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Baptism Series: Part 2 January 17, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Baptism, Discipleship, Great Commission, Matthew, Trinity.
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THE COMMAND JESUS DIDN’T OBEY
Matthew 28:16-20

John 4:1-2 tells us that the Pharisees heard that Jesus was baptizing more disciples than John the Baptist was. The writer of the gospel clarifies that Jesus actually was not baptizing anyone personally but rather that his disciples were the ones baptizing new disciples. In fact, we have no knowledge of Jesus ever baptizing anyone with water.

It is interesting then that the last command of Christ recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, the Great Commission, includes baptizing new disciples. The actual command is to make disciples of all nations as we go throughout the world and there are two parts to fulfilling that command: baptizing and teaching Christ’s commandments. Since this last command of Christ includes baptism, we need to look more closely at this command.

A. Jesus commands us as His disciples to baptize other disciples (verses 19-20).

1. To become a disciple is a public profession. That is what Romans 10:9-10 teaches us. To believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord God as proven by His resurrection from the dead is to be accompanied by a confession with the mouth. The picture here is of someone at the time of baptism confessing that Jesus is their Savior, their Lord, and their God.

2. To be a disciple is an eternal commitment (verse 20). Stanley Grenz calls baptism and the Lord’s Supper commitment acts. Jesus makes it clear that this commitment into which we enter with Christ is an eternal commitment. It is not limited by our location, the time in which we live, or even the state of our being, that is, whether we are dead or alive. Of course, this commitment although we enter into it is not dependent on our strength or ability to keep it.

Often those who come to Christ are not ostracized by their unsaved family and friends until they take the step of baptism. Why? Because the unsaved recognize the commitment that is being made to Christ. We knew a family once who were saved for two or three years before they were baptized. They shared a house with the man’s mother. Although there were discussions and questions about their new faith in Christ, they were unprepared for the ostracism they experienced when they were baptized. For months the mother, who lived on the first floor, refused to communicate with her son and his family, who lived on the second and third floors. The reason was simple, they had taken a true step of commitment, baptism.

B. Jesus commands us as His worshipers to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (verses 18-20). Certainly it would be impossible to explain the Trinity. To explain God fully would be impossible. Yet this verse helps us to understand the significance of God for our lives. We are to be baptized in His name, that is, we recognize that each person of the Trinity is God, to be worshipped and to be obeyed.

1. We recognize the God of Israel as the God of the nations (verse 19). Deuteronomy commands “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” This verse confirms that there is one God at the same time emphasizing that He is not just for Israel to follow, to worship, and to obey but for each man and woman in the world. While not all will believe in His name and be baptized in His name, He alone is God, there is no other.

2. We recognize the universal authority of His Son (verse 18). God became man when He was born of a virgin, but at His resurrection and ascension He revealed that He had been exalted to the position of authority as the Divine Messiah of God.

“Jesus is Lord!” may be the earliest doctrinal statement of the church. When we are baptized, we are proclaiming our allegiance to Jesus as Lord. When an immigrant is naturalized in this country, they are not asked if they have kept all the laws of this country perfectly. That might be impossible. We do ask them, however, to proclaim their allegiance to the United States of America, that is, to submit to our lordship. The difference is this; there are some areas of our lives in which our government is not Lord. With Christ it is different. He is Lord of all!

3. We recognize the eternal union with Jesus through the Holy Spirit (verse 20). Shortly after this commandment was given, Jesus ascended into heaven to the right hand of the Father. “The ascension [however] did not inaugurate the absence of Jesus. On the contrary, in accordance with [this commandment/promise], this event made possible the continuing presence of the risen Lord with his people everywhere, a presence mediated by the Holy Spirit” (Theology for the Community of God by Stanley Grenz, page 355, edition from 2000).

Has anyone ever said that you are filled with the Holy Spirit? When you are baptized with water you are testifying to the fact that the Holy Spirit lives within you and that you are going to serve God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I read a piece recently written about one of our ladies by her daughter. She wrote that her mom was filled with the Holy Spirit and then she listed the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. When you are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you are recognizing a union with Christ through the Holy Spirit that is life transforming.

C. Baptism identifies us with God, with Christ, His people, and His commandments. Baptism is a rich ritual full of meaning. That is why we do it publicly. Through we submit ourselves to God, we proclaim Christ to the world, we enter into the fellowship of God’s people (Acts 2:38ff), and begin a life of obedient discipleship of Christ.

Are you a disciple? Have you forsaken all to follow Christ? That is both the prerequisite to baptism as well as the lesson taught through baptism. Will you become a disciple today? He died on the cross for you so that you might take up your cross and follow Him. Will you commit yourself to Him today? Yes, it is an eternal commitment but He will make sure that the commitment is never broken by uniting you to Himself and to His body through the gift of the Holy Spirit of God.

Next week: A Commitment to Spiritual Life – Romans 6

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Fourth Advent Sermon on December 18, 2012 preached at Grace Bible Church in Lansing, Michigan December 19, 2011

Posted by roberttalley in Advent, Angels, Christmas, Deuteronomy, Incarnation, Jesus, Matthew, Messiah, Prophecy, Virgin Birth.
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Do Not Be Afraid
Matthew 1:18-25

INTRODUCTION: Joseph is the third person involved in the Christmas story who has been told not to be afraid. Earlier Zacharias and Mary were told not to be afraid. Later, the shepherds are also told not to be afraid. In each case the command was connected with the appearance of an angel but in Joseph’s situation the command is connected to a difficult situation that he is facing, what to do about Mary. He has three choices.

I. He could make her a public example (verse 19). This would involve a public accusation and if she was found guilty death by stoning (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). Mary had no rights in the matter. Her pregnancy was proof of her sinfulness. Yet she was his wife. Joseph was a just man who kept the law. She was a criminal.

II. He could put her away privately (verse 19). This would involve divorce papers being given to her in the presence of two witnesses. She could perhaps, in spite of her sullied reputation find a husband. She was young. There was a chance that she would recover. Again, Mary had no choice in the matter. She was at Joseph’s mercy. Mercy is what he intended to show. He could not keep her as wife for then he would have to adopt the child. If the child was a boy, then any further son’s by her would lose any possible inheritance, whether in Nazareth or Bethlehem. As a just man, he took seriously the inheritance law for his oldest son. It was commanded by God. He felt that he had no other choice.

III. He could keep her as his wife (verse 20). This did not occur to him apparently or at least was not considered seriously until the angel told him, “Do not be afraid!”

A. Do not be afraid, she is not a criminal; she is not a sinful woman. She is a virgin. Her son is not from a man but a miracle of God.

B. Do not be afraid. Adopt Him. Give Him the legal inheritance that is His, the throne of David.

C. Do not be afraid. Call Him Jesus for He will save His people from their sin! Jesus means “Savior.”

This is the first of two names given to the child in this passage. The second name was actually given over seven hundred years before Christ was born. The name “Emmanuel” which means “God with us” was prophesied to an ungodly royal ancestor of Joseph’s, Ahaz. This name is mentioned by Matthew as proof that Jesus is the promised Messiah.

These two names have meaning for us also. Jesus is the Savior. He came to save His people from their sin. His people were the Jewish people but He did not come just to save His people. When Jesus as a thirty year old man came into the presence of John the Baptist, a prophet of God, John pointed his disciples to Him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” Jesus Himself once said to the Jews in John 10, “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold.” He was talking about us. In Ephesians 2, Paul writes about Jesus in His death tearing down the wall of partition that existed between Jews and Gentiles for the purpose of saving people out of both groups and integrating them together like a building where the blocks or the bricks interlock to become one.

What is it from which we are saved? There are many things one could be saved from? The name “Savior” comes from a medical word. When a patient recovers from a deadly illness because of the wisdom of the doctor, we say, “The doctor saved him.” When a medicine causes a miracle cure, we say, “The medicine saved her.” When a medic or a first responder’s actions rescue a person from death, we say, “That man saved their life.”

Jesus once said that He came to save the sick. He was speaking figuratively. You see, humankind is sick with sin. Most do not recognize their sickness but every person, born into the world is sick with sin and will die of that sickness unless they have a Savior. The name that Jesus was given to bear here on earth is a reminder that He is the one who came to save.

The second name, Emmanuel, tells us how it is that Jesus can save. He is “God with us.” When Jesus was laid by Mary into the manger, he was no ordinary baby. He was and is still the virgin born Son of God. The name Emmanuel is a sign from God that He Himself has entered the human race.

Ray Pritchard tells this story. “A young man sat in my office and listened as I explained the gospel to him. Finally he said, ‘I just can’t believe all that stuff.’

So I asked him, ‘What would it take for you to believe?’

‘I would believe if God came down and stood in front of me and told me himself,’ he said.

‘My friend, he already has come down,’ I replied. ‘He came down 2,000 years ago and lived among us. If you don’t believe that, then I have nothing better to offer you'” (from Ray Pritchard in When Did Christmas Begin?).

Savior and Emmanuel: these two names are brought together in a hymn by William Cowper that we rarely sing today. “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.”

“Some 200+ years ago there was a man in England by the name of William Cowper. He is a man who was of nervous disposition. All the biographers talk about that. He struggled with nervous problems, depression. It looks from reading his story that he suffered from what we would call a form of manic depression, given to some great difficulty in his life. At one point in his life, by his own testimony, he was depressed, upset and fearful that he was under the wrath of God. He said, ‘I flung myself into a chair by the window and there saw the Bible on the table by the chair. I opened it up and my eyes fell on Romans 3:25, which says of Christ, ‘Whom God has made a propitiation through faith in his blood.’ William Cowper said, ‘Then and there, I realized what Christ’s blood had accomplished and I realized the effects of his atonement for me. I realized God was willing to justify me and then and there I trusted Jesus Christ and a great burden was lifted from my soul.’ Looking back on that day, William Cowper wrote a hymn several years later that is in our hymnbook today. ‘There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins. And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains…’” (from Ray Pritchard in Propitiation: God’s Not Angry With You).

As we pray a prayer of thanksgiving for the Virgin Born Son of God would you not trust Emmanuel, “God with us,” as your Savior from the stains of sin? He promises that He will save you through His blood if you trust Him and Him alone.

Isaiah 9: What the New King Brings (A Christmas Sermon) December 20, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Christ, Christmas, Day of the Lord, Eschatology, Faith, Gospel, Incarnation, Isaiah, Jesus, Joy, Light, Matthew, Millenial Kingdom, Peace, Religion, Sermons, World Peace.
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This week:
Tuesday: Links concerning the Manhattan Compact
Wednesday: Thoughts concerning the Manhattan Compact
Sunday: Beginning a new series on the Holy Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles.

WHAT THE NEW KING BRINGS
Isaiah 9:1-7

INTRODUCTION: This week when we celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we will be celebrating the birthday of a king. The past three weeks we have looked at the prophecies of Isaiah about His coming to the earth as the baby in Bethlehem as well as His future coming to rule and reign on the earth. Today I want to again look at Isaiah and again look at what Jesus brought with Him at the first Christmas and what He will bring to this earth in the future.

A. The New King Brings Light to Those in Darkness (9:1-2).

1. There is hope in Jesus, the Light of the World (John 8:12; 9:5). Matthew 4:12-25 records the fulfillment of this prophecy that Christ would begin His ministry in Galilee. The King brings light to those in darkness beginning – not in Jerusalem, the center of Jewish life; nor in Rome, the political capital of the Roman Empire; neither in Alexandria, the intellectual giant of Egypt; and not even in Athens, the home of Greek philosophy. It is in Galilee, specifically the city of Capernaum and the surrounding area in which the King brings light to men in darkness. It is not a center of importance. Does He ignore the others? No, but in Galilee is where He begins and He expands His light throughout a dark world.

Jesus being the Light of the World and bringing light to humankind is a very important part of the Christmas story. In Luke 1:76-79, Zacharias sang at the birth of his son, John the Baptist. He ended his song with, “You, my son are going to be the prophet of the Highest and you are going to prepare the way for the Messiah, the one who is going to rise like the sun in the east and bring mercy to the Jewish people, the one who is going “…(t)o give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

I am glad that light is not limited to the Jews. Repeatedly in Isaiah we have seen that He brings light to all humankind. Simeon, when Jesus was just eight days old in Luke 2:32, identifies Jesus as “(a) light to bring revelation to the Gentiles.” The Gentiles, because they did not know the God of Israel, lived in the land of the shadow of death. They lived there because they rejected the truth of God (Romans 1). They lived there because they have spiritually, even when going through tough times, shaken their fist in God’s face. They were in total darkness.

That was my situation and that was the situation of every person born, Jew and Gentile. There is, however, hope. The reality of eternal death, although certain, is not yet accomplished for you hearing this message this morning. Someone has already been executed for our sin. It is Jesus, the King and the Bringer of Light. It is through faith (John 1:4-8) in His death and resurrection that He proclaims light to the human race which is sitting in the shadow of death (Acts 26:22-23).

B. The New King Also Brings Joy to Those Oppressed (9:3-4). It is in these verses that we see not only the first coming of Christ as a man but also His second, future coming as the Prince of Peace. They are melded so closely to each other that one can hardly recognize where one begins and the other ends. That is so, even though there are at least 2000 years between the two comings.

1. What kind of joy does the King bring (9:3)?

The King brings multiplied and increased joy, exceeding joy. That is what Mary sang as she carried her Savior in her womb, “My spirit rejoices exceedingly in God my Savior.” Even before He was born, the King brought exceeding joy. The angels proclaimed to the shepherds tidings of great joy. The wise men saw the star and had exceedingly great joy.

This joy is multiplied and increased because it has been a long time coming. It is the joy of the harvest. The farmer plants in the spring. He works and waters the field through all kinds of weather. Heat and cold, sunshine and rain, all through the spring and summer and fall he works and waits and then the harvest comes. That is the type of rejoicing in this passage. Since Adam, humankind had been waiting for Jesus to be born. That is one reason why He was received with great joy. It has been two thousand years since Jesus returned to His Father’s throne. When He returns to earth again, it will again be a time of great joy for those who trust in Him.

This joy is also multiplied and increased because it is the joy that comes with victory. When the King comes He brings victory over His enemies and over the enemies of His oppressed people. In that there is great joy.

2. What kind of oppression does the King relieve (9:4)? This fourth verse refers to Gideon in the book of Judges. The Midianites were a great host of raiders, who would come and destroy the crops and plunder the Israelites and murder and wreak havoc. That is the type of oppression the Israelites were suffering. They labored, they worked hard, and they planted. As soon as they planted the Midianites came and destroyed the crops. The people started hiding food. One of those hiding food was a young man named Gideon. God told Gideon, “I want you to take an army.” Gideon did. God told Gideon, “Reduce your army to 300 men.” Gideon did. God told Gideon to attack at night with three companies surrounding the camp, to blow their trumpets in their right hand, to break the pitchers concealing torches in their left hands, and to cry out, “The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!” The Midianites woke up to the sound, saw the lights, panicked, and began to kill each other in the confusion. It was the largest case of friendly fire in history and God is the one who caused it. He is the one who delivered Israel from the oppression of the enemy. The resulting joy is the joy that only the victorious King of Kings and Lord of Lords can bring.

C. Finally, The New King not only Brings Light and Joy but He brings Eternal Peace (9:5-7). Verse 5 describes for us how complete this peace will be. The market for army boots and uniforms will be depleted. There will be no use for them because through His victory the King brings peace.

1. This King’s Name is Wonderful Counselor — Isaiah clarifies what he means in 25:1 and 29:14. Isaiah 29:14a says, “Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and a wonder…” This King does things that no other can do. His works are past finding out. They are too great for us. When I think that the ruler of the universe came to die for me so that I might have light and joy and peace, it is too marvelous, too wonderful for me to understand. This King, Jesus Christ, is Wonderful.

2. This King’s Name is Counselor — It may be that “wonderful” and “counselor” are intended to be one name. Either way, the point is this. He has the wisdom to make and carry out a perfect plan of peace. If you return to Isaiah 29:14b, you will see why God felt that He had to intervene in His people’s affairs, “…For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.” Before the creation of the universe, Christ had a perfect peace plan for this earth. That’s why we can turn to Him. “…Christ is a Counsellor to us and with us, because we can consult with him, and he… counsel(s) and advise(s) us as to the right way and the path of peace.” (Spurgeon)

3. This King’s Name is not only Wonderful Counselor but also the Mighty God — He makes the plans work because He is God. Yes, He became man and was tempted as you and I but as God He also came. If you are weak, go to Him for strength to carry out what He wants you to do. He is the Mighty God.

4. This King’s Name is also the Everlasting Father (or Father of Eternity) — His plans are good because He cares like a father and because they are eternal. Only an eternal God can guarantee eternal peace. If you are scared, depend on Him. If you are worried, turn to Him. He will never leave you holding the bag. In fact, He’ll hold the bag for you and stick around to see what you might be facing.

5. Finally, this King’s Name is the Prince of Peace — His plans are focused on peace. If you are disturbed, He has you in His sights and is unconcerned because He has you and all around you in His grip.

*In the past, His coming made peace with God
*In the present, right now, those who come to Him find peace in their heart when they put their faith in Christ and the Prince of Peace comes to live within them.
*In the future, His second coming will usher in an eternal kingdom of peace.

INVITATION: “The most important part of our verse (9:6) is the first three words….…‘For to us’. The gift of Christ is a personal gift from God to us, (to you). A gift requires a response. If I put a gift under your tree, you may acknowledge it, may admire it, may even thank me for it, but it isn’t yours until you open it and take it for your own.”
“God has a Christmas gift for you……..not wrapped in bright paper and fancy ribbon, but in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger…….It is the gift of His Son. It is for you. The gift is still there. It must be personally received.”
“You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look in the Father’s Face and tell Him you have received his Christmas gift. Have you done that?” (Pritchard)

One thing about a gift, you can only give something once. You can only receive a gift once. So it is with the salvation of God. When you turn to Christ in faith and receive the gift of salvation, you never have to ask again. That gift is yours for all eternity. Only Christ, the Eternal Father, the Father of eternity can give an eternal gift. You may not have been enjoying the gift as you should but it is still yours. Perhaps you’ve received the gift of eternal life. That is a Christmas gift that you can never receive again but you can take it off the shelf and enjoy it not only every Christmas but every day for the rest of eternity. Christ wants you to enjoy the light and the joy and the peace that He has provided for you. If you haven’t been living for Him as you should, then tell Him as we pray that you are sorry. He is faithful and just to forgive you and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Turn to Him and start living for Him today.

NT Survey: Background to Mark and the Reading Plan and Questions for Luke – Part I January 28, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Mark, Matthew, New Testament, Religion.
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MARK

Date – between 50 and 70 AD; Author – Mark

The early church fathers of the second century held that it was written by Mark on the basis of what he had learned from Peter. Papias, bishop of Hieropolis (A.D. 140), based this on the testimony of the Apostle John.

The internal evidence supports that this gospel was written to Roman believers.

Mark’s focus is on the deeds of Jesus more than his teaching. This is the biggest contrast between Mark and the other gospels. Why are the deeds of Jesus Christ of such importance?

While Matthew cites Jewish custom without explaining it, Mark carefully explains the Jewish customs.

He emphasizes the humanity, the service, and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Mark emphasizes the power of Jesus Christ in His works.

QUESTION TO BE ANSWERED IN TWO WEEKS (February 10)

 

What are your impressions of the individual gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke? How easy was it for you to see the differences? Give a specific occasion where you have asked yourself, “I wonder why _______ put that in his gospel?” What was your answer to your own question?

Reading Plan for the Survey

January 27, Luke 1, What is the stated design of Luke’s gospel?

January 28, Luke 2-3, What does Luke tell us of the first thirty years of Jesus’ life? 

January 29, Luke 4-5, Do you think Luke 5:1-9 is the same event as the one in Mark 1:16-20? Why or why not?

January 30, Luke 6-7, How does the context of Luke affect the understanding of the teachings in Luke 6, many of which are also found in the Sermon on the Mount? 

January 31, Luke 8-9, What is the contrast in these two verses between Jesus and His disciples?

February 1, Luke 10-11, From whom do you think Luke good have gotten the material for these two chapters?

February 2, Luke 12-14, What does the context of Luke tell you about the meaning of blaspheming of the Holy Spirit?

February 3, Luke 15-17, What is the purpose with Luke’s gospel of the narrative of the Rich Man and Lazarus at the end of chapter 16?

New Testament Survey Reading Plan with Questions – Matthew – Week 2 January 15, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Jesus, Matthew, New Testament, Religion.
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Reading Plan for a Survey

 

January 14, Matthew 16-17, How does Matthew 16:13-20 fit into the purpose of Matthew’s book? What is the cost in verses 24-26 for believing Matthew’s message?

January 15, Matthew 18-19, What importance is the question of divorce in Matthew 19 to Matthew’s purpose (hint: Matthew 5:17-48 is helpful to answering this question)?

January 16, Matthew 20-21, In context, what is the point of the parables in these two chapters?

January 17, Matthew 22-23, Why does Matthew give great emphasis to the scribes and Pharisees in his book?

January 18, Matthew 24-25, Based on what we know of Matthew’s purpose, how would his readers have reacted to the Olivet discourse?

January 19, Matthew 26, According to this chapter, why was Jesus crucified?

January 20, Matthew 27-28, Why did Matthew tell about attempt of the rulers to hide the facts of Jesus’ resurrection?

New Testament Survey – Reading through Matthew January 8, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Matthew, New Testament, Reading, Religion.
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    Questions to consider when following the survey reading plan. I apologize for posting this a day late. 

    1. January 7, Matthew 1-2, In what ways is Jesus presented by Matthew in chapters one and two?
    2. January 8, Matthew 3-4, If chapters one and two emphasize Jesus as the Son of David, what emphasis is given in chapters three and four?
    3. January 9, Matthew 5-7, In one sentence, what is the point Matthew is making by including the Sermon on the Mount in His gospel.
    4. January 10, Matthew 8-9, What is tension portrayed in the events of these two chapters?
    5. January 11, Matthew 10-11, How does the commissioning of the apostles in chapter 10 further the purpose of Matthew’s gospel?
    6. January 12, Matthew 12-13, Chapters 11-12 bring the conflict between Jesus and His enemies to a head. How does this help you to understand the parables in chapter 13?
    7. January 13, Matthew 14-15, What picture do we have of Jesus’ ministry in chapters 14-15? Don’t forget chapters 4-13 in your thinking on this question!

By Monday, January 21 select one of the five major teaching sections of Matthew and write how that section furthers Matthew’s purpose in presenting Jesus credentials as the Messiah, the king of the Jews. The five major teaching sections are:  the Sermon on the Mount (5-7), the commissioning of the apostles (10), the kingdom parables (13), a discourse about the childlikeness of the believer (18), and the Olivet Discourse (24-25). Your answer will be shared with all those who respond to this question. Feel free to ask questions in the meantime.

A Three Kings’ Day Sermon January 6, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Christmas, Matthew, Religion, Sermons.
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RESPONDING TO THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE

A “THREE KINGS’ DAY” OR “TWELFTH NIGHT” SERMON

Matthew 2:1-18

 

THE TWO MESSAGES OF CHRISTMAS 

There are two messages that we have heard during the past Christmas season. The first, the message of the world, is a happy message. Even the Grinch can be cured through kindness. It does not really matter if there is a Santa Claus, if you believe in him, he exists. Christmas is a happy time of giving and family and laughter and romance and cheer. That is the message of Christmas in this world.

 

The message of Christmas found in the Bible is a bit different. It is this, “Behold, your King!” Usually, we save this message for Palm Sunday but as we can clearly see in Matthew 2, the message of Christmas is the same. “Behold, your King!”

 

DIFFERENT WAYS TO RESPOND TO THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 

In this chapter, we find three categories of people who heard the Christmas message, “Behold, your King” and who responded in three very different ways.

For example, Herod heard the Christmas message and responded negatively. More precisely, I should say, he responded selfishly, in his own self-interests. He was hostile to the Christmas message. After all, he held the title “King of the Jews”. It had been given to him almost forty years prior by the Roman Senate under whose authority he ruled.

THE DANGEROUS WISE MEN! 

These Magi (we know them as wise men or the three kings) were from outside of the Roman Empire, likely from the Parthian Kingdom whose king was selected by the Magi, that is a group of wise men. For these men to come and search for the one who is born “King of the Jews” would be very disconcerting and disturbing for a man like Herod. These were men of power and knowledge. These were the enemies of the Romans whom he served and they came looking for one who was the rightful heir to the title which he claimed for himself.

Verse 3 says that Herod was troubled. He and all Jerusalem were shaking in their boots. Some estimate that the Magi, however many there may have been, probably were accompanied by one thousand cavalrymen from the kingdom of Parthia. Already, the Romans had fought three wars with the Parthians during the last hundred years. During the last one, civil war had broken out in Judea and this very Herod had fled to Rome and convinced them that he was loyal, which is what eventually led to his reception of the title, “King of the Jews.” Herod knew if he handled this situation badly it could mean civil war again.

Herod was a cruel man who at this late point of his life already had a lot of blood on his hands. In verses 16-18, we find him remaining true to form. Because Herod could not be certain how old Jesus was and did not know exactly where to find him, he had every male child under two years of age killed. He proclaimed all out war to destroy Jesus.

Now there may be a few of you who are hostile to Jesus. It does not really matter what the reason for your hostility is. If you rebel against Him, you will be judged and as recorded in Matthew 24, you will mourn at His coming because you will recognize that your doom is sealed.

CATEGORY TWO:  THE INDIFFERENT 

The chief priests and scribes heard the Christmas message but did not respond to it. Now it could be, they did not seek Jesus out of fear of Herod. Knowing his history, that would certainly seem understandable. More likely though, based on the response of the chief priests and scribes to Jesus during His ministry as an adult, they were at this time indifferent to Him.

As a group, they were not indifferent to knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures. They were indifferent to Jesus, the one who fulfilled the Hebrew Scriptures. Of course, they did not recognize this nor does it see that they investigated His credentials. He was of no importance to them, otherwise they would have gone to Bethlehem, despite their fear of Herod.

They probably had different expectations. They were not interested in a baby or a child fulfilling prophecy. They wanted to see a Messiah in majesty and power before they committed themselves to Him. They were the type who mocked the superstition of those who trusted in the humble, unlearned man of Galilee. Perhaps some of the priests had even been present or had participated in the ceremony at the circumcision of Jesus. Perhaps they had heard Simon and Anna as they proclaimed to all in their hearing at the temple that this baby was the Messiah.

They had seen self-proclaimed Messiahs come and go. They, however, had the tool, the Word of God whereby they could test to see if this child met the qualifications and with this tool had even helped Herod and the wise men in determining where to look for the child but they themselves did not look. They did not investigate.

INDIFFERENCE IS UNBELIEF. 

They had the Word, they knew the Word but they had a heart of unbelief. The difference between truth and error is not always a difference in knowledge but it is always a difference in attitude. “Those who should have been leaders were no leaders; they would not even be followers of that which is good, for they had no heart towards Christ.” (Spurgeon).

This is what eventually led them and those like them, when Jesus was presented by Pilate to scream for His death (John 19).

    14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he [Pilate] said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”

    15 But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”

In their hostility to Christ, they perform an act of worship to Caesar. You worship the one who you acknowledge as being superior to you and to all others. They chose a man who claimed to be a god as king instead of choosing the man who was God as their king.

I would suggest to you that you may not be able to remain indifferent. These men did not. Often people turn against Christ with full knowledge of who and what they are rejecting and when they do, it is not unusual for them to become hostile.

A SAD REVIEWI was reading a review this week of Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography, by David Michaelis. In this review, Dr. Russell Moore writes, “This is the most unexpectedly theological book I’ve read all year. It also may be the most depressing. The author traces the life of the cartoonist creator of Charlie Brown and Snoopy from his days as a fervent, tithing Church of God evangelical to his deathbed, hopeless and angry at God.

The book shows what Scripture has already told us. Human lives need a narrative, a counter-narrative to the reign of death story we see around us. Schulz found his in a narrative of his own making, an alternative world of big-headed children and a wise-cracking dog. Michaelis shows us how the crushing sadness of Schulz’s life showed up in his strip. Hint: the roadside psychiatric stand, the little red-haired girl, and Schroeder’s piano…not accidents.

Michaelis also shows how this cartoonist, unable to believe that anyone could love him, gradually shifted in his beliefs from the Luke 2-reading Linus from the Peanuts Christmas television program to the dejected Linus of the Halloween Christmas special, waiting all his life for a Great Pumpkin who never shows up.”

I do not know what happened in Charles Schulz’s life. I have yet to read the book. I do know, though, and have seen person after person who at one point followed some form of the truth who at the end died bitter and angry with God, some to the point of denying His very existence.

THE RESPONSE CHRIST DESIRES. 

The Magi knew the Christmas message and left all to respond to it. In this case, their response to the Christmas message changed the way that they spent their time. These were men who specialized in searching and researching questions concerning the universe. How they recognized that this star was connected with the Messiah, we do not know. What we do know is that they began a long journey in order to search in the right place for the Messiah after that they saw the star.

So many people are searching in all the wrong places. They would rather listen to the words of man than the Word of God. They put more trust in theories than in credible truth. They prefer visions and signs to the Word of God that was confirmed by visions and signs. These men knew enough to know where the proper place to look would be. They did not search in Babylon or Athens or Rome. They did not travel to Egypt. They went to Jerusalem in search of the king who was and is to reign in Jerusalem.

SACRIFICIAL WORSHIP 

In this case, their response to the Christmas message changed the way that they used their resources. John Piper points out that the Magi were not bringing “royal care packages” neither were these gifts some kind of bribe intended to get God on their side. These were gifts of sacrificial worship. In describing sacrificial worship, Piper continues, “By giving to you what you do not need, and what I might enjoy, I am saying more earnestly and more authentically, ‘You are my treasure, not these things.'”

In this case, their response to the Christmas message determined before who they would bow. Faith in Christ determines your worship. Culture might determine our style but if our worship is not total submission to Christ then our style of worship does not matter.

 

RESPONSE TO THE MESSAGE DETERMINES WORSHIP. 

In each of these three categories, the response to the Christmas message determined how they would worship. Herod rejected the Christ because he worshiped his own self-interests. The scribes and chief priests understood the message but rather than worship the Christ, they turned to Caesar. The Magi both understood and responded in faith to the gospel message and ended up being true worshipers of the King of the Jews, Jesus Christ.

New Testament Survey – Introduction and the Gospel of Matthew January 4, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Matthew, New Testament, Religion, Sermon on the Mount.
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We begin on Sunday night a new series surveying the New Testament. Here are the notes from this weekend’s lesson. The second follows in three weeks. The reading plan reflects that. 

WHERE DOES A SURVEY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT FIT INTO YOUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH? 

The base of the mountain is Genesis with the lower heights being the Old Testament books. The New Testament books are the upper parts of the mountain. When you get closer to the top, you are looking at things from God’s perspective, Bible Doctrines. Seeing the universe as God sees it. The pinnacle of spiritual maturity, i.e., being like Jesus Christ, is based on what is in knowledge of God’s Word and understanding of His truth.

 WHAT IS A BIBLE SURVEY? (ADAPTED FROM JENSEN’S SURVEY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT). 

How we study the Bible, that is, the method used, largely determines the fruit of our Bible study. There are two primary methods, survey and analysis. Survey is observation. Good observation results in correct interpretation and profitable application. Also, analysis is difficult to make without first doing survey.  

1.     With survey you see the emphasis God wants to make.

  • By observing the total structure — Example: Ephesians 6:2 “The first commandment with promise.”
  • Learning not only what is said but also how. A sermon is different from a song, a story different from a list of laws, a genealogy different from a proverb.
  • Get a feel for the book’s atmosphere. Galatians is at times angry. Philippians is a joyful book.
  • The lessons we will learn come from this emphasis. We learn to emphasize what God wants to emphasize and not set our own agendas during Bible study.

2.     With survey you see the relation of the different books to each other.   

Reading Plan for the Survey through the end of Mark’s Gospel.

January 7 Matthew 1-2
January 8 Matthew 3-4
January 9 Matthew 5-7
January 10 Matthew 8-9
January 11 Matthew 10-11
January 12 Matthew 12-13
January 13 Matthew 14-15
January 14 Matthew 16-17
January 15 Matthew 18-19
January 16 Matthew 20-21
January 17 Matthew 22-23
January 18 Matthew 24-25
January 19 Matthew 26
January 20 Matthew 27-28
January 21 Mark 1-3
January 22 Mark 4-7
January 23 Mark 8-10
January 24 Mark 11-13
January 25 Mark 14
January 26 Mark 15-16

MATTHEW

I.     Date – between 50 and 70 AD; Author – Matthew

 II.  “Among the four Gospels, which are the only indisputable ones in the Church of God under heaven, I have learned by tradition that the first was written by Matthew, who was once a publican, but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, and it was prepared for the converts from Judaism” {Origen (ca. A.D. 185-254) quoted by Eusebius (ca. A.D. 265-339) in his Ecclesiastical History}.

  • Matthew quotes Old Testament prophetic passages more than 60 times emphasizing how Christ is the fulfillment of all those promises.
  • In contrast to other gospels, Matthew cites Jewish custom without explaining it.
  • He constantly refers to Christ as the “Son of David”.
  • He shows a strong interest in the Messianic kingdom mentioning the “kingdom of heaven” 32 times. His use of this phrase is unique in Scriptures. 

III.   Is Matthew applicable for the church today?

  • The recipients lived in the “church age”.
  • The purpose of the book is primarily doctrinal and secondarily practical. James’ epistle is a good example of how the doctrine taught in Matthew can be applied in our lives.
  • It is a mistake to treat the teachings of Jesus in the same way as we treat the law which was supplanted by the cross. Understanding the kingdom context should help us to know how to apply its teachings in today’s context rather than excusing us from taking the teachings seriously.  
  1. Matthew has five major teaching sections:  the Sermon on the Mount (5-7), the commissioning of the apostles (10), the kingdom parables (13), a discourse about the childlikeness of the believer (18), and the Olivet Discourse (24-25).
  2. The beginning of the book (1-4) establishes Jesus’ credentials and credibility.
  3. The ending of the book (28:16-20) shows how the disciples as well as the recipients of the gospel are to apply the truth of Christ.
  4. Key turning point:  Matthew 16:21, “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”
  5. Matthew emphasizes the credibility of the historical Jesus as the Messiah. 

Christmas Eve Devotional 2008 December 24, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Christmas, Jesus, Matthew, Religion.
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The Name of the Baby

Matthew 1:18-25 

INTRODUCTION:  There are two names in this passage for this baby whose birth we are celebrating. One is Jesus which means “Savior”, the name which God commanded Joseph to give his adoptive son. The second name was given over seven hundred years before Christ was born. The name “Emmanuel” which means “God with us” was given to an ungodly king and is mentioned by Matthew as proof that Jesus is the promised Messiah.         

These two names have meaning for us also. Jesus is the Savior. He came to save His people from their sin. His people were the Jewish people but He did not come just to save His people. When Jesus as a thirty year old man came into the presence of John the Baptist, a prophet of God, John pointed his disciples to Him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” Jesus Himself once said to the Jews in John 10, “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold.” He was talking about us. In Ephesians 2, Paul writes about Jesus in His death tearing down the wall of partition that existed between Jews and Gentiles for the purpose of saving people out of both groups and integrating them together like a building where the blocks or the bricks interlock to become one.         

What is it from which we are saved? There are many things one could be saved from? The name “Savior” comes from a medical word. When a patient recovers from a deadly illness because of the wisdom of the doctor, we say, “The doctor saved him.” When a medicine causes a miracle cure, we say, “The medicine saved her.” When a medic or a first responder’s actions rescue a person from death, we say, “That man saved their life.”         

Jesus once said that He came to save the sick. He was speaking figuratively. You see, humankind is sick with sin. Most do not recognize their sickness but every person, born into the world is sick with sin and will die of that sickness unless they have a Savior. The name that Jesus was given to bear here on earth is a reminder that He is the one who came to save.          

The second name, Emmanuel, tells us how it is that Jesus can save. He is “God with us.” When Jesus was laid by Mary into the manger, he was no ordinary baby. He was and is still the virgin born Son of God. The name Emmanuel is a sign from God that He Himself has entered the human race.         

Some say Jesus wasn’t really a man. He just looked like a man. Others say he had the body of a man but he didn’t have a human soul. Still others say Jesus was two people in one body—sort of half-God and half-man. Many believe it was all nonsense—that Jesus isn’t God at all. They claim he was an ordinary person like you and me with a sin nature just like everyone else on planet earth. God says in John 1:14 that Jesus became flesh and lived among us. He was God and became man without ceasing to be God (from Ray Pritchard in When Did Christmas Begin?)          

Ray Pritchard tells this story. A young man sat in my office and listened as I explained the gospel to him. Finally he said, “I just can’t believe all that stuff.”          

So I asked him, “What would it take for you to believe?”          

 “I would believe if God came down and stood in front of me and told me himself,” he said.          

“My friend, he already has come down,” I replied. “He came down 2,000 years ago and lived among us. If you don’t believe that, then I have nothing better to offer you” (from Ray Pritchard in When Did Christmas Begin?).                   

Savior and Emmanuel: these two names are brought together in a hymn by William Cowper that we rarely sing today. “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.”           

As we celebrate the virgin born Son of God would you not trust Emmanuel, “God with us,” as your Savior from the stains of sin? He promises that He will save you through His blood if you trust Him and Him alone.

Links to Christmas Sermons from Matthew 2 December 24, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Christmas, Matthew, Religion, Sermons.
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From John Piper

Two Sermons From Spurgeon:  1882  Year not available

From Martin Luther

From Ligon Duncan

 From Ray Pritchard Verses 1-6 Verses 7-12 Verse 15