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

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

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

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

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

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

We also have an uncertain future. We do not know what life may throw at us. James 3:12-14 says, “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy…Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Two Jerusalems April 3, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Abraham, Galatians, Hagar, Isaac, Palm Sunday, Promises of God, Sarah.
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Galatians 4:19-31

When Jesus rode the donkey on Palm Sunday, the people were celebrating because he was riding into Jerusalem. The Jews knew that Jerusalem, specifically the Temple, was where God had chosen to place His name. They knew that from Mount Zion the Messiah would set up the kingdom where he would rule in justice over Israel and that it is there where the nations would come and worship God and submit themselves to His Messiah. It is no wonder that they were so excited.

Yet Jesus on that first Palm Sunday did not set up a throne at the Temple but rather did a house-cleaning, driving the money-changers and the animal-sellers off of the Temple grounds. You see something had happened at the Temple. Money had become more important than prayer.

Later on that week Jesus was talking to the disciples. As they admired the Temple, Jesus told them that it would be destroyed and all of Jerusalem with it. This happened less than forty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.

When Paul wrote Galatians though Jerusalem and the Temple was still standing. It was a symbol for every Jew of their special relationship with God. In fact, the Jews had fallen into a special type of false worship. They had begun to worship their relationship to God as symbolized by the “present Jerusalem,” the place where God’s Temple had been built.

1. If we worship what we do to maintain our relationship with God; we are enslaved by those works (verse 21-25).

Paul uses two women to illustrate his point: Hagar and Sarah. Both had sons by Abraham. Hagar was a slave. The son she bore was not promised by God. Sarah was Abraham’s wife and bore a son because of God’s promise. Her son would carry the blessing that God had given to his father. Hagar remained a slave for the rest of the time she lived in Abraham’s household. She was probably a good mother but she remained a slave. Paul says that you who are trying to keep the Old Testament law to maintain your relationship with God are like Hagar. You are slaves.

There is probably no one here trying to keep the Old Testament law but there may be someone trying to maintain their relationship with God by works. We encountered this in Europe. There were people who refused to leave the state church they grew up in because they were afraid they would lose their relationship with God. This happens in America also though. This may be out of fear, that is, they have been taught that if they make a mistake or too many mistakes or too serious of a mistake then God will forsake them.

It may, however, be because of pride. Spiritual pride is often behind the works of the law. The people, who crucified Jesus, were a proud people. They were convinced that no one else could be as close to God as they were. They were quite convincing. All over the Roman Empire there were Gentiles like the Ethiopian eunuch and Cornelius who were longing for a God who they could respect and worship but they were shut off unless they were willing to undergo circumcision, to establish that special relationship with God.

These Jews were enslaved by their pride. We think of those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol and we often think of them as enslaved by their addictions. Their addictions drive them to do irrational things. Some of the Galatians had become enslaved by the works of the law and it had caused them to do the most irrational thing of all, leave Christ for the works of the law.

Imagine that someone has been given an unlimited gift card for a five-star restaurant. They go in and they order the finest of food and drink but then they feel compelled to go out on the street and start cleaning the sidewalk in front so that they can earn their meal. Once inside they brag to everyone about how industrious they were and how they had earned this fine meal. We would say they are crazy.

Are you enslaved by the pride of your relationship with God? None of us can earn a relationship with God. God does not give away brownie points.

2. If we worship the God who promises spiritual freedom through Jesus Christ, we are free because He has kept His promise (verses 26-28).

Relationships can be joyous but they can be enslaving. There is no joy in enslavement but there is joy in a promise. When in Lynchburg, I looked for a souvenir because I knew that my daughter was rejoicing in the promise of one. Just because we have a relationship is not guarantee of joy. There are lots of daughters who dread their father coming home but she had received a promise and she rejoiced in that promise.

If you were to choose between your relationship to God and the promise you have in Jesus, which would you choose? If you hold to maintaining that relationship, you may miss out on the promise, on the Jerusalem that is above; but if you hold to the promise provided through Christ’s death on the cross, you will also have the relationship.

(Here is an illustration taken second-handedly through Ray Pritchard.) “It goes something like this. Consider for a moment the deeds of Jeffrey Dahmer…he was a pervert, a murderer, and a cannibal. After he was arrested, he professed faith in Jesus Christ. That is, he claimed to have seen the error of his ways, confessed his sins, and cried out to Jesus to save him. We’ll never know the full story of what happened because he was beaten to death in prison not long after that… [Does God’s promise of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ apply to Jeffrey Dahmer?] …When we think about Jeffrey Dahmer and the possibility that he might truly have been saved after those heinous crimes, our first response may be to say, “There is grace even for people like Jeffrey Dahmer.” That statement, true as it is, reveals at least as much about us as it does about him. All of us would like to think (and in fact do think) that we are “better” than he is. Or we’re not as “bad” as he was. I make no bones about the fact that I think I am “better” than Jeffrey Dahmer. I’ve never done the things he did. I’ve never even thought or dreamed or imagined about some of them. So when I say there is grace “even” for the likes of Jeffrey Dahmer, while I’m willing to include him in the circle of those God might save, I’m not putting myself on his level. I truly believe I’m better than he is…But then (as you can tell I’m partly telling the illustration and partly thinking my way through it at the same time) the preacher said it’s not enough to say there is grace even for the likes of Jeffrey Dahmer. In truth, he said, there is grace only for the Jeffrey Dahmers of this world. They alone can be saved” (taken and slightly adapted from “Amazing Grace,” a sermon by Ray Pritchard, found at http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/1999-10-03-Amazing-Grace/ ).

This is the promise we have of eternal life through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is by grace not by maintaining our relationship with God. Will you claim God’s promise as to you? A promise is no good if it is not claimed. It gives no hope unless you believe it.

Believer, are you living according to promise or in the pride of your relationship to God?

First in a series from Isaiah January 30, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Covenant, Forgiveness, Hope, Isaiah, Mercy, Promises of God, Prophecy, Righteousness.
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Isaiah 54

Introduction: One of the key principles in understanding the Bible is to recognize that it is not written to us but rather for us. Understanding that principle is why we don’t build a tent for animal sacrifices after reading the book of Leviticus. Most people want instant understanding of the Bible and don’t work to understand to whom and for what purpose it was written.

That does not mean that God’s Word was not given with future people in mind. The last half of the book of Isaiah is an excellent example of a book written with a future people in mind. Isaiah predicted that Babylon would take the Jews into captivity. Jerusalem along with the Temple would be destroyed and the people would be taken captive to a land with no hope of ever seeing their homeland again. They would have questions that Isaiah addresses. “Has God failed? Is He really as great as the law and the psalms and the prophets had proclaimed? Were His promises to Abraham and Moses and David in vain? Had their sin been too much even for God?”

Over the past few years we have seen serious economic problems. Although America has been a promised land to many for hundreds of years, many are fearful today, predicting the demise of America. What should we as Christians do as we look down the barrel of the gun of possible economic, moral, and political disaster? How can we prepare ourselves and how should we live when that disaster strikes?

A. When disaster strikes, turn to God’s promises (verses 9-10). David Jeremiah tells of some words written on the wall of a cave where a young Jewish girl in the Warsaw ghetto of Poland was hiding from the Nazis.
“I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining.
I believe in love, even when I cannot feel it.
I believe in God, even when He is silent.”

Job put it this way, “Even if He slays me, yet will I trust Him.” When disaster strikes, we turn to God’s promises.

1. His covenant is as dependable as a rainbow (vs. 9). We think of the rainbow as being a promise that God will not destroy the world with water again. Verse 9 points out that every promise of God is dependable. As a kid there was a song we used to sing that ended like this, “When it looks like the sun wouldn’t shine anymore, God put a rainbow in the cloud.” The skeptic looks at the laws of nature and declares there is no God but we look at nature and understand there must be a God who holds this all together, who holds His children in His hand.

2. His kindness is everlasting (vs. 10). In Isaiah 43:2-4 the Lord says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you… I am the LORD your God…and I have loved you.” Jeremiah in Lamentations describes the death and destruction, the hunger and nakedness that these people endured when Jerusalem was taken. They recognized that God had allowed this judgment. In chapter 3:21-23, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Those are not the words of someone for whom it is going well but rather for those who are in deep despair. His kindness is everlasting.

B. When disaster strikes, hope in abundance from God (verses 1-3). “But we are in captivity! Our homes are destroyed! Our children are dead! We have no where to turn!” Isaiah reminds them that God will bless them abundantly. Paul in prison in Philippi put it this way, “My God will supply all my need through His riches in Christ Jesus.” What disaster do you see ahead? It is not forever. There is abundant blessing to be found in Jesus Christ. Hope in Him and in His riches.

Our problem comes when we try to dictate to God how His blessings should appear. We expect financial security, a healthy body, freedom from tragedy. Those are all wonderful things but none of them indicate God’s abundant blessings. His blessings are found in an eternal abundance. “Lay not treasures up for yourself on this earth where moth and rust corrupts but lay up treasures for yourself in heaven.”

C. When disaster strikes, depend on a restored relationship (verses 4-8). The picture here is of a woman who is forsaken because of her wickedness and is then received again to a loving husband (Read verses 7-8).

John Oswalt in his commentary on this chapter relates the story of an old man in a hospital, on his deathbed, wondering if the next life will be as bitter as the one he has just lived. In comes his daughter. Her life has also been hard but “out of her eyes shine eagerness, humor, hope, and love.” He says to her, “I know what you want to say to me, and you might as well save your breath. It’s too late.”
“But Dad, it’s never too late! Look what Christ has done for me! I was in the gutter, drinking myself to death…But he saw something in me to love! Everybody else said I was no good, and he told them to ‘shut up.’”
The old man replies, “…you don’t know what I’ve done. I was a preacher! … If your God is so good and loving, he wouldn’t have anything to do with me. I’m too far gone.”
His daughter demands, “Daddy, you look at me! Nobody is too far gone for Jesus Christ! … He died for Hitler! Do you think you’re worse than Hitler? No, you’re just like Hitler, too proud to get down on your face and ask God to forgive you. He will forgive you, Daddy! He will!”
“The old man turned his head to look at his grown daughter…he saw what was undeniably true-she was being transformed from the inside out…hesitantly, he reached his hand out from under the sheet and took hers. In the next moments … [he] confessed his sins… and disgrace became the welcoming embrace of the world’s Maker…”

D. When disaster strikes, trust in His deliverance from your enemies (verses 11-17). What danger is it that you fear? Turn in trust to the hand of God through Christ.

1. This is the heritage God will protect (verses 13, 17). What do you have that will last? People have been discussing this week what Joe Paterno’s legacy will be. In a hundred years few will remember him. Accumulate wealth. Those to whom you leave it may waste it. A heritage that will last is only to be found in Christ.

2. This is the righteousness we have in Christ (verses 14-17). Hebrews calls this the Sabbath rest we have in Christ. The angels proclaimed it as peace on earth, good will to men. When disaster comes, when the bankbook is empty, when cancer grips your body, when tragedy rains on your family, remember in Jesus Christ there is rest and peace. All is right in Him.

“There is nothing more God needs to do for his ‘covenant of peace’ to be ours forever” (Oswalt). Isaiah 53:4-6 tells us that Jesus has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions and by His stripes we are healed. Will you enter this new covenant that Jesus made for you on the cross? Will you turn to Him? Saved and unsaved alike, believer and unbeliever alike, turn to Him today!

Next week: An Invitation in Disastrous Times – Isaiah 55

The Power of the Holy Spirit December 27, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Acts, Holy Spirit, Promises of God, Religion, Sermons, Spiritual Power, Witnessing.
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Later this week:
Tuesday: Links For Investigation – the Holy Spirit
Wednesday: Why the Reception of the Holy Spirit is Not Always Accompanied by Tongues/Prophesying

Acts 1:1-8

Luke’s first book, his gospel begins with the Christmas story. It is, however, just the beginning. Luke goes on to tell us of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. The other writers of gospel did not as far as we know write any further histories. Luke was different. He wrote a sequel. He wrote a man named Theophilus and told him that the story of Jesus did not end but continued in those who believed in Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

This sequel we call Acts. Although Jesus is still an important figure in the book of Acts and men like Peter and Paul play important parts in the history, it is the story of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who follow Christ. Since many of us are followers of Christ, it is important that we know this story. This story, like Luke’s gospel begins with a promise and its fulfillment. That promise is to us as believers in Christ and its fulfillment defines the reality of the Christian. This promise is the Holy Spirit and this reality can be described with one word, “power”, that is, the power of the Holy Spirit in a believer that enables us to be witnesses of Christ.

A. Now, this power of the Holy Spirit to witness of Christ’s salvation is available the moment you believe. If you compare the passage we have just read with Acts 2:37-38, it is obvious that all that comes with the Holy Spirit is available at the moment of faith. Sometimes the gift of the Holy Spirit was accompanied by miracles but not always. Look again at Acts 2:37-47. It seems that the only ones at this time performing miracles were the apostles but they all received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In the case of the power of the Holy Spirit to witness, you receive that power at the moment you believe. This was the promise given by Jesus in Luke 24:44-49. It is referred to here in Acts 1:4-5. Jesus compares here the baptism of John with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. There are some significant differences between these two baptisms. The one is physical, the other spiritual. The one is by man, the other is by God. The one could be seen; the other could not normally be seen. The two baptisms have this in common: both baptisms come after one receives in faith the message of God. When one believed John’s message, John would baptize him. When one believes Christ message, the Holy Spirit baptizes him.

Think about the significance of this difference. John could have baptized someone by mistake. There were those who came to John, in whom he recognized that there was no faith in them and whom he refused to baptize. It is possible, though, that he could have baptized someone who had no faith. John was not all-knowing. The Holy Spirit, however, never baptizes the wrong person. All who he baptizes are true believers in Christ (1 Corinthians 12). That is why I am certain that every believer has the power of the Holy Spirit to witness because every believer in Christ is baptized by and with the Holy Spirit.

The Great Commission is closely connected with the Holy Spirit power (John 20:21-23). Although the word for power in Matthew 28:18-20 is “authority” rather than our word here “capability,” Matthew’s version of the Great Commission also makes it evident that “capability” from God also plays an important part. Jesus ends with this phrase, “And, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” Everyone who God wants to fulfill the Great Commission has the promise of the capability through the Holy Spirit to fulfill that commission. We cannot plead lack of ability. God the Father gave us, under the authority of Christ, the ability and capability to witness of Christ the moment we were saved and He will never leave us nor forsake but rather has given us the Spirit of God to be with us, to aid us, to enable us to proclaim the gospel of Christ.

Of course, we should prepare and learn. That is what Jesus is doing in this passage and what he had been doing during the past three years, teaching them and preparing them for the day when they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Even at this late date, it seems that they still had some gaps in their knowledge. Look at verses 6-7. Here the disciples are asking about the timing of the kingdom.

The reason these disciples are asking about the kingdom is clear. They know the Old Testament prophecies of Joel 2. In fact, in the next chapter, Peter uses that passage to explain to the multitude at Pentecost that what they were doing in speaking in tongues was simply a manifestation of God’s power as was connected in the minds of every Jew, that when the Messiah comes, the people would be endued with the Spirit of God for the purpose of prophesying and revealing God’s Word. It was just a foretaste. That prophecy will ultimately be fulfilled when Christ returns to this earth sometime in the future.

Of course, the disciples did not understand that there would be at least two thousand years before Christ would return. You would not have understood it and neither would have I. I think that is why Jesus answers them the way He did.

Jesus tells them two things…

First of all, you do not need to know when the kingdom will come. You need to trust that the Father’s timing is perfect and you need to be patient.

Secondly, you need to know how to spread the news of the kingdom.
1. He told them what to do, “…be witnesses of Me…” Jesus is the news of the kingdom. It is not primarily about a Jewish kingdom but about a Jewish king. It is not simply about an ethnic people but about a spiritual change to the world order. The only way to accomplish that is for the world to hear about the Jewish king, Jesus the Christ.
2. He told them where to start. “…in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
3. And He told them how they were going to accomplish this. “…you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…”

This power was accompanied by believers boldly or plainly witnessing of the gospel of Christ. Look at verses 32-36. Peter says in verse 32, we are witnesses of his resurrection. Boldness is implied in the word witness. It is translated occasionally “martyr”, one who is willing to die. I do not usually recommend that you witness in such a way that you get fired from your job. We are to be wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. Our witness, however, should be such that we are willing to pay a price to be a witness. I am afraid that most of us, if we had to choose between our job and our witness, we would choose our job. If we had to choose between our family and our witness, we would choose our family. If we had to choose between being accepted and witnessing of the one who has accepted us, who would we choose?

Let us continue reading verses 33-36. Peter’s witness was so bold and so plain that many of the hearers, according to Acts 2:37, were cut or pierced to the heart. Perhaps you remember the tragic story how that Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, was suddenly pierced to the heart by the stinger of a stingray and how that he himself pulled the stinger out and then almost immediately died. This is same picture. It was sudden! It had immediate consequences! It resulted in immediate actions! In this case, however, it resulted not in death but in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Let me again emphasize that witnessing by the power of the Holy Spirit was accompanied by boldness, that is, plain speaking (Acts 2:29; used three times in chapter 4). We do not live in a time of bold speech for Christ among Christians. This era we live in is commonly called the postmodern era. Simply put, it means that what is right and wrong changes as culture and standards change. In other words, what is sin in Michigan may not be sin in Ohio and what is good and acceptable in Indiana may be shameful and sinful here. In other words, there is no certainty, there is no plain speech. We look at each other and try to figure out what is right or wrong. Unfortunately, we at times reflect in our lives the post-modern culture.

Some believe that we cannot go long with this type of attitude. Humankind gravitates toward certainty and hope, even if it is a false certainty and hope. The growth of cults and Islam and even of some aspects of evangelical Christianity is evidence to the fact that many people want Yes to mean Yes and No to mean No. In Acts 2 and 4 and other places, we see that these men spoke plainly. They did not dance around issues but plainly gave the truth. The Holy Spirit led them in that and empowered them in that and enabled them with boldness and wisdom to just tell the facts.

Why do we not want to share with each other much less with an unbelieving world, what Christ has done in our lives? I do not have the answer but it surely has nothing to do the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit gives us plain speech, ready speech, boldness to speak of what we know.

Do you have the power of the Holy Spirit to witness? If you are a believer in Christ, the answer is yes. You need to tap into that power. There is no alternative source. the ability to tell the world of Christ is in you right now in the form of a person, the Holy Spirit.

If you have not received Christ, you do not have this power. You need a different power, the power of the gospel. Paul in Romans 1:16 writes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God to salvation, to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Gentile).” You are incapable of saving yourself but the gospel of Christ will save you from your sin if you will believe it. Peter said to the crowd on the day of Pentecost, “Repent and be baptized and you will receive the Holy Spirit.” There are two actions implied in that invitation. You need to turn from your sin and you need to turn away from any other way of salvation and turn only to Christ. Turn to Christ today and receive the Holy Spirit!

Easter 2009 (Jesus in the Old Testament) – Isaiah 42 The Servant of the LORD March 22, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Isaiah, Jesus, Promises of God, Prophets, Religion, Sermons.
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JESUS, THE SERVANT (Isaiah 42:1-9)

The LORD God Father wants your attention on His Chosen Servant, Jesus Christ. It is important to identify who this Servant is. There are several reasons why we know that this passage is speaking of Jesus Christ.

1. First, the Servant here must be the Messiah. In Isaiah, sometimes the nation of Israel is called God’s Servant but in verse 6, we find that the Servant is given to Israel as a covenant. That is, ultimately who the Messiah is, the one through whom the various covenants, which God made with Israel through Abraham and Moses and David, will be fulfilled. Since it is clear that this passage is talking about the Messiah, it remains to us to determine if Jesus fulfills this prophecy, is he the Servant, the Messiah; and, secondly, to understand what His task as the Servant involves.

2. Verse 1 prophesies Jesus’ baptism. Although the actual baptism is not predicted in the Old Testament, the events surrounding His baptism are in this passage. When Jesus came up out of the water, a voice from heaven proclaimed, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased,” that is, the one in whom I delight, and then the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove came upon Jesus. First, the Father identified Him as His well-pleasing Servant and then anointed Jesus with His Spirit. Anointing was a way of identification of a prophet or a priest or a king. It is a way of setting them apart for specific service. It was usually done with an olive oil mixture. With Jesus it was a bit different. Jesus was identified by the Father as His well-pleasing Servant, better known to us as the Messiah, the Christ, and then was anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Servant at His baptism.

I. Jesus, the Servant will establish justice on this earth (verses 1, 3-4). We often think only in terms of personal salvation when we think of the work of Christ, but there is much more involved. Jesus came and will come to establish justice on this earth. Psalm 37:1, 7, 12, 14, 21, 35 describes for us the injustice that presently reigns on this earth. During these hard economic times we are constantly hearing of those who take advantage of others. Some are caught and brought to justice but many are not. What is God’s answer to the injustices of the world. It is not natural disaster nor is it cataclysmic financial disaster that will bring justice into the world. God will one day take things in hand through His Servant, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, who will bring justice to the earth. God’s law will be established on this earth.

A. He will not be swayed in His task (verse 2-4). These verses describe again the first coming of Christ. We find them quoted in Matthew 12:14-21. Jesus did not enlist others as testimonials of His greatness. He does not walk through the streets proclaiming Himself as God’s gift to mankind. Rather we find that His task as the Messiah involves preaching truth and righteousness and mercy and repentance and the kingdom of God. The God of the universe, who needs no humility, exhibits humility in His life here on earth.

We have in verses 3-4 a beautiful picture of Jesus character. The picture is this:

He will not break a bruised reed.

He will not quench the last embers of a little flax fire.

He will bring justice for truth.

His fire will not go out.

His spirit will not be bruised.

Until justice is established.

Jesus truly was meek and lowly. The common people, the oppressed, the sick and hurting heard Jesus gladly. He did not oppress them. He did not side with the rulers who oppressed His people. Yet it appears that Jesus’ death on the cross was a failure. Justice did not appear on the earth with His crucifixion nor with His resurrection. He is, however, coming back and when He does, justice will be established on this earth.

B. He will be welcomed by many (verses 4, 6-7). Verse four describes the hope of the coastlands, that is, the nations of the earth. While it is true that most if not all nations will be set against God when He returns to this earth, there will be those scattered throughout the world who will looking for His coming. He is, after all, there only hope. This group of people is described for us in Revelation 15:1-4. Many of them will be martyred for their faith. Others will be thrown in prison or left destitute and homeless because of their faith in Christ but they will be victorious in Christ Jesus. The servant is their hope. He is not, however, just the hope of those believers among the nations at the end of time.

The Servant is the hope of Israel because He fulfills the covenant God has made with them (verse 6). Jesus refers to this when He instituted the Lord’s Supper. Jesus said, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” In other words, this covenant that God originally made with Israel through Abraham, Moses, and David is ultimately made possible through the death of Christ. Romans 11:26-27 quotes Isaiah 59:20-21and makes it clear that ethnic Israel will be saved through their Deliverer but this deliverance will be deliverance from sin. Now I am convinced from the Old Testament prophecies and from the book of Revelation that national, ethnic Israel will receive their promised land when Jesus returns to this earth but their deliverance from their physical enemies is a secondary part of their covenant. The Jews will, when the Servant returns to this earth, turn to their Messiah, to their Christ, they will renew their covenant through their faith in Jesus Christ. Now Jews can do this now. They do not have to wait until Christ the Servant, the Deliverer returns to trust. The Jewish person can trust Christ now and if and when he or she does, they immediately enter into the covenant with which God has made with the Jews through Abraham, Moses, David and has brought into fruition through Jesus Christ. There is, however, coming a day when the nation of ethnic Jews will turn to Christ.

The servant brings light to those Gentiles in darkness (verses 1, 6-7). They are in darkness for two reasons.

First, they were originally outside of the covenant that God had made with Israel (verse 6b). The Servant’s light is not limited to the Jews. Repeatedly, Old and New Testaments tell us 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.”

They were imprisoned in darkness, they could not help themselves. The Gentiles, because they did not know the God of Israel lived in the prison of darkness. They were in total darkness. This world is in darkness. Jesus brings light. This world is full of injustice. In Christ there is justice and righteousness and truth and law. As with the Jews, this will happen when Jesus the Servant returns to the earth but also like the Jew we do not have to wait to be released from our darkness.

I was hopeless and helpless in darkness and that is the situation of every person born, Jew and Gentile. There is, however, light. The Servant was executed for a covenant to Israel and for a light to us. It is Jesus, the Servant who establishes the covenant with the people of God as well as the Bringer of Light who brings out the prisoners of darkness into light and He does both of these through His death, burial, and resurrection.

II. Jesus, the Servant is guaranteed success by the LORD God.

A. The guarantee is based on God’s sustaining power (verses 1, 4-6). In verses 1 and 6 we have God’s promise that He will uphold, sustain, and keep the Messiah. Verse 4 tells how long God will keep that promise. Verse 5 God reminds us that His creative power, the power that gives you and I life and breath is the power that sustains His servant. Now this may not seem very important to us but it was vitally important to those looking for the Messiah. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan, the second temptation recorded by Matthew had Satan taking Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple. Satan said, “Let’s assume you are the Son of God, the Messiah. God has promised to protect the Messiah. The Psalms say that the angels will keep you from being hurt. Jump off this building and prove your Messiahship by fulfilling this prophecy.” Jesus answer was this, “The Law commands us not to tempt God.” Yet it is important for us to understand that even Satan Himself recognized that God had promised to protect His servant.

B. The guarantee is based on God’s righteous calling (verses 1 and 6). We have already seen how that God has confirmed the choosing and calling of His Servant. This calling is also the guarantee that the Servant will accomplish the work that He was sent and will be sent to do.

C. The guarantee is based on God’s unique position (verses 5 and 8). There is no god like our God. He is the Creator. He is unique in His position, which He shares with no other. Because there is no one like Him, He can guarantee the success of His Servant.

D. The guarantee is based on Gods’ past record (verse 9). Isaiah points out, God has kept His promises in the past, He will keep these also. We being further down the timeline can see how God fulfilled some of these prophecies during the life of Jesus Christ. We can rest assured that He will fulfill what remains in the future. More importantly this morning is the assurance we can have that if we put our faith and trust in Christ, He will save us.

Do you want to be free from the slavery of darkness and sin? Do you desire a future where true justice reigns? Do you want Christ to serve you? It is possible through faith in Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection.


The Feast of Trumpets the basis for Psalm 81 September 28, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Promises of God, Psalms, Religion, Sermons.
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Psalm 81

The trumpet was an important part of the life of Israel. It was used to call the people to gather and to break camp and move out. It was also to sound the alarm or the call to battle. The first day of every month it was sounded to remind the people of the victories that God had won for them. On the first day of the seventh month, a feast was celebrated which was marked by the constant blowing of trumpets. Psalm 81 was probably written on the occasion of that feast and lays out for us the truths that the blowing of the trumpets should remind them.

The blowing of the trumpets reminds us that God’s response to our need demands a joyful response from us (verses 1-7). The first three verses are a call to worship. This call to worship is not the call to be still and know God. The assumption is that the listeners already know God and know His works and they are called to shout with joy, to sing at the top of their lungs about the strength of the LORD.

The noise of joy is God’s command to His people (verses 1-4). In verses 3-4 we see they were supposed to come at a specific time and in a specific way for the purpose of praising the LORD. It is these two verses that indicate that this Psalm might have been used at the Feast of Trumpets. It was a day on which all day long the trumpets were to be blown, reminding His people that they every victory that they have ever won was through Him. To rejoice in victory in our worship is commanded. It is not an option. We sometimes desire a specific feeling before we worship but that is not the way of God. Spurgeon once said, “Obedience is to direct our worship, not whim and sentiment.”

We live in an age when people do not want to be forced to do anything. Don’t force us to pray, don’t force us to endure evangelism courses, don’t force us to sing songs that we don’t like, don’t force us to shake hands and greet people, don’t force us to give, don’t force us to be baptized and join the church, don’t force us to be regular in church, don’t force us to sacrifice for others, don’t force us…don’t force us…don’t force us…

Is it any wonder that we do not feel like worshiping when we come to church? Our slackness to obey God is proof that our heart is not in it. Yet, we are commanded to rejoice and in this case, to do it loudly, with bombast and fireworks, with shouts and song.

Joy testifies to God’s response to our need (verses 5-7). God does not command joy simply for the sake of joy. There is a purpose behind it. In this psalm we find that the joy of the people of God is a witness of God’s work in the lives of His people.

When they needed deliverance from the hand of their foreign taskmasters, He set the free (verses 5b-7a).

When they needed to learn that He would care for them, He gave them a lesson in God’s provision at Meribah, the like of which had never been seen before (verse 7b with Exodus 17:1-6).

God’s Response to our Need demands an obedient response to God’s Word (verses 8-16).

God’s unique claim on His people (verses 8-10).

Because God had delivered them from the foreigner, they needed to understand that their God was superior to all other gods and that He alone was to be worshiped, bowed down to, submitted to.

Because God had proven that He could supply their need, they needed to come to Him with their needs, expecting God to satisfy them.

Stubbornness prevents obedience (verses 11-12). They would not listen to God. The last part of verse 11 says that they were not willing to have Him as their only God. Why? They were stubborn. They followed the dictates of their own heart.

Deuteronomy 29:19 “and so it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart’ ––as though the drunkard could be included with the sober.” Jeremiah 7:24 puts it this way, the one who follows the dictates of his own heart instead of the Word of God, is walking backwards rather than forwards.

There are only two possible responses (verses 13-16).

The deceitful response of the wicked cannot stand (verses 14-15). Sometimes the response of the wicked is blatant. Often though it is subtle and even appears moral, appears to be the way of God but if a man is not guided by God’s Word, he is God’s enemy and is in rebellion against God.

The clearest example we have of this type of attitude is found in Joshua 7:11. When God destroyed Jericho, He told the Israelites not to take anything of the goods of Jericho. It was the first fruit of their battles, the accursed thing, and the booty that was not burned belonged to the LORD. One man, Achan, disobeyed. He took a Babylonish garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and fifty shekels of gold. Then he buried them in the ground under his tent.

Here is what God had to say about Achan’s actions, “Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff.” Achan pretended to be obedient but was not truly obedient.

The God of strength who is praised in verse one reacts to such deception with a show of His strength. His enemies, his adversaries, those who hate Him while pretending to serve Him will be subdued, their fate is sealed forever.

The guide of the righteous is God’s Word (verses 13, 16).

Verse 13 echoes the importance of walking in God’s ways. Verse 16 points out what the righteous receive that the wicked miss out on. Satisfaction! With submission comes satisfaction. With stubbornness of heart comes leanness of the soul. Do you go to bed content and satisfied or do you go to bed longing for that missing something. Jesus Christ offers that satisfaction but it only comes through total submission to Him.

Conclusion: The Old Testament prophet Isaiah once called to Judah to satisfy their hunger and thirst with the things that money cannot buy. He cried out to his people, “Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”

By the time of Christ, however, many had forgotten this call. They had learned how to be good. They had learned to keep the commandments. They had in their minds learned to be righteous. They thought that they were full. They had pretended submission to God to such a point that they were self-deceived. Jesus says, however, it is not those who keep the rules outwardly who will be filled with righteousness but those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, those who obey and worship God. In fact, in another place Jesus said, “Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger” (Luke 6:25).

Are you full or are you hungry? The question is answered not by how you feel but by what satisfies you. Are you satisfied in Christ or do you feel the need to keep certain rules to be satisfied spiritually? Is He the one in whom you find spiritual satisfaction or do you seek some experience to fill that void in your life that only Christ can fill? Keeping rules will not do it. An experience cannot fulfill. You must trust Christ as Savior.



Recognizing Jesus (Old Testament Prophecies of Christ Death and Resurrection) February 25, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Luke, Messiah, Promises of God, Prophets, Religion, Sermons.


Luke 18:31-34


INTRODUCTION: This week while preparing for this sermon, I read again of Phillips Brooks, the well-known rector of Trinity Episcopal Church at Copley Square in Boston. Brooks is most famous as the author of the Christmas carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Phillips Brooks emphasized the coming and the life of Christ but not the death, burial, and resurrection. He was limited in his recognition of who Jesus is.


Later this week, I heard an interview of Bart Ehrmann, a professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He has a new book coming out with the thesis that the Bible has no answer to suffering in this world. As a young man, Bart Ehrmann had been an evangelical Christian and had even taught at the seminary level but he became disillusioned with Christianity and would now label himself an agnostic. From the interview, it was obvious that the man knew a lot about the Bible and about Jesus Christ but it was also just as obvious that he was limited in his recognition of who Jesus is.


As I continued thinking this week, I began to think of Robert Schuller, a man who has given his life to preaching a positive outlook on life. Yet, as influential as Robert Schuller has been, he is another in a long line of men who have preached or taught about Jesus but who by their own testimony are limited in the recognition of who Jesus is.


It is good to believe that the coming of Jesus as the Son of Man is a wonderful miracle of God but that alone is not enough.

As we mentioned the last couple of Sunday nights, Luke wrote his gospel so that people might know, that is, recognize who Jesus is. He probably gives us the most complete picture of Jesus that we have. He emphasizes in His gospel especially in the first two chapters that Jesus is the Messiah, God who become man through the virgin Mary as was prophesied in Isaiah 11 and in other places.

He goes on in chapter 4 and tells how that Jesus claimed that His life was lived for the purpose of preaching the gospel and doing good as was prophesied in Isaiah 60. Luke then describes this “gospel do-gooding” ministry throughout most of the rest of the book.


All of these things are important and all of them are wonderful but as Luke continues his narrative in chapter 9, Jesus asks the disciples point blank, who do you think I am. Peter, confesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. At that point, Jesus reveals for the first time that He is going to be killed by the leaders of Israel and then afterwards, resurrected. In that same chapter he begins His final journey to Jerusalem. The passage we have read today is close to the end of that final journey. On the way, Jesus again has several times either directly said or intimated that He is going to die. This third time he tells them plainly and with more detail but they still do not understand. In fact it is not until the last chapter of Luke, after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that we find the disciples finally understanding the significance of Jesus has told them. In Luke 24 we find Jesus speaking to His disciples about this very event that we are reading about now.

44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”

45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise {NU–Text reads written, that the Christ should suffer and rise.} from the dead the third day,


What the disciples did not understand until after the fact is that the suffering and the resurrection of Christ are the completion of the miracle. It was important for them and it is important for you and I to recognize that Christ’s suffering and resurrection were necessary and that the necessity of these events caused God to plan them and to tell about them hundreds of years before they were to happen. Let us look at some of these events that were so necessary, that God predicted them in the Old Testament.

He will be delivered to the Gentiles (Psalm 2:1-2). Earlier Jesus had told them that He would be killed by the rulers of the Jews but this is the first time that it was revealed to them that the Gentiles would also play a part in the death of the Messiah.





In Psalm 2, which talks about the setting on the throne of the King of Israel, David wrote, “Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing. The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed.” In Acts 4:25-28, we find that the disciples came to the place where they understood what Jesus had been trying to tell them, they know recognized Christ completely and fully and how that God had sent Jesus into the world to be the Messiah but also to be delivered to the Gentiles.

HE WILL BE MOCKED AND INSULTED AND SPIT UPON (Psalm 22:6-8; 69:1-12; Isaiah 50:6b, 53:3).

We read about some of this in our responsive reading today from Isaiah 53 but I want us to look at Psalm 22, especially verses 6-8, “6 But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people.

7 All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,

8 “He trusted {Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate read hoped; Targum reads praised.} in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”

In Matthew’s account, those mocking Christ as He hung on the cross actually say these words while they are making fun of Him.


Luke describes these events in just a few verses but they are powerful ones. Luke 23:35 And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.”

36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine,

37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.”

38 And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: {NU–Text omits written and in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.} THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, {NU–Text reads Are You not the Christ?} save Yourself and us.”

You see it was necessary that Jesus’ death be a death of shame and derision. It was God’s plan and Jesus knew exactly what He was stepping into when He began that final journey to Jerusalem.




They will scourge and kill Him (Psalm 22:15; Isaiah 50:6a; Daniel 9:26). Again, there are a number of Old Testament passages we could turn to. We could look again at Psalm 22 or Isaiah 53 both of which mention His suffering and His murder but I want us to think of Daniel 9:26a. “And after the sixty–two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;” God reveals to Daniel events near and far but the most important event that He reveals to Him does not even take a whole verse. Messiah, the Savior of Israel, the Hope of all nations, will be cut off, will be killed. It has to be that way. God has spoken it.

And the third day He will rise again (Psalm 16:8-11 quoted by Peter in Acts 2). The first sermon preached on the day of Pentecost takes Psalm 16:8-11 and preaches the resurrected Christ. He does not demand for the rulers to produce a body and prove that Jesus is dead. He takes the Word of God and says, “Look! This is what God was talking about through David.”

Acts 2:29 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.

30 “Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, {NU–Text omits according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ and completes the verse with He would seat one on his throne.}

31 “he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.

32 “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.


These events that happened to Jesus were necessary and it was necessary that they be fulfilled in detail because it was the plan of God.



There are those who argue that what happened to Jesus was some accident that God failed to prevent but the prophecies of the Old Testament assure us that God knew exactly what He was doing.



Now we find the disciples not recognizing the truth. Even after his resurrection. The reason according to Jesus is that they did not know the Scriptures. Luke 24:23 “When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive.

24 “And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”

25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!

26 “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”

27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.


Spurgeon once said, “Brethren, a want of familiarity with the Word of God is very often the seed-plot of our doubts! Half our fears arise from neglect of the Bible.” (Spurgeon in “Folly of Unbelief”, a sermon on Luke 24:40).


As I studied for this message, a set of verses came to my mind that remain dear to my heart. They are found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. In the early years of my faith, I struggled. I found it hard to believe that I could really be saved, otherwise, why would I continue to fall into sin. People would try help me with different truths of the Scripture, try to bolster my faith so that I would not doubt. One day, as a nineteen year old, I was sitting listening to these four verses being taught. I understood that salvation is this simple. God said that salvation is based solely on the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. God planned it that way. God predicted that way. God performed it that way. My responsibility is to believe God. That was a life changing event for me.


What difference does this make? When you go to the doctor and find out that you have cancer, you need to know that the same God who predicted and planned the death and resurrection of His Son has you in His hand also.


When you fall prey to that sin that plagues your life, you need to know that the God of the ages planned a way for that sin to be paid for and that He planned a sacrifice that was sufficient for that sin which horrifies you and at the same time tempts you.


When you read in God’s Word the necessity of staying in a marriage even though you want out, you can take confidence in those commands because you know how that God keeps His Word.


When you pray, you can pray boldly according to God’s will because you know that His will cannot be broken and will be fulfilled to the most minute detail.


When your friends and family fail to keep their promises, you can turn to the one whose promises over the hundreds and thousands of years remain faithful.


CLOSING: Four travelers, not very well acquainted with the cross-road over which they were journeying, began to lookout for a finger-post. Soon after this, one of them cried out, “I think I can see one yonder in the distance”; and “I believe that I can see it too, about half-a-mile off,” rejoined another; and “I am almost certain that I can see it,” added a third, “it stand up higher than the hedges.” “Well, well,” said the fourth, “You may be right or you may be wrong; but we had better make the best of our way to it, for while we keep at such a distance, whether it be a finger-post or not, it will be of little use to us.” by George Mogridge from Spurgeon’s “My Sermon Notes, Volume II.


There is no doubt in my mind that some of you are plagued with doubts. You wonder if you are really saved. You wonder if God is really good. You wonder if what God says could really be true. The proof is Jesus Christ. God sent Him to die and live again so that we may believe Him. He is the one who shows us the Father. He is the one who gives us access to God. What we need to do is recognize Jesus as the answer to our doubts and the salvation from our sins.

How God Reveals Himself in the Old Testament Through Jesus Christ August 12, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Character, False Teachers, Inspiration, Law, Matthew, Messiah, Promises of God, Prophets, Religion, Righteousness, Sermon on the Mount, Sermons, Special Revelation.


Did Jesus Contradict the Old Testament?

Matthew 5:17-20

Last Sunday I was asked about an apparent contradiction between the Old Testament command to stone false prophets and the command that Jesus gave in John 8:1-11 that those who were without sin should cast the first stone. This is such an important question that Jesus Himself in His most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, addressed this issue of His relationship to the Old Testament.

One of the earliest accusations against Jesus was that He opposed the Law of Moses. Now if this was true then He should have been stoned according to the Law. In fact, in John 10:30-39 when Jesus told them that He was one with the Father, making Himself to be God, they tried to stone Him but Jesus escaped from them.

So today, we are going to see what Jesus has to say in his defense to the accusation that He tried to correct the Old Testament law.


Jesus says, “Listen to me and be convinced” (verse 17). The gospel of Matthew is the only one of the gospels written specifically with Jews in mind. The Jews of that day were divided about the Messiahship of Jesus Christ. Many believed and followed him, many others did not, but there was a number of Jews who wanted to believe but needed more evidence. Just as there are questions of doubt in these days, there were questions of doubt in those days.

Jesus said to the doubters, “Think outside of the box! Do not jump to conclusions based on the normal way of thinking. Listen to me and see if I am telling you the truth. Do not suppose you know the answer. Listen and think!”


We have an excellent example of this in the story of the woman who was to be stoned. John 8:6 says they brought the woman to Him to ask what they should do. Now there were Jewish courts for such a trial but they had decided to see if they could trap Jesus into contradicting Moses. Also, although apparently the woman was guilty, the man with whom she had been caught was not brought before Jesus. These men were obviously not interested in keeping the Law but rather in entrapping Jesus. Jesus could have easily said, “Stone her!” He would have been within His rights. In fact, He did say stone her but He did it in a way that was definitely outside of the box. He said to the men, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”

These fellows knew each other. They knew what kind of men they were. Suddenly they lost interest in the case. Beginning from the oldest to the youngest they walked away. They had been exposed. After they left, Jesus said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Where are the witnesses against you?” She said, “I have no accusers!” At that, Jesus wiped the dust off His hands and said, “I cannot condemn you unless you have accusers. You may go but do not sin anymore.”

This is a good example of how Jesus thought outside the box and He wants us to do so as we examine Him. He wants us to think, of course, but He does not want us to think the way the world does but with spiritual thinking, thinking which is outside of the box of our humanity.


Jesus then said, “I did not come to take the house of God down.” That is what that word “destroy” means. “I did not come disassemble God’s Word.”

Jesus then said, “I came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.” I came to move in new furniture. Look at my life, look at my teaching! There is not one thing that I do or teach that takes away from the Law (the first five books of Moses) or the Prophets (which is the rest of the Old Testament). I did come though to add meaning and clarity.


Jesus says, “Listen to the Old Testament and be assured (verses 18). The Old Testament is an established standard by which to measure Jesus.

Almost every Easter and Christmas we hear expressions of doubt about the truth. We have heard about the DaVinci Code, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, the gravestone which supposedly has Jesus’ name on it. Although we may not appreciate these expressions of doubt, they are crucial. They are “…crucial… because on the surface there seems to be no great difference between Christianity and the religions of the world. They have great leaders… and so do we. They have written Scriptures . . . and so do we. They have miracle stories . . . and so do we. They have high ethical standards . . . and so do we. They have a long and rich history . . . and so do we.

One might ask, ‘How can I know which religion is the right one?’ That’s a fair question. The average person today faces a… supermarket of religions from which to choose. He sees the well-stocked shelves and wonders, ‘Which one should I choose?’ There is only one problem. All the bottles have been poisoned except one. How can he find that one right, pure and safe bottle?” (RAY PRITCHARD)

The Old Testament is our answer. If Jesus can knowingly attempt to fulfill every letter of every page of every book of every section of the Old Testament, then we have a way to judge if He is really who He said He is.

The Old Testament points to the coming of a specific person. That is one of the key messages of the Old Testament. Jesus reveals Himself to be that person. Jesus fulfilled completely the book written about Him, the Old Testament. This book was completed four hundred years before His birth. Others before and after Him claimed to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament but only Jesus has fulfilled the holy book written about him.

No other man can make such a claim.


Mohammed wrote the Koran to correct the Bible not to fulfill it. He claimed inspiration but he could not claim to fulfill the written prophecies of the Old or New Testaments.

Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible but he was not the fulfillment of one word of Holy Scripture.

Buddha wrote many words and like Jesus challenged others to evaluate his words but he never fulfilled the written prophecies of others.

Confucius wrote but like the others could never point to other holy writings and legitimately claim that he fulfilled them.

Jesus Christ said in John 5:39-47, “Search the Scriptures! They speak of me. If you believe Moses, you will believe Me because he wrote of Me. There is no other case in all of history where you can take a book and then take a person hundreds of years in the future and say, “This is about Him,” but in the Old Testament you can.


Jesus says, “Look at the False Teachers and be instructed (verse 19). “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments…” – Every person is responsible before God because of the truth of the Old Testament. If Jesus had not yet come, or if He had come but God had chosen not to give us the New Testament, we would still be responsible to God based on the Old Testament. It is the inspired Word of God.


Verse 19 – “…and teaches them so…but whoever does and teaches them…” Jesus is saying that you cannot separate doctrine and deed. If in your teaching you cause someone to break “one of the least of these commandments…” you will find yourself on the bottom of the spiritual pecking order, last in the kingdom of God.


Finally, Jesus says, “Look to Yourselves and be warned” (verse 20). The authority for the warning comes from the phrase, “For I say to you…” How did Jesus get this authority? – Look back at verse 17. By fulfilling the Law and the Prophets. From whom did He get this authority? – Look at Matthew 7:21. He got His authority from God. Continually in the Sermon on the Mount He repeats the phrase, “I say unto you…” After awhile one might ask Himself the question, “Who does this Jesus think He is?” In Matthew 7:21 He tells us. He is Lord, and whoever obeys Him is doing the will of the Father.

The Purpose of the Warning (…unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees…) Their lives were to reflect true righteousness which can only be found in following Jesus Christ. He goes on to teach them what to do. There is a huge difference between teaching righteousness and being righteous. Jesus was demanding that they become righteous by following Him, by becoming His disciple. Becoming a disciple speaks of a personal relationship to the teacher. This is what these fellows had. Of course, obedience is the natural result of being a disciple but you still have to learn what obedience means and that was what Jesus was teaching the disciples. First of all, that they might obey and secondly that they might be different from those who only taught righteousness but did not practice it themselves.

When God presents us with truth, He expects us to do something with that truth. Jesus presented in this sermon the truth of His Messiahship. He expected them to live accordingly. He expects the same from you.


He, however, will have nothing to do with you…unless…unless you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone as the Savior of your eternal soul. This message is eternal but useless without trusting Christ as your Savior. Judas heard the same message as the rest of the disciples but he lived for earthly things. Yes, it was a temptation for the other disciples also but Judas was the only one that stepped over that line and said, “I’m driving my stakes down right here. I am living for this world. This kingdom that Jesus keeps promising, never comes. I’m going to get while the getting is good.” That’s why he could so easily betray Jesus.

You have the opportunity to become a disciple. Look at the claims Jesus makes for Himself and decide to follow Him and live or turn and go your own way. Whether you trust Him or not, He holds your future and you can enter His kingdom but you must trust Him and Him alone. He died for you according to the Old Testament Scriptures, He was buried, He rose again according to the Old Testament Scriptures, and He ascended on high to the Father’s throne (according to Psalm 2:7 and Hebrews 1:3-6) but you must turn to Him and to Him alone for salvation.


Believer, are you living for Christ or are you just talking. Do you mouth the right words or do you live as you know Jesus wants you to. You may not know everything you are supposed to do to honor God but are you doing what you do know?

Some of you are struggling with doubts. You wonder if you are saved, if God really loves you, if you are good enough to please God. Are you going to live in the assurance established by the Old Testament Scriptures? They will never pass away. They will be fulfilled. Jesus Christ will do that. If you are in Him, in Jesus Christ, then you are just as assured of heaven as God’s Word is settled for all eternity.

Are you going to live, conscience of Christ’s commands everywhere you go? If you do, are you going to obey those commands. If you look in these chapters you will find the command to love your enemy, to forgive, to have confidence in God, the command to be pure, the command to be honest, the command to pray, the command not to judge, the command not to be proud, the command to live a mature and godly life. Will you live like your king or will you live like Judas for this world?

Links to Sermons on Matthew 5:17-20 August 10, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Inspiration, Law, Matthew, Promises of God, Prophets, Religion, Righteousness, Sermon on the Mount, Sermons.

Three Sermons from Arthur Pink.  I’m going to try to cover this passage in one 🙂




Not a well-known name but this is an excellent sermon on this text:


And from Ligon Duncan


Ways God Reveals Himself (A Sunday Morning Sermon from Psalm 19) July 15, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Creation, Depravity, General Revelation, Inspiration, Praise, Prayer, Promises of God, Psalms, Repentance, Sermons, Special Revelation, Spiritual Warfare, Temptation, Truth.


PSALM 19:1-14

The last few weeks we have looked at the Word of God and in each case we found that the truth of the Word of God was confirmed in some way or another. In 2 Timothy 3 we discovered that the truth of the Word of God is confirmed by those who teach it to us, especially by the way that they live it out before us. In 2 Peter 1 we saw that the transformation that the Word of God makes in our lives confirms the truth of the Word of God as well as the many eyewitness accounts of the New Testament period confirm the truth of the Word of God. This week we are going to look at two ways that God reveals Himself and again. The first, like others that we have seen in previous weeks, will be a confirmation of the truth of the second.


God reveals Himself through creation (verses 1-6).

No one escapes this revelation. In these six beautiful verses we have a wonderful description of revelation through creation. Those who teach us the Word of God may fail and falter and lose our confidence. Our own lives may become so squandered in sin that we forget that we were forgiven of our own sins. The historians may rewrite history so as to try to discredit the eyewitness accounts of Peter, Paul, James, John and hundreds of other. They cannot, however, blot out the sun.

“During the French revolution Jean Bon St. Andre, the Vendean revolutionist, said to a peasant, ‘I will have all your steeples pulled down, that you may no longer have any object by which you may be reminded of your old superstitions.’ ‘But,’ replied the peasant, ‘you cannot help leaving us the stars.’ John Bate’s ‘Cyclopaedia of Moral and Religious Truths,’ 1865. (found in Spurgeon’s “Treasury of David”)

Those who believe that the universe around us is the result of some cosmic accident cannot deny that it is a glorious and wondrous accident. It is the glory of the heavens and the earth on which we live that helps us to have a foretaste of the glory of God. “The heavens declare the glory of God.”

“When you go out into the woods or on to the beach at look at the beauty of creation, what do you go to see? Do you go to see the glory of God? It is to little purpose to view the beauty of creation, to wonder at the marvels of the universe, if we do not seek, if we do not see not God’s glory there.” (A knock off of a quote from Isaac Watts, D.D., 1674-1748.)


The message of the heavens is not subtle. Listen to the following translation written by Henry Craik in 1860,

” The heavens are telling the glory of God,

The firmament displaying the work of his hands;

Day unto day wells forth speech,

Night unto night breatheth out knowledge.” (found in Spurgeon’s “Treasury of David)

The message of the heavens is blatantly clear. There is nowhere on earth from which man can escape that message because the heavens are the blackboard from which God instructs men in the knowledge of His glory.

The heavens are also the stage from which we see the wonder of God called the sun. The sun rising in the morning and streaking across the sky is described as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber. This was ancient custom back before chivalry and knighthood became so common. Although the bride was very important and she was also decked out in her finest, she was the one who did the waiting. For the groom there was none of this popping out from the side room and humbly standing to the side and waiting for the main event, the entrance of the beautiful bridegroom. No, she was the one who looked forward to her husband bursting onto the scene in all of his glory and majesty, dazzling the guests with a great feast, and then sweeping her off into a sunset of bliss.


David also says that the sun is like a strong man who rejoices in the race. Some of you know Caulin Mortensen. Almost two years ago, Pat Whalen and I took our Sunday School Class and a group of their friends to a corn maze. Caulin is a good example of the joy that a runner feels when running a race. There were six kids so Pat and I divided the kids into two groups and we set out going through the maze looking for the hidden stations that were in the maze. We had agreed to meet up with one another at the halfway station. Pat had Caulin in his group. From the moment we entered the maze Caulin burst ahead of his group and from then on he determined the pace and the path. As the paths of the two groups would cross we would usually hear Caulin running first, then we would see him, and then we would hear Pat calling out for him to wait up. At the half way point, Pat and I traded groups. Caulin was still running. He was still determining the pace and the path. By the end of the day, Pat and I were worn out and some of the kids were dragging also but Caulin was still running. He had a great time. He was rejoicing in the run. Nothing slowed him down. That is the picture of the sun in the heaven.


When we look at the heavens we are filled with wonder but our response of wonder is insufficient.

During VBS we told the story of Jackson, a blind Navajo Indian boy, whose parents took him to medical doctors and called medicine men to try to heal him. Nothing worked. One day in despair Jackson stumbled out of the house and walked out into the desert until he could walk no further. As he sat there on a rock he began to think of what he had heard about God from the traveling missionary who had come to his village. He began to pray, asking for God to reveal Himself. At that moment, a loud clap of thunder shook the sky around him. Jackson was thankful that God had answered his prayer. The kids enjoyed the story. We were careful though to make sure that the kids understood that such an event cannot save a person. The power of the storm, the glory of the sun, the beauty of the flower displays the character of God but it is insufficient to cure the sickness of the soul, to calm the fears of the heart, to forgive the sins of our lives. For those answers we must turn to God’s Word.


God reveals Himself and reveals us through His Word (verses 7-14). Teachers are important but God’s Word provides life revealing knowledge. Eyewitness accounts of miracles confirm God’s Word but the Word itself makes the difference, not the miracles. Even Satan can produce miracles but only God can produce life revealing and life changing truth. Science can establish that some things are true, logic can prove that some things are true, our feelings and our instincts can sense that some things are true but only God’s Word is in its character, in its essence, in its entirety true and truth and without error.

Because God’s Word is a complete revelation of Him and of ourselves it changes what creation cannot change, the human heart (verses 7-11). “The universe is cursed, [just as we are] and the universe groans under the burden of this curse (Rom 8:19-22)…The earth is longing for something, the apostle Paul tells us, longing for a Man, the Lord Jesus, who unseats the dragon despot of this present darkness. The earth is groaning for us, “for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom 8:19). That’s why gospel proclamation is the most farsighted form of environmental activism. The earth is [ultimately] delivered when [we] her rulers are raised from the death curse, when all things once again are under {our} feet, in Christ.” (henryinstitute.org, Russell Moore’s commentary “Blood, Gore, and Global Warming” July 9, 2007)


The change that comes from God’s Word is inward (verses 7-8).

It converts the soul. Only the Word of God can transform a man or a woman who is spiritually dead and make them alive. That is why positive thinking does not work. Dead souls cannot think positively. They are helpless until the Word of God enters their heart and converts, restores, revives them, allows them to pass from death unto life.

It makes wise the simple. Only the Word of God can renew the mind. Even as believers, our minds are influenced by the world of sin but God’s Word can transform the way we think. Without the Word of God, we are incapable of thinking as we should. God’s Word teaches us not just what to believe but how to think.

It rejoices the heart. Only the Word of God can bring true joy. Now there are other things that can bring joy into your life but they are things that do not last. If you want to have joy when trouble is surrounding you, you need the Word of God.

It enlightens the eyes. In this phrase David sums up the revival of the soul, the opening of the mind, and the filling of the heart. With the Word of God one begins to see spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. That is the inward change that comes from God’s Word.


The change that comes from God’s Word is of eternal value (verses 9-10). My wife will tell you that I am a recovering addict. 🙂 I was addicted to the morning paper. When we got married and lived in our first apartment and did not have two pennies to rub together, I took out a newspaper subscription. When we were three and a half years on the road raising support to go to Austria, one of the first things I did many mornings was go to the gas station a buy a morning paper. When we moved to Munich, Germany for language school and I could barely read, I had to have my paper, even if it had to be in German. In Austria and in Berlin the morning paper was part of my daily routine. That morning paper though became of the biggest obstacles to having a consistent walk with God as I should. One of the biggest struggles that I eventually had to get over was that what I was investing so much time and money in was not of eternal value. That enjoyment, that pleasure, which I am sure I would still enjoy, which I’m sure would still bring some profit into my life, is of no eternal value. John Piper once said, “It’s like the child who chooses the penny over the dime because it’s bigger.” What is the penny on which you are holding tightly? What is taking your time and energy and perhaps even money and is diverting you from the one book that is of eternal value – God’s Word?


My response of repentance and faith in God’s Word is sufficient (verses 11-14). Remember, repentance is not a listing of my sins. Rather it is viewing my sin as God sees it and turning to Him as the only relief from my sin. David, of course, did not know, did not understand that Christ was going to come and die for his sin but he knew that only in God was there mercy and pardon to be found for sin and protection from the evil of secret and presumptuous sin.


God’s Word keeps us from sin (verses 11-13). Usually we focus on verses 11, 12, and the first part of verse 13 when looking at these verses but I want us to see what happens when through God’s Word we are kept from sin. We become blameless. Over the last year, we have had a lot of conversations about the meaning of this word. Certainly, there are a number of different usages of this word in Scripture, some of which I have preached on recently (See https://roberttalley.wordpress.com/2007/07/15/the-meaning-of-the-word-blameless-in-the-new-testament/). The word here means “to be made complete”. It is clarified in the next phrase “…and I shall be made innocent of great transgression.”

Spurgeon put it this way, “All sins are great sins, but yet some sins are greater than others. Every sin has in it the very venom of rebellion, and is full of the essential marrow of traitorous rejection of God. But there be some sins which have in them a greater development of the essential mischief of rebellion, and which wear upon their faces more of the brazen pride which defies the Most High. It is wrong to suppose that because all sins will condemn us, that therefore one sin is not greater than another. The fact is, that while all transgression is a greatly grievous sinful thing, yet there are some transgressions which have a deeper shade of blackness, and a more double scarlet-dyed hue of criminality than others.” (from “Presumptuous Sins” http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0135.htm).

That is what David wants to be kept from. The blameless man, the complete man is not one who never commits sin but one who is so immersed in the Word of God that he is kept from those great transgressions that bring shame on himself, on his God, and on his fellow believers.


God’s Word changes my words and my thoughts (verse 14). There are a number of ways to evaluate whether God’s Word is doing the work it is supposed to do. Two are mentioned in this last verse. When I catch myself being hateful or negative in my language, when I find that my thoughts are consumed with the things of this world, then I know that God’s Word is not having free course in my life, I am not allowing it to have the effect that God intends for it to have.

INVITATION: Believer, it is time you evaluate yourself. Is God’s Word changing you? If not then let the prayer in this psalm be your prayer and turn to the Word of God for food. You say, I do not know how. We can help you. We can show you how to feed yourself from God’s Word.

If you have not trusted Christ as Savior, your soul needs converted. You need to be revived, to pass from death unto life. The Word of God shows you how. The Bible says that through faith in Christ’s death on the cross, your sin debt can be paid and you can be forgiven. You cannot work to be converted. You cannot work to be saved. It is only through faith in Christ. Will you trust Him today?