shall not be accepted.  ‘You shall not offer to the Lord what is bruised or crushed, or torn or cut; nor shall you make any offering of them in your land. Nor from a foreigner’s hand shall you offer any of these as the bread of your God, because their corruption is in them, and defects are in them. They shall not be accepted on your behalf.’ " : As you can see, there are birth defects or "spots," limb length, and there are "blemishes," bruising or cuts.
- "Without blemish" refers to being faultless and "spot" refers to a freedom from defilement. In Christ, there was a lack of a sinful nature in birth or a sin in practice.
- Jesus was examined by the High Priest and except for trumped up charges, the Lord could not be convicted. He was the ultimate fulfillment of the Passover Lamb!
- His death, like the death of the Passover Lamb in history, caused the curse of death to pass over the people that had applied the Lamb's blood to their physical doors.
- When the Lord's blood is applied by God to the door of our hearts, spiritual death is averted and we receive the life of God! We are bought and paid for. He continues in verse 20.
I Peter 1:20,21 : " He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. " : What an amazing thought! Before the world was created and before a single soul walked the face of this planet, God set Jesus aside as our ransom!
- God didn't simply foreknow His people. He foreordained the means by which they would become His people, by foreordaining their Savior!
- This was done in the secret counsels of eternity, without the aid of men or of angels. God alone put His plan into motion and kept it hidden in plain sight.
- As we remarked last week, the Prophets were given bits and pieces, but did not receive a full picture. They were confounded by what they prophecied. That isn't our condition!
- Peter tells them that this was all manifest, made clear during these last times for them. At this time, the full knowledge of Christ and His salvation, was only three decades old!
- All this was done for you to see! The world has become the stage of God's redeeming act!
- This is how we have come to believe and trust in the Lord. His death and resurrection are historical facts that lead to an inescapable conclusion:
- "There is a loving God that I can put my faith and hope in!" He raised Christ and He will raise us as well! Verse 22.
I Peter 1:22-25 : " Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because 'All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But theword of the Lord endures forever.' Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you. " : Notice what has been settled between you and God: You have purified your souls!
- This is written in the perfect tense, meaning that this action has taken place in the past, but has a lasting effect up until that present moment. Your souls have been made holy before God!
- Under the Old Covenant, there were diverse manners of ceremonial cleansing prescribed over long chapters. Here, our purification is funneled down to simply obeying the truth.
- It's wonderful to consider how great the work of Christ is on our behalf! There was no ceremony needed on the day that you trusted Him.
- Yet, in the very moment that you submitted yourself to the truth of your need for Christ's righteousness, God did for you what no ceremony could ever do!
- Obedience opened the door of righteousness and you were declared right with God! Then, through the Spirit, you began to experience sincere love of the brethren!
- This word "sincere" is used 6 times in the New Testament. It is translated "sincerity" here, "without hypocrisy" three times and "genuine" once.
- Peter is telling them that this kind of brotherly love isn't phony or manufactured. It comes with a purified soul!
- By the way, understand that your faith in Christ should yield a love for God and a love for His people. This is not an either/or proposition. They complete each other!
- In fact, opting out of one makes it suspect that you have the other! God hasn't redeemed you just so that you are His. He has redeemed you to be a part of His family as well!
- Since that is the case, Peter commands them to continue to love one another fervently. It's interesting here that there are two words used for love. There is philadelphia and agape.
- One refers to brotherly affection, the other to the duties that God's best for a person requires.
- They are to be committed to that fervently, meaning "to stretch out the hand." This refers to intention. Peter is saying, "Make sure to love your fellow brothers, even if it's a stretch for you!"
- If I am to claim that Christ has done a work in me, I cannot do so without also stretching my arm out to those that make a similar claim!
- We are to love each other from a pure heart. The idea refers to a whole, undivided heart, which is consistent with the nature that we have received from the Lord!
- I love Him and others purely because the seed of the gospel that has been planted in my soul is healthy, good. Peter is telling them to trust the work that God has done in them.
- He is not calling you to act from your own nature. That is birth from the corruptible seed. He has begotten you again by incorruptible seed.
- The one is managed by your flesh, which calls you to love yourself. The other is managed by the word of God, which calls you to love others as yourself!
- When the word of God enters into my heart, and is obeyed in my life apart from my feelings to the contrary, that seed grows up into a proper reflection of what God intended when He planted it!
- This is how the word of God is living! This is how it endures from age to age! This explains what the prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 40:6-8.
- That chapter imagines a time in the future when God will restore His relationship to His people. Isaiah sees a messenger coming with these words regarding the transitory nature of man.
- Every man is like the grass. He's here today and gone tomorrow! His ideas rule in the moment and are forgotten in the next. Compare that with the Word of God!
- It lasts from generation to generation and is embodied by new people who are faithful to His call in their redeemed life.
Conclusion
- If we are to live like Christians in this fallen world, we have to remember certain facts about the Lord. What does this passage teach us about Him?
- First, He is our Holy God. He never acts inconsistently with His character. Therefore, imitate Him! Be holy as He is Holy! Don't follow the scheme, the pattern that this world presents.
- Second, He is our Redeeming God. He paid dearly for your Christian life with His own blood! Therefore, respect what it took to give you this life and remember what He rescued you from!
- Finally, He is our Regenerating God. He has brought you forth from eternally pure and good seed. Therefore, let His Word dwell richly in you, expressing itself in love to God and His people!


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June 11 2018

04:06

Sunday Morning Service (I Peter 1:1-12)


I Peter 1:1-12                                                             
Audio Access Available Above
“Who You Are And What You Have!” • 6.10.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro.
- We have closed the book of James and entered into the realm of First Peter. According to most scholars, nearly two decades have passed, but the story remains largely the same.
- I wonder if any of you wonders about what happened to the people that we just studied about. In the case of these believers, their situation actually went from bad to worse!
- Let's find most of our introduction material as we enter the book. Verse 1.
Text
I Peter 1:1,2 : " Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied. " Peter was a fisherman when Jesus called Him. Christ chose him while he was mending his nets to be a disciple. Now, nearly 30 years removed, he is His sent one, His emissary.
- Peter's life is an incredible study which we will not have time to undertake. Suffice it to say, he serves to remind us that God can do something wonderful with anyone that will trust Him!
- Peter is not writing merely as a "friend." In embracing this title "Apostle," he informs them that this letter is an official communique from the Lord Jesus Himself!
- These are His wishes expressed. It is His will that they hear and understand this. Peter will be the vehicle, but the voice will be Christ's and He wishes to address some "pilgrims."
- These Christians might have considered themselves fugitives or refugees because of their plight as a persecuted people. God calls them "pilgrims."
- They seek a home and until they get there, they live alongside of the natives of this planet, but always in a state of transition! In Christ, they and indeed we, are all simply passing through!
- I would suggest that problems arise when Christians act more like settlers than pilgrims! This world will never feel like home to the believer. God wants our hearts to be set upon our true home!
- These believers were scattered all over the Roman Empire, particularly on the Eastern side, just south of the Black Sea.
- When you look at a Bible map, you'll see that they are all concentrated in a certain area. How did Peter intersect with their lives? For the answer to that, you'll need to consult with Acts 2.
- On the day that the church was born, at the Jewish feast of Pentecost, 40 days after the ascension of Jesus Christ, a group of people crowded into Jerusalem for one of their annual visits.
- Little did they know that God had picked this very time to send His Holy Spirit upon the waiting disciples. Everyone heard a noise and gathered round and out came Peter.
- The privilege of preaching the first church's first message was given to Peter!
- He explained what had transpired and exhorting all to trust upon Jesus Christ, a message that was divinely simulcast in every language represented! Where did these people come from?
- Acts 2:9-11 mentions almost every single one that is mentioned by Peter here! This means that these are likely the original members of the first Church!
- These had heard the speaking in tongues and Peter was their initial Pastor and teacher!
- These are also those that had been scattered earlier by Saul's persecution and were now targets of Nero's regime! You wonder how many thought, "What if I had just stayed home that year!"
- If anything, their plight had gone from bad to worse. Saul's zeal had initially scattered them back to their home countries. His work came to a close with his own conversion.
- Caesar Nero however, was a much different story and according to some historians, Paul's testimony sent Nero on his maddening descent! Can you imagine their supposed bad luck?
- But their being there on Pentecost and their subsequent conversion to Christ wasn't an accident at all! These pilgrims are elect according to the foreknowledge of God!
- The have been chosen, selected, set apart by the Father. He did this according to His own foreknowledge, literally, the Lord's own "prognosis." He knew them before they knew Him!
- The issue with the word "foreknowledge" is a bit tricky. It does not refer to a knowledge of a person's decision, though it would be true to say that God knows everything before it comes to pass.
- The Greek word delineates an initiation taken by God on behalf of a person or people group prior to their acknowledgement of Him.
- God knew before hand that He would one day choose a people for Himself and these are a part of that group that God decided to save and set apart for Himself! You were also chosen!
- That decision was made before the world was created and before we as His people were formed! Today, in your experience of time, the Holy Spirit is sanctifying you who have believed.
- The Holy Spirit is cleansing your hearts, purifying your minds, and allowing circumstances to shape your lives!
- The people that were running from their persecutors must have wondered if God hadn't forgotten about them!
- Peter lets them know that the Spirit was busy at work, causing them and us to obey Him. Like them, the Holy Spirit has led you to hear God's Word, to recognize it's truth and to obey it.
- That obedience first to the gospel, and then to His Word, is the proof that you have been ceremonially sprinkled, cleansed, with the blood of Christ.
- We cannot say that we have been cleansed if we have not a heart of obedience! These that Peter wrote to could say that they did.
- There was clear evidence that they had followed the Lord beginning on that inauguaral day!
- Before we move on, do you see the beauty of the Trinity's work in our salvation? Mark it down! The Father chose us, the Spirit set us apart and the Son's blood has cleansed us!
- On earth, these pilgrims were being hunted. In heaven, they had been counted! What a comfort to their hearts this must have been when they first read Peter's words!
- Peter adds his Lord's desire for them to experience a greater measure of grace and peace! I love this. Consider what they were experiencing and how they might have been praying.
- God's people were being brutalized by a madman. They were being hunted like animals. Instead of praying for a change in circumstance or government, Peter prays for an upgrade in grace!
- What a lesson for us! How often have we been guilty of praying for the removal of uncomfortable and trying situations without asking for an increase in personal grace!
- Think of our Lord's prayer in John 17: "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one!" (John 17:15)
- When Paul prayed three times for his thorn in the flesh to be removed, the Lord answered, "My grace is sufficient for you for My strength is made perfect in weakness." (II Cor. 12:9)
- The biblical model for prayer is not for less difficulty but for more grace! Verse 3.
I Peter 1:3-5 : " Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. " : Peter erupts into praise. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!" We get our English word "eulogy" from the word "blessed, which literally means "good words."
- There aren't enough words in any language to celebrate Him! Everything good that can be said of Him should be said of Him because of His abundant mercy expressed toward us!
- "He has begooten us again." We who are Christians are born again! You do not hear that term used much these days, but every person that is called a Christian by God is "born again."
- Some have sought distance from that term as if to say that there are two classes of Christian!
- There are not! Upon our believing in the gospel and our receiving of the gift made available to us by Christ, God by His mercy alone, brought us to spiritual life and awakened us to a living hope!
- It's an active, ongoing expectation on our part made a reality because of Christ's resurrection. Christians alone understand this life in that context.
- We live in expectation of a life that begins in Christ now and extends beyond all time! Even if we were to die, because of Christ, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we would live!
- To live, unfettered by the chains of sin's guilt on earth, would be wonderful enough! But for the believer, there is an expectation of an inheritance that has been set aside for them in eternity!
- Listen to that choice of words: We have an active anticipation to receive an inheritance! An inheritance is an allotment that is not earned. It is given. It is set aside by relationship to a person!
- This inheritance, the riches of God, have been set aside for us because the One who died and is resurrected has laid them aside for us!
- By virtue of our being united with Him in His death and resurrection, we get to share in the inheritance that Christ has earned! What a word of encouragement for these downtrodden followers!
- Many of these men and women, lived in fear for their lives and had little hope of maintaining any of their worldly possessions. They had been kicked out of homes and cities for the sake of Christ.
- Their lives, at this time in history, were cheap commodities, tossed aside by an Emperor who believed killing Christians would cover for his own atrocities.
- Peter tells them, "It doesn't matter what you lose here. You have an inheritance there!"
- Listen to his description of it. It is incorruptible and undefiled. It cannot decay and it cannot be tainted, soiled or sullied. It won't waste or give way to any elements that could threaten it's value.
- There is nothing on this Earth that can boast of such a claim. Has anyone heard of the "Second Law of Thermodynamics?"
˚ " The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that 'in all energy exchanges, if no energy enters or leaves the system, the potential energy of the state will always be less than that of the initial state.' This is also commonly referred to as entropy. " [i]: As you can see, nothing on this planet can come close! Our inheritance isn't subject to the laws that govern this planet! Our inheritance cannot spoil and it is completely secure.
- It is reserved in heaven for you! When a Greek speaking person used the word translated "reserved," the idea related to keeping watch over something.
- In fact, the same word is used of the guards that stood watch over the Lord's rented tomb on the first Resurrection Sunday! Unlike those soldiers, the watch in heaven is far superior!
- Indeed, beyond our inheritance Peter asserts that God is watching over them personally!
- "It's no use if the inheritance is kept secure if you are not!" Listen to the way the sentence is structured: "reserved in heaven for you, who." The recipients are the ones that are "kept."
- This is even more impressive word than "reserved." "Kept" refers to an entire Roman garrison set in a city to prevent a hostile invasion!
- Our faith in Christ opens the door to the very power of God Himself which will sustain us until the opportunity of the final hour, when we will experience His salvation in full. Verse 6.
I Peter 1:6-9 : " In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls. " : When you and I think about the full expression of our salvation, it should be an understatement to say that we "greatly rejoice!"
- In fact, the way that this is written could easily be translated "leap for joy!" Our acknowledgement of what the Lord has done and what awaits us causes us to leap for joy!
- When was the last time that you really thought of all the benefits that are yours in Christ Jesus? Have you ever taken an afternoon to meditate upon what you have in Him?
- If you ever have, you understand Peter's words. It's almost too good to be true! It doesn't matter how conflicted we are in the present circumstance or how close we are to danger.
- When we consider our privilege, we are overwhelmed with joy! What interrupts our fits of joy are the grievous trials that we are exposed to now!
- This "little while" is brief comparitive to our eternal state, but undoubtedly, Peter's challenge at this time was to communicate to believers who were under a heavy, sorrowful burden.
- The people that were reading this letter bore up under the presence of a humiliating, painful death. There was heaviness all around by the various temptations that surrounded them.
- But there was also a purpose in their pain. God was allowing the crisis to expose the reality of their faith to them! He does this by "testing" it, a word synonymous with revealing authenticity.
- God already knows what kind of faith you have. He is not surprised by our condition. If they wondered at whether or not they truly had an inheritance with God, this was one of the proofs.
- As they endured through yet another season of trial, they realized that their faith was authentic enough to withstand it! They knew God was at work in them because the believed!
- The greater the challenge, the more refined will be the faith that rises to meet it! What a joy then to realize that their relationship to God did indeed prove to carry them through!
- Notice that phrase: Genuine faith is more precious than fine gold. It is more rare and exceedingly more valuable! Some would protest and disagree!
- Believe me, that argument is easy to adhere to when everything is going right. When you have your health and when you have some modicum of control over your life.
- These people that Peter is writing to did not! They had lost everything and the only thing that held them together was their faith in the Lord!
- Peter includes this cryptic note here. "Even if it is tested by fire." Fire was used to purify alloys and the Christians that lived in Nero's Rome, were well aware of the fire that he used.
- History tells us that in Nero's madness, he covered Christians in wax, suspended them on poles and lit them on fire to light his garden in the evening!
- That is the kind of fire that their faith was enduring! Money couldn't buy them out of this experience. Only their faith could cause them to endure and many entered into eternity through flame!
- Peter assures them that their endurance will not go unnoticed! Because it's the actual article, it will bring great praise, honor and glory for them when Jesus is revealed!
- Along with their unswerving faith was another proof of the reality of the Lord's work in their life. Their love for Christ!
- The first church existed entirely through the preaching of Christ to them, but they themselves had no knowledge of what He looked like! Faith gave them eyes to see Him who is not seen!
- One day, when we do see Him and the full expression of His love toward us, we will be filled with joy that we won't be able to put into words! That is the purpose of our faith!
- It is what carries us through this season of trial and carries to our intended end, the salvation of our souls! Verse 10.
I Peter 1:10,11 : " Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. "
- The salvation that you and I enjoy was once a profound mystery. The Old Testament prophets were given pieces and pictures about what you and I now confidently know.
- They lived their lives in genuine bewilderment. The text indicates that they were always searching for meaning and made a diligent, thorough investigation. You dog lovers will enjoy this!
- This word was initially used to describe a dog sniffing out something from the ground! The prophets were not dispassionate, casual observers. They were bloodhounds!
- They spoke of what would be experienced by the Early Church, and then sought to figure out when and how this would occur! This wasn't their own predisposition.
- The Spirit of Christ in them was declaring to them the truths of Christ's sufferings, as well as the glories to come!  Think of how confusing this must have been for the prophets!
- On the one hand, they are told of Messiah's great suffering, predicting methods of suffering that didn't yet exist.
- For example, crucifixion wouldn't exist for several centuries when David wrote about it in Psalm 22. Think about Isaiah's vision in Isaiah 53. "Led like a lamb to the slaughter?"
- For Isaiah particularly, this must have been confounding! Chapter 53, the chapter which describes the suffering servant, comes right after the chapter of the victorious servant!
- They held the puzzle pieces. We hold the box top with the picture of Jesus Christ! Verse 12.
I Peter 1:12,13 : " To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into. " : The NKJV is not very clear here. The sense is better captured in the NIV.
- "It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you." This was God's way of satisfying their curiosity, letting them know that they were writing for their future family.
- They wrote these things down as prophesy and now, these things were history! Christianity has never been a religion of feelings. It is a relationship based upon historical facts!
- These facts were repeatedly confirmed through various sources, and what they testified to was inspired and affirmed by the Holy Spirit!
- These things that they and we know by experience, the angels of heaven wish to know! They are not redeemed creation! They are obedient servants of God.
- They know nothing of what it means to be a redeemed child of God! Consequently, they literally lean down with great curiosity to see what becomes of us!
Conclusion
- As we look back upon this passage, we recognize that Peter is conveying His Lord's encouragement to these believers by pointing them to their position in Him.
- "You are pilgrims, set on a course that will lead you to a great inheritance." You will never settle on this planet! Don't make this your home! But how do I know if I'm an elect member?
- Do you obey the Lord? Do you love the Lord? Are you continuing to follow the Lord in spite of your adversity? Friend, that's what a chosen person does! This is the proof of His work in you!
- But I can't see it? You're in good company! The prophets that wrote about these events and the angels that watch over the bannisters of heaven didn't and don't quite get it either!
- In fact, believe it or not, you have a more complete picture than they did! Peter is telling them that you are in possession of greater knowledge of Him!
- It may not be enough for us all today, but I hope you'll agree, it's a great place to start!
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June 04 2018

04:18

Sunday Morning Service (James 5:7-20)


James 5:7-20                                         
Audio Access Available Above
“Patient Prayer For The Present” • 6.3.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro.
- The book of James is a direct letter, written to a scattered congregation, instructing them to live their lives before the Lord.
- James has warned them against assuming a proud posture with regard to their fellow Christians and against a presumptive attitude in regard to their planning.
- Those that live in those realities, the wicked wealthy, will experience the judgment of God. This has been what they were to avoid. But, what were they to adopt?
- In our final study in this powerful book, James will look into his family's eye for the last time, and tell them of the life that best represents the life that their Lord intended them to live. Verse 7.
Text
James 5:7-9 : " Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. " We have often commented that the "therefore," connects us to the previous content.
- Because the wicked wealthy are being prepared for judgment and because they, the exploited poor, have called upon the Lord of Hosts, James commands them to be patient.
- If God commands us to do something, it is less about emotion and more about the will. We as Christians must decide that we will be patient.
- This word reflects an ability to bear up under the offense of others, to "endure misfortunes and troubles" as well as the injuries that others might impose upon us.
- Essentially, whatever circumstance comes our way, as Christians, we are to continue to follow the Lord through it, regardless of the difficulty involved.
- It must be our purpose, come "hell or high water," to make it to the other side! And it's not as though we will always have to wait. There is an expiration date on our waiting!
- We are only to wait until the coming of the Lord! James meant this as an encouragement, and taught this as though it were imminent! That is how each of the New Testament authors view it!
- Unfortunately, it has become a source of great confusion within the body of Christ.
- When you think about the "coming of the Lord," think first about the immediate context. What has James just been referring to? The judgment of the unbelieving, wicked and oppressive wealthy.
- We know then, that James cannot not be referring to the rapture of the church, which intiates the "Day of the Lord," the "coming" of Christ.
- He is not really even referring to the "Great Tribulation," which will be the 7 year period in which the wrath of the Lamb will be poured out on an unbelieving planet Earth.
- James must be referring to the time after the Great Tribulation when every unbeliever will stand before the "Great White Throne" judgment, to be assigned their final destination.
- Then, Jesus will have come, established His throne in Jerusalem, and all of God's people will dwell in peace for a thousand years, otherwise known as the "Millenium."
- All Christians believe in some version of what I have just shared with you, though every Calvary Chapel Pastor is Pre-Millenial, Pre-Wrath, and Pre-Tribulation in their eschatology.
- The point, no matter your eschatology, is that believers can wait patiently because His coming draws closer with each passing year!
- James, in the first century of the church, quite possibly less than 20 years from it's inception, calls his people to anticipate the coming of the Lord! How much more should that be true of us!?
- How should we wait? What examples do we have? As usual, James provides his own illustrations for our benefit! Verse 8.
James 5:8,9 : " See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! " : In a largely agrarian society, every one of our author's audience had either been or had access to, a local farmer. James says, "Look at the farmer."
- I love that even this is an imperitive! It's as if he takes his hands and places them on his congregation's face and forces them to look at the farmer in the field! "Don't miss this," he says.
- The farmer doesn't plant a crop on Monday and expect there to be a harvest on Tuesday. He must wait for the "precious fruit of the earth," the harvest.
- You might say, "It's just lettuce!" That's because you didn't prepare the field. You didn't purchase and then plant the seed. And since you are the consumer, you are not living from it!
- That which comes up from the ground for the farmer is all of his life and livelihood! He has bet everything upon this seemingly uncertain enterprise.
- The farmer waits for that crop, waiting patiently, enduring through the season of uncertainty, when nothing is happening on the surface. What is he looking for? The early and latter rain.
- In Israel, the rain begins to fall in October. This softened the ground and signaled the beginning of the season. March and April brought the last chance for rain.
- He is not necessarily looking for the crop, but is guided by the signs provided by these rains. For him, this begins the ticking of the clock!
- He doesn't judge his crop by the first rain alone, but waits to see what the entire season will bring about. He doesn't judge his crop by what comes up in October. He waits for April.
- James is telling his brothers and sisters to look at their life in the same way!
- Don't base your judgment upon what you see or don't see right now! Understand that there is a season of life and you have to wait to the end to reap the reward!
- Besides, where else do you have to go? Who else can you trust with your life?
- When the Lord Jesus taught a few difficult truths, several that followed Him bowed out. Jesus turned to his disciples and asked if they would leave also.
- Peter answered, "Lord to whom shall we go! You have the words of eternal life! Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" (John 6:68)
- God has begun this work in you and He will finish it! He has given you His Spirit and when this life has passed, there will be a harvest to enjoy. So, what do we do now?
- Establish your hearts. The word refers to resolution. James commands them to fix, to set their hearts firm in a direction. No matter the difficulty, the Lord's coming is at hand!
- Is this where your heart is fixed? Are your life and it's choices directed by that reality?
- A farmer is fixed, determined to wait out the season. You won't find him grumbling against his fellow farmers and we shouldn't grumble against our fellow brothers and sisters. either!
- The original word speaks of literally groaning or sighing at the thought of another. The ASV translates the same word as "murmur" and the NASB renders the word "complain."
- Be careful of your attitude because if you are caught thinking that way, the Judge will turn His judgment on you and He is at the very door! He is right outside!
- When you and I hear this, it sounds ridiculous because this was 2,000 years ago and Jesus has not come. But we are thinking about it all wrong!
- He is at the door because our life is but a vapor and when it is no longer visible, we will experience the coming of the Lord through the lens of eternity!
- Our own short life, makes the coming of the Lord that much more imminent and when we awake in eternity, the rapture will only precede the Bema seat judgment that we will stand at!
- Doesn't that make you want to love your brothers and sisters and forsake a murmuring, complaining heart? Do you want to explain that to Christ at the Bema Seat? I think not! Verse 10.
James 5:10,11 : " My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. " : James offers a second illustration for our consideration. Think about the prophets.
- These had the great privilege of hearing from the Lord audibly and speaking on the Lord's behalf to His people. In a world that was right side up, these men would have been the celebrities!
- But we all know that this wasn't their lot! They serve as an example, an exhibit piece that reveals what it means to follow the Lord and their stories embody the phrase "suffering and patience!"
- They experienced every evil imaginable and you and I count them as blessed because they endured to the end!
- Imagine if Jeremiah, who wanted to quit, actually did quit. How would we view him today? What if Elijah decided not to leave Mt. Sinai, but instead forced God to kill him there as he asked?
- No, we revere these men because they obeyed God until the end. They kept serving the Lord, speaking for Him until the very end!
- Even in the life of Job, whose legendary patience is a byword used by people today for far less trying circumstances, reveals that to those who will wait, the Lord will repay with goodness!
- Turn over to Job 42. While you are dusting off that part of your Bible, let me remind you of his earlier chapters. In chapter 1, he lost his seven sons, three daughters and all of his property.
- In chapter 2, Job lost all of his own health. "Well, at least I have my wife!" She's the one who told him to curse God and die in 2:9!
- Then, Job had to defend himself from his friends, and their well intentioned, yet seriously flawed counsel. To top it off, Job was cross examined by the Lord Himself! How did it end?
- After restoring all of Job's losses, recorded in Job 42:10, the record stands in verse 12.
Job 42:12-17 : " Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first Jemimah, the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-Happuch. In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. So Job died, old and full of days. " : We don't know how long Job suffered, but by the end of the book, he effectively gains double from the Lord and multiplied years of blessing.
- Through all of his suffering, Job learned one thing: The Lord is compassionate and merciful! He knows how to respond to us when we suffer!
- This is not to diminish what Job suffered or what you and I will be called to suffer in this life. There is no replacing what might be lost, but there remains compassion and blessing from the Lord.
- "But you don't know what I've lost." Neither do you know what you have gained! Paul writes:
Romans 8:18 : " For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. ": We cannot quantify what we have lost, we are also unable to imagine what it is that we will have gained!
- James comes back to his thought about being patient. Verse 12.
James 5:12 : " But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No,' lest you fall into judgment. " : We've come a long way from the end of verse 11. Remember that James is talking about enduring. As a matter of first importance then, keep your word.
- Don't pretend to strengthen your commitment to the Lord by fancy oaths. "I'll continue with the Lord no matter what! I swear on heaven!"
- If a Christian's word is not sufficient, if he or she has to swear on a stack of Bibles, there isn't enough pressure in the world to make them keep it!
- Let your resolve and character be this simple: Yes or no! That is where it begins and ends with the Lord. He swears upon Himself! What do you have to swear by?
- "Yes" and "no" is the language of determination, the language of one that purposes to endure through any trial, to wait through any pain, in order to see the end of the Lord's work.
- James has let us know that we are to be a patient people and as we move into verse 13, we find that we are to be a praying people as well.
James 5:13-16a : " Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. " : Is anyone going through difficulties or hardships? Let him post it to their favorite social media platform. No. Let him pray!
- Suffering is your reminder that life is bigger than you, your family and your social group! God is calling you to come to Him! Redeem your suffering. Use it as an occassion to pray.
- On the other side of the spectrum, how many of you are cheerful? In the same way that suffering is a reminder to pray, cheerfulness is a reminder to praise!
- This is why we are always adding new songs to our church worship service.
- The Lord wants his people to have a fresh vocabulary to express praise to the Lord. Sing to Him!
- Notice that these first two occasions are personal. You are to pray. You are to sing. It's not that you have to do that alone, but you can.
- However, when you are weak, powerless, helpless, you aren't supposed to do that alone. The sense of this "sickness" is that there is nothing that anyone else can do.
- The diagnosis is grim and the person has run out of medical options. This is when one is called to go public by calling upon the elders to pray.
- James doesn't say that he needs to be there, or that a team of "healing elders" has to come or that a "miracle service" needs to be called. It's just the elders and the annointing oil.
- In those days, oil was poured out over a person. Today, we will come and put a little on our finger to put onto your forehead. Oil simply represents a point of contact for our faith.
- The agency that we believe upon, is the power of God present among us as we pray to save the sick and raise them up. God "will" save the sick and "will" raise them up.
- Two things need to be said: It's not about the oil. It's not about the level of faith. It's about the God who is powerful to affect change. Whether it happens immediately or permanently, God will heal!
- The Lord still heals people today. I do not question that and neither should you. There are too many stories of unexplained and radical recovery that can only be explained by providence.
- That being said, notice that the emphasis is on this person's sanctification. He will be raised up and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven!
- The most important healing on earth is the one that affects a person's relationship to the God that created them! The God that can heal the body can also heal the rift between Him and His person.
- Right along side of this, look at how James turns the table on the second most important relationship. Love God with all your heart. Love your neighbor as yourself!
- "Confess your trespasses to one another." The word "trespass" between God and a person refers to sin. When it's used between a person and another person, there has been a deviation.
- James is telling them to agree with one another about your own faults. He is not telling you to broadcast another's faults. Stick to confessing your own! Learn to say with humility, "I was wrong."
- You don't know what kind of healing this brings, but what a joy it is to return to being able to pray with one another, without the baggage of past hurts! Verse 17.
James 5:16b-18 : " The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. " : Do you believe that an energized and repeated prayer wields great power? James reminds us of Elijah.
- Elijah, though incredibly gifted, was just like us. In fact, one could say that he was much more human than most would give him credit for.
- He's the prophet that almost quit after his greatest victory! Yes, he had a nature like us and when he prayed earnestly, repeatedly for it not to rain, it didn't rain for three and a half years!
- Elijah knew of God's promise to withhold rain from the people of Israel if they worshipped other gods. When those gods were defeated, he could pray for there to be a reversal and there was.
- James is wanting us to understand that nothing has changed! We have more privileges than Elijah did! How can we not pray? Verse 19.
James 5:19,20 : " Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. " : Pray as hard as you can and be present to watch out for those among you that err regarding the truth!
- These are people that are "among you." These are not unbelievers, but fellow believers that are tempted to walk away from their faith. When we studied Hebrews, we called them "apostates."
- It's interesting the James employs the word "wanders." The word speaks of "roaming" or going astray. Generally, it's rare to find someone who just makes a beeline to error. It usually gradual.
- Consider what you need to do to be able to obey the Lord's Word here.
- First, you need to know the truth yourself! Second, you have to be around the people of God to see who is missing. Third, you must be willing to track that person down and turn them back!
- To that person, there is a word of encouragement. You have participated with God in helping to turn a sinner from the error of his way! He might have died!
- There are some whose sin would lead to physical death! Our lives might spare them and bring them into a place where their sins are put away in God's crypt!
Conclusion
- James calls us to endure through to the end! Be patient! Jesus is coming and He is at the door! Set your hearts on Him!
- James commands us to engage with our family in Christ! Be prayerful! Jesus will hear our pleas and petitions. He will save and heal as we keep our accounts clean with each other.
- Finally, James convinces us to watch out for those that wander! Be present! You could be the instrument that God uses to save a life from death and sin! Let's pray!
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May 28 2018

19:02

Sunday Morning Service (James 4:11-James 5:6)


James 4:11-James 5:6                                                
Audio Access Available Above
“On Pride And Presumption” • 5.27.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro.
- The book of James is written to a group of Jewish exiles, who had initially been a part of the church of Jerusalen that was birthed on Pentecost.
- They were forced to flee when Saul began his persecution of "The Way." James, with no other Pastoral recourse, penned this letter to them, as they re-settled in their respective home areas.
- We are picking up a thread today, which begins in chapter 3:13. James is warning them not to give into natural wisdom as they re-engaged in worship communities.
- They were to steer clear of embracing worldly attitudes, especially in employing their zeal in a harsh way or campaigning with others to force their own agendas through.
- This is where tension with one another and alienation from God come from! God cannot bless a church or a person who decides that they are going to be governed by worldly wisdom.
- Instead, James commands them to humble themselves before God, to fall in behind His lead, and to draw near to Him in intimacy, knowing that He would lift them up!
- That is the picture of what it means to be humble. Today, we are going to look at what the fruit of a proud life looks like, and just how inconsistent it is for God's people. Verse 11.
Text
James 4:11,12 : " Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another? " : James is not telling his audience not to report evil when it is committed by a brother. This injunction is less about reporting facts and more about interpreting them.
- This is less about what is blatantly wrong and more about what is hypothetically wrong.
- A person committed to this is spreading their opinion about what a person should or shouldn't be doing! The NIV and the NLT employs the words "slander" and "criticize" respectively.
- The grammar further indicates that this is a repeatable command. They might have heard it like this: "Don't make a habit of speaking evil against one another!"
- We need to be careful with our opinions and wise in how we speak about one another. Are we looking for the best in their actions? Are we looking to build them up with our words?
- When James talked about needing to reign in our tongues, this would be one area that would require the shortest leash!
- When a person does this, what does their action communicate about their place before God?
- The person who engages in slander or criticism seems much more concerned about others than himself! In fact, he speaks evil of the law and judges the law. What does that mean?
James 4:11b (NLT): " If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. " : The law of liberty, that which is laid out before us in the New Testament, is the standard by which all men will be judged.
- We are to love God with all our heart, mind and soul and to love our neighbor as ourself. God will one day reward Christians based upon their obedience to these commands.
- If I have to point out another person's perceived flaws, have I come to believe that the law isn't working? Has it failed to do it's work? Does the law need my input and help?
- Going further, have I come to believe that the Holy Spirit who drew me to Christ, who enables my gifting and who empowers me to walk with Him, cannot do the same with that person?
- Friends, the Holy Spirit has never failed and His use of the law written in the hearts of God's people has been doing a wonderful job since it's inception. Why would He need my commentary?
- When I make other people's actions or inactions my business, I am forgetting my position before the law, as one that will be judged as well!
- The law is not my hammer to use against another. It's God's mirror to expose the flaws in me!
- If you've taken an inordinate interest in how others are living out their calling before God, you have misunderstood your position and misapplied the purpose of the Law!
- I'm a sinner and with regard to my view of it, the law doesn't apply to them, it applies to me! Before I have a moment to look in upon another's adherence to the Word, am I doing it?
- Are there things that I am avoiding? Are there commands that I am ignoring? Are there precepts that I've conveniently set aside? That should be our main concern! Are you a doer?
- Aside from that, a critical person has moved into another category that they do not belong in and it's uncomfortable, because the only person that belongs in that category is the Lawgiver Himself!
- God alone has the ability save or to destroy! That is the function of God's use of the law. My observations about another person voiced in a critical way have no redeeming effect.
- I cannot destroy or save them. I have no power for either. I can only do damage with my assessments, which at best, are built upon limited knowledge and lame preconceptions!
- Turn in your Bibles to John 21. The scene is post resurrection, the location is the sea of Galilee. Jesus and Peter are having a chat about Peter's new role among the Apostles.
- Peter is to feed the Lord's sheep until he dies a death that will eventually amount to being crucifixied upside down. While Jesus is telling him this, Peter is thinking about another person.
John 21:20-22 : " Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, 'Lord, who is the one who betrays You.' Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, 'But Lord, what about this man?' Jesus said to him, 'If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.' " : Jesus is busying talking with Peter about Peter and Peter is concerned with John! "What about him?" Jesus replies to him and us, "What is that to you?"
- The Apostle Paul echoes this very same sentiment in Romans 14:4, when he reminds the Roman believers that a servant stands or falls before his master!
- What happens with God's fellow servants is meaningless to us, save that we would offer our love and our hands to them in support! James asks, "Who are you to judge your neighbor?"
- As we begin to close this section, can I suggest a little experiment to begin our week. As you know, it's incredibly easy to be critical of others, while at the same time, extending grace to ourselves.
- Would you join me in reversing that trend this week? The criticism that you would use toward others, turn upon yourself. The grace you would extend to yourself, release toward others!
- See how that changes your perspective this week. That's the kind of mindset that builds the body of Christ up in love.
- Worldliness breeds pride, which looks for a way to be superior to others and presumption, which exposes a heart that lives apart from God! Verse 13.
James 4:13-16 : " Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit'; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.' But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. " : It's such a free conversation. These people have control over their time. They could move today or tomorrow.
- They have control over their destination. They can move wherever they please. They control how long they will stay and what they will do there.
- They're pretty sure of themselves because, even given the incredibly short time, they will make a profit!
- What is the difference between how these people are talking and how the world talks? There isn't any difference and James wouldn't mention it if he had overheard non-Christians talking.
- The people that James is addressing have supposedly given their lives to God! It is inexcusable to talk in such a flippant, godless manner!
- What is amazing is that they think, having given their lives and hearts to God, that they have a chance of making a profit without Him!?
- It's God who gives you and I the power to excel in our workplace. This set of statements is both godless and ignorant of just how quickly a life can change!
- James lets them in on the secret. "You don't know what tomorrow will bring, much less next year!" You don't even have a clue as to whether or not you will be alive! Your life is like a vapor!
- I don't know that James was thinking exactly of King David's words in Psalm 39 but listen to how they fit together with this passage.
Psalm 39:4,5 : " Lord , make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days,that I may know how frail I am.Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,and my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. " : What a difference in speech? Lord, make me to know my end and what is the measure of my days and how frail I am! That's a humble way to think about life!
- Our lives can change on a dime. Consider what unexpected events may come up on a given day that consistently change the course of people's lives.
- A major injury sustained at work. A mysterious illness that comes out of nowhere. An accident on the way home. A job that no longer requires your service.
- These are things that happen every day. This doesn't even account for the changes that come in other's lives that you are connected to.
- Perhaps you will not sustain the injury, but your child or spouse does. That illness is not yours to endure, but is in fact your Father or Mother's. You don't know what will happen tomorrow!
- Even if you did, you also have no idea how quickly it could all be gone! Your life is a mist that is visble for a moment and gone the next! A Christian should never be presumptuous.
- We should bathe our words in this language: "If the Lord wills!"  This doesn't mean that you should say, "The Lord wills" mechanically after every sentence! James doesn't mean this.
- We should however, speak in ways that clearly indicate our submission to God and our willingness to go where He guides and provides for us!  Anything else is evil boasting! Verse 17.
James 4:17 : " Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. " : Because God calls us to forsake our pride and presumption, the person then that has that knowledge, but fails to apply it, finds themself in sin.
- Most theologians refer to this as the "sin of ommission." It is knowing that something good must be done and then failing to do it. Consider the context.
- If you know that pride is out of place but fail to correct the way you consider others, you are in sin. If you know that presumption is a failure to glorify God, but fail to alter your course, you are in sin.
- It is never enough for a believer to know the right things to do if that does not cross over to affirmative action! If you have listened and understood, I warn you, it's right for you to plan to act!
- Anything less is a sin before God! James shifts his thought now to the logical outcome of those that have lived in this philosophy.
- The people of God have been tempted to walk down this path, but there are those that actually have walked down this path. He speaks to them in chapter 5.
James 5:1-6 : " Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you. " : James, in prophecying about their future, hopes to shake the disease from God's people!
- He wants them to see their end, that they might definitively choose another!
- James looks down the corridor of time and sees the rich, not as they are today, but as they will be! Today, they are celebrating their lives apart from God and they are quite content without Him.
- On that day that James foresees, they must weep and howl for the misery that has come upon them! What they lived for was vanishing before their eyes!
- It's interesting to me that God called His people to "lament and mourn" over their sinful condition in 4:9. I submit that if we do this now, we certainly will not do it then!
- The godless rich have never considered their own hearts before a Holy God! This leaves them in misery on this day of reckoning!
- Generally, riches in these ancient times were measured by food storage, clothing and of course, precious metals. On that day, their stored food will be utterly rotten.
- Their clothes are being consumed by moths. Their money, their valuable gold and silver that they would travel the world to get, the profit that would line their pockets, was now rusting away.
- This is interesting, as pure alloys aren't prone to rust naturally. But, in the presence of God, they are worthless!
- As they visualize that, they understand that what they have lived for has disappointed. The rust testifies against them and eats them up inside! What a powerful statement to make!
- Think of what those riches have seen and what they can say. "Remember how you sacrificed for me? Remember what you did to earn me? Remember how important I was to you?"
- Now, as James' audience looks down the corridor of time, those questions are posed not from the shiny new treasure, but the corrupted, moth-eaten closet of forgetfulness!
- When it matters most, what you invest in will either carry you through or mock you thoroughly! The latter will eat your flesh like fire.
- There will come a time when some will discover that their physical riches in a financial will not translate spiritually. Unfortunately, there is a price to pay even now!
- Where will your riches be when your children have walked away from God?
- What price will you pay to turn back time and make your priorities right, modeling for your children the way that they should walk?
- Where will your money be when there is a diagnosis that no money in the world can touch? Then, your riches will eat away at you! That is what they have done.
- These have stored up great riches for themselves, built upon the backs of people who were treated poorly for the sake of their gain. They horded their riches and defrauded their workers!
- They were poor, perhaps without labor representation, but they cried out to the Lord of Sabaoth and He has heard their cry!
- The word "Sabaoth" is an old expression for the word "hosts" or armies! It's not the Lord, meek and mild. It's the God that directs the entire army of heaven!
- He has heard them and is about to act on their behalf! They have lived for luxury and pleasure, not fully aware that they have been prepared for the slaughter that is coming their way!
- This is an amazing consideration! I can see James looking at his people and their envy.
- "The world isn't suffering for their beliefs! They have the freedom to go anywhere and at anytime, for the sake of profit! Why can't we?"
- In some respect, they must have been tempted to believe that the wicked wealthy had it better than them! They were getting everything that they wanted without any consequence.
- Pastor James is telling them that they have it all wrong! When a lamb or animal is fattened for the slaughter, he is separated from the herd, overfed and treated luxuriously.
- Many farmers have mentioned that their cows are even massaged and treated to soft music as they sleep, so as to further relax them.
- All the other cows or sheep must be incredibly envious, until they realize that their buddy isn't being invited to Sunday dinner. He's being primed to be Sunday dinner!
- Aren't we all guilty of the same thing? We can be thankful that ours are not original thoughts. Before James wrote this, another man wrote similar words in Psalm 73.
- He was stumbled at the success of the rich, who had no pangs in death, whose eyes bulged with abundance, who were always at ease.
- He thought as many of us do, that we are following the Lord in vain, keeping our way clean for nothing. But then, Asaph came to realize the truth.
Psalm 73:17-20 : " Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end.  Surely You set them in slippery places;You cast them down to destruction. Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment!They are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awakes, so, Lord, when You awake, You shall despise their image. " : The wicked wealthy will deserve their sentence because of their injustice toward the righteous.
- Many had done this against God's people, but ultimately, they did this against Christ, the Just One, in whom all of us Christians have our life!
- They condemned Him and He did not resist them. He didn't put up a fight on Earth. But one day, they will stand before Him and they will not put up a fight before Him!
Conclusion
- James, I believe shows his people this picture of the fate of the wicked wealthy, to shock them back into reality.
- The wicked wealthy have lived in pride and presumption. I don't even want a hint of that in my walk with the Lord!
- If that is the case with you, then let us mourn and weep when we are guilty of being critical of our fellow brothers and sisters. They have access to the same law and Holy Spirit that you do.
- Let us mourn and weep when we are guilty of excluding God from our plans, presuming that we know the first thing about what is coming our way.
- Gratefully, you and I know that the best place to look is upon the face of our Lord and the best place to be is right behind His lead! May the Lord grant us the grace to do just that!
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May 21 2018

05:03

Sunday Morning Service (James 4:1-10)


James 4:1-10                                                               
Audio Access Available Above
“Wars And Fights?” • 5.20.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro.
- The early Jewish church had been in the process of re-settlement after having been chased out of Jerusalem by Paul's persecution.
- They have re-entered their lives and have begun to resume fellowship. From what James addresses, there seems to have been varying methods employed.
- He has had to warn them about adopting worldly wisdom as a method of attaining spiritual goals, offering them a reminder that godly wisdom would bring peace to their lives and gatherings.
- James, in chapter 4, continues to offer his audience insight into the fruit of following worldly, sensual wisdom and why we should avoid it all costs. Verse 1.
Text
James 4:1-3 : " Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. " : One of the first benefits of following  worldly wisdom is tension and frustration. As you read these words, do you find it inviting?
- "Wars" and "fights" will follow when we adopt wordly wisdom. The English word "war" comes from the Greek word which gives us our word "polemic."
- A "polemic" is a type of response that is considered to be an aggresive verbal attack.
˚ " A polemic is contentious rhetoric that is intended to support a specific position by aggressive claims and undermining of the opposing position. " wikipedia
- "This person is ranting and raving!" Nothing goes better with polemics than controversy. When a person said this about a battle, he would be speaking of drawing up on opposite sides.
- These words form a picture of abusive verbal jousting and that within the ranks of the church!
- When worldy wisdom reigns in a fellowship, everyone is raising their voices louder than the other, trying to get their way by being as brutal as they can verbally!
- Nobody who engages in such activity can say that they are motivated or empowered by the Holy Spirit. He will never lead you to act this way! James says it clearly: "It comes from your desires!"
- Literally, "does it not come from your hedonism, your pursuit of pleasure?" This person doesn't get into verbal altercations on account of the truth. He does so because it gives him pleasure.
- This person loves to be seen, to have the attention, to promote his own ideas and to get one up on the perceived competition! That's the struggle, the war, in his own being!
- The picture that James is painting is of a command center staging post for a battle. A man who is catering to worldliness is experiencing an inner war waged between his heart and his Lord!
- Part of him wants to please God, but a larger part of him wants to please himself! His own desires are acting as a military command station, barking out orders for him to follow!
- And what is the result? You would think that there would be satisfaction. He would find relief and desire would be met, but that isn't what happens.
- "You lust and do not have!" Both are written in the present. You are always lusting and you are never having! You can't get no satisfaction! It will never come to the man of God in this way!
- This person is driven to obtain the object of his lust, proverbially willing to murder and covet, but it eludes him, so he continues his aggression. All he needs to do is ask God.
- Of course, why would a person ask for something that they desire from God when they believe they can attain it through worldly wisdom? Besides, they know better.
- They have asked before and did not receive. James asks them, "Do you know why you didn't receive? It's because you are asking for the sake of your own gratification, not God's glory!
- This gives us a great insight into the heart of God. He won't give you or I anything good unless you have the wisdom to spend it upon something that enhances your walk with Him!
- In this case, to "spend" would better be translated "to waste." For God to give you what you want when He knows your wayward motive, would not be a gain for you or Him, but a waste!
- He knows better than to ruin you or the gifts that He would give you that way! Verse 4.
James 4:4-6 : " Adulterers andadulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, 'The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously'? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: 'God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.' " : If tension and frustration are not enough, how about hostility between you and God?
- James doesn't pull any punches. When you are flirting with the world by adopting their ways, you are acting unfaithful to the one that you love most! You are committing spiritual adultery!
- These Jewish believers would have been very familiar with the Biblical concept of intimacy that God desired to have with His nation. They were His people, they were His bride!
- Marriage itself exists as an enduring illustration of the Christian's relationship with the Lord, according to the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:32.
- When one adopts worldly methods to gain their own desire, they are seeking satisfaction from another source other than God, which ultimately puts them in a position opposite of God!
- Enmity, hostility is the eventual outcome, even to the point of being an enemy! Who wants to be an enemy of God? A person who prefers and fights for their own desires over His!
- Anyone wishing to indulge their own desires, especially those that are contrary to God's desires within the church, cannot think that they are supporting His will!
- They are living in contrast to it and are thus, in the same boat as the Enemy, even if they confess orthodox positions! They are practically fighting against God!
- Had they not listened to scripture? Had they not deduced it's meaning? James quotes a verse that they all knew, but that we are unable to track down in our English versions.
- It is likely that the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, which they read and were familiar with, may have translated a verse this way.
- The idea is that there is an intimate desire placed in us by the Spirit for the things of God, to be fulfilled by God Himself! This Spirit dwells or settles in our hearts to cause us to yearn for that.
- The problem becomes painful when we do not yield to His Spirit or wait for His timing or seek His best pleasure. When we seek to move ahead or away, the Spirit doesn't stand idly by.
- In fact, James tells us that He yearns zealously. The verse is written in the present indicative, meaning that He always, repeatedly, intensely craves that our attention would be singular.
- He fights to maintain our attention on the Lord, to be sure that we remain satisfied in Him!
- When we give into desires that come from our own flesh, we are seeking to be satisfied from forbidden fountains! That is the essence of spiritual adultery!
- The Holy Spirit continues to press our hearts, to draw us back to being satisfied with God and His ways. And when we walk after our own desires, He doesn't give up, but gives more grace!
- Literally, He is always giving more grace, in this context, divine assistance to make the right choice! God, through His Holy Spirit, continues to apply the work of redemption to His people.
- This is what Solomon meant when he penned Proverbs 3:34, which James quotes.
- Those that God finds to be proud will find a certain response from Him. Those that are humble will receive another response.
- Before we consider that, let's look at the two categories that are before us. The word "proud" comes from two Greek word, which when put together, essentially means to "over shine."
- There are two ways that the Greeks used this word. One was to describe a person who thought to show themselves above others.
- The second is defined like this: "an overweening estimate of one's means or merits, despising others or even treating them with contempt, haughty." (BLB)
-  This type of person God will always oppose. He will stand against Him. He will determine not to allow him to have resource because they see themselves as a sufficient.
- The humble are quite different. This word refers to being unable to raise oneself from the ground. This is a person of "low degree."
- James writes it this way regarding God's response to the humble: This person and this person alone, now and forever, is always given grace!
- To the one who decides that they deserve to act in a way that is contrary to God's desire for them, thinking somehow that they have earned the right, God will always and forever, oppose them!
- When one understands that they are offending God by giving into their fleshly, carnal nature and that they are unworthy of the least of God's mercies, God's extends His grace!
- God promises to respond this way. Which person will you be? Turn in your Bibles to Luke 18. I can't help but think that James was thinking of His Lord's words in this parable.
Luke 18:9-14 : " Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.' " : Why do I feel as though this was going through our author's mind? He is adopting similar language and compare that last phrase to verse 7-10.
James 4:7-10 : " Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. " : Don't miss the connection: God responds favorably to those that humble themselves before Him.
- Lord, I want your will for my life, done in your way, for your purposes. I've had enough of tension and frustration between myself and other believers and hostility between us!
- The solution? "Therefore, humble yourself before the Lord! What does that look like? First, James tells them that a humble man is a submitted man!
- "Submit" is a command directed toward an officer in the military. It is the equivalent of saying, "Fall in behind your leader!" Organize yourself behind the Lord. Get back to trusting in His lead
- A humble man is submitted to the Lord and at the same time, a rebel against the devil! Once again, this is command language. The Christian is set to oppose the Devil's work!
- Practically, you are taking sides with every decision that you make. If you are submitting to God, you are standing in opposition to the Devil.
- As we run to submit to God, the devil will flee from us! He'll turn tail and run, not because we are so powerful and have authority over him. He'll run because we are standing behind the Lord!
- A humble Christian is submitted to the Lord as His command officer, but is also intimate with the Lord as their spouse! "Draw near to the Lord!"
- What a statement to make to these Jewish Christians! You can come close to God and not only will He not destroy you, but He will reciprocate! He will draw near to you!
- There should be a growing desire in a Christian's heart for greater intimacy with Christ as you age. Is that happening in your life?
- Are you closer with the Lord than they were a year ago? Do you feel that you know more of His ways today? Have you gone deeper into His mind through His Word?
- God calls you to this, but please don't assume that the directive doesn't also require holiness. Draw near and "cleanse your hands and purify your hearts!"
- You aren't and haven't been clean if you prefer to use your words to harm others! That's what a sinner with a foul and divided heart does!
- The people of Israel had to do this physically when they came near the Tabernacle. They had to sanctify themselves. We aren't told to wash physically, but we are called to do so spiritually!
- Do you prepare to come before the Lord? Do you cleanse yourself before you enter into His presence? James commands us to do this! What does this mean? Look at his description.
- Look at your condition and don't accept it. Don't think that it's only "natural given the circumstances." Don't think it an irrelevant character flaw! Lament! Mourn! Weep!
- These words are so foreign to us in this age of "be anything but negative" Christianity! When you see these words, it might even cause you to bristle?
- This is the fruit of a false, superficial theology that remains a plague upon our nation! A Christian person is a real person who can be a Christian while in a state of elation or depression!
- When we are confronted by what God calls sin, we should be afflicted and miserable! We should be inconsolable! We should weep as though a loved one died!
- That isn't to be our permanent state! God is not calling us through James to be unceasingly miserable and introspective. We do have to honestly face our actions with the same grief He has!
- It is good for a Christian to set aside their laughter and joy to allow mourning and gloom to set their hearts aright! That is what it looks like to humble yourself before the Lord!
- For those that learn this, who take this to heart, you'll find that the benefit is far superior to the expenditure: He Himself will lift you up!  He will bring you to Himself! There isn't a higher place!
- This is phenomenol given what most have given up to get! Sin makes us reach out for something other than Him.
- In the end, sin destroys everything that we set out for and when we repent, God gives us Himself, which is what we should have wanted in the first place!
- What a beautiful concept! If you will repent, if you will humble yourself, He will lift you to Himself! God has provided a wonderful picture of what humility does.
- As we move onto the rest of the chapter, I believe that we will see a portrait of what it meant to be unduly influenced by worldly pride. We'll save that for next week.
Conclusion
- Friends, when you come to believe that a relationship with God can be reconciled with your own hedonistic desires, you must listen and learn from what James is saying.
- That heart will bring tension and frustration into your experience. You will wonder why those other Christians can't align themselves with you and why you aren't satisfied!
- God's Spirit dwells in you to produce His fruit in His time by His methods. You don't want to resist that! You will find yourself to be His enemy, actively working against Him!
- God is calling you to humble yourself. Submit to God. Get back in line. Draw near to the One that loves you most!
- Ultimately, He knows what you do not know: That you will be most satisfied in this life when you are most satisfied with Him!
- When all that matters to you is having Him, you will have all that He wants for you!

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May 14 2018

05:49

Sunday Morning Service (James 3)


James 3                                                                             
Audio Access Available Above
“The Christian's Words And Ways” • 5.13.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro.
- James has been writing to a group of first century, Jewish Christians, who have been chased out of Jerusalem by the threat of persecution.
- As that threat had cooled, perhaps by the loss of the lead persecutor Saul, they re-entered their Christian lives, which despite their previous trouble, still included trials and temptations.
- Their faith was to continually be tested, which they had to endure, and temptations were to abound, which they were to seek to escape.
- That faith wasn't only an intellectual exercise of belief that the Christian held as a personal conviction. It should work if it was to be vindicated in the eyes of men.
- In the chapter before us, James continues to speak to them along these practical lines, addressing the subject of our speech and our way of life. Let's pick it up in verse 1.
Text
James 3:1,2 : " My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. " : James hasn't left his previous thought from chapter 2:12. "So speak and so do as those that will be judged by the law of liberty."
- Their Pastor wants them to know that he isn't immune from his own warning because of his position. In fact, he and all that are like him are in a more precarious position!
- With that in mind, James warns them not to seek the office of a teacher or "master" lightly. Even amongst brethren, there is a warning against seeking something for it's own sake.
- Remember that these people are "post-pentecost" but "pre-Jerusalem council." As a result, they are predominantly Jewish and their form of worship closely resembles the synagogue.
- With that as their frame of reference, it seems that many sought to fill the role of a teacher, even in they weren't necessarily called to it. "Let not many" may signal a large number of applicants!
- James is not discouraging them or us from that service, but he won't have them ignorant of the gravity either. Teachers will be subject to a "stricter judgment."
- The person who stands to teach God's people will have to answer to the degree of their responsibility.
- Teachers in the church are not only Christians who will be judged for how they adhere to the law of liberty, but are also held responsible for how they teach others to do the same!
- If you have ever wondered why I hold the positions I do with regard to Bible studies, look no further! For those that teach here, please take notice and respond accordingly!
- There is a judgment seat for reward that all Christians will report to and we want to be sure that we don't lose any on that day or receive correction for not leading they way the Lord intended!
- Knowing that there will be accountability before God should inspire appropriate fear but James is not so foolish to expect perfection!
- Everyone stumbles. You have to love the honesty: We all stumble in various ways!
- There has never been a time in Christian history when that wasn't the case. Christians have never been perfect, even in what many consider the "golden age" of the church!
- Think about the New Testament's church finder. Want to find a good legalistic church? Check out Galatia! How about a carnal church? Corinth is right up your alley! I could continue!
- We all stumble, offend in many things. Teachers especially will find themselves in the position of learning to live out what they are learning and not doing so perfectly.
- How then can a teacher be tested? It begins by looking at his speech. If he is able to tame his tongue, it generally follows that he has control over the rest of his life.
- We don't often think much about this, but consider your first impressions of a person. Before you know anything about them, oftentimes, their speech reveals certain clues to who they are.
- James is telling us that this is especially the case with teachers. Verse 3.
James 3:3,4 : " Indeed,we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. " : Have you ever considered the insanity of this? A person of average weight and size can mount a 2,000 pound animal and control their behavior with a 4 inch leather strap?
- With only a little tug here or a slight motion of the hand there, that person can control the entire course that the horse will take without a single objection from the larger animal!
- The same is true of ships, which are tossed upon the immensity of the sea, but are turned by very small rudder comparable to the size of the ship. Generally, at sea, it isn't even visible!
- A human being at the helm of a ship can change the direction of an entire vessel on the ocean with a movement of his hands, even while under duress.
- James is telling his readers that the element of control is widely known in the world and it shouldn't be thought unusual for a person claiming to be a Christian to exercise it over his mouth!
- "But I have a strong need to say things." Horses have wills! "But the circumstances are such that I must say something." Ships are driven by fierce winds and they are controlled!
- There isn't any excuse not to have control over what comes out of your mouth if you claim to be a Christian and especially so if you embrace the role of a teacher. Verse 5.
James 3:5-8 : " Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. " : The tongue, like the bit and the rudder, is literally a micro member!
- The average tongue is only 10cm long and we generally only see 2/3 of it. The tongue is the only muscle in the body that isn't supported by your skeleton.
- It is the strongest muscle in your body and at the same time, the most sensitve. It's small and inordantly mighty! And what a vehicle it is for boasting! It's a micro member with mega claims!
- James sees the tongue as the tiny spark which ignites the entire forest before it. The tongue is a fire. In a strange way, the tongue might even resemble a spark by it's shape and color!
- It's responsible for a whole litany of troubles! It opens the door to a world of unrighteousness! It invites trouble. It poses godless ideas and passes them off as truth.
- Consider the position that the tongue holds among our members. For the Jewish person, the tongue stood guard against that which would bring ceremonial defilement into the body.
- James, however, must be thinking about what His brother taught in Matthew 15.
- The religious leaders of His day believed that eating without properly washed hands could defile you before God. Jesus taught them true defilement came from within.
Matthew 15:18-20 : " But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.' " : In Matthew 12:34, Jesus summed a similar teaching like this: "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks!"
- How many times in your life can you say that you were a witness to a tongue's forest fire?
- I can't help but think that James is also thinking about the speech element within the church of God! Look at where it's positioned in Christ's body!
- The person who is a teacher, if his tongue is not controlled, will pass along all sorts of error and falsehood to God's people! You won't have to look hard for examples of this!
- In such an instance, that tongue can introduce profound defilement to the body, setting a destructive blaze over all that God intended for the body of Christ!
- That plan for destruction in a congregation's life comes from the pit of hell itself! The tongue itself is neutral. It's the heart that controls the tongue that can bring catastrophic results.
- A man apart from the Lord is unable to tame the tongue, even though every wild beast in nature has the capacity to be tamed. We have dancing bears and a "Shamu!"
- Our tongue though is "wnruly" meaning that it cannot be held. James is telling us that the tongue cannot be restrained and when it is loose, it's effect is to bring forth death from it's poison.
- Once again, you have to step back and consider what James is saying.
- A Christian will be marked by their speech. Is it edifying? Is it orthodox? Is it gracious and generous? What effect is being observed when that person speaks? He continues in verse 9.
James 3:9-12 : " With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh. " : The evil that pours forth from our tongue is the ultimate in hypocrisy. On the one hand, we use it for what it was intended to produce.
- We open our mouth and we bless the Lord. We sing our praises to Him. We thank Him and use all sorts of wonderfully worded prayers that speak of our affection toward God.
- And then, with the same mouth, we look at an image bearer of God and curse them to doom and that within an hour of worship! This is awfully convicting isn't it?
- Our tongues, indeed our entire bodies, are not meant to be in part time service to God! There should be a consistency that marks our speech! One tongue, one body, one purpose!
- Look at nature and you'll see that same expectation. You won't find a natural spring that gives you the option for fresh or bitter water out of the same opening.
- You can't go to a certain type of tree and expect a variety of fruit. A tree bears singular fruit!
- Our words reflect the character of our hearts. If I speak in a way that contradicts the Lord's heart, I need to be concerned about the contradiction that I am reflecting.
- When it comes to speech, a teacher can't let circumstances determine how he speaks, nor can he allow his tongue to have free reign. He should demonstrate control and consistency.
- But what about his actions? How should he proceed to live his life and what should be the marks of his leadership? James looks at that beginning in verse 13.
James 3:13-16 : " Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. " : James isn't looking for hands to be raised when he asks for the wise and understanding. He is about to impose a test that will root out unqualified teachers.
- The words "wise and understanding" were designations used by the Rabbis. If you were seeking to be a "Master" among a new type of synagogue, you might desire that designation.
- If you are truly wise and endowed with the understanding of God's ways, then there will be a test of that claim which will be verified through actions.
- James commands all that have such a testimony to furnish proof by their a sustained, good manner of life that are marked by the "meekness of wisdom."
- "Meekness" is essentially the control of all faculties. This word was used by the Greeks to describe a horse that had been tamed!
- If you have the power to say something, the greater power is to abstain from saying something! If you are able to overpower a person, the more impressive feat is to empower another!
- Humility, gentleness are sure marks of a person who lives under the counsel of God's wisdom. Unfortunately, there is a counterfeit which is sadly more prevalent.
- If this person claims to be wise and aware of God's ways, but is yet found with bitter envy and self-seeking, there is something that doesn't add up.
- Does this sound consistent to you, knowing how it is that the Lord Jesus operated? "Bitter envy," could be rendered a "sharp, piercing and harsh zeal."
- "Self-seeking" comes from a word that is translated elsewhere, "strife." It's connected to electioneering or positioning oneself for consideration to an office!
- Interestingly, Aristotle used this word to describe a person who pursued political office by unfair means! (Blue Letter Bible note on "eritheia")
- A person who claims to be following God's ways, but is filled with sharp, piercing zeal and contention as their standard operating procedure can't claim the leading of God's spirit!
- That kind of wisdom doesn't originate from heaven. It's reeks of worldiness and isn't spiritual, but is natural, indeed, because of it's intent, it's demonic!
- Wherever these things are found, you are sure to find disorder and chaos. That doesn't come from the Lord! What does wisdom from the Lord look like? Verse 17.
James 3:17,18 : " But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. " : Before anything else can be said, it's patently obvious that anyone that calls themselves a Christian, must desire to know and embody this.
- The two contrasting viewpoints are not promoted as options. Worldly wisdom is to be forsaken and godly wisdom is to be embraced.
- That wisdom that comes from God is first, primarily, chiefly, pure. The word is used to describe something as being clean or as the metaphor goes, innocent.
- Compare that with the previous words. This person has no agenda, but is promoting something that comes from a clean conscience. On top of that, the Lord's wisdom is peaceable.
- Peace comes along with the Lord's wisdom. It is part of the package. So it is with gentleness, which refers to that which is suitable, or equitable.
- The people that espouse God's wisdom will always be able to discover a road that's agreeable and fair to multiple parties.
- When something is prolonged, the person that is filled with God's wisdom is willing to yield. They can be persuaded to take an alternate course.
- They are not doggedly determined to have their way. For the sake of everyone else's best, they are happy to oblige.
- These type of people are filled full of mercy and good fruits. You won't be able to find them in another state without extreme duress. This is their supernatural disposition in the Lord!
- They aren't dubious and they are completely sincere in their dealings. Wouldn't you like to be surrounded these people? That is what a Christian community is supposed to look like!
- This cannot be engineered by a Pastor or a group of leaders. This can only take place by the power of the Lord and the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit!
- This happens when God's people willingly submit themselves to the Holy Spirit and not until then! But what production comes from such a group!
- The fruit of righteousness, the harvest that comes from this group, can only come when that group lives peaceably with each other! Listen to verse 18 in the NLT.
James 3:18 (NLT) : " And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. " : That sounds like a wonderful place to live!
Conclusion
- If you consider yourself a Christian, that claim will be verified first by how you speak. If the criteria were put before a public court, would they be able to find the following verdict to be true.
- "This person demonstrates an ability to control their tongue and what they say is consistent with what we know of God's Word." Control and consistency is the mark for Christians and teachers!
- And what of your way? Are you prone to letting your harsh zeal and campaign strategy lead the way? You haven't embraced God's wisdom yet and it won't lead anywhere good!
- God's church and the life that God touches must be lived in God's way if you expect God's blessing! "So speak and so live as ones that will be judged by the law of liberty!"
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May 07 2018

05:25

Sunday Morning Service (James 2)


Audio Access Available Above 
“The Christian And Their Faith” • 5.6.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro.
- In chapter 1, James gave his people the keys to enduring trials and to escaping temptation.
- They were to see the end of their temptation as death, their God as having their best interests in mind, their lives as expressions of God's Word and their duty to those that less fortunate than them.
- This last point carries us into this present moment and another practical lesson. This time, James wants to make sure that they know what it means to have faith in Jesus Christ.
- We'll learn as they did, that having faith is a much more tangible experience than we think. Let's begin at verse 1.
Text
James 2:1-4 : " My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, 'You sit here in a good place,' and say to the poor man, 'You stand there,' or, 'Sit here at my footstool,' have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? " : It is worth noting that this is written to believers who have faith in Christ, who are saved. With great authority, James writes them in command language.
- This isn't a suggestion for his brothers. It's a command from His Lord! Do not take possession of the Lord's faith if you are not willing to consider each person as an equal in Christ.
- "Partiality" is made up of two Greek words which literally means to "face take." It's widely translated by the words "favor" (NLT) or "favoritism" (NIV) and "respect of persons." (KJV)
- The idea is to accept or deny a person based upon the superficial, external presentation of themselves. The faith of Christ and that spirit of partiality cannot co-exist.
- The example we are about to consider is based upon financial disparity. But that isn't the only point of discrimination that we need to beware of. One might very well discriminate against the rich!
- There are racial, social and even age factors that have formed dividing lines in churches. It's an outrage when it is tolerated, given the Name that is supposedly represented!
- If the Lord of glory did not act that way, how can we who say we belong to Him, act that way?
- Certainly, it would besmirch His character to do so and it would reveal a profound ignorance of the Lord's ministry and the grounds of His election, which includes all classes of men!
- Pastor James gives an illustration that might have happened right in front of him. Two people come to visit the church, the first of which is rich.
- He quite literally is adorned with rings, perhaps even on each one of his fingers and is dressed in the finest clothing. This man is filthy rich. The other is just filthy.
- His hands aren't glittering with gold. They're rough, barely clean and his clothes are thread bare. Neither is anything to anyone. They have both entered in and are both seeking to worship.
- The galling difference comes from the response to the two people. The first is escorted to the best seat in the house, while the other is set aside to the humble seats.
- Listen to the language that James employs. "You sit here." "You stand there." There is comfort and preference for the rich man. He is catered to.
- For the poor man, there is is direction and condescension. The poor man is tolerated and barely that.
- It's bad enough to think to treat someone this way, worse to actually treat someone this way and it's even worse to collude together to act this way! "They have become judges!"
- The have legislated among themselves, apart from the Lord's example or His Word, to deal with these situations in this manner. Their thoughts seem right to them but are evil to God!
- James won't mince words and neither should I: If you believe that your prejudice toward another person is grounded in some form of honor toward God, He accounts that as wicked!
- Are you something more than a blood bought sinner, who is saved solely by grace? To harbor such an attitude is a denial of the faith of Jesus Christ! Verse 5.
James 2:5-7 : " Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? " : James brings them back to reality. He commands them to pay attention to this. Their faith reveals a much different reality than the one that they are catering to.
- God has chosen the poor to be His! That doesn't mean that poverty is necessary for regeneration, nor is every poor person saved.
- Those that are poor within the congregation, that love Jesus Christ, are rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom!
- Think of the earnest prayer that he has uttered to the Lord and the testimony of God's provision for him. He is wealthy indeed and is in fact, an heir of the Kingdom!
- God's Kingdom is his inheritance because of the love that this person has for the Lord! This is the man that you would put to shame?
- I can't help but think that James is thinking about how Jesus was treated by the Pharisees.
- The church that Jesus bought with His life cannot be allowed to be like that!
- Whoever is beside you, if they love the Lord, it'd be best to keep this in perspective: They are much more than they seem! To have Christ is to have everything!
- James can hardly bring himself to believe this was happening. In those days, it wasn't the poor that caused anyone trouble during the week. It was the rich!
- They were oppressive, always guilty of wielding their power against the people. The NIV uses the phrase, "Is it not the rich who are exploiting you."
- They oppress and harass, using their resources to bring them before the judgment seat! This is the person that you would show preference to? Be careful!
- These are the same people that insult the Name of the Lord! James isn't telling them this to form a new prejudice against them. This was a reality that they were forgetting.
- All who come to worship should be treated the same, and given the opportunity to be trusted as they show love for Christ, not for how they appear. Verse 8.
James 2:8-10 : " If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. " : Can you hear the inner protests of the recipients of this letter? "C'mon James. Is this really that big of a deal?"
- James anticipates their objection and reminds them of the law that they subscribe to, that they had learned to live by. It is the "royal law," the law of the Kingdom of God.
- James has already called it "the law of "liberty" in 1:25. They understood that they were not without a law, but that the law had been simplified.
- They were no longer under the Mosaic law, which governed foods and ceremonies. Those had been fulfilled in Christ. However, they were, as we are, tied to the Moral law.
- In fact, you will find that with the exception of the law regarding the sabbath, every one of the 10 commandments is repeated in the New Testament!
- Christ has fulfilled the law in our place and given us His Spirt, who fulfills the law through us.
- Our main concern is to love the Lord with all of our heart, mind and soul and to love our neighbor as themselves. This verse is found originally in Leviticus 19:18.
- Paul picks up on this very same thought in Romans 13:8-10, noting that if you love your neighbor, you won't steal from him, commit adultery with their spouse, etc. Love fuflfills all!
- There were many times in the gospels when the religious community sought to test Jesus with difficult questions. On one occasion, Jesus was asked what the first commandment was.
- This referred not to to it's chronological order, but it's order of importance among the laws of God. Jesus answered with the Shema of Israel. "Love the Lord your God will all your mind, etc."
- Then, He said that the second was like it, on par with it, and that was to love the neighbor as one loved themself. (Mark 12:28-31) Listen to how the scribe answered the Lord.
Mark 12:32,33 : " So the scribe said to Him, 'Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul,and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.' Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, 'You are not far from the kingdom of God.' " : The scribe spoke for most within the believing Jewish community. They knew this and how much more, the church of Christ!
- They paid lip service to this doctrine, but in the example furnished by James, they failed to actually love the poor man. Acting in a prejudicial way against the poor man would be a sin!
- This wasn't an error in judgment or a short sighted mistake in policy making. This was a sin!
- The law stands up to convict them as transgressors, violators of the law of God! He is telling them that in breaking this single law, they have become guilty of breaking the whole of the law!
- They were guilty of looking at a single law and setting it aside, as if it were not as important to God as the others! But breaking one has the same effect in the sight of God as breaking another!
- I've often explained it this way: If you are dangling from the side of a cliff by a ten link chain, which of those links in the chain is least important? "Oh, that one is unnecessary!"
- That is the proper way to look at God's law! "If we fall at one point, we are subject to the law's demands from all." Think about who authored the law. James does in verse 11.
James 2:11-13 : " For He who said, 'Do not commit adultery,' also said, 'Do not murder.' Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. " : God wrote commandments against adultery and murder. He penned both of them on the same tablets of stone.
- He doesn't view one as dispensible and the other as valuable! They both belong on the same level of importance to the Lord. There is one standard before the Lord!
- We will be judged by the law that brings freedom. That is quite the consideration.
- James is not referring to the judgment for non-believers, the great white throne where every unbelieving man will appear and be sentenced to an eternity apart from Christ's favorable presence.
- James is referring to the "Bema seat," the place where believers are furnished with the rewards due to them for their actions related to their faith.
- Therefore, on account of that principle, it's wise to show mercy to those that come into our assembly regardless of their status. In that way, mercy wins out over judgment!
- Is James saying that we will be judged on account of our works? In a way, yes! Our works speak directly to what sort of faith that we have. He explains beginning in verse 14.
James 2:14-17 : " What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. " : What advantage. What benefit is there is making a statement of faith without having anything to show for it?
- If I make a claim to have something and then fail to reveal the substance of that claim, what has that claim done for me? Take that into the realm of salvation.
- "I have faith in Christ that doesn't affect anything in my life!" James asks very pointedly and rhetorically what you should ask presently: "Can my non-working faith save me!?"
- I hope that nobody is confused by this. It's a rhetorical question anticipating an understood answerer! Non-working faith cannot save a person!
- He brings us right back to where we started. Here comes a man into our assembly.
- Please note that he is not a stranger, nor is "he" only a "he."  We are talking about a brother or a sister, a member of the household of faith.
- He's not describing a person that meets you at random in the streets. The people in this example are Christian family and they are lacking in what they have need of. They are "naked."
- The word refers to clothing worn for the gymnasium, which in those days, would have been minimal. Those "clothes" could hardly be suitable for regular apparel.
- They are also destitute of daily food. They are lacking in need. This is easily discerned by their looks, but it is also a matter of conversation and understanding.
- This is assumed by the response made to them, which is tepid to say the least, and truly cruel to say the most!
- "All you can say is 'have a nice day!?' Hope things work out for you!?'"
  - What good does that do? Sentimentality and well wishes aren't enough!
- How is it that your faith doesn't demand that you provide the things that they need physically? That kind of faith is useless! Indeed, any faith that doesn't produce action is dead. Verse 18.
James 2:18-20 : " But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without yourworks, and I will show you my faith by myworks. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? " : James can hear the argument coming but he reverses it. There were those that would look at people like James as ones having faith, but there were others who pointed to their works.
- In their mind, you had one or the other. The argument seemed to be that the people who had faith complemented the people that had works and vice versa.
- But the separation of the two is not only unnecessary, it's unbiblical! What does your faith mean without works? In fact, James says that what he does reveals what he believes!
- That is true of every single person that has ever lived! They can say all day what they believe, but only their actions truly tell the tale!
- He turns the table back around at those that claim to have faith without works. He compares them to another class of individuals that have that same belief: Demons!
- Demons are theoligically correct! They know the truth about who God is. When they hear His Name, they rightly shudder. We might even use the phrase, "a chill runs down their spine!"
- Demons believe correctly, but they can never be saved! James wonders out loud, "Do you even want to know this?" The sense this phrase is the question of demonstration.
- "Do I have to show you conclusively that faith without works is dead!?" Apparently, the foolish man nodded, because James unloads. Verse 21.
James 2:21-24 : " Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. " : Wait a minute James! God declared Abraham righteous when He believed God back in Genesis 15:6, before he even had a single child!
- The events of Genesis 22 were at least, 35 to 40 years after the fact! And that is the point.
- God saw that Abraham believed Him in Genesis 15:6. The world saw that Abraham believed God in Genesis 22! Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son to the Lord at His command!
- Faith and works were not exclusive to each other. His faith caused him to work. That work revealed that Abraham's faith was completely in God, affirming the declaration of God 35 years prior!
- God had declared, justified Abraham positionally when Abraham believed. When Abraham acted, the faith that he possessed was vindicated.
- James is referring to the second definition of the word "justified," which says, "to show, exhibit, evince, one to be righteous, such as he is and wishes himself to be considered"
- Abraham's claim to have believing faith was demonstrable, tangible and God looked upon Abraham with friendship. "This is the kind of person I want to be friends with," God says!
- Do you not understand the argument yet? Our works reveal that a true heart condition of faith exists. He gives another example in verse 25.
James 2:25,26 : " Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. " : Think about who James is linking in his argumentation. On the one hand, the Father of the Jews.
- He is venerated by three religions on planet Earth. And then, there is Rahab, a Canaanite woman, who ran a brothel on the wall of Jericho! These are both paradigms of faith!
- In the same way, Rahab the harlot claimed a belief in God and His ability to destroy Jericho based upon all that she had heard.
- She had heard of His victory over the Egyptians, and the more recent defeat of King Og. She had come to believe. But then the rubber met the road.
- Did she personally believe that God would defeat Canaan? Did she believe enough to put herself on the winning side?
- The land of Canaan was on such high alert that two spies couldn't walk into a bar on the outskirts of the city without and the government being able to get agents there within the hour!
- Rahab, with her life on the line, revealed her belief by sending the spies out from the side gate! Her claim was vindicated by her actions.
- How close is the relationship between faith and works? It is as close as the body and the spirit of a man. If that spirit is dead, the body is dead! Faith without works doesn't work at all!
Conclusion
- Do you have faith? The Holy Spirit says, "Show me, don't tell me! It will be revealed not by high minded belief in principles alone, but in practical expression. That's the faith that saves!
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April 30 2018

04:01

Sunday Morning Service (James 1:13-27)


James 1:13-27                                                           
Audio Access Available Above
“The Christian And Temptation” • 4.29.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro.
- The book of James begins with the voice of a sympathetic Pastor, speaking to members of his dispersed congregation, calling upon them to endure the various trial that had befallen them.
- He understands their plight and promises a blessing from God and the crown of life for those that endure to the end.
- As we come into verse 13, you'll note a significant change in tone. Some of his flock looked at the same experiences and came to a different conclusion.
- Instead of an opportunity to grow increasingly faithful, they viewed the moment as an opportunity to fly in another direction. James won't have any of that! Verse 13.
Text
James 1:13-15 : " Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. " : As with trials, so with temptations. You can be certain that they will come. When you are tempted, beware that you do not say this. "I am tempted by God!"
- What an interesting thing to have to say not to say! The fact that James says it means that others had indeed said it, though it's not likely that any would say it explicitly.
- Generally, this expreses itself through subtle suggestion. I've heard it expressed like this: "God put me around these people that act this way" or more commonly, "God made me this way."
- Essentially, the person who embodies this claim blames God for the sin that they are indulging in. They are victims of circumstance, bound to a fate by their disposition.
- They have this desire, they are surrounded by these type of people, so it must be that God at the very least, indulges their evil practices, at the most, has engineered their temptation.
- This should come as no surprise. In the very first story in which sin figures prominently, the key figures laid the blame on the shoulders of others!
- Eve blamed the serpent that beguiled her only after her husband Adam set the tome by blaming God for the woman that He had given her! (Genesis 3:12,13) Nothing is new under the sun!
- These words betray a false notion and a misunderstanding of the nature of God, God cannot be tempted by evil. His holiness will not allow for any presence of sin.
- He is untemptable and therefore, cannot be the source of any person's temptation. James makes sure that we know: We are the source!
- The Bible clearly conveys that every human being is born in sin. We have inherited that from our original parents and have all done our share of experimenting with it in life.
- Even in Christians, the penalty for sin being paid by Christ, there must be a willing, overriding desire in the heart of the Christian to mortify, to consider dead, the deeds of indwelling sin.
- Even as we recognize this truth to be biblical and even know to agree in principle, some of us still cannot reconcile that sinful temptation begins with us. James relieves us of such a notion.
- Every person is tempted from their own well of wickedness! It begins when a person is "drawn away" by his own desires.
- The metaphor is akin to the fishing lure which entices a fish from the security of their dens, out into the open water. You know where it goes from there right?
- Before they are caught and dragged away by the hook in their jaw, they are dragged forth by their own desire. It's what they have come to want.
- The word refers to an intense craving, especially for that which is forbidden. Often, we have limited this word to a sexual connotation, but I'm afraid that it's not that narrow.
- This is any desire that rises against the desire of God for a person's life. This can refer to anything that causes us to run out from the safety of His will into the danger of the unknown!
- Maybe there is a position or station in life that you are aiming at. It could be a desire born from materialism. It could be a desire for justice that is bent around the wish for revenge!
- The desire might even be good, but when it is in our heads and is more desireable than contenment with God, there is a problem!
- When a person allows their desire to run unchecked, it is certain that eventually, an opportunity will arise and when that happens, the person is trapped.
- In the beginning, things are seemingly harmless. This is just a "thought." Soon, it becomes a fantasy, which leads to an obsession, which leads to a plan of action!
- Ultimately, generally speaking, the heart will win out over the mind and the desire will soon be brought to life and when the desire is fulfilled, it brings forth a missing of the mark intended by God!
- Sin will feel good at the beginning and seem good as your are enjoying it, but sin can only produce death. What is James saying?
- Whatever you desire outside of the will of God seems satisfying and worth risking your reputation and family for. The end of that temptation ends miserably every time!
- A desire fulfilled in my timing will bring death to relationships, death to my peace with God, death to my finances and perhaps even physical death!
- You are not the exception and you will find yourself wishing that you had listened in the end! Follow this logic in verse 16.
James 1:16-18 : " Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.   Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. " : Do not be deceived my beloved brethren. Don't miss that! He is not talking to unregenerate heathen. Christian, don't be deceived! What is he referring to?
- He could be referring to the fact that God is not the source of temptation but that we are it's source. He could be inferring that we might be deceived about the nature of sin itself.
- Certainly, we can be deceived about the source as well as the intended outcome! Our sin is never as bad as another person's sin and it can't yield the same power over us.
- Both of these statements are true and we would do well to consider ourselves warned. But, I believe we have not yet hit upon our author's intent.
- Don't be deceived about the nature of God, who cannot tempt to evil, but does indeed exist for our good! With the Lord, there are only good and perfect gifts available for His children!
- Think about the word "gift." It is set apart for you and it is intended to be yours!
- It's good, in line with what is good for you and it is perfect, complete, satisfying, in line with God's program for your life!
- It doesn't come from this earth. It can't be received from another source and it can't be taken.
- It comes down from the Father, the originator of the lights of the heavens! I think this is wonderful! Remember what we mentioned earlier regarding the "lure?"
- I can't be sure of what the fishermen used back in biblical times, but scientists have sought to build better lures for fishermen today. Listen to their own statement.
˚ " Lures imitate the bait that a targeted species of fish prey upon. Anglers love lures because they work so well, but they also help scientists better understand fish feeding behavior. These days, lures look, smell and even reproduce the sound of live bait. Abstract lures—like bucktails—show the science behind feeding instincts. Lures like spoons, however, don’t have an exact resemblance to baitfish, but they still work well. Why is this? It has to do with something in behavioral science known as a fixed-action pattern . Scientific findings show that fish don’t recognize exact features in the baitfish they feed on. The urge to attack and bite is triggered by simpler patterns such as color, size, shape and motion. Lures like spoons that don’t resemble the actual look of a baitfish work because they reflect light. "[i]: The lure from our own desires reflects light, but the gifts that God intends for us are light!
- Everything He intends to give you is good and you can trust Him! With Him, there is no variation or shadow of turning. What does that mean? Variation refers to change in orbit.
- The metaphor, when it refers to character, is fickleness. God gives gifts and doesn't quickly change His mind just to suit your desire.
- He gives them according to His wisdom, when your character is ready to receive them!
- He won't change and won't He surprise you by being somewhere where you will not expect Him. He will be where He has always been. There's not even a hint of his changing direction.
- In this case, whatever you are tempted to follow, whatever desire you deem greater than your peace with God, cannot be greater than what He has intended to give to you all along!
- James is reminding them that this has been the case since their spiritual birth. He didn't wait for them to will themselves toward Him! He, by His own will, brought them forth by the word of truth!
- He brought them forth, as one who breeds a stock of animals, by the preaching of the gospel message that they responded to! He did that in our lives as well!
- These believers were literally the originals, the first ones of this new type of creature upon the earth, who were saved by the gospel of Jesus Christ and were granted God's redemptive goodness!
- If He did that for us, how can He not now want to furnish a life that reflects that goodness!
James 1:19,20 : "   So then,my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. " : James, instead of using the popular "therefore," opts for the phrase "so then," to convey the connection to what has just passed.
- Because God is not the source of our temptations and because every good and perfect gift comes from Him, we need to train ourselves to respond differently.
- Notice that he calls each to positive action. We are to hear, we are to speak and we are express wrath when necesary, but there is a path to each action.
- Only one path should happen quickly and James commands them to run with all dispatch to hear. Run toward understanding the person you are in conflict with. In this case, it's with God!
- What does it take then to understand? It takes our full attention for as much time as we can allow. It takes a heart that is seeking to avoid unnecessary conflict and that assumes the best.
- It takes a request for communication and then for further communication in case there is still offense! How many times have we become needlessly aggravated by miscommunication?
- I've found that if a person is given enough time, they will choose the right words that will help them convey their thoughts and our hearts will find a reason to relent. God is better at that!
- Once understanding has been reached, then and only then, should you begin to speak, but James tells us, "be slow to get there!" Don't be in a rush to speak. Think through your words.
- Consider what must be said, when it should be said and where it should be said!
- Saying the right thing, the wrong way or at the wrong time could lead to disastrous results! Speaking to another person about a potential conflict requires great wisdom and patience.
- Think of our brother Job, who when he was rebuked by God, immediately repented of having spoken against Him! Let us be careful how we speak with regard to Him in our trial!
- Then, what if there isn't resolve? What if there isn't agreement? James commands them to listen to him carefully: "Be slow to wrath!" "Wrath" speaks of a teeming of emotion.
- When a piece of fruit swelled with it's own juice, a person referred to that as "orge." Be especially careful of your wrath!
- One might say, "I can listen and there are times when I have to speak. There are also times to get mad!" These things are true. One might even argue that God has wrath to expend.
- But there is a great difference between the wrath of God and the wrath of man!
- God's wrath is in perfect proportion to the crimes committed against Him and it is always righteous. Our wrath is always greater than the offense that has caused it and it's never righteous!
- The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God! No matter how justified, no matter how deserved, our wrath cannot achieve anything godly!
- Do you desire to be godly and to see godly results? Then, it's our business to avert ourselves from our own wrath. Verse 21.
James 1:21 : " Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. "
On the account of the unproductive nature of our wrath, we must lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness. Put away everything that defiles you and the excess of your sinful nature's depravity.
- There is a residue that comes along with us into our redeemed life. Make it your aim to lay it aside! Don't give it room to grow. Don't make provision for it.
- Make a concentrated effort to see it decrease in your life. The Biblical instruction doesn't end there. Whenever there is something to remove, the Bible always speaks to what must be added!
- In this case, those that are reading this are to take on a steady diet of God's Word!
- The picture that James is painting for us is simple. Weed out the garden, but don't let the ground lay fallow! Plant something positive that will grow in that space!
- It's been said rightly that keeping from the Bible will lead to sin and that keeping in the Bible will keep from sin! It's true! Receive the word!
- As much as it is an action to lay aside, there is an equal action in receiving the word with meekness, with a submissive heart! Both require a great amount of energy!
- To remove actions and attitudes from our lives requires painful discipline. To accept, to take hold of God's Word with a submitted soul requires patient discipline!
- The combination of actions leads to the salvation of our souls, ultimately with regard to heaven, but certainly now as we are sanctified by Him! Verse 22.
James 1:22-25 : " But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. " : The word that is implanted in our souls comes as a result of hearing the word taught and from reading it ourselves. That isn't the purpose.
- If it stays there, the word will not fulfill it's intention. James makes sure that they understand this explicitly! Be doers of the word and not hearers only!
- To be a "doer" means to express through life the teaching that has been implanted. The word is related to a poet performing his poetry. "Be a performer of the word!"
- In the same way that an artist would find expression through the medium of a canvas, so also the Christian must let their lives become the medium through which the world understands the word!
- Your life is an artistic expression of what it means to be touched by divine wisdom! This is an area of great concern for me as a Pastor.
- If you spend a great deal of time hearing the word, but there isn't this expression of what you have learned lived out in your life, you are a hearer, but you are deceived about your position!
- The idea here is vivid. "Deceived" is made up of two words. Literally, the word means to "account beside." A person who hears the word takes pride in their intake.
- But when they are cavalier about expressing what they know to be God's Word, when they are choosing to ignore or not prioritize obedience, they are adding things up into a false category.
- Their action or in this case, lack of action produces a truth that can't be verified by their accounts. They do not belong to the Lord! This person is completely confused!
- He keeps looking in the mirror and sees the flaws that the mirror exposes, yet, he walks away without dealing with what the mirror revealed!
- Compare that with the man that continually looks into complete the law of liberty, God's Word, and then exercises God's commands. That person can't help but receive the blessing of the Lord!
- Do you want to be blessed by the Lord? Practice what you know and when you learn something new, make sure to practice that too! Verse 26.
James 1:26,27 : " If anyone among youthinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. " : James proposes a couple of tests for them to examine themselves by.
- "So, you say you are religious." You consider or account yourself to be a "God fearer." That is your opinion and perhaps even how you designate yourself.
- If that is your confession, then your tongue will be the first part of your body to be controlled. How you speak best indicates the condition of your heart!
- Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks!" (Matthew 12:33,34) If you think yourself religious, put a bridle on that tongue!
- James is the only author to use this word. It speaks of the horses bridle. A person who fears God will begin by bridling his tongue. If you won't do that, you're deceived and your claim is bogus!
- Your have deluded your heart and your claim to be religious is empty! He moves from speech to service!
- A true fear of God is to look in upon the Fatherless and the widow in the midst of their trials.
- God has always had a heart for the orphan and the widow. Read the book of Deuteronomy from chapter 10 on and you'll see! God is on the side of the one that is poor and disadvantaged.
- Don't get caught up on the particular here. Understand the principle. When James wrote this, these people were at the very bottom of the social ladder.
- They had no future or hope apart from the charity of those around them. The eternal principle is the goal of ministering to those that have no power to return the favor!
- Do you want to have a religion that God respects? Adopt His heart and look in on those that He looks in on! And while you are at it, guard yourself from the world's defilement!
- Keep yourself from adopting the world's view regarding your life. Position, justice, fulfillment isn't yours to seize, it's God's to give when He sees it best for you to receive!
- Don't let the world's attitudes cloud your judgment or defile your pure trust in the Lord's character and intention to bless you!
Conclusion
- Temptations are a part of Christian life. I pray that you hear the Spirit of God speaking through James this morning.
- What you are tempted by is fueled by your own desire. Recognize that you and I are the problem. It's not our society or parentage. It's our hearts that are prone to wander.
- What you are tempted toward, in experienced before it's time, will lead to death. There are no exceptions.
- Run to understand these things and be careful of how you speak and how your respond, knowing that your anger will always be counterproductive!
- Get rid of every alien attitude that clouds your judgment. Submit your heart to the Word, let your speech be seasoned with salt and let your service be to those that can't pay you back.







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April 23 2018

04:59

Sunday Morning Service (James 1:1-12)


Audio Access Available Above
“Testing, Testing!” • 4.22.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro.
- It is a triumph of the Holy Spirit's wisdom to close the book of Hebrews and then to open to the book of James. The two authors and books cannot be more diverse.
- The author of the book of Hebrews is unknown, but brilliant! The dense depth and profound scale of his writing overwhelmed our spiritual senses.
- At some points, we left thinking, "I'm not sure what he means here, but since he can't mean that, it must mean this . . . I think!?" We gave it our best guess and were still a little uneasy.
- The same Holy Spirit that inspired the profound complexity of Hebrews now relieves us with  the simple profundity of James! We are not likely to leave any Sunday soon with a sense of mystery.
- Our new author is direct, simple and to the point! He means what he says and says what he means. The Holy Spirit says, "You're welcome!"
- If Hebrews lays out the schematic of Christian belief, then James lays out how to apply it! He begins first by introducing himself and by proxy, the book we are about to study. Verse 1.
Text
James 1:1 : " James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. " : As we open this letter, we are confronted by the usual questions beginning with the identity of the author.
- There are several candidates in the pages of scripture and without expending much time considering the merits of each candidate, I'll let you know that the majority opinion is likely the best.
- This particular James is the half-brother of the Lord Jesus Himself! He is the non-immaculately conceived son of Joseph and Mary.
- Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3 both contain lists of Joseph and Mary's children. After Jesus, they had at least six children and in both lists, James is listed first, indicating his birth order.
- You'd think that growing up with Jesus as your older brother would secure a believing response. You'd be wrong! James wasn't a believer. In fact, he was at least, a skeptic.
- What does it it takes for a man or woman to receive Christ? Unless God works to bring a person to Himself, even living with Jesus would be lost on him!
- Does this not tell us much of the life of the Lord? He didn't walk on water to satisfy unbelievers. He lived a very normal human life. That might relate to the reason for James' skepticism.
- The Lord's ministry began among the people of the Galilee and opinion was largely divided over Him.  Mark 3:21 relates that some thought Him to be out of His mind!
- In that same chapter, Mary and His brothers came to see Him in order to call Him aside. It's not clear what his brothers thought from that passage, but John'saccount makes it clear.
John 7:3-5 : " His brothers therefore said to Him, 'Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.' For even His brothers did not believe in Him. " : You can hear the sarcasm in their voice as they expressed this can't you? "C'mon, prove who you say you are already!?" They knew of His character and work, but couldn't reconcile HIs message.
- That is where most unregenerate men land! He's a good and special Man, but not the Messiah! The Messiah would certainly act in a more public way!
- Jesus didn't meet their expectation for the Messiah and it seems that their unbelief continued  until the end of their brother's life. Then, for James and Jude at least, something changed.
- I Corinthians 15:7 relays that the Lord appeared to James after His resurrection! Can you imagine that meeting? "See, I told you!"
- The Lord, in great grace, met Him where he was at and James began to walk with His Lord!
- He began a new relationship to His brother that day, surrendering His life to serve God. He calls himself, not the Lord's brother, but the Lord's bondservant.
- Exodus 21:1-6 lays out the terms of being a bondslave. After a 6 year term of service, a slave was to be set free, unless that slave, out of love and loyalty, sought to willfully remain.
- James was His Lord's slave, voluntarily laying aside the right to His life to live for God's purpose. Don't miss the incredible statement that James simply declares.
- James takes the Name of God and the Name of Jesus and puts them on the same level, even calling Jesus "Lord," the Greek equivalent of God! Indeed, they belong on the same level!
- And we belong with James in adopting the identity of bondslaves! Every person that calls themselves a "Christian" are willingly offering their lives in service to God. Is that you? It should be!
- Our platform might differ, but our service is the same! In our brother's case, the Lord definitely had a large platform in mind!
- Between the Lord's resurrection and the birth of the church, there are 50 days.
- Between the day of Pentecost, when 3,000 were brought into the church and the persecution of Paul, scattering said church, there may have been as many as 5-7 years.
- It was during that period of time as the church was growing, that the Lord ordained that James would serve as her Pastor. That is, until Saul began to persecute the Way!
- From there, the Jewish Christians were scattered all over the region, many traveling back to their home towns. This group came to be known as the "Diaspora."
- The word speaks of seed scattered throughout a field. What a perfect picture!
- The Lord allowed Saul's persecution to scatter Christian seed throughout the Roman empire! Everywhere the Christians went, life was changed around them! That is who James is writing to.
- They are refugees on account of their spiritual alignment to Christ. They are dealing with the difficulty of walking with Christ in diverse places, without the benefit of each other's wisdom.
- Because James and the Apostles were left alone in Jerusalem with those who had a right to live there, all James could do was to write these a general letter to help guide them in the Way.
- Consider what he felt like as a leader. How helpless would you feel? How much compassion would you have? How much concern would grip your heart for their spiritual lives?
- Take that into consideration and think about his tone as we come into verse 2.
James 1:2-4 : " My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. " : Does this sound a bit different to you? "My brethren." I hear a yearning and a sigh as he thinks of them.
- He doesn't want them to misunderstand their current circumstances."Count it all joy."
- Consider it an opportunity to rejoice when this happens to you. Our natural inclination under duress is to feel affected in the opposite direction. Certainly many did.
- Had God abandoned them or was He punishing them? James won't allow them to be ignorant or to give into dismay! The Christian has a better choice!
- The Christian can choose to see their struggles in a different light. This doesn't mean that we don't initially react. It does mean that once we consider our plight, we will eventually see God's hand!
- Let us learn what we can about trials as we examine our brother's statement. Note first the inevitability. "Count it all joy WHEN..." Don't you wish James would have said "if?"
- Many Christians live in that mindset, believing that trials are possible, but not probable. That isn't the way that any of God's people have it! You are leaving one or one is on it's way!
- Trials are inevitable and unexpected. Notice: When you FALL into this! Trials cannot be planned or scheduled!
- The word refers to discovering oneself suddenly encompassed or surrounded by something. It's inevitable, unexpected and infinitely varied! The word "various" points to diversity!
- The trials we face come in all shapes and sizes. There are various kinds arising from health, financial and relationship struggles. Every area of life can and will produce fodder for testing
- And what is the intended target for testing? Your faith in, your dependance upon the Lord!
-  At this point, it would be wise to investigate the word "trials." The word intones a set of conditions which prove the quality of something.
- Today, before a new product is unveiled, it undergoes a "beta test." A select group of people receive the product and use it under varying conditions, reporting it's response to the manufacturer.
- Over time, the manufacturer perfects his product and eventually, it goes to market with virtually every condition accounted for. That is what is occuring when you and I face trials.
- The strength of our faith is being revealed, the kinks are being eliminated and the genuine proof shown by the test brings about patience. This is what we can rejoice in!
- We know that God is doing a work in our lives! This isn't a wasted exercise. He is working to produce patience, that wonderful Greek word "hupomone!"
- Consistency, endurance, steadfastness. The quality of dogged determination that will not be denied. That is what trials do for our faith, but that is not the end.
- Patience only opens the door to it's perfect work. Let that characteristic loose to be able to bring about a complete effect.
- He wants you and I to be finished, complete and whole or sound in every part, not being deficient in any way! But how is this possible? Verse 5.
James 1:5 : " If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. " : Think about what James is conveying to this group of Christian refugees.
- They are removed from his, Pastor James' presence, as well as from the community that had been their spiritual fountain. They must have felt that loss acutely.
- There were difficulties that weren't simple matters that lay before them and they needed help! At that point, James does what every good Pastor must do. He turns them toward the Lord!
- "If any of you lacks wisdom!" This was open to all, not just the spiritual elite! This is for every last one of them. "All you have to do is ask of the Lord for wisdom!"
- Certainly all have heard of the definition, but just so we are clear, I'll repeat it. Wisdom is the application of knowledge, in this case, related to the reverence of the Lord!
- "How can I submit to a godless boss and still maintain a fear of the Lord?" "How can I do business in this crooked world and fear the Lord?"
- They are told to petition the throne room of God for that particular knowledge that they would need to live before Him! I say the same thing to you!
- Before you post to Facebook or call your favorite advisor, simply ask the Lord for wisdom and wait until He give you clarity!
- You're faith will be tested and your own human wisdom will come to an end. The good news  here is that there won't be a test where there won't also be an infusion of God's wisdom!
- And let it be known that He is not giving as little as can be spared! He is giving it to all who ask generously, bountifully!
- Are you lacking in wisdom today? Have you asked the Lord? This is as much your promise as it was theirs! He gives wisdom generously and does so without scolding us!
- When we ask the Lord, He doesn't give with an ogre's heart. He doesn't chide you for asking Him, as if you had asked foolishly! All who ask will receive, on one condition. Verse 6.
James 1:6-8 : " But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. " : God only requires that we ask Him with a firm belief that He will give us the wisdom we need! Don't ask with a wavering heart! That person has no foundation.
- One minute, he believes this proposition, but is no sooner convinced than he is convinced of another! In that way, he's being driven and tossed around with every wind that comes his way!
- The picture is of a person who can't be still to wait for what he has asked for. That kind of person won't receive anything from the Lord. He is double-minded, divided in his thinking.
- He is vascillating and inconstant in everything that he does! The Lord can't help him because
he won't wait to receive the help the Lord would give!
- He asks, but then, after waiting three seconds, he bolts, figuring that God didn't care or it didn't work!
- It never enters his mind that he had to wait patiently, trusting in God to bring him what he needed! He will give you what you need, but you have to be still to receive it! Verse 9.
James 1:9-11 : " Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits. " : Christians will go through trials and if they ask God, He will give them wisdom generously. Who asks God for wisdom? The brother in lowly conditions.
- The word can be translated "cast down," "depressed" or even "humiliated."
- He needs to boast in his exaltation! What does that mean? The Sovereign God condescends to render Him aid! That is the upside of being down in the Lord!
- The Lord lifts up the man who is nothing and meets the man who once had everything! The NLT renders verse 10, "And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them."
- To some degree, the rich in Christ has been given a great gift. They are not slaves to their wealth. They have been given a true assessment of their position.
- They know that their lives and their wealth is transitory. They know that they are here today and gone tomorrow, just like the flowers of the field, that are one day colorful and the next, gone!
- That is what the rich are like who have not Christ! They vanish away in the pursuit of more riches, not realizing that they are moving toward their doom!
- What a blessing then that trials hit the poor and the rich alike! We don't have to imagine what it is like to miss out on that perspective. The Bible is replete with examples.
- Think of the stories that James could be referencing from what we know of the gospels. What about the Rich Young Ruler, who admitted his lack in spite of his riches and religion?
- He went away sad because of his many possessions that he could not leave for the hope of eternal life that brought him to Jesus in the first place!
- There is one story that Jesus tells however that might serve as the best illustration of the point that James is making. Turn with me to Luke 12.
- When you read the chapter later today, you'll read a sample of the kind of sober gravity that the Lord spoke from. Hypocrisy, hell and confessing Christ before men in eleven verses.
- From the crowd, a man interrupts the Lord as He authoritatively talks on these ultimate issues, screaming out, "Tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."
- Can you imagine a more irrelevant outburst given the topics? In response, the Lord conveys this story.
Luke 12:16-21 : " Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: 'The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.' But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.' " : "Fool, this night your soul will be required of you!" What a statement! The rich man in this world is given no grace to see the impending nature of his own doom!
- Listen to him. "I'll build bigger barns." "I'm set for life!" "I can sit back and relax!" How jarring was it to awaken suddenly to the voice of God calling the man to account!
- That is what the rich man apart from God will face! Not so for the one that sees God's hand bringing a humilty to their hearts!
- The Christian says, "Thank you for humbling me, for giving me the wisdom to see my true end and to properly value what I have in this world!" Verse 12.
James 1:12 : " Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. " : This is our brother's conclusion! Blessed, supremely happy is the man that is currently and will repeatedly endure through testing.
- The translators for the KJV and the NKJV really missed this one here. Temptation, from the same Greek word, is the theme of the next few verses, so it's natural to assume it's place here.
- However, every other translation prefers, rightly I might add, the use of the word "trial" or "testing." Why is that the correct word? Context.
- What have we been talking about? And what comes immediately after? The concept of approval. It's the word that was used when a metal had been assayed, evaluated for it's purity.
˚ " In the ancient world there was no banking system as we know it today, and no paper money. All money was made from metal, heated until liquid, poured into moulds and allowed to cool. When the coins were cooled, it was necessary to smooth off the uneven edges. The coins were comparatively soft, and of course many people shaved them closely. In one century, more than eighty laws were passed in Athens to stop the practice of whittling down the coins then in circulation. But some money-changers were men of integrity, who would accept no counterfeit money; they were men of honour who put only genuine, full-weight money into circulation. Such men were called dokimos, and this word is used here for the Christian as he is to be seen by the world. "              Donald Grey Barnhouse
- When the person who has endured through trials has been authenticated, they will receive the crown of life! What a beautiful picture!
- They might not be rich in this world. They might be those that in fact, that look to be deserted by God. Yet, it is God that bestows upon them that all the riches on earth could not obtain!
- God gives to them the crown of life because they have endured. Why have they endured? For the sake of love! They love Him!
Conclusion
- Our passage reminds us of the sober reality of trials, but calls us to understand that we need not despair under them. God is working something out in your life!
- He doesn't intend to confuse you. In fact, if you'll ask Him and patiently wait upon Him, He will come to your aid with the wisdom of heaven!
- Thank Him for allowing your faith to clearly see the value of this world and to more clearly see the value of Himself! That is the true end of our testing, to count all else as loss for the sake of Christ.






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April 15 2018

23:15

The Book Of James

The Book Of James

I've taken the time to record myself reading the book of James. I've long enjoyed listening to others read the Bible and have found that listening to another voice, beside the one in my head, is often helpful in apprehending the text.  It is my hope that as you download these files, open your Bible and read along, you will experience something similar.

The New King James Version

James 1

James 2

James 3

James 4

James 5

 
The New Living Translation 

James 1

James 2

James 3

James 4

James 5


Sunday morning teachings in the book of James will begin April 22nd, 2018.

James 1:1-12 

James 1:13-27 

James 2 

James 3


Further Resources For Study

Book Of James Introduction

Book Of James Introduction II  

"Screen Door" by Rich Mullins. An ode to "faith and works."

April 02 2018

01:08

Sunday Morning Service (Resurrection Sunday)


Resurrection Sunday       
Audio Access Available Above
“Who Do You Say That I Am?” • 4.1.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Good Friday Service
Intro
- Of all the days on the yearly calendar, this one stands as the peak of Christian belief. It is the day when the church proclaims the truth of the events related to the resurrection of Jesus Christ!
- This day reminds us that we as Christians have an historical basis for what we believe and that the Man that claimed to be God in the flesh, can be trusted for salvation.
- Today, you and I commemorate and celebrate a victory that the world doesn't understand, but that will once again, be forced to comtemplate.
- This afternoon, evening and week, you will be surrounded by family and friends that may be skeptical or perhaps, downright hostile toward the gospel.
- When you report that you came to church to worship the risen Christ, there may be a look that invites further discussion and if there is, I pray that this might help you declare the truth.
- This morning, I want to furnish you with three undeniable facts regarding the resurrection of Christ, in hopes that you might employ them in discussion over the next few days.
- The first fact is that the Resurrection Was A Predicted Event. Turn with me in your Bibles to Matthew 16. While you turn there, allow me to review the context for us.
- Jesus and His disciples have come to a place in the north of Israe called Caesarea Philippi. Jesus poses a question to His disciples that all men must eventually answer.
- "Who do you say that I am?" Peter, speaking by divine wisdom given to him, spoke up replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" Jesus, You are God's Messiah!
- With that established in the minds of the disciples, the Lord began to disclose some pertinent knowledge to His disciples that He hadn't previously shared.
Text
Matthew 16:21 : " From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. " : The Bible records Jesus explicitly speaking of His impending death and names the ones who will be responsible for it.
- He does not leave out the stunning fact of His resurrection from the dead on the third day! Curiously however, One chapter later and we find Him needing to repeat Himself.
Matthew 17:22,23 : " Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, 'The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men,   and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.' And they were exceedingly sorrowful. " : He is not being cryptic. He tells them plainly that He will be betrayed. Again, He will die and be raised up. You'd think that this would amaze and encourage the disciples. It didn't.
- They did not understand what was being said. All that they could wrap their mind around was the pain of losing Christ to death! They seemed to miss the news of the resurrection altogether!
- We see the third and final time just a few pages to the right.
Matthew 20:17-19 : " Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them,   'Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.' " : This is how He is to die: The religious leaders of Israel are going to deliver Him to the Gentiles.
- He will be mocked, scourged and crucified. Generally, you were scourged or crucified. Jesus was going to receive both, a signal to the wrath that God held toward our sin.
- Now, for the third time, the disciples are hearing of His resurrection! With the skeptical world, Jesus was less clear. He made allusions to His resurrection.
- For example, when Jesus created a whip and cleansed the temple, He was fulfilling Psalm 69:9, a Messianic scripture!
- Understanding that He was claiming to be the Messiah, they asked Him to furnish proof, a token or miracle that would prove the legitimacy of His claim. (John 2:18)
- Jesus looks at them and gives them the one sign that will prove His claims conclusively, saying, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up!" (John 2:19)
- Of course, the more famous prediction given to the Pharisees is found in Matthew 12.
- The religious leaders were running out of ways to discount, yet explain the ministry of Christ without endorsing Him as Messiah.
- They had, at that time, come to associate His work with Beelzebub, the Devil!
- Jesus logically refutes their ludicrous assertion: "Why would the Devil cast himself out?!" They can't believe He is their Messiah, so again, they seek a sign. Jesus has one for them!
Matthew 12:39-42 : " But He answered and said to them, 'An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. " : The generation that gazed upon Christ should have been able to discern who He was, but they were bent by their own prejudice.
- There was only one miracle that would be offered, which came from the historical life of the Prophet Jonah, who spent three days in the belly of the great fish.
- Jesus believed in the literal historical event and also in what the event pointed to. Like Jonah, Jesus Christ would spend three days, not in the belly of a great fish, but in the heart of the earth.
- Where Jonah was as good as dead, Jesus had been completely dead! The Lord let's us know that this pointed prophetically to His own experience!
- Indeed, all of scripture, the volume of the book, is written about Jesus Christ! This is what the Lord spends His time telling His downtrodden disciples on the day of His resurrection.
- Turn with me to Luke 24. This chapter records the famous "Emmaus Road" encounter. The unnamed disciples are caught by Jesus in a state of shock and unbelief.
- Jesus takes this time to correct their thinking and open their blind eyes opening their eyes to their own scripture!
Luke 24:25-27 : " Then He said to them, 'O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?' And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. " : What an amazing time this must have been! You guys are bummed out over an hour sermon on one section of scripture. Jesus did a "whole" Bible study!
- Jesus rebukes the disciples for their slow hearts! They knew the scriptures, but they were slow to believe! The scriptures that they grew up reading pointed to this very reality!
- The story of God's call to sacrifice of Isaac is a good example. We recently studied that Abraham considered Isaac dead for three days as they journeyed to Calvary! (Hebrews 11:19)
- That is a story written in the book of Moses. What about the prophets? Certainly, we have Jonah's account, but let me give you one more which was written by David.
Psalm 16:9-11 : " Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. " : The resurrection was a predicted event, predetermined by God to reveal His choice of Messiah!
- If Jesus did not resurrect from the dead, He would have no claim to be the Messiah, to be God incarnate, to be worthy of worship and certainly would have no claim to our hearts!
- With all of this scriptural precedent, it's a wonder that the disciples who had the best vantage point missed it! When they heard about the resurrection, it's likely that they "spiritualized" it.
- This brings me to my second point: The Resurrection Was A Physical Event. Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 27. Look who believed in the physical aspect of what Jesus was teaching.
Matthew 27:62-66 : " On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, 'Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by nightand steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.' Pilate said to them, 'You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.' So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard. " : The disciples should have been at the tomb and were not. Who was actually there? The skeptics, the religious leaders, were the ones that kept a watch over the tomb!
- They knew where it was and they dispatched their own detachment of Roman guards to stand watch over the tomb "until the third day!"
- The religious leaders expected a physical resurrection! A spiritual resurrection would not have caused the religious leaders any concern nor left the guards in a near catatonic state!
- That is what happened on the morning of the resurrection! These guards shook for fear and became like dead men when the angel came to roll away the stone that they were to protect!
- From there, we see numerous accounts of Christ being seen in various locales. The gospels mention over a half dozen people and their seeing wasn't merely a visible phenomena.
- Mary Magdalene, a woman who had been vexed with seven demons before Christ met her, was the first person to witness to the Lord's resurrection. She saw Him and was able to cling to Him.
- He had mass! He had a body! Certainly, it was enough of a human looking body to recognize, but it wasn't exactly the same as our human bodies.
- John 20:19 records the dinner that the disciples were having on that Resurrection Sunday. - They assumed that the chief priests would be looking for them soon, so they gathered in a locked room. They are gathered there together when Jesus simply appears among them!
- He says "Peace be with you." According to Luke's account, they were reasoning in their hearts that they were looking at a spirit! Our Lord's reply is found in Luke 24.
Luke 24:28-32 : " And He said to them, 'Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.' When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, 'Have you any food here?' So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence. " : He partook of food! Notice, He had to have some honey! I love it! These sightings were not short lived glimpses that can be discounted easily.
- According to Acts 1:3, Jesus presented Himself to the disciples repeatedly over a 40 day period of time, with many infallible proofs. In other words, He kept demonstrating His new body!
- And this wasn't something that was shared by the disiciples alone. Paul tells us that he was seen by over 500 brethren at one time, most of whom could be questioned! (I Corinthians 15:6)
- If I were to rank my favorite scene though, it would have to be Thomas, the Doubter.
- He was not with the disciples when Jesus ate this food. He kept hearing from everyone about it, but he had not experienced it.
- At one point, Thomas stood up in front of the disciples and proclaimed that he needed a specific test to believe it. John 20 records the scene for us.
John 20:25b-29 : " So he said to them, 'Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.' And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, 'Peace to you!' Then He said to Thomas, 'Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.' And Thomas answered and said to Him, 'My Lord and my God!' " : Jesus, in wonderful condescending grace, met Thomas right where He was. He graciously invited him to do what he proposed!
- Can you imagine what that moment must have been like for Thomas? The issue for the Lord was that He wanted Thomas not to be unbelieving, but to believe!
- And when Thomas physically put his hand into the wounds of the Messiah, he proclaimed that Jesus was His Lord and God! That is the point of the resurrection!
- Yet, as I close this section, the religious leaders armed with the knowledge of Christ's resurrection refused to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ.
- Here, Thomas is given the grace to believe. Christ is the Lord and He is God whether you acknowledge that truth or not! It's far better to acknowledge it now! Why do I say that?
- It leads me to our final point. The Resurrection was a predicted event. The Resurrection was a physical event. Finally, the Resurrection was a premiere event!
- Please turn in your Bibles to I Corinthians 15. When we use the word "premiere," we are referring to the first performance of a given act or play.
- In this case, Christ's resurrection is the first of a new type of life. This is Paul's meaning when he explains the significance beginning in verse 20.
I Corinthians 15:20-23 : " But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. " : Paul makes reference to the Jewish feast of firstfruits, which just happened to coincide with the same day that Jesus rose!
- It was an agricultural offering that the people brought to the Lord. Being early in the season, it was the first of the crops to come up and could have been the last!
- Their faith however, was that God would bring more to sustain them. This act then, was a symbolic gesture in which the believing farmer put his trust in God to provide more of the same.
- What is Paul saying? There have been many that have been brought back from death in the scripture. The Shunnamite woman's son in II Kings 4 was revived from death.
- A Syrian soldier was dumped into a hole near the bones of Elisha and he was raised from the dead in II Kings 13:21.
- Jesus raised the 12 year old daughter of Jairus in Mark 15:41 and 42. He also raised His friend Lazarus after a four day stint with death in John 11.
- These would have been the accounts of the resurrection before Jesus did what He did. In essence, Christ redefined the word, making what came before resuscitation!
- When Jesus rose, He did something that nobody else ever did before: He stayed alive, never to succumb to death again! That is the kind of life that He has made for all who believe upon Him!
- The resurrection is what explains the life that every believer lives!
- It explains why, like Paul, we will "fight beasts in Ephesus" (v.32), and be torn between living here for the sake of others and going home to be with the Lord. (Philippians 1:23)
- The resurrection causes us to re-evaluate everything that we once held dear and to look at it as loss and dung for the sake of Christ! (Philippians 3:7,8)
- It is why we refuse to soil our conscience before God, knowing that there will be a resurrection of the just and the unjust! (Acts 24:15,16)
- Jesus is the firstfruits from which all will be made alive and the forerunner leading us into the very presence of Almighty God! (Hebrews 6:19,20)
Conclusion
- Tell your friends that the resurrection was predicted by the scriptures a thousand years in advance, but Jesus several months in advance!
- God's Messiah had to suffer for His people's sin, but could not provide their salvation unless He rose again! Jesus alone can make the claim that He is worthy of our trust.
- Tell your friends that the resurrection was a physical event, witnessed by more people than was legally necessary to establish a truth!
- Jesus took a tour to convince His own brothers and sisters, meeting them where their faith could go no further, allowing them to touch Him, to know that He was alive!
- Finally, tell your friends that the resurrection was a premiere event which explains your life and choices, knowing that you will one day, you will be rewarded for a faithful life.
- In fact, you will want to tell them that they will also be resurrected and will have to answer the one question that matters: "Who do you say I am?"
- Is He the Christ, the Son of the Living God? Better yet, is He Your Lord and God? He rose to force us all to answer that and I pray your family and friends will answer well!






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March 31 2018

19:29

Good Friday 2018


Luke 23:34                 
Audio Access Available Above
“Our Priest And Sacrifice” • 3.30.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Good Friday Service
Intro
- Every year, we gather together on this Friday before Resurrection Sunday to contemplate the meaning of the death of our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Christ, Messiah of God.
- To set out to ponder the crucifixion of Christ will leave you in waters well above your head, which is why it's profitable to return to it year after year.
- This year, having just finished the book of Hebrews, I find myself beginning our contemplation with a thought that is framed in the ninth chapter. Allow me to read this to you.
Hebrews 9:24-26 : " For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. " : Jesus Christ is described here in the role of Israel's High Priest.
- Once a year, the Aaronic High Priest would enter into the Holy Of Holies on a single day.
- The Day of Atonement was set up by God to point forward to a great single sacrifice that would fully and finally deal with the sins of God's believing nation.
- In that respect, what we contemplate on Good Friday is our Savior's entrance into a dual role.
- He is our High Priest and at the same time our sacrifice! How did this work out? The cross provides the answer and demonstration. Let us look to the gospel of Luke, chapter 23.
Text
Luke 23:34 : " And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.' " : Jesus is now positioned between heaven and earth, suspended upon a Roman cross, nails pierced through His wrists and feet. On either side of Him are two convicted criminals.
- The scene is extraordinary from any view that you take it from. From a human perspective, a truly innocent man is suffering the violence due to a person that had committed great crimes.
- It wasn't 48 hours earlier that He taught in the Temple and was not able to be accused!
- As far as cruficixion itself, this was not a rarity. The Romans used crucifixion liberally to send the message of the serious repercussions due to criminal behavior.
- What was rare in the Lord's case, was that He had been flogged and crucified! Usually, either one resulted in death!
- Add to the fact that this man was paraded through the gathered crowd dressed in royal looking robes, complete with a crown composed of thorns affixed to His head.
- Generally, an audience that would view a crucifixion would watch in silence, understanding psychologically that justice was being served and that life was soon to end.
- Usually, one also sought to quiet themselves so as to placate the Roman authorities.
- This scene however was fraught with a perverse pleasure that was almost celebrated among those that were on scene.
- Matthew 27:30,31 notes that the soldiers spat upon Jesus and mocked him. Mark 15:29 reports that strangers who were passing by shook their heads at Christ and insulted Him.
- Even the two criminals that were crucified on either side of the Lord joined in the chorus! They both hurled insults at Him at the beginning of the event. (Matthew 27:44)
- To some degree, this might all be within the realm of expectation. Roman soldiers, strong, proud Italian men, given the responsibility to guard Rome would not suffer a would be King.
- The people who had heard Jesus, who were skeptical of His claims, likely thought privately what they were now yelling publically. "I thought you were a King?"
- It even sort of makes sense for the criminals that were being crucified to mock Him, both in order to show Him that He wasn't superior to them or to divert attention from their own shame.
- But, the real shocker here was the fact that the religious elite came out to relentlessly mock Jesus! Matthew 27:41, Mark 15:31 and Luke 23:35 all mention this.
- Can you imagine seeing me or any other Christian Pastors, standing near an execution sight, jeering and gloating over someone that was about to die?
- The hatred of the religious leaders for Jesus was greater than their hypocritical need to appear holy before the people!
- This was happening while Jesus was on the cross, but understand that these were only the latest insults! In the last 12 hours of His life, Jesus endured multiplied human offenses.
- He's been betrayed by one of His own men. He's been wrongfully accused, experienced a travesty of justice and been paraded in front of heathen leaders like a trophy.
- Here he is, beaten beyond recognition, nailed to a cross, virtually without any clothing before a world that He created and He says, "Father, forgive them!"
- Are those the words that you would expect to say if you had experienced only one offense?
- No matter what the world has done, it has not removed His confidence from calling God His Father! The law says, "Cursed is He who is hung on a tree" and Jesus will take on that curse.
- But here, He is our High Priest, dispensing forgiveness to the very worst of our human brothers and sisters! Because of what He was doing, forgiveness of their sins was possible!
- Indeed for some that stood there on that day, forgiveness was dispensed! A few hours after mocking the Lord, the thief that stood to one side confessed his belief in the Lord. (Luke 23:43)
- "Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom." This man is about three hours from his own death. With his last act of grace, Jesus assured him that he would be with Him that very day!
- This is the work of our High Priest, fulfilling both the role and exposing the heart of the Messiah! Do you remember the words of the Angel that announced His birth?
Matthew 1:21 : " And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.' " : There is no greater threat to you than the sin that you and I were born with and that we have allowed to reign in us.
- While that is true, the thief on the cross reveals to us that God's grace in His Savior is greater than our sin!
- This is our High Priest, standing before God, announcing His intention to forgive our sin. But what is the basis for that forgiveness?
- Without the shedding of blood, the High Priest can call for forgiveness and beg for mercy, but God cannot dispense it! This is now the time for Christ to become the sacrifice. Look at Luke 23:44.
Luke 23:44 : " Now it wasabout the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. " : Consider the experience of the Aaronic High Priest, who entered the Holy Of Holies on the Day of Atonement.
- Recall to mind that the only light source in the Tabernacle was the lampstand that stood near the entrance to the Holy Place.
- As the High Priest walked closer to the second partition, the light became increasingly less luminous. As the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies, the light was out completely.
- The Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God's throne, stood near the back of the room and the Priest was to sprinkle the blood upon the mercy seat. It was God and the High Priest alone.
- This is what is happening right here in history! The lights have gone out and our High Priest is bringing the blood of the sacrifice to the true altar!
- However, He's not bringing the blood of a lamb. He's offering the blood of THE LAMB of God, who was sent, not to cover sins as the average lamb did, but to take them away!
- We can't imagine what this moment was like for our Lord! Certainly, everything to this moment had been horrifying, but what happened here in the darkness even topped that!
- In those hours, nothing is said. All is quiet. There is disquiet and a divine silence that occurs.
- It was the same experience that the Aaronic Priest faced when the curtain closed behind him on the Day of Atonement. Jesus stood alone in the very presence of God.
- At the cross, the next sound that the world heard came in the form of a profound shriek from the middle cross. Matthew records this moment for us.
Matthew 27:45,46 : " Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' that is, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?' " : Can you imagine this? Living in an area such as I do, sometimes the silence can be deafening. When it is most silent, any noise serves to startle the entire house!
- This had to be blood curtling! All of a sudden, out of the darkness, the shrill, plaintive voice of Jesus Christ pierces the air. "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?"
- In that moment, Christ having fulfilled His role as the High Priest, now takes on the role of being the vicarious substitute, the sacrifice whose blood cleanses the sins of His believing nation!
- For the first time in all of eternity, the Son stood alone, separated from the Godhead. We cannot fathom the mystery of what occurred here or the loneliness that is expressed in His words.
- This was indeed the moment that Christ must have dreaded the most. When an Israelite brought their sacrifice to the Tabernacle, they were to extend their hand to touch the animal.
- In that way, they expressed an identification with the animal and faith that their sins were now transferred to the animal.
- At least symbolically, when you believe upon Christ, you have done the same thing: You have extended your hand toward Christ, identifying yourself as a sinner and Christ as your substitute!
- When Christ called out in the darkness this exchange had fully taken place. Your past, present and future sin was placed upon the Son of God. He bore it upon His shoulders!
- Every wretched act of sin, every horrific crime, every heinous action of every person who has ever believed or will ever believe upon Christ, was accounted to Him.
- Sometimes, it's needful to say this as well: It wasn't just our wretched sins, but our accepted sins as well. Our impatience at having to wait. Our petty disagreements that interrupt fellowship.
- Our godless priorities which reveal our idolatrous hearts. Our unwillingness to forego our fantasy lives. All of this was placed upon Him as well!
- He became the federal representative for all of believing mankind and God, whose holiness does not allow Him to look upon sin, turned His proverbial back upon Christ!
• " Ye who think of sin but lightly Nor suppose the evil great / Here may view its nature rightly, Here its guilt may estimate. Mark the Sacrifice appointed, See who bears the awful load; 'Tis the WORD, the LORD'S ANOINTED, Son of Man and Son of God. "            Thomas Kelly, "Stricken Smitten And Afflicted," 1804
- The Apostle Paul will later say that Jesus "became sin" for us. (2 Corinthians 5:21) In that moment, He faced the very full expenditure of the wrath of Father God against our sins.
- At the end of the 6th hour on the cross, Jesus completed the sacrifice.
John 19:28-30 : " After this, Jesus, knowingthat all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, 'I thirst!' Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, 'It is finished!' And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. " : Jesus did not remain upon the Cross for a single second more than was necessary.
- All was complete. Everything with the exception of two scriptures, had been fulfilled. Psalm 22:15 and Psalm 69:21 both speak of the Messiah receiving this bitter wine.
- And then, in perfect tone for all to hear, He cried out "It is finished!" The work is complete. The debt is paid. The business is fully transacted! He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
Conclusion
- As we come to the communion table, your High Priest, Jesus, offers a right relationship with God through Himself! He alone offers forgiveness and the promise of paradise to those that believe.
- He is able to offer this to you and deliver it because He is the sacrifice! His righteous life is the basis for God's ability to treat you graciously!
- "It is finished!" All that remains is for us to take Him at His Word, to thank Him and remember that this life is His to live through! Let's pray.  





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March 26 2018

05:50

Sunday Morning Service (Hebrews 13)


Hebrews 13                 
Audio Access Available Above
“Life Before The Shepherd” • 3.25.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- Chapter 12 left us with a command to pursue peace with all men and holiness toward God. The chapter closed with an awe inspiring portrait of holiness!
- The God of the Unshakeable Kingdom is a consuming fire, the Judge of all the Earth and the sanctifiying flame of His holy people.
- Because of Christ, Christians have passed through the fire of judgment and are exposed only to the flame of purification.
- This leads our author to these final exhortations for those that stand in fellowship with one another. In light of all that we have learned, how should the church act toward one another?
- That will be our theme as we close this book! Verse 1.
Text
Hebrews 13:1-3 : " Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also. " : Our author commands these Hebrews to keep loving the family of God and not to neglect hospitality.
- The church will always be known, first and foremost, by their love. A growing love for Jesus will produce a warm love for His family. You cannot say you have one without the other!
- In these ancient days, hospitality was one very important element of Christian life. When a traveler came into town from another church, finding a place to stay was not guaranteed.
- There were no chain motels and reputable inns were hard to find. The church furnished a place for their guests to stay and there was a blessing in it. Some had unknowingly received angels!
- The word "angels" speaks of messengers. Had members of the early church met with angels, supernatural agents of heaven?
- We've read of many such encounters in the Bible. Literal angels from heaven have visited men upon the Earth! Abraham, Lot, Gideon, Daniel and Peter could all attest to their reality.
- This word might also refer to a person with a special and timely message from the Lord! 
- Often, we don't expect much from conversations with people that we don't know, but in the Lord, there are good surprises! Sometimes, God speaks through the most unlikely souces!
- Speaking of strangers, don't forget the prisoners. They knew many from their own body that had been placed in chains for their faith. They weren't just imprisoned, they were mistreated, tortured.
- Think about them as if you were chained alongside of them. Put yourself in their shoes. Consider them because they are a part of the body of Christ! Your body is suffering their loss!
- This was more than a principle consideration. This was a practical matter, as Roman prisoners were only fed when their family brought them food. There wasn't a Roman chow line!
- Brotherly love means that you are one with them in Christ! Think about what they are going through and see how you can help provide or minister to them!
- We may not need to provide a room for one another, but we won't exist if we won't make room in our hearts for one another! The body must be a place of family love! Verse 4.
Hebrews 13:4-6 : " Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?' " : Marriage is esteemed, valuable, held in respect by everyone. Even today, who can keep themselves from praising longevity in marriage?
- Why does he write about this? There were many in the early church that wondered whether they should be married at all given the imminence of Christ's return.
- The Apostle Paul addressed a similar consideration in I Corinthians 7. Our author here is letting them know that God's view is high and what happens in the bounds of marriage is beautiful.
- The marriage bed is an ancient euphemism for marital sex, which God says is undefiled. Some translations add in the phrase, "and let the marriage bed be undefiled." Either is true.
- God has set aside sexual relations to be an exclusive blessing to those who are in a legally tendered, state recognized, heterosexual, monogamous marriage.
- Anything that promotes pleasure between a man and wife, that which is for the sake of the other partner's pleasure, is unspoiled. That said, there are some things that would spoil it!
- Any kind of pornographic material would spoil the mind of at least one of the two partners. Any involvement from another person would also be out of bounds, as that would be adultery.
- Anything that requires one of the people to be disrespected or dehumanized in any way would spoil the heart of God's intention for inventing sex.
- The marriage bed is pure, so please, keep it pure! Those that abuse sexual expression, or that involve themselves with others that are not their spouse, can expect to meet God as their Judge!
- That's why you should live your life without wanting something that isn't yours! That is the essence of indulging any pleasure beyond it's proper use! Our defense is contentment.
- Be satisfied with what you have! Want what you have so that you have what you want! But what happens when you don't have anything? You have God and that is enough!
- Our author quotes from Deuteronomy 31:6,8 and Joshua 1:5.
- There is nothing better in life than to live in the Lord's favorable presence! Do you want something that is outside of what you have in Him? Be careful what you value.
- For those that have Him, we can boldly proclaim that we have His help as the author of Psalm 118:6 did. The Psalm in question is not accredited to David, but it sure sounds like him.
- Verse 5 describes a man that has called upon the Lord in a time of distress. The Lord rescued him, putting him in a broad place, leading him to praise the Lord, his help!
- One has to wonder about the context of this particular section. Marriage is honorable and the only vehicle through which sexual expression can be practiced.
- Were there singles that were struggling with this new ethic in the church? Undoubtedly! The Lord will be with you and He will be your help! Trust Him!
- Be content with what state you are in and wait for Him to bring a partner that loves God more than He or she loves you! Until then, He is with you and He is your help! Verse 7.
Hebrews 13:7-9 : " Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried aboutwith various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. " : This is a command: Hold these people in your memory. The idea is to consider them as you live. Keep them in mind that "rule over you."
- We get our word "hedgemony" from this Greek word which relates simply to leadership.
- Where does that leadership come from? How is it expressed? Through the Word!
- They have been speaking the word of God to you! In these days, Pastors stood in front of the whole church, young and old as they assembled together, in the same room.
- Today, there are Sunday school teachers, home fellowship teachers, men's and women's teachers who are leaders because of the word and because of their faithful life!
- The church is to imitate it's leadership, all the while, watching to see what their conduct produces. Are they at peace? Are they continually growing spirtually?
- In some, one could even ask by virtue of their death, "How did they die?" And when it comes to a ministry model, where do they look? They look at the One that never changes!
- Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever! His character is consistent and inasmuch as the leadership follows Christ, they will be consistent as well!
- Consider these connections. Right belief about Christ is will rightly govern our life. He is the aim by which we mark our conduct! Because He never changes, His standards never change!
- It's no wonder then that right next to this verse comes the strong admonition not to stray from proper teaching! "Don't be carried about with various and strange doctrines!"
- The idea is to be driven around, transported from place to place by all varieties of foreign teachings. This is always a plague within the body of Christ.
- The young, immature, impressionable believer takes everything at face value. If it's in a Christian bookstore or another "Christian" recommends it, they take a deep dive based on trust.
- How many have been led astray by those that peddle such nonsense? Before that young believer knows it, they have embraced an unorthodox view of God and the Bible.
- Because they filled their mind with it early, when the actual authority of God's Word contradicts their sentimental attachment, somehow, it's the Word of God that is wrong! Outrageous!
- Instead of renouncing that foreign teaching, eventually they bounce to the next teaching that "connects with them." Our author is telling the Hebrews now, "Don't let this happen to you!"
- "It's good that your heart be established, strengthened, confirmed by grace!" Your stability in Christ will be relative to your comprehension and embrace of God's grace!
- The teaching of grace, the unearned, unmerited favor of God which produces the character of God is the only ground for a Christian heart to grow successfully in!
- Water that seed! Promote that health! Invest in that reality! Don't let your heart be uprooted to these foreign teachings, especially what had been sweeping through the church.
- Your heart can be established by grace, but not by "meats." There are some translations that regard this as "cermonial eating." Generally, this is a call to abstinence.
- Most of the time, when meat is mentioned, it spoke to the prohibition of eating non-kosher foods, which, if you did, put you into a right relationship with God. What weakness that is!
- The only thing that comes from proposing such an idea is spiritual arrogance!
- Here, though, there is an idea that in a certain kind of ceremonial participation, one would be granted greater access to God. People within the church had become occupied by this idea.
- The author informs us that this was did nothing for them! They weren't spiritually enriched for buying into it. In fact, they were missing some critical information. Verse 10.
Hebrews 13:10-14 : " We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. " : This statement in verse 10is wonderful. The Jews had done much to mock the faith of this young Christian community.
- Our author has an inspired comeback: They can't even eat from our altar! They have no right to it! They have no access to it! They seem so powerful and enabled. They aren't allowed in!
- Jesus Christ has given access to His brothers, His sisters and the food there is for them!
- Think about this: The Temple is meant to be a place where God's people could come to bring their offering to Him and yet, when Christ came, a trip to the Temple was dangerous. "Kill Him!"
- Where were the bodies of the animals disposed of that were a part of the sin offering? The blood had been brought in to the temple, but the actual animals were burned outside of the camp.
- In the same way, our Lord's blood was shed outside of the gates of the city! His blood sanctified, cleansed His people from their sin eternally, apart from the Temple!
- In fact, He suffered outside of the city, on a hill call "Golgotha," which today can be viewed from a nearby bus stop!
- Jesus was born outside of Jerusalem. He died outside of Jerusalem and was buried outside of Jerusalem. Our entire faith then is centered on a Man whose life was outside of Judaism!
- What we value in redemption history cannot be found inside of the Temple! The Lord Jesus is not honored in the Temple. Why we would want to spend any time where He is not central?
- It's better to endure the insults from the same people that crucified Him than to seek their approval! These Jews who honored the Temple but rejected Jesus, had their city.
- You and I, Christians, have no city to call our own. Like the people in the hall of faith, we are strangers and pilgrims on this planet, seeking a city that is to come! Verse 15.
Hebrews 13:15,16 : " Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. " : Remember that Jesus is our High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek. We will offer through His Priestly office the sacrifice of praise.
- This is to be our continual practice as we gather together. We lift our voices to increase that volume of praise that the Lord receives weekly from His people!
- Our sacrifice will never be a blood sacrifice because His blood is sufficient for all time.
- Part of why we are spending eternity with God is to properly express the gratitude that we will have when we discover the full meaning of our eternal life.
- That should be growing in our lives now! We should be learning to give God thanks now and to act toward others as He has acted toward us!
- Give Him thanks, but do not let it be only with words. It must also include actions! Don't forget to do good and to share! These are the sacrifices that please God the most! Verse 17.
Hebrews 13:17 : " Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. " : Back in verse 7, our author told his audience to "remember" those that rule over you. Now he adds the word "obey."
- The command to obey must be put into the context of the realm of their job description. No leader is meant to exert absolute rule over the life of the congregation.
- In the 70's, this verse and many like it, were used to birth the "Shepherding" movement. In those churches, people allowed their Pastors to dictate what they could and could not buy!
- When the Pastor is proclaiming the Word of God, the church is obey and submit, to yield themselves to the Word of God! This isn't for their ego or on account of their superiority.
- God has set the leadership of the church up for the purpose of keeping watch over the souls of the congregation. The word that is provided here speaks of watching over another as they rest.
- While the member of the congregation rests in their life with Christ, the Shepherd keeps their attention upon what is coming up in that person's life and how their choices will shape their future.
- He cannot make a person make a proper choice. Some will not consult him and will simply walk in any way that they choose.
- When that goes bad, that Shepherd will be there to redirect their eyes to Jesus. Either way, the leaders of the fellowship will one day stand before God and give an account of how they led.
- This is why the author pleads with the congregation. They could either be a source of joy in trusting that sovereign oversight or they can be a source of grief!
- Literally, the word for grief expresses the idea of groaning! When your name comes up, will it be a joy to report your growth or a groan that indicates your stubborn resistance to the Lord?
- The former brings profit to both as they enjoy the work of the Lord together. Ultimately, if they are your leader, be spiritually considerate and cooperate with the Lord! Verse 18.
Hebrews 13:18,19 : " Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably. But I especially urge you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner. " : Don't you wish we had the rest of the story here? Whoever our author was representing, it was certain that they needed God's help!
- Whatever their predicament was, they felt that they were on the right side. They lived before God and thus, they lived rightly before men.
- The Apostle Paul made a similar statement before the Roman procurator Felix.
- He said that it was his to strive to keep a good conscience before God and men! (Acts 24:16)
- Their greatest concern was to return to this group as soon as possible! This is what they hoped that their prayers would affect. Verse 20.
Hebrews 13:20,21 : " Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in youwhat is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. " : Our author reveals his prayer for them: "I pray that God would make you what they ought to be." You might think, "That's a difficult task!"
- The author knows you. It's not difficult. It's impossible! But not for the One He prays to!
- Not for the God of peace, an exclusive name that Christians experience. Not for the one with the power to raise Christ from the dead! It's not difficult for the ultimate Shepherd of God's sheep!
- When you wonder why it is that God will do this, look no further than the blood that was shed for you! It's an everlasting covenant that God has made with His children!
- He won't pay the ultimate price and then leave you unfinished! He will finish what He started, doing in and through you, that which is pleasing to Him!
- We've noted before that the word "weight" refers to the marketplace, and the price that was assigned to certain items. The "glory" represented the actual value!
- When your life is submitted to God and is expressed through your love for His people, your life will be a part of the added weight to God's claim of eternal value! Verse 22.
Hebrews 13:22-25 : " And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words. Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly. Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you. Grace be with you all. Amen. " : Our author is begging them: Please pay attention to what he's taken the time to write! It's just a few words! This is the truth friends!
- We have spent a short time in what amounts to a theological Mount Everest! Believe me when I say that we have taken "the short tour!"
- And when it comes to the subject of the book of Hebrews, "the Superiority of Christ," there could be an unending barrage of words employed that would still yield insufficient results!
- If you don't feel that way, then the book of Hebrews must be read and studied again! Christ is more magnificent than the entire Bible can possibly convey, though it is enough for us to trust!
• " Could we with ink the ocean fill and were the skies of parchment made / Were every stalk on earth a quill and every man a scribe by trade / To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry / Nor could the scroll contain the whole though stretched from sky to sky! " Frederick Lehman
- Oh brothers and sisters, please revisit this often! Please steep yourself in the contents of this book! Think about Jesus. Think about His superiority to everything else!
- Know that He is the only secure King and Priest, who is worthy of your trust!
- At the time that this was written, Timothy was about to be freed from a time in prison. There are many hints in this book as to who the author is not!
- This is one place that I might say speaks to that. Paul would have called Timothy his "partner" or "son." Our author was a fellow worker with Timothy, likely having been trained by Paul.
- In fact, it's likely Paul that communicated the gospel to him, as he announced in Hebrews 2:3. Whoever he is, our author planned to join Timothy if he came soon.
- He finishes this epic letter with a greeting to the leaders and all the saints. He was in Italy and the saints that were with him sent their greetings as well! May grace indeed be with us all!
Conclusion
- Love the family of God. Open you heart to them when there is a need and be ready to serve when they are in trouble.
- Honor your marriage. Be thankful for what you have in each other. If you are single, you have the Lord! He will be your help as you wait upon Him in holiness!
- Submit to and pray for your leaders. Be a source of joy to them as you imitate their faith and walk with the Lord, thanking Him that He has set a watch over your soul.
- Do this all knowing that the Shepherd of your souls will make of you what you ought to be! He will never buy something that He doesn't intend to complete! Let's pray!


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March 19 2018

05:46

Sunday Morning Service (Hebrews 12:14-29)

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Hebrews 12:14-29         
Audio Access Available Above
“The Course Of Holiness” • 3.18.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- This book has provided a relentless theological assault upon the collective sense of the Jews who were listening. By this time, they more than likely agree that Jesus Christ is superior.
- But if He is superior, they wondered, "why are our lives so difficult?" "Why can't our family understand? Why aren't we victorious over the Roman regime? Why must we suffer?"
- Our author has offered them an inspired commentary, which we considered last week. The Christian life must be seen in the light of an athletic race. We must endure to the end.
- To do so, we must shed unneccessary weights and practices that hold us back and we must see the difficulties in life as a training tool in the hand of God for our benefit.
- Be singular in your efforts. Attend to the lane that you have been put in, in order that you might avoid injury, while also providing a path for the next runner after you!
- If that is our perspective, what is our present aim? What is our rule as we run? Our run is meant to be governed by the standard of holiness. What does that look like? Let's begin in verse 14.
Text
Hebrews 12:14 : " Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: " : When we consider the life that God requires from us, the particular race that we are to run, we are tempted to subscribe to goals that are quite lofty.
- Our author, conveying God's thoughts on the matter, relays a much more simple set of goals. "Pursue peace with people and holiness before God."
- This is written as a command in the present tense. God commands us to continually pursue peace with all people as well as to continually pursue holiness before God at the same time.
- Listen to some of the other translations of this word "pursue." "Work at" living in peace. (NLT) "Strive" for peace. (ESV) "Make every effort" to live in peace! (NIV)
- Each of these words reflect an attitude which requires personal determination on our part. It is our responsiblity to run swiftly toward the goal of living peaceably with everyone around us.
- What is this not saying? It is not saying that you need them to agree with you. Our author is not advocating that you have a familial type relationship. Just work at being at peace with them.
- Make it your aim to make others feel at ease around you. This applies inside as well as outside of the church. This is our goal with those that agree with us and those that do not.
- The former is admittedly an easier assignment. The second requires a far greater commitment. Both require work on our part and wisdom for our hearts.
- What about those that will not live in peace with you? You will find that there are times when peace between two people cannot be established.
- One may decide to remain at odds or even openly oppose you. Even in that circumstance, we are given the command to search for peaceful relations. Listen to the Apostle Paul's take.
Romans 12:18 : " If it is possible, as much as dependson you, live peaceably with all men. " : It's interesting to me that these two commands are placed so near to each other.
- On the one hand, our relationships with our fellow men should be peaceful, but we must do so while pursuing holiness! We are not to violate either goal.
- Pursue peace with all men but never at the expense of pursuing a character that pleases God! Too often, we are guilty of neglecting the one while claiming the importance of the other!
- "If I'm to live at peace with all men, then I must agree with and endorse their sinful position." That misses the mark. Others say, "I can't agree with any man until they think like me!"
- May the Lord give you wisdom to see things differently by the power of His Spirit!
- Holiness does not require an "either/or" response. We are able to dwell among sinners and maintain a life that's pleasing to God. Just ask Jesus, who was able to navigate the waters!
- Our problem is that we lack an understanding of what holiness is. When something is "holy" or "sacred," we know that it is only to be used for certain occasions.
- I must learn what it means to pursue peace, but never to compromise my holy position! "I can support you this far and then for the sake of my conscience, I need to take my leave!"
- Please remember that this is God's command and as per heavenly policy, He never commands where He doesn't also empower!
- Each of us will continually learn as we walk in this world, but the consequence for a lack of holiness is quite staggering: Without a pursuit of holiness, we will not see God!
- A person whose life is not continually expressing holiness cannot hope to see God. There may be a secondary application to this that the author intends.
- How can a person see God in your life unless you are exhibiting a holy character? How can that person recognize the Lord without your character being conformed to His?
- Before we head into the next section, a Christian's race was never meant to be run in private! There are people that must see Jesus and that will only happen as you live before them!
- With that goal in mind, what attitudes and actions work against a holy life? Verse 15.
Hebrews 12:15-17 : " looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. " : "Looking carefully" is taken from the word "episkopos," which means "one who oversees." It is both an office in the church and a work.
- We who are members of Christ's church must constantly look out for for one another.  Why? Because there is a concern that some might miss out on the grace of God.
- Think about what the author has been saying. These Hebrews have been living under the chastening, training hand of God. They have much to endure and much to follow the Lord in.
- These people need grace! Certainly, it must be the consistent message of the church that salvation is entirely afforded to any person by the grace of God!
- In this instance, however, the word "grace" denotes a gift of help. Nobody here should "fall short," to come in late to receive, the gift of God's help!
- Nobody can run their race without a signifcant portion of God's help given primarily through His Word or through His people, their fellow runners.
- How many come in ready to quit? They don't share or present themselves as having any difficulty because nobody wants to look "weak."
- That's why we need to look carefully to see if anyone needs the grace to continue on! That's why we must do more than simply show up regularly! We must be on the look out!
- We need to be concerned about our fellow brothers and sisters, in order to help guard against bitterness. We have to look beyond the superficial to the root level!
- The Christian road is difficult and those that miss out on God's grace often give into bitterness, which isn't a slow growing plant. It's an out of control weed!
- Once it grows in the heart of a brother or a sister, that bitter root rarely stays isolated! Soon the entire body is damaged and defiled, spoiled, by it! One bitter soul tends to discover another!
- The church was to watch for these subtle signs as well as the more overt signs of sin.
- Bitterness will defile the church and so will sexual immorality. Sexual immorality biblically is any sexual expression outside of the bonds of legally tendered, heterosexual marriage.
- As for profanity, it is far more than the language you'd consider profane.
- It's a person without any consciousness of God and thus, lives a life outside of righteous boundaries. Esau is a perfect example.
- The birthright in the ancient world was connected to spiritual authority. The one who held the birthright was responsible to lead the family in the Lord. Esau had no concern for such things.
- He did however want "the blessing," which was concerned with the financial inheritance. He wanted the stuff, but he didn't want the responsibility to live before the Lord!
- He was happy to part with his birthright for a cup of stew and only wanted a blessing after he had been rejected. How many attempt to dwell in the Kingdom with the same attitude?
- Many want to claim the blessing of God upon their life, but they have no desire to live under God's authority! It doesn't work that way and the church is to stand against that notion!
- When Esau cried before Isaac, he didn't cry because of his condition before God. He cried because he did not get the blessing that is intended for the one with a birthright!
- Do you hear the message that God is giving the Hebrews? Don't let unholiness be the aim of your life? There is no blessing for those that will not first assume the spiritual responsibility!
- We are called to holiness and that choice means that we seek out our brothers when they need help.
- We guard the hearts of those who are downtrodden and we confront those that refuse to conform to God's established standard for behavior. Verse 18.
Hebrews 12:18-22 : " For you have not come to the mountain thatmay be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darknessand tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded: 'And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.' And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, 'I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.') " : Our author is reminding them of the importance of pursuing holiness and being careful not to allow unholiness in their midst.
- He recalls to their minds the scene which took place when their ancestors reached Mt. Sinai. - Exodus 19 records the full account. It took Israel three months to reach the area and three days to prepare themselves to meet the Lord.
- Thebase of the mountain was off limits to everything on penalty of death!
- On that third day, the Lord descended and our author describes an apocalyptic scene.
- The mountain before them was suddenly ablaze with fire! Everything else was blackened and dark before their eyes. Imagine the sight and consider the sound!
- A great windstorm arose in their ears, mixed in with the sound of a trumpet. Exodus 19:19 tells us that the trumpet sound grew progressively louder!
- As terrifying as all of that was, it was then that they heard the voice of Almighty God!
- At that time, you didn't have Joe Hebrew standing up in the back, trying to get to the front, to "give God a piece of his mind!" It's amazing how bold we think we are!
- In fact, the Hebrew people "begged," the language indicating that they actually kept begging not to hear the unfiltered voice of the Lord! It was too much for them! They couldn't take it!
- Consider these words: "They couldn't endure what was commanded." The idea conveys the carrying of a burden.  
- They didn't have the strength to carry the burden associated with that single commandment of the Lord! They knew that to get close to the mountain brought death. The archers were ready!
- It seems however, that at least mentally, they couldn't handle the reality that this one commandment brought upon their lives! And it's not as if Moses was doing much better!
- Moses admits in Deuteronomy 9:19that even he could not stand it for the terror that he felt! That's their fearless leader friends! That's the man that all of Israel held in near reverence!
- He trembled in fear before the Lord! Thankfully, this is not the mountain that you and I have come before! We have been invited to a much more beautiful mountain. Verse 22.
Hebrews 12:22-25a : " But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. " : Hebrews, you have made your journey to Mount Zion, the city of the living God and His uncountable angelic horde!
- The real beauty of the call to Mount Zion is that this is where the mass gathering of all the members of the Hall of Faith are gathered! This is the church of the firstborn!
- The author is telling us that all who inhabit the halls of heaven are treated as firstborn children! They are all the symbol of God's strength and the recipients of a double portion inheritance!
- I love this next part. We aren't just going to drop in. This is no accident! We are expected! There is a registry! We are enrolled! That word is written in such a way that it conveys finality.
- They who have been enrolled in the past will always and ever be enrolled in heaven!
- We are coming to where God, the Judge of all, dwells and where His righteous ones have completed their journey! Sinful men who have become justified men have become glorified men!
- Those that died holding onto their faith, have risen in the presence of God, never again to consider the sufferings that have just passed!
- They all died in weakness but awoke in a new body that will never, in any way, lose it's strength! And the first person that they cast their eyes upon is Jesus!
- Jesus, the Mediator, the go-between, the arbiter of this new covenant, whose blood speaks a superior word to that of Abel's! This is a very strange verse. What does Abel's blood speak of?
- When God confronted Cain after he had murdered his brother, He reported that Abel's blood spoke to Him from the ground. (Genesis 4:10)
- Throughout the Bible, the concept of "crying out" speaks of a call to God for justice. Certainly, that is what Abel's blood called out for.
- In that respect, Christ's blood speaks a much better word! He served the penalty of God's justice perfectly and eternally when He absorbed the wrath of God upon Himself on the cross!
- His blood speaks now to the world, the words of the gospel. The blood speaks of His mercy, forgiveness and grace, all of which are available to the infinitely ill-deserving!
- That is what He continues to speak to us today! Our author warns them, "Do not reject Him who speaks with the wonderfully warm and inviting words!"
- The same God that appeared to Israel at Mount Sinai is now calling us to join Him at Mount Zion! This is where we find our hope in holiness!
- We haven't been called to a mountain of fear leading to fear. We have been called to a mountain of hope and perfect love! That is the fuel for our holy race! Verse 25.
Hebrews 12:25b-27 : " For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, 'Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.' Now this, 'Yet once more,' indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. " : Our author is setting up a pair of contrasting items. The people of God received the first covenant at Mount Sinai. They were impressed by Him, the refused to obey Him.
- Their story, as you recall, is fraught with unbelief in spite of the wonderful miracles that God presented to them. Religion, law possessing, did not effectively make them holy.
- In fact, it was 40 days later when they were caught in an idol worshipping frenzy by Moses when he descended from the mount! (Exodus 32)
- In spite of God's patience with Israel, eventually, these that had been given the law, experienced the judgment of God. That first generation died in the wilderness.
- You can take it further and speak of the generation of the Kings and the people of Israel that were sent into Babylonian exile. None who disobeyed God's covenant escaped His wrath.
- If that was God's response to those that received that "earthly" covenant, what will be the response if a heavenly covenant is rejected?
- God's voice shook the earth at that time and He promises to do that again, not only here, but in the heavens! What is He referring to? Please turn with me to Haggai 2.
- The context of this passage deals with the "building" of Zerubabel's temple. By all accounts, it was a humble rebuild or re-organization of the rubble that had been left by the Babylonians.
- What would you expect from a poor group of displaced nationals who are just returning from 70 years in Babylon? They were tasked with rebuilding the Temple and to their credit they got to it.
- But it wasn't glorious. Those that were old enough to remember Solomon's Temple looked upon this renovation with tears and not because they were happy! This had to be discouraging.
- This is when God speaks to His leader in Haggai 2.
Haggai 2:3-9 : "   Who is left among you who saw this templein its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing? Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the Lord ; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the Lord , ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’ 'For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations,and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.' " : Essentially, God is telling Zerubbabel that the work he is doing will outdo the work done for Solomon's temple because of who will visit this temple!
- Jesus, the Desire Of All Nations, will present Himself in this temple and His arrival will shake the foundations of Judaism forever! The use of this passage here is so full of irony.
- Remember that Herod had only recently restored their Temple, which rejected Jesus by virtue of it's continued sacrificial system!
- That temple must have seemed so permanent, but God is telling them that from the time that Jesus presented Himself in that Temple to the end of time, a rumbling and shaking has come!
- The presentation and subsequent rejection of the Messiah set a course for shaking that will literally culminate in the complete destruction of the known universe!
- Anything that you attach yourself to on this Earth, including that which is connected to Mount Sinai will be completely dislodged!
- For those that were listening to this, consider this further point of irony: Their Temple was about to be razed to the ground by Titus Vespasion. They are minutes away from that!
- If the source of your holiness cannot withstand the shaking of God, you had better find a more stable fountain!
- The only thing that that could apply to is that which exists in heaven, the covenant from Mount Zion! Verse 28.
Hebrews 12:28,29 : " Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we mayserve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. " : Our author is telling his audience that those who are in Christ are currently receiving the unshakeable Kingdom!
- It's not a far off thing. The principles are growing within us by the intake and application of His Word! Our love for and loyalty to the King is growing by the day!
- Because that is the present reality, let us have the grace of God's help to serve Him in a manner that He finds pleasing, with respect and dread! Why? Because of who He is!
- He is a consuming fire! He is a devouring fire! Gratefully, in Christ, His holy fire of judgment has come to rest upon Christ.
- Only those outside of Christ will experience what it means to be consumed by God. For those inside Christ, that fire burns off the unholy parts of our lives and purifies us as we walk with Him.
Conclusion
- Our holy race is marked by peaceful relations with all men and a holy walk with God. Our holy help comes from the God of Mount Zion, from the city that cannot be shaken.
- Let me ask you: Are you serious about personal holiness? Are you concerned with the holiness of the family of God? Friends, our God is a consuming fire!
- He is our help and as we live in holiness, that fire is a benefit. If we choose not to live in holiness, that fire is there for another purpose!
- If your name is written in heaven, I join the author of Hebrews and the Holy Spirit in saying to you: Live your life like it!



March 15 2018

23:49

March 12 2018

05:24

Sunday Morning Service (Hebrews 12:1-13)

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Hebrews 12:1-13          
Audio Access Available Above
“A Matter Of Perspective” • 3.11.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- The museum curator, the author of the book of Hebrews, has just closed the hall of faith behind his tour group.
- There are many who are standing there who are proud of their heritage. Several are nearly shocked by what they had never known before the tour started.
- All of them are impacted by the implications: "If these godly heroes of the past lived in such a way without having seen the promise of Messiah fulfilled, how shall we live, who know His Name?"
- They don't have to wait long! Our author is standing at the lectern, ready to put it all into heavenly perspective! Verse 1.
Text
Hebrews 12:1,2   : " Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. " : The Old Testament saints were marked by a faith response toward God. "We also" have been marked by faith!
- The Hebrews were to be the next exhibit pieces! It was theirs to provide the world with ongoing testimony to the reality of a faith relationship with God through Jesus Christ!
- By extension, "we also," living 2,000 years removed from our brothers and sisters, are the next ones to exhibit to the world what it means to live by faith in the Savior!
- We cannot avoid that reality. There is an innumerable host that stands around us, not to watch us from a heavenly set of bleachers, but to encourage us from the pages of scripture.
- We might complain that our age is too advanced to begin serving the Lord. Abraham whispers to us when we read Genesis, "I was 75 when I got started!"
- We say, "But I can't walk another moment!" Enoch flies off the page and informs us that 300 years goes by awfully quick when the Lord is by your side! It's indisputable!
- In light of this great cloud of witnesses that surround us, we are to be resolute in our actions moving forward. Before we move though, we must cast off certain items.
- The tense of the words, "cast off' appear to relate to a settled position. There has been a decision in the past and there remains a commitment in place to set these items aside.
- There are some that may group the two items together. Sin is indeed a weight to carry.
- I would suggest however, that we have two categories before us. There are the "weights" and there are "sins." "Weight" can refer both to physical weight, as well as a "training" weight.
- Our author is about to call us to the starting line of a race. Before a person gets there, he has made a decision to go forth into the race physically, personally unencumbered.
- With regard to their own body, athletes do the necessary work to lighten and strengthen their bodies. They have limited their caloric intake and have maximized their muscles.
- In the life of faith, there must be a similar life of discipline. Is my spiritual diet healthy? Am I limiting unhealthy viewing and listening?
- If I am person given to anger, I might not be doing myself a favor by ingesting a steady diet of radio talk shows. If I struggle with sexual sin, it'd be good for me to avoid suggestive movies.
- On the other hand, there are actual training weights that a runner must leave behind as well. These are good items to train with, but would not be desirable to run with!
- I would ask myself this: "What good freedoms and liberties do I have that might effectively drag upon me?" For a Christian, the mentality must be central to the activity.
- A Christian cannot settle for what is "ok" for them. They must ask themselves if their current action is what is best and most productive to do in light of what they must do!
- There are habits, recreational activities, priorities that require constant evaluation, not by the question of their inherant evil, but by their potential good! "Is this encouraging my growth in the Lord?"
- I have the freedom to have a drink, but I never will. It won't help me compete. I have the freedom to engage with online arguments, but I won't. It's drags from my energy!
- Feel free to keep your body and your training weight on. Just know, that you will not likely be happy with the outcome! You will have made your own race a misery! Consider the second category.
- Sins are known offensive actions against the will of God and there are some that are blatantly obvious and categorically condemned. You know that you aren't to murder or to steal.
- Our author's meaning is much more nuanced. Look at how sin is described. It is something that easily ensnares us. This phrase is widely translated and the results are helpful.
- The KJV calls this "besetting" sin. The NIV and the NASB both concur that it is the "sin that entangles us." The ESV calls it the "sin that clings so closely." This starts to come close to it.
- A final translation for us to consider: This is sin, according to J.B. Phillips, that "dogs our feet." You get the idea that this is something that we have become used to carrying around.
- "It's not that heavy. It's something that I have to carry!" The problem is that it's clumsy. It keeps falling in front of our feet. It keeps impeding our forward progress. What is he talking about?
- For the Hebrews particularly, there was an unhealthy attachment to their culture, which bred in them, a fear of men. That might not be particular to us, but we can come close.
- Many of us were raised with certain ideals, which, within our specific cultures, may have been tolerated or even celebrated.
- A person in the world might say, "That person is a fighter. They never give up or give in!" The world applauds. But, as the person comes to Christ, this characteristic becomes problematic.
- This person is stubborn and unteachable. Perhaps you can think of many other cultural comfort zones that you have tolerated in your life.
- These are the things which you might blame on your genetics or your family history. "All of us have acted this way!" There is a resignation to it's existence and dominance in your life.
- This is exactly what the author is telling the Hebrews to decide to cast aside! My culture, my character predisposition and my identity must not clash with what Jesus is doing in my life!
- Hanging onto that kind of "respectable" sin besets your course, entangles your legs and dogs your feet! And the sin won't have a difficult time doing that!
- The idea behind the word "entangles" is to skillfully cut off a competitor. For every strategy that I have, that sin has a counter strategy. It is inevitable. If I carry it around, it will entangle me!
- The Hebrews had given up too much ground to their non-Christian counterparts. They had let the fear of man dominate their response to God!
- Perhaps you need to stop excusing your "irish" temper or your "scottish" lack of generosity,  and embrace the Christian call to set them aside! It will be difficult, but it is in our power to choose!
- "Let us cast off the unnecessary weights." "Let us cast aside the cunning sin that surrounds us!" God never commands His children to do something that they cannot do! The question is our will.
- Once that is decided, we are to run at the pace of endurance! Our running in this spiritual life will not be marked by speed, but by perseverance!
- Your goal as a Christian is not to outrun another or to run in a fashionable way. Your goal is simply to finish, which can only be accomplished when one runs with perseverance!
- "Endurance" conveys the idea of moving one foot in front of the other with a determination which will not be hindered. It "keeps on keeping on!"
- Of all the characteristics that I wish to find more of in the body of Christ, it is perseverance! I have lamented it's lack greatly in these last years!
- If a person is going to follow Christ in this life, they will have to get over their own feelings as quickly as possible and determine that nothing will shake them from their course!
- That is the general necessity that is laid before every believer. Notice now the specific condition: "Run with endurance the race that is set before you!"
- There is a specific course that has been laid out before each individual church and person. There was a specific course that the Hebrews had to run and it was full of danger.
- There is a course that we need to run together as part of the same church, and a course that must be run personally! We don't choose it for ourselves. It has been laid out before us!
- For the Hebrews and for us, each race will take place within a certain context of time and temperature for or against the gospel.
- Think about what it must have been like to minister during King David's reign? A holy King on the throne, insisting upon righteousness throughout the land? A seeming cakewalk!
- Compare that with Elijah's or Jeremiah's time, when neither man knew of many others that were willing to listen to God's ways!
- The Hebrews that were listening to this knew that their race was held in a hostile, "road" environment, with very little encouragement to be found.
- I'm sure you who have been running for some time can relate. It is a long race and it's not really ever an easy one! That is why our author directs our attention to Jesus!
- This isn't a casual glance but a continual gaze. Christian: Jesus Christ is your point of reference. Commit to keeping your eyes upon Him!
- The Hebrews had been looking at everything else! "Look at what they are doing." "Look at what I am doing!" Our author reminds us to look at the One who has run and is done!
- To fix our eyes upon Jesus is essential, especially because we are following Him to our shared destination! Remember that the writer calls Him "the Forerunner!?" (Hebrews 6:20)
- He knows where He is taking us because He is both the author, the Pioneer, and finisher, the perfector, of The Faith! He began this work in you and He will complete it! Look at His example!
- We have mentioned that we are run the race that is set before us. Let our author expand our vision. Let us run like Christ who ran with His goal ever in mind!
- Jesus kept His gaze upon the joy that was laid out before Him. He fixed His eyes upon the completion of His Work and the satisfaction of His Father.
- That was so valuable to Him, that He was able to endure the shame that accompanied the cross and thought nothing of it in light of where He was going! Consider that example Hebrews!
- He went through the greatest suffering that anyone can imagine and has now settled Himself in the presence of His Father! That is where you and I are headed! He continues in verse 3.
Hebrews 12:3-8 : " For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: 'My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord , nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.' Ifyou endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. " : Our author commands his readers attention. He commands them to "consider" Jesus.
- The word is a compound of two words, the second of which is the accounting term we looked at last week. Essentially, we are to weigh sufferings against those that Christ suffered.
- This is not meant to minimize our suffering. What we have to deal with is very real and difficult. However, our perspective can often be, especially in isolation, a little overblown.
- Our author wants us to taper our expectations and measure our suffering against what Christ suffered! Christ ran toward the finish line in spite of opposition from sinners that stood against Him.
- Hebrews, you are not alone! Ponder that truth before you become sick in your heart and despondent in your mind! We would want to give up if our Founder had not set the tone!
- And what had they suffered? In the present moment, they had been questioned, ostracized, perhaps even mocked. Had they endured a beating for their struggle against sin?
- Had they even received a bloody nose for the sake of following after the Lord Jesus Christ? The question is not meant to mock them, but to shake them back into reality.
- We don't have it easy, but compared to Jesus Christ, none of us have it hard either! Besides, it seems that they have not recalled to mind the scripture that is meant for them.
- Our author is quoting from Proverbs 3:11,12. He reminds them that the context of this particular proverb is related to Solomon's son.
- "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord." You and I think of "chastening in one way and that is synonymous with the corrective discipline of a Father.
- That is a part of the truth, but the word relates itself to the intention of that correction.
- For example, an athletic coach that orders more repetitions after practice is chastening his team. He is educating their bodies for what he knows will be their experience.
- Whatever suffering God is allowing in their life is related to that purpose!
- Solomon's son is to know that he isn't to think lightly about the training hand of the Lord! He is not to faint when the Lord shows him his deficiency! Why? Because it is a signal of God's love!
- God only orders more experience for the members of His team, the family that He loves! He won't discipline anyone that isn't His!
- Their experience wasn't punitive. God was not punishing them or forsaking them. Their fellow non-Christian Hebrews seemed to have it easy at this moment. "They don't belong to me!"
- God has allowing them to endure what they were, to allow the experience to teach and temper them! In that way, they are going through the school of God's wisdom.
- There isn't a good Father on earth that doesn't act this way toward his children. The author says that if you haven't experienced it, you are not His child! Verse 9.
Hebrews 12:9-11 : " Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. " : When our Fathers imposed this sort of discipline on us, we respected it, especially when we were old enough to comprehend it.
- How much more should we submit ourselves to our Father, the Father of Spirits? How can I not bend my knees to His wisdom? Think again of our Father's discipline.
- Remember that their discipline didn't last for an interminable amount of time. They disciplined us for "a few days." Literally, it's a "puny" amount of time.
- Relative to our entire life, what percentage of your life did the discipline of your Father occupy? I am not referring to an abusive Father, but a gracious and good Father.
- Even being generous, for example, let's say he disciplines you for every minute of your first 18 years. Let's say that you live for 80 years. That's still only a quarter of your life!
- Second, the discipline was in line with a good purpose. It seemed best to them. The word refers to pleasure and it's not that they derive pleasure from your suffering.
- There's no pleasure in the process but there is in the goal! They believed that their discipline would effect a good outcome for the one disciplined. They knew it would enrich and better our lives.
- For you and I as the children of God, we will be partakers of a spiritual benefit: His Holiness!
- We aren't being groomed for behavior modification. We are being groomed to reflect the holy life that comes from him! That does not come to us without pain!
- The peaceable fruit of righteousness, "the peaceable harvest," will bring you far greater joy than the pain you experience now! That doesn't grow naturally.
- It comes to the ones that have been trained by it! "Trained" comes from the word for "gymnasium." These that receive a peaceable harvest have been in the gym of God's discipline!
- Your current experience, as difficult as it is, reveals God's intention to work you out! Verse 12.
Hebrews 12:12,13 : " Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. " : Now that you know that God is training you for a peaceable harvest, let's pick up our weary hands and weakened, sickened knees!
- He commands them to level the path before their feet, so as to maintain optimal health in our joints. It's a beautiful metaphor for the type of determination that a believer needs in this world.
- I am sure that Satan is somewhere, tripping someone up. However, most of the time, we are busy tripping ourselves up by not attending to the paths before our feet!
- If your path is cluttered before you, you'll soon find your feet and ankles out of joint. It'd be better to smooth it out so that you'll be healthier for the long haul.
Conclusion
- Our author has done his best to give his readers the proper perspective. They have been entered into a race that has been held in every life since Genesis 4.
- It's an endurance race that will be much easier without unneccessary and unhealthy weight. It's overseen by the Lord, who knows what hurdles will best train His people for all He intends.
- He knows it's difficult. He has run the same course Himself. He ran it while looking to the great joy of being the first to make it home!
- Now, Jesus Christ sits there waiting for His brothers and sisters to finish their course and join Him in His rest! Sometimes, all we need is a little perspective!


March 05 2018

04:22

Sunday Morning Service (Hebrews 11:17-40)

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Hebrews 11:17-40      
Audio Access Available Above
“The Deductions Of Faith” • 3.4.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- Our text is known as the "Hall Of Faith." When it was penned, it was our author's intention to review the history of redemption with his hearers, to illustrate that the "just" have always lived by faith.
- Faith is the foundation for what we expect and the confidence that accompanies what we can't explain. It's founded on specific content, agreement and commitment.
- In that respect, the actions of these individuals are incredibly rational, quite unlike the modern conception of faith. That seems to be a special part of our passage today.
- How does a person act in life when he or she factors God into the equation? Let's continue our journey at verse 17.
Text
Hebrews 11:17-19 : " By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, 'In Isaac your seed shall be called,' concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. " : Abraham was willing to follow the Lord to an unknown locale earlier in his life. One would think that this would have given him a pass! That is not the case.
- Decades later, God purposed to inspect his faith by commanding him to offer up Isaac, the one and only son in whom all the promises of Messiah would be fulfilled!
- Faith must remain current and it's testing is necessary to refine it. Christians live from faith to faith. It is never "outgrown."
- Abraham's faith pertaining to Isaac wasn't merely his own predisposition to consider Isaac special. God had specifically spoken to him! "In Isaac your seed shall be called!"
- This was a personal word of assurance and it is recorded as scripture in Genesis 21:12. Understand that all of this background knowledge is necessary and indeed pivotal to his response.
- Isaac was quite literally a miracle baby, born from the faith of Abraham and Sarah. He holds within him the hope of the nations, in which the entire Earth will be blessed!
- When God called Abraham to act, the Patriarch intended to go forth, having come to a conclusion. Our word "logic" comes from this Greek word.  
- It's the term that an accountant would use in the presentation to a family regarding the reality of their actions against the reality of their accounts.
- Abraham added up the facts and was forced to conclude that if he were to sacrifice Isaac, then it had to be that God would raise him from the dead!  "He has to live!"
- This commentary then, shows us that his decision to sacrifice Isaac was based upon his belief in the resurrection! He walked with Isaac to Moriah for three days and considered him dead!
- But as he and Isaac left the servants, he asked them to remain, stating that they would both return! (Genesis 22:5) When God stopped the sacrifice, Isaac's life was returned to Abraham!
- He had received him from the dead in that respect. For the Hebrews, they had to consider this against their own circumstances.
- Our author is saying, "Even if God has to do something unheard of, He will do it to fulfill His promise!" Our faith lets us know that even death cannot annul the promise of God! Verse 20.
Hebrews 11:20-22 : " By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones. " :  It was faith that caused Isaac to bless both of his sons.
- This story is quite convoluted, especially because it seemed that Isaac was intent upon blessing Esau instead of Jacob.
- Esau was the natural choice, being Isaac's oldest and most favored son. The culture demanded that the eldest receive the blessing, but God had clearly appointed Jacob.
- When Jacob stole the blessing by deceit, Isaac trembled with fear, realizing at that moment that he could not fight against God, so he gave a blessing to Esau that reflected Jacob's dominance.
- God overruled the Patriarch's wishes and put Israel into the position of election!
- Later in Jacob's life, on his death bed, Jacob responded the same way. He blessed the younger son, even while Joseph, the second in command of Egypt protested!
- Jacob understood his objection, but knew that he was declaring God's way! That was the lesson that he had learned and even the reason that he leaned upon his staff!
- God had wrestled with him and put his hip out of socket! He worshipped the Lord, acknowledging on his staff, that God's decision to bless Ephraim over Manasseh was right!
- And then there was Joseph, who literally prophecied about the Exodus four hundred years in advance! When they left, he made sure that they took his bones with them.
- Joseph declared, "I want my body to be where God is! Don't leave me here in Egypt! I don't want to be associated with this world!"
- Faith caused these men to buck tradition, to choose contrary to culture and famliy. What a message for these Hebrews to hear!
- A faith response to God is often going to put you on the wrong side of tradition and culture.
- That is the way it has always been! These men are glad they went with God's way! Verse 23.
Hebrews 11:23-27 : " By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command. By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures inEgypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. " : Our author moves into Exodus and the life of Moses, whose parents, Amram and Jochebed, were people of faith.
- Every person who has the blessing of believing parents, is thankful for the heritage that is left to them. For Moses, their choice to believe God was the difference between his life and death!
- Their faith caused them to defy the order of the Pharaoh to drown each of their sons in the Nile River!
- Imagine a pregnant Jochebed and a stressed out Amram trying to figure a way out of their situation while she carried their son, who was a born beauty! This is a terrible translation!
- There are various translations, ranging from "proper" to "unusual." The NIV uses the phrase, "no ordinary child." When used of an adult, the word refers to polished manners.
- It's very likely that Moses was an unusually compliant and quiet baby. Every parent knows that this is a gift from God! They figured that this wasn't simply a coincidence. God made him mild.
- That's why they hid him! By faith, they hid their infant for the first three months of his life! Don't think for a moment that that faith was wasted on Moses.
- At a certain time in his life, Moses made a similar choice to his parents. They set the tone.
- Moses could not be what he was intended to be while living in the luxury of Pharaoh's daughter's home. He knew he wasn't an Egyptian from heritage or worldview!
- He refused to be known as her son! That choice alienated him from his adopted family and set him right into the pan of suffering that God's people were enduring!
- Faith always means leaving something to move toward something else!
- The way he saw it, it was present reward and eternal suffering or present suffering and eternal reward? Which would he choose? Hebrews, which would you choose?
- For Moses, his faith led him to choose to suffer affliction now and to forsake the passing or fleeting pleasures of sin.
- He said, "I'd rather have what comes with the insults hurled toward Messiah, than to have the empty pleasures of Egypt!" To him, it wasn't even a question!
- It would have been sin for him to seek to save himself from the suffering of God's people. That would have been to put a greater value upon the riches and treasures of Egypt.
- The world's treasures are ever before us and the temptation to choose their comforts now is real. Those who do are forefeiting the treasure that will long outlast any worldly pleasure!
- How did he come to this decision? By looking to the reward! He kept the eyes of his soul on the wages that were promised to him by God! He lived in the present by seeing clearly his future!
- That's why he was able to forsake Egypt! He saw his reward and he saw Him who is invisible! - There was a profound pressure that came from that which was visible to him. The treasures, the comforts and the Pharoah. Moses lived by seeing past all of that!
- He made His decision, knowing who was truly worthy of his fear! Verse 27.
Hebrews 11:28-29 : " By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. " : Once again, you would think that Moses could sit the first passover out! His last act of faith in Egypt was to observe the first Passover.
- Even he, the leader of the Jews, sprinkled blood upon the doorpost knowing that it was the blood that would save his own family! He obeyed knowing that God doesn't make exceptions!
- He certainly makes distinctions! Look at the Red Sea. One nation passed through as if on dry land, quickly, without much attending struggle. The other nation drowned in the attempt!
- When you read the passage, you won't find tremendous faith in the people of Israel, but the little faith that they had led them to safety. Verse 30.
Hebrews 11:30,31 : " By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. " : As our author moves from the Penteteuch to the book of Joshua, his intention is clearly to establish practice.
- The elders, the "Prebrews," the Patriarchs and Moses all gained God's approval by faith. In Joshua's time, the story line continued.
- Now, instead of a person having faith, we see the effect of faith through an entire nation!
- Jericho was the first city that Israel was to attack and the battle plan was admittedly unorthodox. The people were to encircle the city by marching around it once, silently, for 6 days.
- On the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times and on that day alone, the Priests were to blow their trumpets and the people were to shout aloud.
- At that time, the Lord told Joshua that the walls would fall flat before them. (Joshua 6:1-5)
- Imagine the faith that it took for Joshua just to relay that plan to the waiting warriors!? And it seems from our text that it took seven days for their faith to grow.
- There is a lot of confusion regarding the balance between faith and the work of an Almighty God. Jericho was doomed to destruction by God.
- He could have employed a thought or a feather and those walls would have crumbled! He chose instead to march His people around the city. Why?
- Something in the repitition brought faith into full flower. A collective whole believed that God was at work. It did not happen right away because God's people are rarely convinced quickly!
- If you wonder why you must continue to attend to your faith, it is because without tests, trials and walls of stone before you, your faith would be the casualty!
- God brought Jericho's walls down and God's people were allowed to participate in His work by faith! Along those same lines, the harlot Rahab had her life spared because of her faith!
- Rahab's home was built into the walls of Jericho! The world was literally crumbling around her, as her home stood it's ground on that day of judgment.
- Faith in the God of Israel was the difference between who lived and who died! That remains an unchangeable fact. Faith in God is very much the dividing line between death and eternal life!
- How did Rahab come to her faith decision? It wasn't a leap! In Joshua 2, you can see a woman that has been watching the story develop from the morning headlines of the Jericho Gazette.
- She has been watching the news for 40 years! She knows about the Red Sea as well as the current events of Israel's defeat of Sihon and Og! Listen to her confession in Joshua 2:11.
Joshua 2:11 : " And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. " : Rahab rightly interpreted historical events as being directed by Israel's God and she trusted Him! Verse 32.
Hebrews 11:32-35a : " And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. " : Our author could go on and on because the entirety of the Bible is built upon the faith relationship between the righteous ones and their God!
- He provides here a simple synopsis of what faith accomplished through these people.
- It's fascinating to me, especially here, but throughout all of the "Hall of Faith" that God calls these flawed people faithful. Abraham was a liar. Moses, a murderer. Gideon, a coward.
- Barak wouldn't go into battle without Deborah. Samson. Well, you know how he loved his women! Jepthah had a big mouth. David was an adulterer.
- Samuel is the most pristine of them, but even his kids were not trustworthy enough to take his place! I don't bring this up to shame these men.
- The Bible plainly presents our heroes with all of their warts! This doesn't preclude God from working mightily through them!
- In II Corinthians 5:21, the Apostle Paul tells us that when we come to Christ, all things become new and old things pass away. This is illustrated well here.
- God chooses to remember what faith produced in the lives of these men and women. And what a list! Look at the victories that accompanied their faith!
- What oppressive Kingdom could stand before the people of Israel? These men and women did what was right in the sight of the Lord and received great promises from the Lord.
- Think of some of the predicaments that God's people were in. Whether it was natural, the use of lions or fire, or if it was the proximity to the enemy's blade, by faith, these escaped unharmed!
- When they wanted to quit for the sake of their own weakness, God turned that into strength and saved the day, ridding Israel of her foes. Think of the many men who went out to these battles.
- In almost every one, there was an inequality that was marked, not by numbers, but natural comparison! Their enemies "were like locusts," or "as many as the sands on the seashore!"
- The men left to fight thinking that they were as good as dead and their wives thought the same thing, until they looked out the door after the battle!
- In many instances, the men, presumed dead, didn't even look as though they had been in battle! That's because God had fought the battle for them!
- These are such wonderful stories, but being filled with faith doesn't always end happily for the one with faith. Verse 35.
Hebrews 11:35b-38 : " Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted,were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. " : For as many stories of victory where the valiant comes home, there are just as many stories when the faithful goes home! Were they less faithful? Not for a moment!
- These remained faithful to God through torture, refusing to be ransomed. Why? So that they could obtain a better resurrection! There is something better than having your present life restored!
- There were those that were brought before tribunes, only to be mocked and beaten. Some were led away as prisoners and were never freed.
- Their last vision was of a stone coming their way. Their last experience was the cutting away of their flesh, laying their lives down to a heathen's sword.
- They wandered around, seemingly in the same way that a vagabond does and dressed in much the same way! These men of faith were destitute, literally arriving too late.
- All of the resource was gone when they showed up. How does that affect a person? These were afflicted. The word speaks of being pressed in upon and plagued with anguish.
- The world that watched them thought that they were nothing, but from the Lord's perspective, it was the exact opposite! The world was not worthy of them!
- These were men without proper homes, living out away from the comforts of the cities the ministered near. Quite a picture, isn't it!? Verse 39.
Hebrews 11:39,40 : " And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. " : When you think about the exploits of these heroes of the faith, consider that they lived this way on promise, on speculation.
- Whether in victory or in the last moments of life, everything that mattered to them was in front of their eyes and invisible to the rest of the world.
- They were commended by God but did not receive the promises given to them in the course of their lives. Even here, we are even more highly favored! We were given something better!
- They had, and were, heroes of the faith. We have what their faith pointed to: Jesus!
- They had a good covenant written on stones by the hand of God. We have His covenant written on our hearts!
- They had a great High Priest who oversaw the sacrifices of millions of animals. We have a greater, more efficient, eternal High Priest, who is both the single offering and the Mediator!
- They sought a Messiah. We look back in history through the lens of the New Testament and see THE Messiah, Jesus Christ! They knew His title. We know His Name!
- They won't be made perfect apart from us! Said another way, all the benefits that are theirs in Christ, had to first be ours in Christ!
- The access, the peace, the love, the redemption and the inheritance has been apportioned to us and them! They died without fully understanding what is plainly ours to receive today!
- What a statement to make! To think that we have the privilege of knowing intimately the Messiah who they only believed would one day come! That is astounding!
- And yet, may I also mention what a rebuke this was to the Hebrews! It's as if he is saying, "They did all that we have just talked about without the benefit of knowing what you know!"
- How can we not be at least as faithful as they were!? We have no excuse!
Conclusion
- Faith sees the reality behind the visible, values the future over the present and is willing to add the facts up to trust that God plus nothing is everything! It was true for them.
- Will it be true for you? Will you value what God values when you can't see another way naturally? When it opposes your thinking culturally?
- May He give you and I the grace to experience what it means to live by this faith!

February 26 2018

05:44

Sunday Morning Service (Hebrews 11:1-16)

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Audio Access Available Above
“What Is Faith?” • 2.25.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- Imagine the Hebrews sitting in a large living room area, gathered much like yourselves. That famous quote from Habakkuk 2:4is still ringing in their ears.
- "The just shall live by faith." Those who have a right standing with God will continually conduct their lives according to faith. Our author doesn't let them sit without an explanation.
- There will be no need for individual interpretation. The entirety of chapter 11 will be spent in Biblical restrospective! The Hebrews won't have to look far for their example and neither will you!
- The entire Old Testament is filled with men and women who embodied faith! Our author leads us through the gallery, stopping at each work of God's art, and offers a timely explanation!
- Our passage is all about faith and it will proceed like this. We'll see
I. The Definition Of Faith (v.1)
II. The Deeds Of Faith (v.2-12)
III. The Destination Of Faith (v.13-16)
Text
I. The Definition Of Faith (v.1)
Hebrews 11:1 : " Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. " : Simply put, faith means "to trust." Contextually, we are referring to believers in Christ, whose trust is in God. How does one learn to trust God?
- The Reformers helped to clarify this in the 1500's by noting that biblical faith is comprised of three components. The first component, they called "notitia."
- In order to trust God, you must first be aware of specific knowledge or content regarding His person, which is discovered exlusively in the pages of scripture, the all sufficient, divine revelation.
- The scripture presents a transcendant, creative, omnipotent and holy God that has opened a single way of approach to Himself, namely the person of His Son Jesus Christ!
- In order to trust the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Godhead, you must understand what it is that they reveal of themselves. This leads to our second component, which is "assensus."
- Faith is built upon agreement with the claims and terms of God, discovered in the Bible, first by acknowledging our sinful state and then by believing in Christ's perfect and vicarious state.
- If faith is to be born in my heart, I must confess that I agree with God on these, His terms. I'm sorry if this seems obvious. Unfortunately, our society proves otherwise.
- People claim to believe in God, but upon further examination, their "God" is a god of their own making, whose character is foreign and opposed to what the Bible presents!
- That god generally agrees with THEIR terms, meaning of course, that they ultimately worship themselves! That "god" doesn't exist and it is powerless to save you!
- On the other hand, there are many who are aware of the facts about the true God and even agree that His claims are righteous. But they are not saved.
- There will be many who live in hell for eternity who held the proper knowledge of God in their heads and agreed that His terms were righteous, but that failed to grasp the final component.
- That third component is "fiducia" or commitment! The concept is simple to understand. You have come to know and agree with the God that you live your life in submission to!
- The faith of Christ that is born into the heart of a regenerate man, sees the Word as His guide post. He hears of an action and either wants to repent or see it born through His life!
- Faith means that you have put your life into the hands of God Almighty and have surrendered your right to direct it! You have come to trust the one that you know and agree with!
- That faith is saving and substantive. Faith is "the substance." The word speaks of a substructure or a foundation. Quite literally, the word seems to refer to "something to stand upon."
- Indeed, faith is what a Christian stands upon with relation to the future! Faith is the foundation for what we expect to be! "Hope," biblically isn't a wish that we desire to come to pass.
- It is an expectation that is growing and becoming more sure as the days pass!
- Faith is substance for our future expectation and the evidence, the proof for that which cannot be seen!
- There is a deep seated conviction of truth that can only be approached by faith. Truly, seeing is not believing. That is the world's maxim.
- They cannot believe until they see. Biblically speaking, the Holy Spirt conveys the truth that we will not see until we believe! Believing is to see!
- Listen to the NLT's rendering of verse 1: "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see."
- Have you ever considered that your faith is both the seat of your confidence for the future and all the evidence that you need for the past? That is the essence of what it means to have faith!
- That being the case, what does faith affect? How does it live! Let's begin our tour! Verse 2.
II. The Deeds Of Faith (v.2-12)
Hebrews 11:2,3 : " For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. " : Faith has always been the standard of measurement in the Kingdom of God! Consider your elders.
- This is a colloquial way of referring to the people of ancient times that walked with God. These are the people that met with and knew God well before there was even a Jewish nation!
- Remember, technically, there are no Jews until Abraham's children are born. Everyone we are about to speak about faithful men and women who were non-Jews!
- They were commended for their faith. They received favor with God through their faith.
- These men lived before the law was written and faith toward God brought them into a right relationship with Him! There has never been a difference!
- God justified them by their faith as they looked forward to a Redeemer that would rescue them from their sins. We look back and identify their Redeemer and ours as Jesus Christ!
- Where did their faith journey begin? Exactly where yours begins! We who have faith consider the Universe to be the Creation of God! God framed the worlds!
- The sense is that He joined the universe together by His own word, by fiat, without organizing pre-existing material. The Latin theologians have given us the phrase "ex nihilo."
- God created all that can now be seen out of nothing and is sustained by that which even now, with our most powerful scientific instruments, cannot be seen!
- The Bible begins with a supernatural event, which apart from faith, is virtually impossible to believe! Think of the scientists who exist to mock this? You won't have to look far!  
- I am often asked if I believe that God created the World, as He says, in seven literal days, merely by speaking it into existence. What other choice do I have? My faith demands my affirmation!
- If I question His ability to perform that, how can I accept that He has the power to do anything else that He says?
- Furthermore, if I refuse to take Him at His Word here, where do I begin to trust His Word later? Is He not the same One who claims to be able to save me from my sins and for eternity?
- The one statement is as unbelieveable or believeable as the other! If I believe that He has lied here, what makes me think that I can trust Him there?
- The balancing point is faith and when I can accept statement one in Genesis 1:1, I can accept any statement after that!
- The Hebrews have to be listening to this as a matter of confrontation. Our entire Universe exists by the power of God's hand. He holds all of that together and has called us to relate to Him!
- "Consider His power to orchestrate something beautiful without pre-existing material! If He holds that together, will He not also maintain your life and fulfill His promise?" Verse 4.
Hebrews 11:4-6 : " By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, 'and was not found, because God had taken him' ; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. " : When you examine the contents of Genesis 4, you will wonder what the difference was between Abel and Cain's sacrifice.
- Both are acceptable before God, in terms of their being prescribed by the law later in history. But in this pivotal moment, God accepts Abel's sacrifice and rejects Cain's. Why?
- Here is the only biblical answer. Abel's was offered by faith! Cain and Abel were both informed of the role that sacrifice would now have between humanity and God.
- They agreed to that and brought a sacrifice. However, only Abel was committed to act in light of it! He saw this act as an extension of what he believed.
- His was deemed superior by God, who accepted His gift, pointing to the fact that he was righteous! He was a man that God looked at and accounted righteousness to!
- Even though he died at the hands of his brother, his faith filled action still resounds! The message is loud and clear: God responds to this kind of faith and so does the religious world!
- Those that have sought to approach God in a way divorced from faith have always turned their agression toward the faithful!  Abel was murdered by His brother.
- Is it any surprise that they would be persecuted now? Abel's life was lost, but his testimony remained! Our author moves onto Enoch whose life is covered in Genesis 5:21-24
- Here is a man that is given exactly three verses in scripture, about 50 words of summation and he has a message.
- Enoch had children at or around his 65th birthday and it seems from the text, that he began walking with God during that time. Children have a way of making a man call out to God!
- Enoch is distinct in his generation as a man that did not die, but that was instead taken by God because he pleased Him. Where does he get that information? Look over with me at Jude 14.
- Keep in mind that at Enoch's time, the Messiah had not even come the first time! Look at his message, captured by Jude.
Jude 14 : " Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, 'Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.' " : Enoch was the first to prophecy of the Lord's second coming! Enoch pleased God and our author makes it clear in Hebrews 11:6.
- Faith is the pre-requisite condition necessary to please God! "Without faith, it is impossible to please God!"
- For Enoch, it is described for us in the next phrase. He believed in God's present existence and that He is the One who pays out wages to those that are consistently, currently investigating Him!
- "What does He want from me today? Who does He want me to share with? What priorities am I to adopt?" This is the language of faith which expresses an urgency to discover His desire!
- How long should one do this? Enoch is one who lived this for 300 years when God took Him!
- The Hebrews wondered how long they would have to wait for the promises of God to take effect. If Abel taught them that faith out lived death, then Enoch taught them that faith can outlive life!
- The faith that God gives to a person is potent enough to bring a man into right relationship with Himself and to sustain Him until He brings him home! Verse 7.
Hebrews 11:7 : " By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. " : Noah had never seen a flood. There hadn't even been a significant rainstorm in Noah's time! When God told him one was coming, Noah didn't flinch.
- He immediately took action with reverence for God! The ark which he built, a DIY project that took him the better part of a hundred years to complete, became the vessel of his family's salvation.
- At the same time, as the frame stood night and day, that same ark, the visual representation of his faith, stood as witness to condemn the ancient world! The irony is thick.
- You can't see faith and faith must act based on what is unseen. What can be seen, the result of our faith, not only saves us, but serves as a witness to a watching world!
- What are the Hebrews thinking at this time? The world thinks our faith is ridiculous. Our families think we are crazy!
- Do you think Noah was ridiculed and put to shame while he continually attended to making an ark for an event that had never been seen? Every person that walked past laughed him to scorn!
- When Noah proclaimed the word that the work pointed to, nobody believed and they were thus condemned to perish in the flood!
- For Noah's part, he gained an inheritance that is reserved for the ones who live out their faith. The world will ridicule you and mock what your life is building, but it will save you! Verse 8.
Hebrews 11:8-12 : " By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a childwhen she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. " : Our author's mind has brought him to Genesis 12 and the call of Abraham, the man that God called to leave a known place for an inheritance in an unknown place!
- Abraham didn't know where he was going. God did not tell him and he went out! It was his faith that caused him to live in Canaan with his children and grandchildren.
- That was the place that God called his family too, but he dwelt there in a tent because that country was not his home! His faith caused him to wait upon the eternal city that God dwelt in!
- This is a particular point about faith. When you begin your journey, you believe that it's about a place. Eventually, you realize that it's about a person!
- I want to be in the city that is built and put together by God Himself! That is what Abraham realized he wanted more than a place to settle in!
- This world was not meant to ever feel like home! "Hebrews, are you listening!?" Are you trying to make a home somewhere that isn't where He is? Biblical faith won't be satisfied!
- We generally consider Abraham as the Father of the faith, but there had to be a Mother!
- Abraham didn't have faith for the both of them. Sarah had to exercise faith as well! God had promised Abraham a son and later clarified that it would actually come through Sarah's body!
- You will remember the story that is recorded for us in Genesis 18. God arrives at Abraham's tent and reminds the Patriarch that he had promised a son within the next year.
- This seems to have been God's way of reminding them that this was not going to be a matter of divine intervention! There would only be one act of Incarnation!
- Sarah had to cooperate recognizing that if this was going to come to pass, God would have to do something beyond her body's capability.
- However these two worked that part out, Sarah was empowered to conceive, knowing that while she was old, her age wasn't enough to counteract His faithfulness to His own word!
- "She judged Him faithful!" By one old woman and one man that was as good as dead, God brought the entire Jewish nation into being!
- Notice his descriptions: They were as many as the stars and as innumerable as the sand! This was what God promised would be the case! He used those exact descriptors!
- Would the Hebrews take the advice of their Mother? Would they judge the Lord faithful to bring about His promise despite their current circumstances? Better yet, will you? Verse 13.
III. The Destination Of Faith (v.13-16)
Hebrews 11:13-16 : " These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them,embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. " : These stories were marked by faithful response to God and longing expectation. None of these, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob, lived to see the promises fulfilled.
- Not one of them received the things that were promised to them but their faith allowed them to see the fulfillment off in the distance.
- The concept is that if they could only live long enough, they were confident that they would reach it! For their part, they walked in confidence and "embraced" the promises.
- This word speaks of saluting a dignitary or paying respects by arranging a visit.
- These men and women greeted the promise from afar, knowing that they couldn't stay, excusing themselves with the agreement that they didn't belong on this earth!
- They were foreigners, not citizens. They were pilgrims, not settlers. They were far from home but were on their way home!
- To even acknowledge that in their actions made a statement to the essence of our faith.
- The life that they led made it clear that their heart was to find a place to live that was ever before them, not behind them! There was nothing there to satisfy them!
- Verse 15 is a stinging rebuke to this group of Jewish believers! Of all the people that could have gone back, they had every chance to return. They didn't. Why?
- Because they sought a superior country! When you think of the word "desire" consider this definition applied to the lives that they led : "To stretch oneself out in order to touch!"
- The word is written in the present tense. They lived their lives reaching for the boundaries of their new home! What a contrast to those that were in the audience when this letter was read!
- They were meandering along the road, confusing themselves as to which direction that they might want to take! Their predecessors had no such confusion!
- And God's verdict upon their life was the proud proclamation of relationship! God says, "Those are my people! I am their God!" How has He made this declaration? By His action!
- He has prepared a city for them! He has reserved a place for them in the city that He oversees, the city of righteousness! It's the city that your faith desires!
- It's the land that you are living for. It's the not yet visible but completely viable, almost tangible world that you know you will inhabit!
Conclusion
- What is faith? It is confidence. It is evidence. Our future is known and our past is explained.
- What does faith do? It sees the invisible, speaks the impossible and sustains the immovable! Faith responds to God's invitation without needing to know where it might lead!
- And where does it lead? Faith leads us to long for our heavenly home, where the Builder and Maker is God the Father! All we have to do is wait!
- May the Lord grow our faith proportionately to that end! Let's pray!


February 19 2018

05:28

Sunday Morning Service (Hebrews 10:26-39)

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“In Just A Little While” • 2.18.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- From the beginning of this book, our author has made an impassioned plea to this Jewish church not to turn back from following Jesus.
- Jesus is superior to Judaism's heroes. He is greater than any of their institutions. He offers and delivers a more sure hope and future for any that trust in Him.
- Chapter 10 has offered a more definitive close to his argumentation. We learned in our last study that the Father could not be satisfied with the offerings of the Levitical system.
- The Son, therefore, offered His body and the Holy Spirit declared that there was no longer a need for sacrifice! Imagine the shock to the Jewish mindset!
- Since we aren't living to offer an appeasing sacrifice to God, what are we to live for? Our author answers. We are to draw near to our Savior, holding tightly to what we have believed!
- While we do that, we are to focus our attention upon our brothers and sisters in the faith, not forsaking the opportunity to gather together, especially as the Day of Christ's return approaches.
- The question remains: "Why is communion with God, commitment to doctrine and consideration to our family in Christ so vitally important? Our answers begin in verse 26.
Text
Hebrews 10:26,27 : " For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. " : If we sin willfully. This entire book has been written to a singular group of people. These are Jewish Christians living in the shadow of a refurbished Temple.
- By extension, I might add that any person who has come to saving faith in Jesus Christ is entered into this "we." We are a part of this group. If then, we sin willfully.
- The idea is to do so voluntarily, of our own accord. This is not an act where one has simply missed the mark. This is an act of their volition.
- This is where the tense of the verb helps. It is written in the present tense. If we are currently in the act of sinning now willfully.
- This is a matter of repeated practice, which is made far more egregious by what it is coupled with. Ignorance is one thing, but this scenario has a group of people sinning against knowledge!
- If this group decides to pursue a sinful course, having a precise and correct knowledge of the truth, they are putting themselves in grave danger.
- Our author says it bluntly: There isn't a sacrifice left that can deal with their condition.
- Where would they expect to receive absolution? Before we move on, let's review some pertinent information regarding a Christian's relationship to sin.
- From a general standpoint, sin's power is broken in a Christian's life by the work of Jesus Christ. Before we were Christians, we were slaves to sin. It was not possible for us not to sin!
- When we received the gospel, God endowed us with the righteous nature of Christ. Consequently, we are no longer dominated by our sinful natures. Christians alone have free will.
- We have been freed by His grace to choose love for Christ and thereby, act in obedience to His Will, expressed in His Word and by His Holy Spirit. That does not mean that we don't sin.
- We do and will continue to sin, but it will bother us! It will no longer be enjoyable as it once was. Soon, the Christian will lose their taste for it, as the Holy Spirit changes the heart.
- For some, time will be necessary for the Lord to break the patterns of behavior that have kept them in chains. It might not be easy, but in the true believer, it will happen.
- Take any passage of scripture that we study as an example. You walk into church on a day when our text addresses a subject that flies in the face of your current practice.
- Last week, our text shed light on God's opinion regarding those that do not prioritize fellowship gatherings. At other times, it's been about co-habitation, drunkenness and the like.
- Many assume that the Pastor has been given some heads up and that he is targeting "that wretched sinner," when in reality, God has just allowed His Word to be heard again on that topic.
- That Christian who hears the word, might disagree momentarily and be disappointed that the Pastor "forced his interpretation" down the throat of the congregation.
- But then, when a little more time, prayer and study has taken place, that person realizes that the Pastor was consistent with the rest of scripture and it was God's voice coming through!
- They now agree with God and will soon make a beeline to get right with the Lord! Only that kind of person can be assured that their salvation is genuine. Compare that with the other side.
- A person who has made a verbal commitment to Christ, has engaged to some degree with believers, but who has no regard for God throughout the rest of his week, cannot be so confident.
- That person continues to make way for his sin to dominate him. He caters to his flesh and doesn't have any regret for his actions. Indeed, he questions you for having the gall to call him on it!
- He believes that God has saved him through his words and through a one time commitment, so his actions in the present are of no consequence. That person is incredibly and tragically deceived!
- If you are a person who calls themselves a Christian, but you have no heart for God, no passion for Holiness, no desire for His Word and no wish to share His love, you are not saved!
- Now, that all being said, and that all being true, remember that the sin that our author is more than likely referring to here, is the sin of apostasy, to walk away from and forfeit the salvation of God.
- I believe this passage to be an expansion on what our author had written in chapter 6.
- There isn't a sacrifice that can cover the sins of an apostate because that person has decided to look away from the source that would save Him!
- There is a sacrifice that is sufficient for every repentant sinner. His Name is Jesus Christ and His blood is sufficient to cleanse all who believe on Him from every sin they commit!
- The people that are being addressed are sinning willfully, presently and permanently! If they continue in their course, theirs will not be an expectation of hope, but of judgment!
- Realize the power of those words: A fearful expectation of judgment! Several of the other translations prefer the phrase "terrifying expectation." The RSV says, "a fearful prospect."
- Perfect love casts out all fear, but perfect justice inspires nothing but fear! A casual attitude toward sin is a visible and public proof of apostasy.
- The sense of fear that creeps into that person's soul is their own private witness!
- For those that believe that God has been satisfied in Christ's act for all people everywhere, this verse stands to be reckoned with! There remains a judgment and a passionate zeal
- Those that stand opposed to Christ know that a time is coming when God will express His wrath against their sin.
- Our author mentioned that Christ was currently waiting until His enemies were made His footstool. Here, His zeal will consume His adversaries! Not one will be left standing!
- It is better to bow our knees now voluntarily, than to bow our knees then in defeat! Verse 28.
Hebrews 10:28-31 : " Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord.And again, 'The L ord will judge His people.' It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. " : The law of Moses was direct in it's administration.
- The mandate for the death penalty under the Theocracy demanded, at the least, two witnesses, who were then to be the first to carry out the sentence.
- If death was an appropriate penalty under the old covenant, what worse punishment would befall a person uner the new covenant?
- That is the penalty for bulls and goats. What will be the penalty against the blood of Christ?
- I hope that you are disquieted in your soul and not one to treat this subject casually. Please understand that God does not! Look at how He views the rejection of His Son's sacrifice.
- This person has trampled the Son of God underfoot. This isn't running along and accidently crushing something.
- This is akin to looking upon something with disdain and making a choice to step on it with the full intention of insulting it! Why would someone do this? They count Christ's blood as common!
- The blood that once set him apart, that brought him into fellowship with God, has no value!
- As far as I understand the language, he has come to a settled position that there is nothing special about the blood of Christ. It's just ordinary blood! What an insult!
- And it's not just an insult to every other believer on Earth or to any church. It is an insult to the Spirit of grace! The word is connected to violence.
- Certainly, one cannot violently act toward God in a physical way. If there was to be a violent display, it would be done with words and with the misdeed of neglect.
- These then are those that ultimately blaspheme the Holy Spirit, walking away not in deference, but with seething words of anger and disgust!
- This is inspired commentary regarding how God sees this. This is how God feels about those that reject the Son that He has offered!
- The God that promised to avenge and repay according to the Mosaic Covenant will not lessen His standard under the priesthood of Melchizedek. He will judge His people!
- These two verses appear side by side in Deuteronomy 32:35,36! Let there be no doubt: There is no greater terror imaginable than for a person to fall into the hands of the living God!
- The phrase "to fall" refers to being entrapped by. It's surprising, unexpected, which speaks to the source of terror. A person who rejects Christ's offer of salvation assumes certain beliefs.
- They apparently believe first, that their actions are never going to demand an accounting and that if they do, they have somehow met the criteria that God would be satisfied with.
- They live their life with this kind of pride, die and then realize how wrong they are!
- They will stand before God, who will require an accounting and when they arrive, they will discover, too late I might add, that He has not been appeased, but is offended by their actions!
- When they awake in His presence, when their fate in in His hands, that is a nightmare of eternal proportions!
- Better to fall upon the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ now than to fall into the hands of His Father then! That is our author's point!
- He knows that this is a serious end and he has to warn them like this. If they take a path that leads them away from trusting in Christ, he fears for their future.
- But because their decision isn't final, he doesn't leave them to an uncertain future. In love, he appeals to their past! Verse 32.
Hebrews 10:32-34 : " But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on mein my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. " : For the first time in this letter, our author references his history with this particular church.
  - "Remember back in the old days!" He remembers clearly. They had come to the faith and then, went through a very difficult season. Truthfully, this is often the norm of Christian experience.
- Believing in Christ isn't a panacea for your social ills. If anything, trusting in Christ will often increase your social ills! That's what happened to the Hebrews.
- They began their walk with God and ended up in an intense fight. They suffered for their decision. Some were put on open display, like members of a theatrical troupe.
- They were taunted, ridiculed and shamed for their faith. They were put under constant pressure by the people around them who set unfair burdens and circumstances in their way as tests.
- In a note of honor, there were people who accepted ridicule because they would not let their brothers suffer alone! "If you are going to say that about them, you had better say that about me!"
- This is when our author met the Hebrews. He was a prisoner and he found sympathy from them in the middle of their affliction.
- The persecution that they were facing was difficult, but they still found grace to be able to treat this prisoner with great affection! That is the consistent witness of Christians everywhere.
- It wasn't long though before the persecution took on a much more menacing component.
- At some point, they were robbed of their possessions. In the West, we Christians are acquainted with ridicule and shame. Christians around the rest of the world face the loss of goods.
- Homes are taken. People are thrust out of communities. Bank accounts are seized. When the Hebrews faced something along these lines, they took it joyfully.
- They were able to endure this because what they lost could not compare with what they had in heaven!
- Isn't it incredible: What you believe about heaven directly reflects how you act upon this earth! This has been the fuel for our author just as it had once been for his audience!
- He is writing to them because he believes that man of them are about to miss out on heaven!
- What a difference a few years can make! Our author is telling his audience to think back on the attitude that kept them in Christ during that previous trial. He strengthens that in verse 35.
Hebrews 10:35 : " Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. " : Don't toss away your confidence in the Lord! This word is the exact same word that is translated "boldness" earlier in the letter.  
- Their belief in God's reward kept them from giving in when they were being plundered earlier in their Christian walk. They had once believed. He is calling them to keep believing!
- Only that person who keeps his confidence can be assured of God's great reward!
- This word refers to the payment of wages that is due! The Hebrews had acted with bravery in the sight of persecution for the sake of Christ believing that they would be rewarded for their actions.
- Our author is telling them not to lose their reward now! They just need to hold on. Verse 36.
Hebrews 10:36 : " For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: " : I like the NLT for verse 36: "Patient endurance is what you need now!"
- They need only to wait because the promise always comes after the will of God has been performed! That is the way that it works!
- For this group of people, God's will was that they endure patiently through suffering. When they had done that, God promised that they would be rewarded! Verse 37.
Hebrews 10:37-39 : " 'For yet a little while, and Hewho is coming will come and will not tarry. Now thejust shall live by faith; But ifanyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.' But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. " : Our author brings to mind the writings of the prophet Habakkuk 2:3,4.
- He wrote of the mighty Chaldeans that would soon sweep over Judah in judgment. He couldn't understand how God could choose that wicked nation as His chastening rod.
- Yet, God answers Habakkuk and let's him know that he and all of God's true people will be comforted soon. Listen to those words: It's yet a little while!
- In our minds, it never feels that way, especially on this side of eternity and in the midst of suffering. But when you take into consideration the mindset of an eternal God, what is a long time?
- In just a little while, He will come and He won't take His time or shuffle His feet! Jesus is coming back for salvation! We've learned this from our author!
- Now, in this time, for this moment, those that are the just shall live by faith!
- Faith is what brought them into Christ and it will be what holds them in place!
- What happens if he shrinks back, if he cowers before the circumstances that are before him? God says that He will have no pleasure in him. He won't approve of him!
- God's opinion of you is the only one that matters! If He doesn't approve of you, you have no hope! But we aren't those that stealthily withdraw.
- Generally, a person who slinks out of a dangerous situation is saving themselves. A person who takes this course spiritually doesn't save themselves. They damn themsef!
- The author is confident that these are not the kind of people that would do that! No, they are one who believe until they acquire their soul's salvation!
Conclusion
- Why do we need to continue in communion with God? Why is a firm commitment to doctrine necessary? Why is a constant focus upon our brothers and sisters in Christ vital?
- Because these are the very things which keep us from turning from Christ! Our heart will follow our practice!
- You might be thinking, "I can't keep on this course. I can't keep suffering." Our author speaks right to you. In just a little while, you will be rewarded by a returning Savior for your faithfulness!
- I'd rather run into the presence of God, hold onto my antiquated, out of touch beliefs and live for my brothers and sisters now, than lose out on my reward then! May the same be said of you!


February 12 2018

04:40

Sunday Morning Service (Hebrews 10:1-25)

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“Therefore...” • 2.11.18 • Calvary Christian Fellowship, Sunday Morning Service
Intro
- As we enter chapter 10, verses 1-4 provide us with our best introduction material! This immediate passage provides a natural bridge from what we have been studying to our text today.
Hebrews 10:1-4 : " For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. " : Our author has argued passionately for the superiority of Christ over against the established religion of the Jews known then and now as "Judaism."
- Law keeping proponents would argue that they were given the law by God and that it was in deference to God that they held strongly to it.
- Our author doesn't deny this, but he tells them that the law was merely the shadow that pointed to a reality that cast it. It provided a dim reflection of the good things that were to come!
- It anticipated the approach of something substantive and was never intended to be the end. It pointed to an image of the things that Christians have in Christ!
- The law's sacrifices illustrate this by their needing to be offered perpetually! The Judaistic voice would point to the need for sacrifices and their effectiveness to deal with sin.
- Our author says, "What effectiveness?" There wasn't a single sacrifice that could cause a person to be right before God! The law offered an incomplete work, thus the neverending cycle!
- A person's account received a fresh coat of paint upon the offense of their sin before God, but they remained saddled with guilt and an awareness of their sinful condition.
- If the law was sufficient, once the worshipper was purified, he would focus on being a son, not on being a sinner!
- In fact, because there was another sacrifice on the calendar, the worshipper was freshly reminded of his sins.
- The law's sacrifice was insufficient to to take away sins because the blood of bulls and goats could only cover it! Christ's blood alone had the power to take away sin and that for eternity!
- This leads our author into our text today and the implications of Christ's sacrifice. Verse 5.
Text
Hebrews 10:5-7 : " Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: ' Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God.’ " : On the surface, one might miss the power of this phrase in verse 5. Because of the futility of the sacrificial system, when He came into the world, He said. Who said? Jesus!
- The Bible is unified in it's presentation of an eternally pre-existent Christ! Jesus did not come into existence. He has always been. He entered our world and did so with this mission.
- You will not find these words in any gospel. This is a quote from Psalm 40:6-8. David, writing under the influence of the Holy Spirit, captured an agreement made in heaven.
- God the Father did not want further animal sacrifices or offerings from His Messiah. He was unsatisfied with the Levitical system, so the Father prepared a body for the Son to offer Him!
- The Levitical system kept God from acting out of His wrath against Israel's sin, but it could never produce a favorable response toward them. He had no pleasure in that!
- Jesus came to fulfill His Father's pleasure! That is why He came! Every redemptive picture contained in the Old Testament was written to describe His work! The whole book is about Him!
- He would be able to secure God's pleasure because He alone would actually do God's will! He would perform all of God's righteousness, to the very point of His own sacrificial death!
- In all of the history of the Universe, the Bible asserts correctly that Jesus Christ is the only one who has ever fulfilled His will. Our author continues in verse 8.
Hebrews 10:8-10 : " Previously saying, 'Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them' (which are offered according to the law), then He said, 'Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.' He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. " : Notice the order. The Messiah, Jesus, began by acknowledging the Father's rejection of the law's offerings. Then, He presented Him with an alternative.
- The Father takes away the first that He may establish the second! "Takes away" is widely translated and can also be rendered "cancels" or "does away" with.
- The RSV has the most aggressive term, noting that in this statement, the Messiah "abolishes" the first, in order that He might cause the second one to stand!
- Throughout Hebrews and in fact, the entire New Testament, God has consistently said that the Old Covenant of sacrifice has been put away.
- God cannot be related to man outside of a covenant agreement. That is why the second agreement exists and supercedes, replaces the first. The two cannot coexist.
- By the will of God, Christians are set apart for Himself by the Son's offering of His body!
- We are cleansed thoroughly, from our souls to our corresponding behavior once and for all! That is to say, anyone who expects to be saved can only be saved through His One sacrifice!
- Every sin that was related to our past, present and future has been accounted for under the prevailing blood of Jesus Christ. The law could't say that. Verse 11.
Hebrews 10:11-14 : " And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. " : Consider what it must have been like to be a Levitical priest. Their life was a grind!
- Every single day would be filled with the need for the blood of lambs, goats or birds. There was never any variation and there was never any expiation!
- Those sacrifices, millions upon millions of them, were able to cover, but never able to take away sins. The Priests and the people knew this.
- In contrast Jesus, after His single sacrifice for sins, sat down! We've mentioned this before, but a Levitical priest never sat down! There wasn't a piece of furniture constructed for that purpose!
- Their work was continual! Christ's was complete! He has completed the work necessary to take away our sins forever! Now, He waits for His enemies to be subdued!
- The author used this word in chapter 9:28, when he wrote of our waiting for the Lord's second coming. The word speaks of a certain expected outcome!
- Jesus knows how this is going to turn out! He will be satisfied against His enemies! They will be brought under his feet! This is a military image.
- In the ancient world, conquering Kings would assemble their troops after their victory. In a show of complete dominance, the King would bring his counterpart to the stage..
- That defeated King would bow before the King and he would rest his foot upon the back of his counterpart's neck!
- The act of His sacrifice was one of military conquest! Think of the ramifications. Every person that has ever lived fits into two distinct categories.
- You are either a child of God by the blood of Jesus Christ or You are God's enemy!
- For those that have accepted His sacrifice, applied the blood of Christ by faith, you had once been His enemy, but you have have bowed your knees voluntarily and been made a child.
- For those that have refused His sacrifice, blasphemed His Work, you are currently His enemy and if you do not rectify that, one day you will be dominated under the ruling foot of Christ!
- Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! This is an inevitability! Verse 15.
Hebrews 10:15-18 : " But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, 'This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,' then He adds, 'Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.' Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. " : The Holy Spirit also witnesses. "Witnesses" is the same word that brings us the English word "martyr."
- Generally we used this word to speak of one who has died, but the word itself refers to one that bears testimony. The Holy Spirit adds His agreement with what the Son has already said.
- In fact, the author writes this in the present tense, meaning that the Holy Spirit is testifying now to this. How is the Holy Spirit speaking to them? Through the Word!
- The Holy Spirit is applying scripture to their immediate context, in this case, that scripture which is found in Jeremiah 31:33ff. Our author referenced these verses earlier in his argument.
- The New Covenant that God was making with His people would be an internal covenant, whereby God would inscribe His law upon the hearts and minds of His people.
- In doing this, God promised through Jeremiah that He would not allow His people's sin to stand between them. He makes the choice not to remember our sins!
- God chooses instead to look upon the merits of Christ! Our wretchedness was put upon Him at the cross. His righteousness is imputed to us as we believe!
- Christ's righteousness is greater than our sin. That's what God the Father chooses to look at when He thinks of us. The Jews believed what Jeremiah wrote but weren't connecting the issue.
- If there was a new covenant that would issue in a pardon for sins, why would there still need to be an offering?
- Why would an offering to God for sin be necessary, unless one discounted the work of Christ? That other offering would be a denial of Christ's work!
- Aside from that negative, consider the positive: God has accepted Christ's sacrifice on behalf of His people! What does that mean for us?
- Like most of the other epistles in scripture, our author will go from what we believe to how that should affect our behavior. Verse 19.
Hebrews 10:19-23 : " Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. " : Because Christ's sacrifice has been accepted by God as a "once for all" sacrifice.
- Because there has been a pardon for sin for those who are under the administration of His High Priestly office. Because He is the Forerunner inviting us to enter with Him, we have boldness!
- "Boldness" when applied to speech refers to being blunt, without constraint to speak what is on our minds. When it refers to access, it means free and fearless confidence!
- It is the visual difference between a man coming home to his house versus a thief entering in! We can come straight in to the very Holy of Holies because of the blood of Jesus!
- Our author calls this "a new and living way!" The way has been freshly engineered and is continually alive for access to the people of God. He set this way apart for us to travel upon!
- What is the way? Jesus says it Himself and the author appeals to it here. Jesus Himself is the way in! He did this through the veil, His flesh, referring to His satisfying atoning death.
- That is a marvelous statement! The veil that once stood to cover the Holy of Holies, that ripped at His death from top to bottom, was the flesh of Christ torn that the inside might be seen!
- The barrier is down and now our High Priest sits in the house of God and He beckons us to draw near!
- Forget the Levitical priesthood, with it's built in distance and it's redundant, antiquated and outdated systerm that separates God and Man!
- The Melchizedekian Priesthood invites all of God's people to draw near! Again, the word is written in the present tense. We are to continually be in the habit of drawing near to the Lord!
- We need not do so with a doubtful heart, but one that is completely convinced, knowing that we have been cleared in conscience as well as in body with water that is filtered through His blood!
- Consequently, our author looks at his audience who are vascillating between the Judaism and Christianity. In light of what has been said, instead of letting go, let's keep our grip upon our faith!
- Let's hold to the same thing that we've been holding onto without wavering. That word comes from another word which speaks about reclining.
- It seems that he is saying, "Let's hold on tight and let's hold on without relaxing!" Pay attention. Be alert. Why? Because Christ, the One who has promised us eternal salvation, is faithful!
- We are not faithful. We are not worthy. We have no righteousness of our own. Our only hope is that Christ holds onto His Word! That isn't an issue!
- Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever! He is as faithful to us today as He was to His Father on the day that He submitted to crucifixion!
- Our response toward God should be boldness, convinced of our security in Christ. Our response toward the faith should be commitment to it's tenets, firmly holding to it's promise.
- What should our response toward one another? How should this doctrine impact our lives together? Verse 24.
Hebrews 10:24-26 : " And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. " : The body of Christ is called by the Spirit to consider, to focus upon one another. If we heard it today, he might say "Continually be considerate of one another.
- A few of the other translations add some color to the thought. For example, the NET says, "Let us take thought." The CSB employs the phrase, "Let us watch out for."
- Taken together, there is a sense in which the body is called to be responsible to the other members, to live with consideration, to serve in a thoughtful way and to help guard over them.
- Think about this in light of what we hear of or think about today. We decide whether we want to come to church based upon what we think of ourselves.
- The predominant thought among most evangelicals can be summarized in such statements as, "Do I want to go?" "What will I get out of it?" "Who will meet my needs?"
- When was the last time someone said, "I need to be in church because of the needs of the others around me?" I'll reserve further comment in a moment. The question is why?
- We are to be thoughtful and watchful toward each other, hoping to stir up up love and good works. What does it mean to "stir up?" Consider the other translations.
- The NLT uses the word "motivate." The NIV says "spur on." If you have the CSB, the word is "provoke" and if you have the NASB, you'll read "stimulate."
- The actual word gives us our word "paroxysm." It means to incite, which we might generally consider a bad thing but not when you are inciting acts of love and good works!
- Practice agape. Love those that aren't like you, looking out for their benefit and betterment in the same way that the Lord loved you. Where can we find such people? In the church!
- You might be able to learn just as much, if not more on your own on a Sunday. It's even possible that your own personal worship might be better.
- But how can you stir up love if you aren't around people to love? God is not calling you to love yourself! That is more of a problem for us than a good thing!
- Let me say this as clear as possible: If you are not in the habit of making fellowship a priority in your life, you cannot say that you are being obedient to Him, because you are not!
- We are to incite each other to love and to good works! We are to encourage one another in the ministries that we are partaking in, letting each other know what prayers would be helpful.
- Incidently, this is often why people don't want to make church a priority. They don't want to be accountable to the body of Christ in the act of doing good works that reveal their faith!
- That isn't to be our testimony. Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Don't neglect the opportunity to meet together! Do you need to hear that?
- Even in the early church, this was the habit that some had become accustomed to! Our author says it plainly: Don't be that guy! Don't fall into that way of thinking!
- We need to be together to encourage each other, so much more so as we see the Day approaching!
- If that was true during the first century, how much more certain is it now! Do you not see the Day of Christ's return as more imminent than it was then? Whether you do or not, it is!
- Are you not convinced that our High Priest is coming again, not for the sake of sin, but for salvation? Be about His business. Be with those that He loves!
Conclusion
- For those who have believed in Christ, we can rest in the knowledge that our sins have been taken away and no longer stand before God. We are His blood bought children.
- We can run into His presence, assured by Jesus Himself, that we belong and are accepted in the Beloved One!
- Because that is a settled reality, we can turn our attention to our faith. We can nurture and enjoy our faith, holding onto it as a precious commodity.
- And we can look around at those with like mind and lend our hands and hearts to what the Lord has laid out for their lives.
- May this be our cause and may this be our practice until He comes!


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