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Remember This Place (A Communion Sermon) May 7, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Bethel, Communion, Covenant, Genesis, Jacob, Jacob's Ladder, John's Gospel, Lord's Table, Promises of God.
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REMEMBER THIS PLACE
Genesis 28:10-22 and John 1:51

Jesus used the story of Jacob’s ladder at Bethel in order to indicate to Nathanael his significance as the Messiah. He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51). He was indicating to Nathanael that there is only one place where you can come into God’s house. It is not the church building. It is not the temple. It is not even Jerusalem or Bethel. The only place where you can come into God’s house is that place where you come to Jesus.

A. Where we meet God is significant because of our situation (verses 10-12).
1. We may be alone (27:43-45). Hated by his brother, neglected by his father, sent away by his mother, Jacob was very alone on the night he met God. Jacob understood that he was on his own without anyone to turn to. The Canaanite city of Luz was nearby but he dared not go there. It might not be safe.

Jesus understands what it means to be alone. “He could have called ten thousand angels to destroy the world and set him free. He could have called then thousand angels but he died alone for you and me.” Jesus understood what it meant to be forsaken by friend and family. Those who could have helped him had fled. Those who stayed like the women were unable to help. When we remember Jesus today, we remember that he knows our loneliness and he wants to bring us to fellowship with God through his death on the cross. First John 1:3, 7 tells us, “That which we have seen and heard (Jesus) we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ…if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

2. We may be uncertain of the future. Jacob was traveling to his Uncle Laban’s care but he didn’t know this man. The way he traveled was long and dangerous and there was no guarantee of acceptance once he arrived. His brother, Esau, might be so full of hatred that he would follow him to Haran.

We also have an uncertain future. We do not know what life may throw at us. James 3:12-14 says, “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy…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.”

Jesus is the one who provides for our future, whether we trust him to salvation or reject him to destruction. He died to be our Savior but he will judge those who have “trampled the Son of God underfoot, [counting] the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing…’Vengeance is Min, I will repay,’…The LORD will judge His people.’…It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:29-31).

3. We may be without comfort (verses 10-12). Lonely, without a certain future, grieving the separation from his family, a rock for a pillow. Jacob had no one to comfort him. He could not even be comforted by physical blessings. The rock on which his head lay seemed to say, “You have blown it now. Esau will now receive everything which God has promised you. You and your mom thought you could trick your dad but look who has the last laugh. You don’t really think that God is going to bless you, do you?

B. Where we meet God is significant because of his promises not the location (verses 13-17).
1. God’s promises are undeserved (verse 13). It is true. Jacob did not deserve God’s blessing. He had tricked his brother. The hatred his brother had for him was well-deserved. Rather than depending on God to keep his promises, Jacob and his mother had attempted to make it happen on their own. Jacob had acted a lot more like the serpent in Eden than he had like the God of heaven. Yet Jacob found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

“Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold, threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater-yes, grace untold-Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.
Dark is the stain that we cannot hide-What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide-Whiter than snow you may be today.”
Julia H. Johnston

2. God’s promises are in Christ (verse 14). That is what Jesus was saying to Nathanael. I am the Son of Man sent from God. I am the seed of Jacob through whom the world will be blessed. I am the bread of life given to bring life to those with no hope. I am the light of the world sent to bring light to darkness. I am the good shepherd who gives his life for the sheep. I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by me. I am the ladder by which you come to God. There is no other.

3. God’s promises are kept daily (verse 15). Before Jesus left he said, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the world.” There is nowhere you can go and there is no time in your life when my promises to you are not kept. Trust me and I will bring you through.

C. When we meet God we should respond appropriately (verses 18-22).
1. We submit in worship (verses 18-19, 21). The problem with God’s promises is that they demand we submit ourselves to God. The worship that Jacob involves himself in was appropriate to his time. The pillow becomes a pillar. The bed becomes an altar. The place of rest becomes a place of submission, LORD you shall be my God.

2. We submit in confidence (verses 20-21). “If…then…” does not imply that Jacob is hedging his bets. This is not a cool negotiation between God and man. This is the recognition of God for who he is and Jacob says, “If you do what you say, then I will serve you.” I remember well the prayer I prayed when I trusted Christ, “Lord, I’ll do anything if you will save me.” I was not negotiating. I was desperate. I was going to hell. I was throwing myself on the mercy of God. I had confidence that I could not save myself but that he could save me and I was placing my confidence for the future in Jesus Christ. I think that is exactly the attitude that we see in Jacob’s life here.

3. We submit with all we have (verse 22). Jacob set up the pillar as reminder to himself of God’s grace and promises. What would he do when he was not at Bethel. He would give to God a tithe. There was no priest available. We do not know how Jacob fulfilled his promise but we know that he committed everything he had to God by giving to God a significant portion of the blessing which God has given him. How significant of a place does God play in your budget? Ten percent? How significant of a place does God play in your schedule? Ten percent. I can’t calculate your finances for you but I can tell you what ten percent of your time would be. Almost two and a half hours a day. Let’s suppose you sleep eight hours a day. God has blessed you with sixteen hours. Can you give him an hour and a half a day, eleven hours a week? How about your relationships? Do you give God a significant portion of your relationships? The body of Christ is here for that very purpose. If this Sunday morning service was taken away, would your relationships with these people suffer?

What am I saying? To remember the place where we met God, that is Jesus Christ, begins with Communion but it goes beyond Communion to taking up our cross and following Jesus Christ. This ritual is the setting up of the pillow as a pillar and pouring olive oil on in. What, however, are you giving to the Lord in submission to his promises?

Next Week’s Sermon: Two Wives on Mother’s Day (Genesis 29:1-30:24).

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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.
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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.”

What Makes A Christian Different? February 8, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Jesus, John's Gospel, Religion, Sermons.
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“LORD, HOW WILL YOU SHOW YOURSELF TO US AND NOT TO THE WORLD?” (John 14:22-31)

How would you like to be known as Judas, not the bad one, the good one? Judas was not very prominent among the disciples but he asked Jesus a very important question. What is the difference between us and the world?

When we worked as missionaries in German-speaking Europe, we were often asked a similar question. People would ask, “What is the difference between you and the Catholic Church?” Now that is a legitimate question and could have been answered in a number of different ways. What we would typically answer, though, would focus on what we felt was the most significant difference and used our answer to steer the conversation to focus on our witness for Jesus Christ. (Now if you want to know how I answered, you will have to ask me after the service but right now we are focusing on something different.)

Jesus took the same tactic in answering Judas’ question. He focused on the most important difference between believers and the world and then He steered their thoughts to what it meant for Jesus Christ to be in the world.

I. The Godhead is not in this world but rather in the believers who know and love Christ (verses 22-29).

A. We have the presence of the Godhead which the world does not have (verses 23-25). There are those who emphasize that we need to practice the presence of God. What they often mean is that we need to get ourselves into a spiritual frame of mind so that we can feel or sense God’s presence and worship Him. This is not what Jesus is talking about. It is possible for unsaved people to put themselves into the proper mood of reverence. They can come to the point where they are emotionally and physically and mentally ready to worship. They cannot experience, however, the presence of God. It is an impossibility.

You may be asking, why I would say such a thing. The answer is found in verses 23. Jesus tells us exactly and clearly, who it is, who can experience the presence of God. The one who loves Jesus, that is the believer in Christ, will keep his words and the Father will love that believer. Now Jesus had already just said this but then He explains that the result will be that the Father and the Son will reside with that believer. In other words, the Father and the Son live with me. They are always in my presence and I am always in their presence. That is the reality of the believer.

According to verse 24, the world does not and cannot know that reality because they have refused to believe the words of Christ. That is why they do not love Christ. They will not believe Him and in Him.

Remember, though Jesus has said that He is going away to the Father. How is it then that they can be with us, when Jesus is physically gone. Verses 25-26 explain that the Holy Spirit will come and be with and in believers. It is through the Holy Spirit that we can practice the presence of God. Now this brings up a very important question. Can we lose the presence of the Holy Spirit? Can we lose the presence of God? Psalm 51:11 seems to indicate that the presence of God can be lost through grievous sin against God. Paul, however, makes it clear in Romans 8:9 that those who do not have the Holy Spirit do not belong to God. This is a very difficult problem. Can we sin and lose the Spirit of God? This is one of the main differences between the Old Testament and the New Testament. In fact, this is probably why Jesus is emphasizing these truths. They need to know that God’s way of doing things has changed. In the Old Testament, God would send the Holy Spirit upon the leaders of His people to enable them to lead spiritually. It often but did not always involve miracles. Sometimes the Spirit would come upon a person for a very short time but at other times He remained on a person for a long period. We do know that in the case of Samson, the Spirit left Him because of his foolishness. We also know that the Spirit left Saul long before God took his throne from him. David saw the awfulness of the removal of the Spirit which in 2 Samuel 7:15 was equated with the removal of the mercy of God. No wonder that David prayed this way. He knew the awfulness of losing the Spirit. We, however, need not fear. We live in a new age in which the Holy Spirit lives within us based on our relationship with Jesus Christ. If it was based on my ability to stay out of trouble, I would have lost the Spirit long ago but the presence of the Spirit since the day of Pentecost is based on one thing only, faith in Jesus Christ. The world, however, does not have the Spirit of God and cannot have the Spirit of God.

B. We have a spiritual memory that the world does not have (verse 26). One of the benefits of having the Spirit of God is that we have through Him a spiritual memory. John 12:14-16 gives us an example of how this works. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt on that first Palm Sunday, the disciples were whooping and hollering and rejoicing with the rest anticipating that Jesus would set Himself up as King of the Jews but it was not until Jesus ascended into heaven that they really understood what those verse meant. It was then that the Holy Spirit helped them to understand that Jesus was more than the Messiah, He was more than the King of the Jews, but rather He was God in the flesh, fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament. In a similar passage in John 2:22, we are told that they believed based on their remembrance of what Christ had said. They remembered, that is, it all came together as the Holy Spirit brought these things to their mind.

The Holy Spirit works in that same way in our lives. He brings to our memory truth and helps us to understand that truth and as we understand that truth, our lives are changed.

C. We have a peace that the world does not have (verse 27). The peace Christ gives allows us to be free from a troubled heart. John 16:33 tells us that we are going to have trouble in this world but that we can be of good cheer, we need not fear, there is no reason for our heart to pound in our chest out of fear. We have His presence, He and the Father are with us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our life.

D. We have a joy that the world does not have (verse 28). Now what is the basis of this joy. The world has joy. They rejoice when healthy babies are born and children manage to graduate from high school. They rejoice at weddings and promotions and retirements. What kind of joy do we have that is different? We rejoice because of the position that Jesus has taken in the universe. He has sat down on the right hand of the Father guaranteeing our salvation, ensuring that our prayers are answered, sending the Holy Spirit to indwell us with the presence of God. Those were great events when we graduated and married and had children but not one of them tops the greatest of all events in eternity past or eternity future when Jesus Christ ascended to the Father with all the pomp and circumstance that eternity can muster and Jesus approached the Father and the Father said, “You are my Son, this day I have begotten you.” Take your position in my kingdom at my right hand. Jesus was exalted above every living creature and given a place of authority with His Father.

Some misunderstand what Jesus is saying here. He is not saying that He is not God or that He is not equal with God. What He is saying is this, “My proper place is as the God-man, the Messiah, the Sent One of God who rules with authority from the Father. This is my place, this is my position. That is important for us. Jesus is our access to the presence of God. He as our Messiah gives us access to the Father. He could only do that in that He became man and lived and died and rose from the dead and ascended to the Father that we might be joint heirs with him.

E. We have a faith that the world does not have (verse 29). Now we have already mentioned this but it is important to remember that we have a faith that the world does not have. The world has faith in science. The world has faith in superstition. The world has faith in the individual. The world has faith in the group. The world has faith in organized religion. The world has faith in self-made religion. The world has faith in the might of wealth and faith in the morals of poverty. The world has faith many things and persons but our faith is unlike any others. We have faith in Christ.

II. Satan is the ruler of this world and he has nothing in common with Christ (verses 30). This is actually another difference between the believer and the world but Jesus presents it here very personally. He is the ruler of the righteous and Satan is the ruler of this world and they are archenemies. According to 2 Corinthians 4:4, Satan has blinded the minds of those who do not believe. Ephesians 2:2 tells us that the world follows Satan’s manner of life and that He works in them. They are under His power. Jesus told the unbelievers of His day that they were children of the devil and that they would do the works of their Father. It is an awful thing but so many of the things and people who we love and care for are under the rule of Satan. I’m glad though that Jesus did not end with this awful fact.

III. The work of Christ is that the world might know him (verses 31). John 1:10-12 tells us that those who do not know Him can know Him and receive Him and through Him become sons of God, be born again. John 8:31-32 tells that those who know Him, the Truth will be freed from Satan’s bondage. What a wonderful truth?

What is important to take away from this message is not only that we are different from the world but that they can be like us if they hear and believe. They can have all these privileges we have through faith in Christ. What a wonderful truth to believe! What a wonderful message to tell! Who will you tell this week of Jesus Christ?

NEXT WEEK: BOLDNESS AND HUMILITY IN SPIRITUAL WARFARE (2 Corinthians 10)

JESUS, THE ANSWER TO ALL QUESTIONS February 1, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in God the Father, John's Gospel, Religion, Sermons.
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“LORD, SHOW US THE FATHER AND WE WILL BE SATISFIED”

(John 14:8-21)

Sometimes we make a statement by asking a question. “You’re not going to eat that, are you?” implies that there is something seriously wrong with what you are about to eat and that only a fool would continue to follow the course of action that you have chosen.

In John 14:8 we have the opposite situation. Philip is making a request but what he is really doing is posing a follow-up question. You have to admire Philip’s boldness. Peter asked Jesus where He was going, wanting to know why he could not follow Jesus there and received the news that he himself would deny the very Christ, for whom Peter claimed he would lay down his life. Then Thomas asked a similar question, stating that if they were going to follow Christ later on, they would need to know where He was so that they would be able to know the way. Jesus answers clearly, “I am the way…no man comes to the Father but by me.”

Philip grabs a hold of Jesus’ statement and requests that Jesus would go ahead and show them the Father. “Jesus, show us the Father now and we will quit pestering you with questions.” Jesus’ response was less than charitable, “Haven’t you been paying attention, Philip!” Now why was Jesus impatient with Philip’s request.

I. Because Philip should have known that all Jesus has is from the Father, that is, to know Jesus is to know the Father (verses 8-11).

A. We are to believe His words and in that way we know the Father (verse 10a). We saw last week (John 12:48-50) that it is the words of Christ by which we will be judged. If we believe His words, we have eternal life but if we do not believe, we will be judged. Now what is meant here is not that if you reject the whole Bible but accept the words of Christ that you have eternal life. What is meant by believing the words of Christ is described for us in verses 44-47. Jesus is the light of the world, the Messiah sent to save men from the kingdom of darkness, from the darkness of their hearts, and from the place of eternal darkness and judgment. The claims of Jesus Christ as the Messiah will be the claims by which we will be judged.

Jesus is saying to Philip, “What more do you want? You know that I am in my Father and He in me. You have believed those words, have you not. What more do you want?”

B. Well, Jesus did not offer Philip anything more except His works and we, like him, are to believe His works (verse 10b-11). In John 10:36-38 Jesus makes it clear that His works are proof that He in the Father and the Father in Him. We have only two options, believe Him or reject Him. Now this is why Jesus was so upset with Philip. He had seen the works and had yet to realize that He was seeing the Father through the works and the words of Christ.

In spite of Jesus impatience with Philip’s spiritual dull-headedness, Jesus answers His question anyway and then explains what it means to know the Father.

II. The believer can receive directly from the Father through Christ just as Christ Himself has received from the Father (verses 12-14).

A. This is why we pray (verses 12-14). Jesus Christ has taken the place of authority by sitting on the right hand of His Father. When I pray, it is because of this place of authority which Jesus has taken which results in my being able to do greater, that is, more works than even what Christ did during His short three and a half year ministry. You see these works He is referring to are not some magical powers or spiritual gift that God gives us but rather we approach the throne of God in prayer and Christ guarantees that my prayers are answered.

When I pray to the Father, based on my faith in Christ, Christ is saying that the Father will answer my prayers in the same way that He gave to Jesus. The reason He does this, though, is because of Jesus Christ and not because of anything which I may bring before the throne of God. I cannot do anything in my prayers that will guarantee that they are answered. You see, Jesus is my access to the Father. He is the guarantee to answered prayer. That is what it means to pray in Jesus’ name.

Now I typically end my prayers with some variation of “in Jesus’ name.” That phrase though is not what guarantees that God answers my prayers. Prayer is not about phraseology. It is about access. I have access to God, not because of the way I pray but because of the one in whom I am trusting for my salvation, Jesus Christ.

B. This is how sinful men can glorify God (verses 13-14). To pray in Jesus’ name means to ask that God’s reputation be enhanced. Do we pray for healing to avoid pain or to enhance God’s reputation? Do we pray for strength to go on because we feel weak or because we want to glorify God? Do we pray for insight, so that we might be wise or that we might know how best to lift God up? I am afraid that we pray a lot more often, even in the spiritual realm, that we may consume it on our on lust, like the believers James rebuked in chapter 4 of his epistle.

III. This unique relationship of love will continue forever (verses 15-21).

A. The Father loves (verse 21) and gives (verse 15). We will talk about how the Father loves us a bit later but I want us to focus on the result of His love. He gives! God the Father gives God the Spirit to us because of God the Son. We have a full relationship with God. There is no part of Him that is disinterested in us. God gives to us. Now it is true that God gives some gifts to all people. It rains on the just and the unjust. Ecclesiastes teaches us that the good things of life like marriage and rewarding work are give to the believer and the unbeliever. There are, however, some gifts that are reserved for me because of Jesus Christ. When I trusted Him, God became my benefactor. He gave me His Spirit.

B. The Spirit comes in (verse 17) and helps (verse 16). Jesus called the Holy Spirit “another Helper” in the New King James Version. Other translations use the word “Comforter” or “Counselor.” All of these translations underline for us, something very important. Jesus regarded the Holy Spirit as a person and not a force.

Now that is very important. You see a force follows certain laws. The gravitational force of this earth allows us to predict that when I fall off a ladder, I will fall to the ground and not up to the clouds. The force of gravity does not decide, “I am going to let this fellow fall to the ground.” Gravity has no will, can have no plan, can make no decision, can feel no desires. It simply does what it is supposed to do.

This is true of the force of the sun. The sun produces light, it produces heat, it also can produce storms that can interfere with radio reception. I do not have to worry about the sun deciding that it is going to withhold light or intensify the heat or disrupt my cell phone service. If it does one of these things, it will do so in obedience to certain natural laws or principles over which the sun has no input or influence.

The Holy Spirit, however, is a person. He is not controlled by any laws or principles. He has a will. He has plans. He can make decisions. He has certain desires. So when Jesus says I am sending you another Helper, one just like me, to abide with you and in you forever, we can have confidence that God intends for our relationship with Him to be one in which we understand His will and His plans and His decisions and His desires because it is exactly in those areas where we need, not just a rule book or a guide book but we need a personal guide.

C. We love and obey (verse 15). What is our part of this relationship we have with God? What do we bring to the table. Obviously not much if, in order to have God answer our prayers, we have to come through Jesus. We have nothing to contribute. Nothing that God needs. Yet Jesus begins His explanation of our relationship to God with the statement, “If you love me, keep my commandments!” In other words, “Love and obey!”

Now this does not mean that love and obedience are synonymous. They are closely related but obedience to Christ is not the same as love to Christ. John Piper explains it this way, “…consider a similar sentence: ‘If you take this medicine, you will get well.’ Is taking the medicine the same as getting well?”

What then does this sentence mean? If you remember in John 13, Jesus said, I am giving a new commandment to you, to love one another, as I have loved you. You see, obedience to the Lord’s commands was already a regular part of their lives. They had left all to follow Him. Jesus is emphasizing that if they loved Him, their continued obedience was to be a priority in their lives. That is, the proof of their love for Christ is their obedience to His commands. Jesus says this plainly in the first part of verse 21.

How then does God respond to our love? Verse 21 continues to say that the Father and the Son will love us. We need now to be careful here. On the surface it appears that these verses could mean that we earn the love of God by keeping the law and proving that we love Him. Now we know that cannot be true because Jesus has just told them, “Love one another, as I have loved you.” Jesus has already loved them. This is true of all who trust Christ. Romans 5:8 tells us that God proved His love for us while we were still sinners in that Christ died for us. So whatever this may mean, it cannot mean that we can earn God’s love.

We find a hint at the end of verse 21. If we love Christ and keep His commandments, He will manifest Himself to us. What we have is a description of an intense relationship of love. Now we will talk more about this next week but I want you to think about our human relationships. While it is true that there is nothing like young marital love, it is in the later years that love is proven. As a young couple sacrifices for one another and learns more and more about the other and reveals more about themselves to the one they love, the love they have for each other can reach a higher plane that young love rarely reaches. That is the way our relationship to Christ should be. He loved me and died for me, so I believe in Him and I love Him and I keep His commandments and He responds in love to me by revealing Himself to me more clearly and then I love Him more and I obey Him more and He loves me more and reveals more of Himself to me and I love Him more and it just keeps on going through all eternity…

D. The Son lives (verse 19). He rose from the dead and because He lives, I live and have eternal love. And Jesus loves (verse 21) and brings me in a love relationship with my Heavenly Father. And Jesus prays (verse 16) so that I might not be left alone as an orphan. And finally, Jesus, shows Himself (verse 21) to us.

INVITATION: Have you seen Jesus? God the Father has given you His Son to reveal Himself to you. Will you believe His words and works? He has made Himself known to you. He paid for your sins on the cross. He invites you to come to Jesus for forgiveness of sin. Would you come, today?

Believers, we have no excuse. People turn to dreams and programs and the things and wisdom of this world and all manner of other things looking for help. The Father has given us Jesus to die for us and the Holy Spirit to guide us. Is that enough for you?

NEXT WEEK: “LORD, HOW WILL YOU SHOW YOURSELF TO US AND NOT TO THE WORLD?” from John 14:22-31

 

 

Is Jesus the Only Way? January 25, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in God the Father, Jesus, John's Gospel, Religion, Sermons.
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“LORD, HOW CAN WE KNOW THE WAY?”

(John 14:1-7)

Suppose you played a game of blind man’s bluff using different methods to find your way.

a. With no help, eyes not blindfolded.

b. With no help, blindfolded.

c. Using someone’s voice as a guide standing in the correct place.

d. Using someone’s voice as a guide though they are not standing in the right place.

e. Someone taking you by the hand but you not going willingly.

f. Someone taking you by the hand and you go willingly.

How would you best find your way if you could not find it yourself? Today we will look at Jesus’ answer to that question.

I. Don’t be afraid (verses 1-3)! Get a hold on yourselves. The disciples were emotionally stirred up. Jesus has just told them that He was going away and that they could not come with Him. He has also told Peter, the most courageous of their group, that he himself would deny Him before the rooster crowed in the morning. On top of this, they have learned that one of them would betray Him and have been rebuked for their lack of love and service for one another. All of these things were disturbing but Jesus is addressing just one of those issues. He is going away and they are troubled by this.

Jesus is not saying that to be emotionally troubled is a sin. We find in John 11:33 that when Jesus came to the tomb of Lazarus and saw all there who were weeping, He Himself was emotionally troubled, groaning in His spirit and outwardly weeping. He was not weeping just for show.

We find in the next chapter, John 12:27, that Jesus openly admitted that His soul was troubled at the thought of what lay before Him, that is, His crucifixion.

In fact, on that same night in the upper room, probably less than an hour before He commanded His disciples to get a hold of their emotions, Jesus was troubled in spirit as He revealed to His disciples that one of them would betray Him.

A. Why then did Jesus command the disciples to get a hold of themselves? Because their place with the Father was guaranteed (verses 1 & 2b). It is hard sometimes for us to get a grasp on what it means to believe in God. This helps us to nail it down. Jesus is saying to these disciples, there is no reason for you to be afraid. My Father and I have it all worked out, believe us, trust us, rely on us, your place with the Father is guaranteed.

Jesus follows His plea for faith with a little kernel of proof. He states that there is plenty of room in His Father’s house for all them and then He inserts a short statement that is full of implications, “if it were not so, I would have told you.” Think on everything that you have heard me teach. Have I told you anything that would contradict that the kingdom of the Father is a great and a glorious kingdom, open to all who would enter? You know the promises of the Old Testament about the glorious kingdom that the Messiah will bring to this earth. Have I said anything that contradicts the truth of the Old Testament? If you can think of one thing that I have said that contradicts the truth of the Old Testament, you can go home, I am not believable. But you know the truth and you know that I have preached the truth to you. Why then not believe it, if you know it to be true? Do not allow this temporary separation to get your eyes of the truth. Believe God! Believe Me! We guarantee that you have no reason to be troubled.

B. My going (crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension) assures this (verses 2-3). Here Jesus finally answers Peter’s question from the last chapter. Jesus said, I am going away and you cannot follow. Peter wanted to know where Jesus was going. Jesus, after rebuking Peter’s self-righteous pride, answers his question in this verse. I am going to prepare a place for you. You cannot come know. The place by the Father is not ready. It must be prepared.

Again, we need to remind ourselves of what Jesus was going to do to prepare a place for us. First, He was going to be crucified for the sins of the world. Then He would be resurrected from the dead. Finally, Jesus would ascend to heaven. Jesus is not saying, I have some carpentry work to finish or I have to create heaven. The Father’s house already exists but no man can enter in until Jesus dies, rises from the dead, and takes His proper place at the right hand of the Father’s throne as the exalted King of glory. That is the preparation work of Jesus Christ.

The fact that Jesus goes to prepare a place assures us, then, that He will come back. When I see my wife in the kitchen pulling the flour out of the cabinet and the cherry pie filling out of the pantry, I know she is preparing something good. All the times that my wife has baked a pie, she has never finished baking and then put it away and said, “I don’t think we will eat this one” No, her preparations to bake a pie are the guarantee that there will be a pie. In the same way, that Jesus went away to prepare a place for us is our guarantee that He will return so that we may live in that place at the right hand of the throne of our heavenly Father.

The writer of Hebrews refers to this in Hebrews 6:17-20. Jesus is the forerunner. Jesus did not go to His Father to rest. He went to His Father to be our High Priest, to prepare heaven for us. His place in heaven is our hope, our sure and steadfast anchor, our guarantee that we have a place in eternity with our heavenly Father.

There are those who seek their guarantee in a church. A church that guarantees you heaven through that particular church, is telling you a lie. There are others who present a list of things that you must do to guarantee a place in heaven. That list is a lie. There are those who hope in their good works outweighing their bad works. Jesus is not their guarantee. They have no true guarantee.

The guarantee though does not end with Jesus sitting on a throne. It continues with the fact that He is coming back. Jesus Christ will return for a specific purpose. To receive us. When Jesus returns, those who believed Him will be taken to be with Him and with the Father for all eternity. We have this assurance from Him.

II. Believe what you know (verses 4-6)! Jesus is not teaching these disciples a lot of new truth in the following verses. He has assured them with the news of His return but now He returns to what they were told from the very beginning. Believe what you know, fellows. I have taught you, I have shown you, it is time now to believe what I have told you and shown you.

A. God the Father is our goal. (verses 4a, 5a, and 6b). Peter had asked, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered Peter clearly, “I am going to my Father’s house.” Thomas still did not understand. This thought of Jesus going away without establishing the promised kingdom just did not make sense to him. He was having trouble understanding the connection between the physical and the spiritual aspect of the work of Jesus. In his honesty, he says, “Lord, you say we know where you are going and how to get there. We do not know where you are going. How can we know how to get there? You say we will follow you afterward but if we do not know where you are at, how are we going to follow?” Obviously, Thomas did not have a clear understanding of what Jesus has been saying. Jesus says now plainly at the end of verse 6. I am going to the Father and that is where you should go also. To go to the Father is our goal.

America is known as the promised land. Pilgrims and gold-seekers have come here seeking. Men have coming here seeking life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Westward expansion was fueled by men and women seeking the promised land. The civil rights movement has traveled on the wave of the sons of slaves seeking to have their share of the promised land. The recent housing boom was built on the idea that the promised land is within reach. Many have found that life, liberty, and happiness for which they have searched. Many others have not. You see, America is not really the promised land for you and I. It is a blessed place, a wonderful place, but the promised land, the land of rest and blessing, is not in America. Never has been and never will be. The promised land is with the Father. He is our goal. He is the place to which we should desire.

B. God the Son is the way (verses 4b and 5b-6). Jesus is saying, I am the way to God. The statement is simple. It is also clear. If, however, there is a need for clarification, Jesus adds this, “Not only am I the way, I am the only way.” There are those who claim that there are many ways to God just as there are many ways to Rutland. Now if God was as easy to reach as Rutland was, that might be true. But that is certainly not true of every destination. The moon for instance. How many ways are there to reach the moon? Only one. When you get in your rocket, you must calculate your speed and the force of gravity and time of departure and the moon’s orbit and the earth’s rotation and a whole host of other factors in order to determine the necessary trajectory. If you calculate wrong, you will not get to the moon. The parameters are very narrow. In the same way, there is only one way to God. Fortunately, we do not need to do any calculations. Jesus has revealed to us that He is the way to the Father.

C. God the Son, however, is more than just the way to God (verse 6a).

1. There is no truth apart from Jesus Christ. In other words, Jesus is the final word on God. What He says about God is truth and anything contradictory is false. Now you may say, cannot God speak to us today. Perhaps there is some information that Jesus and His followers did not know or did not reveal or even worse altered, changed, or covered up. That is what the Muslim or the Mormon or the Ba’haist would say. That is also what many Hindus and Buddhists would say. I like the way that Erwin Lutzer puts it in his book, “Christ Among the Other Gods,” “Of course God can speak whenever He wants to…but when the sun comes out there is no need for the stars.”

Jesus Himself, pointing to His own authority said, “If it were not so, I would have told you.” You can believe Him. He does not lie. He does not misspeak. There is no uncertainty in His words. He is the way and whatever He says about this way is true because He is also the truth. All other teachings and all other ways must square with His teachings and His ways. If they do not square with what He teaches and what He says, then those teachings and those ways are revealed for what they are, a lie.

2. There is no life apart from Jesus Christ. What exactly did Jesus mean? I think the simplest explanation is found in John 12:47-50. Jesus explains how that He is the life. Those who reject His word will be judged by the word which they have rejected and those who receive His word will not be condemned but will receive eternal life. They will be pardoned. They will be saved. Jesus has the words of eternal life, if we will only believe them and receive Him.

III. Know me! Know God! (verse 7)!

This verse is really just a summary of what Jesus has already said but we need to summarize this point because it is the most important point in the Bible. Jesus says to them, “If you have known me, and I assume that you have, you have known the Father. He then comments on their future. He says from now on, because you have known me, you know the Father. Why? Because you have seen Him. When did they see the Father? When they saw Jesus Christ. To see and know and believe and receive Jesus is to see and know and believe and receive God.

This is the message of John’s Gospel. Do you want to know God? Do you want to be received by God? You must accept Jesus Christ as your God and Savior. He died for your sins. That was necessary because He cannot bring a sinful person into the Father’s presence. He rose again bodily, for a dead man cannot be trusted to help a living man. Also, He has ascended to the Father for you as your Lord and as your High Priest. He said He would come again and take you, that is, receive you to Himself and bring you to God. That is His offer. Will you accept His death on your behalf? Will you trust the resurrected and ascended Christ to bring you to God? If you do, when He returns in all His glory, you will be with the Father for all eternity.

NEXT WEEK: “SATISFACTION IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE” from John 14:8-21

 

“Lord, Where Are You Going?” A sermon appropriate for Ascension Day January 18, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Ascension, Body of Christ, John's Gospel, Messiah, Peter the Apostle, Religion, Sermons.
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“LORD, WHERE ARE YOU GOING?”

John 13:31-38

It is a cool spring night. The fall before during the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus openly proclaimed that He was going away (John 7:33). Now this was a strange statement for someone who claimed to be the Messiah, for someone who is going to overthrow the Roman oppressors and sit on the throne of David. John 7:35-36 tells us how that they speculated that Jesus would go out among the Jews dispersed throughout the Roman empire and begin to teach the heathen.

The disciples were not much better. When Jesus again said, I am going away, Peter’s question was simple, “Lord, where are you going?”

I. Jesus had said, “I am going to be glorified” (verses 31-32).

A. Jesus glorified the Father in His crucifixion (verse 31b-32a). Just a few days before in John 12:27-33, Jesus explained that through His death, the Father would be glorified. We sometimes sing a song to the effect that we were in the mind of Christ when He died on the cross but ultimately Jesus Christ died so that the Father would be glorified. God hates sin and, as we heard last week in Sunday School, God hates sinners but He sent His Son to die for those sinners so that He might be glorified. What most honors God, more than all the acts of creation or judgment or benevolence put together is that His Son came to die that sinners might be made righteous. That is how that Jesus glorified the Father and, I might add, that is also the beginning of the glorification of Jesus, the Son of God by the Father (John 17:1-4).

B. As wonderful as the glory of the cross is, that is not the main point that Jesus is making here when He says, “I am going away.” It is a necessary part of His future glory but this glory is beyond the cross, beyond even the resurrection. The Father glorified the Son in His ascension into heaven, that is, in His exaltation to the throne of God. (verses 31a and 31b).

Peter did not really understand what Jesus was talking about and that is why he asked, “Lord, where are you going?” Fifty days later, Peter made it very clear that he understood what it was that Jesus meant. In Acts 2:33-36, Peter explains in detail how that the Father glorified Jesus Christ.

C. This double glorification is necessary for our eternal salvation (John 17:1-5 and 1 Peter 1:17-21).

II. Jesus is going soon and will not be found or followed (verses 32b-33, 36-37). The word “seek” here is an important word. It means more than wondering where something is at and looking around to see if you can find it. Desire is implied here. You see, as Wesley put it in the Christmas carol, “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” Jesus is the “Desire of the nations.” He is the Messiah. Even those who rejected Him, who crucified Him, they also desired Him, they also sought Him, but they did not recognize Him as the one for whom they were seeking.

A. This statement had immediate emotional impact (verses 36-37, John 14:1). It caused Peter to ask questions. It troubled them. The one whom they had sought, whom they had desired, had come. He had called them and they had followed Him. They recognized Him as the Messiah. They knew that He was the Sent One, the Son of God. And now He is going and refuses to tell them where He is going. This was very hard for them to accept. In fact, Peter says, Lord, you can take me. I’ll go. If it cost me my life, I will go. These are questions of deep, troubled emotion. This is not an intellectual exercise.

B. This statement had eternal implications (Compare John 8:21 with John 13:36). This is where the main difference between the rulers of the Jews and the disciples is to be found. Jesus told both groups that they would seek Him, that they would desire Him. The rulers of the Jews, He said, would seek Him, that is, would seek the Messiah, but that they would die in their sin and would not be able to come to where Jesus is. The disciples also would seek Jesus and would not at first be able to follow Jesus Christ but they would in the future be able to follow. Why? Because they recognized Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, the Sent One, the Son of God.

III. Jesus has left us with an important command to obey while He is gone (John 13:34-35, 37-38).

A. This command is new…

…in that it had not been obeyed (Compare verses 34-35 with 1 John 2:7-11). The command to love your neighbor, to love your brother is part of the key command of the Old Testament law – Leviticus 19:18. but it had been ignored. When Jesus came along and He began to preach and practice love for one another, it was received as radical and new, not because it was not known but because it was not often previously practiced and in the religious leadership of that day was hardly practiced at all.

B. Obedience to this commandment is modeled for us by Jesus Christ (verse 34b). This command is not only new because it had not been obeyed previously but also because it had finally the perfect model, Jesus Christ. Now we already have earlier in this chapter an illustration of this love through the washing of the disciples’ feet by Jesus Christ (see especially verses 14-15). We understand that to love one another demands that we submit ourselves as slaves to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

There is, however, another point about the washing of their feet that illustrates for us how we are to love each other. Not only does it involve humbling ourselves before one another but also involves honoring the one who we are serving. Not everyone had their feet washed in that day. No one ever washed a slave’s feet. He washed feet but there was no one to wash his. The washing of feet was reserved for the honored guests of the house. In other words, if I am going to love you as Christ has loved me, not only must I humble myself to the servant’s position but I must also exalt you to the honored position.

Almost every time when I preach a strong sermon on the necessity of loving one another, not just in this church, but throughout my ministry, someone asks me how? Again, we know what it means to love one another, to humble ourselves and to exalt one another. What we do not recognize is how to do this. A few minutes after Jesus spoke to words of John 13:34, He returned to this theme in John 15:12. John 15:9-10 tells us how we can love one another as Jesus loves us. We must abide in His love as He abides in the Father’s love. John 15:5 points out that unless we abide in Christ, we are powerless. That includes especially our love for one another. Are there practical things that you can do? Yes. Ephesians 4 gives us a whole list of practical ways to love one another. It begins though with Christ enabling us. Without Christ’s help, we cannot love one another and to the extent that I do not love my brother and sister in Christ is the proof that I am not abiding in Christ as I should.

C. To ignore this commandment is to set ourselves up for a spiritual trap (Compare verses 37-38 with John 21:15-17). Peter is an excellent example of someone who followed Christ but had problems loving his brothers, his fellow disciples. We find in John 13 that he still must learn to obey this commandment. Is He a believer? Yes. Is he abiding in Christ as he should? Absolutely not. Here is a man who is more concerned about proving his loyalty and his usefulness to Christ than exalting his fellow disciples above himself. Peter paid a price for his powerlessness to love. He fell into the trap of Satan. He denied Christ. Not once. Not twice but rather three times.

When you look at John 21:15-17 and remember the events and the words of both Peter and Jesus in the upper room, we find that Jesus visited one last time this theme of love for Christ and for His people before He ascended to heaven.

“Peter,” he said. “Do you love me?”

“Yes, Lord! I love you.”

“Peter, if you love me, follow my example, feed my sheep. The good shepherd gives his life for his sheep. Greater love has no man than this, that he should lay down his life for his friends. Peter, give your life for my sheep, for your brethren. If you do that, then people will know that you are my disciple.

Peter was willing to show his loyalty through death. Jesus wanted to world to see Peter’s loyalty through his life, specifically, through his love for his fellow believers.

In 1 Peter 2:22, after that Jesus described the glorification of Jesus Christ by the Father, Peter follows Jesus pattern and commands the believers to love one another. Peter learned his lesson well. Although it took a little time, he came to the point where he understood the connection between his salvation and his relationship to his brothers and sisters in Christ. Have you understood that connection and how are you putting it in practice?

NEXT WEEK: “LORD, HOW CAN WE KNOW THE WAY?” from John 14:1-7

A sermon on Judas (kind of)… January 11, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in John's Gospel, Judas, Religion, Sermons.
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“LORD, WHO IS IT?”

(John 13:18-30)

A year before Jesus was crucified, he fed five thousand plus with five flat loaves of bread and two dried fish. It was after that miracle in John 6 where Jesus began to lose followers because of His teachings. As some of his followers were walking away, Jesus turned to the twelve disciples and asked them if they were going away. Peter, serving as spokesmen for the disciples, asked Jesus, “…to whom shall we go?…we…believe and know that you are the Christ…” Jesus then made a shocking announcement. I have chosen twelve of you and one of you is a devil. This was the first time that the disciples began to look at each other and asked themselves, “Who is it?” A year later, they are still asking the same question but this time they ask it openly.

The answer to this question perplexed the disciples (verses 22-30).

There was no reason for them to suspect any of the others (verses 22-25). It is not that Judas was above suspicion. Not a one of them had acted in a way that cause them to suspect them. After all, they had all left everything to follow Christ. They all had been sent out two by two to preach the gospel. One of them had been Judas’ partner in preaching. That disciple had seen Judas perform the same miracles of healing and exorcisms that he himself had performed.

Judas seemed to be singled out by Jesus for honor and intimacy at this feast (verse 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.

Judas was recognized at the time as a responsible and trustworthy disciple (Compare verses 27-31 with John 12:4-6). Although it later came out that Judas was a thief, at the time he was trusted by everyone of the disciples. He was their treasurer. He was trusted by them. When they needed money, they turned to him. When they received money, they turned it over to them. In fact, when Jesus dismissed Judas from the feast, they assumed it had something to do with his duties as treasurer.

Jesus, however, knew the answer. The answer to this question troubled Jesus Christ greatly (verses 21 and 27). Jesus was not surprised by the answer. He had known that Judas would betray Him. There are two good reasons why Jesus should be greatly disturbed by the knowledge of his betrayal by Judas.

The man Christ Jesus was losing a friend (verses 18, 21, and 26). Jesus chose Judas. Jesus mentored Judas. Jesus was Judas’ friend. Judas turned his back on his friend and betrayed him.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God was losing a soul (Compare verses 2 and 27 with John 6:70-71 and 17:12).

John specifies the exact moment when Satan entered into Judas. Although John does not use these words, it seems that Judas crosses at this time the “point of no return.”

It is clear that Judas that Judas is in hell today (Compare John 17:12 with Acts 1:25). This brings up some a couple of important questions.

Did Judas lose his salvation? John 6:64 indicates that Judas was not a true believer. Certainly on some level he had believed that Jesus could be the Messiah but like many others, there came a point when Judas “went back” spiritually (John 6:66). The primary difference is that they left Jesus physically also but Judas, perhaps because of the gain to be made financially, continued to walk with Jesus.

Did Judas go to hell because he committed suicide? The answer again is no. In fact, verses 20 and 21 indicate why Judas went to hell. He did not receive Jesus as the Christ. Is suicide a sin? Yes, but it is a sin for which Jesus died. If Judas had received Christ, even the future sin of suicide would have been forgiven. Instead, Judas’ suicide, in his case, reveals the depth of his spiritual problem. He could not imagine that Christ could forgive him. If he had received Christ, not only could he have imagined forgiveness but he would have been confident of forgiveness.

The answer to this question is important for us today (John 13:18-20).

The prophecy concerning Judas Iscariot is proof that Jesus is the Messiah (verses 18-19).

There are five specific prophecies that were fulfilled when Judas betrayed Jesus:

Psalm 41:9—Close friend will betray Christ (see John 13:18).

Zechariah 11:12—30 pieces of silver (see Matthew 26:15).

Zechariah 11:13—Judas would give the money back. (see Matthew 27:5).

Psalm 69:25—Reputation destroyed forever. (see Acts 1:20).

Psalm 109:8—Replaced by another man—Matthias (see Acts 1:20).

Why did these men need this proof? They were already believers. There is never any doubt about the faith of any of the eleven apostles. This tells us something significant about faith in Christ. The message of faith in Christ as the Messiah is not only for the unsaved but for the believer also. These men were going to face the most difficult days of their lives. Tomorrow, their Master would be crucified. He would rise from the dead but it would be hard for them to believe it. After forty days, Christ would ascend to heaven and then they would have to wait ten days for the coming of the Holy Spirit. They would be persecuted by the same people who had crucified Jesus. They needed to know, in the face of all of these changes, the departure of Jesus and the task of evangelizing the world, it was necessary for them to be confident that Jesus truly is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God.

The first part of verse 20 clarifies for us why these men needed confidence in their message. Jesus said, when I send you out, those who receive your message will be receiving me. It is absolutely necessary that you be certain of the truth of your message. You must know that I am the Christ.

The acceptance of Jesus as Messiah is the same as acceptance of God the Father (verse 20).

In this verse we have a summation of the message of John’s Gospel. If you want to know God, you must know Jesus Christ. If you want to receive God, you must receive Jesus Christ. To accept God without accepting Jesus Christ is to reject God. The line is drawn very clearly. Will you believe Jesus Christ? There are other options: Allah, Buddha, the church, your good works but all of them result ultimately in rejecting God. If you want to receive God, you must receive Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

NEXT WEEK: “LORD, WHERE ARE YOU GOING?” from John 13:31-38

 

A Sermon on Footwashing (John 13:1-17) January 4, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Communion, Footwashing, John's Gospel, Religion, Sermons.
4 comments

“LORD, ARE YOU WASHING MY FEET?” (John 13:1-17)

 

In John 13 and 14 we have the most extensive recording in the New Testament of conversations between Jesus and His disciples. During the course of these conversations, the disciples asked Jesus a number of questions, some of which we want to look at during the next few weeks. Before we look at the first question, I would like for us to understand the scene into which we are diving and then understand the significance of foot washing.

Christ proves His enduring love to His disciples although they will soon be separated from one another (John 13:1-3). The focus of this chapter and the four following is the love Jesus had for His disciples. He will both show His love for them and express His love for them. John, however, wants us to know before hand the circumstances out of which His love for these men comes.

His love has no limit of time or circumstances and no intermission (verse 1). “To the end” means more than “’til death do us part.” There is no limit to the love of Christ for His disciples. It began before the world was created and will continue throughout eternity. There is no circumstance that prevents Him from loving us. He loves us to the uttermost. His love is not on/off or up/down. It is constant, consistent, and continuous. Plainly spoken, He loved us all the way to the cross where He showed His love to us in that while we were still sinners against His holiness, He died for us.

His love is purposeful and planned (verses 1-3). Verse 1 tells us that His love was planned for a specific hour or event. Then verse 2 tells that the event was not only planned but the players, from Christ to Satan, from Peter to Judas, from the Jewish hierarchy to the Roman military might, had already been cast and were ready to play their roles. Finally, in verse 3 we find that the main player, Jesus Christ, had been cast by the Great Director, God Himself, and that soon the curtain was going to close on the present act. For that reason, Jesus Christ found it necessary to prove His love to His disciples. Soon He will be backstage and they will be on the stage alone before a hostile audience and they need to know that He, though unseen, is still there. That was the immediate plan and purpose, with which Jesus performed this act of foot washing.

Christ proves His love through servitude (verses 4-8a; see Luke 22:27 which was probably spoken before the washing of the feet). Perhaps it is widely known that the washing of feet was not a normal part of their routine. It was only performed as an act of hospitality for a visiting stranger and was normally performed by a servant or slave. In the past, they were accustomed to visiting a town or city and having their feet washed by the slaves or the servants of the house in which they were staying. Jesus had never washed their feet and it is doubtful that any of them had ever washed each others feet before.

Christ intended to serve each of the Twelve (verses 4-5). Not just the greats like Peter but the tax collector, Matthew; the political zealot, Simon; the prejudiced Nathanael; the courageous Thomas; the sons of Thunder, James and John; the people persons, Andrew and Philip; the insignificant, James the Lesser and the other Judas, and even Judas Iscariot. Jesus intended to wash everyone of their feet in an act of servitude and submission.

Peter did not intend to allow Jesus to serve Him (verses 6 and 8a). Peter was not polished but He knew one thing: kings do not do the work of slaves. Peter probably thought he was better qualified than the other eleven disciples but he knew that Jesus was his superior in every way. He is so taken back that he asks Jesus, “Don’t you know what you are doing!? I refuse to let you wash my feet!”

Christ teaches what He has lived (verses 7-17).

His servitude was fully revealed by His death (verse 7). Jesus is not saying that Peter did not recognize that Jesus was washing feet. Nor was he saying, you do not understand the symbolism of the act. Peter understood full well the symbolism of foot washing. It symbolized slavery, service to superiors in behalf of someone else. That is why Peter objected to having his feet washed by Jesus Christ. What Peter did not understand was that Jesus would soon be performing the ultimate service, the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus would die in order that Peter might be cleansed from his sin.

His servitude establishes a relationship with those He loves (verses 8b-11).

The service that Jesus Christ performs for us includes more than physical hygiene. Jesus cleans us spiritually and when He cleans us spiritually, we have a “part with” Him. In other words, we share His destiny. Now Peter and the other disciples understood this to mean the earthly kingdom and certainly that is also part of their destiny but we are talking about eternity in the presence of God standing before Him in the righteousness of Christ. That is our part with Christ.

Why then, did Peter not need to be washed again? Peter, it appears, still did not fully understand what Jesus was talking about, confusing physical with spiritual cleansing. There is a beautiful implicit lesson in what Jesus says and does. The whole person is washed beforehand. When one is saved through trusting Christ, he is made completely clean but walking in this world, one is exposed to sin which needs to be washed off. It is Christ the servant, who keeps us spiritually cleansed.

His servitude is our example in our relationship to other believers (verses 12-17). When Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, he showed that He was their servant and that they, like Him were to serve one another. The purpose for His servitude was to exhort us to serve one another even as slaves if it so be necessary.

The basis for our servitude is that He is greater than we (verses 12-16). He is the Teacher. We are the disciples, the followers, the learners. He is the Master. We are His servants. He is the one who sends. We are the ones who are sent.

The result of our servitude is blessedness (verse 17). This word “blessed” sometimes means “happy” but usually it means privileged or favored. Jesus is saying that there are special privileges from God for those who serve others. He who serves as a slave his brother is favored of God. Jesus is saying, you know this truth. I have been teaching you repeatedly over the past few weeks that you should serve one another, love one another, put the other before yourself. You know the truth. It is time to make this the mantra for your life. When you live a life of service to others, you will be blessed, you will favor by God above others. You will become great in the kingdom of God. 

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, 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.

Whose feet are you washing? Are you a slave of Christ or do you serve motivated by ego, appreciation, praise, or success? Perhaps you need to wash the filth of selfishness off of your feet and then look around and find someone else whose feet you can wash.

ADDENDUM: (Burnout is a great danger in Christian service. One of the main reasons we burn out is because we are not being blessed in our service. We feel unappreciated, unrewarded, unfulfilled. When we realize that our appreciation and reward and fulfillment is heavenly and not earthly, it is then that we will be able to combat the very real danger of burnout. We serve as slaves because our Master served as a slave. We are not greater than He. When, however, we serve as He serves, we will be blessed, we will be privileged, we will be rewarded, we will be great in the kingdom of heaven.)

Jesus the Creator October 12, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Colossians, Creation, Hebrews, Jesus, John's Gospel, Religion, Revelation of Jesus Christ.
4 comments

Although it is never directly stated in the Old Testament, the New makes it clear that Jesus was and is the creator. The verses below mention this. Naturally, one should look at the context to make sure that I am not just pulling proof texts out to prove my position but that this is actually what the text says.

John 1:3, 10: All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made…He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

Eph 3:9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;

Col 1:16-17 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

Heb 1:2-3 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Heb 1:10 And: “You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.

Heb 3:3-4 For this One [the context is speaking of Jesus] has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.

Re 4:11 “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”

How God reveals Jesus to us through the Holy Spirit August 19, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Holy Spirit, Inspiration, John's Gospel, Religion, Sermons, Special Revelation, Trinity.
1 comment so far

THE TEACHING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

John 16:12-15

THE BORED PASTOR 

I must confess that I get bored easily. If I preach very long about a subject or from a book, I find myself struggling to get excited about it. This week in my regular Scripture reading, I came across a passage in Isaiah that the Holy Spirit used to wake me up and renew my conviction on the importance of the subject which we have been dealing with this summer, the Word of God. It is Isaiah 29:13-14. Jesus quotes verse thirteen in Matthew 15:7-9 when He criticizes as hypocrites those who elevate the traditions of men over the Word of God. The last part of the quote is, “And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” That is the difference between hypocrisy and reality. Hypocrisy claims to follow God but follows man. I do not know about all of you but I know in my life, that is a daily struggle. Sometimes I get very discouraged by my tendency to follow men rather than God. 

Jesus knew that these eleven men with whom he was spending His last night before His crucifixion would have similar struggles. He knows that even the leader among them, Peter would be tempted in his maturity to give way to the traditions of men rather than following God’s Word whole-heartedly. Although they cannot imagine this, He knows their weaknesses and that there is so much that they do not yet understand.

WE NEED A TEACHER OR GUIDE TO COMPLETE OUR KNOWLEDGE THAT WE MIGHT BE ABLE TO FOLLOW CHRIST.

You would think these men would have a complete knowledge of Christ. They have walked with Him, eaten with Him, they were by Him 24/7. Yet when these disciples were told by Jesus that He would be executed and buried and raised from the dead these disciples could not bear the truth because their understanding was incomplete. Christ tried to reveal their weakness to them but on the last evening before His crucifixion they all denied that they would forsake Christ.

The situation will soon change, however, and Jesus will die, be buried, rise from the dead, and ascend to heaven. Who will guide them then? Who will teach them? Who will give sense to all of these events in their lives? In our Scripture reading today, Jesus assures the disciples that even though He is leaving them, they will not have to fly blind but will have a guide, a teacher, the Spirit of truth to lead them in the way of truth.

Jesus is telling them that the day is coming when they will have access to all the spiritual knowledge and wisdom they need to honor and please the Lord and they will have that knowledge and that wisdom through the Holy Spirit. That is what Christ means when He says in verse 13, that the Spirit will tell you of things to come. He is not strictly referring to prophecy but to all truth past, present, and future that is built upon the truth of the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. These are the events that must happen before the Holy Spirit can come and begin to teach them.

It is important to understand what we mean when we say that the Holy Spirit is our teacher. We do not mean that He cannot or does not use human or other means to teach us. What we mean is that the Holy Spirit is our guide. When I prepare a lesson or sermon, there are a lot of different teaching methods and materials that I may use. In the same way, human agency is one of the methods through which the Holy Spirit teaches but the subject matter comes totally from the Father through Him.

When I was kid, we had some preachers who refused to study the Word of God in preparation for preaching because they wanted to be led by the Spirit of God. This resulted in an attitude of spiritual superiority that said, “Listen to me, I am getting my subject matter from the Spirit of God.” Often part of 1 John 2:27 where it states, “…the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you…” would be taken out of context and quoted. In fact, there were even ways to determine if someone got there message from the Spirit of God. If there was great emotional excitement, if the style of delivery fit the local culture, if (back in the days before there was air conditioning) the preacher’s shirt was totally soaked through with sweat, then you knew the message was from the Spirit of God.

We laugh but this danger shows up in many different ways. This is one of the main reasons that I am preaching this series on the Word of God. There are many who say, God has given me a unique experience, God has given me a dream or an impression, God has revealed this to me. If someone says, God has revealed something to them, you know one of two things must be true. Either they do not understand what it means to have something revealed to them and they are using the wrong word or they are crediting the Holy Spirit with something that comes from within themselves or, which is even worse, from Satan.

Here is a quote from Spurgeon on this same subject. (HT: carefulthought.wordpress.com)

WE NEED A TEACHER OR GUIDE WHO WILL DECLARE THE TRUTH OF CHRIST WITHOUT ANY CHANGE.

The Holy Spirit declares truth. He is called here the Spirit of truth. In fact, three times on this same evening Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth. Two weeks ago we saw that it is possible to discern the difference between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Jesus is saying that what the Holy Spirit reveals is always true and truth. This does not necessarily mean that He reveals something new. In fact, the words “tell” in verse 13 and “declare” in verses 14-15 mean that the Holy Spirit simply announces, reports, clarifies, and explains what is already known. He does not speak anything original. He does not “speak on His own authority.” (Jesus uses this same phrase to speak of His own words in relationship to the Father in John 12:49; 14:10.) The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit speak with one voice and both the Son and the Spirit have their message from the Father. Why? Because they are one.

(From Calvin’s commentary on these verses.) “Now arises a question, what were those things which the apostles were not yet able to learn?” What is it that was necessary for the Spirit to declare? Those things which are revealed in the New Testament.

Let me give you a few examples. One of the earliest epistles is the book of James. What happens in that book, is that James the brother of Jesus takes portions from the Sermon on the Mount and applies them to the everyday lives of Jewish believers. There are those who say that the Sermon of the Mount is not for believers today, that the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is for the millennial kingdom and technically they are correct, I suppose. (As a good dispensationalist, I am supposed to say that J .) James in his little book under the inspiration of the Spirit says, “Wake up! Just because Christ has not set up an earthly kingdom does not mean that the way you live is not connected to the way you believe. The principles Christ taught while here on earth still apply. Where did James get that? By revelation from the Holy Spirit.

Look at the sermons in the book of Acts. Those sermons could not have been preached before Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. The apostles had to be taught by the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 says that the Spirit would give them the ability to be witnesses. You might think that would be no hard thing since they had seen the death of Christ and knew the resurrected Christ and had seen Him ascend into heaven. Jesus points out though that they needed the Holy Spirit to teach them and guide them to tell what they had seen in a way that resulted in transformed lives.

Look at Paul’s letters to the Galatians and to the Romans. Justification by faith in Christ alone could not be explained until Christ had finished His work and the Holy Spirit had come to teach Paul the implications of that truth.

Look at Corinthians and Ephesians and Colossians. Paul needed the Holy Spirit to help him explain the importance of the body of Christ, the church, to the believers in those places.

Look at the letters to the Thessalonians, the book of Revelation, the prophetic sections of Matthew. None of those things were possible to understand, much less teach until Christ ascended and the Holy Spirit put to pen through the authors the truth in those books.

Go through every book in the New Testament and you will see that the men who wrote those books needed two things: the perspective of the work of Christ on the cross being finished through the resurrection and ascension of Christ and the guiding of the Holy Spirit to know how to explain, to declare the affect of that cross in us and in the world.

DOES THIS PASSAGE HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH US? 

This now is where we in the 21st century come in. The Holy Spirit continues today to declare truth to our minds. Now there is a difference between us and the New Testament writers. There were some things declared to them that were inspired, God breathed. We do not need the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us as He did to those early prophets and apostles. He has revealed all that is necessary in the Old and New Testaments. We do need Him though to declare to our minds the already revealed truth. This is what 1 John 2:27 means by “…the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you…” He is talking about the Holy Spirit declaring us to already revealed truth.

It is possible to see something and not recognize it, to hear something and not understand it, to feel something and not know what it is. The Holy Spirit is the one who make it possible for you to understand the Word of God. He does this, not by revealing hidden meanings or deeper meanings but by declaring the truth of His Word to us and then opening our minds to understand it. As I mentioned earlier, teachers have a place and the Holy Spirit uses teachers and other tools but you cannot understand the Word of God, you cannot apply the Word of God, you cannot be transformed by the Word of God unless the Holy Spirit who wrote the Word of God teaches it to you.

CONCLUSION: Tim Challies, a Canadian, told this week in an article on his blog entitled “Trusting the Instruments” about “ ‘…a program called ‘Mayday,’…It is a show about disasters, and most notably, plane crashes. It sounds morbid, I admit, but I find it interesting (though I’ll admit that it has made my children inordinately afraid of flying. They are now convinced that every plane crashes)…

…(One) night the show followed the story of a plane that had nearly crashed years before. The plane had been flying along just as it should and all appeared normal when suddenly it began to experience all kinds of strange problems. It gyrated across the sky, plummeting thousands of feet at a time and turning violently to one side. One and then two of the four engines stalled and failed, leaving the plane without the power it needed to maintain level flight. The pilot and copilot responded instinctually, doing their best to right the course of the aircraft. Meanwhile hundreds of passengers waited in abject terror, not knowing if they would live or die. The pilots fought valiantly and eventually found they were able to control the plane. Mysteriously, the engines started again and they were able again to provide sufficient power. The pilots directed the plane to a nearby airport and landed safely. Only a handful of passengers experienced serious injury though the plane sustained heavy damage from the immense loads placed on it during flight.

In the aftermath, investigators found that almost everything that had occurred had been the fault of the pilots. When the plane encountered some turbulence the plane’s flight manual told the pilots how to react. But they relied on instinct rather than the book. And then, when the plane began to experience further complications, they ignored the instruments that should have directed them to the source and solution of their problem. They swung the plane violently from side to side attempting to right it because they ignored the aircraft’s instrument that told them where the horizon was and how to keep the plane level. They ignored the instruments that told them that their engine problem was not as serious as they thought. Blinded by the stress of the situation, they ignored the manual and did things their own way. But for the hand of providence it could have cost them their lives and the lives of hundreds of passengers.”

INVITATION: Are you going to follow the Spirit of God or are you going to fly blind? Some of you are trying to be good enough to go to heaven. You are trusting yourselves, when God has given you the instrument of the Word of God revealed and illuminated by the Spirit of God. The last invitation in the Bible is this, “And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17)” Jesus paid it all for you on the cross. The Spirit keeps inviting you to come to Jesus for forgiveness of sin. Would you come, today?

Believers, we have no excuse. People turn to dreams and programs and the things and wisdom of this world and all manner of other things looking for guidance. God has given us His Word as the instrument with which the Holy Spirit will guide us. Do you know His Word? Do you read it and study it and memorize it and let it permeate your being? If not, then you may be flying blind. Commit yourself today to God’s Word and to allowing it to transform you by the Spirit of truth.