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“Come and See” or “Go and Care” January 4, 2013

Posted by roberttalley in Good Samaritan, Luke.
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(Luke 10:25-37)

There is a debate about what is the best way to live the Christian life. Some would argue that we need to attract the unbeliever to our services. Others would say we need to go out and reach the lost where they are. I can find good evidence in the Bible for both strategies but I will argue for the strengths of one today.

What I fear is that too many Christians live as if the church and Christianity is the Holy of Holies. No one was supposed to go into the Holy of Holies. Gentiles never, women never, regular Jews never, priests never, the high priest once a year.

When Jesus died, however, the curtain that shut even the priests out of the Holy of Holies was rent in two symbolizing that access to God is now available for all men through Jesus Christ. So access is available. How do we bring men and women, boys and girls to that access?

1. There are two types of Christian lifestyles we can practice, both of which have some legitimacy and effectiveness. They both have the same end goal, eternal life in the kingdom of God. You will notice that the lifestyle that shuts people out, that does not take advantage of either of these methods has no biblical precedent. Even before the temple veil was rent in two, it was never intended that Israel become isolated from the rest of world. There are, however, multiple examples of both “come and see” and “go and care.”

a. Apart from grace, the goal of eternal life is impossible for us to reach (verses 27-28). French philosopher Blaise Pascal once wrote, “To make a man a saint, grace is absolutely necessary and whoever doubts it, does not know what a saint is or what a man is.” James 2:8-13 teaches that if we once do not love our neighbor as ourselves we will be judged by God.

b. This goal is a definite command to all men but especially to us as believers (verse 37). We forget that this is the law of God. We do not need to ask people if they have kept the Ten Commandments. We need simply to ask if they have loved the Lord their God with all their heart and their neighbor as themselves and every honest man will bow their head in shame recognizing that they have failed to obey the supreme commandment of God. We are condemned because we have not always loved God with all of our heart and we have often not loved our neighbor as ourselves.

2. A “come and see” lifestyle invites outsiders to come and marvel (verses 31-32). The Temple was a marvelous place. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all speak of its glory. Jesus, however, was not impressed. He knew that in a generation, the Temple would be destroyed and not one stone would be left standing on another. The Levites and the priests were important to the service, the maintenance, the management of the Temple. With great pomp and ceremony they were able to attract thousands of people from around the world, not only Jews but also Gentiles who had become proselytes or who were God fearers like the Ethiopian eunuch who worshipped the Lord God of Israel.

Away, however, from their venue, the Temple, they had nothing.

3. A “go and care” lifestyle leads us to meet the various needs of others (verses 33-36). The Samaritan was much different in his approach than were the Levite and the priest.

a. We will end up operating in areas of great personal risk. The Jericho road was dangerous for anyone traveling alone. It was steep and there were many places where robbers could hide. All of these men had put themselves in danger by travelling alone on that road. The Samaritan, however, not only traveled alone but he also allowed himself to be slowed down by the injured man that the Levite and the priest had ignored.

b. We will end up giving what we were saving for our own safety. Oil and wine are not cheap. They were only to be had in great quantities by the rich. This Samaritan does not appear to be rich but he is more than willing to use what he had to minister to injured man. The wine served as an antiseptic and the oil as a soothing and healing ointment. Perhaps he had brought these items along as a part of his own personal first aid kit.

c. We will end up investing much in others. He invested time. He invested money, two day’s pay. He invested shame as a Samaritan in a Jewish land. He invested, however, because he was a neighbor. Most of all, he invested mercy, that quality that actually makes one a neighbor. Not location. Not common interests or common bonds of humanity. It is mercy that makes us neighbors. The man who shows no mercy has no neighbors.

I would like to share two stories, one illustrating a believer who did not show mercy, the second illustrating one who did.

“[An evangelical Christian from Saint Louis] had been attending one of the largest and best churches in that city…she was raped and contracted AIDS as a result… her church…rejected her. One Sunday morning she arrived early, sat down and began to pray. A fine young family sat down next to her–the wife, two children and the husband. When he saw her, he said, “Get up. We can’t sit here.” His wife said, “What’s wrong? These seats are just fine.” He said, “Just get up. We can’t sit here.” Then he pointed at the girl and said, “She’s got AIDS’” (Richard Pritchard in http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/1991-02-17-The-Sensitivity-of-Jesus/ ).

“[James Stewart] told of an old Scottish believer who went to church one day feeling down because of his sins. When the communion plate was passed, he refused to partake of the elements, thinking himself unworthy. Then he saw a young woman in the congregation who also refused to partake, and then broke into tears. Stewart tells what happened next: ‘Her tears jarred him back to the truth of the gospel he himself needed to recall. In a whisper that could be heard across the church, he was heard to say: “Take it, lassie. Take it. It is meant for sinners.” And he himself partook’” (Ray Pritchard at http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/2012-04-06-The-Torn-Curtain/).

Are you willing to “go and care?” I am not asking you if that is a better strategy than “come and see.” There are no doubt occasions where that is a sufficient strategy, a good strategy, perhaps even the main strategy that should be used. No, the question today is are you willing?

Part One: Sermon Series on Baptism January 9, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Baptism, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Judgment, Luke, Repentance.
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Luke 3:1-22

The next few weeks we want to look at the subject of baptism. This is often a controversial subject so I think I should begin by explaining the purpose behind this sermon series.

1. Several have expressed the desire to be baptized and it is important for their sake and for yours that we look at the Bible and remind ourselves of the Bible’s teaching concerning the subject.
2. Baptism is the way in which people are initiated publicly into the faith. This is perhaps the common denominator between all of the various views concerning baptism. It is a public initiation rite. It says something important about the person being baptized.
3. Baptism is supposed to be meaningful. Even those who do not believe that baptism is necessary today admit that there is a significant meaning behind baptism. The various groups may not agree exactly on what that meaning is but that it is meaningful is certain.

Today we want to look at the baptism of John and understand how baptism functioned in his day. We will also be able to make comparisons to our day because in both John’s day and in our day, baptism functions as a public initiation into the faith and carries great meaning.

I. God’s message to us is a last days’ message (verses 3-9, 15-18). As John was baptizing, the multitudes came to him to be baptized and John spoke very bluntly to them. He told them, God has a message for you. Have you met the conditions demanded for initiation into the kingdom of God (verse 7-8)?

Because we fear salvation by works we tend to deemphasize baptism but works of repentance are biblical. In some pagan cultures, people gather their idols and other articles of superstition and burn them when they turn to Christ. “In America, the house itself may become one’s god. It is hardly appropriate to burn one’s house” (David Hesselgrave in Planting Churches Cross-Culturally). Yet, repentance, though it is an inward attitude, it reveals itself in our actions.

A. This message seems harsh but we need to remember that this is only a part of the message. This message from God is a message of forgiveness (vs. 3-6, 16-17). John was preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins confirming Isaiah’s prophecy that all flesh shall see the kingdom of God. John was preaching that time was at hand. Those Jews who understood and believed the Old Testament knew that in the last days, when the Messiah comes, God will save His people from their sin and the nations will see that salvation and many of them will turn to God.

B. This message, however, is not only a message of forgiveness and salvation but also a message of judgment (vs. 7-9, 17-18). These people were preparing themselves for the end of the world. They obviously hadn’t heard of the Mayans prediction concerning 2012. John’s response was not, “You’re too early!” No, it is, “Are you ready? Have you met the conditions? Are you prepared for the day of judgment?”

II. What are those conditions? God’s message for the last days demands a change of allegiance, that is, repentance (verses 8-14).

A. Allegiance to nationality, ethnicity, and even religious faith hinders repentance (vs. 8-9). That doesn’t mean those things are wrong. These people were born into their nation and born into their faith but they needed to give their allegiance to God not to their nation, their race, their religious identification, and especially, as we will see, to themselves.

B. Our works prove our allegiance (verse 8). How do you determine where someone’s allegiances lie? By how they act, by what they do. It is told that Spurgeon was walking down a street in London when a man who was drunk and leaning on a lamppost yelled out to him, “Hey, Mr. Spurgeon, do you remember me?” Spurgeon replied, “No, why should I?” The man said, “Because I’m one of your converts.” Spurgeon replied, “Well, you must be one of mine; you’re certainly not one of the Lord’s.”

a. Work #1: Compassion for the needy (vs. 10-11). John is applying the Old Testament to these people. Jesus put it later this way, “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” We understand that God has that same expectation of us.

b. Work #2: Contentment with our lot (vs. 12-14). John did not tell the tax collectors or the soldiers to quit working for the government but rather to be content with the blessings they have from God. Again, this is what God expects of us. We are to be content with whatever avenue of blessing the Lord gives us and not to take advantage of others so that we might have more.

(Contentment comes from trust) LeRoy Eims was talking to a young lady in San Francisco. He asked her about her relationship to God. She said, “Well, I’ve always had this terrible fear that He might send me off to Africa as a missionary.” As they continued to talk he asked her about her workplace. He asked her if she went out with the men who hung around there. She said, “No…they are a bunch of creeps and I just don’t feel secure when I’m with them.” He then asked, “If you were to meet a guy who really loved you … [would you feel secure around him]? Do you think he could be trusted?” Of course, she said, yes. In the same way, we can be content and secure in Christ. Like a farmer who irrigates his crops, “God is always upstream, discerning our needs,…and arranging things for our good” (from What Every Christian Should Know About Growing).

c. Work #3: Care not to abuse our power (vs. 14). This is one of those things that I was blessed not to know anything about as I was growing up but the older I get the more I see that when we get power that is not held accountable by others, we tend to abuse those under us.

C. Our baptism is a declaration of our allegiance, that is, our repentance (verses 3, 7). It is a declaration that we love others as ourselves because God loves us as Himself. It is a declaration that we trust Him to give us what we need in the way of blessings and in the way of opportunity to receive blessings in this life. It is a declaration that we are accountable to God for any and all authority which we might have.

That is what baptism is. It is a declaration that my life is different. No more will I live for myself. I have given myself to God.

III. How is this accomplished in our lives? If we are to declare a changed life we must have a changed life. How is that to be? John tells us plainly that God’s message and the fulfillment of that message depends on Christ (verses 15-22).

A. Forgiveness through the Spirit (vs. 3-6, 16-17). We tend to forget that the prediction of the Old Testament is that the Messiah would come and His people would be transformed through Him spiritually. They would be given a fleshy heart instead of a heart of stone. They would be endowed, anointed, have poured out on them, the Holy Spirit. That blessing, however, came through Jesus Christ. These people lived in expectation of that promise.

B. Judgment by His authority (vs. 7-9, 17-18). Just as Jesus brought forgiveness through the Holy Spirit working in those who follow Him, He also brings judgment to those who have a different allegiance.

Where is your allegiance? Have you met the conditions for baptism? Have you repented of your sinful ways and turned to Christ alone for forgiveness and filling with the Holy Spirit? You can meet those conditions today. Turn to Him for salvation and escape from the wrath to come. The kingdom of God is at hand. The predictions of the Mayans will most certainly not happen but Christ may come today. Repent today of your sin.

If you have been baptized, are you living up to your declaration? Do you love your neighbor as yourself? Are you content with what God has blessed you with? Do you use the responsibilities God gives you wisely with consideration for those under your authority? If not, today is the day to make that right.

No Room in the Inn (A Christmas Morning Devotional 2011) December 25, 2011

Posted by roberttalley in Christ, Christmas, Luke.
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INTRODUCTION: In a few moments we will sing #127 in our hymnbook, “Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne.” The first verse says, “Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown, when Thou camest to earth for me; but in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room for Thy holy nativity.” It is interesting that Emily Elliott used the word “home” rather than “inn” for that is most likely what Bethlehem’s inn was, a home. Most likely the inn was a one story, one room apartment in which the family shared its living quarters with strangers traveling the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. If the weather was warm then there may have been sleeping quarters available on the roof. In this apartment there were two levels, the living quarters in the back being a step above the quarters where the animals were kept and where the children played. In warmer weather, the animals might be kept outside. As we continue to read the Christmas story this morning, we will see that there were shepherds outside of Bethlehem watching their flocks in the fields. Although tradition has Jesus born in a cave, it is likely that Joseph and Mary came to the inn but it already had a half-dozen or so extra people there. The only place for the birth of Christ was the front room where they animals stayed and the children played and the manger in that room was where the baby was laid.

We sometimes think that there were dozens of people who kept Jesus from having room but most likely it was only a few people, who had priority over Jesus. Is that not true of our lives. It is not the dozens of the things in our lives that push Jesus out but rather just a few.

Later in this same gospel Jesus (Luke 9:57-58) a man told Jesus that he would follow Him wherever He went. Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” To have room for Jesus is costly. Most people want to give a room to Jesus at Christmas but they don’t want to give up all to follow Him. To have room for Jesus means to have no room for our selves.

It also means to have no room for our family. Another man said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father” (Luke 9:59). Jesus replied, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” To have room for Jesus not only means to have no room for our selves but to have no room for those we love most. This is a hard saying but it is the price. Most people want to have Jesus as a part of their family at Christmas but they don’t want to give up their family for Jesus. The price is not worth it.

Others recognize the price but are not yet willing to pay it. Luke 9:61-62 describes a man who says, “ ‘Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.’” What a decision! Follow me and follow me now or go home to hell!

Frances Ridley Havergal wrote in the hymn “I Gave My Life for Thee”, “My Father’s house of light, My glory-circled throne, I left, for earthly night, for wand’rings sad and lone; I left, I left it all for thee, Hast thou left aught [anything] for Me?”

Henry Lyte seems to reply in another hymn, “Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow Thee; destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou from hence [from now own] my all shalt be: Perish every fond ambition, all I’ve sought, and hoped and known. Yet how rich is my condition, God and heav’n are still my own!”

Is that your Christmas prayer? Have you made room for Jesus? Have you forsaken houses and lands, family and friends, and your own life also to follow Jesus? This carol, “Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne,” has four verses of commitment and one of hopeful praise. Does Jesus have a room or does he have you? That is what this Christmas carol is saying. Give Him, sinner and Christian, your all and follow Him.

Second Advent Sermon 2011 Grace Bible Church December 15, 2011

Posted by roberttalley in Angels, Christmas, Luke.
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Luke 1:5-25, 57-66

Got any rivers you think are uncrossable;
Got any mountains you cannot tunnel through?
God specializes in things thought impossible;
And He can do what no other power can do.

A. Obstacles are common in our lives. Chuck Swindoll, commenting on this chorus wrote, “If things seem a little difficult today, just wait: they’ll soon be impossible! Uncrossable rivers, untunneled mountains, and impossible circumstances really aren’t unusual. How do you handle them?” (from Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back). This couple faced an uncrossable river. To make matters worse, it was a shameful situation in the minds of some. To have no children was in the mind of some more than a misfortune. It carried the implication that this was a Divine punishment for some secret sin.

i. We should do God’s will even if we see no way to overcome the obstacles (vs. 5-7). Is the situation impossible? Yes! Is the shame unbearable? Perhaps, but doing God’s will is not determined by our circumstances. How did this couple live in this situation?

a. They were righteous: Their righteousness was intended to please God and not men, which was in contrast to most of the religious leaders and many of the people of that day (and this as well).
b. Walking in the commandments and ordinances: This is the actual revealing of their righteous character. They might be accused of legalism today.
c. Blameless: This means that they not only were good in character and that they lived it out before men but also that there had never been an accusation made against them.

This righteous man’s attention was on a rare opportunity. It was probably only once in a lifetime that a priest obtained the lot of going into the sanctuary and burning incense on the golden altar. “It was the great moment of Zacharias’s life…” “Ascending the steps to the Holy Place, the priests spread the coals on the golden altar, and arranged the incense, and the chief operating priest was then left alone within the Holy Place to await the signal of the president to burn the incense. It was probably at this time that the angel appeared to Zacharias” (Vincent). Everyone else’s attention is on him (verse 21). The action of burning the incense should not have taken a long while but it was interrupted by the actions of a prayer answering God.

ii. We, like this couple, should turn to God in prayer because He can overcome the obstacles (vs. 8-13). This couple had probably prayed for years. Whether you feel Zacharias’ prayer was concerning a child or concerning the Messiah, God’s timing and purpose was different from theirs but God was now going to give them the desire of their hearts.

B. When God overcomes obstacles, we are expected to be ready. The attack on Longstop began on December 22 at 11:15 PM. Plans had been made for a big Christmas offensive in North Africa and all was set to go. Longstop, named by the British, was the hill where the attack would begin. The ridge was two miles long and 800 feet high. From its crest, nothing in the valley could move undetected – not a rabbit, not a man, certainly not a tank. It was so rocky, it seemed bony, with powdery soil that covered a climber as flour covers a baker. Although modest in height, the hill had hundreds of secret gullies and dips. The Allies viewed the hill from seven miles away through a telescope. They thought they knew what they were facing but there were two critical errors made. They underestimated the number of Germans on the hill. Instead of a company there was close to a battalion of Germans there, including some of the toughest troops in the whole German army. Worse than that, the hill was actually two hills. To capture one without the other would be deadly and disastrous. If they had looked at their maps or asked troops who had occupied the hill three weeks earlier, they would have known. Instead, the British and Americans attacked unprepared. After twice attacking and taking the lower hill and receiving reinforcements from the French, the Germans attacked on Christmas morning. The Allies fought hard but the battle was lost before the first shot had been fired because the knowledge needed had not been understood. The Germans renamed Longstop. They named it Christmas Hill. It was Easter before the hill was finally taken.

i. We should be ready to obey when God overcomes the obstacles (vs. 13b-15). God did not allow Zacharias to name his son after himself. God also did not allow him to pass on his family calling to John. John would be a Nazarite who never get to fulfill the lofty calling of the priesthood. Zacharias, however, obeyed (vs. 59-63)

ii. We should be ready to believe when God overcomes the obstacles (vs. 18-25).
God uses obstacles in our lives to accomplish His purpose. Although the attention of the people were on the burning of incense, God’s attention is on His plan for the world. God sent an angel and removed a voice to get Zacharias’ attention. It also got the attention of many others. Getting people’s attention is a vital part of God’s plan.

C. God’s purposes go beyond our obstacles and our lives (vs. 16-20).
i. Our worship should go beyond our immediate joy and thanksgiving (vs. 14, see also 67-79). In the book of Luke, rejoicing is often associated with forgiveness of sin. In this verse we find the word twice. Once associated with this couple’s pain and then with the expectations of salvation for the people.

1. Rejoicing is associated with pain. In this case their pain is erased but joy can co-exist with pain. George Matheson penned a hymn while in the throes of a bitter disappointment. He dearly loved a woman whom he wanted to marry. As the romance developed he knew he had to tell her that he was going blind before her love for him went any deeper. To his total surprise, she broke up the relationship. Although he felt something within him had died, the hymn that he wrote was then born in his soul: “I had the impression of having it dictated to me by some inward voice, rather than of working it out myself.” We know it as “O Love that wilt not let me go”. Listen to the third verse,
“O joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.

b) Rejoicing is associated with the salvation of God’s people: Zacharias is speaking from a limited Jewish standpoint. This rejoicing, however, is for all people (Luke 2:10). You see, Christmas is not about solving our individual problems but rather about knowing that our individual problems matter in God’s purpose in saving the world.

You’ve heard the message and perhaps you have rejoiced that there is hope for you and forgiveness for your sin. Don’t stop there! Turn to God! Trust Christ! He died to forgive you but the forgiveness is only available if you turn to Him and to Him alone for salvation.

If you are facing an obstacle in your life, God may want to do more than just test your character. He may want to use that obstacle to reach someone else for Christ. This Christmas season, you will have opportunities to witness, that you won’t have the rest of the year. Some of those opportunities will be associated with painful obstacles. Yet, you will be able to get people to come to church with you, who normally would not come. Are you going to use those opportunities?

Jesus Among Friends (Luke 22) April 7, 2011

Posted by roberttalley in Atonement, Blood of Christ, Body of Christ, Christ, Communion, Covenant, Crucifixion, Death of Christ, Falling Away, Jesus, Lord's Table, Luke, Messiah, Millenial Kingdom, Passover, Suffering.
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(Luke 22:1-62)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by roberttalley in Christ, Crucifixion, Death of Christ, Luke, Parables of Jesus, Sermons, Temple.
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(Luke 20:1-19)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sermon for Thanksgiving Sunday (The Key to Thanksgiving) November 22, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Faith, Leprosy, Luke, Religion, Sermons, Thanksgiving.
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Luke 17:1-19

INTRODUCTION: What is the key to thanksgiving? Is it comparing yourself to others and realizing how much more you have than they? If it is, then we should be the most thankful country in the world but I am afraid we are not much more thankful, if at all, than the rest of the world.

In this passage we understand through contrast the key to thanksgiving. First, however, I want us to focus on two things in this passage that should have evoked thanksgiving in those who were healed but apparently did not, that is, we want to see from this passage what is not the key to thanksgiving.

I. The key to thanksgiving is not the meeting of a desperate need (verses 12-13).

a. There have always been people with desperate needs (verse 12).
These lepers came, no doubt, from various walks of life. We know that one was a Samaritan. The Samaritans and the Jews were archenemies. They hated everything for which the other stood. These lepers, however, all desperately needed help. Sometimes misery and pain overcome racial and religious prejudice. Not always but sometimes.

In 2 Kings 7:3 we find that the four Israelite lepers who were trapped between the city of Samaria and the Syrian army decided to go over to the enemy. This is what they said, “Why are we sitting here until we die? If we say, ‘We will enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore, come, let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall only die.”

Certainly, to be a leper was a desperate situation. Verse 12 says they stood afar off. This was normal for lepers. They were not allowed to come near other people. Verse 13 says they lifted up their voices. Trench tells us, “All who have studied this terrible disease tell us that an almost total failure of voice is one of the symptoms which accompany it.” Yet they did what they could to get the Master’s attention.

b. A characteristic of desperate people is they often recognize and are ready for a solution to their problem (verse 13).

Of course, there are those who do not recognize that they have a problem. For more than 20 years, it is said, Professor Edwin Keaty of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, used to start his classes by writing on a blackboard two numbers, the numbers 2 and 4. And then he would ask his audience, “What’s the solution?” One student would shout out, “6” and another student would shout out, “2” and another student would shout out, “8” and Professor Keaty would shake his head and he would say, “Gentlemen, unless you know what the problem is, you cannot possibly find the answer.” These lepers recognized their problem and were ready to find the answer.

Notice how they addressed Jesus, “Master,” that is, an overseer or superintendent. This was a term of respect. They recognized He had authority from God but at least for nine of them, that recognition did not result in thanksgiving. “(T)he number of those who pray is greater than the number of those who praise” (Spurgeon).

For years, Martin Luther recognized his need but it drove him to hate God rather than to thanksgiving. Part of the problem was Martin Luther did not understand God’s provision to meet his need. I will never forget visiting Rome and entering the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Our guide explained to us what we were seeing – the Holy Staircase. Supposedly, the mother of Emperor Constantine, Helena, had sent the staircase from Jerusalem to Rome. The steps are said to be the actual steps that Jesus climbed the day of His crucifixion. We watched as pilgrims climbed up the steps. Although the staircase has a different location now than it did in 1510 when Martin Luther climbed the staircase on his knees, the ritual remains today the same. Climb the holy steps on your knees, saying the Lord’s Prayer on each step. With each step and with each prayer comes nine years less time in purgatory. However, when Martin Luther did so, the Holy Spirit already was sowing the seeds of conviction in the young monk’s heart when, according to his later testimony, reaching the top, he stood up, thinking, “Who knows if it’s true?”

Luther knew he had a great spiritual need. He realized eventually from God’s Word that climbing the spiritual steps of works and ritual do nothing for the soul. In his case, instead of becoming thankful he became hateful toward a God who would set up such an impossible standard. But then in God’s Word, he discovered Jesus Christ.

II. The key to thanksgiving is not the recognition of need and it is also not simply doing what you are told, that is, obedience (verses 14, 17-18).

a. Obeying the Lord’s command is commendable and effective (verses 14).

This is illustrated for us in verses 7-10. Obedience in the sense of doing our duty is nothing to brag about. It is, however, commendable and brings about good things. Faithfulness to the task is simply what is expected. It is foundational to effectiveness but in the end, God wants more than our obedience. He wants something that takes us beyond where obedience can take us.

b. Thanksgiving goes beyond obedience to the law (verses 17-18).

I don’t know how many steps they took. I doubt that it could have been too many; otherwise, the one leper might not have been able to find Jesus. Jesus would not necessarily have tarried long at the village. Neither could it have been too few, otherwise the other nine would have found it simple to return and thank the one who had healed them. Just as there are more who pray than praise, “…there are more who receive benefits than ever give praise for them … (and) more (who) obey ritual than ever obey Christ” (Spurgeon). We don’t know why these men who had such a great need met did not turn back to thank Jesus. There could have been various reasons and I’m sure they all justified those reasons in their minds if they ever even thought of turning back to thank Jesus for what He had done…

If the key to thanksgiving is not recognition of need nor obedience, what is it then?

III. The key to thanksgiving is submissive discipleship (verses 15-19).

a. The desire of the submissive disciple is to glorify God (compare verses 15 and 18).

How do you glorify God? In this situation, the man glorified God with a loud voice. Here is a man who because of his disease has possibly not hollered for months. Now he comes back with excitement in his voice. He’s having what they used to call in the Southern camp meetings, a shoutin’ fit. He could have sung a Psalm but he probably didn’t know any. The Samaritans didn’t believe in the Psalms but only in the first five books of Moses. What exactly he shouted out, the Bible does not give specifics, except to say that he glorified God.

I would like you to look at the following verse in Luke 14:10. This verse illustrates what it means to glorify someone. “But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you.” This leper wanted to put God at the head of the table and He recognized that Jesus as the Messiah was the direct representative from God. Those other fellows looked to the priest or to the temple but this man, a Samaritan, somehow knew that He needed to go to Jesus in order to give God glory, in order to put God at the head of the table.

Do you want to be thankful this thanksgiving? Lift Jesus higher, put Him at the head table in your life. He is trustworthy. Would you trust Him today?

b. The proof of discipleship is a faith that enables the disciple to do the impossible (compare verses 14 and 19 with verses 3-4).

In verses 3-5, Luke discusses the impossibility of forgiving others. It is only possible (verse 6) through faith. Think of the similarly impossible things that this Samaritan leper did because of his faith.

• He obeyed the command to show himself to the high priest. Just to go to Jerusalem to the temple where the priest was, was a renunciation of everything that this man had been brought up to believe. He was taught to worship God on Mount Gerizim which overlooked Shechem, the first place where Abraham had built an altar to God (Genesis 12:6-7). Now, this man by heading to Jerusalem was at least in action acknowledging what Jesus had taught the Samaritan woman in John 4, “Salvation is of the Jews.”

• This leper, however, came back and glorified God. He recognized that Jesus was of God and came back to thank Him, even though Jesus was a Jew and Samaritans had no dealings with the Jews. Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes misery and pain overcome racial and religious prejudice but faith in Christ overcomes the racial and religious prejudices that even misery and pain cannot overcome.

Luke, the writer of this gospel uses this story to emphasize a point that he makes repeatedly in this gospel. This man, even though he was a Samaritan and not a Jew, had a faith that the others did not have. True, the nine had faith. When Jesus commanded them to go to the priest, although they also were not yet healed, they went. This obviously took some type of faith. “…(T)here are more that believe than there are that praise…There faith was about the leprosy and, according to their faith, so it was unto them… (Spurgeon)” but there was a difference in the faith of the tenth man. This phrase “made well” or “saved” can refer to either physical or spiritual healing. This man had a spiritual healing that the others did not experience. His faith made him thankful. True faith goes further than asking for help. True faith results in glorifying God, in thanksgiving to God.

We find this pattern repeated several times in the gospels. Someone asks Jesus for mercy and He recognizes that in their request, faith is active. Faith isn’t active in everyone who prays for help. James 4:1-3 describes a group of people who even when they prayed, received nothing because true faith was not active in their prayers, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” You may ask, “How do you know that these people had an inactive faith?” When you look back at chapter 2:14-18, you can see how we know. These same people are being spoken to in that passage.

14 ¶ What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe––and tremble!
20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

You see, the first nine had faith but their works were limited to going to the priest in obedience to Christ’s command. The tenth man showed his faith by his works.

You might ask, Robert, what does it mean to have faith in Christ? It is simple, turn away from anything and everything and turn to Jesus Christ, who died for your sin. You are so spiritually sick that you are as good as dead. He died for you. He rose from the dead for you. Trust Him and only Him and learn the true key to thanksgiving.

Jesus’ teaching about thanksgiving (A Thanksgiving Sermon) November 15, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Luke, Religion, Sermons, Sovereignty, Thanksgiving.

Luke 10:17-23

INTRODUCTION: If you were God, for what blessings would you want people to be MOST thankful? Would you want them to be thankful for their material possessions? for their families? perhaps for the talents and the opportunities that you have given them? or the country in which they have their heritage? For what would you prefer that people be thankful? Of course, God wants us to be thankful in everything and does not limit our thankfulness but it is interesting that Jesus tried to give some perspective to the disciples’ thanksgiving here in Luke 10.

I. Jesus taught that joy in and thanksgiving for our spiritual inheritance is superior to thanksgiving for our spiritual gifts (verses 17-20).

At the beginning of this chapter, Jesus sent out seventy men who, in addition to the twelve, were willing to meet the qualifications for discipleship outlined in Luke 9:57-62: (1) live for heavenly things; (2) recognize the urgency and priority of the call to discipleship; and (3) maintain their focus only on the things of Christ. These seventy men were sent out to preach (Luke 9:60), i.e. announce or declare the kingdom of God. They were to go before Him (verse 1), proclaiming the gospel of the Christ (verses 9 and 11). In addition, He granted them the spiritual gift of healing (verse 9). When they returned to Jesus, they reported that they had been able to exceed expectations. Not only had they proclaimed the gospel and healed people in the villages that had accepted the gospel, they reported that they had been able to exercise the spiritual gift of exorcism, that is, the casting out of demons (verse 17). This was unexpected and it was no doubt exhilarating. It filled them with joy to be able to perform such a mighty miracle.

a. They are not, however, to rejoice in this spiritual gift that God has given them. Jesus, after acknowledging that this ability and protection to overcome Satan’s forces came directly from Him (verses 18-19), told them that thanksgiving is to be rooted in our heavenly citizenship and not in our spiritual success and/or abilities. In other words, first and foremost of importance is not the performance of confirming works but rather your entrance into the kingdom of heaven through faith in the gospel of Christ.

This is the answer to the world’s preoccupation with doing something rather than being according to Henry Blackaby, “A time will come when the doing will be called for, but we cannot skip the relationship. The relationship with God must come first.””

Chuck Swindoll writes about an old survey, “In 1953, a senior class in Houston, Texas was asked, ‘What do you want to do?’ Several said: ‘Make a million bucks.’ Other answers included, ‘…play professional football’, ‘own my own race car and win the Indy 500’, ‘rob Chase Manhattan Bank and escape to Fiji’, ‘finish medical school and have a practice in Honolulu’, ‘marry a rich movie star and live in Beverly Hills’, ‘sing at the Met’, and the infamous ‘live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse.’ The problem however is not how they answered the question but the question they were asked. Instead of what do you want to do, they should have been asked about what they want to be.” That was the emphasis of Jesus in His response to the seventy.

b. We receive heavenly citizenship through faith in the gospel of Christ (verses 8-12). There is a lot of emphasis in the church today on spiritual gifts and not just in the charismatic churches. It is a misplaced emphasis. We need more of an emphasis on faith in the gospel of Christ.

Many people seem to think that spiritual gifts and works make us acceptable to God. Matthew 7:22-23 explains why spiritual gifts and works do not make you a child of God. Jesus said, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

John 1:12 tells us how to become a child of God, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”

So Jesus contrasts the joy of spiritual gifts with the joy of the spiritual inheritance. Now most of us have never cast out demons or performed miraculous healings. Our spiritual gifts may be more mundane but the principle applies just the same. Look down in verses 38-42, where the distracted exercise of a mundane spiritual gift is contrasted with choosing to hear Christ’s words.

The story of Mary and Martha at first appears to be just tacked on to this chapter but when one realizes the lessons found earlier in Luke, it certainly makes sense. Jesus came into a village that apparently received Him, specifically in the house of Martha. Jesus practiced here exactly what He had commanded the seventy in verses 5-8. Martha, however, did not choose to rejoice in her salvation as Mary did but rather to fret and fuss over the preparations of the meal for Jesus Christ.

It is not that Martha did not receive Christ or that the seventy did not believe Christ that Jesus is responding to but rather they are focusing on the wrong thing: the seventy on the spiritual gift of exorcism, Martha on the spiritual gift of service. Jesus is bringing them back to a focus on Himself.

II. Jesus was thankful that His Father revealed the truth of the gospel to those who had no advantage in themselves (verses 21-24).

Christ’s thankfulness and joy in verse 21 refers not just to the reception of the villages and towns of the gospel of Christ but also to the faith of the seventy that produced such discipleship as that which they have just shown. The reason for His joy over the disadvantaged disciple is the disciples’ faith in the gospel of the kingdom.

It could be that Jesus is using a bit of sarcasm when talking about the wise and prudent. One of those wise and prudent men is introduced in verse 25. He was a lawyer, that is, a scribe who was an expert in the law of God. Jesus recognized his expertise when he answered correctly in verse 27, how to inherit eternal life. Yet this man had a spiritual blind spot which is revealed in verse 29 when he asked the self-justifying question, “And who is my neighbor?” This man understood the law, he even understood the spiritual character of the kingdom of God but he knew that he was lacking.

These seventy, however, were neither experts nor teachers. They were, however, men of great faith. Look at what Jesus demanded of them in 10:57-62. Only men of faith would forsake their homes, their families, and their social obligations to tell total strangers that the Messiah is coming. Some villages rejected them and they went on to another. Other villages accepted them. Why? Because God had revealed to them Jesus Christ and they had believed and now were telling others about Him.

a. This knowledge is not found by religious skill or religious intelligence (verses 21-24). Luther, in the last sermon he ever preached, describes the religiously skilled and religiously intelligent as those who try to put the bridle on the wrong end of the horse. Now I do not know a lot about horses but I suspect that will not work!

This lawyer had religious skill. He was a trained scribe. He had religious intelligence. Not only had he hand-copied the Old Testament many times, he had advanced to the place where he had understood its message but when the fulfillment of that message came on the stage, he did not recognize Him.

b. This knowledge comes only through Jesus Christ (verse 22). Verse 22 may be a bit confusing but if you read it carefully, it is clear that there is only one way to come to the Father, that is, to God, through Jesus Christ. Verse 21 reminds us that God found it good to give those without religious skill and training and intelligence an advantage through their knowledge of and faith through Jesus Christ.

i. He helps the helpless. Matthew records in a parallel passage how that Jesus does this. Jesus says, “Come unto Me, all you who are heavy laden and you will find rest for your souls.” The ignorant Galilean fisherman, the women who were looked down upon, the tax collectors and sinners who gladly heard Jesus, these people came to Jesus while the lawyers and the scribes and the Pharisees and the priests stood and looked down their noses at the One who would have gladly saved them from their sin, if only they would have received Him.

Look at the next chapter, Luke 11:52. “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.” These men had all the advantages but rather than accept Christ with the faith of the helpless they rejected Christ and hindered others who would have trusted Christ, if not for their confidence in the religious lawyers, scribes, and teachers.

ii. He teaches the ignorant. How? Verse 23-24 tells us how. He shows them who He is. It is one thing to teach, “I am the Messiah.” It is quite another to prove it through Messianic works like healing, exorcism, and resurrections. I think that is why Romans 5:8 is one of my favorite verses. It says that God showed His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” His death on the cross teaches through showing and proving His love for us. The question is this. Will you believe?

There is a Persian proverb that says, “He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not is a fool; shun him. He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is a child; teach him.” God wants to teach you, not shun you. Turn to Christ today. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me…and you will find rest for your souls.”

If Jesus Were to Come on Thanksgiving Day (a sermon) November 8, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Eschatology, Luke, Martin Luther, Materialism, Messiah, Millenial Kingdom, Religion, Sermons, Thanksgiving.
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If Jesus Comes on Thanksgiving Day…
Luke 18:1-30

In Luke 17:20, Jesus is asked when the kingdom of God would come. He makes the point that the coming of the kingdom of God is more than simply the date on which the Messiah will establish His throne in Jerusalem. He says, “…the kingdom of God is within you” (verse 21).

This does not mean that there is not a specific day when Jesus will return to this earth to rule this earth. The Scriptures teach that there is such a day. Look at Luke 17:24-25. Jesus clearly looked forward to a day when He would set up His kingdom on this earth although first He must be rejected and crucified.

As he continues to teach on what we call the Second Coming of Christ, He makes a statement in Luke 18:8, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” This is what we call a rhetorical question. Jesus is not trying to find out the answer but rather is telling His listeners, that when He returns to this earth to set up the kingdom, He will find a world without faith. It is true that there will be a few saved people on this earth scattered among the nations and that much of what is left of the nation of Israel will at that time accept Christ as Messiah but for the most part, the world will be without faith in Christ.

What is interesting is that Jesus describes for us some of the people on the earth who will be without faith. It is not at all what we might expect. In fact, some of those people will be religious people, people who thank God for the blessings of their life. As we approach the Thanksgiving season, we need to realize that if Jesus Christ comes on Thanksgiving Day, He will find many people around the table, thankful to God for His blessings but without true faith. Put another way…

…He will find the self-righteous saying grace.

a. They will have the trappings of righteousness but not the reality (verses 11-12). They will be like this Pharisee. They will thank God for being born in America and not in some poverty-stricken, heathen nation. They will thank God for who they are but will not recognize their own spiritual poverty because they have the trappings of righteousness. They will be evangelicals and Mormons and Catholics and Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses who are convinced that they are doing all the right things. In their heart they will exalt themselves. After all, they do right. They are not extortioners or unjust or adulterers. They sacrifice and give regularly to the church and to charitable organizations. They serve the poor on Thanksgiving Day. In their heart, they are convinced that they are pretty good but if Jesus comes on Thanksgiving Day, He will find no faith in them.

b. Why? Because real righteousness is found in a faith that produces a humble plea for mercy (verses 13-14).

For years, Martin Luther recognized his need of salvation but Martin Luther did not understand God’s provision to meet his need. Luther punished himself physically and spiritually in his attempt to earn eternal life. Years after he understood that salvation is by grace through faith in the crucified and resurrected Christ alone, Luther wrote these words:

In devil’s dungeon chained I lay the pangs of death swept o’er me.
My sin devoured me night and day in which my mother bore me.
My anguish ever grew more rife,
I took no pleasure in my life and sin had made me crazy.
Then was the Father troubled sore to see me ever languish.
The everlasting Pity swore to save me from my anguish.

Luther knew he had a great spiritual need. He realized eventually from God’s Word that climbing the spiritual steps of works and ritual do nothing for the soul. Luther quit climbing those steps and started trusting Christ.

Not only would Christ on Thanksgiving Day find the self-righteous saying grace but He will find the self-sufficient exalting themselves (verses 14-17).

a. The point of Jesus inviting the little children to come to Him is not that Jesus loves little children, although, He certainly does. The point of the incident is explained for us in verse 17. No man will be able to enter the kingdom on his own (verse 17). Those who feel themselves self-sufficient will not have faith in Christ when He comes.

b. Real righteousness is found in faith that is totally dependent on God (verses 15-16). Our text in verse 15 says infants. Someone suggested that toddlers might also be pictured her because Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me…” Now what is Jesus trying to say about faith? He is not saying that faith can exist without knowledge, that you need to be as ignorant as a baby, in order to be saved; but rather that you need to be as spiritually dependent as an infant in order to be saved. Those who depend on anything or anyone other than or in addition to Christ for salvation will not be saved.

Recently, we had Kim Hecht with us and she was asked about those in Croatia who were a part of a religious organization that is not evangelical but does believe that Jesus is God and the Savior of humankind. I appreciated her answer. Even though those people have great interest in the study of God’s Word and even accept many of the trappings of evangelicalism, they continue to depend on their church and their good works for salvation in addition to Jesus Christ. They do not depend on Christ as an infant but rather hang on to their church and their good works.

There is a third section here where Jesus describes those who are religious but do not have true faith. If Jesus were to come on Thanksgiving Day, He would not only find the self-righteous and the self-sufficient but also He would find those absorbed in this world without faith. They will be sorrowful, after all, they will be under the judgment of God but they will be without faith (verses 18-30).

This ruler understood the problem. He was an expert in the law. He practiced the Ten Commandments and had done so all of his life. It appears that his question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” is sincere. We see, though, that earthly attachments are a huge hurdle to eternal life, that is, entrance into the kingdom of God (verses 22b-26).

A. Jesus demanded a one time act – repentance, specifically, repentance revealed by the act of selling all his possessions and distributing the proceeds to the poor. This man’s earthly attachments were so great that he could find no way to bring himself to performing this one act.

B. Jesus also demanded discipleship. The action of selling and distributing was only an outward sign and revealed that this pure, honest, honorable man loved the abundance of this life more than the abundance of eternal life. It seems that the young man could never bring himself to admit that his money did not matter. He could never find a way to cut himself off from the things of this world.

Patrick Morley once said that there are two ways to find out what is important to a man. Where does a man spend any discretionary money he might have and how does he use any free time he might have. That is how you find out what a man loves.

a. The hold that this world has on people is why that without God’s work in their hearts, they will never be able to enter the kingdom (verse 18-27, especially verse 27). Only God can change our attachments (verses 27). You cannot do this on your own. You must turn to Christ. Only He can help you. Only he can reveal to you the value of the heavenly treasures, of the heavenly kingdom, of eternal life.

Now, not everyone is hindered by money and houses and land. Some are hindered by family (verse 29). If your treasure is in your family then you are no different than this young man. If the abundance of your riches is your parents or siblings or spouse or children, you cannot truly serve God. For some of you that is a tough decision. God, however, can change your heart.

I meet very few people who admit that it is hard to choose between Christ and the wealth of this world. I do, however, often meet people who have trouble between choosing family or Christ. I have been asked, “How do I do this?”

1. Meet your rightful biblical obligations to family members. The Bible is clear as to how a man is to relate to his wife and children. It is clear who is to have priority in his life.

2. Ask yourself this question. Is my relationship to this family member hindering my relationship to Christ? The answer is usually not to break the relationship but to begin to take those steps that show where your loyalty truly is. 1 Peter 3:1-17 is a great passage to study and to digest to help you to understand your relationship to that person.

3. Make your commitment of discipleship to Christ and follow it daily. Pray daily. Read your Bible daily. Have frequent contact with God’s people. The toughest commitments are always taken just one slow step at a time. Do not lose heart. Your reward in this life and in the life to come is eternal life.

b. Real righteousness is found in faith that results in true discipleship (verses 28-30). Moral accomplishments are insufficient.

This man was sexually pure. This man was not guilty of murder. This man had never stolen. He had never lied about anyone. He honored his father and mother.

Jesus listened. He did not interrupt the young man with arguments and try to convince him that he was a sinner and born in iniquity. He made a very simple statement. You lack one thing. You cannot inherit eternal life until you become my disciple.

In describing the self-righteous, the self-sufficient, the self-exalting types that we have been looking at in today’s Scripture, Frank Turk once wrote, “I was watching my son’s basketball game a couple of weeks ago, and it’s the “recreational” league where the kids really haven’t ever played on a court before with rules or a ref. And on the other team was this really aggressive kid who simply wanted to put the ball in the net. It was clear to me he had played football before because every time he got the ball, he tucked the ball under, ducked his head, and rolled into the crowd of boys in the key like a fullback.
And in this kid’s case, it was actually kinda funny – he obviously didn’t know any better. He was playing by the wrong rules, and he had no clue what the right rules where. But if that same thing happened in a High School game, or even in the next age bracket up, it wouldn’t hardly be that funny – because those kids know better, and they prove it in all kinds of ways.” (from Frank Turk’s Pyromaniac post, “The Talking Stain” February 13, 2008;

This is the case with this young ruler. He knows the rules and proves it by his life but that one point which he is unwilling to obey is what will keep him from inheriting eternal life, from entering the kingdom of heaven.

What does it mean to follow Christ, to have faith in Him? Turn away from what you love and turn to Jesus Christ, who died for your sin. You can become his disciple but he demands total allegiance, total commitment. Ultimately it is not about you. It is about Christ. He died for you. He rose from the dead for you. Follow Him and Him alone.

Note: Some of the material of this sermon is reworked material from this one that I preached in February 2008, “The Impossibility of Reaching America with the Gospel.”

(The Questions of the Resurrection) Easter Sermon from Luke 24 March 23, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Easter, Luke, Religion, Sermons.
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Luke 24

I was speaking to a young person recently. In our conversation I asked about their faith in Christ. I said, “Do you believe what we are preaching here?” They said something similar to this, “I do not believe in the big-bang theory of evolution but I find it hard to believe in a God, whom I cannot see.” I agree with that young person. It is hard to believe many of the things that the Bible teaches. Luke, in his resurrection account addresses this problem head on. You see even the followers of Christ found it difficult to believe that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead.

Early on that Sunday morning, a group of women were headed to the tomb. Most of them were from Galilee and had followed Jesus here in anticipation of seeing Him crowned King of the Jews but instead saw Him crucified. They certainly did not come to the tomb expecting to find Jesus alive. They were planning to attend to the body. Jesus had been wrapped and buried hastily and they wanted to honor Jesus properly. When they got there the stone had already been rolled away but the body of Jesus was gone. Suddenly two angels appeared next to them and asked them the first question that are considering today.

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (verse 5). There is no life in a dead Christ. In some ways the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most crucial doctrine that the Bible teaches. If the resurrection of Jesus Christ did not happen, then it does not matter whether you believe in creation or evolution. Jesus’ resurrection is the proof of the truth that we preach. Jesus told His followers at least six times in the past weeks that He would rise from the dead. On some of those occasions these women were present and heard what Jesus had said. That is why the angels asked, “Why are you here? He’s already gone! You are wasting your time looking for a dead Christ. Do you not remember what He told you before when you were in Galilee?”

Now you might say, “Well, certainly these people wanted Jesus alive but what difference does it make for me.” Jesus Himself has already answered that question. In John’s gospel He said, “I am come that they might have life and that more abundantly” (John 10:10). In Christ is the promise of new life.



That is one reason why it is important that Jesus rose bodily from the dead? Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 15…

17 …if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!

22 …For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

This is the problem that these women faced. That had trusted that Christ would save them, that He would save His people from their sins. They had not expected Him to die. They knew that a dead Christ was worthless. They had seen other men come and go, claiming to be the Christ but the Roman authorities had hounded each one until finally they were captured and killed or died in battle or died in hiding. It looked like Jesus was just another in a long line of fakes. They still loved Him. They grieved for Him. But He was gone…they thought. But when they heard the message of the angels and remembered what Jesus had said to them, they realized that their faith had not been misplaced. They understood that their sins truly were forgiven. They knew that this new spiritual life which they had received from Christ was not fake but that it was reality. They knew the fulfillment of the promise of a new life in Christ because Christ was alive.

In Him is not only the promise of new life but also the promise of eternal life.

These women now knew that they were not hoping in something that might not come true. John 11 tells us what Jesus had said just a few weeks earlier, 25 “…I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”

26 “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die…”

Eternal life is a reality. In Job 14:14 one of the greatest questions ever asked is stated this way, “If a man dies, shall he live again?” We along with these women can answer, “Yes!” because He is not in the grave, He is risen!

Now the second question is also important. “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory?” (verse 26). In other words, what purpose does His death and resurrection serve? To prove that one can be transformed in Christ is good. To prove that there is life after death is even better. Ultimately though Christ’s death is not about us but about His glory. The glory of Christ is based on His death and resurrection.





Philippians 2:8-9 tells us that Jesus, 8 “…being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,” It is the death and the resurrection of Christ that made it possible for Jesus to be glorified.

1 Peter 1:10-11 tells us that this was God‘s plan all along. 10 ¶ “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you,

11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.”Paul says in Acts 26:8,22-23, “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?…But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen—that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”

The first two questions remind us of the importance of Christ’s resurrection but one important question remains. “…why do doubts arise in your hearts…Have you any food here?“ (verses 38 and 41). There is proof of Christ’s bodily resurrection and this proof is available to those who will believe it. Remember, Jesus could not come back as a spirit or even as a ghost because that is unverifiable and is too easy to fake. Jesus had to come back from the dead in a recognizable and verifiable way. Jesus Christ did just that.

It is important that Jesus had to prove Himself to His own followers. These were men who expected proof. They did not depend on rumors for their faith. They were willing to investigate the facts. When the women first came to them, the report of the resurrection seemed to them to be an idle tale. According to Darrell Bock, idle tales were delirious stories told by the very sick as they suffered in great pain or tales told by those who fail to perceive reality. The disciples thought these women were hallucinating. These disciples were the first to think that those who saw Christ were hallucinating. Now if these disciples had thought to themselves they would have realized that group hallucinations do not exist. They are like dreams in that they are private occurrences. Peter, in fact, went to the tomb himself to investigate (verse 12). Peter knew that if these women were hallucinating, there should still have been a body in the tomb.

He identified Himself by His wounds (verses 39-40).The wounds of Christ were, as Luke indicates in Acts 1, infallible proofs of His person. The holes left by the nails in His hands! The gap left in His side by the spear! The punctures where the giant nail went through the top of His feet! How much they had healed if at all we do not know but it was obvious that the wounds in His body identified Him as Jesus Christ.

He confirmed His resurrection by His actions (verses 41-43).

It is interesting how that Jesus did this. He asked for something to eat and he ate it in their presence. He did not say. Leave food at the door and I will eat it during the night to prove to you that I am alive. He took what they gave Him and He ate it, proving that He was still in a human body. In other words, though He was God, He remained man.

The early Christians had to deal with the question of the resurrection of Jesus Christ everywhere they went. They needed to know that Jesus Christ is alive. That is why Jesus showed Himself multiple times over a forty day period. 1 Corinthians 15 says…

4 …He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,

5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.

6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.

7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.

8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”


INVITATION: Luke called the proofs of Jesus Christ resurrection are “infallible proofs” in Acts 1:3. I have laid out some of those proofs before you. I have also laid out why it is important that you believe not just in the resurrection but in the Christ of the resurrection. Only by trusting Him can a sinner have a transformed life. Only in Him is it possible to live eternally with God. Finally, only in His can we have a part in His glory. The proof is before you. Will you believe it?