jump to navigation

The Blessings and Curse of the Cross (Galatians 3) March 5, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Baptism, Blood of Christ, Body of Christ, Crucifixion, Galatians, Lord's Table.
add a comment

THE CURSE AND THE BLESSINGS
Galatians 3:7-14

We saw last week that Paul was opposing those who were perverting the gospel. They were changing salvation by grace through faith in the gospel, that is, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ into a salvation by law: circumcision, Sabbath-keeping, zealousness, the Ten Commandments, or some other way in which one can make himself acceptable or at least presentable before God. Paul says, “You can’t change what God has set forth.”

Warren Wiersbe tells how “a new employee was instructed how to measure valve parts to make sure they were ready for the final assembly. But after a few hours, his foreman was receiving complaints that the parts he was approving were faulty. ‘What are you doing?’ the foreman asked. ‘I showed you how to use that micrometer. You’re sending through parts that are oversize!’ The employee replied, ‘Oh, most of the parts I was measuring were too large, so I opened up the micrometer a bit.’” The cross is God micrometer. It is by the cross that we determine our spiritual welfare.

A. The curse of the cross was on our behalf (3:7-14; 5:11; 6:12-13).

1. The curse was pronounced by God (3:7-14). Paul quotes six different Old Testament passages to make the point that there is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ. He also says that through the law comes the curse. Actually, there are two curses here. The first, a general curse, is on anyone who breaks one law (verse 10). This is in contrast to the justification that comes through faith (verses 8-9, 11-12). Justification can simply mean that you are getting what’s coming to you. That is not the way Paul is using this word. He takes an Old Testament concept and speaks about God taking a sinner’s account and stamping it “righteous.”

There are four stamps God could use. He could stamp our account as “guilty.” That is what we deserve. Or he could stamp us “not guilty.” That means you’re not condemned, that is, the evidence does not condemn you. But, of course, that is not true. God could stamp our account “innocent.” That is better than not guilty but the evidence still is against us. God uses the stamp “righteous through faith” (see Abraham’s case in verse 6). What Paul is saying is that righteousness is put on my account by grace through faith in Christ and his death on my behalf.

One might say faith in the second curse pronounced by God, that is, the curse of the cross (verses 13-14). It is faith in the righteousness, the redemption, the payment, provided by Jesus Christ on the cross for our account that justifies us with God.

2. The offense of the cross provoked persecution and derision (5:11). Certainly the cross was despised by the Jews because of the curse pronounced by God on anyone hung from a tree. It was also a most shameful death in the eyes of the Romans who were actually carrying out the act of crucifixion. It was reserved for criminals and slaves. Jesus was neither. Robert Gundry feels that Mark’s gospel may have been written to counteract the shame of the cross by recording the power of Jesus, for no Roman would trust a crucified Savior. The Roman senator and orator Cicero said “the very word ‘cross’ should be far removed not only from the perons of a Roman citizen but also from his thoughts, his eyes, and his ears…the mere mention of them, that is unworthy of a Roman citizen and a free man” (In Defense of Rabirius taken from Gundry’s A Survey of the New Testament). The shame of the cross was not theoretical but real.

3. The cross is incompatible with profiteering from believers (6:12-13). It is more respectable to belong to the right group than to be associated with the cross of Christ. Heroes did not die on the cross but in battle. Those who profit from religious faith have no use for the cross unless they can turn it into some type of work. If I preach a certain type of message so that it might attract a crowd, am I any better than these? Not that we should not try to reach as many as we can and any legitimate method should be used. At times the message of the cross has been more popular than others but whether it is the “in thing” or not, it is still our only message.

B. The blessings of the cross come through Christ living in me (2:17-21; 5:24; 6:14-17).

1. Our lives are transformed by grace through faith in Christ (2:17-21). When we baptize tonight, we will being testifying that we are dead to sin and alive in Christ through His death and resurrection. Verse 21 is a sobering verse. If we have life through any other way, then the cross of Christ was a waste, a wasted life.

2. We actively war against sin (5:24). We will speak about this more at a later time but the fight against sin in our own individual lives must take place under the banner of the cross. Apart from the power of the cross to give us new life, we are helpless against the sins listed in this chapter. Our flesh will give in but we are alive now in Christ, the Crucified One.

3. Our boasting is dependent on the cross (6:14-17). Unlike the profiteers, our boasting is dependent on Jesus. My rejection of the sins of the flesh, of this world is based on my new life in Christ. Paul even notes that he has brands or marks on his body that identify him with Jesus. In those days an idol worshipper might have the brand of his idol burned into his body. Slaves were also marked with brands. Circumcision itself, though not a brand, served the same purpose. Paul said, “My brands come through my daily life with Christ.”

Let’s take our micrometer and measure ourselves.
1. Have you been saved by the grace of God? If you feel in anyway that you deserve salvation, you are too big for the micrometer of the cross.
2. Are you trying to mix law and grace? Are you trying to adjust the cross for yourself or someone else? God will not accept that mixture.
3. When we celebrate today the Lord’s Table, will you be boasting in the cross of Christ or will you be trying to impress God by your sanctified worship?
4. Are you walking in spiritual liberty? We are celebrating spiritual liberty today through the Lord’s Table. Do you live your liberty out in the world during the week?
5. Are you willing to defend the truth of the gospel of Christ? Or do you let it slide when people say, “Well, I think I’m good enough for God. I’m better than the average Joe?”
(Questions adapted from Warren Wiersbe’s Be Free).

As we partake of the Lord’s Table, let us dwell on these questions and respond to God’s call to salvation and to walking in spiritual liberty.

Next week: Righteous Indignation (Galatians 1-2)

Spiritual Liberty (Galatians 1:1-9 and 5:1ff) February 27, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Crucifixion, Death of Christ, False Doctrine, False Teachers, Galatians, Gospel, Martin Luther, Religion, Sermons, Spiritual Liberty.
add a comment

LIBERTY AND FREEDOM
Galatians 1:1-9 with 5:1ff

This letter is one of the most important ever written. Martin Luther’s study of it led him to attempt a reformation of Catholicism. Although unsuccessful in his attempt, it resulted in religious and political changes that transformed Europe and ultimately the world. One might say the political freedom we enjoy today is in part due to changes set in motion by Luther’s study of this little letter.

A. However, spiritual liberty and political liberty are not one and the same. It seems like the political season has been long already but there is much ahead of us and much of it will invoke the terms “liberty” and “freedom.” These are wonderful concepts on which our country was founded. Yet there is a liberty and a freedom that is possible even if one lives in a totalitarian system. Some might say, “Of course, the freedom of the human spirit.” Now the freedom of the human spirit is a wonderful thing but it is limited, as we will see, by the human condition. As with our conscience, as with our knowledge of nature, God has gifted humankind greatly but the curse of the fall has corrupted these gifts of God making them incapable of giving us spiritual liberty and spiritual freedom.

1. Political liberty sees all men as created equal and having the same right to life and liberty. This is a liberty worth fighting for and has often been fought for in our history beginning with the American Revolution right down through the present age.

2. Spiritual liberty also sees all men as equal. They are born equally in bondage to the present evil age (Galatians 1:3-4 and 5:1). This is an equality we would like to overcome. This is what I meant by the human spirit being limited. Occasionally there is someone who seems to be ahead of his time but when we investigate their lives, they are just as much a prisoner of the human condition as the rest of us. They are also in bondage to our sinful condition.

There’s a “legend told of Alexander the Great…It is said that when he was dying at Babylon, Alexander crawled out of his tent on all fours at midnight, intending to drown himself in the Euphrates River. He hoped his body would be lost and that men would then believe that he was, in truth, immortal. But his attempt failed. His wife brought him back to die in his bed…” (from Deliver Us From Evil by Ravi Zacharias).

i. Spiritual liberty comes through deliverance by Jesus Christ (5:1). To be set free from this evil age does not mean to be removed from this world. Neither does it mean to become one with it. Spiritual liberty means to be freed from the impossibility of pleasing God through our own methods. It is not something we work for but rather is granted to us by grace, that is, undeserved. We take hold of the liberty freely offered by faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel.

ii. Spiritual liberty comes through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (1:4). One could say that is the gospel. In order for us to be free, Jesus had to be bound in obedience to death.

Jeffrey Ebert of Havertown, PA tells how “when [he] was five years old, before factory-installed seat belts… [his] family was involved in a head-on collision with a drunk driver…[He] was sitting on [his] mother’s lap when the other car swerved into [them]…[He doesn’t] have any memory of the collision [but does] recall the fear and confusion…as [he] saw [himself] literally covered with blood from head to toe. Then [he] learned that the blood wasn’t [his] but [his] mother’s. In that split second when the two headlights glared into her eyes, she instinctively pulled [him] closer to her chest and curled her body around [his] smaller frame. It was her body that slammed against the dashboard, her head that shattered the windshield. She took the impact of the collision so that he wouldn’t have to… (after extensive surgery, [she] eventually recovered…)” (from Leadership, Summer 1992). She was obedient to death.

B. To seek deliverance from any other source is the rejection of Christ (1:6-7 with 5:1-4). Paul uses the phrase, “turn away…from him” in chapter one. In chapter five he says, “Christ will profit you nothing…you have become estranged from Christ…you have fallen from grace.” This is pretty harsh language. It means that you have no more contact with Christ, in other words, your only hope of salvation, you have walked away from.

If I try by my good works to guarantee my place in heaven, I have walked away from Christ. If I try by baptism or the Lord’s Supper to be saved, I have walked away from Christ. If I try by keeping the law of God Himself to be saved, I have walked away from Jesus. If I try by being a member of a church to be saved, I have walked away from Christ. When I walk away from Christ, then there is no hope for me (5:5).

C. To preach deliverance from another source brings God’s judgment (1:7-9 with 5:7-10). Perhaps you think God is being too strict. Perhaps it should be enough to want to find God. There is, however, no other source of deliverance.

When Aaron built the golden calf, he said to the Israelites, “Behold, the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt.” Aaron didn’t deny God’s existence or power; he simply brought in a statute to help them visualize their God. God judged them. When Naaman was told to wash himself in the Jordan, he complained that there were other cleaner rivers in Syria to wash in but if he had ignored God’s way, he would have died a leper. Jesus tells about those who say, “Lord, Lord, haven’t we done mighty works in your name;” but his answer to them was depart from me I never knew you.

Some of these people wanted to practice Old Testament rituals like circumcision but Paul makes it clear that those things do not produce a new creation (6:15). That is only possible through Jesus Christ.

Do you point people to Christ or to moral values? Do you introduce them to Jesus or to a church? “There is no other name given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

Where is your faith? In Jesus or in your good works? In Jesus or in your baptism? In Jesus or in your church? If one or the other were taken away from you, which would cause you to fear facing eternity? If you lose contact with Jesus, you have no hope. Are you trusting Him alone today? If not, put your trust in the one who died for you.

Next week: The Curse and the Blessings of the Cross

Jesus Among Friends (Luke 22) April 7, 2011

Posted by roberttalley in Atonement, Blood of Christ, Body of Christ, Christ, Communion, Covenant, Crucifixion, Death of Christ, Falling Away, Jesus, Lord's Table, Luke, Messiah, Millenial Kingdom, Passover, Suffering.
add a comment

JESUS AMONG FRIENDS
(Luke 22:1-62)

A couple of weeks ago I asked for questions from the congregation to be written out on a 3” by 5” card. I received a card with the following question, “Is it sinful to “befriend” persons outside the faith or should we see this “opportunity” as one to bring these people to Christ?”

Now I don’t know what provoked this question but it does address a real problem. As believers in Christ, what should our relationship be to those outside the faith? One of my biggest concerns as pastor is that most of us do not bring many unsaved friends to church. There are many possible reasons for this but one of them could be that we tend to isolate ourselves from sinners.

Jesus, however, was known by his enemies as a friend of sinners (Luke 7:33-34). Was this a just accusation? In this chapter we find Jesus with twelve of his closest friends; men who He chose to follow them. One of those men was a man named Judas.
How did Jesus show friendship to Judas (22:2, 21, 27)?
I. Jesus chose a sinner to be His friend, to be one of the twelve (22:2). Sometimes we forget that Jesus knew all along who would betray Him (John 6:64-71). He chose a friend who he could never help. It is interesting that Jesus knew also that Judas would never believe, Jesus befriended a liar, a traitor, a thief simply because it was God’s will.
This helps us to answer the first part of our question. It is obviously not sinful to befriend a sinner. It also helps us to answer the second part but not directly. We are not just to look at people as “opportunities” but rather we are to live in God’s will and be so full of a passion for Jesus Christ and His gospel that we become the “opportunity” for them to hear the gospel of Christ.
II. Jesus shared His table with a sinner (22:21, 27). It was such a high honor at that time to be invited to eat with someone that to refuse the invitation opened one up to the revenge of slander and defamation. Jesus gave Judas a place of honor.
Judas seemed to be singled out by Jesus for honor and intimacy at this feast (John 13:26). Based on this chapter, it appears that Judas has been given by Jesus, the host of this feast, the place of honor on his left. In addition, Jesus gave Judas the sop. The sop was a piece of bread that was dipped into some type of sauce or mixture. To give the sop to some one was not only a great honor but symbolic of a close friendship. Jesus treated Judas at this festival with the greatest of honor and signs of friendship.
III. Jesus served sinners (22:27). When Jesus washed feet, He washed Judas’ feet also. When Jesus instituted the Communion that we celebrate today, He did not withhold it from Judas but rather served him also. Jesus, the King of Kings, served Judas in whose heart the devil had accomplished an awful work (John 13:2).
What ended the friendship between Judas and Jesus (22:4-6)? There are a lot of theories about Judas’ motivation, money being the most obvious. I think money certainly played a part (John 12:6). There was something deeper though for all of the disciples were tainted by their desire to be important in the kingdom and they certainly could have assumed that great riches would come with the kingdom. What ended the friendship was Judas’ lack of faith in Christ (John 6:64-71). Oh, he certainly began believing but he did not have a faith that would last.

This tells a lot about true faith. True faith that lasts is not dependent on excellent surroundings. Judas heard the Creator of the universe teach truth and wisdom. His faith, however, did not continue to respond. There was an initial response but it was broken easily on the banks of a few coins. What will break your faith?
What was Jesus’ desire for His friends (22:14-30)? He desired that they be a part of His eternal kingdom.
What is the kingdom of which Jesus is speaking?
a. It is a coming kingdom (22:15-19) Last week we saw where Jesus said that the kingdom is in the heart of those who believe but it is also a future eternal kingdom. This coming kingdom must be prepared through suffering (compare v. 15 with 17:22-25). Hebrews 1:8a-10 describes this kingdom through suffering in this way, “But now we do not yet see all things [in submission to Jesus]. But we see Jesus…for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him…in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
b. It is also a new covenant kingdom (22:20). I do not have time to go back to Jeremiah and look at these Old Testament passages but the main characteristic of the new covenant kingdom is heart transformation. Jesus died so that I might be born from above, regenerated in heart, passing from the kingdom of darkness into His eternal light.
c. It is a caring kingdom (22:24-27). Service is more important than authority.
Leroy Eims of the Navigators tells about a man who came to Christ and desired to serve Eims. Because he was young and inexperienced in the faith, there were not a lot of opportunities at the Navigators office for this man to serve. Winter was coming though and the man greatly desired to serve in some way. Leroy Eims gave him the task of shoveling the walkway to the office building. The man was very zealous in this service. In fact he was so zealous, Eims quipped, that not a snowflake hit the walkway the whole winter long. Eims said that such valuable service could not go unrewarded and they brought him into the office to train for service within the Navigators organization. The young man cared enough to serve.
How do we show friendship to Christ (22:28)? We show friendship to Christ by continuing with Him even in His trials. Can we do that? Absolutely, Jesus said, take up My cross and follow Me.
“They tried my Lord and Master with no one to defend.
Within the halls of Pilate He stood without a friend.
I’ll be a friend to Jesus, my life for Him I’ll spend.
I’ll be a friend to Jesus, until my years shall end.

The world may turn against Him, I’ll love Him to the end,
And while on earth I’m living, My Lord shall have a friend.

I’ll do what He may bid me; I’ll go where He may send;
I’ll try each flying moment to prove that I’m His friend.

To all who need a Savior, my friend I recommend;
Because He brought salvation is why I am His friend.”
Sometimes, however, even the most loyal of us fail Jesus when He needs us most. Peter is a true example and Jesus knew Peter would fail. Yet He showed friendship to Peter anyway. How did Jesus show friendship to Peter (22:31-34)? He warned him, He prayed for Him to endure in the faith, He gave him a positive hope for the future, and He was honest in telling Peter what he did not want to hear.
Let us return to our question about befriending sinners. Here is a good plan to follow them. We must warn them. Only a friend will warn someone of the dangers of hell. We must pray for them to come to faith. We cannot argue them into the faith. We need God’s help to bring them to faith. We need to give them hope, let them know that there is a purpose for them in this life and the life to come. Finally, we need to be honest even if they do not want to hear the gospel. It is possible to antagonize people but if you are a real friend who lives out a real faith in Christ, you will figure out how to give them the gospel of Christ.
As we come to the close of our service, we come to the time when we celebrate the Lord’s Table. How does the Lord’s Table or communion show our friendship with Christ and with each other (22:19, 26)? It shows our friendship with Christ according to verse 19 by remembering what He did for us. It shows our friendship with each other in that each one of us comes together to the table. We are all equal in Christ’s kingdom. It is interesting that the only people unworthy of this bread and juice are those who considered themselves above others (1 Corinthians 11). Today, I want us to take a few moments and ask ourselves, not if we’ve sinned but if there is anyone here today who we consider ourselves superior to. Think through the rows of seats. If you find anyone who you feel you are above, would you not repent of that ungodliness now and humble yourself before God in silent prayer?

The Last Week of Jesus’ Life (part 1) March 31, 2011

Posted by roberttalley in Christ, Crucifixion, Death of Christ, Luke, Parables of Jesus, Sermons, Temple.
add a comment

JESUS, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?
(Luke 20:1-19)

Jesus has just a few days to live. These are his last few days among the people. He must teach them the way of God. The people expect Him to proclaim Himself King of the Jews. Will it happen? Will Jesus overthrow Roman rule and free His people from foreign domination? Is He really the Messiah, the Son of the living God? Most are hopeful but not sure. A few disciples recognize His authority but the rulers of Israel do not.

Jesus has authority over us, whether we recognize His authority over us or not.

1. With what action had Jesus claimed authority from God (19:45-48)? He drove out those who bought and sold in the temple.

Three years earlier Jesus had driven the moneychangers and salesmen out. At that time He had asked why they had turned His house into a house of merchandise. This time His condemnation is even harsher. Why have you turned my house of prayer into a den of thieves? Now the multitude had expected Jesus to be a man of action but this was not exactly what they had expected. I can imagine Judas, the treasurer of the disciples looking at Jesus’ actions and seeing his glorious financial future go up in smoke. No word about revolution against the Romans. No call for the nation to follow Him in battle but rather a condemnation of the dishonest practices of hardworking Jewish merchants who would change Roman coins for Temple coins and charge exorbitant prices for sacrificial animals for those Jews who had traveled from afar to celebrate the Passover. I can hear them say, “Jesus, you are going to need some financial resources if you are going to fight the Romans. You are going to need the backing of the political elite, the priests and the rulers of the people. Jesus, you are cutting your own throat.” Jesus, is challenging the status quo by obeying His Father’s will. The sternness that the Pharisees wanted Jesus to show to His disciples, He is showing to those who have made the worship and service of God into a money making proposition.

2. What three groups were angry with Jesus?
a. The chief priests: they were in charge of the Temple. Jesus was a threat to their position politically, religiously, and financially.
b. The scribes: these were experts in the Old Testament, they not only copied the Old Testament into scrolls by hand but taught the people the truth of the word. Verses 45-47 tell us why they hated Jesus. He exposed their pride and their greed. The scribes were very much among the people unlike the chief priests. Some of them were Pharisees but all of them were experts in the Law of God.
c. The elders: these were the other leaders in Jerusalem. With the only known exceptions being Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, the leaders of the people, regardless of political or religious party, rejected the authority of Jesus as Messiah.

Jesus has good news for us whether we recognize that good news or not.

3. What was the gospel that Jesus preached (compare 20:1 with 9:2, 6)? It was the gospel of the kingdom of God. Jesus is proclaiming Himself as king. Verse 37 tells us that as Jesus approaches the descent from the mountain, the multitude of His disciples started rejoicing and praising God with a loud voice, saying, “‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’ {#Ps 118:26} Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

4. Why did the religious leaders question Jesus’ authority (compare vs. 2 with 23:66-71)? They wanted to trick Him into openly admitting that He was the Messiah, for then they could deliver Him into the hands of the Romans as a traitor.

5. How did Jesus get out of the trap of the leaders (vs. 3-8)?
He asked them if they believed the gospel of John the Baptist (which was the exact same gospel that Jesus preached. The leaders refused to believe either).

“I once heard of a man who went to preach in a theatre, and when he came upon the stage he didn’t have anyone in the hall…So he got his hat and Bible and went down upon the beach, and the people were walking up and down upon the sand, and he tried to get them to hear the Word of God, but they all passed him. But soon he saw a man with a basket, that could not sell his herrings and he went up to him and he bought all the herrings; and he said to the man, ‘Now go and give them away freely to the people.’ ‘Do you want me to give them away?’ Why, the man was astonished. He had never heard of such a thing before. ‘Yes, I want you to give them away.’ And the man started and he cried out ‘Herrings for nothing! Herrings for nothing!’ But he could not get a man or woman to take any. And he came back and he said, ‘I never saw so many fools; there isn’t one of them that will take a herring.’ ‘Well,’ said the minister, ‘I will go down with you.’ And so he went crying, ‘Herrings for nothing! Herrings for nothing!’ But they would not take any they didn’t believe it was true” (D. L. Moody’s sermon, “The Blessed Gospel”).

6. To whom is the parable spoken (vs. 9)? The people gathered at the Temple in preparation for Passover.

7. Who is this parable about (vs. 19)? The leadership of the nation which was rejecting Jesus as the Messiah.

Jesus will be our judge, whether we recognize Him as such or not.

8. What is the point of the parable (vs. 16-18)? The “in” crowd who was rejecting the Messiah would be destroyed and others would receive their place in the kingdom. Psalm 118:22 is quoted here by Jesus. It is also quoted in 1 Peter 2:7 in a passage where Peter points out that we as believers will be rejected by men just as Jesus was but that we are now the people of God and need to live so that even when we are rejected by men, those who reject us will see our manner of life and recognize Christ in us.

9. Who are the “others” in verse 16? It is all who believe in Jesus as the Messiah but this word had real meaning for the “out” crowd, the Gentiles.

“There was a time when England wanted to conquer Wales, but they wouldn’t be conquered. They couldn’t subdue these Welsh people. They didn’t want to be ruled by England. They wanted a king of their own. They wanted a king born on Welsh soil. So the queen went down to Wales, to the Castle Caernarnvon, and when the child was born the king took the little child in his arms and carried it out to the gates, and the people in the town gathered around that castle, and he says: ‘Behold your prince! He can’t speak a word of English. He was born among you-born on Welsh soil.’ And they called him the Prince of Wales, and so the Crown Prince has ever since been called the Prince of Wales; but the moment he takes the throne he drops that name and become the King of England” (D. L. Moody’s sermon “Christ of the New Testament).

There was a time when God wanted to save this world, but we would not be saved. We would not submit our ways to He who seems so far away. So God came and became a man. He became one of us so that He could become our King. The insiders, those who should have honored Him as King and Messiah rejected and crucified Him. We as sinful outsiders have now the opportunity to believe on Him and submit ourselves to the King of Kings and to be forgiven and to live a life in the service of the King.

The Son of Man March 21, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Crucifixion, Daniel, Day of the Lord, Death of Christ, Eschatology, John's Gospel, Religion, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Sermons, Son of Man.
add a comment

THE SON OF MAN
Revelation 1:9-20

This past week we heard of the passing of Peter Graves of “Mission Impossible” fame. What I did not know was that his real name was Peter Aurness. He was the younger brother of James Arness who was famous as Matt Dillon of the TV series, “Gunsmoke.” Mr. Graves, however, took a professional name. Through his career, he infused that name with his own persona and acting career so that now, whenever that name is mentioned, people think only of Peter Graves and rarely connect him with James Arness.

It might surprise you to find out that Jesus did something similar. Early in His ministry He began to identify Himself as the Son of Man. Earlier that term had been primarily used by God in addressing Ezekiel but it was used once in Daniel 7 as a term for the Messiah. When Jesus began His ministry, there were many other names for the Messiah that were in common use at the time: the Christ, the Son of God, the King of Israel, the King of the Jews, the Son of David. Jesus did not normally refer to Himself by any of these titles but rather used the term found in Daniel 7 and infused that term with meaning. In fact, we find here in Revelation 1, the culmination of the meaning of the title, “Son of Man,” meaning which Jesus Himself gave the term helping us to understand better who Jesus is.

I. The “Son of Man” reveals God to us (vs. 1-3, 11, 19). We saw last week from verses 1-3 that the purpose of the book of Revelation is not only to reveal to us truth about future events but also to reveal more clearly to us who Jesus is. Without the book of Revelation we would have an incomplete picture of Jesus. Verses 11 and 19 make it clear that Jesus, the Son of Man, wants us to have a clear picture of who He is. He, the Son of Man, is the Revealer of God to us.

a. He reveals God to us because He is the ladder to the Father (John 1:49-51). This passage in John’s Gospel is the first time recorded where Jesus Christ used the title “Son of Man.” He has just met Nathanael and miraculously revealed to Nathanael that He knew everything about Him. Nathanael’s response was to recognize Jesus as the Son of God, the King of Israel. Now both of those terms were common terms for the Messiah. Jesus, however, did not use either of those terms but rather referred to Himself as the Son of Man, who is the way to God.

We are all familiar with the famous words spoken by Jesus in John 14, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.” John 1:18 tells us, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” These are other ways of telling us that the Son of Man is the ladder to the Father. Jesus statement to Nathanael uses the Old Testament story of Jacob’s dream at Beth-el, where he sees angels going up and down a ladder leading into heaven (Genesis 28:12). Jesus clearly points out that if you are going to see God, you must see Him through the Son of Man.

The Son of Man is in this way like the Arab guide who was asked by a visitor in the desert, “Where is the path?” The Arab guide replied, “I am the path” (adapted from page 104 of Erwin Lutzer’s “Christ Among the Gods”).

b. How then does the Son of Man reveal God? He reveals God through His death (John 3:12-15). Again, Jesus uses an Old Testament story to explain how it is that men can come to the Father. The serpent of brass was lifted up so that the Israelites could look at it and be healed of their snake bites. Jesus was lifted up on the cross so that men and women could look to Him in faith and be given eternal life.

What does the cross of the Son of Man reveal about the Father? John 3:16 and Romans 5:8 make it clear that the Father’s love is revealed through the cross. The love of God is not revealed by nature. His power and justice can be known through nature but not His love. To reveal the Father’s love, the Son of Man had to die. Notice though that He did not merely reveal an example of loving sacrifice but rather the real thing. To hang on a cross hollering, “God loves you!” is an empty gesture unless that death has a positive result for the one loved. John 3:17-18 tells us that the positive result is freedom from eternal condemnation, from perishing eternally. Romans 5:9 says that we are justified by His blood. His death frees us from condemnation. Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…”

c. The Son of Man effectively reveals the Father because He, Himself is God (Matthew 9:1-8). Again, early in the ministry of Christ He uses the title Son of Man, this time infusing that title with a meaning that had never occurred to anyone before. A paralyzed man lies before Him to be healed. He tells the man, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” This riles the religious leaders who rightly recognize that no one can forgive sins but God alone. Jesus tells them, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”-then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” The people did not understand, for verse 8 says, “…they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.” We understand though with hindsight that Jesus was not only admitting that the Son of Man is God but was proving that He, the Son of Man is God.

II. Our passage in Revelation 1 recognizes that Jesus reveals the Father to man and assumes all that we have spoken of but the primary emphasis of this passage and of the book of Revelation as a whole is slightly different than that of John and Matthew. The “Son of Man” in the book of Revelation is the one who judges the wicked at His coming (Cf. vs. 13-16 with 14:14-16). We have already seen that Jesus came the first time, not to condemn or to judge but to save men and women from condemnation and judgment. Between the time of John’s gospel and the future time discussed in Revelation, something has changed. We see the Son of Man at His second rather than at His first coming.

a. The seat of judgment is His rightful place because He is the Son of Man (Cf. John 5:22-27 with Daniel 7:13-14, 23-27). Notice that He has authority in John 5:22-25 as the Son of God to judge. He has this authority for two reasons: (1) He is the Son of Man spoken of in Daniel 7, who has been given the world of men as His kingdom and dominion and (2) His task as revealer of the Father results in condemnation of everyone who rejects that revelation (John 3:19).

Now this brings up an important question. How about those who have never heard of Jesus? Romans 1 teaches us that through nature they learn enough about God to be held accountable. It is not enough to be saved but it is enough to condemn one as lost. Erwin Lutzer in “Christ Among the Gods” illustrates it this way, “If you need $1,000 for college and I give you only $100, my gift is not enough to get you into college, but it is enough to judge your response. With this $100 I can tell whether you love me or spurn me. And how you respond may determine whether or not you ever receive the full amount” (page 189).

That is why it is so vitally important that we get the message of Christ to our family and friends and loved ones. Unless they hear the message of Christ and receive that message, they will be condemned by Christ when He comes into His kingdom. There is a reason this road is called Narrow and the road to destruction is called Broad.

b. The Son of Man is prepared for the judgment day (Cf. 1:13-16 with Daniel 10:5-6 and Rev.15:6-7). The description we have of the Son of Man emphasizes that He is coming again as judge. This description is pretty close to one we have in Daniel 10 of a man in linen. In Daniel 12 this man appears again in relation to the three and a half year period we know as the tribulation. In Revelation 15:6-7 we have seven angels with the last judgments of God dressed similarly in linen with a gold band across their chests. What we have here are indications that the Son of Man in Revelation 1 is prepared for the final judgment. My daughter asked me the other day as we were reading a Bible story book, if the picture accurately depicted how Jesus dressed while here on earth. My guess was no but I do know how Jesus will appear when He judges this earth. However, He will be prepared appropriately for the judgment that He metes out.

His white hair indicates the wisdom of age, His piercing eyes the omniscience of His knowledge of us. His feet like brass indicate the authority of His judgment, His loud voice the exercise of that authority. His two-edged sword out of His mouth illustrates the decisiveness of His Word of judgment and His glowing face, the glory of His place as the Son of Man (see Matthew 16:27-17:2). In other words, everything He needs to exercise proper judgment on this world, He already has. He is simply waiting for the right time.

III. The “Son of Man” has a message for those who claim to be His servants (Revelation 1:1, 12-13, 16, 20). That is why this passage concerns us. We at Grace Bible Church claim to be servants of God just as each of these seven churches, the seven lampstands claimed to be servants of God. Jesus had a particular message for each of them.

For some it was a message of hope. Seven times He says to the churches in chapters 2 and 3, “To him who overcomes…” For the true believer life on this evil earth has both dangers and temptations. Those who remain true to their faith in Christ “…shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels (Revelation 3:5). In Luke 12:8 Jesus reserves this responsibility for the Son of Man. What is your trial? By what are you tempted? Jesus Christ will stay true to you. He is your hope. Stay true to Him!

For others it was a message of judgment. To the church of Thyatira, the church that had most forsaken the truth, He describes Himself as “the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass” (3:18). If you, even though you may claim faith in Christ, if you turn from that faith or live in a way that contradicts that faith, “…all…shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts” (3:23). In other words, you will be judged.

For most all of them, it was a message of warning. These warnings were concerning true doctrine, the doctrine of Christ as well as concerning our attitudes toward Christ and toward ourselves. Do you take your faith seriously? Do you live according to your faith in Christ or do you live in love with this world? If you love this world then there is a warning for you in this book.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His glorious face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

Heed this Warning and You will Grow in Christ (a sermon from Colossians 2) October 28, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Colossians, Crucifixion, Religion, Sermons, Spiritual Growth.
add a comment

(This is the 4th in a seven part sermon series from Colossians, preached earlier this fall at Grace Bible Church.)

Heed This Warning and You Will Grow in Christ
Colossians 2:4-23 (with 1:28)

Last week, in looking at Colossians 1:28, I mentioned that warning was an essential part of the ministry of the gospel if we are to present one another complete, that is, perfect or mature in Christ Jesus. In the passage we are looking at today, Paul is doing just that.

Last week I used the example of finishing the game. This week, I would like us to think of growing a pear. A couple of weeks ago, my daughter picked a couple of pears off of a pear tree. One was a nice-sized pear. The other was a little bit smaller. They were both hard as rocks, so we set the on the window sill to ripen. After a while I picked up the larger one and felt that it was soft. When I bit into that pear, I found it to be perfect. It was as juicy and as sweet as any pear that I have ever eaten. About a week later, I did the same with the smaller one. It had finally become complete, ripened to perfection. It had passed the taste test which is the only test that matters when you are eating pears.

If we are to grow in Christ, to ripen spiritually, there are various things that we might do but one thing that is important is to heed the warnings of this passage.

Now there are different types of warnings but often in a warning a command is implied if not directly given. In this passage Paul gave the Colossian believers three commands that if listened to and obeyed would enable the believers to become mature in Christ.

I. We should continue to walk according to our faith in Christ (vs. 4-7). Paul began his letter by commending them for walking according to their faith in Christ. He does this again in verse 5. Then he prayed that they would continue to walk according to their faith in Christ. Last week we saw that he sacrificed himself so that they would continue to walk according to their faith in Christ. Paul obviously felt it was essential for them to walk according to their faith in Christ.

a. Such a walk is our defense against deceit (vs. 4 and 6). The main tool of the devil and his allies is deceit. From the garden of Eden until now, the devil has dealt in deceit. He uses persuasive words. They sound logical, spiritual, moral, helpful but they are damning, fleshly, rebellion against God. Our defense against Satan’s deceit is walking according to our faith in Christ. In other words, the reality of your faith is what will keep you from following Satan.

b. Our defense against deceit is built on a steadfast faith (vs. 5-7). I emphasize the word “steadfast” because it is a biblical emphasis.
I came across a wonderful example of this a few days ago. My family and I had the opportunity to meet Pastor Robert Grimwood and his wife, Judy a few days ago. We were discussing youth work. He mentioned to me how that he had grown up in a church that had sixty-five young people in its youth group. He also recounted how that the first church in which he served as youth minister had a youth group of seventeen or eighteen kids. He mentioned all the events and things that the larger youth group had and then how in this smaller youth group, although they had events typical for a youth group, he focused on discipling those kids, especially those who were serious about their faith in Christ. In both cases we are talking about people who were in their teens well over thirty years ago. At a recent reunion of the larger youth group, of those attending only six were still in church. Of the smaller youth group that had focused on building a steadfast faith, all but one was still attending church.

Paul and the other believers realized that faith in Christ is more than an instantaneous decision. There is a point at which one puts their faith in Christ but that faith is to be cultivated, built upon, and confirmed in its reality (vs. 7). It is essential for several reasons. First, it keeps true believers from becoming confused and deceived. This is the matter that Paul, I believe, is directly addressing. Secondly, it helps bring those whose faith is not real to the understanding that their faith is not true faith. I do not try to make people doubt their salvation through psychological or theological tricks but I do want every one of you to be certain of the reality of our faith. That is especially important in our children’s, youth, and young adult but it is important for every age group. It is a matter of eternity.

II. In the second command that Paul gives to the Colossians, we find the specific reason why we should walk according to our faith in Christ. There is the danger of spiritual kidnapping (verse 8). The NKJV translates the word “cheat” but the context of Colossians 1 and 2 brings to mind a much stronger image. We were once according to 1:13 “…delivered… from the power of darkness and conveyed… into the kingdom of the love of His Son,” but there is a danger. We need to take heed to that danger, the danger of spiritual kidnapping (vs. 8-15).

a. The main reason this is a danger is because we are still surrounded by our old ways, the ways of the world (vs. 8). The philosophy of this world continues to promise much. The promises are empty, they are deceitful but they are all around us. They are not lawless, humanly speaking. They seem orderly. They appeal to humankind because they derive from the brilliance of the human heart but they are empty and they are deceitful. The biggest problem with them, however, is this: they are not according to Christ. Any system of belief without Christ is empty and deceitful. Now Paul is addressing religious systems of belief in this passage but this is true of all systems of belief: political, psychological, scientific, educational, and economical belief systems, regardless of where they fall on their spectrum are all empty and deceitful if Christ is taken out of the equation.

b. We can, however, successfully resist the empty and deceitful promises of the world because we are no longer captive to our sinful body. We were captive to our sinful body (vs. 11-14).

First, we are spiritually crucified, buried, and resurrected with Christ through faith in the gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. You see, when we receive eternal life through Christ, it is not talking just about never ending life. We now have eternal life. My old spiritual deadness exists no more. It no longer has a hold on me. I do not have to live according to my former sinful flesh but now through Christ have spiritual life that enables me to fight against all the evil influences around me. That is one of the reasons that the symbol of baptism is so important. It is a powerful statement of a new reality.

I understand that there are some young people who desire to be baptized. I am thrilled to hear that and would like you to speak to me about that desire. Let me explain that one of the things that you are doing when you are baptized is making a statement about yourself. You are saying, “I am a new creature in Christ Jesus.” Now don’t misunderstand. You are not saying you are sinless in your everyday life. None of us can in reality make that statement but every believer in Christ can say, I do not have to sin because I have put my faith in Christ and I am now a new creature.

Secondly, you need to understand what it is that Jesus did on that cross that makes this new creature reality possible. He died for your sin so that you might be forgiven. The picture here is of your sins being paid for on the cross by Christ Jesus.

c. Now there is a second reason why we can resist the influence of this world. We are no longer captive to the forces of evil (compare vs. 15 to vs. 9-10). The picture in verse 15 is of a triumphal return from battle by a Caesar who is leading a parade made up of political dignitaries, sacrificial animals, soldiers in the army, and the captive generals. These generals were to be led to the center of the city and executed. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ was not only the victory of Christ over the forces of evil but also the public humiliation of them. These forces beginning with Satan himself do not have any power any more over the believer in Christ because now we are complete in Him, the ruler over every principality and power (verses 9-10).

III. If then we are free from the power of our sinful body and from any evil power, Paul commands, do not then let your old ways, the ways of the world, enslave you again to your sinful body (vs. 16-23).

a. Our old ways through religious regulations try to condemn us and again enslave us (vs. 16-17). This is what religious moralism does. The Mormons with their rules and regulations do this. The Watchtower Society, Orthodox Judaism, and traditional Islam are just a few examples who regulate food and drink and the celebration of holidays. They think that they are freeing themselves from their sinful flesh when actually they are tightening the shackles tighter. The problem is not what they forbid and what they allow. The problem is they lack substance, they lack Christ. Without Christ even the Ten Commandments simply condemn and enslave. It is only through the substance, Jesus Christ that we can be freed from sin, from its penalty, and from our sinful flesh.

b. These old ways lead to following inferior men and beings rather than our Head, Jesus Christ with the result that any professing believer is spiritually kidnapped, their reward is stolen from them (vs. 18-19). It appears that there were some who were teaching the ceremonial reverence of angels, perhaps similar to that of Roman Catholicism’s praying to and honoring of the saints or of some of the Oriental religions burning of candles to their dead ancestors. Paul warns that even in outward ceremony, regardless of how religious and sincere it might be, to depart from sole allegiance to Christ is spiritually dangerous. Why? Because only in Christ is the nourishment and unity available in which we can grow individually and as a body.

c. That is why our new life in Christ rejects religious regulations that do not come from our faith in Christ (vs. 20-23). What Paul is saying here is not, do what you want, it does not matter. No, he is saying, if you keep the rules regarding the physical and do not have spiritual life, you will remain in bondage spiritually. So why do it?

People sometimes ask me, can a believer remain in a false religion after they are saved? The question is best asked, “Why do it?” People in false religions are enslaved to their flesh. One does not release people from slavery by becoming a slave. One shows them the key to their chains, the way of escape. The true believers who stays in a false religion ends up stunted spiritually because he or she has cut themselves off from the only source of life, a steadfast faith in Jesus Christ, walking according to the new life that He provided for us through His death, burial, and resurrection.

We need to take this warning as individuals but we also need to heed this warning as a body. What is going to be our priority? Are we going to teach Christ and walk according to the new life He has given us? If we do, then our children are more likely to stay faithful to Christ and we are going to love one another and live in a Christ honoring way. It all begins with rejecting this world’s philosophy, even that of the religious world, and living dead to sin. Will you commit yourself to obeying these commands?

Taking Our Turn at the Plate from Colossians 1:23-2:3 October 4, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Body of Christ, Colossians, Crucifixion, Religion, Sermons, Suffering.
add a comment

Taking Our Turn at the Plate
Colossians 1:23-2:3

As we began our study of Colossians, we found that Paul was praying specifically for the believers in Colosse that the Lord would increase their knowledge of His Father’s will. He knew that they must understand their calling in Christ if they are going to live in this world in a way that is pleasing to God.

After his prayer, he then explained in detail the Father’s plan:

1. His Son would create the universe.
2. Sin would corrupt the universe, especially and specifically mankind.
3. But Jesus would reconcile men to Himself through His death on the cross;
4. …then through His resurrection He gives life to His people, the church.
5. Finally, Paul explained that faith in Christ is necessary to entry into the body of Christ. We find in verses 23b that Paul’s life was given to bringing men and women to faith through the gospel of Christ.

That is what Paul is speaking of in verse 24 when he says, “I…fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.” He means it is time to take his turn at bat (verse 24). You see, Paul wrote this epistle from a prison cell. He was suffering bodily in prison but he did not consider this as unusual. After all, Christ suffered death for our sake. Why should it then be thought unusual for a follower of Christ to also suffer for the body of Christ?

What might be consider unusual is that Paul rejoiced in his physical suffering. He said, “In this prison in suffer but I rejoice.” Was Paul nuts? How can he rejoice in suffering? I think his short answer would be, “My suffering is purposeful.”

Now in this, Paul was also like Christ. Hebrews 12:2 tells us that “…Jesus…for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame…” The point of both Hebrews 12 and of this verse in Colossians is that Christ’s suffering had a purpose and because it had a purpose, there was joy even with suffering.

I. We, like Paul, can also rejoice in physical suffering if it results from a spiritual purpose (1:23-27). There are many possible purposes for suffering. Sometimes it causes us to grow in our faith. That is actually the point of Hebrews 12. Suffering can come because God wants to be glorified. When Jesus was asked about the man born blind, He said this man did not sin nor did his parents’ sin but this blindness is to the glory of God. He then healed them man as a sign that He was the Messiah. There are situations where sin is obviously to blame for suffering and there is suffering that goes beyond any explanation. That was Job’s situation. But Paul’s suffering was different. His suffering was the result of his spiritual purpose.

Have you ever asked yourself this question, what in life is worth dying for? How would you answer that question? If we were to go through the congregation this morning, we would have a limited number of answers. God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, family, country, these are the things that would be mentioned most often. Would you mention the church, the body of Christ, the people for whom Jesus Christ died? Paul would have the church right at the top of his list.

I realize that this is first of all applicable to those of us who are preachers and leaders and teachers. I, as pastor, must be willing to suffer for the sake of God’s people. The deacons also bear that same responsibility. The Sunday School teachers, the nursery workers, the Kid’s Klub leaders on Wednesday night, and the pre-school nursery workers all bear this stewardship, this responsibility in a specific way.

A. Yet, the spiritual purpose of every believer, like Christ’s, should be centered on His people, on His body, on His church (1:24-25a). Let me give you some bibilical reasons. (1) The Great Commission and the promises of the Holy Spirit’s power in witnessing and the presence of God wherever we go are given to all of us for the purpose of building Christ’s church. (2) It is the church that is given the responsibility in the book of Hebrews to pay attention to the faith of fellow believers to see if there is something lacking and a need for help in the lives of another believer. (3) It is the church that is given spiritual gifts for the purpose of edifying and building one another up. So all of us, like Christ should center on His people, on His church.

B. Our method is to fully reveal the mystery of Christ (1:25b-27). This is why the passage we looked at last week is so important. Everyone of us needs to understand what God is doing in this world so that we can do our part in sharing the gospel with the unsaved and in building and encouraging one another in the faith. We need to understand this mystery that Jesus is the divine Creator but that sin has damaged His creation. He came to the world as a man to die for our sin and to give His church, His people life through His resurrection but we can only access forgiveness of sin and eternal life through faith in Christ. This mystery is the gospel of Christ. The riches and the hope of glory that Paul writes about in this epistle is Christ, our Creator and our Lord and Savior. This gospel is a called a mystery because it was not fully revealed until Christ came.

Now you might ask, “How can I do this?” I am not a teacher like Paul. Let me give you a simple plan of action. Tell people you are a Christian. They will expect more of you but they need to know that you are a Christian and that you are not ashamed of being a Christian. They need to be watching you, scrutinizing your life. Secondly, invite them to church, to Sunday School, to Great Night services, to anything that you might think is appropriate for them. Then tell them why you became a Christian. If it was fear of hell that drove you to Christ, tell it. If it was the guilt of sin, tell it. If it was frustration with the emptiness of your life, tell it. Whatever or whoever it was that motivated you to trust Christ, let people know about it. Then tell them the mystery of Christ. Tell them that Jesus came to save them from sin and give them new life through His death and resurrection. Finally, invite them to put their faith in Christ alone.

Is it possible that some will not like it? Absolutely! May there be some unforeseen consequences for you? Yes! But the bringing of people into the family of Christ is the greatest task in the world. It is why Jesus suffered and died, to bring people to himself.

II. Not only is it worth any suffering that we might experience, we can, like Paul, continue despite exhaustion (1:28-29). Paul makes it clear that the life of a believer focused on the Body of Christ is not easy but that its purpose is makes the weariness worth while.

A. Our purpose is the presentation of completed believers (vs. 28b). Let me explain what I mean. A game is complete when the game is won. That is what the word “perfect” here means, complete. In baseball a complete game is when a pitcher goes from start to finish. Paul says that his goal is, and certainly this should be our goal also, that every believer to whom we minister should finish the game. We are not responsible to win the game; that is Christ’s responsibility; we are, however, responsible to finish.

B. Our method is public proclaim Christ through warnings and wise teaching (vs. 28a). Now every believer is responsible for his or her own growth in Christ but we as fellow believers can help them to complete the game. Although only the pitcher can throw to the batter, he has fielders behind him and bench players and coaches, all there to help the pitcher to win the game. In the same way, we are responsible to help. Some things we can do personally, others we can do as a church. Verse 28 describes for us what we as a church should do. We need to warn one another and teach one another of the truth of Jesus Christ. That is the one truth that Satan cannot stand, that Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Redeemer of all who trust in Him. We must warn against those who deny this truth and teach the truth of Christ as the Scriptures teach it.

III. This responsibility to spread the gospel and faithfully proclaim the truth of Christ, however, extends beyond the walls of Grace Bible Church and even beyond the Lansing area. We can even struggle hard and should struggle hard for saints unknown to us (2:1-3). Now there are many ways that we can do this. One of the key ways is by sending out missionaries. Paul mentions two specific purposes of such work.

A. Our purposes are brotherly love and full confidence in Christ (2:2-3). If we are a family in Christ, one body, then it is imperative that we promote true brotherly love. That is why we support missionaries who plant churches and baptize believers. That is why we support missionaries who are faithful to teach the truth of Christ because it is that truth that promotes love among the brethren and that gives us confidence as we look forward to our eternal future.

These are not just nice things to have but these are characteristics that result from a full knowledge of the gospel of Christ. Paul was thankful that these things were true of the Colossians and he desired that they would be true of all believers. He knew, however, that brotherly love and a confident faith did not just happen but were rooted and grounded in the truth concerning Jesus Christ.

B. Our method is to come to their aid, to encourage them (2:2a). Again there are various ways to encourage one another but Paul is talking about encouraging people who we do not know and perhaps will never meet in this life. He says, I pray for them, I write to them, if there is anything more that they need, whatever it may be, I will strive, I will struggle, I will make it a priority, to meet that need of encouragement.

As you can see, this is a team effort and everyone one of us is in the game. Are you going to follow the example of Christ and of Paul and give yourself to spreading the gospel and encouraging those who believe in the truth of Christ and helping them to complete their game? Are you going to witness and pray and give and warn and teach or enable others to teach the truth of Christ? We only have one life in which to do these things. Let us give our life to Christ as He would have us to, by giving our life to His Body, to His Church.

Isaiah 53 (The Suffering Servant) – A Passion Sermon March 29, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Atonement, Crucifixion, Death of Christ, Isaiah, Jesus, Religion, Resurrection, Sermons.
1 comment so far

JESUS, THE SUFFERING SERVANT (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)

The LORD God wants your attention on the Glorious Deeds of His Servant, Jesus Christ. Again, it is important to identify who this Servant is.

1. As in Isaiah 42, the Servant here must be the Messiah. In Isaiah, sometimes the nation of Israel is called God’s Servant. In at least one place Isaiah himself is referred to as the servant of God but in verses 4-6, we find that the Servant has the sin of others laid on Him. Israel as God’s chosen people is not responsible to deal with our sin problem but the Messiah is. Isaiah also was not responsible to deal with the sin problem of his people but the Messiah is.

2.Since it is clear that this passage is talking about the Messiah, it remains to us to determine if Jesus fulfills this prophecy, is he the Suffering Servant, the Messiah. There are a number of prophecies in this passage and we will look at some of them this morning but I want to call your attention to Acts 8:30-35. Philip explained to the Ethiopian eunuch that this passage among others is talking about Jesus, the Suffering Servant, the Messiah.

I. Jesus, the Servant is honored by God because He acted wisely (52:13). This verse is an introduction to the details that are to follow. God wants us to pay attention to His Servant because He has acted wisely. He wants us to know what those actions are and He wants us see that His Servant is honored, is glorified by God based on the wise actions described later in these verses. As we read the following verses, the actions Jesus undertook may see foolish to us. It may seem like a huge mistake. God’s evaluation is different. God says, this plan of action that My Servant has undertook is a wise plan of action and I will honored Him accordingly.

II. Not everyone, however, honors Jesus, the Suffering Servant. The next verse indicates that Jesus, the Servant is not honored by men (52:14-53:3).

A. His life ended in shocking humiliation (52:14-15). Isaiah begins here with the end of the life of Christ. Here is a man whose disfigurement is astonishing. Now why would the disfigurement of a man be so shocking. Have we not all seen people whose bodies or faces are so ravaged by disease or disaster that we have been astonished? But to see God’s honored Servant so disfigured is shocking. To this day, many do not believe that God could have had a hand in the crucifixion. They prefer to think that Jesus had a different end in mind than His shameful death. That God would allow such a thing to happen is shocking.

It is like water being splashed in your face. The nations and their rulers when confronted with the humiliation of Christ are shocked, even repulsed by the horribleness of the crucifixion of the Suffering Servant of God.

B. His life began in unbelievable humility (53:1-3). Before He died in humiliation, He must first be born in humility. Again, hardly anyone can believe the message. That the Servant of God should be born into a poor, humble family, that God should come into the world in the weakness of infancy, that He should live and walk on this earth for thirty years in insignificance and that even when He begins His work there are no military victories won. Immediately after His crucifixion, the best that one might could say was that He simply was a fad for a year or so, who, when the fad was over, did not simply fade away but died, hated, betrayed, and forsaken. The life of Christ, even in the midst of the miracles He performed and the teachings He expounded, never rose above the life of a simple man surrounded by other simple men. So we see that Jesus, the suffering Servant is honored by God but not by man. His humility and humiliation is not honorable in the eyes of humankind but rather is despised by them, by us.

III. Yet, Jesus, the Servant was unjustly executed for the crimes of humankind (53:4-9), for the crimes of those who despised Him. This we recognize. There are few who would say that Jesus deserved the death He died. It is hard for people to recognize is that He died for their sins.

This passage explains to us what it means for Jesus to die for our sins. Verses 5-6 makes it clear that Jesus died for criminals. Our criminality is described in verse 6, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way.” We want to do, what we want to do; and what we want to do is criminal. “But He was wounded for our transgressions.”

So what? What does that accomplish? What good is it that Jesus died? Verse 5 tells us that our peace, our well-being, was accomplished through His bearing of our punishment. We are healed by the death of Christ.

Now it is important to understand what this means. There are those who teach that Jesus died so that we should be delivered from physical poverty and troubles and sickness. They turn to these verses to teach this. If, however, we look at the context, the picture is much different. It is the picture of a criminal, who is condemned but another takes his punishment. This peace, this well-being is not a two car garage and a freezer full of steaks. It is the release from the penalty of death. That is the well-being, the peace that the Suffering Servant provides. This healing is not the healing of our physical illnesses but rather the release from certain death through His death. The word “healed” means to be restored to its proper condition. Medically this meaning is obvious but it is also used when Elijah repaired the altar. He restored the altar to its proper condition. His successor, Elisha, later performed a miracle. The water in a certain city was unsuitable for drinking and unsuitable for irrigating. The properties of the water were poisonous. Elisha took a bowl of salt, tossed it into the source of the water, and “healed” the water, that is, restored the water to its proper condition. The psalms speak of healing of the soul and healing of the broken-heart. What Isaiah is speaking of here is the restoration of a condemned criminal. The criminal by the death of the Suffering Servant is taken off of death role and given his freedom. That is a healing that surpasses all medical healings.

Verses 7-9 describe in detail the death and burial of the Suffering Servant.

First, we find that He suffered silently. He did not try to defend Himself but rather submitted Himself to the death of a criminal. Matthew tells us three times that Jesus kept silent at the accusations made against Him, He answered not one word. Mark, Luke, and John also mention the silence of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:23 say that Jesus, “…when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” Jesus, fulfilled the prophecies in verse 7 regarding the Suffering Servant.

Then, verse 8 tells us that He was killed. The Muslims may say that Jesus did not die but that another took His place but all the eyewitnesses are certain, without any doubt, that Jesus is the one who died on that cross. The soldier, who came to break His legs, so that He might die more quickly, found Him dead (and on finding that, took a spear and drove it into the side of Jesus Christ). Jesus’ died as predicted by this prophecy in verse 8.

The beginning of verse 9 tells us that Jesus died with the wicked. Between two criminals, Jesus died. Was He guilty of anything? No, but he died with the wicked as prophesied 700 years earlier by Isaiah.

The middle of the verse reminds us that He was buried with the rich. Joseph or Arimathea, a wealthy man, begged the body of Jesus from Pilate and took it and buried the body in his own tomb, the tomb of a rich man. Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of the Suffering Servant being executed for our behalf, freeing us, healing us from condemnation.

IV. These are the actions, for which Jesus is honored. Jesus, the Suffering Servant is honored by God because He atoned for our crimes (53:10-12).

A. God honors Jesus with long life (53:10). The implications of the resurrection are not dealt with in this passage but Isaiah predicted that this Suffering Servant, who died for us criminals and was buried in the tomb of a rich man would see His seed. Now Jesus never married. How is it that He can see His seed? He must rise again from the dead and see men and women turn to Him for salvation. Those who trust Christ become the sons of God, by believing in His name. This is an honor that only God can offer. Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world, if He would only bow down to Him. He did not, however, and could not offer life. God honored Jesus with life, God raised Him from the dead.

B. God honors Jesus with a portion among the great (53:12). What portion did Jesus get? Hebrews 1 tells us exactly. It tells us that Jesus, “…when He had by Himself purged us from our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels has He said at any time, ‘You are my Son, this day have I begotten You…” Do you understand that Jesus does not sit on the right hand of God because He Himself is God but because He is being honored for dying on our behalf for our criminal acts. He atoned for our crimes and for that wise action, God has honored Jesus Christ in our behalf.

When Philip preached this passage to Philip, he asked about being baptized. Philip’s reply was simply this, do you believe? Do you believe that you are a criminal before God, deserving of death but that He was executed on your behalf and that through Him you can have spiritual healing, that is, be freed from the penalty of God? The eunuch answered, “Yes.” Philip then baptized Him as a testimony of His faith in Christ. This message is worthless to you if you do not believe it and follow Christ. Will you believe today?

NEXT WEEK: Zechariah 9:9-17 – The Coming King

Holiday Sermons from Hebrews 1:1-2:4 (from Christmas to Easter) August 31, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Ascension, Christmas, Crucifixion, Easter, Good Friday, Hebrews, Humor, Messiah, Palm Sunday, Religion.
2 comments

Compared to last week there were just too many good sermons on the few sites that I gather from to include them all. Don’t forget to read the humorous quote at the bottom of this post justifying the ignoring of the chapter divisions. It’s good!

Christmas from Ray Pritchard

Palm Sunday from John Piper

Maundy Thursday (could also be used for Good Friday) from John Piper

Easter Sunday (could also be used for Ascension Thursday) from John Piper

Okay, not a holiday sermon but very powerful covering 2:1-4 from John MacArthur

A different approach covering the same verses as I will be on Sunday. This one is from Ray Stedman. Great quote from this one: “We shall ignore chapter divisions as we go through this book for, on the best tradition, those were put in by a drunken man riding on horseback.” Not very spiritual but I like it.

Help from Spurgeon (and Mike Ratliff) in preparing for the Lord’s Table August 28, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Atonement, Blood of Christ, Communion, Crucifixion, Death of Christ, Good Friday, Lord's Table, Religion, Spurgeon.
1 comment so far

“After our Lord’s death was over, the blood of animals was not the type, but the blood of the grape. That which was terrible in prospect is joyous in remembrance. That which was blood in the shedding is wine in the receiving. It came from him with a wound, but it comes to us with a blessing.” Originally posted here by Mike Ratliff.

The Lord’s Table reminds us that the pivotal event in world history is the cross. It is not the invention of fire or the wheel neither is it the printing press or the computer as pivotal as all of these things were. The pivotal event in world history is the death of God’s Son on the cross establishing a new covenant between God and man. Everything before and after depend on the outcome of Christ’s death.